I Left My Heart in San Francisco Sharing San Francisco Treats http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran <![CDATA[Yelp Quick Tip by BaronSamedi3]]> http://www.lunch.com/Awesomeness/reviews/website/UserReview-Yelp-163-1333935-239195.html http://www.lunch.com/Awesomeness/reviews/website/UserReview-Yelp-163-1333935-239195.html Mon, 5 Aug 2013 12:17:20 +0000 <![CDATA[ 'Blue Jasmine' Catt Gives A Stunning Performances In One Of Woody's Best Films (video)]]> By Joan Alperin Schwartz
There are many reasons to see 'Blue Jasmine' written and directed by Woody Allen, but the main one is...the stunning, complex, Oscar worthy performance by, Miss Cate Blanchett.
She portrays Jasmine, a one time wealthy New York socialite who has lost her money, her home, her husband, (Alec Baldwin) her son and perhaps...her sanity.
We first meet Jasmine, sitting on an airplane, talking non-stop to her seat mate, an elderly woman, who from the expression on her face, wishes she would just shut up.
From Jasmine's monologue, we find out that she's on her way to live with her sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins) a grocery clerk, in San Francisco.  
After the plane lands, Jasmine continues following and talking to her seatmate and it becomes obvious that, this is a woman, on the edge.
At her sister's place, Jasmine's fragile mental state becomes even clearer...Actually it's hard to miss.  Jasmine gulps down vodka followed by a xanax chaser every time she's upset, which is quite often.
First, she can't stand her sister's boyfriend, Chili (Bobby Cannavale) who's always around....Thinks he's as big a loser as Ginger's ex-husband, Augie (Andrew Dice Clay)  
If that's not bad enough, Jasmine wants to study interior design online,  but has no idea how to use a computer.  So now, our stressed out socialite has to go back to school, which means finding some menial job in order to pay for it.  
In other words, Jasmine has to learn to survive in the 'real world' for the first time in her life.  No wonder she's altering her consciousness.
Yes, Jasmine is a very flawed, troubled character, but you want her to succeed.  You can't help but feel compassion for this woman.
This has a lot to do with Allen's wonderful use of flashbacks, where we get to see Jasmine's former life and come to understand why she's on the verge of a complete mental breakdown.
Watching Cate/ Jasmine, I immediately thought about another iconic, damaged woman...Blanche Dubois from Tennesse Williams 'Streetcar Named Desire'.  It wouldn't surprise me to learn that Woody was inspired by Blanche when he created this character. 
On a side note, Blanchett portrayed Blanche on the London stage a few years ago.
In any case, like Blanche, Jasmine is a woman you'll remember for a long time to come....I'm still thinking about her.
I absolutely loved this film which also stars Louis C. K. Peter Sarsgaard and Michael Stuhlbarg as a lecherous dentist who hires Jasmine. 
I gave 'Blue Jasmine' which opens in theatres Friday July 26, 2013, my highest bagel score...five out of five...and John, believe it or not, was right behind with his bagel rating.  Yes, this is a film, he actually liked...alot.
Check out our video for more of our thoughts and banter.
Please SUBSCRIBE to our youtube channel and LIKE us on our Two Jews On Film facebook page.
Let us know what you think.  Thanks everyone
http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/d/UserReview-Blue_Jasmine-411-1876364-238937-_Blue_Jasmine_Catt_Gives_A_Stunning_Performances.html http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/d/UserReview-Blue_Jasmine-411-1876364-238937-_Blue_Jasmine_Catt_Gives_A_Stunning_Performances.html Thu, 25 Jul 2013 01:53:12 +0000
<![CDATA[ These Giants Stand Tall]]>
That makes it all the more remarkable that of the top four guys, two - Mays and Bonds - have played for the San Francisco Giants. That's pretty incredible as it stands, but Mays and Bonds are also both in the conversation for best all-around player in history. They are just two of the players who made the Giants one of the most important, powerful, and respected teams in baseball history.

The Giants seem to be on the backburners a lot in baseball conversation about the greatest overall teams, which isn't fair to them. Look at these staggering numbers: The Giants have won more games than any other team in professional baseball, or any other team in professional sports. As I write this, they won their 22 National League Pennant, placing them into their 19th World Series. Both of those are records in the National League. They have more players in the Hall of Fame than any other team. They've won the World Series six times. Only the New York Yankees, Saint Louis Cardinals, Oakland Athletics, and Boston Red Sox have won it more often, and if they pull through in this year's Fall Classic, they'll be tied with Boston. (And have one more title than their archrivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers.)

The Giants play in the senior National League and are one of the oldest professional sports teams in the United States. They were founded in 1883, at the very beginnings of professional baseball, as the New York Gothams. At the time, the National League was the only professional baseball league in the country, and it was withdrawing from many of the country's big cities as the teams in New York City and Philadelphia were expelled for not playing out their full schedules in their first year, 1876. Teams in Saint Louis and Louisville were kicked out for being caught throwing games. Cincinnati was thrown out in 1880 for having the NERVE! to play baseball on SUNDAY! In 1882, people whom I assume were National League One Percenters fed up with the puritans taking charge got together and formed the American Association, taking up residence in the big cities where they could cater to the blue collar folks by offering cheaper ticket prices, letting patrons act more like they wanted, and (gasp!) playing baseball on Sundays. The National League fought back by dissolving its teams in Troy, New York and Worcester, Massachusetts and returning to New York City and Philadelphia. The NL was hoping to lure the New York Metropolitans - no relation to today's New York Mets - but they decided to enter the AA. The Metropolitans' owners, John Day and Jim Mutrie, did realize a good opportunity when they smelled one, though, so they also made up a whole new team for the NL. Those were the original Gothams.

The Gothams were a reigning powerhouse by the late 1880's, and the proud Mutrie began referring to them as his giants. That's the name which eventually stuck. In 1889, they won their first Pennant. In 1890, though, a group of players got pissed off at the way they were being treated by management, and they formed a new league called the Players' League which all the Giants stars jumped into. A few years later, the Giants were sold to Andrew Freedman, one of the most hated owners in the history of the sport. After a ton of disastrous moves which left the Giants 53 games out of first, Freedman hired as player/manager the equally hated John McGraw in 1902. Although McGraw was hated and is still known today as one of baseball's supreme pricks, no fans can deny the man got results, either. Hiring McGraw was the last and second-best move Freedman made with the Giants. The best thing Freedman did came shortly after - he was forced to sell the team.

Meanwhile, McGraw took the Giants off on a run which, for the first few decades of the modern era, made them the absolute class of New York City baseball. The man managed the Giants for three solid decades, during which they won ten Pennants and three World Series titles. Who the hell was built to compete with that? The Brooklyn Dodgers, with their pedestrian talent? The New York Highlanders, in that new upstart (read: inferior) American League? HA! It might have been four World Series titles had the Giants not boycotted it in 1904. The 1904 World Series was supposed to be the second ever, but McGraw refused to play, citing the inferior talent of the American League, even though the AL representative from the previous year, the Boston Americans, had beaten the Pittsburgh Pirates in the showdown. Part of the problem cited by historians was that the owners of the Giants were somewhat nervous and not at all happy about the prospect of potentially facing the Highlanders, who had made a spectacular run at the Pennant in 1904 before eventually falling second to Boston. The Giants took a lot of shit for that, which led to the World Series being formalized in many ways which are still around today. They did win the Pennant again in 1905, though, as well as the World Series that ensued.

During this era, a lot of big names honed their skills under McGraw. The man had a hell of an eye for talent, and he dug up Christy Mathewson, Joe McGinnity, Bill Terry, Jim Thorpe, Mel Ott, Casey Stengel, and Red Ames. Even with all that talent, though, they still endured a lot of frustration. In 1908, they finished in a tie with the Chicago Cubs, which forced them into a one-game playoff which resulted in the Giants being on the wrong end of one of the most controversial plays in baseball history. The play, called the Merkle Boner, revolved around player Fred Merkle not touching a base after scoring the winning run. In the early 1910's, they won three Pennants in a row but lost all three World Series, first to the Philadelphia Athletics, then to the newly renamed Boston Red Sox, then to the As again. In 1915, they finished last. By 1917, they were Pennant winners again, but they lost the World Series to the Chicago White Sox. It wasn't until 1921 that the Giants finally followed through on their Pennant victory, knocking off their American League counterparts, the Highlanders, who would soon be known exclusively by their other name, the Yankees. They beat the Yankees in the Series the following year, too, before bowing to them in 1923 to give the Yankees their first title, and the Washington Senators their first title in 1924. (Which was also their only title as the Washington Senators.)

In 1932, McGraw finally stepped aside. He let Bill Terry manage the team. Terry held the Giants for ten years, during which he won three more Pennants and defeated the Senators in the 1933 World Series. Mel Ott emerged during this era, and Carl Hubbell became one of only three pitchers in baseball history to master the screwball. (The other two were Mathewson and Fernando Valenzuela.) Mel Ott managed beginning in 1942, but those were the war years, and they were hard on the Giants. After the war, the Giants made major waves by hiring manager Leo Durocher in 1948. Not only was the switch - which came in the middle of the season - unusual because of timing, but Durocher was a rather colorful character in an unwholesome way. He was coming off a gambling suspension in 1947. Also, his former management assignment had been with those fucking Dodgers, their archrivals. In fact, Durocher had been their face. Giants fans did warm to him, though, when he brought them the 1951 Pennant through Bobby Thompson's Shot Heard 'Round the World and won the Series in 1954, which included a spectacular catch by a young Willie Mays, maybe the greatest Giant.

That was their final memorable hurrah in New York City. The Giants stumbled through the next three seasons, and Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley, who was moving to Los Angeles at the end of the 1957 season, convinced Stoneham to move out west with him. Part of it was simple practical convenience - it wasn't very reasonable to have baseball teams fly out west for only one series, then immediately go back east, so O'Malley needed another team in California to get the move approved. So he sought Stoneham, thinking it would be awesome if they could continue their ferocious rivalry out in the Golden State. So after the 1957 season, both teams bolted the boroughs, the Dodgers for Los Angeles and the Giants for San Francisco. The Giants, though, were left with a curse: The Curse of Coogan's Bluff, an overlook of their old stadium, the Polo Grounds. It said they would never win the World Series again.

The curse was right, as it turned out, or at least it seemed that way to longtime fans. The Giants hit it off in the Bay Area, and won another Pennant in 1962 only to lose the World Series to the Yankees. It was a tight seven-gamer, too. They contended through the rest of the decade before becoming a disappointing team in the 70's a period when they never finished higher than third. In the 80's, they actually bottomed out. Their Pennant drought was, by this time, their longest, and the 1985 Giants lost 100 games, which is the most in their history. Roger Craig was hired to manage in 1985 after that disaster, and he was able to return them to their former glory, at least somewhat. The Giants never finished with a losing record in his first five years and won the Pennant in 1989. Unfortunately, the Loma Prieta Earthquake interrupted the World Series that year for ten days. After it resumed, the Giants were swept by their Bay Bridge Series rivals, the Oakland Athletics.

1993 brought the man who is, in my personal opinion, the greatest Giant: Barry Bonds. I don't care what anyone has to say about him. He was the best player in baseball for a reason, and pitchers eventually grew to be so afraid of Bonds that they kept pitching around him and intentionally walking him. With Bonds in place and Dusty Baker at the helm, the Giants were eventually able to get back into the World Series in 2002 with the help of other talented players like Jeff Kent and Robb Nen. Despite an exciting, offensively based World Series which saw Bonds put up inhuman numbers, the Giants fell to the Anaheim Angels. During this period, Bonds also broke the single-season home run record in 2001 by belting 73. In 2007, the career homer record was also his. Those should have been more powerful moments than they were. Unfortunately, Bonds was a steroid junkie, so his records are often disputed by those who simply don't want to accept them. This was exasperated by the fact that Bonds is also universally seen as a major ass. Some people have seen Bonds display genuine warmth and affection. Unfortunately, there was too little of that good side of Bonds being seen, and after 2007, he was left in a rather unique position: After breaking the home run record, Bonds was left off the Giants roster the following year. The team refused to re-sign him. And since his bad reputation as a demanding locker room cancer had spread far and wide, no other teams wanted to take a chance with him. The arguable greatest player in baseball history was plump not allowed to play anymore.

Without Bonds, the Giants struggled. He really WAS that important. In 2008, they finished 72-90. They won 94 games the following season, though, but they spent most of 2010 playing keep-up with the San Diego Padres. When the Padres suffered a nasty losing streak in September, though, the Giants closed in, moved into first with an 18-8 September record, and took the division. In a playoff they were supposed to be excluded from, they faced the Atlanta Braves and beat them 3-1. In the NLCS, they faced the two-time defending NL Champions, the team many considered the best in baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies, and beat them 4-2. Then came the World Series against the Texas Rangers, in their first-ever World Series and with the services of AL MVP Josh Hamilton and Cy Young winner Cliff Lee. Staring the 56-year-old Curse of Coogan's Bluff in the face, the Giants overcame the long odds, beat the Rangers in five games, and won their first-ever World Series as the San Francisco Giants.

San Francisco finished second in 2011. In 2012, pitcher Matt Cain pitched the first perfect game in Giants history. Melky Cabrera was the MVP of the All-Star Game. Cabrera got suspended for 50 games for using steroids, but his loss was made up when the Giants got Hunter Pence from the Phillies and Marco Scutaro from the Colorado Rockies. Most importantly of all, though, the Giants are now back in the World Series, where they're facing the Detroit Tigers. They just won the first game behind stellar pitching from ace Barry Zito and a tough, smart lineup of batters that shellacked Detroit ace Justin Verlander, who may be the best pitcher in baseball right now.

The Giants share one of the oldest and greatest rivalries in professional sports with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Walter O'Malley talking the Giants into moving west with his was a brilliant move, and it ensured that the incredible rivalry between these teams would always have a sense of importance for the fans, no matter how the teams are doing. San Francisco and Los Angeles are rivals in many other ways, in culture, economy, and politics, so sports is just natural. To me, this is the greatest rivalry in baseball, not the catfight between the Yankees and Red Sox. (And I'm a Yankees fan.) This rivalry is enduring in part because of the great balance in it, and the Dodgers only have one less Pennant (to maybe be followed by one less title.) Unfortunately, this leads to inexcusable behavior on the part of the fans, which hit a low at the start of the 2011 season when a Giants fan at the opener in Los Angeles was beaten almost to death by a pair of punks in Dodgers gear claiming to be fans. It was eventually learned that the guys responsible were members of a street gang that uses the Dodgers as a call sign. Still, the two teams are responsible for many of each others' great moments, including the Shot Heard 'Round the World, and the hiring of Leo Durocher.

The Bay Area is also home to the Oakland Athletics, a team with a great history of its own. It's a lot like the Subway Series rivalry between the Yankees and Mets in New York City, Red Line Series between the Cubs and White Sox in Chicago, and Freeway Series between the Dodgers and Angels in Anaheim and Los Angeles. The difference is that the Bay Bridge Series, as the Athletics/Giants rivalry is called, is a lot friendlier, and to a large extent it's considered acceptable to be a fan of both teams. (These are the luckiest baseball fans on Earth.) Their rivalry goes back a little bit too; the teams met several times in the World Series while in New York City and Philadelphia, and John McGraw managed the Series against As management legend Connie Mack. In 1989, after both were established Bay Area teams, they met in the World Series again.

There are many more players in the Hall of Fame from the New York Giants than the San Francisco Giants, but it isn't like either one is lacking. Carl Hubbell, Rube Marquand, Christy Mathewson, Mel Ott, Willie McCovey, Willie Mays, Leo Durocher, John McGraw, Gary Carter, Steve Carlton, Monte Irvin, Duke Snyder, and Warren Spahn are just an inkling of Giants greats. 66 representatives of the Giants in all are in the Hall. For comparison, the Dodgers have 54, and the Yankees have 52. Ten numbers have been retired, including Jackie Robinson, a Dodger who was retired by the league. The jury is out on Barry Bonds.

San Francisco, while not getting nearly as much coverage as New York City, is known for having baseball fans who are every bit as rabid and foaming at the mouth as New York City or Chicago, Saint Louis, or Philadelphia. If you're getting into baseball, there's no way to go wrong picking them.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/baseball_team/UserReview-San_Francisco_Giants-411-1391350-229422-These_Giants_Stand_Tall.html http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/baseball_team/UserReview-San_Francisco_Giants-411-1391350-229422-These_Giants_Stand_Tall.html Thu, 25 Oct 2012 18:04:45 +0000
<![CDATA[ San Francisco's Football Treat]]>
Of all the cities which you would expect to have football teams and devoted fans, San Francisco perhaps pops into your head next to last. Well, obviously team owners follow the money, and San Francisco - though not quite as large as its California brothers Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Jose - has a huge population and massive truckloads of cash to go with it. But it's also a world class city with a lot to do, and pro sports are not among the first things people think of when they think about San Francisco. When you think about San Francisco natives, the first thoughts are usually drifting towards the gay-friendly culture, almost extreme liberal population, or an overblown city government which apparently now thinks it has international jurisdiction. You don't normally think about diehard sports fans. But according to a few polls I've read, San Francisco sports fans easily hold their own among more notorious devotees like New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, or Chicago.

The west coast is part of the United States too, so the surprise is that it took until 1946 for the west coast to get any attention from any major leagues. Frankly, the word "major" in "major leagues" is worthy of quotation marks because the NFL in the 1940's was barely on the scene. In popularity, it was still far outdone by college football, and the Baltimore Colts/New York Giants title game which announced the NFL's arrival as a major sports player was still over a decade away. The west coast got its first pro sports teams in 1946: One was the Los Angeles Rams, who moved in from Cleveland and because one of the premier NFL teams in the 50's. The other was the San Francisco 49ers, created out of the blue.

The Niners picked up their defining franchise player in 1951 from the Baltimore Colts - Yelberton Abraham Tittle, better known as YA Tittle, who was the face of San Francisco from 1951 until 1960, when he was sent to the New York Giants. (Tittle actually played at as high, if not an even higher level with the Giants. Despite being with New York for just four years, the Giants retired his number.) Tittle went to four Pro Bowls with the Niners, was an All-Pro selection in 1957, and won the UPI NFL MVP that same year. Despite Tittle's excellence and the presence of a second Million Dollar Backfield (the original being the Chicago Cardinals of the 40's, as I previously noted) featuring Tittle and running backs John Henry Johnson, Hugh McElhenny, and Joe Perry, the 49ers didn't enjoy sustained success until their first playoff year in 1957. They went 8-4 and tied the Detroit Lions for the NFL Western Division title. While the Niners ran the score in the playoff between them and Detroit 27-7 in the third quarter, the Lions came back and won 31-27. Eventually, Detroit beat the Cleveland Browns for the NFL Championship.

The 49ers sank to the depths of the league in 1963 and 1964, going 2-12 and 4-10 respectively, but other than those two years, the 13 years after 1957 saw them being the kind of team the Cincinnati Bengals currently are: Not bad, but not quite good, and just strong enough for the good teams to not look past them. The team did get around to being the first NFL team to use that current staple of passing offense - the shotgun formation - during those years, though. It wasn't until 1970 when they won their first divisional title, a feat they repeated the following two seasons. They formed a playoff rivalry with the Dallas Cowboys during this time, and kept right on getting beat by them. And the late 70's were a nightmare for the team, as they kept finishing poorly in the standings and making questionable personnel choices, like bringing in quarterback Jim Plunkett in 1975 and OJ Simpson in 1978. In 1978, San Francisco hit rock bottom, finishing with two wins - against the Cincinnati Bengals and expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers - and having Simpson, their leading rusher, pick up less than 600 rushing yards.

In 1978, the 49ers hired Stanford head coach Bill Walsh to turn their team around. Walsh was known for stockpiling draft picks, making excellent selections, and using the free agent market to patch up key weak points in the roster. (Funny how most teams still have trouble figuring out that these even need to be done.) Walsh's first draft was the 1979 draft, and in the third round he picked a quarterback from Notre Dame who was small, slow, had suspect arm strength, and was thought of as a system player - insert him into position, surround him with good players, and eh, he'll do okay. That quarterback's name was Joe Montana.

In 1980 the 49ers went 6-10, but in week 14 they gave fans a sign of what was to come: Down 35-7 to the winless New Orleans Saints, the 49ers came back and won 38-35, which was the biggest comeback in NFL history until 1993. At the time, Montana was being alternated with Steve DeBerg, who had played well for the Niners. Montana helmed the Saints game, though, and was given the starting quarterback position full time afterward.

Montana was the perfect fit for Walsh's unique offensive system, which relied on the short pass and yards after the catch in order to move the ball downfield in a way the NFL had never seen before. The idea of the system, called the West Coast Offense, was to stretch out the defense and make it vulnerable to long plays. I don't think I need to say very much about Montana's natural ability to use the West Coast Offense to carve up defenses, because the man has four Super Bowl rings and three Super Bowl MVP awards which do all the speaking for him. Montana, never expected to be anything more than a middling quarterback who did well because of his team, is now an absolute mainstay in greatest quarterback conversations; if his name isn't in the conversation, the conversation is invalid. He evolved into his role and by the last few years of the 80's, he was one of the NFL's shining stars. In 1984, Montana led the season to the league's first 15-win record. By 1985, the Niners picked up Jerry Rice in the draft. The 1988 season saw Montana's finest moment in the Super Bowl: Down 16-13 to Cincinnati with 3:08 left in the game and surrounded by a frantic team, Montana pointed out actor John Candy in the stands, then drove the Niners 92 yards which ended with a touchdown pass to John Taylor with only 34 seconds left. The game ended in a 20-16 Niner victory. Bill Walsh retired the following year.

1987 also introduced a quarterback controversy. The team picked up a backup named Steve Young. Imagine that: Two Hall of Fame quarterbacks on the roster, and the Niners had them until 1992. Naturally, such talent is bound to bear a quarterback controversy, and when Montana missed the entire 1992 season, that's exactly what happened when people saw what Young could do. Media hype fueled the controversy, and Montana came to realize there was no way him and Young could stay on the same team. He asked for a trade and was granted one to the Kansas City Chiefs in 1993. Despite an aging roster, the Niners became one of the most dangerous teams of the 90's, and Young led them to their fifth - and latest - Super Bowl victory in 1995.

The millennium brought the coming out of wide receiver Terrell Owens and quarterback Jeff Garcia. Although Owens is one of the greatest players in history and Garcia was a known winner in the CFL who had led the Calgary Stampeders to the 86th Grey Cup (and was the MVP of the game) who went to three Pro Bowls with San Francisco, the great dynastic days were clearly behind the team. In the 2002 playoffs, Garcia and Owens engineered the second-greatest playoff comeback in NFL history, coming back from 24 points in the hole in the fourth quarter to win when their opponents, the New York Giants, botched a game-winning field goal snap and threw a desperation pass which fell incomplete. They fell to eventual champion Tampa Bay the next week, and that was the final playoff appearance for the Niners that decade. Their big quarterback pick from 2005, Alex Smith, was inconsistent in every way except in his consistency in disappointing fans. In 2011, though, the team hired former Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh to coach. (Sensing a pattern here?) Harbaugh placed his faith in Smith, who played a solid season, and built the 49ers a new identity built around a swarming, stingy defense. The team went 13-3, and as of this writing is coming off a thrilling playoff victory over the New Orleans Saints which put them into the Conference Championship for the first time since the 1997 season.

While the Washington Redskins may have revolutionized the quarterback position, it clearly seems to be the Niners who have benefitted from it the most. Their premier players include Tittle, Montana, and Young, all Hall of Famers, with Montana and Young being inducted as Niners. Jerry Rice is also in the Hall of Fame as a 49er, and he owns absolutely every receiving record in the NFL that means anything, as well as most of the ones that don't. Rice is the greatest wideout who ever played in the league, and when there is talk of accumulating all the greatest players on one team, Rice will unquestionably be one of the receivers. The other receivers are all up for debate, and you can't exclude Rice's fellow Niner-in-tandem, Terrell Owens. The 49er defense doesn't get quite the attention, but cornerback Jimmy Johnson, linebacker Ronnie Lott, defensive tackle Leo Nomellini, and defensive end Fred Dean are all in the Hall as 49ers. The team has also fielded Hall of Fame defensive players Rod Woodson, Deion Sanders, and Richard Dent at some point or another.

In case you didn't know, the somewhat odd nickname of the San Francisco 49ers has history behind it. California took a very fast track from being a simply territory to official statehood in 1849 when gold was discovered and the state population swelled by about 300,000 who went to California looking for gold and simply never left. San Francisco in 1848 was a tiny village of about 1000 people. By the end of 1849, the population had blown up to 25,000, and the people who moved in to prospect gold were called forty-niners, based on the year they moved in. The team's official legal registry is actually written out as San Francisco Forty Niners. The metallic gold color on the team's scarlet and gold uniforms is a tribute to the area's gold heritage.

Since the 49ers play in the weak NFC West, their divisional rivalries with the St. Louis Rams, Arizona Cardinals, and Seattle Seahawks aren't dragging a whole lot of weight in either intensity or audience draw. Niner legend Roger Craig says the Rams rivalry, which began when the Rams were in Los Angeles, will always be the big one even though the Rams aren't in Los Angeles anymore. The Cardinals rivalry appears to be growing a little, but it has a long way to go to reach the level of the team's playoff rivalries with the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants. The Niners have played those two teams a lot in not just the playoffs, but the Conference Championship, and have played them both hard. They've won some, they've lost some. The New Orleans Saints were divisional rivals of the Niners until realignment in 2002, but the two just played against each other in the playoffs. New Orleans lost.

They say defense wins the game (and the recent game against the Saints proves it) but offense gets the glory. Offense is exciting and glamorous, and in that respect it's tough to find a better team to represent the glamorous city of San Francisco than the 49ers.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/sports_team/UserReview-San_Francisco_49ers-411-1394171-219416-San_Francisco_s_Football_Treat.html http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/sports_team/UserReview-San_Francisco_49ers-411-1394171-219416-San_Francisco_s_Football_Treat.html Sun, 15 Jan 2012 17:58:42 +0000
<![CDATA[ Perfect Place to Grab a Drink in the Financial District]]> Bourbon and Branch, we get another amazing bar.

Without the huge rustic sign reading Rickhouse in white letters, you'd probably walk right by the huge wooden walls. The door is to the right of the sign. Once inside, you feel as if you've stepped into an old Western saloon/speakeasy combo. It sounds strange but, it's awesome. There's exposed brick, it's dimly lit, old wood is everywhere, the seats reminded me of comfy saddles and the bartenders are dressed in their speakeasy best with vests, ties, and rolled up shirts. Oh, correction: mixologists.

In places like this when there aren't any menus readily available, I opt for asking the professional to mix whatever s/he wants for me. Since I've bartended, the skill has gotten really crazy with a bunch of fresh and amazing ingredients that are usually mixed together in a way I would never have thought. So, I just tell them, I trust you and enjoy the tasty ride that they provide. Like a good mixologist, he asked what liquors I liked or felt like (rum) and if I like citrus (yes) then, made me something fantastic that I can't pronounce but, it was strong. Fernando, not as adventurous as I, stuck with his usual G&T. They also serve punch in real ceramic punch bowls and cups- if we were with a group, we would've gotten this because I've heard great things.

We found a seat in the upstairs area which overlooked both bottom halves of the bar. There is a second bar in the back which we discovered from our perch. There's also a fireplace that was lit and since it's tis the season, there was a Christmas tree to add festive cheer to the dimly lit bar. We were there on a Tuesday and it was crowded, so I can imagine on the weekends, it's probably incredibly hard to get into or crowded or both. If you're in the area, definitely stop by for a drink or two...or three. Fernando declared it his favorite spot in the City (so far).]]>
http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/bar/UserReview-Rickhouse-411-1789877-216476-Perfect_Place_to_Grab_a_Drink_in_the_Financial.html http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/bar/UserReview-Rickhouse-411-1789877-216476-Perfect_Place_to_Grab_a_Drink_in_the_Financial.html Mon, 19 Dec 2011 20:42:02 +0000
<![CDATA[ Great Way to Spend An Evening and Give Back to Those in Need]]>
We showed up at 6p and attended a brief orientation. The warehouse that houses the Food Bank is huge and located at 900 Pennsylvania. It looked like a big Cosco with boxes of food and bags of onions, all incredibly well organized. Five volunteers were picked to haul and pack up the packed boxes, if I recall correctly.

                                                                             Our group packing pasta

We then entered our workspace. A big room with five metal cooking tables, a locker for your private stuff, a shelving unit to hold heat sealers, gloves and other necessities. We lined up for our instruction and then, paired off in groups of six to start our work which was to weigh, bag, seal and label pasta. Each person did each job. We were lucky to be paired with two cool couples that kept the job at hand quick, fun and easy. I weighed the pasta and bagged the pasta then, went back to weighing since I was a bit slow at bagging. Fernando bagged and sealed the pasta. We set up our table like this: two weighers, two baggers, one sealer, one labeler and it worked really well.

If you want to do your part, sign up for whichever shift works for you (there's three- morning, afternoon and evening, each 2 hours) on their website.There is no season for hunger and you can sign up for a recurring shift, if you like and there's also an area where you can sign up groups. At the end of the night which was a 2 hour shift, we (including @ and in the name of Lunch.com) prepped 2,240 pounds of pasta to be packed onto trucks and shipped throughout the Bay Area to feed the area's hungry. Not bad for one evening.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/d/UserReview-San_Francisco_Food_Bank-411-1789823-216361-Great_Way_to_Spend_An_Evening_and_Give_Back_to.html http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/d/UserReview-San_Francisco_Food_Bank-411-1789823-216361-Great_Way_to_Spend_An_Evening_and_Give_Back_to.html Thu, 15 Dec 2011 03:47:57 +0000
<![CDATA[ Puerto Rican Home Cooking in the Haight]]>

Its closeness to Cha Cha Cha is no mistake. Parada 22 is the name of consulting chef Gloria Pinette's bus stop in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Gloria and her cousin Philip Bellber created the authentic Puerto Rican menu which reigns San Franciscans' tastebuds. Bellber is the founder and owner of Cha Cha Cha.

A small, intimate spot with 10 tables, Parada also doesn't take reservations so make sure that you get there early to avoid any lines or waiting. Big groups might be at a loss here, seeing as they don't seem to have seating to accomodate a group of 10. I'd stick with maybe a maximum of 6. They also offer take out if you or some friends live in the area or you want to have a Puerto Rican picnic at the Park.

Every time and I mean every time I've gone here, I've loved it. F and I always say that if we lived in the area, we'd be 50 pounds heavier because as many times as we go to our local sushi spot, we'd probably double that for Parada. We've ordered quite a variety off their simple menu of sides (acompanantes), salads (ensaladas), entrees (principales), two desserts (postres), and drinks (bebidas). But, my favorite is easily the Mofongo with a couple of glasses of Sangria or 21st Amendment's Watermelon Wheat. F orders a Pabst or two and his standby favorite, Chicharron de Pollo. Our bill typically totals about $40 for all that.

Mofongo: green plaintans mashed with sofrito served with camarones a la criolla, comes with maduras, Spanis rice, salad and red beans. $11.50

Chicharron de Pollo: breaded and fried chicken thighs served with tostones and salsa rosa dipping sauce, Spanish rice and salad: $10.50

Local brewery 21st Amendment's famous and delicious Watermelon Wheat Beer: $4.50

Pitcher of Sangria (I guarantee its the same as next door Cha Cha Cha's famous Sangria): $21 (a glass is only $4, half pitcher is $12).

So, if you're ever hungry and your either tired from digging through vinyl all day at Amoeba, headed out for a night of drinking, about to check out the hookahs and bellydancing down the street at Kan Zaman, stop here for an affordable and delicious meal.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/restaurant/UserReview-Parada_22-411-1737851-215047-Puerto_Rican_Home_Cooking_in_the_Haight.html http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/restaurant/UserReview-Parada_22-411-1737851-215047-Puerto_Rican_Home_Cooking_in_the_Haight.html Sun, 6 Nov 2011 02:39:43 +0000
<![CDATA[ Hmmm Not the greatest Multiplatform Wii game. But far from the worst.]]> For years fans of The Driver Series have been waiting and speculating on the newest game in the series, although I felt that Driver Parallel Lines was a really great game others didn’t feel that way and when released got mediocre to average scores. Finally the news came at E3 2010, the newest game in the series Driver San Francisco would feature the return of series protagonist Detective John Tanner and would be a return to the series roots. I got excited because the Wii version looked decent enough to actually be a good game I used everything on my Edge Card to get this title. Was it worth it? Read on.

Driver San Francisco is the 5th game in the Driver Series is was developed by Ubisoft reflections and published by Ubisoft. It was released on September 6th 2011.

The plot of the Wii version is very different from its 360/PS3 counterparts (figures); it’s actually a prequel to the first driver game (the one on PS1). You play as Tanner while he is still a rookie undercover cop; one day while giving chase to the notorious Solomon Caine (a gangster trying to cause gang wars in San Francisco) your partner is shot and killed in the following car accident. Tanner eventually gets approval from the Chief to go undercover and find his partners killer.

Because this game is to be a return to series roots the out of car sections from Parallel Lines and Driver 2 have been removed the games focus is now only on driving. The game plays like an arcade title with some of the emphasis being on collecting XP. Collecting XP is not hard driving recklessly, dangerously and evading cops can earn you a bunch, successfully completing missions and side missions can also give you a little extra XP also. XP gains you rewards like new cars, concept art and character bios, but the good stuff comes when your XP bar fills. A filled XP bar will gain you upgrade points, these are great because they don’t just upgrade your car upgrades include City Upgrades (increase stunt jumps range) Shooting (increase magazine capacity) Abilities (Larger Nitrous Tank) and Co-op (increase player 2s magazine capacity). The XP bar isn’t the only bar you need to fill, on the right side of the screen in the Abilities bar; abilities include Shooting (self explanatory), Nitro (Nitrous Duh), Driving on two Wheels (I really don’t need to explain this) and Slo-mo (like the Speed breaker Feature from the NFS series this slows down time so you can pull off normally impossible moves), in order to use these your Ability bar need to be at least half-full.

Lastly the game features local-multiplayer for two to four players, (you guessed it there is no online) there are a variety of modes to choose like Cops and Robbers (players take turns being the robber and have to get away from the others) Pass the bomb (a player has a bomb and have to pass it to the other players before it blows up) Capture the Flag (Self-Explanatory) and a bunch of others. If all the Wiimotes are taken up no problem the game features connectivity with the DS version of the game, although this is limited to the Story mode of the game and is just as a support role like laying down road blocks against police or using the DS to find collectibles and short cuts.

Graphics Wise Driver San Francisco looks great, instead of the “realistic” look and feel of its HD counterparts the Wii version features cel-shaded visuals. Its not as good looking as the others but it is in its own play. Gameplay wise because this is a driver game you will spend all of your time in your car you’ll either be racing, running other cars off the road, tailing other cars, or just trying to get away from cops. The game is repetitive but with the wide variety of missions available it doesn’t feel that way. Control wise the controls are very similar to Parallel Lines so if you played that game you know what to expect.

Some points of criticism include, No support for the classic Controller (its 2011 come on), both the Police A.I. and pedestrian A.I. are extremely dumb, I know the game is based on the stylish action driving of 70s cop movies but seriously the cars all handled like garbage like the tires were made of soap or something and lastly this is the first game in the Driver series that features licensed cars but in the Wii version only Three of the hundreds of cars in game were actual licensed cars (ironically all Dodge (Charger, Challenger, and Conquest) the rest were all recycled from Parallel lines. That being said at times the game can be a blast to play, especially with friends on the multiplayer, I really like that Starsky and Hutch 70s Buddy cop feel to the game from the music to the menus, and although the story wasn’t the same as the HD console I liked that fact that we learnt a bit more about Tanners background.

When it come down to it you either hate it or love it me I’m somewhere in between, but if you are a fan of the driver series I suggest you check out this game. Driver San Francisco gets 7.3 out of 10.

Official Website

this review can also be viewed here

http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/video_game/UserReview-Driver_San_francisco-411-1774877-214760-Hmmm_Not_the_greatest_Multiplatform_Wii_game_But.html http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/video_game/UserReview-Driver_San_francisco-411-1774877-214760-Hmmm_Not_the_greatest_Multiplatform_Wii_game_But.html Sun, 30 Oct 2011 00:28:19 +0000
<![CDATA[ Escape to Coastal Europe Across The Golden Gate Bridge]]>                                                            
Crossing the bridge, my friend literally lost her mind, she was so excited and it brought me such joy that I could share this San Francisco tourist rite of passage with her. I cross it frequently, and though I always enjoy the view, I long ago lost the pure joy of the cross. This is why you should always be the tour guide for your friends, no matter where you live.
In any case, after taking enough pictures of her to last her a lifetime, we headed on up to the beautiful Sausalito and I found myself hoping that I could remember the name of the place or how to get there since the time I was there before was a fluke. Lo and behold, there was the Marina and then, I saw the restaurant. Woohoo!
We settled down at a wonderful table overlooking the water since it was super hot that day. As I sipped my Peach Bellini, I commented that I felt like I was in Europe. The patio's floor covering are black and white tiles, there are hanging lights and, of course, the beautiful Marina with boats sunning themselves on a beautiful lazy afternoon. We ordered a bunch of small plates to share*, ending up fully satisfied and stuffed so much that we joked that we were preggers with the chef's food baby.

*Disclaimer: Due to some technical difficulties, I was unable to upload the pictures I took of this meal. I still wanted to give you an idea, so I added pictures I found online from the restaurant. As soon as I fix the issue, I will repost my pictures, so that you can get the best idea possible.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/restaurant/UserReview-Salito_s_Crab_House-411-1771704-214658-Escape_to_Coastal_Europe_Across_The_Golden_Gate.html http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/restaurant/UserReview-Salito_s_Crab_House-411-1771704-214658-Escape_to_Coastal_Europe_Across_The_Golden_Gate.html Tue, 25 Oct 2011 21:52:41 +0000
<![CDATA[ Modern Day Dickens Writes Sex in the City by the Bay]]>
Once I picked up Tales of the City, I was hard pressed to put it down. After 12 years of academic reading, there couldn't have been a better book to welcome me back to the joy of reading I had long forgotten. I certainly don't want to over-hype a book for those that weren't stuck reading their professor's books because, you know, no one else would. But, I think that even if you hadn't been stuck doing that, you'll still love this book! Anyhoo, this first book in Maupin's bestselling series, replaced my late night brainless TV watching with quality brain exercise and snuggling in bed with a good book. Ahhhh....is this what I've been missing?

Tales of the City had originally started as a series in the Chronicle, so the chapters of the book are relatively short which keeps the story moving quickly. There are simultaneous storylines between the different characters that inhabit 28 Barbary Lane. In less capable hands, this has proved a disastrous undertaking but with Maupin and his Chronicle deadlines, we're treated to well written and relatable characters.

MaryAnn is the small town girl who comes to San Francisco, has a few Irish Whiskeys at Buena Vista and decides that she's not going back to Cleveland, Ohio.....ever. Mona is the lesbian that isn't quite too sure if she's a lesbian but, she does know that she hates everyone except Michael. Michael is flamboyantly fabulous and, refreshingly, never apologizes for who he is or who he loves, even if it's just one hour fling at the bathhouse. He's always open to love and optimistic, I have a STRONG feeling that this is the one character that Maupin modeled after himself. There's Brian, who is the womanizing waiter. And finally, their landlady with a secret past, Anna Madrigal. Her name is an anagram and I spent the whole book trying to figure out what it was, don't worry, she does eventually spill the beans...in the next book! She's an eccentric older woman who grows weed in the front yard of her boarding house and names each harvest after her favorite famous women. She welcomes each new tenant with a joint taped to the door and a welcome note.

One could easily say it's about a small town girl trying to make it in the big City but, I wouldn't limit it to just that. There's the gay man trying to find love amongst bathhouses and gay bars in the free love age before AIDS and after the Summer of Love. There's the mother hen to all of her tenants who genuinely cares about them so much she calls them her children that has an affair with a married man. There's the rich patriarch with the drunken wife who questions himself and his happiness. There's the rich spoiled daughter that isn't happy in her privileged life. There's the womanizing waiter who used to be a human rights lawyer and revolutionary. There's the angry feminist who struggles with her sexuality and her past.

There's so much more to the book than one character and one storyline, which is exactly what I loved about it. If you love multiple, quick-paced storylines, pick up this book. If you've ever lived in SF or have a fascination with San Francisco, pick up this book. If you want to get addicted to a series, pick up this book. If you like books with such well written characters that you can easily find in your own life and that you really care about, pick up this book. Ah, heck- just go pick it up at the library, I'm dying to know what you think of it!]]>
http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/d/UserReview-Tales_of_the_City-411-1752760-214047-Modern_Day_Dickens_Writes_Sex_in_the_City_by_the.html http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/d/UserReview-Tales_of_the_City-411-1752760-214047-Modern_Day_Dickens_Writes_Sex_in_the_City_by_the.html Thu, 6 Oct 2011 22:47:24 +0000
<![CDATA[ No wonder Guy Fieri loves Pier 23 Cafe]]> As a San Francisco Bay Area native, I've been hearing about the wonders of Pier 23 Cafe for years now.  From the outdoor seating, to the view of the bay, the live music, the beer, and the food.  Everything.  However, it wasn't until I saw a recent episode of Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, that my urge to finally check out the restaurant really piqued.  As he mentioned in that episode, most of the restaurants featured on the show -- he features because viewers email him about it.  When it comes to Pier 23 Cafe though -- he featured on his own because its been his own personal favorite for years.  So when my mind went through its little rolodex of restaurants to go to with some very special guests, two being from out of town, suggesting Pier 23 Cafe was a no-brainer.  After linking them to the clip of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, they were in.  

I suggested Pier 23 Cafe because this place is infamous.  It's pretty much a San Francisco institution.  Typically, most locals loath tourist attractions in their own town and stay away like the plague, but Pier 23 Cafe is one of those rare places that tourists want to experience, yet is still beloved by the locals.  At the time of writing, this restaurant has been around for 25 years and is still owned and operated by the original owner.

I made a reservation a couple of days in advance through OpenTable for a party of six for a late Saturday afternoon.  On the day of, I took a lovely and leisurely 15 minute walk from the Embarcadero BART station up to the very easy to find Pier 23 Cafe just a tad early to hold down the fort.  Even though it was late afternoon, it was hustlin' and bustlin' full of people and there was a literal line out the door at certain points.  Not only was the entire bar area full, but so was the rest of the restaurant.  Though my reservation was for 4 PM, we didn't get a table till 4:30, which was a tad bit annoying, but as you'll see later, it was worth the wait!

The hostesses and the rest of the staff were great and very attentive.  While I was waiting for a table, they came up to me every few minutes to let me know what was up with the status of my table.  Service remained awesome once we got the table as well.  Recommendations for food were made and I was never without a beverage.  The inside decor reminded me of cozy beach side bars that I used to visit in Florida, but the patio area semi made me feel like I was on a cruise ship since we were atop water looking right at the Bay Bridge.  Our party ended up sitting in the tent area right next to the rest of the patio area, which was fine with me since it started getting a bit chilly later on.  The noise level wasn't bad at all.  Kind of a medium, though I'd imagine it would be louder if there was live music playing, which there wasn't during our time there.

Alright, enough about the ambiance and stuff.  Let's get to what you really came here the see: the food :D

P.S. I wanted to note that with the exception of the fish tacos and the oven roasted whole dungeness crab, everything else was off of either the small plates, bar bites, or sides menu.  Don't believe their menu when they use words like "small", "bites", or "sides" -- the portions are generous!

P.P.S. One other thing that I want to add -- their cocktails are awesome (I suggest the Treasure Island or the Bayside Sangria) and they have a fantastic selection of beers, not to mention wine.

Garlic Prawns
Prawns in ancho chile sauce
These little guys weren't anything out of the ordinary, but they still were tasty, and I thought that their being atop a bed of spinach was a nice touch.  The spinach was especially delicious because it soaked up all of the flavoring of the shrimp!

Fried Chicken
Fried Chicken with blue cheese sauce
These were perfect.  The outer layer was extremely crispy while the meat inside was extremely moist.  But the best part -- the blue cheese dipping sauce.  Long after the fried chicken was gone, I kept the dipping sauce and dipped other things in it, like fries.  That stuff is amazing.

Mac, Bac & Cheese
This was an extremely rich and creamy dish.  I love that it wasn't too salty or too greasy.  With a few dashes of Tabasco, which is my favorite condiment for macaroni and cheese, it tasted just right.  And of course, bacon is always a nice touch.

Octopus Ceviche
Octopus ceviche with peppers, cilantro, lime, jicama and avocado salsa verde
This dish is actually off of their special menu and not on their regular menu.  None of us had ever had octopus ceviche before, so we just had to try it!  As you can probably tell, this was the lightest and most refreshing dish that we ordered out of our lineup.  It was served with chips, but I felt like the jicama sticks offered plenty enough crunch.  The ceviche itself was amazing, as was the avocado salsa verde that it was served atop.

Steamed Mussels & Clams
Steamed mussels and clams with fresno chile, garlic and lemon
Mmmmm, these were so tasty.  A lot of seafood places that I go to serve just steamed clams, or just steamed mussels, so I love that Pier 23 Cafe serves both in one dish.  Really amazing flavor.

BBQ Short Ribs
BBQ short ribs atop house slaw
I know that this dish isn't much to look at, but don't let its appearance fool you; it was actually perfectly cooked!  The flavorful meat flaked beautifully off the bone.  And that housemade slaw that's made to order is pretty amazing, too.  Its tangy, tart dressing was a nice contrast, yet still a complement to the flavoring of the BBQ short ribs.

Fish & Chips
Fish and chips with house slaw & jalapeno dressing

The house slaw makes another appearance here, and as with their fried chicken, the fried fish sticks were crispy on the outside, but still soft, moist and extremely flaky on the inside.  The thin cut fries were also amazing.  However, instead of dipping it in their jalapeno dressing, I dunked them into that amazing blue cheese sauce that came with the fried chicken :D

Grilled Fish Tacos
Grilled fish tacos with roasted tomato salsa and guacamole

This dish was actually one of the three dishes that was featured on the show.  I found it to be just a tad disappointing because on the show, what made these fish tacos stand out was that it used larger cube-sized chunks of fish that were simply seared, therefore you had kind of a sashimi taco.  However, these tacos were filled with smaller pieces of fully cooked fish.  They were still good though, and not all is lost, because as it turns out, one member of our party doesn't like raw fish, so it all worked out :)

Oven Roasted Whole Dungeness Crab

This was another dish that was featured on the show.  Now this one did not disappoint.  It was extremely flavorful, and that sauce -- mmm!  No wonder they served it with bread -- because that sauce is too good not to soak up!

Red Velvet Cake
For a red velvet cake, it wasn't that great.  When I think red velvet cake, I think soft, moist cake.  However, the group decided that this was actually more of a fruit bar.  It was really, really dense, like a brownie, with a crunchy top and we could've sworn that there was dried fruit baked into it, too, like dried strawberries.  If it was served as a strawberry tart, I would've believed it, but since we ordered red velvet cake, that was what we expected to receive!

Strawberry Panna Cotta
The panna cotta wasn't that great either.  It had good flavor, but I'm not sure I would call this panna cotta.  It was way too runny, even moreso than pudding.  It was quite literally like spooning chowder.

Pier 23 Cafe's strength obviously lies in their drinks and savory food items and not in their dessert items.  It'd be nice to have it all, but after seeing their savory food items, wouldn't you agree that that one flaw could be overlooked?  Plus, you get to sit on the pier along the Embarcadero, listen to live music on certain days, and look out at this while you dine:

As someone who loves San Francisco, it doesn't get much better than this.

Whether you're local or an out of towner, I highly recommend that you check this place out at least once, even if it's just for a drink.

If you're curious about Pier 23 Cafe's appearance on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, you can check it out here:

FYI, we asked about the duck poppers that were also featured in that episode, but alas, they sadly do not make them anymore.  Fingers are crossed that they'll introduce them back onto their menu another day though!  Hint hint ;)]]>
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<![CDATA[Pier 23 Cafe Quick Tip by woopak_the_thrill]]>
It has terrific ambiance and definitely good food. Service is also quick and fast; and I would just love to come back here one day to enjoy the sun, drinks and the seafood. I want to try more of theie specialties but those ribs and the fish and chips were great!
http://www.lunch.com/Gourmand/reviews/place/UserReview-Pier_23_Cafe-2-1753257-210906.html http://www.lunch.com/Gourmand/reviews/place/UserReview-Pier_23_Cafe-2-1753257-210906.html Fri, 29 Jul 2011 23:02:19 +0000
<![CDATA[Tales of the City Quick Tip by djevoke]]>
The chapters are about three pages long, doing a fantastic job of sucking you in just to change the channel on you and then, three pages later, changing it back. This kept me on my toes and strangely enough, though it is fast-paced, you do get a good sense of each character- their flaws, their hopes, their mistakes, their stresses and their voices. It does a fantastic way of celebrating the diversity and intricacies of San Francisco's unique culture of the 70's and 80's. Starting as a serial in San Francisco Chronicle, it grew into a series of novels which started in 1978 and ended (?) in 2010.

I bought this at Citylights Bookstore in SF, after constantly forgetting that I wanted to read the series and found it fitting to buy it there. I just finished this today and ran out to my local library to see if they carried the next book, More Tales of the City. Luckily, for my addiction, they had it. I've never done that with any other book, at least not since I was a kid.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/reviews/d/UserReview-Tales_of_the_City-74-1752760-210810.html http://www.lunch.com/reviews/d/UserReview-Tales_of_the_City-74-1752760-210810.html Thu, 28 Jul 2011 01:23:26 +0000
<![CDATA[ The Alembic: More Than Just Cocktails]]>
I got the deal a bit before we had planned on going and I kept the actual location a secret for the birthday boy to surprise him, but made sure to give him a few little teasers once in a while to keep him juiced.  Here are some of the tidbits that I fed him based mostly off of the Gilt City description:

  • This bar has achieved "cult status" according to The New York Times.
  • The cocktails would be off-the-menu, and therefore, a taste and experience that we've never had before, or could have anywhere else.
  • The mixologist who creates the cocktails, Daniel Hyatt, is, according to SF Gate, “one of the most respected folks in his field, both locally and nationally”.
  • The cocktails would be made to be paired with tasty fare and the menu includes dishes like pickled quail eggs, jerk-spiced duck hearts, crisp pork belly with quince and pickled mustard seeds, and bone marrow.
  • It's in way Upper Haight-Ashbury.  We can go to Golden Gate Park afterward!

I had been told that The Alembic is typically packed on weekends, so we decided to descend upon Haight-Ashbury on a week day.  They don't take reservations, so if you want dinner there, you just show up between 5 PM to 1 AM any night of the week.  When we got there, it must have been happy hour because the bar area was completely packed, but luckily, the restaurant portion was only about half filled, so we were seated right away.  The ambiance of the place was laid back chic, yet old timey.  The whole place was darkly lit red and the crowd seemed cool.

We had the two Gilt City vouchers for a three course meal with cocktail pairings and on top of that, we ordered the duck hearts and bone marrow as well.  Apologies in advance, but the cocktails were stiff, yet went down a little too easy -- so I don't remember them.  Plus, they were off-the-menu, so I really don't remember what we drank!  At least I documented the grub though, therefore, this review is more about the restaurant portion of The Alembic and the food, but just know that their drinks were fantastic and went really well with each dish.

Duck Hearts
Jerk spiced duck hearts with pickled pineapple and thyme salt
We didn't expect our duck hearts to be served on a skewer!  The bed of pickled pineapple slices was unusual, but seeing as the duck hearts were jerk-spiced, it only made sense that there would be a tropical flair to it.  The smokiness of the duck hearts contrasted nicely with the tartness of the pickled pineapples.

Bone Marrow
Served with caper gremolata, garlic confit and bread
I had previously seen pictures of this dish online and knew that we had to get it.  I love that the bone is sliced in half the way it is and then topped with all sorts of goodies.  The roasted garlic was definitely a nice touch.  I would love to try the bone marrow sans the topping someday though, just to taste the natural flavor, so perhaps I'll request that next time, but it was really good prepared this way as well.  No bread necessary, just a spoon!

Tai Snapper Sashimi
Dungeness crab, grapefruit, white soy
This was definitely one of the most unique and innovative dishes I've ever had.  I love seafood with citrus, with the citrus usually being lemon, but in this case, it was grapefruit, which added a sweet, tangy twist to the dish.  With tai snapper wrapped around dungeness crab and grapefruit drizzled with white soy sauce, this is just about the best sushi I've ever had.

Grilled Lamb Loin
Chickpea puree, harissa, cauliflower, piccalilli
The lamb loin was cooked perfectly.  It was so tender, easy to cut into and had these gorgeous grill marks on it.  The two dollops of harissa infused chickpea puree topped with cauliflower and piccalilli complemented it nicely.  It was so interesting to have a mix of rare meat with sweetness and tartness.  Not to mention all of the greatly contrasting textures.

Huckleberry Financier
Meyer lemon curd with coconut
I so love the name of this dessert.  I love financiers in general, but to have huckleberries in it is extra mmm-mmm good, as well as makes the name of this dessert sound extra awesome and cute, yet... fancy.  With the lemon curd and toasted coconut on top, they might as well have called this the Huckleberry Lemon Coconut Financier because everything just tasted like it was meant to be together.

If you can't already tell, head chef Ted Fleury seems to love contrasting and nuances in flavor.  I'm not complaining.  Nor would the birthday boy who ended up totally loving the whole experience.  

If you missed out on the Gilt City offer, never fear -- they seem to have a prix fixe menu for $35 every night, and I'm sure they would gladly recommend you a great cocktail pairing, whether on the menu or not, to go with your meal!

Birthday success :)]]>
http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/place/UserReview-The_Alembic-411-1718528-205336-The_Alembic_More_Than_Just_Cocktails.html http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/place/UserReview-The_Alembic-411-1718528-205336-The_Alembic_More_Than_Just_Cocktails.html Sat, 9 Apr 2011 00:43:35 +0000
<![CDATA[ The Bridge - 2006]]> Pros: some beautiful camera work of surrounding areas

Cons: depressive

The Bottom Line:

"One more sunset, maybe I'd be satisfied
But then again
I know what it would do
Leave me wishing still,
For one more day with you"
~Diamond Rio

I'll admit I watched The Bridge for very personal reasons.  It is a documentary by director Eric Steel and writer Tad Friend covering the suicides from the Golden Gate Bridge.  It is rated R for disturbing content and language.  This year marks the 15th anniversary my own son's, Jason, suicide.  I guess I wanted, as all survivors do, to see if I could gain any more answers to the unbearable question of "Why?"

The story:
It is filmed in documentary vein under very strange circumstances.  Director Eric Steel settled on several vantage points around the Golden Gate Bridge, set up some cameras, and hired a crew to sit and film the bridge for an entire year.   What they were looking for was that particular group of individuals that had come to a point in their lives where they were simply done and jumping from the bridge seemed the solution they chose to end their lives.

Steel then interviewed different members of the surviving families, not telling them in advance he had actual film of their loved ones suicide.  While this may all sound a bit bizarre at first glance, in the long run it was simply just another bunch of camera people catching some obviously controversial film footage.

The interviews with the surviving families and friends of the suicides was very interesting.  Most of them weren't completely surprised by the deaths but the resulting devastation to the survivors is horrendous.  It is something that has no closure, no answers, no understanding.  Their stories were painful, sharing years and years of watching their loved one or friend slowly melt away from them mentally.  They watched the daily struggles to grasp reality or find solace in their lives.  In the end they were as broken as the one that left them, showing resigned acceptance of the decision made.

Even some of the filmmakers had no understanding at the completion of the project of the Why theory.  Several of them seemed quite shaken by the experience, although that didn't stop them from continuing on until completion.

Steel falsified his application to the Golden Gate Bridge committee, stating he intended to film the beauty and glory of the bridge and surrounding areas and he wanted to film this majestic monument as it lived in conjuncture with nature.  He never mentioned the suicides at all.

As beautiful as most people feel the Golden Gate Bridge is, I found it rather cold in appearance when I saw it.   It looks so desolate, almost like a hulking beast sitting in the bay.  For some it has a strange siren song, calling to them.  It is stated in the documentary that it ranks as the number one spot for people to complete suicide.  Rather a depressing mantle to hang on it, I would think.

Some of the camera work made the bridge almost look peaceful, welcoming.  Billowing clouds, sunny skies, people milling about.  Then a shot at the angry water below became a chilling punctuation mark to the results of those that stepped over the railing and fell to their deaths.

Since there were no actual actors involved, I can't comment on the work of those interviewed. 

DVD extras:
"Making of" segment with interviews with the camera crews; short message from John Kevin Hines who had jumped from the bridge in 2000 but survived the fall do, he said, to divine intervention and a group of seals that kept him afloat; previews.

Overall impression:
I came away from the film with no added information for my own personal struggle.  Instead I felt a good deal of depression and sorrow for all involved, even the camera crew.  It has been suggested that some prevention could take place if a barrier was constructed to prevent people from climbing over but proponents of the beauty of the bridge say it would distract from it.  They also state it would be prohibitive in cost.  I don't know what value they place on a life, that is their own cross to bear.

I will note that the camera crew had bridge patrol on their speed dial of their phones and they did call each time someone jumped.  They felt their presence there helped alleviate some jumpers that year - 2004 - there were only 24.  They captured 23 of them on film


http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/movie/UserReview-The_Bridge-411-1531981-204070-The_Bridge_2006.html http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/movie/UserReview-The_Bridge-411-1531981-204070-The_Bridge_2006.html Wed, 16 Mar 2011 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[San Francisco Giants Quick Tip by BaronSamedi3]]> http://www.lunch.com/reviews/baseball_team/UserReview-San_Francisco_Giants-1391350-199055.html http://www.lunch.com/reviews/baseball_team/UserReview-San_Francisco_Giants-1391350-199055.html Mon, 10 Jan 2011 22:33:47 +0000 <![CDATA[ Break Out Your Lederhosens & Dirndls for SF's Suppenkuche!]]> must visit Suppenkuche in Hayes Valley.  Especially when it's Oktoberfest.  It's likely one of few places in the United States where you can have a near-authentic German Wirtshaus experience.

First thing you might notice when you step into Suppenkuche is its semi-dive-y feel, but as soon as you're greeted by servers donning lederhosens and dirndls and take a look at its classic, cafeteria-esque decor, you'll notice that it's very cozy and homely.  And if you happen to be greeted by the owner, who's actually from Germany, you're in for a double treat because he's got this awesome German accent and looks fabulous in his German get-up.

This past month, my very good friend Kris invited me to celebrate Oktoberfest with her on the very first day of the festivities, and there was no better place to celebrate it in the city than at Suppenkuche.  They had a special beer menu of five Oktoberfest beers on tap, as well as a special food menu.

Like all good German bars, Suppenkuche offers boots and liter glasses.  For reference, a liter glass is larger than the size of Kris' head.  And I must point out, she's like 4'10 and 85 pounds, yet managed to enjoy two+ of those, but I'm a wimp and only enjoyed one liter, despite being significantly taller and heavier than her.  As the rest of our group trickled in over the next five hours, I managed to take sips of all five of the Oktoberfest beers and they were all fantastic.


To go with the fantastic German beer, there was fantastic German food.  Check out the pretzel below that was also larger than the size of my head.  See that chunk in the front center?  That's big enough to make a large bahn mi sandwich.  The pretzel was served fresh and warm and enjoyed with Bavarian cheese dip.


Besides the super gigantic pretzel, there several other tasty snacks on the menu that we all went family style on, including the half roasted chicken, suckling pig and sauerkraut below.  We also ordered kasespatzle, which is like German mac 'n cheese with potato pasta.  It was all so very, very good.


One other aspect of Suppenkuche that I really like, though, is its ambiance.  It was really quiet when Kris and I first arrived there at noon, but as more groups started arriving over the next few hours, it got even more fun and festive.  Towards the beginning of the afternoon, a father brought around his very adorable toddler to cheers everyone in the restaurant with her very own (well, actually his, I hope ;P) half-liter glass.


Later on, a group of frat'ish guys sat at the table next to us and they were just hilarious.  Every single one of them had those one liter glasses of beer and they made every little excuse to clink their glasses.  Whether it was someone arriving.  Food coming out.  Someone getting another liter.  Someone coming back from the bathroom.  Etc.  They just clinked glasses and yelled "YEAAAAH!" over everything literally about every two minutes.

When I told my brother, who had just gotten back from Germany, about my Suppenkuche experience and showed him the photos, he exclaimed, "That's exactly like the Wirthaus that I went to in Freiburg!" and vowed to go with his friends while Oktoberfest was still going on.  Kris said that she brought her German friend there once and he had said that it was the most authentic Wirthaus experience that he had had in the States, so you know it's good.

Suppenkuche, in general, is awesome year round and they always have great beers on tap and fantastic food on their menu anytime that you want to visit.  I still can't wait for Oktoberfest to roll around next year though.

Mmmmm, giant pretzel :D]]>
http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/business/UserReview-Suppenkuche-411-1651973-192913-Break_Out_Your_Lederhosens_Dirndls_for_SF_s.html http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/business/UserReview-Suppenkuche-411-1651973-192913-Break_Out_Your_Lederhosens_Dirndls_for_SF_s.html Sun, 31 Oct 2010 00:44:44 +0000
<![CDATA[ The Bridge -- the most popular place to ... well ... kill yourself]]> Eric Steel assembled a group of what amounts to camera people to film the Golden Gate Bridge over the course of a year. Why?

More suicides are committed on that spot of geography than any other. Mr. Steel learned this from The New Yorker in 2003. Starting from the first day of 2004, he brgan shooting the bridge. During the course of 90 minutes, the cameras catch a number of people jumping from the bridge.

I’m not kidding.

The film consists of two things, shots of the Golden Gate Bridge from all sorts of angles in all weather and some totally stunning time-lapse shots and interviews with friends and family of those who decided to jump. The personal emotional storm caused between these two fronts--real suicides caught and presented and the careful, honest, and dignified interviews—will not be something that will go away soon.

It is fitting that my digital cable plays Peter Gabriel’s “Don’t Give Up” while I write this. I don’t accept kismet, but if I needed a song around to write this piece, I can think of no other that would be as effective.

One thing that struck me so deeply was the lack of tears in those interviewed. Only one woman, whose face isn’t shown, sheds more than just the tear or two that comes with sad sniffles. Upon reflection, I believe I know why and it is both a strength and a weakness for the film. The issue is mental illness. Suicides involve mental illness in all but the drug induced. I am confident in this statement despite saying “all” I’ve studied this topic (specifically and mental illness generally) to be able to back this statement with chapter and verse.

The strength is the discussion of mental illness from those left to find out the news. No one was surprised to learn of the suicide of their loved one. It seemed as if the leap was a fait accompli and the stories they told were of the dissolution from a sense of at least some stability to the sudden mental then physical descent to the end.

The weakness is that The Bridge did not focus on this enough. Twenty-four people successfully killed themselves by leaping from the bridge in 2004. I liked the individual stories, but I would have liked to see something from at least one professional. The film of the people falling is the mentally ill themselves; they are not stunt people. I won’t say that The Bridge glorifies suicide in general or from the Golden Gate Bridge in particular, but it also does nothing to refute the behavior.

A photographer walking on the bridge and taking pictures actually rescued a woman (this was also caught on Mr. Steel’s cameras). What he said is applicable to The Bridge and is an indictment of sorts. He says that as he was taking pictures of the bridge and then of the woman as she climbed over to jump, he felt like a National Geographic photographer. He saw things through the lens as a great shot, a type of fiction. Then he realized the situation and grabbed her from the little platform that runs alongside the bridge.

The camera people did have Bridge Patrol on their cell phones and apparently did what they could to stop people who looked suspicious. At least 2 of the jumpers didn’t hesitate at all and never bothered with the little platform; they threw themselves from the railing. The indictment is that we are never given information of how many times the camera people called the Bridge Patrol and successfully stopped a suicide attempt. There are 2 occasions where people on the bridge call 911, but nothing from the crew. I’m not saying they were guilty of anything except perhaps poor taste, but did they become so engrossed with the semi-fiction you get from staring through a lens?

Recommendations? I watched it, but the topic is beyond easy understanding. The jumpers are real. Their impact is real. The topic is raw, but not covered as professionally as I think is necessary. My real problem ultimately is not with the shock of knowing it’s real. My problem is that the issue of suicide and mental illness do not get the attention they need to indicate just how serious it is. Instead, the audience is given the romance of the bridge and the stories of those left behind. Ultimately I have to say that I cannot recommend it.


http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/movie/UserReview-The_Bridge-411-1531981-188005-The_Bridge_the_most_popular_place_to_well.html http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/movie/UserReview-The_Bridge-411-1531981-188005-The_Bridge_the_most_popular_place_to_well.html Wed, 13 Oct 2010 17:06:10 +0000
<![CDATA[Bay to Breakers Quick Tip by djevoke]]> http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/d/UserReview-Bay_to_Breakers-411-1437366-187720.html http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/d/UserReview-Bay_to_Breakers-411-1437366-187720.html Tue, 12 Oct 2010 21:00:19 +0000 <![CDATA[ This is the "setting" of the Aqe of Aquarius]]>
Those who followed Baker and ran the Zen Center's empire were a ragtag band of seekers; a few of whom grew more ambitious or grasping along with Baker. But many did not. Greens restaurant, Green Gulch farm across the Golden Gate in Marin, and Tassajara as a remote retreat center all meant that the 350-400 members of the S.F. Zen community had to support themselves. They staffed these places, but they often also lived there or nearby. They earned small stipends, averaging in 1982 $2.89/hour. They also mingled, mated, and made families. This wasn't traditional.

These challenges, unlike any Buddhist institution to date, meant Baker and his Board had to court the rich and the powerful for patronage. Those who chose to join the Center often labored in "work-practice" 12-14 hour days that left them little time at the businesses founded to sustain their devotion by sitting; the demands of keeping the places going and rewarding those who earned the chance to live there or retreat to Tassajara clashed with the original intentions to let men and women join together and make a communal effort at seeking wisdom.

Downing explores, in a roundabout, searching fashion, the story that ensued. (I wish an index and a reading list were provided; illustrations or photos would also have helped us see Zen Center's places so often mentioned for ourselves.) He makes a few great analogies. My favorite furthers Baker's own interest in science, and compares radar to Transmission (a key term in this book): for Baker, the force that his teacher Shunryu Suzuki recognized in him that relays the dharma down to a chosen follower. The dharma's pulses of electromagnetic waves, the antenna's the teacher with the radar unit, the student's the distant object in the path who reflects the pulses back to the antenna. The teacher absorbs and interprets the reflected signals from the student, and verifies the student as an object of attention. This looms for Baker's claim: he was the one in the Suzuki-roshi's path.

Many reviewers know this story of how Baker handled and then mishandled his role as Abbot from the inside, or near enough to it; its details have been debated and rehashed. In a restless narrative-- a bit snarky at times, which cuts down posturing and posing by some of the key players interviewed or discussed-- the author labors to align the appeal of Baker and the Americanizing Zen with its industrious ambitions, its financial deals, and the fascinating logistics of how to convert a dream into real estate, and utopian visions into tax shelters.

What kept me reading? How intelligent people gave up their own prime of life to work so hard for so little material gain. How they often, despite decades even of Zen practice, did not oppose whatever Baker demanded in the name not of Buddhism but his own goals-- and how these mixed within his own enigmatic, but for some charismatic, aura.

One former student wonders if zazen worsens the "dissociative process-- as if in some way it cauterizes the personality and seals it off, encapsulates it, widens the breach between heart and mind." (qtd. 26) The narrative circles about before it gets to the 1983 scandal that led to Baker's exile. It then drops off after the showdown into legal and financial wrangles that fill out the story but make it, after the "Apocalypse," feel wrung out and anticlimactic, perhaps inevitably. The heart of the tale, which roams around his followers and contenders, works best.

Downing takes apart Baker's statement of wrongdoing and compares it line by line with testimony or reports from his participants or victims. Downing strives for fairness to all involved. Yet, he knows that the fundamental precept of "Do not harm" has been violated. "If you believed the Abbot was crazy, you would have had to leave Zen Center." (233)

Contrasting, the strange encounters with Baker's hand-picked students sent off to care for and work for wealthy patron Nancy Wilson Ross prove illuminating. It may be harder for a Zen student to display compassion for a socialite than a prostitute, as one Harvard dropout (lots of Ivy Leaguers pepper these pages) finds. John Bailes learns from her the true meaning of the teachings: "not some ancient story, but the facts. 'Here we are. We are going to die. I am going to give you what I've got.'" (qtd. 264)

Deborah Madison, who learned her vegetarian cooking skills as one of those "work-practice" stipended students as well as with Nancy, exemplifies the personal story of one who found her own initial urge to sit and practice Zen as eroded by the demands of working for her room and board and her small wages. Those customers who flocked to Greens or Green Gulch seemed less aware of the truth behind the drudgery of so many who made those businesses work, or who did not if they were supported by those who did work away. This weakened the stability of the businesses, and soon the Zen Center, under Baker's obsessive plans for expansion and his own acquisitive tastes for the aesthetic and the expensive, could not reconcile its hippie roots with its hierachical structures and imbalanced budgets.

For some, "this was a system that was about staying asleep because it was too risky to wake up," one student remembers. (qtd. 305) But, the wake-up call comes, the disjunct between the Abbot as role model, as CEO, and as miscreant grows. Baker does not go down without a fight, and the impact, it seems from this 2001 account, still reverberates throughout the "palaces" that the Zen Center built. The Buddha left behind his palace, as Downing reminds us. But he too courted patrons, and his heretofore wandering monks stayed in the forest monastery in the rainy season. So, the tension between begging and staying put, seeking alms then and investing in mutual funds today, as Baker learned, shows how Zen met the Fortune 500, and how its practitioners came of age in an era less aquarian, and less utopian.

P.S. This compliments David Chadwick's excellent (also told in a similar manner) biography "Crooked Cucumber," (reviewed 7-2009) about the founder of the S.F. Zen Center, Shunryu Suzuki.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/book/UserReview-Shoes_Outside_the_Door_Desire_Devotion_and_Excess_at_San_Francisco_Zen_Center-411-1504262-67928-This_is_the_setting_of_the_Aqe_of_Aquarius.html http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/book/UserReview-Shoes_Outside_the_Door_Desire_Devotion_and_Excess_at_San_Francisco_Zen_Center-411-1504262-67928-This_is_the_setting_of_the_Aqe_of_Aquarius.html Tue, 20 Jul 2010 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ Life in the city in the days preceding the great 1906 earthquake.]]> This was a film I had never even heard of before.  "San Francisco" stars Clark Gable as Blackie Norton, proprietor of the notorious "Paradise Saloon".  Norton has his fingers in lots of pies around the city and is always on the lookout for #1.   He meets talented young singer Mary Blake (Jeannette MacDonald) who shows up at his joint one evening looking for work.  He is immediately smitten with the naive young lady and sets out to make her a headliner at the Paradise.  The only problem is that she posseses a concert quality set of pipes and the local opera company is interested in her services as well.   Too bad that Blackie has managed to get the young lady to sign a two year exclusive contract with him.   Now just to make things interesting and to introduce a wee bit of morality into the mix we have a very young Spencer Tracy cast as Blackie Norton's lifelong friend Father Mullin.  The two grew up together and Father Mullin has been trying to get Blackie to change his evil ways for years.  Good luck.  An interesting storyline is sprinkled with some terrific tunes sung by the multi-talented MacDonald who was one of the top singers of her era.   Towards the end of the movie is one of the most remarkable disaster sequences you will ever see:  the Earthquake of 1906.  Quite an accomplishment in 1936 when "San Francisco" was filmed. 
Much like "Gone With The Wind" "San Francisco" is a thoroughly entertaining movie that offers viewers a little bit of everything. This is a movie I could see again and again. Pick it up sometime and see if you agree.    Very highly recommended!

http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/movie/UserReview-San_Francisco_movie_-411-1014906-24350-Life_in_the_city_in_the_days_preceding_the_great.html http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/movie/UserReview-San_Francisco_movie_-411-1014906-24350-Life_in_the_city_in_the_days_preceding_the_great.html Sun, 27 Jun 2010 21:53:19 +0000
<![CDATA[ Banal Music, Sloppy Production ...]]>
But who was Arrigo Boito? Condensed from wikiknowitall:
""Born in Padua, Boito studied music at the Milan Conservatory with Alberto Mazzucato until 1861. His only finished opera, Mefistofele, based on Goethe's Faust, was given its first performance on 5 March 1868, at La Scala, Milan. The premiere, which he conducted himself, was badly received, provoking riots and duels over its supposed "Wagnerism", and it was closed by the police after two performances. Verdi commented, "He aspires to originality but succeeds only at being strange." Boito withdrew the opera from further performances to rework it, and it had a more successful second premiere, in Bologna on 10 April 1875. Boito's revised and drastically cut version also changed Faust from a baritone to a tenor.
Other than Mefistofele, Boito wrote very little music.
Boito's literary powers never dried up. As well as writing the libretti for his own operas, he wrote them for other composers. As "Tobia Gorrio" (an anagram of his name) he provided the libretto for Amilcare Ponchielli's La Gioconda. Boito successfully revised the libretto for Verdi's unwieldy Simon Boccanegra, which then premiered to great acclaim in 1881. With that, their mutual friendship and respect blossomed and, though Verdi's projection for an opera based on King Lear never came to anything, Boito provided subtle and resonant libretti for Verdi's last masterpieces, Otello (1887) and Falstaff (1893). When Verdi died, Boito was there at his bedside.""

That objectionable "Wagnerism" is noticeable chiefly in the overtures, and is barely skin deep. Verdi's judgment remains apt; the score is meandering bandshell music at best, bellowing bombast at worst. I know of operas based on Goethe's faust by eleven other composers - Spohr, Busoni, Gounod, Berlioz, Pousseur, Bochmer, Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Lutz, Schnittke, and Dusapin. Boito's is easily the least satisfactory.

This is an opulent production, though not visually enticing enough to compensate for the miserable music. The sets and costumes are lavish. The chorus is huge (that might be why it sounds so raggedy) and there are dozens of extras and dancers, though the stage is often so crowded that effective movement is impossible. It's interesting that such an extravagant production was plausible not so many years ago. It would be beyond the purse of the struggling SF Opera to mount such a production today.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/movie/UserReview-Boito_Mefistofele_Arena_Ramey_Benackova_San_Francisco_Opera_2000_-411-1555062-109941-Banal_Music_Sloppy_Production_.html http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/movie/UserReview-Boito_Mefistofele_Arena_Ramey_Benackova_San_Francisco_Opera_2000_-411-1555062-109941-Banal_Music_Sloppy_Production_.html Thu, 17 Jun 2010 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ There's No Place Like Home]]>
The Towers were the tallest building on campus that had 15 floors of one and two bedroom apartments. I moved in to a one bedroom with another girl named Alexa. On move in day I was so excited, until I found every inch of our apartment walls covered in boogers which me and my mom spent the entire day scrubbing. I also had a broken window that didn't get fixed for over a month, so I had a big piece of cardboard taped over it making me feel like I was in jail. Many other disgusting objects were also found that day and I should have realized it was a warning to what it would be like living there for a year.

I never had any problems with my roommate and we are still very good friends, however dorm life was just not for me. With fire alarms going off at least once a week at 2 in the morning and people smoking cigarettes right outside my window every second of the day I started to look forward to going home. People would blast rap music at 8 in the morning and never turn it off and not having an oven to cook in was really tough when it came to my sweet tooth and wanting to bake cookies.  

And of course just like almost every other college student I was always sick and also got mono from living in the dorms. Our place was so gross and didn't feel homey at all that me and my roommate never even bothered to decorate. We literally slept in there and that was it. After a year I decided to move home because dorm life as well as the entire city of San Francisco was far from what I imagined it would be.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/d/UserReview-San_Francisco_State_University_Dorms_-411-1478550-23266-There_s_No_Place_Like_Home.html http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/d/UserReview-San_Francisco_State_University_Dorms_-411-1478550-23266-There_s_No_Place_Like_Home.html Sun, 13 Jun 2010 01:08:17 +0000
<![CDATA[ Helpful but not detailed enough in some areas]]>
In hindsight, what I probably should have done is buy a San Francisco city guide and a Yosemite guide separately. This guide, in covering all of Northern California, is spread too thin and, as such, does not contain sufficient detail in many areas. For example, I stayed in Union Square and there were barely a few paragraphs of the book covering it. The book does have a fairly good Chinatown section, and includes a walking tour of the area that I found helpful.

What was there was helpful. There just wasn't enough of it for my needs.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/book/UserReview-Fodor_s_Northern_California_2010_with_Napa_Sonoma_Yosemite_San_Francisco_Lake_Tahoe_Full_Color_Gold_Guides_-411-1597647-143220-Helpful_but_not_detailed_enough_in_some_areas.html http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/book/UserReview-Fodor_s_Northern_California_2010_with_Napa_Sonoma_Yosemite_San_Francisco_Lake_Tahoe_Full_Color_Gold_Guides_-411-1597647-143220-Helpful_but_not_detailed_enough_in_some_areas.html Fri, 11 Jun 2010 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[Jillian's Quick Tip by devora]]> http://www.lunch.com/reviews/restaurant/UserReview-Jillian_s-1476518-58484.html http://www.lunch.com/reviews/restaurant/UserReview-Jillian_s-1476518-58484.html Thu, 10 Jun 2010 22:34:58 +0000 <![CDATA[ Taking Flight and Taking Note]]>
Then open this very large book and enjoy the richly colorful full page and double page photographs of dancing - in costume, in rehearsal clothes, in modern works and in the classics - and the results will take your breath away. The photographers (and there are many) are all credited, but the giant among them is without a doubt Erik Tomasson. It is rare to find such artistic images of ballet as these and the book is as much an art book as it is a book about a ballet company. The appendices include the entire of repertory of the company with all the details of choreographer, composer, and years of world premieres and San Francisco Ballet premieres. It is a staggering list.

For all who enjoy the arts and especially the art of dance and movement, this book is a must. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, June 10]]>
http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/book/UserReview-San_Francisco_Ballet_at_Seventy_Five-411-1568495-118385-Taking_Flight_and_Taking_Note.html http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/book/UserReview-San_Francisco_Ballet_at_Seventy_Five-411-1568495-118385-Taking_Flight_and_Taking_Note.html Tue, 1 Jun 2010 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[Street Murals in San Francisco's Mission District Quick Tip by RecycleEverything]]> http://www.lunch.com/Art_is_Life/reviews/d/UserReview-Street_Murals_in_San_Francisco_s_Mission_District-164-1443567-56432.html http://www.lunch.com/Art_is_Life/reviews/d/UserReview-Street_Murals_in_San_Francisco_s_Mission_District-164-1443567-56432.html Fri, 30 Apr 2010 18:12:18 +0000 <![CDATA[ Discover Amazing Pizza in San Francisco]]>
Sunset Magazine has compiled an impressive list of some of the best pizza places.

Here is a short list:

Emilia's Pizzeria
299 Shattuck Ave., Berkely

Pizetta 211 (best Margherita)
211 23rd Avenue, San Francisco CA

Pizzeria Picco
316 Magnolia Avenue, Larkspur CA

Tony's Pizzeria Napoletana
1570 Stockton StreetUnion Street, San FranciscoCA

You can read the rest of their pizza picks  at  Sunset Magazine.

http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/website/UserReview-San_Francisco_s_best_pizza-411-1445045-21345-Discover_Amazing_Pizza_in_San_Francisco.html http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/website/UserReview-San_Francisco_s_best_pizza-411-1445045-21345-Discover_Amazing_Pizza_in_San_Francisco.html Mon, 26 Apr 2010 10:29:26 +0000
<![CDATA[Yelp Quick Tip by mweber82]]> http://www.lunch.com/reviews/website/UserReview-Yelp-1333935-55943.html http://www.lunch.com/reviews/website/UserReview-Yelp-1333935-55943.html Tue, 13 Apr 2010 02:37:32 +0000 <![CDATA[ Eve Brings Vintage Speakeasy Sophistication to Life in the SOMA]]>

As we headed toward the bar, we were greeted by a friendly bartender, Misty, and started chatting about how we just moved to the Bay from LA last week. She told us that Eve was brand new, only 9 months old, and that the owner hasn't invested anything in advertising...so, how'd we hear about it? We told her that we found out it because J-Boogie and Sake One were going to be DJing there that night. As we chatted, we ordered our usual two Stellas and she told us it was on the house, "Welcome to the neighborhood." So, we settled into our spot between the bar and the dancefloor and let J-Boogie's funk work its magic....

The walls are decorated with vintage inspired pin-up girl pictures. In fact, there's a screen that plays 1920s vintage peep show flicks- not the too dirty kind but, the artsy fartsy kind. To be honest with you, I was so busy having a blast, that I didn't notice but, thought I should give you a heads up just in case you are sensitive to that sort of thing. There are vinyl booths lining the left side of the room with low tables to rest your drinks on while you're dancing. The right side of the wall, closest to the DJ booth, has a long bar with hooks underneath for hanging your purses or jackets.

As the crowd started filing in, around 9:30p which I thought was a tad early because usually people don't show up until 11p, I could tell this wasn't your usual LA nightclub/Top 40 crowd. For starters, it's one of the many celebrations of San Francisco speakeasies that have started to conquer the nightlife scene in SF. People could care less that I was in jeans, a T-shirt and a grey hoodie with no make-up and my hair in a ponytail, though most of them were dressed "to the nines". I heard excuse me's and sorry's from people bumping into each other. But, most importantly, people were there to have a good time with good people and good music.
http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/d/UserReview-Eve_Lounge-411-1443605-20831-Eve_Brings_Vintage_Speakeasy_Sophistication_to.html http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/d/UserReview-Eve_Lounge-411-1443605-20831-Eve_Brings_Vintage_Speakeasy_Sophistication_to.html Sun, 11 Apr 2010 21:18:21 +0000
<![CDATA[The Blue Bottle Coffee Company Quick Tip by jrjohnson]]> http://www.lunch.com/coffeeshop/reviews/d/UserReview-The_Blue_Bottle_Coffee_Company-36-1397155-55662.html http://www.lunch.com/coffeeshop/reviews/d/UserReview-The_Blue_Bottle_Coffee_Company-36-1397155-55662.html Thu, 1 Apr 2010 20:58:29 +0000 <![CDATA[ I Used to Joke That "I Wouldn't Give Up Tu Lan For No Woman!"....]]>
Let me tell you a story…the man called “woopak” can go around places that most people would be terrified to go to. Honestly, whatever the so-called “bad areas” in San Francisco are nothing compared to the slums of my native land. Way back between the year 1997 and 1998, a real gorgeous lady friend of mine (you know who you are) took me to a restaurant that can definitely be seen as a ‘HOLE IN THE WALL”. This restaurant was located in a place that had a real bad reputation during that time (it‘s gotten a lot better since 2001); dope dealers were loitering around, homeless folks were sleeping on the sidewalk, panhandlers and imbalanced men were all around.
Yet, along Sixth Street, between Market and Mission Streets, I saw a line of regular office people who were wearing $ 700 suits (expensive during this time) while some were obviously reporters from the nearby San Francisco Chronicle offices. The line led to a fluorescent-lit small restaurant that looked like a tiny “bodega” with burn marks on the walls of the stove area. The kitchen is clean but it just looks like one of those small warehouses. The place reeked of the scent of great tasting food and this extraordinary place was called “Tu Lan”, a place where they serve authentic Vietnamese food. Me, being who I am, would never judge anything by the way it looked so me and my friend took a seat and enjoyed the great fresh food that Tu Lan served.

       I Used to Joke That
It has been many years since that first visit and the memorable day when I was introduced to this restaurant. I’ve since taken several of my friends to this place and we often take food home from this restaurant. Tu Lan also became my ‘testing ground’ for my 5th to 6th dates, since I can see how much I can relate to a woman with the way she reacts to a place that doesn’t look fancy yet they serve better food than the expensive Vietnamese restaurants down in Clement. To make things short, I take the woman I really like to “Tu Lan” just to see her roll her eyes with one look at the place and then later, smile with delight when served with the fantastic tasting marinated fish and possibly the best fried rice in town. I can afford gourmet restaurants, but ladies, next to me actually cooking for you, if I take you to Tu Lan, then I really like you.
Today, “Tu Lan” has become a lot less like a ‘bodega’ and more like a small eatery; and yes, the burn marks in the kitchen are gone and the counter is much more larger and made "spiffier"  these days. I like sitting by the counter as I can see the fresh ingredients make their way to the pots and pans. You won’t see a single can in Tu Lan’s kitchen, everything is made from scratch; from the roll wrappers and the noodles to the smallest shrimp, they are all fresh. The cooks and servers have no uniform, they just wear regular t-shirt and jeans. The cooks have hats and huge aprons and they are all Vietnamese.
The Ginger Chicken is just marvelous and # 24 is just so good. Make sure you bring your appetite when you come to Tu Lan because you are in for a feast. Tu Lan also has daily specials and the sweet and sour prawn soup is to die for. They have combo plates and my favorite is the pork kebab with imperial rolls over steamed rice. The marinated fish is also a favorite as well as the Hanoi style noodle soup. However, you just have to try their fried rice; made with pork, chicken, beef or shrimp. Round up the meal with a dessert of either fried banana or pineapple, and you will go home very satisfied. 



I have to admit that I prefer taking my favorite Tu Lan dishes home so that I can relax and really enjoy it. The place does get so packed with people that often, I feel like I am being rushed with the meal. The food is just so satisfying in this extraordinary restaurant that waves after waves of new and older customers just keep on coming back. I’m a regular customer at “Tu Lan” and they know me in this place. I try to go to the place at least once a month, and I am happy to report that all of the friends I’ve taken there have all become regular customers. Also, don't let the lighted signage on its side fool you; TU LAN is NOT fast food, but GREAT food made fast! The owners just decided to keep the sign despite the fact that they made a mistake in the interpretation of "fast food".

“Tu Lan is worth the trip to 6th Street, and not to worry, the dope dealers don’t loiter within 100 yards of the place. A lot of cops come by to eat there. “Tu Lan” is great eatin’! Or am I just being biased because up to this day, they still charge me their old prices back in 2000 and they still give me huge portions? My friends always have me with them when they buy their food. Well, I would pay almost any price for a plate of that shrimp fried rice!
http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/restaurant/UserReview-Tu_Lan-411-1438928-20265-I_Used_to_Joke_That_I_Wouldn_t_Give_Up_Tu_Lan_For.html http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/restaurant/UserReview-Tu_Lan-411-1438928-20265-I_Used_to_Joke_That_I_Wouldn_t_Give_Up_Tu_Lan_For.html Sat, 27 Mar 2010 05:06:31 +0000
<![CDATA[Hotel Vitale Quick Tip by dianas]]> http://www.lunch.com/uniquehotels/reviews/hotel/UserReview-Hotel_Vitale-50-1382442-55425.html http://www.lunch.com/uniquehotels/reviews/hotel/UserReview-Hotel_Vitale-50-1382442-55425.html Fri, 26 Mar 2010 04:40:40 +0000 <![CDATA[ Great for reviewers, not so great for businesses]]>
From the point of view of being able to provide candid feedback and advice, any review system (such as Amazon or Lunch) helps enormously, but there are some huge problems that have developed specifically within Yelp over the years that mean it will probably never be as beneficial as Amazon or Lunch.

Acknowledging that I still use it to find places all the time, this is James' Official Litany of Yelp Problems:


Ultimately, all these sites are basically a bunch of code sat on servers, and the differentiating factor is the group of people who contribute. Although Yelp has a decent core of reasonable individuals, there's a small, loud minority who are a total pain in the ass. This makes its talk section practically unusable (try asking for hotel recommendations and watch how fast you get flamed), and gives the attitude on the site a snarky feel. The sense of self-importance among contributors doesn't help social sites, and I'm glad to see it hasn't crept into Lunch.


While there'll always be trolls and a need for content moderation, the policy has to be completely transparent to work. Yelp's increasingly-common yanking of reviews and deletion of accounts for reasons only known to themselves would make Google China blush (oh wait, that's not topical anymore). Either users provide candid opinions that stay or they don't, but the in-between policing doesn't suit social web.


I'm a big believer that users on these sites should be treated equally, regardless of their prolific writing or presence. The Elite badge separates users into two classes which is, in my opinion, contrary to the idea of free user-generated content. And no, I've never sought Elite status. :-)

Conflict of Interest

Yelp disingenuously courts advertising from the very businesses being critiqued by its users. The media is rife with stories about business owners being practically blackmailed by Yelpers, or their staff offering to remove negative reviews for an advertising deal - this awkward position serves neither the businesses or their customers. I think potentially this is their biggest problem.


For those of you who don't know, I work professionally with social media, SEM, SEO and all those acronyms, and several customers have had advertising contracts with Yelp that simply have no ROI. The plans start at $300 a month, which would yield you hundreds of fans on Facebook, hundreds of clicks on Google AdWords and - apparently - very little on Yelp. It's around 10 times too expensive for an online advertising channel. Although there are success stories, the average restaurant or dry cleaner would be better invested elsewhere.

I bet somebody at Yelp is wishing the $500mm Google deal had happened since there are numerous "me too" sites that have emerged using a fraction of the technology platform and startup capital. Although it's not going away anytime soon, my feeling is that Yelp has to substantially improve its community and business relationships, or have a very tough time serving the needs of its audience.

Having said that, of course, its benefits are still unrivaled by any other site - but things tend to change very fast on the social web. ]]>
http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/website/UserReview-Yelp-411-1333935-20128-Great_for_reviewers_not_so_great_for_businesses.html http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/website/UserReview-Yelp-411-1333935-20128-Great_for_reviewers_not_so_great_for_businesses.html Tue, 23 Mar 2010 23:08:13 +0000
<![CDATA[Hotel Vitale Quick Tip by devora]]> http://www.lunch.com/uniquehotels/reviews/hotel/UserReview-Hotel_Vitale-50-1382442-54427.html http://www.lunch.com/uniquehotels/reviews/hotel/UserReview-Hotel_Vitale-50-1382442-54427.html Sat, 6 Mar 2010 02:15:28 +0000 <![CDATA[Tech Scene Smackdown: LA vs. SF vs. NYC vs. Boston vs. Austin Quick Tip by aunnyd]]> http://www.lunch.com/SXSW/reviews/activity/UserReview-Tech_Scene_Smackdown_LA_vs_SF_vs_NYC_vs_Boston_vs_Austin-45-1439564-54418.html http://www.lunch.com/SXSW/reviews/activity/UserReview-Tech_Scene_Smackdown_LA_vs_SF_vs_NYC_vs_Boston_vs_Austin-45-1439564-54418.html Fri, 5 Mar 2010 23:16:46 +0000 <![CDATA[Blondie's Pizza Quick Tip by devora]]> http://www.lunch.com/SecretBerkeley/reviews/restaurant/UserReview-Blondie_s_Pizza-43-1335134-54376.html http://www.lunch.com/SecretBerkeley/reviews/restaurant/UserReview-Blondie_s_Pizza-43-1335134-54376.html Fri, 5 Mar 2010 01:21:15 +0000 <![CDATA[Hotel Vitale Quick Tip by jrjohnson]]> http://www.lunch.com/uniquehotels/reviews/hotel/UserReview-Hotel_Vitale-50-1382442-54367.html http://www.lunch.com/uniquehotels/reviews/hotel/UserReview-Hotel_Vitale-50-1382442-54367.html Fri, 5 Mar 2010 00:02:25 +0000 <![CDATA[Blondie's Pizza Quick Tip by Juhnay]]> http://www.lunch.com/SecretBerkeley/reviews/restaurant/UserReview-Blondie_s_Pizza-43-1335134-54348.html http://www.lunch.com/SecretBerkeley/reviews/restaurant/UserReview-Blondie_s_Pizza-43-1335134-54348.html Thu, 4 Mar 2010 21:18:10 +0000 <![CDATA[Gordo Taqueria Quick Tip by devora]]> http://www.lunch.com/SecretBerkeley/reviews/food/UserReview-Gordo_Taqueria-43-1380190-54304.html http://www.lunch.com/SecretBerkeley/reviews/food/UserReview-Gordo_Taqueria-43-1380190-54304.html Thu, 4 Mar 2010 07:32:27 +0000 <![CDATA[ I Like Maps!]]>
This is an okay map. Only 'okay' because it could easily present more info in the same format without becoming cluttered. When I got it in the mail, I was disappointed, however. I expected a trail map for hiking and biking on the SF Peninsula. This map shows very few trails, and those few rather vaguely. It's a large single-sided sheet of a map, showing the SF Peninsula as far south as Monterey Bay, with all 'parklands' color-coded according to the agency that maintains (or fails to maintain) them. In a sense, it's more a political boundary map than a recreational map. That makes it rather interesting, as an overview of the extent of public lands and of the role various levels of national, state, county, and city government play in sustaining livability for Californians, but not especially useful for actual hiking. The one service it offers the hiker is to show the locations of trailheads. There are so many trails on the SF Peninsula that almost no one knows all the starting points. Next time I'm looking for that elusive under-traveled unfamiliar trail, one where I won't know what I'll see until I get there, this map will come in handy.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/book/UserReview-MAP_San_Francisco_Peninsula_Parklands_The_Trail_Center_-411-1555906-110261-I_Like_Maps_.html http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/book/UserReview-MAP_San_Francisco_Peninsula_Parklands_The_Trail_Center_-411-1555906-110261-I_Like_Maps_.html Tue, 8 Dec 2009 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ Barracuda Japanese Resturant]]> My roommate and I stumbled upon this restaurant one gray Wednesday afternoon. The atmosphere was totally trendy and metropolitan waiter told us that it was happy hour, a pleasant surprise, sake was only $1! In addition to this there were many other items that were part of happy hour including oysters and edamame. Must try item is the spicy edamame! Yum! If sake isn't your thing consider getting the cucumber martini, it's so refreshing.

My roommate and I spent $18 each, which included one sushi roll each, edamame, and multiple orders of sushi. We were completely stuffed and buzzed afterwards. Everything was well worth it. Our waiter was very sweet and helpful in telling us about his favorite rolls.
If you aren't fond of sushi there are a number of other delicious menu items that will surely amaze you. If you are looking for something that isn't typical sushi then Barracuda is the place to go!

2251 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94114

(415) 558-8567
http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/restaurant/UserReview-Barracuda_Japanese_Resturant-411-1431774-15475-Barracuda_Japanese_Resturant.html http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/restaurant/UserReview-Barracuda_Japanese_Resturant-411-1431774-15475-Barracuda_Japanese_Resturant.html Thu, 3 Dec 2009 08:34:20 +0000
<![CDATA[ ANOTHER LIVE MASTERWORK FROM A MASTER]]> World's Edge; Stormwarning), but this album is clearly the best of them. Roach describes the title thusly: "All is now ... and now is all there is..."; "this is what I feel before I push off the shore, moving out into the soundcurrents with a group of passengers on board for the journey."

This 2-CD set contains 141 minutes of musical "soundworlds"; disc 1 contains shorter pieces from various locations, including excerpts from his 5-hour performance at Yoko Ono's June 2002 retrospective at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; it makes a suitable "highlights" compilation. Disc 2 is from his second set of a live performance at Seven Centers Yoga Arts in Sedona, Arizona. It is completely "live," and was only edited to make it fit on the CD.

This is a "must" for fans of Steve Roach or other Ambient music.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/d/UserReview-All_Is_Now_Steve_Roach_Live_2002_Sedoa_Portland_Oakland_San_Francisco_SFMOMA-411-1600955-145851-ANOTHER_LIVE_MASTERWORK_FROM_A_MASTER.html http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/d/UserReview-All_Is_Now_Steve_Roach_Live_2002_Sedoa_Portland_Oakland_San_Francisco_SFMOMA-411-1600955-145851-ANOTHER_LIVE_MASTERWORK_FROM_A_MASTER.html Tue, 3 Nov 2009 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ Very Smart]]>
Very Smart

Amos Lassen

To be a good writer, a person must have an idea, a way to say and a way to come back at his readers. Robert Julian does exactly that as we see in his 17 essays that comprise "But the Show Went On'. There are also interviews and feature stories taken from the San Francisco Sentinel from over 25 years ago and he ties everything together with a back-story. We especially feel the horror of the AIDS epidemic and realize how much all of us were touched by it. This is a wonderful look at a time that was and makes us remember all too much about it.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/book/UserReview-BUT_THE_SHOW_WENT_ON_San_Francisco_1987_1988-411-1578328-124541-Very_Smart.html http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/book/UserReview-BUT_THE_SHOW_WENT_ON_San_Francisco_1987_1988-411-1578328-124541-Very_Smart.html Thu, 22 Oct 2009 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ Hotel Vitale]]> San Francisco. On the spur of the moment we brought our stay there to an abrupt end and decided to try out the Vitale which we'd passed by on our way to the wonderful Ferry Building. What a difference; world's apart.

The staff practically bent over backwards to make us welcome and did their utmost to make sure we had everything we needed.

The room was fabulous. Having suffered too long trying to negotiate a bathroom the size of a broom cupboard at the Clift, I hardly wanted to leave the luxury of the one at the Vitale - sheer indulgence.

It cost us less to stay at the Vitale than the rip-off Clift, and I'm just sorry we didn't know then what we do now. The Vitale renewed our faith in San Francisco at a time where the Clift had all but destroyed it. Writen by scaramoosh on Tripadvisor.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/hotel/UserReview-Hotel_Vitale-411-1382442-12533-Hotel_Vitale.html http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/hotel/UserReview-Hotel_Vitale-411-1382442-12533-Hotel_Vitale.html Fri, 28 Aug 2009 22:42:18 +0000
<![CDATA[ Difficult topic, but important documentary]]>
With a lot of patience, the crew filmed for a year and caught about 24 suicides. This was done with high zoom cameras taken from the shore. This is an important tool in educating the public on the problem.

http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/movie/UserReview-The_Bridge-411-1531981-11448-Difficult_topic_but_important_documentary.html http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/movie/UserReview-The_Bridge-411-1531981-11448-Difficult_topic_but_important_documentary.html Sun, 19 Jul 2009 07:14:08 +0000
<![CDATA[ Noticed this review @ SFoodie: Hard-Times Hero: Americano's Champion Bartender Shakes Up Depression-]]>

Hard-Times Hero: Americano's Champion Bartender Shakes Up Depression-Era Classics

http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/restaurant/UserReview-Embarcadero_S_F_restaurant-411-1393379-10714-Noticed_this_review_SFoodie_Hard_Times_Hero_.html http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/restaurant/UserReview-Embarcadero_S_F_restaurant-411-1393379-10714-Noticed_this_review_SFoodie_Hard_Times_Hero_.html Thu, 18 Jun 2009 17:29:43 +0000
<![CDATA[ It Seems So Long Ago]]>
It Seems So Long Ago

Amos Lassen

If we have to pick a period that was golden for the GLBT community I suppose it was the seventies and early eighties. This is what Jack Fritscher writes about in "Some Dance to Remember". This is a novel that is a piece of our history as it recaptures gay life as it was during that magic period after Stonewall. The Castro and Folsom Street came into their own and it was the period that AIDS threatened to devastate us.
Our hero, Ryan O'Hara led a life of wild sex, love, abandon and fear. As a writer he came to San Francisco to find a way to express the voice of our lives as well as his own. He met Kirk Sorenson, a blonde bodybuilder who seems to be "all that". As the story of these two men takes place we are taken to the bars, the bathhouses, the porn, the sex and the entire scene. They are two very human people whose lives reflect our golden age. This was both the time of the blossoming and the apex of gay culture and Fritscher tells it all to us. He has recreated a world that is gone forever. There is a large cast of characters with real life men and women dropping in but the main character is not a person but San Francisco.
The book is brutally honest and this is a large novel but then it has to be to include all that was happening. Here is a story of human relationships and how we treat those that we love. It is a beautifully written love song to a city and a period of time that is gone forever. We learn what being gay all is about and we see how it is dealt with. It is a brilliant and wonderful look at life and everyone who really cares about being gay owes it to himself to read it.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/book/UserReview-Some_Dance_To_Remember_A_Memoir_novel_Of_San_Francisco_1970_1982_Southern_Tier_Editions_-411-1578714-124814-It_Seems_So_Long_Ago.html http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/book/UserReview-Some_Dance_To_Remember_A_Memoir_novel_Of_San_Francisco_1970_1982_Southern_Tier_Editions_-411-1578714-124814-It_Seems_So_Long_Ago.html Tue, 16 Jun 2009 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ Sex, Art, Salon, Pop Culture and Gay History]]>
Sex, Art, Salon, Pop Culture and Gay History

Amos Lassen

Jack Fritscher was the editor-in chief of "Drummer" Magazine, a magazine that included fiction, nonfiction, interviews, photography and film and video was one of a kind. It came into being in the 1970s and was one of the few reflections of gay life. This book is a collection of the best of "Drummer". It includes feature articles and fiction, an extensive bibliography, cover photographs, sex, art, gay history, interviews and reviews. I found it to be a nostalgic trip.
Fritscher was editor for 25 years and his comments are amazing. He began with "Drummer" in 1977 and he decided that the magazine should be reader-reflective. The magazine carried stories on gay liberation and it examined the movement as it grew. He also included drawings and photographs of men as the red-blooded animals that they are. However, Fritscher's main goal was eroticism. The magazine was to be recreational and fun.
The book is a book of documents from "Drummer" and it is incredible. For me it brought back great memories and is a wonderful way to look at how we lived once when the times were very much different.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/book/UserReview-Gay_San_Francisco_Eyewitness_Drummer_Vol_1_Issues_14_20_-411-1578754-124850-Sex_Art_Salon_Pop_Culture_and_Gay_History.html http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/book/UserReview-Gay_San_Francisco_Eyewitness_Drummer_Vol_1_Issues_14_20_-411-1578754-124850-Sex_Art_Salon_Pop_Culture_and_Gay_History.html Mon, 8 Jun 2009 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ Real concentration of industry heavyweights...]]>

Saturday's WordCamp in San Francisco had a range of excellent speakers, and while there weren't any major announcements, there was an abundance of great ideas. The two tracks mean that visitors always miss a few sessions, but here are some of the key takeaways from the ones I saw...

Matt Mullenweg: State of the Word

"Keep the core simple and let people do whatever they want," basically sums up the WordPress ethos. There was some discussion about the challenges of having GPL components (free/open source) versus paid solutions, and how these are starting to coexist more peacefully. WordPress is now the the fastest-growing skill on Elance.

P2 was discussed together with BuddyPress, which bring social networks to the CMS and presumably makes in-roads into the Drupal and Joomla! community.

Most popular plugins, according to Twitter survey:

3. Twitter plugin
2. Yet another related posts plugin
1. WPtouch

WordPress 2.8 is coming very soon - 2.7 was a big  release (and basically bug free). All the presentations from the show are available at WordPress.tv, where videos are open sourced and close captions are provided by the community. iPhone application has been successful and a Blackberry version is coming soon. Realtime I.M. notifications are now available in beta, built on top of Jabber (im.wordpress.com).

The major end announcement was that WordPressMU and WordPress.org are merging.

Tim Ferriss (Author of The Four Hour Work Week)

Tim made a number of excellent observations, based around the statistics he collects from his (very successful) blog. In no particular order, here are my favorites regarding blogs:

  • Write about problems, not people. Don't attack people. Topical posts are the least successful. Write about what you're genuinely interested in.
  • Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday are the busiest times of the week for his blog.
  • Remove Twitter feed and other outbound links at the top of your page to stop visitors leaving, and don't promote RSS (has a major impact on Google Adsense revenue).
  • Ignore SEO for the 1st draft of your post.
  • StumpleUpon's paid advertising is the cheapest source of traffic.
  • Uses CrazyEgg.com to visualize where users are clicking on the blog.
  • Changes the default word 'Categories' to 'Topics' to drive traffic.
  • Keep to one topic per post.
  • Use FlickR Creative Commons for royalty-free images.
  • A blog's critical minority is always the loudest.
  • Zero tolerance approach to abusive comments and spam stated at top of comment section had a major effect on simplifying message moderation.

Matt Cutts, Google

Matt's excellent presentation is posted on his blog, and here are some of the key thoughts:

  • 90% of blogs are spam and the number one request from bloggers is "I want to do better in Google".
  • GoogleBot considers over 200 factors in ranking your pages. Pages, not sites, are ranked.
  • "WordPress takes care of 80-90% of SEO" in the pure mechanics.
  • Google rewards sites that are relevant and reputable - this is the 'trick' to high ranking.
  • A description of the PageRank algorithm (see the presentation for details).
  • Avoid Backlink Obsession (BO) - low value inbound links don't help your ranking. High quality and relevant links do.
  • Translate your site into real English not technical speak or jargon - this helps both humans and search engines.
  • Use the Google Keyword tool find synonyms and commonly search terms around your topic.
  • Don't keyword-stuff.
  • In permalinks, use the custom structure %post name% for maximum SEO usage of the URL. Put keywords in URL.
  • Don't change old URLs if they don't comply.
  • Don't over-do the mechanics of SEO: write about what you know and love, and ranking will follow.
  • Build a reputation through original research, live blogging, finding a creative niche, making lists, creating code, being conversial (sometimes) and meeting people through social media.
  • Reduce bounce rate by using 'Show Related Posts' feature.
  • Security: keep WordPress updated and use .htaccess to limit IP access to your administration.
  • Use Google Webmaster Tools and Analytics to check most popular referrers and manage 404 errors.
http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/d/UserReview-WordCamp_San_Francisco_2009-411-1391292-10260-Real_concentration_of_industry_heavyweights_.html http://www.lunch.com/lovesanfran/reviews/d/UserReview-WordCamp_San_Francisco_2009-411-1391292-10260-Real_concentration_of_industry_heavyweights_.html Sun, 31 May 2009 23:12:19 +0000