Wednesday, December 28, 2011

why don't they just make the whole plane out of the black box...

Following the comedic rule of threes:

1. I pulled into that weird gas station/Starbucks/Burger King across from Asia SF last night. You know the one. Immediately, I was approached by a panhandler who had two (2) guns tucked into the waist of his pants. He was wearing a t-shirt, huge, baggy khakis and had a sweatshirt tied around his waist. It was from that sweatshirt-belt I could clearly see two gun handles emerging, one on each side. He was stumbling, kinda out of it. This guy was your basic sidewalk hobo, not what I imagine a gun-wielding criminal to act like. (I have never experienced a gun-wielding criminal myself, thank God, but I imagine them not to be swaying from side to side.) I told myself the guns were fake, but I would be lying if I said I did not feel a tear creep into my left eye. I thought, "Here we go" and waited to wet my pants, because that's what happened in Red Dragon. I also couldn't imagine this guy would shoot me in a well-lit gas station at 8pm on a Tuesday, but we live in a crazy world. He asked for money and I said no, because FUCK HIM. Okay, I actually said no because I was afraid he would come closer, and he didn't seem lucid enough to get mad. If a real person with a gun demanded money, I would give them everything on Earth ever. But I just said, "No, sorry" and he said okay and walked away. In closing, they were fake right? I mean, I considered calling the cops and reporting this terrifying moment, but I was ready to get the hell home.

2. I wrote this whole dumb complaint for my #2 and then said. "I know, I know. No one else in the world cares." That could be said for most of my posts really, but anyway, #2 was dumb. So I deleted it. Moving on!

3. Finally, on New Year's Day I am flying to Chicago to take a comedy writing class at Second City. It's only for a week and it's a present from my parents, because they don't think I'm funny. (I'm kidding. That was just one of my many zingers.) Anyway, because I'll be in the building and my writing class is in the afternoon, I decided to take an improv class in the morning. I am perfectly comfortable sitting in a writing class and knocking out jokes. But the thought of showing up at Second City in 5 days, walking into a classroom and doing "warm-up exercises" so I can perform impromptu skits with strangers terrifies me. I'm worried the other students will all be 19 year-old comedy geniuses making jokes I'm too old to get, or 57 year-old insurance salesmen who are the wackiest guys in their office. But it's only for 5 days, and I'll be there a whole week, staying in a fancy hotel because the weather is so bad, it costs a dollar to go to Chicago in January. I have seven different versions of my Tina Fey costume, one for each day. I will wear scarves and knit hats and make friends with the hotel doorman, and when I return to the fancy lobby after a day of smart, timely humor creation, he'll say, "Well, look who's back. Tell me a joke, beautiful!" AND I WILL.

Anyway, that's what up with me. What's up with you...

Sunday, December 25, 2011

merry christmas and i love you...

So...I'm having a pretty great Christmas and I hope you are too. I am so warm and cozy in my childhood home, with my array of gifts, including the apparent hint from Santa, "Organizing for Dummies." We also had Meetinghouse Biscuits. Have you ever had those? I know!
I'm about to go enjoy "Sibling Bonding Afternoon" with Alex, which involves a PG movie and co-creation of a fancy hors-d'oeuvres for tonight's dinner at Kate's family's house in the Marina.
Speaking of the Marina...

You fine folks are weird and wonderful for reading and watching. The above is just about vintage, and I hope you like it. I also hope that you are enjoying a fun and feast-filled holiday with the ones you like. I think we're all pretty fucking lucky.
Love, Bethy

Friday, December 23, 2011

necessary conversation: the dickens fair

I know they hated my Tourist Trapped on it, but I still love the Great Dickens Christmas Fair. I really do! Which is why we also filmed our holiday episode of Necessary Conversation there! We've been on NC hiatus for awhile: Mel's been traveling for work, I went to New York. We lost a little momentum, but we're back. Because it's Christmas. And we love you.

Happy holidays, my gorgeous friends. And check back in on Christmas morning where I will have a nostalgic, mostly never before seen video present for you...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

not for nothing, but he is really talented...

Today's Culture Blog looks back on itself, reflecting on 2011 in posts. It's all touching and Christmassy and up on SFGate.
Speaking of Christmassy, I arrived at work to find a present from my co-worker Bill. He and his wife were at Kohl's (?) and saw this:

When I was in 6th Grade, my teacher Mrs. Hendricks had a thing for hippos. People were always giving her hippo figurines, ornaments and stuffed animals. And my dad's thing is trains. Whenever his friends see some sort of amazing train treasure, they get it for my dad. I've spent my whole life wondering what my "thing" will be. And now that I know, I kinda feel bad for myself...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

my favorite christmas music...

First of all, I forgot to post yesterday's Tourist Trapped, which features the City Hall Holiday Open House and was described to me as "bitchy."
So enjoy.
Unrelated, I heard this song on the radio yesterday and it's been stuck in my head ever since. I'm walking around work singing, "Mary, Did you Know" by Kenny Rogers and Wynonna Judd. People are getting mad at me. This is not the Kenny/Wynonna version (It's Reba!), but I like this video.

There are all kinds of fan-videos created with this song and they're all made from clips from something called "The Jesus Film." Anyway, I keep listening to this song, which goes on and on asking Mary if she knew her baby would be "ruler of the nation", etc. And I just want to scream at Kenny Rogers, "Yes! She knew. Hello? She was a pregnant virgin. The angel Gabriel appeared and explained all of this to her. Has Wynonna never seen "A Charlie Brown Christmas"?
While the Spotswood Family never listened to country-western holiday music, every year we listen to the Roger Whittaker Christmas Album. And every Christmas, I perform this for my entire family. I know every single word, and my mom chimes in for "Oh, lament." I am very, very excited to do this on Christmas Eve. Please come over.

Following my opening act, my brother takes a seat by the fire, gazes out the window and does this. It's fucking amazing:

We have been listening to this album for 30 years. And only recently, have I realized how bizarre this is. Please tell me your family has weird holiday traditions too, preferably involving Wynonna Judd...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

omg, let's talk about last night...

One of life's joys that I learned from my mother is the post-party gossip. And as I'm sure you know, because you are very cool and have lots of friends, everyone was having parties this past weekend.

The above was taken Saturday night. My perfect friend Catherine is dancing in the middle, holding a Coors Lite. Catherine and her fiance, Brian had just hosted us all at a fabulous cocktail soiree in their flawless apartment, so at midnight I dragged them to a house party in Nob Hill.
To the left (Catherine's right) is my friend Christine, the host of the (2nd) party. All night long, she was banging on a pot with a wooden spoon, in time with the music.
I started talking to this guy and eventually asked, "How do you know Christine?"
"I work at Trader Joe's." He said. "She was buying stuff for the party today and invited me."
Which is when I noticed he was still in his Trader Joe's outfit.
Anyway, I spent most of Sunday on the phone with all of these people. And for me, it was just as much fun talking about the parties as it was attending them. Catherine, Alice, Tara and Matt were all there, so I need their in-depth thoughts on everything that happened. And Melissa was at another party, and I was delighted to listen to all of her gossip from that. From now on, I will throw parties with next-day post-party discussion groups. It's like a book club, but for dumb people...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

maybe you've never heard of me? more like probably...

Oh boy, ScoutMob San Francisco is obviously being paid by my friends to put me in a good mood. But it worked! THIS is very nice and very awesome. Everyone please now subscribe to ScoutMob...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

jason, stop ruining my life-changing moments...

PS: how many times do you think that guitar player has seen 'Drive'? Seven times. He's seen it seven times...

this is literally the most accurate youtube video ever..

Melissa posted this on Facebook, because once a week she remembers about Facebook and puts all the good stuff she's been hoarding there.

My friend Matt called last night to ask how my New York trip went and I said 50% of this. Another 25% I said to my coworker Bill this morning. The remaining 25%, I've texted Alice.
On the other hand, I just gave my brother some advice and he responded, "This is why sisters are great." Heart warmed...

Monday, December 12, 2011

starring the understudy cast of glee...

Yesterday, Necessary Conversation headed to the Dickens Fair to film our Christmas episode, so stay tuned for that nonsense. But first, I did double duty and now offer you today's SFGate Tourist Trapped, the Great Dickens Christmas Fair.

Friday, December 09, 2011

new york in photos...

I know. I'm still in New York. I'll be back tomorrow night, having spent an entire week looking up at brownstones and lofts and shitty apartments and dreaming of living here. The first half of the week, I stayed with my friend Dan and his girlfriend Mika. Above in Dan, waiting for me at the bar of Del Frisco's. Dan has lunch here FREQUENTLY and it's the kind of place were lots of men were having serious meetings. I found it all very exciting, my business lunch with Dan.

After crashing with Dan and Mika in Brooklyn, I'm now up in Washington Heights with Corinne, a friend of Melissa's who has a huge and fabulous apartment in what she describes as "the ghetto." Anyway, Corinne already had dinner plans on Wednesday night, and I wanted to wander the Upper West Side by myself. It was pouring rain and I had a book and at 9:30, I walked into Cafe Luxembourg and had cheese for dinner and made all sorts of friends at the bar.
Phil, the guy next to me, just got back from Yemen and when I asked him to watch my coat while I powdered my nose, he said, "You're with me, Beth. You won't have any problems." New York!
This guy was selling puppets at the Union Square Craft Fair. I'm pretty sure he's the greatest guy in the world, mainly because when I asked to take a picture of his sign, he posed in character for me.

Sunday, Mika and I walked from Brooklyn to Manhattan across the Williamsburg Bridge. It was fabulous and interesting. Coming towards us, if you zoom in, is a Hasidic couple. The woman was wearing a wig, because apparently they can't show their real hair to anyone but their husbands. This actually seems like a pretty good idea to me, as you would very rarely have to style your hair. Wigs = convenience.

My mother, a New Yorker trapped in the body of someone from Burlingame, got me tickets to see The Moth, a storytelling series. Last night's performance was held at The Player's Club, a private club for theatah-types ON Gramercy Park. I love Gramercy Park deeply, and walking into this huge brick mansion to find a low lit, magical, private club was THE highlight of my week.
Corinne and I wandered upstairs and discovered three stories of walls covered with paintings of actors and directors. Morgan Freeman, Christopher Plumber, Angela was awesome. And such a special, amazing place. We peeked in one door upstairs to discover a roundtable discussion on high drama or similar. By the fireside. In leather chairs. While a big event was going on downstairs. New York!

This is the back-half of the room in which we watched 5 people tell stories about Family Holiday Gatherings and Ungatherings. Serena Altschul was in the audience in amazing shoes. And one of the stories involved a perfectly lovely woman revealing how she was a fugitive from the law, mother of 3, prison escapee. You could hear a pin drop, it was so intense. Another storyteller was a regular contributor to This American Life (named Shalom) who talked about his first visit to a concentration camp. It was surprisingly hilarious.
Afterwards, Corinne and I went to a very fancy and chic Lebanese place called Ilili for a late dinner, where we bonded. I am now off to meet Dan in Little Italy, where I plan to reenact several scenes from Godfather II.
New York!

Sunday, December 04, 2011

you think you're a hipster? please. i'm in brooklyn...

I probably seem like the kind of person who listens to 'Empire State of Mind' when in a plane circling Manhattan. And I seem like that because I TOTALLY AM.

I am in New York!
And specifically, I am in Brooklyn because my friend Dan lives here and I am staying with him and his hilarious girlfriend, Mika. They have packed their 3-story loft with Diet Coke. So, you know.
Last night, we went to dinner at Marlow & Sons. And I have learned that for as cool as Mission hipsters think they are, they are suburban posers compared to the people that walk around Brooklyn like they're in a Sophia Coppola movie.

A few stylistic notes on what the trendiest of hipsters are doing right now:
1. They're not even hipsters. They're artistically wealthy people who dress in whatever is cool which just happens to be modern-ish, hipster clothes.
2. Messy hair! Do anything to your hair! Frumpy, flat, cut your own bangs. Be very whatever about your hair.
3. Men are wearing fedoras with super small brims (seemingly unaware that to me, they look like Justin Timberlake), fitted dress shirts and vests, with the sleeves rolled to show a smattering to tasteful tattoos. But make no mistake. This isn't a Walnut Creek, Structures for Men attempt at hipsterdom. It's like, the original leather-bracelet guys. They all look like single, straight guys who own galleries.
4. Women are wearing huge tops or big flax jumpers. They're dressed like Dutch peasants. It must be all Vince.
5. In sartorial closing, this whole place looks like that party scene from Tootsie, where Bill Murray is talking about his play.
Please run with this San Francisco.
I am also seeing as many Hasidim as I am seeing hipsters. I cannot help but think of the (wonderful) Melanie Griffith movie, "A Stranger Among Us" whenever they briskly walk past us, and I feel guilty about that. But also, it's just SO Brooklyn.
We walked back from the restaurant last night, which was a long walk but so fun because of all the shit that is going on at 1am. There was one brightly lit storefront that was filled with people playing ping pong. No bar, no DJ. Just people playing ping pong.
We walked into Momofuku and got crack pie. Every restaurant we passed was like perfect, cool, ambient awesomeness. In San Francisco, we have those low-lit, trendy/rustic joints like Commonwealth, Cotogna, Locanda, Baker & Banker sort of splashed around the city. There was all of that twice on one block in Brooklyn.
Then a line emerged from an alley, where it was explained to me that at the end was expensive food said to be, "like, amazing barbeque."
As Dan observed, "This is like Disneyland for 20-somethings."

Tonight, Amy Poehler is apparently showing up at Upright Citizens Brigade, and we're going with Mike Farrah.
Amy Poehler and Mike Farrah in the same room? Bring Gilda Radner back from the dead, and it'd be my favorite people EVER ALL AT ONCE...

Thursday, December 01, 2011

also, lord grantham is bernie from notting hill...

When I was a little girl (go with this), my parents took me on a trip to England and we toured all sorts of castles and country estates. At every single one, even at 5, I assumed that the minute I walked inside, they staff would gasp in delight. The missing heir, identified by my resemblance to a gilded portrait in the East lie-bree, had finally arrived.
As far as I'm concerned, I should be knee-deep in getting the downstairs gossip from my Lady's maid right now. Alas, no one at Balmoral ever figured out THE TRUTH. So I am stuck drooling over Downton Abbey like every other nerd.
Brock told be about Downton Abbey ages ago and I ignored him. On and on, he went, explaining to me how I'd never understand the complexities. Like Brock knows television. Please. He texts me once a week with some alert as to what's happening on Judge Joe Brown.
Also, I thought he was saying DownTOWN Abbey. I thought it all had something to do with The Beatles.
Finally, due to sheer boredom, I started in on Season 1, Episode 1 of Downton Abbey on Netflix.
Three days later, I emerged.
"You know what I've been watching?" I announced at Thanksgiving, "Downton Abbey."
"OH!" My mother screamed across the stuffing. "I LOVE DOWNTON ABBEY!"
"ME TOO!" Dori's fork of green beans hovered mid-air. "It's SO good."
Screw the 49ers. (forced sports reference.) I am on the Downton Abbey bandwagon. And because I am an internet nerd, and I communicate on the internet with fellow internet nerds, I have the SECRET LINK TO SEASON TWO.
Season Two has, thus far, been unavailable in the United States because British people think they're better than us. I think we'll all agree that they are. But should you so wish, you can watch it in 10-minute increments on YouTube, which I have been doing.
As Brock is the one who first told me about Downton Abbey, he is very, "That's MY show" about the whole thing. And of course he is. Brock is such an O'Brien, sometimes. He is very upset that I won't send him the secret link to Downton Abbey Season 2.
But if YOU, my fellow classy American, have watched the first season of Downton Abbey and share my affection for Mr. Bates, Matthew Crawley, Lady Sybil and Anna the maid, not to mention the groundbreaking comedic work of Dame Maggie Smith, then do I have something for you...