Haight Street Near Fillmore Street, 29 October 2014, 9:11 – 9:42 p.m.

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Good Evening:

The San Francisco Giants won their third consecutive even-number World Series tonight (2010, 2012, 2014), and the city has not celebrated yet. The scenes at 22nd & Mission, 4th & Market, and near the Giants ballpark have gotten a little exciting, both good and bad exciting, but the intersection of Haight and Fillmore once again managed to walk the fine line between raucous and calm. The police stood around, taking pictures not for evidence but for their collections, and didn’t even do anything when someone set off professional grade fireworks twenty feet away from one of their cars.

Some pictures of the fun and baseball games.

IMG_6473 IMG_6485 IMG_6476 IMG_6484 IMG_6479 DSCN5846 DSCN5851I used both my point-and-shoot and my iPhone 4 and decided not to edit a thing. For those of you living elsewhere I hope these give you a sense of the scene and the crowd tonight. After the street party, I did the same thing any other San Francisco Giants fan did: bought a role of paper towels. Because we’re a wild and crazy bunch here in San Francisco.

Vonn Scott Bair

The Meaningless of Names: Newest Spam Poetry, 28 October 2014

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Good Evening:

Long time readers know of my fondness for taking the nonsense verbiage one finds in scam and spam emails (computer generated and inserted at the ends of such emails to defeat spam blockers), and transform them into poetry. Three more such emails briefly polluted my In Box at work today, and I now present the newest spam poetry masterpiece. But reader beware: this poem possesses such a depth of darkness, misanthropy and bitterness that it might well induce totally incapacitating despair and depression.

Having warned you, let us now proceed:

 

The Meaningless of Names & Futility of Everything

Barbara Agan

Barbara Agan

__________

Mark Gresh

is this a good age for this 17

 

You might wonder why you feel so full of despair and depression. Permit me, in my other role as literary critic, to explain.

The first two lines seem to do nothing but cast a random name onto the page, and they seem to contain no meaning. Well that is exactly what they do, that is exactly correct, and that is exactly the point! This random name, chosen from billions upon billions of possibilities, contains the greatest meaning in its sheer lack of meaning! The sheer lack of meaning in four words forces the reader to confront the sheer lack of meaning in the entire universe!

Which brings the reader to the third line, a line that represents the apotheosis of minimalist poetry. Indeed, what daring poet conceived of the notion of poetry without any words at all! Just a short simple line that divides the first half of the poem from the second half, and indeed introduces a wall that separates “Barbara Agan” from “Mark Gresh,” symbolizing the walls, virtual or real, that separate one human being from another. In the final line of this minimalist epic or epic minimalism, names are discarded entirely; instead we are a number, the number 17. But why 17? Why not 5? Why not 2,841,669? Because no meaning exists in any of these numbers. It doesn’t matter. Indeed, the computer software poet feels so full of despair that it cannot program itself to end its work with the required question mark. Why bother? What’s the point? Everything has no meaning anyway.

So that’s why you feel so full of despair and depression.

Can’t blame me. I warned you.

Vonn Scott Bair

The Egg Salad Sandwich at the End of Western Civilization: An Imaginary Cold War Espionage Thriller (Weekly Photo Challenge: Cover Art)

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Good Evening:

So far, top secret ace MI6 agent Nigel Basil Reginald Thorne-Blackthorne-Black did not like the month of February 1970. Not. At. All.

First, his 1965 racing green MG Midget Mark II had gone into the repair shop–yet again. Then, he had to break up with yet another girlfriend because she had tried to assassinate him–and that was starting to get quite boring. Worst of all, Master had forced him to give away his ticket to The Who’s concert at Leeds University just to fly off to San Francisco for a routine fetch of a routine package at a routine drop. San Francisco! Home of The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and similar dismal bands.

“Given the choice between Her Majesty’s Empire and The Who,” he grumbled at the 4th and Mission Street bus stop, “I’ll take Moon and the lads any day.”

Cover Art for The Egg Salad Sandwich at the End of Western Civilization

Cover Art for The Egg Salad Sandwich at the End of Western Civilization

Safely back at the safe house, Her Majesty’s top secret operative rifled through the contents of the bag. The usual dull dim-witted diplomatic dispatches, but they weren’t what he sought. Thorne-Blackthorne-Black wanted to find a paper lunch bag. Ah, there it is. He emptied the contents onto his table, removed the foil wrapping around the contents, then the clear plastic wrapping.

An egg salad sandwich. But not just any egg salad sandwich, but the The egg salad sandwich. The signal. The signal that the Free World, democracy, Western Civilization, and all that is good and worthy in this world, stood perilously close to falling to the Soviet Union and to Communist tyranny–and The Free World, democracy, Western Civilization, and all that is good and worthy in this world did not even know it.

“Well send me to Blazes,” he muttered. “I have to save the Free World again.”

He nibbled at one corner and smiled. Just the right amount of black pepper. He smiled a bigger smile.

Nigel Basil Reginald Thorne-Blackthorne-Black, legendary MI6 operative, was beginning to like February 1970.

Vonn Scott Bair

The Spectre of Buena Vista: A True Mark Twain Mystery Discovered by Prof. Artemus Carbuncle (Weekly Photo Challenge: Cover Art)

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Good Evening:

Did you know that in his spare time, American literary legend Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain was also an adroit and intrepid amateur sleuth who solved crimes that baffled even the most professional investigators?

Don’t worry, no one else did, either.

Cover for the soon-to-be-published The Spectre of Buena Vista. The graphic designer will add an image of a ghost in the upper right background.

Cover for the soon-to-be-published The Spectre of Buena Vista. The graphic designer will add an image of the spectral figure of a spectre in the middle right background.

However, one Dr. Artemus Carbuncle, Professor of Linguistics and Linguini at the University of Northern South Dakota at Phoole (special virtual no-prize to all readers who spot the musical reference–VSB) claims to have uncovered a trove of papers in a hitherto unknown archive in which Samuel Clemens recorded his stirring successes as an amateur private detective. Professional Clemens researchers remain skeptical–“It seems most unlikely that Mr. Twain would have used official Spongebob Squarepants stationary” represents a typical snotty and envious comment–but Dr. Carbuncle remains undaunted in his efforts to bring this unknown side of Mark Twain to light.

(Ed. Note: Insofar as Twain was the author of the underrated and unfairly neglected Puddin’head Wilson, an early forensic detective novel, it seems highly probable that he possessed a greater knowledge of criminal science in that era than most other Americans.)

Consider the most curious case of the elderly Egbert Hieronymous Cuthbert XII, a fabulously wealthy puritanical right-wing mining magnate and family tyrant preparing his last will and testament. Every time the Spectre appears in the park, another relative who stands to inherit part of the family fortune gets trapped in an awful, embarrassing and yet hilarious scandal that causes Cuthbert to disinherit that individual.

Fearing that he’s next, Cuthbert’s son Egbert Hieronymous Cuthbert XIII enlists the aid of his old school chum Sam Clemens, already visiting San Francisco to enjoy one of the city’s brisk invigorating summers. Can Mark Twain use his unique skills and personality to uncover the connection between the spectre and the awful, embarrassing and yet hilarious scandals that plague the family? Can Mark Twain prevent his friend from getting trapped in another awful, embarrassing and yet hilarious scandal? And what do those anchor symbols drawn on the tree trunks mean?

Find out in The Spectre of Buena Vista. Not coming soon to a non-existent bookstore not near you.

Vonn Scott Bair

The Wrong Alley: A Slapp “Happy” Harder Mystery (Weekly Photo Challenge: Cover Art)

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Good Evening:

Presenting the imaginary cover art for the latest imaginary adventure of the imaginary hard-boiled cynical San Francisco private eye Slapp “Happy” Harder, hero of the latest imaginary detective novel by Dirk Dagger, the imaginary author of The Wrong Holistic Organic Vegan Burger Joint:

The Wrong Alley: A Slapp "Happy" Harder Mystery

The Wrong Alley: A Slapp “Happy” Harder Mystery

Mr. Dagger hopes The Wrong Alley will sell better than his previous book.

Vonn Scott Bair

Nowhere In Particular: An Imaginary Novel of Bohemian San Francisco (Weekly Photo Challenge: Cover Art)

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Good Evening:

Imagine this as the cover art for an imaginary novel about San Francisco bohos struggling to get by as the city changes so rapidly around them.

The Streetcar to Nowhere in Particular

The Streetcar to Nowhere in Particular

Taken with my iPhone 4–yes, that old thing. At first, it seemed that this week’s Cover Art Challenge would prove too difficult, but I spotted this F-Market trolley after attending the theater tonight and now I have a few ideas worth further exploration. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Vonn Scott Bair

Recipe: Stir-Fried Padron Chiles in Lemon and Garlic (Vegan)

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Good Evening:

So what do you do with about 8 ounces of Padron Peppers that you bought on a whim at the farmers market?

Well, first, figure out what they are. My basket of Padrons consisted mostly of .75 – 1.0 inch dark green chiles with a few about 2.5 inches long. Shiny, no spots. They have thin walls, very thin, so I decided to stir fry in very hot olive oil. While they have a white pepper-like character, Padrons tend to be spicy but quite mild. You will occasionally run into a hot one, but those are rare. Overall, Padrons are a very rare guest to the farmers market or the produce section, so I recommend grabbing them when available.

Stir-Fried Padron Chilis in Lemon and Garlic

  • Olive Oil
  • One (1) pint of Padron Chilis, washed and dried very carefully
  • Juice of 1 small lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Garlic powder to taste
  1. Heat olive oil (I used 2 Tablespoons) until very hot in a saute pan.
  2. Add the chiles and stir-fry nonstop for 2-3 minutes. Be careful of water spatter if you didn’t dry them well. Like balloons, the chiles will deflate and turn very soft. You might even hear the hissing or squeaking sounds of air escaping their interiors.
  3. Spoon the chiles with the oil into a bowl.
  4. Add the lemon juice, along with lots of salt, pepper and garlic powder; toss the peppers until evenly coated.
  5. Let cool to warm or room temperature.

Once cool enough to touch, my favorite way to eat them consists of using the inedible stems as a sort of toothpick, plucking the peppers into your mouth and discarding the stems whilst mopping up the oil with bread. You can also cut off the stems and use them in sandwiches or burgers. Good as a side to a fish filet.

Vonn Scott Bair