Tokyo Bound

And we’re off!  With nary a hiccup to boot.  Chris and I both packed (well, over-packed) and still had plenty of room left in our suitcases (OK, not really “plenty” – but considering we’re two big queens who hate to wear an outfit more than once, we did pretty well). No line at the check-in counter; had a decent breakfast at the airport food court; then headed to the Red Carpet Club…

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ANA must be embarassed to send their business class passengers to this United dump...

What a dump! Crowded; styrofoam (!) cups for water and coffee; a couple of stale cookies to snack on; and half-empty cups and crumpled up napkins all over the place.  And the best was when some kid knocked over a glass (yes, a real one – apparently her father was taking advantage of his two free drinks from the bar – as were we) and broke it.  They then took off for their flight…  The broken glass littering the floor and the deadly remaining shard on the table were still there when we left…

At any rate, what a relief to get on board our plane! Business class on ANA is heavenly (I know, how surprising…). Seriously, I’ve been looking at photos and reading reviews, none of which do the real thing justice. It’s spotless, tasteful, roomy, thoughtfully designed, airy…  I could go on and on. And the flight attendants are all lovely – professional, helpful and attractive.  Seriously, they are all very nice looking (as are the uniforms – the best part being the silk scarf…  which each stewardess has knotted in a different and elaborate bow).  Does that make me a chauvinist and/or racist?  Yeah, probably, but I’m enjoying the flight nonetheless…

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"Champers alright for you Pats?"

Mere minutes after we left the ground, the champagne was served – in real glasses.  Then a snack while we looked over our menus.  I was tempted to try the Japanese menu – though I’d heard it wasn’t as good coming from USA as from Nihon. So I chickened out and went with the “International” menu – it was pretty tasty.  Started off with a salad, pork pate and a stuffed artichoke – really quite tasty.  Next a filet of beef – it was “meh” though certainly not bad for airline food.  Dessert was crazy – “ANA’s special chestnut parfait.” It was two cream puffs on top of whipped cream and a scoop of ice cream with a berry coulis and what we’re pretty sure was Special K cereal at the bottom.  Odd, but we ate every bit…  Oh, and a green tea…  and a whiskey…

Anyhoo, seven hours to go.  Chris is “resting his eyes,” i.e. he’s passed out, though I think we’re going to watch “The Hangover” (appropriately) together when he comes to…  In the meantime, I’m about to start crossword puzzle number 2 of the trip.

So, the trip across the Pacific was delightful.  The 11 hours flew by (no pun intended!).  We arrived on-time at Narita in a pouring rain – hooray! But all went smoothly through customs and immigration.  However, I made a fateful last minute decision to take the “Limousine Bus” (it’s just a bus, despite the fancy sounding limousine part) rather than the Narita Express train – my thought being that having to schlep three blocks in the rain with our bags was not worth the extra 25 minutes (100 minutes by bus vs. 75 minutes by train) it takes to go by bus, which drops us at front door of hotel.

Needless to say, after spending over three hours on that bus (due to horrible traffic in Tokyo), I was in a foul mood – especially considering it had stopped raining long ago, thus negating the entire reason for choosing the bus…  Once we did get to the hotel, check in went relatively smoothly (thought of course there was a huge line of people who’d been on the bus with us). Couldn’t manage to get internet access in the room, which prompted a meltdown on my part – we still needed to confirm our tour of the Tsukiji Fish Market with our guide.  And the tour started at 4AM and it was already after 9PM…  Grrr…  Anyway, I used wi-fi in the lobby and left in-room access to deal with later…

So, we did get up and had a fabulous tour of the fish market…  I’ll post more about that later.  But we’re off for a tour of our neighborhood this afternoon, just as soon as Chris-san is done resting his eyes…  Sayonara!

Sweet Dreams

So apparently, Faith No More have reunited and are touring Europe…  There’s even talk of playing dates in the U.S. I’m not too familiar with their oeuvre, though I do recall being something of a fan of Epic – I liked the song and found lead-singer Mike Patton to be quite easy on the eyes…

What I had not known was that the band used to perform this rather amazing song, “Sweet Dreams” – and, no, it’s not the one popularized by Eurhythmics – though I suspect it will be recognizable to most…

And just in case you don’t remember it, here’s the source… Though be warned: if you click through to watch it, the tune will be stuck in your head for at least the rest of the day…

Next they’ll use Nutella instead of toothpaste…

Ew…  Seriously, this is just ew.

I mean, we all get what this product is for – don’t we? In fact, this category of product can be quite handy (ew, gross – bad word choice) when one is traveling and the quality of toilet facilities at one’s destination is unknown. But do we really need a disturbingly graphic depiction of this product in action?   I never thought I’d be so horrified by toothpaste.

And why are they even bothering with euphemisms anymore?  Shouldn’t the tagline just be “Freshmates – for a cleaner ass!” or “Keep your crack dingleberry-free – with Charmin Freshmates!” or “Say goodbye to your excrement-smeared anus – with Freshmates!”

from Gawker

The Littlest Magic Kingdom

This is a charming example of “tilt-shift” photography (a.k.a. miniature faking) , which essentially means taking a photograph of something quite large, then applying the very shallow depth of field that one typically sees in close-up images of small objects. The result? What appears to be the world’s coolest miniature working model of Disney World.

“What?”

Not exactly the Algonquin Round Table…

…but a rather excellent application of the so-popular-it’s-hackneyed-but-still-quite-amusing-when-used-effectively phrase graffiti-ed onto this street sign somewhere in Marin…

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from Mission Mission

What’s a girl gotta do to get a hot dog in this town?

And, n0, that’s not a euphemism…

Got a late start today, as I spent the morning installing a new internal hard drive.  Happily, all went smoothly – and I’ve now got 1.7TB of primary storage space and just a bit more on my external backup drive.  That’s a lot of RAW files I’ll be able to store…

At any rate, decided I was in the mood for a hot dog.  So, against my better judgment, I headed to Absinthe (the alternate title for this p0st was “Screw you, Absinthe!” – so that should give you some idea of how things went).

"No hot dog for you!" says Absinthe

"No hot dog for you!" says Absinthe

I gave a quick gander to the menu out front, found the “Bar Menu” and it did indeed feature the hot dog I’d heard about – housemade Kobe-beef-and-pork dog, housemade condiments (‘kraut, mustard, ketchup) and dill potato chips.  Sounds great.  So, I belly up to the bar, wait patiently for the bartender to finish up making a round of drinks and then order a hot dog.

“Sorry, we don’t serve that now.”

“Huh? It’s on the bar menu, isn’t it? I’m at the bar, right?”

“We don’t serve it until after 2:00 – only brunch right now.”  And in this case, “right now” is 1:15.

“Really. Huh. OK. ‘Bye.”

This is pretty much the exact same experience my dad had last month when he tried to get a hot dog at Absinthe.  In his case, he sat at the bar at 7PM and was advised that the hot dog was only served after 8:00. I wonder when the cut-off time is for the 2PM serving?  Frankly (heh), I’m starting to think this hot dog doesn’t exist.  I’ll bet you a dollar that if I show up at Absinthe tomorrow at 2PM, they’ll tell me it’s not served until after 3PM.  Of course, this is a moot point: I won’t be going to Absinthe tomorrow or ever, since I fail to see what is so difficult about preparing a hot dog that limits it to being served only at very specific (and seemingly random) times.

The trip to Hayes Valley wasn’t a total loss, though – I stopped into Paulette’s for some macarons.  Haven’t tried yet, but with flavors like pineapple-coconut and Earl Grey tea, I have high hopes.

So, off I headed to Showdogs.  I’ve been before and I can vouch for the goodness of their dogs. And, of course, as I was mere feet from the entrance, a party of six swooped into line ahead of me. This was pretty much a dealbreaker, as I learned last time that the ordering process at Showdogs is not exactly a model of efficiency. I gave it a couple of minutes, but the line had not advanced by even one person during this time, so I gave up.

On the offhand chance anyone from Showdogs is reading this, I have a couple of suggestions. First, have one person dedicated solely to taking orders and ringing them up as quickly as possible – when they’re also pouring drinks it creates a real bottleneck (no pun intended) in the line. I’m happy to wait ten minutes for my order – but I’m not very happy about standing in line for ten minutes.

Second, get some ropes up or something to keep that line orderly. Having people backed up out the door into the middle of the sidewalk is not ideal (especially given the ambiance of this stretch of Market St.). People in the US don’t know how to queue, so it’s up to you to force them to do so properly.

But kudos on the great dogs last time I visited.  I’ll be back – just have to be sure to get there during off hours.

The Bobo at Zog's Dogs

The Bobo at Zog's Dogs

I finally wound up at Zog’s Dogs, a little yellow shack on Market at Montgomery.  Had a “Bobo” – a zippy little sausage with garlic and herbs – and added sauerkraut, relish and mustard (sadly, they’d run out of spicy mustard and I had to make do with yellow – meh). It was very tasty and just the right size.  The fresh-squeezed lemonade was delicious too.  They also offer a dog with bacon, as well as the “Prop 8” – two wieners in one bun…  Get it?  Hee…  I didn’t order fries, but they looked good – cooked to order and piping hot.

Service was friendly, fast and efficient – yay.  It’d be nice if they had a couple of stand-up tables or a counter – but it’s a takeout joint, so I won’t quibble.  And tables or no, they beat the pants off Absinthe simply by permitting me to purchase a hot dog.  Thanks, Zog’s!