Thursday, January 29, 2009

IOWAnt my family back

Well the time has come and gone in the foreshadowed period that sees the Iowa contingency of the Tullis clan shed their snow boots and don their floral print winter gear for the annual trek back to Cali.

Just who are these nomadic people of Iowa? My Brother Andy and his lovely wife Stephanie moved to Iowa shortly after my nephew Ben was born 5 years ago. Since then they have added the endearing Miss Addison Paige who is all of 2 going on 30.

With her perfect vocabulary, wittle wisp, and a non-existent verbal filter-their short time here was nothing short on entertainment from minute one.

Upon entering grandpas car curbside at SFO, Addy spoke first.

"What's your name?"
"I'm Grandpa Sam"
"Well I'm not sure if I like this Grandpa." (this is going to be a great week)

Including the the sprint with open arms to an awaiting Uncle Toby for the stand up hug, she buries her face in my crotch prompting my uber-mature brother to ask, "Oh God Addy, what does that smell like?", to which I honestly reply-"Dust, Andy, Dust." I bow my head in sad truth.
Up to Addy watching me snack on a small piece of cold steak from the fridge. "What's that Uncle Toby?" "Steak". "Your big belly is sure full of Steak!" I bow my head in sad truth.

But while young Addison is certainly the star of the show, my heart belongs to the trail blazer that came before her, brother Ben.

It has been known that I have often had more of an affinity for the opening act. For instance Public Enemy left Anthrax in the dust the night of the Oakland Fires, and to me, Annie Lennox blew doors on Sting, but I digress.

Brother Ben is a humble, subdued, intellect that is sharply humorous and wise beyond his few years. He is acutely aware that his sister is in the spotlight, and seemingly unaffected by the recent swing of attention. He not only picks her up-he holds her up, and they are friends the way that a senior and a junior are friends. It is genuine, but you know who the elder is. When they finished a puzzle together of Alvin and the Chipmunks, to which Addy did Simon and Ben did the rest, everybody celebrated the marvelous feat of young Addys contribution, and rightfully so. This was a puzzle for seven years + and that is their age combined. In all the celebration, a young Ben with shirt sleeve in mouth should have been witnessed by more than myself quietly leaving the room and proudly mentioning under his breath with his head held high,as if to let Addy have her moment..."I did the rest!"

And so it goes~the big brother, little sister dynamic. Interesting to watch and, in this case, admire. But as a man of science (yeah right) I would like to compile more data for my studies, so if you guys wouldn't mind moving back here for a few years for observation, that would be swell.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What A Day!

Rising at 7 am to catch all the excitement of history unfolding and ending the day catching more history playing live! If ever I was on death row, I believe I would request to fore go the final meal and all the splendor that comes with it and ask if I may somehow, just somehow, relive January 20th 2009.

One must forgive the slightly fuzzy undertones of this post as I am still trying to eliminate the contact high that comes from watching Willie at the Fillmore. It really is more like watching a concert from inside Woody Harrlesons bong, and if by some chance you aren't a pot smoker (which I am not), your going to be one that night!

I have seen Willie numerous times and the only negative critique that I have about last nights show was how hard it is seeing him get long in the tooth. His voice is strong, his guitar playing was manic and controlled beautifully, but in his short sleeve shirt exposing his arms and neck, he appeared to be wearing a skin suit that was a few sizes too big. Just kind of droopy.

He is also nurturing his young son Lukas and slowly passing the torch. Lukas' band opened as a kind of "Blind Mellon meets Fish" feel, and while Lukas is a superb guitarist, he sings through his nose forcefully. A message to Lukas-Your dad does that naturally and pulls it off flawlessly. If you don't got it~You don't got it~So don't try it.

I have a gut wrenching feeling that this may be the last time I see Willie play. Not because hes going anywhere, because he is not. (He tours 200 days of the year and is mentally strong as an ox), but watching Lukas play with his dad and take over on vocals a couple of times stung! I don't want to see anybody but the Red Headed Stranger sing Willie tunes, and I can't help but suspect that good ol' Willie might be increasing his sons involvement. Watching your parents get old is something you are forced to do, but I can choose to remember a younger version of Willie Nelson without being subject to personally see him wither. I am grateful for being able to witness one of my hero's so many times under better conditions.

To President Barack Obama: I am excited about where we are going!

To Willie Nelson: I am endowed to you for where we have been!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Don't Do It!

Here now I reveal some restaurant subject matter that is the topic of many fury laden tyraids around the proverbial water cooler behind the scenes (or the service station as it were).

"Table 62 just gave me the verbal tip, and then ordered 3 fuckin' hot teas!"

Let's break it down.
The "verbal tip" is the kiss of death for any server anywhere on the globe. The meal is almost done, the server is in "go" mode making sure that the final minutes before you enter the gratuity are amazingly memorable, despite the fact your steak was undercooked, or your favorite table wasn't available. Then it happens-The patron touches the servers arm and says, "You were a fantastic server, thank you so much".

AAHHHH! The server never even saw it coming. This is the verbal tip. As soon as the bill is laid, and the verbal tip applied, the actual tip is scribbled in....10%. Most verbal tippers actually think that the compliment translates to cash!

"Thank you so much for the kind words, I'll just put them here in my self addressed stamped envelope and mail them to my land lord. I'm sure he'll think that's more than adequate for this months rent".....Don't Do It! Let your monetary tip be the compliment. We appreciate it more.

Secondly-Hot Tea

Unless you are dining at an Chinese food establishment, hot tea is the worst item you can order, and will evoke eye rolls and shit talk.
Hot tea takes 7 steps to complete for just one order-Cup & saucer (I'm even counting this as one), hot water tea pot, sugar, cream, spoon, and lemon, all balanced precariously atop a bulky-non server friendly tea box. All for a staggering $2.00. Add to the fact that because of all the steps, the busboy won't even get it for you, just boils down to...your screwed. (note: you will never find any person that has ever worked food and beverage fine dining, order a tea for themselves when dining out...ever~and if they do..refer to earlier blog "You Do, or You Don't".)
Nothing throws a tempo off of a busy server than a hot tea order, so...Don't Do It!

Lets re-cap. Hot tea in Chinese restaurant...good! Hot tea in any other restaurant....C'mon man, whats wrong with coffee? My busboy will get that!
And, I don't care if I do remind you of your son, or you acknowledge that I'm really good at what I do-Translate that into dollars and scribble it on your bill. Words don't pay bills!

Class Dismissed

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A (Thank God Not Gruesome) Reminder

Every Wednesday I can be found at the Martinez Gun Club, shooting trap and eating a meal with my dad and some friends.
This routine has become just that, until last night.
It becomes easy to get complacent when the same methodic steps are followed for a continual amount of time, however; when it comes to something as potentially dangerous as shooting, an eye opener can be quite startling.

I have a Remington 1187 12 gauge automatic shotgun. I step to the shooting position, muzzle pointed up, wait for my turn, put the shell in the auto chamber, push the release on on the chamber that loads the shell, point out to the trap house, yell "pull", aim and shoot. But something went wrong last night.
When I pushed the release on the chamber the gun went off. It auto fired 4 steps too early and while my gun was pointed straight up in the air. I thought I prematurely pulled the trigger which shocked and scared those that I was shooting with. This is a major mistake. I apologized profusely. We took a couple of deep breaths collectively and went back to business at hand. With shaky composure, I began my routine again. wait, load, push....BANG! It happened again.
"I'm done." I was too startled to continue.
Later thinking that it might be the shells I was using, I opened a fresh box. Went to the closest range with nobody at it, loaded, pushed...BANG!
Just thinking what could have happened if my muzzle wasn't pointed up, and remembering seeing people ignoring this shooters rule in the past, shook me to the core. I could have killed someone.
Turns out my firing pin is broken and the gun is unsafe until I get it fixed, but let this be a reminder to anybody that shoots anything. Anything that can go wrong will, so muzzles up everybody!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Jumping The Shark

This delightful colloquialism was introduced to me by my friend and fellow blogger James, and I feel that it should be spread to those who are unaware of it's existence. For those of you that have been previously introduced to this term, please refrain from muttering "geeez Toby, get with it", I'm here now and that's all that matters.

side note: James is a talented writer with a very entertaining blogspot with many videos in which to pass the time with. Check out Star Wars over SF.

Back to matters at hand. "Jumping the Shark" is a term that refers to a television show that has just bled the creative tanks dry and are scraping the bottom hoping to hold onto the once cash cow that now produces no milk.

The best part about this widely understood metaphor is the origin. This refers to the September 20th 1977 episode of Happy Days where the writers had Aurthur Fonzarelli donning powder blue swim trunks, a bright yellow life belt, and of course his trademark leather jacket, water ski jump over a caged shark. With Richie behind the wheel, and nare a hair out of place, The Fonz successfully jumped into television terminology lore and shortly thereafter the Happy Days were no more.

As sad as it was to say goodbye to all of the gang from Al's, the legacy continues as benchmark for doomed television shows.

It should be noted that in light of the latest Indiana Jones debacle, the term "Jumping the Shark" can be comfortably interchanged with "Nuking the Fridge".

Knowledge is power!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Biz-She Can Be Fickle

As stated the Holiday season has come and is slowly going in the restaurant. This is a period in time that is greatly anticipated, enjoyed manically, then revered in the proverbial stages of it's lifeline. However; the phenomenon that lies in the wake never ceases to amaze me.

The holidays are what I like to call our Harvest Season. That is to say that we open our doors to the throngs of steak hungry patrons and their visiting families and collect revenue, tips, and profit so much like the gathering of acorns, in which we stuff our trunks for the leaner summer months that are sure to arrive just as the holidays did.

But do people prepare....NOOOO! And that's when I get thrusted the role of Gargamel with the added bonus of being a soundboard for the frustrated.

This is not the job description I had in mind.

A Message: You were told that you would be making money hand over fist for just a few months of the year like no other...It is not nearly my fault you have nothing to show for it already.

An Absurdity: You also you knew that the once bountiful 5-6 shifts a week were going to go back to the allotted 3-4 when the restaurant slowed down...So please stop asking me if you are being punished. That's Absurd

A Truth: We are still packing them in, just not turning their tables, therefore; the opportunity to make ample cash is dangling in front of your disgruntled/broke noses like a carrot..GRAB IT!

A Perspective: At this time in history, we are all extremely fortunate to have a place to earn money on a daily basis. Make the most of it!

An Ending: I truly care for everybody that I have the privilege to work with, but sometimes...just sometimes, I would like nothing more than to give them all a collective viking funeral....even if they aren't all quite dead, just yet.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

According to Joe-part 2

My little brother is not without his quirks, as discussed in part 1. And in the fashion of Joe-he has offered yet another little tid-bit into his rational.

Joe left his cell phone at my parents house last Sunday, only to be discovered the next morning.
Knowing how absolutely helpless we all feel when without our communication devices, I thought it would be nice if I brought it to work with me so he could pick it up there on his lunch break, considering how the abbreviated distance to my restaurant and his office as opposed to mom and dads place and his office is exponential.

I called him at 9:30 am with the "phew, that would be great, news", but was immediately thwarted.
"Are you going to be there at 5:30?" He said. "Yeah. but why don't you come down at lunch and Ill feed you in the process." I made sense of the situation.
"Because dude, you work at a fully stocked bar. I can't start drinking at noon. Ill see you at 5:30".

Now that's Self-Control!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

"Your The Coolest Boss Ever!"

This comment was said to me after an employee heard me telling another employee on the phone to enjoy her family and extend her holiday another day. "Don't worry about your shift, I can get it covered. Family is what matters this time of year". Truth is, we really weren't going to be that busy and I might have called her off anyway. Could this quick comment be just that.."quick" and then possibly forgotten? Not for this over analytical mind the occupies the lump three feet above my ass.

"Your the coolest boss ever" set me to hours of dissection.

What does that mean? Is it a compliment? It sounded like one, but are bosses supposed to be cool?...and so on and so on.

"Your the coolest boss ever" is your typical example of a work space fallacy. Example: double edge sword, slippery slope, half truths, straw men, etc.

While certainly not intended to be so critical by the server who implied my coolness, one cant help but to use this innocent comment as a detailed snap shot of my managerial skills.
Do I think that my boss is cool?
I think he is a great, brilliant man that posses the knowledge and patience to teach me how to bring my level of the game up a peg, but certainly not the "coolest".
Does that mean that ergo-I should not strive to be the "coolest" and concentrate on being more like him?
While I love that my staff seem to enjoy me being around and the feeling is certainly mutual, the title "coolest" could serve as the albatross around my neck, and it becomes very hard to govern with a dead bird as a scarf.

I suppose part of me wishes she had said "Your the most intelligent, witty, level headed, authoritative, and respected boss ever", because that is the kind of sentence that just rolls off the tongue freely, right?

So many questions from this small and topical complimentary sentence. After all, I want to be a positive energy kind of leader for those that support the same cause as I do because you are only ever as good as those around you. And if coolness is a step of achievement on the ladder to a successful career, then I emphatically embrace my new title "coolest".

But wait-maybe I am over thinking this thing just a bit.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

From The Ashes Rise a Blogger?

Writers block is bizzare untamed animal that I have been stricken with for far too long. Like a fire, it consumes and destroys the longer you avoid fighting it. So in my uninspired mind, and my desperation to wake that which has become dormant, I have decided to start this new year by writing about not being able to write.
I have not been with lack of inspiring tails to regale you with; quite the contrary. As of 11 hours and 19 minutes ago, I successfully made it through the holiday season in a VERY busy, upscale restaurant. (a slow restaurant can provide for pages of fanfare). I have seen the items that are blog worthy unfold before me and pass my dormant fingers with almost a snicker. I have reflected on these events in the ponderous time of my morning cigarette and coffee and mentally narrated the content, and I have passed the computer and shied away without even sitting as if to say "another day my unused friend...another day."
But the problem is that these blog worthy events come fast and many (perhaps too many to sort through), and my internal narration that was once in the tone of Anthony Bourdaine now sounds more like Rachel Ray, and the passiveness that I offer the computer is fear that I can't do it. STOP LAUGHING AT ME MOUSE!
So make no mistake about it, writers block is an affliction, with no medication but to dive right back into what you enjoy doing the most and re assume ownership.

I only hope that this therapeutic Drano-esc exercise unblocks me like a bran muffin and I begin to hemorrhage the observations that I am privy too on a daily basis, clearly and concisely enough too fulfill my only healthy vice.

Here's to a prosperous 2009 for everybody!