Welcome Thomas!

Michael and Mary have a new little boy as of yesterday. Thomas William weighs in at 7 pounds, 15 ounces and is incredibly round and cute. Nick and I went to visit yesterday. What a cutester!


A Che!

Yesterday, my dad took Nick and me to see The Motorcycle Diaries. First of all, what's up with a matinee that costs $7.25? No wonder we never go to the movies. At least they let me bring in my coffee from Peet's despite the sign forbidding outside food and drinks. Then again this was a small, semi-independent (a.k.a. "arthouse") theater, so the staff was semi-human and not alienated corporate drones, so the ticket prices became a bit more palatable.

But on to the movie.

It's the story of 23-year-old Ernesto "future Che" Guevara going on the ultimate motorcycle road trip from his hometown of Buenos Aires, Argentina to Caracas, Venezuela, via Chile, Peru, and Colombia. Initially, this basic concept didn't sound all that appealing to me. Even though Che is such a charismatic and glamorous figure, he's always struck me as too serious and one-dimensional--a gung-ho revolutionary with no sense of humor... This impression was not solely based on his famous poster-boy visage, but on my travels to Cuba and consequent above-average exposure to his writings, photographs, and personal history. So I wasn't sure this was going to be an entertaining movie.

And "entertaining" isn't how I would describe it, but I loved almost everything about the film anyway: the dark, haunting soundtrack; Gael Garcia Bernal's brooding performance; the setting in old-fashioned Latin American society, before international highways, satellite TV, supermarkets (I especially loved the party scenes, because the music was almost always live and very lively); the subtle, quiet, utterly poignant scenes where they meet various indigenous peoples throughout the countryside--those were definitely the best part of the movie for me. It so beautifully and tangibly helped me understand why this young Argentinian doctor became the gung-ho socialist roaming from country to country fomenting revolution. The scene I recall most vividly is unexpected (only because nothing actually happens): It's when Ernesto and his friend are walking through the Andes, and they pass a group of native peoples with a llama. Maybe it was the music, or the preceding scene... I don't quite understand it now, but this flash of an image really stuck with me.

Go see it!



We returned home a couple days ago to a very clean house (thanks Latha!) and two extremely happy cats who didn't seem to miss us at all. Mexico was fabulously relaxing. Huatulco is a hidden gem. Even if it's not truly the "environmentally sound" tourist development it claims to want to be, it's an awesome place to sit by the ocean, read, nap, drink pina coladas... which is virtually all we did.

The honeymoon was the perfect and essential follow-up to the crazy excitement of the wedding. Being surrounded by so many people who love and care so much about us was one of the most emotional experiences I've ever had, and I wouldn't have been able to just go back to "regular" life right after. I really needed some serious time away from it all to process the fact that all the wonderful love, happiness, and support of everyone around us, for the time being, had come to an end. It was like coming home after the best, most fun, most gigantic slumber party ever--a certain pretty heavy emotional letdown was basically inevitable.

But after our vacation, I've begun to realize that there's no reason to feel let down. The wedding might be over, but our lives are just beginning! The wedding helped us create real connections with so many people, and now we're starting our lives with all those excellent people! It feels good to think of it that way.

Pictures and more updates to come!


Good Ol' Mom (with special guest appearance by World's Best Dad!)

Good Ol' Mom made an executive decision about the earlier bar-related crisis, and there will now only be beer, wine, champagne, and soda at our wedding.

At first, I was a tad non-plussed by this, as I had completely wedded (pun intended) myself to the idea of having a full bar in support of all our unbounded revelry and glee. So I decided it was time to call in World's Best Dad. True to form, he helped me make peace with the situation by pointing out that, hey, who doesn't like beer and wine? Good point, Dad.

I think everyone is relieved to have the crisis behind us.

P.S. Mom also recommended that, if you really must have liquor at our wedding, you can bring a flask and ask the fine bartenders to mix you a drink--they probably won't turn you down. If you still have a problem with that, add a comment here and she'll see it because, honestly, I think Good Ol' Mom is the only person who reads this. And that's why we love her.

T minus 4 days

Four days to go... or three, depending on how you calculate things. Either way, I am officially stressed out, so I've decided to take a moment to reflect on all the wonderful things about the wedding, in order to take my mind off a terrible crisis that is currently underway (I can do this thanks to Good Ol' Mom, who has volunteered to deal with said crisis. Thanks, Mom!).

So, without further ado, please prepare yourselves for...

Wonderful Things About the Wedding

  • Lots of friends and family are coming from all over (travelling in from 3 other continents: Europe, Asia, and South America) to share the moment with us
  • I get to wear not one, but TWO gorgeous dresses
  • Our invitations, which we made ourselves, were FABULOUS
  • The awesome and unique cake design
  • It's a chance for my girlfriends to wear those shoes and/or fancy dresses they bought because they loved but don't have enough occasions to wear
  • The music, hand-picked by a couple of people with extraordinarily sophisticated taste
  • The food, prepared meticulously by the finest caterers in the Bay Area
  • The ceremony, which will be performed by one of my gifted and very soulful friends
  • The location, which, despite having all sorts of cockamamie rules and annoying obligations, is quite lovely and scenic
  • The flowers and decorations, which were assembled and selected with love and care by close family members, rather than by some random, wedding-industry florist
  • Our super-cute web site
  • It'll be my darling niece Emily's first big party
  • Oh yeah, almost forgot...I'm marrying the man of my dreams!
So even though planning such a huge event is a little chaotic and trying, it'll be worth it. Wow, that really worked. I didn't think about the terrible crisis for 10 whole minutes!



Mom, Mary, Emily and I went to the Flower Market today. They are doing a dry run on the flower arrangements for the wedding, and we had breakfast at the cafe there then picked out flowers and accessories for the arrangements (come to the wedding if you want to know what these mystery accessories are). I am very excited! I think I picked the perfect family members to help with this assignment. Emily especially--she has a great eye for color.

It's a foggy day in the city by the bay, and I'm hoping beyond all hope that this is not the weather on our wedding day. But even if it is, I suppose it'll give the out-of-town guests a true sampling of the climate in this city!



OK, I have some unkind words for NPR. I used to be--nay, AM--a big supporter. I'm one of those suckers KQED convinced to sign up for the monthly payment thing (they promised that it would cut down on annoying pledge breaks, which was utterly false). So I give them $120 a year. Tax-deductible, sure, but still hard-earned money from my pocket going to what I hope is a good cause.

Only problem here is that NPR sucks. They are possibly worse than Fox or the major networks in that they pose as a progressive news source but then play along with the lazy, fundamentally unmuckraking, Washington D.C.-centric, press-release/press-conference-reliant news agenda that is promoted by the spin machine. At least progressives know not to believe or trust the agenda promoted by a news source like Fox. NPR is the Nader of broadcast journalism.

I'd like to say more, but honestly if I forced myself to do that, this post would never happen. So that is all.


Packing Material

One wedding detail I haven't dreamed about since I was but a little girl: the amazing amount of packing materials with which I'd be inundated upon receiving a single gift from my registry. For a reducer/reuser/recycler like me, this is almost a prison/curse. I don't like throwing the stuff away, sensing that someday I might just need a couple dozen cubic feet of bubble wrap, styrofoam peanuts, tissue paper, and gift boxes. But the amount of storage space it takes is possibly prohibitive. We've only received a couple gifts, and already my little nooks and crannies where I usually stash this stuff are overflowing. We'll see...


They call them "turn signals" for a reason!

There is a plague in San Francisco...a plague of bad drivers, all afflicted with a strange sickness, shockingly common, exceedingly irritating, highly dangerous to surrounding beings: this sickness I am speaking of is the inability to warn of an impending left turn via turn signal.

What's strange is that their turn signals obviously work. I know this because once the light turns green, the sick people turn their signals on. But before, as they are driving up to a light--or worse yet, as they sit at the light letting unsuspecting cars pile up nice and tight in a line behind them--they give no warning that they are about to block the intersection for almost the entire duration of the green light. (This is how it is in San Francisco, where the protected left turn light/lane combo is a rare, precious luxury.)

In other news, is anybody else just loathing Six Feet Under this season?


Oops... lost a month somewhere!

It's amazing how quickly a month can whiz by. It's not like I haven't noticed that I haven't been writing; in fact, I've fully intended to write, but I kept putting it off. And now look where we are. The problem is that I had a specific goal, an event I wanted to write about, and even though I had a bunch of things to say in between, nothing else would do but the write-up of my nightmarish trip to Yosemite over 4th of July. This account of our tragicomedy hasn't happened yet, but I vow that I will write it up. Meanwhile, I will get back on the wagon and start updating more often.

Tonight was our fabulously successful book club. We discussed Life of Pi and actually managed to stay on topic most of the time, digressing only here and there into work gossip and other assorted topics like Judy Blume and nuns' names. Here are a couple of insights we had into the book:

  • Choosing which story you want to believe in is much like choosing a religion. They are all equally true, and it's a question of which story you prefer.
  • Yann Martell, in various interviews we checked out, sounds like a pretentious dork who might be rather annoying to hang out with. But we don't care because of his ability to spin such a lush and meaningful tale.
  • Creepiest moments include: the island, the french sailor, the end
  • Saddest moment include: when Richard Parker runs off into the jungle without saying goodbye, when Pi goes blind
  • There are many circle symbols throughout the book, perhaps to support the Pi motif.
  • The book's fundamental concept is based on another book, Max and the Cats. The group was divided about whether Martell use of the premise was fair or not.


CDBaby loves me

You should shop at CDBaby.com, if only because they send out the best "shipping confirmation" emails ever. See below (the email started off with the usual purchase details at the top):

"Your CDs have been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with
sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.

A team of 50 employees inspected your CDs and polished them to make
sure they were in the best possible condition before mailing.

Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over
the crowd as he put your CDs into the finest gold-lined box that
money can buy.

We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party
marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of
Portland waved 'Bon Voyage!' to your package, on its way to you, in
our private CD Baby jet on this day, Wednesday, June 30th.

I hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. We sure did.
Your picture is on our wall as "Customer of the Year". We're all
exhausted but can't wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!

Thank you once again,

Derek Sivers, president, CD Baby
the little CD store with the best new independent music
phone: 1-800-448-6369 email: cdbaby@cdbaby.com


Aces High

OK, what is it with me and mob media? I am currently obsessed with the movie Casino, which gets rerun all the time on Starz. The scary thing is that it's 3 hours long but I can watch it over and over, week after week, and keep finding new things that fascinate me. I'm not even a huge fan of either Robert De Niro or Sharon Stone, but they are so amazing in this, the way they portray these complex characters.

Some of my favorite scenes:

  • The Sam "Ace" Rothstein exposition: When we're learning about his handicapping skills.
  • When you see Ace measuring the die: This just makes the casino seem so calibrated, so measured, so controlled--which it is--but that careful measurement belies the chaos, crime, and desperation under the surface.
  • The first scene with Ginger: I love that you see her first through a casino security camera.
  • The Ginger Exposition: Post-Rat Pack, pre-MGM Vega$ chic and total sleaze wrapped into one.
  • Sam & Ginger's wedding: This scene is simultaneously very appealing and very sad, which I guess could be said for the whole movie.
  • Aces High: the television show Sam "Ace" Rothstein starts just when he is supposed to be taking a low-profile, behind-the-scenes job. It's just all done so excessively, with the Sam Rothstein dancers and Trudy the announcer with her high, horrible voice.
  • When Pescano gets busted: And you see him in the grocery rattling off his crimes as his mom yells at him every time he swears.

There are many more but these were the main ones to come to mind.


The Princess of Whales

We went on an amazing whale watching trip today and saw tons of blue whales, "the largest animal to have ever lived," as we were all quick to remark. They did indeed look grand, especially compared to the relatively tiny humpbacks I've seen before. Humpbacks weigh a "mere" 80,000 pounds, while Blues weigh 400,000! We also saw blue whales traveling side by side, which they are not known to do. Then again, not much is known about them. Except that they are stunning creatures. Everyone had an outstanding time.


Life of Pi

Another amazing book I've managed to devour in a mere 2 months. It seems to take me about 7 weeks to read the first 100 pages of a book, then 2 days to finish the rest, which was certainly the case with Life of Pi. I plodded through the many expository opening chapters, which examine religion, animal behavior, and childhood. They were certainly interesting, but not nearly as gripping as I'd expected from a book so celebrated and talked-about. On page 95, I decided I'd give it 5 more pages. If it hadn't gotten interesting by then, I was kicking it to the curb.

On page 98, everything changed. Two serious nights of reading after that, at 3 in the morning, feeling astonished and almost frightened by the book's unexpected and inexplicable denouement, I decided I had to start a book club, and that this would be our first book. That way, I had an excuse to read it again, this time asking questions I hadn't known to ask the first time around. And of course then I'd be able to discuss all the tremendous possibilities and ramifications with a bunch of other people.

So the book club email went out. The meeting is in late July.


Stop Unsafe Protesting!

Across the street from the farmers market today, I saw a large crowd of people. There were many Israeli flags, which led me to wonder exactly what was being protested. As we rode by on the scooter, I searched for any clear sign that made a statement. I only saw one. It said, "Stop Unsafe Protesting!"

Can anyone explain?


The Memory Mystery

So I looked up the "Super Bon Bon" song and discovered that it is by Soul Coughing. Now, I either never knew that (highly unlikely) or have entire parts of my brain that have been blacked out by some mysterious memory-obscuring magic marker (really quite likely). Because I just wouldn't have guessed that in a million years.

Memory is so strange. Being a longtime diary-keeper, I made this discovery for real many years ago, upon reading old diaries and realizing I had absolutely no recollection of many of the recorded events. I've always thought it was a good thing that I wrote stuff down so I knew it wouldn't be lost forever. Sometimes I wonder though. When I feel so incredibly mortified, saddened, and/or regretful as I revisit (via these "handy" journal entries) certain moments in my past, it occurs to me that perhaps our memory is so poor for a reason. Maybe that is one surprising and pleasant benefit of human existence: Sure, life might be, as a whole, very, very rough when you're going through it, but you can be guaranteed to forget huge swaths of your time on this Earth, remembering fondly only certain measured moments that, in reality, may have been really quite trying the first time through.


All hail the Hootenanny

When I wrote the description on the evite for my recent party, I mentioned that we'd be singing Beatles covers and dancing. I had it in my head that the event would be a hootenanny, but honestly I didn't think the party would manifest itself as such. Boy was I wrong!

I guess my first good move was inviting the fabulous Sonya Hunter and Erik Pearson, two great guitarists who perform as part of the Magic City Chamber of Commerce. I also made sure Graham and Alex were there, knowing they are completely open to spontaneous musical expression--plus Alex is another fine guitarist who knows all the greatest pop tunes (and some of the not-so-great-but-damn-fun-to-sing) ones. Louise, Emily, Toby, and new addition to the crowd Benny helped liven things up as well, as they're always willing to act goofy upon demand. And then there was Seanbaby, the crucial Seanbaby. Man can that kid sing. His sister's pretty enthusiastic too. Many others were there as well, but I'm only mentioning the ones who made it into this funny picture we took at the end of the event, right after a rousing round of Pink Floyd songs.

Penultimate "Super Bon Bon" Update: The two names that popped into my head were Bloodhound Gang (which I know is wrong) and Fun-Lovin' Criminals (which I'm, like, 95% sure is wrong). By the next entry I will just have looked it up on the Web and will have an answer for all those inquiring minds.


TV Party

TiVo deleted the season finale of "The West Wing" before I'd gotten a chance to watch the whole thing, and I am mildly surprised to discover that I hardly care. The show's just gotten so shallow, contrived, uninspired...you name it...that I can barely sit through an episode without falling asleep. I tried watching the season finale TWICE and kept finding better things to do, like old NYT crosswords and laundry. And when I stopped watching it the 2nd time, I didn't even change its TiVo status to "do not delete."

Update: I still can't remember who sings the song from "The Sopranos," but after writing that entry yesterday I started to at least remember more of the lyrics and, at last, the title: "Super Bon Bon." I can't even begin to think who sings it, but I will venture a guess as to the year the song was popular: 1998!


Long Term Parking

I woke up early today. Unlike most mornings where I simply bury my face into a cat or two and doze right back into slumberland, today I was kept awake by this song going through my head. "Move aside and let the man go through, let the man go through..." I knew the song but hadn't thought of it in a few years until I heard it in last night's episode of "The Sopranos." Most of the musical sensations and emotions evoked by that show are awesome, but this song reminded me of the complete and utter depressingness of last night's episode.

God, was it good. Most of this season I haven't been pulled into the story... rather, I've found myself thinking too much about the few paltry events that transpire each episode, pondering and pondering the significance of each overly subtle conversation and painfully minor plot development. But "Long Term Parking" (a heart-wrenching title, once you've seen it) was emotionally action-packed. With every pitiful move Adrianna and Christopher made, with every sadly hopeful line they uttered, I just felt their suffering. It was so painfully obvious that things were just never going to turn out right for them, no matter what happened next. My suspension of disbelief was so complete that even the next morning I was still feeling disgusted with Tony and his depraved goon squad, angry at Carmella for being a silent but utterly willing participant, shocked at Christopher's vanity, sorry for pathetic Adrianna... I think by the end of the series I'll hate them all.

I'm starting to be really thankful the show ends next season, and not because it's gotten crappy ("Friends") or because it just thinks it's too fabulous ("Sex and The City"). I'll be glad to see "The Sopranos" go because it is so amazingly well done (produced, acted, directed) that you can not avoid being drawn into the lives of these miserable people and their hideous world. I'm glad it ends next season, because I can only take so much of that.

Totally unrelated side note: I can't remember who sings that damn song, which makes me feel OLD!


A Winning Smile

So, oddly (or, depending on your point of view, quite predictably) enough, nobody has noticed my tooth. Even I've grown accustomed to my face, my winning smile. So I guess I'm ready to move on. Hurray!


Another E3 Come and Gone

This year seemed louder and stuffier than all the rest, but that's probably just because I'm getting older. I had no major sightings. Other people spotted Gallagher and got their pix taken with him, but I only saw former cast members of Survivor (not ones I liked) and Gary Coleman (sooooooo E3 2000).

The big titles were the same as last year, Halo 2, Half-Life 2, Doom 3, MGS3, and so on and so on. I wasn't quite inspired by the scene, but it's just another year in the slow-as-a-glacier evolution of the art we know as video games. A couple games I saw that seemed pretty exciting: Anti-Grav, a game that uses the EyeToy as a controller; the beautiful PC RTS, LOTR: Battle for Middle-earth; and Karamacarti (or something like that) where you play a ball that's trying to get bigger.

I was also on CNN this weekend, a short segment on "Women in Videogames" taped at E3 with Daniel Sieberg, the charming tech correspondent covering the show. After viewing the piece, I came to an important realization about TV: Never assume they won't show your badly matched pink socks.

The parties were fun too, but if they're going to feature cool bands, the people who plan them really need to start holding them somewhere that has good acoustics. I tried to enjoy the Roots, Black-eyed Peas, and Missy Elliott only to be somewhat dismayed by the terrible sound. But hey, it was fun for a laugh. "Slide, slide, dip, dip, shake..."


The Telltale Tooth

I went to the dentist for a routine cleaning the other day, and as he was examining my teeth, he noted that the filling in my front tooth had become really discolored. This isn't a cavity filling, but almost a fake tooth, occupying about a quarter of one of my two front teeth. And yes, it's gotten pretty yellow over the years. (I broke my tooth at my friend Tiffany's 14th birthday party when she swung a door open in my face.)

My dentist and I have discussed this filling before, and before he seemed quite content to just let me have it replaced when I was good and ready. I wanted to get my teeth whitened first, then replace it. Today, however, he seemed to have a real fire in his belly. Maybe he and his fellow dentists had placed bets on who could force the most optional procedures on their patients in a week, or maybe he just had a light appointment load that morning. Whatever the reason, he suggested that we replace the filling right then and there. It would only take 20 minutes, he said, and it wouldn't even require novocaine.

I shuddered at this thought. When I'd broken the tooth on that fateful Saturday afternoon so many years ago, it had hurt like hell. I'd called my dentist's emergency number and paged him frantically, but he wasn't able to see me until Monday. The pain I endured for those two days remains vividly, tangibly burned in my memory. I could barely eat or even breathe--exposing my tooth exposed to anything, even air, hurt. How, I thought, HOW could this procedure require no novocaine?

"Well, I'll start to shave it down," said Dr. Hasse, lifting the miniature circular saw to my mouth. "And if you start to feel anything, you let me know."

"Wailgh!" I grunted, furrowing my brow until the four hands (a hygienist named Pierre was also involved in this madness) were removed from my jaw. "If I start to FEEL ANYTHING? Are you SURE about this?"

"I really don't think I'm going to have to go that deep," the doctor said, inching the saw closer. He started to shave.

The exciting part is that this story does not invoke Edgar Allen Poe here. He shaved and shaved and shaved away; I felt nothing. And my tooth came out... well, that's the rub. When he proudly whipped out the mirror and showed me my new, white, beautiful tooth, I had to fake my enthusiasm when I said, "What a winning smile!" I'm not happy with my new tooth. It's not quite the same shape as my old one, and I don't know what to do about it. The difference is probably unnoticeable to most people, but I don't like it. Thing is, I adore my dentist. What's a vain girl who values her great teeth to do?


Heaven and earth

When I heard Condoleezza Rice testify before the 9/11 commission, a couple things stood out in my mind:

  • How different she appeared on TV versus radio. On radio, her high, shaky voice made her sound insecure and rambling. On TV, the self-satisfied smiles she flashed made her seem totally smug and arrogant.
  • How different my perception of her was from the media's. I was surprised, reading news analyses, that nobody else seemed to agree that she was smug, rambling, or insecure. Most accounts seemed to focus on her assertive, argumentative, and unapologetic style, almost celebrating her for being such a bitch. That bugged me.
  • One poetic phrase: If we'd known what was going to happen on 9/11, "we would have moved heaven and earth to stop it." At the time, I remember thinking what a nice, powerful phrase that was. It was uncharacteristically emotional, making it seem like she cared so much about the American public. Like, "man, she would have moved Heaven and Earth to stop the attacks!" Unfortunately, in the President's recent press conference, he said the same thing almost verbatim. It just disgusted me. I was reminded that these people craft and rehearse everything they say. Speechwriters' carefully (and lovingly, I'm sure) crafted turns of phrases become cynically exploited sound bites to be used as often as possible to brainwash people into thinking the government cares. I know this isn't a brilliant insight, but my re-realization of it made me terribly sad.
  • For someone so supposedly coached and prepped for questions she knew she was going to be asked, she sure wasn't eloquent. I was surprised how many words it took her to say so little. To me, a lot of it sounded like rambling garbage, most powerful when she was refusing to let others speak and ramming her supposedly rehearsed answers down their throats.
  • Again, how different my perception was from the media's. Here again, news accounts portrayed her as articulate, intelligent, well-spoken...a fabulous public face for the idiotic George W. Bush administration. Sure, when her testimony was whittled down into a few soundbites for the evening news, it sounded reasonably direct, as any cynically utilized sound bite does, but I'd argue still, hers was not exactly impressive use of the English language.
  • She's such a horrible role model for women. Do I even need to elaborate?
  • I was right to avoid her class at Stanford. I remember sitting in on an international affairs seminar she was going to be teaching thinking, "This class is going to make a subject I love (Russian studies) incredibly boring, this woman is going to talk a lot, and we're not going to get along." I may have been prejudging on that last part, but I'm glad I trusted my instinct. I still don't think Condi and I would get along.


The House of Sand and Fog

This book is definitely a Great American Novel. I found myself staying up really late, unable to stop myself from devouring the story, and that's saying a lot (usually a book is a surefire way to put me right to sleep). But the characters in this one just called to me to keep reading (not because I loved them or hated them; I just really, really felt them). And their desperate pursuit of Bay Area real estate was something I could really relate to. Unfortunately, it is a sad and depressing tale (perhaps because it involves Bay Area real estate) but it's definitely an amazing study of human nature. I wonder if they cheered it up for the movie version.


The Little Things

I've now started holding the elevator door for people when I'm heading upstairs to work. I'm continually amazed how much positive energy this little gesture creates. People are usually surprised and always grateful. I guess we're so used to being trampled upon, rushed in front of, and pushed around in our daily lives that this small act is a sadly unexpected treat. Other things in this category: paying the toll for the car behind you; leaving a greater-than-20% tip; putting extra money in the meter.... I can't actually think of any more off the top of my head, but you're welcome to add comments. And if this is a little too "Chicken Soup for the Straight Girl"-esque for your taste, well, that's OK too.


The hair, the makeup, the clothes

So the TV thing went pretty well. I got my hair and makeup done by true professionals (who LOVED the highlights--in fact, I've been getting all sorts of compliments on them). With the help of my many beloved wardrobe consultants, I ended up wearing a smart but hip denim jacket with an orange sweater underneath and an orange bead necklace that was made for me (literally, on the spot) in New York Chinatown by someone at the Magic Jewelry story. (I'm now calling it my lucky necklace.) The whole ensemble helped me do what up until 9:30 on Sunday night seemed impossible: play Gran Turismo 4 on live television while talking semi-intelligibly about it! I'm terribly proud of myself. I even met Thom Filicia from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, who fabulously told me to break a leg before I went on for my grand performance. It's all been rather magical!


Color me over it

I got my hair done today, and I’ve finally accepted that (contrary to what I’ve attempted to convince myself over the last couple years of being without a dedicated, trusted colorist) my highlights are not “pretty straightforward,” “hard to screw up,” or “basic.” My head of hair is a sophisticated bird’s nest of different hues, one that--when properly color-choreographed--looks mysterious and modern, imbuing me with a subtle confidence and summoning the glamour girl within. I love leaving the salon after a coloring job well done. Unfortunately, that’s not how today went.

I’m not blaming James. He did the best he could given what he had to work with. See, my nest has gone all wonky; its ecology is totally out of whack ever since Doreen flew to another tree (as colorists too often do; “that freedom is one of the great things about our profession,” James perkily explained). I’ve been salon-hopping for a couple years now and haven’t found someone who can do me right, so my hair no longer speaks to any new colorist I see. (Or, if it does speak, I don’t like what it’s saying.) Anyway, poor James did a fine job considering what he had to work with, and he insists that he can work with me over the long term to get to just the right look I desire.

Nothing can change the fact that I’m currently terrified, but I suppose I’ll get used to my new hair. The thousands of people watching me on live TV this Sunday night won’t even have a clue that this is not my best look. So I must simply feign that subtle confidence and summon my glamour girl using...hmmm, now is when a good summoning spell would come in handy (those always work so well in videogames!). I must take plenty of deep breaths and remember that everybody’s eyes are on Lisa Ling anyway. And I must remember, next time I’m randomly dialing some colorist who happens to have an opening “this week!” that my highlights are not “pretty straightforward,” “hard to screw up,” or “basic.” Maybe James won’t be so terrifying next time.


Let's talk about...

...the weather. Weather as a subject of conversation gets a bad rap. It's supposedly what people talk about when they have nothing else to say. But the weather affects our little lives so tremendously, why not talk about it? It's real and deserves some time in the spotlight.

Today, for example, it is downright hot, and I want to talk about it. Why do these hot days fall at any time outside of summer/early fall? Even spring days, in my opinion and experience, ought not be this warm. And why, once the sun is out for a day or two, do I suddenly feel the urge to purge my closet in a fit of proverbial spring cleaning? I don't even know how long all that stuff has been sitting there not hurting a fly, but suddenly it seems like a situation that desperately needs fixing, and I'm suddenly just raring to handle it.

The weather changes how we get around (everybody was out walking today because it was so darned pleasant outside). It changes what we eat (no more cafe au laits at brunch--today it was blood orange mimosas!). It changes how we feel about the way we spend our days (our friends quite understandably said it felt like the wrong weather to stay inside playing videogames, though I've done a bit of that today nonetheless). The weather affects us...so it's no wonder everybody talks about it a lot.

So, next time you can't think of anything to talk about except the weather, just go with it. You can rest assured that at least everyone will be able to relate.


A Genius in Our Midst

I was alerted to an article about Graham Connah's performance that appeared on SF Gate last week. The writer calls Graham "the famously dry and self-deprecating genius" and speculates that "his performances are unlike anything happening in the United States today. (I'm leaving the possibility that Slovenia, Japan or Denmark might be hatching its own Connah-esque character.) It's rare to find such an accomplished visionary who doesn't proselytize and rake in the cash grants for doing so."

Glad to see someone else recognizes the true celebrity nature of Graham!

Read the whole article.


The best week of the month

This week, the one where my magazine wraps its production, is always the best of my month. I can look back with satisfaction at all the fine pages we shipped and just appreciate the witty writing, sleek illustrations, and (one hopes) clean editing. I can feel satisfied, knowing that these pages were created, for the most part, with a minimum of late nights, lost tempers, and general misery. And yet it's too early to start feeling behind for the next month. This week, everything seems possible. It feels like we have weeks and weeks to get all those games in, assign out art, write all those pages of hilarity.... Of course, it's my unfortunate job to be the one who, next Monday morning, shakes everybody out of their comp-day-induced reveries and reminds them that their piles of well-written, well-illustrated, well-edited pages are all due, well, like, tomorrow! Being the bad cop is a tough job, but somebody's got to do it, and at least I can take a perverse pleasure in knowing that, no matter how icily they respond now to my polite-but-firm demands, come deadline week, they will tacitly thank me as they waltz out the door at 7pm, their pages all under control in smooth-as-silk production, to, oh, go to a David Bowie concert or have drinks with their sweeties. (Yes, even videogame editors have them!)


Back to Hell

Saturday night Graham Connah played at the Community Music Center with a 20-piece ensemble, including a full choir. "Faustina" was on the program, and though the lyrics spoke of an evil priestess, the very personification of evil, Graham says those sentiments had nothing to do with me. Narcissism of having so many talented and excellent musical luminaries as (Marty Wehner, Alex Candelaria, Sonya Hunter, Erik Pearson, Ben Goldberg, and more, including this physicist seated mysteriously in the audience who freestyled/skatted a cool rhyming interlude) perform a beautiful, complex musical work even remotely related to my being compels me to believe him.

After the show we headed over to hear Alphabet Soup at Bruno's and enjoy a cocktail or two at Doc's Clock. Before the night was through and we all headed back to our little realms of individualized existence, I took this photo of me, Graham, and Marty.

Happy people indeed

The Patriots pulled together another Super Bowl win, and though the game was pretty dull for the first 3 1/2 quarters, it ultimately offered thrills and chills in a nail-biting close-call finish.

We had a full house and lots of eating and drinking going on. I learned that guacamole does not freeze beautifully...instead it turns a rather unattractive grey. I also must remember that for viewing parties we can only really fit about 10 people comfortably, and that's with 4 people on the futon. We had 13 people there yesterday, and though everybody fit, we really couldn't have had any more. So feelings may have to be hurt if we have a party for the premiere of the final season of The Sopranos.

Other news: looks like I'm gonna have to find a new band! I heard through the grapevine that AK has defected to another band... I find it sad that I heard it through the grapevine, but I guess these things happen. I'm disappointed but not discouraged. "Dreams are my reality..." -- a quote that has stuck in my head for 15 years from a terribly cheesy song from an even cheesier French film, La Boum (I think) that we saw in Madame Nail's class.


The Pats return!

We're having a Super Bowl gathering of Patriots fans today! Update later when I hope everyone is happy. It's our second Patriots Super Bowl since living in this apartment.


Want my expert" opinion?

So recently I was on MTV for the Ultimate Video Game Countdown. The show was co-sponsored by my magazine, and we offered expert opinions on a bunch of games. Appearing on MTV was especially poignant for me because that was where I started out, my first "real" job.

The show premiered on Jan 2, 2004 and, in true MTV style, has rerun and rerun and rerun. I keep expecting it to be done, but then someone says they just saw it again. I'm sure it has to end soon though, since the show has a New Year's theme that isn't exactly evergreen.

Perhaps the oddest thing that's happened since I was on MTV is that, in the course of searching for myself on Google (admit it, you've done it too, or if you haven't, you should, 'cause it's fun!) I found a web page that said, "Don't be fooled by her name--she's a haole" (haole is hawaiian for a white person!)

For the record, I'm actually 50% Asian, which just goes to show that genetic patterns are nowhere near as simplistic as we were all taught in seventh grade. The way it really works is, you put these two people together:

and you get me!


What I Learned at Jury Duty

I have been summoned to jury duty twice before, but I always got dismissed over the phone without even having to appear at the court house. This week, I was not so lucky. Here's what I learned.

  • You can be late. I completely forgot to call the jury duty number until 8:43 a.m., at which time I found out I was expected at the court house at 8:30 a.m. Yet nobody seemed to mind when I showed up at 9 a.m. (Yes, I did get dressed in under 3 minutes. Luckily, the supposed "dress code" is very loose.)
  • You can work on a laptop in the waiting area. I'd always heard that they won't let you do other activities at jury duty, but when I arrived in the waiting room there were desks, power outlets, and even wireless/wired access points. The front desk had a handy sheet with all the instructions for logging on to the court house's network. Unfortunately, I'd brought none of the necessary equipment and was forced to read Under the Tuscan Sun, a book I hate more and more with each passing page.
  • You can make friends in the waiting room. When I realized my book was not going to sustain me, I switched to a seat near someone with a newspaper. He also had 3 printed crosswords (Washington Post Wed-Fri). He took pity on me and gave me the Thursday puzzle. Now he's my friendster.
  • It's really easy to get dismissed. Of the 75 or so people in our court room, the only people who didn't get dismissed were those 10-15 who expressed interest in serving on a six-week class-action banking trial. I guess one thing they don't tell you about that "jury of your peers" is that your peers are actually insane.
  • You should find out your job's jury duty policy before you get to the court house. You'll be asked to state what that policy is, and if, like me, you don't know the policy, the judge will tell you to go call and find out, reminding you (perhaps sensing your desire to just make something up) that you are UNDER OATH.
  • There a reason they don't show jury selection on TV. Because, despite all these fascinating facts I unearthed in the process, jury duty is indeed as boring as you've always heard it was.


Monkeys love hijinks!

It's Year of the Monkey. If you were born in this year you're supposed to be popular, intelligent, witty, carefree, and self-indulgent, which means lots of mental hijinks for everyone this year!

Frankly, I'm a little over the whole New Year's thing, since this lunar new year falls so close to the other new year, but alas... Let's hope for real prosperity and good fortune for all. I, in particular, could use some o' that!


Last night I said these words

Last night AK and I had our first band practice, and it was totally awesome, if I may say so myself. We practiced "Please Please Me," which sounds surprisingly different when you're only singing one part of the harmony. Obvious, right? Well, ripping apart the harmonies wasn't as intuitive as I thought it would be. Luckily, A. and I both have pretty good ears for music and we came up with a good arrangement. Next Beatles tune we're going to learn: "Dig a Pony"

I've never just "jammed" before with someone who's roughly at my level musically, but it's really satisfying and I can see why so many people prefer playing that type of music, as opposed to the stricter classical experience I've known thus far. I can't wait until we record our first song!


Learn to love me, assemble the ways

This weekend we went to Tahoe for a semi-last-minute trip to Kirkwood. It was a perfect combination of a bright, sunny day with fresh snow and not too many other people on the slopes. I felt in shape for perhaps the first “first day out” ever. Must be thanks to the lower-body-workout-obsessed ├╝ber-athlete who teaches the Tues-Thurs class at my gym. We also had a nice cabin that was walking distance from the slopes. I never want to stay anywhere else again! And E. and H. had gone grocery shopping so we had food and drink aplenty. Good company, good weather, good trip! The only thing missing was time to read, write, and play my guitar. Well, I had time to play, but we hadn’t had room in anyone’s car so I didn't actually have the guitar.

This week, I added the following songs to my repertoire:

  • “Shoplifters of the World Unite” by the Smiths
  • “Please Please Me” by the Beatles
It’s so fun to learn the chord breakdown of songs I’ve listened to so many years (decades, even) and never understood how simple/complex they are. I feel much closer to the people who’ve written those songs and hope to join their ranks soon enough.

If I’d had any time to pack for the trip, I’d have remembered to bring my camera and I’d have a picture to show! But since I don’t, I’ll just link to the upcoming bio picture in my magazine. N. took it one morning when we were both already running late for work. (I’d forgotten until then that it was the last day I could hand in my picture.) He was quite patient as I can be very demanding when it comes to my picture in the magazine (this one, sadly, took 20—count ’em, TWENTY—takes). I think he did a great job!