Sunday, January 31, 2010

What's Worse Than a Fake British Accent?

Fake British spelling!

I came across the new album by OK Go, a band from Chicago that currently lives in Los Angeles. It's called "Of the Blue Colour of the Sky."

Maybe this is just the latest round in the decades-old tat-for-tat competition between American and British rock musicians. First the Rolling Stones stole our accents, so Green Day and the Killers stole theirs. Now apparently we're stealing their spelling too.

I hope Coldplay or Oasis will exact their revenge by naming their next album: "I Got Mad After Spilling My Favorite French Fries in an Elevator at the Theater."

UPDATE: It should be noted that OK Go wasn't the first to do this. There was Living Colour, of course (out of New York). And in 1997, the Seattle-based Foo Fighters released an album called "The Colour and the Shape."

That album only reached No. 10 on the U.S. charts, but it hit No. 3 in the United Kingdom. Clearly they were pandering!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

SoMa Is Very Thirsty

Coca-Cola has placed a version of this billboard in a at least three spots South of Market (near 5th and Howard, at 10th and Howard, and by 7th and Berry). It's promoting a new twin-pack container of two 50-ounce bottles.

It seems unlikely that "Enough for your meal" is going to end up in the pantheon of classic Coke advertising slogans. Do they mean you should drink the 100 ounces of Coke instead of a regular meal? (That would add up to almost 1,200 calories, so I guess it would be pretty filling.) Maybe they're targeting people with large families.

In 1924, people were excited enough by a plain-old six pack.

However, promoting large containers isn't a new trend. I found this ad from 1950 where the Coke drinkers appear to be huddled around a terrifyingly large bottle.

I see that some people have criticized the new "Enough for your meal" campaign because it promotes unhealthy lifestyles. But since a lot of people in SoMa would usually make their "meal" out of a fifth of E&J Brandy, this is probably an improvement.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tell Me About the Pass

I've always been a little confused by fortune-teller signs that promise to reveal the "past, present and future." I've pretty much got a handle on the past and present parts already, thanks.

But this fortune teller near my office takes it a step further by promising to discuss the "pass."

I'll tell you one thing: Brett Favre could have used some pass guidance before he threw that season-ending interception last week. He should have gone to Crystal Reader!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Crazy for Babies

As I've mentioned before, some of the people in our neighborhood get really excited when they see Elliot. There aren't many young children around, so he tends to stand out (and I think some people mistakenly think he's a leprechaun).

But sometimes people get a little too excited.

We were walking down Folsom and a nice homeless guy with no teeth came up to Elliot and started waving and smiling at him. It was hard to understand most of what he was saying, but it was something like, "I love babies because they're the future and hope and whatnot."

Then he had a fun idea, which is that we should walk ahead with Elliot and the man could sneak up behind us and scare him. I wasn't sure this was necessary, since I think Elliot was already sufficiently scared. But it's a free country, right?

So the man chased us for a bit, and Elliot took the whole thing in stride. He has no idea what's odd and what isn't — and as long as we live in this neighborhood, he probably never will.

Then the man asked if we wanted him to draw us a family portrait. Kelly declined this offer and we finally broke away from him. I couldn't really understand what he was saying at the end, so I didn't weigh in on the portrait idea.

Maybe if it had been a classy "Family Ties"-style painting, I would have agreed.

UPDATE: A recent column in the SF Appeal was critical of San Franciscans "bragging" about all the crazy people they encounter. I the kind of person who does this? There was this post, and this one and this one.

Maybe I need to do some soul searching now.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sweet Tooth

A while ago I noted that my dentist was located directly above a candy shop. I wondered if they were in cahoots.

Well, this dentist in the Outer Richmond (located next to a place called The Sweet House) seems even more blatant. They practically share an awning!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

'Learning to Walk in Two Minutes'

I've been pretty remiss in my YouTubing lately — this is my first film since "I Feel Good" in September.

It's a recap of Elliot's experience learning to walk, which basically means a bunch of shots of him falling down. Enjoy.

The music is "We Walk," from R.E.M.'s "Murmur" album.

Friday, January 22, 2010

More, More, More

"There was a disturbance in my heart, a voice that spoke there and said, I want, I want, I want! It happened every afternoon, and when I tried to suppress it got even stronger. It said only one thing, I want, I want! And I would ask, 'What do you want?' But this is all it would ever tell me." —Saul Bellow, "Henderson the Rain King."

I've mentioned before that Kelly has tried to teach Elliot sign language. Unfortunately, he's only really picked up one sign: the gesture signifying "more."

But what Elliot lacks in signing vocabulary, he makes up for in zeal. He uses the "more" sign constantly. And he's pretty much stretched its meaning to include anything he could possibly want.

The other day, I let him loose in Walgreen's (an error on my part). After scattering candy cars and nearly tripping an elderly Chinese woman, he came upon a not-age-appropriate toy that was perched on a shelf out of his reach.

He looked at me and did the "more" sign repeatedly. I think it's basically his way of saying, "Pay attention: I have wants and desires that need to be met."

It got me thinking. Maybe Elliot didn't learn any other signs for good reason: No one really needs any other signs. In fact, I feel like a sucker for bothering to learn English. Elliot's one sign gets him everything he requires in life.

(Well, except in the case of the Walgreen's toy: Shortly after he did the sign, I chased him down the aisle and strapped him back into his stroller while he flailed and shrieked at the top of his lungs. You can't have everything.)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Was This Feature Really Necessary?

Oddly, our dishwasher has a ho-washing option.

Question for Frigidaire: How would we even fit one in there?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Is Elliot Obsolete?

According to this blog, UC San Diego and a Japanese company have developed a robot version of a 1-year-old baby.

The robot, called Diego-san, is designed to teach researchers how infants develop motor skills: "In addition to providing clues about how infants interact with the physical world, researchers will also use the robot to explore how babies acquire and refine the ability to use nonverbal communication such as gestures and facial expressions."

The robot has "five-fingered hands capable of holding objects such as plastic bottles." And I'm guessing it doesn't try to deliberately spill milk from those bottles onto the floor!

Also, it seems unlikely that the robot would ever headbutt his owner or kick him in the crotch.

The only question: Is Diego-san cuter than Elliot? You make the call!

Tough choice!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Is This Loitering?

Elliot was bouncing off the walls this morning — literally, unfortunately — so I wanted to take him someplace to run around. But it was pouring rain, and the library was closed for MLK Day. (It's maybe not cool to take him to the library to run around, but hey, I feel like the SF Main sees far worse things that that. And plus, they owe me.)

Anyway, we were out of options, so we packed up the stroller and trekked the five blocks to the San Francisco Shopping Centre, where he could play under the rotunda.

We've done this a few times before, and it always feels a bit wrong. I mean, I wasn't going there with the intention of shopping.

And does it make it worse when you bring your own toys from home? (It probably would have been pushing it to set up a Pack 'n Play.)

The thing is, I see other families doing this too. Frequently, the parents are immigrants (I feel like they're always on the vanguard of getting-shit-for-free).

Next time I will try to at least purchase a Cinnabon.

Who's Dirtier: Chaucer or R. Kelly?

There's a letter to the editor in this week's New Yorker criticizing an interpretation of Geoffrey Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales." At issue is whether a passage in "The Miller's Tale" refers to unintended cunnilingus, or just some guy getting duped into kissing a woman's behind.

The letter goes on to describe all the terms Chaucer used as synonyms for lady-parts: “queynte,” “bele chose,” “quoniam” and “chambre of Venus." (Chaucer appears to have steered clear of "vajayjay.")

This got me thinking: If Chaucer has a modern counterpart in the category of "filthy troubadour," it would have to be R. Kelly.

The similarities are striking. Both men are creative geniuses, idiosyncratic, verbose, bibulous...and complete pervs.

They both embraced innovative rhyming schemes and meters, and long-form poetry. "The Canterbury Tales" can top out at more than 500 pages — depending on the edition — while R. Kelly's "Trapped in the Closet" contains at least 22 chapters. To Chaucer's credit, though, he never attempted to rhyme "midget" with "Bridget."

The question is, who's dirtier?

Let's do a test. The following are passages from Chaucer and R. Kelly. To level the playing field, I'll use a Modern English translation of Chaucer and then a Middle English translation of R. Kelly.

And at the window out she put her hole,
And Absolon, to him it happened no better nor worse,
But with his mouth he kissed her naked ass
With great relish, before he was aware of this.
Back he jumped, and thought it was amiss,
For well he knew a woman has no beard.
He felt a thing all rough and long haired,
And said, "Fie! alas! what have I done?"
"Tee hee!" said she, and clapped the window to,
And Absolon goes forth walking sadly.

This Nicholas was risen to piss,
And thought he would make the joke even better;
He should kiss his ass before he escapes.
And he opened up the window hastily,
And he puts out his ass stealthily
Over the buttock, to the thigh;
And then spoke this clerk, this Absolon,
"Speak, sweet bird, I know not where thou art."
This Nicholas immediately let fly a fart
As great as if it had been a thunder-bolt,
So that with the stroke he was almost blinded;
And he was ready with his hot iron,
And he smote Nicholas in the middle of the ass.

Beholde, thy bodie is kitte lyk jewelrie
We may open Cris' in the jacuzzie
Thou dresse up and down
To the left, and the right
Thou goth in and out
And worke hit like a real freake sholde
Now the valet may be ful
But a cat lyk me hath pul
VIP'n hit at the clubbe

Hite hit from the ers, spanke thy cheeks
Pulle her hair, pushed it deep
Pounde thy meat, sound aslepe
Foond a beach, grinde and freake
Manage a trois, rolle with R.
Posed the part lyk a porno sterre
Dooth shit nevere doon er.

Hmm...okay. I'm not sure that comparison totally cleared up the matter.

I guess I would have to give a slight edge to Chaucer. I'm pretty sure no one in an R. Kelly song has ever been stuck in the butt with a hot poker. (But could this be an upcoming chapter of the still-unfinished "Trapped in the Closet" series?)

Bonus points to Chaucer for having the woman say, "Tee hee." You just don't hear that enough anymore.


Friday, January 15, 2010

So Pale, He's Transparent

I'm not saying Elliot needs to get a tan, but if you put him up against a white wall he practically disappears altogether.

Maybe there's a military application for this kind of camouflage?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Other Than That, It's the Best

Does this seem like an odd way to market a pen?

I mean, nothing against Mexico — lovely country. But that's quite a qualifier at the end.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The BuboBlog Index

As loyal readers know, I was the first to compare the number of Starbucks to the number of marijuana dispensaries in San Francisco.

I initially addressed the topic in March 2005. At that time, no one in the world had ever made this comparison (at least in print). That's why this benchmark should be referred to as The BuboBlog Index.

Since then, all sorts of people have started comparing the number of pot clubs to Starbucks, including local politicians, federal authorities and cable pundits. None of them has given credit to BuboBlog. (To see all my posts on the topic, click on this tag.)

Most recently, an article in the New York Times on marijuana use in the film "It's Complicated" made a passing reference to the index (without a proper citation, of course):
There are now about 1,000 medical marijuana dispensaries in the Los Angeles area alone, according to city estimates; as a point of reference, there are fewer than 300 Starbucks outposts.

Use of the index has spread outside California. Witness this story about pot clubs in Colorado:
At least 390 dispensaries have applied for city sales tax license to sell medical pot as of Monday, acting City Treasurer Steve Ellington told That means Denver pot dispensaries outnumber by nearly 2-1 the 208 Starbucks in state of Colorado.

Listen, I'm not endorsing the use of marijuana or Starbucks, I just want credit. For instance, the New York Times story should have been written as follows: "The BuboBlog Index for Los Angeles County is now 10-3."

Thank you for your cooperation.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

What Happened?

Question: How did "Nick" go from being a tough-guy name to a dweeb name in one generation, and did I have something to do with it?

When I was growing up, there weren't many Nicks out there — it wasn't a very popular name (not in the top 50, at least). The Nicks you did meet were often Greek and usually liquor-store owners or the kind of guys who would kill a man for sport.

Remember when Mallory on "Family Ties" started dating a leather-clad bad boy? His name was Nick.

At some point in the 1990s, "Nicholas" became a popular baby name among trendy parents seeking an air of sophistication. It topped out as the sixth most common name in America.

The result: a generation of wussy Nicks. In fact, it's reached the point where the name is a proxy for nerdiness.

Witness the following review for Michael Cera's new movie "Youth in Revolt":
Michael Cera is in danger of being typecast. He always plays nerdy, wispy milquetoasts, the more virginal the better. He always delivers his lines in a soft-spoken, articulate monotone that feigns humility while underscoring the vast taproot of pop-cultural factoids at his disposal. He's sometimes named Nick. And he's usually chasing the girl of his dreams.
The writer uses the name "Nick" as evidence of dorkiness! How have we fallen so far so quickly?

Saturday, January 09, 2010

No Pants, No Problem?

The ninth-annual "No Pants! Subway Ride" is happening tomorrow on BART (and on other train lines around the country). The idea is to bewilder and delight people by having a bunch of pranksters ride the train without pants.

According to a story on the SF Appeal:
The prank artists plan on acting normally, and not interacting with any of the other pant-less riders in an attempt to confuse other passengers on the train who are not in on the joke.

Along with New York City and San Francisco, similar events are planned in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.

Hang on, Salt Lake City has a subway?

Anyway, I currently have someone in my household who HATES wearing pants. Sometimes I have to chase him around the room for 10 minutes before he'll put them on. In short, Elliot would love this event.

For that reason, I'm going to do everything in my power to keep him away from it.

Elliot can never know that non-pants wearing is a valid lifestyle choice. It's just too dangerous.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Help, I'm Monolingual!

As a proud San Franciscan, I don't often take issue with political correctness (it usually beats the alternative). But occasionally people go a bit far.

I was reading the monthly newsletter of SF SAFE, or San Francisco Safety Awareness for Everyone, a local nonprofit "that guides residents, business owners, and community members to improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods." It's hard to find fault with that mission statement (and in fact, the group has helped our hardscrabble neighborhood become slightly softer-scrabble). But the following item gave me pause.

SAFE Provides Unique Services to Mono-Lingual Seniors
San Francisco has a very large Russian-speaking community, many of it’s [sic] members are elderly, and do not speak adequate English. By making presentations and developing and distributing brochures on personal and pedestrian safety in their native language, SAFE has been helping these people tremendously....SAFE also provides customized presentations in Spanish and Cantonese.

"Monolingual"? I'm not sure the problem is that they're monolingual — I think it's that they don't speak English. Is "non-English speakers" frowned upon nowadays? Because that always seemed like a reasonably PC improvement over "them got-damn forners."

The thing is, the term isn't very precise. Most seniors in the United States are monolingual (that language being English), and yet, there's no concerted effort to provide them with pedestrian-safety pamphlets.

I tried to see if this term had spread elsewhere in San Francisco, and indeed it has. The city-run Laguna Honda hospital has embraced "monolingual":
Monolingual Services
Laguna Honda’s mission is to provide culturally competent healthcare to the diverse communities of San Francisco. Laguna Honda residents whose sole language is Spanish or Chinese receive care in their native tongue. Our Chinese and Spanish focus units not only help to eliminate barriers to proper care, they also provide a welcoming environment for residents from Chinese and Latino cultures.

Here's where it gets personal. Shortly after my mother immigrated to America, she was in a car accident (don't worry, she recovered). She had a hard time communicating with doctors and nurses because she couldn't speak English very well — just French and Spanish.

Thank God that didn't happen today because she would have been kicked out of the monolingual ward!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Talk About a Starchitect!

I was walking through South Park and noticed that Mark Horton Architecture (the yellow building) is right across the street from the Gran Oriente Filipino Masonic Temple (the pink one).

Was there some sort of squabble between these two Jack London Alleyway neighbors, because check out the words written at the top of the temple (directly facing Mark Horton): "Dedicated to the Supreme Architect of the Universe."

Clearly the message is: Yeah, Mark Horton's a pretty decent architect. You could hire him for your next project. Oh, but wait, you know who's even better?...THE LORD.

Hard to compete with that.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

What Would Dukakis Do?

This debate over "twenty ten" versus "two-thousand ten" is really heating up. There's been lots of chatter online and letters to the editor — I've even heard radio DJs discuss the issue between songs.

I've already made my choice, but this gets me thinking: Has anyone asked Michael Dukakis what we should call it?

After all, he was famous for referring to years in the past century as "nineteen hundred and...."

Here's how he concluded one of the debates in 1988 with George Bush père:
We hope that we'll be serving you in the White House in January of nineteen hundred and eighty-nine. Thank you and God bless you.

So maybe now we should be saying, "twenty hundred and ten"?

No, wait. Dukakis lost...and this annoying habit is probably what cost him the election. (Since I can't be bothered to look it up, I'm just going to assume that's the case.) All those syllables probably didn't sit right with the American people.

Plus he went to Swarthmore.

UPDATE: AP style for the pronunciation is now "twenty ten." A coalition is clearly forming here.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Why Is This Man Named Haverford?

We recently started watching "Parks and Recreation," a show that I heartily endorse.

A character played by the very funny Aziz Ansari (who stole scenes in last year's "Funny People") is named "Tom Haverford." The origin of the Haverford name is revealed during an exchange with Leslie (played by Amy Poehler):
Leslie: You're not from here, right?
Tom: No, I'm from South Carolina.
Leslie: But you moved to South Carolina from where?
Tom: My mother's uterus.
Leslie: But you were conceived in Libya, right?
Tom: Wow. No. I was conceived in America. My parents are Indian.
Leslie: Where did the name Haverford come from?
Tom: My birth name is Darwish Zubair Ismail Gani. Then I changed it to Tom Haverford because, you know, brown guys with funny-sounding Muslim names don't make it really far in politics.

That leaves a lingering question for people like me, who went to Haverford College. Did the character take his name from the school? And does one of the "Parks and Recreation" creators or writers have a link to Haverford? (I haven't been able to find a connection.)

I now look forward to a TV character being named after Swarthmore — preferably something fitting, like a necrophiliac or serial arsonist. (Oh, snap.)

Monday, January 04, 2010

BuboBlog Reviews 'Sherlock Holmes' (F'reals This Time)

As you know, I approached the new "Sherlock Holmes" film with some trepidation.

After all, I'd heard that Watson wasn't going to be portrayed as a blithering idiot and Holmes wasn't going to be a cocaine user (despite being played by Robert Downey Jr.). Why mess with the formula, people?

The fact that Guy Ritchie was directing the film also raised concerns, since his movies always seem to mix incomprehensible dialogue and bewildering action sequences. (At least the risk that Madonna would make a cameo seemed low.)

After seeing the movie, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, Holmes is reimagined as an action hero — there are plenty of explosions and chase scenes, as well as some 19th century slap-fighting. But he remains a thinking-man's fighter. Before taking on each opponent, he plots out his course of attack with scientific precision: If, say, a man is a drinker, Holmes will decide to punch him in the liver. So the film stays true to the spirit of Holmes, even if he is kicking way more ass than he did in all of Arthur Conan Doyle's stories combined.

The stakes of the movie's plot are much higher than in the typical Holmes story: It involves Parliament, and a plan to seize control of the United Kingdom and take back the American colonies. But in other ways, it's perfectly in keeping with Doyle's tales. It sets out a series of events that could only be caused by something supernatural — and then shows how it wasn't.

The main reason to see the movie is to watch the odd-couple antics of Downey as Holmes and Jude Law as Watson. They have great chemistry, and the film takes the form of a "bromantic" comedy. It starts out with Watson moving out of their rooms at 221B Baker Street, fed up with Holmes' carelessness and eccentricities. Then Watson spends the rest of the movie essentially saying, "I wish I knew how to quit you."

Holmes gets a visit from former lover/rival Irene Adler, who draws him into a case of international intrigue. Adler, an American, is a real character from the stories (though she only appeared in one). She's played here by Rachel McAdams, who I didn't quite buy in the role. Yes, she's supposed to be American, so it's not like she didn't fit. I just thought she couldn't quite do justice to the Holmes-Watson-Adler triangle. I don't know who I would have preferred in the role. Perhaps Dame Judi Dench.

A few of the action sequences go on a bit long, and I wasn't sure about setting the final showdown on the Tower Bridge. Maybe I feel jealous when bridges other than the Golden Gate get featured in movies, but it's hard to convey a great sense of danger when the Tower Bridge is only 30 feet above the Thames!

BuboBlog Rating: 3 asterisks (out of 4).

(By the way, if you didn't understand why my previous post was funny, you should read "The Adventure of the Dancing Men." If you still don't think it's funny, it might just mean you're not a complete dweeb.)

Sunday, January 03, 2010

First the Tainted Baby Formula, Now This?

Courtesy of the Engrish blog: an incredibly inappropriate onesie from China.

It says: "Happy. Close you! Want to f***?"

(Thanks for pointing this out, BuboBlog Philadelphia correspondent Karen.)