my best friend, the beautiful lady that married me

•May 20, 2011 • Leave a Comment


out and about

•December 7, 2010 • Leave a Comment
view of SF from Mt. Sutro

artichoke flowers

Hayfork

Bring the {{{BASS}}}

•May 13, 2010 • Leave a Comment

You know you love it.

…and you’ll find some much better quality audio on this free mp3.

Courtesy of the Miami Bass Warriors.

Now who wants to go rollerskating?

semi-new Clarion Alley art

•May 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Reaxcuses

•March 15, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Wow, it has been about six months since I posted anything here. There are a few reasons. After I moved to San Francisco, I was awash in exciting things to experience, and often wrote about them here. At some point, I began to feel that: (A) I was bragging, which is not good form, and (B) the awesome experiences were going to keep coming, and I couldn’t really keep up with writing about them all. Concerning (A), I don’t really think I brag, but it’s in my modest nature to occasionally think so. Expanding upon (B), at some point I dove right into living it up here and stopped worrying about chronicling it all.

Another big reason I stopped blogging was the rise of Facebook usage in my friend network. When FB went to a Twitter-style setup, it seemed to gain a lot of usage, shifting from mainly sharing news articles or interesting websites, to microblogging. FB encouraged users to tell everyone what was on their mind, and they did just that. Often to the point of absurdity. Often going beyond thought to mundanities such as physical location (“I’m in line at airport security!!”).

Whenever I really want to, I can post a little status update that need not be as composed as my blog posts are, and before I knew it, Blak Yak Tacklebox did not hold enough appeal to merit an hour of writing. Also, now that so many friends were microblogging on FB, any kind of blogging sort of lost its appeal. At a certain point, after many people linked their Twitter accounts to FB and I received stacks of inane chatter, I started to get real sick of the whole idea of sharing your life online. I have nothing against it inherently, it’s just a matter of media infoglut.

The product holds its fair share of guilt for my incredulous boredom. Why the hell are person-to person exchanges between my friends broadcast to my feed? Yes, I’m friends with Person A and Person B, but it’s going a little far to publish their wall discussion to me. Of course, I eventually found out that there are settings to fix this.

If I may continue this digression…

It seems that a straightforward email has become analogous to a handwritten letter. There are friends of mine who I email and can’t get a reply, yet I see their off-the-cuff jokes and thoughts posted all over FB. I understand this– the format of FB allows any of us to easily comment without having to compose our thoughts. Quickly, quickly, there are more statuses and articles and funny videos to look at and comment on!

I do think this has an effect on our attention spans, and while I still use FB (albeit less and less often), I think it’s a good idea to step away and consider how your particular information consumption habits affect how you think. I noticed a distinct rapid-fire online reading behavior beginning to take hold, which entailed me scanning a lot but not necessarily retaining much information. I don’t want my attention span to splinter more than is inevitable, and so I’ve been trying to get that under control.

But lately I have been writing some blog posts for work (mostly book and album reviews), and doing that reminded me that I get some satisfaction from writing. So I will try to write more here, if just to make myself feel productive. More to come very soon, thanks for reading…

sometimes coffee makes me feel this way…

•September 7, 2009 • Leave a Comment

…but I still love it.

Putting the “it” back in “shit”

•August 9, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Last Saturday night, we went with some friends to see Themselves play a show at Bottom of the Hill. If you don’t know, Themselves is rapper Dose One and beatman Jel, both of the Anticon label. I’ve been digging these guys and others in their crew for about ten years now, and Michelle and I have enjoyed many shows, all of which greatly exceed any other hip hop live acts we’ve seen (Anti-Pop Consortium included).

So they just released a free “mixtape,” (theFREEhoudini) full of collaborations with other rappers in the family, and some songs off their upcoming album, Crownsdown. Dose has been straying from straight rap a bit in the past years, with Subtle and 13 & God projects, and I enjoy that stuff, but it’s great to hear him get back to some pretty badass fast rap (delivered in his famous nasally voice). And Jel…damn! He mans an MPC, a sampler that he triggers by playing it like a bongo (check out this video, really). Incredibly deft, he makes button-pushing a real musical art.

Lemme just say they had me captivated. Between each song (they played stuff from all over their career thus far), Dose would chat with the crowd, throw out strange nonsense jokes, and just generally be uniquely entertaining. Then back to the next song, where he would spit incredibly fast rhythmic lyrics with such ease. I wished the show was longer, I wished the crowd had joined our calls for a second encore, and I wish that opener Odd Nosdam’s set hadn’t been such an utter trainwreck. Otherwise… damn! Thanks for the great music, guys.

Oh yeah… Pitchfork just posted an interview with Dose One about his various projects and current activities here.

whommp!!

•July 20, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Good friend Coleman just left town, after visiting with Michelle and I for a couple of weeks. While he was here we dragged him all over San Francisco to farmer’s markets, restaurants, parks, hills, bars, etc. And a couple of clubs.

I’m just starting to get a handle on the rich electronic music scene in the Bay Area, picking up names and good sounds on the occasional jaunt out to a club (I’m not really into club culture at all, but if that’s where some of these folks play, it’s where I’ll be some of the time).

One justly-hyped act is Lazer Sword (composed of two guys, Low Limit and Lando Kal) who throw together a glitchy, wobbly mix of electronic and hip hop (indie & top 40). I can’t write music descriptions worth a damn, so do yourself a favor and check their Myspace page, which has links to a few of their mixes (Sweatpants Money being the latest).

TypeXtra1

Anyway, Michelle and I had heard Lando Kal play at an upscale lounge club a while ago, and the Cole-man tracked down an underground party on July 4th that we checked out. It was at a private loft in SOMA, devoid of club bullshit, full of sweaty kids having a blast. All the DJs really threw it down that night, most especially Ana Sia, and I was amazed at how intense the bass was. I love it! Lazer Sword did a great job, but most of my dancing energy was expended by the time they got on, as I had been going for 2 hrs straight at least.

And then, on Coleman’s last night in town, he and I went to the Elbo Room in the Mission to check these guys out. It was so foggy out, like a Florida summer downpour with the volume turned down to 1: we were being rained upon, but ever so gently. The venue was nice and clean (perhaps too nice? I felt out of place, as if I should have had more disposable income). Good thing we went, tho, because it turned out that Lando Kal is moving to NYC (sometime this week/end?), and so this was to be Lazer Sword’s last Bay Area show for some time.

I won’t say too much about the opening act, Savoy, except that they were some kind of live band/laptop DJ hybrid, that seemed to successfully muddle the best possibilities of either way of making music. Eh.

But Lazer Sword got on, and played for as long as they could before the club kicked everyone out (little over an hour), and we all got down. Such fun, such great exercise. Gonna miss these guys, will have to keep an ear out for more talent, I know it’s out here!

on my shelf

•July 20, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Books, books, books. During my nearly two-hour bus commute to an on-call librarian job, I have my nose in one. While at work, all these children come to me to find their favorite books for them, be they Rainbow Magic Fairy, Secrets of Droon, Geronimo Stilton, Twilight, Magic Schoolbus, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, or any number of other titles I haven’t read (but really need to, for the job).

I enjoy getting reader’s advisory requests, that is, when a patron wants me to recommend something like a mystery or a fantasy, with any number of qualifiers (“nothing negative!” “not too long!” “something with technology, like watch-making?”). I enjoy the unpredictability of their reactions to my suggestions– some folks are thrilled, some look at the book like it’s growing mold, some take it kindly and then leave it on a table later.

Lately I’ve been spending some time building a Library Thing account, which lets me make lists of different books by age group, subject category, specific issues represented, etc. Makes it easier to recommend stuff on the fly, and keep a handle on all the good books I see in the library but can’t possibly keep straight in my head.

And I really want to delve into some of this children’s fiction and get familiarized, but currently I have no less than six books that I am actively reading.

One is a goofy children’s nonfiction parody titled Giraffes? Giraffes!, published by McSweeney’s.

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Four are food-related: Cookwise by Shirley Corriher, which explores the science of cooking processes and ingredients (think Alton Brown without the corny humor).

Beyond Bok Choy by Ross, which I’m reading to familiarize myself with the various types of Chinese veggies I now have at my disposal in San Francisco.

James Peterson’s Sauces, lent to me by a friend, so that I can improve my sauce-making technique.

Best Food Writing 2008 (ed. Holly Hughes), which is chock full of mouth-watering articles. Read a good one on Szechuan Dan Dan noodles, which I have enjoyed at our favorite nearby restaurant: Spices II: Szechuan Trenz (yes, this restaurant is so badass it needed a subtitle).

But all of these are really just occasional reading, they take a backseat to the 900-page historical novel that has been kicking my eyes’ ass for the past month or so: Neal Stephenson’s Quicksilver, book one of the Baroque Cycle. I had previously only read Stephenson’s Snowcrash, which deftly managed to communicate BIG and interesting ideas while throwing down an action-packed story of mobsters, teenage skaters, thermonuclear terrorists, and katana-wielding computer hackers. So a good friend gave me Quicksilver, which is a definite shifting of gears for the writer.

I’m almost done with the book, and so far find it to be a pretty absorbing epic tale, spanning the late 1600s and early 1700s and various major shifts going on at the time, such as the Scientific Revolution (birth of scientific method of inquiry?) and Glorious Revolution (death of Catholic-ruled Absolute monarchy in England?). The tale is told through the eyes of three different characters, a Natural Philosopher (scientist), a rowdy vagabond (going mad from syphilis), and a financially precocious woman (ex-harem slave) who becomes a spy and tool used by the nobility of several nations.

The book (just the first of three) contains too much for me to really try and summarize. While it’s engrossing and thought-provoking in the extreme, it’s also frustrating at times, because of Stephenson’s frequent stylistic inconsistencies and flourishes. Now and then I read scenes that seem completely irrelevant and boring, but I never know if they will bear importance somewhere 1500 pages on in the Cycle. But at least I know I’m in the hands of a truly creative author. My gifting friend has instructed me to read Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon next (which apparently ties into descendant characters and themes in the 20th century), and then to move on to the next two books in the Baroque Cycle. As a librarian, it’s fun to hand the reigns over to someone else who will tell me what to read next.

food lately

•June 17, 2009 • Leave a Comment

This here is a tea egg– apparently a typical Chinese street snack, made by first soft-boiling the egg in water, then cracking the shell a bit, then boiling it longer in tea and soy sauce. There’s an ice cream & crepes shop near my apartment that sells them for 75 cents apiece. This one wasn’t bad, and didn’t have as strong a taste as I might have thought. Cool-looking, huh?

This week I tried adding about a tablespoon of plain yogurt to two scrambled eggs just as they were done, and mixing it all in (I also add plenty of ground pepper and a bit of turmeric to my eggs). Makes for a creamy & tart breakfast, spread on toast. The yogurt we’ve been buying at a nearby Russian market is called “Suzme,” and is incredibly creamy and real tasting.

Lately I have been pureeing vegetables for sauces and soups, then straining them for a smooth consistency. Last week I made a soup this way with a sweet potato, roasted red bell & Anaheim peppers, carrots, onions, scallions, garlic, and some spicy peppers. It was hecka spicy! (sidenote: apparently “hecka” is a regional substitute for “hella” used by polite young’uns in the Bay Area… hilarious, yes?)

So, the soup was spicy and delicious, but not the most exciting thing to eat without some textural solids. So the next day for lunch, I made some gemelli pasta and mixed the soup into that. Made for a great pasta sauce, and I think I may prepare this cold sometime for a picnic pasta salad.