Monthly Archives: February 2011

The Letter of the Night

The Oscars always make for a jovial and memorable evening, while serving as an acceptable excuse to either host or attend a well-dressed, booze-flowing get together.  I regret to report I did neither this year.

Then, the day after, comes the typical crisscrossing of scathing Oscar commentary from just about everyone and anyone in Hollywood who has something to say.  I don’t blame them.  If I were (still) a Hollywood type, or at least working in that arena, I’d have much more to share right now than I do.  However, seeing as San Francisco is now my home and I’m not chasing the tails of Big Screen glamour, I here now defer to the true critics of the event.  Variety has this to say about last night’s very-somewhat-shortened telecast, while The Hollywood Reporter offers up this review of this year’s two “young” co-hosts.  Check them out if you haven’t yet reached your Oscar coverage capacity.

I will say is this:  James Franco in drag, especially a la Marilyn, wins.  An extended speaking appearance by 94-year-old Kirk Douglas, for better and for worse, wins as well.  And that which no one can go without mentioning, including myself apparently, makes for win number three as far as I’m concerned.  This, of course, would be Melissa Leo’s now-famous f-bomb, the first such “bomb” in Oscars history so it’s said.  My reaction:  So the “f-bomb” what!  Or better yet:  “Big “f-bomb” deal!  WTF with obsessing over the F?  Granted, it was certainly the letter of the night, if as nothing else than an overall grade by many critics.   As for Ms. Leo, she was emotional, and it was natural ad-libbing, so cut the woman some slack.  At least she extemporaneously earned a unique, though hopefully not detrimentally lasting, title for herself!

And that’s my opinion, sans another F.

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Posted by on February 28, 2011 in And That's My Opinion, Media, News, Television


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More Than a Shrug

It looks like a compelling new film is upon us.  Watch the trailer and see for yourself.  Regardless of how this movie turns out, and despite the wide range of opinions of the story and its author, I’m very pleased that such a famous and controversial novel has been adapted to the big screen.

This means I have seven weeks, should I suddenly decide I’m so inclined, to finish the book that was gifted to me more than a year ago.  Suffice to say, the read is complex and slow, requiring consistent concentration and ongoing mental puzzle piecing.  After getting about a fourth of the way through the book several months ago, I’m sorry to say I did not stay with it.  However, I did say to myself at the time, more than once:  “What would the movie look like?”

As such, the film has already sold me, and I’m looking forward to the experience.  After all, I read and remember enough of the story to be “on board” with the plot, though at this point the end remains a mystery to me.  In any event, it will be fascinating to see how these brought-to-view characters not only unfold before our eyes, but where and how they end up.

By the time I’m walking out of the theater, I’ll expect to have finally answered the “big” question, whether via print or visual.  In any case, this upcoming film certainly looks worthwhile, deserving of more than a shrug.

And that’s my opinion.

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Posted by on February 24, 2011 in And That's My Opinion, Books, Media


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Words of Wine

“The wine is deep ruby red in color and is exploding with spicy cherry and earthy raspberry aromas, with a hint of anise and white pepper. The palate delivers flavors of black cherry framed nicely by bright acidity and ripe mouth coating tannins.”

The Words of Wine

If you were to taste this wine without having read the above description, would you snap to attention and shout out:  “Spicy Cherry!  Earthy Raspberry!  White Pepper!”  Or rather, are such words forming and steering your experience for you, before you can even begin to consider your own true reaction?

If such words of wine have you tongue-tied if not palate-confused, then it’s high time for a read of this very well-written and informative article in today’s New York Times. Decide for yourself if you’re one for “sweet,” or for “savory,” or if you have some another, better words altogether.  In any case, with a nod to the article, I’m certainly one for streamlining the efficiency of clarifying our wine preferences.  Perhaps you are too.

While such typical wine-tasting descriptions can be creative and marketable exercises in palate anticipation, they are typically, if not always, open to interpretation.  At least that’s my wine-loving opinion!

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Posted by on February 23, 2011 in And That's My Opinion, Drink


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Both Sides, Now

I bring you now this reflective dose of music history, thanks to the wonderful classic that welcomely entered and remained in my head yesterday:

 “Both Sides, Now” is a single by Joni Mitchell. Her recording first appeared on the album Clouds, released in 1969. She re-recorded the song in a Jazz style for the album of the same name, released in 2000. It is one of Joni Mitchell’s best-known songs (with “Big Yellow Taxi,” “Woodstock,” and “A Case of You”). It was written in March 1967, inspired by a passage in Henderson the Rain King by Saul Bellow.  Judy Collins made the first commercially released recording of the song in 1968, shortly after Mitchell wrote it, which reached #8 on the U.S. pop singles charts and won a 1968 Grammy Award for Best Folk Performance. The record peaked at #3 on Billboard’s Easy Listening survey, and has become one of Collins’ signature songs.  (

As impressive as the song itself, is the significant number of star performers who’ve recorded it in their own respective styles.  Such distinctive voices as Frank Sinatra, Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton have taken their turns at these lyrics, each rendition unique from the next.  If you know and appreciate “Both Sides, Now,” then you certainly have numerous listening options, as well as something satisfying to hum today!

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Posted by on February 22, 2011 in History, Music


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Have a Bite…

They might be called the ultimate comfort food, definitely unique and delicious.  “Spicy Irish Potato Bites” at The Chieftain, those I discovered and briefly mentioned here back in November, seem to satisfy the most growling palate.  Just be sure to specify “well done” so that they’re not cold in the middle, as I learned the first time around.

More than what you might imagine as a “bite,” these clever pub morsels are large, deep-fried balls of mashed potatoes, complete with jalapeno pieces baked inside to earn their “spicy” label.  Five of them for $7.95 are a great and filling deal, especially on a cold rainy day when you find yourself anywhere near San Francisco’s northwest corner of 5th and Howard.

The bites don’t fail.  What does fail is the special $4.00 Bombay martini with which you might opt to wash down your bites.  Whether bartender skill or price justification, the pour level is horrifically low.  And if you’ve ever had a drink with me, you know my sensitivity to low pours!  To avoid such potential suffering, I recommend a draft, preferably a Killkenny, as the suitable bite accompaniment.

And this is just the beginning of a complete Irish Pub menu.  The corned beef, ahi burger and fish-n-chips await sampling and review.  Considering the Chieftain celebrates its first decade anniversary next month, now you have one more reason to pay a visit and have a bite!

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Posted by on February 18, 2011 in Food, Restaurants


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“Welcome to the Family”

In that fantastic Mercedes-Benz commercial that aired during the Super Bowl ten days ago, four new models were “welcomed to the family.”  At that time, I quietly contemplated my surprising realization that I could not immediately name one of them.  We saw the second-generation CLS, the third-generation SLK, the elegantly reigning SLS, and… a fourth emerging family member whom I myself had not yet identified.

The mystery, for me at least, has ended.  Yet another exciting and welcome addition to the MBZ line has been revealed in its entirety, via the Mercedes-Benz Facebook page among other outlets.  My instant take is this:  The new car is handsome overall, even more so when its muscular lines are looked upon from the front and side; the model is very sensible and practical in its place in the lengthy MBZ hierarchy; and perhaps most of all, this addition is sure to be an immediate and formidable rival to its already-established competition, namely the BMW 3-series models of two doors.

I join Mercedes-Benz in welcoming to the family, the all-new C-Class Coupe!

Welcome, C-Coupe!

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Posted by on February 16, 2011 in Cars, Mercedes-Benz


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Heart History

And now, a sprinkling of history on this auspicious day of romance:

Saint Valentine’s Day, commonly shortened to Valentine’s Day, is an annual commemoration held on February 14 celebrating love and affection between intimate companions.  The day is named after one or more early Christian martyrs, Saint Valentine, and was established by Pope Gelasius I in 496 AD. It was deleted from the Roman calendar of saints in 1969 by Pope Paul VI, but its religious observance is still permitted. It is traditionally a day on which lovers express their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as “valentines”).  The day first became associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished.  Modern Valentine’s Day symbols include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards.

If your interest is piqued, continue here for more on Wikipedia, and check out this link at as well.

I know many the bitter cynic who find this day meaningless and undeserving of observance.  With them I could not disagree more.  Rich in “heart history,” and no matter one’s relationship status, Valentine’s Day is a unique occasion to be enjoyed in one way or another.

And that’s my heartfelt opinion.  🙂

One of many ways to look at it...

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Posted by on February 14, 2011 in And That's My Opinion, Current Events


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A Smokin’ Issue

I do not smoke cigarettes.  Still, I say those who do certainly have the right, especially in the privacy of their own space.  Health issues and social judgments aside, it’s legal, if nothing else.  As such, I find this article in today’s New York Times absolutely appalling.

It’s one thing to ban smoking in enclosed public places, and some such prohibitions are sensible.  However, the practices described in the NYT piece simply go too far.  How dare any employer intrude upon the legal practices, however unhealthy, of any employee’s private life.  As mentioned, smoking is not unique in terms of the damage most people do to their bodies and health in one way or another.  Is there no end?  Shall employers start passing up applicants who drink alcohol, eat fried food, or sleep around?

The nanny state, or at least the mentality thereof, often oversteps.  This is yet another example of such behavior.  As always, I believe in letting people do what they want to themselves, especially when it’s private and legal, and most certainly without threat to employment.  In any case, it’s a smokin’ issue to consider, study and debate.

And that’s my opinion!

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Posted by on February 11, 2011 in And That's My Opinion, News


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Into The Headlands

At the northern base of the Golden Gate Bridge come the Marin Headlands.  As suggested to me a few weeks back, I took a bicycle jaunt, finally, through the freshly paved roads of the area.  In addition to the varied and rugged terrain comes this absolutely spectacular, almost aerial, view.

From atop the Marin Headlands

And so, here we have yet another option for a relatively short cycling loop close to the city, one that I obviously recommend.  You can catch your breath with the view after a challenging climb and before a rewarding descent… and before some more climbing.  Next time I’ll need to extend the loop for a more respectable total distance!

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Posted by on February 9, 2011 in Cycling, Daily Activities


The “Super O” Interview

In addition to the game itself, another much-planned-for event took place this past Super Bowl Sunday, one that has naturally incited all sorts of reaction and commentary from numerous points of view.  I’m speaking of the “Super O” exchange, otherwise known as Bill O’Reilly’s one-on-one live interview with President Obama.

Many viewers, along with plenty who likely didn’t watch the interview at all, might already have their minds made up as to what they think of the entire meeting, based primarily on their respective opinions of the two men themselves.  I call this unfortunate, as I believe the interview is well worth a prejudice-free watching.

All things considered, this “Super O” interview is a success in my book, as both O’s deserve fair and ample credit.  Mr. O’Reilly steered the conversation effectively, being politely confrontational while still presidentially respectful.  Mr. Obama spoke with some refreshing candor and somewhat informal style, while conveying his points clearly and not managing to “run out the clock” as anticipated.  Mr. O’Reilly’s “interruptions” saved this from happening, of course, keeping the mutual dialogue engaging, extemporaneous and even mildly entertaining.

Watch the interview here for yourself, if you haven’t already.  Then, and only then, read some of the post analysis.  I’ll be glad to hear what you think.

Simple conclusion:  High marks for both O’s, politics aside.  And that’s my opinion.

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Posted by on February 8, 2011 in And That's My Opinion, Media, News, Politics, Television


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My Winners

It should come as no surprise that my favorite Super Bowl commercials were those for cars.  Perhaps the surprise lies in the idea that a rival to my always-preferred Mercedes-Benz seems to have stolen the show, at least in my book.

Of course the MBZ spot was absolutely fantastic and powerfully moving, so to speak, laden with captivating nostalgia while launching us into an exciting future.  It’s at least my number two.  Then, another extensively and brilliantly produced car spot held my attention all the way to its disappointing finish.  In this case, the revelation of just exactly the car being advertised was a pure let down.  Sorry KIA, while your spot had me going there, you yourself don’t excite me.  Thankfully, I got a good chuckle out of BMW’s ad for the 335d, as it poked exaggerated yet somewhat truthful fun at the various “dirty” diesels of yesteryear.  All the while, amid mounds of visual stimulation and historical contemplation, I do believe my choice of favorite Super Bowl ad, if I were to choose just one, has to go to the celebrity-studded work of comedy itself, one I’ll need to watch a couple more times to thoroughly absorb all its crisscrossing elements. This “winner” of which I speak, to my aforementioned surprise, is Audi.  The new A8 has arrived via advertising dominance!

Beer and chips sell themselves as far as I’m concerned.  This said, I do appreciate Dorito’s homoerotic undertones, intentional or not.  Meanwhile, the NFL itself touched the nostalgia nerve in a wonderful way.  And any appearance by the terrifically shameless Joan Rivers, complete in all her camp, always spells success.  Last night’s was no exception. Finally, with another nod to homoeroticism, let’s not forget to “cram it in the boot!”  Mini’s hysterical ad is most certainly my number three!

Out of all of this, including all I’m forgetting to mention, the car ads stand as my winners. I’m just sorry Betty White was too busy to make any appearance this time around!

All said, that’s my opinion!


Posted by on February 7, 2011 in And That's My Opinion, Cars, Humor, Media, Television


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Cycling through the narrow, winding roads of the Presidio is proving to be not just physically satisfying, but pleasingly educational as well.

While the park’s hilly terrain presents some decent climbing and descending, the relatively open space and lack of stop lights, compared to the majority of San Francisco city regions, allows for the accumulation of a bit of non-city-like mileage.  Then come the variety of historical, artistic and geographic attractions of this national park, including the National Cemetery and the Legion of Honor, not to mention spectacular views.

The Thinker has me thinking...

It’s in the courtyard of the Legion of Honor that I discovered the presence of one of my favorite classic works of art, The Thinker.  Overall, I’m happy to be learning of so many treasures within this wooded northwestern tip of the Peninsula, as no doubt I’ve only scratched the surface thus far.

Who says you can’t manage some decent cycling within San Francisco itself?  The Presidio serves as further testimony that indeed you can, as long as you initially figure out some of the tricky routes and turns within the park itself.  More awaits me on this front.

Suffice to say, such cycling seems to be working well for my body, if not my curious mind.  I certainly recommend adding this area to your own path of exploration.  A jaunt through the Presidio should certainly keep you, well… thinking!

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Posted by on February 3, 2011 in Cycling, Daily Activities, Reviews, San Francisco


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Another Voice of Support

This is a first, I do believe.  While it’s certainly NOT a first for the offspring of a high-profile Republican family to voice their own potentially divergent viewpoints, I mean to say this is the first time I think I’ve ever heard young Barbara Bush, daughter of W, speak out about anything at all.  Her twin Jenna seems to have always been the more chatty one.

Nonetheless, Barbara has spoken, on the issue of marriage equality.  I’m pleasantly surprised and of course very pleased of her standpoint and demonstration thereof.  Follow my link to her short video clip, if you’ve not seen it already.

This, Barbara’s voice of support, serves as yet another example of an apparent generational shift in social attitude, one that transcends largely vacuous partisan labels.  It’s safe to say we’ll be seeing more of this in months and years ahead.  Thank you, Barbara!

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Posted by on February 2, 2011 in Current Events, News, Politics


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Round Three

As the saying goes, the third time’s a charm!  In this case, it’s quite an attractive and muscular charm to boot.

The first generation was just that, the first attempt, albeit a respectable one with spacious room for maturation.  The second generation earned its place of uniqueness, at least when looked upon from its distinctive nose.  And now, the third generation is eminently upon us, otherwise known as the 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK class.

Even hotter from the front!

Just as the BMW Z4 has grown up and filled out with each rebirth, so too, and better so may I say, has the SLK.  This new two-seater, retractable-hard-top roadster is simply stunning, taking some obvious styling cues, both inside and out, from its famous and stately uncle, the SLS.

No doubt the third generation SLK will see instant success when it comes to the U.S. this summer.  Overall, I’m impressed by such significant improvement in much of, though not all, MBZ styling in the past couple years.  Perhaps the elimination of Chrysler influence has something to do with it.

In any case, I look forward to spotting the all-new 2012 SLK out on the road, while of course checking it out up close for myself.  Round three will start before we know it!

And that’s my auto-styling opinion.

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Posted by on February 1, 2011 in And That's My Opinion, Cars, Mercedes-Benz, Reviews


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