A Good Walk 2004
Today after work I took the N - Judah out to the end of the line at Ocean Beach. I walked along the beach up to Lincoln and then back home along the side of Golden Gate Park to Willard (just before Stanyan) to Cole and back over the hill to home. About 5 miles of gradual uphill slope with a big climb at the end. Nice workout!
Good long walk. Went back to Amnesia at 19th & Valencia which I remembered (har har) being a pleasant place and sure enough it was. Nice bartender Sean (or perhaps Shaun or Shawn, one never knows). I had a half pint of cider which was cheap and not too intense for a Monday night. Listened to Muchas Bluegracias for a while (Mondays are bluegrass night, and I hear that Wednesdays are Jazz). Caught the bus most of the way back and then worked up a sweat coming the rest of the way home.
It's too darn hot. This does not bode well for summer at all. Time to hit the showers.
Long hard day, warm summerlike evening 2004
Yesterday was mixed. Nice sleeping in. Nice omelette making. Nice visit with Grandma. Icky (rental car) driving. Yucky not making it back to San Francisco in time to return the car early and be done with it. Horrid accidentally scraping the paint on said rental car in the crowded Safeway parking lot by running the front fender across the rear fender of an occupied vehicle. Almost no damage to his car. Obvious paint damage to the rental. Home in a thoroughly desolate mood.
Morning. Up early to return car and fill out damage report. Scramble at work to complete more information for a big presentation to other departments about the next release. Too many phone calls and people stopping by my cube (Is the desire not to be disturbed some sort of attractant?)
Presentation went very smoothly. Stayed on time and covered everything I intended to. Only some people fell asleep a little bit. Pretty good for a 3 hour meeting. Left work early and was home by 6pm. Borderline too-hot - it would be a perfect summer day, but in April it makes me wonder how hot summer will get.
Now it's night. I want to walk out and sit in some nice cafe or tea shop or bar and experience the city, but then I'd stay up too late and spend money I shouldn't. Yeah. Fretful Dinah.
Oh, I just hate feeling like a Smiths song, or at least feeling like "How Soon Is Now?" This is dumb. I'm going for a walk. Maybe I'll come back home feeling "Vicar in a Tutu".
How Good Design Happens 2004
This little story from Folklore.org: Macintosh Stories: Inside Macintosh illustrates why I think products should be developed with the participation of all the involved players - documentation, QA, support, sales, implementation, trainers, customers - and not just engineering and product management.
The next week I sat down to meet with Caroline for the first time, and she couldn't have been more different than the previous writer. As soon as I began to explain the first routine, she started bombarding me with questions. She didn't mind admitting it when she didn't understand something, and she wouldn't stop badgering me until she comprehended every nuance. She began to ask me questions that I didn't know the answers to, like what happened when certain parameters were invalid. I had to keep the source code open on the screen of my Lisa when I met with her, so I could figure out the answers to her questions while she was there.As I embark on my second full development cycle at the good company where I work, I'm writing my initial design documents with an eye to the specific information I'll need when I'm handing off the finished version to other departments and customers.
Pretty soon, I figured out that if Caroline had trouble understanding something, it probably meant that the design was flawed. On a number of occasions, I told her to come back tomorrow after she asked a penetrating question, and revised the API to fix the flaw that she had pointed out. I began to imagine her questions when I was coding something new, which made me work harder to get things clearer before I went over them with her.
Foresight. Yes, it's partly that. But it's also those great virtues coming around again: Laziness, Impatience, Hubris.
(Thanks to Chris P. for pointing me at the Folklore.org story)
Life after the Video Game Crash - "people's desire for tech novelty [was] outweighed by their fear of being caught in an enormous electrical dorkhat."
Attention: Despite Any Other Listing of Product Contents Found Hereon, the Consumer Is Advised That, in Actuality, This Product Consists Of 99.9999999999% Empty Space. - Truely scientific warning labels
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (coming this summer) - Now this looks like fun!
SawStop Safety Demo - scientific principles brilliantly applied. - Now that's impressive technology! Anyone ever seen one of these in person?
I slept like a ton of bricks... 2004
...and awoke, predictably, feeling thick, ruddy and disinclined to move under my own volition.
About ready for an evening at home 2004
I've been having fun, but as I sit here drinking two big glasses of water and taking my aspririn before bed, I'm kinda glad nothing else is going on for a few days.
Last night I saw Rivers & Tides, the film about Andy Goldsworthy, at the Castro Theater with B.J. and we could have stayed up for hours talking about art and life and priorities afterwards, but it was a worknight.
Tonight I went to the Red Devil Lounge and had the great pleasure of a solo set from Freddi Price (aka Mahatma Boom Boom, aka Wink Pain, aka that instigator of mayhem in the Az Iz Brass Band). I wanted to hear all the songs again and read the lyrics. Freddi writes incredible stuff. If he was just a good singer and trumpet player he'd be worth following all over town, but he's also a great guitarist and his original tunes are just that, truly original. Support your local musical talents, folks.
It was nice getting to hang out with Kirk (aka Captain Legit) a little and meeting long-time Rube friend Peter. I would have hung out longer - Preacher Boy, the headliner, was good - but it's a worknight.
At least I'm home by 11pm. In bed by half past, well, okay, midnight. Alarm going off at a quarter to 7. Ugh. Tomorrow night I'm going to bed early.
The Working Woman May Not Love The Alarm Clock Come Morning... 2004
... but she sure enjoyed Lord Loves A Working Man and the Az Iz Brass Band at Amnesia on Valencia tonight.
Sublime. Just sublime.
After all the electronic music this afternoon, to go get to the roots and hear excellent musicians who love what they do make the crowd move and shout and clap was wonderful. Met and had a nice chat with John, the dobro player from Homespun Rowdy who'll be playing there tomorrow night. I won't make that show - going to catch 'Rivers and Tides', the film about Andy Goldsworthy, at the Castro Theater with my pal B.J. - but I'll try and make their show the first Monday in May (also at Amnesia). I like me some good bluegrass.
Az Iz Brass Band were wonderful. I could listen to Freddi play the trumpet all day, but then his lips would fall off and he'd look a bit of a fool, so best get him in doses of no more than 4 hours.
Max's band, Lord Loves A Working Man, is great; good honest soul that makes you feel alive. He, though, he is fucking amazing. That man has music in his veins and it makes him jump and shake the room with sound so you get a little pumping through you too. So very worth staying up far too late on a worknight.
Thank you, boys, I had a lovely evening!
Exploring Electronic Music 2004
Finally got the chance today to explore the excellent Ishkur's Guide to Electronic Music and put some labels to stuff I like (and rate some artists whose clips sound interesting in Launch so that their songs will play on my station).
Here are my thoughts on this detailed musical tour:
House: New Wave (aka Electro Pop) kicks ass. I know every clip but the last in the Synthpop (aka New Wave part 2) section; it's the music of my undergrad years. I confess to actually really liking some Disco (aka Electro Boogie) tracks. Hey, I grew up in the 70s, okay? The Italo Disco stuff is fun in the same cheesy way. Techno Dance is a later development and thus more "mature" but still has a bit of a cheesy odor. I don't like the music, but the Eurodance note about its alternate name of "Handbag" is really funny. Happy House ("the official music of Dance Dance Revolution") is just so cheerful, I can't help but like it when I stumble on it, but I don't seek it out. I've come to appreciate Classic House more since getting into later developments in electronic music, but it's still not something I can take in large doses. Can't figure out what Stereo MC's "Get Connected" is doing in with Hip House - I like that track a lot and the other clips just irritate me. Acid House still can give me a headache in less than one track. Deep House (aka Jazz House) is apparently the stuff that makes good background music when I'm having a crepe and fries at Frjtz on Hayes Street. Disco House is the music to which I shop for cute clothes, especially for shirts actually intended for homosexual men.
I like Goth (aka Goth Rock, Trad Goth) and Industrial Rock (aka Industrial Metal), but sometimes I have to say "oh give it a frickin' rest". A few tracks from the Anthem/Break/Tech/Deep Trance area are really great when I'm working and I want to get into a really good groove and get stuff done, but they are so repetitive that too much (or actively paying attention to it) annoys me. I agree with Ishkur that Epic Trance is gag-inducing. I don't even like Ibiza Trance though. Actually, I don't like much trance and if you use a sample of some pornstar moaning it makes me want to slap you. I'd probably like the genre better if I tended only to be exposed to it while dancing, but it's not good music to sit to. (Oh, okay, some of the Psychedelic Trance and Buttrock Goa stuff is good).
Uh. Yeah. Not a lot here for me. I think most of it is completely lame and uninteresting until we get down to Hard Acid Techno and VGM (Video Game Music).
I like Electro Funk, Electro (aka Electropop, Robotpop, Technopop), Funky Breaks (my favorite in this group), and Big Beat (aka Amyl House, "Electronica"). I respect Turntablism (aka Scratching), but don't find it relaxing enough to just listen to a bunch of in a row (though Mix Master Mike gets close sometimes). I'm going to reserve judgement on Abstract Hip Hop (aka Experimental Hip Hop) for the moment; I like DJ Food but the other clips don't grab me.
The Darkcore (aka Darkside) clips sent me scurrying off to Launch to bookmark artists for later listening. A couple of clips in the Jazzstep (aka Jazzy Jungle) area are interesting. I like, but can't really work to, the Experimental Jungle (aka Drilln Bass) stuff.
New Beat (aka Belgian New Beat) and Rave (aka Hardcore Techno) have some tasty stuff, especially when they wander over to the border with industrial, but the latter also has tracks like Messiah's "Temple of Dreams" that make me want to hit the speakers with a ballpeen hammer until they Shut The Fuck Up. I find the rest of the Hardcore genre represented here to be just about unlistenable. Gah. On to Downtempo with great relief.
Minimalism. Yes. Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells has been a favorite of mine for over 20 years. (Mum, when did I start liking that and Ommadawn? Do you recall? They came out in 1973 and 1976 respectively, but I don't know if we had them right away or if I liked them from the start.) Ambient is tasty too. Oh but the New Age stuff is, as Ishkur notes, totally ruined by the fans (though I have to admit that the instrumental stuff does remind me of good hot tubbing experiences at Watercourse Way). Except that Dead Can Dance is fabulous and avoids the schmaltz. I'll cop to giving Worldbeat music more of a chance than it might otherwise deserve purely because it's "ethnic" and new to me. I like Ambient Techno as background music, ideally broken up with other stuff so that characteristic techno beat doesn't start to irritate me. I'm not sure if Ambient Trance would please or annoy me if I listened to longer than a few second clip. Ambient Breaks are, again, nice if mixed in with other things. Trip Hop is pleasant enough. Some of Acid Jazz wanders a little too close to lite jazz for my taste. I tend to like stuff in the Downbeat (not jazzy enough for Acid Jazz, not mopey enough for Trip Hop) area, especially if the vocalist is strong and not too pop like in the Bjork and Sneaker Pimps clips). All the Illbient stuff is too insubstantial for anything but background music in dimly lit hipster hangouts (except that cool Boards of Canada track which Shannon put on one of her great mix CDs a while back).
Well, this has been a highly educational musical tour from an admittedly biased source. Great way to spend an afternoon. Glad I finally got the time. Thanks, Ishkur.
Lining up the ducks 2004
I'm in an intense activity period at work for another couple weeks, then things should ease up a bit. Having to be in high gear all day makes me less willing to commit to social activities. If I'm in the mood to socialize after work, I'll look at what's going on and then see if I could still join in. If I haven't responded to your Evite, this is why.
At home, I've been trying to do a little Discardian action to clear out actual and virtual clutter. Caught up on bills and budget sort of stuff. Now whittling through stacks of little things to deal with, physical and electronic.
I upgraded to Eudora 6.1 in the hopes that it will be a little closer to the mail program of my dreams. I'm also beta-testing Gmail (name: metagrrrl) and, while the features are attractive, I won't move my data there until the export path to get it back is clear and easy. One nice thing about the new Eudora is that I was able to import my mail from Apple's Mail program and I'm looking at how I might be able to import some old backed up email from the PC. It would be pretty cool to have all my still extant electronic correspondence in one searchable chunk. Once I have it, the next goal would be to weed through it and see what is really worth keeping.
Spam continues to plague me terribly. It's about 30 or 40 junk messages to each real one. Eudora is about 95% accurate in its sorting and only a few things get classified as junk which aren't but it's still enough that I can't just trust the filter. (Does anyone know if Knowspam has changed their methodology so that you don't get tons of "Mail undeliverable" messages back from the "Prove you're human before I'll deliver this" messages it sends out to faked addresses in obvious junk mail?)
I upgraded my Mac to OS X 10.3.3 after James told me "Panther ith the anther, baby". Still wandering around my virtual space figuring out what's changed. Anyone got any hot tips for me? I'm taking iChatStatus for a test drive - anyone had any bad experiences with it I should watch out for?
Tonight I'll be going to see half of Rube Waddell in other guises:
Sunday night, April 18 at Amnesia (853 Valencia SF)Now I'm going to go eat a yam.
Lord Loves a Working Man, Max A. Million's proletarian soul machine, plays songs of the labor of love to the lumpen along with the Mahatma's Az Iz Brass Band, a pseudo gypsy horn ensemble that will take you places you didn't know existed, dancing all the while. 9pm
Permutations of My Name 2004
(#6 in a series):
Jamba Juice, April 14, 2004 - Dianah
Rite Spot Cafe is the right spot for a Monday night 2004
For some reason recently I decided after not looking at it for a year or more that I wanted to check the website for a local band, The Loud Family. There I discovered that my friend from the band, Scott Miller, would be doing a solo acoustic set the following Monday night at a little club I'd never heard of, the Rite Spot Cafe at 17th and Folsom. The resulting evening was a resounding endorsement of overcoming entropy and trying new things. The opening artist, Alison Faith Levy, was really good. I sat at the bar, ate the best bruschetta I've had in years, and the very pleasant woman bartending made me a near perfect Martini. Scott was wonderful and in addition to his own stuff played some great covers (Cat Stevens' "Shine", Bowie's "Life on Mars", Morrissey's "Last of the International Playboys", and something by Robyn Hitchcock).
Since it was a work night I didn't stay for the third act, but I sure was glad I got out for some impromptu fun.
"Patriot" Act 2004
Simply put, anything that so terrifies and angers librarians that they destroy records, vow to impede federal searches, and post warnings to their patrons is probably Your Basic Bad Idea." - Dallas Morning News book critic and syndicated columnist Jerome Weeks, May 26, 2003
Thank you, Sir. May I have another? 2004
It was great having a weekend, but it was too short.
Recipe: Green Soup with Cheese 2004
bundle of broccoli (~1lb before trimming)
12 oz sugar snap peas
4 cups vegetable stock (neutrally-flavored or with sage)
4 oz cheese (e.g. Italian Pio Vecchio, Italian Pecorino Pepato, or Stilton)
1 and 1/4 cups milk (grain or cow)
1/4 cup heavy cream or rich nut milk such as hazelnut
fresh ground pepper
good chef knife
some bowls to hold cut up ingredients
stock pot (e.g. this beauty from Calphalon)
handheld blender (e.g. Braun Multiquick)
1. Clean the vegetables. (Cut the tops off the leeks, slit them and wash the dirt out. Peel the parsnips and the broccoli stalks. Break the ends off the peas - do not shell them, you got sugar snaps so you can eat the shells.)
2. Cut the leeks into half inch slices.
3. Put the heat on medium-low, put a few teaspoons of olive oil in the stockpot and swirl it around to coat the bottom, let it warm for a moment and then add the leeks. Stir them to coat with oil.
4. While the leeks cook, and pausing every few minutes to stir them, you can cut up the other vegetables. The leeks should be cooking but not sizzling or browning. Cut the parsnips & broccoli stalks into half inch slices.
5. Break the broccoli tops into small pieces no more than an inch or so across. Separate a few pretty florets for use in garnishing the soup dishes.
6. Cut the peas into half inch slices.
7. See how the leeks are doing. You want them to be softer and becoming translucent, but not yet mushy. If they've reached this state, add the parnsips & broccoli stalks. Stir & let them cook for another few minutes while you finish preparing the rest of the ingredients.
8. Grate the cheese.
9. Stir the pot.
10. Put all the dirty dishes in the sink & wipe down the counter.
11. Add the broccoli tops to the pot & stir. Don't add your garnish broccoli!
12. Pour the milk and "cream" into a big measuring cup. (Households with a cat will want to put this container back in the fridge until needed).
13. Add the peas to the pot & stir.
14. Add the stock to the pot. Bring to a slow boil.
15. Cover the pot and let it boil gently for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally (by which I mean every 5 or 10 minutes).
16. Finish tidying up the kitchen, set out your nice soup bowls and get your hand blender ready.
17. After the 25 minutes have elapsed, check the vegetables by pushing them against the side of the pot. They should be soft enough to break apart. If not, turn up the heat a little and cook 5 more minutes, then test again.
18. Turn off the heat and move the pot to a cold burner. Take off the cover and put it in the sink.
19. Let the soup cool for 10 minutes.
20. Use your hand blender to puree the soup in the stock pot. (Tip: insert the blender under the surface, tilt it very slightly and then turn it on. Go slow and always turn it off before it breaks the surface or you'll get splattered with hot soup. The blender will want to propel itself down to the bottom of the pot, tilting it just a little helps thwart this.)
21. Pour in the milk and "cream" mixture. Puree just a little more.
22. Add the cheese. Stir to blend so that you don't gunk up your hand blender with melted cheese.
23. Ladle into bowls. Garnish with broccoli florets and a bit of fresh ground pepper.
Elena has updated her site "GHOST TOWN" about driving through the dead zone near Chernobyl. Read it. Read it again. - I wish her well. I was in Europe when the disaster occurred. I wish us all well.
Urban pleasures 2004
Riding the subway out to the end of the line out by the ocean and then walking all the way back (along Taravel, up Portola to Clipper & back to Castro). Dinner & a drink at Nirvana (& visiting with my pal Brent-Dawg). Finding a great no-particular-reason present for my housemate at Citizen. Impromptu decision to see 'The Umbrellas of Cherbourg' at the divine Castro Theater. Where the organist is playing lovely music for me right now.
Odious behavior at the Odeon Bar 2004
Last night could have been one of the best experiences of my show-going life. The line-up of bands was perfect to feed into each other. The small venue with big tv screens showing the band to those seated away from the small stages was good for these acts, which I guess you could file collectively under "Odd Americana". The bartender was competent and pleasant.
Papa Joe* came on when I arrived. They were great and the crowd was really getting into them. It was a pretty full crowd, about two-thirds women. The launched into a long piece that began to build a great mood. I was thinking "These guys are good. I wonder if they have a CD..." when, apparently, the guy running the video feed to the TVs got bored and decided to switch it to porn for a moment. Woman giving blow job appears on monitor with phone sex numbers all around. Crowd stares at screen in surprise and mystification. Mood created by band pops like a balloon. Crowd & band tried to get mood back. Continue to groove. Start to succeed. Monitor switches to an almost medically lit shot of anal sex. Pop.
Now, unlike a lot of women, I like porn. Not all porn, of course, much of it is crap, but I am not offended by the concept. Given that there wasn't a mass exodus after the first couple times the video switched, I'd guess that most of the people in the room weren't deeply offended. But it didn't matter. He could have been switching to the surgery channel or news headlines and been just about as disruptive (and disrespectful to the musicians).
The next act was Baby Gramps, who was just amazing. Steel guitars, beautiful steel guitars which my friend Jun would have loved, and oddly syncopated singing and movements. Like a windup toy gone on the fritz. Very enjoyable. Fortunately, the adolescent idiot controlling sound & lights didn't feel the need to break up the show with extended chunks of porn. I think it was his favorite act of the evening because Baby Gramps did multiple encores (one too many, I'd say, though he was very good) and so I guess A/V Boy wasn't bored.
Once Baby Gramps went offstage, though, the video switched from being band interspersed with a few seconds of hardcore porn, to showing long stretches of the stuff. And the crowd began to thin more rapidly. Now note, the headliner has not yet come on and people are leaving. By the time Rube Waddell took the stage, the place had thinned out by well over half and the remaining crowd is only about one quarter women. I noticed the two bartenders standing idle several times and that ain't so good on a Friday night between 11pm and 1am.
The Rubes start and the dork blows their focus in the first song by switching the video again. I decide to try to find somewhere in the club where I can see the band and not the monitors. (If I want to watch porn, I'll do it at home and only with very carefully selected company). It turns out there's no such location in the bar. I decide to visit the bathroom and do so extremely carefully, fearing A/V Boy might have set up hidden cameras in there; fortunately I was wearing a fairly long skirt which is the best trick in the girl's book for preserving modesty. As I'm washing my hands and face and trying to regain the musical mood, I miss one of my favorite songs, "Tamale Lady". I did hear them do it three times on Fat Tuesday at Ti Couz though, so no horrible loss.
Well, the remainder of their unfortunately too short set went about like the rest of the evening. Mood barely gets the chance to build before the porno king is doing his "Don't pay attention to the band, look at the naughty thing I'm making happen, pay attention to me!!!" schtick. Tedious. On the bright side, I sat up front and got to watch the Reverend's percussive skills and marvel at Max A. Millions' ability to showcase the accordian, kazoo and washboard as instruments of raw, sexual passion. (Bass too, but that's got some traditional mojo.) Forget the TV screens; the most erotic thing going on in that club last night was Max hurling himself into the music. I was thinking, as he threw his head back, lost his hat and released sweaty curls to fling around, "Man, if I had a locker, there'd be some glossy picture of this boy inside the door." The poor Captain was right up by the TV facing the stage and between that and the low ceiling and the cramped quarters was barely able to lay down his own hot licks in Max's wake. Unsurprisingly, harmonica worked a quite a bit better than sousaphone in this space. Now normally, as you may recall, I'm quite happy to eye the Mahatma and work whatever flirting possibilities may arise, but he was unfortunately positioned between me and that damn TV. This meant that I paid much more attention to the Reverend and, though he doesn't seem - note I say seem - to be as much of a hussy as Mahatma Boom Boom, I did not find this to be a waste of time. By the way, that was the best hi-hat solo ever.
I understand the Rubes will be heading into the studio for a while, so I'm glad I got the chance to catch this show. I'm very glad that I was exposed to Papa Joe and Baby Gramps. As for the Odeon Bar? Will I ever go there again? Before the first time the video switched I would have told you I was considering becoming a regular. Now I think I'll give it a miss.
*And I didn't realize until this morning why the name Papa Joe felt so odd to me - it's what we used to call my grandpa. Glad I didn't think of that last night; nostalgic grief wouldn't have been a good thing to add to the emotional mix. Good band, though. If anyone knows a URL for them or where I can get on their mailing list, do let me know.
** I shudder to think what the keywords in this post are going to do to my Google search results.
We're gonna be f... 2004
Run, do not walk, run to watch this clip on electronic voting from Wednesday's Daily Show with my hero, Jon Stewart. It's a lovely summary of what you need to know before casting your next ballot.