Friday, December 30, 2005

Tow-tally Cool


How crazy is this? If you drink too much on New Year's Eve, AAA will come tow your car home -- for free -- even if you're not a member!

Imagine how stylin' it would be to leave a party in a tow truck: "Hey ladies, this is how I roll."

Thursday, December 29, 2005

I Get So Emotional, Baby

Well, Kelly and I did our civic duty as San Franciscans last night: We saw "Brokeback Mountain." Our appointment was at 7:30 p.m. at the Embarcadero theater.

Suffice to say, the venue was very busy for a weeknight -- a big change from the many nights we've sat in near-empty theaters at that place ("Haiku Tunnel," anyone?).

As for the movie itself, since I was accused of providing more than "the right amount of gay" in my "Pride & Prejudice" review, I'll keep it brief this time: Best movie of the year. ("Pride" would be my No. 2, followed by "Crash.")

The performances were all outstanding -- from the leads on down to the bit parts, such as Randy Quaid in one of his only non-goofy roles. And this was a movie that said so much by saying so little. Every look, gesture and clipped bit of dialogue packed more emotion and power than 10 "English Patients." The movie's last line -- "Jack, I swear" -- will haunt you long after you leave the theater.

Rating: ****

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Reject!

The New York Times series on athletic recruiting at Haverford continued Sunday. This one focuses on a lacrosse goalie with a 1380 SAT who was rejected in favor of a student with a 1200 SAT -- who was Latino.

I feel like this is going to be fodder for the infamous* Haverford comment board (which, according to a young alumni we met recently, is on the "INTERNET" now).



*infamously dorky

Monday, December 19, 2005

Tree'd Up

I finally broke down and got a Christmas tree Friday night. It is the first real tree in the home and represents a detente between Kelly and me.


Kelly (who always had artificial trees when she was growing up) really wanted a real tree. But in my family, we'd always cut down our own trees, and that was no great shakes either. (We could never agree on what tree to kill, and then one brother would threaten another with the saw.) Anyway, I would have preferred a tinsel tree or, say, no tree at all.

But I have to say, now that the tree is up, it's kind of cool. I like how Kelly put it on top of a side table to make it appear more than 3 feet tall.


After all the work, I had to take a nap.

Jesus Christ!

We saw the Narnia movie on Saturday (in a packed theater with virtually no children at all -- I love this city). On the whole, it was a good film. The effects were decent (except maybe for those beavers -- the CGI on them seemed circa 2001 at best). And all the changes to the original story were improvements. Unlike with the latest Harry Potter -- where the screenwriters had to condense a 734-page book into a 2.5-hour movie -- the Narnia writers had the luxury of expanding a 200-page book into a 2.5-hour movie. They definitely did a good job fleshing out the characters and their motivations.

Before seeing the film, I went back and read the book (Kelly has a complete Narnia set, which appears to be vintage early-1980s). I enjoyed the story as a child (oblivious at the time to any Christian overtones), but as an adult, it leaves a bit to be desired. You can tell why C.S. Lewis was viewed by his Oxford colleague J.R.R. Tolkien as a bit of a hack. Lewis strews his story with all sorts of stock mythological creatures in a haphazard manner (unlike Tolkien, who painstakingly crafted a complex world with its own consistent logic). Yes, the book is for kids. But some stuff just doesn't make sense.

Take, for instance, the appearance of Father Christmas. He tracks down the children and helps them in their quest by giving them several crucial gifts. The problem is, these overt allusions to Christ and Christmas within Narnia aren't consistent with the central allegory: that Aslan's sacrifice and rebirth represents the crucifixion of Christ.

You can't have an allegory about something, and then directly mention the thing you're representing in the allegory! That's just crazy. Are we to believe that Christ died for the sins of Narnia some 2,000 years ago (though who knows how the time would work, since their time doesn't run parallel with that of Earth), and that now Aslan is doing the same thing? Doesn't that strike anyone as odd?

I have no problem with the whole Aslan-as-Christ thing, and I don't think the movie should have played it down. It's a pretty powerful motif, even if you're not a Christian. But be consistent! The writers could have easily deleted Santa and figured out another way for the children to get their gifts.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Chuman Update

As loyal Buboblog readers know, it's been my long-stated goal to create a human-chimp hybrid (I would call it a chuman, but other people have their own terms — hunkee, humanzee, humpanzee, etc.)

So I was intrigued by this story in the New York Times (brought to my attention by the intrepid Bill Stern) about efforts to make a humanzee in the 1930s.

Sadly, the writer hews to conventional wisdom: that you can't breed humans and chimps because "the genetic material is arranged quite differently on our chromosomes."

I'm not sure I buy this argument, since plenty of people have unique chromosomes (Jamie Lee Curtis, Corky, etc.). I just think we haven't tried long or hard enough. And one of the comments to the New York Times story appears to take this same view:

I have to disagree with Wynne's conclusion that "chimp-human hybrids are probably impossible because the genetic material is arranged quite differently on our chromosomes"—the rearrangements aren't that great and wouldn't be a crippling barrier to hybridization. I'd expect that it's the regulatory differences that would lead to incompatibility in development, and differences in sperm and egg proteins that would make fertilization improbable.


Yeah, what he said.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Hopefully They'll Also Keep the Slightly Gay-Sounding Q-Club


It appears that the much-cherished Quizno's sandwich chain is up for sale. Details are sketchy, but I wonder if this means that the chain has grown too quickly in recent years and the owners want to cash out while the getting's good.

I have been noticing some subpar Quizno's locations lately — like one on El Camino near my office (you would never know it was there if a guy dressed up as a drink cup weren't jumping up and down in front of it).

All I can say to Quizno's new owners: Please keep the free pickle/pepper bar! It's the only thing that keeps me going some days.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Team America

We watched "Team America: World Police" last night (why did we wait so long??) -- a glorious piece of cinema. Even Kelly, who had dreaded watching it when the Netflix came, had to admit it was pretty funny (though she somehow failed to see the humor in the vomiting scene -- one of the film's finest set pieces, in my opinion).

Anyway, this was quite possibly the greatest deleted scene ever:
Gary Johnston: I'm leaving. I'm out.
Spottswoode: No, Gary! You can't leave! We need you now, more than ever!
Gary Johnston: Don't you see what's going on out there? Everyone hates us!
Spottswoode: Hey, now, everyone hated Winnie the Pooh, too.
Gary Johnston: No, they didn't!
Spottswoode: Well, I did. That cocksucking bear killed Jack Kennedy!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Literary Quotes of the Day

Just finished Faulkner's 1939 novel "If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem" (for my book club), and we were all amused by the last two words of the book: "Women, shit."

But my favorite recently discovered literary quote was in Dostoevsky's "The Double" -- perhaps because it is just as random and out-of-nowhere in the book as it is here:

"The friends laughed heartily at the simplicity of the Turks, but paid tribute to their fanaticism, which they ascribed to opium."

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Thank You, Eminem

Like most married couples, Kelly and I often struggle to tell the difference between "playful banter" and "hurtful insults."

So it's reassuring to see that Eminem is getting back together with his wife Kim. This must mean she has accepted his many threats to kill her, chop up her body, shoot her, etc. as "just playin'."

This really broadens the banter category for the rest of us!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Book Vs. Movie

Speaking of movie adaptations of books, there's a fun piece in this week's Time that compares recent film and decides which was better — the movie or the book.

Not sure if I agree with everything in there, but at least it means I shouldn't feel bad about never reading "Memoirs of a Geisha" — since apparently the movie is better.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

BuboBlog Reviews 'Pride and Prejudice'

As most of you know, Jane Austen is my [n-word]. When I was in high school, I devoured everything she ever wrote. But "Pride and Prejudice" was always my favorite. And I feel like this movie really gets it right.

Naturally, the 127-minute film couldn't go into the same kind of depth as the 1995 BBC miniseries. And I was concerned that no one could do Darcy like Colin Firth (who played him in the miniseries and also in the "Bridget Jones" movie). But this version's Matthew MacFadyen does a solid job.

The new film also was a bit less subtle than the miniseries (with the notable exception of Mr. Collins' character, who was more cartoonish in the BBC version). There's a scene tacked on at the very end that is very un-Jane Austen, for instance. And the New Yorker review made some snarky remarks about how the movie tried to turn Mr. Darcy into Wuthering Heights' Healthcliff (ostensibly because he crosses a foggy field at one point in the movie). They also complained about changing the timing of Lady Catherine's hissy-fit. But who cares — it worked.

I especially liked what they did with the ball scenes — the way the camera follows the twirling dancers as they exchange dialogue. There's this one exquisite shot that captures the whole sweep of the ball and the emotions of several different characters — all within one extended take. Great stuff.

Rating: **** (out of 4)

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

BuboBlog Reviews 'Harry Potter'


I caught the new "Harry Potter" film while in Atlanta. There were a lot of loud children in the theater. You forget living in San Francisco that there are children in the world and that they sometimes like to go to children's movies. Anyway, annoying.

As for the film itself, good stuff. It was a bit hard to judge, though, since I had finished the book mere hours before. At times (especially early on), the movie felt like a highlight reel of plot points. On the whole, they did some judicious cutting of extraneous plotlines (the whole thing with the house-elves, for instance). And they played up the interpersonal elements pretty well (Harry fighting with Ron, Ron fighting with Hermione, etc.)

But I was a bit disappointed with Voldemort. He just wasn't that scary. Basically a guy with a smooshed nose. That's supposed to terrify all of wizardom?

Another point: These kids just keep getting uglier. Ron, Neville, Harry — even Hermione. I don't think they're blossoming into attractive adults. I mean, I know it's probably hard to cast good-looking British children, but c'mon. This could turn into the single ugliest franchise cast in movie history (yes, including this one).

It's like Harry's neck is too fat or something...he has a bit of the Corky about him. And Ron...geez, let's just say if he continues on his downward trajectory, *he'll* be able to play Voldemort — without makeup.

Mac Dre Update


There's a good recap of the Mac Dre saga in today's Chronicle. I didn't realize the plot was so complex! (And naturally, it involves a dead Vegas hooker -- as all good stories do.)

I also like the fact that they all drive such crappy cars (Tercels, Saturns, etc.).

Cheap Gas

I just learned today that I was quoted in a front-page story in Sunday's Mercury News about how gas prices are lower in S.F. than elsewhere in the Bay Area:

Your SUV, pickup or hybrid is thirsty. You want the cheapest gas around.
Head to San Francisco. 
Yep, the city that almost always has the most expensive gas in California and the United States now has some of the lowest prices around. A gallon of self-serve regular averaged $2.42 a gallon Saturday and was as low as $2.29 along 19th Avenue, the busy San Francisco street where prices approached $3.25 after Hurricane Katrina. 
That current San Francisco price is two cents cheaper than the San Jose average of $2.44. It is also three cents lower than the state mark of $2.45 and 20 cents under the
$2.62 figure in San Luis Obispo, the most expensive price in California, according to the daily AAA survey. 
``I've been blown away by what's happened to gas prices in my neighborhood,'' said [me], a 32-year-old editor at Investor's Business Daily who lives south of Market Street in San Francisco. ``There's a Chevron station on Harrison and Sixth that was charging $2.35 last time I checked. It might be less now.''

I e-mailed with the reporter last week, but I wasn't sure if he was going to quote me. Turns out he used me as the "money quote" (as we say in the industry).

Speaking of cheap gas: In Atlanta, I saw prices as low as $1.87 a gallon.

What's All This Then?

I'm back from a Thanksgiving trip to Atlanta...it was pretty surreal to hear Oakland all over the news back there. I'm still getting up to speed on the story, but it sounds like 11 men in bow ties and suits ransacked two liquor stores in West Oakland last week (one of the stores was later burned down). Their demand: that the stores stop selling to African Americans.

This all seemed odd viewed from Atlanta -- a city where they still remember the days when stores refused to sell liquor (or anything else) to African Americans. I feel like we as people have generally decided this was a bad thing.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Mystery Solved

Okay, it appears that the movie is "The Pursuit of Happyness," a true story about a San Francisco homeless man who makes good.

I remember reading about this movie in the Chronicle a few weeks ago, but I guess I didn't put the pieces together. Anyway, it stars Will Smith (whom we did not encounter Saturday).

Time Travel

Does anyone know what's going on in the Powell Bart/Muni subway station? We were down there Saturday and suddenly noticed that all the ads were from the early 1980s. There was an old Ban de Soleil ad, others for the premiers of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "Close Encounters" and one for a defunct airline.

As we walked deeper into the station, I noticed a map of the Bart system that also was way out of date. It only had two lines, and they weren't nearly as extensive. That's when I started to freak out, thinking that maybe I can stepped into a time portal. (Where is that fat guy from "Sliders" when you need him?!).

But it occurred to me that maybe they were filming a movie set in the early 1980s, and wanted it to seem authentic. If that's the case, two questions:

1. What movie is this? And is it a Steven Spielberg film, since they seem to be promoting his other works?

2. Um, hello. How confusing is it to Bart riders to have a completely outdated map on display?...with no explanation whatsoever. We were surrounded by tourists and other clueless-seeming people, so I can only imagine what was going through their heads.

H&M Update

So we went to Union Square on Saturday because Kelly wanted to look at magazines at Cody's Books (we may be the only people who fight the crowds at Union Square to look at magazines, but it's not a bad walk from our place).

Anyway, the line stretching out of H&M (which had just opened earlier that morning) was CRAZY. It started at the entrance near Powell and Geary, stretched all the way down the block, around the block at O'Farrell, down to Stockton and all the way back to Geary. It seemed to be mostly young women with a smattering of parents.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Say What?


It seemed pretty exciting that San Francisco was finally getting an H&M store (first one on the West Coast) -- that is, until I learned today that there's an H&M in the Holyoke Mall!

I realize they're expanding East to West, but that's just embarassing. Holyoke done beat our ass!

Left-Eye Moody

So I'm reading "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" right now (yes, I only read the Harry Potter books right before the movie comes out -- don't judge me!).

Anyway, I've been trying to avoid seeing anything about the movie until I finish the book (734 pages -- are you kidding me with that?). But I did come across this photo of Brendan Gleeson as Mad-Eye Moody, the defense against the dark arts teacher.

Um, how lame is this costume?! I realize the British have a history of bad special effects, but they basically just stuck an eyepatch on this guy.

Congratulations!


Hey, so my brother passed the bar. Way to go, Max!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Self-Commenting

Apparently some people are annoyed by the fact that I comment on my own blog entries.

Burning Question


I was amused by recent reports that France is back down to "normal" rates of just 100 car burnings a day. That still seems pretty high to me, but apparently carbecues are a la mode for them.

Anyway, it got me thinking. How does that compare with the number of car burnings here? I mean, California has more than half as many people as France. Do we have 50 car burnings a night?

So I did a little digging...

Car burnings are classified in crime statistics under car thefts. In California last year, there were 664.5 car thefts per 100,000 people. Typically about 4% of car thefts result in the car being burned or flooded.

Assuming a 2004 population of 35,893,799, some 239,000 cars were stolen. About 9,500 of those were burned (or flooded). Let's assume half the cars were burned.

On a daily basis, that means 13 cars in California are torched.

Go Pilots!

Huh. Did anyone else know that San Francisco has a new ABA professional basketball team, the Pilots? This bit of news somehow slipped passed my radar (and my gaydar for that matter).

Anyway, I guess they play down at the Kezar Pavillion, and tickets start at $5. Could be fun. Not sure I get the name, though.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

'Happy Hour'

Since hip-hop artists have a reputation for being homophobic, it's perhaps a promising sign that THE GAYEST SONG EVER is getting heavy airplay right now on mainstream rap radio (and BET).

Has anyone else heard this track, "Happy Hour," by Cee-Lo and Jazze Pha? It goes: "Hey girl...hey girl...hey girl, let's go have some drinks. Apple martinis, cosmopolitans, pina coladas -- I got a lot of numbers..." and continues in such a fashion for several minutes.

Now, if you watch the video (which you can download here), you'll see that the song is ostensibly about men trying to pick up on women at a bar. But c'mon. This track is so flaming, it singed off my eyebrows. I look like this right now.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Let's Get Retarded

I get automatic e-mail updates whenever there's a change to the AP Stylebook. Anyway, today's alert was somewhat odd:

A new entry has been added to the AP Stylebook:

retarded

That's all it said. So I'm wondering, does that mean it's OK to call people retarded again? Because certainly this isn't a new term that AP has just gotten wind of.

I tracked down the full entry in the stylebook, and it says this:

retarded Mentally retarded is the preferred term for those with
significantly subaverage intellectual functioning. Do not use retard.

So I guess as long as you don't say "retard," you're in the clear. Sadly, there's no guidance on whether you're allowed to use the increasingly popular 'tard.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Factoid Alert


I did pub trivia last night, and we were denied an outright victory (we won the "peewee" division, for teams of three or fewer) because of one question: What car, introduced in 1966, is the best-selling passenger car in the world?

My guess was the VW Beetle, though I thought it might be the Honda Civic.

But surprisingly, the answer was the Toyota Corolla. I checked this today, and it's true (this MSN site has the Corolla as No. 6 in their list, but it explains that the car is No. 1 worldwide).

More than 27 million Corollas have sold in 140 countries. I'm assuming a lot of these are in Asia and Latin America, since I don't recall seeing many in Europe (and it's never been the best-selling car in the U.S.).

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Restaurant Review: Tres Agaves


Remember in November, when I mentioned that Sammy Hagar was opening a restaurant south of Market? Well, the restaurant finally opened and we ate there last night. It's called Tres Agaves: Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Lounge, and it's basically a high-end Mexican place (not as high-end as, say, Maya, but definitely a step up from Chevy's).

Since a lot of restaurants near the ballpark have struggled, we assumed we would be "throwing this place a bone" by showing up on a Wednesday night. Not so! It was packed, and we had to wait at the bar for several minutes before they could seat us. I also assumed the restaurant would be cheesy, due to its affiliation with Hagar (former lead singer of Van Halen and Sarah Jessica Parker's doppelganger). Again, I was wrong. Not only was it uncheesy in a figurative sense, it literally wasn't cheesy -- in keeping with authentic, non-Americanized Mexican cusine, few of the dishes contained cheese.

The tequila lounge aspect of the restaurant is really cool. I ordered an $8 tequila, which they served neat in a port glass. And the bartender gave me an unsolicited chaser: a shot of chilpachole. I had no idea what this was, but it tasted like very salty bloody mary mix. It was all very cool, though the tequila didn't even need the chaser. It was surprisingly smooth.

When we sat down for dinner, they brought out some delicious chips and three kinds of salsa. And the spiciest of the salsas was actually spicy -- even by Mexican standards -- not the typical stuff that only a Midwesterner would find spicy.

We then ordered two entrees: Carne en su Jugo (Jaliscan-style slow cooked beef in a rich broth with bacon, cilantro, onions and lime) and Chile Relleno con Huitlacoche en Salsa Jitomate (Poblano chiles stuffed with cheese and Mexican truffles). All the dishes come with beans, rice, tortillas and a salad served family style. Both of our dishes were very good. I especially liked the beef, which was incredibly flavorful (or maybe just incredibly salty, according to Kelly...whatever, it was delicious!).

Next time we go, I'd like to try one of their tequila flights. These work the same way as wine flights (where you get to try a series of different wines). I'm especially intrigued by the $200 tequila flight, but Kelly indicated that if I took that flight, it better be a one-way trip (not sure what that means).

The bottom line: Tres Agaves was Très Awesome.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Pirate Power


The Chron ran a story today on a new golf phenom who goes to my high school. According to her coach, "She could beat most women in the world right now, on any stage." (I assume most people would prefer to play golf on a green not a stage, but that's still quite impressive.)

By the way, it appears to be "out" to refer to Robert Louis Stevenson high school as RLS -- everyone seems to call it Stevenson School these days.

Anyway, hopefully if this girl becomes famous, it will trump Kelly's latest claim to fame, which is that R&B star Ciara would have gone to Kelly's high school in Atlanta -- if the school hadn't been closed under mysterious circumstances.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

R.I.P. Mac Dre


Today is the one-year anniversary of the death of Mac Dre, the seminal Bay Area rapper who was gunned down in Kansas City.

It's a hip-hop cliche, but police have yet to solve his murder. Mac Dre (nee Andre Hicks) was riding in a van down Highway 71 at 3:30 a.m. on Nov. 1, 2004, when someone in a second vehicle fired at him. Police don't appear to have any concrete suspects.

Though he always had a core group of fans, Mac Dre was never a huge commercial success. But he wasn't afraid of supplementing his income with criminal activity. As a member of Vallejo's Romper Room gang, he robbed banks and pizza parlors in the early 1990s. Dre then spent five years in prison for conspiring to rob a bank in Fresno.

As some of you know, there's a huge Mac Dre mural on our block (Langton St). Click on this Web site to check it out. (Please wait for all the pictures to load, because the one where the three guys are posing in front of it is quite delightful).

And if you want to check out his music, KMEL is feting him today by playing some favorite tracks ("Feelin' Myself" perhaps being the best-known).

Monday, October 31, 2005

Real-Life Moe's


Friday night I went to a dark, divey bar in L.A. called the Fireside. The place wasn't especially memorable, but I learned today that it was the inspiration for Moe's Tavern in "The Simpsons"!

According to IMBD.com: "Moe's Tavern is based on a real bar called Fireside. It is located near Loyola Marymount University where David Mirkin [a writer/producer on the show] went to college."

I wish I had known this when I was in the bar, because I would have explored it more thoroughly. But I guess the layout is roughly similar.

Sadly, there was no one like Moe there. In fact, all the bartenders were fairly young. One of them liked to juggle bottles "Cocktail"-style, and the other boasted about all the teen idols he used to roll with ("back in the day").

And they did not receive a single crank call the whole time (I know this because I was sitting across from the phone). Alas, life does not imitate art.

L.A. Radio


Just got back from a business trip to Los Angeles. As always, I was impressed by the dazzling array of cool radio stations in the City of Angels:

--The hip-hop variety is better (with such rap stalwarts as Power 106 and 99.1 FM). Big Boy is still doing the morning show on 106, with his distinctive cow bell, but I've heard he's lost a lot of weight (possibly due to stomach stapling) and is no longer so big.

--Unlike San Francisco, they have a country station (K-FROG).

--There are two classical stations, one commercial and one public. The commercial station -- K-Mozart -- is nearly as cheesy as our own KDFC, but in a different way. Rather than playing Baroque white noise, they load up on Romantic and post-Romantic pieces...it's kind of what I think classical stations probably sounded like in the '50s and '60s. Old school.

--I was perhaps most delighted by a new station called Latino 96.3. Instead of the usual Romantica you hear on Spanish stations, they focus on Latino hip-hop tracks. (You definitely won't hear this stuff in the Bay Area.) And the DJs speak English (mostly). What's really fascinating about this station is I think it replaced a Spanish-language station. It really shows the progress L.A. is making in transforming Spanish-speaking immigrants into English-speaking urban thugs. Bravo!

Shockingly, none of the people at our L.A. office had even heard of Latino 96.3!! They clearly don't appreciate their own good fortune.

Monday, October 24, 2005

'Oh Boy'

Sorry to hear that Cam'ron was shot over the weekend by would-be carjackers.

Apparently he was leaving a club in his Lamborghini and thieves tried to seize the car at a stoplight. Cam'ron refused and drove away, which is when they shot him once (and the bullet went through both his arms -- how weird is that?).

But maybe it's heartening that a rapper was shot in a non-feud-related incident?

I also liked his quote: "People are foolish if they think I'm going to lose my head and give up anything to anyone just because someone threatens me."

NOTICE: In case any carjackers are reading this blog, if you threaten me and subsequently shoot me, I *will* lose my head and give up anything to anyone.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

List Mania!



San Francisco is at or near the top of a couple recent city-ranking lists lately.

The first, by the consulting firm Runzheimer International, found that San Francisco was the second-most expensive city in the U.S. (after Manhattan). They calculated that the average family of four would need $122,007 a year to have a fairly comfortable lifestyle with two cars. (Hmm... as a family with no kids and only one car, I think maybe that's optimistic.) It would take $146,060 to do that in Manhattan, the study found.

1. Manhattan: $146,060
2. San Francisco: $122,007
3. Los Angeles: $117,726
4. San Jose: $108,506
5. Washington, D.C.: $102,589

The second, by Conde Nast Traveler magazine, named San Francisco as the No. 1 tourist city in the U.S.:

1. San Francisco
2. Santa Fe
3. Charleston, S.C.
4. New York
5. Chicago

Also, San Francisco was the No. 2 tourist city worldwide, beat out by Sydney. (I'm kind of surprised Santa Fe scored so high, but I guess some people like that sort of thing.)

Apparently the survey's respondents said they were fond of the city's "only in San Francisco" quirkiness. So it's good to see people enjoy being heckled by crazy shirtless men.

We had a bit of a "only in San Francisco" moment last night. Kelly and I were walking home (not even holding hands or anything), and some truck driver shouts out, "Your happiness is an example to us all!!" But he said it in kind of a harsh way, like maybe he was being sarcastic. Who says that?

Monday, October 17, 2005

De Trip to the De Young

The de Young art museum officially reopened on Saturday in what was probably the biggest museum event in the U.S. this year. To mark the occasion, they had free admission and stayed open all night.

So I devised a plan: We would show up around midnight and beat the crowds. Boy, did I miscalculate! When we got there, the line to get in was still stretched out the door and around the side of the museum. People said it was taking hours to get in. (It makes me wonder what time of night we would have had to show up to beat the crowds... 2 a.m.? 3:30?)

We gave up on the main line and decided we would visit the tower instead, which had a separate line. The de Young has this cool twisted tower, which was quite controversial when it was first proposed (people said it would make the museum look like an air-traffic-control building). Anyway, I don't hear much criticism now -- I think it works pretty well.

We made it up into the tower, where we suddenly found ourselves in a confined space with an a capella group (the horror!). This was one of many cultural activities under way at the time -- we were later trapped in a stairwell by an African tribe that I believe was sacrificing a goat.

After we came down from the tower, we found a way into the main part of the museum -- without waiting in line. Ha! I was tempted to shout "suckers!" to everyone there, but I didn't want to give away our status as interlopers (since we didn't have the green wristbands they had given to everyone else).

By that point, it was getting late. So we didn't see that much of the actual art. But I liked what I saw. I recognized some of the pieces from the old museum, but they arranged the works in new and interesting ways -- like a section devoted to trompe d'oeil works. I also enjoyed the collection of Wayne Thiebaud paintings (and I learned today that he was in attendance Saturday night. I should have harassed him).

When we left, people were still streaming in. In fact, I've never seen Golden Gate Park so active -- at night at least. Hopefully the museum will be able to maintain this level of interest when people actually have to pay to get in. Suckers!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Just To Be Clear

The sideshow photo below was only meant to give an example of what sideshows look like. But apparently this has caused some confusion.

To set the record straight, I did not take the photo and that is not me in the car.

Thank you.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Sideshow Nick


I was thrilled and delighted yesterday to see an Oakland-style sideshow in my very own neighborhood!

A Jetta-driving impresario pulled into a parking lot at the end of Langton, started blasting music and doing some serious doughnuts. (Sadly, the music wasn't hip-hop and in fact was quite possibly "Sweet Child O Mine," which made it hard to pretend I had been transported to Oakland.)

I had to watch this by hanging out our window ("227"-style), so I couldn't really see too much. When I vowed to run down there and officially become a sideshow spectator, Kelly objected. Something about "not encouraging him." Then the whole thing ended abruptly.

Ah, but next time this happens, I will definitely be down there (avec boombox) to lend moral support -- and possibly suggest more appropriate music.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Album Review: Kanye West's Late Registration


I've been listening to tracks from the new Kanye West album for months now, but it was only last week that I sat down and peeped the whole album. My verdict: first-class banger.

The album isn't a creative departure from Kanye's first album, "College Dropout," which I think was the best hip-hop record of 2004. And there aren't quite as many standout tracks. But it seems more refined. For one, there's nothing like "Last Call" (the closing number on "College Dropout"), an indulgent, 14-minute track in which Kanye details how he broke into the rap game — including such details as what furniture he bought at Ikea when he and his mom moved to New Jersey. (Kelly is especially unfond of this song and usually demands that I "change the music" when it comes on.)

Instead, the tracks on "Late Registration" are tight and focused. (Production help from Jon Brion apparently helped with this.) And the skits in between songs are better as well. They're funny without being silly — unlike say, "Workout Plan" from "College Dropout". And it's nice to hear Bernie Mac reprise his uncredited performance as the disgruntled school administrator. Just hearing him say "Kahn-yay" cracks me up!

As was the case with "College Dropout," most of the best songs on "Late Registration" will probably never get played on KMEL. Not because they're especially profane or controversial — they just have a different vibe than most of what you hear on rap radio. His songs rely heavily on soulful R&B hooks (typically sampled from works from the '60s and '70s) and they tend to haunt you.

Take one of my favorite tracks, "Touch the Sky," which uses a snippet of "Move On Up" by Curtis Mayfield. The sample is so effective, I will probably never be satisfied listening to the original song again. "Crack Music" (featuring The Game) is another exhilarating work, as is "Hey Mama." And a track called "Gone," which features an Otis Redding sample and fine work by rapper Cam'Ron, has already created a catch phrase in our Household: "We strive at home, I ride on chrome." (Not sure what this means, but I feel like I should be doing it.)

Bottom line: "Late Registration" isn't quite as exciting as "College Dropout" was, but it's at least as good. Right on, Kanye. I knew I was gonna see ya, I knew I was gonna see you again.

Rating: 4 stars

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Book Bonanza

I got to experience the Annual Big Book Sale on Sunday for the first time. Wow, what a scene! For those of you who don't know, this is a HUGE used book sale -- the largest on the West Coast -- held in a warehouse at Fort Mason. It raises money for the San Francisco library.

The people there were pretty aggressive. Some of them were filling supermarket shopping carts with books. And if you didn't move down the stacks fast enough, they would start bumping you. By the way, there are about a billion copies of "Lonesome Dove" floating around. Just so you know.

We went Sunday -- the last day -- which meant every book was marked down to $1. Even though things had been picked through, there were still some definite finds, such as a first edition "Something Happened" (not in perfect condition, though).

Kelly, meanwhile, picked up some old cookbooks -- like "Sunset's Best Recipes of 1993." Hello, is she trying to kill me? What did they know about food in 1993? I don't even think they knew what carbohyrdrates were!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Kelly, Blogger

Kelly, who writes occasional entries for the Macworld editors' blog, had an interesting piece yesterday on her experience finding a wedding photographer. (I say "her experience" and not "our experience," since I was not consulted too much during the process — in fact, I wanted to hire the guy who made the bride look like a scary plastic doll!)

Kelly's main point is that most wedding photographers are not making a smooth transition to digital. Few of them are willing to just give you the digital images, since they make most of their money making prints for you — at inflated prices.

I thought the piece was right on, but it's already stirred up some serious ire among wedding photographers. Some say that digital photography is still inferior to film, while others say they have to charge a lot for prints in order to make a living.

I say, give me a break, wedding photographer prices are OUTRAGEOUS. And if most of them have to go out of business (or, more likely, just do it on a part-time basis), that's called progress. I remember another group that did a lot of the same kind of carping — they were called buggy whip salesmen.

Friday, September 23, 2005

You Might As Well Jump

Nice to see they're going ahead with the ski-jump plan...after a lot of whining from people in that neighborhood.

It's going to take place Wednesday and Thursday of next week at the intersection of Fillmore and Vallejo in Pacific Heights.

Speaking of events, Sunday is the Folsom Street Fair. Apparently they close all the nearby alleyways (in addition to Folsom Street itself), so we may be trapped in our apartment. I don't own any assless chaps, but perhaps I could repurpose some of my other clothes to fit in (assless Dockers?).

Pre-Wedding Pictures

Kelly posted some more photos on that site.

These don't quite give you a sense of just how cold it was at the picnic — or the quality of singing at the karaoke bar. But maybe it's best if you don't try to imagine these things.



The future wife and her future mother-in-law.



Note the umlaut.



A friendly hug...or merely an attempt to stay warm?



I feel like Bill was making that same hand gesture all weekend.



Engaging in some extreme sports.



They moved down the Peninsula to get away from this kind of weather!



Her Kiki Dee to my Elton John.



"The Girl from Ipanema..."



Big Guy takes the stage.



I just want to note that of these three people, I am clearly the least into it.



A friendly hug...or an attempt by Kelly to show off her French manicure?



I'm not sure what song inspired this kind of enthusiam.



I believe the technical term for this is "disco inferno."



The night comes to an end with a surprise appearance...and a very special rendition of "Piano Man."

Thursday, September 22, 2005

More Pictures

Kelly posted a bunch of wedding shots on this site. All in all, a nice bunch of photos.

Here are a few samples (you can click on them to make them bigger)...


Kelly's train.


Here's us "keeping it real" by posing in front of the Bay Bridge -- and not the Golden Gate.


Those flasks contain actual brandy.


Father-son moment.


Here's the whole wedding party, in front of "Cupid's Span."


Anti-social French smokers.


Walking mom down the aisle.


After the ceremony...


We look at danger and we laugh our heads off.


Would Rick make a speech that actually mentions prostitutes? Why yes, he would.


More cringing during Mike's speech.


Kelly gets misty-eyed at the mention of malt liquor.


Our table.


The "spaz" table.


I believe Gloria Estefan had this couple in mind when she said, "The rhythm is gonna get you."


My ill-fated attempt to dip Kelly. (Actually, it doesn't look so bad here. Hopefully no one remembers the truth.)


Here the photographer uses a special effect to make it seem like there was actual dancing going on.


I'm pretty sure the ink on those cards was toxic.


Dylan recreates a scene from the Abu Ghraib prison.


The inevitable pinata-on-head moment.


Haverford in the haverhouse.


I don't recall what happened here, which is probably just as well.