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Test your knowledge of lions in picture books [29 Jan 2016|12:15pm]
Here are some lions. Can you identify the picture book each lion is from?












answers in comments
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Best Grown Up Books 2015 [02 Jan 2016|11:38am]

1. China Rich Girlfriend (Crazy Rich Asians #2)

Delightful trash. A great beach read. Can't wait for #3.
Also looking forward to Crazy Rich Asians the movie!

2. The Beautiful Fall: Lagerfeld, Saint Laurent, and Glorious Excess in 1970s Paris

I enjoyed reading about the crazy lives of Yves Saint Laurent and (especially) Karl Lagerfeld. It was really funny to see the evolution of Lagerfeld's look over the years. Would have loved to have seen his various apartments and chateaus. The man has an iron will. At least, when he's not drinking 20 Coca-Colas per day and eating pounds of chocolate cake.

The one thing this book needed was more pictures. WAY more pictures. I'm sorry, I just don't have the capacity to visualize half of the crazy outfits described in this book. This book should have 100 pages of photos.

Shout out to the NY Times article which triggered my fascination w/ Lagerfeld:
The Jet Set Life of Karl Lagerfeld’s Favorite Male Model — for Now

NY Mag's incredulous reaction to said article:
Everyone in the Times’ Brad Kroenig Profile Is Gloriously Nuts

3. Cool Tools

This is a marvelous catalog of tools, in the broadest sense of "tools." It is opulently large-format. Will not fit in your bag. I enjoyed reading the thoughtful entries on A Pattern Language and Infrastructure: A Field Guide-- both of these classics are given the treatment they deserve. Oh also, in the cooking section they recommend the complicated rice cooker favored by Mike Williams and Angi Chau. How can a rice cooker have so many buttons?

A lot of people I know would love this book.

4. The Old Man Mad about Drawing: A Tale of Hokusai

Quite lovely. This is a graphic novel, but it's short... so not really a novel... it's a serious cartoon but also entertaining... I don't know exactly how to describe it because I haven't seen any other books like it. You should pick this up just for the art. It's a quick read and worthwhile.

5. Enduring Patagonia

Interesting guy, West Point to Army Ranger School to alpinist dirtbag

Does as good a job as any book I've seen on explaining the perverse appeal of alpinism

It still doesn't appeal though. Brr

Does make me want to go back to Patagonia. I've been but I feel like I never experienced "Patagonian weather" or anything like what's in this book

6. Iron War: Dave Scott, Mark Allen, & the Greatest Race Ever Run

This WAS a pretty epic race! Well told. Interesting digressions on how you can scientifically measure who can run through suffering the most. Average person quits when their mind says "you're exhausted." Iron-persons run way past that till their muscles are literally incapable of continuing. You can tell the difference by measuring "control entropy" which is how spastic their gait is. If truly spent w muscles giving out, gait becomes counter intuitively MORE regular (think when you get a cramp and have to limp-- you have less degrees of freedom, are forced to run in a particular way to compensate) Anyway, these guys are masters of suffering and after a 2.4 mile open water swim and 113 mile bike ride are able to run a marathon at a 6 min/mile pace. Just. Nuts.

7. Step Aside, Pops: A Hark! A Vagrant Collection

Kate Beaton is the best. I LLOL'd (literally laughed out loud) many times while reading this. Also: a while back I was complaining how there's way too many comics about angsty 20-something bi-coastal urban hipsters, and hardly any comics about INTERESTING people. Beaton is not guilty of this. her comics are about literary characters, historical political figures, Ida B. Wells, Alexander Pushkin... mwah.

Also I loved the extended riff on the nasty boy from Janet's Jackson's "Nasty". St. Jude's Home for the Nasty... hahah

8. Learning to Fly: An Uncommon Memoir of Human Flight, Unexpected Love, and One Amazing Dog

I don't condone BASE jumping, but this book spoke to me. I guess cos of where I'm at. Gives one hope. Post-script 4/28/15: R.I.P. Mario Richard

A Perfect Circle from steph davis on Vimeo.

9. Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite: Gripping Accounts of All Known Fatal Mishaps in America's First Protected Land of Scenic Wonders

Four stars for the data, one star for the writing. "And now, let's turn to some incidents that were truly... (dons sunglasses) off the wall." Weird moralizing about marijuana use aside, this is a fantastically researched and thoroughly fascinating compendium of fatal accidents in Yosemite, and obviously a labor of love.

Here's a chart that shows up at the end of the book, summarizing fatalities by category. I'm always amazed that people aren't more terrified by driving. Clearly getting in an car is one of the most dangerous things a human being can do.

The "homicide" chapter starts out with a bunch of Native American attacks against white people. I'd forgotten that Yosemite is named after the tribe that lived there! They weren't too fond of the newcomers trying to make a park out of their lands. It's weird to read about this bloody cycle of ambushes and reprisals that happened in the 1850's. 150 years doesn't seem THAT long ago does it?

If you're the kind of person who would read an encyclopedia of Yosemite fatalities, you will definitely enjoy The Hunt for the Death Valley Germans as well. It's a crazy, true story, told by this guy whose hobby is searching for the remains of people who got lost and are presumed dead, but whose remains were never found. ("Lost & Not Found," in the Yosemite book's taxonomy.) Contains the most chilling sentence I've ever read:
At this point they entered into a survival situation, but may not have fully appreciated that fact.
Trust me, in context this is terrifying. I still think about that German family sometimes, lost in the hot desert with their young kids. They weren't crazy; they made a series of reasonable but flawed decisions, which made the situation gradually worse and worse until it was too late to recover. Could happen to you.

10. Blobby Boys #2

Ever since Vice started publishing Schubert's Blobby Boys comics, I've really been into them. But if you asked me why, I couldn't really say. So it was nice to read Vice comics editor Nick Gazin's introduction to Blobby Boys #1, which I think hits it on the nose:

"Alex Schubert is one of my favorite new-ish cartoonists. There are things about his drawings that remind me of Gary Panter, like his poses and sometimes his lines, when he employs a ratty Panter line. There are things in his work that remind me of Clowes, particularly how everything in his panels is so clean, clear and intentional. I also similarities to Johnny Ryan in that he deals in characters who are fun loving misanthropes up to no good. Although his work reminds me of all of these great cartoonists his work doesn’t feel referential to them. His work references almost nothing we’ve known before. I mentioned that he shares Clowes’s intentionality. He creates everything he draws without referencing other people’s lexicon of pictographic shorthand.

For instance, in the "Cyber Surfer" comic he drew for me, me being me and the Vice website for which I serve as Comics Editor, the comic starts off with a few borderless panels of a stiffly drawn character. He then punches someones brains out and the way his brains comes out of his head is done in an entirely new way to me. Sure, he uses the cartoon cloud bubble but the way it’s portrayed is new. A few panels down from that he spies a trenchcoat and fedora lying on the ground. The way the coat is drawn is something I’ve never seen done before. He is making his own visual abbrevs.

Also, he is very funny and I love when his characters speak to each other. I realize now that I should have asked him to feature more of that in the comics he’s done for me/Vice. I think every comic he’s done for me has featured an isolated character talking to the reader. The sequence in the Blobby Boys comic book in which one of them oozes under a door to ask the inhabitant of the room if he wants to buy some drugs and the guy inside answers firmly but unsurprised, “No, who are you” kills me. So that’s why I like Alex’s work. I think he’s unpretentious, funny and his drawings are both good and original."

P.S. Schubert's other comic for Vice, Fashion Cat, is good too

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Best Kids Books 2015 [31 Dec 2015|01:34pm]
My daughters are 6 and 4. I read to them every night, and since I get bored easily I'm always looking for something new. So each year we end up reading a ton of books. These were our favorites in 2015. You should read these books to your kids immediately. If you don't have any kids, read them to someone else's. But don't accost a stranger's kids on the street! I mean like a niece or nephew or something. Common sense, people.

1. Fables

The fables in this book are almost like koans. They're not as moralistic and straightforward as in Aesop's Fables. Some of them left me scratching my head. All's well that ends with a good meal ???

Love the whimsical illustrations

Arnold Lobel is one of the greats.

2. Mr. Wuffles

If you've ever wondered why your cat ignores all the nice squeaky toys you give it and you always wonder why the cat is stalking around mysteriously after some invisible prey... answers within.

I like how terrifying the cat looks in this book, from the littler creatures' point of view. It's true! If you were tiny, a house cat would be very frightening.

3. President Taft is Stuck in the Bath

Funny cos it's true

4. The Fantastic Adventures of Krishna

Beautiful illustrations. Each page is a filagreed painting. I found myself transfixed by the imagery. The kids were rapt as well.

The wicked King Kamsa of Mathura has got to up his game, though. Every time he tries to think of a way to kill Krishna he comes up with the same thing! How many snake demons can you send before you realize, snake demons are not the right approach here?

Self-link (this still makes me laugh): The many faces of Krishna

5. Take Me Out to the Yakyu

This book implies that Japan is superior technologically to the US. The American dad wears a crap analog watch whereas the Japanese "ji-ji" has a state of the art digital (and also his tickets are on his cellphone, and also they ride to the game in a bus that becomes a train!)

Also Japan has better ballgame food

But the Americans live in a bigger house and they get foamy fingers that say we're #1

America: WE'RE #1 (in foamy fingers)

6. Would You Rather...

This book features Burningham's trademark light-hearted whimsical funny-but-you-can't-put-your-finger-on-why-exactly drawing style. It is a series of dilemmas such as, would you rather be made to:

a) eat SPIDER stew
b) taste SLUG dumplings
c) chew mashed WORMS
d) or drink a SNAIL shake

One of my favorite parts was "would you rather a hippo sleep in your bed? OR an eagle eats your dinner? OR a pig tries on all your clothes? OR an elephant drinks all your bath water?" We'd just come from the zoo, where we'd seen an enormous lazy hippo floating in the water. So the outrageous situation of a hippo sleeping in one's bed was chillingly easy to imagine. It would really be annoying! I think my kids would pick "eagle eats your dinner" cos yay, then they don't have to eat.

7. John Patrick Norman McHennessy: The Boy Who Was Always Late

Is John Patrick Norman McHennessy a big fat liar? Did a lion really tear away his satchel? Did a flood really ruin his clothes? Did his teacher really get snatched by an extremely large gorilla? So many questions. Very funny illustrations. I like when a kids book has an unreliable narrator.

Someday I'll make a list of 'ridiculous drawings of lions in children's books'. The lion from J.P.N.M.:T.B.W.W.A.L. will be in there.

8. But Excuse Me That Is My Book

I found this book very funny and as an avid bookworm/library user the story was right up my alley . Lauren Child has a way with dialogue. Lola (the younger sister) sounds breathless and verbose in a way that will be familiar to anyone with a kid of this disposition. Also, I like her illustrative style a lot, esp. the wobbly eyes and scribbly lines.

9. The Story of Little Babaji

The story is a crock of racist stereotypes-- the book was originally called The Story of Little Black Sambo, for Christ's sake-- but I cracked up at Fred Marcellino's illustrations. Very amusing. Each tiger robs Lil' Babaji of one item of clothing, then proclaims himself the grandest tiger of them all. They all look so pleased with themselves! Asha really liked this book and demanded it be read several times.

10. Jim, Who Ran Away from His Nurse, and Was Eaten by a Lion

Does what it says on the tin. Kids young and older will be entertained and hopefully SCARED STRAIGHT

suggestion: replace "nurse" with "nanny" if you live in the U.S. in modern times

11. Grandfather's Journey

This book tells an interesting story. I liked the depiction of Grandfather's journey to California, and return to Japan. Really lovely watercolor illustrations. The girls and I enjoyed this.

12. Mr. Bear Squash-You-All-Flat

This bear is a total jerk!
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Resolutions 2015: Report Card [18 Dec 2015|12:40pm]
original list, 1/17/15

Wispy self-improvement: C

1. Be presentB
2. Cleaner living (less drinking etc)D
3. Cook moreC-
4. Teach kids (Izzy at least) to swim and ride a bikeB

Divorce: B

1. Sell the house, find a new place to liveA
3. Get through itB

Climbing: A+

1. Go roped climbing outsideA+
2. Go bouldering outsideA
3. Get more v3s and at least one v4A+
4. Get permanent belay cardA
5. Climb at all the touchstone gyms (east bay included)A

Stretch goals: F

1. Make a snowmanF
2. Take a bike repair classF

The times when I felt most present were when I was running stoned through mountains, forests or along the ocean shore. I started doing yoga again and realized that focusing on your breath is a good all-purpose technique for bringing yourself into the moment, whatever you're doing. (This isn't a revelation to the world at large but it's been very helpful for me personally to stop and focus on my breathing when climbing, running or just sitting). It was a continual struggle, and I failed more often than I tried, but I definitely tried. My mantra was "be here now"

be here now
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2015 Trail Runs [04 Dec 2015|04:59am]
When I think back to this period of funemployment it will be a lot of depressing and stressful memories, but also some joyous ones. Some of the best moments were trail runs I took in the day. These runs let me explore SF and surrounds without the madding crowds. I really feel like I got to know the area and get in touch w/ nature. And push my physical limits. I have big calf muscles for the first time ever!

Here are some of my favorite memories.

1. Seeing the whales, Mussel Rock State Park

Man it was such a beautiful day, hard to describe in words. The sun was out and the air was clear and it felt like you could see a million miles in every direction. The ocean glimmered and as I stood on the cliffs overlooking the beach I felt like I could take it all in with a single glance. Then I saw whales spouting. I thought at first it was a trick of my eye.

But using Andy's "pay attention to the periphery" philosophy I scanned back and forth until I saw them again. The ocean was vast but I could see it all and sure enough in the distance on my left I saw whales!! They did a bunch of behaviors documented on Wikipedia. Preening, blow-holing, ... prancing...

2. The moment when it was raining in the damp green forest and I was parched, and I sat stoned watching the mist everywhere and eventually stood up and tried to catch dripping drops from the redwood branches high above in my mouth. It was hard. The drops came down with surprising force. The forest was so vivid and beautiful in that moment and it was just me alone experiencing it

3. Falling out of a tree, stoned (Mt Tam?)

Don't climb trees stoned. Or do, I'm not your mother

5. Seeing all the animals of the trails. A hawk tracing circles in the sky. Scary antelope w/ big horns. Unsettlingly unskittish deer. A fox. Something else I forget what.

4. Looking down at the clouds, Montara North Peak

5. Land's End / Batteries to Bluffs / it's all a blur

6. Running cross GG and back, at a good clip! I seriously got to know GG park. Have you been to the:

  1. archery range
  2. golf course
  3. home where the buffalo range
  4. various lakes (I think at least 3?)
  5. botanical garden
  6. polo field
  7. fly fishing pond
  8. waterfall

Also got caught in Hardly Strictly Bluegrass which you'd think would be awesome but I hate the madding crowds. Maddening crowds?

7. Exploring Presidio in 2 parts. Lover's Lane is not all that. Presidio is not a park proper. I hate golf courses which on Google Maps look exactly the same as national parks

8. Various Redwood Gulches. Open spaces they're all a blur

9. too many hills. why do i always find myself climbing stairs. while cursing. i always curse.

10. running too fast downhill (you can go so fast if you're willing to risk injury)

11. mastering glen park

12. exploring graffiti in bayview park.

13. finally exploring the monument near candlestick park. the 13 (?) mile walk w/ raph was super fun.

14. interior green belt, mt davidson, sutro preserve, twin peaks. sf hill bagging

15. mastering philosopher's way (including a 3k date!)

16. fear at mt. diablo and driving home on 0 gas

17. running a mile on the track 6:22 ish?

18. open mic comedy in the woods

19. echoing shots from the shooting range at chabot.

20. trail running w/ the kids

21. mt davidson - note that google maps is useless for running. i frequently would be in an unmarked green space on the map with no trails listed on the screen, when clearly i was on a trail. they just don't do orienteering. it would be cool to have a version w/ walking running paths. IS THERE AN APP FOR THAT.

wide open spaces
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BRING IN DA KATZ!!! [09 Jul 2015|12:11am]





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Resolutions 2015 [17 Jan 2015|10:32am]

Wispy self-improvement

  1. Be present
  2. Cleaner living (less drinking etc)
  3. Cook more
  4. Teach kids (Izzy at least) to swim and ride a bike


  1. Sell the house, find a new place to live
  3. Get through it


  1. Go roped climbing outside
  2. Go bouldering outside
  3. Get more v3s and at least one v4
  4. Get permanent belay card
  5. Climb at all the touchstone gyms (east bay included)

Stretch goals

  1. Make a snowman
  2. Take a bike repair class

note: henceforth, i'm a try and come back to lists on this blog and update them. e.g. 'rap songs that sound like they were produced by early aphex twin' really needs an update. so all lists will be subject to change. i might add some 2015 resolutions later. will try not to delete any though. then again, if i get everything on this list done, that would be a pretty satisfactory 2015 already.
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Best Rap Videos 2014 [20 Dec 2014|11:25am]
Standard disclaimer, many of these tunes make no sense if you're listening on MacBook speakers. You need a system with BASS-- headphones, or a car stereo or a home setup, doesn't matter just so long as it kicks. Otherwise you won't be able to hear some crucial frequencies. I recommend building a wall of subs and lying on top of it.

1. Snootie Wild (ft. K Camp) - "Made Me"

In 2014 the Dirty South still reigns supreme. This is exhibit A. The gorgeous instrumental was produced by "Big Fruit," who I guess drew the short straw on the day they handed out producer names. Nevertheless, it kicks as hard as anything from Mike Will Made It or Metro Boomin'. I love that moment at 0:40, when the bass kicks in amidst twinkling electronics-- sheer bliss. The music pairs perfectly with Snootie Wild's infectious drawl, which I dare you not to get stuck in your head. Snootie looks pretty fly in this vid, don't you think? Especially when he's rocking that crazy tanktop at the laundromat.

2. YG - "Bickin Back Bein Bool"

For a hot minute, everyone at the office was obsessed with this song. Like everything else on this list, it completely lacks any redeeming social value. But the beat by DJ Mustard is insanely catchy, and Y.G.'s swagger carries the whole thing. I like the way he folds his arms after sayin "better call the S.W.A.T.", and the Blood Walk he busts into while hanging in his friend's front yard. I tried to learn the dance by watching "how to blood walk" videos on YouTube, but to no avail. "Gang-affiliated walking" is probably some kind of HR violation.

If you're wondering what "bickin' back" means: Y.G. is affiliated with the Bloods (L.A. street gang.) The Bloods' mortal enemy is the Crips (another street gang.) Bloods express their hatred of Crips by crossing out the letter or sound 'c' and replacing it with 'b'. So "Compton" becomes "Bompton," "cigarette" becomes "bigarette", and "kickin' back being cool" becomes "bickin' back bein' bool."

This is all well and good, you might say, but then why doesn't he replace ALL the 'c' sounds in "kickin back bein cool"-- why is the song not called "bibbin bab bein bool?" Two reasons: 1) because "bibbin bab" sounds fucking ridiculous! come on even Y.G. has his limits. 2) the "c" sound is ok when generated by the letters "ck," because ck stands for Crip Killer. The More You Know

3. iLoveMakonnen (ft. Drake) - "Tuesday"

Makonnen is an ATL homebody who's definitely driving in his own lane. His shit blew up big time when Drake hopped on the remix of this track, blessing us with Drake-isms like "I think we gettin' too deep; shit I'm talkin' might be too true / Upstairs I got Xans in an Advil bottle, I don't take them shits / But you do / So I got 'em for you" Oh Drake, so romantic.

4. iLoveMakonnen - "Don't Sell Molly No More"

This is a weirder tune based on real life... Makonnen used to sell drugs, but the cops raided his ecstasy supplier, causing an MDMA drought. I like the warbly Metro Boomin filters and the washed out colors in the vid. Isn't it cool how weird rap is these days? Lil B, Soulja Boy, Gucci Mane all paved the way, now Young Thug, Chief Keef and a bunch of others are going sublingual, making up their own languages, singing nursery rhymes, abusing AutoTune in countless ways... it's really fun to see the new generation of rap kids run with the ball.

5. Dhananjay The First - "Let You Love Me"

OMG where to begin. This guy is a young exchange student from Indonesia who's going to Grinelle College in Iowa. He listened to a ton of R&B and rap and issued these covers out of nowhere. They were pretty popular on Worldstar! Would not have predicted that. Anyway dude is kind of gross in his sex rhymes, but I find him funny and charismatic and the vids are just ridic. Those Air Jordans! Lighting his candle in his dorm room with a blowtorch. The gimp that hands him a pencil to smoke. "I know you see the doo-rag... sorry baby if it hurts." Maybe I'm just thirsting for the Great Indian-American Rapper to appear... it's not this guy but it's the closest thing yet.

6. Dhanajay The First - "Say My Name"

The first shot where he's counting stacks while getting his head shaved by a dude in a mask... SO CINEMA! SO SOMETHING! Leaving a rack for Ganesh... wearing two different patterns of camo simultaneously... two iPhones... this dude is really the dude. Vice: Dhananjay the First Is Here to Steal Your Girl with No Remorse

7. Chief Keef (fet. Justo and Tadoe) - "Gucci Gang"

You know why Chief Keef's first two videos (the most popular ones, 'I Don't Like' and 'Love Sosa') are shot in his grimy ass apartment? Because he was on house arrest when those songs broke!! Isn't that crazy? Love Sosa has 16 million views. I do respect how Chief Keef completely eschewed the traditional music video route, where you pony up a decent chunk of cash and hire a director and all that. Keef has his own people and his videos are all resolutely DIY. But they're captivating still. At least, I think so. It's just a bunch of dudes jumping around in a room but somehow I end up watching it enthralled. Not saying this is his best vid but I like the low pass filters, his crazy sweater and the random Mexican kid in his gang. I'd say token, but I don't think he's a token exactly. More like someone's cousin's cousin.

8. Chief Keef - "How It Go"

Chief Keef is the rapper I was most obsessed with in 2014. Noisey (Vice music) is obsessed with him too, and their coverage is pretty exhaustive so I won't try to rehash it all. But if you want to talk Chief Keef, get at me, I could talk all day. About his circumstances, his avant-garde musical tendencies, the scary level of real life violence he's experienced and embodied, whether he's autistic or dumb or smart or some category beyond... anyway for this specific video, all that could possibly be said is said, eloquently, in this Noisey article: Chief Keef Just Released a New Video, "How It Go," and It's Amazing in So Many Ways.

9. Girl Talk & Freeway (ft. Waka Flocka) - "Tolerated"

Don't you want to give Waka Flocka a big hug, even when he's eating a mutilated human arm? "I pull up on you like a workout / Better pull that work out"

10. DJ Snake, Lil Jon - "Turn Down for What"

Asian-American protagonist. *sniff* we've come so far

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My hands are getting increasingly f*cked up [27 Oct 2014|09:29am]
I hope my mom appreciates that voluntary censorship I just did on her behalf. She always feels great shame when I curse on Facebook. (it's true, if you're a good parent your kids won't curse on FB, if they do it means you've failed somehow... probably because you didn't love them enough)

So, my hands. I have a blood blister, multiple "flappers" (what Nathan calls it when a divot of skin peels almost off, but not completely) and various scrapes/cuts. It's from going to Dogpatch Boulders, where I spend an hour couple times a week trying (and mostly failing) to climb V1s. I don't mind the hand damage. It's a physical reminder of time spent practicing something. Hoping with time my grip will get stronger, and I'll be able to get up more routes. I want to experience progress, that enjoyable sensation of gradual improvement over time. At the moment bouldering seems like the best bet for doing so.

Stuff is going on in my life, but I don't feel free to write about it here. Maybe someday. If you know me, you probably know. If not, feel free to let your imagination run wild. (Oh come on. No, I don't have ebola.)

The difficulty level for climbing routes at the gym goes from V0 to V10. There might be higher levels, but V10 is already pretty damn hard. It's the kind of climb where holds are tiny little smooth bumps, and the climb goes into an overhang and then becomes fully horizontal, so you have to climb hanging upside down from the ceiling. Right now I can only do V0s and some V1s. Michael can do V4s some V5s. Nathan is the best of our bunch, he can do V5s and did his first V6 yesterday. It's satisfying to have these problems (that's what the climbing routes are called, problems) where there's a precisely defined difficulty level. It means you can tell exactly where you're at on the progress curve-- either you can do problems at a certain level, or you can't.

To give you an idea of what world class boulderers are capable of, here's this guy doing the hardest bouldering route in the world, "Wheel of Life." Look at his rest holds! I think the positions he "rests" in are outlawed by the Geneva Conventions.

BD athlete James Kassay climbs the Wheel of Life Direct from Black Diamond Equipment on Vimeo.

I've also been getting the itch to try top roping-- it's the type of climbing where you rope up and have a belay partner, and you go really high. With bouldering you never climb higher than you could safely fall. At a lot of the climbing gyms around SF and East Bay bouldering seems like an afterthought; the focus is on top roping. The bouldering routes at such gyms tend to not go that high (maybe 15 feet). That's why Dogpatch Boulders is so nice-- the gym is all bouldering, and the routes all go way further up. You can still fall safely, but it's high enough that it's kind of scary, and if you don't fall right you could hurt yourself. But it's not hard to fall right. I actually enjoy dropping down from the top after finishing a climb. Once you've convinced yourself it's safe, it's quite a thrill.

Another thing that's nice about D.B. is that it's kid friendly. They have a kids climbing area and a pretty nice slide, and the kids also dig the relatively exotic, grungy, vastly padded location of the gym. Asha spends all her time running around and collapsing. Izzy enjoys climbing. Someone put it this way-- the climbing gym is basically a huge jungle gym. So it makes sense that kids would be into it!

Long term, I'd love to try climbing outdoors. I think what would be best is to go w/ some experienced friends would are willing to show me the ropes (no pun intended). I just need to figure out who these friends are first. In the meantime I think top roping indoors is a reasonable goal. I forgot how to belay but Michael said he can show me, it's not that hard.

This guy Alex Hunnold does a thing called "free soloing," where you climb unaided (no ropes belays etc) like in bouldering. But unlike bouldering you do it way way higher than you could safely fall. It's pretty nuts. If you look on Wikipedia a lot of free soloers are dead due to climbing accidents. That said, it is amazing that human beings can do stuff like this.

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I contemplate vandalism for the 1000th time [17 Aug 2014|04:35pm]
Thoughts while running

  • why is the sky not covered In stars (why is there darkness)

  • who do I want to be

  • embedded mesh network of microphones record all conversations that happen play them back. resolve arguments-- "let's go to the tape"

  • but who would transcribe

  • what can u pay people to do (outsourcing, Craigslist, commissioning custom dolls from china. Craigslist)

  • wish I was going to BM . yags light thing looked cool

  • why art? to ease the pain of life. to fill the need for creative self expression. because it's fun to do

  • paper airplanes

  • I want to touch the world and not get caught

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Save me [21 May 2014|10:10pm]
Save me
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I'm still here [15 Mar 2014|12:15am]
Shouts outs to 3000 piece jigsaw puzzles, 500 piece jigsaw puzzles, therapy.
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1. Chief Keef - Baby What's Wrong With You (Prod. Phatboy & ISO Beats)

2. Wiley - If You're Going Out, I'm Going Out Too (Prod. Wiley)

I have to credit this Noisey article on Chief Keef with teaching me the word berceuse.

ber·ceuse - noun \ber-ˈsœz, -ˈsüz\
1 a musical composition usually in 6⁄8 time that resembles a lullaby
2 lullaby

"Keef's cadence has always been naturally berceuse, and on "Citgo" it shines like a reassuring nightlight."
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2013 - Everything Else [17 Jan 2014|12:47pm]


  1. Todd Barry Podcast - 29 - LIVE: Sarah Silverman, Natasha Lyonne, Andy Borowitz, Nick Turner

    This is the first comedy podcast I've heard that made me think: wow, this is an entirely new medium. Usually I'm kinda meh on Sarah Silverman, but she is super funny on this. Love her sarcastic repartee with Todd, Natasha, and the other guests-- it sounds like age old friends sniping at each other in the best possible way."My therapist says there's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing choices." "That's what you talk about with your therapist? What did you say that made her say that?" "I don't know, I guess… 'Is there bad weather?" Just check it out, the whole episode is hilarious.

  2. Todd Barry Podcast - 22 - Mike Birbiglia

    Todd: "Wow, this is the first time I'm the louder one." Mike B. fascinating as always. I guess I'm a comedy nerd, cos I love to hear two comedians I like talking shop. They get into things like, do you want lights on the audience? What happens when the crowd hates you? etc. Plus Mike B. is so good at telling stories, pretty much anything he says is compelling.

  3. Marc Maron - 458 - Artie Lange

    (can't go wrong with Artie Lange)


  1. Johnnie To - Drug War


  1. Drugs 2.0: The Web Revolution That's Changing How the World Gets High
  2. Stoner
  3. Clockers
  4. Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas
  5. A Death in the Lucky Holiday Hotel: Murder, Money, and an Epic Power Struggle in China
  6. Crazy for the Storm


  1. Acid Mothers Temple @ Bottom of the Hill
  2. James Murphy DJ set @ Public Works
  3. Quasi @ B.o.t.H.
  4. Maserati @ B.o.t.H


  1. Ran 12 miles (longest run ever) -- then did it again 2 days later

    first run: http://www.mapmyrun.com/workout/314154977
    second run: http://www.mapmyrun.com/workout/316444589

    I got on a running kick for a bit. Didn't think I had it in me, but I ended up running the equivalent of two half marathons. I started having knee problems though, and also was getting really bored. Wish I lived next to GG Park, instead of Pot Hill's post industrial wasteland.

  2. Scored the winning goal in a soccer game (!)

    Goodreads pick up, seven a side. We were in sudden death and I scored the final goal, ending the game. So exciting! I credit Virgilio and his insane trash talking.

  3. Beat Seth at chess

    Ok, it was a blitz game and he gave me rook odds. But still.


  1. Goodreads got bought by Amazon (1)
  2. Housing market came back
  3. Karoaked for the first time
  4. Went bouldering with Rich (ouch)
  5. Sven and Nicole moved to Cape Cod (boo! boo-urns)
  6. Magnus Carlsen became world champion at chess (2)
(1) It was a surprise, but at the same time it totally made sense. Atlantic: The Simple Reason Why Goodreads Is So Valuable to Amazon. "The site is a great platform for convincing people to buy books." YA THINK?!

(2) About time. Anand was long past his prime. Very satisfying to me that the world champion is now the highest rated & objectively 'best' player.


  1. Your uncle
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2013 - Summer Trips [16 Jan 2014|10:30pm]


  1. 4th of July - Interdependence Day Family Campout @ Emerald Earth Sanctuary, Boonville, CA
  2. - w/ Dav, Mie, Tesla, Aila, Jeremy, Michelle, Sofia & Karina

    Late in spring, I was starting to despair, cos I'd been feeling the urge to get out of town for a while yet hadn't managed to leave even once. I posted a FB message in late spring complaining about my lack of plans/friends/inability to go on a camping trip. Liska: "You sound desperate." Me: "I am desperate!!"

    Dav took pity on us and invited us to this cool campout at Emerald Earth over July 4th weekend. Emerald Earth is a radically self reliant hippie commune where they grow their own food, get their own water from a well, make their own houses out of clay, and generally do everything themselves (except for internet, which they do use on occasion.)

    It was a super fun trip! It was Tesla's birthday so the Yaginumae arranged a bunch of random stuff (pony rides, antique roadster).

    We got to camp in the shade of redwoods, on the Emerald Earth grove.

    They had a mucky little pond so we got to swim naked, which I love to do

    Oh and there was this guy who, for Tesla's birthday, strung up a big rocket from high on a tree, so kids could take rocket rides! He got help from his friend who is an arborist, i.e. a professional tree climber. Such a cool job.

    There was a trampoline, which was fun until a girl broke her arm on it and had to be evacuated to the nearest hospital some miles away. That was a bummer. I heard she recovered fully so no harm in the end, but it was scary at the time.

  3. Casini Ranch
  4. - w/ Deena, Will, Suri, Jim, Kelly & Arlo

  5. Casini Ranch
  6. - w/ Matt, Susi, Audrey and Liam

    Casini Ranch is our favorite spot for camping near Russian River, as of now at least. It's got the best "beach" that I've seen, which is still just a bunch of rocks. But it's big and you can rent kayaks right there, and the swimming is good.

    When we went with Matt and Susi, they brought their canoe. I'd never been in one, so I was stoked to try it out. It's harder to paddle a canoe than a kayak. It's harder to keep it straight anyway. Liam and I boated around checking out insects and talking fishing. Also, I learned on this trip that Matt plays chess. Good thing I packed my chess board and timer instead of that useless 'first aid kit.'

  7. Schoolhouse Canyon Campground (a.k.a. 'unsafety usa')
  8. - w/ Deena, Will and Suri

    Not recommended! There's one main road in and our campsite was situated directly next to it. So we had to continually monitor the kids to make sure they didn’t stray into traffic.

  9. Kayaking on Mission Creek
  10. Izzy freaked out and kinda lost it. It's supposed to be one kid and one parent per kayak, but she refused to get in with me or Aliza. Finally one of the kayak guy had to take kayak with Aliza and Izzy, so Aliza could hold Izzy the whole time. Asha on the other hand really loved it.

    This is a thing where you rent the Kayaks near the piers downtown, and then you take a little kayak ride along the SF 'coast', past the ballpark and under those drawbridges along Mission Creek. It was fun kayaking through the canal! Definitely want to do this again.

  11. Dave & Mayra's wedding - Cabrera, Dominican Republic
  12. - w/ Dave, Mayra and a cast of thousands

    Camping it wasn't, but summer it was. Much pool time

  13. Montara rental house
  14. - w/ Bubbe, Boychik, Tani and Fraidy

    I loved climbing the big tree in this house's front yard. And going for walks on the horse trails, and hearing the foghorn every 30 seconds. It's weird, you'd think the foghorn would be annoying but it's actually quite nice. (it's not loud; it's faintly audible, like a heartbeat)

    My iPhone got destroyed at the Pony Farm on this trip :(

  15. Deep Eddy pool - Austin, Texas
  16. - w/ Ajeet, Sarah & Amitha

    Ah the glory of a proper public pool! Quite large and packed. Only thing you can do when it's Austin muggy hot.
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2013 - The Year in Public Art [01 Jan 2014|03:02pm]
I like public art, meaning art that's free, art you can touch/climb on/interact with, art that's not in a museum, art that's part of life. This is the best stuff I saw this year. Standard disclaimer: public art is what I say it is.
1. The Clock
Christian Marclay
single-channel video with stereo sound
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

"Christian Marclay's celebrated video installation The Clock (2010) is composed of thousands of film clips referencing the time of day, intricately edited into a 24-hour-long montage that matches real time minute for minute — a tour de force of appropriation that is also a functioning timepiece. Marclay... spent three years assembling this staggering work, piecing together fragments from films both famous and obscure. The result, awarded the prestigious Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 2011, is a dazzling, genre-defying distillation of movie history, a radical reflection on cinematic duration, and a reminder that time waits for no one."

Man I was OBSESSED with The Clock this year. It was the last thing shown at SFMOMA right before they closed. At the time, my work office was only a few blocks away, so it was easy to go for an hour here and there. They start the movie at 6 in the morning (or whenever) and run it for 24 hours till the next day. Normally SFMOMA isn't open late at night, but they opened it 24 hours for a few weekends so people could see the late night parts of the movie.

Overall I think I saw The Clock 6 times. I forget what hours but something like 11-1, 2-3, 4:20 - 5, 7,9 and once late night at 11-2 (?) It's weird, there's no particular narrative to it, although some of the clips do cohere visually and the audio editing of them together is superb. And there are certain recurring themes. But there's no story to suck you in. Yet I found it completely addictive. I kept wondering what was happening in the movie at different times.

The funny thing is, when we finally got to check out the late night part of it, it was mostly clips of people sleeping or in bed!! Haha I guess that's what you'd expect.


2. Wynwood Walls
Wynwood district, Miami. Largest open air graffiti zone I've ever seen. Amazing.


3. Gyroid
Paul Stepahin, Eric Dimond
12'H x 12'L x 12'W
260 sheets of routered plywood
Exploratorium, Pier 15, SF

"The Gyroid was made by the Exploratorium's Paul Stepahin, and exhibit developer Eric Dimond from a shape defined by a NASA scientist looking for structurally sound forms." A gyroid is an infinitely connected triply periodic minimal surface discovered by Alan Schoen in 1970.

4. Homouroboros
Peter Hudson
30'H x 24'W x 24'D
steel, aluminum, fabric, liquid crystal goggles, ???
Exploratorium, Pier 15, SF

"Monkey around with this spectacular, interactive zoetrope by artist Peter Hudson. Stretching 22 feet above the Exploratorium’s public plaza, Homouroboros features a treelike steel and aluminum frame that curves like a mushroom cloud over 18 human-sized monkeys hanging from its branches. At the base of the tree are 10 drums. By pounding the drums, you can make the entire artwork spin. At 20 rpm, Homouroboros springs to animated life. The monkeys’ rotation is synced to strobe lights at night, and, during the day, to masks with shutter lenses. Your visual system combines the 18 monkeys into a single animation of a monkey swinging from branch to branch, reaching for then devouring an apple from a snakelike hand."

"Homouroboros was originally commissioned by Burning Man in 2007. The exhibition of Homouroboros at the Exploratorium is copresented by the Black Rock Arts Foundation."


5. The Bay Lights
Leo Villareal
25,000 LEDs, ???
San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge

"A public light installation consisting of 25,000 LEDs strung on the vertical cables of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge."

Ok, I have to admit-- even though I LOVED the idea of such a huge scale project, I was distinctly underwhelmed by the Bay Bridge lights. Every night when I biked home from work I'd stop and look at them for a while and I think, eh... that's kind of interesting... I mean it's better than them NOT being there... but it's basically like a screensaver circa 1991. Some ovals, a little rain. It's amazing from an engineering stand point but I wish there was more 'there' there. Still, props to the city and the artist for making this happen. A city that has a bridge with a trippy light show happening continuously on one side is preferable to a city that doesn't.


6. Dahlias
Colette Crutcher
galvanized iron
Cabrillo Playground, SF

Simple but really cool idea. She braided the chain link fence.


7. Styrofoam Hummer H1 (low mileage, always garaged)
Andrew Junge
17'L x 6'H x 8'W
Styrofoam, lumber, steel
San Francisco International Airport, Terminal 3, departures level

"American artist Andrew Junge created the Styrofoam Hummer when he was the artist-in-residence at San Francisco’s Recycling & Disposal Inc. Using Styrofoam scavenged from the dump, Junge sculptured a 17ft (5.2m) long, 6ft (1.8m) high and 8ft (2.4m) wide Hummer to highlight waste and consumption in North American culture." Part of the exhibit, The Art of Recology: The Artist in Residence Program 1990- 2013


8. Butterfly Wall
Charles Sowers
12'L x 12'6"H x 1'W
dichroic acrylic, stepper motors, custom electronics, glass & steel casework
San Francisco International Airport, Terminal 2, children's play area

"Butterfly Wall consists of 20 hand-cranked mechanical butterflies that are propelled up a cable to gently flutter back down again in a delightful random choreography dictated by the air resistance of their spinning dichroic wings." So cool! The new SFO terminal has a lot of good art in it. Me and Izzy spent a lot of time at these, cranking the crank to make the butterflies go up and down.


9. EX-DD-06
Shih Chieh Huang
25'L x 25'H x 25'W (800 sq. ft)
modified household materials, plastic containers, garbage bags, computer cooling fans, micro controllers, LED lights
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, SF

"Shih Chieh Huang creates sculptural ecosystems using computer parts and common objects, such as plastic bags and bottles, which he animates in installations that mix a machine aesthetic with an organic impulse. Gathering inspiration from marine biology, Huang explores bioluminescence and its role in seduction and reproduction in the deep sea." Part of the exhibit, Synthetic Seduction - Shih Chieh Huang.

Bunch of electromechnical jellyfish, took up an entire room. Standing in the dark, there would be breathtaking moments when the whole thing stopped and all the lights died out and all the jellyfish limbs collapsed and everything went silent-- and then it would slowly wheeze and bloop to life again. The jellyfish were made of used PVC bottles and plastic bags and stuff but there was some fairly intricate electromechanical microcontroller action tying it all together.


10. Dolores Park mobile
Dolores Park, SF

Someone made a crazy mobile and hung it high up from a pole in Dolores Park. (mobile in the sense of an Alexander Calder sculpture, or something you'd hang over a baby's crib)

11. Halloween jack o' lanterns
At Mike Williams's house, we made jack o' lanterns. It was fun. I thought mine turned out pretty good, but then I was blown away by some of the other people's designs. They did things I didn't even know you could do.

I was walking home from the bus, and happened to look at the inside of a trash can. This is one of those public trash cans provided by the city, at street intersections and bus shelters and such. The word "TRASH" was carved into the trash can. But if you look from the inside out the hollow letters look green (cos of the trees in front of the trash can) and the word TRASH becomes HEART!!

13. Whispering Dishes
Market St. @ 5th, SF

It's like a telephone made from two tin cans connected by string, except it's two satellite dish sized concrete chairs facing each other on Market Street! Parabolic acoustic mirrors, is the technical term. This was part of the Exploratorium's "living innovation zone." Also there was a musical bench that can only be controlled when two people sit holding hands.


14. This truck


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Wasteland [05 Dec 2013|11:41pm]
Browsing around on random Livejournals where they put 'public art' as an interest on their profile...

God what a wasteland. All abandoned journals and/or angst.

The only interesting journals are Russian art types where I can dimly make it out through Google translate

Why are the russians so much more interesting on LJ?

It feels lonely in LJ land. I know there must be at least one other like minded soul still using this thing.
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Curse you Sonos! From hell's heart I stab at thee [14 Oct 2013|09:05am]
Radio silence at my house, cos Sonos is on the fritz yet again. At this point I've had so many problems with Sonos, I wouldn't recommend them to anyone.

Is the "Bridge" broken? When do I have time to sit there and isolate components? Why can't it just work? I'm ready to go back to a record player

Somehow all this technological progress that's almost but not quite good enough is more maddening then when there was no promise of music in the cloud at all...

I guess if I buy all my music one last time, it's finally available always everywhere (itunes in the cloud, amazon music, etc). But then there's still the problem of fragmentation. Spotify doesn't have most Fabric mixes. Soundcloud is mostly singles and DJ mixes. iTunes doesn't have mixtapes or anything illegal. I listen to a lot of 'illegal' music in the sense that they didn't clear all their samples or whatever

Wireless interference? Is it my router settings? I wish Sonos would at least give you some useful diagnostics. A single blinking light on the device isn't enough!!

I tried plugging my iPhone into my old iPhone speakers but of course, the iPhone 5 has a new audio port that's incompatible with any old speakers.

Marc Maron was ranting about how he hates when people go "first world problems." Like no shit!! You don't see people on Twitter tweeting "not enough food to eat" "covered in flies"

What did the green grape say to the purple grape?
"Breathe, dammit!"

this is my Starred playlist on spotify. you should sub cos it's pretty good. I know Spotify is owned by majors and perpetuates their shit but I'm exhausted and don't care anymore, just get me all the music in one place. Resigned to that fate since I'm not seeing anything better

If they would just be transparent about what they're paying and make it easy for bands to figure that stuff out, I could live with it. They're so shady though

Dilemma of the laptop artist in the only-get-paid-off-tours-and-t-shirts age

Yags is working for a Ticketmaster subsidiary now. BOO HISS but anyway they get tickets with no surcharge. That's a pretty good perk right? I want some perks in this life

If I got rich enough that I didn't have to work ever again, I would do a few things

1. Learn to fold a shirt properly
2. Learn a really good paper airplane design
3. Hire a private chess tutor and get good at chess (like Howard Stern)

Can hear the crowd BOO HISSING. "You can do that stuff now you lazy git!" Yeah but with two kids and work being what it is, I barely have the energy/patience to watch movies let alone do stuff. It's no excuse is it. Once the kids are a little older I hope to light some creative fires again. Collab with em or whatever. Just need to do something, I miss projects

Somebody put a fake (cardboard? wood?) wolf on the rotting piers down by 3rd St. It's pretty cool looking. That's a good starter project. I should add another animal. How'd they get it out there? Did they row out there in a boat?

I paddled a canoe for the first time this summer. Canoes are a lot bigger than ocean kayaks, and harder to keep straight

We camped a bunch and spent enough time at the river that it felt like an unwasted summer. Props to the missus for motivating us. Who am I talking to? Is this just voices in my head. Ooh Belle and Sebastian "Don't Leave the Light On Baby" just came on. Added all these golden oldies to Spotify starred last night. Is it wrong to be immensely pleased with oneself. And yet at other moments I'm filled with despair.

DESPAIR! melodramatic innit. just need to keep on with the jokes. will i ever be free of addictions. like typing into a computer. so addicted to the internet. it makes me feel connected. such an captivating feeling knowing that if any idea catches your fancy you can wikipedia it. plus intermittent rewards from facebook, goodreads, etc. like most interesting things it's complicated, it's not all bad but it doesn't make you a luddite to recognize that technology can bring out some bad tendencies. yeah i can look up anything but it just means i'm distracted all the time. no attention span anymore. plus the feeling of connection is a kick in the short term but in the longer term i'd be better off building cabinets or something

basically if i were rich i'd pick up life skills. learn to fix my bike. plus the requisite travel etc but you can't travel aimlessly forever, it gets old being a tourist. good to travel with purpose. given up on learning a language.

you have to get REALLY rich to collect art. most people can only aim for medium rich

the girls are sitting coloring . are they soaking up the tunes? who knows what gets in your head at that age. on my way... to the club... fell down a hole

haha this pic always cracks me up

halloween coming, what am i gonna be? they had another bear costume at the bear costume store... black bear... it wasn't as good as the brown one though. liska always wants to do a group costume. i'm not opposed but it has to be a good idea, can't throw something together at the last minute. like when those people all came as in and out workers... that was alright.

i get stymied whenever i try to build a costume. hard to do the scaffolding right. i think you have to learn scaffolding 101 before you can do it up right

that bear suit was hot as f**k and not suitable for the dancefloor. it was fun to walk around in it though. last year i wore it to izzy's class and 90% of the kids loved it and i made 3 kids cry. so, perfect

i watched every one of howard stern's letterman appearances last night. i think he's the best talk show guest there is

he's a great interviewer too. he always asks the same stuff. how much are you worth, who have you had sex with, in what position, etc etc... so crass but he has a fundamental honesty/curiosity/willingness to name names/ability to make people comfortable enough to say things they shouldn't...

his books are both really good.

if you live in pot hill let's play chess gdammit. i have the timer and everything
ok let's do it
but it's not that fun to play against yourself
sometimes i think about taking my iphone and the board to farleys and playing it out against shredder on the board
or else if i just sit there with a chess set will someone sit down w/ me and play
i need to get my kids into it but i'm scared of pushing it too hard cos that might have the opposite effect
i took izzy to a chess in. it was a protest against the police throwing out the chess players from market cos they attract unsavory elements. ironically, while we were there my wallet got stolen!! pickpocketed i think, while i was winning a game. that sucked the most. nothing throws off your game like suddenly realizing your wallet is gone

"The crows seemed to be calling his name, thought Caw"

i was shocked to learn Jack Handey is a real person. I thought he was like Sara Lee or Nicolas Bourbaki or somefin
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I think I have forgotten how to speak [02 Oct 2013|08:47pm]
The subject of this post is bleak

Perhaps I'll write this post in rhyme

The subject should be bad-idea-time
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Prairie Bomb [17 Sep 2013|09:23am]
Prairie Bomb by jcruelty
Prairie Bomb, a photo by jcruelty on Flickr.

Prairie Bomb - Imperial stout aged on coffee, cacao nibs, vanilla beans, and ancho chili peppers.

YUM! Five stars out of five. This is what chili chocolate beer SHOULD be. Not like Mikkeller's nasty Mexas Ranger, which I had to pour out halfway through.

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