Quin's Progress


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It’s A Small World, Bilches, And I’m Off To See It!

In anticipation of my world tour departure, I wanted to get you a little something special to remember me by; something that you could think of once in a while, and maybe laugh a quiet little private laugh to yourself that would be too much trouble to explain to anyone who asked what was so funny.  So, I went to peruse the wide and varied options on Fiverr.

Do you know about Fiverr?  Fiverr is an online marketplace, where folks all over the world offer up all manner of goods or services for the whopping asking price of $5.  Everything on Fiverr is five dollars—no more, no less.  Hence the name.  Most of it is kind of stupid, but some of it is good, and some of it is just plain hilarious.  People offering serious things, like business plans, budgets, ad jingles, logo designs, weight loss menus or training plans, are clearly doing it as a loss leader, hoping that future business worth more than five bucks will follow.  Others are indulging hobbies, such as writing things on a piece of rice, or spelling out messages on a Scrabble board in stop-motion film.  Still others are just wackadoolery.  Those are my favorite.  I had an ad up on Fiverr for a while, offering to go hug the elderly relative of your choice, within 25 miles of San Francisco, for $5.  Nice, right?  Your Aunt Millicent is in a home in Colma, and you can’t get there for her 93rd birthday?  Fiverr to the rescue.  Half a sawbuck through Paypal, and Miz Quin is on her way to deliver the big, warm, squishy hug you can’t.  I even offered a “fragrance free” option, where I would promise not to wear perfume or the fruity, girly lotions I am so fond of, if there were scent-sitivities to be considered.  But, it proved impractical, because even though I was clear about the “elderly” part in the ad, apparently, that’s not as unambiguous as I had thought, and I kept getting requests from young guys trying to send me to hug their “cousins” or “uncles,” and Fernando was categorically unwilling to go along and be my bodyguard on hug patrol, so, yeah….  My Fiverr career died before it ever got off the ground, and everyone’s Bay Area old folks are now going unhugged, all because of some horny teenagers with nothing better to do than cruise Fiverr.  But I digress.  Back to your gift.

So, via Fiverr, I found this lovely gentleman– who calls himself “Crazzy Man”–operating in a small village somewhere in India, who, for the aforementioned five dollars, will put any message you want on a sign, and videotape himself dancing around with it in what looks like a faux grass or banana leaf skirt.  “Ooh, perfect,” I thought.  So, I sent him a request for such a video, and five dollars, and asked that the sign read “Quin says:  Ciao, Bitches!”  Saucy, but fun.  Just what I wanted.  Crazzy Man turned the order around fast; a day later, the following video was in my email inbox:

Seee-yowwww, Beeches!!  Awesome!  He really put his heart into that performance!  But, he left off the “Quin says” part, and I know there are a few of you, who shall remain nameless, who wouldn’t believe that I hadn’t just swiped this off YouTube from someone else and claimed to have commissioned it myself.  And I want the credit, fair and square.  So, I wrote to Crazzy, and said how much I loved the video, and it was so wonderful, and thanks so much, but please, could he do it again, and put “Quin says” on the sign.  Of course, I said I would pay another five dollars, no problem.  I said he could even write it on the other side of the same paper, and just flip it around.  “Okay,” says Crazzy, “no problem.”  Then, the next day, this video comes:

Well…not quite.  I mean, I love that the whole village is getting involved in my project, and the ladies are sure lovely, but now I have one video with the girls and the “Quin Says” sign, and another with Crazzy himself and the “Ciao, Bitches!” sign, and that doesn’t really solve my problem.  So, I wrote him back, thanked him profusely again, extolled the beauty of the women in the new video, praised their dancing and the fantastic sign, and then asked him to, pretty please, do it again—for another five dollars, of course—with BOTH signs.  I figured, since they had both signs made now, the third time would be the charm.  I can just picture them all sitting there in their village, saying “What does she want now, and why does she keep changing it?”  and “who else can we get in on the performance?”  But, to me, he just said okay, sure.  And then this video showed up a short time later:

So close!  Well, not exactly.  But, look how much work they put into this, with their little choreographed dance routine and everything.  How sweet are they?  Still, I actually wanted Mr. Crazzy rockin’ out in his green manskirt, and I don’t know what “Bilches” are, but they sound painful and possibly contagious.  So, once again, I wrote back to Team Crazzy and gushed about how fabulous the video was, and how graceful the dancing was, and thanked them to the heavens for their helpfulness, etc., and then pointed out that “Bitches” was, unfortunately, spelled wrong, and would he please, with sugar on top, do it again, himself this time, and be careful to spell it right—for another $5, it goes without saying.  “Okay,” he said, still ever-helpful, but with somewhat less alacrity than before.  I could tell he was kinda over my shit by now.  Still, five more bucks is five more bucks, and that goes a lot farther in India than it does here, so a couple days later, Crazzy sends me this video:

Oh, sweet JesusMaryAndJoseph!  “Bictches?  Is he messing with me now?!”  No, I don’t think he was, actually.  I think they were probably just so careful to copy the letters just so this time after the preceding error, and they aren’t used to a Romanized alphabet, and to them, it probably looks exactly like what I wrote.  I laughed so hard when I opened this video that I almost fell off the couch, and my houseguest got out of bed and came out to the living room to see what was the matter.  Doesn’t it look like how you would spell that percussion flourish in the Ferris Bueller’s Day Off theme music?  You know, it goes:  “Ohhhhh yeahhhhhh, donk-donk, Bictchaaaahs.”  Okay, maybe not.  Anyway, this is the best I could do.  I just didn’t have the heart to go back and ask Crazzy Man and the Village People to do yet a fifth video dedicated to my attempt at a sassy sendoff message.

This is Woobie Frog

This is Woobie Frog

So, yeah, ciao, bilches bictches gentle friends!  As I write this, I am in seat 8B of United Airlines flight 893, one-way from San Francisco to Seoul, with my Woobie Frog tucked ever so supportively behind my neck.  I can hardly believe it.  bagsNot only has Day 1 of my grand adventure arrived, at last, but all my worldly belongings now fit into these three bags.  What have I done?  There are only four pairs of shoes in there, and only one of those pairs has high heels, and they aren’t even really all that high.  Breathe…breathe…okay, it’s fine.  Something had to go to make room for a year’s supply of contact lenses and thyroid pills.  I thought I was pretty Spartan in my packing, but one thing I’ve learned, is that all those cute miniature, travel sized gadgets and bottles of goop, when thrown together in one bag, are really frickin’ heavy.

I call this bag The Samurai

I call this bag The Samurai

I’m going to have to weed out some of the stuff I’ve packed here, or I’m going to fracture my Groove Thang schlepping all this crap around.  Also, it just dawned on me that I’m probably not going anywhere that doesn’t have shampoo and toothpaste already, and if I do, we’ll all have greasy hair and halitosis together, so….I don’t know what I was thinking.  I’m sure many adjustments will be made along the way as I figure things out.  Cross your fingers for me.

Those are my toes

Those are my toes

Speaking of sendoff messages, yesterday, I was walking down the street, preoccupied, running some last minute errands, trying to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything important, and I literally ran across this bit of street art on the sidewalk.  So apropos, it’s hard not to believe it was put there just for me, personally.  Let’s just say that it was.  Adios to you too, San Francisco.  I am taking my heart with me, but I’ll leave my pancreas or my spleen with you, just for safekeeping. That doesn’t make for nearly as romantic a song, though.  Perhaps an interpretive dance would be more fitting.  Maybe we can get Crazzy Man and his village to work on it for us.  For another five bucks, of course.


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Apparently, I’ve Been Dead For About A Week Now

Last Tuesday, I had an appointment downtown, and as usual, I was running a bit late.  As I inwardly berated myself for, yet again, not allowing for the typical traffic congestion and search for parking in my calculation of how long I needed to get somewhere, I spied a car leaving a plum parking spot right in front of the door of the building I was going to.  Score!  Saved from tardiness!  I snagged the spot, and didn’t think much of it beyond that.

Then, it happened again the next day when I went to the dentist.  Parking right in front of the front door.  Hmm.  “My parking karma is pretty good at the moment, I guess,” is all I thought.  But, when it happened several more times after that, I got suspicious.  This just does not happen in San Francisco.  Anywhere in the Bay Area, really, but especially not San Francisco.  And we’re not talking out in the outer Avenues by the beach.  No, this was in SoMa, the Castro, the Mission, Valencia Corridor….and three times in a row in North Beach.  Places where there’s never any parking.  San Francisco locals, back me up here.  This was unprecedented and peculiar.

I got to thinking…did I die, and heaven is just San Francisco with easy parking?  Am I dead, and no one told me?  I threw this question out to my Facebook friends, and my friend Juan offered the most practical solution to the puzzle:  “go see if the line outside Tacolicious still goes around the block, and then go see if it takes 20 minutes or more to get a coffee at Ritual.  If you can say yes to either of these things, you’re still among us.”  Anyone who lives in SF can testify, the purgatory of waiting at those places is just an accepted part of our earthly reality.  So, I conducted Juan’s experiment, and here’s what happened:

Tacolicious

Tacolicious

Tacolicious:  No line at all.  Walked right in, no waiting.  AND, I got a parking spot right out front.  Another one.

Ritual Coffee Roasters

Ritual Coffee Roasters

Ritual:  Another parking spot right in front, no line, and got my latte and a pastry in four minutes flat.

To top it off, last night, at just before 8 p.m. on a Friday night, walked in and immediately got a table at Mandalay–another spot where a wriggling throng of people waiting to get in is ever-present, especially on a Friday night.  Oh, and although the parking spot wasn’t right in front of the door that time, it was less than half a block away.  That’s still pretty heavenly by SF standards.

So, yeah.  I’m clearly deceased.  And so far, I have to say, I’m rather enjoying death.

Anyway, this all got me to thinking about a conversation Fernando and I had while we were in Hawai’i last October.  We were drinking Mai Tais on the terrace of this place across from the garden in front of the zoo at the ass end of Waikiki Beach.  Across the street in the park, some laborers were throwing big, dead palm tree branches into a chipper, which was forcefully blasting the ground palm branch pulp into the back of a garbage truck for disposal.

Fernando fantasizing about putting my corpse into a chipper

Fernando fantasizing about putting my corpse into a chipper

Fernando watched them quietly, sipped his drink, and then said quite matter of factly: “When you die, I’m going to put your body into one of those things.”  The elderly couple sitting close enough to us to hear this pronouncement gasped in horror, but I laughed.  By now, I’m used to Fernando’s humor, as well as the fact that he starts fantasizing about my demise after we’ve been together for more than 24 uninterrupted hours.  I just told him to make sure and point the chipper spout out to sea, and blast me into the ocean, instead of into a garbage truck, and that would be fine with me.  (This conversation, aided by the additional ensuing Mai Tais, also lead to me ask him how he would kill me if he was ever going to, to which he replied without hesitation, in that picante Peruvian accent of his:  “Don’t be ridiculous, I would never kill you….I would hire someone.”  I still can’t decide if that’s kind of sweet or unforgivably impersonal.)  But, now that it seems I might actually be potentially dead, I realize I don’t really want to be put through a chipper.

Survivor Season 24 stole my coconut slingshot idea

Survivor Season 24 stole my coconut slingshot idea

Several years ago, some friends took me out to celebrate my birthday, and for some reason, we all ended up planning our fantasy funerals over dinner.  It wasn’t as sad and bleak as it sounds, there were margaritas and tequila shots involved.  So, my fantasy funeral involves having my cremated ashes placed into hollowed out coconuts, and then all my friends and family will gather on the Golden Gate Bridge, launch the ash-filled coconuts into the air over the water with big sling shots, and then skeet shoot them, so that the coconuts explode and my ashes sprinkle over the San Francisco Bay.  Come on, you’d go to that funeral, right?  I thought so.  So, that’s my fantasy; my Plan A, if you will.  But, this being San Francisco, I can imagine the permits necessary for that kind of send off might be prohibitive, so I figured I’d better come up with a more realistic Plan B.  I did some research, and there are some super interesting options, at least, for those of us who wish to be cremated:

  • The Neptune Society is building a huge, beautiful eco-reef off the coast of Florida, into which you can have your “cremains” placed, with a marker, and let your family scuba down to visit you.  I like this idea.  I love to dive, plus I think Dale would be right at home there.  A company called Eternal Reefs has also established several ocean reefs, where you can be part of the circle of marine life, but they aren’t as pretty and cinematic as the Neptune Society’s:
  • h001You can have yourself turned into an hourglass:  http://www.inthelighturns.com/hourglass-urns.html.  This seems appropriate for board game enthusiasts, or Days of Our Lives fans.  I would worry that one of my knuckle bones wouldn’t get fully ashified, though, and would get stuck in the neck of the hourglass.  So, not for me.
  • You can be shot out into space and placed in orbit on a satellite:  http://www.memorialspaceflights.com/.  Surprisingly cost effective, actually.  If they throw in a looped soundtrack to Major Tom, I’d seriously consider it.
  • You can have your ashes compressed until they form diamonds, and make jewelry out of them:  http://www.lifegem.com/.  Well…not actual diamonds, but “memorial gems.”  It’s a nice idea, but if you think about it, is it really a good idea to have a necklace that is that important?  What if you lost it?  Plus, I don’t want to end up at the bottom of someone’s jewelry box, or bedazzling someone’s nose ring.  And knowing my friends, someone would turn me into a special occasion cock ring.  Actually, that would be funny.
  • You can have your ashes made into a personalized frisbee:  http://www.discgolf.com/disc-golf-discs/steady-ed-memorial-discs/.  I totally don’t get this one.  It seems to me, if you’re going to have Grandpa made into a frisbee, they could make some nicer ones.  These look like the kind they give away for free at conventions.
  • 01You can be blown into a piece of “art glass”:  http://www.memoryglass.com/.  Yeah.  You know how every group of friends has that one person who takes up “jewelry design” with glass beads as part of their midlife crisis?  I have a feeling that’s how this got started.  Please, Fernando, don’t have me made into a paperweight.  No one would dust me.
  • You can have your ashes painted into a painting:  http://www.memorials.com/art-in-ashes.php.  I love this idea.  Especially, if they could do me as one of those portraits whose eyes follow you when you walk across the room.  That would be awesome!
  • You can be stuffed into a teddy bear:  http://www.huggableurns.com/gallery.htm.  For those who want to haunt their kids or grandkids, and watch them freak the fuck out when the dog rips the teddy apart and spreads the insides all over the house.
  • This was my first record, ever.  I still know the words to every song on there.

    This was my first record, ever. I still know the words to every song on there.

    For those of us who remember vinyl LPs, you can have your ashes pressed into a vinyl record, with a recording of your last message, a song, or just the sound of your ashes crackling and popping:  http://www.andvinyly.com/.  They press enough discs to give out to your funeral guests as gifts to remember you by.  If I did this, I would want the recording to be of K-Tel’s Music Express, which was my very first, and very favorite record of all time.  I even made up a special dance routine for the song “Get Dancin'” by Disco Tex and the Sex-o-Lettes, that I still secretly do sometimes.  People could do the dance at my funeral.

  • You can ascend to the heavens in a helium balloon:  http://www.eternalascent.com/photogallery/miscellaneous.html.  This is kind of nice.  They put a cupful of your ashes into a big balloon (you can choose red, yellow, blue or green), fill it with helium, and then….let it go.  The balloon is sturdy enough, and has enough helium in it, to float up about five miles, where it freezes and shatters, and scatters you into the atmosphere.  You could make some beautiful sunsets.sg_firework
  • You can have your ashes put into fireworks, and shoot them off into the night sky!  http://www.heavensabovefireworks.com/.  Talk about going out with a bang!  You can have a big professional fireworks display like the kind you see at the holidays or after ballgames, or you can do smaller rockets for funeral guests to fire off themselves from a beach or something, for a more intimate send off.  I think this one might be my favorite.  For one thing, I’d get to have my funeral at night, and you all know I’m a night owl.  Also, it would create the proper atmosphere for serving corndogs, which is a must.  And it’s really not that far off of my Plan A with the coconuts; same kind of explosive idea, just less interactive.

There are so many choices, I can’t decide which one should be my Plan B!  Tell me what you think.  You can vote for up to three options, or tell me a new idea in the comments!

Shout out to Confessions of a Funeral Director for doing the leg work on the research!


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Quinderella, You Shall Go To The Balls!

I was walking home from BART one day last week, and I saw this hilarious announcement in the window of Mr. Pollo on Mission Street:Mr Pollo

Of course, because I am irretrievably juvenile, I immediately thought of this:

But, after that, I remembered the sage words of Carrie Bradshaw in that episode of Sex and the City, where Carrie is trying to convince Samantha to go to Connecticut to crazy Laney Berlin’s baby shower:  “If  you’re driving down the road, and you see a sign that says ‘Two-Headed Snake,’ you pull over!”  I figure, a four course testicle tasting menu pretty much qualifies as the culinary equivalent of a two-headed snake, so I got my phone out right then and made a reservation.  (This mindset is also how I ended up taking fire-eating/breathing lessons, but that’s a story for another post.)

Chef Jonny Becklund and his fabulous gay cowboy apron. I couldn't get the sassy fringe on the bottom hem in the shot, but trust me, it really made the ensemble.

Chef Jonny Becklund and his fabulous cowboy apron.
I couldn’t get the sassy fringe on the bottom hem in the shot, but trust me, it really made the ensemble.

Best seat in the house

Best seat in the house

So, on the day after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down DOMA and Prop 8, when Mr. Pollo’s rock star chef, Jonny Becklund, busted out his teste-centric celebratory menu, I had a VIP seat, front and center.  I can’t say I’d ever eaten Rocky Mountain oysters, Prairie Oysters, Bull Berries, or whatever you want to call them, before.  I’ve eaten grasshoppers, ant larvae, all manner of organ meats, and something unidentifiable that was dug out of a hole in the ground with a stick in India, but never testicles.  It wasn’t really on my bucket list, either, I must say.  But, I went with an open mind, and Becklund’s sense of humor, as much as his cooking, really won me over.  Gentle friends, I can honestly report, Becklund’s balls were delicious!

Yes, that's a tea bag in the soup.   Not just for comic effect, either; it really gave the broth a lovely, lemony touch

Yes, that’s a tea bag in the soup.
Not just for comic effect, either; it really gave the broth a lovely, lemony touch

The first course–and my introduction to testicle cuisine–was what Becklund called a “Ball Matzo Ball Soup,” with ground bull teste meat in the matzo ball and a lemon tea bag steeping in the broth.  That’s right.  Tea baggin‘ broth with testicle meat balls.  I could tell this was going to be a humor-filled menu.  I had a seat at the counter, and got to chat with the chef as he prepared each course.  When I laughed at the tea bag flourish, he explained, with an impish smile, that it wasn’t just for comic effect; the lemony tea bag also gave the perfectly seasoned, light broth a sort of pho-like quality that was really surprising.

The ever-so-helpful server, Will, giving advice on what wines go best with balls.  Turns out, it's dry white wine. Now you know.

The ever-so-helpful server, Will, giving advice on what wines go best with balls.  Turns out, it’s dry white wine.
Now you know.

As for the Ball-Ball, well…it wasn’t bad.  I was worried about what the texture of testes might be like (I’m big on textures), but the meat was ground up in the matzo mix, so I couldn’t really tell.  The ball was dense, like you would expect from a matzo ball, and had a vague sort of organ meaty note that might have bothered me if I didn’t know what it was.  But, since I did, I was able to process it just fine.  You know what I mean?  Like, if you think you’re about to drink milk, but you actually take a swig of Diet Coke, it tastes ghastly, but if you know it’s Diet Coke before it goes in, it’s fine.  Kind of like that.  But really, the broth was what made the dish.  Very nice.

This, gentle friends, is a testicle pizza

This, gentle friends, is a testicle pizza

To follow the soup, Becklund made a love child between an arepa (which Mr. Pollo is known for) and a pizzetta–a pizzepa?  I dunno.  But it was good.  I watched him hand press out the little arepa crusts and cook them on the griddle; he’s an arepa makin’ machine.  Then he topped them with sautéed chopped testicle meat, mushrooms, some cheese, threw them under the broiler, and then served them garnished with sam-ball (har har, get it?) oelek chili aioli and arugula (an inside joke, Becklund said, between him and Will, the server, because suddenly, in SF, every chef in town is topping pizza with arugula).  So, this super-fragrant dish had the testicle meat in pretty much it original state, but for the chopping.  I didn’t hate it.  Kinda reminded me of Vienna Sausages.  The combination of flavors and the spices on this one made it my favorite of the four courses.

I could hardly stop laughing long enough to eat it!

I could hardly stop laughing long enough to eat it!

The humor of the main course was less subtle than that of the soup.  Foreplay was over by that point, and Becklund was gettin’ down!  Crispy fried balls, unapologetically perched atop grilled zucchini, resting on a bed of arguably the most perfectly executed grits west of N’awlins, and garnished with alfalfa sprout pubes.  I know…gross, but funny!

Oh, that Chef Jonny is cheeky monkey

Oh, that Chef Jonny is cheeky monkey!

I was a little disturbed by the angry red sauce drizzle.  Not sure what kind of nightmare inspired that.  I would have gone with a buttermilk sauce, I think.  When asked, Becklund told me he was trying to put a Buffalo hot sauce flavor in there, so it wasn’t an aesthetically chosen ingredient.  And the flavor was a nice addition.

The Happy Ending

The Happy Ending

What would a family jewel themed menu be without a phallic happy ending?  Well, fortunately, I’ll never know, because dessert came in the form of a semi-frozen chocolate banana.  Why only semi-frozen?  Because Chef Becklund likes them that way.  The fully frozen ones hurt his teeth, he said.  I have to agree, I have to gum the frozen solid ones to a pulp before I can bite through them, so I was pleased these were still sort of soft.  The chocolate mantle was lovely and dark and bittersweet, with a delicate whisper of an orange blossom infusion that lightly hit you right in the back of the throat, just like a surprise of that kind should.  (Dad, if you’re reading this, please don’t infer too much from that last statement.)  The whole kaboodle was then rolled in cracked malt balls (“because, ya gotta get balls in there somewhere,” Chef Becklund said), and treated to a drizzle of a perfect caramel sauce and a pixie dust sprinkling of espresso salt.  (He let me smell the jar of espresso salt, and it was really deliciously smoky and…um…espresso-y.)  All in all, the perfect way to finish off this truly memorable fertility rite of a meal.

Blink, and you might miss it

Blink, and you might miss it.  It’s right across from 24th Street & Mission BART Station.

I asked Chef Becklund how many balls he had to buy to make this special, two-seating, event.  Seventeen pounds worth, was the answer.  All beef, because he had a hard time locating any other kind from local purveyors.  If you want testicles from other species, you have to have them shipped up from L.A., apparently.  So, given Mr. Pollo’s diminutive size–three seats at the counter, and four dinky tables–and only two sold out seatings, that calculates to a half pound of testes per person, or, about one full-sized bull ball each.  I think that’s enough, don’t you?  I just hope it doesn’t cause me to grow chest hair or give me road rage or something.  I’ll keep you posted.

Mr. Pollo's interior is bedecked with the work of local artists, friends of Chef Becklund

Mr. Pollo’s tiny interior is bedecked with the work of local artist friends of Chef Becklund

In the meantime, if you are in the neighborhood, Becklund does a different, non-testicle-based four course menu at Mr. Pollo every day for only $20.  You can’t beat that.  But get there early, or you won’t get in.  I’m telling you, this boy can cook.  I know there has been some dreary Mission District hipster drama about the changing of the guard at Mr. Pollo, when Becklund took the helm at the beginning of this year, but I can’t be bothered with all of that.  All I care about is the food, and Becklund really turns it out.  Plus, he’s a hoot and a half to chat with while he’s working.  He has “foie gras” tattooed across his knuckles (as well as a neck tattoo of someone I think might be Edward R. Murrow), and literally threw a guy out of the restaurant one night for asking him to make him a vegan arepa.  (No disrespect to the vegans out there, but come on, you don’t ask a chef with “foie gras” tattooed on his knuckles to make you a vegan anything.)  He pairs a wicked sense of humor and a white trash sensibility with a truly sophisticated palate and an artist’s creativity, and he really seems to have fun with his work.  It’s a beautiful thing.  I’ll definitely be back.


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Temple of the Corndog

the BarryI am notorious for my love of the corndog.  They just make me happy.  I’m carrying a corndog scepter in the masthead artwork for this site.  Corndogs are listed as my religion on my Facebook page.  You know how some royal crests feature a screaming eagle with two swords or olive branches clutched in its talons?  My crest would have a yodeling penguin clutching two corndogs by the sticks. (Can someone make that happen?  Seriously.)

Although I will, on extremely rare occasion, make my own corndogs from something approximating scratch, the effort of it really kind of cancels out the low-maintenance perfection of the whole corndog concept.  Not to mention, I am profoundly lazy.  Plus, my homemade ones never come out as good as the kind purveyed by carnies and primary-color-polyesther-clad maidens in malls the world over.  I know most of the corndog sources in San Francisco, so I don’t have to wait for a county fair or a carnival to roll through town.  There are even one or two that deliver, in case of a corndog-related emergency. (Don’t judge…it could happen.)

SF GiantsAccordingly, I’ve been seriously remiss in failing before now to check out Batter Up, an establishment entirely devoted to corndog worship, right here in San Francisco!  I’ve actually known it was out there for a while, but for some reason, I didn’t make a beeline straight for it when I heard of it.  I don’t know why.  Maybe I thought it was too good to be true, or it would be like Hotel California — I would never be able to leave.  Who knows.

windowTo be fair, it is way the heck out in the Excelsior District, at the corner of Geneva and Mission, which isn’t exactly on my way anywhere, and, you know, isn’t the prettiest neighborhood San Francisco has to offer.  But, I happened to be over in that neck of the woods the other day, running an errand, and so I decided to stop by. I drove past it twice before I realized it was just a window with a little ledge, and not a storefront.

wallBut don’t let the diminutive space mislead you; the menu is quite ambitious.  Now, I’m a purist at heart.  I don’t really get into high concept corndogs that much.  Fancy organic bison basil sausage in herbed tempura batter with a trio of artisinal dipping aiolis?  Meh.  I prefer the classic.  So, when I saw that Batter Up has a kind of “build your own” menu, featuring an impressive selection of sausages and cheeses, I was initially resistant.

A fellow corndog lover

A fellow corndog lover

I softened up when I realized they do offer the classic, though.  And what a classic it is!  The dog alone is an eight incher!  It’s the kind of magnificent, corny baton that the paparazzi kept photographing Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry deep-throating during the 2011 Republican primaries.  Now, that’s worth driving out to Excelsior for, am I right?

special boardAs much as I prefer the classic corndog, I do have to tip my hat to Batter Up for their innovations.  Not only do they offer the mythical, rarely seen in captivity, “cornbrat” (a corn-battered bratwurst), but they cater to the decisionally challenged.  This is a big plus, in my book.  If you just can’t make up your mind about whether to order your corndog with, say, a Louisiana hot link or a chicken apple or any of the many other tempting snausages on their daily list, well, you just don’t have to.  You can get the Double Play, and have them make it half and half!  Half bratwurst, half turkey and sundried tomato.  Half garlic herb, half chicken Linguisa.  Or, if there’s something seriously wrong with you, half beef, half tofu.  Or, go crazy and do half cheese!  Half sausage and half cheddar or pepper jack!  And if you still can’t decide, order the Triple Play, and put three options on there!  Oh….I got so excited, I forgot to turn my nose up at the non-traditional corndogs, and made myself dizzy pondering the possible combinations.

Gooey, cheesey goodness

Gooey, cheesey goodness

I ended up ordering the “Big Barry”–part bratwurst, part hot link, with a block of cheese in between to keep the sausage halves from fighting.  From the San Francisco Giants graphics on the exterior wall, I’m assuming that this corndog creation is named after Barry Bonds and his giant bat, but I confess I did not verify that.  For purposes of this post, we’ll just say that it is, and go with it.  Anyway, I swapped out the Barry’s suggested cheddar for pepper jack, I guess, because I thought the Louisiana hot link wouldn’t cauterize my tonsils enough all by itself.

The hot link end of the Big Barry

The hot link end of the Big Barry

I must say, it was pretty darned awesome.  The batter was perfectly crispy on the outside, just the right thickness, the sausages were juicy and perfectly seasoned, and the cheese in the center was just gooey enough, without running all over the place.  In short, I approve.  My arteries were not on speaking terms with me after I polished off Big Barry, for sure, but what the heck, I don’t do this every day.

I made quick work of that!

I made quick work of that!

The one suggestion I would make to the owner would be to split the sausage skins lengthwise before dipping the link in batter.  The skin on those gourmet sausages can be a bit harder to bite through, and that is fine if you’re eating it on a plate with a fork and knife, but on a stick, not so much.  But, it wasn’t a big deal, and would be an easy fix.  You could probably just ask the kid at the window to do it for you.  I bet he would, he was nice.

Seriously, who charges corndogs? That's just wrong

Seriously, who charges corndogs?

There's a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup in there

There’s a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in there

They have a dessert selection, too, for those who like their confections skewered and deep fried.  This fad cracks me up.  I always eagerly await the news of what manner of treat is being battered and fried at the county fairs each year, although I seldom indulge.  I don’t have a big sweet tooth, really, I just find it entertaining to hear what people will spear and deep fry.  Wasn’t last year’s invention deep fried Oreos? Or was that the year before?  I can’t recall.  I remember deep fried Snickers bars and Twinkies, and what-have-you.  Well, such are the offerings of Batter Up’s dessert menu.  They do all of the above, plus Kit-Kats, Twix, and…..Gasp!….Reese’s!

Deep fried Reese's

Deep fried Reese’s

Okay, I admit it, I tried the deep fried Reese’s.  I had to.  It’s just so wrong, I figured it had to either be genius or a crime, one or the other.  Well, I was wrong, it’s neither.  It’s just really good.  And it’s small enough to be the perfect couple bites of sweetness to finish off that spicy tower of snausage and cheese, without being too much and making you want to hurl.

Remember what I said about those corndog-related emergencies?  Well, not to worry, because, turns out, Batter Up also delivers via grubhub.com.  I’m not sure how well those dogs will travel, but I’m going to find out!

UPDATE:  Batter Up now allows online ordering on their website (http://batterupsf.com/) for pick-up orders, so you don’t have to wait too long!


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Happy Fountain of Boobies

Starbucks always gets my name wrong

Starbucks always gets my name wrong

Yesterday, I went to get my underarms lasered, and if you’ve ever had that done, you know how much I suffered.  So painful!  I swear, I need to take a wooden spoon with me to bite on.  But, as they say, beauty is pain, and if you read my post about Tata the Thai Face Slapper, you know I’m not afraid of it.  Anyway, the laser doctor (who looks and sounds just like Mr. Chow from the movie “The Hangover”) has his office in Union Square.  So, afterwards, I grabbed a latte at Starbucks and went to sit in my Happy Spot to wait for my ravaged armpits to stop stinging.

Ruth Asawa's "San Francisco Fountain." The "HH" stands for Hyatt Hotel that commissioned it in 1970.

Ruth Asawa’s “San Francisco Fountain”
The “HH” stands for Hyatt Hotel

I have several Happy Spots in and around San Francisco, and the one in Union Square is at Ruth Asawa‘s “San Francisco Fountain” on the steps outside the Grand Hyatt Hotel on Stockton, between Sutter and Post, right next to the Levi’s store.  I could be in the foulest of moods, actively planning my foes’ murders, but if I “set a spell,” as my Granny would say, in this spot, invariably, my smile returns, and my foes get to live to vex me another day.

Superman flying through downtown San Francisco

Superman flying through downtown San Francisco

This fountain is whimsical, magical and thoroughly, unabashedly fun.  It’s a fun-tain.  Completely covered in kajillions of comical little figures that look like they’re fashioned out of Play-doh, it is actually a relief map, of sorts, of the City of San Francisco.  Although I think anyone would love it, it really does take a denizen of our fair City to catch and truly appreciate some of its more obscure details.

Chinatown

Chinatown

It’s built into some brick steps, with the edge facing west at the top of the stairs representing the ocean, and the edge facing east toward the street representing the bay.  Scenes and figures depicting City landmarks, history and life adorn the fountain walls and rim, in roughly geographic order.

Golden Gate

Golden Gate

The Golden Gate Bridge is complete with its ever-present traffic, and its glorious towers extend up the side of the fountain wall and over the top of the rim into the water.

Coit Tower

Coit Tower

There’s Coit Tower peeking out on top of Telegraph Hill, Ghirardelli Square, Chinatown, the old Mint, City Hall, the Conservatory of Flowers and the Filbert Steps.  I can’t fit pictures of everything in this post, but, you name it, it’s there.  It really is a full tour of San Francisco all in one place!

"Support Your Local Chicken"

“Support Your Local Chicken”

Every time I come see this fountain, I make my way around it, inspecting it closely, laughing at the little figures and scenes, and I always, without exception, find something that escaped my notice before.  Like this time, I discovered this little chicken truck.  Look, how cute!

IMG_2459IMG_2419This is kind of juvenile of me, I know, but, one of my favorite things about it is, if you look closely, there are naked boobies all over this thing.  Everywhere.  It’s fabulous!  You know my old saying, “Everyone Loves Boobs.”  Young/old, men/women, gay/straight, it doesn’t matter, we’re all united in our affection for boobs.  Boobies are the universal singularity.  You know I’m right.

boobiesIMG_2398There are lots of lounging, tangled lovers sprinkled throughout, too.  I love that.  How can that not make you smile?

A shout-out to Carol Doda, the famous stripper

A shout-out to Carol Doda, the famous stripper, and her fantastic boobs

The fountain was commissioned by the Grand Hyatt in 1970, and created by artist Ruth Asawa, known as the “fountain lady” for her works like this one, as well as the gorgeous mermaid fountain in Ghirardelli Square–another of my favorites.  She molded the figures out of bread dough, and let it dry hard before it was cast in bronze.  She also built a model of the steps that the fountain would be set into in her back yard, to store the bronze panels as they were completed, so she could visualize the map of San Francisco as it took shape.

Lombard Street

Lombard Street

Asawa enlisted the help of a bunch of school kids and other visitors to mold some of the figures, to give life to her idea to “show what many hands working together could do.”  And as the plaque on the sidewalk explains, “[p]erhaps the most remarkable aspect of the fountain is that, in the end, Ruth succeeded in proving her point; it is her work, produced by many hands, and like all great folk monuments, it belongs to everyone.”

IMG_2474Notwithstanding that lovely “this belongs to everyone” sentiment, if I ever find the owner of this tag handle, I will sit on him and pound upholstery tacks into his gums and then squeeze lemon juice over the wounds.  I mean, really.  What the Hell?  Don’t get me wrong, I live in the Mission District, I can appreciate graffiti as street art.  But don’t be tagging works of art.  Especially not one as purely joyous as this one.  It’s bad, bad karma, not to mention, disrespectful and just plain rude.

As with every other time I’ve visited this spot, though, even this crude offense faded away and gave way to laughter and levity as I explored the happy little creatures that inhabit the fountain walls.  Thanks, Ruth, you made my day — again!

The old Fleishhacker Pool--once the largest pool in the world

The old Fleishhacker Pool–once the largest pool in the world

Not just boobies, there's naked bottoms, too!

Not just boobies, there’s naked bottoms, too!

Happy creatures at the beach

Happy creatures at the beach


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Well, Slap My Face and Call Me Sally

Flotation Tank

Flotation Tank

You all know how much I love wacky spa/beauty treatments.  Nothing against a nice aromatherapy facial or Swedish massage, those are lovely, but my taste runs a little more toward the outré. The experience is really what draws me, more than the potential effects.  Once, I read in a magazine about a “Past Life Regression Massage” treatment available in NYC, and I actually flew there just to do it. (Well, I also got to visit my bestie, James, while I was at it.)  Basically, a massage therapist massages your feet while a hypnotherapist sits by your head and tries to get you to recall your past life.  It was a hoot and half, and I don’t even believe in past lives.  And then, there was the “Mayan Experience” treatment in Playa del Carmen, where you lay in a hammock and a girl in a traditional dress lays on the ground underneath and kicks you in the back.  All I could think the whole time was how that girl was going to go home laughing that night, saying to her family “Guess what this crazy Gringa paid me two hundred bucks to do to her!”  So far, I’ve only found one weird spa treatment that is just too out there for me, and that is the snake massage in Israel, where you get naked and they drop a big tangled cluster of about a dozen snakes on your back and let them unwind themselves and crawl all over you.  No thanks.  I would never stop screaming.  But, flotation tanks, flesh-eating fish pedicures, bird poop facials, Korean herbal hoo-ha steam treatments…bring it.

Tata the Thai Face Slapper

Tata the Thai Face Slapper

Well, imagine my excitement when I found out that, right here in San Francisco, we have the only genuine, certified Thai “face slapper” in the U.S.!  Oh yes, you read that right.  Face slapper.  Her name is “Rassameesaitarn New Series World,” but she goes by “Tata.”  She and her husband, Mawin, run Face Slapping Natural, where Tata will use her extensive training, and the back of her hand, to slap the years right off  your face.

Five dollars, please!

Five dollars, please!

Now, I know what you’re thinking.  Several of my friends offered to slap me for free when I told them I was doing this.  Fernando even offered to pay me to let him take a shot.  But, none of them are certified by the master in Bangkok, so I had to make an appointment with the real thing.  And I am so glad I did!  From the moment you walk through the door at Face Slapping Natural, you know you’ve entered another world.  It’s a festival of bright colors and mirrors, with giant images of Thai elephants in yoga poses.  Tata herself is a work of art.  Petite and soft-spoken, she wears lamé MC Hammer pants with t-shirts, and each time I saw her, she had on a different headdress, each one rivaling a Rose Bowl Parade float.  The first one had about five full-size stargazer lilies on it, and a gossamer butterfly that was as big as an open volume of the Encyclopedia Britannica.  The one pictured here, with the parrot, was the fourth and final one, and I wasn’t even sure for a minute if it was a real parrot or not.  (It’s not.)  Oh, and she wears a surgical mask all the time, because she has allergies.

You have to pay five dollars for the initial consultation, and they mean it, they collect that fiver up front.  But once you hand it over, the two of them take it to a big box in the center of the room that has holes cut in it like swiss cheese, and say a Thai prayer over it, drop the five dollar bill into the box, and bow.  Then  you can begin.

The Slapping Room

The Slapping Room-Where the Magic Happens

The actual treatment takes place in a special, mirrored salon equipped with TVs, on which Mawin plays whatever music video Tata is feeling that day.  My first time there, it was Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” and something by Justin Bieber.  So, you sit on a tree stump stool, Tata stands behind you with her hands on your shoulders and fixes your gaze in the mirror.  When she’s ready, she gives Mawin the signal, he turns on the music, and she starts to bounce…and then dance around you…and then bitch slap you to the beat of the music.  I swear, I will never hear “Single Ladies” again without flinching.  But once you get used to it, it isn’t bad.  She has a definite technique, and it doesn’t hurt as much as it’s just kind of jarring.  She uses the back of her hand, not the open palm, so it doesn’t sting, and she is very careful to use the fleshy side of her hand over any boney areas, like your brow bones.

For me, Tata said I needed “contouring” more than wrinkle reduction, so she concentrated most on my chipmunk cheeks.  By the fourth session, she was really letting me have it.  And you know what?  After I finished my four session slapping series, a number of people asked me, without prompting, if I had lost weight, saying my face looked thinner.  Tscha.  Just sayin’.  And Tata says, if you rinse your face with cold water every day, the effects should last a year.  Not bad, considering Botox is only good for a few months, and costs way more!  Ahem…or, so I’ve heard.

Anyway, at the end of my last session, Tata asked my permission to draw my eyebrows in better, because she said their sparseness had been bothering her.  So, she drew me some honest to goodness Thai-brows to match hers, but that kind of made me look like a maniacal ventriloquist’s dummy.  But, I thanked her for them anyway.  As I was leaving, Mawin told me to check back with them soon, because Tata is going back to Thailand to get certified in “Butt Punching,” to firm and shape the derriere, and to prevent what Mawin called “Cellu-butt.”  If that’s not a real word, it should be, because it’s about as disturbingly graphic as someone promoting butt punching services could hope for.  So…you know I’ll be back.