MW Mobile Blog

For friends, family and the random search engine visitor. This blog started as an experiment in mobile blogging from my Palm TREO 600 700 Prē HTC Evo,Samsung 5. Now it serves as a simple repository of favorite activities. Expect bad golf, good fishing, great sailing, eating, drinking, adventure travel, occasional politics and anything else I find interesting along the way including, but not limited to, any of the labels listed here...

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas in Sonoma (with a side trip to Ethiopia)


 I've noticed that an increasing number of my blog posts seem to start with a loving photograph of a martini. I can't explain this phenomena. No matter. We celebrated Christmas Eve and the oft overlooked 9th Night of Hanukkah with the traditional dinner of vodka martini, abalone picatta, and parmesan polenta.

Christmas day we drove to Sonoma for an enjoyable visit as guests of Oliver, Lord of the Manor and his vassals Lee and Joanne.

Lord Oliver
First order of business was a Christmas Day and 10th Night of Hanukkah Feast with fellow guests Joan and Rod. 


Sigrid's contribution was a wild rice and mushroom soup. Lee and Joanne prepared an extraordinary Beef Wellington, twice baked potatoes, and a selection of pies for dessert. The dinner and company was as enjoyable as the exquisite setting.



Pecan Pie


Sigrid insisted on humiliating the pack by making them wear reindeer ears.

Oliver
Rosie
Jasper
I am not sure they will ever forgive her. Nor should they.

For Boxing Day, we decided to go to the movies. I wanted us to do our patriotic duty and see The Interview but I was outvoted and we saw Unbroken.  Ignore LaSalle's snarky review in the Chron. It was excellent and inspiring. Nevertheless I've reported the rest of the crew for their questionable patriotism and look forward to their appearance before the House Committee on Un-American Activities to explain their failure to screen The Interview

Last stop was Sonoma Square and the Lisa Kristine Gallery.



We've been intrigued with and admire her work, in no small part because of the overlap between her photographic subjects and some of our own travels. I was struck in particular with her photograph of a Hamer woman in Ethiopia.


I found the photo reminiscent of some of Sigrid's portraits from our 2012 trip to the same region:


It was kind of an Ethiopian themed Christmas, as "Santa" Laurie delivered more Ethiopian coffee and I finally got around to compiling a photobook of Sigrid's portraits from the trip.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Landsmen Dinner at the Golden Gate Yacht Club



Strictly stag and black tie, the Landsmen Dinner is an old school tradition in San Francisco. I joined friends Doug and Lee for their winter event held at the newly renovated Golden Gate Yacht Club. Some pics from the evening festivities:





Food was good and the jokes were politically incorrect.  We finished the rainy night by continuing the same throwback traditional San Francisco theme and an Irish Coffee nightcap at the  Buena Vista Cafe.


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Trollop Transport


The 2014 abalone season ends this weekend. I was hoping to complete my report card with a few more abs, but mother nature is apparently not going to cooperate. Instead of heading north, helped dive buddy Rick move his boat Trollop to her winter home at the South Beach Marina. 




A quick ride and a beautiful afternoon on the bay.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving and New Old Traditions


 For the first time in recent memory, we decided to forgo the usual bird on Thanksgiving and go with a local holiday tradition - dungeness crab.  The local fishwrap accommodated with an easy recipe for Roast Garlic Crab:
Adapted from “The Tra Vigne Cookbook,” by Michael Chiarello (Chronicle Books, 1999).

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 

1 tablespoon minced garlic 
2 Dungeness crabs, about 1¼ pounds each, cooked, cleaned and cracked 
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper 
1½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice 
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Instructions: Preheat the oven to 450-500 degrees. Heat the butter and olive oil in a very large ovenproof skillet over medium heat until hot. Add the garlic and crab, season to taste with salt and pepper, and toss well. Transfer to the oven and roast until the garlic turns light brown and the crab is heated through, about 6-10 minutes, stirring once halfway through.Pour the contents of the skillet into a large serving bowl, add the lemon juice and parsley and toss well. Serve at once.
Accompanied by artichokes, Sigrid's secret dipping sauce, seasoned rice and plenty of chardonnay. The crab is a little harder to eat than the turkey but way easier to prepare.



I love new traditions.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Alcatraz and the Artist Ai Weiwei At Large



We've lived in EssEff for over 30 years, most of that on Russian Hill with a view of the bay. We see Alcatraz every day, and yet have never set foot on the island. Just one of those things that we've been meaning to get around to but never quite do.  Until today.

Alcatraz from Russian Hill
Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, in collaboration with the For-Site Foundation, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, and the National Park Service has erected a large scale art installation on the historic site which will be on display until April, 2015.

Ai Weiwei self-portrait as a silk kite in "With Wind" installation
"Ai’s sculpture, sound, and mixed-media installations occupy four locations in the former prison: the New Industries Building; a group of cells in A Block; the Hospital; and the Dining Hall. With the exception of the Dining Hall, these areas are usually restricted to the public, but all are open throughout the run of the exhibition. @Large turns Alcatraz into a space for dialogue about how we define liberty and justice, individual rights and personal responsibility. In artworks that balance political impact with aesthetic grace, the exhibition directly and imaginatively addresses the situation of people around the world who have been deprived of their freedom for speaking out about their beliefs — people like Ai himself.  A vocal critic of his nation’s government, Ai was secretly detained by Chinese authorities for 81 days in 2011, and is still not permitted to travel outside China. As a result, the artist was unable to visit Alcatraz during the planning of this exhibition; he has developed the artwork at his studio in Beijing, with the help of the FOR-SITE Foundation."
This was the impetus we needed. Sigrid arranged for tickets, we Uber'd down to Pier 33 and took the ferry to the island.

At Pier 33

Russian Hill from the ferry.
Russian Hill from Alcatraz
The mash-up of tourist attraction / art installation / political statement invokes a bit of cognitive dissonance. The impossible job of resolving these disparate elements falls squarely on the shoulders of the person guiding, exhorting and lecturing the group tour.


Gabby was our guide for the tour and she admirably addressed the challenging task, getting through the canned spiel, answering questions, and herding the group to and through the installations. Both during and after the tour we had adequate time to enjoy and explore the installations before catching the last ferry back.

The work is necessarily large and accessible, the political message is explicit and literal, the aesthetics bright and appealing. Anything small, discrete and subtle would simply be overwhelmed and lost in the setting of the hulking prison and it's depressing history.

Photography was permitted throughout, so without further ado, some images from Sigrid's Canon and my Samsung S5, focused on three of the more visually arresting galleries






















Like any tourist destination or major museum art exhibit, at the conclusion of the tour we found a variety of books written by and about the exhibit as well as a wide selection of branded swag and souvenir tchotchkes.


As noted, there is nothing surprising about this. Still - given the ambition and artistic message of the installation is focused on the oppression of jailed, tortured and murdered artists and dissidents - some of this crap strikes a jarring note. I can't help but think this trivializes the artist's intent.  An Ai Weiwei mousepad? An AiWewei quote "Once again, the facts have been erased." printed on a giant rubber eraser? Really?

The exhibit notes explain that Ai Weiwei's passport has been confiscated by the Chinese government, he has not been permitted to travel out of China, and he has consequently not directly seen his exhibition or this display. He gets the benefit of the doubt.  But I do think someone on the commercial end of the exhibition has completely jumped the shark.  But let's wrap on a more positive note.

After 30 years, we finally checked the Alcatraz tour off of EssEff staycation list.

Moreover, we both thoroughly enjoyed the Ai Weiwei installation - definitely recommended.

Finally, I was really tickled to see this:


Although you've already seen three images of the dragon kite head in this post, you probably did not notice that the eye of the dragon has a twitter logo for a pupil. And the eyebrow is the artist's twitter handle.  Ai Weiwei is a big fan of social networks.

So I'll be tweeting this review to him as soon as I post it.

UPDATE: For-site takes note
 Editors Note: Am now frantically proofing the post for typo.