Thursday, November 20, 2008

Yet More Things That I Don't Understand

5. Toilet Seat Covers. Unless you have an open wound on the back of your leg, you're not going to catch a disease by sitting on a toilet seat. You're more likely to catch a disease from that nasty sponge you use to wash your dishes. And, to whomever was taking a crap before me just now, at least have the decency to dispose of the damn thing before you leave the stall.

6. Empty Coffee Pots. There's a great scene in season 4 of The Wire when the mayor Carcetti gets caught by Greggs putting back an empty coffee pot at the police station. When I was at Lockheed, I learned that the higher your pay, the less likely you are to bother making a new pot. Why is this?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Bridge School 22

I just had a wonderful weekend full of concerts. I started Friday night with incredibly intimate performance by The Bittersweets and ended tonight with the marathon 22nd Annual Bridge School Benefit Concert. This afternoon/tonight's show just rocked. Neil Young proved that he is still a living legend and was by far my favorite. My favorite take of the night, though, was Norah Jones singing his When God Made Me with Neil on organ and backing vocals. I had no idea that Norah was singing Bluegrass! All my friends were blown away by her. She definitely stole the show in terms of who most surprised the audience. Wilco also put in a great set and Death Cab For Cutie and Jack Johnson performed well and kept the audience on their feet for most their set, which was a feat considering that the day was over 8 hours long. Cat Power with the Dirty Delta Blues sang a gripping cover of The House of the Rising Sun and I enjoyed when Neil came out and sang Fortunate Son with her. Neil's cover of A Day In The Life just absolutely brought the house down.

And call me crazy, but I swear that Neil passed me on the way to the event headed down Shoreline about 40 minutes before the show in 1950s Plymouth with perfect chrome and interior and green paint fading to surface rust but appearing original. According to this,, Neil owns an off color 1950 Plymouth Super Deluxe. Sounds exactly right. Can anyone out there confirm?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Bittersweets

I went and saw The Bittersweets last night and I was blow away by their performance. They played in the intimate Swedish American Hall above Cafe du Nord in the Castro district in San Francisco. In addition to an incredible, energetic performance of their hit, Long Day, they also blew me me away with their covers of Gillian Welch's Orhpan Girl and Unchained Melody by The Righteous Brothers. I've heard Gillian Welch sing Orphan Girl herself live and heard Emmylou sing it live as well at least once. Neither compared to the Bittersweet's performance. They also sang one song both a capella and without amplification. Impressive. Plus the venue was just perfect for them. So intimate. Catch a show there if you can.

Photos of the show from my colleague:

Goodnight, San Francisco by The Bittersweets
(purchased and autographed last night in San Francisco)

Long Way From Home: The Bittersweets Live

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Wire, David Simon

"Most smart people cannot watch most TV, because it has generally been a condescending medium, explaining everything immediately, offering no ambiguities, and using dialogue that simplifies and mitigates against the idiosyncratic ways in which people in different worlds actually communicate. It eventually requires that characters from different places talk the same way as the viewer. This of course, sucks.

There are two ways of traveling. One is with a tour guide, who takes you to the crap everyone sees. You take a snapshot and move on, experiencing nothing beyond a crude visual and the retention of a few facts. The other way to travel requires more time... but if you stay in one place, say, if you put up your bag and go down to the local pub or shebeen and you play the fool a bit and make some friends and open yourself up to a new place and new time and new people, soon you have a sense of another world entirely."

E-mail excerpt by David Simon, writer/producer, The Wire, from the booklet of the CD 'The Wire: ...and all the pieces matter. Five Years of Music From The Wire'.

I don't watch TV. I don't even own one. But I admit that I became addicted to The Wire after my housemate in 2004 showed it to me. And here David Simon perfectly sums up both how and why I love traveling in an analogy for one of the reasons why The Wire is such a great show.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Van Morrison

I'm currently having a musical orgasm. I just bought Van Morrison's 1994 'A Night In San Francisco' with John Lee Hooker, Junior Wells, Jimmy Witherspoon, his daughter Shana Morrison, James Hunter, Brian Kennedy, and Georgie Fame. Just an incredible album. First I just bought his duet with John Lee Hooker on Gloria. Then I had to have the whole album. I'll be listening to this one over and over until I wear out the bits. Van Morrison really is the greatest white singer ever.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The UnConvention

Poignant and hilarious Yard Signs from for Twin Cities residents who are about to host the 2008 Republican National Convention

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Here's Your Sign

Bill Engvall, often confused for Jeff Foxworthy, has a whole comedy career centered around his belief that those of us who act stupid from time to time should just wear a sign that says, "Stupid," so as to warn others. I've certainly needed such a sign on nearly a daily basis. I've also had two classic run-ins with others who needed a sign:

July 20, 2006
First of all I should have been wearing a Stupid Sign for two reasons on this occasion. 1, I bought a 1975 Jeep Cherokee site unseen off eBay. In Oregon. And I live in California. 2, Despite the previous owner's warning that the oil pressure gauge was broken, I drove it straight back to California without ever once checking the oil. And, about 15 miles from home, the engine blew a rod.
But it gets better. When the AAA tow truck driver pulled up, he leans his head out the window, takes a quick look at my Jeep, and asks, "What's wrong?"

"Engine's blown," I say.
"Hmmph," he says. Pause. Pause. Then he asks,"So... does it run?"
"Yup. Now that you mention it, it runs great, hadn't thought of that. Thanks for clearing that up. And here's your sign."

July 22, 2008
2 hours after UHaul promised it would be ready, I finally went out to look over the moving van and trailer I had rented to move my stuff from Escondido to Sunnyvale. I was dismayed that the van looked pretty dirty, like it had just been dropped off minutes earlier. I was also dismayed that the trailer still hadn't been hooked up yet and that there's was no one around offering assistance, even though I was the only customer. And, the guy who did my paperwork had already told the outside crew, twice, to get my equipment ready before I went outside.

Finally this fellow strolls up with his tobacco pipe in his right hand and asks, "Can I help ya?".

"Uh, yeah, I need that van and trailer that was supposed to be ready 2 hours ago."
"Oh... Ok... Say, you want us to hook the trailer to the van?"
"Fuck, no. I thought it was a self-driving model. And here's your sign."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Best 15 Albums Ever

I like that iTunes has an automatic album rating feature now. Of my 9300 tracks, I have rated over 7000 of them while riding buses in Asia and driving through the Outback. This has given me some fairly accurate data about my music tastes. The result surprised me and so I thought I would share it. I only considered LP albums and excluded compilations and greatest hits album. For example, I excluded Bob Marley's 'Legend' and James Brown's 'Mother Lode' since in a loose definition they're both greatest hits album.
My Top 15 Favorite Albums
  1. Hasta La Vista Baby! by U2
  2. We Shall Overcome - The Seeger Sessions (American Land Edition) by Bruce Springsteen
  3. The Revolution Starts...Now by Steve Earle
  4. Blood Sugar Sex Magik by The Red Hot Chili Peppers
  5. Listener Supported by The Dave Matthews Band
  6. Under the Table & Dreaming by The Dave Matthews Band
  7. Shake Your Money Maker by the Black Crowes
  8. Stop Making Sense by The Talking Heads
  9. Are You Experienced by Jimi Hendrix
  10. True Love by Toots & The Maytals
  11. MTV Unplugged by 10,000 Maniacs
  12. When I Woke by Rusted Root
  13. The Baby Huey Story: The Living Legend
  14. Vintage Blood: Live! 1973 by Cold Blood
  15. Some Great Reward by Depeche Mode

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Things I don't understand

1. Bath Robes Why take your clothes off only to put on another item of clothing that you're then just going to take off again in 60 seconds when you get to the bathroom? I don't find them particularly sexy on men or women. I just don't get it. When I worked at Sears in the men's department way back in high school, there was a crazy guy who wore nothing but bathrobes and came in every night for a week to try on the same one before he finally bought it.

2. The Spork. The worst invention, ever. Especially the plastic ones that they have at Taco Bell. It's good neither as a spoon nor a fork. You go to stab something with the fork part but the big fat spoon part prevents it. You go to scoop some soup up and, one, the spoon can't fill up because there's holes at the end to create fork tines, and, two the fork tines poke you as you pull the spoon out. And why isn't it called a foon? Why a spork? How hard would it be for Taco Bell to have forks AND spoons? Why do you need a spoon at Taco Bell anyway? Wouldn't the happiness derived by having proper utensils outweigh the minuscule amount of money they save by saving on 1 utensil on the rare customer who would have grabbed both a fork AND a spoon to eat a taco? The only one that I would ever consider using is this red one that I saw at REI where there's spoon at one end and a fork at the other. But then on further inspection I see that they couldn't restrain themselves: they had to go and make the fork part a combination knife (so is it a sporife?) which means you're going to cut yourself when you eat with that fork. Fuck. Sporks just suck.

Monday, July 7, 2008


I just returned to the United States of America after 14 months abroad, mostly in Asia and Australia. While away I wrote a travel blog and sort of got addicted to having a public forum to express whatever drivel popped into my head and so I've blessed the entire world with this blog so that you can occasionally read whatever boring or cynical thought has popped into my mind lately.


Jeff Kirby