Pauline’s Pizza (San Francisco)

A few weeks ago I wrote about my recent pizza experiences in San Francisco. In particular, there was my revelation about Pizzeria Delfina on 18th Street, which makes a pretty good approximation of a Neapolitan-style pie.

We ate another San Francisco pizza about a week later. It was our last night in the city before coming back to Montreal, and after leaving a wine bar we were on our way down Valencia Street with Delfina in mind. Neither of us were looking forward to the inevitable lineup, so when we passed Pauline’s Pizza Martine said “Hey, what about this place?”

What about it indeed. First of all, it’s a much bigger space, and second, there was a single unoccupied table for two over against the wall. I had seen Pauline’s mentioned in a positive light in a few Chowhounds discussions, so yeah. Sorry Delfina’s. (Why don’t you expand into that empty storefront that’s right next door on the left?)

It proved to be a very good move.

Pauline's Pizza

Photo by pecanpieguy

Pauline’s takes a different approach to pizza than does Delfina’s. Pauline’s emphasis is very much on the “California style” with fresh, homemade ingredients and no particular affinity to Italian classics. Despite all my expostulation (which is to say, ass talk) about “authenticity” I’m quite happy to go in other directions as long as it’s done well.

And Pauline’s does it well. The pies are available in various sizes (that’s not very Italian), and you can get “half & half” pies, where half is dressed one way and the other half another way. All very standard American pizza experience on the surface. But the difference is in the quality of the ingredients, the technique, and of course, the tasting.

We went half & half. One side was “vegetable combo” with mushrooms, peppers, and olives. The other half was the special of the day; some kind of finely chopped leafy chard, something else (I don’t remember), and a lot (a lot!) of garlic. When it arrived it smelled insanely delicious, and looked great. One half was a mix of white and green (chard and cheese) and the other half was almost black with olives and mushrooms.

Photo by Pengrin™

We had ordered a “medium” on the waitress’s recommendation, and at first it we thought we had perhaps gone too far, as it seemed like a very big medium. We needn’t have worried, however, as we managed to gobble the whole thing without any problem at all. The cheese was delicious but lightly applied (as it should be), and the crust, was thin(ish) and very light and crispy.

We left there feeling pretty good, and pretty happy about our various pizza choices.

Follow-up to the Introvert Post

My recent post about introversion sparked a lot of comments and discussion, and has lead me down a few paths of exploration. Here are a few of the things I found:

There was a report about “innies and outies” on CBC Television last January, on the Sunday night news show. You can see it here. (It’s about seven or eight minutes long.)

One of the people interviewed in the CBC piece is Professor Brian Little of McGill (and formerly of Carleton University and Harvard). Although I can find no further evidence, this might be the guy I heard on the radio a few years ago; the one who talked about how the brains of introverts and extroverts deal with internal and external stimulation.

Another introvert interviewed in the CBC piece is Marti Olsen Laney, who has written several books about the subject, including The Introvert Advantage and The Hidden Gifts of the Introverted Child. Her newest book, co-written with her extroverted husband Michael Laney, is called The Introvert & Extrovert in Love: Making It Work When Opposites Attract.

Wikipedia has an interesting piece on introversion and extroversion. It includes these definitions, apparently lifted from the Merriam Webster Dictionary: Extraversion is “the act, state, or habit of being predominantly concerned with and obtaining gratification from what is outside the self”. Introversion is “the state of or tendency toward being wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one’s own mental life”.

Contrast that with the Jungian view: … introversion and extroversion refer to the direction of psychic energy. If a person’s energy usually flows outwards, he or she is an extrovert, while if this energy normally flows inwards, this person is an introvert.

The article also discusses Eysenck’s theory, which involves brain physiology and function: “…introverts are characterized by higher levels of activity than extroverts and so are chronically more cortically aroused than extroverts”. Because extroverts are less aroused internally, they require more external stimulation than introverts.

The reading continues…

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Bill Cosby Writes Porn

Bill Cosby’s new book is tantalizingly titled Come On People, which sounds like something you’d buy from one of those sleazy sex shops on rue Ste. Catherine, or maybe mail-order from one of Larry Flynt’s “plain brown wrapper” stores.

It’s a rather ambiguous title, no? After all, it doesn’t specify which people, nor even which type of people one should ejaculate upon. I suppose the trenchcoat crowd will have to shell out some cash money in order to find out. I’m hoping at least one of my loyal readers is a determined wanker and will make the investment and report here promptly.

(Via The Slot.)

On Blogs, Blogola, and Media

Yesterday, Patrick at posted a passionate and erudite denunciation of the current trend towards the mainstreaming of blogs. He points out that until recently, many (most?) bloggers were happy to be apart from the mainstream; we revelled in our independence from the need to generate revenue streams and to follow marketing plans. It was all about the voice and the freedom of the format, not the business.

Nowadays we’re seeing more and more blogs created for commercial purposes. I’m not sure he, nor I, are against commercial blogs per se, but what he (and I) don’t like is the selling out of the blog format. The idea of link- and ad-farming your blog, SEOing it beyond recognition, and pandering for link love is rather distasteful for us “old school” bloggers.

On the other hand, are we just being cranky old purists, like the people who were outraged when Dylan picked up an electric guitar at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965?

Maybe. Or maybe not. Patrick’s manifesto is mostly about what happens when a blog and the person behind it become a brand, and in particular when the distinction between the person and the brand becomes lost. He really nails it.

Tangential to that discussion is the issue of the merchandising of blogs.

On some blogs I can easily tolerate a few ads here and there, or the odd commercial endorsement. Blogs like The Online Photographer deserve any rewards they can manage to get, because their creators put in a lot of effort and deliver excellent, honest content. What I look for in a blog is integrity; whether it’s a purely personal blog or one that is about a specific topic such as photography or technology, it’s the voice and the intention behind it that catches my attention. That’s what sets the tone of the blog. If the tone appears to be largely commercial, then I lose interest.

A while back I read an article on Marketing Profs (short for “professionals,” not “professors”) called “Blogging for Booty.” It talks about the phenomenon of “Blogola,” in which blog writers accept “gifts” in return for reviewing products, services, television shows, or other commercial goods. With the rising influence of some blogs in the blogosphere, big business is really starting to notice their potential.

Big mainstream media has long had integrity checks and balances in place to prevent unethical payments for dubious endorsements. Ever since the payola scandals in the music industry caused ethics laws and codes of conduct to be put in place, it’s become more difficult to buy favorable publicity and airtime. Big media has very strict rules about what its people can and cannot accept as “gifts” from sponsors.

But the blogosphere has no such laws or codes of conduct; at least not formalized ones. So now we have broadcasters flying big name bloggers out to Hollywood on “blog junkets” to promote movies and new television shows. Public Relations firms are grooming bloggers for positive spin whenever and where ever they can. The blogosphere is the wild, wild west of commercial publicity and promotions; there are no rules, only palms waiting to be greased.

I will confess to having been lightly greased myself. A couple of years ago The Food Network paid me to put a link on this blog to promote Iron Chef America. I’ve also gotten a handful of books from various publishers for me to read and promote, only one of which I have gotten around to as yet. However, in both cases I have not hidden the fact that the endorsement I provided was in exchange for “promotional consideration” as they say on game shows. After all, I do have a stated and published policy about endorsements and sponsorships. (Look for the link in the right-hand column, at the bottom of the “More Blork” section.)

I don’t feel bad about those small endorsements, and I don’t think they count as “blogola.” After all, I did not solicit them, I didn’t gussy-up my book review (it reflects my honest opinion of the book), and I clearly stated them as being what they are. And I don’t think it indicates a slide into decline, at least not in my case (in almost seven years of the Blork Blog I’ve gotten less than $300 worth of goods or cash; and that includes my 12-month experiment with Google Ads).

But I do feel like I’m standing at the edge of a cliff. How can I judge others for accepting payments when I have demonstrated a willingness to do so myself? What would I say if someone from season four of “Top Chef” offered to fly me to New York for the weekend, put me up in a swishy hotel, and have me be the “secret judge” on an episode of the show? (Don’t laugh; that was exactly the case with Andrea Strong in season three.)

Of course I would be tempted. I’m just a regular guy with a blog; why should I say no to a free trip? Who am I to bear the burden of the integrity of the whole blogosphere? I’m only responsible for my own integrity while the blogosphere as a whole is becoming a victim of its own free-form, unregulated success.

Ultimately, those who degrade their integrity do so at their peril; unfortunately all they probably stand to lose is the respect of the “old schoolers” and possibly a listing on the roll call of “those who ruined it.” What they stand to gain is financial rewards (insubstantial in most cases) and the possibility of high standing in the “new old-fashioned mainstream.”

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