mysticonnie's blog

Megalomania continues...
Cheese Diaries
a Conspiracy of 2
Muffin Top

Sunday, August 31, 2003

On Friday, I went to Tomoko Pinckard's (Jane and Anne's mother) memorial service. Although I did not get to know her as well as I would have liked, it was impossible not to cry during the service. Since Jane and Anne are both friends, I knew their speeches would affect me. At first, I almost thankful that most of the service was in Japanese, but despite the language barrier, I could not remain dry-eyed. Seeing these stern, formal Japanese elders, especially Sumiko, Tomoko's sister, overcome with emotion, was sad. I remember the first time I met Tomoko, at a late night Dealership show last year on the Cal campus. We sat together, and she seemed immensely proud to be watching her daughter rock out. She remarked that that the band had improved immensely since their first gig, and giggled with me at Wetherall, the drummer's "beer hat" (don't ask). Later on, we would up walking with her and Justin H. (Jane's other half) up Bancroft back to the car. He appeared to be dragging her up the street. I thought to myself, "She's such a tiny little lady. What's he doing, tugging on her arm that way?" Then I saw that she was grinning from ear to ear, so I figured she was okay with it. When he got up to speak at the service, he recounted this story, adding that she had asked him to pull her up the hill, and laughed as he did. I don't know too many moms that are that cool. When I would visit Anne at their home, she would greet me with a huge smile and a nod, then leave us to our devices.

Later that evening, friends and family gathered at the Pinckard house for food and and drink. Anne opened up her vodka infusions, and Sumiko broke open her homemade plum wine, made from fruit cultivated in her own yard from Japan. I met Max, my fellow author from the cheese diaries. Along with the other editors (Ryan and Anne), Justin C. and Brian [my "gay husbands/boyfriends] (a la Carrie Bradshaw)], who flew in from LA for the memorial service we discussed cheese, and later talked about the bonds of family and friendship.

The next day, Zack and I were invited to Justin H.'s for an informal family barbeque. We enjoyed the afternoon sunshine, sitting on the treehouse-like back porch, while listening to Sumiko recount tales in in broken English and Japanese of Jane and Anne's exploits during childhood visits to Japan as she wove baskets from the yard's vines. Zack had to leave for a prior engagement, and at first, I wasn't sure if I was intruding on such and intimate family moment, but our hosts were warm and welcoming, and I remembered Anne's words from the night before. "What I've learned from this entire ordeal," she said (forgive me for paraphrasing), "is who my friends really are. Blood is important, but your family is what you make of it. It's your friends. You can choose who they are."

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Yesterday, I obtained The Two Towers, and as soon as I got home, I almost immediately popped it into the DVD player for three hours of escapism. Since then, I have also watched Sean Astin's short film, the featurettes on Rohan, Helm's Deep and Edoras and the preview for the extended version. Oh yeah, and the 10-minute preview for Return of the King... four times. It looks like it's gonna be fucking awesome. A brief shot of the Aragorn re-forging the Narsil, Frodo crawling up Mount Doom, Gandalf facing off the winged Nazgul, the Paths of the Dead, Sam clutching Galandriel's phial in Shelob's lair, Minas Tirith... it was more than enough to work me into a fanboy(girl) lather. But the highlight was definitely the battle scenes with the Rohirrim... Helm's Deep has nothing on the Pelennor Fields, in its equine glory. They were just so beautiful, they (literally) brought tears to my eyes. I mean, Peter Jackson brought in two hundred and fifty horses. Two-Hundred and Fifty. Which will then be CGI'd into thousands. Even the unedited, untreated stock footage was wondrous to behold. 112 more days. 112, and I'm counting every one of them...

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

The mother I wrote about a few days ago passed away yesterday afternoon. She leaves behind two sisters, and two daughters, all of whom loved her dearly. I cannot begin to comprehend the sense of loss or grief they are (or will be) feeling, but this event has given me pause, and made me reflect on my own relationship with my own family. Although I've had my share of difficulties in my relationship with my parents, I've always known they love me. I'm extremely fortunate in that they're both still very much alive, yet I know there will come a day in which I will have to face what my friends are facing. I realize that this is such a cliche, but it's completely true. All the petty grievances, the small cruelties and the difficulties we deal out in our relationships with friends and family... in the end, they really don't matter. What really matters is cherishing the time we have with them, making sure they know that they are loved, and allowing them to love us.

Who's to say where the wind will take you
Who's to know what it is will break you
I don't know which way the wind will blow
Who's to know when the time has come around
Don't want to see you cry
I know that this is not goodbye

Sunday, August 24, 2003

I saw the trailer for Underworld a couple of months ago, and I have to say, I'm really looking forward to it.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

A close friend's mother has fallen seriously ill, and the outlook is not so good. Their family has endured more than its share of trials - much more than I can possibly imagine ever happening to myself, but I say this not with pity, but with admiration. Although what they've been through would make most people delve into a well of self-pity, and turn bitter and hard, each member that I know has emerged as kind, caring, sensitive, witty and thoughtful individuals. I can only hope that I can one day handle tragedy with such grace and strength. My thoughts are with them tonight.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Snippet of last night's dialogue:

"Of course they're gonna peck you. It's the apocalypse!!!"

Thursday, August 14, 2003

So I was listening to the radio this morning, and this super poppy and kinda whiny chick-with-guitar “Why Can’t I” song comes on. At first, I though it was Michelle Branch, but the chick sounded older. Her vocal range was better, she was technically better, and the lyrics, as poppy as they were, were a bit more mature (cheating on/with a lover). Actually, she sounded a little like Liz Phair. But no, I think to myself. Liz Phair wouldn’t record something this cheesy. But then again, she did do that Gap ad last year… I remember, ten years ago, way before Lil’ Kim, when she sang “I wanna before your blow-job queen,” on Exile in Guyville. Even Whip-Smart, her second album which was a little more commercial had that “you fuck like a volcano” line with that badass guitar lick. Alas, when the DJ came on, my suspicions were confirmed. Liz, oh, Liz, what’s happened to you? You have lost all indie cred. What’s next? Will Dan the Automator work with Jay-Z? Will PJ record a duet with Justin Timberlake. Sigh. I guess she hasn't done anything wrong, but I take this is a sign that I’m really getting older.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

I used to view yoga as some sort of namby-pamby new age nonsense until a few years ago, when I joined the gym downstairs from my office. A little less than a year ago, I decided that trying a class wouldn't hurt. Besides, I wanted to get the most out of my membership dues (55 dollars a month! I don't understand how so many people pay, but don't go. It's like throwing money down the toilet.). I was pleasantly surprised to emerge from that first class refreshed, relaxed, rejuvenated and dare I say it, centered. I could see why people were addicted. I began taking that same Iyengar class weekly, and pretty soon, added on an Ashtanga class. I'd mastered headstand, binding, gotten my head to the floor in the ghost pose, started backbends, and even done a few handstands, so I was fairly confident in my abilities. Little did I know. A couple of weeks ago, I got a pass for a week's membership at the swanky new gym, the Sports Club LA, across the street. Although I had no intention of joining (dues are 100 freaking dollars a month, plus an initiation fee of $350!!!), I had every intention of taking advantage of the free pass. After all, I wanted to try their classes, and use their top-of-the-line brand-new equipment (individual cable tv monitors at every cardio machine!). I was a little intimidated by the "Intermediate" Iyengar class, but wasn't as hard as I'd pictured it to be, and it actually corrected some of my poses. So with renewed confidence, I took the lunchtime "yoga flow" class, figuring it was a basic class. It started off normally enough, you know, with sun salutations, but we were holding the positions longer than I was accustomed to. "Wow, you guys are flexible today. Let's see what you can do." Then, he told is to take a deep breath, and deepen the position for even longer. By the end of the first vinyasa cycle, my muscles were quivering, and my face was bright red. I knew I was in trouble, when in the second round of sun salutations, he told us to go from chair, to crane, a position which I have yet to hold for longer than a tenth of a second. At this point, I was dripping sweat - not those dainty beads of perspiration at the hairline, but big, fat drops that rolled down my face and neck, and fell to my mat with a huge plop. My limbs were too slippery to support the position and needless to say, there were plenty of thuds, thumps, grunts and oofs coming from my mat. The instructor was droning on, telling us to - you guessed it - take a deep breath, and deepen the position. Surely I'm not the only one, I thought, as I retreated into child's pose. I snuck a peek, and was dismayed to discover that indeed I was. Everyone else was in position, levitating their bodies above their elbows as though they were weightless. I entertained the notion of slinking out right then and there, but because I had chosen a spot front and center, there was no way I could leave without disrupting the rest of the students. Besides, I would've have felt really stupid if I had left the class only twenty minutes into it. So I stayed and with many more grunts, oofs and sweat, (but no more crane!) finished the class. It was a humbling experience, but necessary for my ego. I have a new goal - mastering crane. And now, I'm off to my yoga class!

I have caved in to the ultimate Bay Area yuppie foodie stereotype: I have constructed for my lunch a prosciutto, goat cheese, arugula, basil and heirloom tomato sandwich on a baguette, with balsamic vinegar. The sad part is, I didn't plan it. I just happened to have all the ingredients on hand.

Monday, August 11, 2003

Ugh. I need to refrain from using the word "quite." Sheesh. Why didn't anyone tell me?

Just returned from my first pet funeral. Bootsey, my neighbor Malcolm's cat, passed this weekend. She arrived in the neighborhood shortly before we moved in, and she seemed to prefer our front doormat over Malcolm's. She used to scamper off when someone unfamiliar would approach (it took her two years to get accustomed to us), but in the last few months, she'd grown too feeble to move beyond the porch. She'd started looking better a few weeks ago, and then, within the past week or so, she took a turn for the worse. Malcolm was pretty attached to her - she was his first cat, so it was difficult for him to let go. The ceremony was quite touching, with candles, incense and flowers. Friends and neighbors appeared, to share fond memories of Bootsey, pass photographs and each take a turn with the shovel. The gathering seemed to comfort Malcolm and I hope that it'll let Bootsey know that we'll all miss her.

Sunday, August 10, 2003

I have a new guilty pleasure... the Food Media and News forum at Apparently, quite a few foodies in the industry are members... Tony Bourdain, best known for Kitchen Confidential, Amanda Hesser, the NY Times food writer, and Ted Allen, of Queer Eye post quite regularly. The boards can be quite catty and gossipy. Apparently, Alton Brown totally snubbed Bourdain at this year's James Beard awards, nobody likes Amanda Hesser, Alice Waters seems to be pulling ahead (go Alice!) in the Alice Waters vs. Jeremiah Tower food revolution debate, and although most of the posters seem to be from the East Coast (NY area), everyone falls prostrate at the feet of Thomas Keller (as they should).

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Okay, I watched The O.C. last night... in case you didn't know, I grew up in O.C. - Huntington Beach/Fountain Valley, a stone's throw from Newport Beach, so naturally, I was curious to see how they captured it. In Huntington, Newport is still a whole different world... sort of like Tiburon or Belvedere, except conservative. Now, the main discrepancy I noticed was that half the people should be Asian (and there were none), but since it's the pilot, I'll wait and see. They did manage to capture the way the light glows golden over the stucco homes at sunset, and that strip of PCH between Huntington and Newport was shown. Oh, and Fashion Island got a shout-out. At first, I though the premise of the show was completely unreleastic - a public defender takes in a bright kid from Chino who's a first-time juvenile offender. But then I remember my old swim coaches. A lot of people thought my high school water polo and swim coach, Mr. Bray was a hardass, but I knew deep down, he was a softie. HIs adopted son, Andy, was my first swim coach. He was great with kids - I still remember trips to Thrifty's Ice Cream, playing Crab Soccer and Sharks and Minnows. When he was a teenager, Andy was a similarly troubled kid. Mr. Bray took him in, and raised him as his own kid. Under his care, Andy excelled at swimming and water polo, when he was old enough, got involved with the community as a swim coach. He became a lifeguard at Huntington, competed in triathalons, marathons and iron men. Eventually, he settled down and got married, and went to become a fireman. It's good to know that there are good samaritans out there.