Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Look Back At August 2013

"Nothing is really lost to us as long as we remember it."

~L. M. Montgomery, The Story Girl

Another month gone. And less than a month remains of summer. I wonder what will be waiting for me in autumn this year? I don't know you, but I can't wait to find out!


But for now, lets have one last look back at August 2013... shall we?

Of the three months that make summer, I think August of this year has been my favorite. The weather was just right. Not too hot. Not too cold, just really, really lovely!

August... I shall miss you!

Mood: Happy

~Me :)

Friday, August 30, 2013

Dylan At 4 1/2

"At cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not."

~Ernest Hemingway

It's hard to believe, but my boys, Dylan and Hendrix, will be 5 years old next week! It's hard to believe, because I can't believe that Elvis has been gone that long! How can that much time have passed? My little guys fill up every day for us with a lot of love, and joy. They both make us laugh every single day! And I know I am loved on a daily basis, but at the same time, Elvis had such a different way about him, such odd little rituals, that I find myself lonely for him at times. I think of him daily. There is great comfort in knowing that Elvis would have more than approved of Dylan and Hendrix. Sometimes I wonder he didn't hand... I mean paw... picked them for us! Elvis would have loved Dylan for his quiet manners, and Hendrix for his complete and total devotion to us! I think... no I am sure... it was meant to be!

Dylan and Hendrix celebrate their birthday next week, and we are having a party! Be sure to check back for all the photos and details!

Mood: Happy

~Me :)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Driveways Of San Francisco #2

"My neighbor has a circular driveway... he can't get out."

~Stephen Wright


Here is #2 in my new series of odd and scary driveways of San Francisco! I gotta say, this isn't as scary or odd as most I have seen, but I thought it would be fun to show the varying degrees (no pun intended) of parking in a hilly place like San Francisco. My hat really goes off to the brave people who park that city, I couldn't do it in a million years! SCARY!

To see my first post in this series, click here!

Mood: Silly

~Me :)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Art About Town: South San Francisco (Orange Memorial Sculpture Park ) Part Two: The Art Of Bill Vielehr

"Human Glyph Series A" (On Temporary Loan)
By Artist Bill Vielehr
Orange Memorial Park Sculpture Garden
South San Francisco
August 6th 2013

"Well, art is art, isn't it? Still, on the other hand, water is water! And east is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does. Now, uh... now you tell me what you know."

~Groucho Marx


This is the second in the series of sculptures I photographed in the sculpture garden of the Orange Memorial Park in South San Francisco. I liked this one very much, and I spent a good bit of time looking it over. I rather liked it's place among the other sculptures. It's a fascinating piece that is only one of 7 free standing abstract walls. The artist, inspired by hieroglyphics, cave drawings and petroglyphs, fashions each sculpture with numbers, words, and symbols, arranged out of sequence, to bring together a human relevance. It's quite a powerful piece!

You can read more about the artist and the art here...

Vielehr Sculpture (PDF Book)

I would love to see more by this artist!

Mood: Happy

~Me :)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Stockton Street Tunnel

Stockton Street Tunnel
San Francisco
August 22nd, 2013

"Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a tweet stating where you were last seen alive."


So, as it turns out, I not only find the stairways and driveways of San Francisco inspiring, I kinda dig the tunnels there as well! LOL. "I dig the tunnels" lol, obviously, no pun was intended! I don't know, I guess I am just enjoying all the everyday things that make San Francisco function as a city. To me, there is literally something on every single street that I find interesting, in one way or another! And I never get tired of tourists, walking about, taking photos, especially in the downtown area. Sometimes I can't really tell what it is they see. It could be the most average of places to me, but the tourists I see, tend to be standing here and there, photographing things I had previously disregarded. I sometimes forget about the amazingly beautiful architecture, or the awesome mixture of eras that all blend in together to form San Francisco!

What Do You Think? Better In Color, Or Black And White?

God I love it here!


"Travel is glamorous only in retrospect when turned into an impossibly euphoric blog post."


Stockton Street Tunnel (Yelp)

Mood: Silly

~Me :)

Monday, August 26, 2013

My Culinary Bucket List

"Every restaurant is a theater, and the truly great ones allow us to indulge in the fantasy that we are rich and powerful. When restaurants hold up their end of the bargain, they give us the illusion of being surrounded by servants intent on ensuring our happiness and offering extraordinary food. But even modest restaurants offer the opportunity to become someone else, at least for a little while. When you walk through the door, you are entering neutral territory where you are free to be whoever you choose for the duration of the meal."

~Ruth Reichl

I had planned to write a restaurant review for this post, but alas, it was not to be! Gaspare's Italian Dinners have been on my culinary bucket list since last summer! It was one of the places featured in Woody Allen's film, Blue Jasmine, although you probably wouldn't know it from the scene it was in. There is no shot of the outside of the restaurant, no tell tale signs inside, but prominent are the dark green leather booths, and the fun little mini- jukeboxes that are affixed to the walls, just above each booth table. 3 musical selections for a quarter, according to a Yelp reviewer! The pizzas themselves have mixed reviews, apparently they are considered "old school" Brooklyn or New Jersey style, which might mean that Californians simply don't get it! One thing is for sure, one likes what they like, so I was planning to make up my own mind.

Now, if I can only find a place to park.

The parking on Geary Boulevard leaves a lot to be desired, so as such, Friday was not the time to try and eat there! In fact, every time I have tried to eat there, I have been unlucky about finding a place to park. It's typical of San Francisco, so we always go prepared to have a Plan B. On Friday our Plan B became Plan C! But first things first. Our second choice was to grab a couple slices pizza at North Beach Pizza, on Grant in North Beach. The parking there was worse than Gaspare's. At least Geary Boulevard is a nice wide road, lol, Grant is very narrow, and yes, one wrong turn and you find yourself on the hill from HELL!

On to Plan C!

Our Plan C, is usually our Plan A. Hunan Cafe #2, in the Outer Richmond, is our favorite Chinese restaurant in San Francisco! The food is always delicious, I haven't had a bad meal there yet, and freshly cooked when you order it! No steam tables. It is close to Golden Gate Park, and Ocean Beach, so when we are in the park, it's our go-to place for a reasonably priced meal in a hurry. Lily, the owner, always greets you with a big smile, and her husband cooks the food. I swear, his hands have been touched by God! The food is just that good! And it's just this little spot, in the middle of the neighborhood, that you might miss if you didn't look closely. It is a cute little San Francisco gem to be sure!

We found Hunan Kitchen #2 last year, when we got to the filming at Gaspare's too late to see Woody filming! The "No Parking" sandwich board sign was still there, but there wasn't a Woody Allen in sight! We were disappointed by not seeing him, and hungry, but Gaspare's was closed! So we checked things out on Yelp and came across the delicious Hunan Cafe #2, right in the neighborhood! I am not very brave when it comes to trying new restaurants, but on that day it just seemed like fun. It was cold, we were disappointed, and starving... not a good combination... and I am so glad we gave it a try! It was delicious! Since then, we have tried a couple more places in the neighborhood, Gordo Taqueria, also on Geary, and Sushi Bistro on Balboa. And just last week we found a fantastic little yogurt shop near the corner of Geary and 33rd... Happy Yogurt! The Peanut Butter Cookie yogurt is AMAZING! I have a couple more places I want to try soon, and when I do I will do a proper restaurant review of those places both here, and on Yelp. It's the thing to do, if you want to keep your favorite place in business! Right?

Oh, that and "Tip big boys" as Jasmine would say! :)

Maybe someday I will get to eat at Gaspare's. At this point, its not just a goal, it's a QUEST!

I am going to do a more in-depth review of these restaurants as we move through autumn. Alan is taking his usual 5 weeks off, and we plan to be in San Francisco a lot, so STAY TUNED!

Mood: Hungry

~Me :)

Yelp Reviews...

Gaspares Italian Dinners

North Beach Pizza


Hunan Cafe #2

Sushi Bistro

Happy Yogurt

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Blue Jasmine: A Movie Review (Spoiler Alert)

Ocean Beach, San Francisco
August 23rd, 2013 Early Evening

"It's not what a movie is about, it's how it is about it."

~Roger Ebert

Blue Jasmine (Spoiler Alert)

First off, let me say, I read more than one review of Woody Allen's latest film Blue Jasmine, and I did get to see what it took to make the film, on a very small scale, when he filmed in San Francisco last summer, but when it comes to all the reasons as to why I enjoy, and why I don't enjoy a film, the opinions of others, and the location of the film, doesn't usually count toward my decision making. While a gorgeous, exotic background never makes a movie bad, at the same time, it doesn't actually make a movie good either! Bad dialog is BAD DIALOG! Bad acting is BAD ACTING. You can't fix that with scenic beauty. A lot has been made, especially here in the Bay Area, about the fact that Woody Allen didn't feature the usual tourist delights of San Francisco in his movie. It was a bit off putting to a number of local critics that there was no obligatory shot of the Golden Gate Bridge or the San Francisco skyline, and to be honest, I thought it was rather curious of him to deliberately leave out the amazing beauty of San Francisco, until I watched the movie... and it all made sense!

The film was all about Jasmine. Period. Just Jasmine. A more self-absorbed character has never been portrayed in a Woody Allen film! Jasmine only knows of Jasmine's problems. Jasmine's losses. Jasmine's life. Jasmine's needs. The world revolves around Jasmine! Even as she descends into complete and total madness, a hell of her own making, Jasmine floats from one bad decision to another, on the wings of self entitlement and the oblivious desire to avoid seeing anything remotely real going on around her. Jasmine, whose real name was Jeanette, was a creation made in her own mind, in an attempt to rise above the common, as she saw it, and live a life of privilege, because, after all, it was in her genes.

Both Jasmine, and her sister Ginger were adopted. While not biological sisters, Ginger clearly loved her sister, and as such trusted her. When Ginger and her husband Augie, received a decent sized economic windfall, she and Augie (Andrew Dice Clay) visit Jasmine and her husband Hal (Alec Baldwin) in New York City. During the visit Jasmine suggests rather than Augie start his own business with the money, they should instead invest in one of Hal's up and coming property developments. With their entire future at stake the two give their money to Hal, not realizing that he is beyond shady in his business practices. Eventually, the couple, as well as many other people, lose everything when Hal's house of cards comes down. All the while Jasmine heard, and saw things that made her suspect there might be improprieties, but Jasmine, in true form, blissfully ignores the signs, and goes along her merry way, planning charity events, attending parties in the Hamptons, and living the life of Jasmine.

Jasmine ignored a lot about her life, but the one bit of reality that finally caught up to her was Hal's cheating. Yes, not only did he operate a huge Ponzi scheme, but he bounced from mistress to mistress in his own entitled way. But like all cheaters in life... he eventually got caught! Hal was caught in more ways than one, and what remained was Jasmine. No penthouse apartment. No Jewelry. No upper East Side friends to count on. No money. Nothing. When it became apparent that she couldn't even afford the apartment she had rented in Brooklyn, Jasmine made her way to San Francisco, where she planned to stay with her, now divorced sister Ginger, until she could figure out what to do next. And that is really where it all begins. Jasmine arriving at SFO, after what she describes to Ginger as "the flight was bumpy, the food was awful, and really you'd think in first class... ." It was typical Jasmine, no money, but splurging on a first class flight to San Francisco.

It would turn out to be Jasmine's final descent into madness.

While Jasmine is not someone who provokes any sympathy on the part of the viewer, she has something about her that makes you want to see her pull herself together. To finally face that moment, the epiphany, the turn of the screw, that makes her wake up and realize that she has only been pretending to be Jasmine, but when she is herself, Jeanette, she has all the skills to get through this extreme reversal of fortune and life. You see a spark of this when she decides to move forward by taking some online courses to become an interior decorator, but knowing she would first have to take a computer course to learn about navigating the Internet. It was a reasonable step forward, and I found myself pulling for her. To pay for the computer courses, she takes a job as a receptionist for a sleazy dentist, who does nothing for Jasmine's attempts at improving her life's situation. Sexually assaulting her one day, she is forced to quit the job that was paying for her classes. It was a frustrating and sad turn of events for me to watch.

Adding everything up. Jasmine brought a lot on herself, but there was also a lot thrust upon her that was not her fault. Unfortunately, because of the sheltered bubble of a lifestyle she had led, she had no coping skills at all. And its that lifestyle bubble of privilege and entitlement coupled with no coping skills, other than alcohol and Xanax that led to her obliviousness of what was, and is going on around her. It would not have mattered what city Jasmine fled to, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Miami, she wouldn't have seen anything of beauty, natural or otherwise.

The Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, the San Francisco Skyline were completely lost on her. Jasmine couldn't see past her own problems, long enough to see anything. She was too busy living in the past, in both good times and bad. The present simply wasn't there. And speaking as someone who has experienced deep depression, to the point of Anhedonia, I get it! In that situation, you can't see anything of beauty around you, hell, with Anhedonia I couldn't even match up my clothing, let alone appreciate colors, or music, or amazing sights like my beloved Golden Gate Bridge.

But unless you have been in those shoes... it would be lost on you. I applaud Woody Allen for not showing off everything that makes San Francisco so lovely, because it would have ruined the character, if not the movie. The movie was also nearly completely devoid of music, another necessary evil if he wanted to tell an accurate story of deep depression and loss. He put the viewer in Jasmine's shoes, however uncomfortable that might have been. He told the truth about the human condition. He let us experience the layers that make people human. Jasmine may have been the architect of her own despair, but she had all the skills to pull herself back together, she simply didn't know, or trust, that she could do it. She instead, she climbed into yet another delusion, and again lost it all one more time because of her own doings. She only knew one song, and she only knew one life.

The last scene of Blue Jasmine left me in tears. As much as I couldn't stand Jasmine, and as much as it frustrated me to see her throw away chance, after chance, I hated the fact that she just couldn't give herself a break. She couldn't just stop climbing into one bottle or another or one delusion or another. I hated that rather than patting herself on the back for having come up with a truly realistic goal, she gave up in favor of what she perceived as the easy way out, which was in actuality, the life she created in her own mind, and that she lived over a lifetime, but that never really existed anywhere but her own delusions. Jasmine is the character of a lifetime. Harsh. Self-absorbed. Selfish. Complicated. Lost. And finally... Mad.

The cast of this film seemed so odd when I first learned of it, but after seeing the film, I can't imagine anyone else in the roles! I was particularly impressed with Andrew Dice Clay. His role wasn't large, but it was pivotal. Oscar worthy to be sure! Sally Hawkins was terrific as Ginger, and she had a chemistry with Cate Blanchette that made you believe their sisterly relationship, and her chemistry with Andrew Dice Clay, Bobby Cannavale, and Louis C.K. was believable and vivid. There was NO bad performance in this movie in my opinion, there may have been one or two unrealistic things, but I won't talk about them here. I will let you make up your own mind. Bottom lining things, I think I tend to agree with the critics that say this just might be Woody Allen's finest film. I am a huge fan of his work, and I have my favorite Woody Allen movies for different reasons, but this Woody Allen film will probably always be my absolute favorite, as it serves as a stunning reminder about the folly of selfishness and self delusion. It stands out as his deepest character study to date!

"What if nothing else exists and we are all in someone's dream?"

~Woody Allen

My Rating ****1/2 Kernels Of Popcorn

Mood: Reflective

~Me :)