Monthly Archives: November 2010

More Like: The Farty Niners

I don’t think I’ve mentioned here in Blogoland that in a week, I’ll be turning 30, which has alternately been called “the new 20,” “the old 40,” and “Thimply Thirty.” I recognize that while I do feel old – especially among Jessica’s friends who are all two whole years younger than me – there are many people (my parents, for instance) who would mock and chide me gently for entertaining any thoughts of 30 being anything other than young, and I would take these gentle mock-chides in stride.

To kick off my “birthday season,” a couple Sundays ago my excellent and generous friend John treated me to a first for me: a live NFL game. Like, at the stadium and everything.

We saw the 49ers play the Buccaneers, although I use the word “play” in a loose sense – the Niners appeared to be engaged in an entirely different activity than football. I mentioned to John during the game that you could pluck a Martian with not only no knowledge of football but no concept of Earthly sport, sit him down at the game, and after a quarter the Martian would have been able to tell that the home team was putting on an embarrassingly bad performance. The Martian would not have flinched upon learning that this was the first time in 33 years that the 49ers had been shut out at hone; he would have correctly deduced that the coach was clueless and overmatched, the owner delusional and out of touch, and he probably would have balked at the price of beer but had one anyway. Martians love Earth-beer. It’s their one weakness.

But there were several reasons that, despite the fact that the 49ers played the game as though they were playing the golf version of football – you know, where the goal is to score as few points as you can – I still had a fantastic day.

I’ll use a photo to illustrate:

As the old football saying goes:

If the team you are to see
‘s going to play atrociously –
30th row, yardline: fifty
makes the whole thing much more nifty!

It’s hard to imagine a much better vantage point than where we sat. From there, we had a clear and direct view of every misplay, every dropped pass, every single 1/2-yard run up the middle by Frank Gore, every punt, every TV timeout*. By halftime, aided by the conclusion that what we were witnessing was the sports version of watching a movie so bad it’s fantastic (like for example), I realized I was having a spectacularly entertaining experience.

*[I’d have to say that the biggest difference between watching the game at home and in person – besides the multiple camera angles and constant replays – is the TV timeouts. I mean, they’re CONSTANT. It felt like every time I looked out at the field, the players were standing in a huddle on either side of the ball, waiting for the whistle. There is a LOT of standing and waiting, so much so that I question which is the slower sport – baseball or football. On TV, of course, you don’t see all that, but it’s a pretty persistent part of watching a live game.]

I also realized towards the beginning of the game that my tried-and-true baseball heckles simply weren’t going to work at a football game, something I hadn’t thought about beforehand. I have a particularly nerdy style of heckling that involves yelling things (loudly) like “I’ve seen better swings on a porch!” and “Go back to New York… wherever that is!” and “The AFL-CIO throws better strikes than that!” (courtesy Drew) and “Your fielding is surprisingly poor compared to your teammates, but all things considered, still incredibly above-average!” and other such things. But baseball has a culture of heckling (despite the confused stares I generally get at baseball games), whereas I noticed very little of it at the 49ers game.

But as fun as the game itself was, the pre-game was even better. Not only did I get to experience a real NFL tailgate, but it also happened to be a Thanksgiving tailgate – my second of four Thanksgiving meals this year, a personal record – and it was also the first time I’ve ever tried a deep-fried turkey.

Let me tell you something about fried turkey: try it. “I’m a vegetarian,” you say, or “I’m quite concerned about trans fats.” Perhaps you might say, “I’m a bit of a Thanksgiving purist – you really have to roast a turkey in the oven or if you’re feeling really crazy, barbecue it.” Some might even offer “the only things I want fried are chicken, fries, and butter.”

But let’s not be silly here – the Internet is not the place for that. The two greatest things about fried turkey, in no particular order, are (1) a 20-pound bird was fully cooked in ONE HOUR, and (2) it was juicy, dense, flavorful, moist, and all the other adjectives you can think of to describe your ideal Thanksgiving bird.

Also, I made bread:

If you’ve never made yeasted bread before but have always wanted to try, but are intimidated in some way (as I was for a while), I highly recommend this recipe (which is the bread on the right). It’s unique in several ways – it requires absolutely no kneading, it has to sit for 12-18 hours (the longer the better), has much less yeast than typical bread, and it’s baked in a dutch oven rather than a baking sheet. The results are pretty astounding, especially given its unconventional preparation – it’s the most delicious bread I’ve ever made, and I’ve made a LOT of bread. It’s crusty, moist, big holes, smells amazing, and frankly looks like it’s right out of a bakery. And it’s really, really easy. And it also impresses the pants off people, which is especially great during a “pants-off” competition.

So, there. A whole post with nary a mention of weddings. I knew I could do it.



The Wynette Chronicles

We are now four days into the Age Of Wynette.

It’s safe to say we love her madly. Her big eyes, licky tongue, her endearingly clumsy three-leggedness, and how she sleeps through the night without making a peep. She’s taken to her doggie bed and her toys – a rope that Jessica’s brother Tom immediately went and bought for us after learning we were adopting a dog, a squeaky stuff dog (pictures above), and a “Kong,” a toy that you put treats into that she has to work to extract. She rarely barks, loves people and other dogs, and is quite calm when people come through the front door.

Early challenges: whining and walking (The “Two W’s”) – she whines when she senses separation, and is sort of all over the place on walks. But I think we’re already making progress, and have several friends who have excellent dog-training tips and advice.

We have a new member of the family. And we couldn’t be happier.

Introducing: Wynette!

Player Profile

Name: Wynette
Early nickname candidates: Netta, Tammy, Winnie, Wyn-wyn Situation, Why Not?
Age: 11-12 months
Legs: Three (3)
Breed: Foxhound & shepherd
Ears: Floppy
Eyes: Big, wet
International Cuteness Units (ICUs): 11
Adoption Date: 11/27/10
Adopted From: Milo Foundation, San Rafael, CA
Owners: Happy

Photo Gallery

Engagement Photos: Just A Few!

Drew sent me a smattering of engagement photos last night, from the highly-anticipated upcoming photoset Young Love: Bret & Jessica Prove Their Engagement In Pictorial Fashion, debuting soon at a MOMA near you.

We are thrilled with this little taste, and can’t wait for the whole meal. So whet your whistles, everyone! Here’s an hors-d’oeuvre:*

*[What a horrifying mish-mash of food metaphors.]

Thanks again to Drew and Andrew for dominating the technical portion of the shoot, and to Cristin and Greg for providing their awesome presence, jokes, and bag-fetching skills.

More to come!

Me, But Clay

This is how Jessica envisions me were I made of clay:

A Joke!

Did you guys hear I’ve been watching old mafia films as a way to draw inspiration for All Things ‘Zilla?

I’ve found that it’s great Blogfodder.

[Instant Rimshot].

Pixel Perturbance & Lighting Specialists: Ruminations On A Day Of Photography

Unless something has happened to Drew’s camera since we parted on Sunday evening, or unless a rare technological malaise called “Pixel Perturbance” occurs, which causes the pixels that make up a photo to spontaneously rearrange themselves into images of kittens or puppies, our engagement photos are going to be really good. Like: REALLY good. Really.

Yes, I know, that sounds forward. Arrogant. Peremptory, even; practically supercilious. But stand back, yo – I’m not trying to toot my own horn, nor even make others aware of the presence of my horn as something I might ever consider tooting in the future. So please stop talking about my horn because I’m a little bit self-conscious about it.

This thing we do, these engagement photos, are the latest – and among the earliest – of a series of trials. Trials that test the endurance of two people, their continuing ability to self-promote and enlist the help of others, and deign to suggest that a party they are throwing, for themselves and their hand-picked guests, is important enough to warrant 14 months of preparation, thousands of dollars, hundreds of man-hours of work, contributing cooks, a blog, research, anxiety, stress, cross-country flights for out-of-towners, a presidential radio address, announcements in 35 of the world’s 46 most prestigious dailies, a commemorative statue outside City Hall, and a big cake.

But that’s cynical, and I know that. That’s the bare, unromantic sludge that lines the bottom of the rain pipe of weddings. Weddings are celebrations of love, of life, of friendship, of family, and of togetherness. They really are, when done right – they can feel like 8 hours of thanksgiving. Weddings are meaningful and important to people, they are rooted in tradition but continually open to innovations in style and technology and thought, and they represent more than a long  and expensive soirée. Far more.

And it’s for those reasons that I can picture myself and Jessica slowly, bumpily, and gradually easing our way into the spotlight. The kicker here, of course, is that it’s a spotlight that we paid $10,000 to have installed above ourselves, and for the salary of a lighting specialist who follows us everywhere we go for 14 months, shining down upon us, screaming “Look at these two, everyone! They’re what’s hip! They’re not to be ignored! And look how pretty Jessica is!*”

*[The lighting specialist is a really big fan of Jessica’s].

But: there’s a certain joy to it, too. I mean, there are reasons people are vain and narcissistic – you get to believe you are God’s gift to Man (which was a totally sweet Blu-Ray player last Christmas; God gives nice gifts) and fawn over your own appearance and social capital. But this is the one time we’ll do this, the one time in our lives we will plan a months-long celebration of ourselves and our lives and those in it, and we should grab the opportunities to enjoy it and to bask in it.

I experienced the following progression in my head over the few hours following the shoot:

“Man, that was really fun. I bet we got some good photos.”

“I bet we looked really good, too. I feel like we totally did.”

“Those clothes we picked out I think were pretty perfect, honestly, among the choices we had. Deciding on one outfit each was absolutely the right call, and limiting the numbers of locations was also really helpful.”

“Dang. Jessica looks beautiful.”

“I mean, I really feel like everything went extremely well. The timing worked, people had fun, we looked really good, we ate sandwiches and Mexican food, we saw an incredibly beautiful sunset over the whole bay, and we got to ride small trains that run on steam and childrens’ dreams through the Berkeley Hills.”

“Not only is Drew a great photographer on his own, but he was assisted by Andrew, who brought a really fantastic aesthetic and directorial vision to the shots, and held the bounce the entire afternoon, bouncing sunlight on us and suggesting poses and advice; they worked extremely well as a team.”

Then we scrolled through the photos on the small screen of Drew’s Canon, gasping with glee, squealing with delight, and it was confirmed.

They’re great photos. They’re simple, there’s a great sunset in the back, and we look nice. There’s a steam train. Greg told inappropriate jokes and gave me 49ers updates. We spent time with good friends and good food. We were all on the same page. The weather was stunning, as if the sky were saying, “here’s a day of summer I kept in my back pocket for an occasion like this.”

It was great. Engagement is feeling fun again.