June 28th, 2009

I might get a little too personal here for a moment. I’m sorry if it’s uncomfortable and I promise that this will end with a way for you to get free drinks. The thing is, last night I kind of felt like my life was not such a good one. Perhaps you can relate? There are some days that just feel bad. So, sitting alone with my computer, as is the modern way, I googled myself around until I found Ricky Gervais, simulating a conversation between Hitler and Nietzsche. His Nietzsche was scolding Hitler for so grossly misinterpreting his, Nietzsche’s, work. His Hitler hung his head in shame, mumbling the answers to questions, apologizing like a little child. It was funny, though my retelling might not quite be hitting its mark, and, forgetting all the endless loops of banal yuckiness that had been swirling around in my head, I laughed out loud.

Maybe you agree with my idea that comedy can save us all, maybe you just think it’s fun to laugh. Either way, what I have to tell you is that, as a guest of this hotel, and thanks to some super secretive backroom negotiations between our beloved, though somewhat shady, general manager and her Rooster T. Feathers counterpart, you, as a guest of our hotel, are welcome to go for free to this, our friendly neighborhood comedy club. And, as I hinted at above, you even get a free drink, to help get you in the mood. So, enjoy! (And I promise that this will be the last time I try to foist any of my half-baked-modern-world-coping-mechanism/improvised spirituality on you!)

June 21st, 2009

Here is yet another in all the many ways to divide people into two groups: those who relax through activity and those who relax through inactivity. My boyfriend, for example, when he’s been working too much and feels depleted and stressed out, wants nothing more than to wake up at 4am and spend 12 hours climbing the nearest mountain he can find. My mother, by contrast, would spend that same day in bed watching re-runs of Law & Order. They both seem equally refreshed the following day. Having now accompanied both through several of each of these “rest days,” I notice one advantage that he has over her, namely, that he takes in views of spectacular, nearly untouched nature while she sits and watches one murder after another. But what’s a hard working lady to do if the only way she can get the rest she so deserves is by, well, resting?

The answer is Muir Woods! This park is home to a large stretch of California’s old growth redwood trees, some of which are up to 2500 year old. This type of tree is the tallest in the world and third on the longevity list and can only be found on the California coastline (well, and stretching up a little bit into Oregon, too, but the point remains). This, then, is a genuinely rare natural spectacle and I mention it here because of its accessibility. You just drive right in, park your car and the trees are there. There’s a well-maintained, flat path, clearly marked with small wooden fences and, just on the other side of those fences, are some of the oldest, tallest trees in the world. A motivated person could hike further in, it’s true, but there is no special prized attraction waiting for him at the end, it’s all right there at the very beginning. It’s not quite as easy as Law & Order, I know Mom, but, really, it’s not so very much harder either.

June 18th, 2009

And now, a love letter to Sammy, our bartender. Sammy pours drinks nicely. Sammy is always on time. Sammy has been with us for many years and has done many different jobs very well. For all of this, he would be welcome to stay for as many more years as he liked, a solid, well respected employee.

What really needs to be said about Sammy, though, is how wonderful it is to be around him. How he is always smiling. A sly, twinkly smile that makes you feel like he’s letting you in on a secret. He’s relaxed and calm and so you see, through him, how nice it is to be relaxed and calm. Sammy shows you, by example, how to breathe a little. He exudes genuine happiness. This is an excellent quality to find in a bartender. It’s a little piece of brilliance to have him there to greet all of you exhausted, stressed out workaholics at the end of long days in unfamiliar places. But, to be a little selfish, I am most glad that he’s around because he makes my own personal life nicer. I look forward to Sammy, as I’m sure many of you who have been with us over the years do too, on days when I need to remember how to smile, and on days when I want to share a smile.

I don’t need to encourage you to come down to our bar at night. Complimentary drinks very rarely need to sold on people. So, instead I’m just taking this opportunity to express my appreciation for Sammy. As I said, a love letter.

June 10th, 2009

For me, the best thing about having lunch or dinner at Il Postal, is doing it as someone coming from this hotel. Of all the relationships that we, as a business, have with other businesses in the area, this is among, if not the, most genuine. Our dear general manager has been known to call her Il Postal counterpart at odd hours of the night with, for example, a desperate request for several pans of bread pudding, ASAP, and has found herself met with the accommodating kindness she does not deserve in such circumstances. Said Il Postal manager, for his part, has been known to call our sales manager on occasion when he’s looking for someone to have a beer with. I would not think the word friendship would be inappropriate, even. And those relationships are ours to take advantage of! Try it out for yourself! Go into Il Postal and tell them you’re our guest, and then pay attention to the difference between the service you get and the service all the other diners are getting. Not that anyone else is being treated badly, but we all know what it is to get special treatment. It feels nice, especially when you’re away from home and finding your comfort is not as easy.

Il Postal, as you may have gotten from its name, is an Italian restaurant. The food is excellent, the space small and elegant. In the summer there’s a sunny patio to sit on. You would want to go here anyway, I assure you, it just happens to come with the extra added bonus of unearned friendship and preferential treatment.

June 5th, 2009

The makers of Saintsbury Wine are interested in pinot noir, not quite exclusively, but almost. More specifically, they are interested in proving that grapes grown in the region they grow in, Carneros, can produce pinot noirs as good as their Burgundian counterparts. Both of the founders of Saintsbury are scientists, and the pragmatism and single-mindedness of science can be seen throughout this quest. Right now, for example, the most prominent feature on their website is a review acknowledging the improvement, over the years, of their pinots. The reviewer likes the 2007 product, but speaks favorably about it at the expense of the efforts of nearly all previous years’ wines. But, he goes pretty far into describing pinot noir cultivation in the region and commends Saintsbury for their work in general. Would another winery display such an article so visibly?

And then there are the screw-top bottles. True, Saintsbury makes three classes of wines and the screw-tops are only found on those in the lowest price range, but the lowest priced Saintsbury wine is still $20 a bottle and with Trader Joe’s Two Buck Chuck holding strong with corked bottles, it’s really not industry standard yet. But, here again, nerdy pragmatism prevails over the pretensions of their industry. A top that unscrews is infinitely easier than manipulating a cork, and so they are making wines with screw-tops.