Monday, July 31, 2006

how long will it take?

via mcdougall, a cool dhtml tool, like google maps....the smilie timline, here used to chart monet's life.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

information travels faster in the modern age, as our days are crawling by so slowly

one of the happy consequences of the 45 minutes per day that i spend on public transportation is that i'm getting tons more reading done. for whatever reason i tend to do much more reading in transit than i do even if i have a few nights at home. when i travel or commute i just plow through stuff. my subscriptions to the nation and atlantic monthly, along with a weekly newspaper in my field isn't enough to keep me occupied...i've got time for books again.

on vacation i read an old tom robbins book, even cowgirls get the blues, and sightseeing, a collection of short stories by rattawut lapcharoensap lent to me specifically for the trip by my friend linh. cowgirls was what i'd come to expect from robbins, no surprises. if there was a unifying theme to the stories in sightseeing it was about the underlying strength of family and local culture in the face of intrusion from external elements.

in fact, three of the last four books i've read have been short story collections...the vintage book of amnesia (an anthology featuring a number of differnt authors) and most recently oblivion, a collection by david foster wallace.

i enjoy dfw's non-fiction essays. a supposedly fun thing i'll never do again was hysterical and informative. reading his fiction, however, i get the sense that he's showing off at how skilled a writer he is. and i'll give him that -- he has a command of language and an inventive mind. and he's super prolific. but while reading it i can't help but be reminded of the jon lovitz parody of the ACTOR who when on stage shows he's ACTING. with dfw it's like he's making sure you know he's a serious WRITER. he's a bit guilty of it in his non-fiction, but it's very apparent in his fiction. his essays are of course famous for the footnotes, so much so that he's been parodied by the onion. high praise indeed.

anyway, i'm now back to novels, halfway through the virgin suicides, and with a stack of things on deck. this public-transport commuting thing isn't half-bad.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

now you find you're amused with it all...

i'm getting back into the swing of things finally...i moved at the beginning of june and was so busy didn't have time to unpack many of the boxes before the trip to egypt and morocco. so when i got back there were tons of things to put away. and work to catch up on. and 650+ pictures to cull and select for posting.

so finally i feel like i'm actually living in my new apartment, as opposed to it just being a storage place where my bed happened to be. i finally have a feel for the rhthym of the to manage the commute to the east bay (bart has been great for my reading). i am also finally starting to get more social again. it's little things like deciding on which side of the bay i should play soccer, finding a decent yoga studio near to me, and just plain getting out and doing stuff. the world cup final in the park was spontaneous for me, happening just a few days after i got back from the trip. now i'm actually starting to plan things again.

all of which is to say this weekend shapes up to be a good one. the incoming fog banks mean the heat is broken. friday night a friend is visiting and a couple of intriguing east bay options are in the offing.

one option is the book burning comedy showcase at the ak press warehouse. rising stand-up comics, more or less. but sounds promising.

the other option is the sonic foundry performance of the edgetone music summit at 21 grand. it's music played on invented instruments, including one person playing amplified rocking chairs. how can that not be interesting?

saturday is a retro shot of summer blockbuster cinema, as the san francisco neighborhood theater foundation presents raiders of the lost ark in dolores park. i've seen it a million times, know all the key lines by heart ("snakes...why did it have to be snakes") and it never fails to entertain.

also, i feel a bout of introspection coming on brought on by two things. first, my boss is retiring this week. and earlier tonight i was at a book reading where the readings and q&a discussion centered around major points of transition in life. so a million thoughts are swirling about where i've been, where i am, where i am in relation to where society says i should be, where i want to go...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

that's gonna leave a mark

you may have heard about the violent storms that blew through st. louis in the last week. well, check this out, via crooks and liars. some poor lady gets absolutely pasted by a flying trash can at busch stadium. ouch.

Monday, July 24, 2006

dome of the sky

it's kind of photoshop for dummies, but what the hell, i like picasa. the image to the right i took with no flash, lightened a bit in photoshop, then used picasa to sharpen a bit and add a soft focus using city hall as the focal point. yes, it's not up to the technical snuff of serious digital media students like my friend jackie (who's given me a few basic lessons on photoshop), but it's good enough right now for a hobbyist like me. it's also clear to me now that i need a tripod if i want to continue to do night-time and low light shots.

in other news, i think i found a good source for mangoes. now that berkeley bowl is too far away from where i live, my new pusherman is one of the grocers along 16th near the mission bart station. but i can't tell you which one, because i want the mangoes all for myself.

the splatter effect

Via Ray...supremely awesome...create your own Jackson Pollock.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

and the sun is beating me senseless...

i really wanted to not reference the heat in this post, but there's no getting around the fact that it's hot...real hot. hot like i used to have to deal with in south florida. but i hear that ocean breezes and fog are gonna control the weather again this week. so sue me, i don't like the heat.

in non-weather news, not to get all meta, but this sf chronicle article delves into a pew report in why people blog. do you recognize yourself in any of the anecdotes and statistics?

i'm finally catching up on music after being out of the loop during the egypt/morocco trip. thanks to the always amazing gorilla vs bear i'm a fan of "sloppy" popsters boat. download last cans of paint and see what i mean.

in the vein of guilty pleasures the pipettes (though with more of a fuzz guitar/electronica thing happening, as well as being wonderfully more weird), how about teddybear stockholm? gvb has stuff about them here, as does my old kentucky blog (though the song samples probably won't be up for much longer). a pitchfork review (via gvb) is here.

hooray, the new sliversun pickups record comes out this week. song samples (not downloadable) here and on their myspace page.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

sounds like an onion article...

but it's for real...

Washington -- The American bison, once hunted almost to extinction, is now so revered in the United States that its image graces the seal of the Interior Department, where it stands proudly in the shadow of mountains.

Still, a senior political appointee at Interior apparently thought that the real thing might look better stuffed and mounted -- so he shot one.

David Smith, a hunter who until last Friday was deputy assistant secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, shot and killed a bison grazing at a friend's ranch in Texas in December 2004.

He had the hoofs made into bookends and kept the skull, wrapped in taxidermy packaging, in the garage of his home.

Smith broke no laws by shooting the semi-domesticated animal in the head with a rifle from 50 yards away.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

when you have friends who are authors.... may find yourself at public readings of their work. and this is a good thing.

so it is that tomorrow night i will be at pegasus books on shattuck ave in berkeley to see my friend elline lipkin read from her newly published book of poetry, the errant thread.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

where you least expect it

this youtube clip of a 700 club story on the democratic senate primary in connecticut is astonishing...who'd have thought that the 700 club would have a political story that's better reported than anything seen on network news (including cnn and fox) in a while.

you may rightly take issue with their using the aclu's freedom scorecard (and that they called it a "liberal rating"), but the aclu's measure is a broad measure of basic civil liberties issues. you may rightly take issue with their using john kerry to define the liberal wing of the democratic party, but he did tack more and more left (moving from super-mainstream to milquetoast pseudo-progressive) as the 2004 presidential campaign went along.

the bottom line is, that was an astonishingly well reported story, the points above notwithstanding (there are far worse distortions and half truths woven into mainstream media news). it presented the overall case, tried to explain both sides, and analyzed some of the major reasons (the kiss, the standing o) for which progressives take issue with lieberman (mainly that he's become bush's lapdog).

pat robertson's coda, of course, was half-assed, calling out the dems specifically but letting the GOP off lightly for the same sins of hyper-partisanship (and also not distinguishing between the kind of partisanship necessary for competing parties to stake out policy decisions and the kind of ugly partisanship promulgated by the likes of delay and boehner). not that i'm about to start watching the 700 club, but the reporter who filed this should go for a gig with the majors, hopefully not losing his reporter's soul in the process. at the very least it would be interesting to see what he'd do without the constraints of working for an avowedly biased news organization.

Friday, July 14, 2006

this rather simple epitaph can save your hide your falling mind

catching up on randomalia after a busy week...

* i had a tooth extracted today, a root canal gone bad and the tooth had of late been chronicly infected. first step in a long process of getting an implant. but right now there's a hole in my mouth, which i'm tempted to photograph and then post the pic. sadly the dentist didn't let me keep the tooth, which had broken into pieces was extracted because a new root canal wasn't feasible due to the lack of structual integrity in the tooth. no major pain right now (5 hours after) but he shot me up with novocaine pretty good and that's now starting to wear off. sadly i can't do narcotic pain relievers...they make me queasy. so ibuprofin it is.

though it's kept me in tonight, said extraction won't keep me from a soccer game saturday morning and a surfing trip to santa cruz sunday.

in sartorial news of the week...

* i lost a ring i wear on my left hand, and the hand feels naked. thank goodness for the telegraph ave vendors and the plethora of jewlery makers.

* on tuesday of this week i wore a shirt which i somehow had managed to only iron half of. so my left side was nice and pressed and my right side was wrinkly. i need a valet.

music-wise, i'm in need of getting the (sort of) new raconteurs and new thom yorke among many other things, including the upcoming silversun pickups. what else? i dunno, the walkmen maybe. i'm open to suggestions.

otherwise noticed...

jeff goldblum and nicole ritchie on a date? forget the age difference (which seems astounding even by hollywood standards (hello harrison ford and calista flockhart) or the height difference. obviously i don't know either of them, but from public appearances it's not an obvious match.

cbgb's to move to vegas? apparently so. according to the mtv news article, hilly kristal is looking to the downtown vegas area, which is a relief. i can't see that place on the strip. i've played cb's a few times (just about the best on-stage sound for any small club i played), and have seen tons of bands play there (generally good sound and sight-lines for the audience as well). it's where television, the talking heads, blondie, the ramones and countless other new york area bands forged a scene and a sound. if there were to be a signal that rock and roll has died, cb's on the strip would be it. but downtown has the kind of grit that cb's needs. if you're in vegas, go downtown to the art bar. there's also a good mexican place near the art bar, but i can't remember the name.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

interstellar overdrive

hmmm...apparently syd barrett died friday july 7. unfortunately he never had a career resurrection like brian wilson. because of that, and since he didn't die young like chris bell, there was a certain museum effect to his existence, as if he were a living curiousity piece. i tend think of barrett, wilson and bell in the same breath, as songwriters who challenged basic pop song conventions, in the process inspiring many other artists, including robyn hitchcock who is self-avowedly influenced by barrett.

Monday, July 10, 2006

cairo and the eye of the beholder

as i mentioned when posting from cairo, it's a big, fast-moving city. for a short while, i had begun to wonder if it was the smartest way to start the vacation. i'd come off a very, very busy stretch at work, plus i'd just moved. i realized after a few days that i was working as hard at trying to relax as i was when actually addition to the kind of heat you'd expect from the middle east during summer, there was crazy traffic and pollution and noise. i'd started to wonder if maybe i should have gone to a beach somewhere and totally vegged out.

but after a few days, things changed. the company of newgy and her friends was certainly a major factor. also, though, i started to accept the city for what it was, and get into the mission of exploring...starting with the ancient relics.

another avenue of exploration was egypt's islamic heritage. instead of church steeples, minarets dominate the skyline. calls to prayer punctuate the days at regular intervals, and you don't need a watch to know that it's noon, or 4pm, or a couple of hours after sundown.

but it wasn't just about things -- people, animals, plants -- caught my eye as well, each showing a unique kind of beauty

in the end, the cairo I captured in my lens held more beauty than the cairo I remember actually being in. maybe my camera served as the means by which I'd appreciate the experience in ways not readily apparent to me while there.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

beautiful day for a ballgame...

a beautiful, sunny day; a big screen in the park; a large, festive and overall pretty relaxed crowd...perfect place to watch the world cup final between france and italy. one of those events that makes me so glad to live here

any seat was a good seat, just as long as you were there to root for your side

even the pups came out, if not to cheer, at least to be outside...and of course, the ubiquitous sign guy, frank chu

all in all, a great day for flying the flag and cheering for victory

say it ain't so, zizou

zidane headbutt

update...from youtube via gr, the full that a nipple twist from materazzi?

les bleus vs azzuri

for the record, i think the italians will win the world cup final today, but i'm rooting for the french. both teams have played so well throughout the tournament, but because the french came in as such underdogs, i'm pulling for them.

Friday, July 07, 2006

far out...funny meeting you here, think fast...courage gotta go

weird. three times in the last two days i could swear i passed on the street women who i've had anywhere from two to a handful of dates with. yet i wasn't quite sure if it was them and there was no recognition of me that i picked up from them.

all of which says a host of things not only about my sometimes spotty memory, but more importantly that after only 13 months out here certain aspects of my life are already making this feel like a small town. which i know it isn't. but was weird that it happened in such a concentrated time span.

posting about the trolleyox reminded me...'s time to get back to playing music again. some good leads already on craigslist. after 4 years in the dj/electronica/salsa dominated scene of miami (not that i hate those styles of music, just not what i want to play) how nice is it to be in a city where people actually like to write good songs? it's very nice.

if you're reading this, need a bass player and wonder what i'm looking to do, listen to the trolleyvox and you'll get a sense, though the styles i'm fine with are a bit more varied. just as long as there are songs...good songs. that's all i ask.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

detonate your dynamite and i'll be yours forever

hooray, new music from the trolleyvox! yeah, so maybe there's some hint of self-interest as i used to play bass in the band, but take my word for it and go listen to songs from the upcoming record the trolleyvox present the karaoke meltdowns.

you can also see the new video on youtube...

older songs (including my contributions to the leap of folly album) are available for download here. pics from the leap of folly sessions are here.

maybe he was auditioning for "wanted: ted or alive"

brian heidik, survivor thailand winner, a former car salesman and soft-porn actor, shot a puppy with a bow-and-arrow. no seriously. he shot a puppy. with a bow and arrow.

i've given all i can but we're still on the payroll

wait, what i wrote about it's nice to come home? maybe so. but here i am, first day back at work and only 35 minutes in wishing i were still away. maybe if i close my eyes and concentrate, i'll still be on the sunset felluca ride.

Monday, July 03, 2006

moving the goalposts

of the four teams remaining in the world cup, the only team i predicted or expected are germany. i thought italy would self-destruct in the quarters, france was too old, and that portugal as usual would have the talent but not have enough heart to get this far (and frankly, they got a gift that the dutch played shoddily and that england had no offense besides rooney after owen was injured...when rooney took the red card, england were done). so surprise, surprise....there's the final four.

while in egypt and morocco i did take some time to watch matches. at first i thought that was nutty...being on vacation and that i should be seeing stuff. then i realized...i was on vacation. that meant doing stuff to make me happy. and with the games starting at 6pm and 10pm in egypt and 3pm and 7pm in morocco, it actually turned out to be good timing in terms of a break after a day full of sightseeing and other activities.

with plenty of locals and tourists stopping to watch the games at cafes, it was a great communal activity where you could communicate with the guy at the next table even if you didn't speak a common language besides the game. i watched the england-sweden match at the british community association in cairo, amidst a lively crowd of mostly brits, with more than a few swedes present as well.

the highlights of the tournament so far:

* france playing with more heart than any other team among the final 32. they were counted out as old and slow and fighting with each other. but they've played as a group and zidane's return to form has been awesome to watch. yes, they benefitted from brazil's "defense" inexplicably leaving thierry henry open to score, but good teams take advantage of mistakes.

* the germany-argentina match -- for 120 minutes (90 regular and 30 extra time) it was generally a tense and thrilling match. it only really opened up after the argies scored in the 49th minute. all of a sudden the argies realized that they should keep attacking. unfortunately their coach thought he should sit on the lead and sub his offense for plodding defensive midfielders, especially considering that it was the starting argentina midfield that were totally controlling the match. no matter, as the excitement continued. of course, one defensive mistake was all it took, and when sorin let klose go by for position on the header to tie..well...also, i wasn't shocked that the argies would lose if the game went to penalty kicks. i'd seen it happen before, in the 2004 copa libertadores final between boca juniors (of Buenos Aires) and columbia's once caldas. the heavily-favored bocas made *no* penalty shots. none. that is truly remarkable at that professional level of play.

* ghana -- they played a fun if sloppy style, forgetting to defend sometimes, playing a bit too rough at others, and being a bit awestruck against brazil, watching too much and not playing enough. but we've seen this before from african teams, recently cameroon and nigeria. we haven't seen these teams sustain it over the years...they flash into the news for one or maybe two cups, then fall apart. i watched their game against brazil in fes, amidst a cafe full of men cheering on the ghanians. i guess the former french colonies of west africa want to stick together.

* the us-italy match -- the only one of the us games worth watching, it was thrilling, especially watching the americans control play despite being down a man for the 2nd half. well, control things until they clearly ran out of gas. then they were just trying to hold on for the draw, which they did.

lowlights and disapointments:
* the u.s. play in general -- they played horribly against the czechs and not well enough against ghana. low delivery on high, maybe too high, expectations.

* the portugal-netherlands match -- the ref lost control of the game early on, and tried to regain it by handing out a record number of yellow and red cards. the players couldn't control themselves, and what could have been a fun match between two teams that play exciting offensive-minded soccer was reduced to a rugby scrum. all involved should be ashamed.

* the switzerland-ukraine match -- an awful, boring game, in which the ukes clearly played for a tie and hoped to win on penalties, which they did. the kind of soccer game that makes people hate soccer.

my heart says the germany and france will win the semis and france will win the final. my head says germany and portugal to play for the title, and the host germans taking it.

everything sounds like "welcome home"

an aphorism maybe, but it's nice as it is to be on vacation, it's equally as nice to come home. and so after two+ weeks gone, back i am. of course coming home to a place like san francisco feels a bit like extending the vacation.

i haven't yet figured out how to organize my thoughts and experiences of the trip for a diary. i kept a pretty good journal, consisting mainly of accounts of the days but also included some general thoughts. how to diary something like this though...not sure. haven't ever done it. a plain travelogue would be boring to write much less read. some organizing principle will hit me soon. probably while i'm sorting through the 650 pictures that i took. gotta love having a 1-gig memory card for the camera.

so more details soon, but for now i'll note one thing...if you ever get even a whiff of a chance at it, find a way to spend time in marrakesh. it's touristy, yes. but a few hours during the evening hanging out in the main square, place djemma el f'na (or jemaa-al-fnaa), is something that's sure to get all of your senses engaged.