Wednesday, March 30, 2011

are you a carrie or a samantha...

Today's Culture Blog is ready for your perusal! Read all about how a minor celebrity bought me a Diet Coke. Up now, on SFGate...


My good friend Richard passed away on Sunday and we just found out about it. Ever since my cousin Kate and I were little girls, Rich was always our favorite adult. Our dads and Rich were old friends and law partners, but he was more like a wacky, loving uncle to us than anything else. And as we grew up and started having lives and jobs, he was always so interested and enthusiastic about everything we did. Rich would have us, sometimes just the kids, up to his cabin on the Russian River and he'd cook is these amazing meals.
Then he'd turn on the speakers and we'd all dance on the deck, to like "Rat in Me Kitchen" by UB40. And some weird old ladies would show up and everyone would just have a bizarre, hilarious time. And at 2am, Richard would appear with some weird drinks and snacks and insist we listen to his new World Music CD. And Kate and I would kinda look at our friends who we'd dragged up there and shrug. Because Richard was just really out there and wonderful and I can't believe he died.
While Kate is, in a word, hysterical right now, I found this video that's so sweet, and so exactly what hanging out with him (this was when Kate was vising from DC) figured, it's worth making her cry again. Because as heartbreaking as this is, I am overwhelmed with gratitude that Kate and I got Richard in our lives ever since we were impressionable youth. It's probably a huge factor in why we're so eccentric:

no more shout-outs. ever...

"Why does this always happen to me and never you?" I asked Melissa as we left last night's event.
"Because you write about your life and people think they know you and can therefore, say crazy shit to you."
Get this shit.
For weeks, this guy we'll call Lester reminds Melissa, Brock and me about his biotech event. On and on with the biotech event: how we have to be there, how Gavin Newsom will be there, how he doesn't want to be "annoying" but in email number 739, he mentioned that we should really come.
There are dozens of events every night, from little awkward networking mixers to huge soirees. And as I live on Facebook, I just scan my events and decide what I feel like going to every night. Last night was another one of Bill Hemenger's house parties, this one for Dennis Herrera. I love these Hemenger parties and obviously, wanted to go. But Lester was fucking relentless, it's a little flattering to have someone so excited to invite you, Brock was already committed and Melissa talked me into it.
"There might be nerdy guys there!"
Ugh. Alright.
So I pick Melissa up after work and we drove out into the middle of biotech nowhere. When we emerged from my car, I thought we looked great. But with no signs telling us how to get in the hall, we got lost, walking blocks and blocks in a windstorm before I (Amazing Race-style) roped some poor guy into helping us find the door.
Our names weren't on the list. This was my fault. I vaguely recall RSVPing at the last minute. As a former professional networking mixer staffer, I fucking hated when people did that. They'd send an email from the parking lot and then walk in the door shocked not to find a laminated, beautifully-fonted nametag. So, you know, again, my fault.
Windblown, Melissa and I walk in and right away, we can tell this is not the kind of 5-7 after-work event to which Gavin Newsom shows up. But none the less, here we are and there Brock is and Lester couldn't be more thrilled we came. We might as well make the most of our handwritten nametags.
I asked Lester if he was going to open his speech with a joke. I always ask people this. I have a whole little routine at these things. "Are you speaking tonight? You opening with a joke? Well, you'll be great. Just picture everyone naked and doing it."
We end up talking to this woman scientist (oxymoron - Jack Donaghy) who was telling us all about her post-doctoral thesis on cells or something. Without a real understanding of biotech but wanting to appear interested, naturally I asked the first science question I could think of.
"Do you make clones out of placentas?"
"Are there clones anywhere in this building, fashioning weapons out of office supplies."
"I don't know."
Melissa chimed in. "Do you do experiments on homeless people?"
"As seen in the movie Extreme Measures!" I offered.
The woman scientist wasn't really into joking about science and politely excused herself.
As for refreshments, the only non-alcoholic beverage was water, which one had to pour from a pitcher. This is 1) kinda gross and 2) hard to do in a small crowded space. And the water table was in-between the wine table and huge trays of dim sum, which biotech nerds were shoving in their mouths with abandon.
It's finally time for the speeches. Normally, I prefer to stand in the back for the speeches because it's a lot of work to pretend to pay attention. And also, there's just a sixth sense I have.
"Let's go hide behind the water table." I said to Melissa and Brock.
So we stood there against the wall with our cups of water as the speeches started. They went on for 20 minutes, which was fine. But Melissa and I were due for dinner across town in 15 minutes.
After the third time someone used the word "synergy" (no joke, Mel was counting), we started needing to go.
At this point, Lester took to the microphone for the second time, and addressing the crowd of maybe 75 or 100 people, said, "Beth Spotswood, that woman standing over there texting, said I needed to open with a joke."
Silence. Dead silence.
Really? All I was trying to do was be nice, show up and now I'm the rude lady on the phone.
I was too busy trying to physically control my insides, which instinctively start to shrivel up and tie themselves in knots at moments like this, to hear his joke.
But Lester said something, everyone kinda laughed at it, and then Lester said, "How'd I do, Beth?"
From within me, came this terrified, surprisingly male voice that said, "You did great!" while shoving a thumbs-up in the air.
Lester continued INTO THE MICROPHONE FROM THE STAGE, "Beth is great. Really. You should all read her blog, Tourist Trapped Necessary Conversation."
Silence. Stares.
Brock didn't really know what to do, so he started to rub my back as literally, hundreds of eyeballs offered confused glares. And Melissa, pal that she is, announced, "I'm going to the ladies room."
And she ran away.
So the speeches continued, but at this point I was convinced everyone hated me. I'd basically gotten in public trouble for texting, the only one of dozens singled out for using technology at a biotech mixer.
When Melissa emerged from the ladies, we decided to sneak out. As we finally found our way outside, we started laughing. "Oh my God, I cannot believe that."
"Lester makes us come all the way down here and then calls you out for using your phone!"
"Thank God I wasn't eating an eggroll. He would've said, 'Beth Spotswood, that woman over there on her fourth eggroll...'"
Melissa agreed. "Beth Spotswood, that recovering alcoholic over there..."

Monday, March 28, 2011

whatever happened to predictability...

Today's Tourist Trapped is up on SFGate! This week, I spend a Sunday afternoon sitting on a cable car marveling at how fucking slow it goes...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

this is really different from working in the suburbs...

The television station I work for carries the NCAA March Madness Mayhem Whatever It's Called (basketball stuff), which means that instead of the news, student sporting events are on TV. As a result, the 5pm and 6pm newscast people have no real pressing business. Like my friend Wilson, an Emmy-award winning producer who spent FOREVER at my desk yesterday afternoon strumming on his guitar. I said I felt like I was dining in a restaurant, awkwardly trying to eat while politely listening to the violinist. Also, good luck getting "La Bamba" out of Wilson.
Speaking of Emmys, I used to think they were a really huge deal. But I sit kind of eye-to-eye with TV's Mike Sugerman who was giving me the juice on someone and remarked, "Well, Beth. He has like, 50 Emmys."
"Doesn't everyone around here have an Emmy?" I asked. "How many do you have?"
And Sugerman deadpanned, "Fourteen."
I think if I stick around long enough, one'll just end up on my desk.
Last night, I was due to meet my family at Wexler's at 7:30 and suggested we all meet for a drink beforehand at Palio. That way, I could just hang out at the bar after work until my folks showed up. I Facebooked Chef Dan at Palio who told me that he was packed with a private party. But if I wanted, he could squeeze me into some table with his chef-friend who planned to dine alone and we could be, "the odd couple."
Because by that time, I'd made my Facebook status a Financial District cry for help. Asking anyone if they wanted to kill 2 hours with me near work and near Wexler's, I ended up meeting my friend John for drinks. He'd be at Harrington's, he mentioned, geographically perfect for my needs. So I left Willie Nelson at work, and headed down to Harrington's, as Melissa and Christine both texted, "You're at Harrington's? Heading over."
See? Facebook.
My friend John is very thoughtful, and felt somehow I needed the following warning.
"I'm with 5 guys. FYI."
I don't really know what that was supposed to mean, but I went into the wrong bar anyway. I was in the Royal Exchange, which is practically Harrington's. Why are two such similar bars right next door to each other? Oh, because guys in mid-priced suits and North Face jackets want to knock back THAT much Sierra? That being said, I find the whole suit/North Face/Sierra thing slightly attractive, so I lingered in the Royal Exchange after figuring out I was in the wrong bar.
Eight of us chatted around this table at Harrington's until I finally said, "I need a bar nearby where my folks can meet me."
The suggestions thrown at me covered every possible base, from Michael Mina to Mr. Bing's.
"I cannot take my parent's to Mr. Bing's."
And John, who's very old-school San Francisco and cheerfully knows every business in town, suddenly announced, "Go to Georges! Georges is perfect."
"Oh, I've seen that place. Will it be crowded? Is it parent friendly?"
"Yes." Melissa said. "It's actually perfect. There'll be room and it's very your-folks."
"Okay, Georges." I said. "It's right there. And you're sure it's...?"
"Beth." John stared at me. "It's family-owned."

Friday, March 25, 2011

necessary conversation: the pentaverate...

Today on Necessary Conversation, fuckin' Twitter and their tax breaks, orgy extras and the Pentaverate!

Episode 24: The Pentaverate from Necessary Conversation on Vimeo.

I wanted to do a whole thing where they meet tri-annually at a secret country mansion in Colorado, known as The Meadows. But there was a concern you awesome people wouldn't get it.
Wouldn't get it?!? Please.
Have a great weekend! Make a new friend!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

mash is a bunch of lies...

I love being grown-up siblings with my brother Alex. He has the most complete frame of reference for my nostalgic needs.
Plus, we were raised to love big, foul weather.
Via instage message, Alex commiserated about the following:
1. The best things to do on a rainy day are either hang out in the TV Room, the coziest place in our childhood home that's gotten even better since we've left OR put on all of my father's bizarre yellow Maine fisherman gear and play outside. Sadly, the last time we did this my brother was 9 or 10 which would make me...15. But that's neither here nor there! It's really fun to brave the elements and scream at the rain and the wind (with your only friend, a 9 year old boy.)
2. I pointed out to Alex that today reminds me of my favorite days in grammar school, where on rainy days we had lunch and recess in the classroom UNSUPERVISED. Bonus: if a rainy day fell on a Thursday which was hot lunch day. Instantly, Alex responded, "Yeah! I am in the mood for some Price Is Right and shitty pizza!" His class seemed to watch the Price Is Right. My class did not. We played Thumbs Up 7Up.
3. Thumbs Up 7 Up got me thinking about other indoor games, and all I could come up with is Operator, Musical Chairs, Indoor Red Rover (eventually prohibited) and for the young ones, Duck Duck Goose. (Lame.) Also, Hangman or MASH on the chalkboard.
4. If MASH were at all accurate, I should be living in a shack with Chris O'Donnell, 6 children and driving a Cabriolet convertible right about now...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

they'd be hard pressed to find the mill...

I am always delighted to report that I am from Mill Valley, California. While I could kind of hem and haw about being from San Francisco, really, deep down, I'm from Mill Valley. According to me, when my folks moved to Mill Valley in 1976, it was a sleepy college town without a college. My mother drove a Volvo with a KQED sticker and wore a lot of L.L. Bean.
These days, Mill Valley is the kind of a town for trophy wives who went to Princeton. They're not complete idiots. Those people live in Tiburon, of course. But the new Mill Valley people can be a little, how do you say, obnoxiously self-congratulatory.
Not me, of course. I'm incredibly low-key about practically inventing the best little town in the world.
Which is why I'm eating up a new blog called Mill Valley Life, and then kind of spitting it out. Said blog appears to be written by an anonymous, slightly creepy person who gets weekly blow-outs and hires someone to walk their dog. Based upon their writing, I'm guessing this person moved to Mill Valley after meeting their future husband in a deposition, having a child they named Parker and reading about this little hamlet in the New York Times.
I could be wrong.
To their credit, Mill Valley Life features disaster planning that doesn't involve San Pelligrino.
Categories on Mill Valley Life include:
Poor kids, rich kids (No, I am not kidding.)
A teensy bit entitled (A teensy bit accurate)
Robin, Bonnie, Carlos, Tyler and Sammy (Celebrity sightings!)
I think my home town kind of jumped the shark now that TyFlo has taken over everything. And God Bless him, I do love everything about that guy except how rad he finds himself. I'm not 100% on this Mill Valley Life blog, yet. Really only because I feel like whoever is writing this rolled into town 15 minutes ago, has never voted in a city-wide election, doesn't subscribe to the IJ much less the Chronicle and shops at Whole Foods instead of the Mill Valley Market which, right there...I mean, come ON. They might as well just have a 'New money, old money' category...

running for mayor at the chinatown y...

"That was Luther Vandross with his hit, 'Always and Forever.' Don't touch that dial. Up next, we're bringing you a love-making classic from Kenneth 'Babyface' Edmonds on Night Rhythms, with Tony Hall."
-up now on SFGate's Culture Blog...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

elliot stabler agrees with me...

I haven't posted a video of my friends doing shit only I'd find funny in awhile. So drink it in! This is local treasure Brock Keeling's idiotic thoughts on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit's Olivia Benson. I hate the character Olivia Benson. Brock loves her. Here we are on Monday night at Momo's, having a mature discussion about it:

Here are my problems with Mariska Hargitay's choices as Olivia Benson on this admittedly wonderful show:
1. Over acting. Come ON. Enough with the wide-mouthed shock.
2. If it's so traumatizing to be the product of rape, why work in sex crimes where she's reminded every day?
3. Can they send her on a date? It's been 11 years.
4. How many hair lengths can one woman have? Yet no skirts.
5. Stop calling him 'El.' It's Elliot. And he could use a tone-down too. Enough with the problem daughters. And why does Elliot work in sex crimes if he can't control his rage at the injustice at crimes against children?
Basically, I like the fucked up stories. But the performances are all a little heavy handed. Brock disagrees. He thinks they're pitch perfect...

kicking the can down the road...

Governor Jerry Brown (from henceforth to be known as Governor Grandpa) released a sassy YouTube message to the people of California yesterday! Packed with Depression-era colloquialisms, GG explains everything to us like we're 11.
We're not toddlers, we're not total idiots, according to GG's tone. When GG speaks to us, he gives us the benefit of a 5th Grade understanding of state-wide government which, given people's interest in state-wide government, is probably appropriate.
Using my normal arbitrary politician video grading system, I give this video a B+.
GG gets points for using a video with both color AND sound, for knowing to put it on the information superhighway so the kids can see it, and for his romantic nighttime ambiance. What flattering lighting! I feel like I'm on a date with an old nerd who likes man-splaining (TM: Eve Batey) "a budget" to me.
We can tell GG is hard at word on this "budget" due to the binders placed on his desk. Obviously Governor Grandpa was hard at work with his abacus figuring finance shit out when finally he was like, "23 Scadoo! Binders down! Turn on the magic image transporter! I'm ready to vaguely explain the budget to the computer box!"
A couple of questions: Where are his pens? How does he write? Did no one think to add a prop lap top? Or would that have been too unrealistic?
GG's a big talker with his hands. I like this. It's a nod to the old country. It reminds me of my dad (in 80 years.) Also, thumbs up on the suit, and again, I like the 9pm, 'post-work Scotch in the boss' office' vibe. As usual, I have no remarks on actual content.
Keep 'em comin', Gramps...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

team m and m...

One of the first blog posts I ever wrote was how I feel like a big weirdo all the time. I think some people just pop out awkwardly and never recover. This must be me. I feel like I walk around knocking over lamp posts and small buildings, bombarding everything in my path with my very loud, personality-packed weirdness.
I've tried to hide it, to shove it down. But my weirdness just come out stronger, as if to warn whomever I'm around, "Don't be fooled! She's fucking nuts!"
Look at me. Even this blog post. Weird.
This happens with my closest friends, this happens with strangers. But most often, this happens with folks I've yet to fully ruin with my weirdness. I try so hard to be normal, strange just explodes out of me. For years I've thought, if anyone ever figures out what I'm really like, I'm screwed.
There are a few people that have figured me out, and they're my best friends anyway. I was thinking about them as I drove home tonight, marveling at these most special, most treasured confidants.
I was thinking they must be weird too, to tolerate me.
And they are. They're really fucking odd.
So this weirdness that, make no mistake, is my greatest affliction, might just be the sweetest gift fate's ever given me.
I'll write another blog post in six years about how being weird sucks again. But today, tonight, I'd take every awkward moment of my adolescence, every loud-mouth regret of my twenties, every face-plant in the high school cafeteria. I'd take the fashion faux pas, the massive mistakes, the seemingly constant public humiliation that made me this way.
I'd take it all twice. Just to make sure that today, tonight, these indescribably wonderful people love me back.
Turns out, it was worth being a weirdo...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

and the hottest serial killer is...

Sexiest serial killer? Ultimate dinner party guest list? The scariest book I ever read? I just answered all of these awesome reader questions because... it's raining and I'm cozy yet bored. If you are too, feel free to watch my video responses and ask me something yourself.

Also, today's recommended Netflix on Demand movie? The Canterville Ghost. Enjoy...

Friday, March 18, 2011

and a shout out to frank chu...

I have to admit, Cameron's graphic of Andy Dufresne holding a Justin Bieber poster is officially my favorite graphic Necessary Conversation has ever done, mainly because a lot more people know who Andy Dufresne is, than they do Leland Yee.
Anyway, it's Friday! Which means another three-minute slice of heave from your friends as Necessary Conversation. Did you know that our name, Necessary Conversation comes from the sign behind the driver on Muni busses that says, "Information Gladly Given But Safety Requires Avoiding Unnecessary Conversation"?
Well now you do...

Episode 23: Get Busy Livin' from Necessary Conversation on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

all that's missing is a newsies musical number...

The Chronicle's Peter Hartlaub recently posted a wonderful video feature in which he revisited his old Chronicle paper boy route. Today, he takes another former Chron paper boy on his route.

I find this whole series charming and I hope you do too, as Peter is my friend and editor, generally lets me write whatever I want and recently bought me lunch at Grumpy's. So yay P-Fresh! I really love this whole nostalgic concept. It's a sweet look back at old media, and we get to peek at cute suburban neighborhoods at the break of dawn.
You can read his thoughts on the adventure HERE, as well as who he's looking for next. Apparently, Peter wants to put an "old guy" on a bike...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

i bet the actor insisted his character would wear it...

I am apparently of the age where I can identify with Lifetime movies. No longer up for denial, I simply go looking for them now, having tossed my hands in the air and released myself to the fact that I identify with an "aging" Catholic school teacher played by Angela Lansbury moving to rural Ireland where she unexpectedly finds senior citizen love with her pen pal, a salty Ted Kennedy-esque Irish guy.
That movie, in case anyone wants to watch it, is called "The Love She Sought" and can be watched instantly on Netflix.
But I've already seen that. Several times. So I went looking tonight for something along those lines and when I came to, "The Case of the Hillside Strangers" (1989) starring Dennis Farina and Billy Zane as said stranglers, I stopped everything, made myself some tea, put on my new Walmart nightgown and settled in.
Because again: hands thrown in air, Lifetime movies, Walmart nightgown. After I write this, I'm going to read the Bible while listening to really obvious classical music.
Turns out, "The Case of the Hillside Stranglers" is awesome, but not for the serial killer-esque reasons one might expect. This 1989 TV-movie is packed with wonderful little senseless moments, moments that in 1989, apparently no one noticed. Like this one:

Kicked out of the house by his (soon to be ex-)wife, Sgt. Bob Grogan can't sleep because he's too wound up about these dead girls showing up all over Los Angeles. So he gets out of bed, opens his fridge and eats the only food he has: the last pickle in the pickle jar.
That's it.
The next scene is in the morning at the police station.
Why did we just see this guy eat a pickle in his underwear?
Why not!
And not that I didn't have a bolo tie in 1989, but I was 11. If I end up dead in some palm tree'd park and a cop shows up wearing a bolo tie, I'm going to be pissed.

It took me forever, but the bald guy is the FBI guy from The Firm, right? If he yelled, "McDeere!" it would help, but I'm pretty sure it's him. (Related: Some really great character actors pop up in 80's TV movies.)
Then we get to the big courtroom scene at the end where the jury comes back with a verdict and all of the law enforcement officials who have put years of their blood, sweat and tears into solving the Hillisde Strangler case can hardly wait another second.
And trumping his crime scene bolo tie, Sgt. Thorpe choses the following for court:

What is going on!?!?! How are we supposed to pay attention when this guy is wearing this tie? It is literally the Colonel Sanders. He is wearing the Colonel's Kentucky tie. Sgt. Thorpe is supposed to be a gritty, LA homicide cop in the late 70's, not a racist Mayor in a small Southern town in 1931.
I can't get enough of it.

I am a big fan of the work of Dennis Farina, a former cop turned actor. Dennis, who played his best role in the film "Another Stakeout" often plays cops (see: "Manhunter") but in "The Case of the Hillside Stranglers" he played one of the killers, Angelo Buono:

And Billy Zane (Cal from "Titanic", I shouldn't have to tell you) played Kenneth Bianchi:

The Hillside Stranglers are an interesting serial case because serial killers usually work alone, and normally they're not so outwardly normal. I really haven't done that much personal, independent research on these two real life serial killers. I have a "type" of killer that I find interesting. And these two aren't my type. But I'll get on it, because I'm curious how these two compare with Leonard Lake and Charles Ng. Also, the Buono and Bianchi were cousins, which is weird.
Anyway, two well-spent Wednesday night thumbs up on "The Case of the Hillside Stranglers" which in keeping with our theme, is available in the "Made for TV Movies" section of Netflix Watch Instantly...

"this is all very boys don't cry..."

For reasons that make perfect sense, I needed to go to the Walmart in Milpitas. Naturally San Francisco's Toast of the Town, Brock Keeling came with me. Our exciting adventure into the suburban wilds is up now on SFGate...

Monday, March 14, 2011

i only do pre- and post-season...

I'm a regular sports reporter these days. I'm practically Bulldog from Frasier. Today on SFGate's Tourist Trapped, check out an entire recap of my weekend at Giants Spring Training. And by weekend at Giants Spring Training, I mean sitting by the pool, bumping into Willie Mays at a sports bar and checking out the kind of guys that wear white visors indoors at night.

And then my very own let me post my thoughts on yesterday's Giants vs. the Rangers game. This is the first time I've gotten to like, blog-blog for CBS. So don't get me in trouble and leave any weird comments. Go Gigantes!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

are we on drugs...

Last night, the four of us went to dinner at Petite Maison, sitting outside on this adorable gravel patio in one layer of clothing at 9pm. It was fabulous, and a unique experience thanks to our server. Right away, I could tell this is the kind of guy that so goddamn positive, he will one day end up chopping off his own arm to survive. As Alex kept saying, "This guy's just high on life."
Our server was a big fan of the royal 'we."
"How are we tonight?!? Have we dined with us before?!? Have we had a chance to look at the menu?!?! Do we want to start with cocktails?!?!"
I dared my mother to ask, "Do we know where the bathroom is?!?!"
But the best line coming out of this guy, who again, will one day want to see a sunset from the edge of some cliff and end up dying as he beams, "Gnarley!" came immediately after our first courses were served.
He bounced over to our table, popping his head under the canvas umbrella and wide-eyed, asked, "Is everything delicious at the onset?!?!"
Eight pairs of eyeballs stared back at him, stunned to silence. Even my father, who is normally oblivious to these things, was amused.
As soon as he walked away, we started saying it. And we found we could not stop.
"Is everything delicious at the onset."
"I need to write that down."
"The onset. That's interesting."
"I don't like it when they ask, 'How does everything taste' but this was just over the top."
"Is everything the onset. I can't get enough of it."
Anyway, today my mother and brother went to a Giants vs. Dodgers game while my father and I did this:
I have always enjoyed dressing specifically to my surroundings. If snow is within 20 miles, I'm head to toe in apres ski. And if I'm sitting by the pool at a desert golf resort, I'm in a caftan, huge hat and turquoise jewelry.
I look like someone's ex-wife.
Speaking of which, I was in one of the ladies shops here, poking around considering things like a long-sleeved fitted t-shirt with a bedazzled peace sign on it, where this husband and wife were bickering. She had spiky blonde hair and ill-fitting velour. He was in the ever-present Tommy Bahama.
"I'm going to go to the bar. I'll be by the fire pit." He said in a fabulous Texan drawl.
"Fine." She shot back.
"Do you want anything?"
"No. What would I need? Leave me alone."
"Okay." He turned to walk out. But then she grabbed him.
"Get me a Chardonnay!"
To this, the other ladies in the store which again, carries things like ombre broom skirts and tank-tops with sequined martini glasses, all chuckled.
And then, this man who I was starting to feel so bad for, turned around and asked, "You want me to leave my credit card?"
At this, all of the women in the shop stopped mid-browse to see how Spike would respond.
"I can charge it to the room. Jesus!"
Every other woman in that store, myself included, audibly tisked.
Deciding against bedazzled Gladiator sandals, I walked outside where a woman was having a fabulous jewelry trunk show out on the massive main lawn. And after playing with a million different pieces, I picked out a cool new necklace and pendant, which you will see me in constantly.
I had to go into the Lilly store to pay for it.
"Charge it to the room?" The saleswoman asked.
"Cash." I responded.
Because while I could probably sneak it in there, I'm not Spike. And this guy's already too nice to me...

Friday, March 11, 2011

i believe baseball will be involved at some point...

Once again, the Spotswood Family finds ourselves out of town during tragic global news. I spent much of this morning watching the amazing videos from Japan at Gate 79 of SFO.
Why? Because... here we are in Phoenix! My glorious and generous parents have taken us to this fabulous extravaganza to shop, spa and spring train.
My ordering of that list might differ from my family.
My mother booked herself and me massages this afternoon, so as soon as we arrived, she and I headed past the pool cabanas and Lilly shops and settled into the spa. Knowing me well, my mom requested we both have female massage professionals.
My masseuse was a very friendly and direct middle aged and stocky woman, which I regard as ideal in this situation. I feel like I always end up disrobing in front of a supermodel and it just makes me self-conscious. But this gal was all gruff business.
"I'm stepping out of the room for a moment. Robe off, face down."
Got it.
"I'm going to steam your feet."
Sounds healthy!
"You want me to work on your glutes?"
At this, I panicked. Do I WANT you to touch my BUTT? I don't know that 'want' is the appropriate word, but if that's part of the "Hands of Healing Massage" and will serve to "balance the mind, body and spirit" then so be it.
"Um, sure." I responded, face-down mumbling through the massage-table face-donut.
It is my understanding (primarily from television) that some people can completely zone out and forget where they are during massages. This afternoon's was a pretty fantastic massage. But I was still wide awake and nervous for the entire experience. There are to many components: nudity, bodies, touching, underpants, etc. that make me wildly uncomfortable. I like the fancy robe, sure. The free tea is nice. The flip flops are always too small for me, but that's okay. I liked the five (count 'em, 5!) salon-size body scrubs and washes to play with in the shower.
But I had to change with my mother and a collection of old ladies. Naked. Nude. Buff. A stranger spent an eternity rubbing aromatherapy lotion on my butt cheeks, and called them "glutes." And I felt like we shared this intimate moment and our goodbye in the locker room was really awkward. I worried about it the whole way from the massage room back, just knowing that my naked-panic would result in a fumbled thank-you.
I feel the only way to get over this ridiculous discomfort is to get massages all the time. Maybe some scrubs. And body wraps. And whatever the hell a caviar pedicure is.
Anyway, drinks and dinner tonight, followed by my mom and brother going to a baseball game tomorrow. Me and my dad? We'll go to a game on Sunday.
Tomorrow, we sit by the pool and read. And then we go back to the Lilly store and wonder how this will go over in San Francisco...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

they totally smoke while they tan...

Today's Necessary Conversation is up early, because I am off to tolerant, accepting Arizona tomorrow! That's right. I'm going to Giants Spring Training because I am the ultimate bandwagoner. Speaking of which, please hop on this week's NC bandwagon, kind of racist accents...

Episode 22 from Necessary Conversation on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

in the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups...

On today's SFGate Culture Blog, I recap the Mayoral Campaign kick-offs of former Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier and City Attorney Dennis Herrera. I also attend a house party for Distract Attorney Candidate David Onek, where some lady proved there is such a thing as a stupid question. And finally, I encourage the readers of SFGate to watch our San Francisco Young Republican Date Auction video, because I know how upset they like to get. Enjoy it...

Monday, March 07, 2011

i wonder if she'd help me dispose of a body...

In my early 20's, I finally figured out something about my mother. When she got pregnant with her first child (me) and as she started to raise me, dressing me in matching British overcoats and berets, she had all kinds of plans for her little girl. And slowly, as the years revealed the kind of person I'd turn out to be, my mother realized she'd popped out a perfect stranger; a stranger who wasn't really down with her plans.
Although I do like berets.
And so for awhile there, we were kind of at odds, shocked we'd been thrown into each others' lives without being consulted first. I don't know what they were expecting, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't me.
But it my 20's, that all kinda shook itself out and now we like each other a lot. My mother has backed off, and makes a visible and extreme effort to let me be who I am. While she doesn't always embrace my choices, she shuts up about it and is on Team Beth.
But what I find most odd in my adult relationship with my mom is what she has embraced about me. In fact, I've noticed that in the past year, my mother has taken to encouraging the thing about me that most people find the weirdest: my love of crime, mystery and murder most foul.
My mom has little interest in this subject. For years, she's kind of turned up her nose at my creepy fascinations and said, "Well I don't know why you'd want to read that."
But suddenly books started arriving at my door. The Monster of Florence, 88 Men and 2 Women... it was my mom, who not only was sending me presents for no reason, but sending me presents that contain crime scene photos!
Why, just today she sent me an email the the note, "This seems right up your alley!"
It's vintage mugshots. Wait, scratch that. It's awesome vintage mugshots. Like this one:No one ever found out what happened to Pretty Levine, although I agree with the nickname.I also agree with my mother getting on the creepy bandwagon. I hope that when I adopt my genetically enhanced embryos and they grow up to ignore my dream of the Spotswood Family Musical Revue and Drag Show, I'll find a way to embrace whatever shit they care about.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

pauley d wouldn't be caught dead in coach...

Hilarious and beautiful comedian Whitney Cummings tweeted a photo this morning of the guy sitting in front of her on an airplane.
This is the photo of the hair (and man-scent) that Whitney Cummings things resembles the Jersey Shore's own Pauley D:That's not a cast member on the Jersey Shore, Ms. Cummings, although I can see why someone might come to that conclusion. Nope, that is your Lieutenant Governor and mine, DJ Gavin C. Newsom!
At least I think it is. I'm a pretty solid expert on that hair and I'd swear on a case of Drakkar that's my boy...

Friday, March 04, 2011

necessary conversation: republican date auction

This week on Necessary Conversation, we head to the San Francisco Young Republican Date Auction, where we were welcomed with open arms! We talked about sex, guns, gay stuff...I think you'll enjoy it.

Episode 21: Special Edition Republican Date Auction from Necessary Conversation on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

i don't even eat crab...

Today on SFGate's Culture Blog, we get crabs with Mayor Ed Lee, who is literally, the most adorable mini-Mayor in the world...

this is why god invented limos...

I was regaling Vansmack with a story last week and he kept yelling at me, “How was this not on the blog?!? How is this not on Facebook!?! This is what the internet is for!”
Oh, well in that case and as today is his birthday, here we go:
Melissa wasn’t really in the mood to have a big celebration for her birthday. She was much happier just to sneak out of town and spend the weekend up the coast at the Brians’ beach house. So Tara, Leslie, Melissa and I drove up to Bodega Bay with incredibly complex and detailed instructions on how to work the heat and take out the garbage, and settled into a quiet 48 hours of girl shit.
Friday night, we made mac and cheese and watched a stupid movie. And decided that on Saturday night, we would head into Occidental and go to dinner at Negri’s, which according to their website, featured karaoke in the bar.
I’m always the designated driver. It sucks. It’s like I’m being punished for not drinking. I’ve been an unpaid chauffeur for two years and it’s not growing on me. So when these three women whom I love dearly piled into Rhonda the Honda, I was already like, “Let’s just shut up and get there, ladies.”
While all of these women are wonderful in their own ways, I don’t know that I’d chose any of them as guides into the uncharted wilderness. But for reasons of proximity, I handed Melissa the map. She was sitting next to me after all. She’s graduated from law school. She’s a capable adult. But she does not, however, drive. Nor does Melissa have any real concept of distance or geography. Melissa once called me needing an emergency ride to Vallejo, announcing, “I need to be there in 20 minutes.”
None the less, she was our navigator as we drove north down Highway 1.
From the back seat, Tara muttered, “I don’t know why Melissa is navigating. I thought I was going to be your teammate on the Amazing Race.”
“You will never be my teammate on the Amazing Race.” I said to Tara. “You got us lost in the Japantown parking lot.”
Next to her, Leslie deadpanned, “I’m already carsick.”
On and on we drove, everyone singing along to the only radio station that came in, classic rock hits with Wolfman Jack. Melissa, it appeared, had forgotten that she was navigating until I asked, “Where am I supposed to turn?”
“Where do I turn? To, you know, get there?”
“I don’t know.”
Tara climbed up to the front seat and grabbed the map out of Melissa’s hands. Like a bull in a china shop, she perched herself in the middle of my car while we drove along the Pacific and, what with it being pitch black outside, turned on the interior light.
“Um, hello idiots. We were supposed to turn like 20 minutes ago.”
Awesome. But using her apparently amazing navigation skills, Tara figured out that we could turn on another road and take another route. At this point, I pulled over and made Tara show me on the map. It looked pretty straightforward. We’d head down the Bohemian Highway, right past the Bohemian Club’s famous Grove. If Henry Kissenger can find his way around the forest, so can I.
We turned right, down a tiny road into a tunnel of wilderness. The road was windy and bumpy and we drove for miles.
“Oh God.” Leslie muttered, miserable in the backseat.
“This road appears abandoned.” Melissa said.
“Well, we weren’t even supposed to take it.” Tara replied. “But due to poor navigation…”
I silently gave us 50/50 odds of getting there in one piece. All four of us still speaking to each other would be impossible. But with a little luck, most of us might survive.
Still with hits of the 60’s blaring through my tiny car, and clearly the only vehicle on this road to hell, we all sang along, discovering Tara’s willingness to commit to singing the whole song without knowing any of the lyrics.
When a song came on that no one felt like singing along to, they just complained about everything instead.
“I feel disgusting.”
“Seriously. We’re dying back here.”
“We’ve been on this road for an hour.”
“Oh! Desperado! I love this song!”
And then suddenly before us, we came upon a huge sign welcoming us to Camp. We were in the middle of the woods and a windy wilderness road in the pitch black darkness and all my headlights revealed with a huge, “Welcome to Camp Meeker!” sign.
The four of us exploded into confused laughter.
“We’re going to die here.”
“This is the beginning of a horror movie.”
“I wonder how long it will take to report us missing.”
We turned on the light again, looked at the map. “I think we’re supposed to keep going.”
So we did. We drove and drove, through more windy wilderness and Woodstock songs. And eventually, finally we saw lights ahead. Occidental! Negri’s! We’re alive.
We enjoyed a bizarre, family-style Italian meal, we discussed the serial killer Robert Hansen, we went to the bar where there was NOT karaoke and when we asked why, we were informed, “The host’s mom has cancer, so…” Then some townie with a handlebar moustache tried to pick up Melissa.
“Oh, you’re a lawyer? Where’s you go to school? Davis?”
Waiting years to actually use this line, I leaned over and said, “She went to Cornell. Ever heard of it?”
To which he replied, “No.”
And this isn’t the end of our near-death experience. Driving home, the correct way, we were nearly run off the road by a mysterious, over-sized truck. He was on my ass for half an hour, and Melissa noticing how tense I was finally said, “What is going on?”
“This guy. This guy behind me…he’s freaking me out.”
It was midnight, and so foggy I couldn’t see that far in front of me. Melissa turned down the music, Leslie turned around and shot him dirty looks. But not Tara. No, Tara just kept singing at the top of her lungs. And I thought to myself as I white-knuckled the steering wheel and prayed we’d survive, “The last thing I’m going to hear before I plummet off this cliff into the ocean and leave this cruel world will be Tara screaming the incorrect lyrics to ‘Take Me Home, Country Road...’”