Monday, February 26, 2007

Raw, adjective: 9. disagreeably damp and chilly, as the weather or air

An old friend sent a card last week with a print of this painting and I was reminded how much it's one of my very favorites:

"Flaming June," 1895, by Frederick Leighton.

Love the warmth, the burning salmon-colored fluidity of her dress, and the languid summer afternoon energy in the pose and in the light. Just what I need right now on another wet and windy San Francisco day.

Foot's healing slowly but surely. Can't happen quickly enough. In the meantime, how 'bout those Oscars? Glad for Martin Scorsese, even more glad for Alan Arkin, and a big fan of the impromptu Will-Jack-John musical. Hot. How can you not love those guys?

My only complaint: what the hell were those shadow puppets about? They were cool the first time, but after

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Raw, adjective: 10. not diluted, as alcoholic spirits: raw whiskey

Best Birthday Present Ever!!!

I can walk! I just scrubbed my kitchen floor! I just did the laundry! I just vacuumed the whole house!

Bliss. Thank you, God(dess), for walking boots and birthdays and hard liquor. I am one happy 28-year-old.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Raw, adjective: 5. crude in quality or character; not tempered or refined by art or taste

Today while I was (surprise, surprise) sitting on my ass trying to will my ankle to heal itself, I started flipping channels. This is harder than it sounds, because a) we don't have a remote control that works, so since I am a gimp it involves hobbling over to the TV itself and pushing the button old-skool style, and because b) we also don't have cable, so the surfing opportunities encompass about ten channels, two of which are home shopping networks and one of which is piped in from China (don't ask). This leaves approximately ABC, NBC and CBS, plus Fox and something weird called Action 36 that usually plays old Friends re-runs 24 hours a day, supplemented by the odd Frasier re-run, and maybe a few old eps of That 70's Show.

I hit Martha Stewart and sit down. Not a big Martha fan, though I do think she got a bad rap as the whipping boy for corporate punishment stuff, but it was better than the Chinese soap opera on Channel 8. Turns out her guest is Kristin Chenoweth, the musical theater star known as much for her diminutive blond looks as her big classically-trained voice.

Chenoweth won a Tony for playing Charlie Brown's annoying little sister Sally in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, a feat I used to think was admirable until I saw her today on Martha and she was absolutely the same character, but in real life and with a more expensive headband. Girlfriend was hella annoying.* Seriously. High-pitched voice, giggly, not smart, a little judgmental. She was really not charming. The worst part was, the woman is in her late 30s, definitely past the time of acting like a little girl to be cute. Personal pet peeve: when aging actresses who were and still are Beautiful Young Things still act like the fluttering little ingenues that they could pull off when they were 16. Honey, just cause you're little and blond does not mean you should act like an almost-39-year-old woman-child. You were born in 1968, for chrissakes!!! Give it a rest and grow up.

Thus ends my rant for the day. Man, do I need to get back to my job or what? I'm dying here, folks.

*Please note ironic use of California surfer slang.

Raw, adjective: 4. painfully open, as a sore or wound

Almost a week now that I've been waylaid by this foot thing, and I tell ya: walking will never feel mundane again. At the same time, I'm gaining a newfound wisdom into the World of the Crutched. As in,

1) Cabbies have sympathy for you when you're hobbling up a San Francisco hill one-legged. They pull over without even having to be flagged down. And then flirt with you. That could have been the low-cut shirt I was wearing. But anyway - sweet. And then they still charge you up the wazoo. Sigh.

2) Strangers suddenly come out of the woodwork. Everyone's got a crutch sob story to share, and they are quick to carry your bag or help you up the stairs, especially the little old ladies in my neighborhood. This, too, rocks.

3) Still blows to be stuck sitting on my ass so much.

4) Had an audition for a show Monday night and for the first time "break a leg" jokes seemed a bit rueful. At least they remembered me, I guess, because I got a callback yesterday. Benefits of being a gimp.

5) If you go to the Cafe (on Market) to go "dancing" with your friends, a.k.a. "standing in the corner jumping around on one foot leaning on your crutches while they dance," don't wear flip-flops or they will kick you out, even if you are eight hot chicks and one sympathy case. Oh yes, and this kicking-out will happen AFTER you've climbed the two-level stairs on crutches to get in. Where's the justice, people?

6) Walking boots are the next hot thing for Spring. So says the fashion intuition of one Ms. Rachel. Just warning you. Order yours now and fit in with the cool kids.

I'm hoping to be strapping mine on by the end of this week, which would thankfully put an end to this week-long couch-sitting stretch (ugh). Oh, to go for a run again!! I'm dying. Even though the boot will make me feel roughly like Sasquatch, it has to be better than hauling my sore bod around on these two silver poles stuck in my chafing armpits.

Stay tuned for possible pics of the sexiness to come.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Raw, adjective: 4. painfully open, as a sore or wound

Sprained my ankle and foot in three different spots yesterday.

This blows.

And in the span of a five second fall, my busy weekend of auditions and drinks and yoga and sunshine (it's 70 degrees out!) has turned into a three-day encampment on the living room sofa, foot in air, crutches at the wayside. The good news is: this morning's x-rays show no fractures (hallelujah!). The bad news is: we're talking three to six weeks to heal. No yoga, no walking, no work, no nothing.

You never realize what you take for granted until poof! it's gone. As in, oh, hi, I don't keep a car in the City, so all of a sudden mundane walking tasks like getting groceries and taking the cable car are suddenly, well, impossible. The charm of my 1910 Edwardian suddenly fades when the flight of stairs up stands unwaveringly in front of that one gimpie foot. And what used to be the pleasant surprise of a night off work feels like vast disappointment at not seeing my Friday night (or Saturday night, or Sunday night) regulars.

I repeat, this blows.

I've decided this is the universe saying: finish your thesis. Finish your book. Play piano. Slip into that yin you were so excited about a week ago. And roll around in that Vicodin loopiness that set in a few hours ago.

In the meantime, any and all visitors bearing vegetables and/or books and/or hard liquor will not be turned away.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Raw, adjective: 2. not having undergone processes of preparing, dressing, finishing, refining, or manufacture

I stumbled across this old article on this morning while I was busy, uh, "researching," and it's got me thinking. Check it out: "Meet the Metrosexual"

An early exposition on the whole phenomenon of metrosexuality, it was published nearly five years ago, which of course is practically ancient in the online media world. But nonetheless, I can't help finding it wildly fascinating, especially in this post-Queer-Eye world where Becks of the painted nails and sarong skirt is preparing to move to LA and make a splash in the US, with Posh and the Little Becks in tow.

The author, apparently a gay Brit named Mark Simpson, nails a lot of the hairy (no pun intended) points of queer theory and a lot of the thinking that's been done about the changing face of masculinity in the wake of the increasing narcissism and vanity wrought by the whole metrosexual phenomenon. He manages to tie together Spider Man, anal sex and Fight Club, while at the same time dropping a few references to commodification and materialism, all the while coming back to Becks in the end. Um, I love you, Mark Simpson?

Five years later, though, it's interesting and a little bit sad to me to see how pervasive the whole metrosexual thing has become. I know in some ways it's past time that the whole obsession with appearance and "being seen" extends beyond the female realm, but I have to say, it makes my heart sink a little bit to think about how much that emphasis has bled into the ever-evolving definition of masculinity. There was, and is, something so refreshing about the men in my life who were raised not to care how they looked, how they smelled, whether their hair product was applied correctly, or whether their shoes matched their Nick Lachey button-down shirt.

Even though as women we have been raised for generations to think that the most important thing about us is how we look, not what we think or do or believe, some part of me likes to think that most men have stereotypically been raised not just to be "seen," but to DO. And so, some part of this "spreading the vanity wealth" thing makes me feel hollow and sad deep down in my gut. I don't want to believe that a new popularity in men's spas or men's facials or men's hair products is progress; wouldn't it be nicer if we all got a little LESS vain and a little more concerned with who we are outside of our hair gel or the brand of our jeans? You know; be raw, be real, be a little less fabricated, a little less artificial, a little less contrived, and more honest, more true, more right-there-in-the-moment real.

So, if my two cents mean anything, I say: ditch the cologne and the wax and just be real, o' strapping boys of my youth! Abercrombie and Fitch won't miss you in the least.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Raw, Idiom: b. Informal. in the nude; naked

Well, then! It's Valentine's Day, and you know what that means around these parts: Vaginas!

So in lieu of roses and candy hearts, here's a V-Day extravaganza to brighten your Wednesday - ("hump-day," naturally). These are a few of my most favorite pics in the world: the first from the 2001 Vagina Monologues, one of my best memories ever. In that exact moment, I remember looking up at the back row of the auditorium to announce that we'd sold out the 649 seats of Mitchell Hall. You can see my girls in back celebrating. It still makes me smile. Secondly, a quick pic we snapped at the end of the show with the full cast, everyone radiant with excitement at the wild success of the evening. Great memories, all, and sentiments that rush back for me every year at this time.

There's a ton of great info on the web now about the Vagina Monologues, V-Day, and Eve Ensler's work, but here are a few choice links if you're feeling in the mood for some vagina action:

* The mission and history of V-Day. You can find everything you want to know here about the activism and the show itself. It's really mushroomed from a little underground play into an international movement. I'll never forget seeing the show for the first time in January '98 as a sophomore studying abroad in London. It played this tiny little back room theatre in a pub - the King's Head, maybe? - and sat 12 people, max. And now it's filling Madison Square Gardens. Love it.

* A Q & A with Eve Ensler about the show and some of her other work. She debuted a new play last year here in SF, "The Good Body," and I have to say, it wasn't so good...pretty stereotypical and inane in lots of annoyingly cliched middle-aged woman kinds of narcissistic ways. But nonetheless, it's good to get a sense of where she comes from. Go here for the interview, and lots of other info on the play.

* Finally, if you're feeling short on time and just want a little blurb on the whole V-Day thing, hit up trusty Wikipedia for some of the basics.


Saturday, February 10, 2007

Raw, adjective: 9. disagreeably damp and chilly, as the weather or air

Reading the Times Theater section these days is like high torture. Not only is there another classic Sondheim revival - Follies - but they're still raving about Company, and now there's this new musical, Spring Awakening, set in Germany in the late 19th century and mixing rock with talk of sexual repression. Meanwhile, there's a dearth of any really exciting theater here in SF right now, what with the likes of Legally Blonde and Jersey Boys filling seats at the big houses. Sigh. Methinks it is time for another trip to NYC.

If you want your Sondheim fix, check out these articles:
* A review of the new Follies, starring all kinds of legends - Garber, Murphy, etc.

* A sharp look at what the simultaneous successes of Company and Spring Awakening have to say about sexual politics and relationships and blah blah blah in the post-Sexual Revolution, post-Kaiser era.

On a less theatrical note, we finally have our winter rain, and the umbrella is my constant companion of late. It's good, though; necessary; and the ski crowds flocking to Tahoe are over the moon. So, we'll take it. I picked up a new-ish compilation album the other day mixing Joni Mitchell standards with a few covers - stuff like Ella's "At Last" and "Comes Love" - and it's really killer. Perfect rainy day music. Full orchestration and whatnot. And it ends with "Both Sides Now," which is of course one of Joni's best. I kind of think "A Case of You" should be required listening for anyone with the remotest interest in music or poetry...

"I remember that time that you told me, you said
Love is touching souls
Surely you touched mine
Cause part of you pours out of me
In these words from time to time.

Oh, you are in my blood like holy wine
And you taste so bitter but you taste so sweet
Oh I could drink a case of you, darling
And I would still be on my feet
Oh, I'd still be on my feet."

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Raw, Idiom: b. Informal. in the nude; naked

Say what you want about February being the sweethearts' month, but geez, it is not a good time to be in love, or lust, or mildly obsessive infatuation, or post-extramarital-affair fall-out. Has Cupid been drinking, or is his aim just a little bit off lately?

First, the whole mess with Gavin and his paramour, Ruby Tourk, which has of course been front page news here in SF for the last week. It sounds like it wasn't even a long affair, and the guy was in the midst of a divorce at the time, but DUDE, she was also the wife of his good friend and campaign manager. Shady. And then comes this news of his entering rehab for an alcohol problem, and whew, it's not a happy time to be the Mayor.

And then, just when you think the drama couldn't get any more Melrose Place, we have this bizarro Nowak astronaut woman in Orlando ("Robochick") driving 900 miles in diapers (diapers!) armed with garbage bags and pepper spray and random rubber tubes to stalk (and, most likely, murder) her rival for the affections of HER paramour, "Billy O." I tell ya. What the hell?

I think this is a reminder from the universe that a) normalcy is relative, b) having a good PR guy doesn't necessarily fix things if they're already messy, and c) if you go psycho about the dude you're into, make sure you change your diaper after knocking off the competition.

On a final love note, I'm still digging Marquez's "Cholera," and although nearly every page seems to offer some unexpected line of pure wisdom, my favorite from recent days has to be this gem, courtesy of Florentino Ariza:

"The world is divided into those who screw and those who do not."

Happy Valentine's Day to that.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Raw, adjective: 7. brutally or grossly frank: a raw portrayal of human passions

Yesterday the City was all in a tizzy because of this big boat docking at Pier 27. Right on the heels of the norovirus-laden QE 2 came the Queen Mary 2, all decked out in sparkly lights and spewing black smoke into the sky. Word on the street is that she's the largest boat ever to dock in SF Bay, and she only missed the Golden Gate by something like 20 feet when she rolled in at 3:30, as the Superbowl was just kicking off.

Only in SF would a bigass boat trump the kickoff of the biggest football contest of the year. Neither team really did much for me this time, but gotta say I'm glad for Tony Dungy after the tough last year he's had, what with losing his young son and whatnot. Could you believe that rain in Miami?? Looked like a messy game.

The Times had an interesting article yesterday about Romero Britto, the dude who designed the sort of modern Pop Art-looking set for the Cirque du Soleil pre-game show. I can't decide if I really dig his stuff as an updated spin on Andy Warhol, or if it kind of drives me batty in that shallow Hello Kitty vein. Think it might be the latter. But no matter the artistic content of his work, you've gotta give a guy props for making $12 million a year as a working artist. Not something that's easy to do, that's for sure, and I do kind of like the idea of regional artists manifesting the personalities of certain parts of the country. Here's more: "In Miami, Art Without Angst"

Growing up in South Dakota, Harvey Dunn was always that dude - the local boy whose work personified the geist of the region. One of my favorites of his is there to the left: "The Prairie is My Garden," 1950.

And finally, yesterday was National Stuffed Mushroom Day. Go 'shrooms.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Raw, adjective: 11. unprocessed or unevaluated

I've been thinking a lot about yin.

More specifically, yin and yang, balance and seasons and whatnot. My old friend SMac (yes, Sarah, that is your new nickname as of this morning) reminded me of this a week or so ago when I was whining about how all I wanted to do was hibernate, draw in, be quiet, be still. And her reminder reawakened me to the ebb and flow of the seasons, the balance of winter's dark quietude with summer's vibrantly sunlit days.

Americans in particular so want to deny these natural rhythms, I think. Most of the world religions embrace some sense of this balance: Taoism's complementary notions of yin and yang especially come to mind, yin being the darker element - "passive, dark, feminine, downward-seeking, and corresponding to the night," and yang being the opposing brighter element, "active, light, masculine, upward-seeking, and corresponding to the day" (thanks, Wikipedia). In the same way, hatha yoga is all about the union of two elements: "ha" and "tha" being the coming-together of "sun" and "moon," the creation of balance in the body. Both rest on the assumption of a natural state of harmony, balance, in the lights and the darks of our days.

Anyway, point of all this is, where the hell is the balance in an American culture that is (ostensibly) all about bright and cheery and loud and progress-orientation and optimism? Can we get a little yin in here, please?!? Especially in this time of year, when the earth itself lies dormant and resting, and the animals (in what little wild terrain still lingers) doze silently in their oblivious hibernation, and the sun goes down early for the long evenings to come, why don't we honor that yin a little more and take pleasure in the quiet and the dark and the drawing-in?

I remember so clearly a conversation I had about this once with a man I was seeing - a Brit his whole life - while living in the UK. One of the first pleasant surprises I had on moving there was the lack of fake cheer, the utter absence of that manufactured grocery-clerk joy or gas-station clerk "HI, have a GREAT DAY!" accompanied by the wide fake smile that we expect from customer service workers in the States. I remarked on how refreshing I found the grumbling melancholy Brits, and he replied: "What, so you like us because we're all just a bunch of sad bastards?" And of course that wasn't the case, entirely, but I think something about the perpetual cold and dark and pissing-down rain in Britain accustoms its people to the yin elements of existence in a way that is simply unavoidable. And we could do ourselves a favor to take something from that.

So draw in and enjoy the dark of this next six weeks before spring hits. And on a closing note: how about that Newsom affair?!? No one's talking about anything else right now. Looks like a little yin time might be in order for our gelled friend Gavin. Sorry, buddy - sucks to be you right now.