Tuesday, September 29, 2009

actually, no one crashed. weird...

Most of my life and certainly whenever possible, I sit next to my brother on airplanes because, as he puts it, he's the only one who knows how to handle me.
I'm a nervous flier. It's a flaw I've developed in adulthood. I don't remember being so freaked out as a child. I regarded airplanes as exciting and glamorous. Now, I tend to look at them as coffins.
Anyway, Melissa learned this about me the hard way on our flights to and fro Vancouver. Getting there was one thing. We were excited, she found my superstitious boarding rituals funny, our flight was so early, we were halfway there before I was fully awake. The trip home was another story.
We moved our flight up as there was no sense hanging out in the Vancouver Airport for 9 (yeah, nine) hours. As we booked the change at the front desk, Melissa looked over and asked, "You okay with this?"
"Yeah, yeah." I nervously replied. "It's just...you know, destiny."
"What are you talking about?"
"Well, we're starting to fuck with destiny. It's stupid, I know. But moving flights around turns us into one of those cautionary tales where if we'd only been on our original flight..."
"Oh my God."
We still switched our flights but my neurosis had been awakened. I was nervous, antsy, looking for signs. Everything became like the beginning of Final Destination.
My fight with the customs agent who accused me of loitering? Sign.
The endless metal detector line with the trainee security guard? Sign.
The fact that we were miraculously sitting in an emergency aisle. Oh dear God.
Melissa looked at me with delight as we found our seats. "Check it out! Leg room!"
"You don't find it the least bit odd that we switched flights at the last minute on this packed airplane and have two seats together in the highly popular, much requested EMERGENCY aisle, which we did even ask for?"
She rubbed my shoulder and wisely turned on her iPod as she said, "No, psycho. I don't."
The plane took off and I looked out the window. So long, world. I hope my family is able to go on. My friends might never laugh again but maybe they're form some scholarship in my honor, the recipients never knowing or caring who the hell I was. All because we didn't want to lounge around in a gorgeous Canadian metropolis for a mere day, one of many we'd have left, if only...
I tuned into AirCanada's fabulous television service and chuckled my way through three old episodes of 30 Rock, a glorious distraction. 2 hours later, we were about to touchdown in San Francisco. As the wheels of the plane graced ground, Mel looked at me and smiled. "We made it, Bethy!"
"Unless an airplane runs into us on the runway, like the Pan Am/KLM crash in the Canary Islands.*"
"Jesus, you're insane."
"Okay." I said. "We survived. So you know what that means? Our original flight is going to smash into a mountain. Mark my words."
Melissa rolled her eyes, grabbed our bags and sighed, "I have a new appreciation for your brother."

*My psychosis does have it's benefits. The reason we won the Bonus Round of Cruise Ship Trivia (answer: Canary Islands) is because I'm all about the Canary Islands due to the Pan Am/KLM crash. So, uh, you're welcome...

Monday, September 28, 2009

disapproving? it's not like he's going anywhere...

The first thing I saw when I woke up this morning was the Chronicle article about women who fall in love with men on death row. Sadly, there was no new information for me as I’ve been fascinated by these women for decades. I did, however, enjoy some of the quotes in the article.
"Our high notoriety inmates get the most interest," said Lt. Sam Robinson, a San Quentin spokesman. "I have tried to figure this out, but I don't have an answer."
Um, I have an answer. They’re the only ones anyone has ever heard of. Duh. Is Lt. Sam sitting there scratching his head because he just can’t seem to crack the case of the why the mass murderer with his mug splashed across the news gets so much mail but the dime a dozen drug dealer gets no love.
In addition to the Sherlock-esque Lt. Sam, I also enjoyed this anonymous chick, who’s got a “disapproving husband”:
"He is good looking and I loved his big hands," she said of Ramirez (the Night Stalker). "The thrill of danger of going up to a state penitentiary made it all worth it because to me it was like a dream come true to face one of the world's most feared men. Like my mom used to say, you can love someone but you don't have to like them," she says.
And Ramirez, despite being her "best friend," deserves to die for his crimes, she said.
Some pen pal. You’d think she’d at least be opposed to the death penalty. Shouldn’t she be desperately calling Sister Helen Prejean trying to keep her beloved from the needle? I’d certainly prefer this rapist and murderer of the elderly stay behind bars before he burns in the fires of hell, but even I don’t think the government should be killing people and Richard Ramirez is hardly my best friend. But this chick? She’ll write him letters on her puppy dog stationary till the apparently exciting day he fries.
Also, that’s quite an interpretation of her mother’s words of wisdom.
And finally,
"From the beginning I was clear about the end," Uhl says. "I am glad that I always kept clear of any romantic relationship. That's just an emotional roller coaster."
It certainly is! I love how this woman is so clear about her boundaries. I mean, really. Writing a convicted serial killer 20 times a day is one thing. But a romantic relationship? Well, that’s just ridiculous.
Years ago, when I was in college in Philadelphia, I sat snowed in my apartment and watched a documentary on these very women. And there in Marin's own San Quentin, visiting her husband the Night Stalker, was a woman named Doreen.
Doreen, an actual 40 year old virgin, had fallen in love with Richard via mail and visits, marrying him in a prison waiting-room ceremony in 1996. The filmmakers, in an effort to show Doreen's relatively normal life, showed her walking into work, a Party America store in Marin County with San Quentin looming in the background.
Watching in my tiny Philadelphia apartment, I gasped. That was MY Party America. I'd been there a million times. It's 15 minutes from my childhood home.
The Night Stalker's Pen Pal Wife managed the Corte Madera Party America?!?!?!?
Shut UP!
Needless to say, the moment I returned home and many times since, my brother and I made pilgrimages to stalk (heh) Doreen. Lo and behold, there she was (and probably is.) I remember once we bought one roll of Scotch tape from her. We couldn't think of anything else. I mean, a mylar balloon would have been weird. With trembling hands, I passed her a 5 dollar bill. It was exhilarating.
Eve forwarded me this very article this morning and announced, "You know she waited on me at Party America in Corte Madera, right?"
Oh Eve, I thought. A woman after my own heart.
I don't know who's more nuts: the women who fall in love with both Lyle and Erik Menendez or me, who feels a loving pang of friendship upon learning Eve shares in my stalking of Doreen...

he always sounds like he's about to laugh...

Oh, this is fabulous. Thank you T-Rog for filling in for me. You can't see Kieran in this video, but it with these men that I spend every Wednesday night taping the Weekend What's Up and all I can say about Taylor's version is...Oh! A straight guy!!!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

home sweet hetero home...

Please enjoy this very brief glimpse of our trip which ended today. Melissa and I have tons of video footage, but here's a little 2 minute jaunt through our week, should anyone care in the very least. I'd also like to point out that we hopped an earlier flight today. Had we not done so, we'd still be in Canada. The horror, eh?

PS: Thanks to Hastings for picking us up at SFO and the Brians for housing Rhonda the Honda!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

rocking our way through glacier gay...

I have a ton to catch you up on as we sail through Glacier Bay.
The Newlywed Game provided the most surreal experience of my life thanks to contestants "Gladys" and "Sylvia" who are in their 80's and met 2 years ago. When asked to describe Sylvia's favorite part of her body, Gladys, sitting on stage with her purse in her lap, responded, "My pussy."
The crowd erupted into hysterics as I sat stunned, staring into the dark, dumbfounded. Even as I remember it now, 36 hours later, I find myself pausing, both pleased that Gladys and Sylvia are still enjoying sex WELL into their twilight years and horrified that this grandmotherly woman in the appliqued sweatshirt used the word "pussy." Sylvia's answer as to her favorite part of Gladys' body, "her boat" was accepted.
Her boat, you guys. Her boat.
Speaking of boats, we docked in Skagway yesterday and wandered around town, stopping into a small diner for grilled cheese sandwiches and wandering around the wooden sidewalks in the rain. I actually really liked ye olde village in the middle of the mountains and could see myself living there for 2 whole weeks. The town lesbians, of which there must have been 2, organized an Olivia Happy Hour and tour of "Skag-Gay" but we hiked back to the ship in our rain gear, snuggling up with tea and books and our constant questions.
Like "What is the story with Del Sol?"
Del Sol is a store located in EVERY port. Apparently, everything for sale in Del Sol changes color in the sun. Everything. Why they've chosen to operate in Alaska is beyond us. There's also the Alaska T-Shirt Company which we patronize with great enthusiasm. This is the last week of Alaskan cruises. The 'season' is over this week. So everything's like, a dollar. We chatted with a gentleman yesterday who comes to Skagway just in the summer to work at an internet cafe and fish. The rest of the year, he studies industrial engineering in Ohio.
We also have lots of questions about the ship, like what happens if someone gets murdered. This subject came up when I was upgrading rooms on the second day. When asked by the front desk staff if I was having a good time, I thoughtlessly responded, "Yes. I hope there's a murder."
In relaying this to Melissa, she asked me the context.
"None. I really do wish there was a murder mystery on board. Don't you?"
What happens in the event of a maritime crime? Is there a brig? Who's in charge? Are marshalls on board? We're debating going to the naturalist lecture in a little while and asking this during the Q&A.
Each time we dock into port, we're docking with the same Holland America ships. Melissa and I would prefer to race them, imagining ourselves in the Captain's Deck screaming, "Go! Go!" Should our fellow travellers take too long to board, we envision ourselves pulling up the gangplank and hollering, "Sorry, ya took too long! Get a ride with them!" We'd yell this, motioning with our heads to the ship next door, our arms laden with ropes in our desperation to beat The Svenerdam or The Copendam to the next port.
Needless to say, we're desperate for some action.
I can report Betty DeGeneres holds unofficial court every night in the Ocean Lounge, the bar that employs the classical music quartet. Last night as Melissa and I walked by, they were playing the Schlinder's List Theme. Schindler's List, by the way, is available on DVD to be delivered to one's stateroom.
"Can you imagine?" Mel asked. "What a great day! I'm exhausted and having too much fun. Got any downers? Oh, here. Schindler's List. Terrific."
I was out strolling Deck 6 this morning, the walking track that surrounds the boat. As I stopped in my ski jacket and knit hat to record my thoughts on global warming, I was met by a group of very serious looking lesbians just as I announced, "I don't see what the big deal is. Global WARMING? This shit is freezing."
The glaciers were nothing compared to their icy stares. Brrrrr.
There are occasional sales listed on our daily program. Last night from 9-11pm was the $10 sale. The line started to form at 8 and by 9:01 (at which point I was in line, obviously), the doors had yet to open and mutiny had begun. These ladies did not fuck around, including one in a tank top, tattoos and sunglasses who started yelling at the staff in her panic and frustration. "It's after 9!"
She actually ducked under the gate and started digging through the glittery $10 watches and bedazzled clutches before they'd managed to turn the lights on. Mel had seen hints of the sale situation earlier when all hell broke loose over the discounted earring sets on the Lido Deck. Needless to say, I was throwing elbows with the best of them and am now the proud owner of a very cheap looking watch I refer to as "my bling."
Tonight is the "white party" to which I have nothing to wear and the comedian Mimi Gonzalez, one of the equally shocked hosts of the Newlywed Game. And tomorrow, we arrive in our final port of Ketchican. For the most part (Gladys and her boat aside) this is very much like a normal, relaxing cruise. We're drinking a lot of herbal tea, reading lots of books and have learned the hard way to avoid the deviled eggs.
We are keeping our heterosexuality in the closet, so to speak as I've come to find a new appreciation of why one would want to go on an exclusively lesbian cruise. I'll talk more about this later, but there's a very obvious, very nice sense of comfort these women are experiencing, especially those from places perhaps more conservative than San Francisco. I'd hate to take away from that, even in the littlest bit, by revealing our slight difference. I'm on their turf, after all. And am grateful for the opportunity.
Thus far, my favorite part of the cruise is that every day, someone changes the carpets in the elevators to reflect the days of the week. What a marvelous job, sneaking in each (of the 12!) elevators at midnight, removing Wednesday and throwing down Thursday. It must be so satisfying.
(Betty DeGeneres just walked by!)
I'm off to pretend to admire the glaciers. But really, I'm just biding my time until "Trivia" and some game called "Spot the fake Amber." Anything that gets me closer to 11 tonight when the White Party's DJ Tina Saldina spins a "Tribute to Michael Jackson."
Melissa just leaned over and pointed out we hadn't seen Gladys and Sylvia in awhile.
Hello? I think those two are utilizing the "Do Not Disturb" door hanger and that's all we need to know...

*Ranger Randy is making an announcement in his awkward Southern drawl. He keeps stumbling over his words and I think it's because lesbians make him nervous. I assure you, these ladies have some serious questions about nature and glaciers. Oh, I'm wrong. A woman on a scooter behind me just announced over her hand of playing cards, "I like Ranger Randy! He gave me a hug."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

i think a moose just crossed the street...

Today's Culture Blog is UP! Written in Juneau and posted in Skagway, it has nothing to do with Gavin Newsom. Had he named his kid Alaska, I coulda worked something in.
I should point out that I'm writing to you from an internet "cafe" in Skagway called Northern Exposure.
It's exactly like the TV show, Northern Exposure. A woman in here just asked, "Is this sale for everybody or just locals?"
Some dude yelled back, "For everybody damnit!"
Honestly, I thought this was a Hollywood creation...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

i can't believe that of all of our schemes...

This is a slightly edited, slightly updated version of the email I sent my family. Please forgive the cutting and pasting but internet here on the high seas costs $384 a minute. And I have to figure out some why of writing the Culture Blog, which might be coming from the public library in Juneau, where we dock in 3 hours! Okay, here goes:
Greetings from the lesbian cruise!
We're "at sea" currently, having left Vancouver Sunday evening. Today, at 3pm, we arrive in Juneau. As I keep saying to Melissa, "We can describe this all we want. No one will ever believe us."
Picture, if you will, 1500 lesbians from EVERY end of the spectrum. Most are middle aged, casually dressed, lots of "walking sticks." Lots of men's haircuts, matching t-shirts. They're from all over the world and I guess it's just like any other cruise. Some are here to read and relax, some are here to get wasted and hook up.
I can't help but imagine my mother walking around, regarding the entire experience as a fascinating glimpse into lesbian life. (Mom, you'd constantly be saying, "This is SO interesting!")
There are 3 or 4 male passengers, or so we've been told. Sunday, after waiting forever to get into our TINY* but totally acceptable room, Mel and I ate (kind of shitty) lunch and sat on the deck watching sea plans take off and land from the harbor. We finally got in our room to shower and nap and then suddenly, we had to have this lifeboat drill (we're in boat 11, FYI) and I, for the life of me, could not figure out my lifevest.
Please now visualize sirens blaring as I stand on the deck in sweatpants and a pashmina as 6 (six) very reassurring and very butch lesbians all tried to tie me in this complicated vest and I kept screaming at Melissa to stop laughing while alternately thanking these problem-solving women.
Then the staff did a roll call.
"Gladys and Elinor?"
"Melissa and Elizabeth?"
"OMG, Here!"
"Susan and Sylvia?"
Silence...Who knows what happened to Susan and Sylvia. They could be dead in Vancouver Harbor for all we know. That was the end of them.
We napped until it was time for dinner. We were seated with 4 other women, one couple from Oakland who were very nice and 2 "solos."
Anyone on this cruise alone can be part of "Solos" and wear a necklance proclaiming their aloneness. Melissa and I are constantly noting the Solos. They have all kinds of activities throughout the day (and night...heh.) Anyway, we have not really revealed we are not lesbians yet although I made mention to a childhood crush who was obviously a guy and then thought, "Oh shit. They'll know!"
No one pushed me on the issue however.
After dinner was spent at the Martini Bar, one of 583 bars on this boat where Piano Man Dave played hits from the 60's, 70's and 80's to a devoted and enthusiastic audience of 9 women. Piano Man Dave's repertoire consists of such of revered classics as "Desperado" and "Take me Home Country Road." AND Piano Man Dave punctuates certain parts of a song with "Boom."
As in, "You've been out chasing fences, for so long now....BOOM."
Obviously, we find ourselves wildly attractive and Melissa keeps saying, "OMG, you just got checked out!!! Ima about to kick some ass."
We've worked out every morning in the gym although we both almost fell off the treadmill as it is VERY choppy today. I'm fine but Mel's feeling a little seasick and is wearing her pressure point bracelets. Every once in a while, we see a little pile of sawdust where someone has thrown up. Yesterday was lunch on the deck before "Trivia" and then "Close and Personal with Betty Degeneres." Last night was Formal Night (lesbian prom) and also the Newlywed Game, which we did not try out for, although considered it. The lesbian prom was really something to behold, mainly because of the varying version of "formal wear." There was everything from gowns and tuxedos (tails!) and black "Olivia" t-shirts paired with black sweats and sneakers. Melissa and I both wore black wrap dresses and had our photo taken, because again, it's prom.
Oh! I can't forget to tell you about Trivia, but I think I should save it for the Culture Blog. Um, we have a Jeopardy champ on board. You know how people who went to Harvard manage to bring up Harvard every 4 seconds? Yeah, so do people from Jeopardy. Especially at "2pm Trivia in the Crow's Nest!"
There's tons of activities and we can't decide which to do, although we're pretty compatible in when we want to do activities and when we want to lounge. A million DVD's are available to borrow in our room, and tonight, we plan to view Titanic.
No joke. Titanic.
We haven't decided on a shore excursion yet, although are debating several. We're playing it by ear and in between saying, "I cannot believe of all of our schemes, this is the one we actually did," we are having a very fun, make-up-less time.
Seriously. There is no way to describe this experience. It's hilarious and fun, however and we're taking lots of video.
We miss you and love you!
xxoo, Beth (and "Mel")
PS: "I bet everyone thinks I'm the man." -Melissa Griffin

*We got a room upgrade and now have a window, which is awesome until 2 am last night when we thought the ship was going to capsize. Mel and I sat perched on our knees on our pillows staring out the window terrified as waves crashed and the boat DRAMATICALLY rocked back and forth. We looked like dogs...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

juneau and the ms veendam...

Melissa and I are now stumbling around my house in these pre-dawn moments before our flight. The Brians assure me that access to the internet is "limited" at best. I will try to keep you as updated as possible with our adventures on the Lesbian Cruise won in a Pride Parade Drawing. Until then, I shall leave you with this email from my father, entitled "Happy Sailing":

I now have the British Columbia flag up....until Monday when the Alaska flag goes up. Have a great trip and let me know by e-mail how its going. What's your first port? What's the name of the ship (it's not a boat its a ship. Boats go in ships, e.g. a ship has a life BOAT) 

Friday, September 18, 2009

perpendicular, hangin' on a cable car...

I can't spend all day obsessing about Gavin's bundle of joy because it's probably bad karma. Let's let the man have a day, I say. Anyway, I have other things to report. Like last night.
Melissa, Brock, Hastings and I all attended Steve Ngo's birthday party at Flytrap. Steve is clearly very popular and rightfully so. I really like him.
I think Steve's a little scared I'm going to write something scathing about him, but quite frankly, no one gives a shit about the Community College Board. Steve should be so lucky. 
Anyway, I spent most of the evening chatting with the hilarious and totally not officious Rebecca Prozan. Then I got trapped with some dude who claimed to be best friends with everyone on Earth as he got all their names wrong. "Oh, Jack and I have been dear, DEAR friends for 20 years."
"You mean Jim?"
"Oh Jim, of course."
I went outside and smoked a cigarette with Melissa, Brock and some guy from Gavin's campaign who I found a little 'too cool for school.' There must be some roofie that the Newsom campaign slips in their bottled water that makes all of the men turn into a John Hughes villan? We get it, Stan Gable. You're cool. You still lose at the end of the movie. 
Maybe I was just pissed he took my last cigarette and he was sick of schmoozing. I'm sure he's a real man of the people when he's not rolling his eyes.
Actually, I like (relatively) political events like this. You spend 5 minutes with people and, as 
Brock pointed out, no one's at a loss for what to say. Lots of people are really interesting and certain people just schmooze to climb their ladder. Instantly, they size you up by casually trying to find out how important you are. I do the same thing right back to them. God forbid someone better walk in!
Who are you!? What do you do!? How does that help me!? Right?
Steve very charmingly did a great job of introducing everyone to each other, which was tough. The place was packed. Brock and I eventually hugged Steve goodbye and left as we had plans!
Spencer Day has been performing at the Rrazz Room and you have 3 nights left to go see him. I remember seeing Spencer perform at the Lush Lounge, where I'd go after work with my "theater people" friends and swoon. He's kinda like Harry Connick Jr. and Michael Buble with a splash of Rufus Wainwright
The Rrazz Room at Hotel Nikko is much like you'd expect. It's very 2 drink minimum/cabaret tables/middle-aged gay couples. Brock and I were all dolled up and seated in a corner booth, right near where Spencer and his ascot played the piano for 3 hours. The show was fabulous, especially if one was able to ignore the incredibly drunk woman front and center who treated this intimate cabaret show like she was at a Warrant concert. 
Spencer was backed by a band (and Hell-O to the string bass player) and at one point, got up and sang a cover of a song I never knew I loved so much. "Never My Love" is a bit of a cheesy 60's song, but his version was so slow and dark and gorgeous. I would have cried but Ms. Front Row beat me to it. She was sobbing, the only other sound we heard really, as the small audience was enraptured by this cover. 
It was quite a date, Brock and I at the Rrazz Room. As I pointed out, "If I was here with anyone else, we'd be having some serious sex later."
So, if you would like to do "it" this weekend, and you're wooing a chick or a gay or a guy that loves singer/songwriter/standards types, you've got tonight, tomorrow and Sunday to close the deal. 
Really. It was lovely. 
Since I mentioned my beloved Rufus and I'm heading to Alaska on Sunday, this one's going out to little Montana Tessa Newsom. Welcome to world, gorgeous...

i thought he was running for governor in CALIFORNIA...

It's a girl, which we knew.
They named it Montana, which explains why they didn't want us to know.

Congratulations Newsom Family. I'm sure she'll grow up to cure cancer...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

g-man. really?

We need to discuss Suliman.
You know. Suliman. Gavin Newsom's "black foster brother."
The Weekly has a fabulous piece about Gavin's foster friend who may or may not be named Suliman and may or may not be in jail FOR SELLING CRACK. Apparently, Gavin spent his childhood running through the slums of Marin City with his black foster brother, Suliman Akabar/Stephen Ashby, thus providing our Mayor with a certain level of street cred.
Over the years, Gavin's occasionally mentioned his relationship with "Suli" to the press and now that he's a candidate to run "the 8th largest economy in the world," people are asking, "Hey, what ever happened to your black foster brother?"
If I may paraphrase the Newsom Campaign's response, "Er, uh, We don't know. He's in jail. He had to sell crack to support his family. Stop asking us about it! It's personal!"
The Weekly couldn't find any trace of this brother or friend of whatever Suliman was to Gavin, but I definitely remember the mention of the foster brother in my favorite Gavin article of all time, THIS from 2005's Chronicle. My favorite Gavin moment?
The mayor spends so much time in Hunters Point, in Sunnydale and other housing projects in the southeastern quadrant of the city that young men there, idle on a weekday mid-morning, pass him by with a casual greeting: "G, man."
(I've bolded the best parts, obviously.)
I was asking around last night's League of Pissed Off Voters Fundraiser. First of all, everyone knew exactly what I was talking about when I asked, "So, Suliman, huh?"
Second of all, the consensus was that Gavin did probably have a "black friend" once a long time ago. Hilary Newsom Callan, Gavin's sister, confirmed that she hadn't heard from "Suli in years." Hilary, we all agreed, seems like a nice, normal person who would honestly verify something like the existence of a foster brother.
As one political insider broke it down for me, "When you're running for Mayor in a relatively small city, a close childhood friend can get spun into something more than that and you just ride with it. It's not that big of a deal." Running for Governor, however, is a different story.
I just think it's really interesting that of all the wonderfully curious things to investigate about Gavin Newsom, we're focused on the black foster brother.

In related news, Jordan and Jonathan Knight (of New Kids on the Block*) had a black ADOPTED brother, so, you know...

*I originally typed "New Kids on the Black." Heh.*

ALSO, you can read all about last night's event HERE at See Spot Write in the SF Appeal...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

whenever my colleague from district one is ready...

I don't know whether to find this wonderful or appalling, but San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar is using Facebook to post camera phone pictures from the Board Meeting...going on RIGHT NOW. Oh, internet. You provide such access!
I'm torn between the obvious "shouldn't he be paying attention?" and texting meeting attendee Melissa, "If you see Eric Mar holding his cell up in the air, wave to me."
I guess this transparency is good. I mean, at least we know he's at work.
And Supervisor Mar was kind enough to detail the text on this gentleman's t-shirt, which apparently reads, "It takes the hood to save the hood."
Anyway, if you're at this meeting right now and you see Eric Mar tweeting or Facebooking or changing his relationship status on something, wave to me...

the delicate art of gift giving...

As our beloved friend Chef Dan just welcomed a healthy new baby, Melissa and I have been agonizing over an appropriate gift to send. We spent much of this morning e-mailing various newborn celebratory options back and forth, wondering if flowers might be more appropriate or maybe a gift for the parents, as they're now stuck with some attention starved kid.
I was dressed like a little British kid until I was 7 or 8. Hopefully, Dan won't subject his little bundle of joy to the child-size berets I was forced to wear. And Melissa, she'll be horrified I'm telling you, sported traces of a mullet at one point in her youth.
These travesties must not be repeated.
Thus Mel and I decided to kick of this baby's closet with something sartorially charming. Back and forth we went with the trendy onesie option. They have "RUN-DMC" onesies and "Ramones" onesies. We found tuxedo t-shirt onesies and "That's What She Said" onesies. Then, of course, there's the wonderful world of organic children's clothing that goes on and on and on...
Finally, we found what we were looking for.
Instantly, we'd agreed. The pefect gift.
The following, along with a charming note, was sent to Chef Dan, his lovely wife and their brand new addition this afteroon:
Loads of Love,

Sunday, September 13, 2009

at least not in the fall...

Sometimes I think that maybe I shouldn't live in San Francisco for my entire life. I mean, there's a whole world out there. I could try New York or Chicago. I could go international and move to London or Paris. I could even imagine myself as the tallest gal in Shanghai. 
But then I remember that on rainy nights, when you get all dressed up and take a cab downtown, you can glance down Market Street as you speed across it and see the Ferry Building all lit up. And you can run into the Big Four or smoke on a corner in Union Square. Men in suits take your coat and hold doors. And the mirror above the bar of the Washington Square Bar and Grill makes everything look like a Woody Allen movie. And you can sit in low lighting somehwere and listen to the rain and the traffic and someone plays this song on a piano and....I can never move. 

Saturday, September 12, 2009

citizen awesome...

Jane Alexander was the receptionist at my grandparents' retirement home and tonight, the Hallmark Channel premiered a movie about her!
I've actually written about Jane before, under my creative pseudonym, "Jill":
"It takes decades to say goodbye to Grandma but we finally made it into the elevator, and escaped the dreaded Third Floor Health Center.
We walked out to the front door check-in area, manned by a old dame we’ll call Jill. A little background on Jill: Late in life, Jill’s con-man boyfriend swindled her and violently and dramatically murdered her rich elderly aunt, hoping to cash in on Jill’s monetary windfall. Jill was quickly on to him, busted some detective balls and eventually got the asshole arrested. She then wrote a true crime book about it (including the gruesome crime-scene photos), was on Dateline NBC, runs a victims rights organization and works the front desk at my Grandmother’s retirement home. Jill is a fucking tough broad in a floral blouse and silver perm, and needless to say, a character.
“Oh, Jill. Thank God.” My mother announced. “Can you find us one of those lists of TV channels for mother?”
“I got those right here, dear. How’s our girl doing?”
“She’s confused.” Mom sighed. “And she’s pissed about it.”
“Aw Christ, Joanne. We’ve got those gals all over. In the apartments, in the Health Center, and Lord knows, in that Third Floor Nut House. I had one gal, a real cookie. A real great lady. Went on cruises in her heyday. And she’d wander around, thinking she was strolling around the deck of a cruise ship. And I’d walk with her. On and on, she’d go. She’d want to have dinner with the Captain? Fine. We’ll need to clean your good dress, then. The Percer is being rude? I’ll speak to someone about that. You’re mother’s waiting to meet you and we need to hurry? Well, hell, ladies. She’s 91 years old. Old mom’s been dead since 1957 but I don’t need to tell her that. So I says, Oh, your mother, phoned. She’ll be waiting for us. You see, Beth? You got to get in their space, is what you got to do.”
With that, an emergency buzzer blared on Jill’s desk. “Oh, shut up, you.” Jill rolled her eyes and flipped off the sound. She patted her bouffant and continued. “You don’t need to be the one who tells ‘em Sister died in the 70’s. They don’t remember anything but they’ll remember you’re the one who told them that sis was dead when they’re sure as sunshine she wasn’t. They’ll forget it all in 20 minutes anyway.
You get in their space, Joanne. Now, your mother’s not quite that loony yet. But she will be. I’ll go up and see her tomorrow. I’ll check on in on her, don’t you worry.”
Jill had us in hysterics, performing a routine so perfectly dry and deadpan and horribly blunt, I instantly wanted to make a movie about her. Years of trying to get someone executed will do that to you, I guess."

Hallmark beat me to that movie. Tonight I watched Citizen Jane, and let me just say, because Jane has since passed away and isn't here to point out the discrepancies, the folks at Hallmark took some liberties. The whole dicey story of Jane and her shitty boyfriend was portrayed in present day, when in reality, it happened 30 years ago. Seeing Ally Sheedy playing Jane, the receptionist at my grandparents' retirement home is one thing. Seeing Ally Sheedy playing Jane, the receptionist at my grandparents' retirement home in a stretch poplin suit on an iPhone is entirely another.
The whole point of Jane, however, is that she is a badass. The shitty boyfriend stole all of her money and killed her aunt. So Jane gave up her fancy house, took a job as a receptionist at an old folks' home, and went about helping people solve crimes and keep criminals in jail for free and for the rest of her life. When presented with the horrific crime scene photos and dreadful details of the crime, Jane started asking questions. Smart questions. She didn't freak out and have meltdowns and turn to her shitty boyfriend for comfort. 
She got really informed really fast. 
After making sure the shitty boyfriend would rot in jail for the rest of his life, Jane went on to co-found Citizens Against Homicide, assisting families and friends of murdered loved ones through the judicial process. 
I have to admit, I've never been a fan of the name, "Citizens Against Homicide." As opposed to what? Citizens For Homicide? 
You know I am a fan of? Their newsletter, which my parents still receive and save for me. I picked up the latest issue last week and like all the others before it, it's a treasure. CAH has got all kinds of info about how to present your side of the story at parole hearings, which is a big part of "the citizens" work. 
I wish I'd really sat down and asked Jane about all of this. I'm sure she would have had no problem diving right into her work. It kinda makes sense, now that I think about it. The 80-year old retirement-home front-desk lady was tough as nails and blunt because she's spent her morning presenting a case against a killer to a parole board. 
Then she came into work and helped my Grandma work the remote control. 
The most accurate part of tonight's movie is when Ally Sheedy, as Jane takes a job as a receptionist at an old folks home (OMG! Told you!) and as her cranky boss is showing her around, the phone rings. The boss doesn't really know what to do, she's so busy explaining a light switch or similar. 
Jane just sits down, answers the phone and gives the boss a look as if to say, "Lady, I got this."
In our culture, the greatest testament to one's life's work is having a TV movie made about it. I can honestly think of nothing better than having the Hallmark Channel make a movie called "Citizen Beth." I hope Jane feels the same way, because I just spent the last 2 hours screaming, "Oh my God, Jane!" at my television... 

Friday, September 11, 2009

george schultz had the separation of pant and sock...

The Beths are back with another video! Hondl and I headed to Opening night of the San Francisco Symphony a mere 48 hours ago. Check out the SF Appeal for our coverage AND a recap of a run-in with some FOG (Friends of Gavin!)...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

mississippi was my favorite...

At least once a month, my brother and I have dinner back at home with our folks. Tonight's dinner conversation involved a heated debate about the death penalty over roast beef and caprese salad. As dinner wound down, my brother Alex announced, "Dad thinks he can do what Al Franken did."
"You mean draw all 50 states?"
My father leaned back in his chair with confidence.
"Dad, have you even seen the video?" We asked.
"I don't need to see the video!"
Fine, we said. Let's do it.
So, incredible nerds that we are, we did.
My dad is pretty goddamn adorable.
Growing up, my father made Alex and my lunches, placing leftover osso bucco in plastic bags and once creating a "sandwich" with mango chutney and a hamburger bun. His real lunch-making skill was his daily trivia question, which was usually a lesson in State Capitals. One one side of the brown paper bag would be a felt-tipped, "What is the capital of New York?" On the other side, "Albany."
As Alex got older, my brother would request an extra snack-pack or fruit roll-up to be included in his lunch bag. At lunchtime, Alex would stand on a playground bench and with the fruit roll-up in hand, scream, "What is the capitol of Nevada?"
Whomever screamed back "Carson City!" would get the roll-up.
And rightly so...
*Speaking of videos, today's Weekend What's Up is UP! Please forgive my hair. I was having "a day."

never forget...

Tomorrow is September 11th, a day which will forever ruin birthdays for those born on that tragic date. Obviously, the events of that horrific morning are still unbelievable, profoundly evil and unspeakably sad.
That being said, I continue to find them incredibly interesting.
Thus, I will remain glued to the TV as soon as the 9/11 annual rehashings begin. I intently watch all of but not limited to:
-Historical Re-enactments
-Dramatic Re-enactments
-News footage of the day as it happened (ideal)
-Analytical timelines and movements of the 19 terrorists
-Celebrity thoughts/memories/opinions
I’m not proud of this, but I can’t be any worse than all of the people throwing parties tomorrow night like no one’s noticed it’s September 11th. I know the terrorists “win” if we totally change our lives and live in constant fear and reflection, but I can’t help it. There’s no way I will ever be able to do anything on September 11th that is unrelated to the tragic events of 2001.
Oddly, my favorite person to share all of the 9/11 coverage with is my mother, who against her better judgment and amid claims this whole thing is ridiculous, will sit with me for hours alternately gasping at the horrors and offering various theories.
I hope you don't think we're comparing this unspeakable historical tragedy to the Superbowl or the Oscars. It's not like we have themed snacks or anything...

i should take her to le club...

When I walked into work this morning, Amanda asked me if I made any new friends at the Symphony Gala last night.
“No.” I responded. But then I paused. “Actually, I did make a new friend.”
“Oh really? Who?”
Jan Wahl is surprisingly fabulous. I know she got into it with Quentin Tarantino and enjoys a wacky trademark, but I’m telling you, the woman is hilarious. She’s like a brilliant, wise, broad with the mouth of a sailor and convincing words of wisdom on dating and romance. I couldn’t believe I was discussing such personal aspects of my life with Jan Wahl, of all people. But seriously, I can’t get over it.
She’s fucking funny!

*Thanks to SFMike for the fabulous photos of last night and check back in a few days for The Beths' video report on the Gala...

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

dockers aside, al franken just got way hotter...

Years ago when I was travelling in New York with my family, my cousin Matt called up some of his friends from boarding school. We all hit the town together and I hit it off with one boarding school friend in particular.
Younger male friend of a relative? Sold.
Anyway, his name was something like Josh and he was hilarious. Hilarious in that he was smart and weird and kind of eccentric, with this bizarre collection of experiences and stories. He was right out of a Wes Anderson movie and I got the biggest kick out of him. One night, my cousin and his cronies came back to my hotel room to drink and eat and hang out until the early morning. They sat around the dining room swapping stories and drinking wine out of coffee mugs and suddenly, Josh claimed he could draw the entire globe, including outlining every country on the planet.
He then proceeds to actually do this, grabbing paper wherever we can find it. All of us crowded around, watching as, at least to our questionable knowledge, this kid actually drew a legit map, labeling as he went along. I was enthralled, appalled, amazed.
And so, Al Franken having the lower 48 down pat is great and all. But 5 years ago, a 23 year old did the entire fucking globe on a cocktail napkin in a Manhattan hotel room at 4am. So, you know...

Monday, September 07, 2009

you'd be worried too if all you had was am/fm...

So, uh, what's the plan for getting to work tomorrow? As I'm sure everyone in the greater Bay Area is aware, the Bay Bridge, which has been closed for repairs and was scheduled to re-open tomorrow morning, ain't gonna open. 
My main concern is that no one knows exactly what this means. All hell could break loose. And it's not even the horrible, Earth-hating car people who are screwed. Busses and BART will be equally fucked. I wasn't truly worried until I looked onto Twitter. Hastings was stuck on the Golden Gate Bridge at 8pm on a holiday. 
Shit. I mean, I'm glad he Tweeted the update. But shit. 
I've been concocting all kinds of schemes to get across the Golden Gate tomorrow because according to everyone, traffic will be abhorrent. Thus far, if my math is correct, my quickest route would be to take Highway 1 to Ocean Beach, backstroke to Cavallo Point and catch a cab. 
But I'm open to suggestions...


I'm surprised mean comments don't happen to me more often. I'm well aware the cruel, anonymous troll is a small price to pay for constantly discussing myself all the time. You can't beg for specific attention, sadly. You've got to take the attention that comes your way. Most of my blogger pals are bombarded by these folks and seem to shrug it off.
"It's a troll."
"If that hate me so much, why are they spending their precious time commenting?"
"Dude, it's an anonymous comment. Who cares?"
I do. Oh sweet Jesus, how I care.
So, you win, mean commenter who said I have more chins than Chinatown. You win! Because I stopped dead in my tracks, raced to delete the comment and then stared at the wall hating myself for 15 minutes.
I'm not kidding. I really did.
It's always the "fat" comment that hits hardest. "Crazy, stupid bitch" doesn't really bother me. I know I'm not stupid. But as I schedule my workouts, avoid the kitchen and rip myself apart in the mirror from every angle...well, the fat comment puts a knot in my stomach (heh) for about an hour.
So as I'm sitting here, freaking out that someone took the time to anonymously tell me, "whatever you're paying your trainer, it's too much..." I figured, fuck it.
I'm just going to own my Achilles heel.
The fat comment really, really hurt my feelings.
There. I said it. Now we all know.
None the less, I will continue to blog, to make videos and to eat...
*UPDATE* There's a commenter on SFGate who doesn't understand why I get to be mean but post (the above, I guess) that my feeling get hurt when someone's mean to me. Well, first of all, duh. Second of all, I put my name, my face and my contact information on everything I post. Quite frankly, it's a lot easier to spew mean shit without providing that information...

Sunday, September 06, 2009

i'm a regular scorsese...

My computer's always asking me to upgrade on thing or another and I always tell my computer to "remind me later." I assume this is true for everybody. Today, Brock and I enjoyed a very fun afternoon in Chinatown where I took some (stupid, pointless) video. I will also point out that my post-luncheon fortune cookie predicted that I won't find happiness until I make some very big changes. Needless to say, I was left shaken. When I got home, I plugged in my Flip camera and was once again presented with the option to upgrade. It was time for some very big changes.
I took the 10 minutes, followed the instructions, went through the dreaded restart and upgraded the Flip Video program.
Um, check out what I can now create!

Forgive my humble beginnings. Like fortune cookie say, I obviously have a long way to go.
*UPDATE* It's now 3 hours later. I can't stop myself! This is my father, brother and Uncle Bill jumping in Bantry Bay on Christmas Day tribute video. And yeah, I know the music is very "special episode of Extreme Home Makeover"...

maybe we're not so different after all...

I was recently put in the position of justifying my deep, undying love of dreadful, horrible, useless, pointless, classist, cruel "society." This was, of course, after I decided, drunk of Diet Coke, to call everyone at Burning Man "a poser."
Do I think everyone at Burning Man is a poser? Yes.
Should I say so in mixed company? No.
Anyway, when pressed to explain why I enjoy flipping through the bolded names and tight-grinned photos of people who would never deign to speak to me, I was stumped. I mean, really. If you want to talk about posers, any big city society's got them in spades. Why is it that I roll my eyes at Burning Man but read this (to fucking die for) article and will gladly sell my first born for a spot anywhere in the Monkey Bar? There's really not that much of a difference. Some people enjoy doing drugs in the sand once a year to prove that they're open-minded for 8 whole days. And some people will attend the opening of an abortion clinic if it means they'll be photographed and make someone jealous.
When you think about it, I'm the worst of them all. Because I just read about the people attending the opening of the abortion clinic. I'm not even invited! I'd have to get an actual abortion to go.
So now I feel a little bad for shitting on the Burners because we all have our flawed vices, right? For example, instead of hand-washing the mites and HPV our of my cargo pants like Burning Man People, I'll be spending Tuesday night stalking the Opening Night of the Symphony. So I will do my best to dampen my desire to strangle the population of the Playa if they will do their best to dampen their...christ, anything. Soap, hair, love of the sitar...

Friday, September 04, 2009

i wonder if he names them...

The first thing I read this morning was the headline, "Man admits allowing animals to kill each other." According to the AP:
A man has admitted letting hundreds of feral dogs and cats roam his Riverside County property and kill each other. Elisao Jimenez of Temecula was sentenced to probation, three days in jail and 1,000 hours of community service Wednesday.
Authorities euthanized more than 100 dogs and cats found near Jimenez's mobile home and found more than 200 dead cats and dogs decomposing in trash bags.

Here're my questions: How does he get them to kill each other? Animals have lived in peace and by the laws of nature since the beginning of time. What exactly does he do to create this "pet war" and why does he do it? Does he watch? Allow spectators? How do we know they're his and why is against the law to have hundreds dogs and cats on your property? Is there an official number of pets one is allowed to have? Is Elisao a pet hoarder?
That last one sent me on a link quest you must enjoy if the subject of pet hoarding interests you, which I assume it must. I am not a particular fan of the house pet anyway, but you've got to wonder who the first pet hoarder was who ruined it for everyone by forcing all of these pet laws. I mean, what about farms...

hell has apparently frozen over...

There once was a time, a very fun and exciting time, when Grey Cloud and I would spend our weekends running from one fancy bar to another, tossing down the credit card and going nuts at The Redwood Room, Le Colonial, The Top of the Mark...we danced on tables and were amazed by the receipts we found in our pockets the next morning.
And while I am desperate to impress and befriend literally everyone on Earth, there are few people so hard to crack as Grey Cloud. He does not offer praise, he refuses to acknowledge success...I'd given up.
Last night, we ran from one fancy bar to another. And at Boulevard, I realized the dramatic change sobriety has afforded me. Grey Cloud, who would be horrifed I'm telling you this, said he was proud of me. I have burned his words into my brain, they mean so much.
Who doesn't love sunshine blown up their ass every day of the week and twice on Sunday. But the praise that seems to have the greatest impact is that from those who never give it out.
He drives me nuts, he's weird and moody, but in this rare moment of sincerity, charm and aesthetic praise from this straight man whom against my better insticts, I love very much...well, shit.
I was speechless...

take it away, t-rog...

This Weekend What's Up is, well, up. Please for to enjoy...

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

rawr, the final act...

Alright, a minute by minute account of the Cougar Convention. You've seen the video, now read the deatils. It was really a once in a lifetime night...

i should've just said i was chasing a cat...

This morning was one one of those morning with Tim the Trainer where he stopped me mid-workout and asked if I was going to throw up. Anytime Tim makes me run, I see my life flash before my eyes. It's horrible and painful and I spend half the time with my elbows on my knees trying to catch my breath.
Anyway, after Tim left I got showered and changed and walked out my front door to find my upstairs neighbor adding flare to his bicycles for "The Playa." Yeah, he's on his way to Burning Man. I had to sort of walk over his little art project and as I did so, I wished him well on his hippie adventure.
"Hey, did you lose your cat this morning?" He asked me.
"Pardon me?"
"Well, I saw you running down the sidewalk all crazy. I thought maybe you were chasing your cat."
"Nope. I don't have a cat. That was me working out."
"Oh. It was so weird. I couldn't figure it out. There was that guy standing there and..."
I sighed. "That's my trainer."
"Oh, you're working out! I thought you were running after an animal."
"Nope. That's what I look like when I try and exercise..."
This is why I hate breaking a sweat in public. People think it's like the end of the world or something is horribly wrong. I'm amazed no one called the cops, my running down an urban sidewalk is such an alarming sight. It's really quite encouraging...

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

the cougar report is finally here...

Alright kids. The time has finally come for the Cougar Convention Report. I'll be providing even more thoughts on the event in tomorrow's Culture Blog, but please enjoy the video on the SF Appeal, as well as a breakdown of what was edited out. Enjoy it!