Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Saturday, November 16, 2013
|El Camino football players burst through a banner prior to the second half of their game against rival South San Francisco High on Saturday. Photos by John Baker.|
New field, same result.
Behind two late touchdowns from Dupra Goodman, with the running back taking in his own two-point conversions on both, South San Francisco High won its 10th-straight "Bell Game" on Saturday, edging crosstown rival El Camino High, 29-28. The Colts' last win in the series remains a 35-19 upset in 2003.
It was the first game on El Camino's brand new turf field, the first time the Bell Game had ever been played at the El Camino campus, and all the more heartbreaking for the hosts because the Colts missed a potential game-winning 24-yard field goal just before time expired.
El Camino then scored on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter, with Gip again doing the damage, this time with a 63-yard touchdown run up the left side. But the Colts kicker shanked the PAT try, setting an ominous tone for later.
Below: a slideshow from Saturday's Bell Game.
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Sunday, March 3, 2013
A new Grocery Outlet store opened last year in South San Francisco, and I've had the opportunity to shop there a few times. They prices are generally pretty good, although selection can be limited (and be mindful of expiration dates -- things are often being sold just days before the sell by dates).
The store saves money by buying in bulk, overstock, etc. Another way it saves money is by having export-marked food items whose order has apparently fallen through. I recently bought some Welch's grape juice marked for overseas sale, for example.
But the most apparent example was when I last month bought two cans of Spam (yes, I enjoy Spam in non-emailed form).
One (above, right) had markings in an Asian language (possibly Japanese). The other (above left) had what appeared to be Arabic markings and the warning "Pork — Not for Muslims." I'm not sure where that latter can is intended to be sold — maybe India because of the English markings, or Saudi Arabia for the Filipino guest workers (Spam is apparently popular in the Philippines).
Some may worry about "export-quality" items, but I think buying items such as the above is an interesting look into how the outside world sees American product.
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Now, Marvel: Avengers Alliance is just a licensed product, but the fact that a company even loosely affiliated with Marvel is advertising on a website which practically advocates the theft of comics (or movies, music, books, etc.) is cause for a head smack.
I'll bet Marvel's lawyers contact Playdom (the game's publisher) pretty darn quick and ask it to change its advertising strategy.
So, has Marvel given up in the fight against online piracy? Nope. But its affiliates seem to know to advertise where people go to find cheap comics-related stuff.
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
One employee asked another how they pronounced their surname, Nguyen:
Employee 1 -- "You say it 'Win,' like winning a race."
Me -- "Or like Dustin Nguyen, from '21 Jump Street!'"
Me -- "I just aged myself, huh?"
Employee 2 -- "Yep."
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
|This gentleman shows the sentiment of many Giants fans regarding Joe Buck. Source: Facebook.|
Crowd out here in right field has taken exception to a certain Fox Baseball play by play guy chanting "Joe Buck Sucks"and,
— Jennifer Hammond (@HammerFox2) October 25, 2012
I would rather listen to mating sounds of the humpback whale than listen to Joe Buck narrate this gameand,
— Not Jason Hanson (@TheJasonHanson) October 25, 2012
BELIEVE IT. And go suck it, Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. I hate you both. #MLBONFOXNever fear, because the Giants' regular broadcasting team are on the radio! Alas, because the TV broadcasts need time to encode, go up to the satellite, come back down and be transmitted, the radio feed is a few seconds ahead. Not easy to watch that way. So what to do?
— Karena (@karenaaaho) October 25, 2012
When the Giants made their 2010 World Series run, I came up with the following method and have continued it this season. You do need a DVR and a smartphone with the MLB At Bat app to make it work.
Now, use your DVR to pause the video (as seen below) and press play when the radio broadcast over the app starts. This easiest way to do this in my experience is to wait until a player hits the ball and pause the video. When you hear the crack of the bat on the radio broadcast, press play.
You should then be more-or-less in synch. While I have Airplay for my iPhone and stream the audio through my stereo system, probably any speaker system will work. Heck, even a little tinny phone speaker sure beats listening to Fox!
The City's sure supporting the Giants, as I saw downtown last night:
|San Francisco City Hall decked out in Giants orange the night of Oct. 23, 2012. Photo: John Baker|
Thursday, September 20, 2012
Dammit, UPS delivers my iPhone at the same time the Space Shuttle flies over San Francisco. #veryspecificfirstworldproblems— burritojustice (@burritojustice) September 20, 2012
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
As soon as we exited the plane, I knew we were in trouble.
I am typing this blog entry both pool side and beach side, so I guess I don't have much to complain about. But from the moment I got onto the jetway and felt toy the hot blanket of moist air seeping through the seals, I could tell we'd be fighting the humidity -- as bad, or worse, than what I experienced during my last trip to the tropics (Darwin, Australia). And we did, the whole week.
We've spent the last week visiting Florida, mostly in an around the home of my grandparents in the Tampa Bay area. But we also spent some time in the Miami area, St. Petersburgh and Legoland in Central Florida.
We arrived at Fort Lauderdale airport shortly after 6 a.m. and it was already hot, as described above. After an adventure in and around the airport, trying to figure out how to get to our rental car, we finally got on the road. The first stop was Miami Beach, where we watched people watching what Miami Beach is famous for:
We then had breakfast at a beachside café, where we were given complimentary mimosas post-meal. The alcohol did not help our exhausted state after a red eye seated next to a baby. I did hope that we'd run into the crew of Burn Notice while in Miami, but no luck.
While I'm in Miami, wondering if it would be practical to have a mojito with Sam Axe aka Chuck Finley aka Bruce Campbell.— John C. Baker (@jcb10) August 7, 2012
Next, after a detour into Hollywood, Fla., for a car sick member of our crew, we got somewhat lost -- to our chagrin in these days of GPS and smart phones. Instead of cutting west onto Alligator Alley, somehow we ended going north, curbing along the north shore of Lake Okeechobee along rural roads. Moreover, Google Maps on my iPhone directed me to take an exit off the Florida Turnpike that did not have a cash toll plaza -- only a Sunpass (similar to Fastrack in the SF Bay Area) lane. Of course, we did not figure that out until already on the exit. So we are expecting a large fine in the mail when we get home.
Upon our arrival, Ian went straight into the pool. A pattern that was repeated later that evening and again and again and again over the next eight days.
Charlotte during one of our many pool trips.
Most of our week was spent at my grandparents' condo on the shore of the Gulf of Mexico in Holmes Beach. What a condo! Great view of the Gulf out the back window, pool in the back and sufficient air conditioning!
(Update, Nov. 16, 2013: OK, I admit this post won't be updated. Suffice it to say, a fine time was had by all.)
Sunday, July 15, 2012
|Comic-Con has gotten so big that it's almost impossible to give a sense of scale for the crowds.|
The past four days I’ve been in San Diego at Comic-Con 2012. It’s been a good experience, and I was privileged to spend much of the weekend with my old friend Rob Roy.
After many hours of line waiting the last four days, I stand by the assertions I made in my last blog about the need for clearing rooms and panel reservations. But in general, I think the folks with Comic-Con and the San Diego Convention Center have done the best job they could with the massive crowds.
Comic-Con has taken over much of downtown San Diego, so much that even nearby supermarkets have set up junk food refueling stations (below) outside their shops for hungry geeks.
Arriving at the convention about mid-day on Thursday, I took a quick tour of the floor, where the always-impressive costumes encouraged me to make the following observation:
If I were my 14-year-old self, I'd be excited by the amount of side boob displayed at Comic-Con. It doesn't have the same impact now. #SDCC
— John C. Baker (@jcb10) July 12, 2012
One of my first panels was an appreciation of the late Ray Bradbury. A number of prominent authors, including the esteemed Margaret Atwood outlined the impact Bradbury’s writing had on their work. As an example, Atwood noted that Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” influenced her acclaimed novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” in regards to “who (is allowed) to read.”
|Authors Margaret Atwood and Joe Hill talk about Ray Bradbury.|
Following that, I stayed for a panel about 1982 -- called “the greatest geek year ever.” And with flicks such as Blade Runner, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Tron and E.T. released in 1982, it’s hard to argue. After a couple more panels, Rob and I got into Phil Plait’s roundtable about science in science fiction. Good discussion. I think the best point was about explosions in space: No, you really shouldn’t hear noise when they go off. But you don’t (usually) hear music during important moments in real life either, and music is prevalent in movies. Explosions, like music, are non-natural sound elements that accentuate drama. I think I can buy that.
Matthias Harbeck, of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, discusses German stereotypes in comics since WWII.
On Friday, I eschewed the long lines for Firefly and Hobbit panels and spent most of my time at the Comics Art Conference, where serious academics present papers on serious comics topics. I sat through a series of lectures on how comics view nations (“Captain America: Court Jester or Patriotic Icon?” the portrayal of Germans in comics from World War II to the present day, etc.). I made an interesting point, I think, with one presenter whose paper was on Alpha Flight (the Canadian super team). Instead of most super teams, which are an assemblege of archetypes (tech hero, science experiment gone wrong, Norse god, etc.), I argued that Alpha Flight was composed instead of Canadian stereotypes: the angry Quebecois (Northstar), the noble First Nations (Shaman), the mysterious northern beast (Sasquatch) and the white Inuit (Snowbird). The presenter, from Carleton University in Ottawa, came up after the session and personally thanked me for my points.
Rob and I went to a strange panel for an Adult Swim-like Marvel cartoon called the “All Winners Squad,” hosted by Morgan Spurlock (of Super-size Me fame) for some reason:
At weird Marvel panel hosted by @MorganSpurlock. Actors playing Squirrel Girl & Hypno-Hustler for upcoming book. #SDCC twitter.com/jcb10/status/2…
— John C. Baker (@jcb10) July 14, 2012
That was weird.
Rob and I took advantage of the Comic-Con atmosphere later that night to watch The Amazing Spider-Man at a downtown San Diego theater. Rob was unhappy with the changes from the source material, although further conversation indicated to me that he was probably still upset with the reboot from the Toby Maguire series. I quite liked it. I thought the chemistry between Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker and Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy was well above that between Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. I liked Garfield’s performance, which brought some humor that Maguire had trouble portraying (at least in his first and third movies).
Avengers vs. X-Men panel, which presented little new information about Marvel’s ongoing crossover.
But noticing that the same ballroom was to be used for the ever-popular “Mythbusters” panel a few hours later, I decided to stay in the room. As a result, I was subjected to the whims of TV marketers. First off, I watched the pilot of Fox’s new drama “The Following.” Kevin Bacon (below right) plays a retired FBI agent consulting on taking down the copycat followers of a serial killer he arrested. In this endeavor, he is being “assisted” by the manipulative serial killer himself. I actually enjoyed the pilot a lot. Good acting, good tension and some nice twists. I don’t see what the premise has to do with Comic-Con, however.
(On a side note, if there’s any panel video with me in the background, my Bacon Number has dropped to one!)
The other pilot, for NBC’s “Revolution,” was also promising, but less so than “The Following.” This series has a premise that some mysterious force knocked out all the power in the world 15 years previous. Setup was good, but execution was a bit clunky. It did bring up one sobering thought for me during the panel:
Pilot for NBC's #Revolution just pointed out that a world w/o electricity means a world w/o ice cream. Don't wanna live in that world. #SDCC
— John C. Baker (@jcb10) July 15, 2012
The “Mythbusters” panel itself, hosted by John Landis, was great. It featured some interesting back-stage stories. My favorite was one where the crew tried to test the myth where a drunk man asked a blind friend to drive him home with his guidance, under the assumption that a ticket for driving without a license was not as bad as one for a DUI. They found that a sober person, describing when to turn, brake, go, etc., could indeed guide a blind person quite well, but a drunk person made the blind person drive like a drunken driver!
|The "Mythbusters" panel. From left: Director John Landis, Tory Belleci, Kari Byron, Jamie Hyneman, Grant Imahara and Adam Savage.|
Sunday, I took no chances. I got up shortly after 6 a.m. and hopped an early train, getting into the massive Hall H line at about 7:05 a.m., hoping to get into the 12:30 p.m. “Doctor Who” panel. It didn’t look promising at first, as the linked snaked through the outdoor queueing area, long behind the convention center and around an artificial island/marina in the back. But I got into the hall about 10:30 and sat to enjoy the presentations.
While not a watcher of either "Fringe" or "Supernatural," the two panels I had to wait through, it was apparent those shows have an enthusiastic fanbase. But they had nothing on the love the audience showered on "Doctor Who" producer/writer Steven Moffett and stars Matt Smith, Karen Gillen and Arthur Darvill. We got to see some intriguing extended clips from the upcoming season, including one appropriately titled, "Dinosaurs in Space."
|The "Doctor Who" panel. From left: Moderator Chris Hardwick, showrunner Steven Moffett, Matt Smith (The Doctor), Karen Gillan (Amy), Arthur Darvill (Rory) and producer Caroline Skinner.|
After the "Who" panel broke up, I headed over to a panel featuring another beloved genre powerhouse, Buffy: The Vampire Slayer. Celebrating 20 years since the (poor compared to the almost-unrelated television series) Buffy movie started the franchise off and made Joss Whedon an entertainment powerhouse, the panel featured actors from the movie (although not the promised Kristy Swanson) and TV series and writers and artists from both the TV show and comic series. With the panel followed up by a sing-along showing of the musical episode "Once More, with Feeling," Whedonites left satiated.
|At the "Buffy at 20" panel: actors Nicholan Brendon (Zander) and James Marsters (Spike) and writer Jane Espenson.|
I did have a nice fan-interactive moment on Sunday, when I tweeted that I'd been right next to Plait while leaving a panel. Plait wrote back that I should have introduced myself, and I replied that I didn't want to interrupt his phone call. That brought on this reply:
@jcb10 You are a rare man, sir. Consider your hand shaken.— Phil Plait (@BadAstronomer) July 15, 2012
That's what's great about what I still refer to as the "San Diego Comic Convention" -- despite the now-huge scale, fans can still have direct contact with celebrities.
My first Comic-Con was in 1992, a much-more restrained affair. It's gotten more crowded, more expensive and less about comics each year. But it's always (except for lines and frustration over not getting into certain panels) been a fun event overall. It's just taken a bit more adaptability on my part and forced me to lower my expectations over what I'm going to do in San Diego. For example, this was probably, save for a whistle stop in 2004, the convention in which I've spent the least time on the floor (less than 90 minutes over four days) and the Con where I bought the least -- one measly comic.
But where else can you take a picture with the Adam West-era Batmobile?
Just a note: I'm still trying to find the owner of the camera I found last year!
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
(For the record, I've blogged about Comic-Con before: here, here and here. Plus, I'm still trying to find the owner of the camera I found last year.)
Hollywood has (much to the traditionalists' dismay) invigorated Comic-Con, but also made it much too crowded. Last year, I waited in the Hall H line for literally (and I am using "literally" in the correct, literal sense here) four hours at one point. My wait was in part due to camping-out fans going into the hall early for panels hours later than the panel currently happening(such as those depicted below, waiting for a "Lost" panel in 2009). This has been getting worse each year, for several years.
Comic-Con has got to cut down the waiting in line. It's unhealthy for the sun-averse (such as myself) and prevents me from enjoying as much of the show as I'd want.
So two things. One: Clear out the rooms between panels. (Hypothetical) Why is my Doctor Who panel full of Twilight fans waiting for good seats for their panel six hours from now (or vice-versa)? We could fit 4,000 more Doctor Who fans in here.
Second: How about online reservations for panels? Why should I have to wait in a six-hour line for Hall H and have no guarantee of even getting in? I could be going to the Roy Thomas panel in the meantime. Put aside a certain number of seats in each Hall/Ballroom/Conference room (say half) and let people make reservations for them online. Let registered badgeholders reserve one panel per badge per day. Let them print out a bar-coded ticket for the panel which means I just have to get into the short pass-holder line. Once that line clears, let in others until the room fills. Technology can do that these days.
Crowds (such as those in the picture above) will continue to overwhelm Comic-Con, there's not much that can be done about that without severely restricting ticket sales. But certain measures (such as having reservations for panels) can make the experience of wading through the crowds more enjoyable.