Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Time out for a hamster eating an apple

I'm working on stuff like search engine optimization and case study project management. It's not just a job--it's an adventure--one I haven't had in quite a while. So while I'm beavering away at that, please enjoy this photo-journalist essay featuring Fifi, the apple-eating hamster. Fifi lives to eat fresh produce, chew cardboard, and climb the bars of her cage like a monkey. It's a pleasant existance.



Num num num num.

Oh, hello. Apple good!

Bonus! Fifi hoards among the tikis.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Keith Moon - celebrated in The New Yorker

James Wood wrote a fine tribute to Keith Moon in the November 29th issue of The New Yorker. An abstract of the article is on their Web site but you'll have to subscribe or buy an issue to read the whole story. Basically it's a celebration of the childlike exuberance of hitting drums with sticks. Keith Moon was all about that.

I've always found him brilliant but apparently some critics have called him sloppy and ill-timed, even during The Who's glory years in the late 60s/early 70s. But I say, if The Who was an improvisational rock band who played with soul, vigor, wit and utter originality, then Keith Moon was technically perfect as their drummer. Wood mentions that you can hear isolated drum tracks of Moon on YouTube, and so you can. Let's listen in, shall we?

All together--like a rock orchestra.

Live. Wood says Moon never played a song the same way twice during concerts. He was thinking it up as he went.

Isolated drums from "Live at Leeds." I'm a drum geek--can you tell?

Everybody join in! My band mate and fellow drummer Suki mentioned to me once that Moon plays like a jazz musician. It's hard to imagine that when he's slapping everything around so, but she's right--he's improvising in fun and surprising ways.

These "Live at Leeds" snippets demonstrate why I'll always think of Moon as the "Mr. Personality" of rock drumming.

James Wood podcast on the antic spirit of drumming.

Keith Moon's self-destruction was legendary, causing his death at 32. Bruce Worden and Clare Cross bid a fond adieu in their picture book, Goodnight Keith Moon.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Diablo Valley Lines Model Railroad is awesome

Pardon me while I model-train out here. Jackson is a big model train fan--not a builder, just an admirer, so we visited Walnut Creek's Model Railroad Society's winter show this week. According to the Web site, the WCMRS boasts one of the largest exclusively HO scale lines in the United States. And they have overhead interurban traction and HOn3 narrow gage, too!


No matter--if you're a model railroad freak, or you know some children, go to this show and bring the children so they can forever worship you. It's happening this weekend, November 27 & 28, and it's affordable fun. 4,300 feet of hand-laid track in a building that was built by Society members in 1970 simply to house a giant model train layout that takes 45 minutes for a train to travel through. The entire layout, in order to be operational, takes about 25 operators, and the Society has been in operation since 1948. Dude, that's a lot of model train knowledge in one layout.

My photos are without flash, to avoid glare, so the ambiance is tavern-like. I liked whenever the modelers would show up in the layout to make repairs and operate their trains. The upstairs bay allows more than a dozen guys (still waiting for that elusive gal modeler to show up) to run operations. And because the trains go through so many tunnels and turnouts, the engineers have to watch a light-up grid on the opposite wall of the building to keep track of their train's progress. It's like Star Trek in there.

There's also a working drawbridge, nighttime operations with light-up city and lightning storm (one volunteer walks through spraying water for "rain"), a Jurassic Park dinosaur-attack and carnival freak-show tent, and perfect replicas of San Francisco's "F" street-cars, including the vintage models from around the world. Plus decent hot dogs and fresh-baked cookies for sale. This is positive obsessive-compulsiveness in action.

Looks like there's a little bit of Union activity going on here on the street-car line.
There are guys up there in the balcony, working the trains. They are dedicated and unfathomable people--go see them in action.

Officially endorsed by Wired.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Jackson picks the hits

When Jackson was five we moved to Vancouver, Washington, the stateside suburb of Portland, Oregon. Portland has a HUGE music scene; a ridiculously musical town, Portland. Their commercial alterna-rock station, 94.7, plays the roster of whatever's deemed acceptable hit-wise, but they have their quirky favorites that they rotate endlessly. While we were driving around, usually in the rain, to some indoor activity, Jackson would call out from the back seat, "I LIKE THIS SONG," and we would be advised to crank it up.

I'm sort of a thoughtless insomniac-zombie today, so I'm just going to post a few of Jackson's favorites, deemed acceptable by Portland as multi-play throughout the day. Sorry for the dated selection. San Francisco's alt-rock station can't be bothered with anything too melodic or quirky, so busy are they catering to the 12- to 14-year-old boy demographic. Hopefully when Jackson's in that age range, he'll be selectively choosy about his music, because the Bay Area commercial radio situation is pretty dire.

Bonus: Since Jackson's now obsessed with 80% of Yo La Tengo's great album, "Fakebook"it's hard to pick out any one song, but I'm going with Griselda because it's the tune that inspired him to ask me, "Why do they have to get married if they're caught in the woods at night?"

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Kim Richards was an icon first, especially in Tuff Turf

I've now watched exactly two episodes of Real Housewives (of Beverly Hills) (shoot me--shoot me now) solely for one reason: Kim Richards. WHO? Kim Richards, you dolts. I grew up watching her work it on television and film. As a tiny child she starred Nanny and the Professor where she was cute and earnestly charismatic. Disney recognized this and cast her in multiple projects throughout the years. She then went on to make regular appearances on numerous 70s-era shows until semi-retirement from acting.

So, while I'm not a Kim Richards freak by any means (I'm a Tatum O'Neal girl and always will be--love ya, Tatum!), I had to watch her latest performance on "Real Housewives." It's been a long time and Kim looks a little tired. She has four teen and grown children that she seems to be lax to let go of. She has a younger sister, Kyle, also a former child actress, who alternately helps her and denigrates her. That kind of sister. But especially she has her memories. Memories of child stardom and how it kept her from making friends easily, or doing much of anything easily it seems. Her strange and off-putting story about being snapped by paparazzi while hanging out with her niece Paris Hilton (yes, God help her, Paris Hilton) made me cringe and feel for her. According to Richards, Paris was staring at her and saying, "WHO are YOU?" while the paparazzi clicked away, screaming, "Kim's an icon too!" "Yeah!" explains Kim while yelling at her niece. "I was an icon FIRST!"

But was she? Well, if you count her somehat haunted personification of Tia Malone, an orphan with psychic powers, in Disney's Escape to Witch Mountain (1978), sure. Lots of us kids growing up in the 70s really liked this film combining psychic powers with science fiction. We didn't know she would grow up to be on a shitty Bravo franchise where everyone looks vastly insecure as they attempt to move their Botox'd features into grimaces of fake California-dreamin' pleasure. We just thought this film, and by extension, Kim Richards, were cool.

But it was Tuff Turf that sealed the deal. It's a god-awful 80s teen film, yes. But it's got James Spader as a formerly wealthy badass and Robert Downey Jr. as his seemingly gay rock-drummer cohort--that's heavenly casting right there. Spader must win the love of bad-girl Richards while fending off her psychotically thuggish boyfriend from the bad side of town. Richards looks like a 12-year-old with a switchblade. It's awesome. And this makes Richards a former icon. Because no matter how much annoying crap Paris Hilton flings our way, she'll never be able to say James Spader serenaded her with a love song whilst perched atop grand-piano accompaniment during a crashed yacht-club festivity. Well, maybe she can say that or something close to it, but it wasn't caught on film. "Tuff Turf" was.

Here Richards shows off her dancin' moves and excellent hair, accompanied by Jack Mack and the Heart Attack. It pretty much doesn't get any more 80s than this.

Rock on, Jim Carroll Band. RDJ on the drums, shirtless with bow tie. The combination of moussed hair/garage rock/neon-colored clothing within a warehouse ambiance might be more 80s than the above clip.

What did Carroll make of all this, besides taking home a hefty sum? It's surreal to this day.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Arcade Mystery Games

We went to Golf N Games in Antioch, California today to take in some miniature golf. We haven't done so since we moved back to California over a year ago and I tell you--it was good to be back. There aren't a lot of outdoor activities where little kids and adults can truly hang out, play and socialize on a somewhat balanced level. Miniature golf is the great leveler. Some kids are killer players. Some can barely keep the ball on the carpet. Some adults can get the ball up the ramp and into the barn-like structure every time (ahem). Others might have trouble making that final putt to make par (ahem, ahem). It all tends to even out.

And next door, there's always an arcade. I got a little fascinated with the modernity of the games. It's very casino-like these days. They even have those token-pusher games with the little shovels sliding the tokens almost but not quite toward you. A little scary. A group of gamers worked very hard to make these as appealing to children as possible, yet somewhat mysterious, like a Star Trek apparatus, waiting to be decoded. I have trouble figuring out games. I just don't have the will. I tend to be the person over in the corner playing pinball. See if you can decipher the secret codes of these games from the photos. Next time we visit, we'll make time for go karts.

Of course, it wouldn't be much of an arcade without people. And electricity.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Sexy Halloween Costume Clearance Sale

Frankly, I'm shocked that these costumes didn't sell better. I thought EVERYONE wanted to be sexy for Halloween these days. True, it was my first attempt at cracking the highly competitive sexy Halloween costume market, but I thought these were pretty damn sexy for a debut effort. Well, there's always next year. Shop early for the best deals, I always say. And you can wear these around the house any time of the year, especially during National Sexy Costume Month!

Sadly, Sexy Moe--the costume, did not fly out the door and onto the mean Trick-or-Treat streets of Halloween as I thought it would. I actually think Shemp was the sexiest Stooge, but I was going for a broader marketing base and was hoping slapstick sadism would be an added draw on this one.

What is sexier than a glazed doughnut, I ask you? So round, firm, sweet and tempting! Forbidden fried foods are always desirable. C'mon people! What will it take? Sprinkles?

"Going green" is all the rage! Garbage cans and recycling containers are very attractive, and not just to environmentalists. They're no longer just trash receptacles--they're saving the world. So lure those tricks and treats with this timely get-up. Then recycle it next year as a base for a robot, or a giant pill capsule (prescription drugs are very trendy and desirable!), or a futuristic birth-control device. The possibilities are endlessly ecology-minded. And sexy!

Monday, November 08, 2010

Brian Wilson Takes on Gershwin

Did you know Beach Boy legend Brian Wilson recorded an entire record of Gershwin tunes? Neither did I! But he did and here's some samples. I love the Gershwin brothers. Their music still does it for me. Hail, Brian Wilson for paying tribute.

Did you know there's a Gershwin Archive in San Francisco? Neither did I! But if you're planning on studying there, make it quick, because it's all permanently heading to the Library of Congress at the end of this year.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Time out for a Chuck Prophet crazy-ass guitar solo

It starts out as goofball call-and-response, then becomes a pleasantly groovin' jam that turns into full-on raging crazy-ass guitar solo at 3:35. I don't even know how he's doing this. I know it's partially a trick of the lighting and the limitations of a digital video upload, but at one point it looks like he's strumming it. But he's not. Am I just addled from all the recent Halloween / World Series / post-election apocalypse hoopla? Probably.

Born to tour.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Giants - Fuck Yeah!

They did it. They hit. They defended. And as predicted, they pitched. Everything somehow came together and they played a great series. Congratulations San Francisco--you finally have a championship baseball team. Fans, in your excitement, please do not trash the beautiful city by the bay. Thank you.

The following ridiculousness is courtesy of gossip-site ONTD. Skimming the comments, it looks like Buster Posey and Brian Wilson are considered the top team "hotties" with Tim Lincecum following close behind. Freddy Sanchez gets a few nods for cuteness. And Pablo Sandoval provides a fantastic "Gif of the Month" that had me laughing for almost a minute.

My family (immediate and extended) has been Giants fans for decades. They all live in or around San Francisco and never gave up on this often incredibly frustrating team. Whereas I tuned out a lot of the past few seasons, other than receiving full reports from Keith for most every game. I just didn't want to have to turn to drugs to numb the pain any more. It was getting that bad. So I'm very happy for them all--true baseball fanatics.

I'm also glad Bruce Bochy put this roster together and let the best players do their best. Perhaps the era of mega-salaried divas will give way to actual team play and management. Naaah... Anyway, what a team! Cheers.

Dave Flemming's delightful Renteria home run call.

Fans watch the final game live in front of City Hall.

Tim Lincecum--despite his arrest for marijuana possession earlier this year (shout out to our former home-town Vancouver, WA highway patrol--yo) what a breath of fresh air he is. It's like Nirvana won the World Series.

Posey and Wilson - that's hawt.
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The post-series emitting of fluids is doubly hawt.
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Lincecum moves like a kitty cat.
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Bonuses for all!
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You shall have cake, Sandoval. Just one piece, please.
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Monday, November 01, 2010

Are You Exceedingly Middle Class? - The Checklist

Increasingly I am feeling middle class. So I made a checklist to make sure I'm not getting too settled. Are you becoming too middle class? Start checking and find out!

_ Competitive block parties

_ Competitive exotic wedding locales

_ Determination that progeny will be bilingual, athletic, musically inclined and top-tier mathematicians by age 10.

_ Secret hoarding of “As Seen on TV” product line

_ Tempur-Pedic pillow (Tempur-Pedic mattress is for upper middle class)

_ Bluetooth discussion during power walk about possible future vacation home

_ Bite guard

_ Fear of cable customer service

_ Love/hate relationship with Costco

_ Hypoallergenic pet

_ Toppings OK as long as it’s on frozen yogurt

_ Move back to the city? And give up the garage?

_ Soaker tub was only put in for resale value

_ Granite countertops a MUST have

_ Saving up for a visit to the pet acupuncturist

_ Can't wash the top of your vehicle without a stepladder

_ MacBook Air envy

_ Fear and loathing of popcorn ceilings