Friday, March 31, 2006

Media Night at Favorite Bar

Last night the lovely and talented Gretchen and I decided to meet at Favorite Bar for champagne. And earlier in the afternoon my friend Steve happened to call me asking for a bar recommendation, so he came along as well. I used to work with both Steve and Gretchie, although not at the same job. We took three power seats at the bar and were off and running when a TV guy who worked with Steve years ago and currently works for the same company as Gretchie came in. Between the four of us, it was like media night at Favorite Bar.

A fabulous time was had by all. In fact, I had too fabulous a time. I didn't do anything to embarrass myself and honestly didn't even realize how affected I was by the champagne until I got home. But things went downhill quickly from there.

Sometimes I'm a complete amateur.

So tonight I'm staying in to continue recovering from my champagne adventure and to watch my amazing actor friend Assaf on television. He's got a guest spot on that show "Numbers." I've never seen it before, but then I never had a reason to watch until now. They certainly are lucky Assaf has graced an episode.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

San Francisco Afternoon

First of all, the Noise Pop show last night was very fun. Ann Marie and I actually missed the first band and most of the second, but the third band was excellent. They're called The Ex-Boyfriends and play quite the fun punk-infused power pop. We were not at all impressed with the headliner, but given that we'd never heard of any of the bands playing, I consider it a success to have found one we enjoyed.

This afternoon I met my friend April (or Lirpa, as I call her) for lunch at the San Francisco Ferry Building. Lirpa and I used to work together, and I remember the day I knew we'd be friends. It was just over four years ago, and I was in some crabby mood about something or another. Lirpa was reading Rolling Stone. At one point I walked out of the studio, and when I returned, I found the lovely Lirpa had cut a photo of Scott Stapp from Creed out of her magazine and posted it right in front of my chair, along with a dialogue bubble reading: "Sassy Hair, I love you. Give me a kiss." Given that Creed is one of my LEAST favorite bands EVER, this visual sent me into hysterics and propelled me out of my stupid bad mood. And the funniest part is that I believe said picture is still posted in that studio, complete with thought bubble, even though I haven't worked there for more than two years.

So Lirpa and I dined at the Slanted Door, where I also had a glass of sparkling wine that reminded me of carbonated, alcoholic fruit punch. It was tasty, but I can't imagine having more than a glass or two of that stuff. And of course Lirpa and I got a chance to catch up about all things in our lives: work, boys, whatever.

After lunch I got some of those delicious French macaroon sandwich cookies at Miette for dessert before I ran a few errands. And to top off a wonderful afternoon, I went to Kate Spade to buy a purse I have been eyeing and found it on sale! Sometimes the little things in life just go my way. Tonight I was thinking of going to see one of the a cappella groups from Brown perform (they're on tour during spring break), but it's so chilly and gloomy outside that I think I'm in for the night. I bought Cadbury Mini Eggs on my way home; what else do I need?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Pop Goes the Noise

It's Noise Pop time again! Noise Pop is an annual independent music festival in San Francisco, and you know what that means: lots of live music! Now, one could go to the Noise Pop website and look for a band he or she may have heard of. But the truly daring among us just pick a venue and show up for the performance. That's what Ann Marie and I are doing tonight. We have heard of none of the bands playing, but that's not stopping us. We'll be making a pit stop at Kate's birthday celebration beforehand, which should also be fun. I believe Kate turned 12 today (okay, 27, but she's still a just a wee babe), so I bet we're in store for quite the fete.

And for the record, this is the third Tuesday night in a row Ann Marie and I have gone out to see live music. Tuesday is the beginning of my weekend, but Ann Marie has a regular work schedule. That girl is quite the rock star, isn't she? Even the guy she's dating remarked on how many music shows she attends. I bet he is giddily overwhelmed by how lucky he is to have her.

In other news, I had an excellent day at work today. I had to cover three stories, but none was terribly stressful, and I got out on time. Gotta love that.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Music That's Making Me Happy Today, vol 10

"Crush Story" by Too Much Joy

This song is so cute and so accurately describes what it's like to be crazy about someone ("Everything you've ever said is brilliant... Anything you want to do is fine with me..."). I own this ditty on cd and have heard it a million times. But while driving around for work yesterday, I was listening to Live 105, and the DJ said: "If you were in college in 1991, you were probably singing along with this song" before she played "Crush Story." Not only was she very right, but I don't think I've heard it on the radio since 1991. Well, it may be 2006, but yesterday I sang along with Tim Quirk's lyrics with a gusto that rivaled anything that clown in Pagliacci has mustered. I'm loading this song into my iPod today.

After work last night, I went to Medjool where I met Sheela, her husband Ben, our friend Maya and some other friends of Sheela's. I spend so much time at Favorite Bar, I have completely forgotten what it's like to spend a Saturday night in an overly crowded, trendy nightspot filled with scantily clad women and bug-eyed boys. When I left (before midnight, by the way; I'm getting old) there was a line of potential Saturday-night Medjool denizens outside the door that stretched down the block. Even though I'd just spent two hours there, I had to wonder what all these people were waiting patiently to find inside. Regardless of the trendiness and the crowd, I still had fun with my friends. Sheela and I giggled and devised evil plans all night... just like any good girls would.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Best Friend... Star of Stage and Screen

Or at least stage, in this case.

I was just a little theatre tramp this week. Fresh off my trans-bay voyage to Berkeley Rep for Zorro in Hell, last night I went to the San Francisco Playhouse to see my friend Stephanie in a show. I met Stephanie about a year and a half ago when she and I were in a play called 411. Steph would absolutely crack me up during rehearsals, and at one particular moment of hilarity, she turned to me and said, "You so want to be my best friend, don't you?" In fact, while I have far too many friends to honestly call one the "best," she was pretty much right. And it has so been worth it. In addition to offering sparkling conversation over dinners and friend-discounted singing lessons, Best Friend threw one mean all-girls slumber party last year. The six or so of us sang karaoke, watched Flashdance and Mean Girls, ate tons of snacks, drank cosmos and crank called boys. A better time could not have been had, especially by the boys who received our phone calls.

Anyway, Best Friend is currently in a production of Our Lady of 121st Street, which features many laugh out loud moments along with some excellent acting. And Best Friend was, of course, phenomenal. Afterward, I joined her and some of her castmates for cocktails, which was much fun. And the odd thing was that several of them seemed to recognize me from my days as an actor. Prior to 411, the last time I had graced a stage was in 2001 for two one-day play festivals, and the last full production I had done was in 2000. But I guess I'm memorable in some way. Weird.

And tonight, after going out three nights in a row as well as facing a long work day tomorrow which will be followed by more socializing, I am staying in. Erin, Jack and Helen are all out and invited me to come along, but I am happy as a clam in my pajamas and out of the rainy weather. Plus, I had macaroni and cheese for dinner and found a couple of episodes of Six Feet Under on cable. Sounds like a great Friday night to me.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Music That's Making Me Happy Today, vol 9

Belle and Sebastian at the San Francisco Concourse

Remember when Roberto Benigni climbed all over the seats at the Academy Awards and proclaimed during his acceptance speech that he wanted to make love to everyone? Well, I feel a similar enthusiasm for Belle and Sebastian. I might have preferred to see them in a more intimate venue, but this group of Scots filled the Concourse at the San Francisco Design Center with their clever melodies Tuesday night. Imagine the Beautiful South combined with the Flying Machine or the Beau Brummels, and you have Belle and Sebastian.

Ann Marie and I found ourselves an elevated spot against the railing and watched the show above the sea of people that was the incredibly large audience. And of course, I ran into three people I know: Nick, Chris and Joo-Eun. I would say that was because I run into people I know every time I go out, but there were so many people there, it would probably have been hard not to run into someone I know. You were likely there, too, weren't you?

It was truly a fabulous show. Do yourself a favor and go out now and get yourself a Belle and Sebastian cd. Now. Really. Go.

Tonight I went with Terry to Berkeley Rep for opening night of Culture Clash's Zorro in Hell. I have great respect for Culture Clash and wanted to love this play, but alas, I can't say that I did. While it features some very funny lines and excellent cultural references, the show is a little long and seems unfocused at times. Of course, I haven't written even one play, let alone been creating works for the stage since 1984... as Culture Clash has done. So who the heck am I to criticize, really.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Welcome Home

I have made it back home safely, but I thought I'd post one more photo from my jaunt up north. This is me and Father Sassy at the waterfront in Tacoma Friday evening. Father Sassy is not the world's tallest man, is he?

My mini-vacation was fun, but I'm very glad to be home. Last night I celebrated my safe passage from Washington state back to San Francisco over champagne at Favorite Bar. I was joined by my friends Tom and Chris, and we chatted and laughed and watched Tom drink too many Manhattans. I love drunk Tom, so that was a true bonus.

But today it was back to the salt mine. Luckily Sunday is my favorite work day. I have three different jobs at work, and I enjoy the one I do on Sunday best. Plus I worked an earlier shift today, so I'm already home. I have to rest up because I have a big week ahead of me: the Belle and Sebastian show, the Culture Clash show at Berkeley Rep, my friend Stephanie's play and meeting Sheela, her husband and some other friends for cocktails. Oh, and at some point during all that I have to go to work and go over my taxes with my accountant. It's very inconvenient when responsibilities take energy and time away from socializing.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Greetings From Puget Sound

Here I am in at the waterfront in Steilacoom, Washington. Beautiful, isn't it? Yeah, well, it's about 48 degrees, and despite that smile on my face, I am freezing. Even though I checked the Seattle-area weather forecast before I left the Bay Area, I managed to pack nothing warm enough for the climate up here. But aside from the chill, my vacation has been positively joyous. I've gone running every morning, and yesterday Father Sassy took me out for a tour of the towns and beaches near Gig Harbor.

Oooh, and Father Sassy's house features a place as close to heaven as I will ever see while alive. It's a small room with a chair positioned right in front of a stereo and surrounded by shelves and shelves of books. The stereo has this huge amplifier that looks like something out of a 1950's science fiction movie. One of the many careers Father Sassy has had, in addition to personal trainer and poet, involved building speakers and dealing with stereo equipment, so he knows how to enjoy his music. There are also photographs of jazz musicians carefully placed throughout the room. And Father Sassy loves his reading, too. He and I have already talked authors, with him shaking his head in disbelief when I told him I don't like Zadie Smith (White Teeth was one of the most boring books I have ever tried to read). He's given me Goats by Mark Jude Poirier, and so far it is pretty good.

Imagine an entire room devoted to music and books. He is so my father.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Music That's Making Me Happy Today, vol 8

Frank Black at Cafe du Nord

I will come right out and admit that I don't know much... well, any, really... of Frank Black's solo music. But I love the Pixies and have much respect for the cool that is Mr. Black Francis. You've got to respect him. And the Pixies. If you don't, I hate to say it, but you're a moron.

Denise, Paul, Ann Marie, Emily and myself asserted our not-moronic status last night by traipsing over to the super-swell Cafe du Nord and taking in the vocal styling of Mr. Black, who just stood before us and sang as he strummed his guitar. At one point he did call up a keyboardist, but basically, the show was all just him. And it was pretty great, whether you knew any of the songs beforehand or not. And just for the record, if you're looking for age-appropriate, seemingly heterosexual men who also happen to be damn hot, a Frank Black show is apparently the place to find a lot of them. Emily, Ann Marie and I certainly enjoyed the floor show as well as the one happening on stage.

That story told, I should let you know that I am talking to you tonight from Seattle. Sort of. I'm actually in Gig Harbor, about an hour outside of Seattle. I've taken a little holiday and am visiting my dad and his wife. I'll only be here a few days, but this is the first paid vacation I've had in years. I was let go from my last fancy full-time job in December, 2003, and then I spent a year and a half freelancing. I've now been at my current job long enough to cash in some vacation time, and I am stoked. I wiled away my first day in Seattle proper where my dad, his wife and I enjoyed cocktails and snacks at a delicious Caribbean restaurant for happy hour. My dad and I then took off to allow me some tourist time. The Experience Music Project was already closed, but Father Sassy and I did go up to the top of the Space Needle. It was fun, but can someone please tell me what the point of that thing is?

I'm not certain what we'll do for the next few days, but what I do know is that I'll be making money while relaxing in the great Pacific Northwest. Gotta love that arrangement. And I'll especially love it when I visit my mother in Hawaii this summer.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

When Work Feels Nothing Like Work

When most people have to sit in traffic for more than an hour, they get annoyed. I did it joyfully today because I got paid for it. You read that right: for almost two full hours, I was paid to sit in traffic.

Now, I did have to sing a little bit for my supper. This was not your ordinary Saturday traffic, so I had to talk about the hideous congestion, along with the moods of the other drivers (a bit of a challenge as we were all in our own cars) and the basic atmosphere on the automobile soaked Golden Gate Bridge. The other drivers seemed to be handling the situation with gracious patience, even though we were all being left in the dust by the pedestrians walking across the bridge. And I think the drivers' moods would have soured if they'd known I was being paid to do what they were doing for free. So I kept that to myself.

Once Highway 101 reopened the traffic recovered quickly, and I'm sure everyone was quite happy and relieved. Well, everyone except the actor I met who had missed his audition in Marin because he was stuck in the back-up. And then his car died. Plus, his towing company told him they wouldn't be able to get a truck out to him right away, so he was stranded with a only few hours until he needed to be onstage for his current show. I doubt he was having a particularly good day.

Sometimes my job is almost surreal.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

You Know Too Many People When...

Or this post could be titled: "You Go Out Too Much When..."

So this being my "Saturday" night, the Lovely Laino and I went out. First we hit a totally dead bar... at my request. I was doing a little research for a writing project I'm taking on. After one drink at Dead Bar, we went to the Balboa Cafe. There we ran into the Head Boss from work, a guy who works at our sister station, a former trainer at my gym and a former co-worker of ours. All at the Balboa. I would expect this kind of thing at Favorite Bar, but I rarely ever go to the Balboa.

Clearly, I have lived in San Francisco too long. But I love it. By the way, other than running into a bunch of people we knew, the Balboa was boring. Or more accurately, it was full of boring boys we didn't having any interest in meeting. Yawn.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Ah, To Be A Target Demographic

I say this a lot here in Sassy-land, but once again, you know you're old when...There are no fewer than three television commercials currently airing that feature songs by your favorite band.

Yes, the Go-Go's became mainstream pop, but they started as punk rock chicks, for crying out loud. They were an all-girl band who wrote their own songs, played their own instruments and were not controlled by a Berry Gordy or Phil Spector type producer. Belinda can't sing to save her life, but who really cares?

Well, now they're glorified jingle-smiths. A re-recorded version of "Vacation" is being used to promote some travel company or another (it may be Orbitz). "Head Over Heels" now hawks Pantene hair products. And the most offensive... "We Got the Beat" has been changed to "We Got the Meat" for a pizza commercial. "We Got the Beat" may be my least favorite Go-Go's song (the original Stiff Records version notwithstanding), but it didn't deserve that. Now, this is not the first time Go-Go's music has been used to sell products; in 1998 "Our Lips Are Sealed" helped the marketing efforts of AT&T. But three commercials all airing at the same time?

Madness has also recently been featured in a coffee commercial, and Squeeze was co-opted by, I believe, Burger King a few years ago. But those are stories for another day.

So it's official. Any efforts of mine to deny that I'm getting older will be countered by ad agencies' insistence that I am now part of some kind of desirable demographic. I guess I don't blame the Go-Go's members for making a little cash by selling their songs to advertisers, but I never thought I'd see the day when I missed those ridiculous California Raisins commercials. Granted, the genius that was Marvin Gaye didn't deserve jingle status either, and he didn't make any money off those ads because he didn't write "I Heard It Through the Grapevine." Um, and he was already dead. But that's another generation's battle.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Music That's Making Me Happy Today, vol 7

"Catch My Disease" by Ben Lee
I have to give Ben a little love on this space because he is playing tonight at the Great American Music Hall, and I am not there. I could be, as my friends Denise and Paul are going and wanted me to come along. But Monday nights are a bit of a challenge for me since I work a late shift on Sundays and have to be back at work a mere 10 hours later Monday mornings. In other words: I'm pooped and am already in my pajamas, which likely would not be a good look for a concert. Luckily for me, I have seen Ben twice before. In December I caught him at the Independent with the aforementioned Denise and Paul. And about three years ago he captivated a bunch of us Fountains of Wayne fans when he opened for that band at the Fillmore. So I think I'll be okay getting some sleep instead of singing along with cute little Ben's show tonight.

And since the hooky goodness of "Catch My Disease" makes it my favorite little Ben ditty, it gets the specific mention in this volume of music that's making me happy.

In other news, this past weekend I caught up with my college friend Bert's sister Emily (did you follow that?). Emily recently moved to San Francisco for her fancy job, and I had the pleasure of introducing her to Favorite Bar on Friday night. Jack and Helen were there, too, and we all had much fun over many cocktails. Emily even met a gentleman that night. I'm not certain how long their connection will continue, but the magic of Favorite Bar is powerful. Even if only for one night or so.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Theatre That Is Making Me Happy Today, vol 2

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at the Post Street Theatre

Well, now isn't this just the cutest little musical I have ever seen.

I must admit, I went into Spelling Bee with fairly low expectations. It looked a little dumb to me, and I have seen some bad musicals in my time. But I had media passes of my own, and I am not one to turn down a theatre opportunity. Well, as it turns out, I was quite pleasantly surprised. Hysterically funny and a little poignant, Spelling Bee had me laughing out loud and at times a little choked up. Yes, I said choked up; any story about kids has the potential to get to me. In fact, when I saw Spellbound, that documentary film about kids in the National Spelling Bee, I didn't just get choked up... I folded like a cheap paper airplane under the pressure of watching kids under so much pressure and cried. Hard.

But back to the musical comedy about spelling. There are shows out there that can be called "better." Nine Parts of Desire, for example, which is running for a couple more days at Berkeley Rep (see February 11th post). And Spelling Bee is unlikely to change anyone's life. But I have learned that it takes talent and artistry to create fun theatre, and the high caliber singing and acting in this show, including what must be some improvised lines, work together to produce an incredibly enjoyable experience. And while I imagine a few of my theatre-snob friends would dismiss this show, I say there is no crime in entertainment for entertainment's sake. Some local references have been infused into the story, and I think at least one of them is a little over the top, but that's my only criticism.

My super-talented actress friend Mary also really enjoyed Spelling Bee. And she recently had free tickets for Cats but hated it so much that she walked out in the middle of the first act. So there you go, Spelling Bee really is better than Cats.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Fat Tuesday

This year Fat Tuesday has been followed by Hangover Wednesday. Well, I'm not actually hung over, but boy did I do my share of Mardi Gras reveling last night. Truth be told, I just think I'm getting old. I had four glasses of champagne over four hours, and I was dee-runk by the end of the night. I can't party like a 25-year old (or even a 30-year old) anymore.

To add to the fun, it was also my sister's birthday yesterday. The Fabulous Patti turned 47, but she looks about 35. At the oldest. Anyway, I met Fabulous Patti and her friend Lisette at the wine bar in the Ferry Building where we toasted the anniversary of FP's birth over glasses of champagne. Then FP and I took off for Favorite Bar to meet my friend Sheela and her friend Scott. More champagne was consumed as we donned Mardi Gras beads and chatted about travel and film-making. Sounds pretentious, I'm sure, but it was really fun.

Not bad for a Tuesday night, I must say.

And I have a very fancy evening planned for tonight. First I'm going to a Commonwealth Club event. Not one of their usual lectures, but some tony cocktail and dinner thing. I have to leave the dinner early, though, as I'll be meeting my super-talented actress friend Mary, along with Terry and our co-worker Patti (not to be confused with FP, although this Patti is pretty fabulous, too) for the opening night performance of a The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. It's very hard being in such demand.