Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Everyone's Barking About Bay Woof!

There is a wonderful new dog publication in the Bay Area and it’s called Bay Woof. For people who own or love dogs like we do, it’s a breath of fresh air. Our little mutt Ratdog is being considered for a column in this new monthly magazine, and he’s obviously very excited. Keep your paws crossed! And be sure to look out for Bay Woof.

I swiped this from Bay Woof’s web site:

"Bay Woof is an informative and entertaining monthly newspaper for dogs and their people. Our mission is to be the voice of the local dog community and an essential resource forpeople who love their pets – the wonderfully dense and diverse population of the San Francisco Bay Area.
Bay Woof will launch with the March 2007 edition, due to hit the stands on February 15th. Our website will launch the same day, offering content from the paper, lost and found, and lists of resources in the area.
The paper will be available at dog-specific locations– like vet clinics, animal shelters, and pet stores – as well as general community gathering places, such as bookstores and cafes.
M. Rocket, publisher/art director, is thrilled to begin this new venture with colleagues from a former local dog paper. We’ll be sharing our love of dogs as we bring you the best of the Bay’s canine news and views, each and every month.
Readers will find engaging articles by local dog people, including the best and brightest of Bay Area pet professionals. Great graphic design will make the paper a visual feast, and you’ll find wonderful photos, drawings, and cartoons in every issue. Articles will cover a wide range of topics, including dog training and health, dog-friendly travel, dog sports, and all things canine."

My Interview with Hobie Landrith

Hobie Landrith is perhaps best known as the New York Mets' first pick in the 1961 expansion draft. Manager Casey Stengel explained the choice by saying, "You gotta have a catcher or you're gonna have a lot of passed balls." Landrith had been a backup for the Reds (1950-55) but was traded after the 1955 season, when he had missed time with a broken collarbone. He was a regular for a weak Cubs team in 1956 and hit .221 while leading the all NL catchers in errors. As a regular on the 1959 Giants, Landrith had his best season, hitting .251 with 29 RBI and 30 runs in 283 AB’s.

The Early Days: I was lucky because I had an early childhood experience in baseball that probably a lot of other kids would want to copy. When I was 15 years old, playing baseball on the sandlots of Detroit, a Detroit Tigers scout approached me and asked if I would want to come down to Tiger Stadium and catch batting practice while they were trying to get Hank Greenberg into shape. He had been in the military, had been released, and the Tigers were on the road, and it was a 10-to-15-day span that he was going to be working out, hitting balls and catching balls, whatever. I jumped at the chance and this brought me into contact with members of the Detroit Tigers baseball team, and when the team returned home, they asked me if I would be catch batting practice. I was just overwhelmed by the opportunity to be rubbing shoulders with these players. It was great because it gave me an insight into what it would be like to be a major league baseball player. It was at that time that I felt like, yes, if I worked hard and really honed my skills, that I might have a chance to play in the major leagues. Five years later I was there.

His Catching Skills: I was in the major leagues more because I was a good defensive catcher, and the fact that I was good at handling pitchers. I always thought I was a fairly decent hitter, but I realized that I wasn’t in the big leagues for my bat. I had what they called “warning track power.” You know, I’d hit the ball pretty good, the fans would get up on their feet, and then they’d groan, because the ball would die at the warning track.

I became good at handling pitchers from things I had learned from Birdie Tebbetts when I was with the Reds. He taught me when to get on ‘em, when to not get on ‘em. I was able to recognize when a pitcher was losing his stuff or losing his composure and tried to get him back on track. And sometimes I had to play the bad guy and say things to the pitcher to get him riled up. I called all my own pitches.

On Umpires: You have to know your umpires, number one. And you’ve got to be careful of what you say and how frequently you say it. I remember Al Barlick, first time I said something to him, and he told me, “You do the catching and I’ll do the umpiring, okay?” He said it in a very stern way. And he was the best umpire in the National League at that time. And I said, “Okay.” So, I knew right then to catch the ball and let him umpire. As long as you didn’t use profanity, you could talk to most umpires and not get thrown out.

Stealing signs: It was 1954, the year the Giants won the pennant, and I was with the Reds that year, and we never beat the Giants at the Polo Grounds. The Giants always seemed to rally late in games and beat us. Well, many years later I found out that they were stealing our signs from center field. In some instances, you’d see a batter swing at a pitch like he knew what was coming, and in those instances we’d knock him flat on his butt, because we didn’t know where they were getting the signs. One time in Milwaukee we found out Braves’ players were getting our signs from the bullpen. They had binoculars out there and they were signaling them in to the batter. After the game, Alvin Dark came into the clubhouse and asked us, “Does anyone have a pair of binoculars?” So, we took them out to the bullpen and gave them some of their own medicine. We killed ‘em that game. That’s why we would change our signs when a guy got a real good cut at a ball. We figured they had our signs and at that point and we’d change them.

Playing in Candlestick: It was a blustery, windy, cold place -- it did everything but snow there. I’ve played in early season games in small towns back East when it was cold, but I have never been as cold as I was at Candlestick Park. And it didn’t matter how many layers of clothing you put on, either. That damp air at night would just chill you to the bone. I remember one night Harvey Kuenn put on a bunch of clothes – he had gloves, sweaters, several pairs of socks, long johns – and he was still freezing.

Playing with Willie Mays: Mays used to always call me “Honest John,” although I don’t know why. He gave some of us strange nicknames. Folks would criticize Willie for being hard to talk to, but it wasn’t always that way. Willie got burned by the press one time too many, and he got a little harder every time it happened. He was never that way with his teammates, though. I loved Willie and I had a great relationship with the man. I still do.

Barry Bonds: Dusty Baker asked me to come to spring training a few years ago to coach the Giant’s catchers, which I did. And I got a chance to see Barry Bonds in the clubhouse. For the most part, he was unapproachable. When he walked around in the clubhouse, you always had an uncertain feeling about him. One time I asked Barry for an autograph and he turned around and walked away from me. Orel Hershiser was there and told him to come back and sign, so he did. Barry is a nice person, but for the most part, in the clubhouse, he was not very approachable.

Playing with Willie McCovey: People ask me all the time, what kind of a guy is Willie McCovey? And I tell them, if Willie walks into a room and smiles, everyone in that room smiles too. I was in the lineup for his first major league game when he went 4-for-4 against Robin Roberts. I just feel fortunate that I was able to play with the man during my career. He’s just a wonderful person.

Being Drafted in 1961 by the Mets: The GM with the Mets was George Weiss, what a piece of work he was. I mean, if you’re the first pick, you figure you should make at least the same as you did the year before, right? No. They offered me three or four thousand dollars less than what I was making with San Francisco. So, I sent the contract back. I told Weiss that I found his offer to be totally unacceptable. He sent me the same contract three times and I sent it back three times. I told him that I’d stay home before I signed I accepted these contracts. He wouldn’t budge, so I finally had to sign. The man was cold, cold, cold, and I didn’t enjoy that at all.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

This Week's Restaurant Review: Asia SF in SF

Asia SF represents what San Francisco stands for on so many levels. It’s a wild combination of sexy, forbidden, naughty, unique, tasty and hip. The food has been described as Cal-Asian cuisine, and the entertainers are called gender illusionists, but Asia SF is basically great grub and grand drag. Almost eight years ago, Owners Larry Hashburger and Skip Young opened this place, and this restaurant/lounge/dance club instantly became a SF entertainment landmark. It’s a super popular spot for bachelor, bachelorette and birthday parties and the staff there really knows how to deal with big, rowdy crowds. It takes a certain amount of skill and professionalism to deal with party-crazed patrons and the beautiful people at Asia SF are the best in the business. The stars of the show at Asia SF are the beautiful and talented “ladies” that perform lip synched musical numbers while dancing on the long Chinese red runway bar. These “women” are so stunningly convincing and vivacious that you will forget that they’re really men. I have been to Asia SF several times. We usually bring out-of-towners there, especially our politically conservative friends. To see their expressions when the show begins is priceless. The illusionists do songs from such stars as Beyonce Knowles, Liza Minelli, Marilyn Monroe, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Paula Abdul, Bette Midler and more. In many cases, they dress up like them too. Ronnie Reddick is the choreographer and show director, and he does an excellent job of putting together a fun, provocative show that keeps its sense of humor and never gets trashy. If there is such a thing as a “PG” rating for this type of thing, Asia SF gets it. As for the food, you cannot go wrong with the menu that Chef Matthew Metcalf features at Asia SF. The place has a huge and varied wine list and received the Wine Spectator award from 2001 to 2005. For $48 per person, you can order three selections from Asia SF’s Gold Menu. For larger parties you can experience the place’s Platinum and Diamond Menus, which feature more food and cost more. If you feel like drinking your dinner, one of the great things about Asia SF is that you have the option of ordering a specialty drink instead of food for any course. I recommend the Blackened Tuna Sashimi, a seasoned seared piece of ahi tuna with a lemongrass buerre blanc and pickled vegetable salad. Everybody on the planet does this dish, but Asia SF does it sublimely. Then, there’s their Asia-dilla, a quesadilla stuffed with duck, jack cheese, cilantro and Fresno peppers served with a sun-dried cheery crème fraiche. You won’t find this dilla at Taco Bell, my friend – it’s muy perfecto. I also love the Miso Glazed King Salmon, a sautéed Pacific salmon, finished with a miso glaze, served over black “forbidden” rice with a sweet tomato-edamame salad; and the Orange Lamb, a lamb sirloin sautéed with a spicy orange glaze served with coconut jasmine rice and a Thai cucumber salad. Everything is innovative and perfectly prepared. The portions aren’t huge – slightly larger than tapas and a little smaller than your average appetizer. The one thing that always stands out at Asia SF (despite the gender illusionists) is their incredible signature dessert – the Miniature Ice Cream Cones and Warm Banana Beignets with Chocolate and Caramel Dipping Sauces. It’s a sugar rush that complements the adrenaline rush you’ll get when you experience Asia SF. Asia SF is located at 201 9th Street in San Francisco. Reservations are required. Call (415) 255-8887 to get a spot along the bar. It’s the best place to see this amazing show of food, drink, people and forbidden pleasure.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Academy Awards Pretty Predictable

Last night’s Academy Award Ceremony was fairly predictable, but in the end I would have to give it an overall grade of B-plus. Ellen Degeneres played it pretty safe as the master of ceremonies, but at least she didn’t pull a Letterman. Interviewing the nominees was fun and Degeneres took a laidback, casual approach to the whole affair, which I think came off well. It’s a tough gig and Ellen stepped up. Some of the evening’s major highlights included Forest Whitaker’s acceptance speech while his wife cried, Will Ferrell, Jack Black and John C. Reilly’s song and dance number, the amazing rolling shadow-dancing, Martin Scorsese finally winning, and the fact that Pixar lost for “Cars”, which I thought was mediocre at best. The biggest surprise was when Eddie Murphy lost to Alan Arkin, but it really shouldn’t have been that shocking. The Academy rarely gives statues to comedians, as a rule. The fact that The Departed got the Best Picture nod over Babel was pleasing as well. Babel was a good movie, but there was no way it should have won. I felt like it was basically an art film and a little too depressing and disjointed to be voted the best. In reality, Little Miss Sunshine should have won, but a little comedy without any big names in it was too much of an underdog and was fighting an uphill battle. Honoring Scorsese was essentially a make-up call for all the years that he should have won. Good Fellas, Raging Bull and Casino are all better than The Departed, but who knows how many more films Martin has in his arsenal, so to give it to him now was a good choice. Jennifer Hudson should have won for Dreamgirls, even though it’s a musical and didn’t break any new cinematic ground. Helen Mirren was brilliant in The Queen, so that was a no-brainer. One question: Can’t the Academy afford a larger podium? A couple of the winners, including Alan Arkin, had to actually set their Oscars on the floor next to them while they gave their speeches – how awkward is that? Other notable things that happened last night include:

-Peter O’Toole’s expression when he realized that he lost. The man looked crushed!
-Gwyneth Paltrow’s incredible dress made her look like a tasty peach parfait. I rarely get into the best-and-worst dressed game -- I leave that to the very annoying Joan Rivers -- but Paltrow looked stunning and that dress was awesome. Bad clothing decisions – Nicole Kidman with the giant bow and Anne Hathaway’s gown that made her look like a server at Dairy Queen.
-Jennifer Hudson almost falling out of her dress during the “Dreamgirls” song performance. She was bouncing around so much I got dizzy. And if Beyonce isn’t the hottest woman on the planet, than who is?
-Victories for Pan’s Labyrinth for Best Cinematography and Best Makeup. This amazing deserved everything it got and more, in my opinion.
-Why is J-Lo at all these award ceremonies? And why is she even considered an actress? Lopez could benefit by taking acting lessons from Ashton Kutcher.
-The absence of Borat was a bummer. The story behind his no-show is that Sacha Baron Cohen was asked to appear as himself and refused. Why not let the guy appear as the character that made the most popular comedy of the year?
-An after party note: The leftover food from the Oscar bash is going to be served to a homeless shelter today for lunch. Imagine being homeless and dining on Wolfgang Puck’s salmon with caviar, gold-dusted chocolate-dusted Oscar statues and imported French truffles. All washed down with a half-pint of Thunderbird wine.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

30 Baseball Interviews and Counting...

Starting in April of 2002, I began interviewing retired professional baseball players, their relatives, or other people associated with major league baseball, for the Society of American Baseball Research’s (SABR) Oral History Committee. My inspiration for this series of interviews is a wonderful book entitled, “The Glory of Their Times’” in which the late Lawrence Ritter interviewed a handful of major league baseball players who played in the teens and twenties. Before actually reading it, I purchased the book on tape, and listened to it on long drives in the car. Hearing these players’ voices as they recanted their lives and careers through their stories, I became enamored with what they had to say about their own personal perspectives on little pieces of baseball history. And suddenly I realized what really fascinated me about them is that it wasn’t so much about baseball itself, but about the history of this great game and the period in which they played. I enjoyed hearing their versions of the important games they participated in, but I was more interested in what they recalled about the times they lived in. The train rides, the clubhouse banter, their different teammates, the places they hung out at, the stadiums, the fans -- the entire package intrigues me more today than ever, and I just can’t seem to get enough of it.

Last month I did my 30th interview. My goal is 100, which should take a few more years.
Here is a list of the players I’ve taped interviews with:

Duane Pillette
Ernie Broglio
Jesse Gonder
Bob Locker
Bill Wight
Ernie Fazio
Gus Triandos
Joe DeMaestri
Jim Mangan
Eddie Bressoud
Bill Renna
Jim Davenport
Gil Hodges III
Rugger Ardizoa
Dario Lodigiani
Chris Haughey
Cuno Barragan
Hobie Landrith
Ed O’Brien
Nino Bongiovanni
Dick Williams
Gus Zernial
Ernie Fazio
Charlie Silvera
Rob Andrews
Ray Coleman
Bob Roselli
Nate Oliver
Lester Rodney
Joanne Budka-Clines
Erik Johnson
Duane Pillette

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Ellen DeGeneres Will Rock the Oscars Tomorrow Night!

Ellen DeGeneres has been set to host the 79th Academy Awards telecast, producer Laura Ziskin announced. It will be DeGeneres’ first time as Oscar® host, as well as her first appearance on an Academy Awards telecast.

I’m so happy Ellen is doing it this year. Hosting the Academy Awards is a tough gig, but I know she’ll pull it off and be hilarious. Big names like David Letterman, (remember the embarrassingly unfunny “Uma, meet Oprah” bit?) Chris Rock and Whoopi Goldberg have tried to host this show and failed miserably, in my opinion. I’m predicting an “A” grade for Ellen tomorrow night!

“Ellen DeGeneres was born to host the Academy Awards,” said Ziskin. “There is no more challenging hosting job in show business. It requires someone who can keep the show alive and fresh and moving, as well as someone who is a flat-out great entertainer. Ellen completely fits the bill. I can already tell she is going to set the bar very high for herself and therefore for all of us involved in putting on the show. Now all we need is a lot of great movies.”

DeGeneres is the host of the syndicated talk show “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” which this year won its third Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show and earned DeGeneres her second Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show Host.

Launched in September 2003, the show won four Daytime Emmys in its freshman year, including Outstanding Talk Show, after garnering a record twelve nominations. In its second season, the show won five Daytime Emmys, and this year earned a total of six Emmy Awards.

Friday, February 23, 2007

My Oscar Predictions for 2007

Here are my Oscar predictions for 2007:

Best Picture: Babel
(I am changing my vote to The Departed here. I must admit, I was influenced by all the buzz about Babel, but after seeing it last night, I have to say it is good, but not worthy of winning Best Picture. It's essentially an art film and it is very good, but The Departed is better. Knowing the Academy, Babel will win, but I still believe even Little Miss Sunshine is a better movie.)
Best Actor: Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland
Best Actress: Helen Mirren, The Queen
Best Supporting Actor: Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls
Best Supporting Actress, Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls
Best Director: Martin Scorsese, The Departed
Best Original Screenplay: Michael Apted, Little Miss Sunshine
Best Adapted Screenplay: William Monahan, The Departed

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Julian Beever: An Amazing Pavement Artist

Julian Beever is an absolutely incredible pavement artist. He uses chalk to create amazing images that look so real. Check out his stuff at:

What do you know about Financial Consolidation?

A lot of folks don’t realize it, but financial consolidation is so very important to the success of a company. Effectively managing consolidation cycle times and shortening statutory reporting processes without sacrificing vital controls or compliance with laws and regulatory bodies has become of key importance to most organizations. That’s why getting good Financial Consolidation Software is so vital. The ability to consolidate increasingly complex corporate hierarchies, while managing key stakeholder relationships is fundamental to businesses.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

This Week's Restaurant Review: The Cliff House Bistro in SF

I like eating at landmarks and historic places. Just thinking about the history of a famous and inspiring spot makes me hungry, I guess. Restaurants with great views are also nice. The Cliff House Bistro at Point Lobos in San Francisco has both of those things going for it. It’s a historical landmark with a spectacular view, a combination not found everywhere. Their motto is “Where San Francisco Begins,” and the place is world renowned for a lot of reasons. I don’t really feel like giving you the whole story about the Cliff House, Playland, the Sutro Baths and their storied pasts right here, because that would take up this whole review. What I want to talk about is the Bistro. The Cliff House Bistro serves breakfast, lunch and dinner all the time, which is a big plus for me. I hate places that cut off breakfast or lunch at a certain time. Hey, the kitchen is open, right? If I feel like Eggs Benedict for dinner, why shouldn’t I be able to order it? Another thing I like is that you don’t have to make reservations at the Bistro. If you feel like going there on a whim, you can just stop by. My experience is that they move patrons in and out of the place pretty skillfully, so you should never have too long a wait. The Cliff House Bistro consists of two long rooms, all of which have a great view. The walls are covered with photos of all the famous celebrities who have dined there. They have some great signed photos of classic entertainers like Shirley Temple, Bing Crosby and W.C. Fields. But, guess whose picture we had to sit next to last time we were there? Nicholas Cage! Just my luck! I nearly lost my lunch. The food at the Bistro is what I could best describe as hearty. Don’t get me wrong – the ingredients are fresh and the chefs there obviously know what they’re doing. But, let’s just say that no one at this place is breaking any new culinary ground. The Bistro has some great breakfasts – like the Johnson Omelet ($16.95), with Dungeness Crab Meat, Avocado and Sour Cream; or the Thick Sliced Sourdough French Toast ($12.95), with Vermont Maple Syrup, Bacon and Apple Compote. Most compotes I’ve had in the past tasted more like compost, but this one was really flavorful. For lunch, first-timers should always try the famous Cliff House Chowder ($5.95 for a cup/$7.95 for a bowl). It’s amazing, with a lot of clams, herbs, fresh taters and carrots. The lunch specialties include things like a Broiled Portobello Mushroom Burger ($12.95); a Classic Cioppino ($22.00), a San Francisco Fish Stew with every type of shellfish imaginable; and a pretty decent Half Pound Beef Burger ($12.95). Dinner entrees of note include a wonderful Grilled Salmon with a light Mustard Glaze ($19.95); Steamed Mahi Mahi ($19.95) with a Green Onion Confit and Jasmin Rice; a Grilled 14-ounce Ribeye Steak ($26.95), and a Braised Lamb Shank ($19.95). The service is very professional at the Cliff House Bistro, but if you haven’t noticed yet, the place is pricey. But, hey – you’re paying for the view and the atmosphere, right? If I was eating this stuff facing a wall, I’d be upset, but dining in an environment like the one at the Cliff House means I’m very forgiving. The Cliff House Bistro is at 1090 Point Lobos in San Francisco. Believe it or not, there’s usually plenty of free parking along the wall there. Their phone number is: (415) 386-3330.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A-Rod and Jeter: Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Wow. This article on really kind of shocked me. Two huge superstars aren’t hanging out together anymore. I get all teary-eyed when I read this kind of thing. Do you mean that A-Rod and Jeter aren’t going to be doing a LaVerne and Shirley this season? No riding bikes together or playing board games on the weekend? No long walks in the park? How about an occasional night out on the town, chasing Paris Hilton and/or Mariah Carey? In my opinion, the problem is with A-Rod. He’s not a team player like Jeter has proven he is. It won’t faze either of them, anyway. When you make the kind of cash these two guys do, you can buy all of the friends you’ll ever need! Besides, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig never got along, either – and it didn’t slow them down.

TAMPA, Fla. – Alex Rodriguez sat himself precisely upon the sheet of notebook paper with "13" written on it, the unspoken direction located on the home-dugout bench at Legends Field here, wedged between a smile and a sigh.
He arrived at New York Yankees camp Monday. He stopped by for his annual physical, which, as it turned out, preceded another 15 minutes of poking and prodding, this without the benefit of the Latex glove.
There are five issues that dog the two-time MVP, and he came prepared to discuss them all.
First, he is 4-for-41 without an RBI in his last 12 playoff games for the Yankees. ("I've stunk.")
Second, it got so bad Joe Torre had to hide him in the eighth place in the order. ("I was embarrassed.")
Third, he won't really say if he'll opt out of the final three years of his contract after this season. ("I want to be a New York Yankee.")
Fourth, Derek Jeter doesn't want to be his best friend anymore and hasn't wanted to be for quite some time.
Fifth, does this Jeter thing have anything whatsoever to do with any of the first three?
OK. Alex?
"Well, let's make a contract," Rodriguez said. "You don't ask me about Derek anymore, and I promise I'll stop lying to all you guys."
That sounds fine. Wait a second. …
"Let's be honest," he continued. "Look, Derek and I were best of friends about 10, 12 years ago. Became best of friends. We're still good friends. We get along well. We cheer hard for each other. He cheers for me. And we both want to win a world championship. Do we go to dinner every night like we used to? No. But we're good friends, have a lot of respect for each other, and we want to win. No more questions about that."
Which, of course, brought a few nods and about 10 more questions. Because this is Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez we're talking here, and for six weeks every spring this little green corner of Tampa becomes New York without the snow shovels. And what was that about the lying?
"I think it's just important to cut the [BS], you know?" he said. "I mean, it is what it is. I think when you get into all the [bull], people start assuming that things are a lot worse than what they are, which they are not. But they're obviously not as great as they used to be, when we were like blood brothers, you know?"
The natural follow-up, then, as everyone had decided to opt out of the A-Rod/Jeter contract anyway, was: What happened? And why?
"You don't have to go to dinner with a guy four or five times a week to do what you do," he said. "It's actually much better than all you guys [suspect], but I just wanted the truth to be known. … You go from sleeping over at somebody's house five days a week, and now you don't sleep over. It's just not that big of a deal. That's happened with your friends, I'm sure. Some of your friends.
"I think it's just important to let all you guys know. You guys haven't heard it from me [before]. It's an old question. There's nothing there. It's much better than you guys are going to write, but the reality is, there's been a change in the relationship over 14 years and hopefully we can put it behind us."
Rodriguez starts his fourth season as a Yankee, his 14th as a big-leaguer – he's more than halfway to 900 home runs – and finds it necessary to divulge he no longer sleeps over at the shortstop's house.
If Jeter were charged with opening a hole for A-Rod to run through, or if Jeter were the point guard and A-Rod his points-hungry power forward, this might matter.
But this is baseball and these are grown men.
Jeter gets his at-bat, then A-Rod gets his. If A-Rod can't reach a ball to his left, then Jeter gets it. That's the end of it.
Sure, Rodriguez must deliver, particularly in October, assuming the Yankees get there. Sure, he's in danger of getting those 900 home runs and no one remembering a single one. And sure, he gets booed a lot, and right about now a lot of New Yorkers probably can't decide if they're overjoyed Rodriguez might opt out of his contract or indignant Rodriguez might opt out of his contract.
But to suggest Jeter has anything to do with those failures, or that his friendship or public support would have done anything to avert them, is misguided.
The Yankees presumably would benefit greatly from an emotionally secure A-Rod, but could Jeter really play a part in that?
"I care about what he thinks about me on the field," Rodriguez said. "I think it's important for us to be on the right page and we are. We're here to win a championship together."
Beyond that, he said, "I'm a big boy. I'm 31 years old now. So I should be able to help myself out there."

Monday, February 19, 2007

Hungover on President's Day!

I don’t know why – I really didn’t drink all that much – but I woke up this morning with a hangover that had my head pounding like 500 jackhammers. I think it must have been the combination of things I consumed. I had sake, whiskey and wine – three things I’m pretty certain that you’re not supposed to mix. I used to be able to imbibe with the very best out there when I was in my 20’s and 30’s, but now that I’m in my late 40’s, I just can’t drink like I used to.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Ratdog Reviews Bella & Daisy's Doggy Boutique

Ratdog has been hired by to do a series of reviews about popular pet places in the Bay Area, including dog-friendly hotels, retsurants, parks and stores. This is his first review, so bear with him.

There’s a great place a couple blocks from where we live on Union Street in SF called Bella & Daisy’s Dog Bakery and Boutique. Just thinking about the place has my little tail wagging a mile a minute. Bella & Daisy’s offers a full range of exclusive products for your favorite pooch: practical and more decorative high-end collars, coats and sweaters, fashionable carriers, books, aromatherapy, beautiful beds, a wide variety of foods (including raw foods), and every kind of treat you could imagine: fresh baked and made to order birthday cakes, cannoli’s, doggie donuts, carob-dipped pretzels, doggie latte cookies, “dog stickers,” sushi cookies, and more! All for the one you really love! My masters take me to Bella & Daisy’s when I’ve been a good dog, which is a lot. Once in a while I get in their doghouse for barking or humping the ottoman, in which case I don’t get to go to Bella & Daisy’s. I especially love the doggy pastries there – just thinking about them has me drooling all over the carpet. My favorites are the doggy dim sum and the cupcakes. And best of all – they have bones! Every type of dog treat imaginable can be sniffed out at Bella & Daisy’s. They’ve got Zuke’s Treats, Greenies, Nutro, Mother’s Finest Dog Cookies, Old Mother Hubbard, Flossies and more. All of the treats are made with the finest healthy ingredients, meaning I won’t get heartburn or gas. It really doesn’t matter, because my master blames me when he’s gassy anyway. Sometimes a mutt just can’t win! They also have a place at Bella & Daisy’s called Kitty Korner, although I’ve never seen a cat in the place. If I did, I’d 86 it, because, in my opinion, B&D’s is for dogs only. We don’t want no cats in our place! Some of the events that they have at Bella & Daisy’s are real fun, too. Around Christmas, you can get your picture taken with Santa Claus. I liked his beard but he smelled like vodka! They also have book signings, doggy psychic readings, and special dog training sessions by top trainers. But, the best thing at B&D’s has to be the Yappy Hour every Friday evening from 5 pm to 7:30 pm. They have wine and cheese for the dog owners and all kinds of treats for us doggies. Everyone dresses up in their finest cocktail wear and it’s a Par-ty! I met a Great Dane there last week and we exchanged collar tags. Who knows? It could be puppy love! Bella & Daisy’s is located at 1750 Union Street, between Octavia and Gough in San Francisco. Their phone number is: (415) 440-7007. Their web site is:

Saturday, February 17, 2007

How Wrong is Tim Hardaway?

Tim Hardaway made some pretty caustic remarks recently about former NBA player John Amaeci being gay. They were hateful and inappropriate. Now he’s getting a lot of flack about it. Personally, I’m torn on this subject. First, I have no problems with homosexuals or lesbians. I live in super liberal San Francisco, where people walk around every day naked and drooling with tennis balls tapped up their butts while talking to dogs in three different languages, and no one in this town, including myself, really cares – as long as they don’t drool on me or ask me to play catch with the tennis ball. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not comparing those crazies to gay folks in any way. I’m just making a point. The gay people I know are compassionate, creative, wonderful individuals and human beings just like anyone else. Someone’s sexual preference has never been a concern of mine, so if someone is attracted to members of the same sex, more power to them. If they like livestock or hump ottomans, I could care less. To each his own has always been my belief. On the other hand, if Tim Hardaway doesn’t like gay people, why shouldn’t he have the right to express his opinions? Now the NBA has asked Hardaway not to attend their All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas because of his remarks. I understand embracing diversity in the workplace, but I feel like we’ve gone too far in trying to be completely accepting of everyone. Some groups just don’t like other groups, for whatever reason, and as long as they don’t threaten or harm each other, I believe they’re totally within their rights to express it. We supposedly live in a free-speech society. What if Hardaway had spoken out against the war in Iraq, Catholic priests, pay toilets or chronic jaywalkers? Would he have been banned for that? His opinion may be moronic and many of us may disagree, but why should he be punished and chastised by society just because he’s homophobic? People from the KKK and other racist, hateful organizations get up all the time and spout their propaganda in the media. If they’re protected by the Freedom of Speech, why isn’t Hardaway? Athletes say stupid stuff all the time (examples: Charles Barkley, Mike Tyson, Dennis Rodman), because they’re human and have a porous filter between their brains and their mouths, but why should they be penalized for it? I don’t think Hardaway is going to be invited to be the marshal of the Gay Day Parade, but even if he is an idiot and a homophobe, he doesn’t need to be banned for saying what he believes. Dumb-ass celebrities, redneck racists, and even ignorant politicians all have a place in American society. That’s the downside of living in a totally free country.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Pet Twister Finals this Weekend!

It's been an exciting couple of weeks for Angelina and I. Amazingly, both of our dogs have made it to the 2007 Pet Twister Finals, to be held in Milpitas this weekend. That's right -- after extensive training and practice, both Ratdog and Shelly are in the finals. We're really thrilled -- it's been like watching our kids play Little League. Shelly was able to upset a Great Dane who had twice her reach in the large dog semi-finals , while Ratdog initially lost a heart breaker to a toy poodle, but advanced to the small-dog finals when the mutt tested positive for steroids and was subsequently stripped of her title.

Remember When Life was Pee Chee Keen?

Anybody who ever went to school in this country within the last 60 years knows about Pee Chee Folders. The one you recognize will pinpoint when you went to school. If the top one is familiar to you, you’re quite old, probably in your 80’s or 90’s. If the middle one is more recognizable, you’re probably somewhere in your 60’s. And if the bottom version brings back feelings of nostalgia, you’re around my age (48) or a little younger. Pee Chee’s always had the worst art on them, and more than one student got in trouble for drawing inappropriate things on them in order to spice up their boring look.

There’s a great web site I found that has articles on the history of advertising in America, and it also had this piece on Pee Chee Folders:

Sadly, the most recognized element of my own school days is no longer being made, even though it lasted almost 60 years, and became the most abused item in every student's arsenal of paper.
The yellow Pee Chee Folder was first released in 1943 by the Western Tablet and Stationery Company of Kalamazoo, Michigan. Early versions featured young boys and girls at the soda shop, or wartime images such as jeeps and navy ships.
By 1964, Mead Paper had bought Western Tablet and introduced new artwork to the Pee Chee line. These images of tennis players, football heroes, track stars, and dancers were drawn by Francis Golden, who received only a one-time fee for pictures that would grace millions of folders each year. Golden later became a prominent water colorist, and over the years new artists took over illustrating Pee Chee folder updates. According to Mead, the style of art was updated approximately every ten years.
The modification of Pee Chee folders could probably serve as some sort of psychological study-sort of like reading inkblots or tealeaves. Every student except the most fastidious, added elements, colored in parts, scratched out eyes, doodled on, or sexually modified the familiar images to suit their own bent and grade level. In my era, swastikas were a popular addition, as were Rat-Fink-style car drawings and rocket ships. Girls tended to favor romantic elements, such as hearts and flowers, while the boys were more likely to use a good eraser to blot out the faces of the runners, or add anatomically correct appendages. But since I went to Catholic school, none of that was left intact for very long. Consequently, in my classes many Pee Chee folders were drenched in ink, layer after layer first revealing, then covering up various parts of the drawings.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Advertising Sure Has Changed!

Can you believe that this ad actually ran in major magazines in 1950? What the hell were people thinking? Man, times sure have changed -- and in some cases, for the better. If a cigarette company tried to run an ad campaign like this today, they'd be lynched! But 57 years ago, this was considered cute.

I Want to Kick Ass on the Beach Too!

I remember this ad like it was yesterday. I so badly wanted to be the guy who kicks the bully's ass. I yearned to be Joe. Instead, I ate sand and liked it. My life sucks!

Get on the Bullet & Get Your Energy Back!!

There’s a great Energy Supplement out there that I’ve been taking that has really helped me in a lot of ways. When I’m up against one of my writing deadlines, I need an immediate boost of energy, something that stimulates my metabolism, increasing my concentration. It also prevents feeling of fatigue and doesn’t contain any empty calories like many of these new energy drinks out there on the market today. It’s called Bullet Speed Energizer – and it works!

Theater Review: BATS Improv in San Francisco

Last night we went to BATS Improv in San Francisco’s Fort Mason Center. BATS Improv is a non-profit education and performance theatre company that has been entertaining Bay Area audiences since 1986. Their unique style of acting-based improvisational theatre has made BATS Northern California’s largest improv theatre company and school and is a benchmark for improv all over the world. BATS performs year-round at the 200-seat Bayfront Theater, which is the ideal size venue for this type of thing – intimate and personal. You feel like the improvisational actors are performing just for you in your living room. Some comedy clubs are so big and spread out that you end up sitting too far away from the action on stage. The Bayfront is perfect – comfortable with great sound and lights. BATS takes its inspiration from the work of Theatresports creator Keith Johnstone. Everything that takes place at BATS is 100% improvised – from the dialogue, to the movement, music, songs, lighting and more. I’ve been to some improv shows where a lot of what they do isn’t really truly improvisational. The actors have done it enough that they know what will get laughs and it’s canned stuff. Not with BATS – they’re the real thing, pure and unadulterated. It’s experimental improv with an emphasis on stories. It blows away some of the so-called improv that I’ve seen at other places. These people are professional actors who get paid and have been doing improv for many years. They explore both short and long-form improv, which isn’t easy. Anyone can do a funny 2-minute sketch, but to perform a 40-minute play with fully developed characters and a structured storyline with a plot is difficult, especially when the actors are creating everything on the fly. The typical show at BATS is broken up into two parts. The first half of the show consists of short bits based on audience suggestions. The second half is a full-length improvisational drama with only the title having been suggested by the audience. The performers we saw the other night were wonderful and had varied styles. There was Rafe Chase – a multi-dimensional performer with a dry, quick wit. Dave Dennison – an actor with great facial expressions who reminded me a lot of local comedian Larry “Bubbles” Brown. Zoe Galvez – a cute, fun actress who played a wide range of characters. John Kovacevich – the emcee and leader, who reminded me a lot of Steve Carell from “The Office.” And Gerri Lawlor – probably the best actor in the bunch; very physical with fully formed characters. Lawlor was by far the standout of the evening. She possesses a certain flair and energy that I can’t do justice describing here. She reminded me of a cross between Carol Burnett and Phyllis Diller. Another bright spot is Music Director Joshua Raoul Brody, who plays keyboards along with the show, complete with great sound effects and timely tunes. I was amazed at how he could play songs on the spot that were directly related to the action on stage. A good improv show needs a guy like Brody to keep it moving along and Joshua was magnificent. BATS is at B350 Fort Mason Center in San Francisco. There’s plenty of paid parking, but if you don’t mind walking a little, you can usually park free along the Marina. Their phone number is: (415) 474-6776.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

NY Giants Clean House

I cannot believe how rapidly LaVar Arrington has fallen from grace. A couple of seasons ago, he was one of the hottest young players in the league. Now, he's looking for a job. Couldn't they have traded him for some draft picks or something? They must really be upset with the guy. By releasing him the way they did, the Giants are going to cost Arrington a ton of money on the free agent market. Other teams will be suspicious and reluctant to bid on a guy who was let go so abruptly. The Giants are in a major rebuilding phase whether they like it or not. And the bottom line is that they're in trouble, because Eli Manning is no Peyton. Or even an Archie, for that matter.

This was on yesterday:

The New York Giants released linebacker LaVar Arrington and two other starters Monday in the first major shake-up under new general manager Jerry Reese.New York also cut linebacker Carlos Emmons and offensive tackle Luke Petitgout, both of whom were slowed by injuries over the last two seasons.The release of Arrington ended a brief and unsatisfying tenure with the Giants for the former Pro Bowler, who was signed last year for $49 million over seven years but suffered an Achilles injury against Dallas on Oct. 23 and played in only six games."LaVar's situation is unfortunate because he was just starting to really become a factor in our defense at the time of his injury," Reese said.Reese, who last month replaced the retired Ernie Accorsi, served notice that he will not stand pat with a team that won the NFC East in 2005 but was humiliated in a first-round playoff loss to Carolina, then squeaked into the playoffs last season with an 8-8 record and again lost in the first round."These are difficult decisions," Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said. "But as Jerry and I looked at the roster, they are decisions we felt we had to make as we start to compose our team for the upcoming season."Combined with the retirement of running back Tiki Barber, the Giants now have additional salary-cap space to pursue free agents this offseason. Emmons had two years remaining on a five-year contract worth $16.5 million and was to make $2 million this year, and Petitgout had two years left on his contract and was due $5 million for 2007.Arrington, whose contract was filled with incentives, was scheduled to make $900,000 next season.Petitgout started 106 games at tackle and guard over eight seasons for the Giants, but broke his leg against Chicago on Nov. 12 and missed the Giants' final seven games. He became expendable when guard David Diehl switched to left tackle and played well in his absence.Dumping Petitgout's contract could give the Giants a better shot at re-signing free-agent center Shaun O'Hara.Emmons, acquired from Philadelphia in 2004, played in 36 games in three seasons but missed a total of 11 games in the last two seasons with a pectoral injury.Calls to the agents for all three players were not immediately returned Monday evening.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

This Week's Restaurant Review: The Slanted Door in SF

Anybody who is even half a foodie in San Francisco knows about The Slanted Door. Located in the northeast corner of the restored Ferry Building, The Slanted Door is small – it only seats 150 for lunch and dinner with a 34-seat cocktail lounge/bar -- which is not enormous when it comes to a restaurant. But, the place’s reputation for incredibly inventive food in an awe-inspiring setting is huge. The Slanted Door is a modern Vietnamese restaurant that features local produce and ecologically farmed meat, game and poultry that’s raised at farms throughout the Bay Area. The Phan family opened the original Slanted Door in 1995 on Valencia Street. They have taken their vision a step further with the Ferry Building location, in a stunning environment designed by the renowned Olle Lundberg. The place overlooks the SF Bay, but the view actually ends up playing second fiddle to the amazing interiors of The Slanted Door. The food is the star of this gig, but the Riesling-driven wine list, the full bar with its unique selection of specialty drinks and fresh squeezed juices, and the hard-to-find Chinese teas, make this gem a destination for food lovers from all over the world. When we were there, we met people from China, Sweden, Korea, Africa, and Spain. I felt like I was at Disneyland, on the “It’s A Small World” ride. With a reputation like The Slanted Door’s, it’s no wonder that folks all over the planet cash in their frequent flyer miles to eat there. One of the cool innovations this place offers is called their Out the Door store, where people can purchase prepared dishes to go, or easy-to-use kits that they can use to make Slanted Door dishes at home. Dinner entrees at The Slanted Door range from $14.50 to $26.50, while lunch entrees will run you somewhere between $8.50 and $16.50 each. The specialties of the house include the Slanted Door Spring Rolls with peanut sauce -- the freshest, most delicate spring rolls I’ve ever tasted; Green Papaya Salad with rau ram and roasted peanuts – my favorite dish on the menu. We’ve tried to make it at home, but it’s not the same. Shaking Beef stir-fired with garlic and organic onions – the only thing shaking here was me in anticipation of this incredible dish. Then there’s the Wood-oven roasted whole fish with spicy ginger fish sauce and the Sugar snap peas with maitake mushrooms and garlic, two entrees I haven’t had the pleasure of sampling yet. They’re on my list for next time, however. Executive Chef Charles Phan, Pastry Chef Mutsumi Takehara and Wine Director Mark Ellenbogen are food celebrities. They have groupies and have to avoid paparazzi just like Brad, Angie, Clooney, Cruise and Katie. The Slanted Door also has a great Prix Fixe menu, consisting of 3 appetizers, 3 meat or seafood dishes, 1 vegetable dish and a dessert. The very reasonable cost is $38 per person for lunch and $45 per person for dinner. Unless you’re Willie Brown, you might have problems making reservations at The Slanted Door. But, try anyway. It’s worth it. Every food experience should be just like this – unforgettable and wondrous. The Slanted Door is located at 1 Ferry Building in SF. Call them at (415) 861-8032. Their web site is:

Monday, February 12, 2007

I Can Hear the Politicians Waffling Already!

It's getting interesting really fast, as politicians jockey for a position that may eventually lead to the presidency. Obama, Sarah Silverman, Hillary, Paul Reubens, Guiliani, George Clooney, McCain, Howard K. Stern, Edwards, Hulk Hogan, Al Gore, the Geico lizard...who will be there at the end? It's more exciting that American Idol. I can't wait!!

Is There Anything More Fun?

You'd think by the age of 48 I'd be mature enough to see that things like this are juvenile, childish and not appropriate. Well, guess what? I haven't! I still think whoopee cushions are one of the funniest things on the planet, right up there with wet willies, melvins and stink bombs. And I will until I'm 100 -- if I ever make it that far!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Two Teens Kill and Torture Puppy and Get a Long Timeout!

When I read this headline on AOL, it really caught my eye. The teaser read, “Should Teens Have Received 10 Years for Torturing and Killing Puppy?” It got me to read the article, but when I saw the piece, (which I have re-printed below) I read where these delinquents did a lot more than just torture and kill a puppy. They cooked the poor thing in an oven while it was still alive, for one thing! Not to mention one of them is legally an adult! I hate this kind of semi-yellow journalism. You snag me in by misleading me and telling me only part of the story. It’s cheap. Anyway, to answer AOL’s question – yes, I think these kids deserved every bit of the ten years! Studies have proven that serial killers, in many cases, started out by hurting and killing animals just like these two did, before they moved on to snuffing out human beings. These two need counseling and a long timeout. Maybe they'll meet a nice big guy named Bubba when they're in prison and he can teach them the true meaning of "Puppy Love."

ATLANTA (Feb. 10) - Two teenage brothers were each sentenced to 10 years in prison for torturing a puppy by cooking it in an oven.
Joshua Moulder, 17, and Justin, 19, pleaded guilty in January to charges including burglary, criminal damage to property, terrorist threats and cruelty to children.
The brothers brought neighborhood children to see the dead puppy, and then threatened to kill them if they reported it, prosecutors said.
Police said they found the dead mixed-breed puppy inside an oven at an apartment community center Aug. 21. Scratch marks were found inside the oven, indicating the puppy had been alive when it was placed inside, prosecutors said.
A necropsy on the 3-month-old dog found its paws and snout had been duct taped and it had been doused with paint before being placed in the oven, prosecutors said.
Authorities also found damaged computers, broken glass and splattered paint on the walls of the newly refurbished community center.
The brothers' first trial ended in a mistrial in December. Their attorney, Timothy Owens, said he had hoped his clients' sentencing would have focused more on rehabilitation than incarceration.

Las Vega$ Real E$tate!! There'$ $$ in That There De$ert!

If you’re thinking about moving to the Las Vegas area, join the crowd. Las Vegas ranks as the number one “Most Livable City” due to its pro-business attitude, low tax burden, employment opportunities and product growth. The hottest thing in this country right now is Las Vegas Real Estate. If we wanted to buy a home in the Bay Area, we’d have to come up with a huge chunk for a down payment and then our monthly mortgage payments would be enormous. In Las Vegas, you can buy real estate very reasonably.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

A $25,000 Meal? A $3,750 Tip?

Anyone who would pay this kind of money for a meal should be ashamed, especially when people throughout the world are starving to death. Excess like this is deplorable and disgusts me. $25,000 can feed a lot of people for a long, long time. If I had $25,000 to spare, I'd give it to someone who really needs it, not for some overpriced, pretentious food. I hope they all get really bad indigestion!

BANGKOK, Thailand (Feb. 10) - It's been billed as the "meal of a lifetime," a 10-course dinner concocted by world-renowned chefs for the most discriminating palates and - at $25,000 a head - the fattest wallets.
Chefs gather to prepare a meal in Bangkok, ordering in $200,000 in wine alone.Few expenses were spared in putting together Saturday night's culinary extravaganza in Bangkok.But at this price, even the most talented chefs can find it challenging to give diners their money's worth.Antoine Westermann of Le Buerhiesel, the famous restaurant in Strasbourg, France, says he plans to shave 3 1/2 ounces of Perigord truffles - worth about $350 - onto each plate."For $25,000, what do you expect?" he said.
Westermann is one of six three-star Michelin chefs - four from France and one each from Italy and Germany - commissioned to fix dinner at the Lebua luxury hotel for 40 "Epicurean Masters of the World." That's the title for the event, organized by the hotel to promote Thai tourism.The menu features complicated creations like "tartare of Kobe beef with Imperial Beluga caviar and Belon oysters" and "mousseline of 'pattes rouges' crayfish with morel mushroom infusion."Guests jetted in from the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Deepak Ohri, the Lebua's managing director, declined to reveal their identities but said they include Fortune 500 executives, a casino owner from Macau and a Taiwanese hotel owner."It's surreal! The whole thing is surreal," said Alain Soliveres, the celebrated chef of the Taillevent restaurant in Paris.Soliveres was preparing two of his signature dishes, including the first course: a "'creme brulee' of foie gras" to be washed down with a 1990 Cristal champagne - a bubbly that sells for more than $500 a bottle, but still stands out as one of the cheapest wines on the menu."To have brought together all of these three-star Michelin chefs, and to serve these wines for so many people is just an incredible feat," Soliveres said ahead of the dinner. "It's fabulous!"Chefs submitted their grocery lists to organizers and the ingredients were flown in fresh: black truffles, foie gras, oysters and live Brittany lobsters from France; caviar from Switzerland; Jerusalem artichokes and white truffles from Rome.
Diners will sip their way through legendary vintages, like a 1985 Romanee Conti, a 1959 Chateau Mouton Rothschild, a 1967 Chateau d'Yquem and a 1961 Chateau Palmer, considered "one of the greatest single wines of the 20th century," said Alun Griffiths of Berry Bros. & Rudd, the British wine merchants that procured and shipped about six bottles of each wine for the dinner.The wine alone cost more than $200,000, Griffiths said."Just to have one of these would be a great treat," he said. "To have 10 of them in one evening is the sort of thing that people would kill for."Wine lovers regularly organize exorbitantly expensive tastings in New York, London and Japan but such events are not as common in Thailand, where it would take the average schoolteacher five years to earn $25,000."That is a waste of money," said Rungrat Ketpinyo, 44, who sells Phad Thai noodles for 75 cents a plate from a street cart outside the hotel. "I don't care how luxurious this meal is. It's ridiculous."Organizers said most of the profits will go to two charities - Medecins Sans Frontieres and the Chaipattana Foundation - a rural development charity set up by the king of Thailand.
What & What Not to Order
"Expensive is very relative," said Ohri, the Lebua director. "Some of the world's best chefs will be cooking their best dishes with the finest vintage wines.""It is an experience of a lifetime."Organizers scrambled to fill seats at the last minute after 10 Japanese people canceled their reservation, citing safety concerns after the New Year's Eve bombings in Bangkok that killed 3 people.To ensure discretion, diners will be escorted to a restaurant on the hotel's 65th floor in a private elevator, and all staff in possession of cell phones with cameras will have to check the devices at the door.The chefs confessed they were astonished by the $25,000 price tag. A meal at the own restaurants costs about $260."It's crazy," Westermann said. "The fact that one meal could be this expensive," he shrugged. "After this, nothing can shock me."

Friday, February 09, 2007

It's a Real Estate Paradise in Vegas, Baby! Yeah! It's All Good!

Everyone is saying that Las Vegas is THE place right now to buy real estate. It’s the fastest growing city in the country and people are investing in land, houses, commercial buildings and condos there like crazy. Las Vegas Luxury Condos are the really hot item, because it’s a situation where there are still great values out in the desert and deals are just waiting to be found. It’s a Boom Town baby – and it’s happening in Vegas!!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

This Week's Restaurant Review: Wasabi & Ginger in SF

It would be interesting to find out how many sushi bars operate within the city of San Francisco. More fish have met their makers here than anywhere else on the planet, except with maybe the exception of Japan. If I were a tuna, shrimp or mackerel, SF would not be part of my travel itinerary. And the thing is, more and more sushi bars are opening up in this town all the time. You’d think people here would eventually tire of raw fish, but they just can’t seem to get enough of the stuff! There is one sushi place in town that we absolutely love, and it’s called Wasabi & Ginger. Wasabi & Ginger has it all – a fun atmosphere, the freshest fish, a great crew and a balanced and varied menu. And best of all – they will usually give you free stuff. Whether it’s a special sushi roll they’re working on or a nice, light dessert, the folks at Wasabi & Ginger give us 1-2 free items every time we go in there. How many restaurants do that? There are 2 things when it comes to sushi bars that are most important to me – freshness and variety. First, the fish has to be incredibly fresh. If I can’t feel a pulse, I’m not happy. Raw fish is a very delicate commodity, and if it’s been sitting around too long, it can be disastrous. That’s why buffet style sushi at these all-you-can-eat places is not high on my list. The finer sushi restaurants in the world have the best contacts and connections, and always seem to get the best fish. It’s like a great steakhouse being able to get a hold of the finest Grade AAA Prime beef. Those restaurants that can’t get the highest quality, freshest things aren’t going to stay on top for very long. On the other hand, the ones that can will consistently excel. Secondly, variety is the spice of life when it comes to sushi. If I see another Spider, Rainbow or 49er Roll, I’m going to slit my wrists. Too many sushi places fall into the same trap – they serve what the majority of their customers want and I really can’t blame them. But, people are creatures of habit and basically sheep when it comes to food. If you don’t believe me, take a look at all the boxes of macaroni & cheese and other comfort foods on the shelves next time you’re at the local grocery store. When I go out for sushi and spend $50-$80, I want to try items I’ve never had before. Wasabi & Ginger has been creating new exciting items for over five years. They do traditional and modern sushi, with over 150 menu selections, including appetizers like Dobin-Mushi (a traditional Japanese soup), a variety of grilled seafood dishes and over 15 vegetarian items. As far as rolls go, Wasabi & Ginger has their own unique creations, with names like Pink Dragon, (toasted salmon) Scallop Lovers (grilled scallops) and Super Yummy Roll. The Monster Rolls consist of eight big pieces and are all delicious. I especially recommend the Crazy Roll with Unagi, the Irish roll with snow crab and mango and the Fire Work with tempura smoked salmon. Everything I’ve had at Wasabi & Ginger is outstanding, so you can pretty much throw a dart at the menu and hit a winner! Wasabi & Ginger is at 2299 Van Ness Avenue (the corner of Van Ness and Vallejo Streets) in SF and their phone number is: (415) 345-1368.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Our Mayor Here in SF is a Dog!!

SF Mayor Gavin Newsom has had a tough year and it’s only February. First, he gets caught sleeping with his buddy’s wife and now he’s announced that he has a serious alcohol problem and is going into rehab. Wow. In 2006, Newsom was an up-and-coming politician with a promising future, and now his future looks about as bright as Scott Peterson’s. San Francisco is a very open-minded and permissive city. Drinking and getting drunk is part of the culture here. But, folks will not look past the fact that he slept with someone else’s wife. That is unforgivable. The guy could have had any brainless little hottie in town (we have a surplus here!) and instead he beds down with a friend’s wife. There are men out there who specialize in that type of behavior. They do it because: 1.) They know the woman is in a relationship, so it’s guaranteed to be a no strings attached affair and after it’s over they can move on and 2.) It’s a conquest – their way of proving to themselves that they can have this woman despite the fact that she’s in a relationship. This city is full of these deplorable male dogs. They love nothing more than messing up other guys’ relationships by screwing their wives and girlfriends. It’s part of the sexual landscape not just in SF but throughout the country. Young people don’t even date anymore – they “hook up.” What has our society turned into? What happened to faithfulness and loyalty and being honest? Gavin Newsom stepped over the line and now he has to pay. I’d be drinking too if I were him. I’d be down at the Bus Stop or at the Balboa Café getting hammered right now. His political life is over!

Monday, February 05, 2007

What Should You Do When You Screw Up at Work?

Work screw ups are bad all the way around. First, you feel bad and kind of stupid when you make them. Then, you get chewed out by your boss, which makes it even worse. What is the best way to handle it once you mess up on the job? I found this useful report on

You didn't seal the deal. You lost a big client. You made an accounting error that cost your company thousands of dollars. Whatever the case is, you blew it. And your boss and everyone you work with know it.
So, now what? Use these tips to get into and get over what you did wrong.
1. Own it.
While many of us would prefer to forget our mistakes, initially you need to acknowledge to your supervisor and everyone involved that you're accepting responsibility for what went wrong. If you do this right (that is, seriously and sincerely), you'll only have to do it once.
2. Take the heat.
You may get teased by from coworkers for a long time to come. Accept gentle ribbing with a wink and a smile. However, don't take blatant abuse from someone who can't get past what happened. If a colleague's teasing becomes taunting, speak with your supervisor and a human resources representative.
3. Don't beat yourself up.
It does no good to dwell on your mistakes, which can lead to doubting your competence. "This type of thinking is actually self-destructive and only serves to hamper future effectiveness," says Liz Bywater, president of Bywater Consulting Group, a Philadelphia-based firm focused on optimizing organizational performance. "Remember: Failure is not in the falling down but in the staying down."
4. Learn from the past.
Solicit advice from your boss and trusted associates to help you analyze what went wrong and how you might've avoided the error entirely. Go back in the process as long as is necessary; however, be careful to avoid blaming anyone else, despite what you may uncover. Just learn from your own mistakes.
5. Keep it in perspective.
Seek a broad view of your career and accomplishments. "Chances are, you've experienced at least as many successes as failures," Bywater says. "It's the successes that deserve your greatest attention. Learn from them and continue to build upon your strengths."
6. Move on.
You've apologized. You've taken your lumps. You've analyzed where you went wrong. Now, it's time to move on. Don't raise the topic of your mistake again. Your boss and coworkers want to move past this as much you do; continue to look to the future and don't allow your career or day-to-day performance to be marred by one error.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

I'm Sick!!

Man, I hate being sick. The flu that's been going around finally got around to me, and I feel like an old lawn gnome with a fifteen pound bag on his shoulders. What a drag!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

My Super Bowl XLI Predictions

Super Bowl XLI is going to be a complete blowout. Every year we spend the two weeks before the Super Bowl and after the Conference Championship games talking up the underdog and convincing ourselves that the game will be worth watching. In reality, the odds makers are usually always right, and they have this one picked perfectly, if not maybe just a little too conservatively. The Indianapolis Colts are going to blowout the Chicago Bears in embarrassing fashion, by a final score of 38-20. Chicago will score a meaningless touchdown late, but the game will never be close. Peyton Manning will be the MVP, the Colts will throw for more than 300 yards and run for more than 150, and the Bears will commit 3 turnovers, including 2 Rex Grossman interceptions. At one point Indy will be up by more than 3 touchdowns and Manning will complete 6 straight passes. There will be a special team’s touchdown and a defensive touchdown, Billy Joel will do a sub-par job on the national anthem and Prince will steal the halftime show without baring either of his breasts. The commercials will get a low B grade, the pre-game show will go on forever and I will eat more than my share of chicken wings, potato skins and chili con queso. Those are my Super Bowl XLI predictions and I’m sticking to them. Enjoy the game. It’s doesn’t get any more American than this!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Go Pro When It Come to Biz Cards!

Professional business cards say so much about the person who uses them. I hate those cheap, one-color business cards printed on flimsy paper stock. My Dad always used to say that you can judge a person’s character by the strength of their handshake and the thickness of their business card. I completely agree!

It's All in the Presentation

In my work for Parts & People newspaper, I use quite a few presentation folders. For my presentation folder printing, I’ve been going online. Presentation folders that look professional are so much more effective than buying a folder from an office supply store and putting a sticker on there. Image perceived is image conceived is what I always like to say!

Online Business Card Printing: Easy and Affordable

By ordering your business card printing online, you can save mucho dinero. It’s a very simple process and saves you time as well as cash. The quality is high and you’ll save on short runs too. With the new high-end digital printing techniques that are out there today, it’s really the best way to go. I wholeheartedly recommend it!

A's Will Soon be The Cisco Kids

Welcome to the complete corporatization of major league baseball, America. The entire sports climate in this country has been moving in this general direction for the past few years, and now it’s finally here.

Cisco Systems, Inc. has reached a deal with the Oakland A’s in which the Northern California-based corporation will build the team a new ballpark in Fremont, a city about 15-20 minutes south of Oakland, depending on traffic, which, no doubt, is about to get a lot more congested in the very near future. The agreement would create a 32,000-35,000-seat stadium, which of course will be named Cisco Field, on a 143-acre parcel held by the company, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

If the plan is approved by the city, the A’s could be playing there as soon as 2011. A’s owner Lew Wolff declined to speak to reporters yesterday after he left a meeting with four Fremont City Council members, but you know he must be secretly grinning from ear to ear!

The City of Oakland blew it and never built a new stadium for the A’s when they should have done a long time ago. And then they let Raiders Owner Al Davis put that ridiculous wall of stands and luxury boxes in the place, so that now it looks more like an overpriced apartment building than a baseball stadium. I went there 2-3 times this season, and it’s an outdated, uninspiring stadium that can’t in any way compare to the exciting new baseball-only facilities of today.

It will be a good thing all away around for the A’s. Maybe now they can spend a little money on players. Even though Billy Beane has done an amazing job getting young rookies through the farm system and acquiring old guys via free agency, it just hasn’t been enough to assemble a team that can get into the World Series.
An influx of ca$h from a new stadium will mean Beane can throw a few bucks around to get exactly the type of team he’s looking for without worrying so much about the bottom line. This whole thing with companies owning and operating professional sports teams is the wave of the future, anyway.

It reminds me of the movie “Rollerball” where teams are owned by enormous corporations representing entire continents.

The only two things to ask now are: Will Fremont okay the deal? They’d be stupid not to. There will undoubtedly be a group of citizens from Fremont who will fight it and say the new stadium will be bad for the city. Those folks always exist. But, for a small town like Fremont to reject a deal like this – one that can bring them so much prestige, jobs and mucho dinero – would be municipal suicide.

The other question is: What do you name the team? The Fremont A’s? The Silicon Valley A’s? The Northern California A’s? How about the Cisco Kids!? It’s just a matter of time. I can see it now. The Apple Computer Antelopes. The Hewlett Packard Packers, the Yahoo Yankees and the Google Gophers.