Tuesday, March 27, 2012

dad can't drive sixty five...

My co-worker Bill loves this story, so here we go:

We had my father's 65th birthday party at El Paseo in Mill Valley, with 20 of his oldest and closest friends. Instead of a huge party, my dad just wanted a really personal dinner and the whole thing was perfect. My father's impromptu "Don't fuck with my Medicare" speech will go down as one of the most tear-filled, emotional and hilarious speeches of all time.

But I knew it would be perfect when I arrived to cocktail hour in the courtyard to find Diet Coke chilling on ice at the outdoor bar. Just for me. As this is their restaurant, Tolan and Tyler Florence came by and said hello, which was very impressive to the foodies in the crowd. And also a super classy thing to do. My folks' friend Ron and his husband Rick came marching over to meet Tyler.

"It's very nice to meet you." Tyler said.

"Meet me?!?!" Ron beamed, referring to his show. "We spend every Sunday together!"

Tyler's show is on Mondays, but I think Ron must watch reruns on Sunday. I'm not sure, but either way, TyFlo played it cool.

Inside and an hour later as we all had dinner, El Paseo co-owner Sammy Hagar came into the room to say hello. All Sammy Hagar knew was that someone was throwing a private party in the back room. He was a nice guy so he came back to do what my mother would call a "smile and wave." And I am guessing Tolan sent him back, because Tolan is cool like that.

I'm not the slightest bit embarrassed to say this: I allowed my parents and their friends to think I am close, personal, celebrity friends with Sammy Hagar. My perfect brother was there with his beautiful girlfriend. Me, the loud, spinster-sister, arrived alone. But as far as these people knew, at least I am friends with celebrities.

As soon as Sammy walked in, I got up from my table, Euro-kissed him hello like we were old friends, and sensing a celebrity presence, the room fell silent.

"You are so sweet to come by!" I screamed at a stranger, like we'd just had lunch yesterday. "Come say hello to my father. It's his birthday."

22 sets of eyes watched me shove Sammy Hagar towards my thrilled father. In the background, I heard someone whisper the words, "rock and roll singer."

I snapped a quick photo while Sammy Hagar said very nice things like, "Hey, it's my daughter's birthday too."

He was there for about 3 minutes total. As he left, I Euro-kissed him goodbye again, to thrilled stares.

I tilted my head, like he was doing me a personal favor, "You are the sweetest."

Sammy Hagar left, and a now very buzz-filled dinner continued. I took a casual bite of my food, as if to say, "Whatever, everyone. It's cute you think this is a big deal."

But I was so happy. I was the daughter that got Sammy Hagar.

"BETHY!" My beaming father leaned forward from his seat down the table from me, holding a hand up to his friends while he asked me what they all were dying to know.

"He's from the Grateful Dead, right?"

Monday, March 26, 2012

any excuse to go to a steakhouse...

Today's Tourist Trapped hits Harris' Steakhouse in San Francisco, and once again rates creamed spinach by assigning it a celebrity equivalent. Eat it up over at SFGate...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

'what the hell is a love card?' - tim...

Like the changing of the seasons, I find myself newly intrigued by something weird, criminal and unlikely to happen to me: federal prison. Something about disgraced Illinois Governor Rod Bla-whatever's checking into 12 years in the clink fascinates me. He strut into that place with great fanfare, apparently he high-fived fellow inmates his first dinner in the cafeteria, and he has a top bunk. GRIPPING.
Because this guy isn't doing the Martha Stewart 9-month stint that provides a little humity and street cred in the Hamptons. Rod is looking at well over a decade. The high-fives will subside... well, right about now.
So I was putzing around on the Englewood Federal Prison's website and came across the list of items available for purchase in the commisary. The combination of weird prison stuff PLUS shopping is almost too much for me to even handle.
Unless you are the most boring person in the world, you will find THIS fascinating.
I could share my wonder, awe, and/or confusion with every single item on this list. But for the purposes of keeping this under 537562384789347 words, I will select three:

1. Garlic, Minced: $0.85: Unless federal prison is exactly like it is depicted in Goodfellas, who needs minced garlic and for what weird jail-cell recipe? Don't they have to eat all of their meals in the dining hall anyway? Wouldn't commisary food just be for snacking? Is their a secret jailcell cookbook using items exclusively from this list? How do you learn what to make? Is there Tony on F Block who knows all the good combinations, and how you can really jazz up some Cheetos or "meat pouches" with a little 85 cent thing of minced garlic? Minced garlic! I can't get over it.

2. Conditioner - Infusium 23: $7.65: First of all, this is a rip-off, unless we're talking a Costco-sized bottle of conditioner. But whatever, they're criminals, they shouldn't get deals on conditioner. Wait. Why do they get conditioner at all? If they have three different kinds of "Hair Grease" and two different kinds of "Hair Care", why do they only have one expensive conditioner and one cheap one (Suave, for a reasonable $1.65)? Is there a whole weird prison hair-culture? Do certain hairstyles, which I assume involve a lot of "grease", mean certain things? Is it like the teardrop tattoo? Does having bangs mean you killed someone?

3: Cereal, Honey Nut Scooters: $4.00: What are Honey Nut Scooters and do I have to go to prison to get them. Honey Nut Scooters sound amazing...

Needless to say, I want most of this stuff (tennis balls! Sween 'n Spicy Mix! shower shoes!), but I have so many questions. Is it like a gift shop in the lobby? Who works behind the counter? Is shoplifting an issue? So, so many questions...

Monday, March 19, 2012

poor mrs. dahmer...

Last night, Brittney and I had my folks and their very good friends over for dinner. I was terrified as I think anyone is when their mother comes over for dinner. I have never marinated chicken so perfectly. Anyway, my mother and her friend Jean started talking about their careers, and I noticed two things.

The first is that my father and Bill, both of whom are pretty impressive at their own stuff, will gladly sit back and let my mother and Jean detail their professional experiences. There was no dumb mansplaining or interrupting. I was very impressed with them both for letting the ladies take the floor.
The second is that I cannot believe my mother had a very serious career and two kids. Sometimes I'll be running from work to an evening work thing and I'll think, 'How on Earth did my mother do this. If I had a kid right now, I'd hate her.' As a child, I could not understand why my mom wasn't waiting for me in the parking lot in a minivan with snacks in a cooler. I wasn't just ticked off about it, I didn't get it. I had to wait until 6. SIX!
But now my mother is a wealth of genius career advice. Now I can explain work stuff to my mother and she enthusiastically gets it immediately. I don't know that my mom was really good at being suburban, doting, refrigerator-art mom. But she was really good at her job. I suddenly understand how good that can feel. And I am suddenly amazed that she was able to find a way to have a job that was really important to her and simultaneously raise two humans who didn't turn out to be serial killers.

Because if I had a kid right now, he'd be setting small animals on fire...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

why did the moderate liberal downtown business interest democrat cross the road...

I think I gave up on trying to find the funny in San Francisco politics when politicians and front-row sitters complained after Melissa took 5 minutes of a Young Dems Mayoral Debate to ask fun questions, like, "Do you know the hours City Hall is open?"
Not only are you not allowed to laugh at politics, you guys. You're not even allowed to find any aspect of it charming. I'm done, I say! I throw my hands up in the air! Fine, assholes! You win!
But when I got invited to the SF Democrats' Onward to Victory Gala, I went, mainly because at this very party a few years ago, Tom Ammiano yelled at Arnold Schwartzennegger and it was exciting for 10 minutes, Lo and behold, a genius at the DCCC decided to get comedians to performs JOKES ABOUT POLITICS. They weren't mean jokes, they weren't nasty comedians. I was stunned and delighted. And I was relieved.
It's all in the Culture Blog up now, on SFGate...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

for the record, broccoli rabe was also on that plate...

Sunday night, I headed down the Luce, the fancy restaurant in the InterContinental Hotel to help judge the Culinary Clash, a contest where 5 culinary academy students are selected, and each of them get their own night to cook dinner at Luce for a panel of judges. I got to be a judge for the adorable Bruce, who looks like he's eleven years old and invented the most amazing dessert I've ever had.

My fellow judges were my friends Jay Barmann from Grubstreet and Liam Mayclem from Eye on the Bay, and then we dined with Peter Koehler, the GM of the InterContinentl, James Stolich who writes the food column in the Nob Hill Gazette and Mike Weller, who is the nicest man in the world and also the Executive Chef at the California Culinary Academy. All of them had very fancy conversations about food and restaurants and wine pairings while I drank juice and tried to keep my dumb questions to a minimum.

Among the dumb things I said:
Peter asked what the crunchy, salty things on the plate were, and I confidently responded that it was broccoli rabe. As nicely as he could, Jay said, "Actually I think those are pistachios."

I spent most of the dinner worrying about sweet Bruce slaving away at his first time in a real restaurant kitchen with (dreamy) Chef Daniel Corey, so I basically scored him 10s in every category because he was just so goddamn 'aww shucks' about the whole thing. And as someone who doesn't know the difference between broccoli and pistachios, I didn't feel qualified to throw out anything less than an 8.

Dessert was this amazing cippolini onion upside-down cake with apple cider ice cream and rosemary kumquats. It sounds really unusual but it was an amazing dining experience. And just the fact that this kid came up with it was pretty impressive. Needless to say, Bruce got all 10s from me on dessert.

In other INCREDIBLY FANCY SHIT news, Alice and I attended a private rehearsal of the San Francisco Symphony with la-ti-da and very charming Symphonix people last night. My wonderful friend Catherine is very involved with Symphonix and she invited us to last night's event. First of all, it was held in one of the most gorgeous rooms I've ever been in. It's called The Wattis Room in Davies Symphony Hall and it makes me desperate to have an occasion worthy of the space.

Second of all, the music we listened to was celebrated DJ and composer Mason Bates' newest oeuvre (see how I used that word) which at first I thought was really weird (it had what can best be described as robot sounds) but then I began to really like. It was fun to be one of forty or so people in Davis Symphony Hall while the Symphony Chorus rehearsed with the maestro (another fancy word) and the chorus director. And of course, Mason and his laptop of genius.

Beforehand there was a brief talk, where a woman who is very passionate about fancy music told us what EXACTLY we should be listening for. She was gesturing with her hands, describing the intricacies of sound very enthusiastically. After the event, Alice and I walked outside together and because we are so artsy, we discussed the music.

"Did you hear all of the things you were supposed to hear?" I asked Alice.
She turned and looked at me. "Oh, you mean..."
Alice paused, waiting for me to say it with her, "LITTLE MOMENTS OF COLOR!"

Monday, March 12, 2012

Friday, March 09, 2012

i bet i know what marilyn's last meal is...

Allow me to state the obvious: Friday!

Two articles made my day thus far. The first was left by a commenter here on this very blog. I don't know who you are, sir or madam, but your understanding of my weird interests makes me feel less alone in this world. It's an article about an artist who has recreated famous and/or weird death row inmate last meals and photographed them.
I was familiar with most of these meals due to the (no-longer updated) blog 'Dead Man Eating.' But to see what the meals looked like was really weird (and thus really interesting.)
Texas has recently done away with the tradition of a last meal for the condemned. Their reason is that the prisoners' victims didn't get a last meal (a good point), but the actual catalyst was because murderer Lawrence Russell Brewer ordered two chicken fried steaks smothered in gravy with sliced onions, a triple-meat bacon cheeseburger, a cheese omelet with other ingredients, a large bowl of fried okra with ketchup, three fajitas, a pint of Blue Bell ice cream, a pound of barbecue with a half-loaf of white bread, a slab of peanut butter fudge with crushed peanuts, a pizza and three root beers. And then he didn't eat any of it. I doubt the other death row inmates in Texas are saying special prayers for the soul of Larry.
My last meal would be a bottle of Ketel One, and a jar of cocktail onions, but since that isn't allowed, I would like a wood-fired pizza margherita, this salad recipe I once made from the Chronicle food section and s'mores. Yours please.

The second article I found thanks to awesome Chronicle food guru Paolo, who posted this amazing review of the Olive Garden by an 85-year old lady in Grand Forks, North Dakota. I'm trying to pick my favorite quotes from this review, but literally every single line is music to my eyes. Please go read it right now. (I just sent this to Brock and Brittney who were both like, 'We know.' Whatever. Re-read it!) The Grand Forks Herald is amused that big city folks find the review so funny. Their article on the whirlwind surrounding the review IS JUST AS FUNNY!

In closing, I'm a big fan of the internet. Have a great weekend...

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

is anyone else watching this? i need to know...

My new show that I am very obsessed with is called Battleground, and it's exclusively on Hulu. That alone makes it seem like a fake TV show to me, but I LOVE IT. It's 'The Office' meets 'The West Wing' but basically it's a mockumentary about a Senate campaign in Wisconsin.
Episodes are released every Tuesday, and it's a testament to how boring my life is that I watch Hulu's Original Programming.
Is anyone else watching this? Because I need to discuss...

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

okay, threes-ish...

Once again, I am calling on my IMMENSE 5 DAYS OF TRAINING to bring you the rule of threes:

1. Yesterday's Tourist Trapped is up. It's my 5 favorite spots in Chinatown and all of them involve food or Diet Coke (that means 'bar' to most people.) Please head to SFGate and read it!

2. Necessary Conversation has lost our studio space (hence the hiatus) and we're trying to figure out what we want to do with the show next. Mel and I had brunch on Sunday to discuss this, but we ended up talking about dudes instead. Anyway I feel like we owe the wonderful folks at the Huffington Post some content, and they're launching a new project. They're asking folks to submit videos of special moments in their lives. HuffPostSF wants to know when you knew you loved San Francisco. Or something like that. Here's my version of that, shot from my new laptop like it's a snuff film. If you submit a video, lemme know and I'll post it!

3. Ages ago, I begged you all to attend a fundraiser for victims of the Castro arson fires. My oldest and dearest friend/cousin Kate Ryken had a friend who lost his home because of this horrible arsonist, so we spent a week hustling and threw a party at a gay bar. We raised $6,000, which basically meant that 10 arson victims got $600. I told them all they should use it for a gluttonous weekend getaway, which they deserve since their houses burned down. Lo these months later, Supervisor Scott Wiener has chosen Kate and me as two of his (several) women to honor for Women's History Month. So we're going down to City Hall this afternoon and I think corsages are involved. I also think every single Supervisor has to pick a bunch of broads to give shout-outs to, so this could take all day. I feel a little guilty because there are a lot of ladies who do nice things in town all the time. As opposed to, you know, once. Also, loads of people helped with this event, especially Brock Keeling, Brian Leubitz, Scott Wiener, Rebecca Prozan, Bill Hemenger and Kate's sister Jenny Ryken. But I like taking credit for shit, so I'll be there! It might be on SFGovTV, so tune in to laugh at us. It's today around 3 or 3:30.

PS: Since I'm plugging my dumb stuff, I'm hosting a 5-part series for my former employer, Beach Blanket Babylon. In a couple of weeks, a web series about 5 Amazing moments in Beach Blanket History will appear on the world wide web. I'm co-hosting with my wonderful former boss, BBB stage-manager (33 years and counting), John Camajani. It's produced by my former co-worker and current good friend Tom Schween, who's been doing a wonderful series of Beach Blanket called 'Beach Nuts.' I hope the big wigs (heh) approve what we've come up with, and I'm so excited to be working with my friends at The Blanket again. Of all of the first jobs to have, I lucked out. I'm really excited to see what Tom has put together, especially because his 'Beach Nuts' series is WONDERFUL. Stay tuned...

Thursday, March 01, 2012

like, fer sure...

"So Sugerman was like, 'I need to interview someone who talks like a dumb chick. Oh, Beth! Awesome.' and that's why you're going to be on TV tonight." - my coworker Bill.
"I am completely fine with that." - me

And yes. That is an autographed Justin Bieber poster, Gavin Newsom artwork, AND a flier for a lost chicken in my cubicle...