Thursday, December 30, 2010

Help Wanted

In the midst of our struggling economy, which has been plagued by layoffs and long-term unemployment, I actually am looking to hire someone.  This position unfortunately does not pay money, but it will pay in the form of happiness and fun.  At least I hope it will. 

Sober Nixon (pictured above performing at Cafe Royale in August) is looking for a new guitarist.  Our current guitar player, Jackie, is leaving to pursue a music and writing project she has in mind.  So alas, she no longer has time for us.  Jackie has been so easy-going and easy to work with for the past two and a half years.  She and her very good attitude will be missed, but I can't blame her for wanting to focus on her original music, as opposed to playing countless cover songs that I choose.

To that end, my first project for the new year is to find Sober Nixon a guitarist.  I'm beginning that process by networking.  I know a few musicians, and I'm hoping one or more of them will know a guitar player interested in a no-stress, cover band project.  If networking gets me nowhere, then I'll cross my fingers and brave the dreaded Craigslist.  I actually found Jackie through Craigslist, but since then, I haven't had a great experience with the "musicians" section of that website.  A lot of bitter, crazy people hang out there.

Anyway.  Sober Nixon also may be getting a drummer.  We're going to get together play with a guy I went to high school with who has become a drummer.  Hopefully, he'll like us, and we'll like him, and we can beef up Sober Nixon's rhythm section.  2011 could bring good things to my little music project.

In other news, I got a belated birthday present this evening.  It was from Sephora and was belated because I took my dear sweet time popping into the store to pick it up.  Because I am in Sephora's "spend money in here and get free stuff" program, they decided to give me a little gift to mark the anniversary of my birth.  I hardly was going to argue with that, and I walked away with a bottle of Philosophy vanilla birthday cake shampoo/shower gel/bubble bath.  I'll be using mine as shower gel.  I love presents, especially ones I don't expect.

So I guess all of this is to say that change is on tap for 2011.  Change and a few vanilla birthday cake showers.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Joyeux Noel

Timeline for Christmas, 2010:

December 24th, 6:00 a.m.:  Arrive at work. Yes, you read that correctly; I was at work at six in the morning on Christmas Eve.  The good news is that getting to work early means leaving early, and I was done with my duties and able to begin my holiday weekend by 2 p.m.

December 24th, 6:30 p.m.:  Begin final descent into the Burbank airport.  On this particular Southwest flight we were treated to free cocktails, and one of the flight attendants sang "White Christmas" to us over the P.A. system right before we landed.  Talk about Christmas spirit.

December 24th, 7:20 p.m.:  Arrive at the South Pasadena home of 4-year old Mikey Jet.  I'm usually not in Southern California on Christmas Eve because I generally work on Christmas Day, but this year was different.  As a consequence, I discovered that we spend some Christmas Eve time at my brother and sister-in-law's place.  Visiting them is always fun because it means playing with my nephew Mikey (be warned: he'll wear you out after about an hour).  On this particular visit, Mikey and I read Goofy and the Gondola, one of the strangest children's books I've ever encountered.  It did feature Mickey Mouse and Goofy, and they were on vacation in Venice, where Goofy was trying to find a job.  Of course.

December 25th, 11:00 a.m.:  Be thrilled that the torrential rain that pounded the Southland just a week or so ago has stopped and take a run/walk down Los Feliz Boulevard. 

December 25th, 12:30 p.m.:  Take a quick trip to the neighborhood grocery store, which is open, for Perrier sparkling water (can never have too much) and an extra bottle of champagne.  Just in case.

December 25th, 2:30 p.m.:  The Christmas party officially begins.  Christmas Day is spent at my sister Fabulous Patti's place in Los Feliz, and we always have music, food, drink and lots of holiday cheer.  Last year we even had a dance party, but on this Christmas, my older nephews were allowed to watch basketball when they arrived.  So the Lakers took the place of any dancing.

December 25th, 6:30 p.m.:  Enjoy a Christmas dinner that includes chicken, sushi, mac & cheese, stuffing, haru maki, green beans and cupcakes.  Diversity is the name of the game in my family.

December 25th, 9:15 p.m.:  Bid the last of the guests goodbye, except yourself, of course.  My mother and I always stay with Fabulous Patti, so we didn't have to leave.  But my other sister, brother, sister-in-law, various nephews, niece and other friends were on their way home before 10:00.

December 26th: Enjoy last day before returning to San Francisco.  That should include another run/walk, mimosas, biscuits, bacon, and general merriment.

Happy Holidays, my lovelies!  I hope your Christmas was a smashing good time.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Birthday Darling

Date: December 21, 2010
Time: 6:00 p.m. until approximately 11:30 p.m.
Place: The Burritt Room in the Crescent Hotel, San Francisco
Occasion: My 41st birthday

It's possible I should be ashamed to admit that my birthday is my favorite day of the year. Well, shame be damned, it is my favorite day of the year. No matter how old I get, I always wake up feeling a little bit special on the morning of my birthday. And every year, my very wonderful friends rise to the occasion and join me to celebrate, even if my birthday falls on a rainy Tuesday, like it did this year. Last night about 40 or so of us gathered at the Burritt Room for birthday cocktails. Here is a smattering of the photos we took throughout the evening. They should give you an idea of the wonderful time had by all.

Mark, Daniel and me


Frances and Nina


Rico, Carolyn, Eric and the star of the night: Widget


Christine, Michele and me


Me and Carla


Joel, Maya and Adam


Kevin, me, Valerie, Carolyn and Widget

A big, snuggly thanks to everyone who attended.  You made my night, my birthday, and my year.  As always.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

I'm Dreaming...

My apologies, gentle readers, for my tiny absence over the past week and a half.  Also forgive me for not explaining it.  I like to keep this little chronicle happy and upbeat (personal blogs full of whining, ranting, complaining and sadness bore me), so all I'll say is that is was a circle of life issue.  Nothing for you to worry about, my friends, and I'm back now.  There is no getting rid of me permanently.

Since it is the holiday season, it was only fitting that Sober Nixon would play a Christmas party last night.  It was our bass player's company Chrismas party, but that still counts.  Our audience was small, given that it is a small company, and we played inside the office, but it was still a lot of fun.  Plus, our small audience was extremely receptive, so we felt a lot of holiday cheer and love.

Even though I've been doing my vocal exercises lately, my singing was a little rusty last night.  Except on one song.  The song about which I was the most worried, and, as a consequence, I practiced the most.  Every year, we in Sober Nixon, trot out one Christmas song: "White Christmas," and we use the Phil Spector arrangement that Darlene Love sang on Phil's 1963 Christmas album (pictured above).  Now, make no mistake: I cannot sing like Darlene Love.  However, I can sing like me, and with enough practice and awareness of supporting my breath, I can belt out a tune with the best of them.  Belt I did last night, and I would say our rendition of "White Christmas" as arranged by Phil Spector may have been the best number of the night.

Assuming I wasn't hideously off key or anything.  No one cringed, and no glass shattered, though, so I think I was okay.

Today I did a little lounging and a few chores, picked up three new books that I ordered from Amazon and got some exercise.  So now I'm ready for the socializing portion of our Saturday.  I'm going to swing by my friend Zeeshan's birthday party before going to see the Loved Ones.  Tomorrow I'll be doing some more singing (this time karaoke) and then cocktailing with my friend Christine and my sister, who is coming up from Los Angeles for a visit.  All of this is in advance of my own birthday party on Tuesday, when I'll celebrate being fabulous despite being old.

Socializing waits for no man.. or woman... however, so I've got to get to it now.  If I wait too long to leave the house, I risk getting sucked into the couch for the evening.

Monday, December 06, 2010

December Merriment

It's official: the December party season has begun. I don't call it the holiday party season because I know many people with December birthdays, myself included, and even though birthdays are big holidays, I like to keep them separate from the typical holiday season.

Last night my quite talented and fantastic friend Pat had a birthday party at The Homestead in the Mission, complete with delicious drinks, yummy cupcakes baked by his lovely fiancee and scrumptious vintage soul music spinning on the bar's turntables. My friend Christine accompanied me to the party, and we had a terrific time sipping champagne and beer, chatting with Pat's super nice friends and tapping our toes to the tunes.  I hadn't been to the Homestead since 2005 when it was still Dylan's, and it was nice to be back.  All of that is the good news.  The bad news about last night is that I learned that four Belgian beers in one evening, even over the course of five hours, are too much for me.  I made sure to eat something substantive at the party and drank a lot of water when I got home, but I was still a wee bit... let's say tired... this morning.

Ah, well, I'm old.

The parties have just begun, however. Also on tap for December is Doug's holiday party, Emily's birthday party in L.A., Anne and Jack's holiday party, my company holiday party, Frank's birthday party, a Sober Nixon gig at our bass player's company holiday party, and the creme de la creme: my own birthday party.  Oh yes, and we also have Christmas Day and New Year's Eve to celebrate.  Not to mention all the usual singing of songs and other good times.

Unfortunately, I'm likely not going to be able to attend all of December's parties. I need to go to Seattle for a few days this month, so I'm going to have to miss something. However, I intend to catch as many of the gatherings as I can and soak up as much good cheer as possible. That's what December is all about isn't it: love, fun, positive energy and peace? I'll be doing my best to indulge in all of those things as much as possible.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

All You Need Is... Sin City?

Sometimes a quick getaway is all you need.  I try to take mini-vacations as often as possible, as I find them very head-clearing and relaxing.  So this past weekend, my sister Fabulous Patti and I hit Las Vegas for about 48 hours, and it was the perfect ending to the long Thanksgiving weekend.  After all the turkey was eaten and thanks given, we met at the Mirage on Saturday afternoon (I flew, while FP drove from L.A.).  Once settled in, our first order of business was to play the penny slots.

That's right, the penny slots.  We are both such high rollers, aren't we?

They make look innocuous, but the penny slots pretty much kicked both of our behinds on Saturday night.  I've always considered slot machines to be simply video games, and the money I lose is just money I spend to play. Well, after blowing through about $60 on Saturday night, I decided to try and employ a little strategy.  So I cut myself off and promised the slot machines that we would meet another day.

On Sunday I began the day at the Mirage gym and spa, where I spent three hours exercising and luxuriating. I'm not sure too many people associate Las Vegas with fitness and an afternoon at the spa, but I do. Then that evening, we went to Cirque du Soleil's The Beatles Love. I'd seen Love before, but FP had not. Having seen it before did not prevent me from tearing up, though, just as I had during my first viewing.  I just get overwhelmed by the music, and then I start thinking about how John and George are dead and how that's not fair and... well, you can imagine how things devolve from there.

Monday saw the end of our little sojourn away from reality.  Fabulous Patti left at about noon, but I had a few hours to kill before my flight.  So after lunch, I did a penny slots tour of the Bellagio, Paris and the Flamingo.  This time I was a force to be reckoned with.  I lost $8 at the Bellagio but promptly won it back at Paris.  However, I started losing at Paris and found myself down about $17 from where I started.  Then I wandered into the Flamingo, and my fortunes changed almost instantly.  Between luck and strategy (mostly luck, I admit), I conquered the slots and ended the day up about $30 or so.  No, that didn't make up for what I'd lost on Saturday night, but it did make me feel better.  It's fine to consider slot machines video games, but isn't a video game that pays you a better deal?

I came home from Sin City last night and proceeded to get up at 5:00 this morning so I could make it to the gym before cleaning up and heading to the Department of Motor Vehicles to renew my driver's license before it expires in three weeks.  The lines at San Francisco's DMV have been exceptionally long lately, so I decided it best to get there very early.  I arrived at 7:30, half an hour before the DMV even opens, and found twelve people already in line. Getting there that early proved to be worth it, though, because by 8:20 my license was renewed and I was happily on my way to work.

From Vegas to an early morning at the DMV... yes, how fortunes can change so very quickly.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Images of Thanks

Here are a few photos from the super fun Thanksgiving dinner party I attended at my friend Tom's parents' pad last night. We came, we ate, we drank.  We also laughed and had a fantastic time. Not everyone at the party is represented here, but at least you'll get an idea of the merriment.  And if you look closely, you can see the thankfulness in our eyes.  Enjoy!

Irina and me before the feasting began.

Stimulating conversation over turkey.

I'm not completely certain what's going on here, but I love this picture. Irina, Roland and an innocent Brussels sprout (with Tom looking on from behind).

Tom, Chris and me (plus Nick raiding the dessert table). This one came out a teeny bit fuzzy, but I've just decided the fuzz makes it look kind of vintage.  At that point we were very full, but we nonetheless managed to keep smiling.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

That Time Again

Happy Thanksgiving, gentle readers!  Ever since I started this little chronicle, I've taken time on Thanksgiving to acknowledge, in print, all that I am thankful for.

However, I don't want to risk boring you with yet another list of the things I love about my life.  If you're interested in such a list, please feel free to see my Thanksgiving 2009 post.  Or my Thanksgiving posts from any year, really.

So I now find myself wondering what to write today.  I can tell you that I've been thinking a lot about appreciation and gratitude for the last few months, and that certainly resonates on Thanksgiving.  Live everyday, my pretties; recognize the wonderfulness in everything you have; and take nothing and no one for granted.  Perhaps that will be my New Year's resolution for 2011, but I'm getting ahead of myself here.

I've been celebrating Thanksgiving in typical urban chic fashion this year. After work yesterday, I hit my favorite karaoke den to sing songs.  That's not an unusual activity for me, but I haven't sung a note in almost two weeks due to the nasty cold I managed to pick up on the 15th.  I got a chance last night to warble quite a few tunes, and even though my voice was rusty at first, it was still fun.  Once my voice warmed up, I sounded okay.  When all the songs had been sung, I headed down the block where my friend Emmie and some others were celebrating Emmie leaving an awful job and getting a much better one.  In this troubled economy, no less.

I had to call it a night early because at 6:00 this morning I found myself at work.  Many people probably can't imagine working on Thanksgiving, but I work in a 24-hour-365-day-a-year business.  So there you go.  Plus, I really like working on holidays.  There's a great vibe among my coworkers, and on Thanksgiving (and Christmas) we get a catered feast courtesy of the boss.  Super yummy!

After work, I'll take the party to my friend Tom's parents' house.  Tom, myself, various other friends, and of course his parents, will then celebrate Thanksgiving with the typical sit down dinner and stimulating conversation. Imagine the Algonquin Round Table with turkey and cranberries...or something like that.  Because I am such a committed cook, I will be bringing a bottle of French champagne and a bottle of California sparkling wine to the meal.  That may sound like I'm cheating, but I can tell you that everyone always appreciates my liquid contribution.

I'll have to make it another early night because I have to be at work very early again tomorrow morning.  However, I'm certain I'll find a way to squeeze in an episode or two of the original Beverly Hills, 90210 on the Soap Opera Network's marathon this evening.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I'm not ashamed to admit I love that deliciously bad 1990's Aaron Spelling creation.  Entertainment pleasure that guilty certainly could be considered something I'm thankful for.

I hope your Thanksgiving is as a lovely as mine is shaping up to be.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Anachronistic Intellect

"I'm listening to you talk right now, and you sound like... like... a time when people used to be intelligent.  Like the 60's, back when people were really intelligent."

Someone said those words to me last night.  I was at one of my favorite haunts, the Burritt Room, to see Tippy Canoe and the Paddlemen, and I was chatting with a rather prominent local musician.  This musician and I don't know each other that well; we've become acquainted at shows over the years, many of them his.  Anyway, in the middle of our conversation, he saw reason to say that to me.  I take any acknowledgement of my intellect as a compliment, but I also like that he associates my intelligence with the 1960's (in my fantasy life, I'm a total mod scenester).

Add to all of the above the fact that this man really is a very talented musician, and well... those couple of sentences pretty much made my weekend.  So thank you, sir.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Fab Four In The Future

In case you missed all the hoopla this week, I am here to tell you that the entire Beatles catalog now is available on iTunes.  I will say that I still love owning records, even if I own them in CD form; a computer full of mp3's simply is not the same.  I also still make a point of frequenting brick and mortar record stores, preferably independent ones.  Nonetheless, iTunes does have a place in my life, as I find it very useful for purchasing individual songs (I don't know about you, but it's been years since I've run across a 45 in a record store).

I know virtually every Beatles song, and generally feel satisfied with the fact that I own only six of their albums.  However, recently I have been jonesing for a couple of specific numbers not on any of my six albums: "Hold Me Tight" and "Yes It Is."  Now, thanks to a few clicks of the mouse on iTunes this week, I own both.  One day I expect to add to my Beatles album collection, but picking up a song here and there also works. 

Since I was hanging around iTunes anyway, I also bought ditties by the Go-Betweens and Plain White T's.  I never manage to escape from the iTunes music store without a few more songs than I intended to buy. 

That's all about that's happening here.  I've been sick all week and even stayed home from work for two days (a rare occurrence) and haven't exercised since Monday morning (an even more rare occurrence).  But I'm on the mend now and intend to rally this evening to attend my friend Rico's birthday party for a bit and then hit the Tippy Canoe and the Paddlemen show.  We'll see if I make it, or if my pajamas and couch seduce me into spending another cozy night at home with just my lingering cough.

My cough has been reliable and loyal company this week, but I'm hoping to play with some other kids tonight.

Monday, November 15, 2010

1976

The photograph to the left was taken on Easter Sunday, 1976. Isn't my family attractive, and isn't our table cloth so very 1970's? Love it.

You can spot a six year-old me in this picture way in the back sitting near the wall on the right side of the table. My father is in the foreground on the left.  My mother is also in this shot, of course, as are all of my brothers and sisters, an aunt and uncle, my grandmother (although she's partially hidden) and my godfather. My grandfather took the photo, which is why he's not in it.

I've been thinking about my dad, in particular, a lot for the past couple of days. He's a published poet and a personal trainer (who says artists can't be into fitness?), and he's brilliant. He also, along with my equally brilliant mother, instilled in me some values that I consider to be very much a part of who I am.  Among the things my parents taught me:
  • Value education. A good education is its own reward and under no circumstances should be considered just a means to a larger paycheck.
  • A love of books and music. My mom is a former jazz singer, so of course the daughter of a writer and a singer would love reading and music. My dad pretty much only likes classical music and jazz, so generally he's unimpressed by my taste in music, but whatever. No Nick Lowe, Buddy Holly or the Go-Go's for him.
  • Do what you love in life. It doesn't matter if you make $20,000 a year or $200,000, what's most important is that you love what you do (and that you're as well educated as possible).
That's just the tip of the iceberg.  Admittedly, my dad has not been the world's most perfect parent, but I wouldn't trade him for anything (or anyone). The same goes for my mother. They each have their foibles, let's say, but I couldn't imagine having been born to a better pair.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Rhythm and Melody

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that my Sober Nixon bandmates and I recently did some recording in my living room (while watching the Giants beat the Phillies and win the NLCS, by the way).  Well, slowly but surely Sober Nixon's bass player, Ho, who also is serving as producer on this little project, is polishing up each of the songs we recorded.

If you want to hear one of the recordings, simply click here.  Remember, we're a cover band.  So yes, we play songs other people wrote.

I admit, my vocal rendition lacks the anger of Elvis Costello or the urgent melancholy of Nick Lowe, who did write this tune.  However, I stand by my performance.  Especially since I'm in the process of learning to sing, and probably the most important thing I've learned is that it's a slow process.  Anyway, enough with the excuses... just enjoy!  We're not exactly a garage band, but I think our recent recording session makes us at least a living room band.

Monday, November 08, 2010

We Could Live Beside The Ocean...

Day and time: Monday at approximately 3:00 p.m.
Place: Santa Monica, California
Weather: Mostly sunny skies, believe it or not.

Sometimes my cell phone camera takes fantastic photos, other times not so much.  I discovered while singing at Boardwalk 11 last night that my "real" camera (which has issues of  its own) either has a dead battery or simply has completely died, so I snapped this shot of Santa Monica Beach this afternoon with my cell phone.  Looks kind of gloomy and, as my friend Nina pointed out, even rainy, doesn't it?  Well, aside from some wind, the weather actually was quite lovely.  I even considered buying a sun hat.  In November.  In San Francisco, you have to wear your winter coat whenever you visit the ocean, no matter what the season.

On this third day of my Los Angeles mini-vacation, my sister Fabulous Patti and I drove from Los Feliz to the coast and pretended to be tourists by paying the Santa Monica Pier a little visit.  On the way, we stopped by the La Brea Tar Pits, per my request.  I hadn't been there since a school field trip in second or third grade, and I wanted to see if anything has changed.  By all appearances, it has not, although we didn't actually go into the Tar Pits museum.

After the Pier, where we had decidedly yummy milkshakes, we walked along the Third Street Promenade for a while and then headed back east and hit this comfortable little restaurant for dinner.  I have another almost full day of mini-vacation tomorrow before flying back to the Bay in the evening.  I think I'll make the most of it by relaxing as much as possible.  I know you would do the same.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Southland Sunday Night

A lot of people don't like Los Angeles. Especially a lot of people in the Bay Area. However, I happen to love it. I grew up in Pasadena, which was quite a lovely place to spend my formative years, and even though I don't live in the L.A. area now, I visit quite often. Of course, if you read this little chronicle with any kind of regularity, then you know that already.

I happen to be in L.A. for a mini-vacation as I type, and it has been quite the lovely time so far. Last night I visited my brother, sister-in-law and nephew Mikey Jet, and we sang songs and read stories and played the "Penguin Game."  If you want details on the Penguin Game, you'll have to ask Mikey.

Today I brunched at Fred 62, purchased myself a new dress and coat at my favorite clothing store in the world and am about to go sing songs with my friends Emily and Dionne.  I believe I'll taking a journey to Santa Monica tomorrow afternoon and possibly dining with Katya and Dave in the evening.  Then it's back to the Bay on Tuesday night.

Until then, however, this California Girl will be living it up in La La Land.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Whisper Words of Wisdom

Focus too much on what you thought or hoped would be, and you risk missing the beauty and joy of what is.

Find the above quotation to be inspirational?  Well, you can thank me because I made it up.  Or I think I made it up, anyway.  More likely than not, someone or several someones significantly more profound than me already uttered a similar sentiment, if not almost those exact words.  While I'm aware that it probably is arrogant at best to quote oneself for inspiration, I think the idea behind these words is pretty important.

When I was in my twenties I spent a lot of time worrying and fretting.  Would I be successful in my career?  When would I get married?  Would I get married at all?  How would I meet the man I'd marry?  JEEZ.  I get tired just thinking about all that fretting.  For the record, I have done quite well in my career, and at 40 years old, I have never been married.  Sometimes I feel sad about my marital status, but other times I am just fine with it and at other times am quite happy about it, frankly.

So exactly what did all that worrying do for me?  One could argue that worrying made me work harder for my career success, but I doubt that.  I've always worked hard, and I enjoy what I do, so it rarely feels like work, anyway.  Another justifying thought is that the twenties are an insecure time for many people, and worrying is pretty normal.  Fair enough.  However, I truly believe all that worrying did absolutely nothing for me.  No wait, I do think it made me miss out on at least a little bit of the carefree fun that can fill the decade right after college.

I had this revelation about my behavior and mental state in my twenties about ten years ago and decided that one of the very few regrets I have is not having more fun back then.  Well, recently, I discovered that old habits die hard.  I don't worry nearly as much as I used to, and I am very well grounded and do appreciate all the good things in my life.  However, sometimes I find myself focusing on what I thought my life would like at this point (the aforementioned marriage, the children I thought I'd have even though I never have been really super certain I wanted kids), and I realize that I when I do that, I turn a blind eye what's going on in the moment.

I don't know about yours, but my life is really, really fun, and I don't want to miss a minute of it because I'm focusing on the fact that I haven't yet had and may never have opportunity to spend years changing diapers or negotiating house chores with a roommate to whom I'm legally bound (and yes, presumably in love with).  Don't get me wrong, I'd still like to get married one day, and I have nothing against children, but until then, why not enjoy all that I already have and let the future work itself out?

Wise words for today and everyday, I hope.

(By the way, I hope this post doesn't come off as overly self-righteous or annoying; that's not generally my style or intent.)

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Take Me Out To The Ballgame

Have you heard?  A little team known as the San Francisco Giants won the World Series last night, beating the Texas Rangers in the Series four games to one.  The Giants have not won a World Series since the 1950's... when they were still the New York Giants.  And the last time they tried, in the 2002 World Series against the Anaheim Angels, it was particularly heartbreaking (especially for me since I hate the Angels).

This year things are different.  The 2010 Giants were the serious underdogs of the playoffs and have been called "scrappy" and "misfits."  However, when you get right down to it, they're simply a good team.  San Franciscans have been waiting a long time for this victory, and parties broke out in the streets after Giants closer (and my boyfriend) Brian Wilson struck out the Rangers Nelson Cruz in the bottom of the 9th inning to end the game and the Series.  As the night wore on, the street parties got a little rowdy and out of hand, but for the most part they stayed sane.

As for me, after the game I went to the Beatles karaoke-sing along event that I go to every first Monday of the month.  I have to admit, in comparison to celebrating the World Series, singing Beatles songs in a bar/cafe was a little boring (can you believe I said that?).  So I left early.  At that point I wasn't about to go looking for a street party to join, but I didn't want to go home either, so I went to a regular karaoke bar nearby, thinking it might be a little more lively, and it was.  Slightly, anyway.  But it was energized by enough patrons donning orange and black that I stayed to sing a couple of songs before heading home.

And now that San Francisco has won the World Series, all I have to do is wait through the excruciating late Fall and Winter months until baseball begins again.

Friday, October 29, 2010

iPod Peek

It's been a little bit of a mellow week, except for the baseball excitement of course, but there always is room for musical happiness.  I'm a big, fat music fan, in case you hadn't yet noticed, and I get an uninterrupted 40 to 60 minutes of musical joy every morning through my daily exercise habit.  Here is a sampling of some of the songs that propelled my heart rate this week.  It's a fun group, if you ask me. First, I was charmed, as I usually am, by the beloved Matthew Sweet.  Matthew Sweet is nothing short of genius, and I'm so happy I picked up his Sunshine Lies CD at Canterbury Records in Pasadena this summer.



Some songs I can listen to over and over again, and often do, like Jackie DeShannon's "Breakaway." Admittedly the lyrics of that song are a bit horrifying, but it's still a lot of fun.  And I change the words of the last verse in my head to give the song's "narrator" better self esteem.

The Essex Green's "Rue de Lis" is a gem I discovered on iTunes.  I stumble upon the best stuff there.


Sometimes an old favorite can be a perfect exercise tune, even if it's a little down tempo, like "You're All I Need To Get By" by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell.  What a gem.  And "Mr. Brightside" by the Killers is one of the best jogging songs ever.  Plus, it's really fun to sing.


Then there are the Bangles. It's funny, I pretty much hate all the Bangles' big hits, but I still consider them to be one of my favorite bands.  You can credit my love of their 1982 self-titled EP on IRS records.  Any day I hear a song from that record is a good day.


Frankly, it's a wonder I ever suffer from bad moods, given that I start my days with music and an endorphin jolt.  I do manage to be crabby on occasion, but I really think my morning routine helps to keep that in check.  I should write a self help book all about happiness through cardio and the hit parade.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Music and Baseball

I will assume you know that the San Francisco Giants are in the World Series this year.  Don't bother telling me if you were not aware of this fact.  You may also know that this season pretty much has been torture for Giants fans.  The team started strong, then began to falter, and later found themselves in contention to pass the San Diego Padres and win the National League West division title.  Nothing has been easy for the Giants or their fans this year, and the team clinched the division on the very last day of the season.

The last day.

Things got better, though.  The Giants bested the Atlanta Braves in the first round of the playoffs but then had to face the Philadelphia Phillies.  The Phillies would be a challenge, to say the least.  However, the Giants held their own and were up three games to one in the best of seven National League Championship Series as of last Thursday, when the two teams played at AT&T Park here in the City by the Bay.

Well, the Giants lost that game, and the series traveled back to Philadelphia for game six on Saturday.

I've been watching all the games, but I also have a life to lead.  So on Saturday, my Sober Nixon bandmates and I decided to kill two birds with one stone.  We transformed my living room into a make-shift studio to record some songs while we watched the game on my television.  The sound was on mute, of course.  Recording always takes a long time, but it takes even longer when you repeatedly stop to watch an at-bat or the end of an inning.  Given our set-up, I couldn't actually see the television while we were recording, but Jackie and Ho, Sober Nixon's guitarist and bass player, could.  It was almost as entertaining to watch Jackie's eyes get really huge when something dramatic would happen in the game (like the exchange of words between Jonathan Sanchez and Chase Utley that cleared the benches and resulted in a near-brawl) while she was trying to play.

When all was said and done, we managed to lay down four songs.  Plus, the Giants beat the Phillies and won the National League Pennant!  I don't know about you, but I would call that a very productive Saturday.  And that brings us to the World Series.

Aside from enjoying music and baseball this Autumn, other things have been going very well.  I'm skipping Halloween for all intents and purposes this year because, frankly, I hate it, but I will be going to a couple of live music shows this weekend.  Then I'm planning mini-vacations to Los Angeles and Las Vegas in November, and of course December will bring Christmas and that other major winter holiday: my birthday.  I'm thinking of a double punch birthday party this year with karaoke the night before and after-work cocktails on the evening that marks the anniversary of my birth.

Let's not get ahead of ourselves, though.  We still have to see the Giants through this World Series.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

So Much To Say...

.... and so little time to say it.  I fear I must be fast today, dear readers, as I soon have to depart for my voice class.  However, it was high time for an update, so here's a quickie.

This past weekend was just delightful.  First of all, I spent nine hours in a bar on Saturday.  That may sound a tad dysfunctional, but I rarely do such a thing, and every once in a while, it's giddy good fun.  I'm friends with the gentlemen who own Tony Nik's in North Beach, and they held the bar's ten year anniversary party on Saturday.  So I joined a few dozen or so of their other friends for champagne, snacks, music and even the Giants game.  It's highly unlikely I'll be spending nine hours in a bar again anytime soon, so I think it was okay to indulge this weekend.

After a Saturday like that, I was a little tired on Sunday, to say the least.  I did, however, have enough energy to watch the Mad Men season finale, of course.  The fact that I have to wait months for the fifth season rendezvous with my TV boyfriend Don Draper should be a crime, but oh, well.  TV boyfriends probably would become annoying if they hung around too much.

Monday was the day things really got good.  Yes, Monday typically is the start of the work week, but I made it an extra weekend day this week, and I took that day to luxuriate at the spa.  I used to spend a pretty decent amount of time at spas, but recently, I've gotten out of the habit.  A spa habit is not one you want to break, so I was more than happy to relapse.  After three hours at the spa in the afternoon, I spent Monday evening singing songs.  Can you imagine a more perfect day?  I can't.

I think I should resolve to make everyday a spa day.  In my head, at least.

Friday, October 15, 2010

School Days

Please forgive the quality of this photo; it was taken with my cell phone.  However, even though it is a bit dim and grainy, I imagine you nonetheless can make out seven smiling, happy people in the shot, including me.  This was taken at Perbacco in downtown San Francisco, and we were there for the after party that followed an alumni reception thrown by my high school.

Yes, I went to high school in suburban Los Angeles, not the Bay Area, but allow me to explain.  When you attend private school, as I did, said school tends to keep you on a short leash, even after you graduate.  Luckily for me, I loved high school, so I don't mind.  Wait.  I suppose I should say that I remember loving high school.  I'd be willing to bet that the teen angst, insecurity and fact that I weighed about 600 pounds (okay, that's an exaggeration) provided for plenty of unhappy moments at the time, but whatever.  That was then, this is now, and when Polytechnic School summons me for an alumni reception, I go.

This latest reception was on Wednesday night, and like the one before it in February, some of us alums were not done reminiscing when the lights on the official event went out.  So we took our party elsewhere and kept things going.  It's amazing how about 20-25 years changes your perspective and allows you get along so delightfully with your fellow graduates.  Of course, I consider myself friends with the people I tend to "after-party" with, but still, I think the wisdom of age helps.

That, or a lot of wine and cocktails.  Regardless, we always have fun and think fondly of high school as the good time it shall forever remain in our adult memories.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Worth A Thousand Words

Sometimes when I'm feeling a little bit crabby (like I must admit I am today), it just takes something small to change my mood.  Music works most often, but other things can be effective, as well.  Like, say, a photograph.  I'm thinking this one should do the trick.  Forgive me if I spend countless hours today staring at it.

There's also a lot of stuff on the horizon this week that should put a smile on my face: Frances' birthday happy hour, the Tony Nik's anniversary party, The Giants taking on the Phillies in the NLCS and my next voice lesson.  However, if those things fail, I always have the magical power of Don.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Songs, Poetry and Baseball

Well, this weekend certainly was quite lovely. It began with a baseball disappointment but ended with a baseball triumph and had a few songs and some poetry sandwiched in between.

Allow me to explain.  Not only is baseball one of precisely two sports I actually like, but I consider myself an honest to goodness fan.  So the fact that the San Francisco Giants are in the playoffs for the first time since 2003 is big news in my world.  On Friday night, I joined Nina and Onkar at their gorgeous Pacific Heights pad along with Joel, Rico, Heidi and Zeeshan to watch game two of the Giants playoff series against the Braves.  The Giants were already up one game to nothing, and they lead most of game two by four runs.  Most of game two, that is.  I won't say we weren't all a little dismayed to watch our boys in orange and black lose to the Braves in extra innings, but things go that way sometimes.  I shook off the game and took myself home after it was all over.

Yesterday was a perfect Saturday.  The weather was warm, the neighborhood lively, and I got to do one of the things I love most: sing songs.  I performed a few numbers for literary magazine Caveat Lector's contribution to the Litquake Litcrawl.  Litcrawl is the culmination of Litquake, and it involves dozens of readings around the City over just a few hours.  I opened the Caveat Lector program with three tunes before their poetry readings began.  It actually made little to no sense that I was involved.  I don't write songs, and I don't imagine Marshall Crenshaw, Matthew Sweet, or Nick Lowe (whose music I borrowed) have ever contributed anything to the magazine.  I certainly haven't.  However, Caveat Lector's editor likes my voice, so there I was, crooning a few tunes penned and made famous by others.

Possibly the best part of my Litquake performance was that it was at Mission Pie.  Mission Pie!  So I was able to treat myself to a slice of the best banana cream pie in town, as well as sing.  I could live on that banana cream.

Today was another perfect day.  I went to Tony Nik's in North Beach for the Columbus Day parade and festival.  I have to admit that I pretty much ignored the parade, but I did sip mimosas, chat with friends and watch the Giants take on the Braves in game three of their series.  And this time the Giants won!  The Braves threatened in the 8th, but we prevailed, and now we are up two games to one in the series.  Because we're awesome that way.  Oh, yeah, and because the Braves suck.  (Did I mention I really am a baseball fan?)

I'm not sure having such a delightful weekend bodes well for the week ahead.  How can it compare, after all?  I never back down from a challenge, though, so I will try to match at least the fun level of this weekend.  I'll keep you posted on how that works out for me.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

John, Paul, George, Ringo and Me

If you're a regular reader of this little chronicle, you know that one of my very favorite things to do is sing.  What you may not know is that one of my very favorite singing events is the monthly Beatles Sing Along, or Beatles karaoke, if you will.  This is no normal karaoke event.  For one thing the accompaniment is live (technically making it something other than karaoke, really).  Also, the people who go tend to be super passionate Beatles fans, which is always fun.  So for two hours on the first Monday of the month, the Beatles get the piano bar treatment.

It is so much fun.

This month the Beatles Sing Along was not very crowded, so we all got to sing a lot.  With glass of wine in hand, I warbled my way through "Eight Days A Week," "For No One" and "Eleanor Rigby."  Over the last eleven months, I've also tried my hand (or voice, as the case may be) at "In My Life," "Dear Prudence," "I've Just Seen A Face," "I Will," "Hold Me Tight," "Here Comes the Sun," "Got To Get You Into My Life" and "Let It Be."  As an added bonus, I got the nicest compliment this time around.  A woman who had come for the first time last month and returned on Monday told me not only that I was one of the better singers, but that both my singing and stage presence have a very sweet quality.

That would be a lovely compliment no matter what, but since I'm not exactly sweet, I appreciate the sentiment even more.  I'm a very nice person, as well as being kind, loving and compassionate, but sweet?  I'm not so sure.  Apparently, however, my singing takes care of that for me.

And I imagine the Beatles songwriting helps a bit.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Nick, Elvis and A Dead Brilliant Weekend

My rock and roll boyfriend, Nick Lowe, came to San Francisco to visit me this weekend.  Well, me and a few hundred others, I suppose.  Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello did a charity show at the Great American Music Hall on Friday night where they sang each other's songs, and it was, in a word, amazing.  I've always liked Nick Lowe, but I became a huge fan and developed a gargantuan music crush on him when I saw him at the Fillmore about two and a half years ago.  And I haven't looked back since.

The show this weekend was brilliant, as well.  Nick was phenomenal, of course, and that Elvis guy is no slouch either.

Starting my weekend with a show like that probably was enough to keep me happy for months, but the rest of the weekend also was fun.  I spent a relaxing Saturday running errands and getting stuff done before heading to the movie house down the street from my apartment in the late afternoon to see The Social Network.  I am very lazy about movies and rarely see them in the theatre, but I'd say this film was worth it.  I'm not sure about all that Oscar buzz it's said to be generating, but it was entertaining and well acted.  After the film, I scooted to Tony Nik's to meet my friends Kurt and Janelle for a cocktail or two.  After Kurt left, Janelle and I got hit on by some fairly young and very inebriated gentlemen, but that's okay.  They were harmless.  Plus, what else would two ladies expect in a bar on a Saturday night?

Yesterday afternoon I had my first voice lesson in about a month, and it went swimmingly.  My teacher has moved his lessons to a new, fancy studio with fancy microphones.  Singing into a mic makes a big difference, I learned yesterday.  Especially if it's a high quality microphone in a fancy studio, and my teacher and I are wearing headphones.  If I can incorporate everything I'm being taught and put it to use, there may be a "real" singer within me yet.

As my voice lesson was ending, the Giants had the courtesy to beat the Padres and win National League West Division title.  Now on to the playoffs.  And finally, I ended Sunday by cocktailing and gossiping about boys with my friend Christine and catching the latest episode of Mad Men before bed.

Every weekend should be like this.  Heck, everyday should be like this.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Parties, Parties, Parties

There are so many fun things to do in San Francisco, including parties!  Two of my friends celebrated birthdays this week, and that meant a couple of after-work cocktail gatherings.  First was Monday, when Cheryl turned 21+.  To mark the occasion, a bunch of us gathered at Smugglers Cove for rum drinks at Cheryl's pirate-themed soiree.  I'm flanked by Maya and Cheryl in this photo as we enjoy the festivities (and I enjoy a Puka Punch).  My only question is: how come I am the most pale girl in the picture when I just spent a week in Hawaii?  Not to mention the fact that I'm the only one of the three of us who is half African American.  I guess that just shows me what my daily use of SPF 110 sunscreen has gotten me.  That would be healthy skin, I hope.

After Smugglers Cove, I indulged my karaoke addiction and hit the Mint for some Monday night singing.  After successful (in my opinion) renditions of "Time After Time," "Somewhere Only We Know," and "Like A Prayer," I called it a night and headed home.  It was already 10 p.m., and I had to rest up for Tuesday.

Tuesday was Carla's birthday, and the celebration of her fabulousness was held on the patio of Americano along the Embarcadero.  We had a very rare heat wave in San Francisco last weekend and early this week, and it was a delight to be outside without a coat sipping cocktails and enjoying the dynamic company.  After a long, cold summer, the hot weather was more than welcome.  As was marvelous Carla's birthday.

More parties are on the horizon as the weekend approaches: Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Emme's birthday, Corie's birthday and the Great American Music Hall show with Elvis Costello and my rock and roll boyfriend Nick Lowe.  New York may be the city that doesn't sleep, but I think San Francisco is a never-ending good time.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I Can Hear Music

This is my new favorite band, The 88.  Well, one of my new favorite bands, anyway.  I seem to find new favorite music every few months or so.

Anyway, I went to see The 88 at Slims last Thursday with my friend and co-worker Kim and her friend Heather.  Kim predicted I would love these Los Angeles-based boys, and I do.  Imagine if The Beatles and The Kinks had a love child and then bathed that baby in the sweet sounds of The Clientele and The Morning Benders.  Sounds good, huh?

Plus, because Slims is a fairly small venue, and The 88 has yet to become super famous, we got to talk to a few of the members after the show, and they couldn't have been nicer.  The lead singer even lives in my hometown of Pasadena, which makes him pretty much perfect in my book.

Honestly, do yourself a favor and check out The 88; they are just plain neato.

In other news, I had a fantastic weekend; what about you?  On Friday evening, I swung by the Mint to warble a quick tune (this time it was Edie Brickell and New Bohemians' "What I Am," which I had never sung before) before heading around the corner to my new friend Guy's pad for a game night.  There were about 20 or 25 five us there eating, drinking and playing, and it was so much fun.  Saturday evening saw my friend Sebastian's birthday party at the Hi Dive, and on Sunday, I treated myself to a pedicure before meeting my friend Christine for cocktails and girl talk.  We may have had a little too much to drink that evening; so we stayed out longer than we normally do to drink water and cappuccino and give ourselves a chance to sober up.  (Okay, Christine had water and cappuccino; I wasn't driving, so I indulged in water and another cocktail.)  Anyway, as a consequence, I missed the beginning of Mad Men, but that's okay.  Better to be out in the world talking to real people than watching actors in a box, right?  That's what I think, as well.

Besides, I can always catch the Mad Men episode in its entirety later this week on OnDemand.  And I will, my babies. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Foot Fetish

Normally, I don't have too much to say about fashion.  I have a sense of style, like what I like, buy the clothes I want (unless they're too expensive), wear said clothes and look cute, and then I'm finished.  In my opinion, there is nothing more to discuss.

Sometimes, however, shoes are another story.

My co-worker Diana recently brought to my attention this website.  There you will find a whole host of goodies you can wear, including an impressive selection of shoes.  The best part is: it's cheap!  I believe most of the merchandise on the site is a season or two old, so you get a healthy discount.  I may not have a lot to say about fashion, but that doesn't mean I'll pass up a bargain.  In fact, one of the times I'm guaranteed to gush about clothing is when I find a super cute dress in a second hand store or at Ross and pay very little for it.

Anyway, the shoes pictured here now are mine, procured from that fantastic website and shipped to my post office box.  You can't go wrong with a good Mary Jane, especially one you get at a discount.  I paid less than $100 total for both pairs, including shipping.  If you knew how much I've been tempted to spend on shoes, you'd be very happy for me.

These shoes make me almost as happy as sunshine, music, bubbly water, sleep and candy.

(Note: the New Yorker magazine and T.A.M.I Show DVD shown have been included only to provide a little color contrast in my amateur cell phone photograph. They did not come with the shoes.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Aloha to Paradise

You didn't hear from me last week because I was enjoying yet another week in Hawaii.  Honestly, I am one lucky woman.  I have a mother who moved to Hawaii six years ago, and I make enough money to visit her there twice a year.  Plus, I like my job; so earning that money to visit my mother is not at all painful.

Life is good, as evidenced by this photo taken from the lanai of my hotel room.

I did manage to pick up a cold right before I left, and said cold quickly morphed into a case of bronchitis (I get bronchitis chronically).  However, I found that if I have to take bronchitis on vacation with me, Hawaii is a good destination.  The warm, tropical climate was very healing.  Seriously.  My sister suggested I move to Hawaii permanently for my health.  You never know; I just may do that one day.  People move to warmer climates in the name of their health all the time.  Why not me?

So, what, you may ask, did I do with myself while in Paradise?  Well, my mornings consisted of exercise, as they do when I'm at home.  Yes, I exercised with bronchitis; I'm like that.  Then once I was all cleaned up after my workout, I had to make the grueling choice of whether to lounge by the hotel pool or go across the street to the beach.  A tough one, no?  Most days I did both, and everyday ended with an hour or so in the hotel hot tub with a cocktail in my hand.

I also managed to squeeze in a little Waikiki karaoke because you know how I love my singing habit.  That didn't go quite so well with the bronchitis.  It wasn't bad, but I squeaked out songs that were all rather low (in one case lower than I normally can sing), and I'd say I sounded about 80% as good as I usually do.  Of course, it's karaoke, so no one but me even cared how good I did or didn't sound.

If all of that wasn't enough to put a smile on my face that will last through the fall and winter here in San Francisco, I woke up on my last day in Honolulu to a rainbow over the the ocean.  Honestly, I believe Hawaii to be one of the most magical places on the planet.  Even Honolulu, which is just as urban as anywhere on the mainland, and Waikiki with the wall to wall tourists have an energy that is a cut above anywhere else I have been.

I'll be back in Hawaii in the spring.  You really should come with me; I know you'll love it.

Friday, September 10, 2010

All You Need Is Love


Okay, maybe we need some things in addition to love, like food, water, shelter.  However, there are times when life gives us all reminders as to what really is important.  Last night in San Bruno, a town just a few miles south of San Francisco where I live, a gas main ruptured and exploded causing a huge fire.  38 homes were destroyed, four people killed, more than 50 injured, and at this point, authorities aren't sure whether or not more people are missing.

I was not involved in this situation in any way, nor do I know anyone who lives in the affected neighborhood.  Nonetheless, this awful event served as a good reminder that life is short and can change in an instant.  So embrace happiness and love, and don't dwell on annoying minutiae, okay?  That's hard advice to follow day in and day out, but it's worth trying, right?

This wasn't the only reminder I had this week that life is short and should be embraced, but it's the one I'm choosing to mention on this space today.  All these reminders definitely have left me actively appreciating the good things in my life: the jaunt to Hawaii I'm about to take, the smart and fascinating people I know and love, a job I enjoy, the crush on a cute, if ridiculous boy I've recently developed (that last one probably won't last, but it's fun for now), abundant music.  I could go on and on.

John, Paul, George and Ringo knew what they were talking (or singing) about: all you need is love, my babies.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Best Party Ever.

Some parties are epic events meant to commemorated for years to come by future generations.  Their guest lists are long and they last into the wee hours of the morning.  Other parties are more intimate affairs but are, nonetheless, epic.  This is the story of one those parties.

Last Saturday evening I went to what may have been... dare I say it... the best party ever.  Tom, Chris, Roland, Berto, Julie and myself gathered at Roland's house to sit on his deck, drink wine and enjoy a barbecue.  So what made it the best party ever?  At risk of sounding arrogant, I have to say that it was our brilliance.  The energy was sparkling and our wit had never been so sharp.  A couple of quotes from the party follow:

"That bartender is like a combination of the movies Cocktail and My Left Foot."
"Happy and Slurry... those are my favorite of the Seven Dwarfs."

Okay, so maybe you had to be there, but trust me when I say that it was all very, very clever.  In addition to fancying ourselves the next generation of the Algonquin Round Table, we ate.  Boy, did we eat.  Perfectly grilled chicken, pork, skirt steak and lamb, along with zucchini, pineapple and roasted garlic.  We also grilled corn on the cob, but we all were full by the time that was done.

At about 9 p.m., we took the party on the road and continued our revelry at a nearby bar, but unfortunately, the wine made me tired, and that, in turn, made me a little crabby.  So I took leave of the bar earlier than my friends and was home by about 10:30.  It was okay, though, because a bar is just a bar, while our gathering on Roland's deck... Well, that was the best party ever.

Friday, September 03, 2010

I Love the Nightlife

Have you been to Nightlife at the California Academy of Sciences yet?  No? Well, I highly recommend you go.  I went for the second time last night, and it was so much fun.

Just imagine if you'd been allowed to have cocktails during science class.  Take away the obvious horror of any school that would encourage underage students to drink, and you have to admit that cocktails would have made things at least a little more fun.  Well, once a week the Academy of Sciences stays open late and and serves liquor along with its exhibitions.  Plus, no children are allowed!  Maybe I shouldn't be so excited about that fact, but sometimes museums are way more fun when only adults are in the crowd.

Like I mentioned, I've been to Nightlife before.  A bunch of friends and I went in March of last year and had a fantastic time.  I was compelled to go again because the museum has an exhibition I wanted to see called Extreme Mammals and because the Academy of Sciences is just awesome all the way around. 

I met my friend Kevin at the Academy right after work, and once we got our first drinks, we went about the business of finding the Extreme Mammals exhibit.  Kevin's friend Ed soon caught up with us, as did my co-worker Rebecca and her daughter Laura (who, for the record, is 21 and very much not a child).  We hung out with the Extreme Mammals for a little while, and then Kevin, Ed and I parted ways with Rebecca and Laura.  However, we promptly ran into my friend Debbie and her date Steven and went with them to the aquarium.  After a little while we let Debbie and Steve have their museum-date alone time, and we went to visit the penguins.

That's when we saw the games.

You see, every week Nightlife at the Academy of Sciences has a different theme, so to speak, and last night was game night.  An entire wing of the museum (the wing that houses the penguins) was filled with tables of people playing all kinds of games.  We're talking Pictionary, Apples to Apples, Connect Four, Jenga and a whole slew of games I've never even heard of.  Kevin and I had to pause immediately for a quick game of Connect Four, and then later in the evening, after Ed left, we went back to the game room and made some new friends with whom we played Apples to Apples.  It was the perfect end to a perfect evening.

I'll repeat that the California Academy of Sciences is a marvelous museum any time of day, but in the evening with cocktails it is just plain genius.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Inspiration

I'd build a road in gold
Just to have some dreaming...

Since I became inspired to return to blogging, I've been thinking a lot about inspiration.  I, like everyone else, I'm sure, can find inspiration in a variety of places.  Great literature, profound thinkers and wise friends and relatives are always reliable sources, of course, but even pop culture can be a gold mine for inspiring words and ideas.  Seriously.  I, personally, have been known to draw inspiration from mainstream television shows (everything from Mad About You and My So-Called Life to Friends and Gilmore Girls) and pop songs.

Case in point: sometimes if I'm feeling insecure or anything less than fabulous and cute, I'll try to channel Joan, the character Christina Hendricks plays on Mad Men. Now, I look nothing like Christina Hendricks, and I'm fully aware that Joan is a fictional character in a show that takes place 50 years ago.  However, the high status and confidence that character projects (regardless of how Joan truly feels about herself) are very powerful. Try it sometime. I'm just saying...

Pop songs are good for any emotion.  If I'm in a good mood, affecting song lyrics or a good melody can produce a nice endorphin jolt and prolong that happiness.  If I'm in a bad mood, or in no particular mood at all, often the lines from a song can inspire me to change my attitude or think about what I want in life and how to get it.  An excellent example would be the above lines from the song "Dreaming" by Blondie.  For whatever reason, those eleven words really resonate with me.  They can serve as a perfect antidote for a case of the blues, and they inspire me to make things happen.  Positive things, of course.  I use my super powers only for good, not evil.

I just thought I'd share that with you and maybe even compel you to think about what inspires you.  You might be surprised at how much inspiration is out there.  I also recommend listening to a little Blondie and watching Mad Men.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Cantaloupe Girlfriend

Okay, here is the bad news: it's already 3 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, and my day is barely underway. However, the reason for my slow start is the good news: I had so, so, so much fun at the Mod dance party at the Burritt Room last night.

I arrived at about 9:30 and immediately made my way to the bar.  That's where my friend Julie found me and pointed out the table she'd secured for us.  Once I'd ordered my Champagne Julep, I joined Julie, and we got to the important business of chatting and catching up.  About half an hour later, our friends Kevin, Steve and Tom showed up, and the party really got going.  We sipped a variety of cocktails, including the Hotel Nationale, the Jade something (it's a rum drink) and the Critical Mass.  Actually, I'm the only one who tried the rum drinks, my friends mostly stuck with the Critical Mass.  I have no idea what was in that one, but it also was delicious.

As you can see, the Burritt Room has a delightful specialty cocktail menu.  At one point later in the evening, my friend Tom said to me, "We have lots of drinks in front of us, just pick one and drink it."  He was right, and so I did.

Truly, though, the cocktails were just a sidekick; the main attraction was the music.  Several DJ's took turns spinning Mod tunes from the 60's (primarily) until today, and it was fantastic.  I made multiple appearances on the dance floor with Kevin, Steve, Kevin and Steve's German friend (whose name I must confess I have forgotten), and Tom.  One musical highlight was the seamless transition from Deep Purple's "Hush" to "The Only One I Know" by the Charlatans UK.  Perfect.  And the best moment of my evening was the point when one of the DJ's played "With A Cantaloupe Girlfriend" by The Three O'Clock.  In case you're not familiar, the Three O'Clock was a Los Angeles band that was part of the city's Paisley Underground scene in the early 80's.  I love them, and not just because their music takes me back to the only good parts of junior high school.

I was absolutely in heaven for those three minutes.  I wanted to hug that DJ after the song was done, but I settled for merely thanking him.  As a result of my dancing and cocktailing, I didn't get to sleep until well into the wee hours of this morning, and we see where that has gotten me today.  Believe me, however, when I say that it was well worth it.  There are Mod dance parties and 60's DJ nights regularly in San Francisco (in fact, there is another one tonight), and I officially will be making it a point to attend them more often.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Modern Dance

Get your mini dresses and go-go boots ready because the end of the work week is coming!  Okay, I have no intention of donning go-go boots (even though I own a pair) and a mini dress, but I am going to begin my weekend with a Mod dance party tomorrow night.  60's soul and pop, ska, and a sprinkling of the Manchester sound will make for a great soundtrack.  I even have managed to convince a friend or two to come with me, which is a coup because within the group of friends I usually go out with, I am the only one quite so obsessed with 60's and Mod culture. 

I'm certainly going to need to shake a tail feather because all of a sudden it has become a long week.  Nothing specifically bad has happened, but it's not even 5 p.m. on Thursday, and I'm so ready the weekend.  I think I'll unwind tonight by walking the three miles home from work, doing my vocal exercises and singing in my living room (my neighbors love that) and going to bed early.  Then when I wake up, it shall be Friday.  Happy almost weekend, my lovelies!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mad Hatter

Now that I have resolved to update this blog more frequently, I realize that I may not have so much to say.  My life pretty much consists of work, exercise, singing songs, reading books, seeing bands when I can and cocktailing with friends.  It's fun for me, but there's only so many ways I can spin that routine into an interesting read.

So perhaps I can at least regale you with a tale how of old age can lead to a new fashion discovery.  Now that I'm 40, my body has decided to rebel in several ways.  Actually, a lot of the rebellion started in my 30's, but I'm just now accepting it.  Anyway, now that I've scared you into thinking I'm going to launch into the details of some disgusting bodily function, I'll say that I'm merely going to talk about skin tone.

I've had freckles my whole life, but about four years ago, the skin on my face decided it might be fun to become about three different colors.  Apparently this just happens to some women as they get older, and it has resulted in many trips to the dermatologist, as well as several consultations with my facialist and the clerks at Sephora.  One thing I've learned is that I have to be very careful about the sun now, especially since I go to Hawaii twice a year.  That sunscreen I've been applying every morning for the last ten years just doesn't cut it anymore, even though I've steadily been increasing the SPF.

It has become time for me to invest in hats.  Yes, I'm going to be that kind of old lady.

In case you haven't noticed, I have quite curly (some would even say kind of big) hair.  I've thought for years that I couldn't wear hats as a consequence, and the idea of hat head has scared me to my core for as long as I can remember.  But here is the good news: as long as I remove my hat while indoors and shake out my hair, the hat head won't be too bad.  Plus, there are so many cute hats out there just waiting to meet my head.  Not that I really have a ton of extra money for shopping (see above paragraph about my many visits to the dermatologist), but I imagine I'll only need a well-chosen chapeau or two.  The above photo shows me "modeling" my first purchase on my sister's deck in L.A.  Survey says "cute," no?

I still need to get used to remembering to wear my hat more often, but luckily, we get so little sun here in San Francisco, I can probably ease into the habit.  And don't worry, if old age leads me to some embarrassing habits and necessities, I won't be writing about them here.  I definitely will not become that old lady.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

All the Food That's Fit To Eat

Just a quick update tonight, my lovies.  It's already getting a bit late, and I'm on my six and a half year old laptop, which, needless to say, is slow as molasses.  I really should join the year 2010 and get a new one, but whatever.

Anyway, I have had the most lovely weekend, the highlight of which involved lots and lots of...EATING!  The San Francisco Street Food Festival was Saturday, and I decided to meet my friend Pat there for some power snacking.  Pat already had been there for several hours by the time I arrived a little after 4 p.m., so once I found him, we headed straight to the beer and wine garden (also known as a few square feet of fenced off pavement) for rum cocktails and Tecate.  He soon left for a pinball competition (oh, that's right), but I stayed and tried more delicacies, including Cuban tri-tip, spicy pork sausage, a bacon wrapped hot dog and funnel cake.

Keep in mind, I didn't claim this was the San Francisco Health Food Festival.

After getting my fill of street food, I walked to lovely 22nd Street to meet Valerie and Kevin at Cava 22, where we chatted and sang Beatles songs to each other over margaritas.  Not bad for a Saturday evening before 9 p.m.

Today was all about chores, working out and vocal exercises, and soon I will be spending an hour with my TV boyfriend Don Draper.  Yes, I know he's not exactly the most honorable man I could love, but here's a secret: he's a TV character and totally fictional.  To that end, I think it's okay to proclaim him my boyfriend.  I promise you, I will try not to date any real life Don Drapers.  Because frankly, I already have, and it isn't very interesting.

Tomorrow begins another work week and another Monday evening of singing songs.  I don't know how you feel about Mondays, but if they give you even the slightest of the blues, I highly recommend belting a few karaoke songs every week.  Your Monday will never know what hit it.