Monthly Archives: November 2011

Unlike Most…















The rather low-key event once again came and went during Thanksgiving week, as it annually does.  Among them all, six distinctive automobiles most impressed me at this year’s San Francisco Auto Show.  Worry not if you missed your trip to the Moscone Center, as you didn’t miss all that much relatively speaking– that is, as far as major auto shows throughout the country are concerned.

San Francisco’s collective display of automotive marvel remains small, quiet and surprisingly absent of many popular models.  Nonetheless, a stroll around the convention hall floor does quickly prove educational.  Among the random tidbits I learned last week, the Acura RL’s console layout is shockingly microscopic, Volvo needs to put some flair into its sterile dashboard panels, the four-door Mini is anything but, and there is absolutely no way I could possibly fathom myself or anyone else ever shelling out $58K for anything called a Hyundai.

Not to sound excessively critical, plenty of “auto good” wove its way through the show, which brings me to the above six photos.  The following models have earned my own unspoken awards:

1.  Fiat 500:  Most in need of a spin.

2.  Range Rover Evoque:  Most worthy of a second glance.

3.  Lexus LS460:  Most comfortable seating.

4.  Audi A8L:  Most handsome body overall.

5 & 6.  1954 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL & 1965 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham:  Most to be admired.

The last two tie for what I consider to be the most stunning pieces on display throughout the entire convention hall.  Leave it to me, of course, to pledge my allegiance first and foremost to the classics!

As I mentioned last year, present-day Mercedes-Benz was once again missing from the floor, while the always-beckoning Porsche Panamera this time around remained locked.  Regardless, the show’s extensive historical section was alone well worth the $9 entrance fee.  After all, while everything new blends into sameness after a short while, automotive legends naturally stand proudly on their own four unmatched wheels.

Altogether, from BMWs that clearly build upon their longstanding stature, to Volkswagens with styling that prompts me to take a nap, the San Francisco Auto Show came through again in its own understated way.  Multiple absences notwithstanding, it’s an easily navigable and surprisingly uncrowded venue from which to gain some insight into a somewhat wide array of both fine and not-so-fine machines.  Just like my select handful of “winners,” the show altogether– either way you look at it– remains unlike most.

And that’s, yet again, my automotive opinion.


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Simply Another Night

The atmosphere quickly proves inviting and luxurious, far exceeding any expectations the name itself connotes.  I’ve always enjoyed the space, though less so on a crowded Saturday evening as eager patrons hawkishly manuver for a chair at the bar.  Once seated, the reasonably priced bar menu seems the way to go, at least where cost is concerned.  The $14 burger remains for me one of the most satisfying in the area, best enjoyed I must say on an empty stomach, meaning:  Very rich and filling!  Unfortunately, the Grey Goose martini with which you might want to wash it down is not as good a deal, being not just surprisingly undersized, but costing the same amount as the burger itself!  You’re far better off with wine, if not their deliciously strong coffee.

Inviting & Luxurious

My most recent experience echoes some of the words of this review written last year, not my own.  Initially friendly service grew inattentive throughout the course of our meal, ending with a bill mistakenly charging me for glasses of a $16 wine instead of the $9 selection my party had consumed.  Overall, some of the main menu offerings simply do not seem worth their exorbitant price tags.  If cost if no concern for you however, by all means judge for yourself.  The comfortable and elegant ambiance makes for a lovely evening, assuming of course your entree is cooked correctly and the staff does not ignore you for too long.  For better or worse, it’s simply another night in Woodside at the Village Pub.

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Posted by on November 22, 2011 in And That's My Opinion, Drink, Restaurants, Reviews


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We’ll Never Know…

Certain questions will forever remain unanswered.  No time-leaping cinematic journey through the complex life of one of America’s most powerful yet complicated figures of history will ever put all the pieces together.  We’re left to wonder, as perhaps well we should for the sake of ongoing argument and analysis.  While this latest depiction surely rests incomplete in its overall life coverage– most do after all– the retelling of such infamous though calculatedly unproven historical details has made its way onto the big screen in a film very well worth your time and consideration.  Simply put, go see J. Edgar.

Some unrealistic makeup notwithstanding, Leonardo DiCaprio pulls off a solidly believable portrayal of the enigmatic bulldog who for almost a half-century ran the department that grew to become during his reign the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  While Director Clint Eastwood necessarily ignores many significant years and events, the history he does choose to cover maintains focus on the man of mystery who shaped and influenced– by means both good and not so good– federal law enforcement in this country.

Reality and Portrayal

There is no other J. Edgar Hoover.  We already knew this.  Still, as with so many high-ranking government officials, the daily struggle ensues between the personal and the public man.  In Hoover’s case this may very well have been more than the average struggle, as Eastwood’s film steadily examines, and which no doubt draws us to the ticket window.  Perhaps even more than his personal files for blackmail comes the unresolved fascination with Hoover’s sexuality.  While the film unambiguously delves into this subject, it does so with a surprising amount of respect and restraint.  In other words, the recipe is light on sexual behavior, heavy on conflicted emotional intimacy, all intertwined with another day on the job.  His relationships are strong yet difficult, with his mother, with his colleagues, and certainly with the man he “needed.”  This we see and see well.

Critics will call J. Edgar a disappointment– and they have— but as usual I believe in coming to my own conclusion.  So should you.  From unconvincing cameo portrayals of RFK and Nixon, to poignant moments with Clyde Tolson, to telling scenes with Hoover’s mother and the loyal presence of “Miss Gandy” throughout, all peppered with historical tragedy and even some splashes of Hoover-style wit and humor, this film demands our attention from start to finish.  In the end, we’re left with that sense of wonder.  If only Miss Gandy hadn’t been so faithful as to destroy all those personal files, I say!  But of course, she did.  Thanks to her, we’ll never know.  Thanks to Clint Eastwood, we know a little more.


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The City, Made Easy.

Attractive visual summaries are always welcome.  This one of San Francisco proves quite helpful, not only for wandering tourists, but no doubt for more than a few of us who live here.  While I always knew my home was pretty much dead center, with this I now know what really to call– and not to call– my neighborhood.  It is indeed, unequivocally, Corona Heights.

A welcome reality of San Francisco shines, the fact that each area carries its own distinct characteristics.  A medley of adjacent “villages” of varying size and shape come together to form the larger city, which itself of course is not terribly large.  I recommend enjoying several pieces of the puzzle, as I always do.

Where are you, and where would you like to go?  Here it is, made easy.

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Posted by on November 14, 2011 in San Francisco


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“What has been…

…will be again.”  As construction of the new stretch of the Bay Bridge slowly but surely lumbers along these days, this impressive 1936 photograph almost seems it could have been taken this year.  As with most else, history once more proves cyclical.  The original completed bridge turns 75 tomorrow, having opened to traffic on the 12th of November.  From past to present, what was most certainly will be.


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Who Knew?

The Sawyer Camp Trail

More than one year now after moving to San Francisco, and after a couple of decades of regularly visiting the area, I continue to be pleasantly surprised by the terrific bicycling routes upon which I stumble.  Along with its distinct topographical characteristics triggering a mental journey to another region of the country altogether– Maryland, Illinois and Wisconsin come to mind– the Sawyer Camp Trail in San Mateo County presents a beautiful slice of nature conveniently close to the City.  Plus, it’s reportedly one of the most popular stretches in the vicinity.  Who knew?  Answer:  Everyone but me apparently, until now that is!

Starting at the north end, the trail’s 12-mile stretch round trip, combined with a loop through Crystal Springs and Hillsborough, yields a respectable and hilly 25-mile route altogether.  This is of course just one of numerous options, another being to add in my nearby favorite Canada Road to Woodside.  Suffice to say, the cycling space continues– in my own ongoing discovery anyway– to expand throughout the peninsula.  I’m just surprised I didn’t discover Sawyer sooner, having been so close.  Now to more that awaits!

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Posted by on November 4, 2011 in Cycling, Daily Activities


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Two on Two

On this day two years ago, to my great excitement, relative fear and mild disbelief, I became a motorcycle owner.  Exactly one year later, as I wrote here in my debut blog post on November 1, 2010, those first 12 months had carried me 11,302 miles.  On the purchase date of 11/1/09, my “new” motorcycle’s odometer read 6801.  On 11/1/10, it read 18103. Today on this auspicious date of 11/1/11, coupled with my slightly different form of mild disbelief, the odometer reads 22681.  It turns out these second 12 months have thrown me an underwhelming 4,578 miles of motorcycling distance, a mere 40 percent of the previous year’s amount.

Here's to "Two on Two!"

The mildly disbelieving part here is that I don’t feel I’ve been on my motorcycle any less in the second year than the first.  After all, I use it almost everyday as a general form of transportation– granted, on the 7×7 tip of a peninsula for the most part.  Obviously, compared to my riding all over L.A. last year, my current typical daily coverage area has been drastically reduced in 2011.  No longer am I riding 50 miles in one direction just to have lunch; now it’s all about city stop-and go, save the very occasional jaunt to San Jose, Sacramento, Napa or for a couple special events a bit beyond. Altogether, the mileage just has not accumulated.  Brake wear– well that’s another story.

The year-old tires remain unscathed, the brake pads and chain have been replaced, a few more passengers have had their spin, and the only thing my now-proven-faithful SV really needs on his birthday is a bath!  As a relatively low-key Halloween passes into history, and while this blog today is one year old, I take this moment to mark a safe, educational and thankful “two on two.”

Now for the start of year three with yours truly in the saddle…

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Posted by on November 1, 2011 in Motorcycle, Transportation


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