Friday, December 28, 2007

Druggie nymphomaniacs have feelings, too

I feel bad for Lindsay Lohan. I never thought I'd say that.

Her little douchebag rehab fling is telling the whole world the juicy sexual details of their relationship. And he's flashing pictures, too. Can't a girl enjoy a roll in the hay with a mere mortal substance abuser without courting tabloid revenge? Guess not.

Reason number one million and two not to get busy with anyone you meet in rehab. That plan never works.

Fortunately, in the same column, MSNBC also reports that Martha Stewart showed off her prison art--a clay nativity scene she made while at the Big House--on her Christmas Day TV show. It's like the yin and yang of fabulously tacky celebrity incarceration stories.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

I have an alibi

While you people are watching me, I'm watching you, too. Every once in a while I check SiteMeter to see who has so much free time that they would actually read my blog. The answer? My mom. And a tiny group of fans. I'm huge in New Zealand and Antioch. (Thank you, loyal readers). Every once in awhile, I get someone new, a high school friend who Googled me or someone searching for a discounted Butterscotch Pony.

But today I saw something weird and kinda scary. Yesterday morning, I had a hit from Pakistan. That never happens. My mom never goes to Pakistan. I clicked the entry point to see if this Pakistani fan just had to know my opinion on overpriced Japanese pencils, or roving packs of lesbian teens. Turns out this person clicked onto my blog through my entry on A Perfect Mess. Odd that someone in such a culture would be focusing on the celebration of slovenliness. But the headline on that entry: Vindication is Ours.

Given the events of the past 24 hours? Yikes.

While I'm reasonably sure that my diatribe about neat freaks did not directly influence the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the timing is uber-creepy. Was it an opposition hater? Or the CIA? Are black helicopters flying over my house right now? In case the Bush administration comes beating down my door to drag me to Gitmo, let me state for the record that I was here the whole time. Working. Reading. Playing with the kids. Blogging about something completely stupid and non-fundamentalist in nature. And Pakistan, don't drag me into your bullshit. I have plenty of bullshit of my own to keep me busy.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Watch out, walls

A week ago, I ran into my doorway and scraped the shit out of my hand. My knuckles were bleeding and it hurt like hell. But my hand looked totally tuff. I had an obvious injury, but I couldn't go around telling everyone I bumped into my own door. Because that would make me a moron. (ahem) So I decided to tell people I punched a wall.

Hey, guys do it all the time. So much so that ER doctors have a name for this particular outburst of macho--the Boyfriend Break. My husband did it when he was in college and his psycho girlfriend was making him crazy, man. The most well-bred, well-mannered gentleman I know could not resist the wall punch when his kids just would. not. sleep. Which cracks me up because I could sooner see Miss Manners punching a wall than this guy.

I even remember my dad doing it when I was 7. I was not being a morning person and my mom was trying to leave my dad with the horrific task of getting me off to school. He not only punched the wall, but the wall was made of cheap drywall and he punched a hole clean through to the other side. He was pissed, but somewhere deep inside I bet he felt like a total badass for punching a fist-sized hole in our house. And that wall never fucked with him again.

Shockingly, no one believed me when I said I punched a wall. Rick said that was just because they didn't know me well enough. I've still got the scabs on my hand. Maybe I just need a little more embellishment to secure my rep. I could be the only mom at Tea's preschool with LOVE and HATE tattooed across my knuckles. That would be cool.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Parade of fools

It's Sunday! Do you know what that means? Yes, it is the Lord's day. And I subscribe to a special religion where Sunday is reserved for one activity, and one only--reading Walter Scott's Personality Parade in Parade magazine.

We are completely fascinated by the Personality Parade. How can you not be? It's a collection of the most moronic questions you could ever ask about celebrities. It really makes you think about life. For instance, are there really people out there stupid enough to ask these questions? Or, does Parade think we are stupid enough that they can make this shit up and we'll believe other people are stupid enough to write in? It's a philosophical question for the ages.

I mean really. If you had one question to ask about one celebrity, would it be, "Who does Brian Boitano think are the prospects for America's ice skaters in 2010?" Or would it be, "Was Britney Spears really found in a motel room in Riverside with a stripper and an eight ball?"

Our friend Tony is also fascinated with Personality Parade. One of his goals in life is to get a question in the column. So far, he hasn't been able to come up with anything ridiculous enough to make it in. But I think this year is going to be our year. I can feel it. There are just too many unanswered questions about Bea Arthur's life. The public needs to know.

Tony, chase your dream.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Boulder--a safe space for spinning

Remember my horrid experience with the type-A spin freaks at the JCC? Here is another example of how Boulder is different than San Francisco--in a good way. This morning I went to spin class at the Boulder YMCA. Apparently the 9:30 class is quite popular--when I got there the sign-up sheet was nearly full. But I did snag a spot and I went upstairs.

I walked into the room and ta da, all the bikes were full. "I signed up," I said. The instructor said, this always happens. There are 18 spots on the sign-up sheet and 20 bikes. Those of you who are good at math have already figured out that should leave 2 extra bikes, even when the sheet is full. There were no extra bikes. Spin class crashers--it was JCC redux.

While I was trying to decide whether to curl up in fetal position in the corner and ride out the bad flashback or resort to public shaming to smoke out the offender, a nice man offered me his bike. He was a holdover from the earlier class, so he said he could pass on this one. In fact, he insisted that I take it.

Wow. Such a change from Dickheads on Wheels in San Francisco, where everyone just stared around the room with blank looks and said, "Who, ME? Lalalala." Not only that, but I like the fact that Boulderites are shifty enough to try to crash spin class, but nice enough not to go through with it in the end. It's like just the right amount of assholishness without completely spilling over into pure evil. Much how I try to live my own life. I must be in the right place.

Boulder doesn't suck. Next time I'm searching for a decent pair of shoes that don't involve Vibram or I run out of wine on Sunday, I'll have to remember that.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Web site of the week

How Roy Orbison lost 20 pounds in just 10 days


I've been looking for a site that serves this EXACT purpose. I know you have too.

http://www.michaelkelly.fsnet.co.uk/karl.htm

Hello, and welcome to my homepage. My name is Ulrich Haarb├╝rste and I like to write stories about Roy Orbison being wrapped up in cling-film. If you have written any stories about Roy being completely wrapped in clingfilm please send them to me and I may put them up on the site. ...

As my friend Joe said, "Who doesn't want to read fan fiction involving Roy Orbison wrapped in cling-film?"

And who hasn't written at least three or four of them? Here's your chance to shine. Ulli is waiting.


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Not-so-Safeway

Earlier this week I made a shopping run to Safeway at 28th and Iris. As I picked out produce and organic snacks, it seemed like any other grocery trip. Ho hum. But then, as I was getting milk, I heard someone say, "Get the FUCK DOWN, and STAY down!" and then heard a struggle.

I looked back into Organic Produce and saw two plainclothes cops wrestling a perp to the ground. And he was resisting arrest, big time. They were trying to subdue him and get the cuffs on. I swear, it was like an episode of COPS. When they finally got him cuffed, one cop went to call for backup and the other one held him there. So here was this agitated guy in cuffs, face down, next to the mixed greens.

What happened? Was this a high-speed pursuit that ended in Safeway? Did he try to rob the store? Was he trying to put a genetically-modified tomato in with the organic ones? Sixteen items in the 15 items or less aisle? Who knows?

In my lifetime I have been in some skank-ass markets. The White Hell Pantry next to the El stop. The 24-hour Safeway in Upper Market, a tweakers' paradise. And of course, the nasty Cala at Haight and Stanyan, where I was always the only customer not shoplifting or trying to buy vodka with food stamps. This store in Boulder? Quite possibly the nicest, cleanest, most well-stocked Safeway I've ever seen.

Random.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

How the other half lives

A very nice family from Gianni's class invited us to ride along in their truck for the Boulder Holiday Parade. We were going to head into Denver for their holiday parade, but how can I deprive my children of the opportunity to ride in a parade? So we stayed local to wave and throw lollipops at people.

I've been feeling a little melancholy in the past week. As much as I love Boulder, it's hard to spend the holiday season in a place where you're new. People are going to parties and seeing friends and loved ones, and you're, well, not. In fact, in my case, you feel like you're traveling in a closed tube between work and home, between software white papers and potty training. It can get you down. So I looked forward to having a holiday-related social outing.

And it starts out fun as promised. We ride downtown in the back of a construction truck filled with hay bales and two other families. Gianni is in heaven. Tea is being a pill, but what else is new. All is hunky-dory until we get to the staging area. It turns out that the Barack Obama contingency is riding behind us in the lineup.

John, our host, turns to everyone and says, "Uh-oh, we've got Democrats behind us," and the rest of the group says, "Oh no!"

Oh no?! OH NO??? Great. Our one holiday outing of the season, with people who seem like they could be friends, and it turns out they're the only four Republicans in Boulder. How did this HAPPEN? How could Rick spend every morning this semester talking to this guy at drop off and not realize that he was the big R? And I know he didn't, because this is my husband who has been known to say, "if I found out someone I knew voted Republican, I would shun them." (He has a flair for the dramatic.)

This is a genuine social conundrum for us. Keep in mind that we are coming from a place where, if we were riding in the back of a truck full of hay, and I said, for example, "Dick Cheney sucks cocks in hell," 99.99 percent of the other passengers would agree with me. Hell, in Boulder, you'd think that at least 97.9 passengers would agree. How in god's name did we end up riding with the other 2.1 percent??? What to do? Should we just smile and throw suckers at people? Or should we jump ship and hope that the Obama float will take us in?

I spent the first 15 minutes of the night worried that I would get stuck debating health care, and the next 15 minutes terrified that someone would bring up the R-word and Gianni would blurt out, "But Dad, you said all Republicans were EVIL!" But it all turned out fine. We had a great time, went out for pizza afterwards, talked about all of the things we had in common, and avoided the subject of 2008 entirely. It was a fine, non-partisan time for all.

We learned a valuable lesson last night. Republicans are people too. But I'm still glad we snuck that Obama sign onto the back of their truck before we left.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Something stinks, and it's not the dog

The New York Times reports that people are buying up luxury perfume for dogs to prevent their beloved pets from stinkin' up the pet-friendly workplace. One brand, Sexy Beast, retails for $65. This unisex fragrance (Unisex. I'm not kidding) is a “blend of bergamot and vanilla-infused musk combined with natural patchouli, mandarin and nutmeg oils.” Best of all, it's vegan. Because, you know, dogs are big vegans.

So instead of having dog whiff in your cubicle, you have a mixture of essential oils AND dog whiff. Lovely. And I don't know about you, but patchouli? I'd rather have my dog smell like a dog than like some 19-year-old hippie on Phish tour. Also, what if you work in a perfume-free environment? THEN what? It's really not fair if your dog gets to wear perfume but your co-workers don't.

I will out myself as having the stinkiest dog on the planet. I love him, but he reeks. And he takes every opportunity to make himself stink more. Wet leaves, squirrel pee, dried earthworms, you name it, he rolls in it. Still, it would be somewhat jarring if he suddenly started smelling like Zsa Zsa Gabor.


You can smell him from here.


Because it's my mission to keep you from blowing $65 on canine cologne, here is my gift to you--my secret weapon against dog stink.

On a camping trip a few years ago, we stopped off at the beach. Vito, a true beach boy, ran off to dig holes and chase sticks. At one point we lost track of him. Where did he go? Oh, no worries, he's over rubbing against that log. That log with flippers. And whiskers. And rigor mortis.

Yes, Vito had discovered the biggest, stank-ass dead seal he could find and he immersed himself. Every inch of him smelled like dead seal. We faced a night in a tiny tent with The Seal Whisperer. We had forgotten our bottle of Sexy Beast, and pretty much anything else we could use to bathe him or remove the stink. The only thing I had in the car was one of those teeny tiny bottles of Purell that you get at Walgreens for 99 cents. With nothing to lose, we poured whatever was left in the bottle all over Vito.


If this is on the list of ingredients, don't buy it.


And damned if it didn't work. The little bit of Purell eradicated every bit of seal stank. To this day, Vito's beauty routine consists of regular baths and the occasional dab of Purell behind his ear.

So if you're worried that your dog is feeling not-so-fresh, save yourself $64.01 and stock up on Purell. It doesn't come in a holiday bling package. And I can't vouch that it's vegan. But it'll do the trick.

Monday, November 26, 2007

My little pony

It's fourth quarter, which means, according to everyone at my new job, that I will be working my ass off nonstop for four weeks. I will be chained to my desk and sick of my co-workers. I will eat only vending machine food and burritos from Burrito Kitchen, and I will end up with scurvy or rickets or one of those old fashioned diseases for the overworked and malnourished.

In preparation for my indentured servitude, I'm eating lots of limes and getting my Christmas shopping done early and online. God forbid this be The Year Mom Ruined Christmas. (Again.) I've been poring over the digital shelves at Amazon in search of the perfect gift. I even did a little reconnaissance work at Target yesterday while buying Tea's new big girl car seat. I didn't find any winning gifts, but I did see this:


Words fail.


Butterscotch Pony is here! I've heard that "this incredibly lifelike pony is a very special, once-in-a-lifetime friend." (Or if you're Gianni and Tea, "a special never-in-Mom's-lifetime, over-her-dead-body friend.")

It's life-sized! It eats plush carrots! It's the perfect gift for your kid if you have bought them absolutely fucking everything else in the world to fill the gaping hole in your morally bankrupt lives! It beckons to your children from the endcap at Target!

Oh my god.

Hey, you know what else is life-sized, eats carrots, and responds to your touch? A REAL PONY. If you're actually insane enough to buy your child a three-foot-tall overindulgence, go big or go home. Get the real thing.

I speak from experience because I actually HAD a pony when I was Tea's age. No lie. I did not know this until years later. Apparently, my dad had a friend who had a farm in Bloomfield (Bloomfield=Bloomington without the big-city sophistication.) He had a pony he was trying to unload on someone. My dad thought, hey! I have a three-year-old, you have a pony! It's perfect. That is how I became a proud miniature equestrienne with my own goddamn pony.

I only met the pony once. My dad took me out to see it and it tried to eat me. I'm no plush carrot but I guess I looked pretty tasty. And as suddenly as the pony had come into my life, it went away again.

I actually remember going out to a farm and seeing a pony and almost losing my foot to it. But I had no idea it was MY pony. Years later, in therapy, I couldn't even blame my parents for not getting me a pony. Because they DID. I feel gypped. But I do get to feel all superior because I had my own pony, motherfuckers, so it's not a total loss.

In 20 years, Tea can complain to her therapist that I didn't get her a Butterscotch Pony. Maybe she'll find one on eBay and buy it for herself to compensate. And she'll think, as she gently grooms it and it swishes its synthetic tail in response, that her life is now complete.

Nah.

All I'm sayin' is that if I see any pony-shaped boxes on my doorstep, they're going straight to the Butterscotch Glue Factory. Fur real.



Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Strangers in a strange land

Gianni, having a heart at the Museum of Science and Industry

It's just not a family vacation unless you end up in the wrong neighborhood. We decided to take the kids to the Museum of Science and Industry on Monday. Gianni wanted to take the train. We could have opted for the spiffy Metra, the train of choice for North Shore commuters heading to their law firms in the Loop. But for the sake of proximity and old fashioned train fun, we opted for the El. Of course, when we opted for the El, I was thinking that the MSI was just a short jaunt from downtown, right next to Soldier Field (which, incidentally, now looks like a flying saucer landed on it--what is up with that?)

Well, guess what? That's the Field Museum, silly. I mixed them up. The MSI is down in the hinterlands of Hyde Park, aka that quasi-fortress of a neighborhood surrounded by the South Side of Chicago. I asked Rick where we needed to get off the train--he pointed to a green dot far south of our starting point.

"Oh."

"Is that a bad neighborhood?"

"Nooooo."

And it's not, really. It's not one of those Chicago neighborhoods where you arrive and you have about two minutes to take cover before someone divests you of your wallet, your jewelry, and anything more valuable than your dry-cleaning receipt. Still, it's pretty obvious when we get off the train that we are not regulars. We do not blend. We are about 300 percent whiter than anyone for at least 10 blocks in any direction. Actually, make that 450 percent whiter.

And you know what's great? My kids did not care one bit. They chased each other and said hi to the dudes drinking forties around the burning barrel and waited patiently for our bus, which came about 15 minutes later and dropped us in lovely Hyde Park, where the barrels were not on fire. I love that my kids have grown up around so much bizarre shit in their first few years that they don't bat an eye when things are different. It's just another stop on the train for them. I hope they keep that perspective. I don't want them in harm's way, but I would like for them to really see the world and appreciate the diversity, not fear it.

I just remember too many trips when I was young where my mom acted like we'd been dropped into the holding pen of the LA County Jail if we were more then two blocks away from the shopping district of a strange city. And I'm so glad that we are a family of explorers. We see so much more because of it.

Between the train ride and the U-Boat and the giant heart, it was quite a journey. So much so that we took the Metra back to save time. I'm sure Nana appreciates that.

Look Nana! I'm riding the Metra!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

News flash: Chicago has changed in 15 years

I'm in Chicago after a decade away. Given the smashing success of our non-Thanksgiving boogie-board extravaganza in San Diego last year, we decided to once again blow off tradition by having Thanksgiving dinner in Chicago with my best friend from college and her husband and their families. (I guess that sounds: traditional, but not our tradition.) It's also a great opportunity for Rick and I to do the Bataan Museum March with the kids. We're doing museums three and four tomorrow. I can feel my kids getting smarter by the hour.

We're staying in a two-bedroom apartment in Bucktown. We opted to skip the Chicago tourist strip for something further afield. I love neighborhoods--especially funky ones. And when I was in school in Evanston, Bucktown and Wicker Park had just the right funk factor. I remember this area as being block after block of beautiful, if decrepit, homes and flats, bodegas, check-cashing stations, and old-man bars. Fantastic used clothing and furniture. Good cheap Polish food. Some blocks were downright dangerous. Life was good.

Imagine my shock when I arrived here to discover that Bucktown and Wicker Park have changed. Just a little. This is now the kind of neighborhood where there are at least a half dozen places to buy a $500 black dress, but no place to buy toothpaste. There are sports bars. And day spas. That is some fucked-up shit.

This is adorable, but I can't brush my teeth with it.

A few years ago, MTV filmed The Real World Chicago in Wicker Park. While they were finishing the house, disgruntled hipsters picketed it. (I really, really love neighborhoods where people picket and firebomb things they disagree with.) I get the sense that about 90 percent of the people I see walking down Damen Avenue today would not only not protest The Real World house, they probably moved here because they filmed The Real World here. Not that there's anything wrong with that...oh wait, yes there is.

I don't know why I'm surprised that fusion small-plate restaurants have supplanted hot-dog joints in this nabe. After all, 16 years in San Francisco saw the Upper Haight change from crack dealers and gunshots at night into a neighborhood dominated by Google millionaires and i-bankers who can afford $2mil for an family home that a family can actually fit into. It happens. And it's not like I haven't changed too. I was a little bit poorer, more toned and less wrinkly the last time I hit the town in Wicker Park, too. I guess we're even. Still--where do people in Chicago go for a good $50 couch these days? Somewhere, I hope.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Pick up the pace, shorty

Gianni got his report card yesterday. Overall, the news is good. He is doing well in math and is off the charts in reading. He likes art. He knows what a musical instrument is. He could do with a little more listening and a little less clowning around, but they can cancel that cell they reserved for him at juvie last year.

Here's what's bizarre. G had to take a version of the Presidential Fitness Test that I remember taking as a kid. You know, the one where they judge your fitness and your pecking order on the grade school jock scale by how long you can hang on a bar. As it turns out, G is the first grade grand master of hanging on a bar. He far surpassed the national average. He has a fine future ahead of him as a macaque.

But in the dreaded mile run? Gianni is literally in danger of being left behind. He clocked in at 16 minutes, which according to the charts places him in the bottom half of first graders around the country.

Excuse me, but what country? Kenya? First of all, how many first graders do you know who run a mile? I run about twenty a week and I can't say I've ever seen Gianni's classmates burning up the trail. And I'm okay with that. Kids spaz out in so many other wonderful ways every day that they scarcely need to take up long-distance running. It's safe to say G gets his share of exercise during the day, between scootering, climbing, swimming, and bugging me.

Second of all--16 minutes is not exactly Roger Bannister material, but it's hardly shameful for a seven-year-old. There are plenty of adults who run that pace or slower. In fact, I remember seeing a news clip of Bill Clinton jogging in the 90s, and they mentioned that his pace was about 16 minutes a mile. Granted, that was fat Bill Clinton and I think he was eating a Big Mac at the same time, but still. Jeez. If that pace is good enough for the President, it should be okay for the small takers of the Presidential Fitness Test. Why should we hold my little boy to higher standards than the scores of full-grown fatasses in America?


You must run faster than this man to get to second grade.

Something tells me that with his energy level and raw genetic material, Gianni will get through life at an adequate pace. Maybe better than adequate. So let's allow him to stay off the treadmill for at least a few more years, mkay? That way, he'll have time to work toward his Olympic gold medal in hanging on a bar. I'm looking into hiring a coach.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

It's called Halloween--look into it

I always love to post about Halloween, because it's so damned fun and also because it's always a source for exquisite absurdity in our lives. Who can forget Spider Man on Belvedere Street? Or a bag full of popsicle sticks? Or sitting on our stoop drinking red wine and handing out candy to the trick-or-treaters of the Haight, which included chain smokers, teenage mothers, various homeless crazy people, and about a zillion kids? Not me.

Which is why I'm a bit melancholy this year. Three things make me sad.

1. We got three groups of trick or treaters at our new home. One group included members of our own family. I think the other two were lost. Last year, we had four Costco bags of candy and we ran out at 7:30, forced to turn out the lights and hide from the still approaching throngs of little sugar junkies. I talked to friends about my disappointment and apparently, none of them got trick or treaters either. Who did? Folks on Mapleton Hill, where apparently the rich folks give out full-sized candy bars, Amex Centurion cards and gallon Ziploc bags of coke. They scoff at our bag of chocolate. "Fun size" indeed.

2. They cancelled Halloween in the Castro. Even though I'm 1000 miles away and even though it's been Night of the Drunken Violent Homophobes from Milpitas for the past decade or so, it's still a bummer. I remember going to the Castro when we first moved to the city, back when people were still fun. For the cost of a muni ride and the amount of effort it took to put on black clothing and a pair of cat ears, you could drink oil cans of Fosters and watch streets full of happy revelers loving the shit out of life. One year I went as the missing girl on the side of the milk carton (complete with amazing giant milk carton) and for one night I felt what it must be like to be famous. I was the center of attention and must have had my picture taken about ten million times with a parade of gay men dressed as cows, babies, milk maids, or Judy Garland. We still had the milk carton until we moved in June. If only I'd kept it, I could have relived the experience in Boulder (except without the party, or the gay men, or the open containers).


Little lost girl and big gay cow, circa 1994

3. My own daughter boycotted Halloween. We need to run a DNA test. I was so looking forward to going out with Tea this year. At two and a half she is actually old enough to get fired up about dressing for Halloween and going door-to-door for candy. And for Tea, going door to door and putting on a performance for attention and accolades is hardly a stretch. It's her destiny. But in a bizarre turn of events, by the time I got home from work on Wednesday, she flat out refused to wear any costume and she would not go trick or treating, no matter how much I begged. (And I did beg.) We ended up sitting on the couch watching Blues Clues and waiting for our three visits from trick-or-treaters. L-A-M-E. Rick took the kids to the Munchkin Masquerade on Pearl Street earlier in the evening and we have a lovely commemorative picture of the kids sitting on a bale of hay--Gianni in full Darth Vader regalia, and Tea dressed as....Tea. Oh well.

Pearl Street's own Axis of Evil

Good thing I have a whole year to figure out how to make Halloween 2008 less beat. All I need are a few bags of coke, 100,000 drag queens and a giant milk carton. Piece of cake. Be there or be square.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Everything is more fun when you accessorize

Gianni, tonight:

"I'm going to do my homework in high heels."

Saturday, October 27, 2007

White Girlz in the 'Hood

Public Enemy played on Thursday night in Boulder. I just had to go, for two reasons. First of all, I have deep love for Public Enemy, they are the hip-hop of my youth. They were old skool bad ass motherfuckers. Like me. Even though the closest I get to the streets is when I pick up a gum wrapper and recycle it.

The other reason I just had to see this is that Public Enemy playing the Boulder Theater, in Boulder, is like PE playing at a Wonder Bread factory. Or Darien, Connecticut in a snowstorm. It's JUST THAT WHITE HERE. I really needed to see if the audience would consist of other old white people like me, or if Boulder would get a sudden infusion of African-Americans for the evening.

So my friend Hollie and I made a plan to go, and Rick had weeks of fun making jokes about Public-Enemy-in-Boulder songs, like Fight the Power (of constipation with Metamucil) and Fuck tha Police (for ticketing my car before I had a chance to feed the meter.) Ah, the hilarity.

What was it like? Very white and thirtysomething. And: fucking amazing. God, that was the best show I've seen in years. They are as good as they have ever been. Ever. To see Public Enemy in a small venue like that...Chuck D was a master. The deejay and the band kicked ass.

Even Flavor Flav, that freakshow, reminded us why anyone would pay attention to him in the first place. And then reminded us of why we would ignore him again, as he went on a long wank about Flavor of Love, his other "projects," and then tried to play all of the instruments onstage. Until he got to the guitar player, who basically said, "Don't touch my instrument, you fucking train wreck" and shut him down. And with that, thank god, the Flavor Flav Filibuster ended and we all got back to shakin' it.

Don't let this man speak. Or touch your musical instruments.

The night fucking rocked. I'm so used to going to shows where everyone stands around at a comfortable distance and sways a little and politely claps and says, "my what a nice and critically acclaimed band this is." On Thursday, I stood next to the stage, bumped fists with Chuck D, nearly went deaf and danced my ass of for two hours nonstop. As it should be.

Beats Dark Star Orchestra recreating Ithaca '77 any day. Which is what you usually get at the Boulder Theater. What a difference a week makes.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Why. WHY??????

Okay. Someone please explain this one to me. While walking through the parking lot at work last week, I saw the strangest fucking thing. There, on a big SUV, I saw this:

Is it me, or does it seem like a CR-V should perhaps have a smaller pair?

Now, I have seen some stupid shit on cars. I'm from Indiana, for fuck's sake. Lame god/abortion/hippie/redneck bumperstickers. Those suction-cupped stuffed animals. Baby on Board. Calvin peeing on someone's NASCAR number, or Osama Bin Laden. Not personal automobile statements that I would make, but certainly someone's expression.

But I cannot for the life of me figure out what would possess someone to hang a giant nutsack from their trailer hitch. I didn't even know that this accessory existed until last week.

WHAT is motivation? Can someone shed some light on this for me?

There are actually websites devoted to nothing but bumpernuts. (you must click on this link, if only to see the animated squirrel with the big swingin' testicles.) What a learning experience. (For example, I learned that Blue Balls are for MARRIED MEN! Ahahahah! Geddit?)

I cannot decide whether I'm totally appalled by this phenomenon, or if I want to buy them as holiday gifts for everyone I know. I guess you'll find out in December.
UPDATE: Mister Tony Ruffo is enjoying his shiny new set of balls and can't wait to put them on his mini-van. Happy holidays, Tony!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

File under: Things you never want to hear ANYONE say to your daughter, especially your son

"Hey Tea, want to ride the sausage wagon?"


Any excuse to post a photo of the Wienermobile...

It's not how it sounds. I swear.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Up with Purple!

Hey, you guys are a real baseball team after all!

Rockies win the pennant! Wooo!

Actually, I know next to nothing about the Rockies. I haven't been here long enough for them to be my boys. But I couldn't be happier for them. It almost makes up for the Giants sucking so much this year. Almost.

It's very cool. But you know what's not cool? Deciding which kids get to go out for recess first based on how well they answer questions about the Rockies. A certain disgruntled young man told me that this was how it went down at school today.

I'm sure THESE kids got to go out to recess first.

Excuse me! Way to screw the new kid whose dad hates baseball!

How about next time we ask who won the last five years of the Tour de France? Or who the governor of California is? Or which train you take to get from the Haight to the Zoo?

Play fair, people.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Pot? Kettle? Black?



From the AP yesterday:


MOSCOW--The Russian government under Vladimir Putin has amassed so much central authority that the power-grab may undermine Moscow's commitment to democracy,Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice said Saturday.

"In any country, if you don't have countervailing institutions, the power of any one president is problematic for democratic development," Rice told reporters after meeting with human-rights activists.

And then she fell into a big pit of irony.

Rick is faster than Tyler Hamilton*

*When Tyler Hamilton is barely moving.

Rick shared the road with a genuine bike celebrity today. He was riding up Lefthand Canyon today when two guys blazed past him like he was going backwards. Now, Rick is no racer, but he is no slouch, either. He's been passed by racers, but according to him he has never been so totally dusted by two other riders on the road. He was: impressed.

A few minutes later, he saw the guys creeping along up ahead, which would indicate that they were recovering from the ass-kicking interval they just completed. He rode up alongside them and chitchatted about this and that--probably about how much totally faster they were than him (Or probably something more intelligent than that. I'm sure Rick played it cool.)

A few more minutes later, sure enough, one of the guys came racing by Rick. (Oh--for those unfamiliar with Lefthand Canyon? It's uphill. For like 7 miles. Not a wicked steep hill, but a hill. Most people do not sprint up.) And then he slowed down again and Rick caught up and started yakking with him. He thought, wow this guy looks familiar. Does he shop at Whole Foods, too?

It wasn't until the guy was long gone and Rick was on his way back to town that he realized: D'oh. That was Tyler Hamilton. Tour de France stage-claiming, Olympic gold medal winning--and, sadly, at one point, blood doping--Tyler Hamilton. Hope he's clean now, and wonder what he's training for?

For Rick, seeing Tyler Hamilton is way cooler than seeing, say, Justin Timberlake. Or Michael Jordan. Or Lance. Well, especially Lance. He called me right away to tell me that he passed Tyler. TWICE. (and, yeah, got smoked a few times, too, but who's counting?)

I'm so happy for him, and glad that at least one of us had a good day. I, on the other hand, did something completely dumbassed at work. So stupid. So incredibly self-destructive that even Britney Spears would look at it and say, "DUDE. That was really retarded. What were you thinking?"

But everyone makes mistakes. And tomorrow is another day. I'm sure Tyler would back me up on that.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Gore wins! Again!

If only he'd been our president. Oh, wait! He was!

Give it up for Al Gore, winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize! Congratulations, Al. You da man. An Oscar, an Emmy, and one of the world's most prestigious honors in one year. I'm pretty sure that's a first. We salute you from our new energy-efficient house.

Of course this news gives Rick a fat injection of hope. He wants Gore in the race. For months he's been combing Google news alerts for some sign that Gore might step into the fray. Now he's ecstatic. Al, if you run, Rick will personally stash Ralph Nader in the trunk of a car until November 5, 2008. Promise.

Remember when Bush won the the Nobel Peace Prize? Ahahahah. Hahaha.

Al better keep his prize in a guarded safe deposit box or they'll steal that too.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Farewell to the 415

We got new cell phones this weekend. For me this is the equivalent of being 9 and waking up to a buttload of presents on Christmas morning. We've both been messing with our phones like complete geeks and interrupting our kids and the dog every five minutes to tell them about some exciting new feature (they care. really.)

But this particular phone migration is a tad bittersweet, too. In bravely venturing into a new cellular frontier, we are giving up our 415 area code. 415 has been good to us, and, please, it's one of the cool area codes. I used to read stories in the Styles section of the Times about people who had to move to Seattle or Omaha or Outer Mongolia and clung to their 212 or 917, even in the face of insane rates and roaming charges. And I, like you, thought: Losers. It's a fucking phone. Get over it.

But that's when I thought we'd grow old and die in the 415. Now that we're in Boulder, I sort of get it. Our phones were one of our last ties to our old home. And, yes, a piece of our identities, however lame that is.

There is a flip side, though. We've been here three months and people still have to call us long distance. Our address is still a PO box. But that all changes this week. We've got the new phones, and tomorrow we close on our new house, which will give us an actual physical address. We are no longer itinerant. And we're proud to be 303.

I mean that. I wouldn't be caught dead in 720.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Now THIS is a Fundraiser.

I remember when I was in school. I had to sell all kinds of crap to raise money. Candles, magazine subscriptions, chocolate bars, cookies, wrapping paper, god, the list goes on. At least twice a year we'd have an all-school or all-band or all-something assembly where some joker from Herff-Jones or wherever would try to fire us up about being pimped out door-to-door to pay for new soccer balls or some such bullshit.

I swore, Scarlett O'Hara-style, with God as my witness, that when I had kids their main responsibility as young salesbots would be to ask me for the biggest check possible. One that would get them out of bugging the neighbors to buy vanilla-scented candles with tigers airbrushed on them. And I'm sticking to it.

But I have been pleasantly surprised by Gianni's school. In fact, at the PTA meeting, the fundraiser stood up and actually said, "Our goal is to never have our kids sell one effin' roll of ugly-ass wrapping paper." (I paraphrase.) And they are also sticking to it.

In fact, tonight I went to probably the coolest school fundraiser I've ever attended. Cooler than a silent auction. Even cooler than an all-school carnival. Tonight we went down to the Boulder Theater to see flipcrash in concert.

What is flipcrash? These guys.

They're a three-man (boy?) band from Casey Middle School, and they rock. Tonight they were raising money for Whittier and Casey. The schools got to keep the door, the profit from shirts and dinner, and I'm guessing at least some of the bar. (Yes. Bar. Grownups welcome.)

I don't know what I was expecting, maybe something like my friend Dave Aronoff's band, The Intestinal Waterslide. Who did a mean cover of "Yuk Mouth" from ABC Saturday Morning TV. As high-school students. (As seen here, watch at your own risk. ) Shockingly, one of those guys was and is a real musician--Jake Smith is an actual talented guitarist with a few acclaimed bands, most recently The Mysteries of Life.

But in 1987, The Intestinal Waterslide was just a group of future infectious disease doctors being complete dorks onstage. And Jake Smith.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes. flipcrash? Three Jake Smiths. Except they're, like, TWELVE. They're as good as any high school band I remember seeing. They're better than most ADULTS I know. These guys can not only actually play their instruments, at least one of them is a good--and fearless--singer. They write their own songs. "Yuk Mouth" was not heard once.

They started out slow and sounding a little KFOG and I was worried. even to raise money for my kid's school, I don't want to be put through two hours of Big Head Todd, Junior.

But as the night wore on kicked more and more ass. They ended the night with a cover of "Smells Like Teen Spirit." The last time I heard that song played live, Kurt Cobain was singing it. And none of these guys were born. D'oh! But they did it justice. Their parents must be proud.

It was a good night for all. My kids didn't have to sell candles. Whittier and Casey raised a bunch of money. And those three guys probably have all the eighth-grade girl action they can handle, and then some. Everyone wins.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Things I Learned in September

Because this past month has been nothing short of absolutely freaking nuts, I've had very little time to visit. To run down everything that's happened would take up everyone else's blogging bandwidth, and that ain't right. Instead, here is a list of things I have learned in the Big Fucking Opportunity for Growth that was September 2007:

  1. I am not always right. Who knew.
  2. Sometimes even when you are right, it's not worth fighting about.
  3. It would take a lot more than $70,000 for me to totally screw you over.
  4. Other people's standards are not quite so high.
  5. Never buy a house from an uptight bald guy getting a divorce.
  6. It's always worthwhile to contact an attorney.
  7. Even if I have a really, really good case, I still probably won't sue you. Especially over a stinkin' house.
  8. On the other hand, my mother knows a disturbing amount about litigation. I would advise not fucking with her.
  9. As far as real estate goes, we are either brilliant, or complete fools. In ten years, we'll find out which one.
  10. My threshold for living in dilapidated housing is a lot lower than it was a few decades ago.
  11. I can still party like I did when I was 20.
  12. Unfortunately, for the next week, I recover like I'm 40. (And I'm only 38.)
  13. Honesty--still the best policy.
  14. My husband is a children's birthday party-planning SUPERGENIUS.
  15. I need to blog more than twice a month, if only so I can write without using any helping verbs. In other words, I need to help enable myself to show up here more .
  16. I need a vacation. A big one.
May October be filled with lots of home-cooked meals, channel surfing, and sleep.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A few things:

1. Happy birthday to my one and only son Gianni, who is 7 today. G is brilliant and beautiful--and all of the insane traits that go along with those fabulous ones. Gianni, I love you. Here's to a wonderful night out at Casa Bonita, aka Hell for Parents. At least 75 percent of the respondents to Gianni's birthday party invitation are girls. Coincidence? I think not.

2. I got to see the New Pornographers tonight. I saw them on their last tour. They kicked ass then. And I suppose they kicked ass now. I just remember now the huge difference between seeing a show in a major city and seeing one in a layover city.

BIG CITY: Weekend night, two shows sold out
Boulder: Monday night, tix still available.

BIG CITY: Awesome banter between songs.
Boulder: Let's get this over with.

BIG CITY: Neko Case with flowing red hair, shining lips and sexy black clothing
Boulder: Neko Case in a ski hat, no makeup and looking like she'd rather be home watching Everybody Loves Raymond. In reruns.

It was enough to give me flashbacks of bands playing in Bloomington, Indiana, which had the double pleasure of being a layover city between layover cities. If bands played there, it was generally one song and then they peed on the crowd.

Clearly, in the last 16 years I have been spoiled.

Still, I loved getting out and seeing a band I love, one of two bands I have seen multiple times (the other? The Rolling Stones.) Even though the audience seemed kind of old and slightly pervy (pervading thought: "Neko is preeettttyy" said in the voice of Lenny from Of Mice and Men). The New Pornographers did not disappoint. The first opening band, Awkward Stance, was sweet. The second, Lavender Diamond, did an excellent job of describing life and feelings on their planet, which was clearly not Earth.

The whole night actually took my mind off of the current state of real estate here in Polito land, where we are trying desperately to buy a house and someone is trying desperately not to sell it to us. "Mass Romantic" live cures what ails you. At least until tomorrow.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

How Not to Sell a House in Boulder

We have this huge problem. We have all this money. Really a ton of money. And it is just sitting in the bank. Every once in a while we pull up our account on line to check if it's still there. It is.

I'm sure you feel our pain.

We'd like nothing better than to hand this massive wad of cash over to some nice Boulder resident in exchange for a home for our family of four and (canine) half. You'd think it would be easy. But, in the words of the late John Belushi, nooooooooOOOOoooo. It's harder than we ever thought it would be. It's nearly September and we are still transient. And the way things are going, I'm wondering if we are looking at being extremely well-off renters into the distant future. God I hope not.

We have been watching the Boulder "housing" market for about six months now, seriously looking for two, and I'm here to tell you: it's grim. Yes there is a lot of inventory right now. No, it is not moving at all. FOR A REASON. If I could just for a moment point out a few things to our home-selling friends in Boulder:

1. Your house is not worth that much. It is not worth twice the value of the similar house at the other end of the neighborhood. It is not worth more than the bigger house west of Broadway. Yes it is awfully cute. And we love what you've done with it. But not enough to distance ourselves from any rational thought whatsoever and lose money for the next 10 years. It is, in other words, not All That.

2. A piece of land with a crappy little house on it is: a piece of land. If we were paying for just a lot and a bit more, we would be very excited to take your little house and turn it into something really amazing and big enough to see us into our empty nest years. But apparently that little house is worth about a half million dollars on its own. To realize the potential of the lot, we have to eventually pay more than we would to have a big brand spanking new house a half mile away in Newlands. Gosh, thanks but no thanks.

3. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but after close inspection, it appears that there is nothing holding your house up. Not a foundation, not a beam, not even a toothpick and some Band-aids. Did you know this when you bought it? Do you know it now, while you are trying to sell it to us for a small fortune? If not, well there it is. Let's say, hypothetically, we were willing to buy a house that is caving in on itself. Okay. That's one thing. But add the flaking exposed asbestos, the corroding boiler, the lack of closets, the complete absence of a garage, the termites....you see where I'm going with this.

4. Let's look into the future. It's 2016. We own the house we bought from you. We have a lovely green front lawn. Except it's not ours! It belongs to the city of Boulder, to whom you traded it 9 years ago so you could build this nice big house. Our property ends at our front porch. But we still get to use this nice green front lawn, right? Sure, until the city decides to WIDEN THE STREET up to our doorstep. It's okay though, we'll just set up drive-thru coffee stand on the porch and fuel up the commuters on their way from Longmont. It's a nice life. Except it is never going to happen. Give us all of the land, or don't sell the house.

Sellers, may I suggest that you occasionally read the Wall Street Journal. They've been talking a bit about real estate lately. Real estate on this planet. Not only is it not the year 2000 anymore, but never in recorded history has your house been worth what you think it's worth. I hate to shit in your Cheerios, but it's the truth.

The question I keep coming back to again and again is: do you really think we are idiots? Let me tell you something. We come from quite possibly the most insane real estate market in the country. You are dealing with professionals. When you behave in a way that makes the San Francisco market look sane, that is really saying something. I'm talking about a place where someone bought a house for a $539,000 that SLID OFF ITS FOUNDATION. Right down the hill.


A million-dollar house in Whittier, or the crappiest house in San Francisco? Guess!


Sellers, let's recap. This was a house with structural issues. In a truly pricey and tight market. And it still cost only $539,000. Is the math making sense yet?

If not, I guess we'll just sit tight here in our charming rented dump, where the walls are crumbling and the stove doesn't heat up. But that's not our problem. Thank god.

Note to self: call landlord.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Grrr

When we lived in San Francisco, we lived two blocks and change from Children's Playground in Golden Gate Park. We had mixed feelings about the old playground--it was said to be 120 years old and looked it. Crucial planks of wood missing from play structures; lots of rust; and a whole lot of old skool playground fun, designed in the days before car seat regulations and personal injury lawsuits.

We had our reservations about the semi-dangerous equipment sometimes, but our kid loved it. He'd slide down the old concrete slides on a piece of dirty cardboard until the cardboard wore through. He'd play for hours in the rusty triangular contraption that we lovingly referred to as the Tetanus Trap. If he got hungry, he'd unsuccessfully beg for a block of bright pink popcorn from the concession stand.

A few years ago, liability concerns finally won out and they tore down the old Children's Playground. All that was left was a large expanse of dirt and the promise of space-age equipment and water features. It would be bitchin'! When it was done...

Let me tell you, I lost count of the number of times we walked past that dormant dirt lot where the playground used to stand. Every time, we saw the same thing--nothingness surrounded by orange fencing, and no workers within a half mile. My daughter grew from baby to toddler, and we saw dirt. My son started and finished kindergarten, and, yep--dirt.

The MacArthur freeway fell down and they built it back in two weeks. Yet the complicated task of putting up swingsets on a flat lot eluded San Francisco Parks and Rec for at least a year and a half.

Yesterday, from my living room in Boulder, I read that Children's Playground has finally re-opened. And we are gone. God damn it. The pictures make it look real nice. The kids are smiling. As my kids would have done if they had actually BUILT THE THING while we were still living there.
What's missing? WE ARE. Fuckers.

I feel a sad tug as I remember all the time I walked by the dirt, thinking about Gianni and Tea growing up at the new playground. It was supposed to be part of their lives, and they missed it.

Still, in a weird way it makes me feel good that my son's memories of playing in Golden Gate Park are filled not with time logged on sproingy playground surface and safety agency-approved equipment, but hours spent tumbling down a steep chute of concrete, or trapped in the confines of the Tetanus Trap. He was part of something. Something kinda dangerous, but we all lived.

And life goes on. We lose a Children's Playground, but we gain Eldorado Canyon. And as dangerous play structures go, the red rocks and rushing water in the Canyon kick the Tetanus Trap's ass any day of the week.

Friday, July 13, 2007

When Lesbians Attack

You'd have to be a moron to believe this story.

Oh! Wait!
I rest my case.

There was a hard-hitting report on Bill O'Reilly the other day about marauding gangs of lesbian girls kidnapping unsuspecting young people and forcing them to do crimes. Wait, let me say that again--teenage lesbian criminal gangs.

Did Russ Meyer become the news director at Fox when I wasn't looking?

Ace reporter Rod Wheeler stated that these gangs, some of them calling themselves the Pink Pistol Packing Group and carrying pistols painted pink (I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP), accost girls--and boys too!--and beat them senseless, then take them to their evil lesbian lair to force them into homosexual acts and a life of crime and total gayness. According to Wheeler, there are more than 150 of these gangs in Washington, DC, alone. And in every major city in America, this is a problem.

You know, I think he's on to something! When I lived in San Francisco, I used to see large groups of lesbians together ALL THE TIME. Sometimes they would accost me and demand things. One of them actually said to me, "Excuse me, do you know what time it is?" I was so scared that I ran straight to the cops. If you think that's bad, you should see the gay men. One of them came up to me once and said that HE LIKED MY SHOES. What is it going to take to make our streets safe again?

Imagine how shocked and appalled I was when Wheeler had to "clarify" his story and apologize on his Web site. And the Southern Poverty Law Center contacted police departments in several metro areas to find out if there has indeed been an uptick in lesbian aggression in America's large cities. The overwhelming response: "Huh?" (The SPLC has an excellent report on the whole incident in its entire hilarity, with actual facts and details and stuff, here.)

I knew it couldn't be true. Everyone knows that if a gang of lesbians accosted someone, they would be really easy to catch. They'd still be processing their feelings on the street corner when the cops showed up.



Thursday, July 05, 2007

Mr. Olbermann Speaks for Me

Just because I've been too busy to post, don't think I'm not completely disgusted and outraged with the current round of power abuse by our so-called leader. Keith Olbermann's column here pretty much says it all. Yes, calling for resignation is extreme, but commuting the sentence of someone who broke the law just because you can, well hi, that's extremely creepy.

I have to go to an appointment now. I think I'll drive 120 mph to get there. BECAUSE I CAN.

Is it 2008 yet?

Friday, June 22, 2007

Thoughts About Wyoming

I drove across Wyoming the other day. Here is what I noticed:

If you need massive amounts of big explosive fireworks that blow up real good, Wyoming can totally hook you up.

The Little America Hotel has 50-cent ice cream cones, lots of parking, 33-inch TV screens in every room, and a huge outdoor advertising budget.

Even little podunk towns in Wyoming have Starbucks.

I used to go to Wyoming all the time. My college boyfriend grew up there, in Jackson Hole. Jackson Hole is one of the most scenic places in the whole entire world, but I always assumed the rest of Wyoming outside of that small corner by the Tetons and Yellowstone pretty much sucked. I see now that I was mistaken. For my ignorance, I deserve every assumption ever made that everyone from Indiana weighs 350 pounds and loves Nascar.

Oh my god, I have never seen so much majestic beauty in my life. Rolling ranches, green hills, winding rivers, snowcapped peaks in the distance, pastoral farm scenes...it's all amazing. And proof that I've been completely small-minded in the last 16 years thinking that California had a monopoly on the beauty. Sorry, Wyoming. I misjudged your appearance completely. If it weren't for the fact that you produced Dick Cheney and your idea of big-town sophistication is Salt Lake City, I would buy my own little piece of paradise and stay a while. I'll be back. Especially if I need to blow something up.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Oh My God! They Nebulized Kenny!

I am not the first mom to have to give a squirming 2-year-old an asthma treatment. I'm sure I'm not the only one to have to do it on the road, in a small town in Nevada that is not Reno. But I may be the first one to administer the medicine with the help of Cartman and a certain Christmas poo.

Tea started wheezing somewhere outside of Reno, and we stopped at the next town that consisted of more than few gas pumps and a video poker machine (thereby making it the third largest town in Nevada.) The local pizza parlor took pity on us and said they would find us an outlet so we could administer the life-giving Levalbuterol.

We were ready to settle into a booth to give Tea the treatment (an experience not unlike shaving a wolverine) when I saw the solution. For the next 15 minutes, Taylor held the nebulizer while Tea took the treatment while watching me play the South Park Pinball game at the small arcade. It's a rough job, raising kids, but someone has to do it. She giggled every time Cartman shouted "RESPECT MY AUTHORITAY" and shrieked with joy when I hit the giant toilet at the back, releasing Mr Hanky the Christmas Poo and earning us a 3-million-point bonus. I kept on feeding the quarters. Because, you know, it's my duty as a mom to do whatever it takes.

I knew it was time to stop when I shouted "Tea, stop blocking Mommy while she's trying to kill Kenny!" and Taylor gently let me know that we had finished the breathing treatment 25 minutes earlier. I just wanted to be really sure we got it done, okay?

You're safe for now, Kenny. But next time Tea wheezes I'm coming for you.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

This Just In: Muni Really Does Suck

Hi. I suck.


Bitching about Muni is a San Francisco pastime, but I like to save my commentary for those really special times when it really is the most asstastic way to get around town. I'm talking to you, Muni Driver who closed the doors on me and laughed as you drove away. And you, unforgiving prick transit cops who ticketed my husband for a torn transfer and then threw him and my toddler daughter off the train and onto the cold concrete of Montgomery Station. Oh yes, those things sucked big time. But in general Muni has been good to me, and I don't use up my complaining power, lest I become the little girl who cried Suck.

But lately it's been different. In the past six months or so I've been wondering, is it just me or does Muni suddenly blow goats like it's never blown before? After years of mostly okay service, suddenly we have long waits for trains, bottlenecks where they never existed before, excessively cranky drivers, and inexplicable route changes (if I get on the N Judah, I should end up at the ballpark. That is just the way it is. I don't care if it makes the T and J lines feel left out.) Am I going crazy or is Muni just plain bad these days?

Well, it's official. It's not just me. Muni is truly fucked. The Chronicle says so. There is an excellent story in today's Chron by the sublime Rachel Gordon about how woefully screwed up Muni is. There's no money, there are huge shortages of employees across the board, and the employees Muni does have are reverting to the good old days of punching their time cards in their jammies and going back home to snooze and watch The View. The head of the Muni agency is actually admitting that things are far, far beyond bad and we're not just hallucinating when we read that NextBus sign and it tells us the next train is coming in 37 minutes.

I'm so glad this story came out today. Because Friday was a journey into the ninth circle of transportation hell for the Polito family. We had tickets to the As vs. Giants at Pac Bell Park (fuck you, I'll call it what I want). Game start time was 7:15, so we all rolled out of the house and up to the Cole and Carl stop at 6:20 or so. We saw a train leave the stop going inbound. We could have sprinted and made it, but we thought: oh ho ho, we'll get the next one. It's rush hour and game night, they'll be another train along in a few minutes, right? RIGHT?

Ha ha ha.

NextBus told us that we would be waiting 18 minutes for the next train. Or we could really settle in and get the next train after that....in 38 minutes. We then proceeded to wait the longest 18 minutes I've experienced since I was in heavy childbirth labor. Only this time the kids were on the outside and getting hungry and cranky and not being understanding about the delay. About 25 minutes later, we boarded an overcrowded train with our wild animals and inched our way toward Embarcadero station to change trains, because you know, we really hated that direct line to the ballpark. It really wasn't working for anyone. You're right, Muni, we'd much rather get off and change trains to go the last 3 stops on the J Church. Brilliant.

Anyway. To make a long story slightly less so, we spent the next 25 minutes crawling toward the last stop, where we met with a bottleneck stretching back past Montgomery station and approximately 10,000 angry and already drunk Giants and As fans comparing body paint and getting antsy. We took a cab to the game. The way back? More of the same! Hooray.

We had hoped to get to the ballpark at start time and scoot out early after 90 minutes or so. Instead, we got there at 8:30, when we originally wanted to LEAVE, and left at 10pm to get home close to 11. Why yes, those were our kids looking like satan's assistants on the way home, thanks to sleep deprivation and having to wade through transportation bullshit that would cause even the most forgiving and patient adult to go bugfuck.

So there you have it, Muni sucks. Muni, you suck. I say so, and Rachel Gordon says so. Clean up your act. In 2 weeks, I'll take my leave of you and begin riding the shiny happy low-emissions party buses of Boulder that make you look like a fleet of broken down mule wagons.

Until then, you owe me Giants tickets. Club level, motherfuckers.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

My Life: An Update

In three weeks, I will be picking up my family and possessions and moving them to a place 1000 miles away where we know practically no one.

Unless something changes, we will have no home and no jobs.

My dog will hate me for at least two weeks.

In one week, someone else will own my home.

In two weeks, my husband will no longer be providing us with cheap health insurance.

After June, I will be miles away from any stylist who has my hair color.

I'm just a little freaked out.

Other than that, things are great.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Pride of Ownership: Not So Much

I remember when my parents were selling our house when I was a kid. This was before the days of staging, and the itinerant decorative jars of dried pasta and chili peppers. We were living in the place, we were four people, and we had to keep the place spotless for showings. As you can imagine, for at least two of us this was quite a challenge. We were not really about the equity and curb appeal at ages 9 and 5.

Anyway, at the same time the house was on the market, my sister had a pair of electric snoopy scissors--guaranteed to cut a piece of paper like buttah. Among other things.

One day, my sister got bored. She grabbed her Snoopy scissors and the nearest cuttable object and started shredding. Unfortunately, the nearest shreddable material was the living room curtains. My mom came home from work and discovered that her curtains had fringe, and lots of it.

She had a freak fit, and now that I am getting my house ready for market, I can understand why. I get it because I walked into the kitchen today to see Tea wielding a red marker and scribbling away on the table and window. My heart stopped and I saw our profit from the sale dwindling before my eyes. Tea loves to draw with markers. Woo hoo. Fortunately, Gianni's new favorite activity is washing windows. Really. He is mean with the Windex, so I let him go to town. It was like yin and yang personified, one child destroying property while the other attempted to restore it.

Fortunately, we got to the damage early and G did a lovely job. If you need a window cleaner, I can give you a rec. If you need a red wall, I can also oblige.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Psycho Rant of the Day

Hey! Hotel people!

Let me tell you a little about myself. I'm in my 30s. I'm married. I'm a mom. I have a really really great TV at home.

THAT I NEVER GET TO WATCH.

I am on a trip by myself right now. In and of itself, this is so revolutionary and amazing that it's all I can do not to lie on the floor and stare at the ceiling for three days, and then jump on the bed for the remaining day. But that would be humiliating. So I prefer to spend my time doing something slightly more dignified: drinking RILLY good wine and watching TV. The more cheesy or R-rated, the better. There are about a million movies that I need to catch up on and I was looking forward to a nice long visit with Spectravision (or Spanktravision, thank you Tommy Boy, the totally awesome favorite movie that is currently rotting on my TiVo.)

Yet, you seem to be the only hotel ON THE PLANET that doesn't have pay-per-view movies. COME ON. Even those cheapass crackers at Motel 6 have you beat on that. You have a coffee maker. You have nice faux-suede quasi-Western bedspreads. YOU HAVE FRICKIN' WIFI. Can you not afford this little bit of 80s technology for a poor mom who never gets to be captain of the remote?

Speaking of the remote: WHERE THE HELL IS IT? I left my room this morning and it was here. Now, it is not. Surely the housekeeping staff is aware that next to the toilet, the remote is the most important thing in the room. It is my lifeline. To pseudo-crap non-feature-film viewing options, but my lifeline nonetheless.

Yes, I am aware that this is Turn Off the TV Week. My children are strictly observing it. But I am an adult and I DON'T FUCKING CARE. If I can't have feature films, can't I have Celebrity Fit Club? Or The Bachelor: An Officer and a Gentleman? Not without a remote.

HOW CAN YOU DO THIS TO ME? WHERE IS MY REMOTE? WHERE GODDAMNIT?!!!

Oh wait. It's under the bed. Nevermind.

If I hurry, I can still catch the end of The Cosby Show. I'm such a lucky bitch.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Hummer vs. Prius: This Time It's Personal




I am SO gonna kick your ass!



Whenever we travel, we have our own barometer to determine the political makeup and cultural tone of a town. No, not the Internet. That's for cheaters. We like to count the number of Hummers we see versus the number of Priuses on the road. A high Prius-to-Hummer ratio means lots of Barack Obama, shamans, and green cleaning supplies. A high Hummer-to-Prius ratio? God Bless the USA, and try not to shoot your hunting buddy.







Except you'll RUN OUT OF GAS on the way to do it!!


Of course, in San Francisco, you can see about a thousand Priuses a day. I'll see 20 or so taking Gianni to school. I think there are a few living in our hall closet. The only time you see a Hummer is when one is lost on the way to Sacramento.

There used to be a Hummer in our neighborhood, right around the start of Gulf War II. It was a bright yellow Hummer, and it's vivid paint job looked lovely next to the contrast of black Sharpie graffiti that the owner had to regularly sponge off its body. I generally think vandalizing other people's property is a crapass pussy thing to do. But even I had to admire the creativity that came out in the defiling of the Hummer. People really tried, man. Finally, the owner put a sign on the window that said, "I am part of the noble union of carpenters, I use this car for my JOB, it is necessary, please don't trash it." Because yeah, you have to barrel over a lot of steep rock faces to get to your next remodeling job in Noe Valley. Eventually, people got bored, and later, the Hummer just disappeared. Either the guy got tired of wiping off liberal graffiti or he moved on, finding a flock of his peeps in Dallas or Iraq or the local penis enlargement clinic.


When we decided to move, Hummer vs. Prius was something that concerned us very much. Did Boulder have a good ratio? Were we going to be crushed like grapes by the H-Monsters of Colorado? We were relieved to find that the ratio was overwhelmingly in favor of the small but mighty Prius. We might see a few Hummers here and there, but on the whole the city of Boulder is rockin' the Prius. In fact, I think a fair chunk of Boulderites see even Prius drivers as gas guzzling pigdogs as they ride buy on their bikes. I guess that's better than the alternative.



You wanna know what's scary? Florida. For all kinds of reasons, but when we were there a few weeks ago, our grand total was:


Prius: 4


Hummer: 25!!!!!!


TWENTY FIVE Hummers! Can you believe it?? As if Al Gore didn't have enough of a reason to want to see Florida reclaimed by the sea as a result of global warming. I don't think I've ever been in one place where I've seen so many of them. I mean, we see a lot of Priuses, but there's a difference: one car brings us closer to the collapse of civilization due to oil dependence; and one doesn't.


That is just nuts. If I ever see hell, I know it will look a lot like Florida. But I'm sure to Dick Cheney, hell looks a lot like my living room. So it all evens out.

Yep, saw one of these, too.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Big News. Really Big.

I've been a big slacker. But I've been thinking a lot. For weeks, for months, about heavy stuff and big life decisions. We have been through what I can accurately characterize as the shittiest year of my life (buy me a drink sometime and I'll tell you all about it.) A frivolous CPS visit. A son in danger of being thrown out....of kindergarten. A complete implosion of our Bay Area support system. A major screwing-over by the preschool where my daughter was to start in the fall. And finally, just the regular bullshit that goes along with living here, that seems to be piling higher every year.

This is the same San Francisco where I moved when I was 21. Except meaner. And it's not just me and Rick anymore.

It's been a few months of deliberation and intense soul-searching and some really hard-ass decisions. But at the end of June, we will leave the city for a change of pace in Boulder, Colorado.

Why Boulder? Because it's progressive. Because the schools rock. Because it's not as expensive as San Francisco. Because there are jobs that I could do. Because we may actually see our families more than once a year. And because, if you want to do something for yourself or your children, you just fucking do it. You don't have to look for parking or make a reservation or get on a wait list or turn in an application fee. I don't have to live in fear of an upper-middle-class white woman taking me out because I've encroaced on her spin bike at the JCC. All yours, babe.

Because we think we could be happy here and focus on living, not just surviving.

So, the house goes on the market, and this summer we retrace the route that Rick and I drove when we were just pups and barely knew each other, and didn't know what the city held for us. As it turns out, it held a lot of great things. We have had a great life here. But now it is not our life anymore. As my friend Jill, who moved a few years ago, puts it, "We miss San Francisco, but we were already missing it when we lived there." I could go to the Ferry Plaza, the Exploratorium, the beach, Golden Gate Park, art-house films, and dozens of the best restaurants in the world. But I don't. When I spend the money I'll be saving on tuition to come back, maybe I will.

God, it's hard. We're leaving a lot of history, and our friends who've also been toughing it out. But I feel like I've been fighting for the best of the city since I got out of the car 16 years ago, and I am tired of fighting. I'm ready to have time for all of the things I love in life. There are so many more of them than there were long ago. And for that I feel lucky.

There will be more posts as we get deeper into this adventure. And I'll have to change the fuckin' subhead. But we will survive. We already have.

Monday, April 16, 2007

RIP Vanzetti

I am sad to report that Vanzetti, part of the dynamic fish duo of Sacco and Vanzetti, has moved on to that big fish tank in the sky. Cause of death is unclear, but I'm guessing it has something to do with a vacation, and automatic fish feeder and a little orange fish with an overactive piehole.

Vanzetti was a fine fish; a bit of a drama queen and a huge pig, but who isn't? She is survived by her Life Partner, Sacco, who is zipping around the tank in mourning, or who is just fired up because now he gets all the food to himself.

I spill a little bit of aquarium water on the ground for Vanzetti. RIP, my orange homie.

Burial and complicated Circle of Life explanation to the children will be at 4pm today.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Who's Foolin' Who?

No ass-snapping!



Today is practically a holiday in the Polito house. The rule of thumb around here on April Fools' is: unless you see it, don't believe it. A rule that I promptly forgot this morning, being a little hung over and generally stupid lately. I looked incredulous when Rick told me this morning that the babysitter we hired for Gianni and Tea last night had opened a bottle of our red wine and drank half of it. And then later, Gianni told me that when we'd gone to see our friend John this afternoon, G had noticed a huge tattoo of a panther peeking out from his chest. When you get served by a six-year-old on April Fools' Day, it's officially time to get more sleep.

I did get my own zinger in later, a collaboration with Rick, where we successfully convinced John that I was accepting a lucrative job with the Timber Lobby ("They pay really well!"). We had him going for several minutes before we fessed up. Ah yes, the bullshit was flying on Cole Street today.

Some of Rick's greatest April Fools' jokes have been at work, at the various newspapers where he has been a writer. One time, he and his friends printed up a fake insert (huh-huh-huh) for a porn shop called Pandora's Box and slipped into the Sunday papers of all management editors and the publisher. Another time, he simulated a fake news conference via Media Alert phone where a pack of hyenas escaped from their cages at the zoo and were attacking zoo visitors. Another year, he wrote a fake press release announcing the opening of a hunting ranch for exotic game in Sonoma County. Of course, there was the year when he sent an email from the publisher's account saying that there would be mandatory drug testing the following day. Good times.

So when we saw the New York Times Style Magazine's spring design issue this morning, we couldn't help but assume that the In-Store layout was a joke. It had to be. They featured favorite items from Turpan, a high-end housewares store in Manhattan and, I guess, in LA, and maybe in other places where people are rich and gullible. The owner, Greg Turpan, discussed some of his most beloved products. Among them:



"Turpan lets function take a back seat to form with a miniature car from Playsam ($45), a modernist toy company based in Sweden. "Most toys aren't sensitively designed, but this is something that a child will love and a design-conscious adult can appreciate." Pictured: a small half-moon-shaped wooden car with button wheels, that I think I saw for sale at the Waldorf School Rummage Sale last week for 50 cents. It is so not worth 45 bucks.
What's Swedish for, "You've got to be fucking kidding me?"

Also:

Ito-ya pencils from Japan. Not particularly pricey, but does contain the quote, "The experience of a pencil can be the same as that of a Porsche." Um, yeah. When my husband starts buying copious amounts of pencils when he turns 45, I guess it's time for me to worry.

And, the coup de grace:

"Turpan takes as much care selecting cotton dish towels for his store as he does cashmere. His favorites come from Bragard, the venerable French chef's uniform maker. "We like things that cross context," he says. Pictured: towels that look remarkably similar to the ones they used to pass out to us for showers after gym class.

These writeups have to be a joke. Or maybe the joke is that people all hot and bothered about Swedish toy cars and red pencils from this place. I'm reminded of the time that Rick and I went to Niebaum Coppola winery in Napa, owned by THE Coppola, Francis Ford. The wine was great, the grounds were lovely, but the best thing about the whole day was walking into the gift shop and seeing a cup of pens for sale. "FRANCIS' FAVORITE PEN!" the sign said. The pens were perhaps a half-step up from a really decent Uniball roller with a rubber grip. Except that they were 20 bucks each. We could not imagine some joker walking into the gift shop and saying, "This is FRANCIS' FAVORITE PEN. It must be a far superior ball-point pen to all others. Therefore I must have it too. Perhaps I will write the next Apocalypse Now with this flawless writing tool."

Francis' Favorite Pen and the Japanese Red Pencil in a fight: who would win?


Now THIS HAT, I would buy. Cheap at any price.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Coming Soon--Angry Cat, in HD

NBC Universal and News Corp. announced yesterday that they are joining forces to create an Uber Mega Xtra Fancy online video network that will show full episodes from current NBC shows, clips, and even feature films.

"This is a game-changer for Internet video," Chernin said. "We'll have access to just about the entire U.S. Internet audience at launch. And for the first time, consumers will get what they want -- professionally produced video delivered on the sites where they live."

See, silly me, I thought that online video consumers were already getting what they want--jackasses falling off treadmills and Pug Bowling. But I guess what I really want is to watch network television on a teeny tiny screen with shitty sound. How could I not realize this! Thanks, NBC, for showing me the light!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Overheard in Our Car

Gianni: You know what? If you are a kid and you get too close to George Bush, he'll torture you.

Me: Really!

G: Yeah! Levon told me that George Bush tortures little kids.

Me: Who told Levon that?

G: His parents.

Anyone at the White House care to comment?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

I'm Speechless.

In my continued effort to do as little as possible, I spent my Saturday afternoon tube-surfing while Gianni and Tea dumped approximately 10,000 Hot Wheels cars on the family room floor. Because there was nothing on, I flipped over to Bravo and caught an episode of something called The Real Housewives of Orange County.

Oh. My. God.

Has anyone else seen this show? It is freakin' terrifying. I need a long Silkwood shower after watching it. I can't even begin to describe it.

I really shouldn't describe it. Because I would just be mean.

Instead, read this blog entry. And this one. They really say it all.

I weep for our nation.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Tony Blair's Creative Disorder

This guy puts kid art up on his walls. (According to Stephen Frears.)

I'm a little tired of this reality, so I checked out early yesterday and went to the movies. I saw The Queen. Short review: everyone is right, great great GREAT movie, go see it. I loved it.

All of the palace insider scenes were brilliant. But what I loved even more than seeing Lilibet giving her dogs walkies and slogging through a river trying to fix her Land Rover was Tony Blair's house.

Yes, that house, No. 10 Downing, or I guess No. 11 Downing in his case because that's the flat that's big enough for him to stow that big family. As an obvious contrast to the buttoned-up, no-tchotchke-out-of-place lifestyle of the royal family, Stephen Frears showed Blair and family living in what would politely be described as "creative disorder," and what might impolitely be described as a minor pigsty. Games and toys littering the floor and the shelves, breakfast dishes undone at the table, clutter on the countertops, you get the idea. If you've ever been to my place, you REALLY get the idea.

Blair has obviously had, ah, a spot of trouble since the time portrayed in the film. Let's just say that being Bush's Butt Boy does not agree with him. But watching the movie definitely gave me a nostalgic tug back to the whirlwind of his first year in office, and the first years of A Certain Other President on this side of the pond. Those were the days. Excuse me, I need to go weep for what has been lost again.

And if I may be sucked back into filmmaking fantasy again for a minute, despite Tony's own seeming departure from reality, I still feel that a PM who has the empty wine bottle from last night still on his kitchen counter in the morning can't be all bad. It gives me hope.