Tuesday, May 26, 2009

KublaCon '09

Saturday was a long day of gaming at one of the major local game conventions, KublaCon. I arrived around noon to the Burlingame Hyatt and got situated with all of my gear. I can tell you that I was just about maxed out on what I can safely transport on my bike. Two organizers full of minis, and two messenger bags filled with all the other crap I might need. I got a free pass to the event for hosting the tournament and demo, a luxury usually reserved for the older more established players in my group, but a few couldn't make it so I volunteered.
Got a decent turnout for the demo, where I taught two youngsters how to play and my friend John showed up just in time to teach two more. There was a crazy guy (there are tons of kooks at the cons) dressed in a pseudo-nazi outfit and rocking the worst fake German accent and Axis shtick. "I must deliver this intel to mein fuhrer!" He lingered around but thankfully never got in a game.
As a side note these game conventions are a trip. Imagine every highly intelligent socially inept person you ever met and multiply that by a hundred (or maybe more). Add a lack of females (all under-age or over-weight) and silly costumes, think somewhere between a ren-faire and a trecky convention and you've just about got it. Now for the recusements.....
I should probably be more forthright about this whole thing, especially since I have been blogging about it quite a bit. I'm a nerd. Specifically (but not exclusively) a game nerd. More specifically a WWII game nerd. I have been playing, collecting, and competing in Axis & Allies Miniatures for about three years now. It's a turn based, hex map, card, and dice driven collectible WWII themed miniatures game by Avalon Hill (which is owned by Wizards of the Coast, which is owned by Hasbro). I'm a fixture on the forums and I own everything in the game with multiples of most stuff. I compete with the most advanced rules and play at the highest level. I'm good at it and I enjoy the play group that we have here in the Bay Area. They are great guys that I would not know otherwise, and I realize how disparate the many circles I run in can be and I appreciate that about myself.
Back to the con.....After we demoed the game for the young ones and got some lunch (crappy overpriced hotel/cafeteria food) we got set up for the tournament. No one that we don't know showed up to play so it was just the usual suspects, John, Scott, Dave and myself. I designed a progressive, by year, tournament in four rounds (1939,41,43,45) and it went well. I kicked major ass in the early war rounds and had the favor returned in the latter half of the tourny. Let's just say that my last two games were very forgettable at best. We played from 5pm until after midnight but got all the rounds in and had some prizes provided by Kubla so it was all around good fun even though it ended poorly for me. Above is a picture of my Commonwealth team from the last round just before it was demolished by some Germans..........I made a crucial mistake early and then my dice went cold cold cold..........

Friday, May 22, 2009

Conservative Talk Show Host Agrees To Be Waterboarded...

"Erich "Mancow" Muller, a Chicago-based conservative radio host, recently decided to silence the critics once and for all. He would undergo the procedure himself, and then he would be able to confidently convince others that it is not, in fact, torture."
- From Huffington Post

He lasts all of 4 seconds before completely changing his tune. This video should be shown on every news network that has pundits defending the practice. We did this 6 times a day for over a month to one detainee. I can't believe that there was any information that could have been withheld by anyone after the first day of such abuse, let alone the first week or the entire month.

Take a look (sorry about the ads):

And his opinion change after mere seconds of this:

Wake up America...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Redwood City Shores Gaming...

The one Kurt Gish is the man. He kindly hosts A&A Minis gaming night after hours at his work once a month or so. We use one of the boardrooms at the biotech firm he works for in Redwood City. My boy John picked me up at Millbrae BART and Kurt was nice enough to drop me off in the city on his way back to Oaktown (no headlight on my bike, now fixed). We gamed from 6pm til Midnight in the blink of an eye it seemed testing the format for the tournament I'm running this weekend at a local game convention aka KublaCon.
The gentleman that he is, Kurt provides dinner (different every time) and a few bottles of great red wine. We had awesome Thai food this time and bottles of Zin, Pinot, and Syrah. Nobody likes to miss game nights with Kurt so the turnout is consistent, and the games tend to be good ones. I lost twice, but hell I was just practicing for this weekend. Or something.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Giants Vs. Mets

Ahhhh, my favorite place on earth, 24 Willie Mays Plaza. Damn what a beautiful yard! Dodgers Stadium was like something out of the seventies. I half way expected the Brady Bunch to sing the National Anthem there.
Anyway, my buddy Ben that I grew up with called and told me he would be in the Bay Area (he lives in Humboldt county) for the weekend and he wanted to go to a Giants game. "I'm in!" I said. He arranged tix for the Giants Saturday game against the NY Mets and it was a scorcher. Must have been 85-90 in the sun, which is where our seats were. I sweated my ass off through the first half of the game and then had to find shade so I wandered around for a bit and found a cute concessions girl to flirt with. We had a good time even though the Giants lost and went to a bay side bar called the High Dive for drinks and appetizers after the game. Thanks for that Ben, I always enjoy a Giants game with friends!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Dirtybird at the Avalon Hollywood

After the awful experience of the previous post, Colin and I slunk back to his place with our tails between our legs. We chilled out for a while and decided to do dinner at an Indian food place within walking distance on Sunset. My boyhood friend Samah Tokmachi, who was my best friend from 1st thru 4th grades in New Mexico before I moved to California, lives in LA now and joined us for dinner. He found me on Friendster a few years back (remember Friendster?) and I have been trying to reconnect with him but I seldom spend much time in LA so I wanted to make an effort to see him while I was there. We reminisced about our youth and he pulled out some random stories about me that I had very little recollection of. Needless to say it's weird when someone has better memories of you than you have of yourself, especially when they are as unflattering as the stories he was telling. I won't go into detail about these scandalous musings.
Dinner was tasty and the conversation entertaining but it was getting late so we wrapped it up. Both Colin and Samah declined to join me for some clubbing in Hollywood even though they had said previously that they would. Colin had to work at 5am so I couldn't slight him there and maybe it was better for me to make a solo mission out of that evening anyway. I came very close to not going out at all, but Colin had to sleep and I wasn't ready for bed soooooo.......
When I saw that Dirtybird was promoting an event in Hollywood the weekend I thought that I would just have to go. I tried to get in touch with Justin for some guest list action but he never responded so I payed the $30 at the door to get in. Let me just say that I don't do a lot of clubbing usually, I'm more of a lounge/underground/outdoor party kinda guy. I generally stay away from the bridge & tunnel and meat-market crowd in SF. The Avalon Ballroom is right down on Hollywood and Vine and there was a lot of people out on a Saturday night in LA even at 1am when I arrived. The club was filled with guys, lots of guys, lots of old Asian guys, lots of old Asian guys on Ecstasy. And the strangest thing to me was all the people in the club wearing surgical masks. Yes, surgical masks. I would say at least ten percent of the crowd had them on. I think that is very strange. If you are that scared of H1N1 then stay home, right? That's the way I look at it.
I saw a few friends that are ex-bay area heads, which was nice, and eventually one of them gave me a wristband to go backstage, where all the SF folks were hanging out. I got the above shot of Claude VonStroke from there. I hung out totally sober until 4am with people rolling their faces off all around me then I headed out. It was pretty cool I guess. It's just weird to pay so much to see DJs that I can see on the cheap at home. The venue was cool though and now I can add this "clubbing in Hollywood" story to the annals of my personal history.
Got back to Colin's shortly before he woke for work and slept a deep deep sleep. Sunday would include a painful ride home and I really needed to rest up for that.....

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Entering the Heart of Darkness (aka Dodger Stadium)

I'll start at the beginning, and that's waking up on Colin's couch. Colin has breakfast made, eggs cooked perfectly, white sharp cheese, avocado and toast with butter. I am sad because I can't eat more than half of it. I have trouble eating before I've been awake for a couple of hours, I have no idea why.
We eat, shower and dress, then roll out and into the neighborhood. There's a farmer's market around the corner and it's a good one. Its a triangular park that borders Sunset and they turn it into the most perfect little street fair with great produce, art, and lovely, interesting people walking around everywhere. I was particularly struck by the all female acoustic guitar/ukulele quartet that had a south American/Peruvian vibe and dress.
We proceeded to Colin's work Intelligentsia on Sunset. They are the quintessential scientific/European coffee bar. Only coffee and pastries, but with lines out the door and onto the sidewalk. Colin and I had a "Gibraltar" which is like a latte' in a shot glass. He forbade me from adding any sweetener. It was good. Then we had a $7 cup of coffee. Yes, a cup of coffee, for $7. Again I was forbidden from adding cream or sugar. Heaven forbid I disturb the flavors of the co-op grown, single plot, organic, fair trade, artisan coffee beans. It was ok. If I wasn't getting it for free then I wouldn't have had this experience, so I try to go with the flow.
Now I must begin one of the saddest stories of my life; that of watching my beloved Giants play like a farm team at Dodger Stadium. They won Friday handily, and Sunday after 13 innings, but on Saturday it was sad. Just sad.
Let me preface by telling you about the build up to this game. I wore my Giants gear into Yankee stadium to see my team, and I wasn't going to be cowed into forsaking my allegiances in enemy territory. Let me be clear. I hate the Dodgers. Hate. It's a strong word. Being in an edifice devoted to the glorification of this franchise was an affront to every sensibility that I posess. But I digress....What I was trying to say was that everyone was telling us to be scared to go to Dodger Stadium. "You're gonna get beat up/spit on/beer stained/food thrown on you, etc." Colin was reading me online reports of Giants fans getting stabbed in the parking lot, and when the security spotted our Giants lids upon entry they told us to watch our backs. I NEVER want to have security anywhere tell me to watch my back....and needless to say there was some apprehension on our part. We quickly found our seats and stayed there until the 3rd inning.
The game was a joke. I had given Colin the lowdown on the Giants' most exciting rookie starter, Pablo Sandoval, so of course he didn't play. His replacement Juan Uribe, played unbelievably bad defense and the Giants had 4 hits in the game. They lost 8 to 0 and gave up RBI hits to the Dodger's backup shortstop (a Double A player), and the pitcher Stultz, who threw a complete game 4 hit shutout. It was quite possibly the worst Giant's baseball game that I have ever seen. Listening to thousands of Dodger's fans (who showed up in the 3rd inning and left in the 8th) cheering in this game was one of the most painful torments I have had to face as a man.
We never got beat up. In fact the worst we got was a "Giants suck!" here and there. I speculate that it might have been different on a drunken Friday night game that the Giants win. Overall I'm glad we went. Go Giants! The Dodgers dogs were not very good and besides the weather there was nothing in Dodger Stadium that was better than we have in SF. Not one thing.

Friday from SF to LA...

The ride down was long but I made good time on Interstate 5. The weather was warm and sunny but not hot (thank God). I5 is long and straight and fast but boooooooring. I managed to make it on two fill ups, and averaged 44 miles per gallon which is pretty solid. I was stiff and sore when I got to Colin's house but he had cold beer waiting and that was real nice of him.
We decided to do the Kogi Taco Truck which is this famous vendor that uses Twitter to advertise their location. It happens to be a different spot every time I guess. I heard of them on NPR when a corespondent went for some shortrib tacos and did a piece for the radio. A film crew was there that night filming as Colin and I waited as well. They start serving at 10pm but folks begin to line up around 9 and you can guess what that means. Yes, we waited an hour and 20 minutes for our food but were smart enough to stop for Al Pastor (Mexican BBQ Pork) tacos at a competitor on the way to keep us from dying of low blood sugar while we waited.
After the long wait (the line went around the corner for Pete's sake) we both ordered one each of the pork, beef, & chicken tacos and they were good. Damn good! With sesame, chili, and kim-chee flavors smothering the BBQ meats wrapped in corn tortillas it was seriously tasty! Well worth the effort. Colin had an Korean Aloe soda (yes Aloe like the plant they use in lotion) and I had a Korean rice punch with actual pieces of rice swimming around in it, both in those little aluminum cans they serve on airlines sometimes. I didn't try the aloe but the rice punch was soooooo good! Kinda like a rice iced tea with little chunks of rice floating around on top. Surprisingly tasty, I have resolved to find some to buy. I will have to find it in a Korean grocery store most likely.
After our well deserved meal, hunger is the best spice after all, we rode back to Colin's along the Silver Lake Reservoir road (very nice) and stopped to pick up a bottle of scotch. We drank that in honor of our Grandfather Charles Byrne, who I am told was a scotch man, until we were sloshy and talking about old times, and then we passed out happy. That ends Friday.

Ps. The moon was very full that night and bright on all the palm trees......

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Back Log Blog......

I have so much to write about from my trip to Los Angeles. I can't get it all done today but here's a little preview of the great stuff I did in the lo-cal.....

Friday 5•8•09:
• Rode the Silver Lake Resovoire road to get authentico Al Pastor tacos to tide us over while waiting 1.5 hours in line for the.....
• Kogi Taco Truck....Yes the world famous Kogi Korean BBQ taco truck. Long wait but well worth it....

Saturday 5•9•09:
• Silver Lake Farmer's Market.....Right around the corner from Colin's place every Saturday. Great booths, cool little park with grass & fountain and street musicians......
• Intelligentsia......Colin's work, where coffee is a science and the line is long all day....
• Giants Vs. Dodgers.....Don't want to talk about the game. =[ There were some moments worth relating but the game was a disaster.
• Dinner with my boyhood best friend from New Mexico, Samah Tokmachi, which was very nice, except that he knows more about my childhood than I do which is an odd feeling....
• Dirtybird at the Avalon Hollywood.....Can you say old asian guys, people rolling their brains out and get this; surgical masks are apparently the new style in the LA club scene. Saw some ex-bay heads though and represented to the fullest.

Sunday 5•10•09:
• Slept in.
• Called Mom.
• Got coffee and wrote this while waiting for Colin to get off from his Sunday morning shift. Taking 5 back instead of 101 because I don't want my ass to suffer the additional travel hours.....late!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Fine Flyer....

This is a flyer I made for my friend Sam's Dj gig at Otis in SF. I am very proud of how it came out... Click to see full size...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

L.A. Here I Come!

I'm leaving work at noon tomorrow and riding my MC down to Los Angeles for a weekend of hell raising and warm weather. The Giants are playing the now Manny-less Dodgers all weekend and my best Cousin Colin and I are going to brave the ravine to support the Orange and Black on Saturday. There is also a Dirtybird party in Hollywood that night that I would like to check out.
It's a 5-1/2 hour ride from Oakland to LA. I may be able to slice a little time off that by speeding dangerously, but I will need to stop occasionally to stretch and rehydrate so it should even out. If all goes well I should be in LA by 6:00 or 6:30 depending on traffic. I'm a little intimidated by the ride but it's also an exciting prospect. Interstate 5 is fast but unbelievably boring so I'm considering coming back on 101 when I return Sunday. There are some crazy wildfires in Santa Barbara though so I will have to keep up with the latest on that before making my move to come back.
Colin lives in Silver Lake which is supposed to be nice but I'm also looking forward to cruising around Hollywood/Beverly Hills/Santa Monica on our motorcycles just to get a look around the joint. It's supposed to be in the 80's all weekend and that sounds real nice. I am afraid that even though I have lived in SF for almost 13 years, I have not been to SoCal. The last time I was in LA was when I was 15 or 16, or like half of my lifetime ago. I know, that's weird right? Watch out Los Angeles, here comes trouble........=]

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Mo Mondays.....

I bought a Danglet for my iPhone a while back, and though I like it and think it's a good product, I haven't used it for months. It's basically an adaptor for the iPhone that allows you to wear it around your neck on a lanyard. I had however managed to show it off to my friend Tad when I was still using it and he thought it might be a good thing to have for his trip to Amsterdam. He has a language translation App, a guidebook, maps, and currency conversions all on his iPhone("there's an app for that"). What a great travel tool if you prepay the data roaming, as Tad has done. Anyway, Tad wasn't able to acquire a Danglet before his flight today, as they are only available online, so I sold him mine. It's been in the bottom of my Timbuk2 for a while now so I figured I should let him take it off my hands.
He picked me up yesterday and we went to Triple Crown for Mo Mondays happy hour. Triple Crown is the new locals club. All of SFs best local DJs and monthly/weekly parties have found a great home at this little club. Back2Back, Bionic, Down Like This, Lights Down Low, David Harness, Halo, J Boogie, etc. etc... The very high ceilings painted black have an underground aesthetic that I like but it's roomy, and classy without being too marina about it. Tad's friend Joel who's DJ moniker is Joe L, was spinning soul n funk 45s when we arrived and he and the boys (DJ Effective, L.I.A. aka legal ill alien-pictured above) held it down as long as I was there with some choice classic and underground hip hop. They serve good tacos and other food as well as daily drink specials, I think I might have to spend a little more time down there and maybe dust off the old hip hop crate/45s every now and then on a Monday......

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Pioneer of the Nile...

I had a great time Saturday at my friend's Chris's Kentucky Derby party, and got totally smashed on mint juleps. Those things are sooooo damn good! Add the slightest bit of sugar to bourbon and it tastes like southern sweet tea.
There was a drawing for $5 a head and I made a great pick: Pioneer of the Nile! If that damn 50-1 "Mine a Bird" hadn't staged the upset of the Derby I would have won like $80 but oh well...so I got the second place prize of $20.
The drawing made the race a lot more exciting and there was lots of hootin and hollering both during the lineup and the actual race. Never really got into the Derby before but I enjoyed it thoroughly. Chris was a wonderful host as usual, he has a very nice flat on Market between Twin Peaks and the Castro. There was tons of beer and mint juleps as I mentioned, as well as authentic Fried Chicken of Kentucky origin (no not KFC, the real deal, I had like 5 pieces), derby pie, and sliders with Kentucky beer cheese. Yum!
I was without my MC for the weekend (I garaged it at work on a very rainy Friday evening) so I was free to get as hammered as possible and I took full advantage. Public transportation treated me very well all weekend and the hangover was minimal.
And that brings me to my last point. How exactly does one "mine a bird"?