Friday, April 28, 2006


I got stalled on writing a posting about meat. It's currently saved as
draft after a decent first paragraph but not much going for it
afterwards. Hopefully I can get that done this weekend.

In the meantime, I am getting more tan than I have been in about 12
years thanks to swimming at the UCSF outdoor swimming pool. I was
shocked to find a number of new freckles spackled upon my face the
other day when I was staring in a flourescently lit bathroom. I'm not
sure how I feel about that. I also learned that the best way to keep
chlorine from getting too deep into your hair is to get it wet first.
How about that?!?!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

My play and meat

One of the crazier things I did in Europe: I went to a McDonalds.

This was the first time I have eaten at any fast food restaurant since reading Fast Food Nation back in the early 2000s and learning about the general unsavoriness of American agribusiness (I have gone to In N Out Burger which Eric Schlosser so graciously allows ethically sensitive yet fast-food-desiring readers to enjoy with minimal liberal guilt). Since then, I search for the free range and the grass fed and the Niman Ranch when I purchase for home and Trader Joes thankfully makes easily available. Many restaurants in SF seem to lean towards the less industrial in their meat selection, though not all of them do, and I still eat at those places (Sunflower's shaking beef is out of this world), thus a major hole in my resolve to eat only pleasantly killed and handled meat.

Meat has been popping up in conversations a lot recently, due in part to the fact that my play Hunter Gatherers kicks off with a lamb slaughter in an urban apartment (beats an opening dance number). I like to start my plays with gentle events. We were discussing in our read through the relation between man and meat, and how distanced we are from the acts committed to feed us. I was just reading Kite Runner, which has lots of chilling and gripping passages about lamb slaughter, which makes me never want to accept a cube of sugar from anyone ever again. And then I heard author Michael Pollan on the radio and have just started reading his book, The Omnivore's Dilemma, a book about our food chain. I'm early still in the book, only finishing the chapter on corn, but the meat's coming up.

Well, anyway, I figure McDonalds in Europe doesn't count, because they have better meat and rules over there, right? I still hold to my pledge of never getting most fast food ever, and I'm curious to see how the new book will affect my eating.

Finally, I would like to conclude that every Starbucks in Paris was packed.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

What to trim

Various patches of my body hair are getting a little bushy and scratchy and today may be a day to shave.

I am a gay man who learned about "manscaping" from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy as opposed to having a personal, innate homosexual sensibility about body hair maintenence. Since that life changing broadcast in 2004 where Kyan introduced the term to me, I must confess that I have 'scaped on a few occassions.

I have a hairy chest. Specifically, a hairy triangle of hair whose base runs along my clavicle to an apex just past my pecs. OK, I just checked the chest hair, and it's actually more of a rhombus than a triangle. Following the rhomboidal dense patch, the chest hair takes a little break in my mid torso, with just a few softer threads running vertically down the center - and then spreading out again around my belly. It is this density blend that leads me to describe myself as "moderately hairy." Chest hair has been such an integral part of me that it often appears unconsciously in multiple plays, and is also a staple joke I use whenever I perform in an interactive murder mystery.

The only time I have ever fully shaved my chest was for a championship swim tournament in high school, where the entire boys team gathered at one house to shave all the hair from their bodies. Teambuilding, they called it back then. These days, I just trim the upper chest hair back every few months or so. BUT NEVER TOO MUCH! The intent is to never reveal that the hair has been manipulated at all, though I guess that intent is being udermined by discussing it in a blog. Point is, I don't want to look like I shaved. Just a wee bit less naturally hairy.

Why do I do this? I'm not sure, though I think the best explanation I can give is that it's another useful procrastination tool when trying to write a play. I am proud of my body hair, much like other people are proud of their lawns, and I suppose a little mowing isn't succumbing too much to the mainstream gay paradigm of beauty (the mainstream gay paradigm of beauty, for you straight people out there, is a smooth sculpted chest dripping sultry oils made from leftover batches of Crystal Meth).

So, in the apartment we have the Conair clipper as well as Mark's Norelco razor with beard trimmer option, (and of course my Mach 3 razor, non-turbo option). The Conair clipper features attachments that give you certain inches of distance from your, let's say, chest, protecting you from any nasty razor cuts. The only problem is that this attachment isn't exactly designed for wirey chest hair and requires multiple passes over the torsal area to make a significant dent into the hedge. While this process does feel like being deligtfully scratched over and over again, it does take time and patience.

And that's today's blog lesson: Patience is important when you want to make something the best it can be.

I did nick my scrotum once with the Norelco. Lesson learned.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

100 years and one day ago...

With more stories and sepia-toned olden times graphics than ever before, San Francisco celebrated 100 years of being a catastrophic earthquake free environment (Loma Prieta was apparently not that major, which is something of a terrifying thought). Rather than celebrate the fact that we have kept our earthquake problem contained for a whole century, many people have been using the anniversary to spread fear and doom upon our fair city.

I particularly appreciate all the studies released in the last week sharing how many people would die today if the 1906 earthquake happened again, today, and how we're still so not prepared. How do they do a study like that, exactly? What type of person decides to pick that angle for earthquake research? And why are they spending money doing a study predicting deaths and destruction as opposed to doing a study about oh, how to be better prepared for an earthquake?

Katrina did provoke Mark and I to purchase a disaster kit for 2, (awwww) from the Red Cross to bolster up the box of "emergency water" we bought a couple years ago (does water expire)? The kit features two food bars that contain 2700 calories each of food. That sounds absolutely disgusting. I hope that in the ensuing post earthquake panic the tell tale red cross on the back of the emergency pack won't cause it to be yanked from my body. Shaun of the Dead was on TV the other day. Will it be like that after the big one hits?

Oh, Peter, you can be light about it now. Laugh it up until it hits, and SF becomes New Orleans and we're wandering about our broken town in search of help while America questions why you moved there in the first place. I suppose humor is my way of dealing with the spectre of tragedy and knowing that all the doomsayes are most likely correct in their predictions. Of course, most worrisome after the big one is that San Francisco will be forced to deal the with the brutal question: How good are hipsters after a natural disaser?

in case you missed the jello video recreation it's right here

Sunday, April 16, 2006

salt and pepper shakers

A great debate has emerged at out Easter Dinner:

Does salt or pepper go in the shaker with one hole?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

It's Raining!

Perhaps the most obvious subject header I could come up with.

Apparently it was raining the entire time we were out of town, and it continues to this very day. Hills are slipping, highways are closed, and depression drips from every corner of the city. Weatherpeople on the TV appear smug, vaguely sinister as they whip out their 5 day forecasts filled with clouds and droplets.

Very rarely are weather people optimistic about the weather they predict, preferring to spin any metereological event towards the negative. No matter what condition, there always seems to be a hazard attached. Rains bring floods. Heat brings fire and geriatric death. Wind brings allergies and more fires. Stillness brings haze and smog and free BART rides. Come on, weather people, is there any love, any bit of hope you can show us on your Doppler?

At least the weather does not hinder my rewriting work, though violent cafe laptop theft has given me pause about working close to the door. I am sloughing through lucky draft number 5 of play, Hunter Gatherers, which will be my final effort of writing betterment before rehearsals begin at the end of the month. My mind is undergoing a nice moment of clarity and perspective on the piece, I think, which is surprising for me in a rewrite. I tend to think I am destroying my play when I try to do new things to it. I think I'm wrong, but there's always that gnawing fear that I am only making things worse. It really does all go back to something in middle school, doesn't it?

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Meet My Dad

Thursday, April 06, 2006

European Food Roundup

A few thoughts on my European food experiences. I think food may be my favorite part about travel. Except when a duck confit forces you to replace Picasso Museum with Day on Toilet. Anyhoo:

Positive Spanish and French Food Discoveries:

1. Principes - two Maria-esque wafer cookies with chocolate fudge in between. The doublestuff version is also quite nice.
2. The "Menu" concept: A starter, main course, dessert, and wine for a set price at lunch. More satisfying than a combo meal, plus the included jug of wine makes the menu (pronounced Men-oo) superawesome.
3. Bread with stuff and melted cheese on top, often involving ham. This popped up in Catalonia and France with great frequency and with much appreciation.
4. Large size sugar packets: Essentially a double-the-size-than-American sugar packet, perfect for sweetening a strong cup of coffee without the guilt of having put in more than one packet in your drink and feeling like a wuss.
5. Nescafe - quite good with soy milk! Who knew?
6. Unsliced Bread - Whether it's "Pan" or "Pain" it's mmm mmm yummy. Atkins is a dick.
7. Cheap Wine. A bottle for under 10 bucks at a restaurant, and a box of wine (Don Tinto) in for 1 euro. Thank you, Spain.
8. "Chuches"[corrected] - This was a Mark fave, essentially pick n mix candies available at most corner stores and select "frutas secas" shops. (Fruta seca, also means gay man in danger of chafing.) They give you tongs and a debatably sanitary plate to select your deliciousness. I particularly liked the wacy, red long ropes filled with something white in it.
9. The chocolate and banana crepe.
10. Creme Catalan - suspiciously similar to Creme Brulee, and equally delicious.
11. Digestifs - a solid ending to a meal.
12. Good street food - such as paninis, baguette sandwiches, and the aforementioned chocolate and banana crepe.
13. Shweppes Naranja and Fanta - Bring it to the states Schweppes! And why is the Fanta better outside of the US?
14. Spanish Olives - Oh my fucking God I fell in love with olives again for the first time.

Spanish and French Food Disappointments

1. Gambas. aka shrimp. Be advised that if you order "Gambas" as your main course in a Spanish restaurant, you may receive a plate of shrimp. And nothing else. Shrimp are nowhere nearly as delicious when you have to remove the entire exoskeleton, including head and feelers, yourself. Especially when you have no idea how exactly to best remove a shrimp exoskeletion (like me.) The 1 minute effort for what is essentially one bite of food, not to mention the carcass pile you have to heap on your plate, makes this main course, 14 Euro entree, a terrible terrible start to an evening.
2. Vegetarian "sushi" and dumpling variety plate at a Madrid vegetarian restaurant: grains and a dash of vegetables made to look like various meat dumplings never quite reaches the same level of taste as a real meat dumpling. I hate having the worst plate.
3. "Martinis" at the top of Centre Pompidou. And, perhaps, cocktails in general in Europe - The most revolting martini I have ever had. I'm not sure what was in it, but I don't think it was vodka or dry vermouth. I had to drink it all, too, because it cost 15 Euros. And the waiter was a total dick. Stick to beer, wine, or alcohol with a single easily identifiable mixer.
4. French size portions at a Chinese Restaurant - Seriously, I could have fit all of the fried rice they gave us in one hand.
5. European Trident - It turns to paste after a minute if you have an acidic mouth.
6. Dry Vanilla "cake" with sour cream - I would hope even the French would agree that this is gross. Cake is not Europe's strong suit. Stick to things with flakey crusts.

I'm hungry now.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

My trip, part one

As alluded to in the post below, Mark and I have just returned from a trip. To Spain and France, if you were curious. Via Frankfurt.
That's in Germany. At the beginning of the trip, arriving in
Frankfurt, my homeland, I was so tired and disoriented that the only
German I was able to succesfuly muster out of my mouth was "Einer Bretzen
bitte." One pretzel, please. That's with a German mother, multiple
Germany trips, and a year of college German. My ancestors are exhaling
audibly, disappointed.

Other languages were easier. Well, Spanish was, which is my strongest
second language though I was a bit out of practice, even though I live
in a predominately Latino neighborhood in San Francisco, a
predominately Latino apartment building with a Spanish landord. More
than vocabulary, which for some reason sticks with me, I noticed that
verb declension was the hardest to retain after years of only modest
use. Especially when I wanted to use a subjunctive, semi future tense
that I remember being psyched to learn back in high school. But then
again, I think many non-native english speakers stick to the present
tense, and I've always found it charming.

In Barcelona, they don't really speak Spanish, opting for Catalan which
is a mysterious language experience where you feel like you're catching
on to understanding only to be disappointed when the language veers in
the direction of Portuguese, or Romanian, or French, or I don't really
know. Most understand Spanish, but it was difficult to decide whether
Spanish, the language of their rivals or oppressors or whatever the
Spanish are to them, would be more insulting than English. Well, they
just got more autonomy so maybe they'll be less sensitive about it.

God knows what they were saying in France most of the time. But I
think it pertained mostly to labor rights and how best to block trains.
Our trip to Paris was delayed by a day due to a national strike.
Little scuffles took place while we were there but our only view of
them were cavalries of riot police crusing down the Champs-Elysées.
Our plane flight home also fell on another National Strike. I think
the French tend to nationally strike on Tuesdays. Word to the wise
traveling to France: go on Wednesday.

OK, this concludes my "American Ignorace" portion of the travelogue.
More stories soon.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Dear Pedro

Hi Pedro!

I think you may be only person who reads this blog. Wanted to let you
know we made it home safely and are unpacking all the tortilla
espanolas we've had stowed away in our luggage these past weeks. We're
eating them now and feeling the memories. More soon.