Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas, Los Angeles Style

For the second time this month, I find myself in the City of Angels.

This time it was for the Sassy family Christmas celebration. I flew down to Burbank from the Bay Area after work on Christmas Day (oh, yes, I still work all the holidays) and have been here ever since. I fly back north in just a few hours, but it's been a fun weekend. My brother Peter made the Christmas scene from Germany this year and brought his girlfriend and her daughter with him. I haven't seen Peter in more than 7 years and thought I might cry when I arrived, but instead, it was he who burst into tears when he saw me. And of course, my mother flew in from Hawaii and joined me, Peter and our other siblings, nephews and one niece at my sister Fabulous Patti's pad in Los Feliz.

And that's where the Christmas party to end all Christmas parties took place.

We always have fun, but a lack of Christmas music this year (we actually had plenty, but it didn't seem like very much) prompted me to plug in my iPod and inspire the dance party and sing-along. We shook our collective groove thing to The Beatles, The Monkees, Stevie Wonder, The Selector, The Supremes, Darlene Love, The Jackson 5 and Bobby Darin, just to name a few. Even my friend Pat Johnson made a soundtrack appearance with his song "The Very Last Time," a personal favorite of mine. I might have been the only one singing along to that one, but whatever.

The day after Christmas was sort of a lazy one for my mom, Fabulous Patti and me, but we were very tired. I got a second wind in the evening, however, and took off for West Los Angeles where I met my friend Emily in one of the private studios at Max Karaoke. For two and a half hours we sang our hearts out. The song selection at Max Karaoke is amazing, and we were able to belt out numbers from the Waitresses, Squeeze, Madness, The Jam, The Beautiful South, The Belle Stars, Jesus Jones, Yaz, The Charlatans, The Crystals, The Angels, The Bangles, Janis Joplin, The Go-Go's and Elvis Costello, not to mention selections from Rent, A Chorus Line and Rocky Horror Picture Show.

If I lived in L.A., I would try to sing at Max Karaoke at least once a week.

Then today, Fabulous Patti, my mom and I went to Dusty's in Silver Lake for brunch. Sooo delicious and they have $5 mimosas on weekends. I'd be embarrassed to tell you I had three, but I'm on vacation. And that brings us to the present. I just have to tidy a few things up and make my regular pilgrimage to Pinkberry before I'm on my way home. Bummer. Too bad things like work, responsibility and real life get in the way of playtime in the Southland.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Kevin Hickey Saved the Day!

Merry Christmas Eve, gentle readers! I trust you are having a lovely holiday... or at least will tomorrow. I am relaxing after a busy day and will be jetting down to L.A. after work tomorrow for the Sassy family Christmas celebration.

However, before any of that can be considered, I have something very important to discuss with you. This week something tremendous happened: I became old. Or middle aged, anyway. You may have seen references in previous posts on this space, but it's official now. On Monday, December 21, 2009, I turned 40 years old. I hadn't exactly been looking forward to the occasion, so I decided to have three days worth of parties to celebrate and keep myself from simply crawling under my bed and crying. There was a big Saturday night dance party on the 19th, a Sunday afternoon karaoke party on the 20th and an official birthday dinner on the 21st.

I planned everything well in advance and had secured a space for the Saturday night dance party by Thanksgiving. That party would start at 7 p.m. and feature music from DJ English Steve, whom I had hired to spin 60's soul and power pop, a little Motown, 70's post punk and 80's new wave and ska. Also, my band Sober Nixon would play a short set in the middle of things, and then the whole party would wrap up around midnight. At least that was the plan until I learned two days before my party that the owner of the venue, which shall remain nameless (this space is only for happy thoughts), had booked an entire evening of house music DJ's on that same night. She did this even though her event coordinator had given me the green light to bring my own DJ and perform with my band, as well as approving the time frame I'd requested. Plus, he had taken a $600 deposit from me to secure my reservation for the evening.

To make a long story short, there apparently was some kind of gross miscommunication between the owner of the venue and her event coordinator, and my party was thrown over for the evening of house music DJ's. Ick. I understand that they can make more money with four DJ's promoting the night and potentially bringing in a few hundred people, but it's just unprofessional to double book like that, especially since they took my money.

Luckily for me, however, I know Kevin Hickey.

About half an hour before I got official confirmation that my Saturday night dance party had no home (the official confirmation came the day before, mind you), the brilliant Kevin suggested I contact Il Pirata, a bar and restaurant in Potrero Hill where Kevin had held his 40th birthday party last year. I did, and within five minutes my party had been rebooked. I didn't bother bringing Sober Nixon to Il Pirata (we hadn't rehearsed enough, anyway), but English Steve still could spin. And spin he did. I may be 40, but I danced like I was 21 that night. Okay, technically, I was still 39 during the dance party, but you get my point. It was so, so, so much fun, as evidenced by the above photo of me with some of my very satisfied party guests.

Had it not been for Kevin Hickey, the 45-50 people who attended the dance party would have been crammed into my living room listening to my cd's while they jockeyed for somewhere to sit. So yay, Il Pirata! Boo, stupid original venue! And for the record, I have not yet received a refund of my deposit from that stupid joint, even though the owner claims she is going to return my money. I have legal resources to help me secure my $600, if necessary, but let's hope it doesn't come to that.

On Sunday, nine of us gathered at The Mint to sing songs. It was awfully crowded because The Mint was throwing their holiday party that afternoon, but that meant we got free food. Yum! And even though the wait was long, I still managed to sing "Perfect" and "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding." Singing songs will always make me happy, no matter what my age.

Then on Monday, also known as The Day I Became Old, the ten of us pictured here sat down at Amber India for a delicious dinner. If you have to be 40, I'd recommend at least enjoying a fabulous meal. Taste buds, I've decided, know no age. We drank scrumptious cocktails, munched on amazing food and engaged fantastic conversation. It was all so very grown up (and probably the only grown up thing I'll ever do, so it's a shame if you missed it).

Unfortunately for me, I've had to work at 4:00 in the morning all this week, including on my birthday and the day after. But I used the last gasp of my youth to celebrate with carefree abandon despite those early morning wake up calls. Tomorrow I get to "sleep in" since I don't have to be at work until 6 a.m., but then it's Christmas. And the party just goes on and on...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Escape To L.A.

Sometimes when life gives me lemons, I... run away. I don't mean "run away" in the sense of disappearing without leaving word or abandoning my responsibilities. I just mean that sometimes I benefit from a few head clearing days away from my life.

Life handed me a plate full of something very, very sour recently. So it was not hard last week, when I received an invitation to my friend Emily's birthday celebration in Los Angeles, to decide to make a spontaneous visit to the City of Angels. I rarely, if ever, do anything spontaneous. I'm a planner at heart, but I found a $97 round-trip flight down to Southern California and arranged to stay with my sister Fabulous Patti in Los Feliz, thus making this last minute sojourn seem like destiny. With that, I packed a suitcase, headed to the airport on Saturday afternoon, and told my routine in San Francisco that it could, with all due respect, kiss my ass for 48 hours.

When I arrived in the pouring rain Saturday night, the first order of business was running errands with FP in advance of our family's upcoming Christmas celebration. Champagne had to purchased so it would be handy on December 25th, after all. We didn't do much else on Saturday, mostly because of the weather. We had planned to go to Tiki Ti, my favorite bar on the east side of Hollywood, but in the end, it was just as fun to stay in and watch PBS. (I know, how's that for an exciting Saturday night? I didn't care. I was out of town, and frankly, that's all that mattered to me.)

The rain had cleared out by yesterday morning, and I was free to go running down Los Feliz Boulevard, pictured here. My Los Feliz runs tend to degrade into walks very quickly, but I go about four miles, and I love the route. Sometimes I head up into Griffith Park, as well, but I skipped that on this trip. After a lazy afternoon of napping, I hopped into Fabulous Patti's car and headed down to Marina del Rey to celebrate Emily. She and I, along with her new boyfriend and several of her friends, went to Manhattan Beach for holiday fireworks at the pier, followed by cocktails and dancing at a small lounge. After that came snacks and karaoke at Pancho's.

Not bad for a Sunday night, huh? I have to admit, I remained fairly blue for most of this trip, but when Emily and I took to Pancho's karaoke stage to duet on "Don't Stop Believin'," I had to be happy for at least those four minutes. Yes, that song sucks, but karaoke bars everywhere and the television show "Glee" have given it a second life. And if you can hit the notes, which Emily can, and I pretty much can, it's really fun to sing. Plus, the crowd absolutely loved it and us.

I've felt pretty good today, which is a good thing, since I'm heading back to the Bay in just a couple of hours. My flight has been delayed, but soon enough I'll be back in San Francisco...hopefully re-energized and ready to fight a pile of rotten citrus.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


I guess it says something about life that I'm almost 40 years old (12 days and counting), and I still stumble upon things that amaze me.

Case in point: the extraordinary talent of some performers. I went to the opening of the latest Cirque du Soleil show, Ovo, last week, and it was, of course, tremendous. Now, I've seen several Cirque shows before, including Love, which is my absolute favorite. So one would think I'd be accustomed to the brilliance of their performances. However, each new show brings with it more amazing displays of talent. So good. If you get a chance to see Ovo, I'd highly recommend you do. Although, if you're going to see any one Cirque show, it definitely would be worth the driving time or the airfare to scoot to Vegas to see Love. The Beatles and Cirque du Soleil? You can't possibly go wrong with that combination.

Another thing that amazes me is the depth and intensity of human emotions. Even and especially emotions we try to talk ourselves out of because we know they aren't good for us. Or perhaps I should say emotions we try to talk ourselves out of because they are wrapped up in situations that aren't good for us. That, my dear readers, is a jaw-dropper every time.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Rico's Birthday, Ole's Birthday

Well, now that I've resumed my little blogging habit, I'm finding that I very much enjoy it. I still am distracted a lot of the time by Twitter and Facebook; so we'll see how long I keep up with my posts here before they fall victim once again to me spending too much time on other websites.

Anyway, after a Thanksgiving filled with much food (as well it should be), I had two birthdays to celebrate. On Saturday night, I made my way to Kozy Kar, a relatively new, I believe, bar in Polk Gulch for Rico's birthday. Kozy Kar features 70's era decor, 80's music pouring out of the sound system, stiff and occasionally quite large cocktails, and on this particular 2009 evening, at least, wall to wall denizens.

As always, I was most interested in the soundtrack. While the majority of the music filling Kozy Kar was a mix of relatively mainstream hits by the likes of Billy Idol, Journey, Animotion and... heaven help us all... the Gap Band, there were some gems tucked in there. "Cool For Cats" by Squeeze, "See You" by Depeche Mode and "Special Brew" by Bad Manners are not the most obscure songs ever written, but it's been a while since I've heard any of them playing at such a hipster filled joint. It was a fun night, overall, and it ended with me, Rico, Nina, Onkar, Joel and Frances dining on pizza and left over Thanksgiving pies at Joel's place at 3:00 in the morning. Did I mention that the drinks at Kozy Kar are on the strong side?

There was precious little time to rest between the end of Rico's party and the beginning of Ohlena's, however. To celebrate the birth of Ole, a bunch of us gathered on the lawn at the Park Chalet. Ole, herself, arrived with her boyfriend Kevin at 11 a.m. Personally, I showed up at about 1:30. It was a perfect day for an outdoor party. We sat in the fog-free sunshine and enjoyed snacks and drinks in near 70-degree warmth. That's rare for Ocean Beach at any time of year, let alone late November.

After Ohlena's party wrapped up in the late afternoon, I made my way home and was very productive. I managed to do laundry, clean my bathroom and write half my Christmas cards all by about 8:00 p.m. Maybe I should attend two parties over the course of 18 hours more often. It seems to inspire me to get things done.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Day of Thanks

What? Two posts in one week? Can you believe it?!? It's almost like my blogging heyday of 2006 and 2007.

Anyway. It's Thanksgiving, and it seems appropriate to acknowledge that on this little chronicle. To celebrate, I spent almost two hours at the gym working up a decent sweat late this morning, and then I went to work. Yes, I work in an industry that doesn't take holidays, but that's okay. After work, I'm going to enjoy champagne and room service snacks with my sister, Fabulous Patti, who is visiting from Los Angeles. Not a bad day, if you ask me.

I will admit, however, that I have been somewhat out of sorts lately. Between my upcoming 40th birthday, which is not sitting at all well with me, and other frustrations, I've haven't felt particularly thankful. Some might even say I've been downright blue. That's kind of a ridiculous attitude, considering the cushiness of my sassy life; so I'm now going to list a bunch of good stuff for which I should be thankful. I've done this Thanksgiving exercise on this space before, but I definitely think it's necessary this year. So here goes...

1. A job I enjoy in the industry of my choice. This is particularly significant right now, considering the economy.

2. The two trips I take to Hawaii every year, which are paid for by that aforementioned job.

3. Other little vacations, like L.A. multiple times a year and Vegas for Andrey's birthday every July.

4. A nice home in a fabulous neighborhood of a world class city. Sometimes when I'm jogging in the morning or just running errands, I look around my neighborhood and realize how lucky I am to live there.

5. Speaking of jogging, I'm thankful for my ability to exercise. There's nothing better than a daily endorphin rush.

6. Singing songs. I don't claim to be the best singer in the world, but I have a decent voice and manage to stay on key most of the time. Plus, singing never fails to put me in a good mood. It's like an anti-depressant.

7. Music in general. I don't know what I'd do without the likes of The Beatles, The Go-Go's, Nick Lowe, The English Beat, The Monkees and all the other musicians and songs I love.

8. Parents who raised me to believe that being well educated for just the sake of a good education is its own reward. I never cease to be surprised and horrified by people who think college is nothing more than a means to a larger paycheck.

9. My friends. Especially those willing to listen to me sing songs and/or sing with me.

10. Good theatre and a decent nightlife in San Francisco. There's always something fun to do or see here. Having lived in a much more boring town in New England in the mid-90's, I definitely appreciate entertainment and recreation opportunities.

Okay, I think that's a decent list for now. The sassy life is a good life, even if it is making me turn 40 and deal with situations and people (read: stinky boys) who bug me. If life were perfect, I suppose it would be quite boring.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Glamour, Gala and Songs To Sing

As much as I hate the shorter days, I must admit that autumn has been treating me well so far. About a week and a half ago, my company threw a very fancy party to celebrate its anniversary. A gala, if you will. It was super fun to get dressed up and enjoy the snacks and drinks with my equally coiffed and fanicified co-workers. The party was even in the fanciest room of one of San Francisco's more swank hotels.

And did I mention we had snacks and drinks? Yum.

To give you at least some idea of the glamorous time that was had by all, I'm posting a couple of gala snapshots. Above are me and Christine, and below are me, Tom and Phil (in a photo taken with my cell phone). All are coworkers and dear friends of mine. After the fancy party, I scooted across town to meet Frances, Nina, Onkar, Joel and several others for karaoke. We went to one of those private karaoke places in Japantown that gives you your own room and lets you have at it where the singing is concerned. Unfortunately, this particular establishment did not have the greatest song selection, but we made the best of it. We sang Beatles, U2, more Beatles, Roberta Flack, The Exciters and um... more Beatles (Onkar and I were in charge of the song selection at one point and chose about eight Beatles songs in a row).

This past weekend I was a little under the weather, but that only slowed my momentum; it didn't stop it completely. I discovered that the Soap Opera Network can comfort you quite well when you are infirm because they show reruns of the original "Beverly Hills, 90210" for hours on end on Saturdays, followed by a couple of episodes of "Gilmore Girls." I think my brain forced my health to improve to get me off the couch and away from all that television.

And in mere days it will be Thanksgiving, followed by Christmas, and of course, the most important holiday of the year: my birthday. In 27 days I turn 40 years old. I'm not really certain how that happened; I just I know that I never signed off on getting older. However, as my co-worker Mike pointed out, getting older is better than the only realistic alternative. So get older I will. And if all goes according to plan, I'm going to have a super fun 40th birthday party. It's going to be at this very hip art gallery and lounge, and I've hired DJ English Steve to play 60's soul and power pop, along with post-punk, new wave and a little bit of ska. Plus, my band, Sober Nixon, is going to play a short set. I may as well take advantage of my captive audience and sing to them, right?

Hopefully, all this will make 40 as fabulous as my 30's have been. Hopefully.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sober Nixon

No, the title of this post is not a speculation on the physical state of any past president or anyone else. As you may know if you visit this space with any kind of regularity, Sober Nixon is the name of my... for lack of a better word... band.

You see, I always have wanted to sing. Always, always, always. I realized in high school that I had a pretty good voice, but I also realized I didn't have the greatest pitch in the world. So I concluded that I couldn't sing and had to content myself with merely singing along with my favorite records in secluded places. Well, long story short, a stint in a fake band with some co-workers three years ago lead to some singing lessons, and that lead to better pitch and, more importantly, greatly improved confidence. I know my limits (for example, harmonizing by ear is not my strong point), but I've realized that I can, in fact, sing. Some even say I sing very well.

So I have taken this new found knowledge and put it to good use. In addition to becoming a karaoke addict, I have spent the last couple of years finding musicians to sing with. Sober Nixon is the current vehicle for my warbling hobby. We play open mics, mostly, but last Wednesday we had a real gig. We were the first band on the bill at the Rockit Room. Since I don't write music (that's the next challenge), Sober Nixon is a cover band. We did do one song on Wednesday that our guitarist wrote, but in general, she keeps her original material separate from Sober Nixon's song list. You'll never hear us perform currently overplayed numbers like "Love Shack" or whatever has topped the charts more recently, but if you like the Monkees, the Beatles, Nick Lowe, Blondie, Fairground Attraction, the Go-Go's and the Bangles (early Bangles only), then we're your kind of cover band.

One day I would like to be in a band that writes its own material, but for now I'm happy to sing the songs I've always imagined singing when I hear them on the radio or through my iPod headphones as I jog. So here's to more Sober Nixon shows. Hopefully you'll be able to see us at a club near you soon.

Monday, October 05, 2009

From September To October

My, but time flies. Especially when you don't update your blog as regularly as you once did. So here's a little summary of a few things I've been up to since my last post.

I went to Hawaii for eight glorious days last month. And it was, in fact, glorious... until the end of the trip when my sister and I were bitten by bed bugs in our five-star hotel. That's right. We got the hotel to clean our clothes and luggage, and they did comp us for the nights we were bitten. But only after some negotiation. I can only say I'm glad the bugs didn't get us until the end of the sojourn because they are a major buzz kill. At least I didn't bring any home with me (knock wood).

Since my return to San Francisco, I have been rehearsing with my little cover band, Sober Nixon, because we have a show coming up! It's on Wednesday, and I'll let you know how it goes once it happens.

This past weekend was jam-packed full of fun beginning with Carla's birthday party Friday night. Those of us in this photo (birthday girl Carla is in the center wearing white) began the evening with about 25 others at Bossa Nova in SOMA for delicious Brazilian food. After dinner ended at about midnight, most everyone else headed to Mezzanine to go dancing, but I went home. I needed to rest up for my big Saturday, which included rehearsal for the Sober Nixon show, seeing my rock 'n' roll boyfriend Nick Lowe perform at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in Golden Gate Park and then meeting Erin for an evening of wine and socializing.

Then yesterday I went to Vanessa's all-day breakfast birthday party. Is anything better than having pancakes, bacon and mimosas at 4:00 in the afternoon? I think not. And that brings us to this evening which finds me watching the new television drama Trauma as I write this post. Trauma is a terrible show, but my friend Katarina is in tonight's episode, so yay! I'm happy to tune in to see her, even if the show isn't worthy of her or her talent.

Otherwise, I'll just be singing songs through Wednesday night.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Late Summer Days. And Nights

This is my least favorite time of the year. On one hand, the transition from late summer into early fall makes for a beautiful season, and in San Francisco, September offers some of the best weather on the calendar. But on the other hand, the days are getting shorter, and nothing really interesting happens until the holiday season.

So as I am wont to do, I make the most of what these months have to offer. Case in point: I'm off to Hawaii in a week. Yay! Back here at home, I'm filling my free time with fun, and this last week was no exception.

I snapped this little cell phone photo of myself with my friends Nina and Onkar on Friday night. Well, technically, it was Saturday morning. What had started as happy hour at Osha in the Financial District with Frances, Zeeshan, Dean, Joel, Zaineb, Nina, Onkar and myself turned into an evening music and cocktail party. We took the party from the FiDi to a Western Addition apartment, and while the others took smoke breaks on the balcony, I took charge of Onkar's iPod. Like me, Onkar is a huge music fan, and he has tastes similar to mine. So there was a lot to choose from among the 4500 songs that fill his little music player. We drank, ate snacks, chatted and sang along to the tunes. (Okay, it was mostly me singing along, but whatever.)

But wait, I'm getting a little ahead of myself here. A whole week's worth of fun preceded our Friday night music party. Last Sunday afternoon my friend Erin and I went to see the Giants beat the Rockies as the two teams battle for a spot in the playoffs. It was Stanford Alumni Day at the game, and even though this proud Brown University graduate did not attend Stanford (Erin did), I was a good sport and cheered for the Giants among the Cardinal faithful. On Monday I met Denise for cocktails at the bar at the Fancy Gym. Yes, the Fancy Gym has a bar; it's that fancy. It was there that I discovered bubble gum flavored vodka. You read that right. Actually, Denise had discovered the bubble gum vodka a few weeks ago when she and her boyfriend Paul went to a movie premiere in L.A., but the Fancy Gym bar has it. Yum.

On Tuesday Sober Nixon had a little open mic performance in Alameda. It wasn't our best open mic showing, but it was okay. By the way, Ho, our bass player, is trying to get Sober Nixon on the bill of a real show in early October. We'll see if that pans out. Open mics are fun, but a real club show would be that much more fun. I stayed in on Wednesday night and then met Kurt and Terry for more socializing after work on Thursday.

All of that wore me out for the weekend, and I spent most of yesterday relaxing and napping with just a workout, laundry and some other housework to break up my dozing. But the fun kicks into high gear again this afternoon when I get together with Christine for our regular gossip session. Then it's Heidi's birthday party tomorrow night and a possible recording session for Sober Nixon on Wednesday. We have to record some songs if we want to be considered for any shows next month.

And after all that, I'm that much closer to Hawaii. Again, yay!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Rocktail On

Last Saturday I was transported back to 1979 and found that David Bowie had invited me to a cocktail party.

Well, sort of, anyway.

My friend Candace, pictured here with me, has spent... well, I'm not sure how much time... putting together a fundraising party to benefit the initial film making ventures of her artist collaborative production company, Girl Wonder Athletic Productions. She's been working on it for at least as long as I've known her, which is about five and a half months. The theme of the affair was 1979 glam. In other words, the kind of cocktail party David Bowie likely would have thrown 30 years ago. Candace dubbed it the Experimental Art Rocktail Party, and it was a hoot and a half.

The party blended music and performance art with cocktails, snacks and some fabulous outfits. Two bands played, there was kissing booth (which I never saw anyone use, but it was there), and I got to sing with one of the bands.

I'm getting ahead of myself here, though. Let's go back to the outfits. And in my case, the make-up. You know it's a good party if you can wear gloriously long false eyelashes and have a make-up artist do your make up for you. At least I know that. Add pink go-go boots, over-sized accessories from H&M and a fabulous outfit from Piedmont on Haight Street, and frankly, the party starts the moment you look in a mirror.

It's funny. When Candace first mentioned this party to me, she asked me if I like to dress up. I answered yes, but I think the enthusiasm I discovered for putting together a look for myself surprised even me. Good times. Then there was the singing. Sometime in the spring, Candace made what could perhaps be called the mistake of suggesting that maybe I should perform at the party. It was a suggestion upon which I jumped immediately.

So it soon was decided I would sing two songs with NN, the second band of the evening. Given that David Bowie was throwing this party, at least in spirit, both of the bands did David Bowie covers, and I sang one of them. Well, technically I sang a Queen cover, "Under Pressure," but that's kind of a David Bowie song. I learned the Freddie Mercury part (not easy, I'll have you know), and Nero, the leader of NN, took on David Bowie's portion. I also got to sing one of my favorite songs, Blondie's "Dreaming," with NN backing me up. I have enough fun singing songs on my own, but when I looked at the crowd during "Dreaming" and saw what seemed like everyone singing along and dancing with complete abandon, that fun kicked into overdrive. I didn't write that song, obviously, but it still was super neat to see so many people digging it. Then we all danced our asses off to the styling of a very decent DJ once the live music was done.

All in all, the Experimental Art Rocktail Party was a smashing success. And my sister Fabulous Patti joined me for the fun, along with Kevin, Dima, Carolyn, Frances, Erin and Roland. Personally, I'm ready for the next party, but I bet after all that work and planning, Candace really needs a break. So I can be patient. After all, I still have the go-go boots.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Las Vegas: It's Like a Spa.... With Cocktails, Gambling and Lots of Neon

It was Andrey's birthday this past weekend, and, as is tradition, about 30 of us gathered in Sin City to celebrate. And celebrate we did. To some of us, that meant staying out until 6 a.m. dancing at nightclubs or watching others... uh... dance on a pole or two. But to me, celebrating meant cocktails, a little dancing and then an early, by Vegas standards, bedtime of about 1 a.m. so I could be up by 9:00 every morning to work out at the Mirage gym and lounge in their spa facilities. Then we'd all spend several hours at the Mirage pool, as evidenced in the above photograph. Add in the fact that the July desert heat turns Las Vegas into a serious sauna, and you have a giant spa.

I did gamble a bit, too. I like the slot machines but really just regard them as expensive video games, as opposed to truly trying to win any money. To that end, I only play the penny slots, so I can minimize my expense. At one point during the weekend, I was up about $21 in my "video gaming," but when all was said and done, I had lost about $14. Ah, well.

One the highlights for me this year was definitely Friday night when Frances, Katya and I went to see The Beatles LOVE. It was amazing, to say the least. I was in tears throughout most of the show, which would be embarrassing, but I discovered that one of my fellow Andrey celebrants saw it last year, and he cried, too. So no shame necessary.

Saturday night was Mafia Night, and we all dressed as gangsters and their molls, representing mob culture from about the 20's to the present day. Here, Irina, birthday boy Andrey and I are decked out in our mobster finest. (To be honest, my costume looked a lot like my normal clothing, and that's because it was. Not that I'm any sort of a gangster in real life, but I have a couple of dresses that look 40's/50's-ish, and I figured one of them would suffice.)

On Sunday night we celebrated Andrey's birthday officially with a delicious dinner at the Palms Casino. A bunch of us went dancing after that, but Tom, Irina, Bill and I decided to hit the Imperial Palace for more gaming (lots of penny slots at the IP, my friends). And then Monday arrived, and I flew home in the late afternoon. But not before a last visit to the gym/spa, more pool time and a few more spins at the penny slot machines.

I could get used to a life of exercise, poolside cocktails and fabulous food and shows. However, since I don't gamble for real, I'm going to have to work a few more years before I can even dream of being able to afford such a life.

(Photos courtesy of David Piechowski. I brought my camera with me but really didn't use it, opting instead to take a few pictures with my mobile phone and upload them onto Facebook immediately. You can see them there, if you happen to be my "friend.")

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Real Rock Star, Fake Rock Star

What I should be doing right now: working on my newspaper column, which is due on Sunday. What I am doing: playing on the Internet and updating this little chronicle. After rambling here, I probably will hop onto Hulu and watch an episode of "Chuck." (Why does NBC not rerun that show? Do people really want to see endless airings of "Deal Or No Deal"?)

Anyway, the tale I tell you this evening is that of a real rock star and a fake rock star. The real rock star in question is my friend Bray. He had a CD release party at the Independent this weekend, and it was super fun. After a few glasses of champagne across town at Project One, I arrived just in time to see Bray take the stage as well as command of his pitch perfect set. Bray is one of the most dynamic performers I've ever seen, and he was awesome.

The fake rock star would be me. Between the bronchitis, my mini L.A. vacation two and a half weeks ago and just generally being busy, I hadn't been singing much for the past month. But a few days ago, Jackie and I got together for rehearsal (Ho, our bass player, is traveling in Mongolia), and I was handily reminded why I love singing songs. I'd been in a dour mood beforehand, but after our two-hour practice, I was happy as a clam. We also treated my friend and neighbor Alison, who is about to move to India, to a little mini concert in my living room.

Just an aside: I certainly have some globe-trotting friends, don't I? The furthest I've ever traveled is to Great Britain, and in general, I don't stray further from home than Hawaii. Okay, back to our tale.

With a good rehearsal under our belts, Jackie and I decided to perform a few tunes at the McGrath's open mic in Alameda last night. I sang three songs and then left the stage to Jackie to play some of her original numbers. There were only about 15 people in the joint, which I believe is rare for that particular open mic, and to be totally honest, most of them didn't pay attention. But such is the life of a fake rock star. Jackie has much more rock star cred than me, and her original songs are really good. One guy liked them so much, he bought drinks for me and Jackie once she was done. Jackie's solo work has nothing whatsoever to do with me, but I took the free cocktail, anyway.

I'm going to guess that getting a complimentary beverage when your guitarist writes and performs some good songs also is part of the fake rock star life. And frankly, that suits me just fine.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Independence Day, Bay Area Style

Happy America's birthday, gentle readers! I trust you had a lovely 4th of July. My holiday festivities began a day early this year, as did many others' celebrating, I imagine. I actually didn't have Friday off, but I worked early and was on the patio at Zeitgeist with a Downtown Brown ale in my hand by 3:00 that afternoon. Given that most everyone else had the day free, as well, it was far more crowded than a regular Friday at 3 p.m., but I didn't mind. Nor did Kevin, Kurt, Paul, Denise, Tom or Chris, all of whom joined me. At about 6:00 I left with Paul and Denise to indulge in gourmet deep dish pizza at Little Star, and then I headed home and went to bed early.

That early bedtime, you soon will see, was necessary, as I had a jam-packed Independence Day ahead of me. After a lazy morning followed by a nice workout at the gym, I cleaned up and was ready for action.

The first stop on my 4th of July Tour of Fun was Berkeley, where my friend Christina was hosting a barbecue. There was good food, excellent company, live chickens in a coop (don't worry we ate none of them) and a couple of women in tank tops and shorts or skirts who didn't shave their legs or underarms. I must say, it's been years since I've seen that very stereotypically Berkeley phenomenon. On an intellectual level, I'm appalled by the way women in this country are expected to be virtually devoid of body hair. However, I also am a product of my culture and keep myself well shorn and waxed. Within reason, anyway. (Perhaps this is too much information, but I've never traveled to Brazil and have no intention of doing so.)

After a delicious meal, I had to leave the barbecue and BART back into the City for a Margarita Club meeting at Cava 22 in the Mission. While there, Berto and I spied a gentleman roaming the street wearing just a top hat, spats and a barrel while waving an American flag. I assume he also was wearing underpants, but I really don't know for certain. What a San Francisco way to celebrate the nation's birthday, no?

An hour later I was off again and headed to North Beach for Helen's 40th birthday party. I got to see the City's fireworks display on the way there, which was a lovely surprise, since I had been certain the display would be eaten by the fog this year. 4th of July fireworks are always hit and miss in San Francisco. Anyway, Helen's party was much fun. We chatted, drank a couple of cocktails, and I learned that her neighbor apparently works in pornography. The very nice gentleman in question says he's neither an actor nor a fluffer, but he wouldn't say just what it is that he does do. And it is just his day job; he's actually a musician and would like to compose and produce film soundtracks someday. Anyway, that also seems very stereotypically San Francisco. While I believe the San Fernando Valley to be the heart of the adult film industry, I've never met anyone who works in porn in L.A., and Helen's neighbor is not the first person I've met here who works in some form of adult entertainment. I didn't even bat an eye while talking to him last night. Well, I didn't bat an eye once I was convinced he wasn't lying about his job, and the mild shock wore off.

All in all, I'd call it a very successful Independence Day. I hope the rest of America had as fun a birthday as I did.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I'm A Rockstar... Except When I'm Not

Let me be clear: by "rockstar" I do not mean a successful musician who tours the world playing arenas filled with thousands of adoring fans. No. I merely mean my ability to take my 39 year-old self and socialize like I'm 25. Or at least 35.

I was a total rockstar on Saturday when I went from a personal training session at the gym to lunch (cocktails included) with my friend April, to karaoke at the Mint with Maya and Natalie where I sang six songs and finally to an acoustic music show at Blue Six in the Mission with Candace and her friends. I even chatted briefly with a cute boy at the Blue Six show, but unfortunately, he was all of 23 or maybe 24. I'm not that kind of rockstar. When all was said and done, however, I got my workout in and then spent almost 12 full hours socializing without missing a beat.

I was also a rockstar last night at the McGrath's open mic in Alameda. My performance wasn't necessarily any better than anyone else's, although I did get a few compliments from total strangers. What made me a rockstar is that I sang despite a nasty case of bronchitis. Don't worry, I'm not contagious and was not poisoning any shared microphones. I've had a cold for about two and a half weeks now, and while it seemed to be getting much better, yesterday morning all signs pointed to it mutating into bronchitis. I got antibiotics in the afternoon, but then I found myself in a quandary since I, along with my Sober Nixon band mates, had planned to hit McGrath's and sing a few songs. Did I cancel, given my compromised lung function? Nope, not this rockstar. I wasn't stupid about the evening, mind you. I didn't drink and got home at a fairly decent hour, but bronchitis certainly wasn't going to stop me. Sick or not, I was able to power through three songs without so much as a hiccup, let alone a coughing fit. And I might even say I sang pretty well.

However, I have not fared so well in the hours since. Almost the instant I stepped off the McGrath's "stage," I succumbed to the coughing and wheezing. And then today, I was sent home from work after only two hours. How humiliating. Yes, you get the day off, but being sent home from work is its own walk of shame. Once home, I proceeded to sleep through the afternoon.

So at the end of the day, I guess this yet another of many indicators that I really am 39, not 25. Or 35. And I've learned that if I refuse to acknowledge that fact, a little bronchitis can always pop up to help me remember.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Short Attention Span Internet

I am not the blogger I used to be. I used to update this little chronicle twice a week without fail, and now... well, you can see evidence of what a slacker I've become. I've said this before, and I'll say it again: I blame Facebook and Twitter (okay, and myself). I've been home all day today without much to do, and only now have I turned to my trusty Sassy space and begun to write.

However, I have posted several "tweets" and checked Facebook three times already. It's because tweets and Facebook status updates are short by design and take less commitment. But you know, that's kind of sad. I have no intention of deleting my Facebook or Twitter accounts, but it's a little pathetic when I spend more time on certain websites because they require less investment.

At this rate, I'll have absolutely no attention span by about the year 2012.

Anyway, I was home all day today because I am, once again, sick. I just had a chest cold about five or six weeks ago, but apparently, my body liked it so much, it invited another virus over to play. Annoying. I have recruited my couch, a couple of Gilmore Girls dvd box sets and an army of Zicam chews and Mucinex tablets to help coax me back to good health. So far, it seems to be working.

Aside from my infirm condition, some fun things have been happening. Last Saturday, I went to this new Moroccan restaurant with about 20 others to celebrate my friend Katya's birthday. Not only is the food there delicious, but every night at 10:00, the place turns into a disco. And these people are serious. The hosts and wait staff all but push you out of your seat (very politely, mind you), as they whisk the tables away and adjust the lighting to accommodate dancing, as opposed to eating. I must admit, the music was not to my liking; so I left soon after the dancing began, but it's still a neat idea.

Things with Sober Nixon, my "band," are going very well, too. No, I still don't write songs, but I keep promising myself I'll start. In the meantime, we've added some new tunes to our repertoire of covers, including "Be My Baby," "You Can't Hurry Love," "He's a Rebel" and the one I'm most excited about: "I Say Nothing," a song originally by a band called Voice of the Beehive. Hopefully, we'll be able to play all of these at open mic on Sunday. Providing we master them by then. And providing my chest cold will allow me to sing. We're also going to work out Pete Yorn's "Just Another" for future open mic performances. And one day I will write a song. Truly, I will...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Rock 'n' Roller Derby and Popfest

I have been remiss, gentle readers. Not only because it has been almost three weeks since I last updated this space, but because I have neglected to tell you about my night at the roller derby.

That's right, roller derby.

Did you have any idea that roller derby still existed? I know I didn't. So when Denise invited me to accompany her and Paul to such a derby a week ago, how could I say no? The idea of seeing a 1970's relic live in the 21st Century was too enticing to pass up.

Well, the idea was far better than the reality.

The best way to describe the San Francisco Bay Bombers roller derby match against... of who even remembers which team?... is as a car wreck you can't look away from. Between the obvious fake fighting and the actors, I mean players, hurling themselves over the sides of the rink to make the action seem more exciting, it was too much. I couldn't decide if I was amused or horrified, and Paul and Denise were merely bored. We left at halftime, or whatever they call the break halfway through the match.

In this case I'd say that what happened in the '70's would best have been left in the '70's.

This weekend saw perhaps the best music event in San Francisco all year: Popfest 2009. Popfest was four days of a couple dozen indie pop bands from all over the world playing, by and large, my favorite type of rock music. Mostly it was guitar pop, although a few synthesizers snuck in here and there. Apparently, Popfest has been around for years, but I came late to the party and just discovered it this year. Between the shows I attended at the Rickshaw Stop Thursday night and House of Shields Saturday afternoon, I saw four of the bands (I'd have seen eight bands, but for one reason or another, I had to leave both shows early). I admit, I liked the Thursday bands better, but it was all good. Next year, I'll have to go to all of the shows. Or at least more than two.

Other weekend activities included my return to Project One, a neato Mission art gallery with a bar and occasional DJ's and live music I'd been to a couple of months ago. Frances, Carla and I went on Saturday night, and it proved to be a very productive outing. Then yesterday was Tom, Chris and Nick's annual Memorial Day party. Which is always held the day before Memorial Day, by the way.

I had been invited to attend a co-workers wedding in Calistoga this weekend, but I didn't go. One of the many reasons I didn't make the trek north is that I hurt myself about a week ago. I pulled muscle jogging, and my left leg has been very angry at me since. How did I pull said muscle? All I can say is that I was jogging while old. So sad, especially since I love to jog and haven't been able to for more than a week (although I've been indulging in alternative exercises and working with my trainer at the gym). So I figured it was best not to be too far from home, should my leg act up.

Ah, the joys of approaching middle age. My mind may think I'm still 28, but my body certainly does not.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Had To Get Away...

It's true, I haven't updated this space for a little while, but that's because I was in Hawaii for ten days looking at sunsets like this one I managed to capture on film (on digital?) in Waikiki last Friday evening.

I go to Hawaii twice a year now, and even that's not often enough. I love the warmth, the sunshine, the beaches, the energy, everything. I returned home last night and basically spent all day today wishing I was still in Honolulu. Well, I'll indulge this wistfulness for a few days before I force myself to shake it off and once again embrace my real life here in the City by the Bay. Luckily, lots of fun things are on the horizon, like Teenage Kicks tomorrow night, the Smuin Ballet opening and Moore Brothers show on Friday and Gina's birthday party on Saturday. Then, in just four short months, I'll be back in Oahu once again.

I used Facebook and Twitter to share real-time tidbits throughout my sojourn, but I'll summarize the whole thing here by offering tips for how to have a really top drawer time while on a beach vacation.

1. Take a jog by the beach every morning. I recommend Ala Moana Beach Park. Since you'll be jogging in slightly humid 85 degree temperatures, as opposed to the 60 degree temperatures you're accustomed to, allow yourself to jog about half a mile and then walk three miles. No, it's not as good a workout as you get at home, but you're on vacation, right? (You'll pay for this when you resume your normal exercise habits, but you can worry about that later.)

2. Drink mimosas everyday in the late morning/early afternoon. Unless, of course, you feel like the chest cold you had the week before you left might be gearing up for a relapse. In that case, take a day or two off from drinking alcohol, and you'll be fine.

3. Take a few more twilight beach photos. They'll all turn out beautifully and might even look like an old fashioned postcard or something.

4. Go to the beach everyday. If you're worried that you might get bored just lying on a beach day in and day out, don't. You won't get bored.

5. Sing songs. You can find karaoke anywhere, including and especially Waikiki, and singing songs never gets old. Now, if you could just find a guitar player and a Hawaiian open mic...

6. If your mother happens to live in Honolulu, and you happen to stay with her, enjoy the fact that she's willing to cook for you, especially if you don't even cook for yourself at home. This is truly an added bonus.

Follow these easy steps, gentle readers, and you're sure to have a wonderful time.

Unfortunately, my vacation included some bad news, as well. Just over a week ago, I was told that a friend of mine from high school (and junior high and grammar school, for that matter) died last month in Berlin. Apparently, he died of liver failure. I'm not sure why this 39-year old man's liver failed, but it did. The good news, I suppose, is that I and many of our other classmates recently had reconnected with him via Facebook, and we'd had lots of little chats about music and our school days and whatnot. There were 73 kids in my high school graduating class, and as far as I am aware, he is the second person to die (the first died on September 11, 2001, in the World Trade Center). That's a loss you feel, even 21 years after graduation. Live each moment and each day, my friends. And if you can swing it, live at least a few of those days in Hawaii.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Recovering Actors

Back in a former life, also known as the 90's and the first year or two of the 00's, I was an actor. I trained; I performed; I felt sooooo dramatic and artistic. And in 1998 and 1999, I studied the highly respected but very tough Meisner acting technique. The technique, itself, is awesome. My teacher for this particular course wasn't the best, but the intensity and duration of the class bonded all of us who studied together through those grueling months.

Last week, my friend and former Meisner classmate Gry was in town from Denmark, the home country she returned to back in 2003 or so. Gry and I had stayed friends long after the class ended. In fact, from mid-2000 until she moved to New York in mid-2001, Gry and I had a standing Wednesday happy hour date at the Casanova Lounge. We'd talk about boys, play pool (Casanova had a pool table back then) and sometimes meet new boys while we played pool and sipped our beverages.

With Gry back in San Francisco for a week or so, our first stop was, of course, Casanova for beverages and chatting. Then last Friday, we got together again with our fellow Meisner survivor Tracy, along with some other friends. We met at the Make Out Room to see Mortified, which is probably the best show ever created. Mortified features real people reading from their old junior high school diaries, journals and whatever else reveals their teenage angst from years gone by. It is positively amazing. You laugh, you cringe, you even get a little choked up as you root for the brave souls who showcase their adolescent selves.

After Mortified, we walked across the street for cocktails at the Latin American Club, where we snapped this little photo. Tracy now is a married high school teacher with two kids; Gry became a radio producer when she moved back to Denmark; I use singing as my primary creative outlet these days; and none of us acts anymore. But ten years later, it was wonderful to get together and remember those halcyon days of our 20's when we held only part time jobs so we could spend six hours a week in class repeating each other (that makes sense if you're familiar with Meisner) and many more hours outside of class rehearsing between auditions for shows.

In other news, I thrust myself into the 21st Century last night by buying a Blackberry Pearl cell phone on a total whim. I'd walked into the wireless store to get a new battery for my perfectly reasonable year and a half old phone, and I walked out with a new toy and a significantly more expensive service contract. All of my friends who have Blackberries, iPhones and similar such gadgets love them, but it remains to be seen if I find this investment to be worth it.

Also, this weekend I'm leaving for a week and a half in Hawaii! I have managed to catch a tiny chest cold now in the days before I go, but I'm currently negotiating with the universe to ensure that I am free of this plague by the time my plane takes off on Saturday evening.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Eat, Sing, Eat

Looking for the recipe for a top notch Easter? Well, start with your favorite brunch place. Add 13 friends and family members, fold in a couple of mimosas and enjoy. Make sure you snap a photo afterward, like the one I have provided you as an example.

Oh, but you're not done yet. Later in the afternoon shake an apple martini or two and sip while singing songs at the Black Magic Voodoo Lounge open mic. Personally, I recommend singing songs by Nick Lowe, The Beatles, The Go-Go's, Blondie, Fairground Attraction, Marshall Crenshaw and The Bangles, but that's just me. You are free to choose any type of music.

And finally, because you didn't eat more than enough at brunch, collect a few more friends and add a dash of Thai curried game hen prepared by a host who likes to cook. With that, you have a delightful Easter dinner and a fabulous end to a wonderful Easter Sunday.

Whether you're religious or regard Easter as a pagan celebration of spring, you're doing something right when you celebrate any holiday by eating, singing and then eating. Trust me, I thoroughly tested this recipe yesterday, and it is delicious.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Making the Band

4,326 years ago (also known as my sophomore year in college), I took the first of what would be many fiction writing classes at my university. Our little writing workshop was taught by a grad student named Dan, who was working on his own Master's degree in fiction. We wrote stories and pored over each other's work in class. We had class on a rooftop deck one sunny afternoon while sipping tequila. Don't worry, we were all over 21; at least that's the story I'm sticking with.

What's significant about this particular class, however, is not the writing, not the instructor and not the tequila. It's that one of my classmates was a quiet guy named Ho, whom I never saw again once that semester ended. That is, until I was reintroduced to him in San Francisco about four years ago through our mutual friend Jack. Jack has since moved to New York, but he was in town last week, and I had dinner with him and Ho at The Grove on Fillmore Street last Tuesday.

And that's when I learned the information that may change my life: Ho plays the bass.

Okay, maybe Ho's musical ability won't change my life, but it is going to change my open mic performances. Yesterday, Ho joined Jackie and myself for rehearsal, and I believe he is going to play with us from now on. Yippee! It's like we're almost a real band. If yesterday's rehearsal is any indication, adding bass to our repertoire will be a very good move. The songs sounded so good, and Ho hasn't even fully learned them yet.

Plus, Ho has recording equipment at home and already has offered us the opportunity to record stuff. And he writes songs... at least a little bit... and has offered to help me translate the original melodies I sometimes wake up singing in the morning into real music.

This could be the beginning of great things for my little music hobby.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Endorphin Rush

Is it possible to exercise everyday and still not be in very good shape?

Well, if it is, that is exactly what I have been doing for the last several years. You see, when I moved across town in October, I had to quit my beloved fancy gym. Okay, I didn't have to quit, but I now live further away from the Fancy Gym, while a nearly-as-fancy facility is mere steps away from my front door. So I traded uber-luxury for convenience, and now I only have to walk two blocks when I want to exercise indoors. When I joined the Just About As Fancy Gym, the membership director managed to sell me three personal training sessions at a special rate. It didn't take much coercion; I was so desolate over leaving the Fancy Gym that I just handed her my credit card. She probably could have sold me a car, and I just would have charged it without thinking.

Anyway. I've had a trainer before. Back in 2003, also known as The Year I Was In the Best Shape of My Life, I had a deal through my job that allowed me free personal training at 24 Hour Fitness. Not at all fancy, but did I mention that the personal training was free? I had training sessions 2 to 3 times a week for nine months. I imagine now you understand why I was in the best shape of my life that year.

But that was then and this is now.

I have been very aware over the last couple of years, especially, that I have gained a little weight (not much; I'm still rather slender) and that my workouts and runs are not what they used to be. However, I had no idea just how out of shape I had become. Once I used those personal training sessions at Just About As Fancy Gym, boy, was I surprised. During our workouts, I found myself telling my trainer about how I used to be so strong and so fit while feeling like I am the fattest person in the joint now. Luckily, my trainer has dealt with my type before. She's very supportive and patient, and when I indignantly wondered aloud how someone could exercise everyday, like I do, and still feel out of shape, she suggested I kick my current exercise routine up a notch. Nothing major, just a few adjustments to what I already do and enjoy.

This woman knows what she's talking about.

One thing she has suggested is for me to do intervals when I run outside. That is to say, jog two or three blocks, then sprint one block, jog two or three more blocks, sprint one block, etc. The first time I did it, I thought I might die, but now, I don't know why I spent all those years jogging at one boring pace. I have fallen into the habit of walking the second half of my morning jog, but now during the second half, I walk two or three blocks and then jog one, walk two or three blocks and jog one. You get the picture. That gives me a nice cool down but keeps my heart rate a little higher. I've been doing these interval jogs for about a two weeks now, and I love them. I have more energy afterward, and the endorphin rush is much more intense. Given that I am an endorphin addict, I've become a big fan.

On top of all that, my personal trainer also managed to sell me more sessions once my introductory three were done with a commitment for me to buy even more in the future. Oh, she is brilliant, that trainer of mine. Brilliant.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday

Remember that catchy but really kind of hideous song written by Prince under the alias "Christopher" and made famous by the Bangles? In one line of that tune, Susannah Hoffs croons that Sunday is her "fun day." I guess as Christopher, Prince was hurting for a rhyme on that one.

Well, bad rhymes from Prince aside, Sunday truly is quite the glorious day. I was supposed to go to a barbecue this afternoon, but the host canceled it yesterday because he feared the weather was going to be bad. A canceled party always is a disappointment, but on what turned out to be a gorgeous sunny day, I have been able to get a lot done. I slept for nine yummy hours before leaving my bed at 10:00 this morning and got all of my housework (or is it apartment work when you're an urban dweller?) out of the way early while Nick Lowe tumbled out of my stereo. Then, after finishing my little newspaper column and watching That Thing You Do! on cable for about the 600th time (I adore that movie), I went for a five-mile run/walk and am still flying on the endorphin rush.

As productive and relaxed as I have been all day, I do need to be at least a little bit social. So in about half an hour, I'm taking off for the Mission to see a friend's band perform. And I suppose my own "Manic Monday" arrives tomorrow. Prince.. er, Christopher... would be proud, I'm sure.

[For the record, the Bangles were an exponentially better band before "Manic Monday" and all their other hit records came out and made them stars. Just so you know.]

Sunday, March 15, 2009

No, I'm Not 25 Anymore

So there's good news and bad news to report from my weekend.

The good news is that San Francisco continues to offer countless opportunities for fun. After work on Friday, I met my friend Kurt at a Union Square wine bar in advance of the Paula West show at the Rrazz Room. A cocktail for me and two glasses of wine and a snack for him later, we were on our way to watch Ms. West perform. She was, as always, amazing; singing standard jazz tunes alongside (good) cabaret arrangements of 60's folk/pop songs such as "The Times They Are A-Changin'" and "For No One."

So good.

After Paula, I bid Kurt goodbye and went to the Big Umbrella art studio where another friend, Missy, has become an artist in residence. I took in the art and ran into a guy I recognized from that live Dating Game show I went to back in January. He had been the one and only clever "bachelor" in that game (the others were very scary), and I told him so as we started chatting. Somehow I ended up going to my new favorite bar, Madrone, with said Bachelor and his group of friends. I didn't stay at Madrone long, though. I just passed enough time to have a Chimay and a spin on the dance floor. After that, I was off to put myself to bed.

Now here's the bad news. Even though I was home by 12:30 a.m., the three strong cocktails, two cups of cheap art studio wine and one Chimay I'd imbibed over the course of Friday evening did a complete and total number on me. Back in the day I could have consumed that much alcohol over six hours without issue, but... No, I'm not 25 anymore.

So I spent most of Saturday hungover.

Now, that didn't stop me from meeting Maya and Andrey at the Mint for a little Saturday afternoon karaoke, but I was somewhat the worse for wear. I did manage to take to the stage and belt out "Somewhere Only We Know" and "Kids In America," anyway, though. However, it was an early evening for me. I was home by 8 p.m. and in bed and asleep by 11. On a Saturday night. The twentysomething partier in me was a little horrified, but the nearly 40-year old adult in me was quite content. Especially after that Friday night.

The other bit of bad news this weekend is that I was supposed to sing at an open mic this afternoon, but my guitarist came down with a sinus infection this morning and is in no shape to play. Given that I play no instruments myself and don't have good enough pitch to sing five songs a capella, I stayed home and waded through receipts and did preparation for my upcoming appointment with my tax guy instead. But that's fun, too, right?

I'm making up for the lost open mic by meeting Carla for a Sunday night cocktail in about an hour, but that's not quite the same as singing. My guitarist and I have even worked out some "new" material. Well, it will be coming to an open mic near you (if you're in San Francisco) soon. Soon, my friends.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Flattery Will Get You Everywhere

Today, a former co-worker of mine wrote one of the nicest things anyone has said about me in a long time on my Facebook "wall." Now, this story gets a tad weird in that a few hours later, the flattering comments disappeared, and he was no longer my Facebook "friend." I was confused until I noticed he was no longer connected to any of the friends we had in common, including his wife. So I'm guessing he deactivated his profile.

Regardless, thanks to the beauty of email notifications from social networking websites, I egotistically can share with you of a portion what he wrote. This would make a little more sense if you knew what I do for a living, but... oh, well. This is blog is a specific-job-and-career free zone. Anyway, on to the incredible niceness:

"I've worked 23 years in [this business].... and I think I am a fair judge of talent. You've got it kid. You're smooth, relaxed, and bright. Just remember: Never forget that you were given a great gift. It's a powerful responsibility. Don't take it for granted. You have the opportunity to do some great things. Step out. Be different. Find your voice. This gift isn't free. You are fortunate. This ain't no party. You have to challenge yourself to find a way to inspire. Use your intellect. Honor your gift."

I must say, this note made me feel really, really good. At a time when we're all at least a little afraid of losing our jobs due to the economy (don't deny it; you know you're scared, too), it was lovely to be told that someone admires my talent and ability and wants me to run with it. Thanks, Kevin!!!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Economic Stimulus

I've developed a very bad habit.

For the second year in a row, I've gone to Bloomingdale's to procure a birthday present for my sister Fabulous Patti, and I've ended up buying myself a new dress instead. Not in addition to a gift for FP, instead of one. Last year it was a lavender Rebecca Taylor number I wore both on FP's birthday and to my own birthday celebration in December, and this time, I picked up the Nanette Lepore frock you see pictured here (that is not me modeling it).

Now, I did get Fabulous Patti a gift a couple of days later, and I, once again, was able to wear my new outfit to her birthday dinner and champagne and cupcake party on Saturday. However, I can't exactly afford to buy anything right now. My move last fall kind of knocked the financial wind out of me, and I haven't really recovered yet. If moving costs and buying a bunch of new furniture in September wasn't enough, I seem to find myself constantly facing large expenditures these days, like old dental fillings that need to be replaced and the like. (I have dental insurance, but it's a crappy plan that only covers cleanings, exams and x-rays. Generally, that hasn't been a problem since I take excellent care of my teeth... until my old fillings wore out.)

Anyway, I always have found that in the world of finances, where there is a will, there is a way. I don't believe in carrying credit card debt; so I'm sure I'll find a way to pay for this lovely little gown in full when the bill arrives. Perhaps my savings account can lend a helping hand. Or the income tax refund I anticipate receiving whenever I get around to filing my taxes. The good news is that Bloomingdale's was having a promotion, and I got $75 off my purchase! Of course, these little bits of black and red patterned fabric still cost more money than I have, but the dress is so cute and looks really good on me. Seriously. And besides, we're all supposed be spending money these days, right?

Right. Just call it the Sassy Economic Stimulus Plan.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

You Want Something To Do? Sing A Song Or Two...

Gosh, remember when I used to update this little chronicle twice a week without fail? I'm not sure if my life is less interesting now, and as a consequence, I'm not inspired to write, or if perhaps it's more interesting, and I don't have as much time to write.

Actually, I probably can blame Facebook for my lack of blog attention. I am addicted to that silly little website and tend to provide a running record of my activities through status updates and photographs. That, however, is no good excuse for neglecting this sassy space. So this all begs the question: what have I been doing lately? Well.... a bunch of stuff, I suppose. I work, I exercise, I socialize. Last Sunday night I celebrated Carolyn and Dima's birthdays with them and other friends at Doc's Clocks in the Mission. The next night I went to see my musician friend Pat play a mini-set at the 500 Club after I finished work. Last night I saw Souvenir at A.C.T., which was pretty good. Not great, but not bad either.

I've also been singing some songs, myself. I borrowed the title of this post from the band Bette Serveert. The actual lines from their song "Rudder" are: "You want something to do; Make a record or two", but I haven't made any records. A little open mic and karaoke is all I can offer. I've decided, for various reasons, to stop doing the Wednesday night open jam at Blondie's. Believe it or not, the man with no teeth sitting at the bar right in front of the stage the last time I sang there has nothing to do with that decision. For all that I have a history with Blondie's (I deemed it my first favorite bar in the City back in 1997), that open jam isn't the right venue for me. There's still the Black Magic Voodoo Lounge every other Sunday, and I'm on the lookout for more interesting open mic opportunities.

My karaoke habit also continues. On Valentine's Day, I celebrated the day of love with Maya, Ash, Suzanne and Eric at the Mint. We sang a bunch of songs, and I was there for almost six hours. It was jam-packed by the time I left, but I'd gotten to sing four songs by that point, which is damn good for the Mint. There also were some cute (and I believe heterosexual) guys there, but I was so busy choosing songs that I didn't talk to any of them. Have to rectify that next time. A mere four days later, I met Ash at Encore to warble a few more tunes. He's got a great voice, and I suspect he will become a regular karaoke buddy. And Mary Beth and I are talking about doing a little karaoke next week. Yes, karaoke is cheesy, but it's a good way to practice singing, and, frankly, it's fun.

I have a real singing rehearsal with Jackie tomorrow, as we prepare for our return to the Black Magic in a few weeks. Also, tomorrow is, of course, the Academy Awards. I already have snacks stocked and a demi-bottle of Veuve Clicquot chilling for the occasion. I have seen only two nominated films, Slumdog Millionaire and Milk, but I think that gives me plenty to root for.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Just Because...

... I've been such a slacker about keeping this space current, I offer you a quick update. But I must be quick.

I went to see In the Next Room at Berkeley Rep on Wednesday night, and it was nothing like I thought it would be. Not to say that I didn't enjoy it; the script was entertaining, and the acting was first rate. I have seen shows at Berkeley Rep that I've liked more, but this one wasn't bad at all.

My guitarist Jackie and I have been working out some "new" songs to add to our open mic repertoire. I have to put the word new in quotation marks because I don't write music; so none of the songs I sing actually are new. In fact, the tunes we've been working on are anywhere from 25 to 40 years old. Anyway, if you come see us, expect a little Monkees and some Bangles and Go-Go's album tracks. And possibly a Honey Cone song Jackie suggested. I'd never heard that one before, but it could be a lot of fun.

Finally, Teenage Kicks returned to the Attic on Friday, and it was, of course, fabulous. Even without Victor, who decided in December that he didn't want to DJ anymore. I had one too many Chimays, but that didn't ruin the experience... or the music... for me. I merely drank a big bottle of Perrier when I got home, and everything was fine.

Okay, that's the latest from here. I must scoot, as I'm meeting Christine for our bi-weekly cocktail and gossip session. There is a never ending supply of silly boys we must discuss; so I can't be late.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Dating Game

There is a live action "Dating Game" now playing in San Francisco.

I'm not being ironic or anything like that; I'm being quite literal. A stage version of the old 70's game show happens weekly (or is it monthly?) at a little theatre space South of Market. I happen to think this is a most excellent idea. Their set is not quite as fancy as the set from the TV show, but it's a tough economy right now. We all do what we can. Anyway, the producers of this live action "Dating Game" solicit contestants any way they can, including on Craigslist, and treat the winners of the game to a complimentary round of drinks at the restaurant downstairs from the theatre. No, it's not three days and four nights in Palm Springs, but this is independent theatre and again, the economy.

Kurt and I went to this little show last night after attending an Ivy League alumni mixer (don't ask). We actually met a very nice woman at the mixer who thought the live "Dating Game" sounded fun and came with us. She may have come to regret that decision, however. Not that we did anything, and the producers of the show do a great job, but...

Well, the point of this little journal is most certainly not to disparage or publicly mock anyone, so I'll stick with what I liked about the show. The host was great; he had a ton of energy and was pretty funny. And the bachelor contestant who questioned the panel of bachelorettes in the second half was awesome. His questions were incredibly clever, and he was rather attractive. Actually, I didn't find him particularly attractive until he started asking those well written questions. It's amazing what a little wit can do for a guy. Plus, they sell beer and wine at the box office, so you can drink while you watch. Which may be for the best.

I know I just said that I don't use this space to disparage, but there was one point during the show in which I decided to give up dating, myself. Or sex. Or talking to men. Think what you will about the superficiality of Hollywood, but there is something to be said for the fact that many of the contestants on the original "Dating Game" were aspiring movie stars (like, for example, our current governor). That show was cheesy, but at least those contestants didn't scare you.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Just Another Reason To Love the City

There are a lot of reasons to love living in San Francisco: the culture, the architecture, the landscape, the Mission District, the cute bartenders at every corner. With big city glamour in such a convenient bayside package, it's no wonder Tony Bennett left his heart here.

However, perhaps one of the best things about San Francisco, in my opinion, anyway, is the politics. This city is unabashedly liberal, and I love that. Case in point: in what must have been the wee, wee hours of Inauguration Morning before the sun even rose, someone plastered over every white street sign along the entire four (or so) mile length of Bush Street with the word "Obama." It didn't last long; I believe city crews had the Obama stickers removed by late morning. But I saw most of them at 8:15 a.m., and it was brilliant that my commute to work that morning took me down Obama Street.

Apparently, this is kind of an old joke. Word is that in 1988 the Bush Street signs were plastered with Dukakis stickers. But Dukakis lost that election; so I can't imagine those stickers had quite the same effect. This time it was great, though. A new president and a street temporarily named for him? Good times, my friends.

After the emotion and celebration of President Obama's first hours in office, I headed to Pauline's Pizza for Chris' official birthday dinner. He'd had a bigger birthday party last weekend (see previous post), but Tuesday was the actual anniversary of his birth. I thanked Chris multiple times not only for being born, but for giving us a new president. Pizza was devoured, champagne was imbibed, and when all was said and done, we were quite satisfied, as evidenced by this photo of Nick, myself and Tom. Several of us then took off for an late evening Inauguration party, but I didn't stay long. I was suddenly tired (not to mention very full) and heard my bed calling me in full voice. But I went home happy and awoke the next morning still gleeful that we get say President Obama for the next four years.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Parties, Parties Everywhere

Well, now this has been a bit of a lively weekend.

On Friday night I reconnected with my dear friend Marissa. Marissa and I worked together years ago and had become quite good friends. However, for reasons that I cannot, for the life of me, identify, we drifted apart sometime around mid-2006 and hadn't seen each other since then. Not right at all. So we rectified the situation by meeting for cocktails at Sens and getting caught up. After two rather strong Sens martinis each and some unintended conversation with the genuinely crazy woman who sat down next to us, we went to Tony Nik's for a couple more drinks before calling it a night. Marissa truly is wonderful, and it's great to be back in touch with her.

Then last night I decided to pretend I was back in my twenties when I could easily and handily party hop. And party hop I did. The first affair was for Chris's 34th birthday. A bunch of us gathered at the Orbit Room to celebrate, and that's where this photo of Chris, Valerie and myself was snapped. So much fun. Then Kurt and I took off for his friend Sheila's birthday party. Unfortunately, that soiree was at a very crowded, very scene-y club South of Market, and neither Kurt nor I had very much fun there.

So we bolted and headed to Russian Hill where we joined the aforementioned Marissa, along with Bridget, Shannon and Anne, for fondue in honor of Shannon's birthday. I knew we'd made the right decision as soon as I walked into Bridget's apartment and heard "The Porpoise Song" by the Monkees pouring out of the stereo. They were only playing it because it was on the Vanilla Sky soundtrack, as opposed to spinning an actual Monkees record, but I'll take it. These girls had been partying all day; so Shannon began a little nap almost as soon as Kurt and I arrived. But the rest of us drank wine and bonded in her honor until about 2 a.m. Again, so much fun.

And if the parties this weekend weren't enough, the biggest party in eight years is coming up on Tuesday. Yippee!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Beauty of Sleep

I, like many of you, I'm sure, am addicted to Facebook. That little social networking phenomenon has reconnected me with college and high school classmates and buddies, old co-workers and even former bosses. Not to mention providing yet another cyber-dimension for me and most of my current friends to play in. So a few days ago, when my Facebook friend and real-life acquaintance Andrew posted on the site that he had learned the value of a good night's sleep, I, of course, had to play along and comment. I not only agreed with him but confessed a bit of jealousy because I spent four days last week getting up at 3:30 a.m. for work.

The first morning I had to rise before the birds came as a surprise to me. You see, my co-worker Susan unexpectedly called in sick Tuesday morning, causing my phone to rudely awaken me at 3:30 and beckon me to my place of employment as soon as I could get there. As it turns out, Susan has fallen rather ill and ended up being out for the rest of the week; meaning every day by the mid-afternoon, I was told that I'd be returning the next morning at 4:00. For the record, I usually arrive at work at 9:45 a.m. That's a little different. Frankly, I don't know how Susan, or any of the early morning staff at work, keeps such a schedule. I couldn't even exercise for most of the week because my body clock was so screwed up.

All of this is to say that 2009 has gotten off to a bit of a slow start, as my temporary early morning work schedule prevented me from doing much. Also, some unexpected stress arose this past week. None of it is that big a deal; many, many people deal with much bigger problems than mine, but stress is stress. I did manage to join a bunch of friends to toast Devon on her last day of bartending at Joey and Eddie's in North Beach Thursday night, but I only stayed until 8:30. Am I a partier or what? On Friday, I met Bill, Kim, Terry and Suzanne for drinks at Tony Nik's, but that ended up being a relatively early evening, as well, even though it began the weekend.

And last night... ah, last night. After a late morning facial, afternoon laundry, grocery shopping, a run/walk and dinner, I had about an hour to lounge before needing to get dressed and head out to my friend Mike's birthday party. Well, that hour of lounging turned into a four hour nap, followed by an actual trip to bed about two and a half hours after that. Good times. I love birthday parties, too, and am sad to have missed the fun, but clearly, I needed the sleep and feel rather fresh this morning. Who wouldn't after a grand total of about eleven hours and a half hours of sleep?

So today I intend to be very productive before meeting Kurt and some of his friends for Sunday evening cocktails. I've become a big fan of the Sunday afternoon/evening cocktails. They're a great way to end the weekend before the grind begins again. Let's just hope I can sleep until my oh, so late, regular weekday waking hour of 6:30 a.m. this week.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Welcome to 2009!

I'm either a total rock star or a total moron.

You see, it's just after noon, and I'm wearing the same clothes and make-up I was wearing last night. Before you make any saucy assumptions, I'll tell you that there were no walks of shame this morning. I had to be at work at 6 a.m., so I slept at said job to accommodate some New Year's Eve celebrating.

Yes, you read that correctly.

When I learned that I'd be working early this morning, it occurred to me that maybe I should just stay in for New Year's. After all, New Year's Eve is always amateur night, anyway. Well, I guess I'm an amateur, too, because out I went... armed with a blanket and toothbrush to stash at work so my sleeping and early waking could be more comfortable. First, I went with Kurt to a house party thrown by a couple of his friends. That was much fun and featured snacks, champagne and a feisty round of Celebrity. But I figured I needed to be close to work as midnight approached; so at about 10:30 I took off for a bar near my place of employment (first dropping off the blanket and toothbrush).

You may be thinking, "Oh, dear lord, a bar on New Year's Eve?", but actually it was okay. I know the owners of this bar, and my friends Helen and Janelle were there, too. So one more glass of champagne and hugs all around helped me ring in twenty-oh-nine. And at 12:20 I was on my way, picking up snacks and caffeinated beverages before heading to work to get a little shut eye.

My co-worker Ted woke me at 6 o'clock this morning, and I was good to go. Again, in the same outfit and make-up I donned last night. But it's a good outfit, so at least I look cute. I'm not sure if I should be proud or embarrassed about my commitment to socializing, but you know, I'll only be sort-of-still-young-and-not-quite-40 once. Right?