Friday, September 28, 2007

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

A weird few days.

The show opened last night, to a full house. It's pretty much "Waiting For Guffman." If you don't get that reference, go rent the Christopher Guest DVD, and laugh until you cry. That's what I've been doing all week (well, along with a lot of cringing). Musically, the show's solid, and I'm digging my songs; but the direction is absolute shit. Mediocre, uninspired, vaguely embarrassing. And awful choreography. Like a bad dinner theater cabaret. Thank god(dess) for the singing, because at the end of the day, I figure, it was all about just wanting to get the ol' voice back in shape, so that's all that matters, right? Now, if I can just figure out how to disinvite the hordes of groupies I'd encouraged to come...

On a much more serious note, my grandmother died last night. She's the last one for me, having lost the others while I was a child, and she was my father's mother, my last connection to him. A difficult loss for many complex reasons. But she was sick, and 94, and had been withering slowly for the last several years, and in some ways, it's time. So life suddenly means last-minute adjustments and scrambling for plane tickets and an unplanned (but not altogether unexpected) trip to the heartland for a dose of big sky and silence, and a lot of memories as I see the extended family gathered for one last occasion.

The City's buzzing with preparations for the Folsom Street Festival this weekend - do you have your assless leather chaps ready? I'm wearing mine now. Gotta break 'em in, you know. It's grey and cool and the air is fresh; the fog should burn off by noon, but in the meantime, I'll take the moody weather.

It's funny; "Songs for a New World" is all about those moments, the in-between times when you could step this way or that and the decisions are never easy or clear and nothing seems to come handily. And yet, at the end, the show closes with a riff on the words "Hear my song," and calls out on three clear monotonic unison notes: "We'll be fine."

Seems apropos today, of all days.

Monday, September 24, 2007

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

The NYT has an article this morning about how a number of Miss America "scholarship competition" winners have struggled to collect payment on the big bucks they're promised for being, uh, "beautiful" and "talented."

"Winners Cite Broken Promises in Pageants"

The whole thing feels vaguely silly because, well, no offense, Miss Five Boroughs New York 2004, your favored means of procuring fame and fortune is, how do I say this, OBSOLETE. It's mindblowing to me that this shit still goes on; reading the article, I mean, it's no shock that the largely volunteer-run pageants (driven by crazy big-haired stay-at-home moms from Texas) are struggling to fund themselves and closing their doors left and right. We've watched the TV broadcast being shuttled from shitty network to shitty network over the last few years, and still, no one's watching, and maybe, just maybe, that's because a horse show that judges candidates on their swimsuit appeal and the straightness of their teeth isn't really relevant in the 21st century? Just a possibility.

You saw the mindless debacle that was Miss Teen South Carolina flubbing her mindbender of a question about kids and maps and "the Iraq, such as," and isn't that proof enough that blond 14-year-olds need to spend less time gazing into the mirror and more time reading or doing fractions or studying Swahili or something? Sigh. Inasmuch as feminism's "over" and it's all about equality and blah blah blah, I'm still seeing a culture that values that bland empty-headedness over the supposed brains it takes to get into Wharton or whatever it is this beauty queen profiled in the above article is doing.

The ironic thing is that these chicas are so done up in this caricature of what it means to look "beautiful" that they end up looking exactly like the drag queens I run across on early mornings heading to yoga through the Tendernob: parodies of femininity. Plucked eyebrows (natch) and dyed hair and fake boobs and zero brains. WTF.

Not hot. For the record.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Raw, adjective: 1. uncooked, as articles of food: a raw carrot.

You should really take a few minutes to read this profile of Alice Waters from Wednesday's Times:

"Lunch With Alice Waters, Food Revolutionary"

In case you're not lucky enough to have heard of her yet, Waters is pretty much the goddess of Bay Area foodie culture. She's a radical in the most impressive of ways, sort of quietly going about her business while riling things up for nearly forty years. She opened Chez Panisse, a landmark Berkeley restaurant tucked over in the Gourmet Ghetto on Shattuck by Cesar's and the Cheese Board, in 1971, and has made waves with sustainability, using organic and local producers to shape her menus according to the seasons. Waters has also been huge with introducing gardening to the Berkeley school systems, incorporating the growing and harvesting processes into school lunches. Amazing.

She really is an icon in terms of living what she preaches. It's funny to think that this little old grandma-looking lady could be called a revolutionary, but when it comes to getting back to the roots of the matter re: food (bad pun intended), she's the real deal. Lately I've been mad to get my hands in the dirt, wishing for a big ol' plot of land where, right about now, I would be harvesting some big pumpkins and whipping up some delicious autumn beets with maybe a little goat cheese melted in there, too. Maybe next year. For the time being I'll settle for my plants indoors, and plot the garden plans for when the best seller breaks out and I buy a spread in Idaho to live out my own little Walden.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

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

For several months now a few of my [smart and fabulous] friends have been passing around worn copies of Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged." This has not resulted in my own carrying around of a 1200-page capitalist screed, because I am not a fan. Waaay too pinko commie to appreciate the rationalist, self-oriented philosophies of Ms. Rand.

This NY Times article says more about why Rand makes me twitch. "Ayn Rand's Literature of Capitalism"

It's an interesting article and points to the fundamental lack of attraction I feel for her stuff. Also, it appears in the Business section. Bleh. First clue that it's not my style. But secondly, it cites all kinds of CEOs and Vice Presidents and other oh-so-important people in the business sector who've found inspiration in Rand's work. Ugh. At the same time, I'm awed and motivated by the fact that what was an initially very poorly-received body of work has resonated so widely some fifty years later. Literature is indeed powerful, in spite of what the rationalists have to say about that.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

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

RAW (lately) is

the sky this morning, grey and foggy and cool
my voice after 4-hour rehearsals every day
my head after too little sleep this weekend
all those upsets in the college football world yesterday
the pleasure I feel in seeing Notre Dame winless
the obscenity that was the USC-NE game last night
veggie juice - new combo: spinach, celery, carrot, beets - to counter the sugar
the rental market in SF, which is shooting up price-wise; a raw deal, for sure
my reawakened love for greens; darling broccolini!
the new Sweeney Todd at ACT, which I STILL need to see
the status of my thesis, which is not good, given that I have a huge meeting with my thesis chair tomorrow
the stark beauty of Sylvia Plath's unabridged journals, which I stumbled across the other day at Borders
the brutal truth of the Giants' hopeless season
the lyrics to "What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?"
this post

Sunday, September 9, 2007

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

The Times has a good little roundup on San Francisco wine bars worth checking out. You might have heard that the London Wine Bar (est. 1974), which is just down Nob Hill from my place, is often credited as the first wine bar in the States. There are, of course, a ton of new little spots popping up here and there, as well.

I'd also have to add Amelie, a French wine bar on Polk that opened a year or so ago, to my top 3 or 4. Rosy dark ambiance, eclectic art, and an unpretentious neighborhood crowd.

"Snobless Sipping Where a Glassful is Just A Glassful"

(And while we're on the travel bent, for old times' sake: Friday's Times had another charming little article on the Delaware beaches, specifically Lewes, in which the writer waxes on about "its easy charm and friendly mid-Atlantic vibe, complete with long vowels, rustling corn fields and a dreamy slow pace." Find it here. Nice to see the old stomping grounds getting a notice from the guys in NY.)

Friday, September 7, 2007

Raw, idiom: 14a. in the natural, uncultivated, or unrefined state: nature in the raw.

It's that time of year again: the late-summer bliss that is Opera in the Park!

Best thing ever - a medley of nature, live music, and (lots of) wine, cheese, and grapes. The opera (along with the full orchestra) will be previewing several highlights of the season to come, including Samson and Delilah and Philip Glass's new "Appomattox."

Sharon Meadow, Sunday at 1:30. Get there early for a spot. Cheers.

SF Opera link and info here.