Saturday, December 31, 2011

Sweets From A Sweet

One of my pop music idols, Matthew Sweet, came to town this week, and I got a chance to see him at Yoshi's on Wednesday night. Talk about super, duper YAY! Matthew is touring on behalf of the 20th anniversary of his Girlfriend album, and he played the entire record from beginning to end. He then added a few songs from other albums as an encore.

It was so much fun, if a tiny bit loud for such a small venue (I brought ear plugs, thankfully). Plus, I shared my table with this really nice couple who were honeymooning in San Francisco, and they decided to pick up the tab for all of our drinks. Totally sweet and totally unnecessary, but they wouldn't be talked out of it.

It was a great night, even though I will admit that Matthew's fans (me included, I'm sure) are looking a little long in the tooth. As I looked around the crowd, I realized that every person in the audience probably was an adult, even if a young adult, when Girlfriend was released in 1991. Well, we may be old, but we still have good taste in jingle jangle alterna-pop music.

Now it's the last night of 2011, and soon I will be on my way to my friend Frances' New Year's Eve party. 2011 was actually a very good year for me; one of sustained high self-esteem and a consistent recognition of all the good things in my life. And 2012 already is looking lovely. I'm going to Hawaii in a month, right after I take another mini-vacation to L.A., and lots of fun social adventures here in San Francisco are taking shape. Here's to hoping the next twelve months will be as much fun as the last.

(These photos of Matthew Sweet and his band were taken by me from my front row seat at Yoshi's. I'm sorry the quality isn't better, but I do the best I can with my point and shoot camera and limited photography skills.)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Sing Along Birthday Serenade

My friends are so very wonderful. On December 21st...also know as four days before Christmas...about 30 to 35 of them met me at my favorite karaoke den to sip cocktails and sing songs in honor of my birthday. It was one of the best birthday parties I ever have had. Possibly the best. I had so much fun and am so grateful for every person who came to celebrate with me.

I sang tunes by the Beatles, the Waitresses, Dusty Springfield, Duffy and Ike and Tina Turner throughout the evening. My guests sang Murray Head, Foreigner, Christmas standards and everything imaginable in between. Here are just a few of the photos I snapped during the event.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

And To All A Good Night

Merry Christmas, Gentle Readers. Here in the wee hours of Christmas morning, I offer you this brief update.

As per usual, I have jetted down to L.A. for Christmas. On my way here Friday afternoon, I was able to pose for the above free photograph with Santa Claus at the Oakland Airport. Seriously. I also got a coupon good for $20 off my next flight on Southwest (as long as I fly by February 16th) just for taking this Santa picture. I'd call that a pretty good early Christmas present.

Since I've been in town, I've caught up on sleep, indulged in ground beef and pickle tacos at Malo Cantina in Silver Lake, enjoyed my mother's Christmas Eve reading of "The Night Before Christmas" (her audience of children and grandchildren ranged in age from 5 to 58), and participated in a short Christmas Eve ukulele sing-along featuring Christmas carols and Beatles tunes, with a Sam Cooke song and a Monkees song thrown in for good measure.

Now I'm about to crawl into bed for my own "long winter's nap" to rest up for more Christmas fun tomorrow. Or later today, I should say. I hope your holiday has been just as lovely as mine so far.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Beatles, Altered Images and the Tune Weavers

Wouldn't you know it, it's my birthday again.

If you have been a reader of this blog for...well, at least a year...then you know that I am not ashamed to admit that my birthday is my very favorite day of the year. I wake up every December 21st feeling excited and just a little bit special. I love it.

On this birthday, I got up a little bit earlier than usual so I could squeeze in a substantive workout at the gym before heading to work, and it felt quite nice. After my workday is done, I'll be gathering a few dozen of my closest friends for a karaoke birthday party. Yes, karaoke; I have no shame. In the meantime, I am at work wearing my party dress because the party starts early, but I have no make-up on yet, so said make-up can be fresh for the celebration.

I am ridiculous, I know, but I'm allowed because it's my birthday.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Rock Star Moment

Last night I got to sing in front of more than 15,000 people. Seriously.

San Francisco radio station Live 105 hosted their annual Not So Silent Night concert last night, featuring Bush, Mumford & Sons, Florence and the Machine and Green Day (a replacement for original headliner Jane's Addiction, who had to cancel at the last minute due to an emergency involving the drummer's dad). The show also featured regular people singing karaoke onstage between bands, and for various reasons, I was invited to sing as a karaoke ringer.

That's right.

I had been so excited about this opportunity for weeks, but I told virtually no one because I didn't want to jinx it and all of sudden to be told that they wouldn't be able to use me. No jinxing happened, however, and there I was last night in front of thousands, warbling my rendition of "Only the Lonely" by the Motels. I went on at about 9:00 p.m., between Florence and the Machine and Mumford & Sons.

I was nervous as all get out all day yesterday because... well, 15,000 people! In fact, this is a photo taken of the crowd about five minutes before I sang, and the angle only captures about half the audience. The good news is that once I started singing, I wasn't nervous at all. It felt just like singing at any karaoke bar, and honestly, the majority of the audience probably wasn't paying me any attention. But even if just ten percent of the people there were listening, that's 1500 pairs of attentive ears. And if half were listening...well, you get the point.

I can't say I know what a real rock star feels like because the house lights were up during the karaoke portions so the crew could set the stage for the real bands. Plus, I was singing a 30-year old song accompanied by a karaoke track. However, the three-minute duration of "Only the Lonely" made for the most rock star three minutes of my life so far, and I certainly will take that.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Sounds of the Season

Shopping, parties, egg nog, delicious food...these all are telltale signs of the holiday season, to be sure. However, what would the holidays be without music?

Now, I might wonder what any random Tuesday would be like without music, but as with even the most mundane moments, the most special ones also are made better by music. Yesterday afternoon A Very She and Him Christmas provided my house cleaning duties with the perfect December soundtrack. Then last night, 60's soul was the order of the night at my friend Steve's birthday party. There will be music galore at my own birthday party in a couple of weeks, as it is going to be a karaoke party. And at the end of the month I'm going to see Matthew Sweet, one of my musical idols, perform live.

Obviously, much of the music I just mentioned has or will have nothing to do with the holidays, per se, but it is the holiday season, and the music will be playing. So all is right with the world.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Deck The Halls

The Holiday Season has arrived, and I could not possibly be happier! This is my very favorite time of year, featuring the calendar's two best holidays: Christmas and my birthday.

Of course, the Holiday Season officially "begins" right after Thanksgiving, and I had a wonderful Turkey Day this past Thursday. I went to work early in the morning and afterward managed to hit the gym for a bit of cardio and get a load of laundry done before heading to a Thanksgiving dinner party. Dinner included good food, lively conversation and lots of sparkling wine supplied by me. I have so much to be thankful for in my life, like the people I love, a successful career I enjoy, singing, Hawaiian vacations, pretty dresses, high heeled shoes and handsome men (even if some of the men occasionally behave poorly).

Now that the Holidays are upon us, a bunch of good things are happening. There are parties every weekend; my own birthday party, which will feature lots of singing; and Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in Los Angeles. I also have a super exciting project in the works, but I can't tell you what it is yet...lest I jinx it.

I'll be sad when January arrives, and all of this is over, but for now I'll just immerse myself in the joy that is the end of November and all of December.

(Yes, the two photos in this post are of the same thing. I was toying with the different flash settings on my camera and liked both shots.)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ladies in Red (and Pink)

My friend Christine turned 26 on November 4th (she is so young), and she invited a couple dozen of her best friends to celebrate last night at Chambers in the Tenderloin. Chambers fascinates me. For one thing, it's a hotel bar...well, a motel bar, really. It's in the Phoenix Hotel, which looks like a classic Southern California motel circa 1966. What an establishment like that is doing in downtown San Francisco circa now, I have no idea, but I approve.

Anyway, in the fifteen years that I've lived in San Francisco, the space that is now Chambers has had many previous incarnations, and I think I've been to all of those different bars at least once. What fascinates me about Chambers is the fact that, on the surface, it's not a place I should like. It's got a very trendy vibe and generally is filled with people ten to fifteen years younger than me who are so busy eyeing each other up and down, it's a wonder they don't trip over themselves. I'd regard the whole scene with a weary and condescending "been there, done that" sort of disdain, were it not for one thing. Well, two things, really. The first is the previously mentioned fact that it's in a motel, and the second is the music.

I've been to Chambers twice now, once on an early Wednesday evening in late September for my friend Carla's birthday and last night, when the joint was in full-on weekend party mode. Both times the music has been stupendous. No continuous boring beats or cringe-inducing rap for Chambers guests, oh, no. Early 80's alterna-pop seems to be the name of the game there, with some 60's pop thrown in for good measure. We're talking Squeeze, Roxy Music, the English Beat, early Cure and even the Monkees. The Monkees. Chambers has propelled me into auditory heaven during both visits.

Music aside, Christine's party was quite lovely in its own right. I chose to wear the fancy Kate Spade party dress that I got on super sale (60 percent off!) from Kate's website last week. It had just arrived yesterday afternoon, so I figured why not inaugurate it as soon as possible. My dress is pink, but in the dim lights of a hip night spot, it seemed to match the birthday girl's red dress perfectly, as well as the crimson frock donned by our other friend Megan. We were like three peas in a very stylish pod.

I think the photos say it all.

The bra-strap peeking out is a great look and really completes my outfit, I'd say. I'm classy.

Saturday, November 05, 2011


Some songs are easy to sing, some are a little harder, and then there are those I consider to be my "Everests". One such tune is Fiona Apple's "Fast As You Can," which I have been practicing at home and tried for the first time in karaoke the other night. It's not that this tune takes significant vocal ability, but the timing is a bitch. The lyrics move very quickly and if you pause or breathe in the wrong place, the song mercilessly will leave you behind. Plus, Fiona Apple has a very low voice, and even I, a card-carrying alto, may have to move the key up a bit before I sing "Fast As You Can" in public again.

All of this is to say that my first pass at it was okay, but I need to work on it some more.

Then there are my other "Everests". A week ago I started working on "Natural Woman" and "Goldfinger" with my voice teacher. We moved both of numbers down a bit to help the high notes fit my range, and they may well turn out okay with more work. A lot more. And once I really learn the melodies.

Finally, there is "The Man That Got Away," a song made famous by Judy Garland in A Star is Born. I probably don't need to say any more other than I must be crazy to think I'll ever be able to sing this. I have the music and a recording of Judy, though, so we'll see. I have no intention of even attempting to sound like her; I just hope the song doesn't beat me into a pulp while I try to master it.

I love my little singing hobby. One day I may actually become a real singer...or at least a reasonable facsimile.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Great Pumpkin

Last Sunday on a very warm October evening, I headed across town to my friend Megan's pad in Noe Valley for a pumpkin carving party. I munched on pizza, drank sparkling wine, and happily watched most everyone else carve pumpkins. To be honest, Halloween is one of my least favorite holidays (kid Halloween = super fun; adult Halloween = amateur night with costumes), so I was happy to let others carve while I just enjoyed the party. Their work turned out great, though, don't you think?

Hostess Megan carving a pumpkin as big as she is.

This may look a lot like the photo at the beginning of this post, but there are more pumpkins in this shot. And yes, I had to post both.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Parties, Parties Everywhere

The socializing that comes with living in a city as much fun as San Francisco has been in full swing as we settle into Autumn. The first few photos in this post, including the one above, are from my friend Charlie's birthday party back in mid-September. Yes, it has taken me more than a month to post them, but whatever. The last several pictures are from last night, when I met my high school friend Emily for dinner, who was in town from L.A. with her boyfriend Randy, who also went to our high school. I got together with them and some other high school alumni friends for a delicious mini-reunion on a super warm night. We were able to dine on the patio at Market Bar in Ferry Building without coats. Coat-free outdoor dining is practically unheard of in San Francisco, even in October, which is one of the "summer" months here. It was positively delightful.

In between Charlie's party and the outdoor dinner, I ran around L.A. for a couple of days, as you read about in my last post. After my trip, I returned home in time celebrate Frances' birthday at her a deep-fried turkey dinner party. There was also Chris' parents, poker and pizza party and, of course, lots and lots of singing.

Tonight I'm headed to Megan's pumpkin-carving party. I have no intention of actually carving a pumpkin, but I still appreciate a good soiree. I like to think of my lack of interest in carving as my own humanitarian effort to save the pumpkins!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Designer Hipsters and the Chupacabra

Happy Friday, gentle readers, and greetings from Southern California! I have a taken another mini-vacation here in the City of Angels, and, as always, it has been quite delightful. Unfortunately, I forgot to pack my camera (lame!), so there will be no photos from this journey. That is, except the above shot, which I snapped with my cell phone at Tiki Ti on Sunset last night. That's right, Tiki Ti.

It's been quite the lovely holiday so far. I arrived late Wednesday afternoon and after dinner, my sister Fabulous Patti and I went to Koreatown for a little karaoke at the Brass Monkey. FP didn't sing, but I got a couple of songs in before we called it a night.

Yesterday was the highlight of the trip, so far. My old, dear friend Kevin, who mostly lives in New York, is in L.A. for about a month looking for work. He's an actor who is able to support himself just by acting, no less. I haven't seen Kevin since my last trip to the Big Apple in 2006, so I was thrilled to get together with him this week. We grabbed lunch yesterday afternoon at Tropicalia, one of my favorite restaurants in Los Feliz, before he had to scoot over to the West Side to meet with some potential new L.A. agents. It was super yummy and super fun catching up.

After lunch, I wandered down Vermont Avenue and into Leap, my very favorite L.A. clothing store. My sister calls Leap my personal clothier because I go there every time I'm in L.A. and always manage to find something absolutely perfect to purchase. Well, yesterday was no exception. In fact, the women who own and run Leap know me now, and when I walked in, they immediately scooted to the back to fetch a dress they had just gotten that morning, which wasn't even on the floor yet.

Of course, I fell in love. It's a 1950's-style black number from a company called Stop Staring, and it is beyond darling and perfect for my figure. It cost a little more than what I usually spend at Leap (not only do they have great stuff, but their prices are amazing), but it is worth it. I'll get so much wear out of this dress. I may even have to post a picture of myself in it once I get home. Maybe.

After my shopping success I met my friends Charlie and Denise for dinner at Malo Catina in Silver Lake. Charlie and Denise are friends from San Francisco who moved to L.A. a few months ago, and I love that I now get to play with them when I'm down here. Many chips with burnt habanero creme salsa and tacos later, we were happily sated. Denise had to take her leave at that point because she gets up rather early for work, but Charlie and I walked up the street to the aforementioned Tiki Ti where Kevin caught up with us, along with his friend Jeffrey, and the four of us laughed and chatted over rum tiki cocktails until the wee hours of the morning.

All in all, I would call yesterday the perfect vacation day. I'm taking it easy today but will likely head to South Pasadena later to visit my brother, sister-in-law and nephew, the famous Mikey Jet.

Oh, and as for the title of this post. Denise has noticed that L.A. hipsters, many of whom surrounded us at dinner last night, look a bit different from those in San Francisco due to their designer hipster garb. Hence designer hipsters. And when Kevin dropped me off after Tiki Ti at 2:30 in the morning, we kept hearing some weird animal-type screeching while we chatted outside my sister's apartment. Had to have been the chupacabra. What else would it be?

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Tropical September

Well, haven't I been quite the slacker when it comes to updating this little chronicle? Forgive me, gentle readers. I feel like I've been running and running since I returned from vacation, although truthfully, I think I'm just readjusting to the regular pace of my life. I've spent the past couple of weeks celebrating friends' birthdays, beginning the hunt for a new Sober Nixon guitarist (did I mention that our most recent guitar player quit?), singing songs, seeing some great theatre, buying more paperback novels to stack in my already overloaded bookshelf and generally getting back into the swing of things.

It's been a blast; so hopefully, I'll be better about keeping this space up to date and sharing all my adventures with you. Until then, enjoy these photos from Hawaii. They were all taken in Waikiki or at Ala Moana. Yes, I know I went heavy on the sunset shots, but aren't they just lovely?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Book Him, Danno!

Well, gentle readers, I have been back from Hawaii for about a day and a half, and already I'm looking forward to my next visit. I took bunches of pictures to share with you (mostly of sunsets over the ocean, which make for the most beautiful photographs), but I thought I'd begin with shots taken on one specific evening.

The Hawaii Five-0 season two premiere party and screening took place in Waikiki on September 10th, and I swung by with hundreds of other fans to check it out. I happened to have been in Waikiki last year for the series premiere party for the new Hawaii Five-0, but this soiree was way more intense. Now that the show is a genuine hit, the fans have become significantly more rabid. Nonetheless, it was pretty fun to join the crowd and crane my neck to see a little bit of Hollywood hit Honolulu.

Oh, and for the record, I watched a couple of syndicated episodes of the original Hawaii Five-0 on television while I was in Honolulu. My goodness, what deliciously bad 1970's television. That show was complete genius. In the ironic way.

I'll post more photos from my trip soon, but for now, enjoy these images from the premiere party!

Glamour lights in the Waikiki palms.

Actor Scott Caan, who plays Danny, signing autographs. At first I cursed my amateur photography skills for the blurriness of this shot, but I actually think the blur creates a nice artsy effect, and it certainly captures the manic energy of the event. So let's pretend I meant to do it this way, shall we?

Just a small portion of the crowd assembled to watch the season two premiere ten days before it airs on television.

Hawaii Five-0 fans as far as the eye can see.