Thursday, October 1, 2015

Never mind gravy

Yesterday we headed out to meet Todd for lunch. We walked down to the Financial District and met up with him in the lobby of his building, then walked over to the Rincon Building, a beautiful Art Deco building that was originally a post office. It now holds shops and restaurants, and our lunch adventure was Yank Sing, a dim sum place.

It was my first time for dim sum and I loved it! I asked Ken if I was right in thinking that it’s kind of like Chinese tapas, he said yes, that was pretty accurate. We had all kinds of yummy things, including these wonderful pork and broth-filled dumplings. (Ken informs me that they are called Shanghai Dumplings and are a Yank Sing signature dish.) Everything was delicious and we had a great time talking over lunch.

The Rincon Building has a nice little display of the various artifacts that we discovered when the renovation and excavation took place. Wonderful bits of history that tell the story of its marina history and its Chinese residents.

Todd had to go back to his office for a bit, so we agreed to meet at his place around 5. Ken and I strolled down Embarcadero and saw the Bay Bridge, then walked by some of the piers before cutting up near Coit Tower and making our way over to Todd’s neighborhood. I’m a fairly active person and exercise six days a week, but that trek about kicked my ass! I’d forgotten how brutal some of these hills can be. That was definitely my workout for the day, and Ken’s FitBit informed him that we walked about six miles yesterday! I found some fun things along the way, including the odd bit of graffiti that inspired the title of this entry.

It wasn’t quite time for us to meet Todd, so we found a little dive bar called Black Magic Voodoo Lounge near the corner of Lombard and Van Ness. It was one of those fun finds that we occasionally stumble across (if not stumble out of) and we had a couple of beers and a total blast! We chatted with the bartender, Sarah-Alice, and she was a total sweetheart, originally from Georgia. She turned out to be a Walking Dead fan, so we had a lot of fun talking to her about that. A regular came in, obviously friends with Sarah-Alice, and he’d been binge-watching TWD, too, so we chatted with him. We all talked about our favorite characters, and this guy mentioned that he likes Beth a lot. He wasn’t quite to THAT episode, so I wish I could hear his reaction when he sees it. It was just a really pleasant interlude to sit in this little place and chat some people up. We seem to do that a lot, and it’s almost always a very fun experience! (Except for that big ol’ racist lady from Memphis that we encountered at a place in Chicago when we went to see the Stones. That really took an ugly turn!)

Then it was time to head over to Todd’s. He’s got a really great apartment with these high ceilings and wood floors. It’s cozy and comfortable and quite inviting! We had a couple of beers and chatted and he played a little guitar. He’s incredibly talented and it was a joy to hear him play again. We headed out to the place where he’d made reservations, the Wayfare Tavern, which I just learned is a Tyler Florence place. My burger was yummy, the fried chicken was delicious, and the halibut was also very tasty. The place was packed and it was a little too noisy for my tastes (which made it hard to carry on a conversation) but it was still a fun place with good food.

After dinner, we made plans with him for dinner tonight. He dropped us off at the hotel and Ken and I kicked back with a couple of drinks. Today we’re heading over to the Wharf so Ken can get his chowdah fix, then we’ll have dinner with Todd at a seafood place and THEN...the TIKI BAR! I’m wearing a vaguely tiki-ish shirt, so I am ready!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Squash blossom

We got into San Francisco late yesterday afternoon after a rather long day of travel. After we got settled into the hotel and got unpacked, we headed over to a plaza in the Financial District to the Open Squash Championship.

Whaaaat? Why?

Well, Friend Todd (a former coworker of Ken’s and a lovely human being) has been into squash for many years, both as a player and as a spectator, and we were going to meet up with him there.

We bought our tickets and found our seats at the side of the glassed-in court. Great seats with great views of the action! We got there just in time for the championship game and it was amazingly fun. Somehow I knew more about the game of squash than I realized. How did that happen? I have no idea. Maybe we learned a little about it in Phys Ed in high school? Squash isn’t an Olympic sport (yet), so I wouldn’t have watched it there. Did I just read about it somewhere? I certainly didn’t know all the rules, but I wasn’t completely clueless about it, either. Kind of a mystery of where I absorbed that knowledge along the way!

It was so fast-paced, and with sitting so close, I had to physically turn my head to watch the action. I’m sure I looked like this.

It has to be brutal on the players’ knees and ankles and they were obviously lean and fit. I told Todd at dinner that I was also amazed by how they have to be spatially aware. Not only does the player have to watch what is happening with the ball, they have to pay attention to where their opponent is and get out of the way in order to let them make the play. It was really kind of fascinating and I enjoyed it. I told Ken, “To quote Mitt Romney, I love sport!” While it is not an Olympic sport yet, I agree with Todd that it should be. It’s fast-paced and fun to watch, the athletes are obviously in great shape, and Todd said that it has a huge international following. I don’t plan on picking up a racket myself, but I would definitely watch it in the Olympics!

After the match, we went to dinner with Todd and I had some delicious seared tuna. I don’t normally do desserts, but they had Key Lime Pie! I had to have a piece. Although my favorite dessert is native to Florida, this San Francisco restaurant did a very delicious and authentic version of it. The filling was nice and custardy, and most importantly, NOT GREEN! Don’t put green food coloring in Key Lime Pie, people. It is an abomination! The only difference I noticed from the traditional KLP was that the graham cracker crust had a hint of cinnamon in it and seemed to have a little coconut in it, as well. It was quite tasty.

It was a fun first night and today we will be meeting Todd in the afternoon for a little walking around and just some general camaraderie and sightseeing. I have already scoped out a genuine tiki bar in Nob Hill, one that opened in 1945, so that is on my list!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Beth’s Music Moment: Duran Duran’s “The Universe Alone”

Since the past couple of days consisted partly of packing for our upcoming trip to San Francisco to see Duran Duran play live (as well as visiting a good friend) and watching my niece Jen’s videos of when she saw them last night in San Diego, this is a good time to write a little more about one of the songs on their new album, Paper Gods.

“The Universe Alone” is the last track on the regular version, and what a way to close out the album! Every so often, a song really hits me and just tears me up inside. This is one of those songs. I honestly can’t say that it is my favorite song on the album; I haven’t been able to choose a definitive favorite and I like them all for different reasons. But the more I listen to this song, the more it hits me right in the feels.

As some of you know, when it comes to reading, I’ve been on a bit of an apocalypse and post-apocalypse kick. Not exactly happy stuff, but I find it compelling and fascinating. As with my love for The Walking Dead, I wonder how various people would deal with the end of the world. Does it bring out the best or the worst in a person (or in me)? Who will accept their fate with grace and dignity and who will feel hopelessness and despair? Who will check out early and who will face it head on? I find it a fascinating thing to ponder, and I don’t necessarily find it depressing. Just interesting. This song reminds me so much of the book and movie On the Beach, which just devastated me. A definite sense of despair and a winding down, but still joy in living and loving.

Anyway, that’s what this song is about, at least to me. It’s possible that Simon and the rest of the band meant something entirely different with their lyrics. It could conceivably be about an individual facing imminent death, and that also makes sense to me. But I hear the “dying sun” and it’s all about the end of the world to me.

As I listen to the song (I’m not obsessively listening to it...just as I play the entire album), it occurs to me that although plenty of people pretend to know what happens when we shuffle off this mortal coil, no one knows for sure. Even if our loved ones are by our side, holding our hand, we go off into the great beyond all on our own. We “face the universe alone.” This doesn’t make me sad; it’s just the way it is and it is every bit a part of life as the actual living part of it is.

Simon sings, “It’s beautiful, the dying sun...the end of everything and everyone.” His vocals are poignant and heart-wrenching to me, and the words indicate an acceptance of our fate and still being able to see the beauty, even in a sun that is dying, or of a life lived. He also sings, “In plain view the mistakes we’ve made, but is there anything you’d really want to change?” I’m sure we’d all like to change some things in our past, but would we really? It’s all part of our life experience, isn’t it? Both good and bad. It’s our journey and it is up to us to make the most of it, knowing that we will make mistakes along the way. And maybe, just maybe, we can exit knowing that we lived our life, enjoyed ourselves, and perhaps even made things a little brighter for a few people along the way.

When you look at it that way, I find the concept of facing the universe alone not as scary. It’s going to happen to all of us eventually, right?

The song ends with a gradual descent into feedback and distortion, this lovely song devolving into chaos. Some sort of explosion? A gradual loss of consciousness? “On the other side of what we’ll never know.” We end the song with a lovely choir, perhaps indicating a sense of grace found.

Yes, I really do pay attention to lyrics and I really do ponder things like this. I am often very moved by lyrics and songs, and this one really gets to me. Lyrics and video below.

See you in the universe, fellow travelers. But hopefully not for a while yet!

It's beautiful, the dying sun
The end of everything and everyone
So shall we make a clan my friend
As if we have the chance to live it all again

I'll see you in some other lifetime
On the other side of what we'll never know
Together we have walked a fine line
Now we go to face the universe alone

In plain view, the mistakes we've made
But is there anything you'd really want to change?
To win and lose then win again
To have it all then throw it all away

I'll see you in some other lifetime
On the other side of what we'll never know
Together we have walked a fine line
Now we go to face the universe alone

How beautiful the closing down
The fading out, it spins and goes around
With darkness and the heart of man
And here we are back where it all began

I'll see you in some other lifetime
The universe alone
The universe alone
The universe alone