Thursday, September 28, 2006

When In Rome...

Kelly took some nice pictures of our trip to Atlanta/Rome, Ga. In addition to going to a wedding, we went to the North Georgia State Fair. We encountered a belligerent emu, a guy shooting himself out of a canon and a delightful display of "Dixie thongs."

There's also a picture of the Rome "skyline" and -- my favorite -- a hooker (desk) for sale at an antique shop.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

San Francisco vs. Rome, Georgia

We were in Rome, Ga., last weekend for a wedding. Check out their gas prices:

And compare that with the prices posted in our local Shell Station on Harrison (as of Tuesday night):

New York vs. San Francisco

As I've remarked before, spending time in New York can make San Francisco feel small and inadequate. But there are two things that we will always have over New York:

1. The Weather: Good God, it was humid last week. I had to slog across town every day in a wool business suit, and I pretty much looked like I'd been doing calisthenics inside a horse's uterus. My definition of civilization is being able to walk down the street in a suit in the dead of summer and not break a sweat. By that standard, New York is a third-world country.

2. The Homeless People. The homeless in New York have been tamed to the point of being pathetic. I got panhandled a couple times but in such an uncreative lackadaisical manner, I was kind of offended. I wanted to say, "Are you serious with that? Come back to me when you're ready to bring your A game."

A homeless guy in San Francisco can panhandle while simultaneously flashing you and standing on his head. When it comes to homelessness, we are "The Big Dance."

(I did, however, have one only-in-New-York moment....I was dining with a friend at an outdoor cafe when this cab screeches to a halt. The fare (a young woman in her 20s) gets out and begins ambling away. The cab driver runs up to us and asks us to help him restrain the woman, since she just threw up in his cab. I'm not sure what he had in mind — citizen's arrest? I generally prefer not to wrestle with people who recently vomited. Our waiter seemed to agree, offering the old New York chestnut: "I find it's best to not get involved." The cab driver pleaded with us for a while, but the woman just walked away — free to threaten the floor mats of New York livery unfettered.)

What the...

I was in New York for three days last week. What is up with these 7-person "party bikes"? I was walking along 57th street and one of them careened by me. The homeless gentlemen next to me looked at the party bike and said, "Them motherf**kers is crazy." Indeed, sir. Indeed.

Man-Of-Leisure Week: Day Five

I've been away for a little while, so I never finished up my Man-Of-Leisure updates.

The last day (Friday) was the best Man-Of-Leisure Day ever!! I met up with some friends at Zeitgeist bar around noon (my goal was to be drinking *before* noon, but I was too lazy to make it there on time). Then we set off on a pub crawl of sorts down Valencia Ave. It wasn't our intention to spend the whole day on Valencia, but who knew you could do so much on that one street!

For instance:
—Drinking at a biker bar
—Drinking at an Irish bar
—Drinking at a Mexican bar
—Drinking at some bar that gave us free Goldfish crackers

We also visited a pirate supply store, one of my favorite used-book stores and — best of all — a place with a trough urinal:

Have I blogged about the tragedy of the disappearing trough urinal in American society, because I certainly should!

By the end of the day, we wound up at a friend's apartment (also on Valencia). A certain someone proceeded to pass out. As usual my cell phone camera captured the scene with perfect clarity:

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Man-Of-Leisure Week: Day Four

I had to get my wardrobe in shape for the new job, since apparently they have a "no-pasties" policy. So I took a bunch of stuff to Cable Car Tailors. This place is awesome. First of all, you always get the same level of customer service, regardless of whether it's busy or empty. By that I mean the people there scream at each other in Russian the whole time, ignoring you entirely.

I also moved the car for street sweeping -- the only time I've driven the car all week. This is the life.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Man-Of-Leisure Week: Day Three

Wow, I've gotten so into this leisure thing that apparently I can't even be counted on to update my blog every day.

It's funny walking around the neighborhood in the middle of the weekday. It's a little different. For one thing, all the working people are gone, which leaves the homeless guys and other layabouts (like me!). Anyway, yesterday morning I opened the front gate to find a guy sprawled across the sidewalk in this position. Only, I don't think he was doing yoga (unless there's some new yoga, where you get drunk in the middle of the day and pass out on the sidewalk. If so, yoga is awesome).

Speaking of freeloading, I really hit the motherlode last night. I wandered into Macy's in Union Square during what was apparently Man Appreciation Night. They had gambling tables set up, attractive women trying to spray you with cologne, and -- most important -- a crapload of free food. And high-quality free food: burritos from Baja Fresh, ice cream from Cold Stone, pizza from Wolfgang Puck's, etc. I called Kelly and told her to rush over because we just found our dinner (even though she's not a man, and therefore not appreciated, they still let her eat for free). I could get used to this.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Man-Of-Leisure Week: Day One

I'm switching jobs, and I have one week before I have to report to my new work. So for the first time since 1995, I am officially unemployed!

This morning I tried to find a wife-beater T-shirt in my closet, but I don't appear to own one. Oh well, I still hope to be facedown in the gutter by 5 p.m.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

In Today's Chronicle

Wait, since when is it wrong to steal a cancer-stricken boy's puppy? Next it will be "wrong" to steal people's wheelchairs.

Speaking of puppies, what the heck is this about?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

More 'Vial' Photos

The Chicago theater posted pictures of their production of "Vial." Compared with the San Diego play, their production was brighter, more physical and had younger actors -- as you can tell from the photos. On balance, I'd say the San Diego show was better (certainly it was better-attended), but they both had their qualities.

Monday, September 04, 2006

San Diego musings

I've been to San Diego several times, but I've never stayed downtown. It's kind of a weird city. First of all, the streets are very wide, which makes it hard to create a neighborhood feel anywhere. There was an area called "Little Italy" near our hotel, and it had some cool bars and restaurants. But you couldn't imagine for a minute that Italian immigrants had actually arrived in this place and set up shop. It all looked carefully planned, and even had a giant arch with bright lights saying "Little Italy"...these guys are trying way too hard.

They are building a ton of condos (both high-rises and lofts). And a few pockets of downtown (Gas Lamp district, for instance) could be described as bustling, but the streets were mostly deserted (granted, it was the weekend, and we were near what I presume was the financial district). It also was pretty hot. It all gave me the impression of Sacramento-by-the-Sea. (No offense to any readers who live in Sacramento.)

One thing I did really like was the trolley, especially this station (above), which also houses a branch of the Museum of Contemporary Art.

I also got a kick out of some of the real-estate listings. I remember back in the 1990s when San Francisco first became infested with lofts. The listings would always describe them as "New York-style lofts." In San Diego, the listings now refer to "San Francisco-style lofts."

The Show

We're back from San Diego after catching two performances of the play. Everything was great. The venue was cool, good acting, directing, etc., and the crowd seemed to enjoy the work. Saturday's performance appeared to be a full house (the director said it was the best-attended show so far at the Fritz Blitz).

I also got my first review in a real print newspaper — the San Diego Union-Tribune (the main newspaper down there). Seeing it in print was pretty exciting...even if the review was kind of mixed:

"The Vial," an inventive Agatha Christie knockoff, culminates the evening. Of the three plays, this English murder mystery set on a remote country estate (is there another kind?) most wants some fleshing out. More sketch than fully realized play, "The Vial" is nonetheless an enjoyable piece, if only for its premise.

Allen (Eric George, who mostly plays at being English) has invited three school chums and their guests to his home for a diabolical parlor game. Allen jauntily announces that one of the after-dinner sweets has been spiked with a deadly poison. Being oh-so-nobly English, Allen offers a single vial containing an antidote, thereby allowing the guests to quarrel over who best deserves the life-saving potion.

The machinations of these would-be survivors are amusing, especially Lord Nelson Woodruff, a Member of Parliament who is shocked that his colleagues don't trust him. Walter Ritter's richly timbred voice brings a "propah" style, lacking in some other performances, to the vile MP who gets both the last line and final laugh from a delighted audience.

While director Jason Connors choreographs his large cast well and creates a visually appealing world for the English setting, he doesn't quite get the requisite stylistic polish that more prep time would permit.

Still, for all the creepy goings-on, Fritz audiences left this play, and its companions, in high spirits.

If I ever cite this review, remind me to use the quote "inventive" and leave out the "knockoff" part. (Also, the play is called "Vial" — not "The Vial," and the character's name is "Alan" not "Allen," but it's all good.)

My parents came to San Diego too, and my father took several pictures of the performance (despite the large signs forbidding photography inside the would have been embarassing if we had all been thrown out!).

Anyway, here are a few shots:

Friday, September 01, 2006

First Review

My play premiered in San Diego last night, and here's the first review. The upshot: They found it to be unoriginal but not entirely sucky.

By the way, has anyone heard of the book mentioned in the review (the mystery by Charlotte Armstrong)? Maybe I should try to find it.

Camera Phones Suck

In the skies over Sunnyvale, someone in an airplane turned their contrails into a smiley face.

This is when it's good to have a camera phone, I thought, and snapped a picture. But I'm not sure this photo really does the scene justice.

Hopefully when I encounter a unicorn, my camera phone will do a better job.