Monday, May 31, 2010

snipets from a very long weekend...

Man Men returns to us on July 25th, and we need to start assigning duties because I suggest San Francisco shut down that night and we all gather to watch together, in respectful silence and awe.

I clicked on this article because it said, "Adidas hits back at criticism of World Cup ball." I should have known, when ball wasn't capitalized, they weren't talking about a black tie gala. They were talking about an actual soccer ball. Disappointing. Speaking of sports...

My father and brother are returning today from the Indianapolis 500, a trip my father won in a USF alumni raffle. Alex was texting me his observations yesterday morning, ("Lots of jean shorts!") and in the evening, when I got home from work, I looked online to make sure no domestic terrorism had occured at the Indianapolis 500. It had not. In fact, Dario Franchitti won the 500-mile race. I texted Alex, "Ashley Judd's husband won!" He immediately responded, "The Beth Spotswood perspective on the Indy 500." Alex also noted that I "could have written a book on the Marlboro Experience tent alone." That's got to be some world-class people watching.

I'm heading down to the Mill Valley Memorial Day Parade to work the after party. If you're in the hood, come by and say hello/watch me fall asleep in a public park.

Finally, I hope you all have a gorgeous day off. Tune in tomorrow where I'll fill you in on some big news for me and something that might be of mild interest to you. Gasp! What? Hmm....

Friday, May 28, 2010

you've got plans...

Today's Weekend What's Up is...up! On SFGate...

happy birthday esquire chris...

Today is Hastings' Birthday, and last night, we celebrated with his annual birthday dinner at Bix. Hastings, you may know, is one of my closest friends and a solid 25% of the reason I continue to survive sobriety.
The man actually ordered a Roy Rogers at Bix. Bix!
I asked our sassy server for something non-alcoholic in an alcoholic glass.
"Well," He was delighted to inform me, "We have a fabulous Pinot Noir grape juice served in a wine glass."
5 minutes later, sassy server emerged from the kitchen carrying a tray. Upon it sat a Roy Rogers, complete with a cherry for the birthday boy and a gorgeous wine glass, filled only a third of the way with deep purple. Sassy server, you've just changed my life.
Now, I'm sure there are some AA brethren out there who are gasping in horror. I should be sipping my juice box or tumbler of water and resigning myself to a life free of stemware. But love it or hate it, there is a glamorous element to drinking I hate to give up. And sitting there on the upper floor of Bix in my pearls and poufy hair, with my hot date and that fancy collection of hors d'oeuvres thing they do, I certainly didn't want a goddamn tumbler of water.
I wanted to sip something befitting the occasion.
So kudos to Bix for providing the pregnant, designated, abstaining and recovering with class in a glass. And cheers to Hastings, who continues to amaze me with his loyalty, friendship, humor and brilliance, even when straightening his suit and ordering a Roy Rogers...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

knocking on the door of the testing room...

Please forgive my tardy post. It's been a doozy of a day. Here is today's Culture Blog, an adventure with T-Sparks...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

they already had 12 muffin monsters. this brings the feet to 15...

When prisoners get bored, they flush their bed sheets down the toilet. This is basic common knowledge, right? So much so, jail administrators have to purchase machines able to grind up anything a felon can flush. San Francisco's learned this the hard way after courtrooms flooded with raw sewage last week, and old Roscoe and Bones had a hearty chuckle at the expense of our friends in the legal community who stepped in human poo.
Thanks to Rachel Gordon of the City Insider, the SFPUC (San Francisco Poo's Unacceptable Committee) added $240,000 to their budget to buy something called a Muffin Monster.
Take all the chuckle time you need. I'll wait.
The best thing about this news is that due to what I can only assume is incredible competition in the prison toilet grinder industry, the creative team at Muffin Monster made a 5 minute commercial. It is the greatest 5 minutes of internet-dom you will ever watch. In fact, I can't stop watching it. Look at it grind! Look at it pulverize! Look at a man throw dozens of tampons at it! And try, just try not to tap your toes...

In no particular order, here are my favorite items potentially flushed by inmates:
10: Tennis balls, rejected apparently, from the CDOC doubles teams
9: A wet U.S. Army blanket, identified by subtitles
8: Rug samples
7: A cantaloupe
6: A cow-print futon
5: Building insulation
4: A jug of water, that just exploded and went everywhere
3: Cans of colorful paint!
2: Maxi pads from 1983
1: A huge bundle of celery

Things I'd felt were missing from this demonstration: A live animal (totally flushable to prisoners), handcuffs, chains, etc. and, hello? Muffins...

radio show: obviously...

The second someone commented that Melissa and I couldn't cut it in Alaska, I started really looking at real estate.
We both really, really like Ketchikan from the first glimpse out of the cruise ship window, and it's South enough that it's not impossible to easilly get to and fro various international fashion weeks. I mean, we're kinda, sorta serious here.
In response to what I deem a challenge, I've come up with several totally do-able options. The first is this:

At 2.5 million dollars, "Eagle Creek Lodge" may be out of our price range. But in terms of comfort, I think we could make it work. Look at those smokestacks!
For a midrange proptery, I like 1035 Dunton Street. Check out that view. I also like the easy access to the diner we plan to frequent, as well as that sporting goods store I like and the fabulous restaurant we could smoke in that had really good appetizers. At $284,000, this four-bedroom home would give us the space we need and the comforts of the latte cart, which is down by the docks.
Finally, for a mere $139,000 we could purchase this:

It's called Kelly Drive Land and it has on-site septic! Apparently, our "options are countless" and it "includes a concrete grease pit on-site." Hey, I just care about those double deckers! I know a few public transit enthusiasts who would love a couple of hours to play inside of those.
I definitely see the attraction with Alaska. It's cheap (unless you die. It's incredibly expensive to bury people there), it's anonymous and isolated, it's weird, it requires flattering, cozy clothes...the pluses are endless. And I'll never forget waking up, docked in Ketchikan and pulling back the curtains. Without missing a beat, Melissa and I were both thinking the exact same thing. "Shit, Bethy. We should live here..."

Monday, May 24, 2010

who names a dog larry...

I have a new television show I'm very excited about, and I'd really appreciate it if you'd start watching. New television shows are best integrated into your schedule if you can watch 3 or 4 episodes to get yourself going. Which is what I've done with:
This Discovery Channel show can be watched on Netflix on Demand (which incidentally is worth Netflix in and of itself) and follows 9 "teams" on the 2008 Iditarod dogsled race in Alaksa. I put "teams" in quotes because teams consist of a "musher" and 16 or so dogs. I'm not counting the dogs as teammates. My favorite teams so far are:
DeeDee: breast cancer survivor who has decked her entire sled, dogs and snow-dress in pink. This is DeeDee's 26th Iditarod.
Rick the Diabetes Guy: Rick has diabetes and keeps losing his medicine.
Cocky Jeff: Jeff King is the Tiger Woods of dog sledding. I bet he gets the same amount of ass. You should see this guy sign autographs.
Martin and Rohn: Martin and Rohn are a father-son duo who are racing against each other. It's very sweet. Also, Rohn's hot in a Levi Johnston kind of way.
And finally, Lance: Lance is like spindly, straight-shootin', faux-wood paneling man. He's in it for the belt buckle, regarded as the Grand Prize of the Iditerod, even though the winner also gets $69,000 and a pick-up truck.
All of these people are huge Alaskan celebrities, but it's all about Jeff and Lance. These two talk like you, me and everyone we know have spent our entire lives dreaming of one day being Iditerod champions. Like the Iditerod is part of every American's life since birth, like the Superbowl but important.
I've always thought, "What's the big deal about the Iditerod? It's a sled ride. I could totally do that."
Now that I'm an Iditerod expert and enthusiast (thank you once again, Discovery Channel), I will admit this shit is really hard. It's 1,000 miles and one has to like dogs. So I'm out right there. But watching these people is fascinating in 43-minute increments. They all have complex recipes of gruel they feed their "team", they've all got these devoted families who work and train year round so that dear old mom or dad probably WON'T bring home $69,000 and a pick-up truck, and they're all sponsored.
By Taco Bell. And Wells Fargo.
Plus, they go through unrelenting parts of the Alaskan wilderness with names like "the Buffalo's rib cage" and "Widow's Gorge."
Also, not to go all Into the Wild or anything, but I really do love Alaska. I could live there, in boots and hats and rustic furniture.
"What ever happened to Beth?"
"Oh, you didn't hear? She moved. To Alaska."
"Shut up!"
"No, I'm serious. She lives in Ketichican and has a show on public access. She also runs Bingo Night at the Kiwanis Club and is training for something. The Idea-race or something."
Quote of the race thus far, which I can't stop saying much to the confusion of my co-workers:
"Larry's my brains, Hobo's my speed."
-Jeff Mackey, re: his dogs...

that sweater looks pretty deadly...

When Brittany Murphy died, everyone was like, "Oh, that creepy husband of hers. Something's weird about him."
And here we are, 5 months later and creepy husband is dead too.
Now I realize, Hollywood is a sick and twisted place, turning dreams into nightmares and actress/models into serial killer victims. But what is with all of these people dying of prescribed medication for flu symptoms?
Other than the fact that this guy looks like he probably wakes up every morning feeling not so hot, what is this? The middle ages? Why are people dying in their 30's and 40's? Drugs? Flu symptoms? General Hollywood creepiness?
For the record, vitamin C from now on, folks. And I'm going to take a wild guess and say that Brittany and her beloved are avoiding each other at the craft services table up in heaven...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

i want it that way...

Brock likes to point out my love of "male vocalists."
I do. I really love a male vocalist. And while I'd probably play it down in person, I fucking love boy bands. The entire notion of them is something I deeply appreciate. I am, I'm horrified to report, a connoisseur of the boy band.
My horrific musical taste is a given. I once got in a fight with a guy in Tower Records over Billy Joel, as he mocked my purchase of a "River of Dreams" cassette single. It gets even worse when you put 4-5 twenty-something men together, tell me they're teenagers, provide certain stereotypical "types" so there's one for everyone and put them in different variations on the same color-schemed outfit.
Make that happen and I'm yours forever.
My IM is blowing up, my phone is glowing with texts, I can even sense a change in the air. Why?
Backstreet Boys are performing at Pride.
As Brock pointed out, "This must be your dream come true."
No. No it's not. My dream come true would be New Kids on the Block.
If not them, N'Sync.
If not them, Take That.
And finally, the trashy, slighty ghetto version of all of the above, Backstreet.
That being said, I will move heaven and earth to get on that stage with Nick Carter, who shares with Brock and me (among other things) our birthday. Honestly, how hard can it be? My excyclopedic knowledge of boy bands deserves this...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

actually, my formal name kinda fits...

A body was just found in a suitcase floating near the Embarcadero. As I just stated to my entire office (of four people), that if I crack this case, I'll be like an Agatha Christie character, with a whole series of cases I solve in small British villages or on transcontinental train rides.
I'd need some kind of affectation, like a parasol or limp, but my snarky, observational intellect would always wait until the last chapter to publicly reveal the whole mystery.
And then I'd be off, silk scarf blowing in the mist as I hop in my sassy vintage convertable with a steamer trunk tied to the back, off to solve the next mystery, or visit my friend in Johannesburg who just happens to have a missing butler.
I have no idea if this body in a suitcase is part of a drug deal gone wrong or another victim of a serial killer theory I've been offering SINCE JANUARY. It may be of interest to note a Marin county musician was found dead yesterday behind her houseboat, although I heard rumors of suicide. All of this, obviously, sad. Incredibly, incredibly unfair and sad.
And, of course, creepy...

i imagine him smoking a pipe...

Work is incredibly and excitingly stressful these days. I work at a non-profit theater company and our annual show is about to open this weekend. It's like Waiting for Guffman on crack right now. In the midst of all this, my boss decided to create herself a Gmail account. Actually, she decided to create two of them. And once created, she had no idea what her username or password was. Not a clue.
Yesterday, she was in a panic to access her accounts, so I walked over to her corner of the office and attempted to help while looking over her shoulder. Finally, I couldn't take it anymore. Her panic was contageous and really, I could do it faster. She stood up and I sat down, furiously typing away to try and reset her passwords, etc.
"Beth, oh my God! I have to get into this account!"
"I know, I know. We'll figure it out."
She stood behind me, muttering possible passwords as Gmail asked me various security questions.
"Sara, um...what was the name of your childhood guinea pig?"
She paused, stared down at me and look at me like I was nuts.
In a tone implying that I had asked something obvious, like if the earth was round or what month it was, she deadpanned, "Livingston."
I'm sorry. What?
I couldn't help myself. I lost it. For all of the tension and stress and frustration and panic, with phones ringing and over-scheduled meetings, my boss had furiously entered the name of her pet rodent when setting up her accounts. And now she was screaming it at me. It was the funniest possible answer to the question, "What was the name of your childhood guinea pig?"
I typed in Livingston. Access granted...

Monday, May 17, 2010

they grilled hot dogs. get it...

Mayor Gavin Newsom ran in Bay to Breakers yesterday! Rumor has it he was wearing a Janice Hahn costume and peed on the corner of Hayes and Divisadero.
But those are just rumors...I started 4 seconds ago. Anyway, according to His Honor, Gavin just happened to be wide awake, what with his "scratchy" kid and all and decided at the last minute, fuck it.
"I beat my security guard." He said.
I wouldn't get too excited about that if I were the Mayor, who may one day need his security detail to be able to, you know, keep up. Gloriously, and thank you John Cote of the Chronicle for getting these gems, the dude racing next to the Mayor "unveiled himself to the world."
I suspect that gentleman had no intention of undressing until he noticed Gavin Newsom jogging along next to him and thought, "Oh, what the hell?
And kudos to the Mayor for the creative description.
Gavin missed his "personal goal" by six seconds although there's no specifics on what exactly that personal goal entailed. I'm guessing it was to complete an entire issue of Maxim in under a week, but I could be wrong.
Anyway, big ups to the Mayor for being up and running at the break of dawn while the rest of you were busy coordinating your striped 80's knee-socks and headbands before pounding a vodka cran and strolling along with the race for 5 blocks until you ran into Trevor from accounting (Trev!) who talking you into kicking it at his penis-themed sidewalk BBQ...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

congratulations hastings...

In 2003, I was working with my father on his yearly election coverage in which he utilized some intern he found.
"Beth, you've got to meet this kid." My father said to me. "He's really something."
I had no idea, rolling my eyes at the notion of a 20-year old political groupie, that Chris would become one of the most important people in my life, a friend in the truest sense of the word who has shared with me in every triumph, every heartbreak and everything in-between for the last seven years.
And so while this post isn't particularly anecdotal or funny or interesting to anyone who doesn't know Hastings and thus care that today, he graduated from law school, it is profoundly important for me to say: Chris Fadeff, you are one of the best friends I've ever known. I love you and I'm proud of you in ways I will never be fully able to express. Congratulations.

Friday, May 14, 2010

my kind of art...

An awesome reader named Tony, who clearly has my number found this amazing Flickr set called Jail Finds. The come from a county jail library volunteer. And they are wonderful.

I love Lady Antebellum as well.

If I'm in jail, call my dad too.
The above I particularly like because...I could do this all day. This looks like a couple of criminals had a good time in the lounge.
I would actually read Chicken Soup for the Gay Ass Soul over any other Chick Soup book.
Happy Birthday (sigh...)
Hesitantly Champagne is my new drag name.
Chola and Gabana
According to the Flickr account, the jail staff drew the clothes on the cyclist.
I call this "black diapers."
Butter Man reminds me of Bugs Meany.
I imagine Mrs. Butterscotch works in the cafeteria and is really friendly and loud and warm and all, "Hey baby! I saved you some of that tuna casserole you like. With the crispy parts and extra peas!"

And finally, the above looks like the preferred snacklist of my best friend. Thank you Tony for this amazing find! And please, everyone, enjoy hundreds more...

no word on if the prom date survived...

Guest star Brock Keeling, on today's Weekend What's Up!

get it? life...

I can only imagine why he was awake at 4am EST, but in chatting with Grey Cloud late last night, he mentioned it was a shame I never got the chance to interview Bea Arthur.
As much as I love and identify with the late Ms. Arthur, I suspect she may have been a pretty serious, tough interview.
"You know who'd be a great interview?" Grey Cloud said. "David Leisure."
We then hatched a plan for my big "In Conversation" with the former Empty Nest star, a retrospective and Q&A on stage at the Castro. From our laptops on either side of the country, we began to learn and to love the talents of Mr. Leisure. Turns out, someone named David Leisure was executed by the state of Missouri in 1999. Do yourself a favor and read all about his crime right HERE.
As a result of this discovery, we came up with the following,
"The world knows two David Leisures: one, a sitcom and soap star of dwindling fame and questionable sexuality and the other, a convicted killer sentenced to die by the long arm of the law. When their identities get switched, it's non-stop laughs in this new show from the CW: LIFE of Leisure."

Thursday, May 13, 2010

what is that, a croissandwich...

Today's See Spot Write is up on the SF Appeal. I went to the SF Young Dem's May Meeting for you. You're welcome...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

babysitters day...

With most of my family celebrating Mother's Day and Brother's Day in the Big Apple, I enjoyed another Sunday evening with Big Chris, who took pains to repeatedly imply that I was his mother.
We had dinner at the bar of the very fabulous Tavern at Lark Creek, formerly the Lark Creek Inn which still resides across the street from my grammar school. The whole vibe in there is different, and yet the ladies room is in the same place. Win-win.
To my shock, Chris looked at the menu and said, "Go nuts! This is on me, mom."
"Chris, you've never bought me a coke."
"Yeah." He said as he smiled at the bartender. "But it's your special day."
On and on, this Mother's Day farce went, prompting me to occasionally offer, "I'm not his mom."
Chris is older than me and Filipino, but I still felt the need to make it clear. I would never raise this.
"Are you gonna finish whatever the hell that is?"
"No, I'm done."
He motioned for me to pass my plate, then asked if I would cut it and feed it to him.
"Dessert mom?" He was really enjoying himself.
"No thanks."
"But I know how you like your coffee after dinner." He looked across the bar. "My mother here would love a coffee."
He helped me up from my chair, he parked valet, he really took what should have been a 10-second joke and turned it into a 3 hour comedy routine for the benefit of himself and an array of waitstaff, all of whom appeared nervously confused. Obviously, I wasn't his mother. But this is the 90's! There could have been some complicated family structure that would allow a 33 year old Pacific Islander to treat a 32-year old WASP to Mother's Day.
I had no idea how to play this one. My constant, "He's kidding" only made everyone more nervous, except for Chris who just ignored me. And his, "You moms always order appetizers as entrees!" were met with knowing nods from everyone around us.
When Chris excused himself to "the little sons room" I leaned towards our friendly bartender.
"He's not my son, you know. He's my idiot friend."
"Okay." The bartender slowly said. "Should I take his plate away?"
I looked down to find certain ingredients from Chris' meal picked out and piled at the far end of his otherwise empty plate.
"Yeah. He's done. He's just...he's a picky eater."

Monday, May 10, 2010

duncan's toy chest? right away sir...

One of the most fascinating things about my baby brother is the swirl. Do you see it?In the middle of my brother's forehead, right at his hairline, he's got the swirl: a freakish act of nature in which his bangs turn into a timewarp. If you stick your finger in the middle, you might time travel. I can't be sure. He refuses to let me try.
Today is my brother's 27th birthday. There are a million wonderful things about my calm, friendly, easy-going, funny, sweet, dramatically-different-from-me brother. But my favorite things about him are always the weird things: his hair swirl, the crazy shit he says in his sleep, the prayer shrines he built himself before Pop Warner games, his pride at being able to wiggle his ears.
When Alex was little, he used to cringe and scream, "Don't see me!" as everyone sang Happy birthday. I, on the other hand, stood on my chair demanding "the rose."
So I hope that everyone sees Alex today. I hope everyone hugs him and kisses him and screams at him what an amazing man he's become. I hope everyone knows how truly special and different he is, how smart and hard-working Alex is, how kind and mellow and good-intentioned Alex is.
I hope everyone sees Alex. Because he's wonderful and fun and the most important person in the entire world. And he has that swirl, which actually glows on full moons.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

we are nearing 'just for men' time...

Mayor Newsom's latest video, posted on Monday but someone of us have lives (I'm referring to you, not me), is a 13 minute and 47 second commercial for Lieutenant Governor, with occasional explanations of how government works.
This is actually my favorite kind of lesson because I love it when Gavin performs for the camera and really, how else would I learn?
I've come to the conclusion that much like myself, Gavin gets hooked on a certain look for awhile and then drops it. For years, the Mayor wore navy or dark grey suits with light blue ties. Exclusively. Sure there were a few seductive moments of athletic apparel or the occasional open collar, but 90% of the Mayor's wardrobe was a navy suite with a light blue tie.
For the past few months, Gavin has moved on to a light-weight grey suit with a white open collared shirt. These are hopefully all different suits and shirts, but he wears the same thing. Every day. Everywhere. Hello Spring!
Hold on. Wait one second. I just started paying attention to this video with...what? The Bay Tunnel? A tunnel underneath the Bay? Going where? For what, bikes? You know, touching on these little news items in a commercial isn't fucking fair. I had to look it up. It's for drinking water, whatever that means. When, I wonder, was the last time Gavin Newsom touched tap water? I'm not even talking about in restaurants, where I promise you, he orders a $6 bottle of sparkling like everyone else. I'm talking about his private residential plumbing, which I'm pretty sure uses whatever the trendy version of Evian is.
Back to the video, it's a lot of the Mayor shaking a green-covered budget at us and talking about how fantastic not just San Francisco is, but the "entire region." It "deserves some complimentary reflection."
You want complimentary reflection, honey? Look in a mirror. Ba-dum-bum. (cymbals.)
The Mayor also wants to, "applaud some of us, or all of us, for, ya know, steppin' up." Again, because everything in San Francisco is just so amazing and utopian right now. All I can imagine is Chris Daly watching this and giving Gavin the slow, sarcastic clap.
The direction we're taking, by the way, is "a direction most San Franciscans aren't familiar with or aware of." Pay attention, idiots! You're welcome.
Something obviously went wrong with the video camera towards the last quarter of the video, because it keeps zooming in and out for no reason. The only thing I can think of is that our devoted cameraperson got bored and started pressing buttons just to see what would happen. Zooooooom in. Okay, I'm bored. Zoooooooom out.
Finally, at the very, very end Gavin mentions TWU and holds up a pamphlet like we're all supposed to know what he's talking about. My first guess is Transit Workers Union because various Facebook groups have been bitching about Muni lately, so I'm guessing busses are on the fritz again. Lemme just...yep. I guessed correctly.
I like how the Mayor slowly explains to us various roles of government like Mister Rogers explaining how a letter gets mailed, but then drops TWU and PCU and all kinds of random shit at the end, and we're all supposed to be like, "fuckin' TWU better step up!"
What? Who? Hold ON. For 13 straight minutes of the video, the Mayor has pointed out every rainbow, butterfly and cherry blossom in San Francisco, implying that if you like what you see here, this could all be yours California. But in the last 47 seconds, he gets all inside baseball, with this "family" of labor leaders needing to get together to work through this "very difficult time."
My hands are in the air, I give up. I am clearly too stupid to grasp the Mayor's nuance. Maybe it's all that tap water I've been using to wash my hair. Anyway, this week gets a "S" for satisfactory. We're using Montessori grades because I think I just got dyslexia. Speaking of which, the quote of the video is:
"So proverbially, not just rhetorically, substantively rather..."
You can watch the whole thing RIGHT HERE...

Friday, May 07, 2010

goodbye night of restful slumber...

The body of the missing Fairfield woman was found in rural Napa this morning by someone walking a dog. Police are looking into rumors that she was having an affair with her married boss, but I think you know where I instantly go with this sad news.
Refresh your memories folks. Caught up? Good.
I've created a rustic timeline and map to give you the lay of the land.
January, 2010: 2 women disappear from Point Reyes one week apart.
February, 2010: 1 Glen Ellen woman found dead in a creek way up north near Highway 1.
April, 2010: 1 Fairfield woman goes missing
May, 2010: Fairfield woman's body found in Napa.

I don't know about you people, but I am fucking freaking out. I realize I propose this theory everytime a female goes missing, but I ju...COULD THIS HOUSE PLEASE STOP CREAKING AND CRACKING!?!? Anyway, I in no way wish to taunt any psychotic misunderstood killer. I just saw this very sad news and couldn't help but wonder...

also, i want that sweater...

Happy Mother's Day to my closest friend, my constant confidant, my voice of reason and the only one to go through 24 straight hours of excruciating pain so I could explode from within her to complicate her life for 32 years and counting. Yay Joanne! In today's Weekend What's Up on SFGate and KOFY-TV...

Thursday, May 06, 2010

elementary my dear manson...

I got home late last night to discover a package placed on my bed. Something had come in the mail! A present! A surprise! A mystery.
Inside the package was a used copy of "The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories" by Agatha Christie. There was no note, no indication of who sent it. I flipped through the book and looked at the receipt. Other than noting that someone loves me to the tune of $10.95 plus shipping and handling, there were no clues. The book had come from Esmond, Rhode Island and was ordered on April 25th.
I put on my jammies, crawled into bed and began reading "The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories" until a thought slowly occurred to me.
Maybe someone hates me to the tune of $10.95 plus shipping and handling. How quickly does it take to die from anthrax? Can one smell anthrax? Had I noticed any tell-tale powder?
Agatha Christie is one of my favorite people ever. But she did write about murder a lot. So...this could go one of two ways.
First thing this morning, I got on the horn to Esmond, Rhode Island. It took an eternity, explaining myself and my mystery to "Mark." I think he could tell from my fast-paced, time-is-money tone that I'm not used to someone looking this kind of information up in an actual paper file. This guy had like, a cabinet. With "records" and "copies" in it.
"Look under S. For Spotswood."
After listening to papers being shuffled for a fucking eternity, Mark announced, "Here it is! Well, it looks like a relative, or a husband."
"A husband is a relative."
"It's from a Richard Spotswood in Mill Valley, California."
"That's my father."
"He sent you a book!"
"So I guess I don't need to worry about Anthrax."
The Mystery of the Anonymous Package has been solved. Thanks Dad! And with his sweet gift, he reminded me of something. In my parents annoying quest to do good, they gave a bunch of their books to a retirement home, orphanage, etc. Recently over for dinner, I asked my father, "Remember that book 88 Men and 2 Women?"
My father's face fell. "Yes."
"I need to borrow it. I want to read it again." I had last read this non-fiction book on San Quentin's executions bu Warden Clinton T. Duffy when I was 10.
My father looked at my mother, terrified. "We...I gave it away."
"To the fucking orphans!?!?! My childhood book about executions!?!? You gave away?!?!?""
"I'm sure you can find it online."
Actually, for reasons I will never understand, it is out of print. But in my quest, I discovered THIS terrific article from a 1990 Los Angeles Times. It's a fabulous piece on the history of capital punishment in the Golden State, with a fascinating true version of the execution of Gordon Northcot. Yep, the guy from The Changling!
Did you know they stretched the hanging rope for 2 years to get rid of any bounce? How did they know it wasn't ready after 1 year? Or 6 months, even? 6 months seems like enough to me. But what do I know? I'm certainly no expert at this. And I never will be.
Because some poor kid or near dead is busy not appreciating my rightful first edition of 88 Men and 2 Women...

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

question number thirteen (and i like it too)...

As the late, great Bob Spotswood would say, "run, don't walk" to see "You Don't Know Jack." Although it's on HBO, so run home and see it. Provided you have HBO. Which I don't.
But my parents do! And they are once again out of town, providing me with what I've come to appreciate is almost a bed & breakfast experience. As my meeting ticked by last night, I got antsy. Amanda leaned over whispered, "Seriously. When is this over? I have plans."
"I know." I whispered back. "Me too. Al Pacino is playing Jack Kevorkian and Brenda Vaccaro is his sister."
I wondered if Amanda's plans were nearly as nerdy awesome as mine, and hightailed it out of there as soon as I was allowed to. I raced up the mountain, carried my father's fucking quarterly supply of nuts from "The Pecan Store" up the front stairs, dropped everything TWICE on my ascent and made myself a french press coffee before settling in to the TV Room.
Alone in the wilderness with a 2 hour and 15 minute star-studded TV movie about assisted suicide? Don't mind if I do.
Everything about this movie is fabulous. And by everything, I mean Brenda Vaccaro.
Brock often uses Brenda Vaccaro as a punchline. For example, if Brock were to refer to a mutual acquaintance, a local celebrity or really, any woman over 25, he's likely ot say, "She's no Brenda Vaccaro." We have elevated this 70 year old actress to icon status and I can think of no one more deserving. Honestly. THIS is Brenda and her fourth husband, Guy Hector.
To dare but to fucking dream, right?
Brenda's best line in "You Don't Know Jack" is when her brother, Dr. Death screams across a Buick, "Is that a new wig?"
"What? Yes. Why? It's rum raisin? You don't like it?"
Al Pacino is amazing. just amazing. The whole thing is mesmerizing, weird and funny. Barry Levinson directed it, and there's a very obvious smattering of "The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom" style irreverence, which I found heavenly.
So please trust me when I tell you, you really, really will want to see "You Don't Know Jack" and I will totally see it again again, so just keep me posted on times, dates, etc.
And now: Euthanasia.
I have jokingly said many times before, I don't care what you need to do, who you need to bribe, what every doctor tells you, never unplug me. I want to be kept alive at any cost because I will probably wake right up the second I suspect I'm not getting enough attention.
However, in last night's TV movie, Dr. Death describes his mother's illness, and asks us to imagine the worst toothache ever. Then imagine that horrible toothache pain in every single bone in your body, all the time. Between last night and this morning, it's been all I could think about. I just keep trying to feel it, for one little second. Because it must take a lot to get oneself to THIS.
One of Dr. Kevorkian's first patients wanted to die because she had Alzheimer's, and I thought of my grandmother who spent the last years of her life spiraling into dementia, brandishing knives, screaming for help, constantly confused and frightened. And she had been such a snarky force of nature, my grandmother. Appearance was everything to her, the right clothes, the right dinner party menu, the right granddaughter. I wonder what Grandma would have chosen, had she known. Even as a devout, guilt-ridden Catholic, I can't imagine my grandmother would have even tollerated the notion that one day she'd be screaming about kidnappers and rapists, oblivious to reality.
But what do you do, when a doctor tells you this is what's happening? You're losing your mind, it's only going to get worse, there's nothing to do.
Do you cross your fingers and hope for a miracle?
Or do you let some "doctor" in a VW van drive you out to the woods, lay you down, give you a second to say your goodbyes and hand you a STRING (no joke) so you can pull it and painlessly end your life?
I'm curious as to your thoughts...

Monday, May 03, 2010

also, two thumbs up on tombstone...

There’s something kind of nice and reassuring about being someone’s emergency contact. Somehow, the fact that I’m responsible enough and close enough to someone to whom I’m not related validates that I’m a terrific person. I’m worth keeping around. I’m a viable option for 5 and a half hours in the emergency room of UCSF on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon.
I am Melissa’s emergency contact. And over coffee yesterday afternoon, an array of weird symptoms punctuated by a dizzy spell freaked Mel out enough to call our friend, Dr. Leslie. Dr. Leslie is a pediatrician, but willing to diagnose potentially life-threatening illnesses in adults via phone. Leslie was worried Mel’s swollen arm and her dizzy spell might indicate a blood clot. So off to UCSF we sped, maneuvering around a homeless man taking a standing nap in the middle of 18th Street.
Who doesn't love any excuse to yell out a car window, and I felt our ride to the emergency room gave me carte blanche to dole out personal advice.
“You need to pull it together!” I shouted this at a hobo, much to Melissa’s amusement.
I realized then my role. Much like a family funeral or my brother’s towed car, my job was comic relief. Gallows humor is my only real talent, something I can consciously summon, like math skills or fluency in Spanish.
At 2:15pm, we raced into the UCSF Emergency Room. I was given a pink sticker proclaiming, “GRIFFIN” by a wall of a woman and we walked to the check in window. Each administrative window has one seat, by the way. So guests of the dying have to stand. We held hands as Melissa explained her symptoms, handed over her insurance and detailed her medical history. I was hoping she’d be forced to reveal some huge medical secret I’d never known, but it turns out, I knew everything already. (Snooze.)
Suddenly over the loudspeaker, someone requested a rectal thermometer.
Melissa looked up from her paperwork. “Did someone just request a rectal thermometer?”
“Yep.” Said the young woman helping us.
“Fabulous.” I smiled. “That’s why we’re here!”
There was lots of hurry up and wait. We found two seats by a small mounted flat screen in the waiting room and watched Tombstone with a couple chomping on hot dogs. Occasionally we lept up whenever we heard, “Marissa Gliffin,” heading "backstage" to get Mel’s blood pressure taken or repeat the swollen arm/dizzy story again.
Sitting in that waiting room watching Tombstone, Melissa announced, “If this is the last movie I ever see, I’m okay with it.”
I thought she was kidding until she amused herself by shouting our each line before the actor could. This was my first viewing of the film Tombstone and it provoked an hour long conversation on whether or not Billy Zane wears guy-liner. (For the record, we’re fine either way.)
Cell phone reception is very limited in the waiting room, but I tweeted our circumstances in the hopes that flowers and hysterical concerned phone calls would flood UCSF. Other than Hastings offering to bring us magazines, everyone was being very blasĂ© about Melissa knocking on heaven’s door.
Punctuating this was my standard Sunday plans with Big Chris, which are always vague, but always. I texted Chris to alert him of our grave medical emergency. My phone glowed with the response, “Can she get me some painkillers?”
“No.” Melissa rolled her eyes. “But I bet I can get him birth control.”
In response, I texted her offer. Chris’ response isn’t appropriate, even for here. It was 3:45 in the afternoon. And much like an experienced babysitter, I knew Chris would need to be fed soon.
Looking around the waiting room, we were disappointed that maladies and injuries weren’t obvious. Everybody looked perfectly fine to us, making it doubly frustrating that their names were being called before Marissa Gliffin’s.
“Nobody’s got a fucking arrow sticking out of their head” Melissa whispered, “but some of these people look pretty anxious.”
One gentleman had clearly taken a nasty spill on his bicycle. I suspected him a victim of yesterday’s “Escape from Alcatraz Triathalon.” He looked bloodied, bruised, miserable. Surrounded by his family and fiancĂ© shoving her engagement ring in the face of everyone with 20 feet, I couldn’t help but think, “Any man of mine could ride a fucking bike, but congratulations to you both.”
As Melissa ate the Chex Mix I procured from the gift shop in the regular part of the hospital, she watched Tombstone and sighed, “This is like a really long Pace Picante commercial.”
With that, they called her name and we were led through a maze of hospital hallways to our very own private Emergency Department room, complete with hospital gowns, latex gloves and lots of monitors begging me to “touch screen to start.”
This, of course, is when the real action began.
The two most beat-up patients waited on gurneys in the hallway while we, perfectly fine and giggly, lounged in Melissa’s very own brightly lit boudoir, providing the perfect view of hubbub and hot doctors. Time ticked by while we discussed life and love and sang songs and created so much noise, nurses poked their heads in to see what was so funny.
As we were laughing at the cyclist, I imagined a blood clot shooting from Melissa’s arm to her brain. “What if you dropped dead right now?”
“Well” Melissa said, “You could write on my tombstone, ‘She died as she lived: Laughing at the expense of others.’”
We decided I should venture outside to call Chris and warn him this was taking forever. “When I pass the cyclist, do you dare me to say something?”
“Yeah! Yeah! Talk shit!”
We came up with, “Nice work, Live Strong” but I chickened out at the last minute, only because I was distracted by a child in a crib cage, complete with bars across the top. The moment I stepped within range, my phone beeped a text at me. It was Big Chris.
I’m hungry!” This came through three times.
Next, “Brilliant idea! We can go to San Tung!” Chris had clearly realized our proximity to his favorite Chinese joint in his hand-wringing fret over Melissa.
Finally, “This is taking too long.” I had to agree with him on that one.
I walked back inside, passing our hot dog friends who’d gone from watching Tombstone to Law & Order SVU. The woman, her blouse falling forward to reveal inappropriate and ill-fitting themed lingerie, exhaled to her mate, “My eyeballs feel hot.”
Upon informing Melissa of this symptom, we decided she was Zuul from Ghostbusters. I became distracted by any attractive man, numbering the hot doctors and calling dibs on them, particularly number 2.
“Wait, wait, wait. Which one is number 2?” Melissa climbed forward on her gurney and popped her head above mine. “Him, in the black shirt? He’s gay.”
“How dare you.”
A nurse came in and thanked us for being so patient. “Most people are yelling at us by now.”
Had we only known.
“When will we get a hot doctor?” I asked.
“Well, it depends on what you consider hot.”
“General, stereotypical, Hollywood-style hotness.”
“The supervising attendant is pretty hot. And he’s going to come by and check in. He does that with everybody.”
We received confirmation from various sources that indeed, the supervising attendant would live up to our expectations. Each time someone walked past, our noses would slam against the glass. “Is that him? Him? What about him? Jesus, lady. We’ve been here for 4 hours. And we some action!”
As soon as Dr. Nate walked in, Melissa gave me a knowing look. This was clearly him. Just like Dr. Cox on scrubs, Dr. Nate had two doctors with him, following him and his fabulous timepiece around with this big ultrasound machine so we could all learn how to determine if Melissa had blood clots swimming around in her arms.
UCSF, for those of you who live somewhere else, is the University of California’s Medical School. I kind of equate it to getting your hair cut at beauty school, but apparently the whole place is perfectly safe.
Dr. Nate dimmed the lights and we all began ultra-sounding Melissa’s arm. I could see what was going on inside Melissa on the little screen as Dr. Nate pointed out the differences between a vein and an artery.
“Oh my God, I can see your insides!”
“Sometimes, you can’t see this much.” Dr. Nate offered to his students. “But she’s thin so…”
I had to brace myself on the wall I was so thrilled for Melissa, who lay on the gurney in the dark, looked up at Dr. Nate and smiled, “I love you.”
Dr. Nate, incidentally, looks like a cross between a tan Hugh Grant and Bobby Kennedy. In scrubs. And kind of smiley and patient. (Hold on. I just got the giggles.)
So here we all are in the dark, Dr. Gorgeous having called Melissa thin and having laughed at my jokes, and I decided this had shaped up to a pretty great Sunday afternoon. Especially because, or perhaps in spite of, nothing was really wrong with Melissa. Whatever caused the swelling and dizziness wasn’t a blood clot. She was going to live.
“Are you sure, Dr. Nate?” I asked, my head lowered, my eyes raised.
“I’m afraid so, ladies.” He may have winked.
Oooh! Giggle! Giggle!
“So we’re allowed to leave?”
“Not yet.” He told us. Melissa needed a prescription for her tapeworm or alien implant or whatever was fucking up her arm. And I needed to call Chris one last time.
“She’s fine!” I announced.
“No shit she’s fine. I’m on my way now. Where are we having dinner?”
Somewhere fancy. We want to celebrate.”
“Excellent. I look forward to making fun of you both over a $35 chicken.”
It was 8pm on the dot when we walked out of UCSF, a full five and half hours we'd entered.
"You are the best friend in the world." Melissa gushed, grabbing my arm.
I gazed up at the sunset. "I know."
"I think it's your humility..."

Sunday, May 02, 2010

actually, i kinda did...

With an hour to kill before our dinner reservation, Leslie and I wandered the outer Richmond looking for a bar.
"How can there not be a bar out here?" Leslie's heels clicked on the sidewalk as she pulled her blazer tighter around herself.
"I used to be able to smell them out, but I guess I've lost it." My hair turned to dreadlocks in the wind as I tried to twist my pencil skirt back into position.
None of the divey little joints near 22nd and Geary had bars. They were all over-lit and crowded Asian restaurants or weird diner/video store hybrids. We'd already valet parked at Aziza and were dressed up, taking each other on a Saturday night date because we wanted to have an "adventure."
"There has to be a bar here. The neighborhood drunks would demand it."
"I don't know, Beth." Leslie's head was down, her chin on her chest fighting the cold. "This is a fucking grim stretch."
Finally, we saw a neon shamrock up ahead. Familiar celtic font proclaimed, "The Blarney Stone" and Leslie and I struggled with the door. There was almost a little foyer with stacks of fliers and free weeklies, like we were walking into a Tower Records or similar, but once past the Push/Pull door and middle-aged band poster, we found a darkly lit, typical Irish bar with a few drunks hunkered down on barstools and a giggly group at a table in the middle.
Not ideal, The Blarney Stone was the best we were going to do. "Here's your adventure." Leslie whispered.
"I think we're over-dressed."
Leslie and I sat next to each other, as closely as possible. On my right was a 20-something man with a shaved head. He was very tall, potentially attractive and looked like he got in fights at British football games. Leslie announced he looked like the kind of guy that headbutts people in fights.
On Leslie's left was a massive, ancient drunk missing the majority of his teeth. His hair morphed somehow into a beard and he was wearing the "Blarney Stone St. Patrick's Day 2010" t-shirt displayed above the bar and available for $11. His flat hand slammed the bar in time with the metal ballads and he occasionally spoke to himself. Or us. We were too scared to even look in his direction.
Headbutter went to the men's room, emerging an eternity later.
"Drugs." Leslie said.
I nervously tugged at my statement earrings as Toothless lumbered up from his chair to stand in between us.
"I am the Mayor of the Blarney Stone!" He breathed in my face, only because I was the lone one guilted into politely looking at him. Leslie kept her eyes on her beer. "How you ladies doing tonight?"
"Er, uh, good thanks."
He was 55, maybe. But it has been a rough 55 years. I made the grave error of looking into his cavernous mouth to find a couple loose teeth, a chunk of last week's sandwich, etc. I wouldn't have been surprised if a centipede had crawled out. It was that disgusting.
"Do you smoke weed?" He was elbowing me, his huge body invading both of our spaces.
"Nope. No. No thank you."
"You don't smoke weed? I wanna know if you wanna smoke a joint with me."
His gnarled fist moved forward, right in between our two faces. Leslie continued to stare at her glass, I couldn't help but look.
"I grew this!" he said as he uncurled his fist to reveal a sweaty bud of marijuana.
The smell coming off the weed and off him was bracing. A mix of body odor, drugs, stereotypes and well shots, it was all I could do not to cough.
"No thank you. Really, I'm fine. but thank you."
Leslie's head stayed down, her balled fists in her lap. Breaking my eye-contact rule, I quickly looked up at him to offer a solid, "No thank you."
And toothless looked down at me, sitting with my windblown hair in my statement earrings and spat, "You are very beautiful."
"Oh...thank you."
"I'm an old man, though. So what do I know."
And with that, he stumbled back to his stool on the other side of Leslie. She finally looked up from her glass.
"I bet you feel really good about yourself right now..."