San Diego Archives

July 22, 2008

Troubling Times For The ATP?


This week the New York Times has been running daily articles in the Sports section covering the antitrust lawsuit waged by the German Tennis Federation against the ATP, the governing body of men's professional tennis. Seasoned observers are suggesting that if the ATP loses, the entire men's professional circuit could be blown up, to be replaced by who knows what!

Star-Crossed Lovers


I sat through a generally competent production of Romeo And Juliet at The Old Globe Theater in Balboa Park tonight. High points were the set design and the actors portraying Juliet, Mercutio, and the friar. The piece seemed to drag, though, in part because the pacing was a bit off in places; and when "the two hours' traffic of our stage" runs almost three hours, I think some judicious cuts are in order.

July 23, 2008

Ringtones Galore


I probably should have figured this out before, but a bit of web surfing just taught me how easy it is to make my own custom iPhone ringtones from songs I've ripped to iTunes using the latest (iLife '08) version of GarageBand.

Comic-Con 2008


I am heading into the city to pick up my Comic-Con registration badge at the convention center. This may well be the geekiest thing I've ever done. But I figured since I am out here on the West Coast in July, I might as well check out ground zero of American pop culture. About 125,000 people are expected, so I'll have some company!



Tonight at Comic-Con, Fox previewed the premiere if one of its new shows for the fall line-up, Fringe. This series was created by J.J. Abrams and his usual collaborators and is sort of an X-Files meets CSI type of show.

July 24, 2008



Now that Roger Federer has lost his first match on the North American hard court summer circuit, can we say he's officially in a slump? He dropped a three-setter in Toronto to France's Gilles Simon, 2-6, 7-5, 6-4. Hard to remember Federer losing back-to-back matches.

The Swiss player has a lot of points to defend in the second half of the year and his primary challenger, Rafael Nadal, can earn a lot more points if he simply plays better than he did last summer. Given what must be sky-high confidence on the part of the new Wimbledon champ, it's hard to imagine that won't happen. There may be a new #1 in the rankings sooner rather than later!

Smilin' Stan


Got to be in the same room with Stan Lee--who played a part in the creation of the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, The Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, the Avengers, the X-Men, etc. Pretty cool. He was on a very entertaining panel with Scottish comics writer Grant Morrison, who also has a pretty impressive corpus of work behind him.

Squandering An Opportunity


With Roger Federer out of his quarter of the draw early, Andy Roddick had a good chance to advance to the finals. No more. He was was upset by 44th-ranked Marin Cilic 6-4, 4-6, 6-4. Doesn't look like Roddick having a very good 2008.

A Clever Spoof

Here is Vanity Fair taking a friendly swipe at the controversial cover on its sister publication, The New Yorker:


The Latest From Joss Whedon


I downloaded "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog" from iTunes last week and watched its three episodes over the past day or two. It defies description, really--a musical that's about 45 minutes long from the point of view of a cheesy super-villain who has to deal with an obnoxiously arrogant super-hero. Perfect to digest in bits on the iPhone while waiting in line!

July 25, 2008

Watchmen Panel


Warner Brothers packed a 6500-seat hall to capacity here at Comic-Con for a panel presentation with the director and cast of Watchmen, due in theaters next March. Original illustrator Dave Gibbons joined the panel as well. The fans present were treated to an extended sequence from the recently-released trailer footage. We also got free Watchmen T-shirts. Yay!

Rush Fails Rock Band

This is too rich: the Canadian trio Rush attempted to play its hit song “Tom Sawyer” on the video game Rock Band and failed to complete the song after 30 seconds, scoring just 31% on “expert mode." See it for yourself here.

Kevin Smith In The House


Director and raconteur Kevin Smith entertained the Comic-Con faithful in a pair of back-to-back presentations today. The first, a "visionaries" panel featuring directors Judd Apatow (The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up), Frank Miller (The Spirit), and Zach Snyder (300, Watchmen) along with Smith preceded a session on the forthcoming Zach and Miri Make A Porno, directed by Smith and starring Seth Rogen. Most of the cast of Zach and Miri was in attendance, too. The clip from the film was very funny, but Kevin Smith stole the show at both panels with his razor-sharp wit and self-deprecating humor. For a taste of the hilarity, check out his Q&A sessions on this DVD combo: An Evening with Kevin Smith/An Evening With Kevin Smith 2: Evening Harder.

Another Casualty In Canada


Just after Time released its list of the "100 Olympic Athletes to Watch," the only tennis player featured, Novak Djokovic, loses for the first time to Andy Murray at the Masters event in Toronto. The early departures 2007 winner Djokovic and 2007 finalist Federer are shifting a lot of ranking points the way of Rafa Nadal (who beat Richard Gasquet handily after dropping an epic first-set tiebreak in today's quarterfinal) this week.

A Triumphant Tour


I haven't seen any television coverage of Obama's tour of Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel/Palestine, and Europe. I suppose the images play especially well--particularly the footage of the speech in Berlin before a throng of 200,000--but just reading about the trip this past week in The New York Times and USA Today suggests this went about as well as the Obama campaign could have wished: its candidate came across as presidential, statesmanlike, and possessing a command of foreign policy. We'll see how all of this plays out back home.

July 26, 2008

California Taking The Lead

California has become the first state to ban the use of trans fats in food preparation in public establishments. As this is such a big state, it will mean restaurant chains and food processors will be forced away from the use of these poisonous substances, rather than establishing a dual supply chain. The law takes effect in 2010 for restaurants and a year later for non-packaged food sold on a retail basis. This is a good development for the health of the country.

The Nerd Prom


No doubt Comic-Con is, indeed, the nerd prom. Costumes are a big deal here. This week I've seen dozens of imperial stormtroopers, Batmans, Robins, Supermen, and Wonder Women. I've eaten lunch next to Starfleet officers, Princess Leias, elves from Middle Earth, pirates of the Caribbean, Predators, Jedi knights, and multiple versions of Indiana Jones (and even his father). I can't tell you how many different Jokers are on the premises this week.

I have been impressed by the diversity of people here. Bucking the stereotype of the overgrown adolescent geek living in his parents' basement, all over the place you can see little kids, teenagers, senior citizens, and everyone in between. Lots of African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asians are prominent here. And no shortage of women, either, contrary to the clichés.

And the range of interests represented at the convention is equally diverse. There's certainly a fair number here with at best a passing interest in comics--theoretically the centerpiece of the event. There are people into video games, television shows, Japanese anime, fantasy, Star Wars, vampires, and about everything else in the world of pop culture you can imagine. The hot ticket panels are those involving blockbuster films and TV shows with cult followings (such as Lost, The Office, and Battlestar Galactica).

That's Alls I Can Stand

I think I've hit the wall on this Comic-Con experience. The first day or so was pretty cool. But the lines to get into the rooms for panels have become intolerable and the novelty of the whole event has worn off. I guess Saturday is the peak day, when attendance is at its highest. I've had enough.


I did catch a great presentation this morning by Dave Gibbons and book designer extraordinaire Chip Kidd about the forthcoming Watching The Watchmen, a behind-the-scenes account of the creation of the graphic novel (or, as we called it in the 1980s, "comics"). I've already got it pre-ordered on Amazon.

Parting Shot From CCI


This prop from the recent Iron Man movie decorated the Marvel booth on the floor of the exhibit hall. The other similarly impressive such prop on display was the Owl-ship from Watchmen in the Warner Bros. booth.

This Old Bag


I've acquired a lot of bags over the years from my tennis suppliers, currently HEAD and adidas. Once these became available with wheels, my life on the road got a lot easier! The particular bag pictured above has been all over North America, traveled to Africa and back, went to Europe a few times, and even circumnavigated the globe with me. After some two years of use, it's now pretty beat up and the telescoping handle fell off somewhere between Portland and L.A. on this trip, which makes the bag nearly impossible to roll on its wheels. Thus I've contacted HEAD and a replacement (with the updated Tour Team orange/gray/black/white color scheme) is already on its way so I'll have a functional bag with wheels before I leave for the U.K. in two weeks.

So Long, West Coast

I've been away from home for three full weeks now and had a thoroughly enjoyable time in California and Oregon. My fellowship at Stanford was a terrific experience (I shipped the formidable stack of books I read while there back to Connecticut to reduce the travel load). And while I was out here I saw four plays (three Shakespeare, one Friel) and an opera. I also connected with my sister in San Francsico, the Mattoons in Oregon, and a whole bunch of Choaties in Palo Alto, Berkeley, L.A., and San Diego. Attending Comic-Con had its high points, though to poach the title of a David Foster Wallace essay about being on a cruise ship, I think it was "a supposedly fun thing I'll never do again."

As always, when one travels for any length of time, it's great to come home.

Fly By Night

(Nothing like the title of a Rush song to start the blog entry.)

I am taking the red-eye from San Diego to Charlotte and then an early morning flight from there to Hartford. I eschewed my usual aisle seats in the hopes I'll find the window seat conducive to sleeping through most of the flights. I have a long day tomorrow, as I have to go to New York City in the evening for the closing night performance of Damn Yankees.

August 28, 2009



I came to San Diego pretty much just to see this play, and Coriolanus at the Old Globe delivered. This was my seventh play in four days, but fatigue was conquered by a pretty gripping production. The role of Volumnia--the mother of the title character--is critical to this piece, and the actress filling those shoes was well cast.

Sushi Ota


It's set in a little hole-in-the-wall location in a strip mall next to a 7-Eleven, but Sushi Ota has some of the best sushi I've ever had! It's in the Mission Bay section of San Diego and I can't imagine coming back to this city without a stop here.

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