Monday, May 30, 2011

Do You Andalu?

Let's all wish Katya a happy birthday, gentle readers. Her birthday is today, and her birthday dinner at Andalu in the Mission last night was a smashing success. Imagine sipping all the sangria you can hold (both white and red) while plate after plate of delicious nibbles are ushered to your table. Your imagination is reality at Andalu, and it is all scrumptious.

Katya was surrounded by friends all weekend, including at last night's dinner. Sadly for me, I had to leave early because, as I mentioned in my last post, I had to work early this morning. However, even an hour and a half celebrating Katya at Andalu was good times.

Empty glasses? Worry not, that situation soon would be remedied.

Me and Frances with Birthday Girl Katya (photo courtesy of Katya).

Sangria, anyone?

Susana and Olena.

Jimmy, Julie and Rachel.

Mid-motion toast.

Roxane and Andrey.

Jack and Anne.

I kind of like the way this shot turned out. Believe it or not, that's the menu.

Kevin and Charlie. Serious faces.

Me and the Birthday Girl right as I was about to depart. I think the dopey, tired look on my face in this shot is in anticipation of getting up at 5 a.m. for work the next morning (i.e. today).

In other news, after work this afternoon, I went to a mini-rehearsal for the showcase I'm singing in on Saturday evening. It's an Evening of Song featuring, I believe, 30 singers, and I am one of them. I call my rehearsal today a "mini-rehearsal" because they only needed me for a few minutes. Plus, the musicians who are playing are so good, they needed virtually no time to learn the song I'm singing.

I am so excited! I'll be sure to let you know how it goes.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Card Room

Happy Memorial Day weekend, gentle readers! (Wait, should Memorial Day be happy? Huh. Discuss.) I began my weekend with a little party on Friday evening. Frances hosted a bunch of us for poker, pizza and Pinot. It was great fun with all the cards we could play, pizza we could eat and Pinot we could drink.

I have to work tomorrow because there are no holidays in my industry (not that I mind; I love my job), but that will not stop me from heading into the Mission tonight to celebrate Katya's birthday. I can't stay for the entire celebration because I have to work earlier than usual on holidays, but if Katya can come to San Francisco from L.A. to mark the anniversary of her birth, I can swing by the party at least long enough for a toast and a hug.

I hope you have a marvelous weekend, gentle readers, and if you have the day off tomorrow, please enjoy it.

Pre-poker and pizza snacks. We already had broken into the Pinot.

Chris is a poker expert (honestly).

You're familiar with fish and chips; how about Pinot and chips?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Return To Paradise

While I am well aware that I only recently returned from a wonderful trip to Hawaii, gentle readers, I already am planning my next sojourn. This afternoon I purchased airline tickets for a September jaunt. Normally, I wouldn't book a flight so far in advance, but I got a great fare.... the lowest I've seen in more than three years. I must give credit where credit is due and thank my friend Terry for tipping me off to this bargain. She bought tickets to Hawaii last night and shared the glory of the great prices she found.

So now that I have tickets in hand (not to mention a tiny bump in my credit card balance), I'll be spending the next few months imagining how lovely my vacation will be. All this anticipation may be torture, but I'll do what I have to do to endure. Soon enough I'll be enjoying the glorious sunshine, beautiful Hawaiian beaches, warm temperatures and delicious tropical libations.

(Photos courtesy of and You've already seen all the pictures I took in Hawaii the last time I was there.)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Orbit and Ozumo

As promised, gentle readers, here are a few images from my slice of San Francisco nightlife. A couple of weeks ago my friend Katya was in town, so a bunch of us celebrated with cocktails at the Orbit Room. Then there was Megageddon at Ozumo on Friday, of course. Going out in San Francisco is always a happy time, and fine friends make those times even happier.

The Orbit Room

Megageddon at Ozumo

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Party Picture Preview

I have a bunch of photos from two recent social events to share with you, gentle readers, but there has been a tiny snag. My mature and wise computer seems to be resisting my attempts to install the software for my new camera, so I have to download (or is it upload?) my photos another way. This problem will be solved easily once I procure a memory card reader; I just haven't done it yet. However, I can tease you with a couple of Megageddon photos that I borrowed from the pre-Judgment Day birthday girl herself, Megan.

Enjoy these for now, and rest assured that I'll have that card reader soon.

Megageddon was a sophisiticated affair held at Ozumo, a Japanese restaurant just off San Francisco's Embarcadero. Here are just a few of the guests in attendance.

Me and the Megageddon birthday girl. I figured that a soiree at a chic urban hot spot called me for me to dress as though I were attending a garden party in 1957.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Three Birthday Parties and One Supposed Judgment Day

We're heading into a big weekend here in the land of All Things Sassy. Three of my friends are celebrating birthdays, and... oh, right, the end of the world is coming. If you don't live in the Bay Area, it's possible you haven't been treated for the last several months to billboards announcing that May 21st, also known as this Saturday, will be Judgment Day. Or perhaps you have, given that this is a world-wide proclamation.

I noticed the billboards, which were paid for by the president of a local radio company who is making the Judgment Day claim, some time ago and pretty much ignored them. Then this week, Facebook started lighting up with people talking about end-of-the-world music mixes and fake looting parties, and I became annoyed by the whole thing. However, I changed my tune when I read this article of frequently asked questions about Judgment Day and the Rapture. I am particularly tickled by the formula that Harold Camping, the man making this prediction, used to determine that Judgment Day will fall on May 21st.

Luckily for me, my social calendar is full leading up to the end of the world; so I can full on party like it's 1999. (Although, according to Camping, the Earth will hang around for a few more months after Saturday; it just won't be a very pleasant place.) Tonight my friend Tom is having a little soiree in the Mission to mark the anniversary of his birth. Tomorrow evening my friend Megan is having a birthday party which she appropriately has dubbed "Megageddon." On Saturday night, assuming this Judgment Day thing doesn't pan out, we can celebrate with karaoke and ice cream in honor of my friend Eric's birthday. And finally, I have cocktail plans with my friend Christine on Sunday. I suppose if she and I are both Raptured, we can enjoy our libations in Heaven. If we've been turned to pillars of salt instead, I guess we'll be out of luck.

By the way, Judgment Day is supposed to begin at 6 p.m. on Saturday. To that end, is it wrong that I intend to spend some of my last carefree hours on Saturday afternoon watching reruns of "Beverly Hills, 90210" on SoapNet? That's not much of a bucket list, I know, but I do what I can.

(photos courtesy of REM and

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Book Review

I talk about books quite frequently on this space, gentle readers, so today I thought I'd offer a few thoughts on some of the novels I've read recently.

A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. One of the best books ever? Well, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but this 2011 Pulitzer Prize winner found a place on my list of all time favorite reads even before the Pulitzer committee recognized it. Egan masterfully weaves together characters whose lives intersect over the course of about 50 years or so, and the result is delightful. The chapters could stand alone as short stories, but they also handily connect to form a cohesive narrative. If you read one book this week, this month or this year, I'd recommend Goon Squad.

The Privileges by Jonathan Dee. I seem to be on the same wave length as the Pulitzer committee this year, because The Privileges was a 2011 Pulitzer finalist. A fact completely unknown to me when I ordered this book online back in March. I mentioned in an earlier post that The Privileges is really good, so this time I'll say it's mighty fine. A reader may assume that he or she wouldn't care about about the wealthy New York City family at the center of this story, but Dee's precise writing engages you and makes you care. There is one part of the book toward the end that I didn't like, but that has nothing to do with the book and everything to do with events of my life late last year. So I don't hold that against it.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I can see why this book is so popular: it's an incredibly easy read. I tore through The Help's 522 pages in no time at all. I enjoyed it, but when all was said and done, I kind of felt like I'd read a comic book. Don't get me wrong, it's good, but it's also a little obvious. The heroes are obvious; the villains are obvious; and I would guess that any reader who didn't support segregation back in the early '60's obviously would feel good about themselves and their 21st Century sensibilities regarding equality. I remember reading a review of The Help when it was published, and based on that, I thought it would offer a more subtle and sophisticated take on race and class dynamics. No such luck, but that doesn't make it bad. Just a little ordinary.

Home Land by Sam Lipsyte. I've just started reading this one, and I'm not sure what I think yet. On one hand, the writing style is great, and Lipsyte has created an intriguing main character in Louis Miner. On the other, I'm having kind of a hard time getting into it. I'm only on page 28, but Home Land hasn't grabbed me yet. I have faith that it will, though, and I'll let you know how that faith works out for me.

Because I always have a queue of books waiting for me, my book shelf literally is overflowing with tomes I have yet to read. Coming up: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender, Jennifer Egan's first novel The Invisible Circus, Bel Canto by Ann Panchett, Nick Hornby's Juliet Naked, the Collected Stories of Dorothy Parker and the memoir Confessions of a Prairie Bitch by Alison Arngrim, who played Nellie Oleson on "Little House on the Prairie" (oh, that's right). And those aren't even all the books I have yet to read. If the day ever comes when I can't find stacks of new books, I will be very, very sad.

(photo courtesy of

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Knockout Friday Night

On Friday night, I met my friend Carolyn at one of my favorite San Francisco Haunts: the Knockout in the Mission. We had planned simply to chat and get caught up over cocktails and music (I hadn't seen Carolyn since her birthday party back in February), but then I arrived to the most wonderful surprise: happy hour karaoke!

The Knockout usually does karaoke on Monday nights, but this was a rare and completely unexpected (to me, anyway) Friday karaoke session. So I was able to start my evening by warbling a few songs on the Knockout stage. After the karaoke was done, I made the acquaintance of the evening's very nice DJ. I had gushed over his choice to play "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" by the Monkees, and he introduced himself to me. Any DJ who plays the Monkees is a friend of mine, so I made sure to sign up for his event email list.

Carolyn and I stayed for only one of the live bands on the bill that night before heading across the street for a late night snack of cheese pupusas. Before leaving, however, we had to make an appearance in the Knockout's photo booth. Of course. And by the way, the star of these photos is neither Carolyn nor myself, but Carolyn's dog, Widget. He was the star of the night, as well. Of course again.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Luck and Happiness

It is Friday, the 13th, gentle readers, and to many a superstitious person that means bad luck. Well, I say "phooey" to such a notion. Luck is in the eye of the beholder, and I choose to believe that my luck remains good on Friday, the 13th. Also, I believe we actually create a decent amount of the luck in our lives, but that's another story altogether.

You don't have to stretch too far to see the connection between luck (random luck or that which we create for ourselves) and happiness, and I have been thinking a lot about happiness today. I was in an inexplicably crabby mood yesterday, and today I am in an inexplicably excellent mood. Who knows, maybe it's the magic of Friday, the 13th. Regardless, my mood has me thinking about a lot of the things in life, big or small, that make me happy, including:

  • A job I enjoy so much that I never dread the start of the work week.
  • My singing habit. Singing is like a natural anti-depressant for me.
  • Nice men who politely compliment me on my appearance, energy, clothing choices, singing talent or whatever else. On Monday evening I was hit on by two different men within the span of about two minutes while on my way to my favorite karaoke bar. They were both so respectful and sweet that I was nothing but flattered. Take note gentlemen: if you actually behave like gentlemen, we'll enjoy it when you talk to us on the street.
  • Good books. I have mentioned many, many times on this space how much I love to read. And purchase books. Currently, I have Home Land by Sam Lipsyte in my purse. I'm only on chapter two, but so far it's freakish and entertaining.
  • Good snacks and sparkling water, especially Perrier, which I drink by the truckload.
  • Exercise, even if my daily runs are slowly but surely morphing into brisk walks spiced with a little bit of running. It's still exercise, though, and I still run/walk at least three miles to four miles.
  • Sleep.
  • My plans to see my all time favorite band perform live in both San Francisco and Los Angeles this summer. Talk about a summer of love.
  • San Francisco's music scene. There are always lots of club shows and something for everyone, whatever kind of music you enjoy.
  • Pretty dresses and high-heel shoes.
  • Baseball. Even when the Giants lose, as they did today.
  • San Francisco's many good bars and restaurants. I'm telling you, gentle readers, this city knows how to live.
  • Jon Hamm. No explanation necessary.
  • Lots of friends who love me, even when I'm feeling crabby.
  • Hawaii. I visit Diva Mommy in Hawaii twice a year, and when I'm at home, I take comfort in knowing its there.
  • Reruns of the original Beverly Hills, 90210 on cable. Oh, yes, I admit it.
Okay, I'll end my list here, although there are so many things in life that make me happy right now. I've made lists like this before; so if you're a regular reader of this little chronicle, I imagine nothing here surprises you. Except perhaps the 90210. Well, what can I say? I'm not ashamed that I enjoy reliving that moment in deliciously bad 1990's television.

(author's note: I am aware that by virtue of being a healthy woman living in the richest country in the world, I am able to take a lot of luck for granted. I had no control over where I was born, and I'm grateful for the random turns of fate that have given me much of the privilege I enjoy.)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Congratulations Denise

My friend Denise recently got a new fancy job in Los Angeles, and to celebrate, we all gathered at Jones in the Tenderloin last weekend to toast her fabulousness. While we certainly will miss Denise and her husband, Charlie, I for one, am psyched to have more friends to play with during the regular mini-vacations I take in the City of Angels. As for Jones, I'd never been there before and was pleased to discover that it's kind of a neat little nightspot. Unfortunately, we were there on a typically cold and windy San Francisco spring night and weren't able to take advantage of Jones' rooftop patio. Such is life, I suppose.

However, if having to enjoy our cocktails inside on a chilly night is our biggest problem, my friends and I have pretty wonderful lives.

I think this cocktail was falled the "Faint at Heart," or something like that. Whatever the name, it was delicious.

This sign cracked me up.

Me, Carla and Charlie. Carla's eyes are half closed here, but I think that makes her look sultry.

Bill, Julie, Irina and Jimmy. Irina was hiding behind Bill's beer on purpose; I have no idea why.

Charlie and Andrey looking like they're sipping milkshakes. However, those are cocktails.

Woman of the Hour Denise and me. I don't love this photo of me, but Denise looks good (even though she thought she looked drunk).

Kevin, Olena and a friend of theirs whose name I must confess I have forgotten. I had just met her that night.

Typical scene in my apartment at the end of the night: shoes kicked off in the middle of the floor. I do always put them away before I go to bed.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Another Chapter from Glorious Honolulu

I am having the most relaxing weekend, gentle readers. I'm always so busy during the week with work, rehearsals and socializing, that sometimes I love to stay in on Friday or Saturday night. It helps me rejuvenate, and it makes me feel like I'm getting away with something. Since I went to Denise's going-away party last night, I decided to indulge in a little me-time this evening. And I'll probably do the same tomorrow.

I have a few photos from Denise's party to share with you, but before we get to that, here's volume two of my lovely Hawaii pictures. My only regret about accidentally breaking my camera in the middle of my trip is that I wasn't able to snap a photo of the water spouts I saw off Ala Moana during a thunderstorm my last night. They were really cool, but you'll just have to trust me on that one. Nonetheless, I hope you enjoy these shots, and I hope you can feel the week of warm, tropical weather radiating from them.

Beach book number one of the week: Joanthan Dee's The Privileges. It is really good. Once I finished that one, I moved on to The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I'm not quite through The Help yet, but it's a pretty easy read, so I should have it wrapped up soon. It's also good and was rather perfect for the beach.

Ala Moana Beach Park.

More sparkly water, this time at Waikiki.

Diamond Head.

A tribute the to father of modern surfing.

More Waikiki sailboats.

Waikiki at sunset. I'm not sure why this picture turned out so grainy, but I like the effect.

Same bikini, different sun hat. Apparently, I like taking this kind of goofy photo of myself.

Late night drink specials. Since I tend to go to bed early when I visit Hawaii, being able to take advantage of late night pricing on occasion is pretty exciting for me.