Friday, November 09, 2007
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Theo Jansen is a Dutch artist who creates kinetic sculptures that run on wind and solar energy and are quite amazing. They seem to employ a lot of the techniques used in walking robots, but in a somewhat different way. His vision is to put a whole herd of them on a beach and have them run around, living off of the natural resource that drives them, in definitely.
And here's his kinetic "rhino":
He's also been featured in a BMW commercial, but you can find that on YouTube if you're interested.
In his talk at TED, he discusses how they will be made so that they can sense when they are on the dry sand or in the surf and move back to the wet sand where they "live."
Friday, September 07, 2007
We saw these beautiful, simple grafitti cupcakes as we were coming back from the awesome Grand Lake Farmers Market near our house a few weeks ago.
I love silly shit like this. It makes me wish I could live in a real-life Mario Brothers game.
P.S. Doesn't preggo Sara look cute? You should see her stomach now--the alien is soon emerging!
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Sara and I went to LA over the long weekend to show her belly off to my family and friends there. It would have been much nicer had it not been a fricken inferno every day we were there. Over 105 degrees every day! Madness. Meanwhile, back in good ol' Oakland it barely broke 80.
Anyway, we had a barbecue with carne asada--my favorite kind of BBQ--and went to a new carniceria. There, I saw these choice items available for purchase. The top is soup made from brown iguanas. The brown ones, as the black dogs in parts of Asia, are the best tasting, I assume. Follow that up with flavored gelatin dessert and you are set on a summer day.
LA is delicious.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
I was a little old to be a rabid Garbage Pail Kid fan, though I love them all the same. Wacky Packs were more age appropriate for me. The classic, the original.
When I saw that I could create my own, personalized Garbage Pail Kid, though, I was all about it. The app is pretty buggy--I get an error whenever I send out an email link--and you can't really export it, so I had to snag-it. But it's pretty cool.
I also got Simpsonized, courtesy of Burger Kill, but there is so little personalization that it could be half the guys I see walking in Oakland.
Thursday, August 02, 2007
I think it's 20th St. Definitely at Harrison. This boarded up store gets tagged quite a bit and looks kinda scary--like something out of Escape from New York. That's why it was so awesome to have this guy and his creepy crawlies staring at me as I walked by the other night.
Good evening, Mudd Guts, good to know you.
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
I might want to explain the lack of posts for the past month on some sort of solidarity with Oakland Waste Management strikers, who just settled their contracts and are finally back on the job. In any other city if there were a garbage strike--even a partial one like this one--for nearly a month people would have gone batshit. But here it just seemed to be something to be tolerated.
ANYHOO...my excuse is far more mundane. I've been really busy getting ready for the upcoming appearance of Desmond Riley, the chip off the old robot block. Lots of classes, purchases, showers, obssessing, and planning have made my time a little short.
The good news is everything is moving along swimmingly--he was karate kicking me through Sara's stomach last night. Gotta find a dojo for him toute suite!
Friday, July 06, 2007
Last weekend we had Sara's oldest friend over. She has a pair of very cute kids who were in serious need of entertainment. This was our ticket into the fabled Fairy Land, just down the street from us. You see, you can't get into Fairy Land without a kid (pedophiles need not apply).
Inside, it promised a land of wonder with storybooks sprinkled throughout that could be accessed with little keys purchased at the entrance. The first sign of what we would experience was illustrated in the warning at the ticket booth that about half of the storybooks weren't working. Oh well, all good fun.
The park itself is a total throwback. Very '70s with its bright houses made for kids to explore and slides for a bit of excitement. There were a couple of rides, most of which the jaded youth of today might find a little tame. Overall, though it was pretty amazing to see. I wonder how long a place like this will be able to stay open.
Monday, July 02, 2007
Saturday we went to drop off our boxes at a recycle dump in Oakland. Scary indeed. This is where all the shopping cart recyclers come to get money for the cans and bottles taken from recycle bins at the curb. Good on them for doing it, but it was a little crazy there with conveyer belts growling and bottles screeching as they go to their certain doom.
Outside the chaos were two sentinels that I had to take a picture of. C-3PO and his orangutan friend were stationed outside, observing the fun. Some genius took parts from the recycling and fashioned these pretty sophisticated replicas.
Hurray for recycling!
Friday, June 22, 2007
Thursday, June 21, 2007
What does one do when one goes to a casino? Gamble? Sure. Drink? Mais bien sur! I also love a good buffet. Gorging myself like the Roman royalty that I ain't is always a good time.
The most interesting and exciting thing that we discovered at the Forest Buffet ("Best Buffet in Tahoe!") was this "peach." It's actually a rice bun with red bean inside and tastes better than it looks. Still, it was a mystery that I was excited to solve.
And how often do you get to solve a culinary mystery? Now that's the essence of a buffet--eating food you know nothing about and might never try otherwise.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
While we were in Lake Tahoe, Sara and I went up to Angora Lakes. We likee the lemonade there and the beautiful views. When we saw that we could rent a canoe we were all about it. The last time we rented a canoe was in Pokhara in Nepal. That trip was kind of a nightmare, so it was good to have a fresh memory so that boating could be safe again.
Before that, the only boat that I had rented was in Central Park with my friends Carleen and Bruce. Ahh, good times, good times.
Can you believe that Sara is pregnant in that picture? Can't even see little Desmond pooking out there.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
It's hard to find a good miniature golf course these days. They either fall into the giant castle with gross water all around it and little imagination camp or into the so ramshackle that you risk getting tetanus if you play variety. Luckily, South Lake Tahoe has a very cool, old school course that Sara and I go to when we are particularly jonesing for some goofy golf action.
There are three courses to pay: Fairybook, which is a bunch of fairy tales with some randomness thrown in, Dinosaurs, which is what it sounds like with an especially malaevolent monkey with glowing eyes for color, and the Castle, which is the best and longest and features one hole where a big black rubber spider springs up and down over the hole.
It's funny, I used to play mini golf with my dad in that, "your mother and I divorced when you were very young and I can't quite figure out how to entertain you and your brother" sort of way. He loved golf, but I wonder if he loved the small version. Anyway, my question is, given that I played a lot of golf growing up, why do I utterly suck and get trounced by Sara each time?
Monday, June 11, 2007
Sara and I went to Moab on our way across the country to our new place. We were dragging a 16' truck with our car behind it over mountain pass after mountain pass. At one point we were nearly two miles high--going about 10 mph up the hill--but still!
One of the real highlights was going to Arches National Park. I had never been there, and looking at those amazing rock formations and hiking around in the desert--even if it was 90 degrees plus--was a lot of fun.
After we trekked up to Delicate Arch around sunset we went to a restaurant where Sara had a mixed game tamale and I had caribou tenderloin. They were both delicious and really improved upon the crappy lunch we had survived that afternoon.
One thing that struck me about Arches was the amount of rock formations that look like giant penises. While I definitely have a mind that sees private parts in everything, these tackle boxes were out and proud at many of the stops. But of course we would never speak openly of such a thing since it might poison the minds of the children. To me, though, it was a very entertaining subplot as I tramped around.
Saturday, June 09, 2007
Finally back on the radar. After moving Sara from Houston with our little alien inside her belly, we have settled in picturesque Oakland, CA. I love Oakland. When you walk around San Francisco with this sense of entitlement. "I own this place. I pay enough rent, so I own this place."
In Oakland the feeling is a little different. After the fourth police car passes you in full-on code 3 (that's with sirens, speeding down the street for you non-cop sluts) your sense of entitlement kind of ebbs. In fact, you kind of wonder, "If this is the pretty nice part of Oakland, what the fuck is going on in the bad parts? Reinforced Hummers with National Guardspeople?"
Remember, when SF was all hippie and shit with peace and love, Oakland gave birth to the Black Panthers. There is a long history of resistance and activism here. I wonder how the current gentrification is going to happen.
Of course I am exaggerating. I love Oakland because it is so different from SF. When I describe it to people it's something about how it is like Brooklyn before Brooklyn became NYC, Jr. A little rough around the edges in a good way, a lot of interesting people and things happening, unexpected things around corners. For example, this little bird. Mr. Heron lives in the bird sanctuary in Lake Merritt and decided he wanted to go for a ride kind of like that guy in the wheelchair who got pushed down the highway by a big rig. He's a Pepper! Love it!
Anyway, love Oakland, love the new apartment, love the Pepper. Someone kill me now.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Next Wednesday I move out of my lovely pad in the Mission and into Oakland. While I am supa excited to move into my new place--mostly because Sara will be there and not in Houston--I will definitely miss the food from the neighborhood.
Case in point is the tostada/tamale van. Now, usually vans like this kind of creep me out...looks like something a serial killer would drive. This van only has ki--I can't say it--excellent food. It never moves from its spot right on the corner across the street from me. The tostadas are amazing and it also has elote the way I learned to love it in Texas--a cup full of corn with sour cream, mayo, grated cheese, and chili on top. Delicioso. I will miss you, Dona Tere van.
Saturday, May 05, 2007
As I am getting ready to move to Oakland with my loverly wife, I had a good reminder of what it is like to move anything in San Francisco. My friends, the M&Ms, bought what everyone considered to be a small couch. Getting that couch upstairs proved to be a bit more work that we anticipated.
First, it got stuck (as seen here). We left it there for a bit and sought out the correct screwdriver to remove one leg. Looking at it, it was a strange screw--inset square. So of course nothing fit. Upon calling the shop, the informed M that the couch was Canadian, as was that special screw. Blame Canada. We had to go to the shop and borrow their drill bit, bring it home, and perform surgery on one of the legs to get it upstairs.
It's a beautiful couch, but I dread moving our normal-sized furniture into our new apartment in four weeks. The only thing keeping me going is the thought that our back door looks out onto the parking lot, so we should have minimal problems getting things in. Should have. You can never count on any move going easy in this town.
Monday, April 30, 2007
My cousin had an amazing old-skool organ in his basement. He got it free at a yard sale in Pueblo--one of the great things about living in a small town is that you are more likely to get in on a lucky find. I could only imagine what this could have fetched in SF on kitsch value alone. I mean, look at the font for the name. C'mon!
I only had time to mess with it for a few minutes, but I can only imagine that the full sound effect had a lot of magic.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Friday, April 13, 2007
Let me start this by saying I love Friday the 13th. I always wear black and make a lot of bad jokes that involve my patented malevolent laugh at the end. Today when I went to leave I found the vagabond cat that spends time at our place (she doesn't live here but has her own entrance and we feed her--she's the landlord's cat maybe?) as you see her above. Black cats rule.
Today my wonderful black celebration was ruined. Pardon my over-dramatic turn here. My cousin who had been struggling for a few months now was found dead by his own hand. He was a really cool, articulate guy who could keep up a conversation with anyone and was deadly funny. In the early '90s I went out for an extended visit to Colorado to get over a girl, and he (along with all of my family out there) was key in my getting over her (and myself) and getting back on track. I never would have made it out to NYC and infamy if I hadn't spent time shooting the shit with him, being an annoying vegetarian who rarely drank, and I will always remember him and love him for that. Even when he had a picture of Oliver North on his wall, all I could do was laugh because while I know he respected Crazy Ollie for his loose cannon ways, I always thought that it was kind of a joke that he was making--poking at anyone who would ruffle at the sight.
I knew he was in trouble when he emailed me a few months ago. I'd never gotten an email from him and his words were all hopeful, but wild in the way of someone who was clawing to find some way to keep on. We exchanged emails for a few weeks, and I purposefully kept it on specific topics that weren't what was going on with him. When he went away to the hospital after a bad bout, I emailed him and just let him know that I wanted him around the next time I went out to visit, to take care of himself. I didn't hear from him again. And when I got a call last night that he had been missing I knew inside that he wasn't going to be there anymore.
So I apologize again for this dour turn from the usual robot and grafitti antics. I have some great news that I will post later, but I wanted to memorialize him and get it out of my head for a while.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
One of the few nice things about walking to the BART at 6:45 in the morning is walking past a huge church with a glowing "chubby Buddha." I know, there really isn't a corpulent Buddha--it's Hotei, a god of luck in Japanese mythology and Budai, a wandering monk from 9th century China.
Whatever he is, I am cheered on these dark and dreary mornings of daylight savings as I trudge up 22nd St. and see his smile of encouragement. Thanks chubby Buddha!
Monday, April 09, 2007
So I know this picture makes my guilty pleasure look as bad as Kurt Russell's nachos in Death Proof, but I swear these breakfast chilaquiles are delicious. On my little vacation back to Houston to remind Sara that she is still married to me we went to Buffalo Grille and I totally over-indulged. In fact, I am still paying for it with a creeping case of slow burn just above my heart.
If you've never had these little infernos--eggs on top of tortilla strips that have been soaked in hot lava juice--make sure you find a good first place to try them. I had some in SF that were fairly mediocre, and it is oh so important to be sure you get a good batch the first time. Well, maybe that would be a bad thing since you may turn into a zombie like me, craving chilaquiles whenever they are near. BRAINS!
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
This is a taqueria just up the street from me in SF. I have to admit that I've never seen many of these things on a menu. Guess I've never lived in the Inner Mission before, huh? I tried the barbacoa, which is the inside cheek, and it was as tender as you would think. But it's best not to think. I have to admit that I couldn't even imagine trying ojo or buche, but maybe I should. For $1.50 I should try everything on the menu!
I've eaten camel sausage, kangaroo in a salad, emu burgers, barbecued and boiled dog, snake blood wine, pidgeon kebabs, bison burgers, and water buffalo roast (came sizzlin' hot and just in time after two months of no meat in India).
Is there anything you wouldn't eat? Besides feces, of course.
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Poor Spot--so cute hanging out on this wall at Webster and Geary. I only stumbled upon him by accident when, in a trance, I got off the bus three stops too early. But there he was, in jail. You can see my shadow self taunting him because I am free.
Friday, March 16, 2007
Oh the humanity!
I was walking to work this morning in somewhat of a daze (F U Congress with your new and improved daylight savings plunging me into morning darkness from which I cannot emerge while simultaneously twisting my favorite saying, "Spring forward, fall back," into an outright lie, a LIE!)when I came upon this carnage. Apparently some sort of electro-vampire or techno-werewolf stalked, attacked, and mangled an innocent monitor on Folsom. As you can see, the result is a disgusting display of guts and gore that should be kept from the innocent eyes of children.
I only hope they catch this monster because I know this monitor is going to be haunting me every night--talking about how I wouldn't stick to the road and steer clear of the moors--until the fiend responsible is felled by silver bullets or a stake or whatever.
...or Paris and the Eiffel Tower are toast?
This was duct taped to my building this morning. I can't quite figure out if it's a threat or a grand compliment to on of my house mates. Since this is a city of peace and love I will assume the best. Have some champagne on me.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Monday, March 05, 2007
So when I make it out to LA I like to hang out with my friend Derwood. A couple of weeks ago I was there and because we enjoy reliving the faint memory of our youth at Miss T's Barcade in Korea Town.
I must admit, though I spent many a quarter trying to get good at video games, I was really too much of a spaz to get really good. Still I enjoy a good game of Asteroids. Darren is seen above kicking A at Galaga. (Play an online sim here. I dare you not to get choked up.)
But the game that got us going that night was the Twilight Zone pinball machine. There was something wrong with it, so there were two balls out at once (sounds dirty, but just annoying), which added to the challenge. Not to mention that we never really could figure out different parts of the game that would have gotten us mucho points. Ah well, all in good fun.
The one sad thing is now that Barcade is legit, there's no more hard liquor. Just beer and wine. You can't beat a little '80s flashback, though.
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Every time I go to New Orleans I like to look at the crazy cross with the scrolling digital display.
Tonight I watched Jesus Camp, and it creeped me out. Their assuredness is what unnerves me. They are proud of the cultural war and are stoking that fire. They are placing a fear and urgency in their members and especially the children that is reflected in the tactics of the government.
I probably shouldn't talk about it now because these kind of movies make me very paranoid.
Friday, February 23, 2007
Just before Xmas I received a mysterious package. I wasn't expecting anything...I don't get many presents in the mail anymore. When I opened the plain brown box, I discovered a copy of The Nasty Bits by Anthony Bourdain. Oh joy! Months before, I had filled out an online form to receive the book for free. I have no recollection of why the site was making the offer...hell, I don't even remember the site.
Anyway, I finally started reading it a few weeks ago, and it lives up to and exceeds his Travel Channel show, No Reservations. He's a got a Noo Yawk punk attitude--bitterness, irreverent seriousness, and curiosity--about food and the places he goes to find it. Great stuff.
The other day I tweaked my dear friend Missus Tanya about her pro-Bourdain post. This is because T is a big fat (or skinny) vegetarian. And if you've watched the show or read his books, you know that Mr. Bourdain is against the veggie people because he doesn't think you should limit your eating curiosity to non-meat items. (See his scathing take on Woody Harrelson and the raw food movement included in full in this book.) As a fully recovered vegetarian I have to agree.
Aren't people who quit something--whether quitting meat or smoking, or even quitting not eating meat--the most annoying? They always feel the need to heckle the other side--often with little or no humor about it--as I am doing now (hopefully with some humor). But I do it with love as I remember all too clearly my family making me the butt of all food jokes during my 10 year sentence as a vegetarian. ("If he gets hungry on the way, we can just pull over to the side of the road and let him gnaw on a tree!" Much laughter and looking to see how the vegetarian will react.)
So I am on a plane reading the book and I had a laugh-out-loud moment. Bourdain is in shock when he is in a dingy old London pub and he discovers that, not only do they have a gourmet menu and call themselves a "Gastro-Pub," but
"A good pub should never have fine food. What's wrong with a good meat pie? Black pudding? Sausages? Shepherd's pie is a beautiful thing. I don't want truffles in it! And a vegetarian menu? In a pub? Vegetarians in a pub? For their own good, vegetarians should never be allowed near fine beers and ales. It will only make them loud and belligerent, and they lack the physical strength and aggressive nature to back up any drunken assertions."
Bah dum dump. Good stuff. Mrs. T is the one person who jumped into a fight with me many years ago, so I would never accuse her of not having an aggressive nature. But still, it's a good joke.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
As I ponder leaving Houston and returning to San Francisco, it is sights like these that I will miss. This kind of crazy non-ironic expression of personal taste is wonderful. I imagine this being parked next to the Pussy Wagon with sweet, sweet love floating on the breeze.
This is Beau, the very handsome dog that lived in the yard outside my apartment in Austin. He was a very big but skittish dog who would go crazy when he heard rain or especially thunder. I would come home and my Vespa would be knocked over because he had freaked out and rammed the gate open to escape from the booming thunder.
I miss seeing Beau every day. Hope the ice last month didn't make him too cold.
Friday, February 09, 2007
Sara has been getting acupuncture for migraines. I've heard crazy stories from friends where they go in for their first session and have this total emotional reaction to the procedure, breaking down and crying. This did not happen for Sara. In fact, not much happened in either of her sessions.
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
I know this is a total tourist drink. I know it is totally cheesy to go into a bar and order this. But c'mon, this is in the French Quarter just down the block from Cafe du Monde. Of all the places in NOLA that I go to every time--Coop's for the shrimp po' boy, the bar at the Monteleone--I always look forward to going to Molly's to get the frozen coffee drink.
This is strange if you know me. I hate coffee. Never had a cup, don't like candy or ice cream with coffee flavor. But when I go to New Orleans I always go to Molly's (in the case of this trip it was multiple visits) to get their "famous" frozen coffee drink. It is manna from the gods.
To celebrate my birthday and say bye bye to the South, Sara and I went to New Orleans for a few days. The city is still trying to put everything together after Katrina (restaurants are still closed, touristas are still not back in full force), but overall the average visitor won't see much difference from pre-hurricane NOLA. Unless you are visiting the 9th Ward or outside of the French Quarter/Garden District area things are pretty much back to normal. I even saw some boobies flashed, which just made me feel warm all over.
Anyway, the top photo is from our hotel. Loved the chandelier's creepy faces, so I had to share.
The second photo is from my favorite bar in the world, the carousel bar at the Hotel Monteleone. (Better picture here.) My friend Yvonne introduced me to this bar six or seven years ago, and it is the one go to spot where you can get away from Bourbon Street chuckleheads and have any drink you can think of made with perfection. Sara ordered a Ramos Fizz, which you rarely see made with actual egg whites anymore. It sounds sketchy, but was like a delicious dessert. I stuck to a Rusty Nail, which isn't all that complicated. Some may find the carousel aspect a little cheesy, but I love the slight dissonance it causes the more you drink.
So go visit and remember that every drink you take you are supporting the rebuilding of New Orleans.
- An = number of units of alcohol consumed
- S = smokiness of the room (graded from 0-10, where 0 clear air; 10 extremely smoky)
- L = luminance of 'person of interest' (candelas per square metre; typically 1 pitch black; 150 as seen in normal room lighting)
- Vo = Snellen visual acuity (6/6 normal; 6/12 just meets driving standard)
- d = distance from 'person of interest' (metres; 0.5 to 3 metres)
This is not a joke. It comes from a BBC Article based on a Manchester (England) University study:
"Researchers at Manchester University say while beauty is in the eye of the beer-holder, the amount of alcohol consumed is not the only factor.
Additional factors include the level of light in the pub or club, the drinker's own eyesight and the room's smokiness.
The distance between two people is also a factor."
Now if they could just get that formula for what "aesthetically pleasing" is equal to, we could settle this beauty thing once and for all.
Monday, January 15, 2007
Saturday, January 13, 2007
There's an old African American graveyard behind my building in Houston. I love walking through graveyards. It goes back to when I lived in Colorado as a wee and we used to go walking my cousin's crazy dog Charlie through the Canon City cemetery. When you are a kid cemeteries still have that holy/spooky/reverent/mysterious/mystical aura to them. Now they're just beautiful.
Anyway, I was walking through the cemetery behind my house a few weeks ago and found this framed picture of a trumpet player randomly leaned against the fence. It struck me as a wonderfully out of place yet perfect accent to the surroundings. All graveyards should have artwork beyond the monuments.