Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The most wonderful time of the year

I've been meaning to put something up here about the Rickshaw's annual Holiday Throwdown and, now that Fresh Pink's been so kind to share her photos of the eventful day, I can.
It started out with all of us biking aimlessly around the city in the rain. Here we're circling the roundabout for 5-6 times.

Unfortunately, it was too slippery and April took a horrible fall on some train tracks. She toughed out the rest of the day, but it later turned out she had a fractured elbow! What a trouper!

Gathering our (first) wounded warrior, we all jumped onto Caltrain and road to Millbrae, where we rode some more.

Finally, we arrived at our first destination ... go-karts!

Elly and Josh took first in the very long 15 minute session. Twenty-two laps! Um, for the faster people. Not to get all competitive. At least I didn't plow into Amy so hard that her safety harness flew off! (Wow, was she ever purple the next day, when we ran into her in the emergency room.) No wonder Megan's looking a little nervous.

Time for stage two, so get on the bus until we're in Palo Alto ... for badminton!

More bus action leads us to ... a mechanical bull ride! I was going to take a pass -- bad back, allergy to looking stupid -- but finally decided to hop on. And crazy enough, I lasted over a minute and beat the bull! Didn't get tossed, got to keep a hat. Boy howdy!

Megan was a trooper too, giving the bull a try. This might be my favorite pic of the day.

Finally, we took off towards the city, singing along to ELO and getting progressively drunker.

Thank god for the Mexican food.

How do we ride into the sunset? With custom made shirts, of course.

Monday, November 30, 2009

More about My Mustache

Why would someone walk around town for a month with facial hair that makes them look like a '70s porno star, a gay cop, or a child molester? For the kids, of course!

After watching the Mustache for Kids 'Stache Bash the last couple years at the Rickshaw, I decided to join the fun this year. The deal: you grow a from-scratch 'stache over the course of a month, and then you ask people to donate money in order to endure the embarrassment. All the cash goes to DonorChoose.org, which funnels money to teachers who need stuff for their classrooms. Very cool, right?

Here's my M4K page, and here's my donor page, where I've picked out a bunch of worthy classroom projects. I know no one's got any money these days, but if you've got anything stuck between the cushions of the couch, this would be a nice way to spend it. (A burrito is also a good use for that change.)

The Stache Bash is at the Rickshaw again this year, on Dec 17. See you there!

Here's the look at Day 13 of My Stache:

Sunday, November 29, 2009

mustaches and muggers

I was going to write about all the cool things happening this month -- an agent is interested in a rewrite of my YA novel, I'm almost finished with another YA NaNoWriMo 1st draft, I'm growing a mustache for kids*, and some other things I can't remember -- but instead I guess I'll tell you about almost getting mugged a few minutes ago.

What? Why are you writing this instead of talking to the police, you ask. Well, I got into my building and it's 12:37 a.m. and I don't want to have to wait for the cops to come and take a report that won't lead anywhere.

So here's how it happened:

It was a nice night so I decided to go for a walk. I used to do that all the time in San Francisco and even in Temescal. Seemed fine, I even left my wallet at home, just in case I got mugged (although I hear it's not good to not have something to give the nice muggers). It was nice and quiet up there above Park Blvd, where all the ritzy houses are. I got some good thinking done, stretched the legs, great, right? I did get a little nervous when walking across the bridge above the highway, remembering when H. got mugged years ago while walking over Geary Street at night, but there was no one out there and I figured I could always hop over the railing into the street, since there was little to no traffic. Plus, it feels so free standing over the freeway at night, the cars whizzing under you, all those people going places that you aren't (hmm).

Anyway, I got a little lost on the way back, but the houses were so nice and the streets so quiet that I didn't mind. Finally, I found 28th Street and that led to Park and I was almost home. But I figured I'd walk up 8th Ave instead of go down another block on Park until 7th Ave, since it would be a prettier view. Big mistake, apparently.

I was almost to my building when I saw a person walking towards me. I figured I would cross over, not really thinking much of it, since I was at the point to cross anyways. But then they started crossing over and I realized they were both wearing black hoodies. One of them pointed up and maybe said "spread out," and that's when I took off. Thankfully, I was heading downhill instead of going uphill or I would've been screwed. Out of my peripheral vision, I saw the one guy pull something out of his pocket and as I zipped by him he swung it at me.

I kept running but he was running right behind me, and it was impossible to tell how closely. I noticed there was a white new car double-parked in front of my building and I thought for a second that I should stop them for help. It's lucky I didn't since that was the getaway car.

As I got to Park, I couldn't hear the guy behind me anymore. But then I realized that what I'd been running to -- Dave's -- wasn't open anymore. Would I have to keep running until I got to Baggy's by the Bay or whatever it is called? Or would they jump in the car and come after me?

I pulled out my phone and dialed 911. And as I tried to tell them what had happened, I peaked up 7th Ave and saw that the car was coming down towards me. I thought about where I would run next. Could I make it back to my place, going uphill? I could never seem to get my keys out fast regularily, so now might be even harder. Should I hide?

Just then the car peeled out, turning up and away from me.

The police were very nice. The 911 caller was very expedient. My hands were shaking when I got inside the apartment.

Why live in a neighborhood where kids try to wack you on the head when you go for a walk?

In cheerier news, Dylan's got a new holiday video that seems inspired by spiked rum punch.

*Here's where you can donate for my mustache.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Train Off the Tracks

There's a review of Train's new disc in the current issue of San Fran Magazine. It, well, it suggests that the band has "made the perfect disc for middle-aged divorcées to blast out the windows of their Chevy Minivans."

Apparently some middle-aged divorcées didn't take too kindly to such chitter chatter (even though, at the end of the review, it says the band is "underestimating that audience's intelligence").

Here's a quote:
"I won't bother to go into an amateur analysis of what kind of trauma would induce a (I am guessing) young man to have such negative feelings toward older women, but his review manages to insult our clothing and bodies ("many pairs of Mom jeans a-wriggling"), our purported emotional neediness, susceptibility to trite lyrics, clichés, and superficial cultural references (Sonny and Cher, the Doobie Brothers), and general bad taste in music. And cars (Chevy minivans). So we have a little class prejudice as well as sexism, pretty ambitious for a tiny review."

She thinks the review was pretty ambitious! And written by a young man!

If only I weren't already taken…

Friday, October 9, 2009

Tweet You

You know what's killing blogging? Tweets. And Facebook. Seriously, I tweet once a day, and I write and work on the pooter all day, so I never really feel like blogging anymore. It takes too much time, it hurts my wrists, I get way less feedback.

You know what you can't do on F-Book? You can't put Grumpy Guy up on there.

Also, if you're like Brent and you live in the 2007s, you're not on those sites. Or maybe you boycott them like April. So this post is for you guys, because I still love you. This is what you're missing:

Breathless excitement over the upcoming Vampire Weekend album.

Even more breathless excitement over the upcoming Pavement tour, especially the shows in England.

Links to frightening pics of 40something TV stars, now staring in occasionally funny, often strange shows about cougars.

Links to the fun music blog of Carrie Brownstein (Sleater-Kinney), wherein she discusses whether it's okay to like the music of artists you don't, specifically the Black Lips guy, who just got in trouble for using the (other) f-word about the guy in Wavves.

A list of the top 20 books of the past 9 years, only 4 of which I've read (they've got ** after them):

#20: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
#19: American Genius, A Comedy by Lynne Tillman
#18: Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link
#17: The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem **
#16: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides **
#15: Varieties of Disturbance by Lydia Davis
#14: Atonement by Ian McEwan
#13: Mortals by Norman Rush
#12: Twilight of the Superheroes by Deborah Eisenberg
#11: The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz **yuck**
#10: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
#9: Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro
#8: Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson
#7: Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald
#6: The Road by Cormac McCarthy
#5: Pastoralia by George Saunders
#4: 2666 by Roberto Bolaño
#3: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
#2: The Known World by Edward P. Jones
#1: The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen **

Kind of awesome Soul Train footage of the original "Shack Up," later covered by A Certain Ratio.

Funny pictures from bachelor parties.

Links to weird Japanese themed bath houses.

My undying affection.

Friday, September 18, 2009

the douche is in the bag

Inspired by a guy seen last night at the Rickshaw.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Popular Songs

Hey, people sometimes ask me what I’m listening to and I always forget until I get home, which is where I am now. So here’s a list.

1. Mayer Hawthorne – A Strange Arrangement. Perfect recreation of ‘60s Detroit soul by young white dude. (Playing the Rickshaw on 9/15)
2. Yo La Tengo – Popular Songs. Same as usual: couple great pop songs, couple pretty ballads, couple of boring jams.
3. The Box Elders – Alice & Friends. Awesomely catchy garage-pop from Omaha, band so young they used to play with their mom.
4. Timber Timbre – S/T. Seriously spooky noir-folk from Canada. (playing Rickshaw on 9/18)
5. Taken By Trees – East of Eden. Woman from the Concretes goes to Pakistan to record with locals, covers Animal Collective.
6. Posies – “I May Hate You Sometimes.” How did I miss this one the first time around?
7. Bobby Blue Bland – The Voice. Again, how come I haven’t been listening to him for like 20 years?
8. Those Darlins – S/T. Three country gals from Tenn make fun(ny) twangin’ tunes. (Playing Rickshaw on 10/20)
9. V/A – Not Given Lightly. Morr Music electro-pop folks cover ‘80s New Zealand acts like the Chills, Clean, and Bats.
10. Fruit Bats – “Singing Joy to the World.” Guy picks up waitress at Indian Casino, takes her to Three Dog Night concert – now, that’s good songwriting.

And over there on Facebook, Michelle asked what 15 books come to mind when I think of most influential for me. Here’s my list.

1. Nick Hornby - High Fidelity
2. Grace Paley - The Little Disturbances of Man
3. John Steinbeck - The Winter of Our Discontent
4. Kurt Vonnegut - Welcome to the Monkeyhouse
5. JD Salinger - Nine Stories
6. Haruki Murakami - Norwegian Wood
7. John Irving - Cider House Rules
8. Jeremy Jackson - In Summer
9. Robert Christgau - '70s and '80s Record Guides
10. Lorrie Moore - Like Life
11. Woodward & Bernstein - All the President's Men
12. Jonathan Franzen - The Corrections
13. Gay Talese - Thy Neighbor's Wife
14. Andre Dubus - We Don't Live Here Anymore
15. David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice

And, might I suggest you buy the very first issue of Afar Magazine, which is on better newsstands as we speak. Yes, April works there and yes I have something coming out in the first issue. But don’t you want us to both continue to get paid to do these things? Right, I thought so. Don’t worry, the first issue is damn interesting, with articles about Scottish bog snorkeling races and Japanese costume cafes. (The writer of the latter article also wrote about Japanese guys who really, really love their manga pillows for the NYT.)

In other news, I went and saw Ponyo, the latest by Spirited Away director Hayao Miyazaki. It was only pretty good – nonsensical plot, bad dialogue, weird English diction – but it had a hilarious final theme, screwed over by Miley Cyrus’s sister and a Jonas brother. Truly bizarre lyrics. Check it out here.

Friday, August 28, 2009


Hey look, Grumpy Guy's back!

Bruce and Susan just visited. This is what they brought us, besides the avian swine flu.

Paul turned 40 recently and celebrated by swiveling his hips a lot. For some reason, I didn't get a picture of him. But I did get a shot of Aidan learning a few tricks.

And April too.

As you probably read, a bunch of folks went to see Willie, Bob, and the Coog. It was pretty sweet, even if the music wasn't quite as exciting as I'd hoped for. I think I appreciated Willie's performance best. The Coog's set seemed super-slick and choreographed, although full of energy. At this point, Bob is just a shell of himself. You could understand maybe every third word and he looks really frail.

Still, Stockton was grand. We stayed in the same hotel as did the musicians' tour busses. I say tour busses because they never seemed to get off them. But we did get to see a wedding reception broken up by 12 of Stockton's finest and watch a meeting of Pocahontas and Redman, which is the second oldest fraternal organization in the US (and not a new stoner film by the rapper). I forgot my camera, so all you get is a shot of a stoner art car parked downtown the next day.

In case you missed Stallion's performance at Cato's, here's what it looked like.

Here's the best video I've seen in ages, by Jay Reatard.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Health care is a good thing, people

Jeez, is this whole mess of nutbags screaming about health care reform making you as mad as it is me? I mean, really, just when you think people in this country can't get any dumber they do. Do they really think that Obama wants to kill their grandmas? Or that there's anything remotely Hitler-like about his health care reform? One guy wanted to kill a whole bunch of people and the other wants everyone to live longer. One guy was keen on making the Arayans live longer and the other wants, again, everyone to live longer. One guy hated the Communists and the other loves them. Or something.

But I guess the big problem is plain and simple: racism. The white folks are scared that the poor black folks will take their health care away from them, and white grandma will die because black grandma needs medical attention. But they know they can't say that so they whine and weep about how Obama hates America. They've even gone as far as saying that Michele Obama's mom is practicing "witchcraft" in the White House. Of course, it's hard to take them seriously when the person who wrote the article also wrote, "After 8 years of a president sent by God to lead the American people and rescue us from the horrors of 911 and Islamo-fascists, it comes to this."

Thank god Barney Frank is around to compare these people to furniture from other planets. It seems to me that the First Amendment covers speech; it doesn't cover screaming and yelling and bullying. It's like the 2000 election all over again, when Republican operatives pretended to be regular people and bullied the Florida recount people with fear mongering and intimidation.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ain't Even Done with the Night

Hey, guess where I’ll be on Saturday? Stockton, CA, brother. That’s where Bobby Dylan, Willie Nelson, and John Freaking Cougar Mellencamp will be rocking the minor league baseball park. I haven’t seen Dylan since ’89, and I’ve never seen Willie, but honestly I’m most excited about the Coog.

What’s to like about some guy from Indiana? (Sorry, Jake!) Check out his induction speech for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame or his recent Fresh Air visit. Man, he’s cranky. And a bit more than bitter. And his songs, well, they’re silly (“I fight authority; authority always wins”?) and preachy and too Bob Seger-y. Hell, here he looks like the scary lovechild of Huey Lewis AND Lou Reed.

A song like “Jack and Diane” is just so fake – a 35 year old singing about being 17 – and yet it still feels right. Maybe because I’m over 35. And maybe because it seemed wrong when I was 17. But wrong in a good way. Dirty wrong.

I can still remember listening to that song and "Hurts So Good" on a car trip in ’82, blasting it on a tiny boombox, standing by a car in my short shorts and muscle tee and bowl haircut. I wish I had a picture of that time. Oh yeah, I do. Woah.

Best line of that induction speech, by the way? The Coog telling Billy Joel what the folks in Illinois thought of his Farm Aid performance: “Billy, they didn’t know you were Jewish. They just thought you were Italian.”

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Blueberry. No, really.

Things I learned on my trip to Northern Vermont:

My sister is still very cute, even at the ripe age of seven and a half.

United’s staff in Burlington is made up completely of 16 year olds. The kid at the counter? 16. The baggage handler? 16. The flight attendant? 16 and snarky, looking like he’d seen Rushmore one too many times. (Did you know it is against FAA regulations to bring your own booze onboard?) It’s like deepest Russia or Nebraska, where all the people with any ounce of beauty or intelligence immediately flee to New York.

What else? The loon really does sound crazy. Man, what a nutso racket they make! Also, the moose is a big freaking creature. And comic book guys in Vermont teach poly sci over the internet and own llamas and hot tubs that they rent out as part of B&Bs.

Also, they have Yelp here for some reason. There’s this tiny bakery/restaurant with a famously crazy New Yorker running it. All week long I heard how awful he was, but when we finally went it he was relatively normal. Both disappointing and relieving. He got an article all about him the New York Times.

A picture of my “ghoul friend”:

There’s not much to do around Marshfield. This bar of soap accidentally placed upright on another bar caused quite a ruckus.

The house they stay in is super old, with no toilet (can you say outhouse?), a bathtub that’s too small to really use, and so many dead bugs littered on the shelves that no one bothers to clean them off. That said, it’s right on the pond and the stove is pretty retro cool looking.

My brother’s really into fishing now. Here’s some perch he caught and I didn’t eat. Fish equals yuck in my book.

USAir now charges $7 for a ratty pillow and blanket. Seven dollars! Not a single person asked for one. Add on $20 per piece of luggage and $9 for a meal, and it’s worse than going to see a movie on an empty stomach.

Hmm, what else? April got Superfudge for Yi Rong, and she read it three times in a week. I read it too, and you know what? Judy Blume is funny as shit. But it’s weird now too, because she’s taken to updating her books – in Superfudge, the kid asks Santa for CDs and laptops, which didn’t really exist when the book was originally written. Is nothing sacred? Will Oliver Twist soon feature the wee lad asking for more Ben & Jerry’s Americone Dream instead of gruel?

Yi Rong and I made up a code, based around fruit. Cherry, blueberry, grapes!

After being married for over 20 years, my step-mom says her heart still beats faster when she sees my dad’s car coming up the driveway. That’s pretty cool.

Friday, July 10, 2009

French and Furry!

In honor of tonight’s Bardot a Go Go and the ongoing Tour du France, this week’s Grumpy Guy is all in French!

Also, Wonkette recently posted about Anderson Cooper’s fascination with Furries, which directed me to this crazy Vanity Fair article about them. Tres bizarre. (But maybe not as bizarre as “crushies” or the fact that Congress actually banned crushie porn a few years back.) Remind me to tell you about the local musician who gets a chubbie every time he sees a girl with a stuffed animal.

Somehow, this all seems to go well with a night of French music that features the songwriter behind "Lemon Incest," especially since the video has him rolling around in bed with his own daughter.

Just so you know: I neither condone nor participate in either of the aforementioned activities.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Whatever Works

She's back! Lorrie Moore is back!

I was trying to think of my five favorite authors of all time, fiction or non-fiction, and she's got to be on that list (along with Nick Hornby, Pauline Kael, Roger Angell, and jeez picking a fifth is hard, maybe Hendrik Hertzberg or Tobias Wolff or Andre Dubus or Robert Christgau or John Irving or Richard Price). "You're Ugly Too" is easily one of my favorite short stories ever, and I even wrote my own version of it, back in 2005. I just love her way with language -- some people think she's too clever, too white suburban, but I love its playfulness, its tartness. And now she's got a new short story in the New Yorker. Unlike with most of their stories, I don't feel that this one is incomplete. Another reason she stands taller than the pack!

I recently came across this video for Mayer Hawthorne. He's a 29-year-old white dude from Detroit making music that sounds like the Chi-Lites and Persuasions. Sweet smooth soul music, '70s style. And his first single was actually released on red, heart-shaped vinyl! Here he is walking around with it.

Recently, Entertainment Weekly ranked all the Woody Allen-directed movies, from 1 to 40. So, naturally, I decided to do the same, without looking at their list first. It wasn't exactly easy, since it's hard to remember some of them (the late '80s somber period is especially blurry). And I haven't watched the slapstick stuff for ages, so I'm not sure exactly how I would feel about it. So this list is how I generally think they rank (I've started rewatching some, just to see. A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy was exactly like I recalled -- good concept that peters out at the end).

1. Annie Hall -- I used to think 1/2 should be flipped, but recently the creepiness of the age gap in Manhattan has gotten more disturbing.
2. Manhattan -- Still, a classic.
3. Hannah and Her Sisters -- Funny and serious, brilliant.
4. Zelig -- A sleeper (but not Sleeper). A faux-documentary before they were cool.
5. Crimes and Misdemeanors -- Evil Alan Alda!
6. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask)
7. Love and Death -- only Woody could get laughs from Russian literature
8. Match Point -- 20 minutes too long and a couple frames too short (you know which scene I mean)
9. Sleeper -- ah, the orgasmatron.
10. Take the Money and Run -- drop the soap takes on new meaning.
11. Bananas -- slapstick goes south of the border.
12. Radio Days -- adorable!
13. The Purple Rose of Cairo -- news reels, Jeff Daniels, hooray.
14. Broadway Danny Rose -- Woody really has done more to fetishize the old times.
15. Alice -- William Hurt was born to play philandering husbands.
16. Husbands and Wives -- so hard to watch, and not just for the nauseating camera movements.
17. Stardust Memories -- Manhattan Lite, but still entertaining.
18. A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy -- Shakespeare, in love. In lust.
19. Manhattan Murder Mystery -- What it would've been like if he'd stayed w/ Diane Keaton.
20. Bullets Over Broadway -- "Don't speak."
21. Mighty Aphrodite -- The last time Woody's old guy/young girl thing was palatable.
22. Scoop -- bumped up because Woody wasn't Scarlet's love interest.
23. Vicky Cristina Barcelona -- bumped down because it feels like elderly guy Landmark Theater porn.
24. Everyone Says I Love You -- a piffle, but Tim Roth steals the movie.
25. Shadows and Fog -- a bunch of stars sitting around, excited to be in a Woody movie.
26. Sweet and Lowdown -- just a piffle.
27. Melinda and Melinda -- half a decent movie
28. Deconstructing Harry -- Judy Davis deserves better.
29. The Curse of the Jade Scorpion -- so not funny, and Helen Hunt to boot!
30. Cassandra's Dream -- somber, grey, this truly is England.
31. Celebrity -- argh, gouge out my eyes!
32. Anything Else -- oof, is this what Woody thinks young people are like? Maybe he should date more of them.

New York Stories -- liked his part best, wish it was a full movie.

I can't remember anything about these:
Small Time Crooks

I didn't see these:
Another Woman
Hollywood Ending
What’s Up, Tiger Lily?

The new one!
Whatever Works

Friday, June 19, 2009

Impossibly Cute

My dad just reported this conversation between him and my seven-year-old sister, Yi Rong:

YR: Is Danny going to stay with April, not like his other girlfriends?

Dad: I don't know.

YR: Seems like they're pretty happy.

Dad: Yes, but it's pretty hard to know that kind of thing.

YR: Probably Danny doesn't even know.

Dad: Right.

Wow. Seven going on 37, I'd say. Could you get any cuter?

And, yes, they call me Danny.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The only thing stripping was the bed

Just got back from Tim's bachelor party weekend and boy is my donkey tired.

Sorry, you had to see the movie to get that joke. Let me tell you, this was one crazy weekend! How crazy? Well, for starters we did a Macrobrew Blind Taste Test! Eric D poured us all little cups of beers in three different categories: Mexican, Cheap Domestic, and Fancy Pants Imports. Then we had to rank them in order of pleasantness. Talk about crazy!

No, seriously, who would've thought Tecate would finish first and Pacifico last? Or that Sopporo would be up top and Stella at the bottom? And two kinds of Miller would get their asses waxed by Bud and Pabst? Wow!

Drinking was only one of our games though. Because if you take 12-14 guys and stick them in a cabin in Dillon Beach without any women, they will immediately start playing games. (For Matt's we didn't have enough games, so we invented new ones!) We knew this ahead of time, so we designed a sort of Tim Decathalon, with brackets and everything. (Meanwhile, the ladies were home in Oakland, talking. Talking?!) We didn't exactly finish all the sports, but I can tell you that Brent throws a nasty Missouri Washer, Rolf plays some mean ping-pong, and Tim knows all about Beer (he had a lock on the latter contest, since the winner was the person whose answers were the closest to, well, his). Oh yeah, and John S may want to consider going pro in Disc Golf.

What else happened? We wrestled some California King Snakes.

We drank with Vikings and Mouseketeers.

We rode a time machine to the future to play foosball.

We played poker with freaky Menonites.

And, um, we looked good in leather.

We also were served beer and peanuts by David's kid, who's just about the perfect three-year-old host ever. That's a perfectly good reason right there to have a child.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Sov Story

People have been asking me to blog about the recent Lady Sovereign show at Rickshaw Stop. Well, I talked to SF Weekly about it, so they've got a good account of the fiasco here.

I would stress that she acted like a total prat the whole time, fuming and pacing around the stage, calling the sound crap, while even she admitted it sounded great for the openers. (Hollywood Holt was just awesome -- that guy will be a star, if there's any justice.) She also told everyone that SHE'd give them their money back, which of course meant a run of people at the bar, blaming us for the sound and demanding their cash back, when the whole thing was of her making (it would've been better if they stormed the green room and demanded their money directly from her; maybe then she wouldn't have trashed the place). What else? She seemed drunk, but not as drunk as during the in-store clip that is on the SF Weekly site. She started crying towards the end of her last aborted song, which makes me think that maybe she's not ready for the big time. I mean, who lets their fans down by playing only three songs, then trashes the club (verbally and physically), tells everyone to get their money back, and then slips out the back door without saying anything to the management? And does the same thing night after night! Uncool.

In other news, some friends got married recently. I gave them this Burger Halen print by Thomas Lessner. He's from Philly and he's one of Amanda Blank's favorite artists. He paints lots of metal and soft-rock icons, and he did this hilarious ad for Sn*ckers (scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the dude three times).

Hey, remember Cody ChestnuTT? The guy that the two girls in Me, You, and Everyone You Know demanded be the soundtrack to their blowjob competition? Well, apparently now he's found God, and he plays one long song at shows, where he requests no one clap. I liked him better when he "Looked Good in Leather."

Look, Grumpy Guy's back!

Friday, May 15, 2009

God Help the Scottish Girls

Just the other day I was saying to April, "I wonder what Belle & Sebastian are up to." And today, there in my spam folder, was an email that held the answer to that very question.

It seems that back in 2005 Stuart Murdoch had written a song that he thought would be better for female singers than B&S, so after finishing B&S's last album he wrote a whole album of similar, symphonic girl-centric tunes. Being Scottish, he wrote a cheeky want ad, and then auditioned a bunch of ladies and now, with B&S serving as back-up band, the record is finished. There's even a full documentary about the whole process. You can see the trailer here.

Oh, the group is called God Help the Girl and here's the first video. The album comes out in June.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Oh Baby

I've been following the Celtics' playoff run pretty closely -- even more so than during last year's championship run. In 2008 they led from start to finish; this year, their best player is out and they're stuck with a bunch of role-playing dudes no one's ever heard of. They shouldn't ever win a game, and yet they keep nailing those victories (along with some horrible losses).

I just love these dudes. Eddie House is short and stubby and runs like a cartoon character, with the feet going a mile a minute and not getting anywhere, but he hit 14 straight 3-pointers in one stretch. Brian Scalabrini is all effort and occasional talent, the scrappy white guy that most teams relegate to the end of the bench. (Here's a comic about him.) Rondo does this thing that players stop doing in the ninth grade, where he lets the ball roll to half court before he picks it up. And "Big Baby" is so heavy that he can't even dunk the ball. And yet, tell me you don't tear up a bit when you watch this video segment about how he grew up with a drug-addicted mom and no dad.

For game 4 against the Magic, Baby hit the last second shot to win the game. And then he went on a rampage, yelling the word "motherfucker" so many times that he could only be excused because it was Mother's Day. He also started a bit of a kerfuffle by nudging a kid on the sidelines as he ran by. The kid's dad freaked out, saying Baby was a "raging animal with no regard for fans' personal safety." Davis apologized, the dad apologized, everyone kissed and hugged and rubbed each other a bit, but not homoerotically.

Just be glad Talib Kweli wasn't supposed to sing the national anthem, or else there really would've been trouble.

In the spirit of weekend's celebrations, I leave you with some Erotic Falconry.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Hipster Gypster

Have you been following the Hipster Grifter story? It's kind of crazy and sad, and maybe we're going to be seeing a lot more of these in the future, what with the blogs and the American Talentless and the coming Armageddon and such.

Twenty-two-year-old Kari Farrell was once just a poor Korean girl from Utah (what?). Now Dateline is doing a segment on her! And Gawker runs daily updates on her life. And she's even got a web site devoted to freeing her from jail. Um, yes, jail.

Apparently, Kari is a major con artist, and she's wanted by the Utah police for serious theft, forgery, and writing bad checks (what, they couldn't read her handwriting?) for up to $60,000. Her modus operandi? Saying she had cancer (for the girls), was pregnant (by you?), wanted to give you "a hand job with her mouth" (for the boys), or wanted to "throw your hotdog down my hallway" (yikes!).

All the details are hilarious. Or depressing. I can't decide which. Some guy's selling a supposed matchbook of hers, signed by "Ping Pong" (a degrading nickname given to her by the fine folks at Vice Magazine, where she of course worked for a very short period). People started making T-shirts and posters with her face and sayings on them. She called herself "Korean Abdul-Jabbar" (come on, that one's kind of clever) and she had a tattoo on her back that pointed out her love of beards. Her adoptive dad disowned her. Even the way she was caught -- some guy lured her to Philly with the promise of escaping across country in his band's van -- was crazy sad. And her "apology"? Not so sincere.

This New York Observer article has tons more details about her journey to the slammer. Or the top. As for her victims, I guess the Free Kari web site guy put it best: "They are the gullible idiots who think they’re amazingly lucky to have this wet Asiatic beaver just land on their lap."

Now, in honor of the Celtics game tonight...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Feeling Bookish

On Saturday, I went to the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators conference in Davis. What did I learn? Lots!


Before they're born, elephants actually run in their mommies' stomachs, in order to build up muscle strength.

The author of the Poky Little Puppy, one of the most popular picture books of all time, was paid $75. With no royalties. (Not sure, but I bet he/she died a bitter woman.)

Margaret Wise Brown, the author of Goodnight Moon, was heavily influenced by Gertrude Stein. They both hated commas and other punctuation.

In the '70s, Donny & Marie Osmond got their very own children's book, just like other famed TV personalities Bugs Bunny and Bullwinkle.

Oh yeah, I also learned a lot of stuff about how to get published. But you don't want to hear about that.

On the way home, I was listening to a '90s playlist on my iPod, which led to me spending the next hour trying to figure out what was the best band of that decade. I decided that the deciding factor would be which group had the most great albums, not just the most great songs. And by great albums, I meant albums I still thought were great today. So, after much thought, it looks like there's a two-way tie for first.

Belle & Sebastian - 3 (although if you count the collected EPs it's 4)
Luna - 3 (wow, who knew they'd have such staying power?)
Yo La Tengo - 2 (while some folks, like Brent, would argue 3, I find Painful snoozy and Electro-Pura hit or miss, and Nothing Turned came out in 2000)
Pavement - 2 (seriously, Wowee Zowee and Brighten the Corners ain't that great)
Bedhead - 2 (but, man, what 2 great discs!)
Country Teasers - 2 (yes, 2! so great!)
The Sea & Cake - 2 (oh, The Biz rules)
Guided By Voices - 1 (Pee Ew Thousand, I say)
Stereolab - 1 (all you really need is Emperor Tomato Ketchup)

Thoughts? Omissions? Grouses?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Drunk and DissedOrderly

We went with Gabe and Amanda to see the Sox play the A's last week. It's become an annual early season event, and just like last year, things went a bit awry (you may recall that after the game last year I got Amanda in trouble for blogging about DJing a scandalous dance party at the school where she works). This year, it was even crazier: April and I got thrown out!

April looks all sweet and innocent, but get a few drinks in her and take her to a stadium with other screaming, bloodthirsty nutcases, and you should see her go! Raining punches down upon everyone within reach!

Okay, so that's not exactly what happened. In truth, I brought a canteen into the stadium with some spiked strawberry lemonade. But the woman at the gate let me take it in -- she saw it and waved me through -- so I figured we were okay. And we were … for five and a half innings.

We were quietly watching the Sox get buried, eating our giant bag of popcorn and bunless hot dogs when these three security dudes come up behind us and demand to know what's in the canteen. Now, I'm not the best liar and I'd been sipping on this thing so I was a bit foggy, so I didn't give a very convincing answer. He sniffed at it, and shook his head and told us -- April too, but not thankfully Gabe and Amanda -- to come with them.

So we go. And they do that intimidating walk of shame, where they don't tell you where you're going, just to "follow that guy." So he led us halfway around the stadium to this little windowless room, where there's three old men bleakly shuffling paperwork. The guy who grabbed us stuck the canteen in another guy's face and asks what's in it. More sniffing. Which made me wonder if they're not allowed to taste things or if they just don't want to be sucking up other people's germs.

Anyway, they agreed it's "funny whatever it is." And so the guy said, "You have to leave. You can come back tomorrow but you have to go now. And if we find you back in here, you're going to be in serious trouble." Well, jesus, is it possible for us to get back in? Does this mean that that thing they do where they scan the tickets when you enter is all for show and you could come and go as many times as you want?

Anyway, at this point I pleaded for mercy. I mean, I paid $30 for each ticket and the Sox only come once a year. Couldn't they just dump it out and let us stay?

Hell no. The only cop in the room started to bark at us. "That's the chance you took when you brought that shit in with you! You're lucky we don’t fine you or throw you in jail!"

In jail. In jail? I was so stunned -- which I'm sure was his intention -- that I couldn't ask just what law we'd be breaking. Help me out here, Eric or other lawyers, but did they have a case? I looked on the website later and, while it does say that people can't bring in outside liquor, it doesn't list any city code.

At this point, I think maybe I should use April's gluten allergy as an excuse. But then I decided I didn't want to throw her under the bus -- and I doubted it would do any good anyway. Best to not actually admit there's alcohol in there, too.

As the guy went to pour the canteen out (or drink it, who knows), they brought in another rulebreaker. Another Red Sox fan. Hmm. Maybe they're trying to thin the herd a bit here, get rid of the people rooting against the A's. What was this guy being tossed for? Was it public hammeredness, because he was obviously wasted? Nope. He was smoking in the bathroom. So it's okay to get drunk as long as you pay $8 for their beer (or pre-party). If you're smoking, they will give you three warnings before tossing you. It's a financial dealing: we've been punished for not being wealthy enough to afford their commodity. It's not even that we're so cheap -- we spent plenty of money on food items.

One thing was eating at me, more than anything. So, as they're showing us the door, I asked how they knew. The main guy said he saw us, but I knew he was lying, at least a little. Because April hadn't had any of the canteen for three innings, and he didn't toss Gabe and Amanda, who had some as well. No, I think someone told on us. Maybe it was the crazed fans behind us, who seemed to have a personal vendetta against mind-mannered second baseman Dustin Pedroia (perhaps it was because he had just called his CA hometown of Woodland "a dump" in an article by one of my former SF Weekly associates). Or the family in front of us, who seemed pretty ungrateful when we gave them our little, fry-holding A's helmet. I think it was the latter, who may have been upset by our penis conversation. I'd brought up Michael Showalter's comedy routine, in which he says that men shouldn't have to wash their hands after they pee, unless they've been digging ditches with their pricks.

Now, was that worth being thrown out for? Come on, those guys behind us were threatening to cut Pedroia's privates off. Get rid of them.

At least we weren't at the Wednesday game, when Wakefield almost threw a no-hitter. I would've fought a lot harder to stay at that game. The truly sad thing is those guys in that room obviously hate their lives. And who wouldn't? Being so close to one of life's simplest beauties (a baseball park, jeez, I can get soppy here once in a while) and not being able to see it at all. Or even listen or watch the game, save for the reverberations off the concrete and an endless stream of drunk assholes being tossed out.

Oops, that's us.

If I've learned anything from this, it's that … well, if you want to bring in alcohol, buy a soda and then pour the booze into the cup, so you won't be seen. Oh yeah, and don't talk about penises.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Desert Blues

You know how you can tell you're getting old? You like world music, all of a sudden! (This is not to say that people -- Ruxzs, cough -- who've liked world music all along are old, or wrong. Maybe they were right, actually, or at least, better than me.) It's funny how my patience for some things has increased (guys singing in languages I don't understand, or in the case of jazz not singing at all) while others have decreased (I can't imagine lasting through all the bands at SXSW anymore; hell, two bands is a struggle now).

Well, last night April and I went to the Tinariwen show at the Palace of Fine Arts. Dang, that was some hot shit. How hot? Sahara hot. Okay, so the band's from Mali, so that was an easy reference. But what a blazing hot story: They were nomads forced from their land by a despotic regime, only to meet up in a training camp for rebels in Libya and then fight in Mali's 1990s revolution (which, sadly, is sort of still going on, even though thousands of rebels turned in their guns at one point, leading to a artillery bonfire; can you see that happening in the states?). Having seen them, it's kind of hard envisioning them as fighters -- they were just so nice and sweet. And, according to this article in the Observer Music Monthly, they're very unmacho when it comes to marital rights: in the case of divorce, the women get to keep the tent.

Anyway, they ruled. So much so that the 60-year-old ladies stood up in their seats and began to dance. It was hard not to. Check this live video out and see if it doesn’t move you.

April wanted to get up and join the hippie dancers and old ladies, especially after she saw the tall dude doing the Snoop Dogg moves, but there was no way I was going to do it, which made her feel self-conscious. Maybe in 20 years it'll be different. Or if Peter Coyote, who was two rows in front of us, did it first.

And just to show I still love the twee stuff, here's a new video by the Slow Club.

Monday, April 13, 2009


You know, these big Hollywood movies are getting gayer by the day.

Have you seen the amateur Trader Joe's theme song? (Chris sent this, all the way from Australia.) It's kind of amazing and right on ("10 kinds of soy milk that all taste the same"). When I went to the store today, I asked the super-friendly counterperson if she'd seen it and she said, yeah, they all loved it.

She wasn't so keen on this fake training video, though. She said the company's not that laid back anymore. Yeah, well, I guess that sucks. Although the sexual harassment and the shirtless dudes and the crying don't seem so great. Plus, now they do that annoying thing where they recommend things you don't want, which kind of feels like the spirit of Aloha ... being forced down your throat. If I'd have wanted it, I'd have bought it. Jeez.

While I was in there, Mungo Jerry's "In the Summertime" came on and I suddenly heard the similarity between it and Harry Nillson's "Coconut." I can't decide which is better (or is that worse?).

I am loving this French lady, Marianne Dissard, who lives in Tucson and is playing the Hemlock on April 29. Apparently, her new album was written following the dissolution of her marriage to Naim Amor, another Frog musician living in Arizona. She sent all the lyrics and a tape of her favorite songs to her pal Joey Burns from Calexico and he came up with some cool, Ennio Morricone-and-Brigitte Bardot pop. The disc has translated lyrics and they're pretty sexy in a poetic kind of way: "The girls are like water and the boys fish them out/ The boys are drenched wet and get undressed on the boats to dry." Well, um, this video is pretty chaud.