Thursday, July 31, 2008

Pregnant Woman Suffers Discrimination...Kinda

Today Kelly had to attend another class at the hospital after work. When she hailed a taxi to get there, she had the following exchange (more or less):

Cab driver: Where to?
Kelly: California and Cherry Street.
Cab driver: Where?
Kelly: I need to get to California Pacific Hospital.
Cab driver: Uh-oh.
Kelly: What?
Cab driver: You look pregnant. Are you in labor? I don't think I can do this.
Kelly: I'm...
Cab driver: I'm not one of those guys who helps women give birth in his cab. I'm no hero. I don't think I can take you.
Kelly: I'm not in labor.
Cab driver: You're not?
Kelly: No.
Cab driver: You're sure?
Kelly: Yes.
Cab driver: Oh, okay. [pulls out]

Don't you think this violates professional ethics or something -- what if she had been in labor? And is the problem of women delivering babies in cabs really that common? I mean, aside from on "Taxi." [To be fair, cleaning amniotic fluid off of vinyl seats could be kind of gross. -Ed.]

UPDATE: I did find this handy video online.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Architecture 'n the Hood

Slate has a slide-show review of the new-ish San Francisco federal building, which I walk by every day on the way to work. I have to say, much as I wanted to like this building, it isn't really growing on me.

While the Slate critic has some nice things to say, he essentially takes the same lukewarm view.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Another Trip to the Baby Store

After the birthing class, we went to a baby store called Citikids.

I had to admire this product, which is apparently for flatulent babies. You don't often see "stink lines" on consumer-product packaging:

This doll is supposed to help you tell how heavy your baby seat will be when the kid is inside it. I like the T-shirt, but the doll was kind of filthy and what's with the duct tape? If I want to see a dirty kid with no pants and a duct-taped crotch, I'll stick to the Folsom Street Fair, thank you:

This next product had the following label:

I guess we can debate the "lovable" part, but I don't find this dragon particularly "lifelike":

I mean, duh. Dragons are red and they sound like Sean Connery.

Girls, Girls, Girls

I was mentioning the other day how a disproportionate number of our childbearing friends have had girls. Someone told me that this is actually a documented trend and that there's some weird girl glut going on. I blame it on the rise of soy products.

Anyhow, today at our childbirth class there were 13 kids on the way. Only three of them were boys (including ours). WTF?

I made a comment to the other expectant parents about how our kid was now guaranteed to get CRAZY PLAY, regardless of how socially awkward he is.

I think we may now be banned from any playdates in the S.F. area.

Baby, You Lamaze Me

Today we went to a childbirth preparation class that lasted almost nine hours.

I found it fairly similar to traffic school: long, uncomfortable, kind of boring — and then they show you a truly horrifying video.

Instead of "Red Asphalt," it was a movie about some really unattractive people who give birth in increasingly disturbing ways.

Couldn't we have just watched "Baby Mama"?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Products for Traumatizing Infants

Check out this awesome list of disturbing baby products, such as the manual snot sucker.

If our little one is like me, he won't remember anything before his third birthday. So he can be dressed like a cheeseburger the whole time without increasing therapy bills.

Somehow this turkey costume didn't make the cut. Seems perfect for a baby that's going to be about two months old on Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Eat My Dust, Wolfgang

Tomorrow I turn 35, and so I'm taking stock of my many accomplishments.

Mozart died at age 35 after composing 600 works, including 41 symphonies.

Me, I've composed 763 blog entries, including this one.

When you're young, you're continually given new rights and responsibilities. At 16, you can drive. At 18, you can vote and view pornography (hopefully not at the same time). At 21, you can drink. At 25, you can be in the House of Representatives. At 26, you can rent a car by yourself. At 30, you can be in the Senate.

At 35, you can run for president of the United States.

I guess I should relish this new right — even if I don't use it. Because I won't get another one until I'm eligible to join the AARP.

Monday, July 21, 2008

BuboBlog Reviews 'The Dark Knight'

Given that "The Dark Knight" made $155 million in its opening weekend, America apparently didn't wait for the BuboBlog review before seeing the movie. Well, here it is anyway. Screw you, America.

It was hard to avoid having super-high expectations going into this movie. I mean, Christopher Nolan is always awesome. Heath Ledger was supposedly great. And there was talk of it being the best superhero film of all time.

The truth? It's good, maybe great. But probably not the best superhero movie of all time — or even of the summer. (That honor goes to "Iron Man"). It's also not the best film of Nolan's career. I still think "Memento" and the vastly underrated "The Prestige" are his pinnacle achievements. I give "The Dark Knight" ***1/2 (out of four).

Even though I liked the movie, and Ledger was indeed great, I won't use this review to further praise the film — you've already seen plenty of that elsewhere. So I'll focus on what didn't work. (Some minor spoilers below.)

1. There was too much going on. It wasn't especially hard to follow the plot, even though it got a little convoluted at times. But there were interesting ideas that were never fully explored because they had to share screen time with so many other plotlines. In addition to the Joker, there's Harvey Dent/Two Face, mafia kingpins, Chinese money launderers, blackmailing disgruntled Wayne Enterprises employees, copycat batmen, and even the Scarecrow (from "Batman Begins"), who returns for an absolutely useless cameo.

Nolan presents intriguing elements: such as a "prisoner's dilemma"-type problem involving two ferries wired to explode. Or a setup in which the Joker calls on Gotham to assassinate a man to prevent the destruction of a hospital.

But it's hard to sink your teeth into these scenarios because Nolan jumps right to the next thing. With the hospital threat, the joker blows up the hospital after everyone has been evacuated. So who cares...the tension just petered out.

You got the feeling that the dirty-cops issue was supposed to be a big deal — a la "The Departed." But it just comes off as a not-too-interesting sideline.

There's one scene where the Joker torches a giant pile of money. While it burns, he meets with a crime boss. The scene ends with him telling his men to kill the mobster. But what was the point of this scene? Does it mean the Joker took over Gotham's organized crime world? Or did they rebuff him because he's a "freak"? It's muddled...

"The Dark Knight" also touches on the issue of spying on people in order to fight crime. It's odd because the movie seems to be making the point that you shouldn't do this. And yet, essentially, Batman thwarts the Joker (and saves lives) by tapping into innocent people's phones. Isn't that exactly what George Bush wants to do?

You compare all this with "Iron Man," which wasn't as ambitious with its plotting and had a fairly conventional showdown at the end. But the point was always clear, with fewer of the murkiness between plotlines.

2. The dialogue in "The Dark Knight" wasn't as snappy as "Iron Man's." And it often veered into cliche territory, such as Dent saying, "It's always darkest before the dawn." Some of the lines that Batman delivers to the Joker during their final confrontation come off as clunky and overwrought.

3. The visual look of Gotham is no longer, well, Gothic. I think it's great that Nolan is trying to be as realistic as he can within the realm of a superhero story, but the city basically just looks like Chicago with its identifying characteristics removed. (There's a funny part where someone mentions Gotham's bridge-and-tunnel crowd. As far as I know, this term is never applied to Chicago because the only bridges are the ones crossing the rivers inside the city, no? But maybe Gotham has bridges and tunnels. It's also noted in the movie that metropolitan Gotham has 30 million people. That would make it much bigger than any real-life U.S. city.)

Nolan's first Batman movie never had the over-the-top look of Tim Burton's films, but Gotham was a comic book city. The crumbling tenements of the Narrows neighborhood were dark and creepy and didn't resemble a real, modern American city. There's nothing like that in "The Dark Knight."

4. Pretty minor point here, but I wonder if Maggie Gyllenhaal could have been shot in a more flattering light? She takes the role that Katie Holmes played in the first film. While she may be a step up from Holmes in the acting department, she looks a bit haggard in much of the film...unlike Christian Bale, who looks awesome — and as Gavin-esque as ever!

'Watchmen' Trailer

We went to see "The Dark Knight" this weekend (more on that later), and they showed a preview for "Watchmen." The trailer looked pretty good, but thinking back to the source material, I can't imagine this movie will work.

I predict it's either (a) an unwieldy, convoluted mess or (b) ludicrous or (c) both.

I don't remember the graphic novel entirely, but doesn't the finale involve (spoiler alert) destroying New York by teleporting an exploding-giant-squid-alien creature that kills everyone with telepathy? That won't come off as a little goofy? And then there's the confusing array of superheroes -- some of which are played by different people in different eras. And the whole thing has a bit of a dated 1980s sensibility to it (same for "V for Vendetta," I'd say, but I guess they overcame that with that movie).

You have to wonder if this is one of those books that should never be made into a movie, like "Pale Fire" or "A Confederacy of Dunces." I mean, even Terry Gilliam basically said it couldn't be filmed. Terry Gilliam.

It's going to suck.

Friday, July 18, 2008

I'm Walkin' Here

Remember that site called Walk Score that I wrote about last year. It measures how walkable your neighborhood is.

Well, it looks like they released a new report that says San Francisco is the most walkable city in America.

From the Chronicle:
San Francisco scored an 86 out of 100, besting New York's 83 and Boston's 79. Seventeen of San Francisco's neighborhoods ranked 90 or above — considered a "walker's paradise" — including Chinatown, the Mission, Nob Hill and Haight-Ashbury.

This is quite a boost to Ess Eff after we got dissed by the Brookings Institution last year (they said Washington, D.C., and Boston were more walkable). As I said then, while D.C. has walkable areas, it's hard to walk from one to the other without transit. I think that puts San Francisco, Boston, Chicago and New York in a class by themselves.

Fortunately, the latest study didn't take hills into account! [Or the risk of stepping in human feces. -ed.]

Man Finds Knife in Subway Sandwich

Talk about a guy totally failing to take advantage of the situation. If I found a knife baked inside something, I would immediately take it to my baby mama in prison!

From Reuters:
A New York man claimed in a lawsuit filed on Wednesday that he found a knife with a 7-inch (18-cm) blade baked into the bread of his foot-long "Cold Cut Trio" Subway sandwich.

John Agnesini, 26, a magazine designer, said he had already taken a few bites from the sandwich in late June when he spotted the knife jutting out from the bread's crust. The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan state court, seeks $1 million.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Squeegee Men and Morlocks

In H.G. Wells' "The Time Machine," the human race evolves into two species: the docile Eloi, who live above ground in splendor, and the Morlocks, underworld creatures who provide food and clothing for the Eloi — while antagonizing them and occasionally eating them for dinner.

I was reminded of this tonight when we took the car out to get gas. As we pulled into the Shell station at 8th and Harrison, we were immediately confronted by a homeless squeegee guy. He was swearing at the top of his lungs and appeared to be totally insane. He was also very intent on cleaning our windshield.

As I went to pump the gas, Kelly got out and told him that we weren't interested in a squeegeeing. He insisted. She told him we wouldn't be giving him any money. But he wouldn't be deterred; our efforts to stop him just made him angrier.

So Kelly got back into the car and the guy started violently cleaning our windshield, using a squeegee and copious amounts of his own saliva. It went a little like this:

[spit, squeegee, squeegee]
[spit, squeegee, squeegee]

Occasionally he would lurch at Kelly, staring at her through the glass in a terrifying manner. I was trying to pump the gas, but I kept yelling at him to get away from the car, indicating that his behavior was "not cool." It was no use.

Finally I had to go inside and talk to the attendant, who said he would call the police.

As I came back out, the homeless guy walked away. I think it was because he was done with the windshield and not because I informed the authorities, but he did give me a parting "F*CK YOU!" as he shuffled off.

When I got back into the car and pulled away, I looked at the windshield. Crystal clear.

"Wow," I said. "For a guy I just called the cops on, he did a really good job."

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Man Sells Baby's Name

Did you hear about this man in Florida (pictured) who sold the rights to his unborn baby's name — for a $100 gas card?

From the Associated Press:
David Partin recently heard that a local radio station was giving $100 worth of free gas to the listener who called in with the most interesting item to trade. Central Florida radio hosts Richard Dixon and J. Willoughby were quick to take Partin up on his offer, The Orlando Sentinel reports.

When the baby is born this winter, he will be named Dixon and Willoughby Partin — with the "and" included.

Partin's girlfriend, Samantha, says at least her son will have an interesting story about how he got his name.

I admire the mom for being a good sport here. But for me to sell my baby's naming rights, I'd want a heck of a lot more than than a $100 gas card. Sheesh.

Shall we start the bidding at a $150 gift certificate to Olive Garden?

Ah, Cruel Fate

It appears that a totally awesome candy shop has opened up — underneath my dentist's office!

Pure happenstance...or are they colluding?

BuboBlog Apologizes

BuboBlog regrets its comments about Mexico being trash-strewn, dusty and polluted with car fumes.

In an effort to remedy this insult and fight stereotypes: an adorable picture of a chihuahua.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

What's up with...

...the San Francisco Mexican consulate? Or "Consulate-General of Mexico," as they insist on calling it.

How did it wind up in such a crappy location -- on Folsom Street, with a freeway overpass on one side and a trash-strewn abandoned lot on the other.

Most of the consulates from fancy countries are in the nice part of the city, north of California Street. [The French consulate is on Bush, but close enough I guess. -ed.]

Is the Mexican consulate's location a flagrant example of racism? Or is it just because the dust, garbage and car fumes bring back fond memories of their home country?

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Better than 'Catwoman'

Every now and then a movie comes along with great dramatic tension, action, suspense — and an amazing twist ending.

This is such a film.


Have you been following the Hans Reiser case? He claimed he didn't kill his wife and then -- after being convicted of murder -- said, actually, he did kill his wife.

From the Examiner:
Handcuffed to his attorney, Reiser led authorities Monday to the remains of his missing wife, Nina Reiser. The body was buried in a 4-foot-deep hole in the Oakland hills. Reiser told authorities that he hopes a cherry tree can be planted to mark the grave site.

Hold up, they handcuffed him to a lawyer? Talk about cruel and unusual punishment. [Rimshot. -ed.]

Nick Confronts Hulk: Part 2

Excuse me, are those Bugle Boy jeans that you're wearing?

Nick Confronts Hulk

Excuse me, have you accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal savior? No? Okay, that's alright, thank you.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Flavor Aid

Just a week after learning that I should be saying, "Don't drink the Flavor Aid," instead of, "Don't drink the Kool-Aid," I see a reference to Flavor Aid in an SFist posting.

I feel so "in the know!"

Sunday, July 06, 2008

'Staycation': Day 3

To the woman I just terrified on Third Street:

(1.) First of all, ma'am, I was just a harmless jogger trying to get by. You and your grandson were taking up the whole sidewalk. I tried to say "excuse me" as gently as possible. Maybe I frightened you by having my iPod turned up too loud ("This is black superhero music right here, baby") or by sporting a three-day beard. I'm not a terrorist, I'm on STAYCATION.

(2.) I realize you probably come from Orinda or Lafayette or the generic equivalent, and you were a little nervous parking three blocks from the ballpark and walking. But let me tell you, Third Street is the NICE part of SoMa. Go three blocks west of there and then maybe you can be scared.

(3.) Last and most important, how dare you jump six inches and shriek wildly. THAT'S USUALLY MY JOB.

'Staycation': Day 2

Today we found 13 fliers on our car -- a new record!

Most of them were for night-club raves, but one advertised DJ lessons. As loyal readers know, I already had some of those.

I'm pretty excited to have been invited to so many raves. Hopefully the dates don't conflict!

BuboBlog Reviews 'Wanted'

Um, wow. We just saw the movie "Wanted." Quite something.

When it ended, I said, "Was that the GREATEST MOVIE EVER?!"

Kelly said simultaneously, "That was the worst movie ever."

So I had to revise down my assessment to three stars (out of four). Kelly said she would have given it two stars.

Some thoughts:
(1.) In the old days, it was bad-assed enough to just shoot two guns at once while you jumped through the air. No longer! Now you have to shoot two guns while jumping — and one of the guns should be upside-down. (Bonus points if you wedge the gun into someone's eye socket and shoot other people through his head.)

(2.) Did they add some tattoos to Angelina for this film, or is she just that inked-up? Seriously, she's teetering dangerously close to circus-freak territory here. Will America's next sex symbol be JoJo the dog-faced boy?

(3.) There appears to have been a writing/editing mistake in one scene. When Morgan Freeman says, "Shoot that motherf**ker," did they get confused and think Samuel L. Jackson was in the movie? Embarrassing mixup.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

'Staycation': Day 1

Like most Americans, we were forced to curtail our holiday plans and stay home this weekend for a "staycation."

Okay, we never had any plans -- I'm just trying to save face.

Highlights of the staycation so far: selling items on Craigslist and standing on our roof trying to see fireworks through the fog (unsuccessfully).

Friday, July 04, 2008

Do-It-Yourself Yogurt

Frozen-yogurt shops seem to be spreading like the plague, but I recently found an interesting variation on the concept: do-it-yourself yogurt.

There's a place called Icebee on Mission Street (across the street from Bloomingdale's) that lets you swirl your own yogurt -- any mix of flavors you like -- and add toppings yourself. Then they charge you by the ounce.

Awesome! I may have gone a little overboard on my first trip. I mixed five different yogurt flavors and then added pretty much every topping they had (cookie dough, sprinkles, peanut-butter cups, Cocoa Krispies, etc.). I also put in some raspberries so I could convince Kelly of how healthy it was.

When Kelly and I put our two yogurts on the scale, the cost came to nearly $12! Fortunately we didn't weigh them individually, so I was able to claim that Kelly's was heavier.

Anyway, cool concept. Kind of expensive, but at least you feel like it's your fault when you pay a lot at the end.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

How 'Gay'

Remember that AP headline I noted the other day: "Gay breaks Greene's US record in 100 at trials."

Well, apparently it created a bit of a snafu at a socially conservative Web site. It seems the site likes to run articles from the AP, but since their style guide doesn't accept the term "gay," they auto-correct the stories to substitute "homosexual."

So their headline read: "Homosexual breaks Greene's US record in 100 at trials."

Uh, whoops.

Movie Roundup Continues: 'Wall-E'

We saw "Wall-E" on Saturday. Once again, we got to experience the joy of seeing a children's movie in San Francisco (no children in the theater). I guess I should live this up while I can.

The movie was great -- definitely one of Pixar's best (and I've seen them all, except "Cars"). You really have to appreciate a film that holds your attention and engages your emotions while being almost devoid of any dialogue (especially in the first half).

I'd say the movie's biggest flub was the use of live-action for the parts showing the president (played by Fred Willard). It really clashed with the majesty of the animation, broke tone and took you out of the picture. Ironically, I think they made this artistic choice to keep things consistent: Since every time Wall-E watches a video, such as the movie "Hello, Dolly," he's watching the real thing, not a cartoon. But still, it didn't work.

Also, the sound of the Mac booting up was funny the first time. After three times, it was a little tiresome.

Still, the fact that these were the biggest problems with the movie says a lot: It was almost flawless.

Rating: ***1/2 (out of four)