Saturday, August 29, 2015

We are old.

What a weird week this has been - we've gone to the second favorite family restaurant closing.

Had a very bittersweet dinner on Wednesday with the family. One of our favorite Chinese restaurants, Charlie Mom, was closing the next day. We have been eating there, unbelievably, on and off for the entire time that they have been open - 33 years.

City Crab & Seafood Restaurant is closing tomorrow after 22 years. (Once again, we're so old that I remember when the space was Cafe Iguana.) We have had many, many happy family meals there (even well before the girls were around.)

Both of the girls had their first (virgin) drinks, sitting at a bar at this restaurant. Both of them ate their first lobsters there. I've spent many hours waiting outside the bathroom for either of them. (When they were very young, I had to bring them into the men's room to use the bathroom and had to explain what a urinal was.) I was once bought a drink by a waiter who recognized me at the dad who waits outside the rest room for his daughters.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Marriage is a wonderful institution,

but who wants to live in an institution? - Groucho Marx

Two crazy kids got married on this date.

Happy Anniversary Mary.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The new normal

No citizen of San Francisco ... would have been more generally missed.

It is human nature to yearn to be what we were never intended for. It is singular, but it is so. I wanted to be a pilot or a preacher, & I was about as well calculated for either as is poor Emperor Norton for Chief Justice of the United States. - Mark Twain

Joshua Norton was a businessman in San Francisco in the 1800's. In the 1840's, just before the Gold Rush, he tried to corner the market on rice and failed. He went from being very wealthy to being destitute overnight and the experience completely shattered his reason.

A couple of months after this event, he put on a formal admiral's uniform, complete with gold braid and epaulets and strode in to the office of the newspaper. He handed the editor a large, official looking proclamation which stated in quite formal language that, due to popular demand, he hereby declared himself Emperor Norton I of San Francisco, California, and Mexico, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico. He bade all his subjects show him loyalty and the other courtesies due a person of such eminent stature.

... At the peremptory request and desire of a large majority of the citizens of these United States, I, Joshua Norton, formerly of Algoa Bay, Cape of Good Hope, and now for the last 9 years and 10 months past of S. F., Cal., declare and proclaim myself Emperor of these U. S.; and in virtue of the authority thereby in me vested, do hereby order and direct the representatives of the different States of the Union to assemble in Musical Hall, of this city, on the 1st day of Feb. next, then and there to make such alterations in the existing laws of the Union as may ameliorate the evils under which the country is laboring, and thereby cause confidence to exist, both at home and abroad, in our stability and integrity. —NORTON I, Emperor of the United States.

The editor, with a rich sense of humor, decided to publish the proclamation on the front page of the newspaper, in all seriousness. The citizens of San Francisco, being what they are, immediately decided that this sounded like a good idea and, by unanimous acclamation, accepted Norton as their Emperor. It is undoubtedly the only time in history they ever had an unanimous vote on anything.

(From the pictures of Emperor Norton, it is immediately apparent that this guy has gone around the bend and ain't coming back. His eyes pointed in different directions, and neither one quite caught straight ahead. His uniform was formal to the point of almost gaudy and, at the same time, it was quite apparent that he and soap were not of regular acquaintance.)

He reigned for about forty years. During that time he ate in all of the finest restaurants and slept in the finest hotels for free -- because he was the Emperor. He had three seats permanently reserved in the front row of the San Francisco opera house -- one for him, and one each for his two dogs. Twice a year he would review the police and fire departments as they paraded by, and then he would make a grand speech to the assembled crowds. He printed his own money, which was accepted in business establishments around San Francisco as legal tender. When bicycles first came out, they got him a bicycle, too, and he looked all the more daft because of it. When one of his dogs died, 10,000 people turned out for the funeral to console their grief-stricken emperor. When the Civil War rolled around, he graciously offered his alliance and military support to Abraham Lincoln, who politely declined.

Make no mistake about it, the Emperor Norton was as good a loony as you have ever run across and I can't help feeling that a man who was that intelligent must have had some idea of just how completely nuts he really was.

Now here's the problem. During his reign as Emperor, Norton came up with three major ideas:

1) He called upon the other leaders of the world to join him in forming a League of Nations where disputes between nations could be resolved peacefully.

2) He suggested that parts of San Francisco Bay be filled in to make more room to build.

3) He proposed that a suspension-span bridge be built across the spot where the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge stands now. He even laid out a complete design that looks remarkably close to the bridge that was built sixty years after he died. He correctly predicted that only a suspension span bridge would have the strength to span such a large stretch, and the flexibility to stand up under the extreme stress which would be placed on such a structure. He did this at a time when the only suspension bridges ever built were rope bridges in remote parts of Africa.

Of course, when he proposed these ideas, the response was long and uproarious laughter -- the Emperor was up to his old tricks again. In time, all of his ideas became reality.

At the time, no one believed him.

Also, please check out the status of the online petition to rename the San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge after our beloved majesty, Emperor Norton.

And so it goes

Thursday, August 6, 2015

At least they don't carry Legionnaire's Disease

Once again, New York City has lucked out and has not been plagued, as it has been in the past, with a large number of West Nile Virus cases this summer. Unfortunately we may be inundated with Chikungunya.  The chikungunya virus, a mosquito-borne illness that causes high fevers and sometimes intense pain, is spreading rapidly throughout the Caribbean and is thought to be heading towards the US. (There have been more cases of Chikungunya that Legionnaire's Disease in the US this year.)

ACME takes some pride in this and once again we would like to publish this importance health update:

Mosquitoes can not cause spread the Ebola but do carry the West Nile virii. West Nile virus can cause encephalitis, which causes swelling of the brain, which can in turn cause enlargement of the head. Contrary to the examples of encephalitis you see in the newspaper every day — such as Charlie Brown and Calvin - encephalitis is a deadly condition whose victims would be less likely to play with frisky beagles or stuffed tigers than to vomit blood and die.

Chikungunya virus is easy to avoid: like most viruses, it's very small, very slow, and not especially bright. Unfortunately, it's often carried by mosquitoes that are bigger, faster, and fiendishly clever.

It's not always easy to discern whether or not a given mosquito is carrying the chikungunya virus, so the prudent move is to avoid all mosquitoes.

This may be unfair to innocent mosquitoes who mean you no harm--the so-called "moderate" mosquitoes - but political niceties must be subordinated to threats to your survival.

It's important to remember that mosquitoes are masters of disguise. With a little makeup or a fancy hat, any mosquito can take on the appearance of several other species. They cannot, however, conceal their stingers.

Avoid all insects with stingers. If you encounter one that claims its stinger is merely a golf-club wedged into its rectum, do not believe it: insects don't golf.

Do not open your doors or windows to strangers before ascertaining whether or not they're mosquitoes. If they acknowledge being mosquitoes but deny carrying the Chikungunya virus, do not trust them. Some mosquitoes may even offer to show you a doctor's certificate, but such evidence is meaningless: they may have picked up Chikungunya virus in the time elapsed since their doctor tested them.

Be wary of delivery men, plumbers, electricians, and cable guys with stingers trailing from their jumpsuits.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Another day in Hollywood

Arnold had become confused during the 1977 Golden Globe ceremony and believe he had won Rachel. Ms Welch was ambivalent about whether or not she should tell him the truth.