Tuesday, August 11, 2009


I was sifting through boxes of miscellaneous junk from a past life when I came across this relic of the 80s I don't remember having: Duckphone.

Maia models Duckphone. Then, Duckphone is an integral part of any powerful gentleman's table arrangement.

It may have come from Radio Shack, but I only recall ever having purchased a "futuristic" neon tube-filled phone from them in the distant past. Whatever the case, you are looking at my new method of land line communication: Conversation through the hollowed-out body of a wooden waterfowl.

Update: Duckphone does indeed work! However, it doesn't seem to possess the ability to ring, but that may be balanced by the reality that its eyes light up with red LEDs when you pick it up. Is Duckphone possessed by demons of technology's past or just misunderstood? Time--possibly our screams--will tell.


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Are There Drive-Ins in Addis Ababa?

It's been just over one week since I bid Japan adieu and to celebrate my homecoming Maia and I wanted to have a night out in SF bumbling around the Mission. I have to admit, I have my doubts about the Mission: While there is cause for frisson somewhere in this neighborhood at any given time, packed with whatever elusive element makes San Francisco the fabulous, enjoyably quirky place it is, the old dot-com hangers-on and hipster crowd always held me at bay. I usually come for the food and stay for nothing else.

Not this night though. We were drawn in by two events, first the 3-Minute Film Festival happening at the artist co-op Root Division, and second an event known as Writers With Drinks, a sort of stand-up/book reading/talk show amalgam that was put on at the Make Out Room. Well, we tried the Make Out room first, but that was a no-go because of a line halfway down the block of people waiting to poach the spots of anyone foolish enough to leave. Far too impatient and hungry to play that game we moved on to Valencia and looked for some grub. The film festival had already begun, but we didn't care--we'd found Ethiopian heaven.

I think Ethiopian is one of the neglected awesome cuisines of the world. You eat a sort of veggie or meat (or both) stew, called a "wat", with a flimsy, spongy piece of bread and using just your hands. No utensils whatsoever. The sense of freedom this instills in me is the real star of the meal. I think we all tend to use tools so often in our lives at work or even in play that we forget there're times it's fine to just use our natural talents, abilities and, um...apendages. Try it, you'll like it.

Cleaned up and stomachs filled (but only just--the portions were perfect) we caught the second half of the film festival after a brief wait outside while space was made in the cramped warehouse workspace. Some people say "Let he who is without fault throw the first stone," but I'm not one of them, so let me tell you that most of the films were conceptual garbage. Granted there's not much one can do with a scant three minutes of allowed footage, but panning around a CG image of exploded red glass with a hyper-annoying whistle in the background, sealing a video camera in a plastic baggie and taking it underwater to film some kid in a pool, etc. do not make enjoyable viewing. On the plus side there were several entertaining or visually exciting entries and I give those artists major kudos.

So now that I've bashed the baddies you're probably saying I should put my money where my mouth is and you know, I think I will. Anyone have a digital camera I can borrow?


Thursday, August 6, 2009

This Is Most Definitely NOT Summer

I believe it was Mark Twain that said "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco", and once again I am living that reality. From sunny, muggy jungle heat (sexy!) to overcast, windy gloom: Oh, what a difference 5000 miles or so makes.

Back home...those two words are so loaded I cringe a bit every time I stumble into saying them to someone. I suppose I feel a bit like an international vagabond now, a scoundrel not flying a flag very long in any single place for the past several years, instead jumping back and forth between cosmopolitan San Francisco, the secluded Japan of Oita Prefecture and slow-paced Castro Valley. A segment of the first two will always define a part of me, while the third I'm trying to cut off with a machete as if it were some evil conjoined twin on my shoulder.

For now Maia and I have set up a sort of Hooverville within my parent's house with our collective mass of bags taking up the back room because they can't possibly fit into my old corner cave. How long we will live in the beautiful-yet-soulless hills of the East Bay depend entirely on how many job offerings we can find for positions that won't smother our spirit for life and then how many of those employers even want to speak to us. As of now the count is many of the former and zero of the latter.


Such is the way of things.