Monday, February 28, 2011

Walking In L.A.

Greetings from glamorous Hollywood. Or Los Feliz, as the case may be. I'm currently on a little mini-holiday in Los Angeles, and so far it has been so much fun.

I arrived yesterday afternoon, just in time for the Academy Awards. While I watched it on TV, just as I would have in San Francisco, I was watching on a TV that lives only three miles from the Kodak Theatre. So I was practically there in person. Tonight, my sister Patti and I went to celebrate her birthday at Malo in Silver Lake, where every Monday is taco night. So yummy and so cheap on Mondays. You must try it. Unfortunately, the evening at Malo was not so pleasant for the cute hipster guy sitting at the table next to ours. It had nothing to do with the restuarant, but about halfway through his dinner, someone I assume to be his agent called and told him he had not been chosen for an acting job. He seemed pretty unhappy after taking that call. No one said Hollywood is easy.

I'm here in the City of Angels until Wednesday evening, and I've started taking bunches of pictures, which I will post upon my return to the Bay. Until then, it's sunshine and movie stars for me.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Our Castle

Tonight I spent the evening in a castle. Edinburgh Castle, to be precise, on Geary Street in the Tenderloin. Should there be any doubt of this claim, I snapped the above photo of some of their beer taps.

My co-worker Bob turned 60 a couple of weeks ago, and bunches of us gathered at Edinburgh Castle tonight to celebrate. Yes, Bob had a 60th birthday party at a bar in the Tenderloin; he is that much of a rockstar. The party was an early affair, and we Bob-revelers pretty much had the place to ourselves from 6 p.m. until around 9. It was drinks, cake and fish and chips for all. The hipsters that started to trickle in beginning at about 8:30 or so looked at us with expressions of disbelief, but I'm thinking that's just because they just aren't accustomed to so many people being in the joint so early in the evening.

An oldies dance party began at Edinburgh Castle at 10:00, and I had every intention of staying to enjoy the tunes, but by 10 all of my other co-workers were gone (except Ted and Joe, who gave me a ride home), and I'd had two beers and a shot of Fernet. That's the equivalent of six beers and three shots for a normal person who is not the lightweight I am.

The party was fun, and I believe Bob had a great time, but tonight's soiree is not the most exciting thing going on in my world. Not even close. What is most exciting is that Sober Nixon has found a new guitarist! We've only played with him once, but I think he's going to work out, and I am just thrilled. In fact, that sound you hear is the shuffle of my feet as I do a serious happy dance.

So be warned, Sober Nixon has songs to sing and now a guitarist to play them. We just might turn up at a bar or club near you.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Beautiful Mornings

I am not a morning person. I never have been. From the time I was I child, I always have preferred sleeping late, and frankly, I think waking up to an alarm probably is a form of torture in some part of the world. Or at least it could be.

However, for the past few weeks, I really have been enjoying my mornings. I always exercise before work, but lately I've been able to enjoy longer and more productive workouts because I've been getting up about 15-30 minutes earlier than usual. I also have time to eat a little breakfast at home, which I haven't done on a regular basis in years (my reasoning had been that exercise took the place of breakfast time). Plus, I have been leaving for work a few minutes earlier, making my commute significantly less stressful than when I engaged in my previous habit of stepping out of my apartment at the last moment possible before risking being late for work.

Not only has all of this eliminated the hectic, hurry-hurry-hurry-don't-be-late aspect of my mornings, but I've been in a noticeably better mood as a result of getting up earlier. My morning happiness has been bleeding further and further into the afternoon, and I credit the longer workouts and stress-free morning routine. (Of course, the euphoria does come to an end eventually, and at that point, I generally want an afternoon nap.)

The best part of all of this is that I've found that it really isn't hard to get up a little earlier. Since I have a difficult time getting up in the morning, anyway, those extra minutes really don't make a difference. And I'll trade 15 minutes of shut-eye for an extended period of morning-induced happiness any day.

**Note: This is probably quite obvious, but I did not take either of these pictures. I found them on the Internet, thanks to Google images. Neither my photography skills nor my camera are nearly so good.**

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hello, Lovers

Normally, I wouldn't presume that you care about the crap I buy for myself, but I am so giddy with excitement over these purchases, I just have to share.

This evening the postman brought me the new purse I bought at sample sale on the Kate Spade website last week. Isn't it just lovely? I actually have the same bag in pink (also procured at a steep discount last summer), but black is better for nighttime use and always is in season. Not to brag, but including tax and the shipping fee, I paid less than half the original asking price for this little gem. Frankly, I couldn't have afforded it, otherwise; Kate charges a pretty penny for her merchandise.

I am so thrilled to have this bag, I can't even tell you.

Plus, the parade of books I have been ordering online is starting to arrive. I'm so looking forward to digging into this Sam Lipsyte novel. It will have to wait, however, as I have a queue of six books ahead of it. For some reason I have to read my books in the order I purchase them. I have no idea.

Life isn't all about shopping, though. There also is music! Tomorrow we're auditioning another guitarist for Sober Nixon. I'm really hopping it goes well, so keep your fingers crossed or pray to the pop music gods or do whatever you feel comfortable doing to wish us luck. Thanks!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

If You Can't Save Ferris, Join Him

Yesterday was Presidents' Day, and while many people had the day off, I was at work. However, today I more than made up for that. While virtually everyone else was emerging from three-day weekend hangovers and returning to their jobs this morning, I got to sleep in.

You see, my dear friend Gabriella, whom I have known since the 2nd grade, was in town for business today, and we planned to meet for an early dinner at around 4 p.m. Instead of negotiating to leave my job early, I simply decided to burn a vacation day and enjoy my own personal February holiday.

After getting some exercise, I met my accountant for our annual tax appointment. Couldn't hurt to be a little productive on my day off, could it? That was done just before noon, leaving me lots of time to wander downtown in the sunshine. I procured a Specialties milk chocolate chip cookie for nibbling (if you've had their cookies, then you know), popped into Tiffany to admire all the jewelry I can't afford, visited Borders Union Square to, that's right, check on the liquidation discounts, and snapped pictures of things I see all the time because I am lucky enough to live in the City by the Bay.

Not bad for a Tuesday, wouldn't you say?

Market and New Montgomery Streets.

Tea time at the Palace Hotel.

The Ferry Building as the sun is thinking about setting.

Late afternoon bubbles.

Me and Gabree. Not the best picture of me ever taken, but it gets the job done.

As seen from MUNI: Pacific Heights once day has turned to night.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Nothing To Say?

There is word that blogging could be on the decline. A recent New York Times article suggests that blogging is just so very 2005, with young people drifting away from the blogging habit. Our youth has become too busy to write lengthy blog posts, the article says, and they apparently are annoyed that nobody reads their blogs. If you refer to a recent post of mine about some criticism of this little chronicle, you'll see that a lack of readership doesn't bother me in the least. That just may be a sign that I'm not terribly young (the article does go on to say that people in my age range still enjoy blogging).

Another reason, according to the article, that traditional blogging is becoming less prevalent among young people: the popularity of Facebook and Twitter.

That's right, those social networking culprits are at it again. Apparently, more of us now are posting cell phone pictures of what we had for lunch on Facebook, instead of on blogs (I know you've seen those pictures in your Facebook news feed). And a 140-word Twitter update seems to have become more attractive than lengthy written discourse. I have to admit that I can understand this phenomenon. A couple of years ago both Facebook and Twitter distracted me enough to leave this site unloved and ignored.

All of this said, there are some (specifically, a blog or two) who dispute the article's assertions and say blogging is as strong as ever. If young people are leading the way, however, and the blog truly is on the decline, what about the old fashioned diary? Will parents and younger siblings everywhere no longer be tempted to tamper with the fake locks protecting books filled with the juicy, hand-written nuggets of adolescent life?

Forget any potential blogging decline, that would be tragic.

If you don't have any diaries to read, I can recommend two of the blogs I like: The Bay Area Brit and Metropolis. Enjoy them before we all become dinosaurs.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Another Saturday Night

A rainy Saturday afternoon in San Francisco gave way to a very cold evening, but I kept warm over dinner and cocktails with the lovely and talented Chris, followed by beer and parlor games with some of the other kids.  How many phrases, titles, or names can you think of containing the word "jack"? How about "happy"? Now try "hot". Oh, yes, we were those people at 21st Amendment last night. Play your cards right, and perhaps one day we'll let you play with us.

So many choices

The Lavender Splash: vanilla vodka, lemon and real lavender

The dinner was delicious, but the desserts were to die for.

Fed and happy.

Strong beers

Zeeshan and Carla

Heidi, Rico and Joel

Friday, February 18, 2011

Sweet Addiction

I have an addiction problem. Some people are addicted to alcohol or drugs or sex; I am addicted to buying books. Heaven forbid I would walk into a library and borrow a book. No, I must purchase my literature and fill my apartment shelves and table tops with stacks of books.

A girl could do worse. With my addiction, however, comes a confession: I love Borders Books and Music.

Yes, it's true, my first choice for book shopping is one of those dreaded chain outfits. Make no mistake, I frequent independent book stores, as well. My favorite is Skylight Books on Vermont Avenue in Los Angeles. I like that store best because the staff plays the most excellent obscure but accessible music on the store sound system. It definitely adds to the book buying experience. (Like I need anything to further encourage my book buying habit.) Green Apple Books here in San Francisco also is awesome. But back to Borders. You can imagine my distress when I learned that Borders has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Truly, it makes no sense to me. In my opinion, Borders should be able to survive on what I spend there alone.

To add insult to injury, I found out that the two Borders locations I frequent most in San Francisco will be closing. What is a book addict to do? Don't say go to the library. The upside to this dilemma is that I imagine the closing stores will have to liquidate their inventory, and that can only mean one thing: sale prices.

Sales are generally a good thing, but that leads me to another problem. My large book shelf already is full, and I'd like to avoid filling every surface in my home with books. Plus, I already have several recent purchases that have yet to be read and more on the way. In the last week I've ordered four novels from Home Land by Sam Lipsyte, This Is Not A Love Song by Sarahbeth Purcell, The Help by Kathryn Stockett and the one I'm most excited about, A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. These selections have not even arrived yet, and already I'm thinking about hitting the doomed San Francisco Borders locations this weekend to check out the potential discounts.

I told you I have a problem.

By the way, I currently am reading Lulu Meets God and Doubts Him by Danielle Ganek. I just started it this week, but so far, it's pretty good. When all is said and done with this Borders store closings ordeal, I might need a forklift for all the books I may purchase.

I guess it's also time to buy a new book shelf.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Little Bits of Happiness

Sometimes the little things in life are the ones that make us the happiest. For example, back in December, my friend Christine gave me a $25 iTunes gift card for my birthday. That's probably the best gift anyone could give me, aside from maybe a gift card for the nearest bookstore or a date with Jon Hamm.

What only cost Christine a mere 25 bucks has made me so happy over the past couple of months. I've been having the absolute best time shopping for music, both purchasing songs I hadn't heard before, like "Commit" by the Blakes (thank you, iTunes Genius recommendation), and ditties I'd forgotten about, like "Secret" and "Tesla Girls" from 80's new wave popsters OMD.

I also did a little digging and discovered Marianne Pillsbury, who not only graduated from my alma mater, Brown University, but also does an excellent cover of Prince's "When You Were Mine." With all due respect to Prince purists, I think I like this version better than the original. To be honest, I don't know any other Marianne Pillsbury music, but her Prince cover is top notch.

Other little things have put a smile on my face for the past couple of days, as well, such as learning that the Kate Spade purse I have been coveting for months currently is on sale, so I actually could afford to buy it. Happiness does not only come in the form of shopping, of course. Sober Nixon is holding a second audition with a potential guitarist tonight, and if this guy works out, that will make me giddy with joy. I had no idea finding a guitarist would be as difficult as it has proven to be, but I'm determined to have patience.

You can bet, however, that once the new Sober Nixon line up is complete, and we actually perform again, that will be one happy day.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Love and Chocolate

Happy Valentine's Day, my lovelies! I hope you are having a wonderful day full of love and joy. I am donning red, enjoying chocolates and generally riding the Valentine's Day high. Okay, at this point it might just be a sugar high, but I truly have been in a good mood since I got up this morning.

Back when I was in my early to mid-20's (also known as 13,000 years ago), I was fooled into thinking that I had to dread Valentine's Day if I didn't have a boyfriend on February 14th. How incredibly silly. Whether you're in a relationship or not, love is everywhere, and I, for one, always have a great time acknowledging that love every year. Plus, chocolate is delicious whether you're dating someone or not. If you need a help getting into the mood this holiday, I can recommend a few of my favorite songs about love. Off the top of my head:

  • The Very Last Time-- Pat Johnson and the Maydays
  • It Must Be Love-- Madness
  • You're All I Need To Get By-- Marvin Gaye and Tami Terrell
  • Crush Story-- Too Much Joy
  • Hold Me Tight-- The Beatles
  • True Love-- X
  • I've Been Waiting-- Matthew Sweet
  • You've Really Got A Hold On Me--- Smokey Robinson and the Miracles (yes, it's a song about completely unhealthy, dysfunctional love, but that totally counts)
  • Sweet Darlin'-- She and Him
  • Be My Baby-- The Ronettes
  • Beneath the Blue Sky-- The Go-Go's
  • River Deep, Mountain High-- Ike and Tina Turner
  • Rhythm of Love-- Plain White T's
  • The Real World-- The Bangles

Tonight I'm going to continue celebrating by singing a few songs and enjoying a few cocktails. And knowing me, probably eating some more chocolate.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

From Russia With Love

The annual Russian Festival has hit San Francisco this weekend. My friends Andrey and Irina, both of whom are Russian, are working the festival on behalf of Russian Connections, a travel agency where Andrey works with Irina's mom. Not one to miss a party, I joined Irina and Andrey last night, along with a gaggle of our other friends, for opening night of the festival. Food, music and Russian tchotchkes were enjoyed by all. Oh, and of course there were flavored vodka shots. The chocolate vodka was my personal favorite. The festival continues all weekend, if you're interested, and I imagine there is some chocolate vodka left.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Everyone's A Critic

In my continuing effort to keep this space up to date and not have a repeat of 2009 when All Things Sassy found itself woefully neglected, I really wanted to post an update this evening. However, it's been a pretty mellow couple of days featuring not much more than lots of sleep, exercise, work, a little bit of singing and my favorite television shows. Personally, I have enjoyed the time quite a bit, but none of it really makes for compelling reading. So I was stuck.

Then the universe threw me a bone.

A couple of hours ago, an anonymous reader added a rather scathing comment to my last post. I have to approve comments before you can see them, and initially, I assumed this one was spam. However, spam comments usually reference pornography or contain some kind of dubious link, and this comment did neither. Plus, it was obvious what whoever wrote it was familiar with the content of this blog. And let me tell you, he or she is most unimpressed with what is to be found here.

My first instinct, once I was done rolling my eyes, was to delete the comment. After all, why reward that kind of negativity, especially since the writer was too cowardly to identify him or herself? However, I read it a second time and found it to be really rather hilarious in its judgement. So I decided not to publish it as a comment but give it an entire post of its own and copy and paste it here. But then I started thinking about privacy on the Internet and the lack thereof, especially if you chronicle your life on a blog, complete with photos. That made me concerned that if, perhaps, the person who wrote the comment is crazy, then publishing his or her exact words might encourage further insane behavior, like stalking.

Okay, maybe I have an active imagination and have seen too many Lifetime made-for-TV movies.

In the end, I decided to merely paraphrase what the comment says because there is a reason I want to write about it. This gentle anonymous reader kindly suggested that I stop being so phony and vapid and post some real content here, such as what bothers and torments me, as opposed to focusing on shallow and silly singing adventures, parties or other activities I might enjoy. Were I to get real and take this advice, Mr. or Ms. Anonymous believes that I might actually get some readers. [Um, I'm going to take a moment to point out again that this person clearly has read at least parts this blog, but I imagine that's probably beside point.]

I bring this comment to your attention because it is true that I only choose to discuss parts of my life here. I've been found out. I'm not happy 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Plenty of things bother me; I feel sad on occasion; and more than one stupid boy has been known to torment me in my day. However, I don't post about that stuff, and would you like to know why? Because it is boring and tedious. Nothing bores me more on a blog than a complaining author. Now, it is true, some blogs focused on serious topics can be quite compelling. Case in point: an old friend of mine from high school has breast cancer, and she is chronicling her battle on a blog. The result is an inspiring, frustrating and very affecting read. However, too many blogs are nothing more than a series of rants and whines that I find to be incredibly self-indulgent. Yes, even more self-indulgent than my parade of posts about singing and socializing.

The blogs I like to read highlight the interests and adventures of the writer. Interests like music, movies, raising kids, food, fashion, politics, whatever. That's what this blog is: a glimpse of what I enjoy in life. I blame no one for getting bored by all the posts about singing, but it's what I do. I also happen to be very smart, well educated, and I keep up with current events. So I'm certain I have plenty thoughts that many, even the anonymous commentator, would consider to be deep and real. But at the end of the day, I am an employed, healthy American woman... meaning I lead a rather privileged life. I'm not saying that's fair, but it's the way the world is, and I can't imagine anyone wants to hear me whine about my first world problems. I know I don't.

Therefore, you aren't going to read any whining... excuse me, about my torments... here. Don't worry, my feelings won't be hurt if you consider that position to be phony and vapid and want to move on to other blogs. My five readers and I will be just fine.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011


One of my favorite events in San Francisco, and one that leaves me feeling very talented every time, is the monthly Beatles sing along at a downtown cafe and bar. It's possible I've written about this event before, but if so, bear with me because its praises are worth singing repeatedly (so to speak). The sing along is basically karaoke with live accompaniment, and it's all Beatles! The live accompaniment usually consists of keyboard and percussion, but a guitar has been known to get into the mix, as well. The cafe bills this event as the Fab Four getting "piano bar treatment," but in my opinion, it's so much better than a piano bar.

Now, let me clarify one thing. I can croon the Beatles fairly well, and sometimes my renditions are quite lovely. However, the credit for me feeling so talented each time I attend the sing along must go to Joshua, the musician who runs it, and those four lads from Liverpool who wrote all these songs in the first place. It's not that hard to sound good when singing a simple but brilliant pop song that you've known by heart for decades. As for Joshua, he can transpose on the spot, so you always can sing whatever song you choose in the key that's right for you. If you don't what key you need, Joshua will take a few moments to figure it out with you. Plus, when someone gets up who is enthusiastic but perhaps pitch challenged, Joshua occasionally will change the key in the middle to match what the singer is singing (he's never had to do that with me, but I like knowing such a bailout exists).

I went to this little sing along last night, and of course, it was so much fun. I'd been doing a little traditional karaoke beforehand, so I was already all warmed up. I sang "I've Just Seen A Face" and "For No One" with a glass of Chardonnay in hand before needing to scoot away and head home. The monthly sing along makes me feel like all those times I sang Beatles in high school talent shows were not in vain. I certainly sound a lot better now than I did back then.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Super Sunny Sunday

As you may be aware, there was a little football game this afternoon. Honestly, I don't give a hoot about football, but I do like parties. So I trotted over to my friend Megan's for her Super Bowl party, where, because I was born in Green Bay, I rooted for the Packers. Megan's affair was billed as a Super Snack Party, and she certainly delivered on those snacks. We enjoyed homemade spring rolls, chicken wings, 7-layer dip and cupcakes (and we all certainly will be hitting the gym tomorrow).

The Packers showed their appreciation for my support by having the courtesy to win the game, and I even managed to pay attention to a good portion of it. I tend to care about Super Bowl commercials about as much as I do football, but I did notice a couple of cute adverts, as well. I liked the Bud Light ad which featured the wild west characters singing Elton John and the "House" promo that referenced the 1970's Coca Cola commercial with Mean Joe Green. I imagine a "House" promo doesn't count as a real commercial, but I thought it was clever... even if I was the only person at Megan's party old enough to remember that Mean Joe Green Coke ad when it actually aired.

In my continuing effort to teach myself decent photography skills, I snapped a few pictures of the festivities. They hardly qualify as art, but they get the job done.

My beverage of choice. Who needs beer when sparkling wine is available? Plus, the Vitamin C in the orange juice makes a mimosa practically health food.

I have no idea if people are watching the game or commercials at this point, but they seem riveted.

Happy partiers.

Megan's chocolate-sour cream cupcakes. I bet they have these in Heaven.

Me with the hostess. Any occasion is the perfect occasion for me to don my Nanette Lepore red cherry dress, even a Super Bowl party in Megan's kitchen.

In other news, we enjoyed some amazing weather in San Francisco this weekend. Summers in the City by the Bay may be cold and foggy, but this February weekend saw nothing but sunshine and temperatures well into the mid-to-upper 70's. Take that, winter! Plus, I did a fair amount of socializing in addition to Megan's party. On Friday night I sang songs with my friend Ash and some of his buddies, and on Saturday evening I helped my friend Andrew celebrate his 40th birthday and his recent engagement.

I could get accustomed to a life full of weekends as lovely as this one.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Let the Sunshine In

Life keeps bubbling along during our mild San Francisco winter. I went for a jog this morning and was treated to a beautiful view of the fog hugging the distant hills while my route was bathed in sunshine. I really wished I had a camera with me... and that I knew anything about real photography.

Aside from good weather for my morning exercise routine, all is the same in my world. The search continues for a new guitar player for Sober Nixon. Can a process be both encouraging and frustrating? If so, that is exactly how I would describe our guitarist search. We have a couple of leads so far, and I'm hoping for more. I figure the more potential candidates, the more likely it will be that one or two will work out. I also really want to start writing songs at some point, but I need a collaborator for that since I don't play any instruments (unless you count my voice). One step at a time, however. I need to get all the players in my cover band set before I start thinking about the daunting task of creating my own music.

The weekend ahead certainly looks promising. I'm looking forward to sleeping in, as I do every weekend, and the series of parties and other social activities that are shaping up. They include, but are not limited to, a classic soul dance party, a birthday party and a Super Bowl party. In all honesty, I could not possibly care less about the Super Bowl. However, it would be impolite to decline an party invitation, now wouldn't it? My thoughts exactly.

I now shall leave you with a photo of one of my biggest crushes on this, the 52nd anniversary of his death. Nerdy and a musical genius; I defy anyone to try and convince me Buddy Holly was not the perfect man.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

February Forward

At risk of sounding like a broken record, I'm going to repeat a sentiment I've expressed on this space many times before: January and February are my least favorite months of the year. However, before you roll your eyes in exasperated boredom and think something like, "Can't she just get over it already? January and February come every year..." hear me out. The good news about January and February is they are not infinite, and once February begins, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

You see, February has the courtesy to be significantly shorter than January. Well, just three days shorter, but I'll take those three days. So it goes fast. Several of my oldest and most precious friends celebrate birthdays in February, as does my one of my sisters. There really are only two significant birthdays in my world in January. Also, right about now I start noticing that the days are getting longer. Plus, something is happening tomorrow that I'm really excited about. I don't want to jinx it yet, but believe me, I'll tell you all about it if it works out.

All of this is to say that just the fact of February's arrival usually improves my mood. A few other things I'm looking forward to now that February has begun:

Valentine's Day. I love Valentine's Day, even though I rarely have had a really significant (or memorable) boyfriend on February 14th. Perhaps that's why I love it: no pressure. Besides, I look good in red and like candy.

The Academy Awards. I unabashedly love the Academy Awards, and this year I have seen four of the ten films nominated for Best Picture. That's rare for me since I am so lazy about seeing films in the theatre or even renting them. Usually, I just wait a year or two for any given movie to be shown on HBO. I'm rooting for The King's Speech this year, but that's hardly a risky bet. (I believe I need to say at this point that the Academy Awards and Oscar image are trademarks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.)

Hawaii. I go to Hawaii twice a year: once in the spring and once in the fall. The official reason I go is to visit my mother, who lives in Honolulu, but why not enjoy the beach while I'm there? February is when I start thinking about and planning my spring trip. I even had a dream about airfares last night. Seriously. I snapped the above photo during one of my previous visits.

I had to add another photo from Hawaii because... why not?

I hope February 1st is treating your mood as nicely as it is treating mine. Enjoy the increasing minutes of daylight today!