Monday, August 18, 2008

Robbers' Roost.

Yesterday John and I visited Robbers' Roost at Mt. Charleston. It was John's first time there. We had the entire crag to ourselves. Almost. A relatively constant stream of day trippers with their children caused no little amusement. One fat kid wearing a t-shirt the size of a bed sheet offered to climb into a small cave for $5. His mother said, "I'll give you $30 if you do it!" implying he couldn't because he was too fat. Then there was the 8 year old with a 50 year old he addressed as "Steven". He kept saying "Steven" this and "Steven" that and we thought he was yelling to his little brother or something; nope. He had no little companion- he was addressing his father/uncle/friend? But then John thought, "Why not? Why can't 50 year old men be friends with 8 year old boys?" I agreed, but a puritanical and by logical extension a perverted and paranoid society would disapprove. This was followed by the father who lit up a joint once his kids were busy scrambling on rocks. All in all, a pretty fine day. Below is a photo of some route that I guess was around 5.10. I can't seem to match the routes here to any topo or guidebook. It's one of my weakest climbing skills. The book could describe the route hold by hold, and I still wouldn't be able to identify it.
Below John demonstrates his magical no-hands belay technique. On the drive up, John ate 4 fried chicken wings purchased from Albertson's supermarket for $3.49 and tossed the bones out the window at various picturesque intervals on Route 157, to no small delight. This is completely irrelevant to anything; but I felt that the event merited recording.
Below, King John the Mohawk King holds court at Osaka Japanese restaurant. He won a $25 wager with Pilar that the caucasian american waitress spoke Japanese, by the way she corrected my abysmal pronunciation of nigiri sushi pieces. Turns out the waitress lived in Japan for a year.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Birthday at Bouchon.

Pilar's birthday found us at Bouchon, Thomas Keller's french restaurant in The Venetian casino and hotel. The food, atmosphere, and service approximated perfection. Instead of wine, we accompanied our meal with 3 Vesper martinis (Boodles gin, vodka, Lillet Blanc, twist). I say "approximated perfection" because the third martini had ice crystals in it. Perhaps to be expected since James Bond did say it should be "shaken, not stirred." To start, we were served the best baked bread I've had outside of Europe, with salted butter. Why can't Americans get good bread? why is good bread here a rare delicacy when the French can just walk into any bakery and get wheaty kneaded heavenly goodness?
Then followed the appetizers: we received a complimentary plate of carpaccio with bread and goat cheese, rabbit with diced plum, and olives. Our main course was roast leg of lamb and beef short ribs.
Presentation was king, and each dish was softly understated, with masterfully hidden surprises. For example, the lamb was on a bed of finely diced and sauteed sweet peppers and arugula, and underneath that, unseen at first was a small bed of toasted bread a centimeter thin that soaked in the au jus and all the other savory delectability.
They even provided a birthday platter with a single candle mounted on the plate with its own wax.
Afterwards, we sampled the uber gaudy mockery of Venice, strangely interesting in its own grotesque way, the way things are in Las Vegas. A frighteningly impressive fake sky that messes with your sense of the time of day is combined with singing gondoliers. Seeing these unrivalled feats of bad taste always reminds me of a psychological map of the American culture- A blissfully and willfully ignorant disneyfied fantasy of stereotypes. This is where American adults go to be mesmerized like children doped up on anti-depressants.
On the way out, a gigantic moth, which i'll refer to as Mothra, was trapped in the hallway that led to the parking garage. For some reason, Mothra landed on Pilar's skirt, and once there, decided it didn't want to flutter about anymore while banging its head against the swinging glass doors. I think Mothra sensed that Pilar was not like the others (others being the visiting tourists gawking and freaking out and thinking Mothra was a bat.) Mothra clung to Pilar's skirt down the hallway, and even into the elevator. I guess it wanted to get the hell out of there as well!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Mary Jane.

Today Pilar and I visited Mary Jane crag in Mt. Charleston for the second time. I was determined to send Mary Jane 5.11b, even if that meant skipping two bolts at the top because I didn't bring up enough draws. The book said 5 bolts, but there were 7. I only had 5 draws, but didn't want to start over again. Besides, I could save energy by not having to stop and clip two extra times. In the middle of the video below, Pilar and I argue about what to do when I realize I'm short two draws. She wanted me to come down, but I was confident in my plan.

video

Slab 5.8 - redpoint
Pine in the Ass 5.10b - onsight
Mary Jane 5.11b - redpoint
Insane in the Membrane 5.11a - redpoint

Pilar, impressed by the latest batman flick, saw a cloud shaped like batman's emblem.

Afterwards, we went to Shuck's Tavern to inhale some oysters.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Escape from New York (back to Vegas.)

Otherwise known as out of the frying pan and into the fire. Here's a view of the Grand Canyon from Continental flight 668.
Below Dan and Jodi generously act as our guides to our first First Friday at Las Vegas. 1st Friday is where on the first Friday of each month, there is a gathering of artists to ply their trade and sell their wares. Visual arts abounded, but there was also spoken word, and even some breakdancin'.
We wandered into an antique shop (read: junk) that had some interesting artifacts nonetheless. Take the following chastity-like medieval torture / S&M structure that Pilar found:
I think it's basically an iron sculpture that isn't meant to be functional. Below Pilar faces off against a mounted gazelle.
Below is a video of some breakdancing. I'm not sure which was more impressive, the breakdancing, or the fact that they were doing it in 100F weather.
video

Friday, August 1, 2008

Tell No One.

Sunday night Aylon and I watched "Tell No One", a "french thriller", with a french Dustin Hoffman lookalike. It will not leave an indelible mark on your psyche, but it will entertain you. If my friend Aylon didn't fall asleep, it must have been quite stimulating. Good: characters, editing. Bad: exploited U2's With or Without You, a song that A said had too many connections for too many people. Unfortunately, they couldn't sustain the suspense/mystery for long and instead opted to explain it all half way through the movie which seriously deflated the tension they had built up. It would have been much better to reveal in a slow tease rather than a monotone bang. Perhaps I'm just prejudiced and wanted something more spooky along the lines of David Lynch. None the less, it was superior to hollywood in every respect. Solid acting combined with touches of humor that always managed to fall shy of poignancy. Like a fried egg with salt- simple and effective. Alright, that was a fragile analogy, but tough titties.
Here's a video of Tulip, Jane and Aylon's dog in NYC. She's chewing on a nylon bone. Normal bones won't do because her pitbull-like jaws break them and allow her to swallow them without proper chewing. Then she vomits. Hence the nylon bone. I think the nylon bone may be bullet proof. Don't mess with the nylon bone.
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Men Kui Tei
I almost didn't fulfill my tradition of visiting this midtown classic. But I convinced my colleague Alex to join me, and as usual, it was scrumptiously yummylicious. We started with two Sapporo, then dove headfirst into gyoza, nera reba (chicken liver and leeks), tonkotsu ramen (rich pork bone broth), and curry ramen. Alex was initially skeptical of the nira reba but ended up vacuuming the entire plate.
Following Men Kui Tei, Alex and I visited Paladar in the East Village, a latin bar that boasted the best mojitos in nyc or some similarly ridiculous and commonplace claim. We had mojitos and caiperinhas until Aylon and his new found bass player Peter showed up. The mojitos were weak, but tasty. A lot of mint and real sugar cane. Peter was one cool cat. He carried a gigantic upright bass with him, and he only had one pin on the huge canvas bag. It was a pin with a picture of Jim Anchower ! I alone appreciated this.

Alex insisted I snap a photo of the mountain of limes on the bar, so here it is.