Wednesday, August 31, 2011

anita, by the way, isn't the only one who needs to get over it....

On today's Culture Blog, Melissa and I spend a Saturday at the California Young Republicans Convention and hear media sensation Andrew Breitbart's thoughts on "sexual obsessives", Ted Kennedy and who, exactly, is evil.
It was really quite a two hours. Up now on SFGate...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

also, the theme song* is badass...

Over dinner with my brother last week, Alex recommended I watch the BBC's 'Sherlock' on Netflix on Demand. "Trust me." He said. "You'll really, really like it."
Turns out, I fucking love it. The first five minutes of the first episode kind of plodded along and I instantly decided that my brother hardly even knows me.
But then Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes meet. I was suddenly riveted, slowly backing away from the screen and realizing that I was having a historic television moment. Maybe it's one of those things you have to be in the right mood for, but as I watched 'Sherlock' on my laptop in the middle of the night, I was in the right mood.
Each episode is an hour and a half long. Dr. Watson is played by Martin Freeman, Tim from the original British 'The Office" and Sherlock is played by, wait for it, Benedict Cumberbatch.
You will not be surprised to learn that I now love this Benedict Cumberbatch.
Before you roll your eyes like some nerdy Sherlock Holmes purist, allow me to inform you that this show, which is a year or so old in the UK, won the BAFTA, everyone who knows about it already loves it and it's universally regarded as marvelous.
But here's the thing. There are only three episodes.
And now I've got to wait until next year to find out what happens with Moriarty. Next year! Which is the only thing wrong with the British.
"Oh yes, we'll make this marvelous show and have a fabulous cliff-hanger three episodes in. But then we'll make you wait two Christmases before they next three. We're a two-thousand year old country. We've got all the time in the world."

*It is apparently not the Opening song but "Sherlock's Theme" that I love.

Monday, August 29, 2011

also, a perfect setting for a sitcom...

In today's Tourist Trapped, I spent this past weekend at the InterContinental Hotel in SoMa. My takeaway is basically that I would prefer to live in a hotel permanently. Which is how I came up with my Top 5 Best Things About Staying In A Hotel. Up now on SFGate...

Sunday, August 28, 2011

please gavin, don't hurt him...

Sometimes I'll file through Bill Wilson's site just in case I stumble upon something like, oh, I don't know. Maybe "Hands Across California MC Hammer Newsom"?
Yeah, something like that.
We're all in agreement that Gavin probably attempted to stray from the confines of a traditional handshake in the above greeting and screwed it up, yes?

Um, excuse me. MC Fucking Hammer is trying to hold your hand. Pay attention!

The high point of Gavin Newsom's career, apparently. And the low point of Hammer's.

"Hammer? Hammer? Can I get a photo real quick? Awesome, thanks."

The LG rocking the classic "over-laugh" in the presence of a celebrity, the low-key and off camera, MC Hammer.

From henceforth: If Master of Ceremonies Hammer stands at attention, everyone stands at attention.

"Believe it or not, when the chips are down and the going gets tough, I actually remind myself that I, too, am too legit to quit."
"That wasn't about you."

Friday, August 26, 2011

necessary conversation: throwing shade...

While I have always thought he was a very nice guy, mayoral candidate Bevan Dufty has recently and very publicly taken issue with the way Melissa moderates a debate. In fact, he is specifically calling her out for asking questions he doesn't feel add substance to the discourse of the election. As someone who is always nagging Melissa to make debates more entertaining to regular people who might not follow local politics as closely as say, a local politician, I feel slightly responsible for her being thrown under a bus by again, someone I've always thought was a pretty nice guy. I'm sure he still is.
None the less, we apologize to the Dufty for Mayor campaign in today's episode. I hope they like it!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

upsetting movie warning: there is talking with food in mouth...

Tara and I decided to go see The Trip at the Opera Plaza theater. As far as San Francisco movie theaters go, this is not one of our favorites. But they show artsy-fartsy movies and it's very close to a good bookstore.
I know what you're thinking. We might as well adopt orphans off the television and start knitting afghans. But sometimes it's just nice to go to movie and dinner with your friend and get in bed at a reasonable hour.
Anyway, we sat down in the theater, which seats like 12 people, and all of a sudden, this young lady movie usher comes forward and like one of those poetry beggars on a subway, says, "Hi, my name is Lisa and I'll be starting the movie really soon. Please let me know if you need anything, or if the movie is blurry. I'll be in several times to check on everything, but don't hesitate to come get me if anything is wrong."
And with that, Tara beams and screams, "Thanks Lisa!"
I didn't know what was weirder: the announcement or Tara reminding me of my grandmother in church. (When the priest would say, 'Peace be with you' my grandmother would always scream, 'And also with YOU, Father!' as if that would get guarantee her entry into heaven.)
The Trip involves two British comedians, one of whom we'd heard of, driving around the UK eating at amazing restaurants and talking. I have never seen "My Dinner With Andre" but based upon a lifetime of cultural references, I suspect it is very similar.
They also do about an hour of Michael Caine impressions. Hey, I like Michael Caine. And I am mildly amused by a discussion on the nuances of his speech patterns over food porn. But after a while, I wanted to scream, "Do Walken!"
Opera Plaza Cinemas attract an older crowd of recent retirees who speak in their regular voices during the movie. The Trip involves lots of very high-concept dining restaurants. Now, it's not like I'm kicking my feet up on the table at Manresa every Wednesday, but let's all agree that 'foam' is no longer a big deal. There is no need to audibly react everytime something arrives at the table with foam on it. Half of the audience had clearly seen an episode of Top Chef Season 1 and felt they were in the know on the foam fad.
It drove me fucking nuts.
Afterwards, we went to dinner at The Boxing Room which everyone is talking about and I had never been to. It's Lousianna food, so lots of crawfish and gumbo in low lighting with lots of charming skillets and chalkboards. If Forrest Gump was looking for a slightly upscale dining experience, he'd go to The Boxing Room.
Tara and I ate at the bar and spent as much time complaining about the movie's Michael Caine impressions as actually appeared in the movie. By the end of our entrees at like, 11-ish, Tara announced the same thing she always announces towards the end of our post-movie dinners.
"Honestly, and I know I always say this, I can't wait to crawl into bed with my book."
A year ago, I'd have silently congratulated myself for having an 'older' friend. But now, I couldn't agree more. Having a weird (and thus entertaining) artsy movie and dinner night with my friend Tara and crawling into my adult, clean-sheeted and already-made bed by midnight with 2 chapters left of my awesome book is...well, wonderful.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"politician" is not an occupation...

On today's Culture Blog, we re-visit our old stand-by of checking out candidate Facebook Pages, and note that in a perfect and honest world, Ed Lee would change his relationship status to "It's Complicated" with Rose Pak.
Up now on SFGate...

Monday, August 22, 2011

i was there for the dachshund races, obviously...

Let's ignore the fact that I took BART by myself to the East Bay and didn't get myself (too) lost. I spent Saturday afternoon at the track (!) and discovered my new favorite place on Earth. Why are we not all hanging out at the track all the time? I felt like bringing a good book, some sweatpants and making myself at home. That place is magical.
I was kind of terrified to make this trek solo, but I met up with some friends already there, and really, you haven't lived until you've been elbowed by an elderly man who insists upon his "regular" seat on the mildly confusing Golden Gate Fields Free Shuttle To BART.
I was sitting by myself on that shuttle driving from a horsetrack to a BART station with a dozen old dudes, thinking, "This is a weird life, right?"
My adventure is up now on today's Tourist Trapped, over at SFGate...

Friday, August 19, 2011

all that was missing was a wind machine...

Friday was the photoshoot for 7x7 Magazine. To say I was excitedly terrified would be putting it mildly. But I had three weeks to prepare for one photo. If I looked bad in this, it was no one's fault but my own.
I was up and off to Dry Bar for a blow-out by 10am. I decided to have my hair blown out because even though a hair and make-up person was coming, I thought I'd be helpful.
I should not have been helpful.
I emerged looking like Shirley Temple on hormones. I have no idea why my hair was curled into such tight and dramatic ringlets, but I was too polite to say anything. Instead, I'm bitching about it on the internet.
I then raced over to Melissa's because her apartment is very cool. It is certainly cooler than my apartment, and where we'd decided to do the shoot.
It also gave us what Melissa called, "home court advantage."
Also along for the photoshoot were Tara and Catherine. In fact, my three girlfriends had all taken the day off work to spend an afternoon watching me pose. When the (gorgeous) photographer, his assistant and the hair/make-up artist arrived, we already had a full house.
I sat nervously while my three suddenly wildly protective friends stood behind me, arms folded.
"Beth is very funny." They announced. "Beth looks best from certain angles."
Catherine stepped in. "Not to be a stage mom, but Beth is best when she's natural."
I think when Alex the photographer used the word "glamour shot" we all calmed down a little. He was, after all, speaking my language.
None the less, I was starting to regret having the cast of Sex and the City trying to control the situation. I wanted this guy to like me. But we pressed on, I tried on some dresses as the very cool Veronica started to fix my hair.
In my first dress, Alex sat me down at the dining room table. Fake eyelashes and lipgloss and big hair and lights and props and Melissa in the background muttering, "Think Tina Fey!"
And then, the perfectly styled and charming Alex, with his eyes like the waters of a tropical beach, started clicking away. And we all started laughing and having fun. And Melissa snuck behind him and saw some of the shots he was taking and screamed, "Oh my God."
We all stopped.
Melissa looked at me, kind of clutched her chest and said, "Bethy. It''s awesome."
As I gushed to my mother later, "It looked so different! I couldn't believe it was me! It looked like a real magazine photo!"
We did three dresses in three hours. And there was one moment, with Veronica tweaking my hair and Alex moving lights around and my girlfriends picking out earrings where I just sat there, looked around and thought, "I should probably appreciate this moment."
So like a huge nerd, I took a mental picture of the scene before me, which was a very glamorous magazine shoot. And even if nothing else cool ever happens to me for the rest of my life, I should never complain about anything because I got a whole afternoon of getting to pretend I'm a star and IT WAS SO MUCH FUN I CAN HARDLY STAND THAT IT HAPPENED.
Any fantasy I've ever had about being in my very own photo shoot was fulfilled and then some. I'm sure the other 19 members of this list have far bigger fish to fry than getting their photo taken. But I don't!
As Alex sweetly showed me a few of the photos he's taken, I looked at myself smirking on his little digital camera screen all made-up and thought, "Shit. I better start writing some good blog posts..."

*I have tons of photos of behind the scenes but I don't know if I'm allowed to show you until the issue comes out. And it's killing me...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

necessary conversation: extraneous bullshit...

Oh, how we've made you wait! Hopefully you are now starving for some Necessary Conversation. Today's episode takes you to SF Chefs 2011, where we interview Gary Danko, Joanne Weir, Hubert Keller, Chris Cosentino of Incanto, Tablehopper and Brock Keeling, who tells us which "restaurant" gave him the runs.
Bon appetit!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

how about we 'err' on the side of photoshop...

Please forgive my lack of posting this week. I have lots of excuses. But I also have lots to talk about, so let's catch up and we'll get back on track.
1. This 7x7 photo shoot is supposed to happen on Friday. I don't know where. I don't know when. All I know is I'm supposed to bring "several" outfits and "err on the side of hot." Seriously. I have an email that says that. As I have never ended up on that side on purpose much less by accident, I am gravely concerned I will ruin my shoot with my desperate grinning. Catherine came over last night to examine my clothing and pose me standing, sitting and leaning, noting that I have trouble "acting natural." I insist on utilizing props. Like serial killer coffee table books.
2. I am taking a weeklong break from the Culture Blog. I need to catch up on my shit and there are only so many posts people are willing to read about Mayoral debates. It's only August and I'm starting to get sick of these candidates. Apparently, the feeling is mutual. We also need to catch up on Necessary Conversation. I think in our attempt to produce an episode every week, we burned ourselves out and got sick of it. We'll be up and running Friday with our take on SFChefs. Look for interviews with Gary Danko, Hubert Keller and Brock Keeling!
3. After practice-posing, Catherine and her fiance Brian took me to dinner at Slow Club to celebrate the photo shoot. (I am really milking this magazine thing.) Anyway, Brian recommended a New Yorker article which I then went home and read. If you are at all interested in bad-ass Navy Seal types killing Osama Bin Laden and a month behind on your New Yorker reading (and by a month, I mean a year) then you will dig this article.
4. I hate to say it, but I am fucking over the Jersey Shore.
5. Tomorrow, I go back to the gym. If you thought I was nervous going to the dentist, I am almost crying at the thought of re-joining a gym. But I'm just getting vainer and older. So here we go. I will keep you posted on any World Gym antics.
6. San Francisco drag sensation (and my awesome friend) Pollo Del Mar has a new YouTube webshow called Name Dropping. I get a shout-out in Episode One! And also, Pollo is a really great person. I'm all about promoting Pollo. Watch Name Dropping, please. Pollo and I attempted to do commentary on last Thursday's debate, where I've since gotten a lot of shit for saying that Leland Yee was funny. What? He was! Leland Yee is the only candidate I've never really met and also, he's got the best crazy past for blog fodder. But if the guy makes a funny joke, he should get credit for making a funny joke.
7. Finally, and speaking of everyone losing their shit over the Mayor's race, check this email one of the non-leading candidates, David Villa-Lobos just sent out. Apparently, he had trouble filing for Mayor 12 seconds before the deadline, "My wife crying, and distraught, went to the city hall bathroom and collapsed. Candidate Flips-Out: It was at that point that I went crazy, I phoned the DOE and gave them "HELL"; with the salty-distasteful superlatives flying. After all, my wife and I had already exhausted our entire savings, our daughters college fund on this campaign thus far, and borrowed money to pay the fee." I guess he's not on the ballot. As someone who has collasped in a public bathroom before, that shit isn't cool. As a voter, however, I'm not really reassured that this guy is blowing his daughter's college fund on what I would have generously called a long-shot...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

i'll just pretend i'm winking...

Is it just me, or is this the longest week in the history of the world. How is it not October already? I feel like I've been through so much! Anyway, tonight is Mayor Ed Lee's second mayoral debate ever. I suspect there will be a big crowd of people who thought to themselves, "Wait. Shit hit the crazy fan at Monday's debate? Oh, I'm going!"
If you're coming in person (insert joke), you can RSVP here.
If you're watching online (advised) you get the added bonus of web-only commentary from Pollo Del Mar and me. We'll be Joan and Melissa-ing the debate, as Melissa moderates. Pollo and I will be off in a side room offering snide and entertaining observations before, after and during the breaks to keep you basement nerds from changing the channel.
Tune in Here to watch LIVE.
Please be warned, Tony Hall is not participating in this debate. I know. I'm bummed too.

Since you were all so kind in voting in that 7x7 thing, here's an update: I have completely changed my entire lifestyle after scheduling my first professional photo shoot ever. Yesterday, I had my eyebrows re-designed. Naturally, this has resulted in disaster. I woke up this morning looking like Sloth from Goonies, one eyelid "completely" swollen.
I already did my interview, none of which I remember. Actually, that's not true. At one point, I heard the words "Gavin Newsom" and "our relationship" escape my mouth. I also went on a long embarrassing rant about how I'm a late bloomer.
All I know is that someone is taking my picture sometime and somewhere next Friday. I have no idea what I'm supposed to wear or if I need to arrive fully made-up. Obviously, I would love to discuss my high-production-value photo concepts with the photographer, but I'm trying to play it cool. They might just shove me in front of a mugshot height-chart and click.
Which, now that I think about it, sounds pretty awesome...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

smarties. get it?

Today's SFGate post, my 5-point recap of Monday's Mayoral Debate is up! This is me with Green Party candidate Terry Jean Baum, who is a badass and was delighted to accept the Smarties (TM) that Bill Hemenger passed out to the audience. We thought it would be funny to bring everyone candy, which all of the old/cool people (including David Chiu's parents) liked but all of the young/paranoid people were like, "What are you campaigning for?"
I'm campaigning for you to lighten up, how about that?
Also, you can watch Melissa moderate tomorrow's debate on the Huffington Post SF at 5:55, with live web-commentary from Pollo Del Mar and yours truly. This is the exact opposite of the founding father's vision of American democracy...

this took me from a three to like, a seven...

In case you've ever wondered, it's the whole "wisdom to know the difference" part that's the hardest. I do not have the wisdom to know the difference. I do have the wisdom to know that this will always perk me right up.
So, you know, go with what you know:

Monday, August 08, 2011

tourist trapped at chris' joynt...

If anyone asks you if you have "a case of the Mondays" today, you have my permission to punch their lights out. That holds up in court, by the way.
Today's Tourist Trapped involves Big Chris not buying me dinner at Tommy's Joynt, providing me with Reason 635 why my mother can relax because I will never marry Big Chris: He can't drop $5.60 on me. I stood at the register holding OUR trays of food with a ravenous line pushing up behind me, and he announces, "We're paying separately." So I have to dig through my bag to pull out a fucking five dollar bill and change. Chris is a government employee, by the way.
Anyway, Tourist Trapped: Tommy's Joynt is up now on SFGate.
Ed Lee is running for mayor (duh). But now that he's a candidate, he's got to show up at forums and debates, starting IMMEDIATELY. Ed makes his debut in my favorite San Francisco venue, the Castro Theater at a neighborhood forum tonight. Doors open at 6, it starts at 7. I'm wearing plaid so I should really run home to change. It's a whole thing. SFist even quoted me about it, I'm so psyched to see the Lee shit hit the Chiu fan.
If you aren't into tonight but are still in the mood for something Mayor-y this week, Melissa is moderating a debate on Thursday night. And provided the technical issues get worked out, Pollo Del Mar and I will be doing live commentary for the web audience viewing at home on the Huffington Post San Francisco. The last time we did this was a year ago, and shit got weird:

Viva La Libertie!

Saturday, August 06, 2011

way better snacks that political parties...

One of the MYRIAD of problems I have with Melissa L. Griffin is that she thinks politics is the most important topic in the world. Melissa could walk into the depths of a South American rainforrest and try to have a discussion with someone in a loincloth about redistricting. So I feel that one of my jobs on Necessary Conversation is make us talk about normal shit every once in a while.
When we go to political events or City Hall, Melissa is all a buzz and excited and thinks everyone is really important, whereas I regard them as my employees. When we went to SF Chefs 2011 Grand Tasting last night, Melissa was like, "What is this, cooking?" Whereas I fucking freaked out and regarded everyone there are the most important celebrity culinary visionaries in the world.
So that video will be up in two weeks (it takes a long time to edit our field reports) but here's some behind the scenes gossip:
We ran into Michael Bauer, who took one look at me and burst out laughing. "What are you doing in a wig?!?!" Weird that he doesn't watch NC. But Melissa, who again regarded the whole event as "a food court" started to get excited when she met Bauer.
I always kind of found Chris Cosentino of Incanto attractive, in a bad boy chef kind of way. As Melissa had no idea who he was, she let me do the interview, and it's safe to say I no longer have a crush on CC. He's REALLY intense, he feels like doing interviews on shows (like ours) is "extraneous bullshit" and he tried to smack me on the ass with a rolled-up dishtowel. Each of those things on their own would be fine, but altogether, I was like, "I've bought your charcuterie plate, pal. Cut me some slack."
CC is big on curing organ meats and then shaving them over food. He treats a rock-hard, two-year old pig liver as a block of parmesan. I don't know why I was expecting a normal interview.
I was starstruck interviewing Hubert Keller, Joanne Weir and the head of the National Pork Board. Melissa, however, finally turned into a gushing groupie be when we snagged an interview with...Gary Danko.
We did not ask Gary Danko if we could eat his food for free, although we both were thinking it. But as we left, I went back and thanked him, "Thank you so much, Chef. You were our favorite interview!"
And Gary Danko replies, "You said that to Joanne Weir."
The two interviews I really wanted were Tyler Florence and Michael Mina, which were the two we didn't get. They were surrounded and impossible to get to. I really tried with TyFlo, tho. On one hand, this guy is at the peak of his career at like, the peak of celebrity chefdom. He's the Oprah of food. I should let him work. On the other hand, I was like, "Search engine optimization! People google TyFlo, yo. I need this interview so I can be the Oprah of dumb interviews."
I am cutting TyFlo some slack as the fine folks at El Paseo made a big deal about my mom on her birthday. While I would gladly trade that for fame, my mom was really impressed. And Michael Mina's never sent over shit.
After I dropped Melissa off, I went home and changed into normal clothes to meet Joy and Brock at the after party, held at the City Club. I have heard, read and seen video of Hubert Keller DJ-ing. But to experience it in person was really entertaining. The French are so French, you know? Like, there is hugely famous, internationally celebrated, Top Chef repeat guest star Hubert Keller and his signature ponytail spinning Kanye West while fist pumping. I walked up to take a photo and he screamed, "Allo!!! Where is your haih?!?"
He was really DJ-ing, like mixing songs together or doing mashups or whatever. I don't know. I listen to Sarah Bareilles. Anyway, he was playing this song called "Why Don't We Just Fuck." Chef Keller was spinning, dancing, laughing and singing along. And I was sitting on this leather ottoman with Brock and then Tolan, watching DJ Burger Bar and having quite the foodie Friday...

Friday, August 05, 2011

don't get too excited. we're 72 measly hours away from monday...

Hey guys. TGIF, right? I've had quite a week, and have assuming you have too. Let's take it easy today, shall we?
Here is my tale of meeting Emilio Estevez on Wednesday night. It was pretty fucking awesome.
Here is today's Necessary Conversation, which is 80's sitcom style flashback footage:

We're filming at SF Chef's Grand Tasting tonight, so if you're there and see us talking to a hot chef, don't be a cockblock. (I'm just kidding. Come say hi, so we look famous.)
Finally, this story that Eve sent me last week has been on my mind. I keep re-reading it because 1) it's so hauntingly written and 2) I have a lot of versions of me in 20 years, but this is the most likely.
Have an awesome weekend, and as my mother once enthusiastically and inadvertently ended a business-related voicemail, "I love you..."

Monday, August 01, 2011

a million kaylee's. not one beth...

In today's Tourist Trapped, Curbed's Sally and I head down to Pier 39 and kinda hate it. In an exciting twist, today's commenters hate me. Enjoy it all over at SFGate...