Sunday, January 30, 2011

Two Rooms: Rrazz and Burritt

Happy Sunday evening, dear readers. I trust you had lovely weekends. As, for me, I did a bit of karaoke after work on Friday, had a voice lesson this afternoon and spent the last Saturday night of January 2011 in the pursuit of live music.

The evening began at the Rrazz Room where San Francisco chanteuse Paula West (pictured above) is in the second week of an eight week run. I have seen Paula West many times before and have written previously about her shows on this very space. However, I cannot say often enough how amazing she is. Her voice is beautiful, and her performances can charm even the most cynical music aficionado. This particular run is filled with numbers from Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Oscar Brown, Jr., and Bob Dylan, among others. With cocktails in hand, my friend Terry and I soaked up every luscious note. It was like being transported to a jazz club of the 1950's (excepting the Dylan tune and a few others, that is).

After Paula was done, I bid Terry farewell and scooted the few blocks from the Rrazz Room to the Burritt Room for more live music. I was going to the Burritt Room show somewhat blind, as I hadn't heard either band on the bill before. It sounded interesting, however, so I decided to check it out. Let me tell you, I am so glad I did because I have discovered another band to add to my list of new favorites: The Allah-Las.

The Allah-Las (featured in the photo to the left) are from Los Angeles and play psych-pop with an obvious 60's influence, and I now love them. Their sound is somewhat similar to The 88, another L.A. 60's-esque band that recently captured my heart. If you want to win me over, play really good pop music reminiscent of the 60's, and I'll pretty much be yours for life.

The headliner at the Burritt Room was Nick Waterhouse and the Tarots. They're from San Francisco and are pretty good, as well. They have kind of a 1950's/1960's soul sound and remind me of Ron Silva and the Monarchs, another San Francisco band. I left before Nick and his Tarots were done because it was very crowded, and...well, I'm old. However, all in all, the show was great.

An evening of standards and new gems. Music hopping worked out well for me this weekend and perhaps is an indication that 2011 will introduce me to even more new favorite bands.

(Note: photos in this post courtesy of Paula West's publicity portfolio and L.A. Record. Also, no, I have no idea why the Rrazz Room is spelled with two "r"s.)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Clybourne Park After Dark

You know what's good? Clybourne Park, the play running right now at the American Conservatory Theatre. It's a sequel of sorts to Lorraine Hansberry's 1959 classic A Raisin in the Sun, but even if you've never seen A Raisin in the Sun, you still can enjoy Clybourne Park. By the way, if, in fact, you haven't seen A Raisin in the Sun and decide you want to, don't make the mistake I made ten years ago and see a bad amateur production of it in Marin (or anywhere else, for that matter). Thank goodness I'd read it already. If in doubt, eschew potentially poor theatre and allow Netflix to deliver the 1961 film version to your home. You can't go wrong with Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee.


My friend Andrey and I got all fancy and saw Cybourne Park at A.C.T. last night, and it is just wonderful. It's a comedy, so you'll laugh out loud, but you'll also cringe a bit. In a good way. Prior to meeting Andrey for cocktails followed by our theatre fanciness, I popped into Border's, which is like a crack den for me, and bought myself a little book to read. A Reliable Wife has been eyeing me for weeks from the shelves of bookstores all over town, and I finally succumbed to its temptations. I hope it's good.

I won't be digging into A Reliable Wife quite yet, however. It's in the queue behind Lulu Meets God and Doubts Him, Fated and Chronic City. And all of those will have to be patient because I'm currently reading the very charming A Certain Chemistry by Mil Millington. I'm only about 85 pages in, but so far I love it. In fact, I believe this book is trying to humiliate me because more than once it has caused me to laugh out loud while on a crowded bus on my way to work in the morning.

If other San Francisco public transit commuters think I'm crazy, it's Mil Millington's fault.

Between the theatre and all these books, you'd think I have time for nothing else. Ah, but how wrong you would be. I, of course, still find plenty of time to sing, and this weekend I'm going to see one of my favorite professional singers, Paula West. She is amazing. If you haven't seen her perform, do it. Then do yourself a favor and go see Clybourne Park.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

More Music in the New Year

Did you know there is a Stiff Records cover band in San Francisco? That's right, Stiff Records! They are called I Love My Label, and they cover Kirsty MacColl, Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, Rachel Sweet and other Stiff artists. I must go see them. My search for a new Sober Nixon guitarist lead me to this information. So I suppose even if it takes a long time to solidify Sober Nixon's new lineup, it looks like I'll learn a few valuable things along the way.

Aside from the guitar player search, I continue pursuing my musical aspirations by singing multiple times a week and practicing at home between lessons. Here's to keeping up my discipline.

Finally, I leave you tonight with a few more pictures from New Year's Eve because...well, because they are fun photos. And because pictures from this particular party keep popping up (these are courtesy of Olena and Kevin, hosts of the party where they were taken). How can I not share?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunshine, Cocktails and Milkshakes

How was your weekend, gentle readers? San Francisco came out of the deep freeze it was experiencing earlier this month, and we residents were treated to lots of sunshine and temperatures in the 60's. In January, no less. I'll ignore for the moment that San Francisco rarely gets significantly colder or warmer than about 63 degrees, no matter what time of year, and simply savor the fact that we were relatively warm while much of the country remained oppressed by winter's chill.

In addition to enjoying the lovely weather, I spent a nice chunk of time this weekend doing some lovely socializing. After work on Friday I joined my friend Emily for dinner and cocktails. Then Saturday night found me out in North Beach with Janelle, Tom and Nick giggling, sipping champagne and discussing Nick's seemingly active love life. Finally, this evening I met Christine for cocktails and gossip. {You must think I'm quite the lush right about now, but I assure you that I don't usually drink so many days in a row.} The bartender provided us with quite the great cocktailing soundtrack this evening, as well. Gems from the Jam, the Records and the Bees happily tumbled from of his iPod, as did a little Rod Stewart, which made Christine happy. After we'd finished our libations and discussed all the boys worth mentioning (plus one or two not really worth mentioning), Christine and I went to a nearby diner for snacks and both indulged in milkshakes. Let's just say it's a good thing I didn't make a New Year's resolution to lose weight because those milkshakes were huge. It's also a good thing I like to exercise.

Apparently there were a couple of football games played today that captured some people's interest, but I mostly ignored them. I do know the Green Bay Packers now are going to the Super Bowl, and I guess I'll root for them at the Super Bowl party I'll be attending in two weeks since I was born in Green Bay. Instead of football, I indulged in what has become my guilty pleasure weekend television tradition: Beverly Hills, 90210 reruns on Soap Net. This weekend saw Dylan and Kelly telling a crushed Brenda that Dylan had chosen Kelly, and just two episodes later, Dylan's father was blown up. Or so we were lead to believe back in 1993. Genius, pure genius.

This week I'm looking forward to singing, of course, a little theatre and continuing the search for a new guitarist for Sober Nixon. Several friends have told me they know guitar players who might be interested, but nothing has panned out yet. So I may have to kick the search into overdrive. There are songs just waiting to covered with that special Sober Nixon touch, and surely, we can't disappoint them.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

January Birthday Spectacular

January is one of my least favorite months of the year. The weather often can be dreary; the days are still painfully short; and very little of interest tends to happen. Except for January 20th, that is. Great American presidents have been inaugurated on January 20th (as well as a few admitted duds). Plus, January 20th is the birthday of my very fine friend Chris Sams. Chris and I met twelve years ago during his very first week in San Francisco. I was a virtual City by the Bay veteran, having lived here for just over two years at that point.

Since that fateful February day in 1999, I have considered Chris to be one of my closest friends. He is brilliant, funny, talented and one of the kindest people walking the face of the earth. So needless to say, the anniversary of his birth warrants a celebration, and several of us gathered tonight to mark this auspicious occasion. Snacks in the form of Little Star pizza, drinks and excellent conversation all were part of the party. I even played pool for the first time in about a decade and did a pretty good job, even though I lost.

I managed to snap a few photos during the festivities to give you an idea of the love that surrounds Chris. I only captured a few of the many celebrants, but I believe these shots do represent the good time had by all.

Have you ever seen a more dashing birthday boy? To quote his cake: Oh, my God, yay!

Me and Kurt

Carla, Andrey and Tom

Chris and Nicky P.

Me and Drey, who looks just a bit like he's posing for the cover of a Harlequin romance

Roland and Irina expressing the unique love of their friendship

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Every once in a while a girl needs a little inspiration or a pick me up.

Case in point, I found myself briefly in a bit of a blue mood yesterday, and I turned it around by reminding myself how much I enjoy my job (honestly), donning a pretty dress for the day at said job and just thinking about buying "Sugar, Sugar" by the Archies from iTunes. Yes, "Sugar, Sugar," easily one of the worst pop songs in history but also one of the most fun. Buy it I did, and when it popped up on my iPod as I exercised this morning, I was embarrassed not only that I own it but also that it was making me very happy.

Music, singing or exercise usually will do the trick, but if I'm feeling especially insecure, I may need to call in the big guns. On those occasions, I try to channel the energy of someone I admire. This can be a person I actually know, someone famous or even a fictional character, and the qualities I'll try to channel generally are grace, class and confidence. I already possess these qualities, if I do say so myself, but sometimes inspirational reminders help. Like these women:



If boys can do do it, so can we: The Go-Go's

California's Attorney General


Perhaps someone will look to me for inspiration one day, but whether or not that ever happens, I hope at least I can entertain you with this space.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Where The Heart Is

I've been reading a few new blogs lately, many of which use photos more than text. These little chronicles have inspired me to talk in pictures more frequently, myself. Now, one of the reasons I maintain this blog is because I love to write; so pictures never will replace words here. However, variety is the spice of life, right?

One of my favorite types of posts from the blogs I've been perusing is that in which the authors display photos of their homes. It's like an everyman version of Better Homes and Gardens or Town and Country. To that end, I offer you some glimpses into my minimalist living space. I call it minimalist because I have lived in my apartment for two years, yet I still have done precious little decorating. I've not painted or hung anything on the walls (much to the relief of my landlords, I'm certain), and the only curtains I brought adorn my sliding glass doors. All the windows remain dressed with blinds only. I have managed to add a little bit of style and glamour to the rooms, however, and I've tried to capture that here. Be warned: I'm no photographer. Plus, my camera is just a digital version of one of those point-and-shoot-for-dummies numbers that I bought about four years ago at Radio Shack, of all places. I've done the best I could, though, so I hope you enjoy.

Warm living room light. Note, if you can see them, Valley of the Dolls and Milton's Paradise Lost sharing bookshelf space right next to each other. I have, indeed, read both. Speaking of books...

...I love to read, and more importantly, I love to own books. I don't think I've set foot in a library in seven years. Storing my books quickly becomes a challenge, and I am officially out of the aforementioned bookshelf space. Time to buy more furniture, I suppose.

Big sunglasses and costume jewelry. I do own some real jewelry, as well.


Minimalist mantle: candles, photographs and two birthday cards from 2009.

I haven't shaken a cocktail at home in forever, but I remain prepared.

About 15% of my CD collection. I also own a little vinyl, and yes, many mp3s.

This says it all.

In other news, I went with my friend Andrey to see The King's Speech at the Kabuki Theatre last night. The film was lovely, and as for the Kabuki... Well, I rarely see movies in the theatre, and I don't think I've been to the Kabuki in a decade. Since before they redid it and started assigning seats and serving cocktails. After last night, I think the Kabuki has ruined me for all other movie houses. And just in time for awards season.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Perfect Friday Night: Singing and Skanking

Probably the biggest compliment anyone can pay me is hearing me sing and then assuming I do so professionally.

I am very much the amateur chanteuse, but I suppose the voice lessons, Sober Nixon rehearsals and performances, and night after night of karaoke help me to fool some of the people some of the time. Last night after work, I sang songs at two different karaoke dens, and a woman at the second venue mistook me for a professional singer. So much so that she actually was surprised when I told her I'm not a professional. I guess I did a pretty decent job on "Only the Lonely," "Somewhere Only We Know" and "Heaven Is A Place On Earth" and was a convincing Kim Deal when I backed up my friend Ash on "Here Comes Your Man."

After all the songs had been sung, I made my way to Bimbo's 365 Club to see one of my favorite bands of all time, The English Beat. Only one founding member, Dave Wakeling, still is in The Beat, but the shows continue to be really fun. I used to see The Beat every time they came to town, as well as catching them in Los Angeles with my friend Emily if they happened to be playing a show when I was there. However, I've gotten lazy and missed their last few San Francisco appearances. Last night I was reminded what a mistake it is to skip a Beat show. I had the greatest time singing along (good thing I'd warmed up with all that early evening karaoke) and dancing/skanking until I was a sweaty, happy mess. They played all their hits, some album cuts including my favorite: "Ackee 1,2,3", and even debuted some new material. New English Beat songs after almost 30 years? Apparently so.

I wish Ranking Roger still was in the band, but nothing in life is perfect, is it? Perhaps not, but seeing the English Beat live, even if it's just Dave and a bunch of musicians he's hired over the past few years, is pretty close to perfect in my book.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Math Heroine

I am reading a novel about a young woman who loves math! Okay, the heroine of Aimee Bender's An Invisible Sign of My Own actually appears to have severe OCD, and math and numbers probably help her keep her world in order. But whatever. As a real life math-loving supergirl, I often am infuriated by the stereotype that women and girls are incompetent at math or don't like it. So any representation of a female who is good at math works for me.

I adored math in high school, especially trigonometry and math analysis. Calculus admittedly was a little esoteric for my taste, but it still is math and, as a consequence, earned my admiration. I could have been a mathematician, I bet, but I went to college and majored in English literature with the intention of becoming a writer. I love books and writing, as well, so there you go. Today I am neither a mathematician nor a writer, but the career I have pursued involves writing and even a teeny bit of math.

Anyway, back to the book. An Invisible Sign of My Own is the cutest little dysfunctional read.  Well, the character is dysfunctional, anyway.  I'm not quite finished yet, but unless it takes a decided turn for the crappy in its last 48 pages, I highly recommend it. I just learned from Google that it was made into some sort of movie last year starring Jessica Alba, and I'm not sure how I feel about that (was that film ever even released?).  Once I'm done with Invisible Sign, I have four other novels waiting for me. I went on a small literary purchasing spree at the end of last month (something I do frequently), and I now am working through my bounty.

I may have a lot of time for reading over the next few days because I think I may be getting sick. That's my way of saying I am getting sick while maintaining a cloak of denial. Even if I keep this denial thing up, I have to take care of myself because I'm going to see one of my all time favorite bands on Friday night, and sniffles and coughing fits simply will not do. So it's all zinc and chilling out for a while to show whatever virus I've picked up who is boss. I have faith I will win; I am a supergirl who loves math, after all.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Notes on a Dance Party

After the horrible craziness in Arizona yesterday morning, I almost considered staying in last night and skipping the Mod Dance Party at the Burritt Room.  Almost, anyway.  In the end, I decided that sitting on my couch wasn't going to help anyone... So out dancing I went.  Here are some notes to illustrate what a top notch time was had by all.

  • A pretty dress and saucy boots: staples of my wardrobe that work perfectly for mod dancing.
  • Friends, including Valerie, Kevin, Tom, Julie, Jimmy, Roxanne and Steve, make up an awesome dance party posse.
  • Free rum and whiskey.  The first courtesy of one of the bartenders; the other paid for by Tom.
  • "Sorry" by the Easybeats and "With a Cantaloupe Girlfriend" by the Three O'Clock: my two favorite dance floor numbers of the night.
  • Dancing to a song you don't know is its own reward, but especially when Tom notices that said song has the same back beat as the Kink's "All Day and All of the Night."  Because then you can do your own mash up.
  • Dancing with Kevin to whatever song is a party in and of itself.  And he calls me a hoot.

Don't you wish you'd been there?

Anyway, moving on. Tomorrow I'm embarking on a grand adventure.  After work I intend to step out of my comfort zone.  Now, what I actually will be doing is very small and probably would inspire much eye-rolling and many questions such as: "Seriously?  Is that all?"  However, a comfort zone is a comfort zone, and extending even a toe out of it is very scary, at least for me.  So wish me luck.

Finally, I leave you with a little photo montage. It's a wee bit old, but I love it anyway. My friends Eric, Tom, Chris, Kevin, Angela and I had our way with the Knockout photo booth during my 39th birthday party, and just looking at these pictures makes me happy. I hope they at least make you grin a little bit.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Drums and Dancing

Get ready, kids, it's time for another Mod Dance Party! Oldies DJ nights happen all the time in San Francisco, but back in August, some friends and I went to a Mod-specific dance party. And this wasn't just about old music; tunes from the 60's, ditties from Mod's second wave, Paisley Underground selections, and even new songs filled the air and called us to the dance floor.  It was so much fun.

The same group of DJ's is throwing another Mod Dance Party tomorrow night, so of course I'm going, along with most of the same friends who joined me in the summer. I'm so excited. January is one of the most boring months of the year (closely followed by February), so it can use a little Mod energy boost.

Before the Mod dancing tomorrow, however, I have to attend to a little Sober Nixon business tonight. We are auditioning a drummer. Or perhaps it might be more accurate to say that he is auditioning us. We still don't have a new guitarist (see this previous post), but we just may be able to beef up our rhythm section in the meantime.  Providing he likes us.

And on Sunday, my friend Christine and I will be getting together for one of our bi-weekly cocktail and gossip sessions. Due to the holiday madness and various travel plans, we actually haven't had one of these sessions for a couple of months, so it's beyond time. There are cocktails to drink and boys to be discussed, and you know as well as I that those two things simply won't be made to wait.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Last Night of 2010 - First Morning of 2011

As I mentioned, I took no pictures on New Year's Eve, but my friend Heidi did. So these photos come courtesy of her. They are from the third event of my evening: the party I was attending at midnight when we all ushered in 2011. I'd say they are a pretty accurate depiction of the good time had by all.  Plus, they showcase my purple and gold New Year's Eve outfit.

Since 2011 began, things have been bubbling along quite nicely. My singing habit continues, and I exercised that habit on Monday night with some karaoke. Then last night I dined with my friends Mark and Daniel at their super fancy apartment (I think I need about six days at the gym to counteract the effects of that meal). Coming up this weekend: a Mod dance party and most likely more singing. It's a good life, and I'm glad 2011 is living up to the expectations set by the years that proceeded it.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

The Year That Was

It's the second day of 2011, and I find myself on this cloudy Sunday watching "Beverly Hills, 90210" and "Gilmore Girls" reruns, cleaning my apartment and anticipating a party in North Beach early this evening. I also have been thinking a little more about the year that was 2010. So to that end, I have prepared a photographic chronicle of last year.... month by month (yes, I am aware that I have posted two photos from April; I couldn't choose). Enjoy!

January: playing Beatles Rock Band at Chris' Mission loft birthday party.

February: with Tom and Carla at Berto's birthday party in Noe Valley.

March: Sober Nixon performing at the Revolution Cafe for Caveat Lector's spring issue launch.

April: singing with Sober Nixon South of Market for Ho's birthday.

Late April: with Tom at Ala Moana Beach Park, Honolulu.

May: about to enjoy a cocktail at Tiki Ti in Los Angeles.

June: playing in the photo booth at Madrone with Candace and her (rather adorable) friend Sean.

July: singing "We Belong" karaoke-style in Santa Monica.

August: Sober Nixon performs at Cafe Royale.

September: with Nina and Frances at Nina's Burritt Room birthday party.

October: The Giants go to the World Series, and the City bathes itself in orange.

November: Thanksgiving at Tom's parents' place (the expression on my face in this photo is classic).

December: with Bill and Kim at my own Burritt Room birthday soiree.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

One-One-Double One

Happy New Year, my lovies!

2011 is barely a few hours old, and the first thing I want to do is update this little chronicle. I don't know how 2010 treated you, but overall, it was pretty good to me. Until the end of year, that is.  December 9th, to be specific... when things took a decided turn for the sucky (that circle of life issue I referred to in a previous post). To be honest, the person most affected by the events of that day probably had a fairly miserable 2010, but I believe he is in a better place now.

So on to the new year for everyone. 

I must confess that I wasn't very interested in New Year's Eve this year. Usually, I feel at least a little bit of pressure to go out and do something spectacular, but this time, I seriously considered more mellow options, like staying home in my PJ's.  I have to admit, however, that I'm glad I didn't succumb to that temptation.

As it so happens, I ended up ringing in 2011 in style. My celebration began at 4 p.m. on December 31st, when I arrived at my favorite karaoke den. Three and a half hours later, I'd sung five songs and sung them all quite well. I'd like to believe that bodes well for my singing skills in the year ahead.  I also, by the way, consumed two fairly potent cocktails during that time.

After the songs had been sung, I went to a party at my friend Brad's fancy, grown up condominium. Which he owns. Like a real adult (I still proudly rent my living space). His living room offers a view of San Francisco City Hall, which still is bathed in red and green light for the holidays, as shown in the above photo.  While at Brad's place, I sipped cocktails, enjoyed snacks and chatted with his famous author friend Scott.  Okay, perhaps Scott is not famous, but he's had two novels published, and I bought one of them at Borders on Thursday evening without realizing the book I was purchasing had been written by a friend of a friend of mine.  So I was impressed.

I left Brad's at about 10 p.m. and headed across town to Olena and Kevin's party, where I intended to stay for about an hour so I could get home before midnight.  Yes, that was my intention, and no, I have no idea why.  However, within a few minutes of arriving at said soiree, I knew I wasn't going anywhere anytime soon.  Champagne was consumed, dancing was done, and cheers, hugs and kisses greeted the arrival of 2011.  I brought my camera with me, but I didn't take a single photograph.  Others did snap a few shots, however; so maybe I can nick a few off Facebook in the days to come and share them with you.

All in all, I would call my New Year's Eve a big success. Here's to hoping the rest of 2011 follows suit.