Saturday, December 30, 2006

Hot Pants

Get thee over to Bedazzled for some vintage James Brown video (and other nice stuff; unfortunately no "Hot Pants" but you can't get everything for free on the Web--yet).

Cityrag has the round-up of important celebrity dirt of the year.

FourFour features the always-amusing John Waters.

And everything's still cute at Cute Overload.

Friday, December 22, 2006

A Toast to XMas

What Christmas means to me:

1.) Very tight shoulders: shopping, wrapping, writing Christmas cards 'til my hand cramps. Fretting over who to buy stuff for--what stuff to buy them. Paying for the stuff.

2.) Health concerns: one of us is always very ill during the week leading up to Christmas. This would be OK if we could shift Christmas day around. Like celebrate it a day later or so, until the sick person feels up to it. But my mom won't do that. Somehow the day must always be the 25th, even if you have the next day off from work. I don't understand this mentality. It's not even Baby Jesus' real birthday, and Christmas historically, was actually a mostly-Northern European invention to celebrate winter solstice and get through the darkest days of the season with sanity intact (i.e., slaughter all the cattle you couldn't feed throughout the winter, eat the meat and drink all the fermented beverages that were ready for consumption). It's a swell pagan holiday that the Christians co-opted, like so many other celebrations, and now it's just a big muddle of iconic images plastered across the landscape amid endless carols that are piped in any available public place you happen to exist in (gas-station bathrooms: do I hear "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" overhead? Yes.).

3.) Iconic images: Last week I was in big Longs Drugstore. Everyone in Oakland calls it Big Longs because it's just gigantic. It's like a funky Wal-Mart but no one protests its existance--it's an accepted part of the urban landscape. There's five or six Christmas aisles at Big Longs. And I noticed that one of the boxed ornament gift sets there consisted entirely of gambling devices: dice, slot machine, poker chips; all done in shiny, colorful glass in multiple colors. "When I think of Christmas, I think of gambling," I said out loud to no one (I'm getting crotchety, obviously). Several people tittered. The following week, I was hanging out in Reno, for fun, and I saw no images of gambling and Christmas, other than the festive decorations in the hotel lobbies and casinos. I don't know what this means, except that Oakland has its priorities screwed up and Reno is really downplaying the gambling of late.

4.) Family: My immediate family is really a great one. I lucked out in that department. I enjoy seeing them, talking to them and just thinking about them. My extended family has become another matter over the years. We all grew up together, aunts, uncles, cousins and even cousins' friends and other cousins. We were about as close as an extended family could be, but I guess there's a bit of a sociopathic gene running through this particular extended family. Therefore, as everyone grew, their temperments came to the forefront and slowly, the family "unit" began to decay. All it takes is a few people waving some guns around, threatening their spouses and children to put a damper on family celebrations. Then there's back-biting, stealing, paranoia, lying and passive-agressive manipulation to contend with. To a lesser degree, hoarding and overall anxiety. What a psychic stew! It really makes holidays a drag, to say the least. One by one, I've dropped my extended family connections. There's still a few good ones out there, but they live far away and I only get to see them once a year if I'm lucky. So Christmas is a real mixed bag for me, like for most people. It enforces this ideal of "family" and "friends" which may not be much of an ideal from year to year. It's propaganda of the cheery sort.

Sometimes Christmas reminds me of these two roommates I had. One became increasingly agoraphobic and wouldn't leave her pig-sty of a room for days. The other was really happy all the time and didn't see any problems about anything at all. Once, when I was feeling down about something, she told me that if I just smiled more, I would feel better because studies have shown that it takes less muscles to smile than frown. Every time I smile I think of these studies. Trouble is, I was born with a birth defect that actually makes it really hard for me to smile. It probably takes more muscles for me to smile than frown, and if that makes me kind of grumpy about life, too bad! I was born that way! Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Death by Stork Rises Once More

Yet another Death by Stork show this Thursday night, December 14th at the Stork Club (Telegraph at 23rd Street, Oakland). Show starts at 9 p.m. and it's $5--a holiday deal!

Here's the exciting line-up, sure to get you in a winter solstice mood:

She Mob
- Suki, Sue, Alan and Lisa make a startling reformation in order to play three AND ONLY THREE rockin' pop songs and then record them a week later.

The Bleu Canadians - Live!!! from Canada!!!! explosive all new garage/psychadelic set. Free Canadian citizenship for everyone who attends. Also, free membership to the Edmonton Curling Club for the first 20 paid admissions. Also, come join us for our wild afterparty where we will race Zambonis. This is a benefit for The Canadian Temperature Fund.

Death By Stork - Searing songs of love, death, poop, and belly button lint. You just may have to get drunk and dance, folks. We will be joined by Lucio on bass--filling in for Tony, who's tromping around the Phillipinnes.

Fuzzy Cousins - Jenya Chernoff and Matt Lebowsky are a pair of primates that defy taxonomy. Highly evolved, their vast experience from mingling with other nomadic tribes (including Mumble & Peg, Three Piece Combo, Mark Growden's Electric Pinata, Species Being, and most recently with Faun Fables as characters and music makers in the touring production of The Transit Rider) is revealed in their music: even and odd, smooth and sharp, sweet and shattering.

Magnus Tick Aquarium - Super group jam band gone psycho. You may wonder where your head went.

Geez--that's a lot of music for $5.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

2006 - Year of the Vag

It's almost the new year. I just got used to seeing "2006" in all my correspondence. Now I have to bump it up to '07. When you've spent all your life writing 19_ whatever, it's very weird to to write 2000+. It feels like a work of fiction every time you date a check. But it's true--it really is the 21st century. Do you think when it's 2525, anyone will remember that bummer of a song from 1969 by Zager and Evans? Maybe--if man is still alive, and woman can survive, they may find...

Can I be the first to proclaim 2006 as the year of the vagina? The year the vagina made itself known in all its once-hidden glory? Don't be squeamish. Vaginas have been around a long, long time. If they're finally getting a day in the sun, I say, "Welcome--welcome internal genitalia and birth canal."

Back in 2004, Richard Avedon clicked a shot of Chan Marhsall's (a.k.a. Cat Power) pubic area peeking out of her jeans. The snowball trend started barreling down our consciousness hill and we're now in full-on vagina mode.

From Madonna's disco-enriched camel toe, to the Hollywood "It" girl crotch-shot trio (Paris, Lindsay, Britney), the vagina is making itself known, loud and clear. And if you're a bit modest and you don't want to acknowledge the new out-and-about photo op--too bad! The vagina is here to stay!

Remember how shocking Sharon Stone's "accidental" up-the-dress scene was in Basic Instinct? As the cigarrette ad once proclaimed, "You've come a long way baby!"

What will 2007 bring? I say, bring on the penis.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

" in real life, people were not to be trusted."

Robert Altman died. The film historian David Thomson has some good words about his career here (that's his quote in the title above). I've always been a big Altman fan, although I realize he's not for everyone. I love "The Long Goodbye." So dark, yet so brightly, strangely Los Angeles at the same time. I think that was Altman--dark guy, dealing with L.A. all the time. Did such a good job. Hail, hail American artist--you will be missed.

Here Altman directs Warren Beatty in "McCabe & Mrs. Miller," perhaps the all-time most cynical western ever. If you haven't seen this one, go on, it's good for you. And here is a photo of the town Altman had built outside of Vancouver just for the film (torn down 7 months later). Julie Christie as an opium addict: see it twice!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Behold Willem Dafoe's Hair

There's a lot of celebrity and movie-fandom blogging in cyber-landia, but who among us has paid homage to Willem Dafoe's hair? His luxuriant locks, such a contrast to his odd, rough-hewn Midwestern features (he was originally christened "William" just so you know), are such a gigantic part of his screen persona--weird character actor/weird leading man--that any time they are shorn, or covered, the film cannot hold up. That's my theory anyway. The mesmerizing quality of Willem Dafoe's hair is follicle star power that will not be denied. So directors, do yourself and your films a favor: heavily feature this man's hair. Women are jealous of it; men want some of it for their own. It catches the film lights so expertly. Where will Willem Dafoe's hair be in the coming digital age? We cannot know, but I'll be there, watching.

Platoon - Cast against type, Willem is the hero as his innocent, golden mane attests. See how it frames his cranium like a halo. A stunning debut by hair.

The Last Temptation of Christ - This Jesus is of the "shiny, wavy-haired" variety--the kind we baby-boomer Catholics grew up with. See how it flows from his forehead like a fountain of truth, beauty and moral fortitude. The shine reflects all the good that Jesus will provide for mankind. And if he happens to resemble a young man who attended junior high in Appleton, Wisconsin, just suspend your disbelief and check out those bouncy waves!

American Psycho - Slicked back and sleazy. Nobody's hair does it better.

Shadow of the Vampire - I don't care if he was nominated for an Academy Award, there's no hair and that's bad! Really bad. I guess when you're playing Max Schrek you have to be authentic. He was one of film's all-time weirdoes (imagine), creating the memorable Nosferatu out of his own bizarre psyche, but it just hurts so much to see a bald Willem. Like Julia Roberts without the smile; Tom Cruise without the arrogance; George Clooney without the knowing smirk; Willem Dafoe IS his hair. Let's move on.

The Reckoning - I've never seen this medieval thriller. In fact, I haven't seen a lot of these films. I'm just reviewing hair. I'm going to guess that this hair represents an authoritative, slightly manic character with some dark secrets of its own. Secrets that will be revealed before the film's allotted feature-length scenario plays out. I do like the chestnut hue, but the lack of highlights is disappointing. Don't quash the highlights--I don't care if you're from the middle ages! I'm supposing this film failed at the box-office, but it's only a guess based on this layered look, which is more Mick Jagger than 14th-century England, unless Jagger stole his look from some ancient wood-cut or something.

Auto Focus - Yeah, that's the ticket--more slicked back sleaziness. Director Paul Schrader frames the look with 70s lattice-work and a TV antenna--telling! Dafoe's character brings down Colonel Hogan with video porn. His subtle creepiness cannot be contained and his hairstyle unravels along with his lifestyle. Now everyone seems to be partaking in Internet porn, but back then--it was not considered a wise career move.

Affliction - Please, do not emotionally torture me with your dysfunctional addictions! Excellent wayward-son look. Kind of back to Jesus too. This tormented hair sure is pretty, and rather femme.

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou - No, no, no! Do not make Willem Dafoe wear a twee little beanie. Director Wes Anderson's arrogance is out of control if he thought the American public would be denied another fine performance featuring Dafoe's hair. This is like asking Nicole Kidman to wrinkle her forehead, or Scarlett Johansson to play a demure nun. It's just unfortunate. No wonder this film was a critical flop.

Spiderman - Bow down before my incredible body and shine, Peter Parker! Your sticky little webs are no match for my scientific know-how and big-hair bravado! My hairdresser comes straight to my mansion three weeks on the dot, and you can't even afford Supercuts super sale week! Plus I own stock in Clairol and L'Oreal. And your girlfriend Kirsten Dunst is not only not believable as a great stage actress, she has terrible hair! My afghan hound has more personal style... (Action sequence drowns out rest of dialogue).

Hmmmm, what have we here? This buzz-cut can mean only one thing: eminent retirement. Say it isn't so Willem! Despite all my nitpicking, you really are a fine actor--an American treasure. Please don't give up. You've made over 10,000 films. You're the Joyce Carol Oates of filmmaking--don't leave us wanting more. I can't wait to see your hair fade into the sunset. Please Willem, I beg you, I need to see you go gray, gain forehead inches, maybe a tiny bald spot in the back--or, not. You might be one of those distinguished old guys with the snowy white hair. I just saw one on the 40th Street median strip yesterday, crossing over to Broadway. I nearly crashed my car, his hair was so blinding and it was held at the nape of his neck in a tiny, rebellious ponytail. Just consider it for some future role--I leave you with this:

Get that awful hair away from me!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Post-Halloween Cuteness

Well, Halloween is more than over, but here's a photo of Jackson as a garbage truck. He was SOOOOOOO HAPPY to be a garbage truck for Halloween that the joy has carried over for the past three or four weeks. Now that's a successful costume.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Let Us Ponder Dorothy Malone

The year: 1956. The film: "Written on the Wind," directed by melodramatist extraordinaire, Douglas Sirk. The premise: Mitch Wayne and Kyle Hadley have been best friends since childhood--Mitch (the ever-manly Rock Hudson) is the steady, dirt-poor salt-of-the-earth guy. Kyle (grand scenery-chewer Robert Stack) is the alcoholic playboy, set to inherit millions from his oil tycoon father. When Kyle steals classy Lucy (stiff-as-an-emory-board Lauren Bacall) from Mitch, their friendship is put to the...oh, screw it, let's just get to Dorothy Malone. She's the best part of the film.

Dorothy played Kyle's sister Marylee, and although no one comes right and says the actual word (unless you count, "Your daughter's a TRAMP, mister."), she's Hollywood's ultimate nymphomaniac. The reasons to like Dorothy's portrayal of Marylee are many-fold:
1.) She drives a terrific little red convertible--some kind of European sportscar in the middle of Sirk's idea of a butthole Texas town. There appears to be an oil derrick every ten feet, some dirt, and a local dive to pick up low-lifes in her spare time. At one point Lucy emerges from her doctor's office and there's an oil derrick in the back alley where Mitch has parked his car to wait for her. I'm surprised there isn't a big pumping oil derrick in the foyer of the Hadley mansion, but perhaps Sirk didn't want to take the idea too far. That said...

2.) ...Marylee is after Mitch--she's wanted him since their idyllic childhood romps in the ol' town swimmin' hole and she's not about to give up now, even if he loves another. "I'll have you Mitch Wayne," she commands while driving him around in her car, "Marriage. Or NO Marriage." You gotta give a low whistle of appreciation for her delivery of that line.

3.) Dorothy Malone's bizarro performance won her a supporting Oscar and she deserved it! You can't take her eyes off her and that's because she never stops moving her face around on the big wide-screen. It's like Sirk told her to act every scene like she had just snorted a big line of crystal meth. Or maybe she did snort a bunch of crystal meth, or popped some of those 50s-era joy pills that were such a staple in the studio-system acting style. But she is wiggle-ley. At one point she dances a rumba that apparently gives her father a heart attack in the next room. She's just too much. In this era of botox'd mannequin starlets, Dorothy Malone is a welcome bit of nervous tickery.

4.) She makes Lauren Bacall look even MORE wooden than she actually is. It hardly seems possible to do so, but there's more expression in your soup spoon than in Bacall's entire performance. Except for the crying scenes where she buries her head against Rock Hudson's formidable chest. She does appear to be crying in these scenes, but she's no match for Dorothy's sly, cunning, conniving, treacherous, lecherous, plotting, teasing, cackling face. And that's just during one dinner scene.
5.) SPOILER ALERT: Marylee ends the movie by fondling a scale-model of an oil derrick sitting atop her dead father's desk as Mitch and Lucy drive off into the dirt-filled sunset together. And she really fondles it. Not even subtle--Sirk was such a crazy madman. How it got past the censors... Anyway, it's one of the funniest film endings I've ever seen. Plus she's crying and wearing a conservative gray suit while doing it.To conclude: I love Dorothy Malone and if you rent "Written on the Wind," you will too.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Do Not Fail to See Death by Stork

At the Stork Club, of course. Telegraph Avenue at 23rd Street in fabulous skid-row Oakland, Friday, September 22. Starts at 9 p.m.

First up will be Winner's Bitch, (featuring former She Mobbers, Sue Hutchinson and Suki O'Kane). Then DBS, also featuring Sue, plus me and Andrew and Tony. Then Remora, which is a Deftones cover band(!). Sounds like fun. Sure to be cheap. Always good times. And Jerry Brown lives right down the street. I always think he'll stop in, but he never does.

Have I ever blogged about the time Jerry Brown did a bunch of mescaline with my aunt and uncle in Mexico, back in the hippie days...? No? Maybe next time.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Vacation Haiku

Have you heard? Haiku is HOT! Well, maybe not HOT, but definitely long-term in usage. And easy to get through. Since we visited so many areas on our 9-day vacation, I thought I'd review in Haiku.

Eugene, OR
Playgrounds are bitchin'
and the bad part of town is
only six blocks long

Eugene Friend
Standard black poodle
lives in fabulous 50s
house; brings us shoes. Gus

Recumbent Bikes
Sit down, like a chair
Lean back and relax cowboy
You are one fast geek.

Corvallis, OR
Picturesque and quaint
White people work at HP
and study Buddha

Salem, OR
The state capitol
Awesome children's museum
Strip malls and porn shops

Whoa! This city rocks
Where has it been all my life?
Please sign me up now

Portland Japanese Garden
Gravel, plants, water
Falls, streams, bridges, quiet paths
Favorite by far

Powell's Books
Gazillions of books
like some kind of book heaven
Whole Foods is nearby

Jimi Hendrix and
Streetwise and heroin chic
Oh, and Space Needle

Pike's Market
Throw the fish upward
Balloon man makes a kitty
Ferries trawl the waves

My Uncle's Restaurant
It's at 1215 Pine Street
garlic sautéed greens

Relatives greet us
with affection and cheese cake
Canada is best

Friday, September 01, 2006

Northerly Haul

We went on this crazy-ass vacation where we hit six towns of the Northwest in 9 days. We were just talking about it in the kitchen today, marveling about how fun and outdoorsy and pretty it was and how depressing it is to come back to Oakland and find out that a woman was found the other night, beaten and on fire, in the parking lot of the arts center that we used to live down the street from. The fire department put her out and helicoptered her to Davis for burns over 70% of her body. She had been hog-tied to a structure in the lot. The arts center has been renovated for well over a year now so it's already housed some teen robbers and other criminal-types.

I know other cities are experiencing crime waves but Oakland is really in its own class at this point. It's like living in an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Only we have no slayer and don't intend to get one any time soon. Our old neighborhood is full of families and working people and older people and now is home to thugs and creeps. They're preying on all these good neighbors. I worry about my older neighbors. We lived on this tiny one-block street and we knew everyone on it pretty well. We had some really excellent people on our block. Then these psycho drug dealers moved in across the street and our lives really took a nose-dive, quality-wise. We just sold our house and rent now in a nicer neighborhood. The drug dealers just pass through here and don't live by us any more. There's still crime, but no one's getting beaten over the head in the middle of the day for their cell phone. That's moving on up, Oakland style.

I'll write more about our trip. I'm just pissed right now. The trip was good. Most people are good. The bad ones just need to be better contained or intimidated or run out of town.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

My Cartoon Posse

I’ve been thinking that it’s time I gathered a cartoon posse to either take over the world, or at least defend it from evil. Let superior draftsmen (and women) have their classic superhero fantasies; I just want what’s mine--a tribe of misfits to pool our talents and accomplish what current world leaders cannot--perfect universal harmony throughout the known galaxy. And to throw great parties (don’t underestimate the power of the great party).

First up, Maggie Chascarillo, Jaime Hernandez’ complex creation who first appeared in Love & Rockets #1 in 1982. Love & Rockets was a bitchin’ publication of Fantagraphics Books and was written and drawn by Jaime and his brother Gilbert, or “Los Bros” as they called themselves.

The first issues effortlessly blended sci-fi, romance comics, and the southern California punk rock scene. As the series progressed, the Bros broke out of the staid genres they had warped and started really focusing on their characters. Maggie is probably the most endearing of Jaime’s universe. She started out as a cute Mexican American punk rocker/auto (and rocket!) mechanic, exploring her relationship with her mercurial pal/lover Hopey, while battling horrible crushes on boys she knew she could not have.

Over the years, she gained quite a bit of weight, drank too much, and floated from one menial job to another. She had some relationships but never as intense as the long-term Hopey friendship/affair. She even dabbled in prostitution for a short time but pulled herself out of that rut to hang out with a bunch of lady wrestlers. She can currently be seen in the NY Times Sunday magazine in a serialized story featuring one of those wrestlers, who is now elderly and may be battling dementia.

Maggie is not fearless. In fact, she is often quite fearful, especially when dealing with her emotional entanglements and attractions, but she’s a very good person, naturally sweet-tempered and has excellent taste in music. She’s had a lot of tragedy in her life, broken home, childhood neglect, the loss of her best friend in a car accident. But somehow she just keeps plowing forth. And if breaking into a spontaneous drunken dance keeps her going, we can only wish her the best.

OK, the next one is not a cartoon per se. She's actually 60s B-movie actress Yvonne Craig playing Batgirl--but it's my posse and I get to pick 'em. Yvonne Craig was the first person who made me sit up in front of the TV and think, va va va voom! When she took off her oversized librarian eyeglasses and donned that red wig and skin-tight purple jumpsuit, then whipped out of her secret bat-lair upon her bat cycle to go join fatherly Batman (Adam West) and brotherly Robin (ol' what's his name), well, the results were breathtaking on my childhood psyche.

Back then, there weren't a lot of female cartoon characters who were as action-packed as Batgirl. Lynda Carter's Wonderwoman was a few years away and she was kind of bulky for a superhero--what was with those gold bracelets that deflected bullets--c'mon! Batgirl was of this world. No invisible airplane for her. She shelved books for a living, and presumably read them as well. She was the commissioner's daughter but she was always in trouble. But she sometimes got Batman out of trouble too and she looked hot while doing it. And that red wig--gaaah! I love you Batgirl! Mwa! Mwa! (kissing noises). Head on over to Yvonne's Web site to hear the Batgirl theme song (Yeeeeeeah--whose baby are you? Batgirl!) and order an autographed photo of Batgirl for only $25.

I know you're dying to know who's next. And I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. It's Queer Duck! Queer Duck started out as an Internet cartoon on and now he's graduated to his own straight-to-dvd film: Queer Duck, The Movie.

Queer Duck lives in a colorful universe that looks and seems strangely like the 80s, surrounded by his animal friends and lovers, Openly Gator (who sounds a lot like Harvey Fierstein), Oscar Wildcat and Bi-Polar Bear. The film revolves around Queer Duck wondering if his life would be any easier if he were straight. He meets an old stage diva and considers marrying her. What are the consequences of Queer Duck's actions? And what of his 18-month relationship with Openly Gator? These are the questions we must ask ourselves as Queer Duck's drama unfolds.

Queer Duck is hilarious. Written by Simpson's alum, Mike Reiss, the Queer Duck universe is perverse, brightly satirical, and well, queer. Shockingly Reiss admits on the dvd's extras that He's. Not. Gay. In fact, apparently the only gay person who works on Queer Duck is the voice of Queer Duck, Jim J. Bullock. I'm still kind of confused by this confession. Oh well, it's funny.

OK, now I'm going to zip through the rest of this because I've been trying to complete this blog entry for something like a week-and-a-half. The whole idea is starting to get stale in my head by this time. We'll wrap up with Buttercup from The Power Puff Girls, whose time seems to have come and gone. I'm not sure I would have liked the Power Puff Girls when I was a girl. They're kind of violent in a not-so-fun way, although the show is generally very funny. My kid watched it once and kept asking me why they were always fighting so much. I had to explain the concept of super-heroes and bad guys to him. He's still not sure why bad guys are bad. Bad guys don't make sense to him yet. I guess they don't make sense to me either, if I think about it. Anyway, here's Buttercup, the badass of the Power Puff Girls. I like her innate anger and I like how she channels that anger into violently opposing bad guys. She really kicks them in the head. She's not dainty in any way, shape or form. She's a little disturbing.

This is Neon, a belly dance instructor and videographer, originally from Moscow. She kind of looks like a transexual who happens to teach belly dance. She's not a cartoon, but she's certainly a persona of sorts. It's really important to stay in shape when you're fighting crime and Neon will help us keep our womanly figures (sorry Queer Duck) and get us in touch with our shimmy muscles. Plus her costumes are just fab.

Finally, I present Jaquee, my Land's End Virtual Model. I typed up some of my specs on the Land's End Web site and picked out some hair color and a face shape, and wah-la! Jaquee. Jaquee is really only good for trying on clothes but since I hate doing that myself, she can have the job full-time. And she can shop for them too, because in my world, that's almost as bad as trying them on. By acting as a personal shopper Jaquee will be saving my cartoon posse hours of time that can be better spent doing almost anything but shopping. And you'll be glad to know that Jacquee has been hitting the virtual gym a little more often lately so maybe her clothes size can go down by summer's end. Go go Jaquee!

That's my cartoon posse. I think we'll throw ourselves a little booze-soaked belly-dance fightin' party and maybe get some clothes out of the deal. Then we'll work hard to impeach Bush.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Happy Gay Pride

Last Sunday was the Pride Parade in San Francisco. I didn't go but I used to live in the Castro where every day was pride day. I do miss that neighborhood and the Castro Theater and my then-boyfriend (now husband) telling me upon entering the house, "I got cruised in Walgreens!"

Scientists continues to find evidence that gayness begins before birth. Here's an article on a new finding about birth-order, gender, and sexual preference. I especially like the end quote by Andy Forrest of the Stonewall gay rights group:

[The current study] adds further weight to the argument that lesbian and gay people should be treated equally in society and not discriminated against for something that's just as inherent as skin colour.

Yes, and it would be nice if gay people could legally wed one another. Will I see that in my lifetime? Will my son see it in his? Can our society build upon itself by sanctioning the legal bond between people? Or will we continue to stifle and discriminate? I am seriously hoping for the best but there's such a big wall of bigotry that must be chiseled way, way down. Keep chipping away...

Monday, June 19, 2006

Britney Spears Makes Me Feel Good...

...about myself! I may be getting older and more forgetful and spiritually confused, but at least I can dress myself modestly for my national television interview (when that day comes). I promise I'll blog about opera or world events next time. For now, let's revel in the weirdness that is falling-apart-at-the-seams, celebrity style.
I know I've been domestically isolated lately because my thoughts have this weird, surreal, almost "Plan 9 From Outer Space" quality to them. Like a pop culture monk I am. Yesterday I was doing some laundry (so much laundry lately--where does it all come from?) and I was digging lint out of the trap in the dryer and thinking: do celebrities dig their own lint out? If so, do they think in terms of: This banal chore is now more significant because I'm doing it? Or do they go the other route and think: This is what keeps me humble.

And why was I thinking this at all? It's like my dream life and my real life are converging at times.

And then tonight I was making soup and this overly dramatic voice screamed in my head: Will this miso ever mix properly or do I have to get the whisk!?

It's like I know how my life has become so every-day, so my mind is going on these hysterical tangents that are all drama-queenish and fake but entertaining and disturbing at the same time. God--maybe I understand Britney a little more. Maybe we can all find a little tolerance in our heart. Forgive Denise Richards and Richie Sambora--it was love. Let little Lindsay Lohan find her inner calling in the bars and speakeasies of both coasts. And Paris Hilton will one day pull it out and become a human being at some point in time--if we just wait patiently and with compassion. Oh fuck it, I'm going to bed.

Friday, June 16, 2006

My Busy Little World

I haven't blogged in a while because I've been too busy LIVING. Just kidding--I haven't been living that much. I had some facial surgery about a month ago and that put me out of commission a little. I only had to stay in hospital one night but what a night! When I came home I looked like a cross between Jennifer Tilley and Eric Stolz in "Mask." That was...refreshing. Who knew our faces were so...pliable?

While I attempted to get my mojo back, I accidentally joined the whole Harry Potter juggernaut. It was due to my mom and dad's audiocassette collection of the first book (I can never remember all the titles or what order they go in--I'm not 11!). I'll just make up a name that comes to mind: Harry Potter and the New Cool World. I don't know why my parents had the book-on-tape of Harry Potter and the New Cool World, but I borrowed it to listen to as I traveled back and forth to my far-away Kaiser plastic surgeon, Dr. Dumbeldorf. Dr. Dumbeldorf works miracles and he's quite jolly. I'm impressed by him.

Anyhoo, I started listening to the tapes and couldn't stop and kept on listening 'til the end. Then I checked out the second book at our wonderful and tiny library down the street. Then I rented one of the movies and added that to my knowledge of the one other Harry Potter movie I had seen. I had actually seen the first one long ago, was disappointed by the un-charismatic Daniel Radcliffe as Harry (though Emma Watson as Hermione Granger totally and continues to rule), and didn't see another film until down the line, fairly recently. It was uh, Harry Potter and the Very Well-Done Visual Effects. The story in this film was quite muddled. I left the theater thinking, What the--? But the visual effects were really top-notch. In the very back of my head I filed that info. away for a later date, and that date I'm happy to say, has arrived! (This is what some of J.K. Rowling's wizard characters sound like when they talk--she is a bit of a social satirist).

So yeah, the visual effects in Harry Potter movies can't be beat. I mean, these studios pour millions upon millions of dollars into them and most of it ends up on-screen. This is more rare than you may think. This is a franchise like McDonald's and the producers could easily let some quality slip and still make millions and millions back from the rabid Rowling following, but no, they are hard-working and good money-men and they really give the audience the entertainment they crave. Even if the plot-lines leave you thinking, huh?, the effects will cheer you with the power of artistic wow available to computer geeks these days. I have worked with these geeks over the years. They are talented people who rarely see the light of day. If they end up on a Potter film, I doubt they see daylight for a long, long time.

I digress. I just picked up the second-to-last book at the library. It's entitled Harry Potter In Only 900 Pages. I will start in as soon as I have a spare moment. Uh, yeah. But then I'll be almost finished! There's only one more book to read, listen to or eventually see on DVD (or big screen--I'm easy) then I guess maybe one more in the works...? I can't keep track. They're ripping good yarns and Daniel Radcliffe has grown on me as the ordinary fellow with extraordinary gumption. I still love Emma Watson and Rupert Grint would definitely be my dreamboat if I was 7. Rock on Rupert Grint! Plus I live for those all-too-brief Alan Rickman moments as Professor Severus Snape. Alan Rickman is perhaps one of the most talented character actors OF ALL TIME. He is hilarious and wonderful and I wish the next Potter film would be called "Severus Snape Deals with the Nuisance that is Harry Potter." I'd wait in line for that.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Hello Shiloh Nouvel

Well, the Jolie-Pitt's have a new addition to the family, Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt, born May 27, 2006. It's going to be tough to buy that kid a personalized pencil.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Just Another Celebrity Blog

These are heady times. Our country is fighting a war over weapons that don't exist. Our president is a sociopath without the ability to effectively lead a poodle on a leash, much less a world super-power. Avian Bird Flu has landed in New Jersey and is about to become a made-for-TV movie. And Angelina Jolie is a U.N. goodwill ambassador and fighting for children’s education throughout the world. I bet Danny Glover would kill for that job, but it was offered to Angelina and she stepped up to the plate. Now the woman who would wear a vial of Billy Bob Thornton’s blood around her neck will tend to the world’s ills. We wish her well on her journey of self-, er, world-discovery. The other night when I was wide awake between the hours of 3 and 4:30 a.m. (even the MacArthur Freeway is quiet then), I couldn’t stop thinking of baby names for Brangelina’s upcoming offspring, which is set to debut this month. This sad little window to my mind merited the following entries. I really care about the world!

Scarlet Runner Bean Jolie-Pitt (kind of pays homage to several celebrity names and it’s a fine legume besides)

Jandek Obscura Jolie-Pitt (going for some indie-music cred here)

WFMU KFJC Jolie-Pitt (cool college radio indie-cred--the kind Brad Pitt yearned for before he joined Angelina in her bid to save the world)

Yo La Tengo Jolie-Pitt (ditto)

Not Jennifer Aniston’s Child Jolie-Pitt (just to really rub it in)

Ayn Rand (for a girl)
Atlas Shrugged (boy) - great promotion if the two decide to star in the rumored film of the book.

Landor Associates Jolie-Pitt (corporate sponsorship baby--I thought of it first)

Jim (it’s weird but I think it works)

Maybe this week the couple will be blessed with a genetically endowed baby. Good luck Angelina. Giving birth is very cool. Stay hydrated. Know that in my insomniac state, I think of you...

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Let's Talk About Me

I'm such an id'jit that I forgot to post that my old band, She Mob, was playing a live broadcast at KFJC last Saturday night. I told a couple of people who I knew could get the Foothill College station in the South Bay, only to be reminded the next day by my friend and former Web guru, Tuckers, that KFJC is online. So I could have told the WORLD to listen in. Oh well. I definitely haven't been running on all six cylinders lately. Be sure to listen to this station regardless because it's definitely one of the best around. I haven't heard the recording of us yet. Apparently there was some sound problems with our vocals, but the noise came through just fine. It was nice to play with Alan Korn again, which I haven't done in a while.

Meanwhile, Sue Hutchinson and I, founding members of She Mob, have formed a new band with two guys, Andrew and Tony, called Death by Stork. We're trying to get a show together for July, probably in San Fran. And so until then Tony has placed some rehearsal recordings on our obligatory My Space site. The hi-fidelity Radioshack mono recordings will have to hold the public over until our big record deal comes through. I think I've done enough self-promoting for one night. I'll slink off to bed now...

Proactive and In Your Face

Thank you Stephen Colbert.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Edie, Little 60s Speedie

Every five years or so I re-read Edie - An American Biography by Jean Stein & George Plimpton. I don't know why--it's one of the most depressing biographies on record. But there's something so fascinating/repellent about the whole Andy Warhol 60s scene. I gather new things from the book every time I get through it. When I bought it back in the 80s I just drank it all in. The whole upper-crust privilege, artist muse and downfall trajectory. Then I got into the Edie persona: beautiful damned and doomed. Then I got into Andy Warhol and found out all about him (uh, gee, I'm a fan!). As of this reading, I'm seeing how mental illness runs in families and how devastating it can be. As deadly as any genetic mishap or cancer. Poor Edie really wasn't long for this world and at least she got to go out as a former creative force of sorts.

The Stein book makes Warhol into a villain--a social vampire feeding on the poor souls that are drawn to his banal charisma, using them up then spitting them out onto the dirty sidewalks of New York where they are incapable of getting sober and living productive 60s lives as house-wives and house-husbands. I think not. He was genius at surrounding himself with extremely creative people who were never going to fit in to society no-way no-how. And he gave them outlets for their crazy amphetamine-fueled energies. And they had a great time, which is sort of hinted at in the book, but mostly in a house-of-horrors way. Like any creative collaboration, there are good times with the bad. Otherwise the Happenings just wouldn't uh, happen.

Now Warhol is revered by writers and critics as one of this country's greatest artists. Sometimes that happens. The 80s were not appreciative of his celebrity-fawning and Studio 54-going ways. But his take on American culture was pretty astute and extremely deadpan funny and macabre. What would he make of us now I wonder? Andy Warhol was taken away a little too soon: bummer. Interpret our culture as you will, you won't have Andy Warhol to help you out any more.

That said, always remember: Speed kills. And turns you into an asshole just before you die. So stay off that stuff.

Friday, March 24, 2006

More Stuff Angst

We're still moving. We've actually moved into our new place but we had so much stuff in the old place that we're getting rid of it pretty much every day. You never know what you'll find in a house that's been inhabited for over six years--especially a fixer-upper. Here's the contents of one milk crate I pulled down from a top shelf in the laundry room:

1.) Contact paper. That stuff you stick in kitchen drawers for cleanliness and neat appearance. It's supposed to come off again but after a few years, rarely does without a struggle. White with delicate flowers. What to do with? Toss.

2.) Rat poison. Big box full of rat baits. Once I came home and found a giant rat on our porch. I freaked out and bought this but never set it out anywhere. What to do with? Toss into landfill. Feel really guilty about.

3.) Unopened tennis balls from what year? Still good? Last played tennis over a decade ago. What to do with? Play tennis?

4.) Drum practice pad. This was my brother's from high school. I never learned how to properly play so I don't use this. But as a drummer I feel obligated to have this in my house along with a stick or two, just to feel like I could practice at home, with a 6-inch pad, if the mood should strike. Put in rehearsal space until forced to remove.

5.) Floor wax. Leave for new home-buyers.

6.) Great Stuff Polyurethane Foam Sealant. A handyman told me this causes cancer. What to do with? Toss into landfill. Feel even more guilt. I am destroying the environment in only one afternoon.

7.) Washing machine hose. Now that's exciting.

8.) Shoe polish. Shoe polish? I guess we still have some use for this.

9.) Suede cleaner. Suede? It could come back.

10.) Water repeller for clothing. More toxic stuff. Sorry world.

11.) Propert's Leather and Saddle Soap. Ahhh, comes in a old-tyme tin. It's actual soap used for cleaning your leather goods and it smells like grandma's linens and things. Not suitable for suede.

12.) Rubber cement. Oh god--when will this end! How will I sleep tonight! But I can't keep the rubber cement.

13.) Plant hanger. Oh, that's nice. It just hangs plants.

That was one milk crate. There's more. God, I'm exhausted and hyperventilating. Looks like we'll be driving down to the toxic waste dump soon.
Moving really is stressful.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Clutter-free Life: Dream On

I have no idea how to live the clutter-free life. All my existence has been cluttered. Blame it on being a "creative type." Blame it on growing up increasingly middle-class as my dad's sales skills ramped up during the computer evolution years. Blame it on my interest in too many things and plenty of closet space. Haven't posted in a while because we've been searching for new and different housing within our fair, crime-infested city. We'll be moving shortly and this blog will go on a short hiatus while we situate ourselves and all our stuff in a slightly different environment. So I'm clearing out our office space and marveling at all the crap-ola that's piled up in our six years here. I was thinking, what would be the computer equivalent of my life of clutter? Here are some random images I found in my "jpegs" file where I store stuff I find and like from the Internet. In no certain order, I'll slap them up here and comment. No credits--sorry--I guess that's stealing. Oh well. It's all up for grabs in cyberspace. And I'm not spell-checking either. More clutter.

The image above is of an ancient diver from the Corbis photo site. Look how uncomfortable he looks, yet so cool. People will do anything to explore new spaces.
Look--Don Knotts. Aw, he just died. Farewell, lovable goofball. The world is slightly less funny without your presence. I saved this image years ago for one of my employers who's a big Knotts fan. He owns the DVD of The Ghost and Mr. Chicken and swears that it makes him laugh every time he sees it. I'll have to check that out since I haven't seen it in about 25 years.

Here's Louise Brooks. She was a pretty messed-up person but va-va-va-voom! You can read Barry Paris' biography on her if you'd like to find out what a mess she was. It's an excellent book about a really talented, intelligent free spirit, and also about the silent film era and beyond. There's also a good Web site all about Brooksie: The Louise Brooks Society.

And here's a really cool photo of Buster Keaton, who loved all sports but especially baseball. Keaton was an unparalled genius of cinema. There's a good Web site on him too: The Damfinos. I have such a weird, retro crush on Buster. I'm sure I'm not alone.

Hmmm, what else have I got in this file? Here's a graphic I made to demonstrate how large Helen Hunt's forehead is. After she finished Mad About You (how could that couple afford their palatial NYC apartment?--I hate shows like that). She got so many roles, and constant press. Didn't she win an Oscar? I'm too tired to check. I just couldn't understand it. Nobody mentioned the forehead ever. It was before celebrity blogs came into being. Now they'd be all over that thing. You could fly a plane off that forehead. And what did Paul Reiser get? I have no idea but his forehead is pretty big too.

Here's a spaceship from Johnny Sokko and his Giant Robot, a 60s show from Japan which was a poor man's Ultraman which was a really poor man's Godzilla. My brother watched these shows constantly after school on our small remote-less color TV. The translations were really crude and I used to imitate them and drive him into spasms of fury. It was really entertaining for me. I like how this ship looks like a manta-ray with a flare coming out of its butt. It also looks like it was made out of a dinner plate. Maybe my brother was cooler than me after all.

There's more. These people do look really happy, and if it's lard that's working for them, who are we to judge?

Here's the GTO's (Girls Together Outrageously), a bunch of groupies that Frank Zappa liked and co-opted into a sort girl group. That's one sloppy sentence I just typed. Anyway, they were seriously party girls with a good sense of humor about themselves and several of them have now met untimely ends. Not sure what to make of their aesthetic. I've never been into the concept of fucking fame. I guess I have a large enough ego to just want the fame myself. But we take what we can get and the GTO's went for it. R.I.P. GTO's.

I'm running out of steam so I'll leave off with Happy Bun Bun. Don't think this is the end of my junk file--I could write aproximately 900 blog entries just using my junk file as subject-matter. But don't worry, I won't. This image is good to focus on during my move and perhaps for every new stage of life. Gentle conversations--such a fine concept. Today I opened a fortune cookie and the fortune said: Hold a good friend in both your hands. I really liked that fortune and I really liked the cookie because it was covered in some decent chocolate. Why can't all fortune cookies be that way? Anyway, it's good to take care of our friendships and not take them for granted and watch too much American Idol and not cherish the precious moments that real people (not reality show people) add to our lives. 'Cause man, I once had this friend and she did NOT hold our friendship in both her hands. In fact, she pretty much threw our friendship right over a cliff, but not before she stomped on it and covered it with a bunch of dog shit and then some gasoline, and set the whole thing on fire. Then she sent me a congratulations card on the birth of my son. That friendship did not make the grade. And unfortunately, that's what my cookie reminded me of, but it also reminded me that I barely have any friends any more because my family has become my friends for the most part, and on that note, Frank Zappa and I agree. He wrote in his autobiography that friends are not always going to be there for you, but your family will (but I've read another biography that states that Frank completely ignored his family for most of their lives). But he was a misanthrope and I'm a humanist at heart. See what junk can bring up? I'm saving that fortune and bringing it to the new house. I'll put it in a drawer--yeah, that's what I'll do...