Errr, it, peNINsula, not penisula, nuCLEar, not nucular, INspectors, not 'specters. What the hell? Are some spectres going to investigate nucular threats on some penisula?I know I can get anal about grammar and such, but GIVE ME A FUCKING BREAK!!!! See, that's why I don't watch the news, and have been ignoring politics since a certain non-popular-vote-getting redneck took the helm. I know it's a lame excuse, but I'm just trying to save myself from an early coronary.
Tuesday, January 28, 2003
Monday, January 27, 2003
WTF??? Why do people hail Tom Ford as some kind of wunderkind, when he's so clearly not. I mean, McQueen may go for shock value in his runway shows, but his clothes are actually unique.
Justin and Brian flew in from LA on Friday for a birthday visit. If you don't know this already, we constantly talk about food. Whenever we speak to each other, the same inevitable question always pops up - "What did you have for lunch today?" They joined us for Thai brunch on Sunday, and marveled in amazement at its brilliance. After most of the table was sated with papaya salad, various coconut fritters, fried bananas and sweet potatoes, some dumplings, sweet rice and mango, about three different curries, pad thai, fried chicken, imperial rolls, Justin straightened up. "Has anybody had the noodle soup?" he asked. "I don't think I can eat anymore," murmured most of the table. "Well, I'm gonna try some," he said, and stood up. "Dude, aren't you full?" I asked. "I don't care. It looks good. I want to try it," he said, and walked off. Most of the table was a little shocked, but Brian and I knew what we were dealing with. He returned with a steaming hot bowl of noodles, slices of beef, tripe and beef balls. Of course, I dug in, and it was damn good. Can you see why we're such good friends?
So this past Saturday was my birthday, and I celebrated it in true Connie style - an orgiastic eating frenzy. It began with crab with Tiffany at Great Eastern on Thursday, a salmon luncheon provided by Marina on Friday, dinner at French Laundry that evening, a seafood dinner that also included Peking duck on Saturday, Thai brunch on Sunday, culminating in a Pirate Bowl party on Sunday (ribs, tri-tip, apple pie, nachos, potato bake, s'mores, fudge, margaritas, sangria, gorgonzola walnut pear salad...) Today, I dined on Szechuan food with Bill at Great Hunan, and tomorrow, I'm having lunch with my boss - probably more French food. I almost didn't survive the onslaught of food and liquor, but somehow, through the grace of God or some shit like that, I'm still here today. Thank you everybody for helping me celebrate my birthday.
Wednesday, January 22, 2003
ode to legolas
how you shoot those bows
swiftly running through mountains
light as air
you cannot catch him
but he will catch you
Sigh. Yeah, we're *real* productive at work. I didn't write the poem, by the way. But isn't it beautiful?
Sunday, January 19, 2003
Okay, now I feel totally lame. After much weeping and gnashing of teeth, it turns out that my browser encoding was switched to a different language. It was a matter of pulling down "View Encoding," and switching back to Western European. Sorry for totally freaking out, and thanks to Tom. To quote Zack, "Always look for the lowest common denominator." Phew.
Eeeeee! I've just checked other sections of my site, and these weird garbled characters are showing up ("’t") in place of apostrophes.... The fonts are fucked up, the links and underlining aren't working... goddamn fucking shit!!!
Argh! What the hell just happened? A bunch of the fonts on my webpage have seemed to change, on their own accord! ERGH!
So the Raiders won, which is a good thing. I don't have to worry so much about looting and pillaging in my neighborhood this evening. Next week, however will another story. I'm going head out to the lumber yard later this week, just in case I need to board up the windows. I like the Raiders, but the Black Hole scares me. They seem to like to cruise my neighborhood (everyone I've seen here today was wearing black and gray) before the tailgate parties start. Random note: I don't hate the Niners either, nor do I love them, but they did Mooch wrong this week. Not very classy - very bad taste indeed.
I haven't blogged in a while - I've been busy updating other parts of my site. Check it out, and you'll see.
Friday, January 10, 2003
Found a pretty cool analysis of PJ's plot deviances in TTT. (WARNING: may contain spoilers for ROTK) While I don't agree with everything the author says, his theories about the appendices are pretty interesting. He doesn't say much though, about Faramir and Osgilliath. But no fear! Straight from the horse's mouth...
The other night, I gave a coworker a ride home from BART. It'd been a while since we'd taken BART together, so as we exited the station, she asked me what I thought of BART’s “reserved parking” scheme. I was pretty calm, at first.
“Well, it sucks ass. Nobody uses it – it’s fascist. It costs $60 a month”
“60 dollars a month??!! Wow.“
“Yeah, 60 dollars a month. I thought the reason why people took public transportation was to save money, you know, cut down and gas and mileage, and not pay for parking in the city. At 60 dollars a month, that’s like, 3 dollars a day. You might as well just pull your pants down and bend over. And it’s not like they’re creating more parking – they just appropriated one of the nearer parking lots, and started charging for it.”
“Aren’t they building a new parking structure over there?” She indicated some buildings under construction, where there used to be a parking lot.
“That’s what I thought, at first. I was pretty happy about it, until I found out that it’s some kind of ‘transit village’ redevelopment gentrification bullshit. I mean, traffic flow around here is terrible. It makes no sense. Why the hell don’t they do something about that? They won’t do anything about the parking situation, nor about the traffic situation. This strip mall is gonna make things even worse.” I said, starting to get agitated.
“Redevelopment gentrification bullshit…” she chuckled. “You’d think if they were gonna call it a transit village, it’d have something to do with public transportation.”
“No! It doesn’t. It’s not a parking structure and it’s not a bus or train station. It’s probably going to be 5 Starbucks, a Pasta Pomodoro, a Gap and a Pottery Barn. They haven’t even bothered to erect any kind of lighting around it, and I have to walk through it in the dark at night, feeling *real* safe. So they take away that lot to make it into a strip mall, they make you pay in another lot, ticket you if you park before 10 a.m. in one of the close lots and…”
“Wait, they ticket you if you park there before 10? That’s just wrong.” she asked, exiting the fare gate.
“Yeah, it’s for the lazy asses who don’t have to get to work until after 10. That lot over there, the closest one, is also off limits, because it’s also under construction. It’s probably going to be another… hey!!” I examined my ticket. “It appears that they’ve raised the prices.” I said, through gritted teeth.
“Ummm, yeah they raised the prices on January 1,” she said, shooting me the “where have you been?” look.
“Fuck that shit! It’s not like they’re improving anything! Fuck the Milbury BART and the fuck the SFO extension! None of that shit is ever gonna happen! All that money is probably going into Willie Brown’s pocket somehow!” I shouted, incensed.
“Errrr, maybe I shouldn’t have brought any of this up,” she said carefully.
“Well, I’ve spent a lot of time contemplating this. See, I’m already in a bad mood when I get here in the morning. I’m not a morning person, and I’m pissed off about having to go to work in the first place. Then, I have to fight off a bunch of other drones for parking that’s in the boonies. It’s not even summer yet, which is when more people take public transportation, and the furthest lot is full before 8 a.m. When I get to the station, I have plenty of extra time to stare at that strip mall before squeezing into a four-car San Francisco train, because inevitably, the train is late due to ‘electrical problems’, a ‘medical emergency’ or a ‘police incident’. And they have the gall the raise prices and charge for parking? What*ever*. They should give us a refund every time they’re late. We should just revert to socialism. Maybe the trains would run on time. Everything would be taken care of.”
“Um, okay Connie,” she chuckled.
“Maybe I should stop, before I get more pissed.”
“Yeah, I think you should.”
Wednesday, January 08, 2003
Can I just say that I *heart* the new Doves album (The Last Broadcast), or is that already so five minutes ago? I just got it yesterday, and it fucking rocks.
Just wanted to add that if you're like me, and you've been watching this season's Buffy, and lots of LOTR, you may find The First's Journal (someone actually started a weblog for "The First Evil") fucking hilarious...
Awwww yeeeeahhhh! It looks like the "hanging plot thread" that's been bothering me has been addressed - the cosmic price of Buffy's resurrection is that it brought forth the First Evil. I feel all vindicated, although the acting of those Potentials was godawful. It actually makes Dawn likable, in comparison. I'm such a geek.
Tuesday, January 07, 2003
It’s Tuesday, and if you're reading this weblog, chances are that you already know that I'm a huge Buffy fan. You know not to call me between 8 and 9 tonight, unless you’re watching the show too, and it’s a commercial break. I schedule my appointments and plans around Tuesdays, and sometimes, I look forward to them more than Fridays. What inspires this devotion, you may wonder?
Most people dismiss the show as some kind of teenage Dawson's Creek/Charmed crap. With a name like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," on the WB (Why Bother?) channel, I can't really blame them. I had certainly thought along similar lines when the movie came out, but a friend had me watch it when it came out of video. It wasn't great, but the dialogue was written better than I expected. Out of curiosity, I watched a few episodes of the first season when it debuted. It was a little difficult to get over the campiness (at this point, I was a hard core X-phile) and the special effects were like a low budget Next Generation. It was actually pretty watchable, since it managed to capture some of the high school experience. I mentally filed it as a "guilty pleasure," something to flip on if nothing else seemed interesting.
When Gaby and Justin moved upstairs from my apartment, we had a nightly ritual of making dinner and watching TV together. One of Gaby's shows was Buffy, and we started watching during the second half of the second season. It blew me away - Buffy's loss of virginity ("Innocence") to Angel was handled unlike any other show I'd seen. It wasn't a simple "coming of age experience," something to giggle and brag about to her friends. Her actions had serious repercussions, for which she had to pay (a theme which has continued to this day), and it wasn't just teen pregnancy or STDs. It was also an effective metaphor for the kinds of fears and emotions that come from such an event in many young people's lives, and a cautionary tale for becoming sexually active. You sleep with your boyfriend for the first time, and he suddenly turns out to be someone you thought he wasn't. There's no escape from what has happened, things don't get better next week (in the next episode), and he's still around, behaving like a major creep. Despite her being a superhero, Buffy’s pain and heartbreak were easy for the audience to relate to. The harsh "morning after" scene, when he tells her that he never really loved her, that she was easy and he was only pretending that he loved her so she would sleep with him, and that she was terrible in bed - isn't that anyone's worst nightmare? But because Buffy is an empowered female, she pulls herself up by the bootstraps, and with the support of her friends and family, gets her groove back. Angel eventually redeems himself, but again, not without serious repercussions (he and Buffy can never be together - he has to get his own spinoff show).
You'd think that in a show about a superhero vampire slayer, character death would be a small matter. However, because this is the Buffyverse, a (major) character's death has a huge impact on the other characters. It's been about two years since Joyce Summers, Buffy's mother, suddenly died, ironically, of natural causes (in "The Body", one of the most affecting meditations on death ever broadcast on television - take that, Six Feet Under!), yet the most poignant moments of this season (the seventh) is when she appears to Buffy, either as dream, flashback or hallucination. It reminds us that her loss has left a gaping hole in the Summers household, and that they're still grieving for it.
Are you still with me? I salute you on your attention span.
Since character death is such a huge event, character resurrection is also a heavy topic. It's not easily accomplished, it's unnatural, and of course, there are consequences. Last season dealt with Buffy's depression, self-loathing and ennui and her escape into a violent, self-destructive fling with former arch-nemesis, Spike, after her resurrection. While most say that the last season was too dark, and spent too much time dealing with the Buffy's angst over her resurrection, I felt a little bit unsatisfied with the overall results. Resurrecting her meant messing with powerful forces, and disrupting the natural order of the universe. Shouldn't there be a heavier cosmic (not just emotional or mental) toll to pay? The episode that followed Buffy's resurrection touched on this theme, but the rest of the season didn't really deal with it. Sure, when resurrecting Buffy went to her head, Willow eventually went all Dark Phoenix in her magick addiction spiral, but that had more to do with her lack of self esteem, rather than cosmic retribution. Buffy herself said that when she died, it had been her time to go (she was in heaven - being alive again was hell for her). This season has begun to tie up loose threads from events of previous seasons, and go "back to the beginning" - dealing with the First Evil, and potential Slayers. It's my wish that they deal with this issue. I could write more about other themes, but I think that's enough for now.
On a lighter note, the show also balances the angst with sharp dialogue and deft pop culture references. The cast is also the most underrated ensemble of actors on television. Sarah Michelle Gellar is no Edie Falco, but the day I see Carmela Soprano exchanging snappy banter, execute a flying kick, brandish a broadsword while simultaneously singing and dancing in stilettos ("Once More, With Feeling") is the day I consider making more space at the top of my "Best TV shows" list.
Welcome to Thunderdome. Two men enter. One leaves.
I live in Alameda, a small island town in the East Bay. It’s pretty nice – it’s a bedroom community very close to BART, San Francisco and Oakland. There used to be a military base (where the soon-to-be legendary freeway chase scene in Matrix Reloaded was filmed), so there’s lots of ex-military people, but there’s also quite a few young families and older people. To get to Alameda, you have to drive through parts of Oakland, and take one of three bridges, or the Webster Tunnel. The bridge I use the most is the Park Street bridge, a green drawbridge that’s no more than 100 yards long. Alameda is rather infamous for its strictly enforced speed limit – the entire island’s speed limit is no more than 25 mph. I’ve had friends get ticketed for driving 33 mph. Oakland, of course, has a much higher speed limit. Often, drivers will come barreling off the freeway through Oakland, then suddenly slow down at the bridge. Oh, and the bridge’s road isn’t pavement – it’s metal grating with no traction. Sounds like a fairly mundane problem, doesn’t it? Well, there’s roads coming from three different directions that merge into the bridge in this weird vortex. “Weird vortex? What does she mean by that?” you wonder. In this vortex, and in the roads leading up to it, there are no traffic lanes painted. There’s not even a line painted to designate where the shoulder is. There are no stop lights, or stop signs to regulate the flow of traffic. There’s also more than a few crater-sized potholes. Do you see where the problem lies? But that’s not it yet - some fool attempted to make the area where the three routes converge into a lameass traffic circle. One route is sort of s shaped, one is a modified u-turn, and one is straight. On a well maintained street, it’s confusing enough, but subtract the paintlines, add in the potholes, bad Bay Area SUV drivers with road rage during rush hour jockeying for prime positions in traffic, the sudden change in speed and lack of traction, and voila! Thunderdome, live every weeknight, between 4 and 7 at the Park Street Bridge. Except with automobiles, instead of people.
Monday, January 06, 2003
Phrases heard and uttered throughout Saturday night's viewing of TTT:IMAX (punctuated by sighs, kissy-face noises, giggling, and Joey shaking his head and rolling his eyes):
"Look at him run! Run fast! Fast like the wind!"
“Pointy ears! Pointy ears!”
"We need some shots of him riding bareback..."
"He's so cute when he's all swift and deadly and kicking ass."
"There he goes... mount that horse, baby!"
"Yeah, yeah, that's enough of the Ents. Can we cut to Helm's Deep now?"
“Awww, look at him. He looks so sad and confused. It’s so cute”
“Yeah – c’mere, baby, and I’ll comfort you.”
"I love the way he says, 'Aragorn.'"
"That's right. Open the doors to my heart, baby."
"He's being all contentious and scowly. It's so cute! And those eyelashes! Hee Hee!”
"ohhh, look at his smile! I can’t get over those dimples!"
"Hee, hee, look at his butt in those tights."
"Oooh, maybe he'll bend over."
"It's raining! He's gonna get all wet! Aaaah!"
"Yeah, that Rohan leather armor must be getting all soggy and heavy. He should definitely take it off."
"We need replay TV, so we can fast forward through Fangorn and Gondor. Then we can rewind the important scenes, and play them in slo-mo."
Okay, so we're just a little depraved.
Sunday, January 05, 2003
Driving home late last night, the thick fog rendered familiar landscapes unrecognizable. It blanketed cars, billboards and traffic dividers, blurring their outlines into amorphous watercolor shapes. The glow of the street lamps filtered through and illuminated water particles in the air. Their incandescence was almost tangible. Skyscrapers crowned by a halo of light melted into the atmosphere. Muffled by the density of it, the sounds of the night faded away. For a fleeting moment, the universe seemed to stand still.
Saturday, January 04, 2003
Oh, Rolo, how I've missed you so.
There's been a hole in my heart since Rolo Downtown closed its Stockton Street doors and moved to much larger digs in SoMa this past fall. I was driving up 9th Street, near Howard today when I decided to pull over and check out the new store. Rolo, you see, is the mecca for Japanese tourists with fat checkbooks, Academy of Art fashion design students, and the pretty hipster boys of the Castro. It was the one place in the financial district where I could get my Miss Sixty fix. If things at work were going especially bad, I'd sneak out during coffee breaks to peruse the latest shipments of items from various up-and-coming indie designers (Mon Petit Oiseau, Daryl K., Tom Nguyen, Collette Dinnegan, Fornarina, Sharagano, Catherine Malandrino and so forth). Somehow, Rolo managed to avoid carrying products from Bernard Arnault's behemoth conglomerate, LVMH, at least when it came to women's clothes (although I do adore Arnault's prize pupil, Mr. Wunderkind himself, Marc Jacobs). Many of the super-hip and trendy clothes I see today were first carried by Rolo more than two years ago, like Seven jeans and Juicy Couture tracksuits. And the jeans! They always had a great selection of jeans - Earl, Helmut Lang, Joe's, Paper, Frankie B, Red Engine, G-Star and of course, Seven, Diesel, Levis, Juicy and and Miss Sixty. My biggest beef with Rolo is that it's very hard on the pocketbook (it's actually a little bit of a boon that they moved so far from my office), and their return policy sucks. Luckily, the store on Howard is only half a block away from the Rolo outlet. However, I escaped unscathed from both stores today. Now, if only they'd start carrying Habitual jeans, Zac Posen, Benjamin Cho and Imitation of Christ...
Thursday, January 02, 2003
A pomelo is a volleyball-sized citrus fruit, with smooth yellow-green skin, and a thick and spongy white rind. You remove as much of the rind as possible, pry the sections apart, and peel off the membrane to reveal plump, sweet, jewel-like flesh. One pomelo usually fills a single stomach. When we were about to depart from my parents' house last week, my mom asked me from the garage if I "wanted to take pomelo." Since it's not something one can find at Safeway, I said "sure," thinking she meant only one. She emerged from the garage with two grocery bags full of fruit, one with 6 pomelos, and the other with about a dozen softball-sized Fuji apples.
"How about some apples?" she asked. (keep in mind she's still shouting most of this, although by this point, I'm about two feet away)
"It's okay. I already have some."
"I bought all these apples for your visit! You haven't eaten any of them." Her eyes narrowed suspiciously. "Are you sure you're eating enough?"
I sighed. "Okay, I'll take two. You know, you didn't tell me you had these until now." I reached for a pomelo, and a couple apples.
"Take all of these!" she exclaimed, pushing both of the bags towards me.
"No mom, it's okay. We couldn't possibly finish all this fruit. It'll go bad."
"Ai! You hurt my feelings!" she cried.
She'd already tried to convince me to take a wheel of cheese, a smoked salmon, a basket of dried fruit, a pack of beef jerky, packs of soy milk, a box of cream crackers, a tin of cookies, and a big bag of homemade candied nuts. Whenever we see my parents, my mom always tries to load us up with food, especially on road trips. I think she's worried that we're going to get stranded in the middle of the I-5, with no one to reach us for days. When we saw them in Catalina in November, she brought a huge heavy backpack, even though my parents were only there for a day, and not even overnight. Zack and I could not figure out what the hell she was lugging around, until we were about to drop them off at the ferry. She unzipped her bag, and pulled out a canister of Nori, a tin of cookies, a three-pack of juice boxes, 2 bottles of water, 2 cans of Coke, a pack of haw flakes, and 10 packs of gum. "Take this. Your ferry might be delayed, and you might get hungry." I gently pointed out that her ferry might delayed, she might get hungry, and that we couldn't possibly carry all that food on the plane. I did, however, take the haw flakes and a couple packs of gum. I have to admit, it warms my heart a little, to think that she worries that we might go hungry, even on a one-hour ferry ride. I know it's her way of "mothering" and demonstrating her affection.
Wednesday, January 01, 2003
Family. It's my gateway drug.
Actually, I really shouldn't say that. I think almost everyone feels that way at some point, but the stress level was relatively toned down this time around when we went to go visit. Of course, I think - actually, I know - it was because my brother, Alan, brought home his girlfriend, Natalia, to visit, and their focus was not on us. Since he lives in Boston, Alan only visits during Christmas, and he rarely brings girlfriends with him. Both of my parents were pretty jittery. My mom was convinced that he would be "making a big announcement." In the preceding weeks, they bombarded me with questions and demands. "Who is she? What do you know about her? What did he tell you about her? Does she speak English? Are they getting married? How long have they been going out? Have you talked to her? Why don't you talk to her, and find out what her intentions are? What should we do with her? Will you interrogate her for us? We need you to be a chaperone..." You get the idea. Surprisingly, they behaved themselves as much as they could. We would eat lunch or dinner, then over tea, my father would talk. My father has a tendency to ramble about whatever topics suit his pleasure. I've heard hour plus long monologues about things such as soil (different kinds of soil, sod, topsoil, soil in California vs. soil in Colorado, peat moss, manure, etc.) heating elements (gas, oil, electric, steam, coal...). Recently, his focus has shifted towards activities on eBay (various auctions, bad sellers, profits, bargains, shipping) and his electronic gizmo toys (His newest toy is a GPS receiver. He could talk about it for an infinite amount of time). I used to get very impatient with his talks, but nowadays, I just let him go on. It makes him happy to talk to us, and I see no reason to stop him. This time around though, he talked about more applicable topics, given our guest. He told stories about his childhood in Hainan and Macau, and about arriving in the States in the 60s. Although it was mostly benign, he would pepper his speeches with random assumptions. (Natalia, you see, is Romanian, and moved here for graduate school in the early 90's.) "Well, it's very easy for students from communist bloc countries to go to school here. The US government wants to get them away from the Russians." Natalia would gently, but firmly point out his mistakes, like that nobody left Romania until Communism fell, that she moved here after Communism fell, and it was very hard to get into school here. I think my mom shocked her, a little bit, when the talk turned to politics. She asked us who we voted for in the last presidential election. She laughed, then pointed a finger at my brother. "You see? You can't blame us for the state of things. You voted for him, AND HE'S DUMB!!!" shouted my mom (re:Dubya) - I can't really argue with ya there, mom. Natalia's jaw dropped. She even gasped a little. "I don't think the other candidate was much better," countered Alan. When Zack and I went on to give our analysis of the Dubya administration, my mom would interject randomly (shouting) "HE'S DUMB!!!" Despite all this, Natalia seemed pretty nice, and very smart. After they left, my parents demanded to know, "Did you interrogate her? Did you separate her from him, and find out her intentions? Is she using him? Does she treat him nice? Is she hurting him?" etc., etc. I know all this fuss is generated by concern and love, but simma down, folks. And keep me out of it. Oh well, at least they're not asking if I have any female single friends.
Mary is Zack's mom. She likes to go the the movies. When we visit, we often go out to eat and watch a movie before or afterwards. It's pretty cool, especially since she always pays. As soon as we got into town last week, we went out for dinner, then to see The Two Towers. Usually, we go see a matinee, but since she'd been anxious to see The Two Towers (and who wouldn't?), she was willing to forgo that rule this time. I don't think she minded. As soon as the movie finished, she turned to us and asked,
"Who plays Legolas?"
"Orlando Bloom, " I answered breathlessly.
"Hmmmm, and who plays Aragorn?"
"Viggo Mortenson," said Zack.
"Ohhhh, I like that Legolas. He's so quick, and he's such a good fighter, and he never gets a scratch. That Aragorn is not too bad either."
"Yeah, I know." I grinned.
"I wanna see it again. I'm gonna go see it on Friday."
I know exactly how you feel, Mary.