Wednesday, November 30, 2011

a post and a confession...

Today's Culture Blog explores more of the genius of photographer Bill Wilson. How Bill makes it to every random political event is beyond me, but thank God he does. It's all up now over at SFGate.

Unrelated, last week I was walking back from the Embarcadero Gap (where I spend most of my daily lunch hour) and I passed this man parked in a very old station wagon which was filled with garbage. He honked at me, and kinda banged on the window, yelling, "Come here! Come here!"
Within a second, I imagined myself walking over to him to see what he needed, him pulling out a gun and shooting me in the face. He was pretty old, but still. I watch enough true crime programming to know never know.
I've felt guilty about this ever since.
But what could he possibly have needed? Was he trapped in the car somehow? That was the impression I got. I suspect the handle wouldn't work, or similar. It certainly looked like the kind of car with has handles that don't work.
And I made eye contact with him. He saw me see him, consider getting involved, and then decide against it. As I walked away, I felt horrible. I thought of all of the helpful yet safe options I could've chosen, like getting a security guard from the nearby bank involved, or asking a bystander to help figure this out.
Did I feel guilty because I was worried about the old man in the garbage car? No. I felt guilty because I was worried I was on one of those news shows where they hide video cameras, hire an actor to appear in distress and then watch in horror as people like me are like, "Oh God, don't make eye contact. Don't make eye contact."
If I knew cameras were on me, I would've lept into compassionate action. Perhaps the lesson here is to always pretend you're on a secret Good Samaritan show, just in case. Plus, you might actually end up helping someone! Or getting shot in the face...

Monday, November 28, 2011

celebrity equivalents of creamed spinach...

On today's Tourist Trapped, Andrew and I get all dolled up and go to Morton's Steakhouse, where we discover lots of manly men, 90's artwork and what some might consider lobster abuse. We also ate the way oil billionaires eat, as evidenced by our before and after.
Eat it up now, on SFGate...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

i'm on my way straight to heaven...

Today, because tomorrow is Thanksgiving and also, I am so pious, the Culture Blog recaps my very fun visits to La Cocina, an incubator kitchen in the Mission where Christine and I took a bread-making class, and De Marillac Academy, a non-profit middle school in the Tenderloin, where I sat in on an economics class and then dragged my friends to their "Trivioke Fundraiser."

Read all about them both, over at SFGate...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

this is all because brock was unavailable...

Last night, Melissa and I got on stage at the Verdi Club and told the story of the Lesbian Cruise for the Porchlight Storytelling Series. We were last minute fill-ins, and very nervous about hopping on stage to tell a weird story without any notes or memorization. We begged our friends and family to show up, and as we stood around the Verdi Club before it began, Melissa looked around and said, "This isn't our usual demographic."
For example, one of the other storytellers was Matt Gonzalez.
I had never met Matt before, but he marched right up to us before the show started and said, "I watch your show. It's very funny."
So immediately, I thought, "Oh, I love Matt Gonzalez. Who knew?"
Anyway, Melissa and I spent the previous hour practicing or story in my living room, but I was still very nervous. I am generally always very nervous before getting on stage, mainly because I am worried I will fall over. I realize this fear makes no sense, but in my head, I just see myself keeling over.
So we were up after intermission, and Porchlight co-founder Beth Lisick introduced us by first announcing that the original people scheduled to perform couldn't make it.
The audience reacted with gasps, sighs, and palpable disappointment. At which point, Big Chris looked over at me and mouthed, "Awesome."
And with that, we walked onstage.
I have found that all I need to feel comfortable on stage is one laugher. If I can get one laugher, I play the whole thing to them. On stage behind us was a piano player, there to play the storytellers off stage after they hit 10 minutes. And the first guffaw we got was from the piano player.
Getting the piano player to laugh is kinda like getting the crew to laugh. It's validation. And I could just tell, 20 seconds into the story, "Oh. We've got this."
All day long, I was nervous. And I got nervous again after getting of stage. But for 8 minutes, under the lights and with a microphone, I was INSANELY comfortable. I can't exlain it. It also helped that people seemed to have incredibly low expectations of us.
So anyway, if I say so myself, we kinda nailed it. And then after us, Matt Gonzalez and his law partner, Whitney Leigh told a story of traveling together in Guatemala.
They. Were. Hilarious.
I want to re-register as a member of the Green Party, they were so funny. I want to make a collage representative of my feelings about their performance, it was so entertaining. My father sent me an email last night, congratulating me on a great performance and then detailing the various nuances of Matt Gonzalez and Whitney Leigh's story. He used the phrase "laconic comedic timing."
I thought all of the storytellers were great, and I was honored to be among them, even if we were last minute additions to the initial great disappointment of the audience. As a woman said to Melissa and me afterwards, "I was all set to hate you two, but you were really fucking funny."
I have a whole Julia Sugerbaker rant about that hipster bullshit, but I will keep it positive and merely report that if you ever need someone to show up and the last minute and tell a story involving Betty Degeneres, an 80-year old lesbian couple and Schindler's List, you know who to call.
That's right. Matt Gonzalez...

Monday, November 21, 2011

what's in here? oh, water? what is it, sleeping?

Today's Tourist Trapped involves Brock, Paolo and me wandering through the Marriott Marquis on 4th and Mission for hours and hours on a Tuesday night. Which, as I think I may have mentioned, is an incredibly fun way to spend an evening.

what are you doing tonight?

I have wanted to tell a story at Porchlight, the award-winning story-telling series, for ages. It has always seemed way too classy and legit for the likes of me. And it remains so.
But I have finally wormed my way into being a third choice last minute cancellation back-up story-teller, and THANK GOD FOR FLAKES! Because tonight I get to tell a story at Porchlight.
Actually, I get to tell a co-story. Tonight is duos telling stories together.
Okay, someone didn't flake. I think they had a baby or some excuse equally worthy. Porchlight co-founder (and all around literary superstar) Beth Lisick sent Brock and me and e-mail, having met us at a party and thought we might have a funny story to tell together and be available at the last minute.
Brock, unsurprisingly, is very popular and has plans. So I e-mailed Beth L. back and said, "Brock is booked, of course. But I really want to do this. If you haven't already asked someone way better, I bet I can get someone to tell a story with me."
I was all honored and excited that Beth thought of us at all. Apparently, she thought of Lemony Snicket first, but that's okay. I would have too. I can't believe we're the people you go to when Lemony Snicket isn't available at a moment's notice.
Because I am definitely available at a moment's notice.
You know who else is? Melissa Griffin.
Which is why tonight, Mel and I will be co-telling the story of how we ended up on a lesbian cruise to Alaska in 2009. At least, I think that's what we'll be telling. It's 4am, and I am pouring over my blog posts and videos from our Alaska cruise, trying to find a way for us to co-tell this story in an entertaining way. We're supposed to just tell a story, without a script, without notes.
I said, "Okay, well I think we should tell the story of how we won a lesbian cruise at Pride and ended up in Alaska with 1500 lesbians."
And Beth said, "Awesome. There will be lots of lesbians in the audience."
Please come to force laughs, meet my very excited parents and watch Big Chris nervously stand against the back wall, asking, "What is this supposed to be? Art?"

Sunday, November 20, 2011

not so serious! not so serious!

My old pal Adam and I went to go see Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy at a special screening last week. The British Consul General hosted a cocktail party at the InterContinental and then along with a bunch of people who are really into England, we walked over to Westfield to see an early screening of this British spy thriller.
This is exclusively how I see movies now. I need dignitaries and free Vittel.
The movie is fantastic, although very complicated. One really needs to pay attention the whole time, a challenge for me because Adam has really funny movie commentary.
I found the main attraction in 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' to be the casting of Benedict Cumberbatch, who cool people will know best as Sherlock Holmes on the BBC's ridiculously short 3-episode 'Sherlock.'
Benedict Cumberbatch makes me imagine things like engraved invitations that say, "Benedict and Beth Cumberbatch invite you to their annual Boxing Day Party at their hunting lodge in Hampsted-upon-Thames-upon-Locksley. Please bring a parlor game or celebrity impression to share."
And as we learned after the movie during the Q&A, there's a lot of low-key homosexuality in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. So, big thumbs up on that. And now, onto the Q&A.
The director, Tomas Alfredson and actor Gary Oldman answered questions from the flawless Liam Mayclem. Not that anyone should be surprised, but Gary Oldman is really weird.
Gary Oldman is a very serious British actor, so he mumbled, and thought about every question for 20 minutes before answering it. When one is a very serious thespian, one can no longer be enthusiastic about anything in real life. One can not rapidly respond or appear engaged. When sitting in a director's chair in front of a movie screen and asked, "How did you get into character for this role?", a serious actor will:
1. Look annoyed and/or pained by the question.
2. Stare at the wall, ceiling or floor silently for a really long time, while the audience grows uncomfortable.
3. Provide an inaudible answer.
A not-so-serious actor will clap his hands together and say, "Oh, I just pretended I was that guy and read some books about it and wore a cool costume. Then I said my lines and took direction. And the whole time, I concentrated really hard on being a 1970's British spy. It was awesome."
Guess which kind of answer Gary Oldman gave...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

i'd rather do this than anything else...

Last night, in the interest of helping me explore a Tourist Trap, Brock, Paolo and I wandered around the Marriot Marquis for 4 hours. We stumbled upon a 'load-in' (industry term) for an Evangelical Convention, snooped through a schwag-bag set-up, crashed a party and cock-blocked an awkward convention hook-up in the elevator. I will save most of it for next Monday's Tourist Trap, but if you ever need something to do, please go wander around the Marriot Marquis. And if you don't want to go alone, I WILL GO WITH YOU.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

our first contest...

I decided to take this week off from the Culture Blog. Just a week. Just two posts. At first, the load off was glorious (heh.) But now I feel like I have eight hundred things to say and I can't get onto the internet fast enough.

But first: A Blog Contest for Free Shit!

I've never had a contest on here before because the only other company that has approached me to offer a reader give-away was some bubble bath with cats on it. And I just thought was too much of a premonition of my future. But I met this very fun gal from 'Google Places' at a party and she said, "You know, we could do a contest with your readers. With prizes."

PRIZES?!?! Including Google schwag? Okay!

Here's the catch: Google Places is the new personalized local recommendation engine powered by the reviews of users and their friends. So basically, you guys write a review, good or bad about any local business, and you get entered to win an array of exciting prizes. They need their site to be populated with reviews, obviously. The best review from this little contest (I think I help get to decide) gets a $100 gift certificate to one of my favorite new restaurants, Park Tavern. Lemme know when you're going, winner, and I will even get the owner to come over and make a big deal about you, so bring a hot new date. We will make you look so cool. (Also, if you can't find a date, I will gladly go with you. We will talk to strangers at the bar.)

Here's the deal:

1. Follow @GoogleSF
2. Go to and select “Start Rating” (you’ll need to create a Google account if you haven’t already).
3. Fill out this form:
4. Review as many SF places as you like by 11:59 P.M. on Sunday, November 27th. Each review you write will be judged as a new entry.
5. We’ll go through all the reviews you write during the contest period and give them points. The winner will receive $100 gift card to Park Tavern, with the second and third place winners receiving some awesome Google Places surprises! (Please let it be a Google commuter mug. Please let it be a Google commuter mug.)
6. The winner will be notified via email and may collect their prize on Monday, November 28th via this very blog
Even if you don't win the contest, there will be lots of fun to be had with Google Places (reviewing and swag!) We will reward other cool Google swag for people who come close to winning! (Again, fingers crossed for anything that says Google on it, because I love free corporate junk.)

The rules:
- 18 and up only (Who am I kidding. No one under 35 reads this.)
- Full contest rules here.

Basically, I find blog contests a little cheesy. Or a lot cheesy. Whatever. I feel like I never give you folks anything tangible for reading this nonsense. Now, should you so wish, Ima try and get you to provide a corporation with free online content so you might be able to get some free deviled eggs. And God-willing, a commuter mug...

Saturday, November 12, 2011

companies that start with g = golden gate gardening guys...

I am housesitting for my parents while they're away. And by housesitting, I mean I've moved into their home while they are not here, watching "premium" cable and marvelling at the virtual Costco in the basement. The supplies down there are ridiculous.
Do you need 300 rolls of toilet paper, 4 cases of Diet Coke and a gallon of gin? I can hook you up. There are things down there marked, "BETH", the contents of which remain unknown to me.
For some reason, when my folks go out of town, my brother and I flock here. It's a cozy house in the woods, a familar and safe place that we both always really liked, if it weren't for the two narcs telling us to do our homework and making us write thank you notes.
Anyway, last night Alex and I had some friends over for dinner. I have to admit, there is something INCREDIBLY FULFILLING about creating a giant meal from scratch and watching people enjoy it. My cheeks were all rosy from the fire and I wore plaid and Catherine created two huge centerpieces made from pumpkins filled with roses.
It was raining. We made a huge fire. We played Scattegories.
I was in heaven.

And now that everyone is gone and I'm cleaning up the house today, I keep thinking about how fun that was. How much I loved making food and making people feel good and getting the cold people extra fleece jackets embroidered with hotel logos from upstairs. And it occurs to me: Oh shit. Is that my biological clock? Is this when I'm supposed to adopt? Am I the Pioneer Woman?

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

justin timberlake nailed it, by the way...

I had every intention of hopping to at least three election night parties last night, but I ended up staying at Willie Brown's Bash at the Palace Hotel until midnight.
I attended with my friend Matt, assuming we wouldn't know that many people there and could stand against a wall monitoring Rose Pak's movements.
Turned out, everyone in local politics (or at least those who aren't morally opposed to things like Willie Brown parties at the Palace Hotel) rolled in as the night wore on. Thus, my recap is up now, featuring MC Hammer, Sean Parker and an unfortunate wedge of brie...

Monday, November 07, 2011

tourist trapped: important art and dumb photos...

Today's Tourist Trapped visits the After Dark Party at the Museum of the African Diaspora. Because we're artsy like that. It's up now, on SFGate.
And now, a word on photo booths at parties.
I love them! In a moment of profound self-awareness, Brock once said, "If we ever committed a crime, all the police would have to do to catch us would be to post our photos on a billboard. Because we'd just come there to stare at it."
So the perfect party activity for Brock and me (and really anyone unhealthily self-involved) is a photo booth, preferably with wacky props or fun backgrounds. This is different (and more fun) from having one's picture taken by a society photographer because 1) looking funny/serious/artsy/weird is encouraged and 2) it's less douchey as a Facebook profile picture.
(I will knock over elderly people to pose for both.)
As I type this, it occurs to me I am 33 years old, many of my friends have important things to do, like raise children, and I am focused on which parties have the best photo booths so I can constantly change my social media profile photo. This isn't really a life well-lived.
Deborah and Justin has us over yesterday afternoon and apologized for not having a 'step and repeat.'
How awesome would that be? Arriving in someone's home to briefly pose before a well-lit series of vodka logos?!? Yes please.
Anyway, in addition to the incredibly fabulous party at MoAD, which Brock awkwardly described as "sexy", they also had a really great photo booth. The night was thus a huge success...

Friday, November 04, 2011

necessary conversation: writing jokes is hard, as evidenced by this video...

This week's Necessary Conversation checks out all of the awesome parodies, drama, humor and snark in the Mayor's Race, which I am thrilled is almost over. I can only imagine how f***ing exhausted campaign staff, volunteers and candidates are. Jesus Christ, these people are everywhere, working far harder than any of us. Or at least me.

Episode 50: It's Not Easy Being Green from Necessary Conversation on Vimeo.

We filmed this episode at the break of dawn on Sunday so Mel could go to the Niners game. I feel like we were too cranky in it. Although I just got a cranky email from someone from an (unnamed) campaign who feels like we made the whole episode about Ed Lee vs. Leland Yee and that's really unfair to other candidates.
Like I said, I'm ready for this shit to be over.
Anyway, have a spectacular weekend, don't forget to vote on Tuesday and you know what? You're doing a really good job...

Hey! I was sitting on a conference call today when my friend Joe showed up and was like, "Can you say, 'This is a test, this is only a test' on camera?" A reporter willing to put me on the local news? I didn't even ask why. I kept talking after saying my line. That's the part Joe used, by the way. Because he is an artisté:

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

i wish this were as exciting as the amazing race...

It is exciting to have my dumb words paired with awesome illustrations! I did a piece for The Bold Italic featuring my thoughts on each of the Mayoral Candidates. I know, I know. Who gives a shit. But check out my hipster street cred. The BAY Bridge!
Anyway, the post is up now over at The Bold Italic.
Citizens and art lovers, please check it out.

And I know. This week of Culture Blogs are a day late. But I like to think a dollar extra...

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

and yeah. willie brown was there...

This week's Tourist Trapped came about due to sad circumstances. I was at a funeral with a bunch of folks from high school. And for my friend Dan's last night in San Francisco, we decided to head to The House of Prime Rib for Sunday dinner.
My take-away from that dinner, other than the fact that people I never spoke to in high school turned out to be hilarious and fun dining companions 15 years later, is that the House of Prime Rib is fucking fabulous. The next time I feel like sitting at a bar and making friends?
HOPR. No question.
It's up now, on SFGate...