Monday, January 31, 2011

i literally almost died last night, just to mock a chain restaurant...

Two people were shot to death last night at 8:20pm next door to Joe's Crab Shack. Big Chris and I finished dinner last night at Joe's Crab Shack!
So basically, I risked my life to bring you and the readers of SFGate a tourist trap experience. Please enjoy it...

"I give my good friend Big Chris a hard time, but at moments like this, when he's willing to follow the weird guy at the next table into the men's toilet just to see what happens, I offer a silent prayer of thanks to the heavens."

Sunday, January 30, 2011

they did not have last holiday. unbelievable...

I have just returned from my birthday present from Melissa: A weekend at the Carneros Inn. The extravagant present was made even more glitzy, because a little bird called ahead and told them to be nice to us. As a result, Melissa and I arrived to trumpets, fanfare and an upgrade from a regular room to a huge, two-bedroom house.
As Trevor (That's not his real name, it's just what I started calling him) showed us around the house we'd be occupying for the weekend, Melissa and I tried to play it cool. As a result, Trevor was subjected to two 30-somethings with a serious case of the giggles.
Melissa and I each had, in essence, our own wing with separate bedrooms and bathrooms. So instead of going to a big fancy dinner for my birthday, we went to the Carneros Inn's fancy little market, got fancy little sandwiches, filled plastic bags full of gummi bears and malt balls and retired to our living room, watching Titanic as we sat in front of the fireplace.
We did our nails and Melissa busted out her super fancy potions and creams, we we slapped on our faces. In my rapidly advancing age, I could not have been happier spending my 33rd birthday in hotel robes doubled over in laughter all night with my number one ho.
Saturday, we headed to the Napa outlets, came back to the HOUSE and got ready for dinner at FARM, the hotel's grown-up restaurant. Our server, Trevor Number Two, was tasked with finding us a DVD copy of "Last Holiday."
"It's starring Queen Latifah and L.L. Cool J, Trevor."
"Got it. I got it. What if they don't have it?"
"Are you kidding me? They'd better have it."
"Okay, well while I go find you your DVD, I took the liberty of ordering you guys the chocolate souffle."
"Um, Trevor Number Two, I love you a little bit right now."
As Trevor Number Two left, we debated inviting him back to our pad. We tried to find an appropriate way of making this happen. "Okay, okay. Just say, 'Trevor. What do you say we blow this joint and you come back to our place? We can hang out, maybe all crawl into one of the beds and snuggle, watch a little Last Holiday. Nothing sexual, of course. Just, you know, smell our hair. Kiss us each on the forehead after we fall asleep...'"
"I can't say that."
We didn't, of course. We ended up hanging out at the bar and watching 'How to Marry a Millionaire' in French.
And now we're home, after police had to be called this afternoon to forcibly remove us. It was a wonderful weekend, although really, I could spend 48 hours in a Motel 6 at a rest-stop on I-80 with Melissa Griffin and have the best time of my life.
Which is a good thing, since I think that's what we're doing for my 34th.

PS: Lots of new VYou questions and answers up, featuring two answered by me and Mel, including one reader who wants to know why I was so rude when I met them. Oooohhhhhh...

Friday, January 28, 2011

me, me, me, me, me...

So, we've got three exciting things going on here today (in my head.) The first AND FOREMOST is that today is my birthday! It is also Brock's birthday but he is much, much, much, much older. Please feel free to bring this up to him.
(Happy Birthday Brochtrup Allen. I love you.)
The second is that I'm figuring out the VYou thing, and answered a bunch of additional questions. Click on the question you'd like to hear the answer to (next to or below my silent "waiting for a question" video) and then my head and voice pop up and sass you a recorded response. You can try it right now with questions I've answered such as my favorite interview ever, the best San Francisco house I've been in and what TV shows I'm obsessed with.
So again, just click on any question. We're learning together here.
And finally, a new episode of Necessary Conversation is up and ready for your judgement! We're shaking off the cobwebs after a month of hiatus. My joke-writing ability has been better. But I like the new intro and I like the end. And next week's is edgy and already in the can. So thanks for hanging around and sticking with us!

Episode 16 - iPak from Necessary Conversation on Vimeo.

Melissa and I are off to one of Gavin's hotels for the weekend (no joke!) to celebrate my birthday in style and hopefully steal some towels. My parents just had a stack of crime books delivered to my house, I'm using my new French Press my brother gave me, and I am thus far pretty down with being the same age as Jesus...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

do you want to sleep over...

TripAdvisor released it's list of Top 10 Grossest Hotels in America and number two is the Jack London Inn in Oakland. This is my favorite review:

"I don't stank! You stank!" Those words echoed down the hall and through the paper thin walls of our room. At 2am our fellow guests down the hall had started their loud and drunken party. Now it was 4:30am and the party had devolved into a screaming match in the hallway.

BANG BANG BANG. That is the sound of someone beating on the door of our room. While our calls to the front desk had failed to summon any hotel staff, our neighbors had taken the time from their drinking and fighting to tell us they did not appreciate our complaints. With some effort we barricaded the door with furniture and sat by the phone ready to call 911. Luckily the partiers had tired of harassing other hotel guests and returned to fighting amongst themselves.

When I left that morning for the first day of the bar exam, the party down the hall was still going. During the bar exam's lunch break my girlfriend and I gathered our things and left for another hotel. Judging by the other reviews on this web site, our experience was not unique. In short, I have spent the night in cheap Bolivian hotels next to soccer riots that were quieter than the Jack London Inn.

Assuming the other patrons had been quiet all night, I would still consider the Jack London Inn the worst hotel I had ever seen. The rooms displayed a level of filth and discomfort that mere neglect could never produce. The parking lot resembled a post apocalyptic junk yard. The halls reeked of cigarette smoke, body odor, and failure. Commuter rail trains, horns blasting, passed the hotel every few minutes.

I would have had a better experience drinking $45 of cheap wine and spending the night in Oakland's drunk tank than I had at the Jack London Inn for $45 a night. At least the jailer would have had the courtesy to tell the inmates to be quiet. If Jack London were alive today, he would change his name to avoid any association with this benighted hotel.

I think this would be a funny Tourist Trapped. To, you know, stay here. I feel strongly there is safety in numbers. I don't snore, but I scare easily and am wildly judgemental. I plan on staying up all night, chugging Diet Coke, chewing ice and grabbing your arm, hissing, "Did you hear that?!?!"
Are any of you brave enough...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

new goddamn media...

Katie Baker talked me into this. I'm joining the array of "Hearst writers" to answer anyone's questions on a VYou Channel, much like my foxy friends Paolo Lucchesi, Phil Bronstein and Peter Hartlaub have done before me. So basically, you type in a question for me, if I'm willing to answer it I make a little video answer, and then I post it, allowing you to finally exhale and discover the answer to your burning questions.
Obviously, I'm not exactly a private person. And it can be about anything, not just SFGate stuff. Although I'm pretty sure they're putting this on the Gate. Tourist Trapped, Necessary Conversation, my tap dance abilities...lay it on me:

That could not have been more embarrassing to film. My roommate was like, "What are you do.... nevermind."
So this is just my "waiting for a question" video. Then, in 20 years when someone finally gets bored enough to ask me something, I'll record an answer. And post 'em here, on the Gate, maybe Facebook. My mother is now really, really confused.
Just go with it!

"i hate anyone that ever had a pony when they were growing up..."

On today's SFGate Culture Blog, I check out Mayoral candidate and glamorous venture capitalist Joanna Rees. And more importantly, snoop through Bill Hemenger's media nook...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

i bet gayle's all, whatever...

Oprah revealed yesterday on her show, which I watch religiously (inexplicably prompting my mother to roll her eyes), that she has a secret half-sister she just discovered!
In addition to Oprah's dead brother Jeffrey and dead sister Patricia, her mother gave up a baby girl years ago named...Patricia! So basically, it's like Patricia Number 1 never left.
All I can think about, and I can't be alone in my crass curiosity, is how long it takes for Patricia Number 2 to go from middle class and sister-less to living the life of (Ope yell) OPRAH'S LONG LOST SISTER!!!
Once that DNA test came through and Oprah was like, "Tears! OMG! Patricia Number 2!", you know P2 was like, "So, um, I drive a 1987 Camry. And uh, these earrings are Claire's."
Does Oprah just immediately write her a check, put her on the payroll, buy her a house? How does this work? Because the dream of any adopted kid must be, "I bet I'm really related to the most famous and important person in the world."
I am not adopted and I think that every day.
Other questions I have include: is P2 scared because obviously, Oprah prefers to be an only child? I mean, both of her siblings are dead. BOTH.
And, did you watch this very special episode? Oprah's mom, Vernita, who gave P2 up for adoption, is not exactly going to win the world's warmest mother award.
Although this is old news, as according to Wikipedia, Oprah has stated that she has, "chosen not to be a mother because she had not been mothered well."
Deal with that, Vernita.
Anyway, Oprah brings P2 over to Vernita's house (aka: the house that Oprah built) and sitting around the dining room table, Oprah asks her mom why she gave up P2 and never said a word about her. Vernita, WITH HER BACK TO P2, slowly and kind of tersely explains to Oprah why she gave "her" up.
And I kept thinking, "Look at P2, Vernita! Tell it to P2!"
P2, much to her credit, seems pretty nice and normal. P2 just went looking for her birth-mother and when she found out she was related to the ruler of the world, never tried to sell her story to the tabloids. Needless to say, Oprah is loving this about P2 right now.
Anyway, back to the real issue, who does this all work, money-wise? Does P2 at least get all of Oprah's favorite things? There are like, years of back-presents. Seriously. I've got to know...

UPDATE: In my need to know more about Vernita, I discovered this eye-opening quote: "Once you could get a guy to take you out to dinner and take you to do nice things," Vernita says. "You can't get no man to do that today! For the most part, they are in prison. And the others, they just are not interested in the young ladies."

That explains it.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

maybe we'll be picnicking friends...

I am not sharing this story with you because I am a wonderful person. I am sharing this story with you because I want you to think I am a wonderful person. Which I'm not. I only do certain things so better things happen to me.
For example, last night I worked late because I was meeting Brock, Eve and Sally at the Clift for a la-ti-da party about cocktails or curtains or something. Anyway, I rushed out of my building at 7pm wearing a ridiculous floral kimono, heading around the block to my parking garage.
On the corner, there stood a teeny, tiny African-American woman trying to get the attention of anyone walking by. She had super short grey hair and an Army jacket on, and she stopped me and asked, "Can you spare some money because I'm in trouble and..."
"I'm sorry." I said and looked right past her.
"I'm stuck." She said, shaking and freaking out and grabbing my kimono. "I had my husband arrested for beating me and he's getting out in three hours and I need to get me and my daughter to a shelter."
She said it so fast that I didn't have time to get away from her. And she looked so sincere, so serious, so desperate.
I have seen that look before.
I have seen that look in rehab.
It is the, "I know I look like the kind of person who screws things up but right now I am not fucking around look."
So I started asking her questions, much to the relief of anyone else on the sidewalk. They all looked at me like, "Good. She's your problem now."
I wasn't committing, tho. I just wanted to see how legit she was.
"Why are you here?"
"They told me I could find a shelter here, but it's full. They're all full." She was talking very fast, and continued, "I can get into a shelter in (another county) but I need to take a cab and I don't have enough money."
Apparently, all of the battered womens' shelters in San Francisco are full. And the shelter in this other Bay Area county would pay for half of the cab. So this woman needed to come up with $32.50. She had in her hands pieces of scribbled notes and information, an address of a place and quick answers to all of my side-eyed questions.
"How do you know it's $32.50? How do you know they have room for you? How old is your daughter? What is her name? Where do you live?"
She was on it, still giving me that look.
"I only have $7." She said. "I can't believe it, but I only have $7."
And I figured, fuck it. I do nothing good or positive, pretty much ever. And there's someone on a sidewalk, which I've been programmed to ignore, who is having a horrible, scary night. Or this is a scam and she's on drugs.
But fuck it.
My first thought was that I work at a TV station! That must be helpful somehow! But that's not really helpful at all. Pretty much ever.
I pulled out my wallet. All I had was $24. I handed it to her. "Okay. We're going to figure this out." I said. "I'm Beth."
She told me her name. She said thank you. And she hugged me.
Then I had lots of questions. Which cab company, where is your daughter, when is your husband released, where will you go, do you have to go back in your apartment?
And as it turned out, she needed to get to her apartment, which was basically across the street from where I was going. So together, we walked to my parking garage.
"You don't have like, a gun or anything? You're not going to rob me in my car, right?"
She took off her jacket and just kind of patted herself down, as I stumbled over my words, "Oh God, I'm so sorry. It's just..."
"No, no, no, Beth." She said. "You have to be careful. I understand."
So we got in my car, and at this point, I felt like an asshole going to a free party at the Clift.
"I'm thinking I should drive you."
Without missing a beat, she said, "Do you have a carseat?"
"You'll get pulled over. She needs to be in a carseat. It's a $400 ticket."
"Well," I said, "Do you have a carseat?"
"It's in my husband's car and I don't have his keys. Cabs don't need carseats but regular cars do."
This seemed weird to me. But I'd basically given her all of the cash I had. If it was a scam, she'd gotten all the cash she was going to get and a free ride. Then, this woman who's name she told me, but I feel like I should probably keep this relatively anonymous, made small talk.
"So, do you have kids?"
"Not yet, huh? You're young."
"Listen. I'm going to be worried about this all night. Why don't I just drive you. Or call the shelter and I can talk to someone."
I don't know what the hell I would have said or done.
"Hello, I'm Beth Spotswood and I have a blog, as you probably know, and I've been to rehab so this battered woman's deal is practically the same thing and anyway, how can I benevolently work my bourgeois magic here?"
She gave me her phone number and I gave her mine and she promised to call when she got to the shelter. I was more worried about giving her my phone number than anything else, but again, fuck it.
The whole ride, in addition to expressing anger and disgust at the horrible drivers whizzing past us, she talked about being a positive role model for her daughter and how her husband is an asshole and where she's from and where she used to work. And everything she mentioned, I felt like I had some personal connection to. She mentioned Dallas and I was like, "Oh! I have a very good friend in Dallas!" and she mentioned her old job as a credit analyst and I was all, "Oh! I have a very good friend who's a credit analyst!"
I was desperate for the universe to give me signs I was doing the right thing. But really, I wanted to physically put her and her daughter into this shelter. I wanted to see it happen.
Instead, I dropped her off where she told me too. And then I went and met my friends.
I heard nothing from this woman all night, and didn't really think about it until I was driving home hours later. I went home, put on my jammies, crawled in bed and started from reading aloud from the Monster of Florence in an Italian accent. Alone. Just for fun. And as I really embellished this part about a terrified witness, who was so freaked out at having to testify, he could only keep saying over and over, "we were only picnicking friends!" my phone beeped with a text.
"We made it! Thanks!"
So, I ask you, was it real? I have no idea. But I like to think so, because I can only muster random acts of kindness every decade or so. And I basically lived a very special episode of Designing Women last night, yet then put the whole thing on the internet. Karmically, I suspect, I'm breaking even...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

just saying...

i love you tara sullivan...

We used to tease Tara for her very dramatic, Elaine Benes-esque, "I KNOW!" reactions to things. You could say anything, really, and Tara would scream, "I KNOW!' You really have to drag out the word, "know." As in, "I KNNNNNOOOOOOWWWW!"
She said this with both extreme enthusiasm and incredulity that one might tell her something she was clearly aware of.
But as we all tend to do, Tara has moved on. And I have figured out what her new thing is.
It's, "kind of amazing."
Everything to Tara is "kind of amazing."
And the way one says this is to really emphasize the word, "kind."
"This cucumber raita is KIND of amazing."
"Today's yoga class was KIND of amazing."
And when I was having a horrible night last week, moping along a San Francisco sidewalk at 1am with a case of the blues, a slightly tipsy Tara had planted herself crosslegged there, sitting in gum and poo and God knows what, she earnestly grabbed my hands, looked into my eyes and said, "Beth, you are KIND of amazing."
To which I responded, "You said that about the fucking cucumber raita!"

Monday, January 17, 2011

still no word on what the hell is in jungle safari soup...

Today, on SFGate's Tourist Trapped, my new friend Catherine and I visit the humid Rainforest Cafe. Bonus material includes my introducing Catherine to the knock-off handbag speakeasy and Catherine demonstrating that a few terse words in Cantonese equal a significant discount on fake Chanel...

don't worry. melissa built it...

The past two weeks, ever since I got back from my trip, have kind of felt like I couldn't catch a break. Shit's just going wrong. Little shit, unimportant shit. But shit is turning to shit none the less. I'm telling myself this is no indication of the entirety of 2011. But I'm giving January the side eyes.
Anyway, I woke up Saturday morning determined to be a productive, positive grown-up. I'd been carrying around a gift card from Ikea for two years (oh yeah. two years) and decided, "Fuck it. I'm going to Ikea to buy a new bed."
This seemed like a reasonable idea. It's Ikea. How complicated can it be? And there's no shame in a woman buying furniture alone. I can do this by myself without crying.
No. No I can't.
I got myself to Ikea, impressive in and of itself as the freeways of the East Bay were designed by M.C. Escher. And sure there were crowds of families all rolling around on the display couches like they were ever going to buy a boxy, ultra-modern, blood-velvet sectional.
I looked at every piece of merchandise. I might be down in the dumps but I'm still human. I considered all kinds of things. A white fur rug, perhaps? I definitely need a new coffee table? Oh! "Art"! But I'd come for a bed and a bed I picked out. This one.
With big furniture, you've got to go downstairs and select the right cardboard box from the terrifying warehouse. I nervously grabbed a big, flat, furniture roller cart thing (loosely translated from Swedish) and made my way to Aisle 26, Bin 2.
There it was, my bed. In a big cardboard box, weighing 43 lbs.
I tried to lift it, determining that if I double parked back home, I could awkwardly but surely lift this thing from my car into the house. I moved the bed onto the cart, and at that point, I was committed to the ordeal.
With my bed pulled from it's bin, I got the two huge, heavy metal additions the instructions required, and piled it all onto my cart. It was looking very big and feeling very heavy. My purchases were also incredibly hard to maneuver, and it occurred to no one at Ikea on Saturday to get the hell out of anyone's way.
So there I was, pushing this overloaded cart with a metal bed on it through the Ikea warehouse, my sunglasses slipping off the top of my head, my big handbag clunking off my shoulder onto my elbow, trying to avoid clipping others' ankles with these huge metal bars jutting out 5 inches from the ground.
And every time someone got in my way, I'd get all exasperated and passive aggressively pretend to whisper, "Jesus Christ, lady. Come ON."
I paid for everything (I got a lamp too. Obviously.) and then pushed my purchases toward the holding area, an event unto itself as they've got to make a copy of your receipt and give you a number (143) and tell you where to bring your car.
I walked back to the massive parking lot, got in a fight with a man blocking my car, finally made it out of there, got stuck in the maze of one way roundabouts leading to the loading area and found the one parking space available.
Then I stood outside next to my car, as if the Ikea concierge would come running over with my purchases. Amazingly, it doesn't work that way. I had to go back inside, back to the holding area, present my number (143) and get my fucking cart back. Then, with lots of "Jesus Christ, lady!"s, I got my shit to my car and looked at the backseat of my Honda Civic.
This'll fit. This'll totally fit.
Getting the cart not to roll away was task number one. Using my goddamn purse as brakes, I managed to stabilize it enough to LIFT WITH MY KNEES and pick up the biggest cardboard box and start shoving it in my backseat. There it goes! Almost there! It was lining up perfectly before I realized that the bed was about 6" too big. (That's what she said.)
There was no way. It was suddenly abundantly clear. What the fuck was I thinking? This big bed won't fit in my fucking Civic. Shit, what am I going to do? I was in Emeryville, alone, with a huge bed.
But I couldn't stand there staring at a bed hanging out of the back of my car all day, so I started to try and pull that bitch out. Which is when I realized. It was stuck.
Officially stuck. It wasn't budging. Somehow, I'd shifted that bed in there in a way that prohibited it from ever emerging. My sunglasses crashed to the ground, my manicure started to disintegrate clutching onto that cardboard, and people smoothly loading furniture into their Touregs started to stare.
I panicked, like a trapped animal.
A man in an Ikea shirt walked by.
"Excuse me!" I yelled. "Excuse me!" My voice cracking.
He stopped and looked at me.
"I bought this bed and it doesn't fit in my car and I tried anyway and now it's stuck and I need you to help me get it out."
He just started at me while I repeated the information. I went through this 4 or 5 times, somehow working past the language barrier to make it clear that the box that was stuck in my backseat needed to come out.
He looked at me like I was nuts, then wrapped his arms around the cardboard box and yanked. It wasn't easy, but he pulled the bed out, left it tilted against my car and then smiled and said, "Goodbye."
So I piled everything back up onto that fucking cart, locked my doors, grabbed my bag, no longer even bothered to whisper, "You need to move, Stupid" and pushed my belongings to "Home Delivery."
After 30 minutes and $80, I left my bed at Ikea and headed empty-handed back to my car. I took a deep breath, put the key in the ignition and promptly got lost...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

i bet diane has some shit to say about this...

Lately, Brock, Eve and I have spent a lot of time marveling at the Nob Hill Gazette's bizarre, nonsensical lifestyle advice. I would go so far as to say, we love it. Occasionally, I actually applaud. But the NHG is getting their pampered asses kicked by today's issue of Gywneth Paltrow's GOOP, which features a day in the life of San Francisco socialite Juliette de Baubigny. And no, I don't know how to pronounce that either.
Let's take a look at the world according to Juliet, who is living in the same city as me, yet apparently lives simultaneously on another planet.

"I'm an early bird—so I try to seize "Juliet time" first thing in the morning. I get up between 5:30am - 6am and quickly scan my email. Then my priority is exercise. If I can work out each day, I'm a really happy person. And let's face it, if you are getting up on a cold morning in the dark it had better be fun. I've found that having a trainer come to my house on a Monday really motivates me—she's knocking at the front door so going back to sleep is NOT an option. ... I bring my iPad and use the Flipboard app to curate my social media (Facebook, Twitter and categories that are important to me: business, technology, style, design, fashion). The iPad is a lifesaver for me: in 30 minutes, I have read everything that I need to start my day!"

From now on, everyone needs to refer to "curating" their Facebook. So just adopt that right now. It's important to know that Juliet is a mother of two, and her husband will tell you she likes to "do it all." She's a venture capitalist and on the board of Product (RED) which was founded by Bono, so please take a moment of Juliet time and sit in bewildered awe at that.
Anyway, on with Jules' day.

"Breakfast: super important and always super-rushed with the pressure of everyone being out of the door at 7:45am. I really make a point of sitting down with my children—even if it's for 15 minutes. A great time saver is to make steel cut oatmeal, put it in a ceramic bread loaf pan and slice it each morning, add a drizzle of maple syrup, milk and 45 seconds in the microwave—healthy breakfast in seconds and I can make it last over 3 - 4 days!"

Jules goes on to detail other breakfast options, the kind of recipes that involves handfuls of seasonal berries.
But on to hair and make-up!

Hair: A great time saver is to have a weekly blow out. This means that you don't need to wash your hair each day—the time that you save with a blow out can save you minutes in the morning.

Agree. I want weekly blowouts for my birthday.

Makeup: I was given an amazing present of a makeup lesson with Wallet Lubrich. She taught me how to do my daily makeup in 5 minutes. No joke, I can dress, do my make up and be out the door in 15 minutes.
I always make a point of doing the school run in the morning. It's a really important moment in my day. This fall, my children started at the same school, which is such a time saver for me. Our 15 minute drive together is treasured time and I really feel that we all start our day on the right foot.

Who the hell is named Wallet?

My Day: Is a blur from the minute that I arrive in the office but that's how I like it. I have the benefit of an amazing assistant, without whom I could not make it happen (Thank you, thank you, Diane). My day is packed back-to-back from the moment that I arrive until the moment that I leave. When I'm driving to a meeting, I bring a call list with me so that I can quickly return calls. On a Friday afternoon, I'm given the list of outstanding calls/topics/decisions that I need to make over the weekend. I carve out key moments during the weekend to do emails and return calls. During other windows, I turn my Blackberry off so that I can focus 100% on my children and my husband.

6pm - 7:30pm is family time, as many nights of the week as I can make it. Conference calls happen before or after that window, same for email. Giving 100% attention and quality time to my children is key, particularly when I've been out at work all day.

Bed: By 10:30—if I can!"

What exactly, Juliet, happens between 7:30 and 10:30? I'm assuming glamorous parties, although sometimes, as evidenced in Juliet's Top 10 Time Savers, she goes to Sheryl Crow concerts.
Also, she has acupuncture appointments at 9:30 at night. Genius! Ever stress about last minute gift-giving? Yeah, you probably do. Because you're a lazy idiot UNLIKE JULIET.

"I keep the gifts in transparent plastic tubs and then wrap in groupings, tagged with a sticky label that indicates the content of the gift. I have an accordion file that is filled with birthday cards labeled by category: child birthday, adult birthday, Valentines Day, Halloween etc. That way, I can always have a card at the ready to send."

Jules works full time, so she can't sit in an idling minivan in front of Burke's all day.
"So I organize one or two key moments during the school year to have the class over for a project—that way my children see me interacting as "Mummy" and I can connect with their friends and mothers."

I'm just going to let you marinate on that one.

"I can't see my girlfriends as much as I would like and I really need that girl time. Also, your girlfriends are the ones that give you great timesaving tips, keep you grounded and make you laugh. I try to organize a girls’ night once a quarter and do something really fun together."

Fuck Melissa, Tara and Leslie for never giving me timesaving tips. Who are these bitches and why are they my friends? I am downgrading our friendships from constant to quarterly.

And finally, things that make Juliet's life "really amazing":

Watching Mad Men with her husband (who frowns on her online shopping sprees, the asshole.)
Taking the time to give big long hugs.
Hiking amidst the Redwoods
And 7 hours UNINTERRUPTED sleep.

But wait. You're not done. Stella McCartney and Gywneth Paltrow detail their days, which are somehow WAY less annoying than Juliet's. This is saying something as Gwyneth dares to bless us with, "At 6:30 pm we all get in the bath and it’s hair washing night for the kids (every other night—never popular). Then back downstairs to check on cupcakes and have a visit from an auntie and uncle. The kids indulge in a super sugary cupcake before bed but I don’t feel too bad because they had a brown rice stir fry for dinner with baked sweet potato on the side. It’s all about balance!"

It certainly is! Read the whole thing here, and then seize some you time...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

carrying the banner for a penny a pape...

My friend and editor, Peter Hartlaub of Le Chronicle is a retro video star. And I particularly enjoy Brock's take on Peter's ride through his old paperboy route. I myself never had a paper route because I grew up on a mountain and I'm very jealous of Peter's John Hughes-esque childhood neighborhood.

Go P-Fresh, Go!

hanging out with high school kids...

On today's SFGate Culture Blog, KG and I finally make it to a Bruce-Mahoney Game. And as SI beat SH, we never got a chance to chant our favorite cheer from high school, "It's alright, it's okay. You will work for us one day..."

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

is that a pistol in your pocket...

I love a bargain. And I love all of the fabulous daily coupon shit I've signed up for. Groupon, Home Run, even Open Table, my nightly dinner date has half-off deals that you simply buy in advance and cash in whenever you feel like it.
TK of 40goingon28 occasionally offers his thoughts on various Groupons, like this one. Which makes me feel better that other people spend time pondering their daily Groupons. Because no matter what it is, it's on sale and I must thus consider it.
Like today's Home Run deal.
Normally, a whopping $99, today for a mere $48 you can get...An Intro to Pistols Class at Bay Area Firearms!
"Ever wanted to twirl a handgun with the finesse of an action hero (Yes), hit a target with the effortless ease of Jesse James (Duh), or just relax with the simple, solid confidence of a person who knows serious self-defense (Who doesn't?)? This introductory pistol class gives you basic gun skills in a safe, welcoming atmosphere."
Am I alone in finding this slightly inappropriate coming on the heels of the Tragedy in Tucson? The included image especially makes me think, "Home Run, this might be a little too soon."

That being said, I'm all for "women-only classes" taught by a "regular Annie Oakley." And I am paranoid about crime. Plus, I'm an American. So gun lust runs through my veins.
I might just pull out the ole credit card and shoot off my order...

Monday, January 10, 2011

tourist trapped: north beach...

Today's Tourist Trapped is up on SFGate, involving Leslie and I trying to dress like beatniks and wandering through porn shops, churches and Spec's only to end up getting Big Chris to buy us a garlic feast. It was a weird and wonderful day...

hanging out in diners and reading the obits...

One of the traits I enjoy most in my friends in the hilarious and bizarre way they react to things. In fact, I’d like to have a whole television channel in which I sit down with a different friend every hour on the hour and expose them to various media that will elicit a reaction.

Resting In Peace with Brock Keeling: Saturday afternoon, Brock and I sat in the corner booth at the Lucky Penny. I read dramatically from the obituaries as Brock reacted dramatically. Half of the show’s draw would be my (if I do say so myself) glorious verbalizing of the deceased’s life and times. The other half would be Brock gasping at the appropriate moments.

“Susan Livingstone Marks passes away suddenly…”
“at the age of 45…”
“The Marks Family would especially like to thank the staff of St. Mary’s Emergency Room…”
“Well, if they’re going to go that far, they really should tell us what happened.”

Welcome to Reality with Tara Sullivan: Tara and Melissa came over to my house to eat Indian take-out and watch The Craigslist Killer on Lifetime, in our bold need to live the spinster stereotype. After The Craigslist Killer ended (I need to do a whole other post on that), we started watching Wife Swap at midnight. Tara, while she attended high school in Alabama, somehow regards herself as being from Connecticut. She’s in book clubs and drives a Mini and when you call Tara on Sunday mornings and ask what she’s up to, it’s always, “reading Jonathan Franzen while getting ready for yoga.” Tara is one of those. She might as well say, “Practicing the cello while getting ready to volunteer in the community garden.” And she does not normally watch Wife Swap. I thought Tara was having a medical event, she was so upset at 1) the concept of Wife Swap, 2) the people participating on Wife Swap and 3) the fact that we were watching Wife Swap. Melissa and I were two peas in a pod, all bundled up on my couch laughing while the dad from Alabama said he was going to flush the New Jersey mom’s lifelike dolls “down the commode.” But Tara was legitimately upset. Which only added to my enjoyment. It was like the time my dad visiting me in college and got stuck watching Jerry Springer while I took too long to get ready. When I finally emerged, I asked what he thought of the show. And my father, in his tweed blazer with elbow patches said, “I don’t like Shasta.”

SFGovTV with Big Chris: The ratings this past week for SFGovTV must be through the roof! And by ‘through the roof’, I mean dozens of eyeballs were glued to City Hall Chambers as the old Board imploded, the interim Mayor was chosen, the new Board took office and all of my friends who hang out in City Hall somehow just happened to find themselves in front of the SFGovTV camera. Like every time. Amazing. Anyway, for reasons I still don’t understand Big Chris decided he was going to watch basketball at my house and was in for a civic surprise when instead, he watched SFGovTV while all hell broke lose. Big Chris’ reaction to Public Comment involved him laughing so hard, he actually fell off of the couch and onto the floor in hysterical convulsions. So I propose Big Chris just get his own window in the corner of SFGovTV programming, where instead of signing the show 1980’s style, he just says things like, “Look at this dipshit fucking up everything...”

Friday, January 07, 2011

discounts on my pearly whites...

Because I am an artiste, I have no dental insurance. I'm working on it! But in the meantime, I cannot fund the fancy, la-ti-da dentist my parents suggested. Both Brock and my co-worker Bill suggested I go to the University of the Pacific Dental School, where students play with your teeth on the cheap.
"It's actually pretty good." Both independently assured me. "Weird patients, but fantastic care."
Yelpers had similar thoughts. I really did my research, because while I am poor, I am also vain. I can't be walking around missing a tooth.
I've never said no to a sale, so I made an appointment for this morning, in the hopes that becoming a patient of the UoP Dental School would provide me with movie star teeth at homeless prices.
So I drove down to Webster and Sacramento this morning, parked and ran into the UoP, late for my 10am appointment. Entering in the main entrance, I couldn't figure out where to go. Everything looked empty, like a college admin office on a weekend. A woman emerged from a door so I asked her.
"You take the lift down, dear." She said. "To C Level."
Oh of course. It's underground. Silly me. So I took the lift down and emerged into a huge, bustling room like the opening credits from ER. Every walk of life and their entire families lounged around, filling out paperwork. I joined them.
A gentleman next to me asked another fellow nearby, "Hey. hey you. What are those?"
He was motioning to the guy's shoes.
"They're Jordans."
"They are? What year?"
What ensued was a complex discussion on various models of shoes, the likes of which only Big Chris would understand.
Once I turned in my paperwork, I was instructed to go to the cashier to pay my $29 new patient exam fee. The cashier is located in the exam room, so when I opened the doors, I was met with the reality of my situation.
Before me was a huge, brightly-lit space filled with dozens of open cubicles, and in each of them were reclining dentists chairs. No one mentioned this on Yelp. You'd have thought Brock would have said, "By the way, all of your dental work is done in public, with hundreds of other people."
Nope. This is what no one tells you. I was surrounded by all of God's creatures in various stages of oral surgery, and I couldn't stop staring.
I was like driving down the freeway and coming across 50 different car wrecks, all of which are brightly lit and on display. Oh, look over there! And there! Oh, and super weird over there!
I shook myself out of my stupor and paid, heading back to the waiting room.
Every once in a while, a young man or women would come out, find someone in the waiting room and THEN HUG THEM HELLO. There was lots of hugging and "How have you been since last week, Mister Bojangles?!?"
Young dental students are just so happy to finally have real people to work on, they apparently all kind of pride themselves on treating patients like their loved ones.
An elderly black woman came up to a young dental student and said, "You know, I just want you to know that I think you are so nice. You made me so comfortable. I just can't thank you enough, honey. Now, what was your name again?"
And the dental student said, "Buddy! Just remember, Buddy is your buddy!"
And then they hugged.
I sat mesmerized by all of this going on around me when an adorable young man came into the waiting room and said, "Elizabeth Sporwood?"
That'd be me.
We shook hands and he led me back into the big dental room I'd been in earlier. I took a dental chair in the middle of a million other dental chairs and had a little chat with Dr. Adorable, who graduated from dental school about 15 minutes ago.
Basically, my first apointment, they just look in my mouth and make sure nothing is falling apart. Then I have to come back and then they really examine me and figure out what the hell I need done. Because this one tooth feels a little weird. It doesn't hurt. It just feels weird.
"I chew ice." I horizontally confessed. "I know it's horrible, but..."
"I chew ice too." said Dr. Adorable.
"Oh, you do!?" I kinda tilted my head up and tried to smile at him while making sure my dress wasn't flying up my legs.
Faced with both some kind of medical appointment and Dr. Adorable, I dove into a nervous comedy routine. I do this. You should see me on a date or right before major surgery. I practically perform the entire "Why don't they make the whole plane out of the black box?" routine.
Dr. Adorable, because he is adorable, politely laughed and then, because he is obviously my soulmate, started telling me about the crazy characters that come in to get their grills worked on. In addition to being incredibly interesting, it also made me feel better that my mouth can't possibly be anywhere near the grossest they've seen.
Finally, I agreed to get my fancy x-rays emailed to the UoP dental school by my fancy FORMER dentist, and it turns out, according to Dr. Adorable, that Dr. Fancy is also a teacher two nights a week. Basically, I paid $900 to have a cavity filled by a guy that does the same thing to hobos for like, 50 cents. The only difference being, at Dr. Fancy's, the waiting room is practically candle-lit, there's pristine copies of Vogue and The New Republic available and I watched The Italian Job in magic sunglasses while getting my teeth fixed. IN PRIVATE.
Anyway, Dr. Adorable still had to get Dr. Experienced to come by, say "open your mouth!", look at me like he was examining a horse and say, "Okay."
I signed something, gave Dr. Adorable another little comedy gem for good luck and was off, now officially a patient at the University of the Pacific Dental School.
And as I left, some woman in scrubs standing by the elevator taking me back up to sea level beamed, "Thanks so much! We'll see you soon!"
"You sure will!" I screamed back.
Because I am a woman of the people...

roasted necessary conversation...

The very sweet Tony DeRenzo of SF City Watch filmed FINALLY! The Roast of Chris Daly. I'm assuming that those of you who want to watch the whole 2-hour extravaganza know how to find it. It's up on Facebook, etc. But below is the 12 minute opening of the show kicked off by Melissa and me. I would just like to warn my mother in advance that some people booed us when we came out. I like to think that we may have eventually won these winners over with our comedy, but who knows if they were able to stay for the whole show, what with transitional housing curfew and all.
I like to think we were a hit! Either way, we worked really fucking hard on this so everyone can suck on it.
Love, me

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

it's off like hasselhoff...

Today on SFGate's Culture Blog, I recap and review last night's 68-hour Board of Supervisors meeting, in which Supervisor Chris Daly announced that "it" is apparently on like Donkey Kong.
And don't forget, of course, tonight is his roast MC'd by Melissa and me, so that's probably to what he was referring. Probably...

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

chris daly is going to cry tomorrow...

Tick Tock, folks. You have one day to get your advance tickets to tomorrow's Roast of Chris Daly. Aside from the fact that a bunch of politicos and news folks will be skewering an insane outgoing Supervisor, the ladies of Necessary Conversation (that's me and Mel) will be the Mistresses of Ceremony. We get to introduce and mock every guest and speaker, have at the bold names in the audience (if they're lucky) and stick-it to Supervisor Straightjacket.
I suspect Chris is getting a little nervous. (Mwah! Ha! Ha!) Although he tells me he has a "good Spotswood joke" so we shall see.
If you think you're important enough to get called out and are worried about it, remember: the only thing worse than getting mentioned is not getting mentioned. And if you're reading this, I assure you, you're not important enough.
You can find all of the info you need on the event's Facebook page.
At The Independent. Doors at 8. Roast at 9. There's a full bar. Surprise guests (they're not bad, actually) and Rated R. It's $20. Proceeds benefit sick hookers (no joke)...

Monday, January 03, 2011

top ten rules of air travel...

We are now home! Exhausted, cranky, kinda gross, but home!
Spending 30 hours on airplanes over my holiday vacation, I've come up with a list of Top 10 Rules of Air Travel. Rule #6? No Food From Home. It's all up right now, on today's SFGate Tourist Trapped...

Saturday, January 01, 2011

"no one else is gonna think this is funny" - alex

Happy New Year! I've been enjoying 2011 for awhile now, because I get advance copies of everything, and so far, so good. Vienna rang in the new year, which everyone here calls Silvester for some reason, by having a huge party path through town with different stages at various points along the main drag. My parents had told us about this, but Alex and I were skeptical. My parents subscribe to the theory that "THIS IS A FOREIGN COUNTRY AND EVERYTHING IS DIFFERENT AND THAT IS HOW THEY DO THINGS HERE."
There was a big to-do as the super chic Skopik & Lohn over how to order water in German. Lots of drinking from imaginary cups and, "Ask for vatah! VA-Tah."
So when the young Austrian server came over, I, in the hopes of driving my mass-globalization point across, casually mumbled, "Can we please get a bottled of still water?"
And the guy who basically looked like Brad from Rachel Zoe was like, "No prob."
So when my parents tried to tell us that we shouldn't make New Years plans because the city erupts into a massive street party, Alex and I kind of rolled our eyes and said, "This isn't Rio."
Much to my horror, my parents were right. Hundreds of thousands of obnoxious drunk people all piled onto the path for fireworks and public drinking. We rang in the New Year to an amazing fireworks display on the steps of Austrian Parliament and then walked the path.
Once again arm and arm with my sibling on NYE, Alex and I were bundled up as it started to snow. Each stage was maybe 2 football fields apart and had a different type of music. And along the way, the massive cobblestone streets were overflowing with revelers, dancing and drinking from champagne bottles. They rocked out to any and all music.
The first stage was an American funk band. I have no idea what they were called, but it was cool standing there watching and imagining the singer trying to convince his parents, "Seriously. I'm huge in Austria. Austria. You know, the country? It's by Germany."
The next stage was, shocker, a DJ. Please imagine the most stereotypical German-speaking DJ you can. Think SNL sketch. That was this guy. I loved it, mainly because this is what I was hoping for, you know? I've come so far. Give me Dieter.
At this point, it was 12:30, I'd rung in the new year, I was standing on cobblestone in kitten heels and no socks in the snow while drunk mail order brides bumped into me. So we decided to walk down the path to one more stage and watch for awhile. On it were 5 women dressed as snow bunnies dancing around, bachelorette party style, while another DJ played hits of the 80's. We arrived to "I Had The Time Of My Life" from Dirty Dancing, which I dutifully sang. And then, as the next song began, my brother said, "No. It can't be."
"What? What?" We asked. "What can't it be?"
It was the theme from Baywatch. The place went nuts. (I have it on video, but my brother refuses to allow me to post it...because he knew all the words and sang them enthusiastically with a bunch of drunk Austrian dudes.)
After that glorious moment, singing the Baywatch song with a bunch of German speakers, Alex and I decided to walk back to the hotel and call it a goddamn night. We had to walk back the same way we came, and once again, passed Dieter the DJ. To no one's surprise, he was playing, "I Gotta Feeling" by the Black Eyed Peas. Alex and I kinda rolled our eyes and were like, "Oh really? We're playing this song?"
But then we started dancing down the cobblestone. And then I started busting my hilare club moves. I don't need booze to be that chick. I can rock that party fueled by Diet Coke alone. I was selling the running man in the middle of Vienna while my brother busted out the cabbage patch when we got to the part of the song where they go, "Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Thursday, Friday, Saturday to Sunday."
And my brother says, "That's so dumb. They just didn't want to think of lyrics. So they're like, 'Days of the Week!'"
"I know!" I said. "Why not months of the year?"
"January, February, March April and May."
So then we started filling in anything. It all works. Crimes (Murder, auto theft, burglary and stalking), fruits (apples, oranges, pears and bananas) and our favorite:
"Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Uranus."
We haven't stopped. Everywhere we looked at brunch this morning, it came to us. "Cold cuts, cheese plates, muffin baskets, coffee. Nut-nut-nutella!"
Try it. Look around yourself right now and try it...