Sunday, December 21, 2008

Holiday Dispatch: Remote Blogging from King of Prussia

So I'm writing this post on my G1 from a comfy couch in the ladies section at Neimam Marcus, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. Already some good sights to report from the holidays:
-my special lady looking ravishing in a red ball gown
-wintry mix making the trees groan under the weight of the ice.
-delicious meals at B&B Las Vegas and Pearl Philadelphia; both sadly and undeservedly uncrowded restaurants (hope the industry makes it through a tough time.)
-the electric light Manorah-adorned cars in the Philly Hanukkah car parade.
-williams-sonoma candy cane white chocolate chips.
-snow, snow, snow in the Rockies and Sierra Nevada

Thursday, December 18, 2008

YouTubing at Work

According to a fresh report from Nielsen Online 'most online videos in the U.S. are watched at work between 9am and 5pm during the work week.'
Of course. When else would you want to watch distracting videos? This study just confirms what we already knew: only when you're being paid to do something you'd rather not be doing are you willing to interrupt your life with the rank and file inanity of YouTube.

For example, it's 9:23 am as I write this, I've already watched the 1997 and 1998 Colorado Avalance vs. Detroit Redwings brawls from the NHL's glorious past.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

An Honest Endorsement: Bumping Into Geniuses

I just finished Danny Goldberg's 'Bumping Into Geniuses' in about three-sittings, two of which I read aloud to my special lady. I haven't been motivated to do that in a long while, but found myself drawn in by Goldberg's highly personal account of an amazing career in the rock and roll business starting back in the late 1960s. 

Goldberg began as a critic, covered Woodstock, witnessed the birth of punk in New York City, managed press for Led Zeppelin (who I was surprised to learn did not enjoy critical success when they first made it big) and later went onto manage Stevie Nicks, Bonnie Raitt, Nirvana and Warren Zevon. His story is reminiscent of Cameron Crowe's in 'Almost Famous' and I was astonished at the number of big names that casually drop into the narrative.

While the pieces on Zeppelin, Nicks, Raitt and Zevon are great, and intimately and revealingly tied contextually to the zeitgeist of the time in which they were happening, none is so effective as the book's satisfyingly long chapter on the meteoric rise and fall of Nirvana. In what is really the highlight of the book, Goldberg recount's his close working realtionship with Kurt Cobain during which he rose from broke to biggest rockstar on the planet (he spurned the plutonic man-crush advanced of Axl Rose during Guns 'n Roses peak of fame) to victim of his own success and martyr of the excesses of the rock and roll lifestyle. We all know how this story goes, but Goldberg's anecdotes lend a rich new layer to a pop-culture movement and media soap opera I was very aware of as a teenager. 

It's weird that Nirvana matters to me more now than they did when they were active, but after reading this I was affirmed at the relevance of them as a band in the context of my own upbringing and surprised at the new, more complete sympathy I felt for everyone involved, but most surprisingly, Courtney Love (who, it turns out, had a tougher go of things that anyone understood at the time). 

This book flips a lot of the standing press coverage, speculation and 'truth' surrounding Nirvana and other famous rock bands and incidents on its head with the credible testimony of someone intimately tied to the business both professionally and emotionally as a genuine fan. I found it be an enormously revealing and satisfying take that, in the vein of other great books, nurtured my personal development by encouraging me to reconnect and rediscover some old music in a rich way. If you're at all curious about the music industry and rock and roll in particular you should check this out.

Monday, December 15, 2008

False Claims on Kenny G's Wikipedia Article?

Now, I think the theory that the 'G' in 'Kenny G' stands for 'gay' is still based on nothing more than rumor and visceral reaction to the insipid tones of his soprano saxophone. But, as the burgeoning source of all web-based knowledge (and therefore, all knowledge) Wikipedia is reporting today, in fact "[Kenny G] loves men with big balls." 

You can take this a couple of ways, obviously, but as a fan of his entire collection of feathery light jazz sax, I would push the interpretation that this is in the plutonic man-crush kind of way, sort of the same way I love Tom Brady. Kenny G's got a purely asexual appreciation, bordering on envy, of guys with huge testicles. And I can't argue with that because I can't say I really feel any different.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Cheap Gas

Since this summer when gas prices hit over $4.50/gallon, I'd gotten into this pattern of not driving, walking and leaving my car on the streets to collect dust and dents. I know from ancedotes and other market evidence that this has been a good thing in terms of kick-starting our separation from fossil fuel energies. 

So I hope the recent gas prices won't derail the progress we've made as a culture. I recently read that Americans' collective household debt shrunk recently for the first time in history and this too must be a sign of the positive change in thinking and behavior. But man it felt great to buy gas at $1.75/gallon. In five years of car ownership, I've never paid less that I can recall.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Honey & Biscuits

Lately I've been obsessed with honey, putting it in everything from my tea and grapenuts to salad dressing. It came up again in conversation the other day when someone pointed outwhat may be honey's greatest miracle of all. Not it's intoxicating aroma or glowing golden color, nor the rich texture or sweet, sweet taste. Honey never goes bad.

Even when it's crystalized in the pot, you can heat it up in the microwave or  emers the container in warm water and you're back in business. This got me curious about how bees make such a special substance. According to Wikipedia, they collectively digest and regurgitate flower pollen over and over until they achieve the desired quality using a special apparatus called a 'honey stomach.'

Good to know. Sort of disgusting when you think about it. But not enough to offsite the delicious appeal of honey. And the Wikipedia masters of the honey article were prescient enough to temper their anatomical discourse with the tempting picture of honey and biscuits above. I don't think I've ever witnessed anything more inviting and know what I'll name my twin daughters (if I ever have them): Honey and Biscuits.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


I promise to get off the food-related posts as soon as I recover from the body blow of the Pizza Hut Panormous we just put out of its misery. Now my afternoon is shot through with a de-motivating slug of indigestible processed wheat, cheese and mechanically-recollected meat byproduct (aka 'pork topping') and I will get nothing done.

Though Pizza Hut says that this is their 'BIGGEST Pan Pizza Ever!,' we've been down this road before. You youngsters may not recall the Pizza wars of 1993 when Dominos, Pizza Hut and the no-longer relevant Little Caesars squared off in an arms race of escalating pizza megatonnage at low, low prices, but they resulted in such epic creations as Pizza Hut's Bigfoot Pizza (which, at 2 square feet, may be bigger; and yes that is Haley Joel Osment.):

And let's not forget Little Caesar's Big! Big! Cheese Pizza and Bucket of Spaghetti:

Now with the economic downturn creating another ripe environment for preposterous food deals, we're seeing indeed that what is old is new again, and the pizza chains are back at it. Perhaps it was this unexpected chance to revisit my youth that made the Panormous so captivating and prompted today's online order.

As I was eating, I wondered what a terrible job it must be to work in product for Pizza Hut, continually confronted with the sisyphean task of making pizza new and exciting with recycled contrivances like dippable crust, cheese-stuffing and sheer size. At the end of the day its flour, cheese and tomato sauce. Where's the creativity in that?

But then, here I am, the ghost of Panormous past still wafts through the office, that flour, cheese and tomato sauce was consumed and enjoyed with abandon and I'm exactly as satisfied as I anticpated being.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Fried Turkey: Well Done!

It's been a rough start to December since I've been in a coma since Thanksgiving when I finally succumbed to my spirit as an adventurous eater (not to mention the peer-pressure of the Nascar bandwagon) and ate a turkey that I had first painstakingly deep-fried in 4 gallons of peanut oil. (That's the bird above, in all its deep golden, crispified glory mere moments before the carnage began.)

Ever since Madden convinced me to try my first turducken back in '03, I've been gathering my courage to take the ultimate step and deep-fry a turkey in gratitude of our nation's founders' willingness to mooch a meal off the Indians in that first Plymouth winter.

Internet research abounds, both extolling the benefits and warning of the substantial hazards of frying a turkey (see: 'Deep-fried Disaster'). So it wasn't lightly, nor without a significant risk/rewards analysis, that I accepted this challenge.

Two things are true with frying turkeys, you need the right equipment and a shitload of oil. In this case the right equipment is more or less a giant-sized bunsen burner which comes some assembly-required in a kit. We got ours at Home Depot and I wouldn't recommend any jury-rigged contrivances as stand-ins since this seems to be how most of the explosively bad endings happen. That, and there are lots of unforeseen tools like the turkey-dunking/retrieval hook apparatus, as well as the long thermometer for keeping your oil in the sweet spot between 325 - 350 degrees farenheit. (Too cold and your bird won't cook, too hot and it's fireball time!)

But the best part is that when you get it right, as we did, you spend minutes (45 of them), not hours, waiting for your bird and when it comes out the skin is crispy and tastes like bacon, while the interior is moist and delicious.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tiny Fucking Pants, Big Fucking Price

Last weekend in Santa Monica, the special lady and I dropped by this store she reads about in all of the celebrity gossips magazines called Fred Segal, which is apparently really popular because lots of movie stars shop there. (To its credit, Fred Segal lived up to the hype and we had the unexpected privilege of shopping next to Ray Liotta!)

Prices of good and services approach the astronomical when you're competing with the likes of Courtney Cox for children's clothing. The pictured True Religion jeans for a 4 year old would set you back $155 US Dollars! That's more than I like to spend on adult jeans, which I can wear for more than a few months, even if I did get the added pleasure of buying them in the presence of Ray Liotta.

So what were we thinking?

It turns out having nephews, and recently a niece, becomes an excuse to burn cash on stuff you'd never, ever consider. Even when I become a parent myself I doubt I'd be motivated to buy unless I'm pulling down $100,000/episode.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Tracking Dolla Dolla Bills Yo!

Over the weekend I noticed a bill in my wad that was tagged with a stamp from Where's George, the US Currency Tracking Project, that lets you enter a bill's series (2003 A) and serial numbers (L72612279H) to track is travels around the world.

The theory here is a little bit like chain letters, in that whoever receives the bill has to be lame enough to go to the website and enter in the numbers to contribute to the documented history of the bills' travels. I don't normally go for chain letter type ideas, but Saturday as Michigan was losing 42-7 to finish the worst season ever with a particularly tart cherry, I was needing a pick-me-up of the 'you're part of something bigger' variety.

So here we go. I got this bill as change from Za Pizzeria in San Francisco's Russian Hill neighborhood. Upon entering it into the Where's George database, I found that my bill had one previous entry 8 days earlier from the Chancellor Hotel bar near Union Square. In the interim, the bill hadn't gone very far, but if I was going to do this, I wanted spectacular results.

I was already in LA for the weekend, this was a good start and got me thinking about vectors for redistribution that could further accelerate the travels of my bill. I considered a panhandler in Santa Monica, but thought that would just be a short and untrackable trip to the local liquor store. A dead end.

Then I thought a cab driver, or somebody at LAX, but I didn't make it that far. This bill was burning a hole in my pocket. I settled for the bellhop at the Huntley Hotel, who got the bill as a tip for his fine service. From here, who knows, but you can view the bill's tracking report here.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Whale Wars and Megadeth, an Analogy that Makes Sense

I'm bubbling over with analogs lately and yesterday while taking my first taste of the Discovery Channel's latest extreme, reality documentary series, Whale Wars, I came up with one I felt worthy of sharing with ETS:

Sea Shepherd : Greenpeace :: Megadeth : Metallica

It's a well known fact that Megadeth was started when Metallica ousted founding-member Dave Mustaine for being too hard core for Metallica.

Similarly, Sea Shepherd (despite the wussy name) launched when Greenpeace-founder, Captain Paul Watson, was ousted from the organization for being too hard core for Greenpeace.

I was familiar with Mustaine, his diet of intravenous drugs, booze and power chords, his blatant disregard for James Hatfield's feelings. But Captain Paul Watson was still a bit of an unknown 'til I saw his show, his death-metal black ship (The Steve Irwin), his face-slap and grenade fights with Japanese whalers, taking bullets for Minke whales. This sonofabitch is bat shit crazy!

Now, like Mustaine, Paul Watson's got a less well-known, less-successful, but harder core organization that's making some serious 11-level noise of its own. Another eerily similar element drawn from the Metallica/Megadeath diaspora is the brewing blood feud between Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd which laces the Whales Wars episodes with a second or third layer of political intrigue (simmering just below the East vs. West - you're whale eaters, yeah, but you're racists subtext.)

Dave Mustaine and Captain Paul Watson: kindred spirits, soul twins, mavericks, mad geniuses hell-bent on rocking their chosen-fields harder than anyone else ever has!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Quantum of Solace = The Empire Strikes Back

I have never been prepared for complexity when sitting down to enjoy a James Bond film. If you recall anything leading up to, and arguably including, Casino Royale, you were reliably indulging in a popcorn-fueled voyage through a non-thinking, shoot-first fantasy land with cinemas most vapid hero and comically ridiculous villains. Each James Bond installment was cinematic comfort food - discrete, ephemeral and unambitious, not drawing on the past or expanding the narrative into the future.

Now, with Quantum of Solace, they're coming at us with a different, more layered approach to Bond (as he assumes the darker, post-modern manifestation of a Jason Bourne) that relies on the viewer remembering plot elements that surfaced in Casino Royale.

I didn't know this going into the Sunday matinee (how could I have, as a pre-conditioned Bond film fan) but wished I'd been given the heads up on this abrupt and needed change of viewer behavior. A pre-Quantum viewing of Casino Royale is highly advised if you wish to make holistic sense of this latest Bond film.

Still I can't tell if it's a good thing for the franchise or just evidence of Hollywood's calculated, ROI-driven infatuation with the trilogy. (Per the popular critique of this film, there were times watching it I could have sworn it was a Bourne series film.)

In either case, Quantum is the middle chapter of a continuous three-part narrative and per trilogic dictum, the most confusing and unsatisfying of the lot. Quantum avoids the lack of climax and downward overture of Empire Strikes Back, as trilogic sina qua non, but similarly leaves the audience with more questions than answers.

Of course, you'd expect a Bond film to feel familiar and formulaic. What you don't expect is it to taste like someone else's sauce.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Open Table Appetite Stimulus Plan's Appetite Stimulus Plan kicks off today with specially-priced pre-fixe dinners and lunches ($35 dinners, $24 lunches) at participating restaurants in Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

In San Francisco it's a premium list of restaurants. I got my Luce reservation on Friday night already, a restaurant Esquire magazine recently listed among America's Best New Restaurants, and as if that wasn't enough motivation to eat there, OpenTable's offering double rewards points for seatings.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tim Lincecum is Big News in San Francisco

I had the privelege of seeing Timmy Lincecum pitching in-person in San Francisco 5 times this year. It's funny what a baseball town is even when the Giants are so terrible. Lincecum winning the National League Cy Young is front page news on today's San Francisco Examiner!?!? (Maybe after a tedious and depressing election news cycle, we're ready to concern ourselves with some light-hearted fare.)

Anyway, I'm glad for Tim getting this recognition. He was lights-out in all but one of the games we saw (giving it up to Detroit's Marcus Thames on June 16), but often would miss the win and come out with a no decision thanks to the Giants anemic run support. Given all that his 18-5 record is a campaign worth celebrating. With a better team it could easily have been over 20 wins.

Disabled Security Protections on Commenting

It was brought to my attention by my lone dedicated reader, Keith Sanderson, that I was preventing folks from commenting on the blog without first logging into their Google Accounts (if they had them).

I realize this is a pain in the ass, and partly responsible for the reason I was feeling so lonely out here. But hey, I've taken down the lame security protections and am now welcoming all challenges!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bay Bridge from the Camera Phone

The really bad thing about cell phones' built-in cameras that is also incidentally great is that they have no advanced features that would equip them to deal with anything more adventurous than posed photography in broad daylight.

So anything in lowlight or at high speeds is going to produced unexpected effects, such as the streaking lines of traffic in this photo. Funny thing is, with a more technical camera, I wouldn't have had as much luck producing the effect by trying to do so. In this case, I was the incidental beneficiary of the slow ass shutter speed of my camera phone trying to compensate for the fact that is has no flash.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pictures of Rockstars: Aerosmith with Chris Cornell

To kill time on the Internet, I'll often use Google Image Search* to browse pictures of my favorite rock stars. Looking for Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Audioslave fame the other day, I found this unexpected gem which prompted my next rock star image search for the eternally captivating Steven Tyler (what a weird-looking dude).

*One caveat on Google Image Search, check your filters and be careful about ambiguity in your search terms if you're in a visible place or a position to be judged for your decorum or discretion. NSFW** content abounds in the algorithmic interpretation of double-entendres, as I discovered innocently enough when I ran an image search on the term 'junk.'

** Follow up thought: NSFW = 'not safe for work' a common tag denoting 'adult' content on the Interwebs. Having tagged my blog with the keyword 'nsfw' will that tell the search engines that my blog is vaguely about NSFW or will that tell them that there is 'nsfw' content here?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Mad Men: A Taste of the '60s

I think one of the reasons Mad Men has been so successful is that it taps into a widespread, innate curiosity about the 1960s held by my generation as the children of the Baby Boomers. We've always regarded the '60s with a bit of grass-is-greener envy of the cultural mystique it had and now wields like a hammer over those born later on. I missed the decade by a decade and still somehow feel beholden to its cultural superiority, reverential of its icons and nostalgic of the good times all the same.

Mad Men works in part by giving us a glimpse into this important, golden age of art and politics that we missed. This is an amazing point of view for informing both the background of a pop culture movement that exists to this day and the social structure from which we've come and evolved so far. We feel at once attracted and repulsed by this sexy and backwards culture that is the immediate predecessor of where we are today as Americans.

We recently considered women in the upper echelons of both parties and elected a black President. This advertisement from 1970 is evidence of a time not so long ago where that would have been unthinkable but selling Winston cigarettes through Flinstontes cartoons was cutting-edge, widely applauded advertising.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I Hate Toyota's Saved By Zero Campaign

You know how you occasionally have these thoughts so esoteric and strange that you think nobody else could be having the same thoughts? The kind you're sort of reluctant to share not just because people won't related but 'cause they'll think you're a freak?

Well there I was watching college football last weekend when I noticed the fucking Toyota Jingle in my head making me want to tear out my hair and chuck my TV out the window. It's on at least twice a commercial break during most football broadcasts this fall and it absolutely drives me nuts.

As much as I hate to contribute to the viral success of this (where any reference and repetition is considered good), I have to call this out for its absolute lack of imagination and terrible, terrible jinglephonicness.

I thought I was the only one in America's football-watching legion who payed attention to advertising and this one particularly and hated it for its talentless resort to low pricing, what Seth Godin calls 'a marketers last refuge' in the absence of other good ideas.

Lo and behold. I am not alone. With Leather agrees with me thusly: Get Bent, Toyota. Ad Rants comments on the phenomenon whereby viewers of the ad become victims and mentions a Facebook group dedicated to taking this turkey off the air.

Can you imagine the pitch meeting what approved this campaign? When the Toyota VP hears from his agency of record, okay, here's what we got, Saved by Zero, Saved by Zero, Saved by Zero, in a voice that sort of sounds like Neil Diamond.

At this point said Toyota VP should have interrupted the pitch with a bone-crushing right hook to the pitchman's jaw, fired the agency and buried the campaign somewhere it would never see the light of day.

Toyota, which spends nearly $5 billion per year on advertising expenditures, and lists BBDO and Saatchi & Saatchi as agencies it works with, can afford better. Curiously, this time the powers that be at Toyota exercised no such taste or vision.

Miami on Election Night

For election day, I returned to the scene of the crime, Florida, where the 8 years of pain began in 2000.

Cruising the streets of Miami as the evening wore on and it became clear that Obama was winning, it began to feel like New Year's Eve. There were people everywhere in the streets , holding signs, chanting, clapping, eliciting horn honks from passing cars. It was a jubilant celebration in anticipation of good times to come.

So what an appropriate analogy New Year's eve turned out to be. We're at the beginning of something new and desperately wanted but uncertain and unfulfilled. We have a lot of hope and a lot of promise in Obama. I don't want to be so callous as to allow the seeds of doubt into my mind, but we are on a thin margin with failure a very real possibility given the enormity of what has been pledged. But I voted for Obama and appreciate the celebration of everyone else who did so in the hopes that change is the only way to bring improvment.

I want to believe 'Yes We Can!'

*By saying 'returned' I'm commiting something of a bald-faced lie for dramatic effect, since that would imply I was in Florida in 2000, when I wasn't. At all. I was in Scotland actually, but thought the rhetorical device of 'returning to the scene of the crime' was too brilliant to waste. Chalk it up to poetic license. At least half of my mission here is entertainment.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Election Week Endorsement: Yahoo's Political Dashboard

I'm pretty sure Yahoo doesn't need my help in getting people to use this new feature of their site, but I felt like calling them out for a job well done. (In light of recent events, if you can think of anything else that Yahoo does well, like Fantasy Football*, maybe you should let them know. They've been hurting for good news.)

In any case, Yahoo's Political Dashboard is a nifty place for those who love the omniscient anonymity of the interwebs to track the election results without having to put up with Charles Gibson or Wolf Blitzer or some other manicured Tom Brokaw wanna be (Brian Williams) talking head running his mouth.

*Please provide free live real-time scoring next year or I will officially be a devotee of ESPN Fantasy Football.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Celebrity Stalking with Bad Cell Phone Photography

I'd compare this image to a glass of wine, shady and complex with lots of nuance and hints of something bigger, that seemingly only coalesces into an impression with the power of suggestion tipping you in a certain direction. Think notes of New Orleans cajun cooking, a powerful cult of personality and... is that Emeril Lagasse I detect? BAM! Now you taste it!

I had the rare pleasure of dining in his New Orleans flagship restaurant last week gratis as part of the National Restaurant Association Marketing Exectuive Group meeting. 

To my surprise, Emeril flouted any notion I had of celebrity chef (chef, notwithstanding, Emeril is a Celebrity) and took the evening quite seriously, spending most of it sweating it out in the kitchen. Not actually cooking, mind you, but taking a commander's role in overseeing the craft and delivery of his culinary experience. It was great to see someone who's reached such stature in his field still taking the time (and obvious) pleasure in its sincerest expression - entertaining people with food. Despite the outsized image he's created, Emeril is obviously not too big for his own britches and hasn't forgetten where he came from.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Civic Duty, Done!

I am happy to report that I've done the bare minimum of civic duty such that buys me the right to at least four more years of complaining. I connected the arrows to Obama/Biden, among a host of other local elections, propositions and initiatives.

Perhaps my favorite though was California's Proposition R, to rename the Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant to the 'George W. Bush Sewage Plant,' in honor of the worst presidency since Buchanan let the Civil War happen.

The Huffington Post got wind of this important movement back in April when it was a glimmer in the eye of a bunch of hippies running around Dolores Park gathering the required 10,000 signatures to get this on the ballot.

Well, they succeeded, and after the federal election, it was the easiest vote I submitted.

10/29 Addendum - Embedding the YouTube video from the posts claiming to the official campaign as for California Proposition R. 

Uh. Heady?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tom Petty at Outside Lands, San Francisco

In an abstract way...
Tom is the twin golden apparition shimmering to the right and left of the blue stage light explosion. (Well, that's not exactly him, but the dual-jumbo tron digital recreations of Tom, he's actually the smallish orange blur below the stage lights.)

I've been meaning to post more of my stellar, camera-phone art, but the exchange of media from phone to email to computer desktop back to blogger means two things: 1.) I'm not as space-aged as I think am (some kids beam these directly from cellphone to blog); and 2.) most of the time something gets lost in the process.

Anyway, this was a fun show. You have to appreciate a musician who's past the pretension of wanting to convey a deep message or needing to always push people with new material. All Tom Petty did was play every hit song he ever had to an appreciative crowd that sang every lyric from heart.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

David Byrne and the Extra Action Marching Band

The amazing encore included San Francisco's very own Extra Action Marching Band!

Caught David Byrne at the San Francisco Davies Symphony hall on Tuesday night and have to say it was a fantastic show. It would be nice to think there's a concert like this going on somewhere in the world every night.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I Was Very Late to the Party of Barack-Pun Mayhem

Though I maintain I arrived at this thought independently, I was not the first to imagine that Barack's period of prominence in the American public eye would be defined by a near limitless array of Barack and Obama puns.

In fact, I'm so late to the party that I might not even be considered an early adopter. To wit, Slate, in a follow up article 'Obomedy', has apparently been covering said poltico-linguistic phenomenon since February, even going so far as to assemble a compendium of 'obamaism's in their cleverly titled 'Encyclopedia Baracktannica.'

Sadly, while I attributed an earth-shattering degree of novelty and importance to this concept, when it independently occurred to me, Slate's high-minded cultural mavens dump it in their 'Low Concept' category with other 'dubious and far-fetched' ideas.

In other news about ships I let sail, I hemmed and hawwed over Wells Fargo stock at $20 a share last week. When will I grow some balls?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

'Barackracy' - Another Term I Didn't Coin

I was thinking the other day that if the Republican fears are realized and Barack ultimately sets up this clumsy, socialist safety net of a government we could start calling it the 'barackracy.' Naturally high on my own notions and agreeing (with myself) that I either invent or independently arrive at most good ideas, I decided to see if this (finally) would be my million dollar idea.

So how to get rich on this idea? Given that we've got a 50/50 chance of Obama winning the next election, I reasoned that it might be a fine domain name for a political blog or satire site of some kind. Certainly clever, possibly intuitive enough to get incidental free web traffic and monetize it with advertising! Yes.....

We're onto something right?


Of course, like most of my million dollar ideas to date, this is one I arrived at independently and some clever carpetbagger with a URL-registration business already got there. Two years ago it turns out.

Assholes 'Domains By Proxy, Inc.' Maybe his fortune is the product of a disciplined mind (if only I could think of such things on demand)!

No other website shits on my dreams quite as hard or often as

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Official Endorsement: The Led Zeppelin Video Channel on YouTube

You can access the channel here for over 70 more Zeppelin videos, like this Japanese promo for the first album, interviews and so many awesome live clips from the '70s your face will definitely melt off.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Banking Bucks with Barack

One of the things my republican ancestry is afraid of vis a vis Obama, is his stance on raising taxes, principally those that would affect the stock dividends which grease the wheels of the babyboomer easy life parade.

Not that I am insensitive to such problems, but let's consider the bottom line from the younger perspective: My investments won't be appreciating this year, the last under Bush, so what is there to tax? I'd gladly pay more tax, any tax, if the economy was in a better state to make me some solid returns.

And I think the patriarchs would have to agree that there's a strong possibility that better leadership would produce better economic performance and higher investment returns. And hopefully these returns would be enough to offset the increased taxes when you're looking at your absolute net dollar amounts.

Here's some simple math to illustrate the principle:
$100 at 30% tax > $50 at 0% tax

What we see is that there's a balance. At some level of performance, we'd be worse off, at some level we'd be equal, and at a third we'd be making out like bandits, counting our money sipping boat drinks and listening to Earth, Wind & Fire. I don't think Bush had is going in that direction, in fact I'd argue just the opposite.

Which is why I'm ready to put a little money down for Obama.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I Only Thought I Had Real Problems

Nobody likes a complainer. Least of all, angry US economy-hating God.

A day after I complain about the personal finance straits I'm in (which I brought on myself, no doubt) and look what happens:

That's not good. I should have kept my big mouth shut.

On the plus side, I have managed to curb spending somewhat this week. To compensate for my wife flying solo in New York with the credit card, I'm taking an approach that is monk-like in more ways than one, subsisting on a diet of water, available vegetables and condiments eaten alone in the dark.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Summer Travel Blues

I've had a bad two week spell where dollars have just been flying out the door. Almost none of them have been going towards fun or savings, so I'm afraid to check the bank account, knowing that it won't stack up to the American Express bill, and for the time am simply hiding my head under the sand like a dumb ostrich.

Most of my money was earmarked by friends and family long before I earned it, going mainly towards mandatory travel for weddings, reunions, etc. The current count: six airplane tickets and four hotel stays paid for in the last fortnight. Not to sound glib or unappreciative (I'm glad to have family and friends) but ugh.

Worse yet, with fuel costs and bad corporate behavior by the travel industry writ large (it's not just the airlines anymore) there is a nary a deal to be had. Try finding a hotel room (one you'd actually like to stay in) in New York for less than $400 a night.

Now try finding a plane ticket for less than $500. You're fucked amigo.

When I get back home after the 4th of July, I am spending the rest of the summer hanging onto dolla dolla bills (yo), with which I'll relax in a hammock and watch grass grow for cheap entertainment. I'm not worrying about my car, or any more personal airplane travel until after the vernal equinox.

I filled up my Subaru the other day at $4.35/gallon and it cost me over $60. I read that in San Diego people are driving down old Mexico way to buy their gasoline. Pretty soon life in America will only be affordable for millionaires, won't that suck.

On the plus side, I did have goat for dinner on Sunday night. Scarcity and inflation have long been the traditional drivers of expansively adventurous diets.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Zen of Mass Transportation

One of the feel good stories about the rise of gas prices is that more folks are using earth-friendly mass transportation. Here in San Francisco, where Muni use was already high, I have felt this in the last two months as the lines I ride (the 41 and 12, primarily) have gotten considerably more crowded.

The shot above is from the 41 the other morning, where by the halfway point downtown it is impossible to snag a seat between 730 - 9am. The mere fact that I reverently think of sitting during my commute as 'snagging a seat' - like winning a lottery or some other such unexpected special thing - suggests just how crowded our mass transit is becoming.

It's wonderful and terrible at once. Nobody said saving the world would be convenient, or that it would be comfortable. In fact, it was great discomfort at the pump and not our magnanimous do-gooderistic tendencies, that forced the recent move to mass transit, so perhaps discomfort was a necessary a factor in the true move to save Green of both kinds.

Wired echoes this in a recent article 'Rethinking What It Means to Be Green' flipping many of the conventional wisdoms on their heads. The part that stuck with me, and helps me achieve a self-sustaining zen on a crowded Muni bus: live in a city, it's simply more efficient (and not at just giving you a headache). Living in a city, a cultural and now, ecological, choice has always had it's inconveniences. Only now we can justify them with the higher purpose of saving the Earth. Try that out in your mantra next time you have to tolerate a crowded bus.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Justin Timberlake, No Marlboro Man, But Looks Fetching in a Cap

One more sign that I'm out of touch with pop culture.

Why does every woman in America think this guy is hot? With his scrubby, Amish starter-beard and gay little jigging cap I can't imagine why anyone would take him seriously.

What lamentable commentary on the state of the American male is it that this is the guy who gets to preggerize Jessica Biel? What example are we permitting (Jessica) to shape the sartorial and presentational aspirations of today's teenage boys?

I myself live by the code of a different place - a masculine land called Flavor Country where the role models for men remain men.

Monday, May 19, 2008

A Childhood Revelation from the Stink of Post-Asparagal Pee

Today I had asparagus for lunch. You can probably tell where this is going and if you have no patience for stuff with no practical point you might as well quit reading.

Since, a.) I'm one of those lucky phenotypes that can both produce the enzyme and detect the odoriferous result of Asparagus-eating, and b.)have an endless fascination for the gross idiosyncrasies of the human body, this was a profound experience.

It was like the second time I smelled pot. The memory of the aroma, so ingrained and evocative it instantly transported me back down its own, dark neural pathway to the first encounter - opening my parent's refrigerator as a toddler and wondering about that tin box of stuff that looked like Oscar the Grouch hide, wreaking with the all the damp richness of Mother Earth herself. Only years later, at the second coming in the Bogus Basin Ski Area parking lot, did it click in my mind the nature of the beast whose path I'd previously crossed.

Ah the power of the subconscious. But here today, the warmth of the smell wafting up from the urinal did the same thing. Back to childhood I was flung and there emerged this disturbing visage...

Stinkor(!), He-Man and the Masters of the Universe's token skunk-faced villain, who's ostensible benefit to the Snake Mountain contingent was the wretched smell of his loins and its debilitating effect on the forces of good.

Turns out the 'stench of evil,' or, more accurately, its stripped-down, suburban-safe Mattel-made iteration, is really just the small of urine after a hearty helping of asparagus.

Obama is the Bigger Man

As if responding to the hope I posited on Friday, Obama has shifted focus and is now taking on John McCain. Sure, it may be melodramatic to insinuate that I had anything to do with it, and Obama's nomination is virtually locked up as of tomorrow, but hey, better late than never and I'm glad to see this day.

Though the question remains how bruised Obama will be after the battle with Hillary and whether he can sway those middle of the road Republicans (to whom I have one thing to say vis a vis John McCain: (and don't click here) 'old balls').

Friday, May 16, 2008

Quit It Bitch, You're Ruining America!

This isn't an original thought, but it's something I've been itching to express myself. I really can't stand the way Hilary Clinton is conducting herself here in the waning days of her campaign. It's pretty clear that Obama's going to win the Democratic nod and this stubbornness with which Hillary is clinging to her protracted campaign is pure hubris that is weakening the Democratic party's chances at a win in the Presidential election.

I understand that this was likely her last best shot, but as a statesman you've got to stand for principals larger than own advancement if you really think you're cut out to be the leader of the free world. America deserves as much.

What we're seeing out of Hillary is proof-positive of a trait many expected she had starting long ago when she stood by her man and his wandering trouser snake, cold, over-ridding, android-like careerism. Is this what we want in American president?

I guess all I wanted to say is that it's sad Hillary can't bow out gracefully for the benefit of the party and let Obama concentrate on the next race against McCain. Then again, maybe I'm drinking the kool-aid a little here. After all, if Obama's really got the stuff he should also be able to recognize the victory and take his fight to the next level.

Sidenote - Since visual aids are imporant in blogging, I wanted to get a picture of Hillary looking detestable. A simple Google image search (I didn't use any descriptive modifiers, such as 'scary' or 'ugly' or 'bitchy') yielded literally dozens to chose from, the first of which is called 'Scary Hillary Clinton.jpg.' If that isn't an indicator of zeitgeist (and thereby Hillary's refusal to see the forest for the trees) I don't know what is.

God, how did they let this go so wrong...

Monday, May 12, 2008

By The Numbers, Dogs vs. Children in San Francisco

Quoting census data from 2006, the San Francisco Examiner reports that 'San Francisco has roughly 110,000 residents under 18' and 'between 120,000 and 150,000 dogs.' The fact was pertinent to a squabble over recently re-sodded grass in a city park, and what constituency base had greater claim to the turf - pet owners or parents.

The humanitarian in me says the parents, but then the dog owner in me needs a spot for my pooch to poop.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Firebrats in My Fluorescent Light Fixtures

I glanced up at the fluorescent lights in my bathroom this morning and noticed strange, wriggling silhouettes darting across the inside surface of the glass dome that covers the fixture.

This was upsetting, to say the least, particularly because the bugs looked horrific - all flailing limbs and appendages covered in fine, feeling hairs and sucking mouth parts living in the two most sensitive areas of my apartment (where I clean myself and prepare my food).

If I can see them in the lights, where else could they be living where I can't see them? (Chills.)

A little research revealed that this little pest is a firebrat, the burlier, hairier cousin of the familiar, book-eating silverfish. Both of which are nasty, fast-moving and feed on the detritus of civilization - wall paper, glue, old insulation and natural fabrics like silk, wool and cotton. My theory - the moisture from my shower and kitchen is condensing in the light housings and over time turning into mold which feeds the little families of firebrats.

Elsewhere, a friend of mine ate an inch worm in her salad and a co-worker's been itching lately and thinks she's got 'morgellons.'

Moral of the story - there are so many nasty things in the world. What can we do about it? Tireless vigilance and energy for sanitation? Or acceptance of the truth that we are but victims of a world we can't control.

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Subcontinental Sneeze in the Buffet

At the enormous, international sales conference last week, the hazards of buffet-style dining for 5,000 were eminently illustrated when, like many a Carnival Cruise, people by the score started turning up sick.

Was it the shellfish in the cioppino? Or the one-two punch of reanimated-from-powder guacamole and refried beans at enchilada night?

Perhaps more than any of the above it was a microcosmic recreation of the colonial-era clashing of hemispherically-endemic germs. Every continent but Africa and Antarctica were represented, and in that international bouilliabaise, with all its talking shit and swapping spit and none of the scrubbing like doctors that we do in airports and festivals, one can only imagine the stripe of exotic rhinovirus and flu bug feasting on the unprepared immune systems with free and easy access thanks to the lack of sneeze guards.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Japanese Bug Fights

I found while examining a Google AdWords Placement Performance Report, which essentially lists out AdSense publisher sites where Google ads have been placed. For a client running pest-control products, I found an unusually high conversion rate here on JBF.

This site is fantastic. There are over 30 videos, pitting fierce bugs of unspeakable ugliness against each other, with frantic Japanese commentary and unexpected outcomes.

Immediate takeaways:
-Scorpions are big pussies
-Always bet on beetles, beetles are nasty like the tanks of the arthropod phylum
-Crushing mandibles are a huge advantage
-Stingers are less effective than you'd think
-Getting your head gnawed off by a giant cricket (Round the 1st) would suck

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

My Hooptie on Google Street View

Google Street View has some folks concerned about privacy, while others, like myself, celebrate the minimal Internet celebrity of their city, home, possessions and, in rare cases, persons that by long odds made it into the Street View shot of a given location just as Google's contracted Immersive Media Volkswagen, with its odd, satellite-tower appendage, drove by snapping pics every 30 feet.

Given that Street View originally launched in just a handful of cities (Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Las Vegas to start), I was surprised today to first find it now includes Raleigh, NC (part of the Research Triangle Park) before experimenting with my home address and finding not just my parent's home, but my fucking car parked in front of it, meaning I defied the odds in more ways than one. Those are California plates on my hooptie and I have driven my car back from the Bay Area exactly one time... so what kind of odds did I defy? Or, was it fate? (Spooky! I'm feeling all tingly and connected with everything.)

Anyway, I think the privacy police and the tort system opportunists are way off on this one. Street View is an awesome project because it just made my car famous, among other benefits.

If you feel like peeping your own haunts, to see any lasting record of your presence made Universal on the Interwebs by Google, here is the list of areas where they are currently providing street-level imagery:
  • Albany and Schenectady
  • Boise
  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Dallas
  • Denver
  • Detroit
  • Ft. Worth
  • Houston
  • Indianapolis
  • Juneau
  • Kansas City
  • Las Vegas
  • Los Angeles
  • Manchester
  • Miami
  • Milwaukee
  • Minneapolis
  • New York City
  • Orlando
  • Philadelphia
  • Phoenix
  • Pittsburgh
  • Portland
  • Providence
  • Research Triangle Park, NC
  • Salt Lake City
  • San Antonio
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco Bay Area
  • St. Paul
  • Tucson
This is way more than I expected, and you just might be pleasantly surprised too.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Blowing the Breathlayzer

Browsing through my camera-phone to clean out old pictures I'd been storing for too long, I came across this little gem which I originally took at the Oktoberfest event at Fort Mason in San Francisco back in, duh da da da, October.

It was interesting commentary that the California Highway Patrol (CHiPs) booth was second in popularity only to the Spaten dispensers, thanks to the enormous appeal of their risk-free breathalyzer service which lured every jabroni in the place to queue up and test their BAC might.

Two Spaten boots deep, I was blowing a .15%, or roughly twice the legal limit, and not having the mental wherewithal to wonder what the CHiPs were doing with this information with respect to the parking lot of cars that some of these drunks must have driven to the event.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Thing I Know: Rod Stewart Slayed

In the classic 1999 film Office Space, actor David Herman famously referred to Michael Bolton as a 'no-talent ass clown.' The 'no-talent' part aside, I think there's plenty to explore in the taxonomy of 'ass clowns' of the world. None bigger, perhaps, than Michael Bolton predecessor Rod Stewart.

Exhibit A:

Coupling lyrics like 'she was hot, young, beautiful and I said to myself... she's destined to be mine' with dance moves so fresh they sting, it's hard to deny this talent. At the same time its hard not to see all the ass clownery that's going down and wonder how this guy's been slaying grade A poontang since the 1970s.

Blog: The Recommittment

Updates every business day for the rest of April. It's a pledge, and not because I'm trying to subvert business days (not a bad idea, when you think about it) but because I'm feeling it - the will to not be lazy and to communicate.

More than anything though, I'm doing this for me. Complete egoism, vanity blog-posting. I used to pretend people read this shit, or that I was writing for other people, but that's not sustaining. Least of all when you actually know that nobody's reading. The point of this new foray, then, is building something cool for myself.

So, any thought that has the misfortune to stray into my head in the coming weeks is going on the damned blog.