Saturday, January 31, 2009

'Big Boy' Immortalized!

Remember the Obama-style artwork I made using photos of Elliot.



Some people described this as "creepy" (mental note: don't share things with people at my office).

Others, however, were inspired. Our friend Bill made this AMAZING piece of artwork out of the "Big Boy" picture. Check it out!



It uses pins stuck into a piece of styrofoam to give a 3-D effect.



You can tell Elliot likes it — note the drool.



Of course, he also enjoys the nylon strap of his diaper bag. I guess there's no accounting for taste!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Kelly's Computer Picks Me as Its Personal Savior

Kelly has a new program on her computer that goes through all her photos and identifies the faces. You give it a few examples of a person's face and then it searches for that person in other photos. Pretty cool.

Anyway, it spotted my face in this picture (it's of a coffee house in Alaska with a New Testament theme).




Maybe it was working off of this picture.

Snuggie Fever — Catch It!

Apparently Kelly's reference to the Snuggie yesterday is part of a national obsession with the blanket-with-sleeves. (There's also a competitor, the Slanket.)

I saw a stack of them at Walgreens yesterday and was pretty tempted, especially since we're having a bit of a cold snap. But I think I'll hold out for one with gloved fingers. It's the worst when you're trying to read in bed and your hands get cold. (We usually don't turn on the heat because I'm so cheap trying to lower our carbon footprint.)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Kelly: Media Luminary

Today the Valleywag blog did a roundup of Twitter "tweets" by people in the media. And one of them was from Kelly!



I'm impressed — especially since my Twitter account has been stuck on "Thinking of something to say on Twitter" for months.

Also, any mention of the Snuggie is alright in my book.

I have CNN and CNBC playing nonstop right over my desk at work, so I see the Snuggie ad about 10 times a day. (Along with the commercials for the Obama plate. Have they not sold all of those yet? I thought it was a limited edition!)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Awesome Alert: Alcatraz to Replace Gitmo?

Apparently some members of Congress are saying that if we close down Guantanamo Bay, we should replace it with Alcatraz.

Now, to be fair, these are Republicans and they may be trying to score political points. But who cares, because this idea is BAD-ASS.

Sadly, Nancy Pelosi isn't getting into the spirit of things.

According to NBC Bay Area:
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is suggesting her GOP rivals actually visit the park, and not rely on 1960's movies, like "The Birdman of Alcatraz."

When asked if it was a serious suggestion, Pelosi said, "It is — no."

She made the comments Sunday morning on ABC's This Week.

House Minority Leader John Boehner repeated the Alcatraz suggestion on Sunday, making the point that closing down Gitmo by the end of the year may not be the best plan considering the recidivism rate of terrorist detainees.

"If liberals believe they ought to go, maybe we ought to open Alcatraz," Boehner, R-Ohio, told NBC's "Meet the Press."

He was then reminded that Alcatraz is a national park. To that Boehner said, "It's very secure."


I guess some people in Ess Eff may be concerned about having the world's most dangerous terrorists so close to the city. And maybe it would cost us some tourism dollars, since I'm assuming people wouldn't want to risk being shiv'd or used as a human shield.

On the other hand, maybe this would excite thrill-seeking visitors. And think of all the puns you could have with terrorist vs. tourist.

If in the worst-case scenario, a terrorist swims ashore, he'll probably attack Fisherman's Wharf first. No big loss.

The Writing on the Wall

I'm not sure what these two messages have to do with each other — unless they're saying that "Jesus saves" by stocking up on plenty of "free gaza."

Spotted on the James Lick Freeway

Maybe not the perfect car for a rainy day like today.



Sunday, January 25, 2009

New Sherlock Holmes Just Says No

As I've mentioned before, they're doing a new movie version of Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey Jr.

The New York Times did a story this week on the making of the film. It sounds like they're going to do some interesting things with the character:
Sure, he will still be smarter than everyone within a three-planet radius, and he will retain his uncanny ability to intuit whole life stories from the tiniest speck of dust on a shoe. But he will do those things while being a man of action, a chaser, shooter and pummeler of criminals — “like James Bond in 1891,” Joel Silver, one of the film’s producers, said last fall.

Lionel Wigram, who conceived the story and is also a producer of the film, said that reinventing Holmes as an action hero made perfect sense. “I never agreed with the idea of the fairly stuffy Edwardian-type gentleman,” Mr. Wigram said. “It wasn’t my idea of Sherlock Holmes.”


Of course, an Edwardian gentlemen would be pretty cutting-edge in 1891 (since he'd be 10 years ahead of his time), but we won't dwell on that.

I'm a little concerned that Guy Ritchie is directing. While I've enjoyed some of his films, about 40 percent of his dialogue is incomprehensible, and that might be a problem in a complex mystery.

The most disappointing part? Apparently Holmes won't be using his "seven percent solution" in the movie. Say what?

How on earth do you cast Robert Downey Jr. as one of the most famous cocaine users in all of literature and not have him do drugs? That's unconscionable.

Elliot Gets ID'd

We're going to France in March and found out that even babies need passports! (Did everyone else already know this?)

That means Elliot got to have his first set of unflattering passport photos taken.



The woman who took the pictures was a little perturbed by the fact that he couldn't stand for the photos "unencumbered" (Kelly had to hold him). I'm not sure exactly how they would expect a four-month-old to do that.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Hug-Bot

We do enjoy our Hug-Bot 2000, though we live in constant fear that it will become sentient.





Its self-balancing gyroscope also may need to be fixed.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Great Works of Literature Made Embarrassing

They say people don't read novels anymore. Maybe that's true, I'm not sure. I do know that publishers no longer take serious works of fiction and try to make them appealing to the masses by slapping incredibly cheesy covers on them.

Take one of my favorite books by Saul Bellow, "Henderson the Rain King." Does this cover really capture the book's bittersweet worldview and wry comedy?


This cover on "Herzog" is even worse. What's with the couple frolicking on the grass? Also, Herzog looks constipated.


My friend Dave lent me this book last week. I think the cover is supposed to evoke the bleak, whiskey-soaked pathos of Carver's characters. But really it just looks like a hokey AA pamphlet from the 1980s.


This copy of "Sophie's Choice" is probably the worst example in my collection. I read this a few years ago and was too embarrassed to even take it on Muni. It looks like a romance novel.


And you can't even hide it from people, because they even made the spine cheesy.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Please Make It Stop

I'm having a real problem getting "If you liked it then you shoulda put a bib on it" out of my head.

Hopefully no one at work will overhear me singing this...

Elliot Responds to Historic Day by Napping

We got up early today and took Elliot down to Yerba Buena Gardens, where they were doing a simulcast of the inauguration.



I'm not sure we went to the most professional of the simulcasts. As we got there, someone was saying on the loudspeakers, "Wait, what channel is it on?"

But once they got it going, it was just like being there!



We wanted Elliot to experience history — and to know that even he, a scrappy white boy living on the wrong side of Sixth Street, can grow up to be...well, vice president.



Sadly, he wasn't too impressed.



Not surprisingly, the crowd booed and hissed every time Bush appeared. And there was a gasp when Cheney rolled out in a wheelchair. Several people noted how much he looked like Mr. Potter from "It's a Wonderful Life." (That's maybe ironic, since wasn't the Potter character modeled on FDR?)

Anyway, Kelly tried to get Elliot pumped up...



...to no avail.



I had to go to work before Obama's speech. Maybe it's just as well because apparently the feed cut out during the most exciting part. Elliot slept through it all.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

R.I.P., Ricardo Montalbán

I'm a little late on this, but I wanted to note the passing last week of Ricardo Montalbán.

He was best known as Mr. Roarke on Fantasy Island — certainly that was how he was introduced to me.

He was also perhaps the only actor to have a major role in two sci-fi franchises in the 1970s and '80s with more than three sequels (lots of caveats there, I guess). He played Kahn in the "Star Trek" films and also "Armando" in the "Planet of the Apes" series.

On a personal note: We have this one-of-a-kind oil painting of him in our house. It goes with a matching painting of Hervé Villechaize as Tattoo.


These were given to us as a wedding present. And may I say, they are probably the best off-registry wedding gift ever.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Tintin's Outing

I came across this story on the Times of London Web site that questions Tintin's sexual orientation (thanks to Anh-Minh for the tip).

I have to say, they make a pretty persuasive case for him being gay:
What debate can there be when the evidence is so overwhelmingly one-way? A callow, androgynous blonde-quiffed youth in funny trousers and a scarf moving into the country mansion of his best friend, a middle-aged sailor? A sweet-faced lad devoted to a fluffy white toy terrier, whose other closest pals are an inseparable couple of detectives in bowler hats, and whose only serious female friend is an opera diva.


The article also brings up the questionable relationship of Noddy and Big-Ears the Brownie. Something I did myself on this very blog!

As evidence, the writer notes the lack of female characters in Tintin books:
I can count only eight figures identifiable as women (about 2 percent) from the complete list of some 350 characters among whom Tintin moves in his life. There are no young women at all, and no attractive women, in any of his adventures.


This got me thinking...I was probably around 10 years old when I was reading Tintin most fervently. At the time, I had my own comic strip, "Captain Vegetable," which spawned several volumes. It occurs to me now that Captain Vegetable also may have been gay!

His best friend was a giant bird named Manny, and pretty much every character was also male. But I think this might have been because I couldn't draw realistic breasts.

'Put a Bib on It'

Elliot's advice for protecting clothing.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Shooting at 'Notorious' Movie

You know how "Star Wars" fans dress up as the characters and camp out at movie openings?

I guess it shouldn't be too shocking that fans of the new Notorious B.I.G. film are celebrating the opening by shooting each other.

This went down in Greensboro, North Carolina:
Police said the victim in the shooting was Clive O’Connor, age 32, and that he was transported to the hospital after being shot twice in the abdomen. O'Connor was taken to Moses Cone Hospital where he underwent surgery, said police.

In police statements, the department said that O'Connor "got into an argument" with an unknown person, who evidently shot him and then escaped. Police have made no arrests in the case and have no suspects at this time.


And apparently it's not the only incident:
The Associated Press is reporting that four men were stabbed at a New York City nightclub where an after party was held for the film debut of "Notorious" on Friday night.


Wait, stabbing? How totally inappropriate for a Notorious B.I.G. party. Like wearing Spock ears to a "Star Wars" premiere. Awwkward.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Why So Harsh?

I think it's great that they're adding brush sculptures to the wooded areas near the Cliff House. So I don't see why they have to insult them in their signs!

Is the Examiner Trying to Get Us All Killed?!

Given that people are on a hair-trigger right now, ready to riot at a moment's notice over the shooting of Oscar Grant by BART police, this headline isn't going to help.



It kind of looks like the BART officer was found not guilty — rather than that just being his plea. (There are quotes around "not guilty," but as we know, people don't really understand the purpose of quotation marks.)

I'm going to go check if my car has been lit on fire.

Friday, January 16, 2009

New York: The Crashiest City in America?

It's great that no one was harmed in the freak US Airways accident today, but it raises the question: Why do almost all U.S. air disasters seem to be heading in or out of New York?

To be fair, New York's JFK is a busy airport, but there are six airports in the U.S. that carry more passenger traffic: Atlanta, Chicago's O'Hare, LAX, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Denver and Las Vegas. And New York's other airport LaGuardia? Well, it's barely in the top 20.

And yet, there was TWA Flight 800 out of JFK that killed everyone on board in 1996. Then Swissair Flight 111 out of JFK two years later that crashed near Nova Scotia, killing everyone on board. A year after that, EgyptAir Flight 990 left JFK and crashed near Nantucket, once again killing everyone on board.

Remember when the Concorde crashed in France in 2000, grounding the supersonic jets forever? Well, it was headed for JFK.

I won't even mention a certain date between Sept. 10 and Sept. 12, but remember just a couple months later when a plane crashed into a Queens neighborhood? People thought at first that it might be terrorists. It was just turbulence, but it did kill everyone on board and five people on the ground.

The deadliest aviation accident in history occurred in 1977, when two planes collided on the runway of a Spanish island named Tenerife. It killed 583 people. One of the planes was coming from — you guessed it — JFK. What about the plane that exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988? Yep, it was headed for JFK.

The list goes on. In all, at least 22 airline accidents have occurred while flying in or out of JFK (previously known as Idlewild) since 1954. There was also an incident in 2007 in which four people plotted to blow up the airport. Another seven accidents were coming in or out of LaGuardia, including today's incident. So that's almost 30 total for New York City — not counting Newark (or that little airport that Southwest flies into).

Atlanta, the busiest airport in America, has had four serious accidents. The most famous was ValuJet Flight 592 in 1996, when 110 people perished in the Florida everglades. (The airline changed its name to AirTran.) All the people killed flying in or out of Atlanta combined, ever, don't equal one of New York's deadliest crashes.

I guess the message is, the safest way to fly is to stay away from New York City!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Originals

See, less scary!



They Know What Time It Is

We went to a party the other night in Oakland and found a parking space in front of this building.



I'm going to take a wild guess here and say that it's probably a pot dispensary.

(Sadly, this one's not in San Francisco, so it doesn't count against Starbucks.)

Elliot Obama

I came across this site (via Anh-Minh's blog) that lets you turn photos into Obama-style artwork.

The result is actually quite terrifying, especially the Elliot-as-Jabba-the-Hutt one at the bottom.



Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Dangers of Rap Music

Once again, listening to too much Kanye West has taken its toll.

Now whenever I arrive somewhere, I have an overwhelming urge to announce, "Who the hottest in the world right now? Just touched down in Londontown."

Rather than saying, "I just got off at the Civic Center Muni station. Yes, I can pick up some diapers."

Small Person, Big Eater

I was feeding Elliot a bottle today and thinking, "For a little guy, he sure eats a lot."

I decided to try to figure out how many calories I would have to eat to match his intake, relative to my body weight. You know, in case I wanted to challenge him to an eating contest.

Well, I think Elliot weighs 16 pounds, and he eats maybe 720 calories a day.

I weigh roughly 11 times that much, so I'd have to eat about 8,000 calories a day.

That's about 15 Big Macs or 40 Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

Let the games begin!

Where Will They Go?

I read this headline on the front page of today's Chronicle with sadness:
"Researchers chase, tag cougars to study how shrinking habitats affect their health"


Shrinking habitats for cougars? Does this mean they're closing the Starlight Room??

UPDATE: Apparently they've moved their habitat to Danville.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

My Own BART Police Story

Today I was discussing the BART police shooting with a friend, and I recalled that I myself had a brush with BART police — albeit, a less fatal one.

It was back when I was young and carefree, speeding down 280 in my Jetta. To be fair, I was a pretty reckless driver in those days. I would routinely drive 90 or 100-plus mph and weave through traffic — though I did always signal. (These days I drive much less often, and when I do, I drive more like I'm 90 or 100.)

I was on the freeway, somewhere near Balboa BART station (but on the freeway, mind you), when I saw flashing lights in my rearview mirror. I pulled over and an officer approached my window.

After he asked for my license and registration, I noticed that he wasn't SFPD or CHP — he was BART police.

"Wha..." I thought. "Since when does BART police pull people over on the freeway?" I mean, I thought BART stood for Bay Area Rapid Transit, and that's exactly what I was doing!

We had an exchange about how fast I was going, and I said I wasn't sure. He went back to his car for a while and then returned with a ticket for going 80 mph in a 55 zone.

What bad luck, I thought. It was going to cost me hundreds of dollars (in more-valuable 1990s money). But now here's the funny part: When I never got the paperwork in the mail, I called the clerk's office. Turns out the ticket was filled out with so many mistakes, they couldn't even enter it into the system. They told me to just forget about it.

Now, either this was just a sign that BART officers don't issue many traffic tickets, or it was an early warning of their extreme incompetence! If only I had said something...

Friday, January 09, 2009

This Just In

You have to feel bad for the Chronicle.

First Craigslist came along and stole all its advertising revenue.

Then readers began getting their news from bloggers.

Now people are apparently using the Chronicle's boxes to deliver home-made news.



You know what would make that sign even better? If it were affixed with sausage stickers!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

'The Flower'

Elliot discovers he has more in common with E.T. than his initials and an unusually large head.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Spammed!

I had to delete a bunch of comments that were apparently left by a spammer.

I could tell because they said things like, "I like your blog," or, "Very insightful!"

So if you're looking at my comments and come across a message that says, "This post has been removed by a blog administrator," it's not because someone was inspired to leave a hate-filled rant that I had to go delete in order to silence the opposition.

Actually, if anyone would like to leave a hate-filled rant, please do. I'm hoping some controversy will boost my ad revenue.

UPDATE: I added a feature that requires commenters to identify a word before posting. (They can still post anonymously.) Hopefully this won't stop anyone from leaving hate-filled rants!

Japanese Candy Taste Test

New York magazine ran an article in October about Japanese candy that I — shockingly — missed until now. (Thanks for the tip, BuboBlog Philadelphia Correspondent Karen!)

An excerpt:
Japanese candy is, on the whole, more delicious. The orange is tangier, the lemon is more mouth-puckering, and the caramel is creamier—the chocolate is about the same, but it comes wrapped around interesting things, like toasted barley. Take that, Kit Kat!


I would tend to agree, though I love American candy too. Let's face it, when it comes to candy, I don't discriminate! (Well, actually, the candy they sell in most Chinese markets tastes like ass.)

Around the time I started this blog, I was obsessed with Japanese candy. I would make frequent trips to the supermarkets in Japantown and stand in front of the candy aisle pondering the options (and trying to figure out what flavor a sirloin-steak-shaped candy would be). My favorite was probably grape Hi-Chew, though I'd never turn down a nice Men's Pocky.

One quibble with the article: I believe Kit Kat is actually quite popular in Japan, and it tastes about the same as here.

One time a friend brought me back candy from Japan. I was so excited to try it that I bit into one before realizing it was actually a magnet! (Totally worth it.)

Monday, January 05, 2009

Super Trouper

I always enjoy spotting misused figures of speech, such as people saying, "Chomping at the bit," instead of, "Champing at the bit." Or when someone says, "Gilding the lily," rather than, "Painting the lily." (This is from Shakespeare and the exact quote is, "To gild refined gold, to paint the lily.")

Anyway, I came across this in the Chronicle today and it tripped me up:
Trouper that he is, Tom Hanks grew his hair into a mullet to reprise his role as religion authority Robert Langdon in this sequel to "The Da Vinci Code."


I always thought the phrase was, "He's a real trooper" (with two O's). Of course, when you think about it, it makes just as much sense for the phrase to refer to a "troupe" — especially in the context of this quote.

So I looked it up, and sure enough, "trouper" is right.

According to the Columbia Journalism Review:
Is someone who perseveres in the face of difficulty a real trooper, "akin to calling someone a brave little soldier," or a real trouper, "a professional performer for whom the show must go on, no matter what?"

It's the latter...spelled with a "u," and accompanied by an adjective or standing alone, "trouper" denotes a member of a theatrical company (usually traveling, in a troupe) and has come to mean someone who keeps plugging away even when things go sour.


Like with "painting the lily," most people have been getting this wrong (including me). I did a Google search of "a real trooper" and got more than 68,000 hits. "A real trouper," on the other hand, got less than 11,000.

So people, you've officially been warned!