Friday, December 31, 2010

Cities Visited: 2010 Edition

Since 2006, I've been listing the cities I visit each year — part of what started as a rivalry with fellow blogger Anh-Minh.

I hesitate to call it a competition anymore, since my traveling isn't much to brag about these days. I still have hopes that 2011 will bring something more exciting — perhaps a Randy Quaid-esque flight from justice.

Anyway, here are the rules: You have to stay overnight in a city for it to count, and you can't include your hometown. That second part really screws me this year, because it means I can't count San Francisco OR Berkeley.

1. Santa Cruz, Calif.
2. New York
3. Portola Valley, Calif.
4. Portland, Ore.
5. Manzanita, Ore.
6. Marietta, Ga.
7. Newnan, Ga.
8. Scituate, Mass.
9. Northeast Harbor, Maine
10. Lake Tahoe, Calif.
11. San Rafael, Calif.
12. Emeryville, Calif.

It turns out to be a longer list than I would have thought, even if many of the cities are relatively local (partially because of my weeks of homelessness).

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Moving Words

I'm not sure U-Haul needs to resort to innuendos to sell boxes.



And if so, I would have at least gotten more creative:

"Stuff your junk in here!"

"Don't forget your padding."

"I like to move it, move it."

"It just won't fit, Chrissy. It's too big."

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

BuboBlog Reviews 'The King's Speech'

(With Baby No. 2's due date rapidly approaching, we took the opportunity to see "The King's Speech" in theaters — no doubt it will be our last movie for a while.)

Who would have thought that a between-the-wars drama about King George VI and his speech therapist would be one of the great "bromances" of our time? And yet, that's just what "The King's Speech" is: a touching tale of two dudes forming an unlikely friendship.

When the Duke of York (Colin Firth) struggles with public speaking because of a stammer, he employs the help of Australian therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), who uses unorthodox methods to get results. They meet cute, and the development of their relationship is formulaic as all get-out (including a montage and contrived misunderstanding), but the script by David Seidler (directed by Tom Hooper) hits all the right notes. And it hews closely enough to true events to make the formula feel real and delightful in the inevitable course it takes.

The Duke (who later becomes king) initially chafes at Lionel's techniques and familiarity, only to succumb to his charms — after they break up and make up a few times, of course. "I love you, (common) man!" A villain is introduced late in the film (in the form of the archbishop), but the king and Lionel manage to overcome all obstacles to their friendship.



I enjoyed Helena Bonham Carter in one of the more subdued roles of her career (certainly her hair was more subdued). And in a fun bit of casting, Jennifer Ehle plays Logue's wife. She was Elizabeth Bennet in the "Pride and Prejudice" BBC miniseries of the mid-'90s, playing opposite Firth's Darcy. Here, she seems a bit young to be playing the wife of Geoffrey Rush. (He's almost 20 years her senior.)

Another interesting choice: During the king's final speech, in which he urges his countrymen to take up arms against the Germans, the filmmakers play stirring background music...by a German composer (Beethoven's Seventh). Apparently the Brits can inspire with words, but they'll leave the tunes to the enemy.

BuboBlog Rating: 4 asterisks (out of four).

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Timing Is Everything

I feel guilty even bringing this up, because the Chronicle ran a story this week on how shortening a pregnancy for the sake of convenience is not always good for the baby.

But Kelly's pregnancy becomes full-term this week, meaning the baby would not be a preemie (even though the due date isn't officially until mid-January). That means we have a few days here where we could have a non-premature birth while still enjoying a tax benefit on our 2010 return.



Just sayin'!

Maximum Occupancy = Infinity

Remember my idea of creating a blog for improperly used mathematical symbols?



Well, here's some fodder for that project. Apparently, the Irish Times bar in the Financial District thinks the fire marshal wants it to have AT LEAST 49 people at all times.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Holidays From BuboBlog

Warning: Do not attempt to read "The Night Before Christmas"...



...after too much eggnog.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Truly All-You-Can-Eat

It's been my long-stated goal to open a restaurant where you can eat everything — the utensils, the napkins, the plates and the glasses (in addition to the food, but that's almost an afterthought). It would be called "I Can't Believe I Ate the Whole Thing"...well, as soon as I can get the licensing cleared up with the Bayer corporation, which owns Alka-Seltzer.

But I've struggled with the problem of how to serve drinks. One option: having the waiters carry around canisters on their backs and shoot liquid down patrons' throats. Another idea was to make the place freezing and serve drinks in ice glasses. It's been noted that neither of those methods is especially practical.

So I was excited to discover these edible glasses made of Jell-O.



They're called Jelloware, and the inventors are currently raising money on the Kickstarter site so they can grow the business.

I guess the main question is whether they own the rights to the Jell-O name. I don't want to be sued by Bayer and Kraft Foods simultaneously!

Halloween Prop Becomes Christmas-Tree Topper

Speaking of Bubo the owl, I almost forgot that I bought this shoulder prop back in October for Halloween (many thanks to BuboBlog Southern California correspondent Kasey for pointing it out in the first place).

Unfortunately, the accompanying Perseus outfit was sold out, and it seemed inappropriate to wear the owl with street clothes. I mean, I don't want to look ridiculous.

Side note: The Perseus outfit appears to have been miscategorized as a "sexy costume."

I can only assume its low rating resulted from men finding this out the hard way.



Then I realized it would make a perfect tree topper. Check it out.



I wonder, though, if it's sacrilegious to put a Greek mythological symbol on top of a Christmas tree.



I'm pretty sure Jesus would never release a Kraken (well, unless he really had to).

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Is This a Threat Level Yellow?

The Lake Merritt BART bathrooms are closed for "Heightened Station Security."



What heightened security? Don't tell me these bathrooms have been closed since September 2001.

And directing us to nearby stations isn't too helpful — it's not convenient to get on and off a train just to go to the bathroom, even in a Code Yellow situation. (I managed to make it home in time, thankfully.)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Moon Goes Night-Night

It seems a shame that our household's foremost moon enthusiast is fast asleep during tonight's lunar eclipse.

And yet, given my inability to explain the moon's normal comings and goings, I'm really not sure how I would explain this. So maybe it's for the best.

Plus when I mentioned the idea of waking him up to Kelly, she said, "Are you kidding me?" (except I think there were more swear words).

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Makeover Madness

All right, I changed my banner again. The previous redesign (below) wasn't testing well with certain demographic groups (30-something pregnant women, for one).



In my defense, if I had hired the Gap's design firm, it would have looked like this.

The Yaya Smell Test

I've discussed before how Elliot has multiple copies of his duck-headed blankie, which he inexplicably calls his Yaya (we tried to get him to call it Duckie, but he has his own ideas about what to name things).

Elliot always has at least one Yaya with him, whether he's eating, playing in the mud or touching strange dogs. If he's running around and needs his hands free, he'll just cram Yaya in his mouth.

This leads to the near-daily ritual of trying to determine which Yaya is least disgusting. Tonight I had to smell two of them (the third is in Santa Cruz) before Elliot went to bed. One smelled like an old sponge; the other had a faint urine odor.

He slept with the sponge one.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Decoding a Two-Year-Old: One More

I heard this the other night and had no idea what he meant. Luckily, Kelly was there to translate.

WHAT IT SOUNDED LIKE: "ABBA sees"



WHAT HE MEANT: "ABC's"

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I'm Pretty Sure That's Not How You Put The Top Down

I spotted this convertible tonight on Adeline Avenue in South Berkeley.



Is this typical of East Bay auto maintenance?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Extreme Makeover

As you can see, my blog has a new look. I wanted to acknowledge my relocation to the East Bay while reaffirming my commitment to covering issues around the region (including Milpitas).

I'm sad to retire the old banner because it served me well over the years.



Farewell, old friend.

UPDATE: I tweaked the new banner a bit, because Kelly felt it was a little too big. And the filter I used made it seem a little gloomy — especially given the bad reputation of clock towers (even though, it's a campanile!).

Macy's Mixed Messages?

Macy's drew flak earlier this month for firing a Santa that made an off-color remark to an adult couple. The Santa in question (real name: John Toomey) got the last laugh when he was offered a new gig at the Lefty O'Doul's bar and then got to tell his story on Jay Leno.

I guess it's fine if Macy's wants to maintain a wholesome image for its Santas. But then what the hell is up with this ad campaign running in the Chronicle?



That Santa looks pervier than Bob Packwood.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bubo Makes Appearance in 'Community'

In case you missed it: Bubo the mechanical owl (this blog's unlicensed mascot) shows up in the latest "Community." The episode is rendered in stop-motion animation, so I guess it made sense to give a shout-out to one of the most revered stop-motion characters of all time (thanks for the tip, BuboBlog Dallas correspondent Ted).



Bubo is only visible in the background, appearing as a sculpture on John Oliver's desk. But guess what? He gets a much longer cameo than he did in the new "Clash of the Titans" movie!

In the film, he was on for about 8 seconds.



In "Community," the scene lasts about a minute and Bubo is visible at least half the time.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I'm Glad to See...



...the Ginger Family has come to grips with the stigma of having conjoined twins.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Decoding a Two-Year-Old: Part 2

Elliot surprised me today with another new phrase. We were playing in the living room when he suddenly remembered something he wanted from his room. It took me a second to interpret.

WHAT IT SOUNDED LIKE: "Henan"



WHAT HE MEANT: "Hang on"

Friday, December 10, 2010

Are Hip-Hop Cup Cakes Offensive?

Since I'm a fan of hip-hop and cup cakes, I feel like I should weigh in on this. Duncan Hines is under fire for ads promoting "hip-hop cupcakes" that look like they're wearing black face. (Thanks for the tip, BuboBlog Mission District correspondent Dave.)




The company took down the commercial from YouTube, but you can see it if you click over to the Eater site.

Having watched the clip, I don't think it's that scandalous. The cupcakes don't even rap — it's more like electronica (maybe the real problem is Dunan Hines labeling them as "hip-hop" when they aren't).

As a chocolate lover, I think it would be a shame if the company is forced to make the cup cakes vanilla. (Plus, what would they sing...Billy Joel?).

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Decoding a Two-Year-Old

Elliot's vocabulary is growing quickly, but his enunciation can't quite keep up. In fact, it's pretty much impossible to understand what he's saying half the time. He makes Lou Ferrigno sound like Laurence Olivier.

"Heh-row."

Here's a sampling of some his favorite phrases. Go ahead and see if you can translate them (I've heard them in context enough times to be able to provide the answers).

1. WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE: "Keane"



WHAT HE ACTUALLY MEANS: "Train"



2. WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE: "Hobby"



WHAT HE MEANS: "Help, please"



3. WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE: "Foo wall"



WHAT HE MEANS: "Football"



4. WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE: "Pekar"



WHAT HE MEANS: "Police car"



5. WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE: "Heat dare"



WHAT HE MEANS: "Sit there."



6. WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE: "Mopey"



WHAT HE MEANS: "More, please"



I'm not sure if he gets credit for saying "please" when it's completely unintelligible, but I admire the effort.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Is This Some Kind of Trap?

We went to our new house in Berkeley and found they had already begun delivering the Chronicle to our doorstep.



The real surprise: The newspaper must have been sitting there for hours, and nobody stole it!

Either the new neighborhood has less crime than our old street, or no one in this part of town is able to read.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Using San Francisco's Name in Vain

There's another hotel here in Emeryville called the "Four Points San Francisco Bay Bridge."



It seems like a shameless attempt to trick people into thinking it's closer to San Francisco than it is. Because even if the hotel is arguably named after the bridge and not the city, the span's true name is the "San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge."

Ironically, there's a motel in our old neighborhood in SoMa called the Bay Bridge Inn.

If you walk to the front of the Bay Bridge Inn and look straight down Harrison Street (and there are no buses blocking your view), you can just see the Bay Bridge. But it seems like a pretty tenuous link to the landmark.

Based on the view, it might make more sense to name it the One Rincon Hill Inn (or the Ionic Breeze Inn)?



But note that they didn't call it the "Oakland Bay Bridge Inn."

Sunday, December 05, 2010

The Itinerant San Franciscan: Week Four

I guess this installment should be called the "Itinerant Emeryvillian," because that's where we are now — the final stop before we move into our home in Berkeley. We're staying at a place called the Woodfin Suites, overlooking Emeryville from the 10th floor.

Yesterday Kelly took the car, so Elliot and I had to negotiate Emeryville on foot. We made the mistake of trying to make it all the way to the marina (the lady at the front desk told us it was a short walk — it's not), then got caught in a downpour.

At least Emeryville offers plenty of freeway overpasses for shelter, with cool sculptures to boot.





The Emeryville Public Market also is nearby. It's hard not to love a food court with everything from cheesesteaks to Afghan food.



The restaurant inside our hotel is called Emery Grille (get it?). I feel like we should try it out, if only because that kind of bold wordplay needs to be rewarded.

Friday, December 03, 2010

My Muni Bucket List

One of the sad parts of leaving San Francisco is I won't be riding Muni anymore. I feel like I've spent much of the past 13 years mastering the intricacies of this wondrous-yet-fickle transit system, and now all this knowledge will go to waste. Then there's Elliot, who has spent the majority of his young life riding Muni (and no one gets more excited by buses than him). I only hope AC Transit can live up to his standards (they do seem to have more exciting fights).

Fortunately, I managed to spend this week trying to soak up as much Muni as possible. Every day I've taken a different line to work. For instance, I had never commuted to work on a cable car before (though I have taken them during off hours), so I set out to experience that.

Here are the crossed-out items from my Muni "bucket list."

MONDAY: CABLE CAR
I walked down to California and Van Ness, and boarded a downtown-bound cable car.

Amazing: Hardly any tourists (maybe because it would never occur to them to come to this part of town to find a cable car). Most of the riders were well-dressed businesspeople, who fixated on their BlackBerrys. I handed my Clipper card to the gripman, who couldn't manage to scan it. It apparently happens a lot because he just gave up and handed the card back to me.

Before reaching the end of the line, the car came grinding to a halt. The driver announced that he had "run out of cable" and that he had "given it every inch." Then we all had to get out and walk the rest of the way. Is this a common occurrence? If so, it's maybe not an ideal commuting choice — even with few tourists and no fare collection.

TUESDAY: 1-CALIFORNIA
I've taken the 1-California many times, but never to work in the morning. So I was excited to try this out. But finding where to pick it up isn't the most intuitive process.

Despite the name, it doesn't run on California for much of its route, and I neglected to look up the map on my computer before leaving the hotel.

So I found someone who offered directions: I had to walk up to where Gough becomes a two-way road and Sacramento becomes one-way. It almost seemed like a riddle, or a line from "Lord of the Rings." But I managed to find the stop on Gough and hopped on. The bus then turned down Clay and took that route downtown.

To me, the 1-California has always represented the life of luxury — how the other half of Muni lives. It seems like a fast, reliable bus line that serves the city's wealthy and powerful neighborhoods.

In real life, the bus gets a little too crowded to be glamorous. And it's only fast if you get the express. But it is filled with young, good-looking professionals having conversations about their exciting lives. One woman talked about how she recently went on a business trip in Beijing and got food poisoning from a Starbucks (not sure if that's irony or karma).

WEDNESDAY: 2-CLEMENT
I was late to work the first two days, so I thought maybe the 2-Clement would be speedier. It wasn't.

The 2 is just as crowded as the 1 (if not more so), and yet it runs through the Tenderloin and Union Square. In other words, you get both the crazy/homeless/drug-addict crowd AND tourists. Not a good combination.

THURSDAY: 38-GEARY
Ah, the 38. You don't get much more crowded than this. And because it's usually a double bus, it's pretty much the Wild West by the time you get to the rear. Livestock, dice games, pole dancing — you name it. I was too crammed in to be able to observe much of anything, sadly.

FRIDAY: ???
Not sure what I'll do tomorrow...maybe just take a cab.