Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Bear and Fog City

"You could say I became chronologically "fucked-up"."

The Tragically Hip "Locked in the Trunk of A Car"

Blogs are supposed to be written in real-time. But that’s not always possible, so here is a story that was written (mostly) on February 8. But I’m posting it on February 19. Oh well. Time is tight. And if you’re confused now, get ready because the next post will be going back to February 4. So keep up, will you?

It’3:58 AM PST in San Francisco. The city is blanketed in fog and I can hear the foghorn sounding in the Bay every twenty seconds. This much I know for sure. I should know as we just got home about 20 minutes ago. The night began with dinner with my friends Pappy (you can see his picture in the Boston story below) and Kelly. We went to Q, a solid little hipster restaurant in Richmond that reminded me a lot of Philly. I had fried chicken with tater tots and roasted veggies. And country gravy that I’d love a shot of right now. My friends live in the Haight. After dinner we dropped Kelly off at home (hey, some people have to work) and me and Pappy headed to Haight St. to figure it all out. The first stop was Alembic, which is owned by the same folks who own Magnolia, a great organic brew pub up the road. I had the Kalifornia Kolsch, which was served in a small glass because it’s supposed to be enjoyed cold. Next stop was Martin Macks, a nice dive that apparently used to smell more like vomit a little while ago. No worries because it sure smelled like piss in the johnny. The juke was solid and we waxed political while taking care of some Newcastle Browns. After a while we went across the street to the Gold Cane. The bartender sported a white beard and we all had a chuckle that the three of us wore beards. As we ordered a bear, I noticed Bear on the other side of the bar.

But I didn’t know it was Bear yet. So let’s track back. My conference (the reason I was in SF) ended around 4:00, so I decided to wander around Union Square and do some shopping for a bit. After that bag of fun, I got a snack and took a seat in Union Square. A fellow who can only be described as “true San Fran hippy” sat down nearby with a bite to eat. A busker was belting out a long tune on a bagpipe somewhere nearby and was really going to town. After an eternity he finally finished. The hippy said something to the effect of, “Jesus, that guy has a lot of wind.” So that got us talking about whatever. I told him that I was staying in the Haight and he said that’s where he lives and a good place to see is the Golden Cane, where you can hang out in the back and smoke pancakes. A new term to say the least, but it cracked him up, so who am I to disagree. So that is how I met Bear, although as I stated, I didn’t know he was Bear yet.

When we did get to the Gold Cane, he remembered me—no small feat considering his condition. The ol’ boy was completely boffo. To give you a picture of this guy, he was probably 5’10, 230 lbs (with a pronounced gut), long curly hair held back with a bandana. He also wore a few tshirts, suspenders, vest, and a leather jacket that had various buttons and military pins on it. A site to behold. When the bartender began to kick us out at 2:00, the regulars were attempting to get ol Bear to leave because he sure as hell didn’t want to. He wasn’t mean, he was just loud and loved to tell rude stories. A guy I could get behind to say the least. My last sight of Bear before we left was him blowing out some candles from the bar and putting them in his pockets. It’s not like they were special candles or something. I don’t think I ever saw someone steal a candle that was likely still dripping in wax, but so be it. And that brings us full circle to the foghorn.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Greetings from God's Waiting Room!

So I'm here in Fort Walton Beach, Florida to attend a work meeting at Eglin Air Force Base (the photo is an aerial of the area). I get to go spend the next two days learning about Web content migration and content management. For February, the weather should be warmer, but apparently a cold snap came through. Well, I guess 60 degrees isn’t so bad, but 60s at night would be really sweet. I haven’t been to Florida in a really long time, so it’s kind of nice to be here I guess, although my time will be spent in conferences all day.

After I checked in and got myself organized I decided to head out for dinner. I looked online to see what is near my hotel (which is actually right on the beach) and found a place called Old Bay Steamers. There were many positive reviews, and it was nearby, so I figured I'd give it a shot. After missing the restaurant and ending up in what was apparently the strip club zone, I found it after a few turn arounds. Being a true jackass, I'm not mature enough to go to a place called Old Bay Steamers and not make a million jokes in my head about the Cleveland Steamer. The fare was all types of steamed crustaceans and shellfish and whatnot (no fried crap, as their motto goes), so I was pretty psyched. I opted for the "Little Steamer". Again, I was barely able to order without laughing. Jokes aside, the meal was incredible. For $22 you get mussels, clams, oysters, whole red shrimp, snow crabs, corn on the cob, potatoes, and salad. And you got a lot of everything! It was typical steamed seafood with some butter, lemon, and Old Bay-like seasoning on the shrimp. Mmmm, it hit the spot. It reminded me of the typical steamed meal you get in the Outer Banks. Old Bay Steamers also went to a new level by giving a pair of kitchen shears to open your food. Damn that worked well! I also got a slice of key lime pie to go. Mmmmm. Limey.

A funny thing happened at dinner. I brought a book called Wikinomics with me so I could do some homework while eating (it’s my technique to not feel like a loser while eating alone). The staff was beginning to clean up and there were only a few people still eating. The hostess was sitting a few stools away from me eating dinner as well. She asked me what I was reading and I told her, “Wikinomics”. She asked me what it was about and I told her that it’s about various Web 2.0 applications and how they are affecting business. She laughed and said, “Ohhhhh. I thought you said ‘wicca’, like those people who practice witchcraft as a religion.” I said, “Nooo, wiki like Wikipedia.” Then we laughed and I had my last crab leg and left. Yeah, that was a good time.

And so (wait, scrap what I said above about not being in Florida in a long time. I was just in South Beach last year around this time). . . And so, I'm hoping that tomorrow I have a chance to see the ocean tomorrow. Well, the Gulf, which is still the ocean. But you get the point.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Free Flat Earth Veggie Crisps

Go to to print our a coupon for a free bag of their baked veggie crisps. I've had them before and they're a pretty tasty snack. Free is even better.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Kate Nash--I'm diggin' her sound

Comparisons are inevitable when discussing musicians. One band or singer inspires another and so on down the line. (Even an “original” has to find inspiration somewhere.) What then of one of my new favorite addictions? Well, as all the media is saying, and anyone with ears can tell, Kate Nash will have to be compared to Lily Allen. Of course, that is solid company to keep. It’s kind of an odd notion that two contemporaries would be compared, but that’s how it goes. And I’m not saying that one inspired the other, just that they’re similar.

What’s their sound? Poppy, good stories, simple melodies. Lily Allen is more cheeky than Kate Nash. Kate sings with a bit more conviction in a narrative voice. One thing that is noticeable from both singers is that you can actually hear their English accents, which makes their songs very distinctive. Think about how many Brits lose their accent (unless you really strain to hear it) when they sing. Can Kate and Lily both have been cut from the same cloth as The Slits (which is one of the first female Brit bands that jumps in my mind)? Not likely because The Slits were more on the ska/punk fusion end of things. Two other female English singers that hit it big in recent years were Lady Sovereign and M.I.A. And yes, I’m aware that M.I.A. is from Sri Lanka, but she is so via London. But those two can’t be confused with the singer/songwriter sensibility of Kate Nash and Lily Allen. They both rocked out in the hip hop style, with a touch of garage.

Kate Nash’s sound reminds me more of a poppier Kasey Chambers (Australian). The guitar has a solid bit of jangle to it and it’ll get your toe tappin. Kate also has some tunes that sound like they’re straight from the disco, or could turn into a nice disco remix. (Remember, discotheques are still popular in Europe.)

Anyway, just do yourself a favor and check out this video that has a medley of her songs from her album “Made of Bricks”. Have a listen and see what you think.