Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Lagging and snagging today, I felt fine until my powerbar and black coffee breakfast, I've had a slight headache ever since. Hopefully a good night sleep will completely remove this annoyance in my noggin.

I'm burnt from my Bay area to Southern California drive, the weather was rough rain, rain and more rain. On Friday I drove Interstate 5 down the State with a friend and her 3 year old daughter. On the drive down we saw a tire blow- thankfully the driver kept control , a horrible accident with a fatality, a landslide and multiple crashes. Driving wasn't actually bad except for the grapevine, the heavy rain, low laying clouds made it treacherous. Thank goodness I enjoy driving, we stopped for dinner at Buena Park at Knox Berry Farm for their World Famous Chicken Dinner. Many evenings there's a hour wait because of the rain we were able to walk right in get seated and enjoy our meal. Knox Berry Farm has three hour free parking which reasonable but you have to ask for directions to the lot.

After dinner we drove to our Time-Share about a mile from Disneyland , the area around the park has changed so much from when I was a teenager. They've completely developed the area I'm still amazed at how things have changed so quickly in the last few years.

Friday night and Saturday morning it rained hard but by the afternoon the rain started to declined and by the late afternoon we headed over to California Adventure. This was my first time checking out this park. I've heard so many stories about California Adventure being boring that my expectation were rather low. Well, I was pleasantly surprised, CA isn't for the speed ride freaks but it was pleasant. There are rides the toddlers enjoyed, a theatrical presentation (Disney Musical of the Alladin) and a decent roller-coaster in California Screaming.

I always have mixed feelings about Disneyland the commercialism and the products and images Disney promotes and sales but I tried to leave my critical eye at the door. However, our second day brought my concerns somewhat to the fore front. The second day we went to Disneyland unfortunately it started raining as soon as we enter the park. We could deal the the weather, the problem was one of the 3 year olds was very frighten by the Disneyland images. Whether is was Snow White the musical, the Mad Toad Ride, or Pinocchio all the images where scary. Actually all these rides and shows contain violent images I really couldn't blame her.

Even in the rain Disneyland was full of people we left after a few hours and had a nice dinner at home. The drive back up Interstate 5 was fine after the grapevine. Folks were passing me up and tail gating at 85 mph. It was a nice trip, the weather put just made slight damper on the activities.

The Golden Gates in Southern California

Hidden Tiger Spinning Turtle

It's a Bug's Life


Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Saturday was the last dry day in the bay. It has been raining since Sunday, usually I don't mind. Rain means snow in the mountains, an opportunity to cross-country ski in wonderful conditions. Alas, I'm booked for other activities this weekend -N -E -WAY Saturday morning started with breakfast and strolling with a good friend. The afternoon was spent washing laundry and participating in other necessary but mundane activities. Dirty cloths can create excitement but it isn't the type of excitement you want directed toward you.

In the evening, I hopped a bus (sometimes I feel like I'm the only person in SF who likes Muni- It was right on time) and made my way across town to the Roxie Cinema to catch Blueberry a film showing at the San Francisco Independent film festival. When my bus rolled pass the theatre toward the bus stop, I could see the line in front of the theatre was long and I was 30 minutes early. The movie was soldout but there was a rush line, fortunately a friend was already in line, as 7:00 came and went we were still standing outside and by luck made it in.

BlueBerry is a psychedelic Western, based on a comic book which I didn't know and it's probably good, I could just enjoy the movie as a strange addition to the western genre. What is interesting about the film is it completely fall within the mode of a traditional Western except the ultimate battle happened on a spiritual plain aka psychedelic Western freakout instead of a gun fight. I enjoyed the movie it was fun.

Afterward, we went to the Panhandle to Sacredgrounds Cafe to listen to music. Unfortunately, driving isn't as easy as -the bus fuss- so it took a while to find parking. When we finally arrived we enjoy some wonderful singing, wine, and tea in a comfortable space.


Sunday, February 13, 2005

Friday I was planning to have a quiet evening at home, but it wasn't meant to be. I received a last minute call from a friend who received passes to HBO Northern California Premiere of Lackawanna Blues at Fort Mason in the Cowell Theatre. I saw the play written and performed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson at the ACT Theatre a few years ago and I don't have cable so I was very interested in seeing this TV - filmversion of Santiago-Hudson coming to age story.

Fort Mason is in the Marina District and getting there on a Friday evening was a challenge. I was late when I entered the theatre but a group laggers including me where rushed in and my luck was good I went directly to a seat next the friend who invited me.

The play Lackawanna blues was a solo performance, I enjoyed seeing the difference characters come to life through the wonderful cast of the film. Epatha Merkerson as Rachel 'Nanny' Crosby was great. Macy Gray, my first time seeing her perform in a movie and Terrence Howard one of my favorite actors were both were very good.

The story was full of music and dancing and I have a soft spot for Louis Jordan and the blues. Seeing those party scenes and hearing those great songs performed by Mos Def and Barry Shabaka Henley made me wish for a time machine. Films present stylize memories but I sure wish I could experience a rockin rollin Louis Jordan concert.

After the film, we were leaving and we walked into the after-party - we had no idea. Good sponsership has privilege! It was very nice live music, food and drinks - we danced a little enjoyed pleasant conversation it was a very nice evening.

Look for Lackawanna Blues on HBO if you have cable.


Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Back from Yosemite, I am having the ski I wanna be outdoor blues. Dragged myself to work, which was pretty uneventful today but this evening, off the clock was fun. I'm usually a snob when it comes to Pier 39 in San Francisco. It's pretty high on my tourist-only list but this Monday evening I was at Pier 39 arcade playing an old school favorite Air Hockey BABE!

Today, was a good friend's birthday and I'm a total believer in the birthday brat phenomena, everyone should have fun and be spoiled on their birthday. We met at Fisherman's Wharf near Hooters and In and Out Burgers (why anyone would travel to San Francisco for these places I don't get, anyway. We made our way through the shops at Pier 39 to the back where the arcade is located.

The bet was whoever lost at Air Hockey would have to play Dance Revolution and dance their little heart out in the arcade. I played air hockey valiantly but I lost to make my friend feel good on his birthday a course. Fortunately, the arcade was pretty empty so my dancing went pretty much un-noticed. I was so tired after playing air hockey that I was first off beat. I started doing ok until I decided to try a Clash song and Punk took me down. Its' so fast I don't know what I was thinking, probably my arcade-ego got the best of me.

Afterward, we went to the Hard Rock Cafe, this is another place I would normally snob. But the service was friendly and the walls are filled with guitars and rock and blues memorabilia which is cool. The food was ok, I would visit again I'm not going to hate on Hard Rock. Good service and a friendly atmosphere has value.

Since work beckons again we hopped on the F Line the which runs the Historic Muni Rail Buses from Fisherman's Wharf to the Castro District, cleanest buses in the City. Transferred downtown to my favorite 38 Geary for a pleasant ride home. Hope my bud enjoyed the evening, I'm going to practice my air hockey skills.


Sunday, February 06, 2005

Super Bowl Sunday.....well I was cheering for the Eagles but they didn't make it happen. I didn't watch the game, personally I like to celebrate the Superbowl by not being a couch potato but by enjoying the outdoors.

So this weekend was spent at Yosemite National Park, for a weekend of cross-country skiing. I drove up Friday everything went well except I was sadden to hear about the death of Ossie Davis. He was an artist of class, vision, and skill and will be extremely missed.

Driving from the Bay Area to Yosemite has gotten progressively worst as people have moved farther and farther out trying to find affordable housing. But the traffic wasn't horrible and we made good time arriving in the valley.

We stayed at the Stoneman Lodge at Camp Curry. I like the Stoneman because the free bus service that takes you Badger Pass, stops right in front of the building. After a day of skiing, hiking or drinking hot chocolate you only have to walk a few feet to your room. The Stoneman is a motel like facility its' clean the rooms are simple but don't expect a TV set. I brought books, my Ukulele and music if you need more stimulation bring a portable DVD player.

Saturday morning we took the 8:00 AM bus to Badger's Pass, FYI bus is nice and comfortable why drive on icy roads? Badger Pass wasn't very crowded this weekend (GREAT). Badger Pass has downhill, snowshoe, tubing and cross-country. The cross-country usually isn't crowded and the downhill didn't look overly congested this weekend. Food-wise, we made the mistake of not bringing snacks this trip and Curry Concessions, which runs the lodging and food concessions in the park, doesn't have any mercy when it comes to food prices. Don't forget to bring food and drinks. Badger Pass has picnic tables and they're covered with ice chests by folks who were on their game. The park food is expensive I paid about $5.00 for a cup of coffee plus a cheapie pastry (that had a funny taste).

Where did we ski, we started on Glacier Point Road it's closed for the winter and is groomed for Cross Country skiers. The conditions were icy not the best after two weeks without a major snow but since it was warm the snow-ice was starting to soften this helped. The weather was beautiful, blue sky and sunshine we couldn't ask for a prettier day. We turn off the Road toward Bridalveil Campground where we took the Ghost Forest Trail Loop. The snow conditions off the groom trail were better eventhough the trail was more difficult. It was fun and challenging my only regret? I have to get in better shape, the trail was around 11 miles and I was so tired while skiing. I could really tell my aerobic fitness has gone down hill and has to be improved. Well, I'll continue the biking and add some more aerobic activities to my weekly schedule.

Sunday morning we walked the valley floor it was so quiet, the Park felt empty.
After coffee, hot chocolate and walking we heading toward Crane Flats on Hwy 120 for one more chance at skiing. There was plenty of snow but it was too icy. It was cloudy over the park on Sunday and it just didn't warm up for skiing. We had a gorgeous meadow to ourselves which was cool but alas it was too cold and skiing on icy hard snow just isn't very fun.

We decided to head out to the Bay Area, the drive was good except listening to the Super Bowl but it was all good. I wish that I was still in Yosemite for at least one more day to ski at Badger. Comment about Cross-Country Skiers, they are some of the most friendly people in the park. We had some very nice conversations on the trails with fellow skiers. Also, except for my ski buddy the only other soul folks I saw worked in the Park. Actually, we had a very nice conversation with a Park Ranger, Shelton Johnson who presents an interpretive program on the Buffalo Soldiers in Yosemite Park. I'm planning to visit the park in the fall when I'll get a chance to see the program. I encourage everyone checkout the beauty of Yosemite in the winter and all year, support our National Parks and learn about our history.

This Deer literally posed for the Camera

Glacier Point Road - if you look closely you'll see the Cross-Country Tracks

Badger Pass Downhill Ski Area from a Picnic Table


Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Life isn't fair..........that little adage is really true. I found out today that a hard working knowledgeable co-worker didn't get the position he deserved. It was really depressing, those who deserve rarely seem to get justice....those who sleaze around many times get rewarded. Seeing this wasn't easy I tried to distract myself after work by going to the Red Vic to see Lightning in a Bottle at blues documentary.

The film was a mix bag some of the performances were great, the theatre audience applauded during the film. Ruth Brown, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Sonny Burke, Larry Johnson Odetta, Mavis Staples, Shemekia Copeland, Robert Cray and BB King just to name a few gave great performances. However, David Johansen this guy was strangely bad where's Simon when you need him!

The concert organizer added these none blues singers like Aerosmith and Chuck D, I would have preferred Koko Taylor and other blues singers. Also, the film implied it was going to provide a blues history let just say the lesson was little weak. Also, as usual the Classic Blues singers were ignored except for a photograph of Bessie Smith, Clara Smith and Ethel Waters. Natalie Cole sung Saint Louis Blues but this didn't cut the muster for me. Anyway, I'm curious about the DVD maybe it will include additional performers from the concert.

The movie worked to distract me until it was over then my mind wandered back to what transgressed during the day. The Blues can lift your spirits and give you strength but we have to take that strength an act.


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