Saturday, September 19, 2009

On the road again: San Francisco, day 2

I slept a lot last night. A lot. It was wonderful. For almost three hours I was not tired. At one point, I inadvertently said aloud, "Damn," as I realized that the taste of energy I was feeling was what it was like not to be exhausted. Fortunately, fatigue set in soon, and I was back to normal.

I seriously do have to fix my life and this fatigue.

Last night, we tried the tasting menu at Luce, hoping to taste the creations of Chef Dominique Crenn, who soon will be vying to become the next Iron Chef. Alas, she was no tin, so another chef composed the menu. The dish here, hamachi (young yellowtail) on a red pepper tartar on a slice of melon, came early and promised great things. The rest of the dinner did not live up to the hope this dish induced. I would eat at Luce again, but I would probably order off the menu.

Our waiter, John, deserves special mention. He was good and funny, and we were happy to have him serving our table.

Lunch today was a strolling meal through the Ferry Building, where we sampled a variety of foods from local vendors. Everything was splendid.

In the middle of the afternoon, we took the first pilgrimmage to Humphry Slocombe. A line of people waited outside to order. We joined it. As we drew closer, we got to see these four paintings. In case you're not sure you're reading correctly, yes, the one in the upper left advertises Fetal Kitten Soup. I might try Secret Breakfast soup or even the Hibiscus Beet, but not this one.

No, sir, I do not want another.

We sampled a handful of flavors. All were quite good. I particularly liked the cream cheese and the Tahitian vanilla, and the olive oil was yummy.

If you magnify these two photos you may be able to see all of today's offerings. Had I time and stamina enough, I would have tried them all.

Though they were very good, though each and every one would blow away the competition from a chain Coldstone or Maggie Moo, and though I plan to go back tomorrow, none of these concoctions was as good as the top five or six flavors from Jeni's. For now, Jeni's remains the undisputed holder of the Ice Cream World Heavyweight Championship.

On the way back, a house and a shop sign particularly charmed me, so I leave you with these pictures of them.

Friday, September 18, 2009

On the road again: San Francisco, day 1 - from the plane

I'm writing this on the plane from DFW to SFO. This is the first time I've bought bandwidth on a flight, and so far, it's awesome. The price ($14.02 after all taxes) is ludicrous for less than four hours of bandwidth, but on the other hand, I can work, check personal email, show the guy sitting next to me (who is both a lawyer and a zombie fan) the Zombieland redband trailer, IM with Sarah, and so on. A quick speed test put the connection at 1.4Mbps down and 270Kbps up, which is pretty decent and definitely good enough for basic email needs.

As usual, I'm beginning a trip exhausted--almost no sleep last night--behind on a work project, and generally behind. So it goes. I clearly need to fix my life.

As this washed out photo, which I just took, shows, my list of woes also includes a split lip.

Exactly what am I telling you this? More to the point, why am I showing you a taken-on-the-plane photo that makes me look even whiter than I really am?

Because I can, of course, because I can!

Time for me to return to work. Perhaps more later. Or perhaps I'll just collapse.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A few quick things before I go

I head to the airport in eight hours, and I've yet to write, pack, pay some bills, and do some work. Typical. Starting tomorrow, I'll be reporting from San Francisco for a week.

Until then, I leave you with these brief notes.

You can now see Jain's art balls online at her site. To go right to the gallery of the cool creations, click here. Waiting for Sam, one of the niftier pieces in a collection of great creations, won an art show award at WorldCon and could be yours for a mere $245 (as the online gallery now shows). Someone needs to nab this one before Jain wises up and raises the price. (Okay, yes, I'm pimping Jain's art balls again.)

While I'm in a pimping mood, if you are anywhere near the five U.S. cities where Blue Rodeo will be playing, treat yourself to a great show and catch them in concert. I would if I lived anywhere near them.

If you're in San Francisco, you could do worse on a Sunday afternoon than to come by Borderlands Books, listen to my reading (or pretend to do so while you catch up on your email and text message backlogs), buy some books from the great folks there, and then join us for ice cream afterward. If we get a good crowd, I may offer the double treat of both reading a few pages from Children No More and doing a bit from the Science Magic Sex show. I hope to see some of you there.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

People released its best-dressed list

and once again, I'm not on it. If I may be frank, and I believe I may, I'm getting a little tired of them ignoring me year after year after year. I may have to up my fashion game. Perhaps it's time to start my own clothing trend. Maybe I should resurrect a classic. Maybe I could bring back these. Admit it: I'd look awesome in a pair of green lederhosen, perhaps with a matching vest.

In other, unrelated news, a group of us will be heading after this Sunday's 3:00 signing at Borderlands Books to this place for what promises to be some amazing ice cream. Not convinced? Check out these flavors. As Kyle, who refused to fly across the country to join us for the signing and the screamage, observed, you have to love the very idea of ice creams such as pistachio-bacon and government cheese.

Lest my fashion crisis and subsequent resolve scare you, rest easy: I probably won't be wearing lederhosen to the signing and the subsequent road trip.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I'd forgotten

how much fun programming can be. Scott is taking AP CS, so I've had a few chances to help explain some Java stuff to him. I've never programmed in Java, but I've worked in a lot of other languages, and Scott is just beginning to learn to code, so I've been able to provide value so far.

Programming requires both the ability to see the overall task at hand and the skill to break down that task into increasingly smaller steps. I've always enjoyed both of those kinds of thinking. Talking to Scott about how to approach assignments, learning some of Java's syntax, watching him quickly grasp the new concepts--it's all big fun.

Yes, it's true: I am such a geek.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Benny & Joon

is one of my favorite movies. It's quirky and loving and always entertaining, but most of all, it has a pure and wonderful heart. Johnny Depp earned my admiration forever with just this one role, and Mary Stuart Masterson was perfect. Aidan Quinn and Julianne Moore in key supporting roles were also amazing.

The music, too, was often wonderful. Sarah and Ben watched this film last night, TV in different places but a shared experience nonetheless, and Sarah pointed out the following video, which is for a great John Hiatt song I've long loved.

Watching it got me thinking about the song that acted more or less as Benny & Joon's theme, "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" from the Proclaimers. I can't embed the link to that video, but I'll wait while you go watch it.

Even though I know the real world leaves few of us with ideal outcomes, even though many of us go to bed alone each night far from our loved ones, even though most hours of most days may be hard for us, even though we may never get as much as we want of those we cherish, I will always believe in love. I will always believe that no matter how weird, how troubled, or how different you are, you will be able to find at least moments of transforming love with someone who tries to see you for everything that you are and still loves you with an aching, longing heart.

Those moments make everything else worthwhile.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The best chopped pork BBQ I've yet had

As long-time readers and friends know, I've eaten a lot of BBQ over the years. I've eaten it in many variations, from pork to brisket to ribs and on and on, and in many states, from Texas to California to Massachusetts to New York to Tennessee to North Carolina. During my over three decades in this state, I've come to love the pulled and chopped pork that is North Carolina barbecue.

So it is with some embarrassment that I must admit that last night I tasted for the first time the best chopped park 'que I've ever had--and it was at a place that has been in Raleigh for a long time, The Pit.

I don't know how long The Pit has been in business, but it's not a new business. Its owner and head, Ed Mitchell, is more than a little famous in barbecue circles, counting among his achievements a defeat of Bobby Flay in a 'que contest. (Go, Ed! Flay has never been a favorite of mine.) So, I should have eaten there a long time ago, but I just never got around to it.

The most amazing dish of the evening was the appetizer--enough food that three of us split it and could easily have shared it with a fourth--a plate they call Barbecue Fries. Take greasy, old-school fries. Mix with chopped pork barbecue. Add chives and a side of BBQ ranch dress; ignore the dressing. Cover it all with pimiento cheese, and then melt that cheese.

The result is a disk that is completely and utterly wrong, a combination no one should have assembled--and yet so damn good that every single bite brought sounds of pleasure from all of us.

It also conjured images of heart attacks, but, hey, great dishes are not cheap.

For my main, I tried the combination of pork ribs, which a friend had extolled, and chopped barbecue. The ribs were good, but the chopped pork was amazing--spicier than some would like, but perfect for my taste.

Thirty-one years in this state, thirty in this city, and I'm just now trying The Pit. Amazing. At least it didn't take me any longer.


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