Sunday, September 30, 2007

You Know It's A Good Night When...

... You are treated to an evening with Drunk Tom Parker. He's super fun.
... You convince Joey to hang out with you for several drinks, as opposed to the one he intended to indulge in after Critical Mass.
... The bartender at the Latin American Club now knows you and has started comping some of your cocktails.
... You are joined by the fabulous Chris, whom you thought had other plans and would have to miss the evening's festivities.
... You are treated to a ride home, saving yourself the expense of taking a cab across town.
... You learn of an honest to goodness speakeasy in the City (even though you didn't actually go to it because you've become a little old and boring and were in bed by the time said speakeasy opened).
... Roland makes it out and catches up with the party at about midnight. Who's Roland? Who cares, the dude's name is Roland. Plus, he has spiky hair, and he's the one who knew about the speakeasy.

That, in a nutshell, was my Friday night. Not a bad way to spend an evening, huh? I almost felt young and hip again. Almost.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Music, Art, Cocktails and the Valley

My apologies, gentle readers; it has been almost a full week since I last posted. I'd like to say that's because I have been soooo busy that I haven't had time, but that wouldn't be entirely true. But it's not like I've been sitting at home doing nothing either. I think I have just been neglecting my blogging duties.

So here's a quick wrap up of what's been going on with me since we last saw each other. After work on Monday night, I met Sheela at the dreaded Mint for a little karaoke. If you live in San Francisco and have even a passing interest in singing, you likely know why I call it "the dreaded Mint." The Mint is arguably one of, if not the most popular karaoke bar in the City. However, it is usually very crowded, as well as being a destination spot for really good singers who have a tendency to intimidate mere mortals who just like to warble through their favorite songs. You could wait more than an hour to sing one song, getting more and more nervous as pitch perfect vocalists take their turns before you.

Well, either things have changed since the last time I was there years ago, or I have changed. For one thing, on a Monday night, apparently the Mint is not so crowded. As for the dozen or so people who were there this past Monday, some were rather talented singers but not intimidatingly so. With the exception of one woman who was awesome, no one really sang all that much better than I do. A couple of things about the Mint haven't changed, though. For one thing, they use very cheap, poorly produced karaoke versions of their songs; so it sounds like you're singing along with a cell phone ring tone. Also, the people who go there regularly all seem to know each other, as well as the employees. So it's easy to feel like you're crashing someone else's party every time you get up to sing.

But whatever. I still like karaoke at Julie's Supper Club much better, but in a pinch, I suppose the Mint will do. It's certainly better than that cheesy karaoke place in the Marina.

On Wednesday I decided to indulge in a combination of literacy and alcohol. Not at the same time, mind you. At about 2:00 I met Katie at Zeitgeist, where we partook in a three Chimay afternoon (that would be three Chimays each), along with burgers for lunch. I got chatted up by this guy I met in 1998 and run into at Zeitgeist about once every two years. Bless his heart, he never seems to comprehend that my chilly reception to his attempts at conversation are a sign that I'm not interested in talking to him. Ah, boys. Once fully sated, I went to Fort Mason for the preview of the Friends of the San Francisco Library's Big Book Sale. I wouldn't call it a madhouse, but some people were literally buying shopping carts full of books. I only chose ten titles for myself, which included 100 Years of Solitude, Addie Pray (or Paper Moon, as it was renamed after the film version became a hit), A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and... wait for it... Valley of the Dolls.

Yes, Jacqueline Susann. And that's the book I've started reading first. Don't tell me I don't know high caliber literature when I see it.

Then last night, Keri met me at Momo's for a monthly happy hour organized by my friend Andre and a few of his friends. I haven't been to one of their happy hours in two years, but Andre told me I'm on the permanent happy hour list and am welcome any time. After meeting some new people (including one very hot gentleman, who unfortunately has a girlfriend), we left Momo's and went to an art show at the Live Worms Gallery in North Beach. We rounded out our evening by popping into Formerly Favorite Bar, where we chatted with my very nice friend Vince.

So that's been my week. I'm going to meet Tom and possibly Andrey at the Latin American Club after work tonight. I can't guarantee our evening will produce any good stories, but I hope not to let too much time go by between updates.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Daydrinker in the Daytime

This morning I did something practically unheard of on a Sunday morning... for me, anyway. I was up, bathed, made-up and out of the house by about 8:30 a.m. Sure, I might (and I stress the word might) be out running at that time on a Sunday morning, but dressed and made-up by 8:30 a.m.? Oh, I think not.

However, today was special because I had my debut performance with Daydrinker! That's me with Higgins and Ron adding my vocal styling to several Daydrinker ditties.

Okay, any seasoned rock stars reading this (because I know so many seasoned rock stars visit this space) may scoff because we were playing the Heart of Cole Valley Street Fair at 10:00 in the morning. But hell, you've got to start somewhere, right? At least I do. And Higgins, who is a seasoned rock star, lives in Cole Valley. So he was giving something back to the neighborhood.

You'll also notice from the pictures that we played a very acoustic set. Aside from the small amp Ron brought, we were completely unplugged. No microphones or anything. That made it a little bit of a challenge to get the attention of people walking by, but no matter because I brought fans. Phil, Joe, Brad and Kate all came to see us, and Phil convinced his friend Mark (another Cole Valley denizen) to take in the set, as well. Plus, other Daydrinker fans were there, and we did capture the attention of some random street festival attendees. Those people may have wondered if we were buskers invading the festival, but whatever.

I would say, all in all, it went very well. I was a little nervous at first, but I soon hit my stride and sounded great (if I do say so myself) during the second half of the set. Nine songs and just a couple of morning raindrops later, we were done, and Phil, Joe, Mark and I headed off to brunch. If you have to be a morning rock star, I suggest following the gig with strawberry pancakes and a mimosa.

After all that I took a nap, went running and headed off to work tonight. Rock star in the morning, worker bee in the evening. Life certainly could be worse, my friends.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Theatre That's Making Me Happy Today, vol 15

Class Notes at the San Francisco Fringe Festival

I actually saw improviser and comedian Kurt Bodden's solo show at the Fringe Festival with Chris and Rachel last Sunday afternoon, but I am just getting around to writing about it. However, please do not take that lag time to be any indication of how I feel about this show.... because it is positively hysterical.

Bodden, a 1985 Harvard graduate, has taken actual class notes from his alumni magazine to create this piece. He contrasts his fellow alums' all-too typical updates on law careers, successful businesses, broods of children and home ownership with his own life as a divorced writer and performer who lives in a rent-controlled San Francisco apartment and works part time to supplement the income from his creative habit.

The result is brilliant. Positively brilliant.

Bodden comes across as self-deprecating but not at all pathetic. He mocks his fellow Harvard grads just a bit, but he really needn't say much about them. The class notes themselves offer all the unintentional humor necessary to leave you in stitches. As a fellow Ivy League graduate who chose a career that does not require such a prestigious degree, this show definitely resonated with me. Don't get me wrong, I work in an industry that is very competitive and even somewhat impressive, but if I had a dollar for every time someone said to me, "You went to Brown, and you do this for a living?"... Well, let's just say I wouldn't need to work anymore.

Apparently, the idea of an excellent education being its own reward is an antiquated concept these days. And Bodden appropriately skewers the attitude that Ivy League degrees are to be justified by pursuing only certain types of jobs.

Even if you didn't go to a school like Harvard or Brown, you will delight in Class Notes. Here's to hoping it makes Best of Fringe in a couple of weeks. Or that Bodden sees fit to mount it again soon.


Not theatre exactly but definitely theatrical was the Macy's Passport Fashion Show, which I also attended this week. Believe it or not, in nearly eleven years as a San Francisco resident, I had never been to the Passport Fashion show before.

My very favorite part was the Via Spiga shoe presentation. To some fabulous '60's tunes, the models dressed, danced and lip-synced (lip-sanc?) as the Supremes, the Four Tops, Tina Turner and Nancy Sinatra. I have to admit, I didn't pay much attention to the shoes, but the segment was very entertaining. Especially the guys who played the Four Tops and the woman who played Tina Turner. My least favorite part came at the end when the spokeswoman for Mac Cosmetics (who my friend Tihanna tells me is the ex-wife of Marilyn Manson... whaddya know?) did a burlesque-style strip tease. I know stripping is revered in our society, but honestly, I didn't see the point.

All in all, though, I'd say this was a decent week for culture.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Bad Movies, Good Cocktails

Given that I was not looking forward to my return to San Francisco from Hawaii, I'm happy to report I've had a rather lovely weekend.

First, I got together with Sheela at the Latin American Club on Friday night. We hadn't seen each other in more than two months, so we definitely needed to catch up.

Then my co-worker Margie needed to switch shifts yesterday, which meant I found myself holding a rare Saturday night off. To celebrate, I called Tom and suggested we relive our glory days of 1997 to 1999 by hitting the intersection of 16th and Valencia Streets for cocktails. He liked that idea, so at about 9:00, I met him, Andrey and Chris in the Mission. Chris had a party to attend, but Tom, Andrey and I bellied up to the bar at Dalva for drinks and conversation. I don't think I have been to Dalva on a weekend night since about 1998. It's a rather narrow bar, and the idea of being crammed alongside the weekend mating crowd kind of scares me.

For some reason, however, Dalva was not particularly crowded this weekend. We got seats right at the bar and were handily able to avoid being elbowed in the face by other patrons trying to order drinks. But here is the best part: apparently on the weekend, in addition to pouring drinks, Dalva shows movies! And they don't show just any movies. They screen deliciously bad cinematic masterpieces. When we walked in, the 1970's classic Earthquake was already gracing the screen. Even without sound, this disaster film, complete with its bad special effects and what appears to be absolutely tragic acting, holds up. In fact, it's probably better without sound. Following Earthquake was Reefer Madness, but after that, the true feature of the evening began.

Oh, yes, The Towering Inferno.

I loved this movie when I was a little kid, and believe me, on Saturday night, I was reminded why. The all-star cast includes Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, Faye Dunaway and William Holden. William Holden! From Sunset Boulevard to the fictional San Francisco high rise gone up in flames; nicely done, Bill. Fred Astaire also appears in this film, the poor fellow. I wonder if he took the job to pay his kids' college tuitions. I will admit that in this post-9/11 world, images of a burning skyscraper are just a tiny bit disturbing. At least to me. But this b-movie is so amazingly awful that any discomfort soon fades, allowing all who view it to delight yet more bad special effects and what passes for a storyline.

It was also kind of fun to watch this movie as a San Francisco resident, since they filmed it here. Unfortunately, I went home before The Towering Inferno was over, but I remember how it ends. The building burns. I hope I didn't spoil anything for you by telling you that. Before I left, however, Andrey's sister Katya and her friend Elena caught up with us, and Chris re-joined us after tiring of his other party.

Because, like everyone else in San Francisco, Chris knows the true party lies with us.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Beach Umbrellas, Cocktails and a Whole Bottle of Sunscreen

Well, after spending a week in a bathing suit, I am back home. And you probably already know this, but I'll say it anyway: I wish I was still in Hawaii. Ah, well. Anyway. To the left is photo of Waikiki at twilight. So pretty and frankly, very warm as well. Terry and I stayed (for free, I'll remind you) in Waikiki, so we spent a lot of time on that beach. Yes, it's crowded and really touristy, but it's one beautiful urban beach. And I'll put up with the crowds to hang out in Waikiki any day. My days began with a morning run, continued on the beach and generally ended with a cocktail in my hand.

Not bad, huh? I'm thinking hanging out on a warm beach is the perfect vacation for me. In fact, I believe it would be the perfect life for me. I just have to figure out a way to do it full time.

I didn't stay in Waikiki the entire week, however. For instance, on Sunday we rented a car and headed for Kailua, which boasts one of the most beautiful beaches on Oahu (pictured on the right). Okay, they're all beautiful, but the beach at Kailua has some of the finest, softest sand my feet have ever felt. The town of Kailua is awfully cute, as well. It's cozy without being stifling and just looks like happiness in a zip code.

Honestly, I think I'd like to live there. If you know of a job in Kailua requiring my skill set, please let me know. And keep in mind that laying on the beach is one of my strongest skills.

All in all, it was a very good week. I definitely needed to get out of town, relax and enjoy a tropical adult beverage or two. Or as the case may have been, a bunch of beverages. Actually since I drink so much less now, I found myself not wanting alcohol so much. But I did indulge in a few lava flows, like the one above. Lava flows taste like coconut, strawberry milkshakes. Um, with rum.

As an added bonus, I managed not to get sunburned. I sunburn under a florescent lamp, so it's huge that I escaped the burn on this trip. I can thank the entire bottle of Coppertone sunblock I used, as well as the beach umbrellas we rented in Waikiki everyday. Also, as I mentioned before, Diva Mommy had knee surgery on Tuesday, and that went very well. My sister, Fabulous Patti, is still in Honolulu looking after her, but it looks like she'll be just fine.

Or maybe I'll have to go back to keep an eye on Diva Mommy. Just to be sure she's okay.... for the next ten years or so.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Last Day Sadness

In just a few all too brief hours, I will be leaving Honolulu and heading home.

As per usual, my stay in Hawaii has gone by far too quickly. Even though I've been here three times in the past twelve months, it doesn't feel like enough. Well, my flight doesn't leave until 10:00 tonight, so I'm not totally through yet. I just took a lovely run through Ala Moana Beach Park where I'll have you know that people were already surfing, swimming and sunbathing at 8 a.m. After visiting Diva Mommy in the hospital later this morning (her double knee replacement seem to have gone very well), I'll be heading back to the beach for the afternoon.

I'll post pictures and recall memories on this space once I'm back in San Francisco. Next time I come here I'll have to stay for a month.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Trouble in Paradise?

Actually, no. There's no trouble here whatsoever.

However, there was a moment last night when the crowded streets of the Las Vegas of Hawaii, also known as Waikiki, had gotten to me. And for a brief second (and I stress the word brief), I thought perhaps it might be nice to go home on Wednesday night. You see, Terry and I went looking for a snack for her and drinks for both of us at about 8:30 last night. Here's what we learned: Waikiki is pure madness on Friday night. And not in a good way.

Imagine Las Vegas combined with Fisherman's Wharf and perhaps the most touristy part of Hollywood Boulevard, and you have Waikiki on a Friday night. It sucked. After about an hour and a half, we gave up, and Terry got some take out, which she enjoyed in the condo. I didn't really need to drink, so I settled for some Perrier before turning in for the evening.

But that was then, and this is now, and everything is right with the world again. This morning, I cured myself of any tourist-induced blues by turning left instead of right during my morning run and jogging up Diamond Head Road instead of down Kalakaua Avenue. There were other walkers and joggers to be sure, but I had left the out-of-shape vacation crowd behind, and the scenery was pure tropical paradise, as opposed to a chain retail mecca. At one point during my run, I stumbled upon what I hope was a private, or at least semi-private, beach. I say I hope it was private because I noticed a gentleman there sunbathing Baker Beach-style. I left rather quickly after seeing that; I really don't want to be reminded of home in quite that fashion. After running, I went to the beach, myself, which was lovely. No matter how many people cram onto Waikiki Beach, they all melt away once my own feet hit the sand, and I play in the warm waves of the Pacific.

If you're new to this space, you may be wondering why I am in Waikiki, as opposed to, say, Maui. Well, I'll tell you and remind the regular readers that my mother lives in Honolulu, just a stone's throw from Waikiki. So, given the cheap (or in the case of this trip, free) and easy accommodations in Waikiki, it has just made sense to base my vacations here. Especially this time around, since Diva Mommy is having surgery on Tuesday. Rest assured, I'll get to other islands one day.

All of that said, the trip so far has been excellent. Just about an hour after I arrived, I found myself on the patio at Duke's Canoe Club with a drink in my hand. I'm not sure, but it's possible that's what the entrance to Heaven may be like. At least for me. Since then every day has begun with a morning run and included several hours on the beach. Terry and I even had a swank, three-hour, three-cocktail lunch at the private Outrigger Canoe Club yesterday. The man whose condo we're using belongs to the club and secured access for us. The place was full of stodgy Republicans, but we didn't mind being the riff-raff there for an afternoon. And their signature drink, a frozen vodka concoction known as the Henry, is delicious. I know because I had three of them.

May I also please tell you about the free accommodations? It was enough for me that we'd be staying free of charge, thanks to Terry's co-worker. But above and beyond that, we have found ourselves in a large two-bedroom, two-bath, two kitchen space with air conditioning and cable television on three different sets. It's big enough and offers enough privacy that either Terry or I could have a torrid affair with a handsome gentleman in this condo... without disturbing the other person. We're not necessarily planning any affairs, but you never know. And the condo is located right in the thick of things, convenient to everywhere. I was sad when Terry left my place of employment for a new job last year, but I'm certainly glad she met the guy who owns (and more importantly, shares) this place.

Tonight, we're meeting Diva Mommy at the Beach Bar at the Moana Surfrider, where we'll drink, dine and watch the sunset. If Terry and I need any more nightlife, I think we'll take a cab out of Waikiki and go into downtown Honolulu. I don't know what that will be like, but Diva Mommy says she's read about some hipster-type spots. Who knows, though. I'm generally okay with going to bed early and getting up early while I'm vacation. I find that kind of schedule much more relaxing, and I go out enough at home.

Speaking of home, I'll be back early Thursday morning. If my eyes look puffy when you see me, it will be because I've cried on the entire flight back. No offense to San Francisco, but it's just not Hawaii.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

What's Better Than....

.... going jogging in the 80-degree sunshine at 8:15 a.m.? What's better than being able to wear a bikini and a sarong in public without freezing or being deemed a freak? And what's better than lava flows on Duke's patio at the beach?

Survey says nothing.

Yes, it's probably sick that I'm on the Internet while in Waikiki... but I had to share the wonderfulness with you all.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Aloha Once Again

Just about 16 hours from now I take off for Hawaii. This will be my third trip there in a year, but if I could have gone ten times in the last twelve months, I would have. Oh, by the way, happy anniversary, Matt! My first trip began on September 10, 2006, the day after your wedding.

Anyway, take a good look at this beach, and imagine me there with a gargantuan smile on my face. Because for the next seven days that's where I'll be.... smile and all.

I definitely need a vacation right now, so this trip is not coming a moment too soon. I'll just warn you, I may be in a very sour mood when I am forced to come back next week.

But until then, love, palm trees and lava flows....

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Bad Hair Days, Good Mission Nights

I'm going to warn you, this is likely the most vain and egotistical post to appear on this space to date.

Currently, I am the not-very-proud owner of a bad haircut. On Wednesday I went to see Willie, my dear hairdresser whose services I have been employing since I moved to San Francisco nearly eleven years ago. My hair grows very unevenly... the back is curlier and looks much shorter than the front, and the sides do genuinely grow faster than the rest. So I have to keep up on my haircuts, lest I allow things to get out of control. This particular Wednesday, Willie got excited when he saw how long my hair had gotten since I last saw him in early May. So he suggested a trim to clean everything up, but he wanted to maintain as much of the length as possible. I like long hair, so I was okay with that.

However what dear Willie did was cut a lot off the sides and top, creating all these layers, while leaving some parts of my hair long. The result: I now unwillingly don a mullet. A mullet! Okay, it's not really a mullet at all, but that's what it looks like to me. I look like a long lost member of The Runaways (with all due respect to the 70's rocker chicks) or like I'm imitating Tina Turner circa the "What's Love Got To Do With It" video. Now, admittedly, this dilemma is partially my fault. When Willie cuts my hair, he usually styles it in a fashion I don't really like, so I never really examine his work. I just throw my hair up into a ponytail the second I step out of the salon. So I didn't notice the bad cut while I was still in the chair. And I spent a lot of time at the gym Thursday... again with my hair in a ponytail. It wasn't until I took a good look myself in a mirror on Friday that it hit me.

I am sporting what is, in my opinion, a version of the dreaded mullet.

At first I figured I would just let it grow out, as that will only take a couple of months. But I've decided I can't wait that long. I love my hair; it's likely my best physical feature. Well, I also have really big, pretty eyes, a great smile and long legs that aren't half bad. But regardless of all of that, I can't live with bad hair. I just can't. And wouldn't you know it, the holiday weekend has made it impossible for me to get an appointment with Willie until Wednesday afternoon. When I'll be on a plane to Hawaii. I am half considering just paying another hairdresser to fix my hair before my trip, but that might be going overboard. So I've armed myself with an arsenal of scrunchies and hair clips, and the Hawaiians and other tourists will see me with my hair pulled up throughout my vacation.

In happier news... last night I went out (with my hair in a high ponytail, mind you) in the Mission with Denise and Paul. We had intended to go to Casanova, but it was too crowded, so we ended up at the Gestalt Haus, a place I'd never really noticed and that Paul accurately described as "Zeitgeist indoors." With a huge bike rack and a grungy-Mission-hip crowd, Gestalt Haus is comfortable and not the least bit pretentious. We didn't really fit in there (well, I didn't), but nobody took notice. We played pool, and I drank way too much Blue Moon Ale. But it was super fun, and even though I lost both the pool games to Denise and Paul, I was reminded that I really like playing pool. I should practice so I could actually get good one day.

Tomorrow night, I'm going out with Katie and Steve, and I think I'll drag them to the Mission, too. I'm thinking the Latin American Club for a little night before Labor Day celebration.