Monday, October 30, 2006

we're only making plans for nigel

delinquency in writing thanks to being butt-ass busy. suffice to say that it's been a good busy, as i actually really like my job. but that's only part of the busy. i mean, it's hard to blog about life if you're very occupied living it.

to wit...last weekend...saturday began at alamo square, getting scout out to play with other dogs. he seemed to enjoy it...

following that, we took a ride to baker beach, stopping first to get vietnamese sammiches at a place at 31st & clement. i don't remember the name of the place,only that it's at the corner of 31st & clement and that the sammiches are really friggin good.

anyway, at the beach...scout happy to be there, and some classic bay area scenery.

for the ride home we took the long way, swinging by the sutro baths and ocean beach.

have i mentioned this enough times? how much i love living here?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

sexual chocolate

via sfist.

reminds me that i need to get to scharffen-berger for a tour, and get to the bittersweet cafe in rockridge as well. both of these places were mentioned in the very first issue of the east bay express i read upon moving to berkeley last year. a good start to my life in the bay area, i thought then.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

eat to the beat

oh yeah, another season of top chef starts tonight started last week. sadly they've moved the show from the bay area to socal, but that shouldn't matter too much. it's reality tv that i can actually get into, since it's about something i have both an interest in doing and can do somewhat well relative to the people on the show. well, second only to america's next top model -- see, thanks to last week's improv class i found out that i can commit totally and unselfconsciously to being a super-model character. go figure ( me!).

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

peter pumpkinhead came to town, spreading wisdom and cash around

in the spirit of the season, jp and i did some pumpkin carving the other night. she went for traditional and happy and did a great job. i went for scary and got what looks more like "drunked up". still, it was fun and i ended up with some pumpkin seeds which need roasting. maybe with this recipe. anyway...the results...

Saturday, October 21, 2006

pills and powders baby, powders and pills

Writer's With Drinks seems a good reward for a Friday night spent in after dental work (watching So I Married an Axe Murderer which wasn't as funny as I remember the last time I saw it (well, just half of it then)..nice shots of SF, but eh as a movie) and a beautiful Saturday spent inside finishing a now very late (our panel discussant hopefully won't be too harsh on me) paper that i'm presenting at a conference in two weeks...

October 19, 2006
This Saturday: other magazine presents Writers With Drinks!

The award-winning spoken word variety show Writers With Drinks is back. Is it erotica? Is it comedy? Is it two hours of trauma and nihilistic epiphany? It’s all of those and more! This time, Writers With Drinks features:
- Lisa Goldstein, award winning author of The Alchemist’s Door
- Tim Redmond, executive editor of the SF Bay Guardian
- Cynthia Heimel, author of Sex Tips For Girls
- Michelle Orange, McSweeney’s guest editor and author of the Sicily Papers
- Alena Hairston, award-winning poet and author of The Logan Topographies

Where: The Make Out Room, 3225 22nd. St. btw. Mission & Valencia
When: Saturday, Oct. 21, 7:30 to 9:30 pm, doors open 7:00 pm
How much: $3 to $5 sliding scale

Friday, October 20, 2006

open wide and say...

back in the spring i had a tooth extracted, a molar that had been root canaled some years back, needed redoing but wasn't structually sound enough to withstand another procedure. so out it came. today, in it's place goes a titanium implant (i wonder if i'll be setting off airport security alarms from now on), and soon over that a crown. below, the very cool panoramic x-ray taken of my mouth. the image is taken on a futuristic machine that makes a semi-circle around your head as you stand upright, holding onto handles while your chin sits in a chin-rest. the design is very sleek and space-age. like a scanner from a sci-fi movie.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

help a brutha out

echoing what i wrote last march, you should be supporting kexp, probably the best radio station ever. their semi-annual fund drive is going on now...give some coin, get some stuff.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

he was drunk and exhausted but he was critically acclaimed and respected

(updated below)

it was loud and crowded and there was some pogoing, a bit of a mosh going, some crowd surfing and it had the feel of a celebration...that's a hold steady show, in particular last night's show at gamh.

you've got craig finn's manic and alternatingly goofy and serious stage presence, complete with some of the best front-man faces around. but you want to watch the whole band...each of them have their own vibe...tad kubler as the slightly spacey guitar-hero (and stage-diver/crowd-surfer), galen polivka and bobby drake holding down the rhythm with fierce energy, and franz nicolay looking all left bank but swigging wine out of a bottle and pogoing at his keyboard. and at the end the band brought a ton of people up on stage to close out "killer parties", including one guy who was given kubler's guitar and did a great job with the last few chords.

what you get is a group of guys who like each other, like what they do, play great songs and have a blast doing it. a celebration of rock and roll. it's hard not to leave in a great mood.

not surprisingly the crowd was mostly guys. i came to the band a few years ago as i was nearing the end of a long period of reading mostly authors like henry miller, jack kerouac...and the hold steady are (to me anyway) the musical equivalent...a visceral guy's band (and not just because they're so power-chord heavy). in fact, if you read their label's band page finn uses kerouac as a point of reference for the new album. that's not to say they aren't a band women can like, it's more that, like miller, kerouac and sometimes vonnegut, they seem to unabashedly revel in being men but they do it (at least via finn's lyrics) in such a poetic way that you almost don't notice.

here's a taste of them live doing "stuck between stations", praise be to youtube. and hell, here's "banging camp"...and here's "your little hoodrat friend". and why not, here's "most people are djs".

some pics (not taken by me) are here, here and here.

Monday, October 16, 2006

i have too many stories, keeping it serious

wow, another thursday thru sunday of music, readings, firsts, and good times. not sure how long i can keep up this streak of excellent weekends, but for now i'm happy to have caught a great wave, and i'll let it ride until it runs out.

thursday's john hodgman-pogues doubleheader (in separate venues) was as good as i imagined it would be. others have already documented the hodgman reading (with video and photos) so well that there's no need for another run-down.

playing to a packed fillmore room, evidently their first time in san francisco in 15 years, the pogues were magnificent. they and the crowd were full of energy and everyone seemed to have a good time. poor shane, though. the ravages of hard living have taken a toll...he was bloated, walked slowly and stiffly...but he can still sing and he's a captivating stage presence. if shane is the soul of the band, spider stacy is the heart -- he kept the energy pumping throughout the set...the band and the crowd seem to feed off of him. it was my first time seeing them and given their potential for future touring it may be the last.

crowd highlights included the ridiculously drunk guy who at one point offered me a swig from his bottle of some whiskey (declined...don't know him, and the backwash potential was too high) and then about 30 minutes later same guy, by now 10 sheets to the wind, started harassing some woman. she held him at bay for a while, flipping him off an inch from his face and pushing him away. when he continued, taking off his sweater and offering it to her (no,!?!) a friend of hers tried to get between them. when that didn't take i moved up a step and tried to distract him. eventually he slithered away.

a short while after that some guy is making trouble with people to my right. a minute later he taps me on the left shoulder and asks me if he should go punch out the guy with whom he'd just had the brief spat. i told him that i didn't think it was a good idea. not sure what it was in the spirit of the night that made me the magnet for stupid drunk guys.

friday was the long winters at dunord, with openers what made milwaukee famous. wmmf were good...michael kingcaid's got a voice that can best be described as "anthemic" and they've got some good songs. the long winters were outstanding. brilliant songwriting, great musicians, soaring harmonies...they played 22 songs and not a clunker in the batch.

saturday jp and i took part in lit crawl, the closing event for lit quake. we arrived at casanova a bit late for phase one's travel writer session, but still heard a few interesting travel stories, including one from constance hale, who went to the same high school as jp and once held the same job. small world. wanting to see the phase two music writers session but finding it way too crowded to even get in, we instead went early to the make out room and secured a table right up front for the macadam/cage session featuring stephen elliot, michelle richmond, craig clevenger and michelle tea. elliott read an excerpt from his new book, my girlfriend comes to the city and beats me up, a passage juxtaposing a bdsm encounter with the dysfunctional family situation that seems to account for the guy being the sub. richmond's story was a tale of lust and the "zipless fuck" written for (but not about, she assured us) the barista who makes her daily morning au lait.

sunday afternoon, following the last soccer game of the season with one of my teams, a few of us made our way to zeitgeist. i'd heard lots about it, but hadn't yet made it over. we kind of stood out, not dressed in standard-issue hipster garb, but it didn't matter thanks to the amazing bloody mary (spicy, tangy.mmmm) and a tamale from the tamale lady (another first for me).

Thursday, October 12, 2006

let's play two!

quoting the immortal ernie banks because tonight is a first-rate double-header...

seeing the pogues at the fillmore was already a definite. but then via the sf metroblog i see that john hodgman is reading at cody's (stockton st. downtown) at 7pm. meaning i can get to both.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

i'll bet you think this song is about you

ahh, what a treat to have three straight days of good music, experienced in very different ways. thursday's billy bragg show was a close-up night with one of my all-time favorites.

friday night jp and i hit the lit quake opening night event, between the bridges. lots of bay area artists performed, reading briefly from some poetry or prose that inspired them, and then playing a song or two that was inspired by the literature. highlights were chuck prophet, lars ulrich reading from his dad's book of verse, and dr. frank portman's hysterical double-entendre song "i wanna ramone you" (if you speak french, you'll know from where the entendre comes). the performance art accompanying dan "the automator" nakamura's bit had a nice campy quality. mark eitzel's performance was unsurprisingly the most ethereal and atmospheric of the night. reminds you of the beauty that is american music club.

dr. frank's account of the night is here, and the litquake myspace blog account is here.

saturday was quite a different turn, the hardly-strictly bluegrass festival. i didn't get there until early afternoon, but that was enough to hear some good music (steve earle, earl scruggs, gillian welch and billy bragg), do some people (and dog) watching, hang with friends, and eat some kettle corn. the evidence...

Sunday, October 08, 2006


i'd never been to a baseball playoff game, and this was an exciting first time. fun game, good crowd and a clinching game for the series sweep.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Friday, October 06, 2006

you're my reason to get out of bed before noon

it was love at first sight. i had gone to see the smiths play, and the opening act was this guy who came out in a white t-shirt and jeans, and played solo with an electric guitar. i'd heard of billy bragg from reading the english music press, nme and the now-defunct melody maker, but hadn't heard anything by him. so he comes out, sings a bunch of songs in a style that marries folk and punk traditions and delivers hysterical and insightful between-song patter (commenting on his physique, he said he was going for bruce springsteen muscles but had only acheived bryan adams level).

the very next day i went to my favorite record store and bought everything i could by billy bragg. since that show i've seen him, i don't know, at least 10 times, solo and with various bands. i've never been disappointed by a billy bragg show, and last night's late show at gamh was no different.

he opened up with "sexuality", going right into "milkman of human kindness". between songs he complained about the blue angels interrupting his sleep, talked about goat herding and how billy goats attract nanny goats by peeing on their own faces, because that's how goats get their pheremones out there. the set was a mix of old favorites like "greetings to the new brunette", and some very new songs. he plugged his new book, plugged his hardly-strictly set and promied to be back on tour soon. closing out the night was "waiting for the great leap forwards", as always with new lyics, some seemingly improvised based on the night's between-song patter, and "a new england", with the audience singing the chorus.

it's nice to know that (as with robyn hitchcock) even after many, many years, the love is strong and enduring. who says i've got commitement issues?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

gott ist tot

what happens when you cross the family circus with nietzsche? this.

I assess the power of a will by how much resistance, pain,
torture it endures and knows how to turn to its advantage.

(thanks, hogan)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

24 hour party people

man, do i have a full dance card the next couple of weeks. it all starts this thursday and goes thru more or less until the 19th.

* first, billy bragg in the late show at gamh on thursday.

* friday is the a's-twins playoff game. i grew up in philadelphia, so not too many chances to see playoff baseball. go a's!

* if time allows me to get trans-bay and across the city, i might be able to check out some or all of elvis costello's set at the hardly strictly festival.

* friday night is the opening night event for litquake. david eggars will be there. so will lots of other bay area music and lit types. and hey, my countryman lars ulrich of metallica will be there. maybe we can chat about the band documentary that i so love.

* saturday is a full-day at hardly strictly, including another set by billy bragg, though sadly it conflicts a bit with a set by sally timms and jon langford of the mekons and gillian welch's set.

* saturday night is another movie night in the park, this one featuring young frankenstein.

* sunday, jp runs the san jose rock-and-roll half marathon. in addition to cheering her on, it offers an opportunity to see a band called inspect her gadget. it's a day with no downside.

* monday night 10/9 are two lit events, another progressive reading night as well as a special porchlight night tied into litquake.

* that wednesday starts the 6-week run of an improv comedy class i'm taking with bay area theater sports.

* thursday 10/12 is the pogues, with shane (yes, he's still alive) at the fillmore.

* friday the 13th, i get lucky with the long winters at dunord.

* and then on tuesday the 17th, the hold (fucking) steady! at gamh!

oh yeah, then that friday i get my pulled molar replaced with a titanium implant.

all this and i haven't even thought of what i'm wearing for halloween.

pet sounds

i've seen tourfilter in a few places the last couple of weeks, and it's pretty cool...will definitely save time and effort paging thru the free alternative weekly press ads to see which bands are playing and where. my list is here and along the sidebar.

disturbance at the heron house

what's that old curse, "may you live in interesting times"? (by the way, may not be an ancient chinese curse, as is the common thought).

anyway, things are pretty interesting these days, like the wheel are totally coming off the wagon of sanity.

i mean, in the last week we've seen a host of things that in and of themselves would dominate a news cycle --

* a national intellience estimate that pretty much contradicts most of what duhbya's been saying about irag.

* more evidence that condi rice overlooked serious warnings about a possible bin laden attack on u.s. interests, and it's possible that this was intentionally withheld during the 9/11 commission investigation.

* senate majority leader bill frist says that the taliban (!!) should be included in the political process in afghanistan.

* and now, the gift that looks like it'll keep on giving for weeks to come, mark foley's indiscretion and the stunning ham-handedness of the gop leadership's response.

all this has rendered iraq, iran and north korea to virtual sidebars in the news.

and oh yeah...congress just tossed the magna carta overboard, and trod all over one of the primary grievances that the colonists had against the crown during the revolution.