Thursday, June 30, 2011

Press-On Face Paint

I saw this in a Walgreens: Press-On Face Paint.

It seems hard to believe that someone could "bleed team colors" if they aren't even willing to commit to painting their face.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

U.S. Lay

I spotted this sign in Kennesaw, Ga.

All it takes is a shorted-out "P" to transform a family-entertainment center into a brothel.

Back in the Bay

We're back in Berkeley tonight after nearly 10 days in Atlanta. It was nice to return to crisp air, cool breezes and fog-fringed hillsides (the temperature was in the 50s when we arrived at SFO around noon today).

I will say, Atlanta wasn't as hot and muggy as I expected. And I think it was good for the kids to experience a different kind of climate — especially because it included thunder and lightning (a rarity here in the Bay Area), not to mention fireflies. I've also found that humidity triggers a sense memory for me of my time in college (the last time I lived on the East Coast), which can be pleasant — at least fleetingly.

We visited the Georgia Aquarium, the world's largest (my only disappointment: the daily wolf eel feeding doesn't involve wolves behind fed to eels). And we saw the Atlanta Zoo.

Would you believe, once again the tigers were a no-show? This time they were outside their enclosure altogether. (The zookeepers didn't explain where exactly.)

Tiger, tiger, out of sight.

While Elliot and Alice were well-behaved on the red-eye flight to Atlanta (they slept the whole time), the flight back was a different story. Alice cried intermittently, and Elliot flipped his tray table up and down, tried to pull the flotation device out of his chair, and crawled into the space beneath the seat in front of him and refused to come out.

Crazy train.

When we took BART home, he really lost his mind. He jumped around the train, licked the window and seat (I could not convey to him how disgusting that was) and knocked over someone's luggage.

There was apparently a suicide yesterday afternoon at our BART stop in Berkeley (Ashby), so we had to get off at Macarthur and take a cab. The problem was initially described to us as a medical emergency, and when we explained this to Elliot, he said that someone probably had a "booboo" (suffice to say, we didn't reveal to him what really happened).

Nothing compounds the awkwardness of a silent cab ride like your 2-year-old son asking why the taxi driver isn't saying anything: "Why that man not talking, Daddy?" Elliot repeated this about four times.

When we arrived home, I was horrified to discover that our house had been ransacked. Then Kelly reminded me that this was how we left it.

The worst part was discovering a baby bottle of milk in the sink that was covered in green fur. (I'm pretty sure I should pelt this with high-powered lasers before I let Alice drink from it again.)

Still, it's home. And we're happy to be here.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Another Assertion Undermined by Quotation Marks

I'd be more inclined to believe this was "the original" J.R. Crickets if they didn't insist on putting it in quotes.

(Since this is prominently located in downtown Atlanta, I'm going to assume the Blog of Unnecessary Quotation Marks has already seen this.)

More troubling for J.R. Crickets: Do they owe Disney some royalty payments for that mascot?

Friday, June 24, 2011

What Would Jesus Do...If He Were a Model

We're in the Atlanta area this week on vacation (sorry for the infrequent blog updates). I came across this establishment in Marietta: Actors, Models & Talent for Christ.

I guess we can't really know what Jesus would think of talent agencies (he only expelled money changers from the temple — would he have expelled someone doing an audition for "Pirates of the Caribbean"?).

Still, it doesn't totally seem like his thing. This is a guy who's only real fashion choice was, should I carry a lamb today or not?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

'Why Baby Happy'

The lack of sibling rivalry continues at our house.

In this latest video, Elliot discovers how to make Alice happy — and his mom annoyed.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Thursday, June 16, 2011

BuboBlog Reviews 'Super 8'

(The last time I reviewed a movie was more than four months ago — right around the time we had Alice. I suppose I have less reason to go to the multiplex these days when there's so much drama at home: hysterical sobbing, explosive diarrhea and running down the sidewalk naked. (And the kids are a handful too.) In any case, we recently found a great babysitter in Berkeley, so I hope to venture out a little more often.)

I can't help but feel like the target demographic for "Super 8." I was several years younger than the characters portrayed in the film — who turn 13 in 1979 — but I did my own 8-millimeter amateur films as a kid (mostly of the stop-motion variety). When we got a VHS camcorder, my brother and I made a series of movies in the sci-fi and horror genres ("Alien Contact," "Deal With the Devil," an unlicensed version of "RoboCop"). The production values were often hampered by a cat walking through the shot — something that was especially distracting when we were working with miniatures.

In "Super 8," six friends spend the summer trying to make a zombie movie. While shooting a scene by a train station, they witness a horrible wreck, which releases a monster more bizarre and terrifying than anything in their film.

"Super 8" has been called a tribute to B movies, but really it's more like an homage to the Steven Spielberg-produced films of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Those films were themselves tributes to the B movies of the 1950s, but they tried to subvert the cliches ("E.T." turned the notion of an alien invasion on its head).

"Super 8," which was written and directed by J.J. Abrams ("Alias," "Lost," "Star Trek") and produced by Spielberg, does a great job evoking the classic sci-fi films of the '70s and '80s. I just wish it had spent a little more time trying to find a fresh twist on some of the cliches.

We have all the usual ingredients here (a deadly creature on the loose, a sinister military commander, a local sheriff who doesn't believe anything is awry until it's too late). Abrams has a built-in excuse for parts of the movie being hokey — it's supposed to be analogous to the cheesy zombie movie the kids are making. Even so, these elements are the weakest part of the film.

The Air Force colonel is a two-dimensional villain, surrounded by ruthless underlings. The movie's alcoholic character doesn't just drink; he has a bottle of whiskey right in front of him. Then there's the alien, which feels a little paint-by-numbers. (It even makes that same insectile-rattle noise that every alien seems to make in movies.)

When we finally get to see the beast late in the film, I had flashes of the lame smoke-monster revelation in "Lost" or, worse, when we see the interdimensional "aliens" at the end of "Crystal Skull." It felt campy in the way "Goonies" was campy. Don't get me wrong — who doesn't like "Goonies"? But "Super 8" clearly had higher aspirations. I feel like "Cloverfield" (produced by Abrams, but directed by longtime collaborator Matt Reeves) did a better job of reinventing the genre.

That said, the whole alien plot is a bit of a MacGuffin and not worth getting hung up on it. The film's charm comes from the characters' relationships — and the stirrings of romance between 13-year-old Joe and a cross-the-tracks girl named Alice. Abrams gets all this just right: the dialogue, the small gestures, the ways people attract and repel each other.

I was happy to see the girl is named Alice, though it would be a low-probability name for a 13-year-old in 1979. Abrams also makes some surprising anachronisms for someone so detail-focused. The Rubik's Cube is mentioned, despite not being introduced in the U.S. until 1980. And a character has a Walkman, which also debuted in this country in 1980. It's only really odd because those products are so closely identified with the 1980s. You'd think they would have set off alarm bells for the filmmakers.

Again, these are quibbles. Despite a few flaws, "Super 8" barrels along toward a satisfying conclusion. We then get to see the amateur film that the kids made (make sure you don't leave before the credits roll because that's when it's shown).

It's the perfect ending for a B movie that's mostly an A.

BuboBlog Rating: 3.5 asterisks (out of 4).

One More: 'STOP Obama'

Michelle Obama was in the Bay Area this week and made a swing through Berkeley.

I hope the city repainted this stop sign in time. I spotted this on Saturday near downtown (I think we were on Milvia Street).

This being Berkeley, I have to think it was the work of someone who thinks Obama isn't liberal enough. Or they were just trying to mess with us.

Or it was this lady.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pavement Poetry

On the subject of Blake, I came across this quote etched into the sidewalk of our street in Berkeley (Blake Street, or as Elliot calls it, "Bake Tweet").

“Art is the tree of life.” —Blake
I'm not sure if this was city-sponsored or not (I don't even know if Blake Street is named after the poet), but it's a nice touch.

Of course, the full quote is: "Art is the tree of life. Science is the tree of death." (Blake said it to denounce the Enlightenment.)

Not a very Berkeley-friendly sentiment.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

'Tiger, Tiger...'

Elliot is getting a little weird with the tiger obsession. He brings up tigers CONSTANTLY (it's the most pervasive of the Elliot memes).

The questions are relentless: Is a tiger chasing him? Is a tiger hiding under his bed? Is said tiger friendly or scary?

It's almost like he has tiger Tourette's. Typical comment: "Mommy, can I have some yogurt? Tiger."

He also loves to start sentences with "Tiger, tiger...." Since this is so close to the William Blake poem, I've been trying to get him to quote that. (Imagine how he could impress the girls at daycare by citing 18th century verse.) Unfortunately, he can only really do the "burning bright" part before losing track.

The focus on tigers is a bit of a mystery to me. When I was a kid, I always thought lions were more of a big deal. Maybe because the whole "king of the jungle" mystique was so powerful. (But as we know now, tigers are actually the biggest of the Big Cats.)

Last week, we decided to take him to the Oakland Zoo to see some actual tigers. If you're going to be obsessed with something, you may as well see it in real life. (Note: This is how I dealt with my Tina Yothers obsession. I hope that restraining order has expired by now.)

Unfortunately, real life was a letdown: We saw exactly one tiger, and he was asleep. Try and find him in this picture.

Bottom line: Cats aren't reliable.

Elliot did enjoy riding the merry-go-round tiger, though.

UPDATE: While we're discussing the Oakland Zoo, are these alligators adequately secured?

I'm thinking, no.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

'Practice Your Multiplications!'

The placemats they give children at restaurants are a lot more demanding than when I was a kid.

The only effort to make this seem fun is the use of an exclamation point.

'STOP Listening to Awful Music'

Continuing the stop-sign theme, this was spotted in Amherst, Mass., by Papa Jeff.

The graffiti artist loses points for using a sticker and not even matching the red paint successfully.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

British-Accent Syndrome Can Strike at Any Time

You may have seen this story about a woman in Oregon who suddenly developed a British accent after dental surgery.

Accidentally accented. Photo courtesy Associated Press.

It seems we have an equally puzzling case in our house. I was sharing this video with a British friend, when he said, "Why does your son have an English accent? Not that I'm complaining."

When I watched the video again, I realized that Elliot calls his mom "Mum-may."

Dear God, does this explain all our trouble understanding what he's saying? He has an English accent?

How do you fix that?

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Don't 'Stop' Believing: the Stop Signs of Berkeley

Earlier this year, there was a wave of concern that the Internet would run out of IP addresses.

Well, here in Berkeley, we have a more pressing worry: We're running out of space on stop signs for our political messages!

People here love to turn every stop sign into an exaltation to "STOP animal testing" or "STOP human-rights abuses."

Of course, this isn't an only-in-Berkeley phenomenon. But it's hard to imagine that any other city in America has defaced as many stop signs on a per-capita basis.

Berkeley is a perfect storm: It has a politically minded populace, a high number of stop signs (both because of the city's penchant for traffic calming, and its slowness in installing stoplights), and a fondness for destroying public property (this is especially true here in South Berkeley). Bonus: The city isn't too quick about cleaning anything up.

Here's a small sampling of the ones near our house.

"STOP driving" is still by far the most popular, for good reason. What better way to reach drivers then via traffic signs?

You would hope the driver doesn't bail out immediately (please put the car in park before you stop driving, folks).

Conversely, this may be a less effective way to reach your intended audience.

A "STOP war" sign on Blake Street is unlikely to be viewed by members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

This one (above) is on nearby Carleton Street.

"STOP hate crimes." It's a noble sentiment, though "STOP graffiti" would be more cheeky.

I'm seeing a lot more of these — "STOP flying." I can only imagine it's because the carbon footprint of air travel has been so highly publicized in recent years. I think this makes people in Berkeley very conflicted, since they love to travel (or they love bragging about loving to travel).

I suppose this next one isn't a political statement. It's more a safety advisory: "STOP all way(s)." As in, stop every time.

Or the person was just a really big fan of Atlantic Starr.

On the corner of Bancroft and Spaulding: "Stop Hammertime." Bonus points for the outdated "Stop Texas Oil. No on 23" sticker.

And here's another that I spotted across the border in Oakland (it's perhaps more appropriate there, since that's where MC Hammer is from).

As yet, I haven't seen one for Vanilla Ice's "STOP...collaborate and listen" in Berkeley. (NOTE: See the update here.)

But it is available in T-shirt form here.

UPDATE: For the full series, click here.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Update on 'Genderless' Baby

The mom of baby Storm has responded to the public outcry over her plan to keep the child's gender under wraps.

From ABC News, which quotes a letter she wrote to a Canadian newspaper:
The mother of Storm Stocker, the Canadian baby being raised with only a few people knowing his or her sex, defended her family's choice to raise their child without regard to gender. "The strong, lightning-fast, vitriolic response was a shock," said Kathy Witterick in a letter. "The idea that the whole world must know our baby's sex strikes me as unhealthy and voyeuristic."
I'm pretty sure the whole world was happy not knowing anything about her baby until she launched this publicity stunt, but let's not nitpick.

The real news to me: I didn't realize the baby's full name is "Storm Stocker." Um, wow. That's so much worse than not revealing the gender.

The other revelation: She hatched this plan after marathon sessions of "Free to Be You and Me."

This album was a staple of my childhood, but I had no idea people were still listening to it. (Of course, she is Canadian, which may explain some of the 30-year lag.)

It turns out you can download the MP3 album from Amazon for $9.99.

Or just wait for the Lady Gaga remake. #inevitable