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People Watching In San Francisco

So I was in The City the other day for a job interview. I have decided that while jobs in The City are preferable since they pay more, it also costs more to get there to interview for a job you may or may not get. Let’s see:

Bridge Toll – $5
Ferry Toll (round trip) – $11.20

So that is a bare minimum of $16.20 just to get there. What about BART? What about it? Let’s see, $7.80 round trip plus $1 for parking for a grand total of $8.80. A savings of $7.40. $37 cheaper per week and $148 cheaper per month. Though if you are making decent money, it’s worth it to have a nice 35 minute ferry ride in comfort, walk 20 minutes to work and drink a beer on the way home as opposed to being shoved into a smelly car, standing the whole way next to people with questionable hygiene.

But that wasn’t it. It was the parking. There wasn’t any. You see, when you need to go into The City mid-day, the BART lots are full and street parking is restricted to two hours. So it’s the ferry. But the ferry lot was full so I park across the street in the “overflow lot” which may or may not have been parking for Togo’s but I took my chances.

Once there, I was dazzled by the wonder that is the Ferry Building and tried to keep myself from buying everything in sight with my near non-existent money. As I started walking down Market towards Montgomery I played “Who Is This?” with the passers-by. I try to imagine based on clothes and look who these people are. What do they do? Are they tourists? Are they bankers? Are they Jason Bourne and his latest exotic but kick-ass female companion on the run from international terrorists?

There were a great many beautiful, willowy Asian women, looking ageless and chic in their designer clothes and perfect matching bags. I felt old and dumpy and mortal by comparison. I found myself trying to look for flaws just to convince myself these lovely creatures were real. Finally found one. On the bottom of one perfect aubergine shoe was a price sticker. Ah HA! I feel better about myself and my old, but Italian, shoes.

There were harried businessmen, some sans jackets, talking on cell phones, yelling into cell phones, playing with cell phones. Hell, you’d think the cell phone was the same as a remote control in front of the television. There were moms herding children, groups of tourists chatting excitedly in languages I did not recognize. I pretended they were from Outer Moldavia, a small country in Europe which sits against the Carpathian Mountains next to Transylvania. Then again, they might have been from Sweden.

I saw a tiny cubbyhole of a sushi roll place that had a line out the door and down the block. The receptionist at the place I was interviewing told me the sushi place just opened a few weeks ago. She said it’s okay but not amazing. I think because it is wee and new and wee all the hipsters are flocking there for the sheer smugness of it.

On my walk back to the Ferry Building I saw a woman, eating a burrito and talking to herself. Nowadays you have to look to make sure she isn’t talking into a Bluetooth but her conversation was a bit into the “crazy, homeless lady or soon to be homeless lady” category. She was saying “Now you hush up because I’z da one that talks to the voices in my heads and not you and you shuts up you voices!” Wow, she told them!

Back at the Ferry Building, I found myself drawn to some of the best chocolate in the world, Recchiuti. To quote Yelper Irene C “This place makes Godiva look like it’s peddling poo… as in, obscenely expensive strawberries covered in poo.” Crude but true. This place is better than Vosges and they are my favs for gourmet chocolate. Tiny, wee bites of heaven these chocolate bits are. Expensive Heaven. It’s the Heaven where near perfect people who take care of lepers go, that Heaven. Heaven also comes with a price. A large price. Yeah, plan on paying about .80 – $1.00 for a piece of chocolate that can range from the size of a nickel to the size of a silver dollar. Everything is by weight. They have such lovely flavors like Lavender Vanilla or Rose Ginger or Lemon Verbena or Bergamot Tea. I am drooling just thinking of them and the $2.85 I spent on 3 wee pieces.

So that makes my grand total of money spent on this job trip $19.05. Oh, I forgot the Starbucks Grande Non-fat, no water, chai that I HAD to have because I did a good job in my interview. Do I count it if it was on a card? I guess I will since the card I used I paid for and wasn’t a gift. Oh, and I bought 2 rolls from Acme Bakery for dinner and breakfast tomorrow as well as an almond croissant. Don’t judge me.

Grand total for my job interview in The City – $30.65. ouch. Hell, just the $16.20 was pricey. I should learn. Every time I think I did a great job, I buy something to celebrate the soon to be happening job with its rain of cash and prizes and I always get the zonk. Every time. Next time I swear, no extras. Just my $16.20 of travel expenses and I can put a power bar in my purse.

Now to make things even better, I got a follow-up email for a job I applied for two weeks ago that I really want! Hopefully the Gods will smile and soon I will be back on the ferry and able to afford the trip. Who knows? I might be riding with the “Young Geeks In Love” again. (check my back blogs) I love people watching in San Francisco.

Come Fly With Me! – Review of Peter Pan

Straight from London, this fabulous new production of Peter Pan 360, theatre in the round, is playing now in Ferry Park across from the Ferry Building. This is a great show but you need to go in with the right frame of mind so allow me to outline a few things:

This is the play based on J.M. Barrie’s book Peter Pan.  This is NOT the Disney version of Peter Pan and just because people fly on wires does NOT mean this is Cirque.  This is also a play (running 2 hours, 20 min with intermission) and not a musical.  While there is some music in the show, there are no big show numbers.  The web site is serious when it says you must give serious consideration to bringing small kids to this show.  It could scare or bore them. It is a lot to sit through.

The theatre is impressive.  Intimate yet open.  It is theatre in the round with projected scenes on the scrim around the top of the arena.  There are few “bad seats” and while there are bleachers, they do have individual seats though they do not have arms.  It is an engineering marvel.

Once the show starts, you must accept a few things.  The main issue is that all the kids are 23-25 years old.  Wendy, Michael, John, Peter, Tink, the Lost Boys – they are all grown people – they kinda have to be in order to do this show so you just have to let it go and accept that reality.

The Original cast members from London are Hook, Wendy, John, Michael, the Lost Boys, the puppeteer and Jane.  This has both positive and negative results.

Tinkerbell seems to be imagined by the director as a homeless Russian Gypsy punk rocker.  It’s a little jarring at first to people who are use to Disney’s Tink but it works and I feel is closer to Barrie’s concept of the character.  A fairy who can only experience one emotion at a time which makes for a very scattered, fractured personality.

Wendy is a wonderful mixture of spunk, maturity and innocence.  I think she does a great job and is the perfect foil for Peter.

Hook (as well as Mr. Darling) is played by Jonathan Hyde.  He did a letter perfect J. Bruce Ismay in Titanic, was superb as the hunter Van Pelt in Jumanji but in this role, I just wasn’t feeling Hook.  I’m sorry.  I thought he was a little flat.  To me Hook should be larger than life.  Perhaps I was so impressed with what Dustin Hoffman did in the movie Hook but I wasn’t sure if he was suppose to be evil, a coward or a fop.  He didn’t really commit to any while dabbling with all of these in a cursory way.

The puppetry was first rate especially the Croc!  It was AMAZING!  This will scare the crap out of tiny kids especially if they are real close.  This puppet is driven by 2 people and is impressive.  Nana the dog is so expressive as well.  With the advent of more puppeteer shows such as Avenue Q and The Lion King, I don’t think audiences really mind having a person on stage with the puppet.  Your mind blocks it out after a bit.

The “underwater scene” with the mermaids has 2 gals doing ribbon ballet and it works sooo well for the beautiful but dangerous mermaids.  The ribbons form their tails however in their leotards they almost have an eel quality to them.  They are a wonderful addition.

The horrid disappointment in this show was Tiger Lily.  I heard they cast a local gal and I really wish they hadn’t.  OK, I’m going to address the elephant in the room.  I am really tired of white girls playing parts for non-white actors.  Are you seriously telling me you could not find an actress of Native American or ethnic coloring to play Tiger Lily?  If just her physical appearance wasn’t enough, then she opened her mouth.  Damn.  She sounds like a whiny High School girl wanting to hang at the mall.  Sure she’s hot and can stand flat on one foot while raising her other leg over her head without using her hands but she’s not right for the part.  This reminds me of the movies from the 30’s – 50’s that cast white women as the “Indian Princess” or the “Harem Girl” or “Nefertiti”.  I thought we moved beyond that and we have a great many gals (like the actress from LONDON) who can do this role!  It just annoyed me.  A lot.

Peter was great.  I am a HUGE supporter of having Peter Pan played by a MALE.  This whole idiot concept, started in the beginning of having a female play Peter runs against the underlying attraction and awakening sexuality between Peter and Wendy.  THANK YOU for putting a boy in the part and one who is talented and hot as well.  Thank you so much for that!  While not the original actor from London, he inhabits the role well, showing us the perfect man-child who is willful, fun, petulant, angry, creative, gentle and fierce with a sense of wonder and a deep sadness that touches you.

The supporting cast of Lost Boys, Pirates, Jane (Wendy’s daughter) and Mrs. Darling are all great and add to the overall impact of the show.

Large tents are set up next to the show tent for food and drinks.  While I ate at the Ferry Building before the show, I did get a glass of Gloria Ferrer Va de Vi.  It was a disaster.  Not the bubbles, the service.  There were 2 people in front of me.  It took “brainless chick” 8 minutes to get one lady 2 glasses of wine.  Here was my experience:

Me:  One glass of Va de Vi please

She stares

Me: Va de Vi

She stares

Me. A glass of Va de Vi

She rings up $3.50 and starts for the soda case.

Me: NO!  VA DE VI – GLORIA FERRER VA DE VI, it’s champagne, not soda and it’s $11, not  $3.50.  That is wrong.  Ummm, you swiped my card for $3.50

Her: (Gets wine) I’ll charge it right.

Me:  NO, you are doing it wrong (as she rings up $8,50).  8.50 plus 3.50 is $12, not $11.  You have charged my card too much now!  She gives me a dollar from the till.  I take my drink and my dollar and do not tip because she is a FRACKIN MORON!!!!!!  Now I only have 10 minutes left of my 20 minute intermission.  The tent is also filled with lollipops and candy displays.  The air smells like popcorn, beer and unrequited love.  I am confused by the sign at the entrance to the tent that clearly states drinks are allowed inside but food is not.  However they are peddling food inside and people are taking food inside.  I am sooo confused.  As long as I can take my drink back to my seat, I’m good.

Parents, another tip: Don’t let your little darling wear fairy wings.  Sure, they are cute but they get in the way.  We are in close quarters and if your kids wings are poking me, they are going to get bent.  Just sayin’.  Also, to reiterate, this is a play.  Lots of talking, not a ton of action.  This is old school Peter Pan, not a Disney show.  It’s still cool but just need to say again, it may bore your very small child.  If your kid cries or fusses you must take them out.  If you don’t , you will be removed.  You can watch on closed circuit TV until your kid is able to sit still and watch without talking, crying, screaming, etc.

Bottom line, this is a very fun show.  Tiger Lily isn’t there very much and she does her big pole dance number (without the pole) in the 2nd act and then is never seen again – Thank The Gods!  I recommend you give this one a gander.  I went for the 2pm matinée and even the “cheap seats” are decent and affordable.  I would definitely give this one a turn while it is in town.

Hog Island Oyster Company – Happy Hour Hell

First let me say that I LOVE Hog Island Oysters.  I have eaten here many times with fabulous results.  There is nothing like slurping down a dozen shiny globs of mollusk with a nice glass of bubbly and Hog Island has some of the BEST oysters around!  They are grown right up the coast and are yummy!  I have been to the restaurant at the Ferry Building in San Francisco as well as the Oxbow Market location in Napa.  All amazing.

However, this is different from Happy Hour.  On an average afternoon around 5pm, the restaurant is only 1/3 full however on Monday and Thursday’s from 5 – 7pm, the wee establishment at the Ferry Building turns into the 9th Ring of Hell.  Why?  Half price oysters.  Most of these beauties are $2 each so paying $12 for a dozen instead of $24 is a lure.  It was for me and I WANTED OYSTERS!

So I made a plan.  Last Monday I left work 5 minutes early, hurried over to the Ferry Building, got there at 5pm and… there were about 20 people already in line.  I put my single name on a sign in sheet and waited.  However the restaurant is pretty small with about 40 seats inside and another 20-35 seats outside depending on how many people are at a table.  After 3 names had been called, the rest of us were informed that it would be at least 40-50 minutes before more seats became available.  I usually catch the 5:20pm ferry back to Larkspur and I just couldn’t gamble that I would be seated and able to catch the 5;55pm ferry.  I decided to bail and re-form a cunning plan.

Well on Thursday, my bosses were leaving and told me I could leave early.  4:35pm!  I practically ran to the Ferry Building where I was sure I would be feasting on oyster goodness like the Walrus from the Alice in Wonderland poem.  It was more like I had fallen down the rabbit hole.  Now don’t get me wrong, getting there at 4:48 instead of 5:00 helped a great deal with the waiting list.  There were only 5 people ahead of me though one turned out to be a party of 10.  Great.

I see two empty seats at the front counter but I figure there is a party of 2 that will get it.  I check the list.  A party of 3 and  party of 4 ahead of me.  Why don’t they sit me there?  Then at 5pm a regular just walks in and the waitstaff seat him in one of those seats.  He wasn’t on the waiting list.  Why don’t I make a fuss. He’s blind.  As in blind with a dog blind.  If I complain I am immediately on the short list for Hell.  HOWEVER, there is still a seat between him and a business man on the corner.  There are no other single dinners, ummmm why are they not sitting me there?  Are they afraid I will go blind sitting next to the blind guy?  News flash: sitting next to someone doesn’t who can’t see doesn’t make you blind.  What makes you blind is something you would never do in a public place unless you wanted to be arrested.

It’s 5:10pm and I flag over a waiter, remark about the mad house around us (around 40 people currently waiting) and ask if there is any reason why I can’t have the seat I have been staring at for the past 20 minutes?  He looks at the list, glances around for the hostess who has been MIA for the past 10 minutes and tells me to take it.  I do.  At 5:15 I get myself seated, wave off the waiter who is trying to give me bread.  He looks at me like I am smoking dope.  I don’t need the tons of bread carbs – I just want oysters.

When my waitress shows up I tell her I want a dozen of the sweet waters and a glass of bubbles.  Simple.  After 5 minutes I get my champagne and my oysters. They are yummy but something is wrong… my oysters are dry.  Not dry like all dried out but dry as in bereft of the liquor or “oyster juice” for want of a better word.  I look up at the shuckers.  DUDES!!!!! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING???!!!!!!!

They are opening a bunch of oysters in advance so it will be easier to fill the orders coming in BUT they are trying to be fast and they are SPILLING THE LIQUOR ALL OVER HELL AND GONE!!!  This really annoys me.  Sure, I am getting my oysters half price but does that mean they have to let their standards slip over the cliff of expediency?  I was disappointed.  No matter the price, I should expect to get the same excellent service no matter when I am dining.

I pay at 5:33pm and am off by 5:35 to catch the 5:55 ferry back to Larkspur.  The Bottom Line:
Wait time – 27 minutes
Actual time at counter – 18 minutes

Up side – 1/2 price quality oysters
Down side – 9th Ring of Hell crowds, hellish waits, tight quarters, incorrectly prepared oysters

Is saving $12 on a dozen oysters worth the aggravation?  I say no.  My advice, pay the extra money and go on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Friday after work.  Relax, don’t rush, bring friends, have fun.  I guarantee the savings to your psyche will be worth it AND you will get your oysters properly presented.