Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Title change owing to a decision to live an unconventional life in 2010

The title of this blog (formerly "Was That Fun or What?") is being changed to, "365 Days At Jack's Bar & Lounge". (map link)

Why the change?

One, I like Jack's a lot.

Two, I meet interesting people there every single time I visit; many of them from the neighborhood.  (Hell of a lot easier than randomly knocking on your neighbor's door and introducing yourself, hey.)

Three, I get to drink alcohol (don't poo poo it; it's fun in moderation).

Four, it's part of my plan to rule the world and embrace the art of non-conformity in 2010.

Five, I get to listen to cool music, whether Chris Burkhardt (guessing on the spelling there) playing his steel guitar every first and third Sunday of the month; Dave and KC who spin the reggea every Monday night (see riddim 2009 for playlist samplings or listen to them on KKUP 91.5 lunchtime on Monday and afternoon to evening transition on Fridays)  or DJ Benofficial on Wednesdays. There's also the booty song ("Booty Man" by Tim Wilson) from the jukebox; I never get tired of hearing that song and it gives me an excuse to stare at ass (beg your pardon: very nice behinds).  ;)

Six (this really should be number one on the list) the bartenders and door people are Gods (yes, capital "G" there).

Seven, Jack's hosts fun events like Jell-O Wrestling and White Trash Christmas parties.

Eight, the conversations are off the wall fun. Today alone I participated in a conversation that discussed the emergence of the internet, how many bar patrons have written "tweets", whether or not The Curious Case of Benjamin Button sucked (as one patron put it, "It's a Fairy Tale!  Those don't take three hours to tell!"), then transitioned to how to survive a car crash in Mexico where you break five ribs, puncture a lung and still successfully recover 90% of your belongings two months later, then ended it all with the bartender tripping over a case of beer (don't tell OSHA, those guys have absolutely no sense of humor; besides, we three wise men checked the bartender out post-fall and she was fine save for a crooked finger). 

Jack's really is made of winbricks and lovemortar.

I'd write up a "nine" and "ten" but I think you'd be far better served by halting your review of this blog and instead get yourself over to Jack's ASAP. 

It's far more fun experiencing Jack's than it is reading about it.

See you there!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Thinking About Places To Take A Trip To

So I'm reading a website I found through google reader called Study Hacks and going about the process of following all the links on it to other useful websites (like Zen Habits), and like so many other "ooh, look what I found on the internet!" moments I followed a link there to this awesome website called The Art of Non-Conformity.

There the website author posed a rather thought provoking question: What's the one place in the world you'd like to visit someday?

Damn. Good. Question.

So I got to thinking about it and the result I came up with was London, England. I totally dig English accents of all kinds and would quite frankly be a happy camper sitting in some English pub, feigning interest in whatever soccer match was playing while eavesdropping on every voice in the place.

So I added my little comment to that effect on the non-conformity website and moved on with my web surfing.

But as I got to thinking about it (well, thinking about the Jason Bourne movies) I realized I've always wanted to visit Moscow. I love reading National Geographic articles about the former Soviet Union (why do I always find them in tattoo shops in San Francisco, I wonder?) and Moscow in particular.

And then there's Germany. It's where my Dad's side of the family is from and I feel like I ought to go there even though I don't really identify with the place beyond the concept of drinking lots and lots and lots of beer and I've had a bad vibe going with Germany since every online discussion I've ever had with someone from there has always been with them being, well, so damned absolute/it's-this-and-not-that/rigid. Still want to visit the place, though.

Maybe I should go there just to find some counter-culture Germans who aren't all about toeing the party line (whatever that may be).

Gawd and then there's Tokyo, Japan. I have to admit it'd be fun to walk in a heavy population center where I'm at least half a head taller than everyone else (I promise to laugh on the inside). After that, I want to get on a bullet train and go really fast.

Hrm....London, Germany, Moscow, Tokyo.

So yeah, thinking about places to travel to is fun. Now to master the "making it happen" part.

Oh and by the way, where's the one place you want to travel to?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Just Go To Jack's Bar & Lounge in San Jose, CA

Really, that's it. 

Because Jack's is pure fun, every minute of it. 

I could try and quantify it more, but there's no need.

Just put yourself there, then put everyone around you before yourself.

And it works.

Just.  Like.  That.

Special thanks to Patty, Dave, Rina, Jeff, Andy, "Old School" Gary, "Not Jay, Not Doug" Marcus, "Fast Hands" Amy, "Grab Your Soul and Give It A Loving Squeeze" KC, "Ricola" Nicola and "To Good For Word" Daisy for adding your special flavors to tonight's entree. 

You all rock.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Revisiting Games

I don't know about you, but I like to revisit board games that I haven't played in some time. I've blogged previously about playing chess with my housemates and the fun we have playing that game and learning not just how to play it, but how each of us plays in our own way. It's gotten to be fun playing the other player and not just playing the game.

Today I busted out the Go set (actually I have two of them; not sure how that happened). One of my housemates picked the rules up off the kitchen table and said something like, "I haven't played this in forever." If I wasn't so sick I would have tried to convince him to play then and there.

Regardless, him reading the rules is a good sign.

Since I've never quite figured the game of Go out (the rules always leave me confused), I decided to watch some tutorials on YouTube...and I'm still confused. ;) Seriously, I'm getting there. See tutorial #1 for yourself: 

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I Have Fallen Prey To Cute Kitten Videos

Cute kitten videos are like crack cocaine.  You see one, you want more.  When you don't get a good video, you get mad but that only doubles your need to find and watch more cute kitten videos.

I now attempt to addict you:

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday With A Prairie Home Companion

Note to self: Prairie Home Companion will be in San Francisco in January!

Spent a bit of time today listening to A Prarie Home Companion. Today's show is in New York and features Karan Casey and Sara Watkins. Now there's a pair of ladies with incredible, beautiful voices.  Have a listen.

OK, so this show is just awesome. It's funny, smart and features musical guests that you almost never hear on any other station on the radio -did you know who either Karan or Sara were before now? Though sometimes they feature known musicians - and they sound awesome.

They made a movie about it awhile back that was pretty good.  It's not a documentary, mind.

I like how A Prairie Home Companion is a stage show, but also classic, old school radio. They do all their own sound effects on stage (many of them by voice) and everything on the stage goes right onto the airwaves, so for people listening in it's totally evocative. Grabs your imagination and puts you right into the show.

They have several regular parts to the show, whether Guy Noir, the Powerdermilk Biscuit Break, Rhubarb Pie and so on.

Sometimes it's kooky. Sometimes it's weird. But it's always up to date and manages to both celebrate and make fun of whatever city the show is in.

And that's the news from Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking and the children are above average.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Testing Some Code - Kevin Smith talks Twilight At San Diego Comic Con

Hehe Kevin Smith Rocks!

Just testing the code on this video to see if it works in the blog.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Dinner at Harry's Hofbrau in Redwood City

OMG Yum!

Yes when I think of Harry's Hofbrau, whether it be their San Jose location (my favorite) off of Saratoga Road or their old school, been there forever Redwood City location off of Woodside Road on El Camino Real, I think Oh-My-God-This-Is-So-Good-Yum!  (Sorry, "nom nom nom" just doesn't cut it.)

What I like the most about Harry's Hofbrau is of course their massive menu of food. Turkey, baked hams, roast beef, pastrami, corned beef, pork loin, a variety of Harry's Carvery Sandwiches, gravy, real mashed potatoes, stuffing, salads, soups, pies and plenty of sodas, beers, wines and water to drink. What's not to love?

Yesterday's trip was my first ever to their Redwood City location, as the San Jose restaurant was closed for Thanksgiving. I went in anticipating long lines and long waits, but it wasn't bad at all. By my count the time spent in line was no more than 15 minutes. I caught up with the news on my blackberry and took in the interior to pass the time.  Everyone was relaxed and friendly and the smell of mouthwatering turkey was everywhere.

For Thanksgiving, Harry's pared down their menu.  For $16.95 you got your choice of two dinners, either turkey (light and dark meat) or ham. With the dinner comes your choice of hearty steamed sliced carrots or green beans, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, apple or pumpkin pie and a tall glass of soda, iced tea or coffee. Drink refills are free.

I opted to sit at the bar and watch the game. Now here's the cool part: the people behind the bar are old school. I.e., they've been working at Harry's for a long time and they're very serious about taking good care of you. I did not once have to ask for my soda or water glasses to be refilled. Either Pam or Ema were always one step ahead of me, filling my glass up before I could think to ask. They also have real whipped cream behind the bar. When it came time for me to start on the pumpkin pie, Ema was right there asking me if I wanted whipped cream on it. AWESOME!

While at the bar I had the chance to talk with a Redwood City local who was playing hooky from his sister (he was supposed to be in Half Moon Bay for Thanksgiving Dinner but fibbed and said he was sick). Between this guy and Ema I learned a whole bunch about the history of this particular Harry's location.

They talked about people who used to work at Harry's as though it were yesterday. There's a picture up on the wall next to the serving line of a man (whose name I failed to note) that worked for sixty two years at Harry's. Sixty two years! The picture is right next an autographed picture of the cast from the Wizard of Oz.

So the guy next to me and Ema (who has been there since the early 1970s) talked about the guy in the picture and numerous other people who were either employees or regulars there. That was fun to listen to.

My conversation with the guy shifted to the history of the place. I learned that at one point there was a meat market attached to the same building as the restaurant and run by restaurant owners, that would sell whole sides of meet to the public. Because it was so cold they had coats at the ready for customers when they came inside.

Also the section of the restaurant where I sat that contains the bar and extra seating used to be a separate establishment called "The Question", which was a gay bar.

When Harry's took over, they redid the bar, put in mirrored glass (the guy who I sat next to is the one who put the mirrored glass in; he also insisted it be two pieces per section and not one whole piece), the etched image of an eagle in the center glass of the bar and so on. I also learned that in memory of the gay bar the company who redid the parking stripes outside initially painted them in pink and left some crude jokes about Harry on the asphault in pink as well.

Ultimately I couldn't finish my meal so I took the rest of it to go. That's when Penny introduced herself and Ema to me.  How cool is that? 

As I walked out of Harry's, I left with more than just enough food for a late dinner. I left with a great impression of Harry's Hofbrau in Redwood City and a kind of comfortable feeling about the place, like I already knew everyone and felt certain they'd both remember me and be happy to see me when I came back.

And of course I can't wait to go back!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Take A *ME* Day, Why Don't You?

Every so often it's good to just drop everything and take a ME day.  Just stop wherever you're at and get to focusing on several things you want to do that are fun.
Today that's what I did.
My ME day started around 4 p.m.  Went to the movies to see New Moon.  It was a blast.  Lolz I admit I'm a fan of the Twilight Series and I'm ready for the third movie already!
After I went to Target because I wanted to buy a copy of Star Trek on DVD.  And I did.  So there.  :P
But before going home to watch it I stopped at Jack's for a quick beer.  Saw a bunch of regulars on both sides of the bar and behind the turntable.  I love it when Dave is the DJ. 
Wish I could have stayed longer, but Star Trek awaits!  So off to home I went and watched the movie.
Big THANK YOU and a shout out to Mom for making this ME day possible!  I had a blast!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Talking With Mom Rules!

Last night I had a good, long talk with my mother. I don’t do that nearly as often as I should, particularly since I'm getting older and a little wiser to the fact that she's a font of useful knowledge and advice, which I most certainly can use right now.

What I like about talking with her is that she's really quite good at breaking a problem or set of issues down to their constituent parts and then very subtly walking you towards a solution.

In another life I think she'd have made a superb guidance councilor. My mom keeps it real and knows how to get other people to do the same.

Call your mother. If you don't have a mother to call, call your father. Failing that, call a brother, sister, wife, husband, kid, whatever.

Family is important. Use it while you've got it, hey?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

You're Not Listening To NPR Why?

I Love NPR!

Turned NPR on at dinner tonight and haven't stopped. Saturday nights are smart, interesting and hilarious.

Here's a sample of what I'm listening to:

Selected Shorts - Listening to James Cromwell read short stories is the bomb.

Studio 360 - Darwin: A Life In Poems, by Darwin's great-great granddaughter.  Was nice to here about middle of the road people who believe in God but don't also dismiss the concept of evolution out of hand.  Speaking of dismissal, I learned that Darwin didn't know about genetics and didn't care to read about it when a study proposing the concept was sent to him.  Martha Plimpton closed out the show by reading a short story written specifically for it.

Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me! - Jason Schwartzman was tonight's special guest (I had no idea the dude is basically Hollywood Royalty), host Peter Sagal, scorekeeper Carl Kassell, and this week's panel Roy Blunt Jr., Faith Salie and Paula Poundstone joking about Sara Palin's new books, the Hamster Villa in France and quizzing each other on the week's news in the Lightening Question round.

No matter where you live, there's probably an NPR station you can tune in to on the radio.  If not, listen online!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Roy's Station: Coffee FTW

I've linked to it before and I'll link to it again: Roy's Station Coffee & Teas is a pretty awesome coffee shop.

It's right in the heart of Japantown at the old location of Roy's Mobile gas station (corner of 5th and Jackson), has a wi-fi connection that draws plenty of laptop users to the shop and always seems to have an interesting mix of people occupying it's smallish interior and spacious patio.

I like it because when I sit outside and plan for my Dungeons and Dragons campaign, I always catch snippets of interesting conversations. I find that a lot of professionals from the local businesses, realtors, SJPD, attorneys and so on meet at Roy's to conduct business in a casual setting on the weekdays, so the mix of conversation is cool.

Mind you I don't listen in to invade other's privacy. That would be hard to do at Roy's anyway because people there are on average older and universally more mature than what you'd find at a few other coffee shops I could name. This means if they have to speak about sensitive topics (or curse) they at least lower their voice.

It's fun too because I usually get to hear at least one other language besides English: often Spanish, sometimes others like Japanese, Korean or (today) Mandarin Chinese.

So I let the conversations happening around me come to my ears as they will, while I go about my work on my campaign. 

If you're local to San Jose, live near downtown or want to explore new coffee shops and/or Japantown, give Roy's a try.  It's a blast.

Oh, forgot to mention: straight up people watching at Roy's is a awewome too.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chess: Bloodthirsty Gets You Schooled

The housemates and I have been playing chess for the last month or so. Chessboard is set up on the kitchen table. Moves happen slowly, i.e., someone walks in, looks at the board, eventually makes a move, then they take a 3 x 5 card with "Your Move!" written on it and put it on the other player's side of the table.

After a move, "Your move, dude." is sometimes spoken in the hallway where our rooms adjoin each other.

Today I played the housemate I'll call "WoW" (short for "World of Warcraft"; haven't asked them if I can use their names in the blog yet, so code names must suffice). I felt bad because today was his birthday and as he was a little rusty, he made a few mistakes that netted me a three piece and two pawn advantage.

As play progressed I got more and more bloodthirsty. I love to trade pieces and to check the King with my Queen on a rank, diagonal or file that will net me another of my opponent's pieces when the King is forced to move. And that's what I did.

Problem was, he moved up his Queen to protect his pawn (one of three he had left) on my side of the board that was two moves away from being promoted. After I moved, he slipped his queen in past the pawn, I checked the board, didn't see the threat and proceeded to eat his unprotected Knight with my Queen. Next move, he caught me in checkmate by sliding his Queen over and stopping in front of my King. I had nowhere to go as I was stuck behind my own pawns and I couldn't take his Queen with my King because that little pawn was protecting her.

I was shocked, but totally pleased. WoW rallied from a serious disadvantage to take the game, based on his quick realization that I'll eat pieces all day long when I have an advantage.

If you haven't played chess in awhile (or ever) I suggest you give it a try. It's fun and a great way to hang with kids and adults.

Got nobody to play with? Setup a board at a coffee shop, grab an extra chair and put up a handwritten sign that says "player needed, will buy your first cup of coffee". I guarantee you'll find someone to play with. Google has a whole section dedicated to chess. There are also chess gadgets you can put on your iGoogle homepage as well.

If you like playing but aren't keen on buying technical chess books, I recommend my secret weapon: Chess for Dummies. A very fun, very fast read that fills you in on chess basics and gives you great pointers on how to play the game better.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

NPR Radio: Way More Fun Than You Might Think

So I'm listening to National Public Radio at home. 

Started today listening in the kitchen, then came into my bedroom and started listening on the computer while I work on my blogs.

I love NPR and so should you, no matter where you live.  Before we go further, give it a try.

Right now I'm listening to City Arts and Lectures (introduced by none other than Linda Hunt - imdb).  They have so many cool people on this program that they intervie in front of a live studio audience at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco and broadcast live in partnership KQED 88.5 FM. 

The author of The Wanderers is being interviewed.  I didn't know the author of that famous book, Richard Price, was from the Bronx, much less that people from the Bronx don't consider themselves as from New York.  As he says in the interview, "Manhattan is New York.  The Bronx is The Bronx."

His grandmother used to do a running monologue of people that went by the window and would make him listen.  She also took him to wrestling matches.  Did your grandmother ever do that?  ;)  Apparently she was a big woman.  As Price says, "She was so big she could only move port to starboard."

Now imagine learning these and other funny/interesting things from other famous authors, actors and luminaries.  A recent interview with Jonathan Winters had me in stitches, especially when the interviewer shifted to the audience (every interview allots a portion of time to audience questions) and none other than Robin Williams came up to the microphone to ask questions.

But I digress.  NPR is just awesome to listen to.  There's a lot of awesome weekend shows too, like Wait Wait Don't Tell Me! and Car Talk

Have a listen.

There's more to life than just worrying, working out and finding work, right?

Having two blogs seems like an odd number.  Not odd as in a number that can't be divided by two, but odd as in it doesn't seem right to me.

So blog the third was created: Was That Fun Or What?

Looking at the two blogs I write (Walking, Jogging, Excercise, Breathing and Diet [open to everyone] and Sanishiver's Musings [invite only]) it occurred to me that neither one captured the concept of fun.

Sure, the exercise blog would serve well in allowing me to talk a little about my neighborhood and how much I enjoy walking around in it, but it wouldn't be just that.  It's mostly going to be a catalog for me to keep track of what I'm doing and serve as a motivator: after all if I'm making this part of my life public I'll feel more inclined to keep at it and keep it up.

The Musing's blog will also detail some of my successes in life, but right now (and most likely going forward) it's going to be a very grim blog.  Very blunt, harsh and raw, but not very fun.

So that's why this blog exists.  I figure even if a lot of my life is disorganized, in a jumble and so on, I can still achieve what some of my favorite bloggers achieve, i.e., cataloging things that are good and fun in their lives.

[11.19.2009 edit - spelling and typo]