October 2007 Archives

The Red Sox won the World Series convincingly this year over the Rockies, and outcome that Jesus could have predicted. The game was won by cancer survivor Jon Lester, and cancer survivor Mike Lowell hit a home run. Lowell was later awarded the World Series MVP for his stellar hitting during the four-game sweep of Colorado.

It was ironic that the two players spearheaded the clinching effort, since some would argue that rooting for the Red Sox is like rooting for cancer. Red Sox fandom, like cancer, is insidious. It's also hereditary: if you have one or more parents that are Sox fans, the odds are overwhelming that you too will develop Sox fandom, often growing malignant even before adulthood. You'll find cancer and obnoxious Sox fans in any part of the country, with "clusters" especially likely in high-income areas like New England and Marin County. If left unchecked, Sox fandom will run wild, consuming resources like beer and premium tickets.

Until Boston's 2004 World Series triumph, Red Sox fandom was often linked with death: the funeral atmosphere in Southie after Bill Buckner's miscue in 1986, the Curse of the Bambino representing Babe Ruth haunting the franchise from beyond the grave. Superfan Bill Simmons even titled his Red Sox book, Now I Can Die In Peace, a sentiment most often espoused inside hospices.

Is it a coincidence that pink caps are worn primarily at Breast Cancer Awareness events and the stands at Fenway Park? I don't think so.

I might be biased because I don't like Red Sox Nation. Really, I don't especially like any Nations. I don't like Raider Nation. I don't like the Nation of Islam. I don't like Birth of a Nation. I prefer The Smokehouse to Nation's Giant Hamburgers, and I greatly prefer salvation to damnation.

Rhythm Nation 1814 is OK by me.

Lester and Lowell show that investing in cancer survivors can pay off. Next year, Boston plans to acquire a shortstop with Lyme disease, two left-handed relievers with rickets, and a bullpen catcher with extremely high cholesterol.

The World Series MVP receives a new Chevy Malibu, which I mistakenly thought was the worst Finals MVP prize in any sport. You get your choice of Cadillac models for winning the Super Bowl MVP (everyone seems to pick the Escalade), but I couldn't tell if players get anything besides a trophy for the NBA. Probably a a DVD of the second season of Martin and a big sack of weed. Hockey players just get the Conn Smythe Trophy, along with a twelve-pack of Molson's and a large hunk of raw Canadian bacon.

The Malibu has a retail value of $20-27 grand, or roughly what Mike Lowell earns every four innings. He had to be excited when Jeanne Zelasko described the features of the car, an automobile that Lowell will likely give to a clubhouse attendant or ne'er-do-well brother-in-law.

Zelasko was surprisingly tough in her interview with Lowell, generally a time for softball questions interrupted by sprays of champagne from whooping teammates. Instead, Zelasko congratulated him on his clutch hitting, then brought up his expiring contract. The gist of the interview was, "Nice job with the award. How does it feel to be unemployed?"

If she's going to be a jerk, why stop there?

"Mike, you had a great World Series, earning your second World Series ring. Would you trade those rings to have two intact testicles again?"

You can help fight cancer and support The Jimmy Fund, through the time-tested anti-cancer method of buying silicone bracelets, by visiting The Lester Project.

(Joe Gorman is an SF standup comic, a barista, and the founder of the Baby Faces of Comedy Tour. Recently, Gorman spoke with Zembla about putting together SF's hottest new standup comedy sensation)


Zembla: How did you first come up with the idea for Baby Faces?

Joe Gorman: It originated with me and some friends making fun of some of the theme comedy showcases that happen in SF (all-Asian showcases, all-female, all-Jewish, etc.) where it seemed the people producing the shows were more interested in reaching their ethnic quota rather than having genuinely funny comics on the shows. So we joked about what theme shows we'd be on. Naturally I said I'd be on the Baby Faces of Comedy. There was discussion on who else would be on the show when it dawned on me there were some pretty funny babyfaced comics in the SF comedy scene. Thus a legend was born.

Zembla: Is there an ethnic quota for Baby Faces?

Gorman: I wanted one black guy (Julian Vance) so I wouldn't be considered racist. Amir and Beata are pretty ethnic, too. I'm of mixed race and who knows how many types of white Jane Haze and Sean Keane are. I think this goes to show that being baby-faced is not about the color of the skin but the youthfulness in the face

Zembla: That is an inspiring sentiment. When did Baby Faces move from an idea you joked about to something that was actually going to happen?

Gorman: I think it was when I kept promising to book people on the show, saying how great it would be, and then those same people got upset that it hadn't happened for months. I was thinking about buying some stage time at the Dark Room Theater and hoping that I could at least break even. Then the guys at SFstandup.com said there was an opening at 12 Galaxies if I could deliver an audience draw; that draw being Brent Weinbach.

Zembla: Brent Weinbach is also of mixed race. It's interesting, that in putting together a showcase in part to parody these race- and gender-based showcases, you ended up with an extremely diverse bill.

Gorman: I hadn't thought of that.

Zembla: Were there other formats you considered for Baby Faces, besides the standard showcase?

Gorman: I toyed with the idea of it being sketch-based with Amir, because that's something both he and I are interested in. Then I thought of a round table discussion on the matter, but in a super-serious manner. Eventually I decided that a comedy showcase would work best because:

1) I ran out of sketch ideas after three.
2) The round table discussion just took themes from the sketches and ran with them.

Zembla: In your opinion, who is the most babyfaced comic in the SF Bay Area, besides yourself, of course?

Gorman: Dave Wiswell is so unbelievably babyfaced it almost hurts my eyes. He's a little older than me and smokes about a pack a day, but damn if he doesn't look a day over 14! He was one of the people I originally discussed Baby Faces with. It's only due to scheduling conflicts that he won't be joining us for the premiere.

A babyfaced baby Joe Gorman

Zembla: Do you think that being a Baby Face is more of a blessing, or a curse?

Gorman: It certainly has its downsides. I get carded at bars, and when I buy cigarettes, people often think I'm still in high school. They also tend to point that out in a condescending manner. Overall I wouldn't give it up for all the tea in China, because being a Baby Face gives you a special bond with other Baby Faces, plus there's the off-chance that Baby Faces will look like Johnny Depp or Diane Lane in their 40's.

Zembla: This is obviously going to be a sensation, so I eagerly await more Baby Faces shows in the future. Anything else you'd like to mention or promote?

Gorman: I've got a few things planned, but if I learned anything in promotion of Baby Faces, it's that you shouldn't promote a show until it's well underway. That said, my friend Kevin O'Shea is doing his talk show Blah Blah Blah! in the Dark Room on November 3rd, which I am a part of, and I believe Amir is in the process of doing a Subterranean Comedy showcase. There's lots of great comedy showcases in San Francisco right now. I also have to mention the Comedy Speakeasy at Annie's Social Club every Tuesday for always giving me stage time, no matter how drunk I am.

Zembla: Thank you for speaking with us, Joe Gorman. May your show be always successful, and may your face never age.

Gorman: Thank you.

(The Baby Faces of Comedy Tour takes place at 9 PM on October 30th at 12 Galaxies. Blah Blah Blah! takes place at The Dark Room, Saturday, November 3rd, at 10 PM, also featuring Brent Weinbach, along with Alex Koll, Moshe Kasher, and host Kevin O'Shea. Brent Weinbach can also be seen alongside Sean Keane at the Bear's Lair in Berkeley on November 8th, along with Cal alums Sheng Wang, Chris Garcia, and Louis Katz.)

I first noticed this in the ultra-boring Ridley Scott epic Kingdom of Heaven, but you can see it in plenty of movies. If there's a recently-dead person who has an important piece of jewelry, like a necklace that is a family heirloom, or even a simple crucifix, the hero will always rip it off their body dramatically, instead of simply unfastening it. The gesture says, "I need to keep this necklace, and also destroy it. My grandfather would want me to have this, and for it to be completely unwearable."

A variation on this convention comes when the hero is knocked out, hospitalized, or otherwise incapacitated, and a villain rips a necklace off of them. That can be seen in the film Walking Tall, when a casino tough tears off The Rock's Special Forces necklace. In these instances, it is sometimes hard to tell why the villain even wants a necklace like that. If it has jewels in it, fine, but why does a non-Special Forces veteran even want a set of dog tags, especially one with a now-broken chain? The answer is, to let the audience know that he will later be killed, definitely by The Rock, and possibly with a two-by-four.

Of course, upon killing his adversary and retrieving the important personal talisman, the hero will again take it off as violently as possible. And the cycle continues.

jesus gives up on the rockies

After they've gone down 3-0 in the World Series, even Jesus Christ has given up on the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies are an organization guided by Christianity, and some have taken the team's remarkable performance through the end of the season and playoffs as proof of their divine blessing. But the win streak has ended in the World Series, leading some to wonder if Jesus no longer blesses the Rockies. According to our exclusive interview with the Messiah, that answer is yes.

Zembla: Jesus, thanks for taking the time to talk to us.

Jesus: No problem. Love your work.

Thank you, Jesus! Now, is it accurate that you used to be a Colorado supporter?

Most definitely. No porn in the lockers, charity work from the team lots of prayer circles - really, what's not to like? I also appreciated their use of the humidor to dry out the baseballs, because otherwise, baseball at Coors Field is just ridiculous.

So what changed?

For one, it's their style of play. They can't lay down a simple sacrifice bunt. My father gave up his only begotten son, and they can't deliver on the simple act of sacrificing a runner one base?

You believe in little ball?

Not necessarily. But, you know, the Bible stresses patience and humility. The Rockies need to exhibit some plate discipline. Take some pitches. Ask themselves, What would I do?

So you're saying...?

Jesus walks.

Kanye West knew what he was talking about, then.

Heh. Hey, what's the difference between Me and Kanye?

What's that?

I don't think I'm Kanye West.

Good one, Lord. What do you think of the Rockies roster?

I like that they've got men of faith, but I thought they wanted to shape the roster in My image. If that's the case, how come the whole team is white? If they really studied the Bible all the time like they claim to, they should know Jesus was a black man.

I didn't realize You were black.

Come on, man. Do you know any white people named "Jesus"? I hung out with prostitutes, got hassled by the cops, and I was always poor. By the way, the new 11th Commandment is Stop Snitching. Don't take the thirty pieces of silver, guys. Anyway, the Rockies supposedly love me, so where are the brothers? Or the Jews?

Speaking of silver, do you think the Rockies are greedy?

Yes. They're trying to trademark the phrase "Rocktober". That phrase has been around for decades, including on many of My favorite hard rock stations. Honestly, this kind of cash grab is worse than the moneylenders in the temple.

Now, regarding the Boston series, did you make any prophecies?

Before the cock crows three times in the fifth inning, the Rockies bullpen will betray them seven times.

The game was out of reach at that point anyway, don't you think?

Hey, one team still managed to score a bunch of runs. Of course, they had a real DH.

Can you elaborate on that?

One of the commandments of baseball is, "Don't bet your designated hitter ninth." There's no one on the roster who can outhit Yorvit Torrealba? At their darkest hour, I delivered unto them Seth Smith - and now they've forsaken him.

In a 2006 article in USA Today, CEO Charlie Monfort said, "I think character-wise we're stronger than anyone in baseball. Christians, and what they've endured, are some of the strongest people in baseball. I believe God sends signs, and we're seeing those." Your thoughts?

They missed a pretty obvious sign when we crashed the team website on Tuesday, right before World Series tickets went on sale. You're me-damn right it was an "act of God". I'm sick of the Rockies and so is Dad. You know, Charlie only got born again after he got a DUI. Like I'm not going to notice that.

Any final thoughts on the Series?

Yes. Any lack of support for the Rockies should not be taken as an endorsement of Curt Schilling in any way. Really, it's natural that I would find the Red Sox appealing, since I hate the Yankees.

If you changed your mind, could you deliver the victory to Colorado? After all, you raised Lazarus from the dead.

That was one guy. I'm supposed to revive 25 dead guys? Forget it.

Thank you, Jesus.

Sure thing. Peace be with you.


Baby Faces of Comedy Tour
12 Galaxies
2565 Mission Street, SF
October 30th, 2007
9 PM, $8

Over a decade ago, Axl Rose began work on Guns N' Roses' sixth studio album, tentatively titled Chinese Democracy. Through ten years, two tours, countless song leaks, $13 million in production costs, and numerous personnel changes, the mythical album remains unfinished and unreleased. Shaquille O'Neal rapped on one track. Brian May played guitar on another. Slash was fired as lead guitarist and replaced with a guy named Buckethead, who only performs while wearing a white mask and an empty KFC bucket over his head. He was in turn fired, and replaced by a guy named Bumblefoot. After all this time, Chinese Democracy is nothing more than a title, and many question whether it will ever reach the public.


For a long time, the San Francisco comedy community had its own version of Chinese Democracy. Young, fresh-faced Joe Gorman would tell anyone who would listen about his brilliant plan for a comedy showcase: a lineup made up of only comics with youthful, child-like features. Spike Lee made The Original Kings of Comedy. Patton Oswalt has The Comedians of Comedy. This would follow in their footsteps as the Baby Faces of Comedy Tour.

Even babyfaced comedians themselves doubted that this project was ever going to become a reality. As a chubby, rosy-faced 28-year-old, carded at every bar I visit, I was a natural for the show, and often discussed logistics with Gorman. Still, as small comedy clubs folded around the city, and Gorman struggled with graduation, housing problems, long nights of drinking, extremely short women, and, most damaging of all, gainful employment, I figured Baby Faces would be one of those things people talked about but never did. Like using dental dams, or doing pilates.

But now, the Babyfaces of Comedy Tour is about to become a reality. Tuesday night at 9 PM, at 12 Galaxies, the Babyfaces of Tour kicks off. The fresh-faced lineup:

Brent Weinbach is one of the most talented and original comedians in the Bay Area. He has performed at Coachella and as part of the Comedians of Comedy Tour, although we all know that Baby Faces is his real meal ticket.

Joe Gorman is a recent college graduate with the cherubic face of a recent driving school graduate. He's a fixture on the local scene and the founder of Baby Faces of Comedy. In addition, Joe's mother once referred to me as an "apple-cheeked young man" after a show, and his cousin Callie and I are Facebook friends.

Julian Vance is a regular at the SF Punchline, where he has opened for Dave Chappelle. He also works at Peet's, where he has served Dave Chappelle coffee. Julian is a good-looking kid with a bright future, a winning thumbs-up, and a brilliant new joke about bukkake that he can't tell anywhere.

Sean Keane is criminally underappreciated.

Jane Haze has performed all over San Francisco, Tacoma, Memphis, and the American Ambassador to Germany’s House in Berlin. Comedy insider Kori Ono calls Haze, "a bad influence or possibly under the influence. Most likely both." She wears a lot of caps, but there hasn't been a cap yet made that can disguise a true Baby Face. As I tell all the kids I mentor, you're only truly incognito while wearing a ski mask.

Beata Bakhtiari was a member of She Bam at UC Santa Cruz, which is an all-female comedy group. Though she did go to UCSC, Beata does not appear to be a hippie. She owns her own lemonade stand and her first name is misspelled on all the fliers for this show. I can't find much other biographical information on Beata online, so please enjoy an amusing comic, Octopus, Octopus drawn by Beata's friend and fellow She Bammer Emily Heller.

Amir Malekpour has gotten rid of his decidedly adult-faced beard just in time to host the world-premiere Baby Faces show. Malekpour has performed at the Punchline and Rooster T. Feathers, and placed second in this year's prestigious Twisted Biscuit competition. You can find his videos here.


The support staff of my non-profit law firm had meeting today to learn how to more effectively deal with Spanish-speaking callers. Here's how it went:

-We want to be able to say, in Spanish, "The person who speaks Spanish is not here. Please leave a message on the machine."
-La persona que habla espanol no esta aqui.
-No esta aqui, got it.
-Deje un mensaje
-Deje un masaje.
-Mensaje is message. Masaje is massage.
-If you say, "Deje un masaje", our clients are going to be very confused.
-"Leave a what? Excuse me! What kind of law firm IS this?"

-Should we learn the word for "stop"?
-Just say Un momento
-Ooon momento.
-Un momento.
-Or just say, "Callate, cabron!"
-What does "cabron" mean?
-He was just kidding. Never say that word over the phone.

-What if they ask about an attorney?
-The word for lawyer is abogado.
-With a G. And a B.
-Ahh..buh...ahhguh...What is it again?
-Abogado. Don't say "avocado".
-"Do I need a WHAT? What kind of law firm IS this?"
-Since we're next door to Whole Foods, they might be especially confused.
-That should be our new standard for appointing an attorney. If you can afford to buy an avocado from Whole Foods, you are too rich for our services.
-So, the second letter is B?
-This meeting is over.

proof of youth

It's a great time for follow-up albums. Fresh on the heels of Radiohead's new, free-as-hell album, Zembla favorite The Go Team released their sophomore album Proof of Youth. I really enjoyed the first album, and on the new release, it is more of the same. Maybe things are a little more complicated and ambitious with live instruments instead of samples, and maybe I haven't figured out a track that stands out quite as much as Huddle Formation, but fans of Thunder Lightning, Strike should enjoy this one just as much. Despite the lack of a killer single, this CD is more consistent overall. It's a baby step into more maturity and sophistication, but there's only so much of that you want with the Go Team.


The album cover suggests the mishmash of music and styles you'll find inside. There's a BMX rider, some fighter jets, a fist, a wolf, plus some letters cut out of construction paper, and it's all on graph paper. This image could have been the cover of any number of my friends' Trapper Keepers in fourth grade. Collage what?

Grip Like a Vice - The only thing I take issue with is how much lead singer "Ninja" seems to need reassurance that the crowd is ready to rock, and ready to turn it out. If this was the first album, maybe, but buyers of the second album know what they're getting into. By playing the CD, you've in essence pledged your intention to turn it out. Otherwise, we are right back in The Go Team's wheelhouse (I don't want to use the exclamation point). Hand claps, horn parts seemingly stolen from 70's adventure shows, complicated percussion, high school cheerleader cadences. They seem to let the guitar go off a little bit more. All in all, a stellar lead track to the new album

Doing It Right - They played this song live when I saw them in SF. It's a good live song because they can force the crowd to sing along to the chorus, as it is extremely simple. Doing. It. Right. That's the entire thing.

Titanic Vandalism - Best title on the album. More heavy drums, and that same pep-rally-at-Judgment-Night sound. Like Grip Like a Vice, this one is going to be a live classic.

Fake ID - It doesn't have a strong vocal, or at least, not a strong enough vocal to stand out amidst the percussion and background instrumentation. However, the background cheerleading is compelling, and the horn part is solid.

Flashlight Fight - Features Chuck D of Public Enemy.

Patricia's Moving Picture - There's another song called The Wrath of Marcie, which could make this song part of a multi-track Peanuts shout-out from the Go Team. It's very similar to the previous album's closer, Everyone's a V.I.P. To Someone; a horn-heavy instrumental that manages to sound wistful and heartwarming. The song is like a more effective version of the sad, reflective credits music on Saturday Night Live, making you think, "Maybe listening to a bunch of rapping cheerleaders and overdriven production was more of an emotional experience than I previously thought", just like some SNL viewers undoubtedly get teary-eyed at the bittersweet feeling that comes from knowing that the good times and laughter have come to a close until next week. Unlike the San Francisco Giants, the Go Team has little trouble finding a good closer.

This album is highly recommended, though not available for free like Radiohead, except that, yeah, every CD is pretty much available for free all the time, though not at OiNK.

Radiohead released In Rainbows this week, and I'm prepared to call it a minor classic. It's no OK Computer, but it's on the level of Hail to the Thief.

What are the best songs?

15 Step - As usual, Radiohead has selected an excellent song as the opener. Is this song about AA? Maybe England has extra steps due to the conversion rate. There is a great sample of children cheering that rivals the use of children's applause at the end of For the children.

You can tell that a Radiohead song is going to be entertaining whenever the guitarists take their hands off their instruments to focus on percussion. Seeing There There performed live, when Johnny and Ed started hitting tom toms, you knew it was on. In the live version below, you can see hand clapping takes precedence over guitar.

Reckoner - After I heard this song, I immediately went back and listened to it again. It was my first third-listen as well, and the first song I hummed during work the next day, and the first new Radiohead song I tried to sing in the car, while not remembering any of the lyrics, and trying to vocalize the instrumental parts. (I would like to add that I will be installing my car stereo this weekend, so this kind of solo automotive embarrassment will be at least diminished.)

Two minutes in, it sounds cool, but it's a basic verse-chorus-verse-chorus, conventional song. They shift gears about two-and-a-half minutes in, and the magic moment comes about forty-five seconds later. The bridge ends, we got back to the original melody, and the percussion kicks back in. It closes really strong, with a lot of new instruments come in, playing the part that the backup singers were doing before.

Potential for Thom Yorke to dance?

High in the first few songs, less so as the album progresses.

Is Radiohead doomed to mediocre album titles?

"OK Computer" is a great album, maybe my favorite album of all time, but the title was not encouraging as to its quality. "Hail to the Thief" - Yorke said he just wanted people to have to use the phrase, and just think about the illegitimacy of George Bush's election. People don't bring that up nearly often enough - that George Bush actually lost the 2000 election. Weirdly, this fact isn't really even debated, people just accuse Al Gore of whining. Digression!

So, even if his intentions are good, "Hail to the Thief" is kind of a childish pun, or something T. Winston McCranahan might say, if he were a political pundit. I feel slightly embarrassed saying the album title out loud. I usually referred to it as, "The New Radiohead". "Pablo Honey", not too great. Kind of hard to say. Seem to be missing punctuation. More punctuation might clarify things. Now, "In Rainbows", which Thom Yorke took from a drawing he saw on a nine-year-old's Pee-Chee folder, next to a game of MASH and a list of boys she liked. The only gayer title would be "On Unicorns".

Were there any songs you don't like?

House of Cards. I noticed something was amiss when I heard the line, "I don't want to be your friend/I just want to be your lover". Is Thom Yorke channeling John Mayer? Is this the radio-friendly slow jam? I think this song will be like "The Luckiest" on Rockin the Suburbs - always skipped. I can anticipate me skipping this song quite a bit. It's also five-and-a-half damn minutes long.

Dude, it's free?

With this digital download, "It's up to you" policy, Radiohead is re-opening The Free Store. They've officially become that hippie teacher in high school who lets you choose which grade you think you deserved. I gave them a few pounds, so maybe I fell prey to the reverse psychology. I do think it's a cool idea, however, so I wanted to support the idea that I didn't have to pay anything for this album by...paying something for the album.

There is no record company affiliation for this album, nor have they selected a company that will manufacture and distribute the physical recording. So, whatever you pay for the digital download is all profit. Radiohead has essentially $0 in the way of marginal costs.

They're acknowledging that this album is going to be available all over the web in free, digital form, almost immediately after its release. If that's the case, why not sell the digital download directly? Radiohead isn't going to sue illegal downloaders, nor even discourage them. They sell a physical version, which is not going to be shipped out for another eight weeks, where you get the CD, a vinyl record, artwork, and bonus songs.

Do you have quick thoughts about other songs on the album?

Nude - When the vocal comes in, it begins to sound really interesting. I don't know if it ever quite delivers on the promise it shows in that sparse, dramatic opening, but it's still pretty good.

All I Need - Pretty simple. One of my roommates loves it.

Faust Arp - Like Radiohead doing covers of White Album-era Beatles songs, with an chamber music ensemble backing them. I imagine that this is Paul McCartney's favorite song on the album, if he's been able to figure out the download process yet. I am also going to predict that this one is Fred Lee's eventual favorite.

Bodysnatchers - Sounds about 30% better every time I hear it. Through three listens, that makes it nearly twice the song I first thought it was. Reportedly a live favorite.



There's a scandal surrounding Blackwater, a private security firm that contracts with the US military in Iraq. I don't need to get into the specifics here, but there's civilian murders, general disregard for Iraqis and their laws, and drunken, post-Christmas-party politician-bodyguard-shooting. (The Blackwater guard in that case didn't face charges, but he did lose his Christmas bonus. His wrist is still smarting.)

So, Blackwater is clearly a nefarious organization. The founder even stole his nameplate on his way out of a Congressional hearing. However, this shouldn't surprise anyone. They're called Blackwater, a name that to me suggests pollution, dark magic, dead bodies in a river, the stuff that the Dave Matthews Band dumps out of their tour bus. How could you not believe an organization called Blackwater was up to dirty deeds?

Charles Dickens would reject "Blackwater" as a character name due to its lack of subtlety. "'Krook', yes. 'McChoakumchild', absolutely. 'Blackwater'? I don't want to insult my readers' intelligence here."

In The Bourne Ultimatum, they at least go with "Blackbriar" as the name of the dirty assassin-training program - at least that evokes nature and life somewhat, not filthy puddles of oil-saturated water. "Blackwater" means kidney disease, explosions of algae, and water that's full of fecal matter, much like Blackwater owner Erik Prince's Congressional testimony.

I would trust a mercenary army called Cobra more than I would one called Blackwater. Say what you will about the tenets of the Cobra Commander's philosophy, but at least it's an ethos.


your source for all things jigar

I can't tell you how many times someone has asked me, "Hey Sean, I know your old roommate is an acclaimed video journalist for The New York Times. Is there a site where I can access all his videos in one place? Does that site have an RSS feed? And have any of his stories received the Publisher's Award? Say, for May of 2007?"

The answer to all those questions is an emphatic Yes. Jigarmehta.com is online, featuring over a year of Jigar Journalism. There's an RSS feed and everything. And The Night Shift in Newark won the Publisher's Award for May 2007. Mr. Mehta goes on a Saturday night patrol with police officers in Newark, New Jersey (as opposed to Newark, the enclave within the city of Fremont, which would make for a slow-moving evening). It's a pretty great piece, even better than the one on The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, and almost on the level of the unreleased underground classic, Pharm Boys.

I'm trying to convince him to really make some money at this career, and add some banner ads where you try to hit a monkey, but so far, no dice. That monkey is so hard to hit! I think there might be a story there.

happy columbus day!

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It is Columbus Day, a city holiday in San Francisco. Our office follows the court's calendar, so I get the day off, though I like to imagine that in my stead, my administrative tasks are being handled by the finest slave in all of Hispaniola. Because that's what Columbus would have wanted.

I'm going to celebrate by going to North Beach - but I'm not going to drive through the Broadway Tunnel, or take a bus. Instead, I'm going to wander the city aimlessly in a random direction. Wherever I eventually end up, no matter which neighborhood, I'll insist it IS North Beach, refer to all the residents as Italians, and claim the territory in the name of Queen Isabella. Also, I will steal their land.

One thing's for sure - I will be having Indian food for lunch.

I have friend in law school who is taking a class on Property. Today's lecture? Adverse possession. Because that's what Columbus would have wanted.

I used to live in Berkeley, where they don't celebrate Columbus Day. Instead, it's Indigenous Peoples Day, a celebration of the Amerindian populations which were tormented and exploited by Columbus and subsequent colonialists. Given that this is the city of Berkeley, there are some people who see Columbus Day as an opportunity to protest, often in the form of chalking or spray painting "Fuck Columbus!" all over campus. (The phrase nearly always contains an exclamation point, if not three, which indicates that the protester is deadly serious in his or her opposition to the half-millenium dead Genoan sailor.)

I'm not sure who is going to be affected by this message. Guilty-looking exchange students from Barcelona? People putting excessive amounts of sugar in their coffee? A student trying to find a new route to Pimentel Hall by circumnavigating the Valley Life Sciences Building? I have been tempted to add my own anti-Columbus message to the graffiti: "Because Bicentennial Man fucking sucked."

Five years ago, I ran an old fake interview with Christopher Columbus. According to the comments, many high school students use it as a research tool. And I think that's what Columbus would have wanted.

We're two games into the baseball playoffs, and all four series are at 2-0. How are teams getting ready for Game Three?

(See Part One, Part Two, Part Three)

Cleveland vs. New York - Cleveland leads 2-0

New York

Owner George Steinbrenner: Cleveland likes bugs, huh? It wasn't bad enough that we were in Cleveland - they've got to have actual vermin involved, too? Joe, we're going to fight fire with fire.

Joe Torre: Please don't do this, sir.

Steinbrenner: The Indians have gotta know, you don't bring a knife to a gun fight. Roger, get over here!

Roger Clemens: Yes Mr. Steinbrenner?

Steinbrenner: Clay Bellinger and Luis Sojo have been filling these jars all afternoon. I need you to place these all around the field.

Clemens: What do you mean?

Steinbrenner: This is a sack of rats. i want you to let them loose behind the visitor's bullpen.

Torre: George, that's crazy. I mean, that's crazy, sir. Besides, Roger is starting Game Three.

Steinbrenner: What, he's got to rest so he can pitch 3 1/3 innings and then leave for a reliever? I've seen him in the playoffs recently.

Clemens: Mr. Steinbrenner, I really don't feel comfortable doing this.

Steinbrenner: I'll give you five grand.

Clemens: At your service, sir.

Steinbrenner: Great. So my sources tell me Grady Sizemore is terrified of spiders. Let these tarantulas loose behind the monuments.

Clemens: Is that a beehive?

Steinbrenner: Yes. I want you to bury it six inches below the visitor's on-deck circle. Clay, any luck training Challenger to eat human flesh?

Torre: Excuse me, guys. I've got to go tell A-Rod that he's hitting 8th tonight.


(Manager Eric Wedge stands in the middle of the clubhouse. Behind him stands a life-sized cardboard cutout, turned to face the wall.)

Wedge: Gather round, everyone, gather round. Here's the moment we've all been waiting for.

C.C. Sabathia: Are we seriously gonna do this?

Wedge: (ignoring him) At the Al-Star Break, we were a full game out of first place. No one believed in us. Not the fans, not the media, and especially not the ownership

Travis Hafner: I was actually pretty confident. Our young talent was only going to improve as the season went on.

Grady Sizemore: Yeah, the fans have been great. And ownership has been nothing but supportive.

Wedge: I told you, 'Best I can figure, we need about 44 victories to win the division title or wild card, and then three more to get to the ALCS.'" And then I brought out this poster.

Hafner: I've said this before, but I think our goal really ought to be to win the World Series.

Sabathia: Seriously, please don't do this.

Wedge: This life-sized cutout of our 76-year-old owner Larry Dolan once had 47 stickers concealing his naked, liver-spotted body. But today, we stand one final victory away from the ALCS, and one final sticker away from...

Sizemore: Skip, we, uh, we really gotta go take batting practice. Right now. Pitchers, too - you never know.

Hafner: And infield practice!

Sabathia: Yeah, we need to leave before you turn that cutout around, dude.

(Players hurry out of the clubhouse en masse, except for Kenny Lofton)

Wedge: Kenny ! You want to watch the big reveal?

Lofton: Not now. I stole a base in Game One, so now I've got to nail this pair of batting gloves to the wall.


We're two games into the baseball playoffs, and all four series are at 2-0. How are teams getting ready for Game Three?

(See Part One, Part Two)

Philadelphia vs. Colorado - Colorado leads 2-0


Phillies Owner Bill Giles: Do you have everything set?

GM Pat Gillick: I think so. We've got extra personnel on call with the suicide hotlines.

Giles: Good. And the Cheez Whiz giveaways?

Gillick: We'll have the greater Philadelphia area convenience stores stocked by sundown.

Giles: Great. What about that photo op we discussed?

Gillick: The PR guy agrees that if we can manage to get a photo of McNabb wearing a Phillies hat, it would take a lot of pressure off the guys. J. Whyatt Mondesire already has a column written that blames McNabb for a "culture of choking" in Philly.

Giles: Excellent. Is Chase still crying a lot?

Gillick: Mostly just sniffling now.

Giles: Well that's something. And the charter is set for midnight out of Colorado?

Gillick: Yes. You know, we might win the game, Bill.




Gillick: You know, why don't I bump that flight up to 11?


(Todd Helton tosses a coin with the clubhouse attendant)

Attendant: Call it.

Helton: Heads.

Attendant: (reveals coin) Heads.

(Attendant continues to toss coin)

Helton: Heads. Heads. Heads.

(Attendant shakes his head in wonder)

(In another part of the clubhouse, the Rockies Traveling Secretary talks to catcher Yorvit Torrealba)

Traveling Secretary: I got you an extra room key, just like usual.

Torrealba: No need. I haven't had that problem recently.

Traveling Secretary: Really? But you always lose your keys?

Torrealba: That's true, but I haven't lost them recently. I feel like I haven't lost anything for about three weeks.

Helton: Heads. Heads. Heads.

(Matt Holliday looks through a stack of DVDs for pre-game entertainment. He puts in an old recording of ABC's Wide World of Sports)

Wide World of Sports Intro: Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport...The thrill of victory...And the agony of--

(The recording abruptly cuts out)

Holliday: That was odd.

Helton: Heads. Heads. Heads.

Holliday: OK, what else should we watch. I've got the first season of Lost.

Brad Hawpe: I don't know what that is.

Troy Tulowitzki: Yeah, that L-word is confusing. I haven't heard it in a long time.

Brad Hawpe: I think I used to know what that was...

Holliday: I don't remember either. OK, how about...Parker Lewis Can't Lose?

Hawpe and Tulowitzki: Yeah!

(Attendant finally stops tossing the coin)

Attendant: That's 85 in a row. Don't you think that's strange, such a long streak?

Helton: Eh, not really.


We're two games into the baseball playoffs, and all four series are at 2-0. How are teams getting ready for Game Three?

(See Part One)

Chicago vs. Arizona - Arizona leads 2-0


Seven hours before game time, Lou Piniella walks slowly around the deserted diamond. At first base he pauses, stoops down, and tears the base off its moorings. With the base held above his head, Piniella unleashes a string or profanity, cursing loudly and vaguely coherently until his breath gives out. Then, red-faced, Piniella heaves the base into the outfield as far as he can.

Lou continues his circuit around the field, stopping at each base and repeating his ritual. At home plate he stops and methodically kicks dirt over home plate. With each sweep of his foot, Piniella delivers another curse word, each new profanity more foul than the last. When home plate is completely obscured by dirt and mud, Piniella throws his cap onto the mound, stomps on it, and spits.

Exhausted, Piniella trudges to the dugout. "I'm ready," he whispers to bench coach Alan Trammell. "Let's get these motherfuckers."


Manager Bob Melvin: When's the last time you saw him?

Pitching coach Bryan Price: We were eating at Giordano's Pizza on West Belmont. He was finishing his eighth slice when he thought he saw a hot dog cart outside, and he just bolted.

Melvin: How'd he get away?

Price: He moves faster than you expect! He sideswiped me with his gut, and I tripped over a bench. By the time I caught sight of him again, he was running out of Panes Bread Cafe with an armload of sandwiches.

Melvin: What do we do now?

Price: I've been calling hospitals, all-night restaurants, and bacon wholesale outlets all night - no luck. Also, I've got Conor Jackson pushing a hot dog cart up and down Waveland Avenue.

Melvin: I guess we could have Owings pitch...

Price: I'm sure he'll turn up. Besides, I'm not sure it matters that he went off his diet. I saw him eat an entire fried chicken between the second and third inning once. As long as we can roll him out to the mound, he'll go five innings.

Melvin: I hope you're right. Meanwhile, let's heat up a tray of empanadas in the clubhouse. Maybe he'll smell them and come back.

Price: Got it. Oh, Livan, please come home!


We're two games into the baseball playoffs, and all four series are at 2-0. As the teams travel to different stadiums for Game Three, how is each team preparing?

Boston vs. Los Angeles of Anaheim - Boston leads 2-0


GM Bill Stoneman: What can we do differently at home?

Mike Scioscia: I don't know. Keep pitching around Ortiz, hope Weaver can come up big on Sunday?

Stoneman: No, for the fans. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim succeed because of our fans. Down 2-0, ThunderStix and animated monkeys aren't gonna cut it.

Scioscia: I think it might be more appropriate to see if we can find something for Garret's conjunctivitis.

Stoneman: Check out these cowbells. I'm thinking we hand them out at the gates, along with these wooden noisemakers. Cowbell in one hand, noisemakers in the other.

Scioscia: You know, I should really be looking at film of Curt Schilling right now...

Stoneman: So you're thinking, OK, their hands are full, we've maxed out on noise. But I was watching the Cal-Oregon game, and those fans had these little duck calls in their mouths. It was awesome!

Scioscia: Didn't Oregon lose that game?

Stoneman: OK, noisemakers, ThunderStix, cowbells, duck calls, and three new rally videos by Sunday. Can the team grow playoff beards overnight? Oh, and dye them red! Like Spezio! Hey, does anyone on the roster play in a rock band?

Scioscia: (slams door, exits, prepares self for walkoff loss.)

Red Sox

In the parking lot outside of Anaheim Stadium, Dave Henderson stands in a hooded robe. In front of him is a large, bubbling cauldron, sitting atop a pyre of burning Bobby Grich jerseys. Henderson chants quietly under his breath as he adds ingredients to the cauldron: a Gene Autry album, a "Wally World" t-shirt, a lock of Don Sutton's snow-white hair, and a DVD of The Naked Gun: From The Files of Police Squad!. He raises the hood and speaks:

"When Bobby Grich's fly ball bounced off my glove and over the fence, I swore that the Angels would never win another playoff game against Boston."

Henderson pauses to stick a pin into the left shoulder of a Vladimir Guerrero doll, and pour a mysterious fluid onto the eyes of a Garret Anderson figure. Then, Henderson unsheathes a dagger and slices the palm of his hand. Blood drops into the cauldron and is met by thick green smoke.

"Thus I have sworn, thus it shall be. Thus is the voodoo of Hendu."


(Note: I didn't finish this preview before Game 1 actually started. You could say I was as prepared as the Angels hitters were. I'm keeping my original series prediction, foolish as it may now look.)

In contrast to the Rockies-Phillies series, I don't like either team in the Angels-Red Sox tilt. I never liked the Angels, dating back past the 2002 World series disaster, where my general dislike caramelized into thick, sugary hatred for the team down south. Since 2002, it's only gotten worse. Here are some things I hate about the Angels:

1. Former Dodger Mike Scioscia is the manager. He was such a fixture in Chavez Ravine - behind the plate, in the dugout, on Tommy Lasorda's nuts - that with him gone, Lasorda had to turn to prostitutes.

2. The spelling of Chone Figgins's first name.

3. The fake mountain range in the Angels Stadium outfield.

4. The gentle media treatment of Gary Matthews, Jr. after he was implicated in a performance-enhancing drug scandal this off-season, compared to the scorn heaped on Barry Bonds. I guess it's possible Gary was just ordering the medication for a child with growth failure...

5. The 2002 championship banner.

6. The name "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim". That is a stupid name of idiocy. to be fair, the Spanish translation (Los Angeles de Los Angeles de Anaheim) is awesome.

There was a time when I really liked the Red Sox. My father's weird self-loathing Irishman fandom led him to despise both the Boston Celtics and Notre Dame University, but he never turned his hatred on the Red Sox. I've visited Boston a few times, and declared my love for the city on these virtual pages. I watched the Don Zimmer Game from South Boston, cheering on Pedro Martinez even as he was throwing a 72-year-old man into the infield grass headfirst. Sure, I occasionally criticized Boston for being a team full of ringers, but I pulled for them all through the 2003 and 2004 postseason, even after embarrassingly declaring their 2003 Division Series to be over after the A's went up 2-0.

Something changed after 2004. Suddenly, the downtrodden, lovable Red Sox fans had become the most obnoxious, arrogant fans in the world. 86 years of playoff misery had been the only thing keeping the natural New England assholery in check. Coupled with the dominance of the Patriots, the Red Sox's success created a national army of monstrous fans, worse than Yankee fans at their worst. And Jimmy Fallon ran onto the field at the end of Game 4, while metaphorically pissing in Nick Hornby's face. I haven't seen the movie, but I'd lay dollars to donuts that Fallon started cracking up in the middle of the shot.

So with the series beginning on Wednesday, how was I to display my disdain for both teams? I did it by wearing an Angels jersey to work. But not just any Angels jersey. I wore the 1998-edition #42 Mo Vaughn jersey. For those of you unfamiliar with Mr. Vaughn, he left the Red Sox in 1999 to sign an $88-million dollar contract with the Angels. He injured himself falling down the dugout steps in his first game, missed the entire 2001 due to injury, and gained approximately 60 pounds over the life of his contract. Thus, a Mo Vaughn jersey brings back painful, negative memories for both fan bases.


What are the Red Sox like?

Really damn good. Great hitting, good fielding, good pitching. It's still a team of ringers, with only three lineup regulars remaining from the 2004 championship team. The lovable David Ortiz leads the way, with able support from Manny Ramirez. There's no bad hitter in the lineup. Pitching features a Japanese import, post-season hero Josh Beckett, and right-wing Bush fellater Curt Schilling.

What are the Angels like?

Only partially a team of ringers, they're similar to the Red Sox but slightly worse in most areas. Vlad Guerrero is the superstar, though he's hurt and won't play the field in this series. This will be a disappointment to certain roommates of mine, who see Vlad's throwing arm as pure poetry. In his stead, they'll be playing a white guy named Reggie, the last white Reggie since Archie comics began. The Angels have a better bench and a better bullpen than the Red Sox, and they steal more bases.

Things to say to appear more knowledgeable about this series

"Howie Kendrick is going to win a batting title someday."
"It's Kelvim. With an 'm'."
"The Angels have lost their last six (now seven) playoff games to Boston."
"Vladimir Guerrero is most reliable RBI man in the major leagues."
"Boooooooo! This guy sucks!" (when J.D. Drew is hitting, regardless of which team you are supporting)
"The Red Sox probably won't bunt here."

Root for the Red Sox if...

You like big guys who give lots of hugs, you grew up in New England, you're Irish, you like Japanese pitchers, you hate the Yankees, you appreciate the novelty of Caucasian ticket scalpers, or you work for the FOX network and desperately want a Yankees-Red sox League Championship Series.

Root for the Angels if...

You thought Walt Disney was very handsome and wish his doppelganger success owning a baseball team, you love Vlad Guerrero, you like fan gimmicks like Thunderstix and animated monkeys on the Jumbotron, you can't spell "Sean" correctly, you are The John Francis.

Who are you rooting for, Sean?

Boston, and it's not even close. As much as I despise Schilling, I love Manny and Ortiz just as much. And besides, anything south of Fresno, it's all the same.

Sean's prediction

Though the Sox are superior on paper, I'm going to go with Angels in five, because Vlad might win a game by himself, John Lackey is a stud, and it's safer to pick against the team I actually want to win.

playoff preview: rockies vs. phillies

The Colorado Rockies and Philadelphia Phillies have overcome a decade of futility and finally returned to the National League playoffs. They're the two teams that I personally find most appealing in this year's post-season, so they are of course squaring off in the first round. Blake Street Bombers! Phightin' Phils! National League Division Series Fever - catch it!

There's no historical animosity between these two teams. They're not in the same division, and due to their usual non-contender status, they've played very few meaningful games in Colorado's 15-year existences. If anything, the teams can find a lot of common ground:

Maybe they can start a feud about the Allen Iverson trade, or some manufactured rivalry between the Colorado Crush and the Philadelphia Fire. Did Jon Bon Jovi and Judy Collins ever get into a brawl?

What are the Phillies like?

In 2005 and 2006, the Phillies missed the playoffs on the very last day of the season. For fans, it's like they're collectively Charlie Brown. They tried to kick a football, Lucy pulled it away, and then Schroeder and Linus kicked them in the nuts - two years in a row. Seeing Phillies fans have their dreams crushed at the end of a six-month, 162-game season made me feel relieved that the Giants sucked from wire-to-wire these past few seasons. This year, I gave up around St. Patrick's Day. It can be freeing.

Philadelphia has four players in their starting lineup having near-superstar years: MVP-favorite and Oakland native Jimmy Rollins plays short. Second baseman Chase Utley might have been the MVP front-runner without a midseason trip to the DL. First baseman Ryan Howard won the MVP last year, and hit 47 homers this year. Center fielder Aaron Rowand made the All-Star team and is one of the best defensive outfielders in the league.

Besides those guys, they have former star Pat Burrell, two other solid outfielders in the clumsy Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino, whose bobblehead features him wearing a grass skirt. They don't have a good third baseman, but they do have three crappy guys who are crappy in different enough ways that they make an interesting platoon.

Their pitching is bizarre. Wife-beater Brett Myers started the season as the team's ace, got moved to the closer role, punched manager Charlie Manuel in the face, apologized and remind Manuel that he loved him, but he just gets crazy sometimes, bought Charlie Manuel flowers as makeup gift, went on the disabled list for two months, and later called a beat writer a "fuckin retard". They'll be starting both a 44-year-old and a rookie in this series. They also have a relief pitcher with twelve fingers. Don't be surprised to see a dwarf or a centaur take the mound if any of these games go extra innings.

What are the Rockies like?

The Rockies also have an excellent lineup, with overrated MVP candidate Matt Holliday leading the way, and defensive whiz Troy Tulowitzki helping out at shortstop. Regular Zembla feature subject Todd Helton is still at first base, thanks to his 27-year contract, and Japanese import Kaz Matsui plays second. Matsui is a crucial part of this Rockies team, both because of his solid glovework and his status as one of the few minorities on the team. It's just him and Yorvit Torrealba among position players. If you like white people, you'll love the Rockies.

The position players are good, but the Colorado bullpen is the Refugee All-Stars of the baseball world. Wyclef would have plenty of material with this collection of vagrants and unwanted players from other squads. Still, the bullpen kept them together in the playoff hunt. In their one-game playoff versus San Diego, starter Josh Fogg (a refugee from the Pirates)only lasted four innings. The Rockies were trying to stay alive, or they'd be gone 'til November, when the free agency signing period begins. So they turned to their reclamation projects.

Matt Herges had a beleaguered stint as the Giants' fill-in closer in 2004, before declining further in 2005, eventually earning a trade to Arizona. He gave up four home runs in his first eight innings with the new team, and the Diamondbacks released him two weeks later. In 2006, he signed with the Marlins, and landed in Colorado before 2007.

But that's not all. In 2002, the Dodgers dealt Herges to Montreal. Montreal kept him for the season, then traded him to Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh released him a week before the season, he signed with San Diego, and was traded to the Giants at midseason. In summary, that means Herges has pitched for eight different NL teams, including every team in the NL West. (His brother-in-law, Todd Hollandsworth, played for eight different teams as well.) In the tiebreaker win, Herges pitched three shutout innings.

Herges wasn't alone. LaTroy Hawkins was run out of town in San Francisco and Chicago. He threw a shutout inning. Jeremy Affeldt, who couldn't cut it in the third world baseball nation of Kansas City, closed out an inning. Winning pitcher Ramon Ortiz was booted from Anaheim, Cincinnati, Washington, and Minnesota. Now they're in the playoffs. Maybe Steve Kline should sign there next year.

("What's he gonna do, hit me with an 84 MPH fastball?")

Thing to say to appear more knowledgable about this series

"That change of venue really helped Matsui."
"Now that they're using the humidor, Coors Field is much more of a pitcher's park."
"A real Philly cheesesteak is covered in Cheez-Whiz."
"Then, the beat writer asked him to spell 'retard'."
"Alfonseca also has six toes on each foot. And he's not a freak; it's called polydactylism."
"Sean Keane is probably not attracted to that dude."

Root for Philadelphia if...

You're from Oakland, Pennsylvania or southern Jersey, you feel bad about the Patriots stealing signals in the 2005 Super Bowl, you like mullets, you enjoy crazy press conferences where players and managers scream at reporters, or if you want to see if Ryan Howard can hit a ball 600 feet in Colorado.

Root for Colorado if...

You like John Elway, John Denver, infield defense, left-handed starting pitching, position players with long surnames, and the possibility of blizzards postponing the World Series.

Sean's prediction

Rockies in five, winning Game 5 in Philly, because God hates Philadelphia fans, regardless of the sport.

treehouse green gifts


Saturday, September 22nd was the grand opening of the brand-new store opened by my friend Maureen (AKA Mo's), The Treehouse. Located in the Elmwood neighborhood of Berkeley (2935 College Avenue, just above Ashby), The Treehouse is a "green gifts" store, which means they sell gifts that are handmade, recycled, and organic. That description doesn't do justice to how interesting the store is. The products are cool enough that I'd shop there even if it wasn't such a socially-conscious store; it's the retail equivalent of discovering chocolate cake that has the nutritional properties of broccoli.

The store's concept is very socially-, community-, and environmentally-responsible. They donate 1% of their profits to en enviromental fund, they offset their carbon emissions through Carbonfund.org, and they offer promotions to customers who reuse their bags and boxes. Even the plates, napkins, and utensils used at the opening gala were all compostable. They also support the arts, with plans in the works to host trunk shows for local artists in upcoming months. Where the store really stands out is how they combine good taste in art with good social values. Here's a few examples:

They sell multi-colored crayons in various shapes - bears, dinosaurs, assorted animals - that are made from old broken crayons melted together. This is a brilliant idea. If I'd have had multi-colored dinosaur crayons when I was in my formative coloring years, I may have actually developed some artistic ability. In addition, the product is made by developmentally disabled adults.

There are coasters made out of old LPs, trimmed to frame the labels, sold in packs of five for $12. My favorite set had a Kenny Loggins EP featuring a few of his Yacht Rock classics, "I'm Alright" and his solo version of "What a Fool Believes". My only complaint about the set was that the Jesus Christ Superstar coaster didn't have "What's the Buzz" on it, which might actually be a positive in that it would keep me from asking friends to "tell me what's-a-happening" while we enjoyed cold beverages together. The vinyl record bowls also look amazing.


There is a section devoted to products made out of recycled bike parts (via Resource Revival). I particularly liked the bottle openers. You can buy kits to make your own chewing gum, stationary made from recycled paper using soy-based printing, and organically-grown soybean candles (I bought one of those). If you are buying for someone else, they also have environmentally-friendly gift wrapping.

A lot of the products were not necessarily aimed at me, but I loved them just the same. A company called littleoddforest has a bunch of excellent bags that made me temporarily wish I had more women in my life to buy purses for. There's a tote bag fashioned from a page of the Sunday comics, which lets you look cool while also chuckling at the intergenerational strife in Zits. One of my companions bought a snazzy red bag made from recycled leather jackets, so as to look like a rock musician, while caring about the earth like a folk musician:


My favorite item was the "nuts-and-bolts" bowl, which is a serving bowl made out of interlocked nuts and bolts. I wish I could find a photo, but it looks like something you find in a Jeunet-and-Caro movie. The only thing that kept me from buying it was being unsure how it would fit in with our house's kitchen, which already has a few serving bowls already, but I may not be able to hold back on my next trip to Elmwood.

To summarize, I love this store, and I think many of my readers would as well, particularly those that enjoy products featuring cute animals on them and "green" gifts for babies (you know who you are). It's open every day - why not go tomorrow?

The Treehouse Green Gifts
2935 College Ave
(between Ashby Ave & Russell St)
Berkeley, CA 94705
(510) 204-9292


mo mandel: open mic fight champ


The results are in, and the internet has decided to listen to reason for once. Despite strong competition from the other finalists, America collectively decided to vote for Mo Mandel in Comedy Central's Open Mic Fight. Mo gets an appearance on a Comedy Central show, a spot on a Comedy Central tour, an appearance on a Comedy Central iTunes download, and 10,000 Comedy Central American dollars. Well done, Mo Mandel. Godspeed, and don't make eye contact with Carlos Mencia.

Fresh off his triumph, Mo Mandel will be headlining the Heuristic Squelch Comedy Experience (hosted by Sean Keane) on Wednesday, October 10th, at 8:30 pm. Tickets are $8, with no drink minimum OR drink maximum, at Blake's on Telegraph in berkeley. The bill also features Moshe Kasher, Kevin Camia, Kevin Munroe, and my mom's new favorite comic, Marcella Arguello.

I wonder how Mo will spend that prize money...


one-game playoff spectacular

Today, the San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies square off in a one-game wild-card playoff. Winner gets the National League wild card berth and a matchup with the Phillies. Loser gets an extra day of meal money and shame. Let's see how they match up:

Real World seasons

Real World San Diego had six arrests, an unpublicized, untelevised rape investigation, and a cast member with cystic fibrosis who claimed she was "too punk rock" to be on the show. Standouts were future Challenge all-star Brad, and Early Morning Stoner White Washed Asian Girl Jamie Chung.

Real World Denver had fewer arrests (just one, for public urination), the depressing spectacle of alcoholic cast members teaching Katrina refugees to climb mountains, and, most importantly, Martinez native Jenn Grijalva, who liked to yell "Rock star!", hooked up with two housemates, and was drinking at Farrington's after midnight on Christmas Eve last year. (Excerpt from Farrington's review: "This place sucks. I almost wanna give it 5 stars for how bad it sucks. There's a line outside where people fight and smoke cigarettes and buy coke while waiting for people to leave so they can go in.")

Advantage: Colorado.

Frank Cushman

Jerry Maguire's client is the top prospect in the NFL draft, deciding between two teams at the top of the draft - San Diego and Denver. While Cush expresses his willingness to either "surf or ski", he ultimately opts for surfing in San Diego, after firing his Scientologist agent.

Advantage: San Diego.

Starting pitcher

Jake Peavy, the odds-on favorite for the NL Cy Young award, starts for the Padres, hoping for his 20th win. Josh Fogg, the odds-on favorite for a non-roster invitation to Rockies spring training next year, is hoping to find 20 dollars in a forgotten jacket pocket. Peavy led the league in wins, ERA, and strikeouts. Fogg was fifth in the league in hit batsmen. However, his name is better for punny post-game headlines.

Advantage: San Diego.


San Diego saved Peavy for this tiebreaker game, rather than start him in the season finale. After losing said finale, Padres players waited in the locker room to see if Colorado would force the tie by beating Arizona. Here's an excerpt from the Mlb.com story:

Once the Rockies-Diamondbacks game ended Sunday, players lifted themselves off the plush couches in the visiting clubhouse and scurried off to the shower or to grab some dinner before the bus left the stadium for the airport.

Not only were the Padres luxuriating on soft furniture while the Rockies battled for their playoff lives, many players were sitting on the plush couches, filthy and sweaty, not bothering to shower before plopping down on Milwaukee's couches. Nor did they eat, which I took to mean they were delaying, so as not to spoil their appetites for champagne.

Big Advantage: Colorado.

Controversial stadium sponsors

San Diego plays at PetCo Field, an organization opposed by PETA for its sale of live animals. PETA even placed a brick with a hidden, anti-Petco message on the stadium's facade.

The Rockies play at Coors Field, named after the Coors family and their brewing company. The Coors family has come under fire for its support of support of the Heritage Foundation and the John Birch Society. More offensive than that is the presence of creepily overtanned Pete Coors in their TV ads.


Advantage: Padres.

Former Giants

Colorado: LaTroy Hawkins, Yorvit Torrealba, Matt Herges
San Diego: Brett Tomko.

Advantage: San Diego

Players With Torn Anterior Cruciate Ligaments From Being Thrown To The Ground By Their Own Manager

Colorado: None.
San Diego: Milton Bradley.

Advantage: Colorado.


A purple triceratops named Dinger.

San Diego:
The terrifying Swinging Friar. Let's not even discuss Franken Friar.

Advantage: Colorado, by default.

Tiebreaker Challenge: Who Is Mom Rooting For?

Mom: "I hate the Padres now. To me, they're just another Southern California team. Anything south of Fresno, it's all the same. Hate 'em."

So there you have it. By a narrow margin of 5-4, the Rockies edge out the Padres, and are my pick to win. Of course, this means you can expect San Diego to win by a score of something like 10-2, delighting the residents of Pomona, Escondido, Valencia, Riverside, and San Bernardino - they're all the same to Mom, after all.

505: the civilization express


On our drive up to Lake Shasta on Friday, we missed the turnoff for 505. No one was paying attention at the crucial moment in Vacaville, so we ended up driving an extra thirty miles, meeting Highway 5 at Sacramento instead of cutting across. Not only does 505 save time, but it avoids Davis and Sacramento. John McCrea would have been beside himself with rage when we missed a chance to dodge the automotive congestion around the city.

I know Davis isn't really that bad, especially compared to the black hole of suck that is the city of Sacramento. I've had a beef with Davis ever since my senior year of college, when a distant cousin returned, fresh off his first quarter at UC Davis, to extol the virtues of college. "You're gonna love it," he told me. "In Davis, you can get a burger - at midnight! Sean, it's the ultimate freedom."

That phrase became shorthand for me and my family for years, whenever anyone mentioned Davis, the glory of college life, or something mundane that made them so deliriously happy that it depressed us. I thought of that often in Berkeley, standing in line at 1 AM for a slice of greasy Fat Slice pizza with cardboard crust, muttering to myself, "Ultimate freedom. Ultimate freedom."

My favorite shortcut is 242, the classic, and the only freeway to originate in Pleasant Hill. 242 is similar to 505 in that it connects two uninspiring places by going quickly and dodging the slightly crappier places in between. 242 was known as "The Hypotenuse" among many of my dorky friends, because it cut across the right angle formed by 680 and 4 at Buchanan Field. I like to imagine Pythogoras driving an old Honda Civic, pumping his fist as he exited 680 on his way to Stockton.

One benefit of missing the turnoff to 505 was that we got to visit Woodland, California, which has a complex right off the highway featuring an elaborate array of services for travelers. There's a convenience store, a gas station, and a Wendy's, all under one roof, though nothing was as memorable as the men's restroom.

There, next to the condom machine, was a cologne dispenser. For just fifty cents, you could get a spray of cologne, presumably squirted out of the side of the machine itself. I can think of so many times when I've been traveling on Highway 5, in desperate need of a musky scent, and caught short of imitation Drakkar Noir: giving a teenage runaway a ride Red Bluff, furiously speeding to an outdoor kegger in Chico, stuck in a car without air conditioning during a 110-degree afternoon in Auburn on the way to a Craigslist casual encounters rendezvous.

There's one more situation where a cologne dispenser becomes indispensable: on the way to an 11-man houseboat weekend on Lake Shasta. Needless to say, I got $1.50 worth of scent that afternoon. Happy engagement, Dustin!


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