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10/19/2009  — 

HELL -- Your Soundtrack For Halloween

A few years back, the Greacens hosted a halloween party and decided to put some spooky sounds together to complete the mood. A friend and I ad-libbed a few lines and performed some spookiness with random junk in my studio: sticks, a violin, and a few microphones.

The result: four minutes and six seconds of HELL.

Go ahead and download 20091015_hell_001.mp3 (~5mb) for your own nefarious purposes.

Blast it on the home hi-fi during the trick-or-treat hours and see how many kit-kats you have leftover. Let me know how you use HELL.

Enjoy! See you in hell.

09/28/2009  — 

Story of a Surfboard: SF Green Ten-Footer

Like all my boards, this one came to me via Craigslist. Unlike the rest, this green 10-footer is a magic board. The 'magic board' is a special match-up between the traits of a surfboard and the style/strength of its surfer. Swaylocks is loaded with posts about magic boards.

I found the ad on CL while I was travelling. A quick email and call to a friend arranged a pickup. J & J completed the transaction for me. They met the seller at his house in SF who told them that he had used the board for tandem surfing. He was leaving SF and didn't want to bring the board along. J & J squeezed it into their hatchback (somehow) and brought it over when I got back to town.

The brand is SF, a small board-making operation and surfshop in San Francisco. It's a sweet-looking board: Nice green tint, 10' x 23" x3.5", triple-stringer, big fin in the finbox. Big, round rails and lots of volume. Kinda heavy though: lots of glass. When it gets into a wave, it really screams down the line. I've taken it to Linda Mar on small days, Ocean Beach on big days: the board works amazingly well in all conditions. Magic.

A few years back, I experienced a mishap. I paddled out at Linda Mar for a rare midweek after-work session. The waves had some energy and the paddle out took timing and paddle-energy. One incoming wave brought a surprising payload toward me: some hairy dude mis-timed his duck dive and ended up catching the wave backwards. The dude's fin jammed into and cut through the nose of my board. Sure, better the board than my shoulder or neck -- still I had a hole about 'that big' in my heart. Would this kill the magic?

I took the board up to the SF surf shop for repairs. Let John Schultze the board's maker fix it and it'll be good as new. John did a great job with it. When I picked up the board, he remembered making it. We talked about it a bit:

John: "Have you tried it in Bolinas? I made it for that wave."

Me: "Why yes, I have. In fact this board seems to really sing on the waves at Bolinas. It's a perfect match."

Me: "Can you make me an EXACT replica? 3-stringers, single-fin, resin tint? that and the magic. Don't leave out the magic. Oh yeah -- and a tail-block."

John: "Nope. Can't work with giant blanks like that anymore."

Me: gasp! "Then I better take care of this thing."

Today, the board is mostly watertight. Lots of little dings and spider-cracks put this thing at risk for getting waterlogged and eventually destroying it (not to mention hairy dudes who can't duckdive). Each year around my birthday I wax this thing up and drag it up to Bolinas for some magic.

Bottom and tail
Bottom
Deck
Detail of the scar on the nose
More scar
Dimensions

I meant to post a rocker-shot too, I'll do this later.

The deck has the dimensions and says 'For Scott at Ocean Beach'. Who is Scott? Why did he sell the board? What's he surfing now?

10/09/2008  — 

New Crop of Food TV

A chilly sunrise greeted us this morning, it's the second of the Bay Area's three winters. Like the first one in August, this is a false winter (we'll likely have a brief summer in early November when the Santa Anna winds stoke the wildfires (and the surfers)). Still, the chill reminded me of impending bumpercrop of pomegranates, figs, and of course the harvest up in the valley,

This particular false winter also makes me think about the new crop of TV programming, specifically food shows popping up with the new season.

'Spain... On The Road Again' is Spanish road trip that has more in common with soap operas on daytime TV than Kerouac. Just look at this synopsis:

"Mark's moods swings and insatiable appetite have the road trippers stopping often as they head north to Galicia. While in Ribera del Duero wine country, Mario grills milk-fed lamb in a vineyard. While staying at a traditional county inn, Mario's competitive edge emerges and he and Gwyneth race Mark and Claudia on the Camino de Santiago, a historic pilgrimage route. Back at the inn, Mario and Gwyneth cook dinner while waiting for Mark and Claudia to get back."

What works:

  • The Bittman/Batali combination is always fun.
  • Claudia Basoles: she's lovely.
  • The foods: they get to eat off the beaten trail.
  • Batali reminiscing about his childhood experiences in Europe.

What doesn't work:

  • The gang is going to seem way out of touch if they don't switch to motoring around Spain in hybrids. They swing a little too far down the bonvivant scale at times.
  • The soundtrack: an ibericized-version of Willie Nelson's on the road again. Again and again.
  • GP's food conflicts: won't eat meat but is still hungry all the time.

I like Alton Brown's Feasting On Waves for a bunch of reasons. Back in my youth I had my own Caribbean experience, so this show brings back a few memories.

What works:

  • Alton's always good for some foodie fun.
  • getting way off the beaten trail and connecting with people
  • The way the show seems like one giant boondoggle. I imagine the pitch: "yeah, we're taking the whole crew down to the Caribbean to tool around on a few sailboats. We'll film the whole thing and you can edit it together for a few episodes. Oh yeah -- you'll need to pay us too."

What doesn't:

  • The hand held camera-action is a little nuts. Are they trying to share the seasickness experience?
  • They kinda seem rushed. Relax mon! Take it Island speed.
  • The relentless soundtrack just won't, well... relent.
  • The color and haze of the picture. Did the salt ruin all the gear? Why does it seem like we're watching this through gauze?
  • Lay off the lat-lon stuff, ok? Seems Alton's penchant for gadgetry extends to the handheld GPS too.

Let's see if I can borrow a scene (sorry about the autoPlay, can't seem to stop it)

Gourmet's Diary Of A Foodie has turned out to be my favorite show of the moment. Another Zero Point Zero production. ZPZ produces Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations show. D.O.A.F. uses some of the same 'local experts' that have helped No Reservations get the inside scoop on foodie goodies.

What works:

  • Awesome variety
  • good in-depth kitchen time with some amazing chefs (Grant Achatz, José Andrés, many others)
  • great insiders! Gourmet's connections have really opened up some interesting doors in these episodes
  • Local connections: Plenty of action in the bay area, plus I've come across s(e.g. Saw an episode about Jersey Cow butter that looked so fresh and good, then came across fresh jersey cow butter at the ferry plaza farmers market).
  • The demonstration sections: they bring technique and flavor into reach.

What doesn't work:

  • those disembodied hands wailing on a computer keyboard to into each episode are a little freaky.
  • Need more episodes! Looks like there are only two seasons.

Maybe I can borrow an episode for a bit:

I'm missing shows too of course. I haven't seen this Bourdain thing called At The Table. Yet. We're probably due for another excellent Top Chef series any month. Can't wait to read along with the amuse-biatch blog (often as entertaining as the episodes it covers). Of course, there hasn't been another installment of Daniel Boulud's After Hours (one of my all-time favs.). Chef Boulud, please return soon, we miss you!

Edit: Uh, so I stupidly forgot to mention on more great show that's started a new season. Stupid because this is probably my motivation for putting this post together.

Check, Please! Bay Area dished out a few new episodes to start its thrid season. This locally produced show's winning combination involves inviting 3 people to introduce and compare their favorite restaurants. The discussion and food porn are usually a lot of fun.

What works:

  • Love the local focus. We watch and cheer for our favorite restaurants, debate where we'd take people, and add new destinations to our list.
  • Leslie Sabracco keeps the conversation lite and fun. She's an expert with wines and drinks and usually brings an interesting factoid about a restaurant's wine list.
  • The series has a bunch of good stuff online. In addition to each broadcast there are blogs, restaurant profiles, flickr streams, embeddable videos.
  • Broadcasts are in true HD.

What doesn't work:

  • The DVR ends up recording everything because they never signal when an episode is new.

Hey look, they've moved all their videos onto YouTube.

I suspect someone will export this formula to the other restaurant-rich markets.

What restaurant would you bring to the show?

06/12/2008  — 

Ryan & Chris score surfings hat trick.

We did it. For mishaps during AM surfing, we are now 3 for 3. First, I bonked my jaw on my board and earned an unscheduled trip to the emergency room. The following week, we experienced donutus interruptus due to a work emergency (unscheduled site outage). Today Ryan experienced surfus interruptus when his board split clear in two. No, it wasn't an epic day at Linda Mar.

  • Ryan: Wanna buy a board cheap?
  • Other guy: Looks like you have two boards.
  • Ryan: Today it's 2 for 1.

Look at the anguish:

Kinda neat looking in there. No stringer, just air. The aluminum honeycomb is a neat material too.

04/18/2008  — 

April in Carneros

April in Carneros is happening this weekend. We stumbled upon a few really nice wines when we went last year. The vineyards along Las Amigas in Los Carneros is turning out to be one of our favorite spots in the whole Napa/Sonoma area.

Our favorites from the last April in Carneros included:

  • Bouchaine (web became members there)
  • Ceja (head there every chance we get)
  • Richardson (the 'garage in the field': barrel tastings of tasty Pinot )
  • McKenzie-Mueller (outrageously tasty Cabernet Franc from their library)

01/29/2008  — 

GoFish spilled, again...

01/28/2008  — 

Break-ins at Lafayette BART Station

01/18/2008  — 

CC, the Casual Carpool

08/05/2007  — 

Carneros loop

04/05/2006  — 

Sonoma Bikeride