Friday, July 31, 2009
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Obama (Bud Light): Obama can't be elitist so all microbrews and foreign beers are out. I assume he's health conscious so he wants something that's less filling and tastes great. Except Bud Light does not taste great.
Professor Gates (Red Stripe): I kinda understand why he chose a Jamaican beer. But ultimately, Red Stripe is owned by some faceless British conglomerate. Plus, it tastes like piss. How about a domestic beer from a minority-owned/operated microbrewery instead?
Sgt. Crowley (Blue Moon): Although I've never tried this pseudo-microbrew owned by Coors, I've heard good things about it. In this three-way beer competition, I declare Sgt. Crowley the winner.
Although unintentional, what are the chances that Gates and Crowley picked beers with colors in their names?
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Frankly, it had been so long since I'd stepped foot in there, I didn't realize that it was closed. But thankfully, it is re-opening on Saturday. It seems this real estate implosion has a silver lining after all.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
But what about Hangar One at Moffett Field and Jabba the Hutt's sail barge?
Monday, July 27, 2009
Do not click below if you want any semblance of life. This show is highly addictive and very time consuming. You have been warned.
I'm leafing through the September 2009 issue of Automobile and it has a buying guide for Porsche 928s. I've always coveted one of these, but an acquaintance just bought one in fairly good condition and the cost of repairs is about to surpass the purchase price.
Wheeler Dealers is a British show. Over two 30 minute episodes, the host buys a used classic in mediocre condition and has his friend Edd fix it up for resale. The episode below is for a chocolate brown 928. This show is light years ahead of the crap we have in America.
Don't say you haven't been warned. Your addiction starts here.
Other episdoes include Lancia Delta Integrale, Merc 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth, Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce, BMW 635CSi, Lotus Esprit, Citroen DS, Bentley Mulsanne, and Audi Ur Quattro.
But it seems like Schulz Tuning in West Germany was der konig of converting E28 sedans into wagons. The rear ends are flawless and quite beautiful.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Well, Hungaroring fans, to cheer you up, check out this car cleaner commercial from the Communist days of Hungary. I can't believe that the censors allowed the pitchman to covet such an ostentatious Mercedes W123. The end of the ad is sure to bring a smile.
I want a better look. I slow down on the freeway to allow it to pass, pissing off the driver behind me. The behemoth passes by. The driver has five bags of crisps wedged next to his window. Three of them are opened and half-eaten. There are retirees sitting in the front of the bus in the passenger compartment. But the back half is a three-level sleeper! I pull behind it. It's got a new German EU plate and an old yellow Alaska plate.
It is a Rotel Tour ("rolling hotel") bus. Apparently, it's a German outfit that takes intrepid travelers all over the world in eccentric comfort.
Friday, July 24, 2009
I recommend spending a few minutes on the site. Staff writers on The Onion could not make it more ridiculous.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
The Kyrgyz election is tomorrow (today). The NYT just did a piece about how we don't want to piss off the current president because we need Manas to stay open to supply our boys and girls in neighboring Afghanistan.
If you want to follow the action on the ground, click here.
China, obviously, is not happy. It first demanded that the film not be screened. When organizers rejected the "request", the Chinese government pressured its own filmmakers to withdraw their films from the Melbourne film festival. It's all nicely summed up here.
I don't know if China realizes that its bullying is actually helping the Uyghur cause. No doubt the Chinese government will bus in Chinese immigrants from all over Australia to the film festival, hand them red Chinese flags, and make them "protest" against that splitist (my favorite word of the month) Kadeer.
CNN Australia coverage
The 10 Conditions of Love trailer
Monday, July 20, 2009
Sunday, July 19, 2009
First, I want to mention that Casper's is celebrating its 75th birthday by selling their basic Casper Dog for 75 cents all day on Tuesday, July 28th, at all eight of their locations.
Now, down to business. After getting the okay from my crack medical team, I decided to eat at all eight locations in a single day. But alas, I'm not 20 any more and I don't have the metabolism of a hummingbird. This is going to take much, much longer than I had originally anticipated. Below are my thoughts on four of the restaurants. I rank them at the end. Come back later when I review the other four and rank them all.
Walnut Creek Caspers Hot Dogs, 1280 Newell Hill Place
The Walnut Creek Caspers is situated in a strip mall kitty corner from Whole Foods. Though the building is newish, the management tried (forced) to make the dining area look old school, with mixed results. There's a retired couple eating and an old man enters just before me. They must be Rossmoor residents. I wonder if they are just hankerin' for a hot dog or if they are here because of the lousy economy.
Only one employee worked there. She was the cook and the cashier. She wasn't friendly and she wasn't surly. Let's say she was apathetic. I got the chili dog ($3.49). I eat it with a spork and knife. The chili was wet and bland. I always fancied myself a fan of chili dogs, but I don't think I've ever had a good one. The highlight was the steamed bun-- it was sweet, spongy, but firm.
Pleasant Hill Caspers Hot Dogs, 6 Vivian Drive
Ah, much better. As I pull up, I see that this location is much older and more traditional than the Walnut Creek one. This is the home of Dolores Larkin, the Hot Dog Lady, who has been serving dogs since 1955.
Inside, it is much more crowded and the staff is friendlier. I got a regular Casper Dog with ketchup ($2.69). I let the cook put on the ketchup and she put too much on. I spend much of my mealtime wiping excess ketchup off of my dog.
As I walk back to my car, I feel gross. And I've only had two hot dogs. How do Joey Chestnut and Takeru Kobayashi do it?
Richmond Caspers Hot Dogs, 2530 MacDonald Avenue
I've lived in some sketchy neighborhoods, so I can say with authority that the Richmond Caspers is in a so-so neighborhood. The clientele is definitely Hillary-Clinton-hard-working-blue-collar.
I'm growing tired of hot dogs so I order a chicken dog ($2.89). It's supposedly 80% chicken and 20% turkey. What can I say, I'm a health freak. I don't know what toppings to choose so I ask the cook to put on what she likes on hers-- mustard tomato, and onion.
I take a bite. The chicken dog definitely does not taste like a regular hot dog. It's a good combination with the toppings. But then, the aftertaste of the chicken dog hits me. It's gamey, almost funky. Oh dear.
Albany Caspers Hot Dogs, 545 San Pablo Avenue
Architecturally speaking, this is the most interesting so far. It reminds me of 1970s apartment buildings, and for some reason, Sea Ranch along the Sonoma-Mendocino coast. The place was packed with customers.
As I wait in line, I realize that this place has virtually zero overhead. There is no kitchen. It's just a steamer for the buns and dogs (a steel contraption divided into three compartments suspended over a three-burner gas stove), a crock pot for the chili, and a large fridge. The lack of frying means there's no greasy feel or smell when you walk in.
I order a hot link ($3.09). Is it better than Top Dog's? No. The dog itself is spicy hot and tasty, but the fundamental problem is that it's steamed and not grilled. Same goes for the steamed buns. It's just not quite right, although the Casper's hot link may be my favorite Casper's dog.
I think when it comes down to food preferences-- steamed versus grilled dogs, thin verus thick pizza crust-- it's all about what you grew up eating.
Oakland Caspers Hot Dogs, 5440 Telegraph Avenue
This is the most familiar Caspers location for me. It always bums me out when I go inside. It might be because there is no counter right next to the serving/prep area. It might be the echo-y, cavernous interior. It might be the poor lighting.
I order a beef tamale ($3.19). It is steamed in a plastic casing and looks like the Fat Man bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki. I ask for cheese and tamale sauce on top. It is not authentic. There is no corn husk. The masa tastes overprocessed. I think I even chewed on a piece of tendon in the beef filling. But you know what? It's delicious. I think this is my favorite item at the hot dog joint.
Dublin Caspers Hot Dogs, 6998 Village Parkway
The service here is extremely friendly and the employees seem really happy. I order a Polish dog ($3.19) without any drinks and the lady there insists that I have a cup of water with my meal. It is much better than the bland, regular Casper dog and not as spicy as the almost too overpowering hot link. This is the best dog at Caspers.
Hayward Caspers Hot Dogs, 951 C Street
Architecturally, this is the most interesting. This is the local hangout and everyone knows each other here. It is also the only place where you can ignore the signs on the counter that say "NO COUNTER SERVICE". I get the chili cheese dog ($4.19). As I eat it with a spork and knife, I feel like I'm performing surgery. I am getting full.
Hayward Caspers Hot Dogs, 21670 Foothill Blvd.
Ah, my last Caspers. I thought I'd go out with a bang with a double dog ($4.19), which is just that-- two dogs in one bun. But I feel so bloated that I go the other extreme and just get a Caspers Jr. dog ($1.99). It might be an optical illusion, but it looks like a regular Casper dog, but with a smaller bun.
Caspers Hot Dogs Rankings
2. Hayward (C Street)
5. Pleasant Hill
6. Hayward (Foothill Blvd.)
8. Walnut Creek
Miscellaneous factoid: All of the employees you see are union members. They get medical, pension, the works. I think that's awesome. I don't think I know of any other fast food place like it.
Here is the video of his ride (go to 2:12). Judging by the rims, it looks like a 2005 or 2006 BMW M3 with the Competition Package. In light of his recent poor judgment in everything from dating partner to wardrobe, trading in the Nissan for the BMW was actually a relatively good move. First, the BMW has rear seats. It has a usable trunk. And finally, he bought it used and a 2006 can be had for less than $40,000, so it's not like he's totally blowing his (his kids') money.
Update 1: Here is Jon's Porsche SUV.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
5. Petersen Automotive Museum, Los Angeles. This may be the most popular museum, but I have to say it is my least favorite and the least memorable. Why? Because it is soulless.
4. California Automobile Museum, Sacramento. It's got a decent collection of American cars and a few foreign ones. The cars are on display in a dim, poorly ventilated, dilapidated warehouse. The signs describing the cars look like they were printed off of your old Okidata dot matrix printer. So why is it still better than the Petersen? Because it feels like it was put together by a bunch of guys who are passionate about cars.
2 (tie). National Automobile Museum, Reno. The Harrah Collection is diverse and interesting. My favorite is the Jerrari, an old Jeep Wagoneer with a Ferrari engine.
2 (tie). The Auto Collections at The Imperial Palace, Las Vegas. The collection is impressive-- almost half a dozen Ford RS200s, a Jaguar XJ220, even a street version of the Lancia Delta Integrale. It's got something for everyone and the inventory is huge. The only problem-- the displays are outdated and look cheap and haphazard. It really takes away from the experience.
1. Blackhawk Museum, Danville. This is the best car museum on the West Coast. On just two floors, the curator has assembled an extraordinary collection of automobiles, from a wooden Hispano-Suiza to a 16 cylinder Cadillac to a Hongqi limousine from Red China. The cars are displayed like jewelry at a high end store. The museum is world-class. It is exquisite.
So what's the big deal? Well, the staffer spends the first two paragraphs excitedly pointing out that this will be Infiniti's first convertible, ever. Specifically,:
"Infiniti is rolling out its first convertible, the 2010 G37.
The luxury division of Japan's Nissan has been around since the early '90s and has fielded a varied lineup of cars, SUVs and crossovers, including some of the most fun and sportiest sedans on the market, but until now never had offered consumers a drop-top option."
Do these journalists ever think about fact checking? Shouldn't the guy in charge of writing articles about cars have some memory of the 1991-92 M30? Tsk tsk.
Friday, July 17, 2009
I've written about the XM in America before. The few that came here were federalized by CXA. This is one of only 18 in the States. The amazing thing is that it has less than 25,000 miles, only one owner, and was garage kept. For any car buff with a little extra cash and a very understanding spouse, this is a great buy.
Don't believe my obsession with the XM?
The bearded car lover is in the news this week because of the kidnapping and assassination of human rights activist Natalya Estemirova. Kadyrov's taste in cars is impressive and expensive. Among the dozens of cars in his collection, there are:
Chechen presidential convoy (can you tell he likes Cayennes?)
It looks big (in a bad way), unruly, and blunt. There is zero sophistication.
What I dislike most about the W140 coupe is the thick black gap that separates the trunk lid from the rest of the rear end. It looks crude.