Thursday, March 31, 2011

Rock and Roll All Night

Last night Sober Nixon rehearsed not only with our new guitarist Kenn, but also Ryan, our drummer... of sorts. I call Ryan our "drummer of sorts" because I'm not 100% sure he really wants to be in the band. He's already in another band (in fact, maybe two other bands), so it's still a little unclear whether or not he even has the time to be an official Sober Nixon member. He does seem to enjoy playing with us, though. So if he becomes part of the clan, I will be thrilled to have him.

Anyway, rehearsal last night was so much fun! We went through almost the entire set list, except for a few songs Kenn hasn't yet learned, and things continue to gel. I must say, it was amazing to be singing with people who know so much more about music than I do, especially Kenn and Ryan. These guys are real musicians, while I'm just learning. They may well elevate my game; at least I hope they do. The new lineup still isn't performance ready yet, but when we are, it's going to be significantly better than Sober Nixon's previous incarnation. Here are a few pictures from the evening that I snapped with my increasingly annoying piece of crap camera.

When all was said and done last night... after three hours of rehearsing... my abdominal muscles hurt like hell, but my throat felt fine, without even the tiniest bit of strain. Which is exactly what's supposed to happen when you sing properly (or close to properly). I may still be learning, but it appears I actually am learning something.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


This morning I... along with many others like me... got terrible news: the fifth season of Mad Men has been delayed due to contract negotiations. That may mean nothing to you, but I have absolutely no idea how I'll make it through the summer without Don Draper. I mean, just look at him:

In other news, you may or not know that I always play by the rules. In fact, my co-worker and friend Rebecca often affectionately teases me about my rule-abiding ways. I exercise everyday; I get a lot of sleep (most nights); I drink plenty of water; I don't do illegal drugs; I pay my taxes on time and honestly; I pay bills as soon as they arrive in my mailbox; I carry no debt; and I can't lie even when I want to because I have absolutely no poker face.

Recently, however, I found myself in a situation where I was tempted to break a few rules. At risk of being overly cryptic, I'll skip the details and merely say that I resisted the temptation, behaved in a way I am proud of and have come out of the situation unscathed.

So I think I've earned the right to stare at Don a little while longer. You can join me in the staring, if you like.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Raining and Pouring

Forgive me, gentle readers. I know it's been a few days since my last post, but it's been a whirlwind here in Sassyland.

For one thing, I think I'm going to have to become handy really quick and get my ark-building skills up to snuff because the Bay Area has been getting drenched over the past several days. It feels like it's been raining for about six months, but I suppose it's only been a couple of weeks. Plus, we had hardly any rain in January, while much of the rest of country was knee-deep in snow. So I suppose we are due for a little bit of winter, even if it happens in the spring.

In addition to the rain and craziness such weather brings, so much has been going on. Last night I attended a memorial for Brendan, my karaoke friend who died earlier this month. It was held at the karaoke den where I met him, and it was a little surreal, as memorials often are. Sadness, celebration and a whole lot of karaoke filled the evening. When I die (which will happen to us all eventually), I hope someone sings a little karaoke, regardless of where my memorial is held.

However, I am not dead yet, and things are going wonderfully in my musical life. I have mentioned the recording project my voice teacher and I have begun, and of course, we have a new guitarist in Sober Nixon. I get more and more excited about our new guitarist every time we play with him. We had rehearsal last Saturday, and I continue to be so very impressed. He's still learning the songs we cover, but he clearly is really talented and knows his way around a guitar and then some. Sober Nixon's last guitarist was great, but I think Kenn (the new guy) really is going to elevate us and make us sound a lot better than we ever have. I'll have to snap a few photos when we rehearse with our drummer next week and post them for you.

In addition to all of that, I've been invited to perform in an "evening of song" being organized by a musician I know. I get to sing any song I choose, along with other singers and musicians in the show in June. It will be just like the T.A.M.I Show, only without Jan and Dean and the go-go dancers. If you're in San Francisco the night of the show, you totally should come. Or least do some karaoke whenever and wherever you can.

(Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Whiskey and Cake

Today in San Francisco, we enjoyed the calm after the storm. Or perhaps more accurately, the calm between storms. After a seemingly endless couple of days of rain, the City by the Bay dried out at about 11:30 this morning and settled on partial sunshine. It was a far cry from last night when I ventured to the Mission in a gusty downpour to meet Kevin, Valerie and the rest of the kids for Margarita Club. If you've been to Margarita Club, then you understand why wind, rain and a trek across town didn't keep me away.

We're not out of the woods yet, however, as showers are forecast off and on for pretty much the entire work week. Welcome to Spring, my friends.

On this particularly pleasant dry afternoon, I met my voice teacher Robert for a lesson, and we started our recording project. I've secured permission from my friend Pat to record his song (which I mentioned in the last post), and Robert and I began working on it today. We're in the very preliminary stages of this project and haven't actually recorded anything yet, but I am so excited!

After my lesson, I walked downtown a bit and snapped a few pictures before heading over to the Castro for my friend Roland's birthday barbecue. The party was just the right combination of festive and mellow, and the line of the afternoon was uttered by Jimmy, who proclaimed, as he wandered over to the grill: "All I've had today is whiskey and cake!" Julie and I sampled the very fancy bourbon he was sipping and understood why Jimmy had eschewed most other sustenance up to that point.

All in all, it was a fantastic day and the perfect calm between the storms.

You are here.

My mother used to take me shopping at I. Magnin in Pasadena when I was in first and second grade.


MUNI Metro.

Firing up the grill, literally.

Mokie seriously eyeing Julie's wine.

The view from Roland's back door.

Birthday boy Roland and a few of the party guests.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Luck of the Irish

Happy St. Patrick's Day, gentle readers. Even though I am part Irish (along with many other ethnicities/nationalities), I must confess that St. Patrick's Day, as we celebrate it here in the U.S., is one of my least favorite holidays. It's like New Year's Eve with the amateur quotient turned up about 1000%.

Not at all fun.

There is an afternoon St. Patrick's Day block party in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood every year, and I used to enjoy that... about ten years ago. I think it's safe to say that I officially have grown out of any desire to hang out with drunken morons for hours on end.

What I do enjoy, however, are St. Patrick's Day snacks! My friend and co-worker Megan baked chocolate-mint brownies for all of us working today, and they were delicious. In fact, those brownies were so yummy they deserve their own holiday.

In other news, it is tax season, and that has put me in a very good mood. Before you start to wonder if I'm some sort of crazy masochist, I'll tell you that I'm in a good mood because not only have I already filed my tax returns, but I have received my refunds, and the money is safely nestled in my savings account. Such efficiency has made the taxman a good friend to me this year.

And finally, I'm about to embark on a little project with my singing teacher: we're going to record some songs. The idea is to write songs and record them, but we're going to start with a cover tune. I really want to sing and record my very favorite song from the San Francisco local music scene, so I need to contact the songwriter for permission. Luckily, this particular songwriter is a friend of mine, but I'm still a little nervous about asking him. It's an excellent song, though, so I'll just have to be brave. Then hopefully, I'll do it justice if he lets me sing it.

(Photos courtesy of Megan, the master brownie baker herself.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Those Were the Days

I must say, present day is treating me rather well. After a wonderfully relaxing weekend, I went out after work last night to sing songs, as I do most every Monday night. On this particular Monday, however, my friend Angie also was celebrating her birthday, which made the songs a little more festive and caused the evening to run a little later than a normal Monday of singing.

I also drank a little more than I should on any given school night and am a tad tired, as a consequence.

The rest of the week will be a bit more mellow before what should be a fantastic weekend of more singing, my friend Roland's birthday barbecue, live music, Margarita Club and maybe even some vintage clothes shopping. Oh, and last week I was summoned for jury duty, but I never actually had to go to the courtroom. After five days of checking to see if I needed to report, I was able to consider my jury service completed. Now, that is my kind of jury duty.

For some reason, all these good times today are reminding me of fun times in the past. So I offer you, dear readers, this walk down Sassyland Memory Lane:

In 1974 I was the flower girl in a wedding. My mother's friend Rhonda was getting married and apparently trusted me not to fall while I carried this basket of flowers.

I mentioned in my last post that I was a Girl Scout way back when. Here's proof (can you find me?). This photo was taken in 1980 or '81.

Jumping ahead in time a bit... When I was a junior in college I took a semester abroad and studied in Scotland. One weekend during that time in 1991, all the Brown University students studying in the United Kingdom gathered in Wales for a little excursion. And to stand on the edge of this bluff.

After I graduated from Brown, I continued living in Rhode Island. With all due respect to the Ocean State, I didn't last long and couldn't wait to hightail it back to California after just over four years. On the day before I returned west in November 1996, I enjoyed a farewell champagne brunch with some of my closest friends at the Providence Biltmore hotel. Do we look happily sated in this picture?

Christmas 2001. Big, multi-racial families like mine are the best.

I like this photo from my birthday party in 2002 because my friend Daryl looks like he is channeling Lenny Kravitz.

I am hardly fat now, but I don't think I will ever be this thin again. I almost look downright bony. This is my friend Renee and me posing at our friend Melissa's wedding in 2003. I still have that dress I'm wearing. I wonder if it still fits...

Monday, March 14, 2011

Rainy Sunday Bliss

While I think we all can agree that gorgeous, sunny weekends are super fun because you can go out and play in all that sunshine, sometimes a rainy weekend day is pure bliss. Especially if you have no place you have to be on said day.

Yesterday was exactly that kind of day for me. The only thing I had to do was a little shopping (groceries, Walgreens and Pure Beauty), and I got all that done in about half an hour while the rain was just sprinkles. Plus, the Girl Scouts are out in my neighborhood these days, so I picked up a few cookies during my shopping excursion. A box of Thin Mints now is safely tucked in my freezer, with a box of Do-Si-Dos (known as Savannahs back when I was a cookie-peddling Girl Scout) taking residence in my cupboard. I wonder how long those boxes will last... Oh, I also did hit the gym to get a little exercise, but when your gym is two blocks from your front door, it's almost like working out at home.

Otherwise, I relaxed and enjoyed the extra hour of daylight, even if daylight on a cloudy day isn't quite as exciting as sunny daylight. I got all of my household chores done on Saturday, leaving yesterday free for vocal exercises/singing practice, snuggling up to movies like (500) Days of Summer and Oceans Eleven (the 2001 remake, not the Rat Pack film, but good nonetheless) and reading a book.

When you don't have to be out in the rain, fighting your way to work or trying to make the best of damp social plans, wet weather is a lovely thing indeed.

March showers feeding some March flowers just outside my kitchen window.

My backyard enjoying a Sunday afternoon bath. This photo also was taken from the dry comfort of my kitchen.

I add this shot as evidence that my books soon could take over my living space. Too bad they can't help with the housecleaning.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Pretty Drinks and Lovely Evenings

I think I like cocktails not because of the delicious flavors and not because of the alcohol, but because they are so pretty. I met this particular cocktail on Friday night when Andrey, Carla, Olena, Kevin and I paid a little visit to the bar at the Four Seasons. (For the record, the cocktail was as tasty as it was attractive, and it came with candied ginger on the side).

Saturday evening saw me grabbing dinner downtown with my friend Mary Beth and then wandering over to the Burritt Room, where we quite pleasantly discovered that Franco Nero was playing. Good music, good cocktails and lots of giggling filled the rest of the night.

I'm enjoying all of this merriment in my world at the same time Japan is dealing with potential nuclear meltdowns in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami a few days ago. I like to keep this Chronicle light and happy, but what's happening in Japan is just awful. And scary. Plus, much like the death of Brendan (my karaoke friend who passed away a few days ago), it's a reminder that life is precious. The New Year's resolution I made at the beginning of this year was to pursue happiness, and I now am even more committed to doing exactly that. Because you just never know what tomorrow will bring, my lovelies. You just never know.

So embrace and enjoy life as best you can. That's what I intend to do.

Friday, March 11, 2011


Sober Nixon had a second rehearsal with our new guitar player last night, and things are progressing swimmingly. He's learning our set list slowly but surely, and he plays really well. Or least he seems to play well to me. Even though I played guitar myself for a few years back in the '80's, I don't claim to be any kind of expert. I'm so excited we finally found a guitarist we like, though. As much as I love my karaoke habit, I miss my cover band habit.

I'd also like to develop a song writing habit, but we'll take things one step at a time.

Far more sobering than Sober Nixon is the earthquake in Japan. Never underestimate Mother Nature, gentle readers. The good news, in my world anyway, is that my mother in Honolulu is fine, given that the tsunami generated by the massive temblor did little damage by the time it reached Hawaii. We also sustained minimal tsunami-related damage here in Northern California, although some boats and harbors have been damaged, and one poor fellow in Humboldt County was swept out to sea when he and his friends decided to head to the shore to take pictures of the tsunami. He is presumed to be dead.

May I say again: never underestimate Mother Nature.

I think all my new books really are starting to overwhelm me. The problem is that I'm impatient. I've been buying so many books lately, and I want to read every one right away. Last weekend I picked up a copy of Dorothy Parker's Complete Short Stories, and I have had to sit on my hands to keep from tearing into it.

However, my slightly obsessive habit of reading books in the order I purchased them continues. To that end, Dorothy has to wait, and I have to work through the many novels ahead of her.

So in an effort to move the book queue along, I have started reading two books at once. Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem is my new public transit book, and Robert Goolrick's A Reliable Wife now serves as my at-home reading. Because I'm reading them simultaneously, however, I haven't made much progress on either, and I can't really tell you how much I like either one yet.

Do you happen to remember an episode of "Gilmore Girls" when Lorelei teases Rory about bringing so many books she doesn't really need to school that she can't fit them all into her backpack? I'm not in high school anymore, but I may be the adult, real-life version of Rory.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Closing Chapters

A chapter has closed here in Sassyland, gentle readers.

For the last five years, I have written a monthly column for one of San Francisco's neighborhood newspapers. It being a very small operation, the paper's publisher hasn't been able to pay me for my contribution, but that hasn't bothered me. I like to write (why else would I have a blog?), so I figured I'd do the column, which is a sort of a cool things happening around town guide, as a volunteer side job. I've spent 60 months tipping readers off to what I believe to be the best in live music, theatre, book signings, parties, museum exhibits and other San Francisco happenings. It's been a bit of fun, and every once in a while researching my column would lead me to a neat event I wouldn't have known about otherwise.

Good things sometimes come to an end, however, and I decided in January that five years of writing for free was enough. So my last column is running in the paper's current issue. It's the end of an era for me and the (few dozen at most) people who read my column with any regularity.

From now on, if you want to know what I believe to be the cool things happening about town, you'll have to ask me directly.

On a significantly more shocking and unfortunate note, I learned this afternoon that a major chapter has closed on a guy who frequented my favorite karaoke den in town. He died. I didn't know this gentleman very well; in fact, I didn't even know his last name. However, he was a staple at this karaoke joint and was very nice. He sang everything from Frank Sinatra and Bobby Darin to Disney show tunes and 80's pop, and he would always work the crowd. He was young, as well... probably about my age. And yes, I still consider myself to be young.

I bring this up because it's a pretty clear example of how none of us knows what tomorrow holds. So live everyday and pursue happiness, gentle readers. We all get caught up in our routines and get stressed out and worry, but it's important take time to do things that make us happy. For me, those happy pursuits include singing songs, going to music shows, exercising, giggling with my friends, reading good books, crushing on silly men and visiting L.A. and Hawaii. In fact, I'm posting a picture I took in Waikiki a few years ago because that beach is one of the happiest places on earth, in my opinion. Just looking at this photo makes me smile.

I hope looking at it reminds you to pursue your own brand of happiness, whatever that may be.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

San Francisco Saturday

I hope your Saturday is treating you well, gentle readers. I have had a wonderful day after a Friday night of live music. In fact, I've discovered a new local band to love: The Bye Bye Blackbirds. They were first on the bill at the Hemlock Tavern last night, just before Tippy Canoe and the Paddlemen, the band I had gone to see. Tippy was, of course, fabulous, but I also really liked The Bye Bye Blackbirds. I love it when I stumble upon good bands.

Today was combination of socializing and getting things done, and the weather was rather lovely (it's supposed to rain tonight and/or tomorrow). Errands, cleaning, exercise and mimosas make for a very lovely Saturday, and I snapped a few pictures along the way this afternoon.

Brunch with Scott (who wrote Fated, the book I gushed about in the previous post) and Brad. We did have food, as well as mimosas, but this photo should give you an idea of the tone of our meal. That's Scott's elbow in the background, by the way.

View from a MUNI bus. Given that I both live and work in the City, I spend a decent amount of time on public transit. So I see many views like this one.

The lily that guards my front door. With a lily just out front, I guess that makes my apartment a "lily pad." Don't worry, I won't give up my day job for a career in comedy.

I love that in San Francisco you can turn a seemingly random corner and all of a sudden have a view of the Golden Gate Bridge (or in some neighborhoods, the Bay Bridge).

Friday, March 04, 2011

A Most Excellent Twist of Fate

Okay, I will just say upfront that I know the author of the book I currently am reading. However, that has no bearing on the gushing I am about to do.

You may remember from this post that on New Year's Eve I went to my friend Brad's party and chatted with his author friend Scott. Fated, which I bought on December 30th, is Scott's second novel, and it is so good. I'm only about a third of the way through it, but so far I absolutely love it. It's extremely clever and very readable. In fact, it's such a fun read that I almost wish I had waited until my Hawaii trip next month to crack it open. Fated would be a perfect beach book.

Even without a beach, however, Fated still is quite a good time, and I highly recommend it. Scott actually gave me his business card (which I have been using, ironically enough, as a bookmark) on New Year's Eve and asked me to let him know what I thought of his book once I read it. If he even remembers doing that, he probably assumed I didn't like it because... well, that was December and this is March. But as I have mentioned on this space before, I have to read books in the order I buy them, and there were a few novels in the queue before Fated.

Maybe Scott will be surprised when I contact him to tell him how much I like his book, or maybe it's been so long that he'll have no recollection of ever meeting me. Regardless, I'm glad fate (or Scott) brought Fated into my path.

Speaking of reading, I think I finally have to acquiesce that my book buying habit has gotten a little out of control. I've been in a purchasing frenzy over the last few weeks, and it's getting ridiculous. Since my local library branch recently got a fancy new makeover, I may actually get... gasp... a library card and start borrowing books instead of buying them.

Maybe, anyway.

In other news, my weekend is filling quite nicely with lots of fun things. Tonight I'm going to see my friend Michele, aka Tippy Canoe, perform with her band Tippy Canoe and the Paddlemen; tomorrow my friend Brad and I are getting together for brunch and mimosas; and on Sunday I'll be doing some singing and then cocktailing with my friend Christine. I'd be jealous of the life I get to lead, were not mine.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Angels of the City

Well, good evening, gentle readers. I am back safe and sound from my little L.A. sojourn, and while it's nice to be home, I always find it hard to leave Southern California. My trip was a bit on the mellow side this time around. I stayed with my sister Patti in Los Feliz, as always, but I hung out in that part of town the entire time, which is unusual. No jaunts to the West Side, no journeys to Disneyland, no day trips to my hometown of Pasadena. I kept this visit basically confined to Los Feliz, Silver Lake and Hollywood.

With one exception, that is.

On Tuesday night Patti and I did venture into Burbank to sing songs at place called Dimples. Dimples has to be seen to be believed. It's basically a karaoke dive bar filled with cheap, worn Hollywood memorabilia. Tuesday was "Men's Night," and as a consequence, the joint was practically empty, but I didn't mind. I sang four songs in just over an hour then bid Dimples goodbye and moved on to the next adventure.

As I mentioned in my last post, I continued practicing my photography skills by snapping a bunch of pictures during my mini-vacation. Have a look.

Pink sky and palm trees over Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake.

Malo Cantina, just before the frenzy of delicious tacos began.

The heart of Hollywood.

Capitol Records.

The famed Pantages Theatre. The Academy Awards ceremony used to be held there back in the 1950's. This week, Avenue Q is playing.

This is my favorite building in Los Feliz: The Los Feliz Manor. It's a fantastic art deco apartment building on Los Feliz Boulevard.

Even though I've never set foot inside, I fantasize about living in the Los Feliz Manor, should I ever move to L.A. Of course, if someone wanted to buy me one of the multi-million dollar homes just a block or two away from the Los Feliz Manor to live in, I wouldn't argue.

The Griffith Observatory and the hills below.

Rodney Drive.

And finally, sunset above the clouds as seen from my flight back to the Bay.