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Archive for August, 2007

Premature Arson

This is easily the funniest headline I’ve seen on our website in a long, long time:

“Arson suspected in Burning Man figure fire.”

Which, of course, begs the question: How can you get busted for setting fire to something that only exists to set fire to?

Here’s the rest of the story:

One person is reportedly in custody following the early igniting of the Burning Man figure this morning at the annual arts festival in Black Rock City, Nevada.

Black Rock City firefighters responded to calls from the event at 2:58 a.m. and took about 23 minutes to douse the blaze, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal. The fire damaged but did not destroy the figure, which is set to be burned on the last day of the festival, on Saturday, the newspaper’s Web site said.

No one was injured in the fire, and arson investigators remain on the scene, according to the site.

Calls to festival organizers were not immediately returned.”

That’s one of the best things I’ve ever read. I don’t know — it just may be one of the greatest things that has ever happened. What are they going to charge the suspect with — premature arson? I’d love to see the expression on the D.A.’s face when he/she gets this case. And I’m sure the fire department LOVED hauling themselves out of bed in the middle of the night, driving out into the miserable desert, and extinguishing something that would be “arsoned” again a couple nights later.

I wish I was a Nevada taxpayer.

Posted on Tuesday, August 28th, 2007
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Garage Sale People Are Crazy

We had a garage sale this weekend. And I’d like to say, for the record, that garage-sale people are nuts.

People were out there at daybreak Saturday (well, it felt like daybreak to me, which could’ve been 3 p.m. I can’t be too sure), before our official opening time, sniffing around old clothes and toys. They’re lining up like we’re going to throw in Springsteen tickets if they buy a $2 vase.

I’ve never done this sort of thing before. But, apparently, there are professional garage-sale trollers out there. And they’re crazy.

Not all of them. Some were just people who were looking for a good deal. I was glad to get a couple bucks for things that might mean something to someone – like baby stuff in good condition.

But then there was the guy who showed up Saturday evening as we were headed out and wanted to buy all kinds of stuff. He was very friendly – told us his life story despite my car idling, which was OK. Because sometimes when I turn my car off, it won’t start again.

I’m actually glad he stopped by, or else I wouldn’t have noticed my girlfriend dumped a box of stuff out that included my old band T-shirts. I mean of the band I played in many many years and many many pounds ago in L.A. Of course, none of them fit anymore (I might be able to get one around my head if I had two people with crowbars helping me). But that’s not the point. The point is I was in a band that had cool T-shirts. It’s very impressive to the chicks. Well, except for the one who dumped them out on the driveway.

Anyways, the guy left Saturday night and comes back with some of the stuff Sunday morning. Apparently there’s a rule in his house or something that, if he’s going to buy something for his girlfriend, it can’t be old, dusty, or full of cobwebs. What a dumb rule …

Posted on Monday, August 27th, 2007
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82 Minutes

Nicole Richie spent 82 minutes in jail on Thursday for her second DUI. I’ll spend more time doing laundry this morning before I go to work.
To keep this in perspective, let’s talk about the things I can do in 82 minutes:
*Drive from Clayton to Walnut Creek down Ygnacio Valley Road at 8 a.m.
*Go to the grocery store with my kid, which would take 41 minutes if she wouldn’t throw everything with a grain of sugar in my cart, then argue like a defense attorney on speed why she MUST have each item.
*Build a new Benicia Bridge. Oh, I’m sorry. That takes 82 YEARS.
*Get up from my desk and walk around office talking to people while carrying work-related item to make observers think I’m on a work-related mission. Seriously, I’ve timed myself. I can do this WAY longer than 82 minutes.
*Try to get off the phone with my friend who lives in Tracy. Which is perfectly understandable since, you know, he lives in Tracy.
*Get out of the parking lot after a Raider game. Maybe.
*Listen to half of David Lee Roth’s opening remarks at a Van Halen press conference.

Posted on Friday, August 24th, 2007
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Panhandling for Pizza

Don’t you love it when you get out to a restaurant with a big group of friends and, after wolfing down as much food and drink as you could possibly force into one stomach, you take out your wallet … and all that emerges is the sound of crickets.

Right, me neither. It never happened.

However…if you WERE out with your softball team on a Monday night, celebrating a recent league championship, and such a thing happened…it would be, I imagine, a bit unsettling. Especially if your 18-year-old stepdaughter still hasn’t sent you her car payment because she’s in Singapore doing God knows what (guitar shopping, apparently) and you’re fairly certain your bank balance won’t allow a trip to the gumball machine at the front of the store.

Whew.

Anyways, if your girlfriend didn’t bring any money (after all, it’s not her softball team) – and you weren’t about to borrow money from a teammate (even if one of them is your aunt, who threw you a big birthday party two days earlier), what would you do? Do dishes? Do a quick panhandling trip around the strip mall? See if the restaurant would hold your girlfriend’s 5-year-old daughter ransom until you came back with the cash? All options were on the table.

Thankfully, our wonderful corner infielder/screaming linedrive specialist J.J., who just happened upon a stroke of good luck somewhere, had some ducats to spare. The positive feeling in the air (minus my sweaty panic) prompted her to pick almost all the bill. Which allowed me to scrape up our share in balled up one-dollar bills.

That’s a good teammate right there. That’s somebody who, if she went to Singapore, would still pay her bills on time.

Posted on Tuesday, August 21st, 2007
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Tony Hicks May Be Selling a Car

It’s really great when you have a kid overseas for an extended period of time who left her responsibilities back in the U.S. Which make them your responsibilities by default.
So my stepdaughter is in Singapore for a few months, leaving behind her car and car payment, for which I’m partially responsible, since I came down with some sort of jungle brain virus and decided it would be wise to co-sign for the car last year.

Let’s just say the plan hasn’t exactly gone according to plan.

Translation: I’ve been making a lot of the payments.

She’s a good kid, had to quit her job, was trying to graduate from high school while going through a tough time, and I’m a big softie. I wasn’t happy at all when she announced plans to go to Singapore – for a few reasons. One of which was that she wouldn’t be around for me to physically intimidate and eventually strangle should she not make her car payments in a timely fashion.

So last week her first post-trip payment was due. I e-mailed her a reminder. Then, in case she was paying more attention to MySpace than e-mail, I went to contact her through MySpace. It was there I saw the bulletin.

She’s apparently guitar shopping.

She posted an all points bulletin looking for someone to help her spend whatever money she has (I don’t know where she’s getting it) on an electric guitar.

Did I mention she already has an electric guitar she never plays?

She’s since e-mailed me a very sweet promise of quick payment. We’ll see. In a week I may be back here, posting an ad for a cheap used Nissa Sentra.

Posted on Sunday, August 19th, 2007
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They Say It’s Your Birthday

I turn 40 today.

And now, for your enjoyment, I’d like to compose a 10,000-word essay on what it was like this morning to wake up and be halfway to 80, complete with witty anecdotes and a large sample of my newfound wisdom about no longer being in my 30s, which I gained overnight.

Just kidding.

Yes, I agree. It would be more enjoyable to devour one’s own foot than to read that.

Coincidentally – or maybe not – I did see a story today published in London about a government study concluding that men in their late 30s and early 40s are more miserable than at any other period in their life.

Well, then it’s a good thing I have the chiseled body and cheery outlook of a 19-year-old.

I do have a serious question. If I’m 40, why did I wake up this morning with more acne than when I was 14?

It was nice talking to you. I’m now off to go purchase some Clearasil.

Posted on Wednesday, August 15th, 2007
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Van Halen

I just watched the video of yesterday’s press conference at which Van Halen announced its Fall tour. I came away with two distinct impressions. OK, maybe three:

1. The jury’s out on whether David Lee Roth voice can handle a big tour anymore, but dear God that guy can still talk. His mouth will still be moving in the casket at his own funeral. Even money that Eddie can’t handle the Dave show for more than a year.

2. Eddie’s son shouldn’t be part of this, whether he can play or not. Michael Anthony is the bassist of Van Halen, period. Wolfgang just doesn’t look right up there. He’s 16 and playing with 50-somethings. He should take his last name and go start a band with kids his own age. Plus, I don’t know how they can possibly replace those back-up vocals, and old Dave is going to need all the help he can get.

2a. Who were those people asking questions (though we do now know one was a porn star friend of Eddie’s)? What do you think of Elvis? The why is Valerie letting your kid go on tour question should’ve been the first one asked, instead of the last one squeezed in.

Van Halen was my favorite band growing up. I’ve seen them more than a dozen times, and I can’t help but root for them. This just seems strange to me…but it looks like sobriety is treating Eddie well. Because after that train wreck of a last tour, on which he couldn’t even play, there was just no way he could do another one without straightening up. So, in that regard, maybe it’s a good thing. We’ll see…

Posted on Tuesday, August 14th, 2007
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Gunplay and French Doormen

I’ve been moving the past three days. Well, I’ve kind of been moving for about a year now, but it’s taken on a new urgency (no, the police aren’t involved…anymore). I’ve had to clear out my storage space, the house in which I’ve lived the past year, and the house I own but no longer live in.

And after all that, I’ve reached the following conclusion:

Moving sucks.

But moving from three different place sucks three times as bad.

I’m tired…but I’ll still try to summon the energy to write about this trendy San Francisco bar I went to Saturday night in the Mission district. Actually, the bar was kind of lame. Mostly because the doorman was a jerk with a French accent. I don’t know why, but when someone is a jerk and they have a French accent, I want to put them in a headlock and scream Boxcar Willie songs into their ear until they cry.

Or, even better, I want them to have to help me move.

But what was noteworthy was the trip to the club. After an incredibly good dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant, we walked down a side street to this place. There were a few guys scattered around the street, one of whom approached the five of us and asked if we were the police.

Uh, only if the S.F. police have a new policy of dressing like they’re marching off to hang out at trendy places where French doormen don’t let you in without an argument.

So we get to the end of the street and hear 5-6 pops behind us. I know this sound, as I used to live in Koreatown near downtown L.A. For fun, my roommates and I would take our beer to the roof and watch police helicopters chase gangbangers. My girlfriend and her sister know this sound, as their father has killed every animal known to man (and some we still don’t know about). I’m convinced I’m going to walk into his family room some night and see a stuffed dinosaur. A real one.

So, we hightail it across the street and, by the time the French guy with no hair is unleashing the velvet rope, police cars go screaming up the street. We figure either they’re responding to a report of shots fired, or they’re about to arrest the doorman for being a spy.

Sadly, it was for the gunshots. But I called the FBI on the doorman anyway. One can’t be too sure in these troubled times.

Posted on Monday, August 13th, 2007
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Karaoke Gets A Hero

This was on the Smoking Gun today. I’m not surprised – karaoke is the single worst thing to ever happen to humankind. I’m not even talking about the bad singers, either. I’m talking about the ones marginally good enough to get delusions. Pretty soon somebody gets a couple drinks in them, a Journey song comes on, and all Hell breaks loose. I just wish I had the heroic courage of this wonderful woman…

AUGUST 10–A Washington man’s karaoke performance of a Coldplay song apparently triggered a female bar patron to attack him early yesterday at a Seattle bar. According to a Seattle Police Department report, a copy of which you can find below, Lindsey Lawrence, 21, assaulted the unnamed victim while he was performing with “two other subjects” at Changes Tavern, where patrons sing karaoke Wednesday and Thursday night from 9 PM until 1 AM. When the assault victim launched into Coldplay’s “Yellow,” Lawrence allegedly told the man that his “singing sucked” and that the song “F-ing” sucked.” She then grabbed at the man’s microphone and “pushed him and punched him in order to get him to stop singing,” cops reported. When employees escorted Lawrence from the bar, she “became very violent” and struck several other people (and was hostile towards police and fire department medics who responded to the scene). Lawrence was booked into the Seattle Correctional Facility, where she is currently being held on an investigation of assault rap. It is unclear why Coldplay’s music apparently made Lawrence snap, though a famous June 2005 New York Times appraisal by Jon Pareles may offer an insight. The critic called the British group “the most insufferable band of the decade,” adding that, “the lyrics can make me wish I didn’t understand English.”

Posted on Friday, August 10th, 2007
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Working Up a Sweat

This may be one of those dumb little things I’m not supposed to blog about. But, as I still haven’t figured out exactly what I’m supposed to blog about, I’ll just keep going until someone stops me.

Something strange – perhaps even supernatural – happened to me this morning.

Since I now only live about three miles from work, and I’m usually running out the door because I’m late, I occasionally get dressed as I’m stepping out of the shower. Sometimes while I’m showering, even.

So today I got dressed too fast after a hot shower. So, not only was I putting clothes onto a wet frame, I hadn’t cooled off after the shower.

So I ran out the door, drove three miles to work in about four minutes…and I realized I looked like I just fell in the deep end with my clothes on.

I quickly got to my desk, hoped no one saw me, and started looking around for something to towel off with. I believed I had to be in a meeting at 11 with our new staff-mates from the Oakland Tribune. That was only 35 minutes away. Surely I’d dry off by then. Then I realized i hadn’t filed my column. I cleverly came to that conclusion when my editor looked at me and said “Have you filed your column?”

“Uh…no,” I said, stalling and calculating what day it was. That when I really started sweating. That’s right. I’m a columnist, I thought. I have to write one of those. I sort of had a topic but, as I’m in the middle of moving, I sort of forgot to write it. “It’s on the way,” I called, not technically lying. I grabbed a piece of paper detailing a topic I could squeeze something out of. But it had no attribution. Where did I get this thing? I can’t write about this. And, even if I could, my fingers would slip off the keyboard because of all the sweat running down my arms.

And I have to meet a roomful of people I don’t know in a few minutes, and I look like Albert Brooks in Broadcast News. Which, naturally, made me sweat more.

This was quickly becoming a disaster. I was the Titanic on an ice run. I had no defense. I was seconds away from ripping my shirt off, standing on my desk, and bellowing my resignation. I went to my editor for a little chat.

Needless to say, I still work here. At least for today.

We came up with a topic, I discovered the meeting wasn’t until 4, and I dried off as my body completely ran out of sweat. I wrote a column in about seven minutes, vowed to never do it again, then went to the bathroom to see how I looked. Not bad. The smell…not bad, either. At least for me.

Posted on Thursday, August 9th, 2007
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