Friday, December 28, 2007

Juno, no Juno

It’s a weird phenomenon – every couple of years, a movie comes out, it gets great reviews, everybody loves it and raves about it, I go see the movie, and… I hate it – and have no idea why everyone is getting so excited. Most of the times, even when I don’t like a movie, I understand why it may resonate with others, and what they could see in it. But sometimes, I really don’t get it. I had that unpleasant experience some time back watching “The Spanish Apartment” (“L’Auberge Espagnole”), and it happened again this Tuesday, when I went to watch “Juno” with L.
I was seriously ready to leave after 30 minutes; but L and I decided to give it a bit more time, in hopes to witness the pumpkin turn into
“One of the brightest, funniest comedies of the year, whose smart script and direction are matched by assured performances”
(Rotten Tomatoes "consensus").

I’ll give you that, it improves a bit after a while (or did I simply become numb?), and we stayed until the end; but I can’t recall an actress whose delivery (pun not intended) made me cringe as much as Ellen Page. Maybe I am just getting old, and can’t take the too-cool-for-school mannerisms of teenagers anymore?


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Holiday tree

From what I gather, in the State of California, it is not appropriate to wish other people a Merry Christmas - this may be offensive to non-Christians. Instead, the good Californian will wish you Happy (and politically correct) Holidays. I believe my Californian integration is going well; in the same spirit, I decided it was time to move on and replace the inappropriate and divisive Christmas Tree by a much more all-inclusive Holiday Tree. Or even a Holidays Mutant Giant Cabbage Palm Tree.
Love you all, and wish you in advance a great year 2008!


Sunday, December 23, 2007

One hour, two bananas

A few days ago, leaving a building I used to work at, I checked the parking entrance booth, and was a bit surprised to see that a new face had replaced the usual attendant.
Happy Holidays, everybody!

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Fillmore in 08'

HGTV is sponsoring a campaign focusing on revitalizing communities across the country, and the Fillmore neighborhood of San Francisco is among the selected projects. If you are into music, chances are you have been to the Fillmore area already; and you would also most likely agree that a face-lift would do it lots of good. So go and vote for the Fillmore! You can officially vote once a day until December 21st.


Monday, December 17, 2007

Smoker, no smoker

Fight and Fitness' last smoker of the year was planned to take place this Saturday, right before the end-of-the-year party, but was canceled pretty much at the last minute by the CSAC, the California State Athletic Commission. Needless to say, that was a big blow for everyone involved, especially the fighters, who usually go through a grueling preparation to get in shape.
What is more worrisome is that until further notice, it seems that all smokers are now suspended in California. I could not find anything on the CSAC's website yet, but the decision would not surprise me. With the recent explosion of mixed martial arts in the US in general, and in California in particular, the commission has stepped in to prevent abuses by promoters, and protect fighter's safety, which is a great thing.
What is unfortunate is that Smokers are a crucial institution in a fighter's development. Smokers are small-scale, non-professional fighting events, held at a gym but opened to fighters of other gyms; they provide an irreplaceable venue to gain a first experience of competitive fighting and meet fighters trained in other places.
The obvious solution to the issue would be to make all smokers official amateur events, but I assume the organization will be more constraining, and impact negatively the number of events. On top of that, it seems that the CSAC is already struggling to keep up with the growth of MMA, with an administrative backlog, and regulations still in flux (see for instance the polemics that surrounded the drug appeals procedures of Sean Sherk recently).
Let's hope that the CSAC is prompt in proposing a reasonable solution, so that we can all keep merrily and safely beat each other up in good spirits in 2008!

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Hands up

You have to give it to them, X-21, on Valencia, has a knack for eye-catching window-dressing. As I heard a passer-by say, "Wow! That's a lot of hands right there!" I found this sea of raised hands slightly uncomfortable to watch, though.

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Sunday, December 9, 2007

Oy to the world

The Mission is a politically assertive neighborhood, where opinions and messages pertaining to all sorts of important causes are ubiquitous; still, I was somewhat surprised to see from the corner of my eye a proud Israeli flag in the window display of a vintage-clothing shop (Retro Fit) on Valencia street today. Where I expected your standard "peace-and-love" T-shirt variety, its message turned out to be a kabbalistic "Oy to the world". The through Google research that followed yielded two conclusions:
1) the fuzziness around the definition of "Oy" (an interjection "used especially to express exasperation or dismay", dixit Webster) does not allow me to conclusively interpret the message "Oy to the world",
2) after visiting Oy Bay ("The Jewish Blog-by-the-Bay"), I realized my perception of Hanukkah as an old-fashioned, traditional celebration needed to be updated. ("Girdle your circumcised loins with sour cream or apple sauce, Heebs! Crazy latke-dreidle dancin’ comin’ atcha!" “Getting Krunk (Kosher Drunk) with Dan Wolf“). Happy Hanukkah!

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Friday, December 7, 2007

Vampire Weekend, the return

Vampire Weekend was back in San Francisco last Wednesday, this time at the Independent, as the headliner, and with an album soon to be released. Besides that, not much has changed - the band is still as endearing, and I am still a fan of the "Upper West Side Soweto style". They hinted at a second album (we even had the honor of having a song premiered), and announced another passage in the Bay Area in January; you have to wonder when that second album will materialize, if they keep touring the way they have been...

I really enjoyed the opening band, Grand Ole Party, as well. A band with a female drummer who is also the lead singer is pretty unusual, and gets your attention; but it's the music itself that kept me engaged afterwards. It had all the qualities of a good power trio - compact, simple, and catchy.

And I can't resist - I have to point at the angle of the pictures (I certainly can't brag about the quality of the pictures themselves). That's right, they were not taken from crowd-level, but rather from the VIP, invitation-only balcony... Knowing someone on the D-list has its perks!

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Thursday, December 6, 2007

It's fall in the Mission

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Go west, sad young literary men!

They came, and they went; after launching issue 6 in the San Francisco Bay Area, and one week of readings and a memorable party, the n+1 crew is off to other destinations. The itinerary goes something like this: Los Angeles, Seattle, Vancouver, and Portland, and for those who wonder about the logic behind this apparently erratic back-and-forth, it seems that being a talented editor and emerging writer does not automatically imply solid notions of geography.

Anyways, the n+1 party last week was a blast; how can you go wrong, when you start on such solid premises as one-dollar drinks? One dollar at a time, I progressively lost focus, until I finally forgot about taking pictures altogether - so what you see below is only representative of the very early part of the event...