Monday, June 29, 2009

Road Trip: Nevada

The first night out from California took me and the Special Lady to Reno, Nevada -- a fitting place for a buzzkill, if you're in the market. The depressive-phase Liberace decor of the Grand Sierra provided no additional comfort, as the scent of stale tobacco and unanswered calls of slot machine music only served to amplify the sour whiff of despair. Not to mention the insanity of such a place in the current economic situation.
Needless to say, I wasn't in the mood to press my luck, though I have to admit I was intrigued by my view from the 30th floor of the reservoir/driving range, whose island pins net huge prizes for those sinking holes-in-one.

Tempted as I was, we had a big drive charted to Sun Valley the next day and wanted to make time to offset the loss of an hour in the crossing into the Mountain timezone.

We were on the road early, blazing Northeast up I-80 with the T-Mobile G1 playing tour guide.
Here are some interesting notes about Nevada:

-Lovelock Correctional Center is pretty much the visual highlight of I-80 between Reno and Winnemucca and is also famous for being the current and future home of inmate #1027820 - O.J. Simpson.

-A battle never occurred in Battle Mountain, Nevada, but their artifacted fame is no less colorful for that little inconsistency. Consider that GQ Magazine labelled Battle Mountain the official 'armpit of America' and the town quickly capitalized by spinning it into a sponsorship deal with Old Spice. Then also consider that the town was inhabited in a state of postbellum disgrace by the Civil War's "greatest coward," James H. Ledlie (whose spectacular cowardice flipped the brilliant script of the 'Battle of the Crater' into a a Confederate victory.

-Elko, Nevada is the home of the annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering as well as the Fire Sciences Academy, where I, and any red-blooded American boy, would dearly love to study. Approaching from the West, that day's plume of smoke was visible from at least 25 miles away, and as we passed by their movie-set town was mucho en fuego as students ostensibly studied the awesome effects of fire while others readied their marshmallows, or prepared to get down to dousing with flame-retardant chemicals.

-The Ruby Mountains (pictured above) are refreshingly beautiful amid the starkness of surrounding parts of Nevada and likely merit further exploration if I ever get the chance.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Goodbye California

I'm out of San Francisco for at least the next two years. It didn't really sink in until I was on the first span of the Bay Bridge heading East on Monday evening as a typically golden California sunset bathed the Bay Area in perfect light.

I'm leaving a great city, a great state and too many great people to name, but you know who you are. Not to get to maudlin or sentimental, but I'll miss this place and the times I had here.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Globalized Croissants

A while ago I made the conscious decision to embrace my adopted NorCalishness and trained myself to like Peet's coffe. I've come around on the coffee and while I still insist that it's more of an acquired taste than other coffees, I am appreciative of the strength of their straight up brew. But it seems like their pastries are not even a push with Starbucks' and that's saying something bad.

Take this croissant I tried on Saturday morning. It's clearly been using Head and Shoulders, because there's not a flake in sight. And that may be good for hipsters in black t-shirts, but flakiness is the essence of croissant-ness just like moisture is the essence of wetness.

When I bit into this thing, it responded way more like a dry sponge than I wanted it to and I ended up throwing it out after a few bites. Which, I mean, how bad can a croissant be? I used to lump croissants in there with pizza and sex, even when it's bad it's good. Not this time.

Sad that this detracts from Peet's plucky status as the anti-Starbucks. But at the end of the day they're both making the regrettably globalized decision to outsource their pastry production to 3M and it seems such an avoidable tragedy that you can't get a good cup of coffee and a good croissant at the same place.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Post-Industrial Economy Occupational Hazard #1

Here Jeff displays the badly bruised tip of his right index finger to warn the blogosphere about the greatest lurking danger out there for those of us whose work demands frequent typing and clicking -- microphone stands.

While breaking down after blowing the doors off of band practice last night, Jeff's mic stand suddenly telescoped itself into a closed position, squishing the delicate, nerve-laden flesh of the pad of his right index finger like a grape.

While the initial pain was overwhelming, the worst part may be yet to come, as Jeff's day-job demands frequent involvement of the index-finger at speed and accuracy in every keyboard stroke and mouse click. Furthermore, his employer cares not and will aware no paid-time for Jeff to lick his wounds, for the circumstance that led to the one injury that compromises his ability to do his job occurred outside the work place.

So take a lesson from Jeff, if you can't take workers' comp for injuries incurred with the band, and avoid mic stands at all costs. Otherwise the mistakes you make after hours may just haunt your workdays.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

My Weekend in Pictures, II

Ninja Internship.

Picasso Glass Beads.

Exotic Made-To Order Omelets.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Who is Leroy Smith?

Leroy Smith was suddenly everywhere on the Internet today, looking a lot like Charlie Murphy and taking credt for Michael Jordan's greatness. While the question in the title stands, the better question maybe, who is behind Leroy Smith?

It's clear whomever it may be, is going for the viral angle and while I'm suspicious of anyone with that intent, I will play right into their trap because I think this is so well done.

The site is full of ridiculous content from kung fu inspired training videos to a simple, but addictive two on two basketball game, in which Leroy and his partner Manny proceeded to kick my ass without remorse using stifling D and a ridiculous barrage of high-flying dunks.
As brand experiences go, this one is engaging. But still puzzling. Who's behind it and what ultimately are they selling? With mystery as the hook, they're already doing better than Gatorade's 'G' campaign.

With Michael Jordan's implicit involvement and Gatorade's surprise viral campaign already out of the bag, it seems like Leroy Smith may be the new virtual pitch man of Nike.

Monday, June 1, 2009

This Cat's a Killer

My brother's cat, Maxwell, was named for the neo-soul crooner popular in the late '90s for his smooth as butter beats and erotic-styled funk. This ebony love warrior embodied the very height of '90s retro-soul culture and so inspired the name of the feline whose coat was equally slinky and cocoa sweet.

A decade later, here he is mere moments after dispatching a chipmunk and presenting it as tribute to my brother. The cat is apparently a lover and a fighter.