Friday, September 30, 2011

necessary conversation: mayoral car wash...

Hopefully, this was worth the wait! Mel and I both agree, this is one of our favorite episodes we've done. Have a great weekend, make a new friend and take good care of yourself...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

the civil war and pineapple...

I think my wonderful co-worker Bill sensed that I was really down today, thinking about my friend Andre. So he distracted me by asking, all of a sudden and out of the blue, "If you could be in any war in history, which one would you choose?"
I love these kind of questions!
At first, I said, "The Gulf War of the early '90s."
My reasoning was that it was a short war, very few people died and they had anesthesia. I would forgo the great wars of history for a pain-free experience. I think it would have been amazing to be at Gettysburg, but I have seen that documentary. I am a selfish and wimpy person. I'd rather be comfy and experience another Christmas. If I have to be in a war, I want something brief. Like Grenada.
But Bill was displeased. "Let's say that you survive, unharmed."
"Am I soldier, like in the infantry? Or can I be the Queen of England in this scenario?"
"You're in the infantry. You cannot be Churchill."
"But I walk out of it, without a scratch?"
"Physically, yes. But you can still factor in sights and smells, which would stay with you forever."
I chose the Civil War (on the side of the Union), with the Revolutionary War as my runner up. They both completely shaped America. If either had gone the other way, we would not be sitting where we are sitting right now. And I was raised with a particular reverence for US History.
"Yeah. The Civil War is good. Yet gross." Said Bill. "I think it would have been pretty amazing to liberate Europe."
Oooooh, that's good. We both agreed we'd take a solid pass on Vietnam. And I think we all can agree that I've really lucked out in the co-worker questions department. Years before Bill, I worked with Ben who decided to ask one afternoon, "If you could only have one fruit for the rest of your life, what would that fruit be..."

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

kicking ass and wearing track suits...

I don't know why there hasn't been a federal investigation into Rose Pak and her sprained ankle, but today, I try and get to the bottom of the story. It's up now, on SFGate...

pulitzers, cookie plates and andre...

Last month, Melissa and I went, for the third year in a row, to our friend Rich's fancy wine dinner in Sonoma. And for the third year in a row, I wore silk in a vineyard under the stars and drank a case of Pellegrino. I would guess 60 or so of us had dinner. It was all very lovely and catered, with lanterns hanging over us and soft breezes. It looked like a scene from "It's Complicated."
After dinner, people started getting up from their assigned seats and moving around to talk to different people. I ended up sitting at an empty table with my new friend Natalie and my old friend Andre. I wouldn't say Andre is really an old friend. I've known him for four years and Melissa will agree with me when I tell you he is easily one of the best, most charming and wonderful people either of us have ever met.
Everytime I go to a party and see Andre, I breathe a sigh of relief.
Anyway, it late and night and Andre, Natalie and I are sitting at one of the many dinner tables. Candles are lit, we keep asking the caterer for more cookies and coffee, everyone else is mingling by the fire pit or drinking wine inside. And Andre asked me what I was reading.
"Oh God, I hate it when people ask me that because I will feel dumb."
"You are not dumb. So you're not reading anything."
"No. I'm reading a book about horrible crimes."
"What book?"
"Popular Crime by Bill James."
"Oh! I love Bill James. I'm a pollster. Statistics are my thing. Bill James is awesome. Tell me about the book."
And during this, people are occasionally coming up to Andre because he is a political genius. He was very nice, but kinda like, "Whatever, I'm talking to Natalie and Beth."
So I tell Andre and Natalie all about the book (which was awesome) and then Andre pulls out his phone and starts reciting all of these words he has obviously noted. Apparently, he's read a book by Bill James and, considering himself a pretty smart guy, Andre was surprised by the number of words used that he didn't know.
Lo these years later, Andre was asking people at a dinner party if THEY knew the words.
We didn't.
"I know, right!" Andre said. "And, it's not like we're idiots."
So then Andre tells this story of when he was living in New York, and he went to a lecture at the New York Public Library, apparently on a blind date. The author giving the lecture, I forget who, was taking questions at the end. And a woman near Andre stood up and said, "I've won a Pulitzer. (pause) And there were several words in your book I'd never seen before."
"I just thought it was interesting." Andre said, "That's her qualifier. SHE has a Pulitzer, so what kind of book is this guy writing if SHE doesn't know the words."
"Right." Said Natalie. "She might as well have stood up and said, 'I'm not retarded.'"
"I wonder how often she starts conversations that way?" I asked. "I have a Pulitzer. And I'd like half a pound of the smoked turkey."
We sat around that table for hours, just us. We laughed and laughed and laughed so hard that at one point Natalie screamed, "Stop talking! Stop talking! I need to catch my breath!"
I just remember looking at Andre and thinking how he made me feel so comfortable and accepted and pretty and smart. He always made me feel that way, he was always so enthusiastic about Necessary Conversation and our blogs and campaigning for the 7x7 thing. But that night, just a month ago, just sitting around that table after dinner, it was magical. It's not just special in retrospect. It felt special at the time.
And it will be my last memory of Andre. Very unexpectedly, he passed away yesterday.
As heartbroken and shocked and confused as I feel, I am so grateful that the last time I spent with Andre was particularly wonderful. In the realm of last nights with someone, Andre and I had a pretty spectacular one...

Monday, September 26, 2011

that's right. i'm a naval aviator...

Watching Top Gun with 1500 strangers in a public park allows one to see things they may have missed in previous viewings. Like why the hell does Kelly McGillis have a parrot? It makes no sense to me that someone on the set was like, "You know Charlie would have? A pet parrot. Can someone call a parrot wrangler?"
Also, I can't tell you what a great time we had watching Top Gun in Saturday night. My friends are really like-able and great chefs/snack-bringers, the weather was perfect, the crowd was behaved. It was lovely! I've turned it into a Tourist Trapped and it's up on SFGate right now.

Also, in case you missed it because my father has snatched up every issue in town, here is a link to the 7x7 Hot 20 article on yours truly. Did I thank you for voting for me? My high school put this on Facebook, so now more than ever, THANK YOU FOR VOTING FOR ME...

Oh, wait. Hold on. While I have you, my friend Christian made an AWESOME documentary, covering a fascinating family mystery. It's 45-minutes long, called 'The Death of Danny the King' and I've watched it twice. Watch it RIGHT HERE.You might recognize Christian from the PBS documentary series 'Carrier' which you should also watch. It's like The Real World: Aircraft Carrier. I love that Christian is making his own films!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

7x7= the number of people i brought with me to this party...

Last night was the 7x7 Magazine Party at AT&T Park. I feel that since I relentlessly bugged you to vote for me, I owe you full reports on what it's like to end up in the Hot 20 Under 40 Issue.
The answer? It is both awesome and weird.

I assumed I could only bring one guest to this thing, so I invited my friend Max to come with me. Max was my 7x7 Reader's Choice "campaign manager", and literally spent a week e-blasting the country in an attempt to help me win this thing. Plus, I thought I'd break stereotype by showing up to a party with a straight guy.
But then I got an email from Robin, the chic editor of 7x7 who said I could basically bring my entire entourage. So along for the ride with Max and me were Eve, Brock, my brother and my parents. Poor Melissa couldn't change a flight and was stuck in Cleveland. OR SO SHE CLAIMS. Then Catherine, Tara and Christine all bought tickets on Gilt City. I don't know if any of the other folks on the Hot 20 list rolled in like a hip hop entourage, but I had like, 10 people with me. I was also wearing a t-shirt that said, "This is a really big deal to me."

I would never admit this to anyone, but in my imaginary slickly-edited video montage of us walking into AT&T Park, the soundtrack is Peter Gabriel's "Big Time."
Basically, we stood around and chatted. I ran into my friend Sally, who was party hopping. And then my friend Nish very sweetly talked to my mom about the internet. Nish was off to go mingle, so he said goodbye to my mom and then to me, said, "What are you doing after this?"
"I don't know, we might get dinner? Is there a party somewhere?"
"Um, I don't know. Let's hang out, tho. I'll text you."
"Okay, cool."
Nish walked away and my mother looked at me. "Well," she said. "That was very interesting."
"What?" I braced myself.
"How all of this works. 'I'll text you' and 'What's next?' and parties after a party."

I chatted with Broke Ass Stuart, also on the list. Stuart's got a really cool photo in the magazine. He is also at every party in San Francisco. Ever. Ross Mirkarimi was there, although it was one of five events he had to attend last night. He mentioned feeling a little old to be on the list (agreed, Ross!) and that his photoshoot was really fun.
I also had an awesome conversation with List-ee Matthew Zapruder. He's the poet stepping into oncoming traffic in the magazine, if you've got a copy, and it turns out I had the wrong impression of poets. You'd think, "Who wants to talk to a poet?" right?
I love this guy! He's hilarious and irreverent and watches Necessary Conversation! Rather disappointingly, he does not wear a beret.
So towards the end of the party, Catherine, Tara, Max and I were figuring out where to go next. Catherine was walking around, checking out who else was in the magazine and, much like my publicist, introducing me to them. I think she just thought we should all meet each other, and isn't this exciting and fun. Catherine is very sweet and sincere about these things. So she introduces herself to one of the Instagram guys and then says, "This is Beth. She's on..."
Before she finishes, famous app guy very sweetly shakes my hand like Tom Cruise benevolently greeting a fan in the crowds at an overseas film premiere.
He really wanted to talk to this hot chick standing next to me, and I didn't have the time to explain to him that I am valid in my own ways. Also, there was a mass of people trying to talk to him. Apps! Who knew?
I should point out, I shook about 50 hands exactly the same way last night.
Oh! And then they announced all of the Hot 20, but it was hard to hear. My father, none the less, monitored the proceedings and when they got to Reader's Choice, came running over. "Beth! Beth! You're up!"
So I had to walk up to the little announcement stage. I gave a shout-out to my parents, because I didn't know what to say, and then I was handed a bottle of Johnnie Walker Green Label, which I had to pose with. Like, there will be pictures of me posing with a bottle of alcohol. And because I am AN IDIOT, I said to the woman that handed it to me, "Oh, this is so funny. I'm in recovery!"
She just stared at me, just trying to do her job in the middle of this huge party and I'm laying on her my entire struggle with addiction. So she says, "Wow! Good for you!"
And someone took a picture of this.
Alex got the bottle of booze, by the way. Although Max and Nish were both like, "So, the Johnnie Walker is...where?"
Easily the most exciting part was seeing my name and photo up on the big screen at AT&T. It said, "The Funny Girl" and my family was just...blown away. I walked out onto the Club Level seating area and one section over was my mother all by herself, taking photos of me on the big screen. I feel a little bad for not having popped out husbands or grandkids to entertain my folks. But if I'm on the big screen at the baseball field once every 33 years, they're pretty fucking psyched.

Thanks again for voting so I could crash this magazine, my friends. Thank you to 7x7 for being filled with very nice people who dress better than me but don't mention it. And thanks for suffering through my exhaustive excitement. The Amazing Race starts on Sunday, so we can all get on with our lives...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

page 76, page 76, page 76...

Last night, my brother stopped at Barnes & Noble and bought the latest issue of 7x7. Why? I THINK YOU KNOW WHY.
Lucky for him, I sucked all of the obnoxiousness out of my mother's baby maker and as a result, my brother Alex is the most mellow fellow ever. So very casually, he walked up to the Barnes & Noble cashier to pay.
"7x7?" The cashier said, "What's that?"
"It means 7 miles by 7 miles, which is the size of San Francisco." My brother responded. Then, in a very uncharacteristic move he said, "Actually, my sister is in here!"
He opened up the magazine and displayed my photo. Alex was telling me all about this as he drove home from work.
"Alex!" I gushed. "That's so nice. You're such a good brother. Was the cashier excited?"
"No."
"Did he say anything?"
"Not really. He just kinda looked at it and looked away."

This makes me indescribably happy.
You guys! It's out! The magazine is out! Please go steal one from your gentrified neighbor. It's kind of a goofy photo, but as my brother reminded me, "That's your schtick." Also, the one quote I'm a little nervous about is my saying, "Gavin's personal tragedy was my professional triumph." Preceding that quote was the story of how Eve asked me to write a weekly blog about Gavin Newsom three weeks before his big and vaguely forgotten scandal. My point was the miraculous timing, not the, you know, shitty thing that happened to someone's family. That being said, I think karma kicked me in the ass pretty good for being amused at addiction, so whatever. Water under the bridge. The Golden Gate Bridge, which my brother called me while driving across. Because he just bought a magazine with a picture of me in it...

Monday, September 19, 2011

"Tara is WAY off-base here, and shame on you, Beth..."

At dinner the other night, Tara pointed out that from henceforth, I would need to make our OpenTable reservations. "I'm so embarrassed." She laughed. "OpenTabled dumped me!"
To which I immediately made a note, "OpenTable dumps Tara blog post."
It's up now, on today's Culture Blog. And Tara is ready to kill me.
It should come as no surprise to you that today's commenters fail to see the humor in OpenTable's canceling one's membership over a missed reservation. Not only do they fail to see the humor, they have apparently finally found their cause...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

this all happened in novato, of course...

All four members of the Spotswood Family are riled up about this article in which it would appear a woman buried her husband underneath a barbeque and we're all just supposed to act like it's no big deal. If I may:

"The body of Dale Smith, 74, was found Feb. 23 buried at least 4 feet beneath the patio of the home he shared with his wife, Evelyn Smith, 55, investigators said."

The article goes on to say, "Evelyn Smith never reported her husband missing. A neighbor alerted police that he was missing and then Evelyn Smith's attorneys gave the FBI permission to search the backyard."

Evelyn's attorney, a Mr. Hugh Levine, said his client "has been under the microscope for many months now, and I think it would be - without trying to be flippant about it - just good to bury this whole episode."

I like how the lawyer's like, "All joking aside folks, give Evelyn a break. So what, her husband ended up buried in the backyard. Don't worry about it." That is one hell of a lawyer. "Relax, everyone. Chill out. Calm down. What's the big deal? He was old. Weird shit happens. Anyway..."

My mother, calling to discuss SEVERAL local crimes she's choosing to follow, noted that if she goes missing and my father's very blasse about the whole thing, "Oh mom? She went away for the weekend with Irene. I don't know when she's coming back. How about those Giants?" then I am to further investigate. Which obviously I would. Not only do I love my mother very much, but I would really like to be a citizen vigilante, hounding the local cops and getting to the bottom of a mystery with my gumption....

Also, today's Culture Blog is up! Wacky political photos by Bill Wilson with goofy captions from yours truly. Happy Hump Day.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

trust me. i've been a lot of candles...

Last week for our movie and dinner night, Tara and I saw "Our Idiot Brother" at the Sundance Kabuki Theater. The Sundance Kabuki, where I will never get used to picking my seats in advance, has the most wonderful couches in their upstairs lobby. Everytime I pass them, I make a mental note to come back and sit there.
Someday. Sigh.
"Our Idiot Brother" was not what I was expecting, but I liked it in much the way I like any movie that makes me want to move to New York, wear grey wool scarves and have complicated relationships with artsy people. Also, "Ben" from Parks and Recreation is in "Our Idiot Brother" and Tara and I both agreed that we like him very much. I'd watch Ben be blasse about anything.
Also in "Our Idiot Brother" was Steve Coogan. After seeing "The Trip" and having read that he had (according to Courtney Love) something to do with Owen Wilson trying to kill himself, we hate Steve Coogan. He wants so desperately to be a star in America that now I wish to deny him that honor. Let's all agree to halt the Coogan momentum.
Wrapping this review up, I laughed out loud in "Our Idiot Brother" and got some new accessory ideas, thus making the show worth my $10.
Tara and I headed across the street to Dosa Fillmore for a late dinner. We both considered then opted against the fixed price menu and ordered a la carte, not that we knew what we were ordering. Dosa, as I'm sure you know because you probably read glossy local magazines, is Southern Indian cuisine and much cooler than boring old tikka masala. All of our food was very lovely and we felt much chicer for having ate it. My only complaint about this experience, which involved walking into a packed restaurant without a reservation and being miraculously seated immediately, was that our server spoke to us while simultaneously gazing off into the distance. It was as if she could see a tropical sunset somewhere past the walls of the building, walls which uptight people like myself can't see through.
I asked her using a sentence every San Francisco has uttered a thousand times, "Can you tell me about the watermelon and paneer salad?"
"Well," She sighed, her gaze fixed on her home planet, "it has watermelon, and paneer. Which is cheese."
Mmmm. That sounds good. I'll have that...

*TK of 40goingon28 also saw "Our Idiot Brother." His thoughts here.

Monday, September 12, 2011

also: the lounge band in 'lost in translation'...

On today's Tourist Trapped, I toss Sausalito under a bus. Turns out, it's the middle-aged mom capital of the world. Middle-aged moms, Beth? What do you mean?
Things middle-aged moms like:
  • Chinese chicken salads
  • Eye-glass chains
  • The Buena Vista Social Club
  • Chardonnay
  • Book clubs
  • Talking about where their kids go to college
  • Handbags/scarves purchased at Wine and Art Festivals
  • Anything related to Tuscany
  • Loud bracelets
  • Women-friends
  • Ordering appetizers as their entree
And of course, Aha Moments. Which I talk about in an interview. Enjoy.

Anyway, it's all up over at SFGate. And no, mom. You are way cooler than this...

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

either get busy living or get busy ripping off shawshank redemption...

Tourist Trapped is up today, because Monday was Labor Day and I assume that you all have interesting things to do with your lives, unlike me who stares at sick people in Target. Anyway, last night I went to a screening of Escape from Alcatraz at the Top of the Mark. Needless to say, the prison movie/fancy bar combo was right up my alley.
I was also very happy that Melissa and Sally came along. They had never met, and Sally is a new friend of mine that Eve introduced me to who I just LOVE. So I really wanted them to hit it off and lo and behold, Mel and Sally were fast friends. They were whispering and giggling during the movie, as I was congratulating myself for bringing wonderful people together in friendship.
Unlike these broads, who didn't let sitting front and center keep them from chatting away the entire Escape from Alcatraz. I took the following picture to demonstrate that not even the ACTUAL ESCAPE in the movie "Escape From Alcatraz" could keep these two quiet.


Up now, on SFGate...

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

i ended up with coffee filters and a nice scented candle...

My master Labor Day plan involved going to the Serramonte Target as early as possible. The ideal Target gameplan involves 1) getting a shopping cart, 2) trying on clothing and 3) shopping for everything else after clothes. Why? Because you don't want a cart of shit sitting like prey unattended by the fitting rooms.
Now that most retail clothing establishments have their fall shipments in, I had a lot of crap to explore in the Target ladies clothing section. With 17 items, I made my way to the fitting room. The woman counted out the maximum 6 items from my shopping cart, and as she handed me the little "#6" sign, we heard a huge crash.
Directly behind her, not 5 feet from where we were standing, a Target employee had collapsed to the ground and was having a seizure. Dressing room lady and I were the closest people to the collapsee, and neither of us knew what to do. So the dressing room lady selected the obvious reaction, and started screaming.
I have to admit, it took me a second to figure out what was going on. It all happened so quickly, there in the middle of the Serramonte Target. This poor woman who had fallen and was shaking on the ground was kind of stuck in between two clothing racks, her face pressed against a metal bar. And my first instict was to kind of move her away from the clothing rack. But someone else came running forward screaming, "Don't touch her!"
So I pulled out my phone, but some mom had come over and was already on the horn with 911. It seemed to take forever, but Target employees started to come over, one by one. The dressing room lady knelt by this poor woman, and everyone else kind of stood around. The woman who was first to call 911 announced the scene before us to the 911 operator on the phone.
I was stumped by the protocol of what to do. I had been so close to this medical event, yet had been entirely unhelpful. And now, 10 or so people stood around staring while our fellow human had a seizure on the floor of Target. Staring seemed not only unhelpful, but rude.
Finally, a security guard came over and very dramatically and with great authority, told us all to get lost. I had to leave my shopping cart and 17 items of clothing over by the dressing rooms and awkwardly walk away.
At this point, I was faced with another quandry. Do I continue to shop?
Paramedics had yet to arrive, this whole scene was transpiring in the turtleneck section and it felt wrong to shrug it off and head over to beauty products. But what was I supposed to do? What are the rules when someone has a medical event in Target?
I did a lap.
When I came back around again, the paramedics had arrived and were moving her onto a stretcher. It still didn't seem appropriate to shimmy in and grab the 17 articles of clothing I planned to try on. And even though the security guard had told everyone to scram, a group of spectators stayed to observe the action.
I eventually left Target feeling horrible that I had no idea what happened to the woman with the seizure, and feeling like I had done everything wrong. I never lept into action, I didn't even call 911. I stood around like a goober while others seemed to know what to do. And I realized that if it were me on the floor of Target having a seizue underneath a rack of pleat-front khakis, I would have hated the woman staring at me with the terrified look in her eyes and her phone in her hand doing nothing but wonder if this means she can't try on her clothes...

Friday, September 02, 2011

overheard at the castro theater...

Perhaps you've heard, the Castro Theater is currently on Day Three of Cary Grant Week. Last night, I went to see "Arsenic and Old Lace" with Lisa and her mom. Sitting directly in front of Lisa's mom were two men in their 80s. They were old. Really old. There was lots of dramatics with them trying to sit down and get situated. And I thought, "Oh, isn't that sweet. Old people seeing old movies in an old theater."
At one point in the movie, Cary Grant does this big pratfall and kind of hangs over a toppled armchair. To which one of the old men in front of Lisa's mom announces in regular, non-whisper speaking voice, "He's got a great ass."

necessary conversation: sexual hypocrisy...

Today's Necessary Conversation is here to welcome you into the long weekend. Enjoy it, then leave work. Seriously. You have my permission...

Necessary Conversation: Sexual Hypocrisy from Necessary Conversation on Vimeo.