Monthly Archives: May 2009

The 2 People I’ve Known for 30 Years

My brothers are 30 years old today. My little brothers are 30, not 8.

The first Christmas with 3

The first Christmas with 3

Of those 30 years, I probably hated them for at least 10 and couldn’t be bothered for another 4. It’s kind of amazing that we now exist in an era in which I rather like being with them.
I don’t remember when they came home from the hospital (I was 18 months old) but legend has it that I started sucking my thumb on that day.
I probably never completely got over feeling jealous and out of place. But that wasn’t their fault. And they are the only people in the whole world who know what my growing-up was. I bet we don’t fully understand the grown-ups of each other that we are now, but there’s something to knowing one another’s pasts.

We’re not a family who says “I love you.” So I won’t do any of that here. But I’m happy to have them around. I’m glad that we can speak to one another, and in my family, I feel like that’s saying something, and I think we’re ok with saying that, at least.

Picture 2 It’s been years since we’ve spent any of our brithdays together, but as chance would have it, I’ll be seeing them both today. Buying presents for boys is never the easiest. Shopping for my brothers, in particular, seems to be especially daunting. But I wised up and went searching for T-shirts on Threadless. I found this one, which I think is quite clever. Quite a few years ago, the boys came out to visit and we went to a Magritte show at the SF MOMA, so we saw the real “This is not a pipe” together. Hopefully, they’ll dig.

Happy birthday, boys.

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Filed under Family, Friends and other Humans, Special happy things

Ben Folds @ The Fox Theater, May 17

The Fox Theater was the star of this evening.

It opened in February of this year and this was my first of, hopefully, many shows here.  It is astonishingly beautiful.  There are several tiers of floor and a seated balcony.  The hardwood floors are fabulous, with little vents poofing cool air.  It’s sort of art deco and kind of Middle Eastern.  Opulent without being gaudy.

It gives me this feeling of hope for Oakland.  Like maybe it won’t be so scuzzy some time soon and that nice places to eat and drink won’t be so surprisingly noteworthy.  The charm of the Fox Theater is sure to improve the tenor of it’s surrounding neighborhood.

So… Ben Folds.  He was cute and geek chic, yes.  But mostly, I yearned for the shows of yore.
The last time I saw him was so great.  He got the audience singing a harmonized round that was super fun.  And he did an over the top cover of Aerosmith’s Dream On that left me a little obsessed with that song.
I loved Rockin’ the Suburbs and admittedly, his new album, Way to Normal, didn’t thrill me quite as much.  So I knew that the show would have a lot of his new songs going in to it.

And maybe something totally great happened at the end of the show.  I left at 10:30, because, you know.  My bed time is at 10.  And while the show was supposed to start at 8, nothing happened until almost 9:30.  Happily, I was enjoying my exploration of the venue during the wait.  To be fair, a group of semi-talented kids from Sacramento did an acapella cover of Annie Waits prior to Ben taking the stage.  So if something really great happened once the actual show started, I missed it.  But in the hour I saw there was a guy playing a fancy glow-in-the-dark tambourine, and Ben put some Altoid tins on the strings of his piano.

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Filed under Concerts

Some things are not as nifty as they sound

Cello Madness would be an example of something that sounds really nifty, but ended up not being so much.

It’s supposed to be a troop of jamming cellists.  In previous sessions, there had been 5 to 8 of them, getting all kinds of cello madness on.

Last night, though, there were just 2 of them at the Make-Out Room.  The one who seemed to be generally in charge of the event was quite good and did some interesting things with his cello.  He made it make sounds like a strumming guitar with his bow.  He unabashedly was being cool and aggressive with his playing.  The other cellist was a lady who was clearly a skilled classical musician.  But she was terrible at improv.  Any opportunity to make up a little tune was lost by her random, atonal, double-stop, pseudo jazz.  It was consistently discordant and unpleasant.  And she seemed to want to try to compensate for her decided lack of coolness in her cello playing by flailing her legs around and slapping her bare feet on the floor like a nod to her recognition of rhythm.

An audience guy asked them to play some Bach.  She obliged and was quite good in that arena.  She played two pieces from the cello suites that I didn’t know, and I suspect they were probably quite hard.
The other guy took a stab at the familiar piece from the first suite that’s been in a dozen commercials.  He did a fun little improve bit in the middle and he messed up a bit in the rest.  I was caught off guard at one point and laughed out loud when he played a fast scale instead of the actual notes of the piece.  Even so, he was very interesting to listen to.

I may try out Cello Madness again and hopefully, it will be better with more people.  But I am skeptical and left feeling like I coulda done a lot better myself, which is dangerous thinking indeed.

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Filed under Concerts, Up to Stuff

Making an effort to write something

I make occasional generic noises about wanting to be a writer, and really, I actually do!  But I don’t write.  I try to do a bit of blog writing here and there, but I know mostly it’s rather crappy and I’m jusr writing something for the sake of writing something.

So I asked a girl from work about doing a writing club.  Even though I think it might be torment.  I suggested that we should write a short story from our childhood.  We should be meeting in half an hour and this is what I wrote in the past 2 hours.

In Mrs Brewington’s second grade class, every child was given a badge for completing your work on time if you finished before lunch.  After lunch you had recess and art, and those didn’t count towards finishing anything, other than the school day.

The badge was made from construction paper with mimeographed purple outlines.  It always said “I finished my work on time today!” in the middle.  Last week there had been a blue ice cream cone, a red strawberry, a brown puppy, a pink shoe, and a purple flower.  Miss Anne used a straight pin to attach the badge to the front of your shirt.  You had to be careful not to move your arms around your chest so that you wouldn’t get stabbed.

Every day, Meg took her badge and put it in her Capezio ballet shoebox.  It was a black box with a million little white stars on it.  Systematically, she poked a whole through the center of each star on the box using one of the straight pins.  And she filled the box with badges.

On Tuesday, Mrs Brewington told the class that they would be making books. They spent the entire day sewing together a stack of pages and then gluing that in to a cardboard cover.  Then they got to pick out a bit of wallpaper sample to decorate the book’s cover.   Meg chose a blue wallpaper with a white bamboo pattern.  It took the whole day to complete the construction of the books, but Meg finished before lunch and Miss Anne pinned a yellow sun on to her favorite shirt.

The next day, the assignment for the class was to fill the pages of their books with a story.   The story could be illustrated, or just words, or whatever you would like it to be.  Meg wrote a story called “The Lone Stag” about a loner deer.  He was quite content to cavort about the woods associating with no other creature, as he was quite solitary, but in a noble way.

One day he meets a very pretty doe in the woods and she introduces a new longing to the stag, who decides that it might be nice to spend more time with the doe, and then they get married.

Meg filled the book with lots of crayon drawings of the stag in his forest, with many vines twirling about in the trees.  She especially liked the last picture of the doe and the stag together, with the stags complicated horns silhouetted against the setting sun.

The rest of the story was about the adventures that they doe and the stag had together after they got married.  But it was time for lunch and she had not finished her book, even though most everyone else had.  She was not getting a badge.  Miss Anne patted her on the head, but she did not pin the purple mushroom to Meg’s shirt.

Meg walked in the single file line with the rest of her class down the hallway to the lunchroom.  Her eyes were stinging and her breath was coming in choppy little bursts like it when you are trying very hard to not cry.  But she couldn’t stop thinking about the badge that she didn’t get and the shame that she hadn’t finished her work on time today.

She slunk quietly over to an empty table in the corner of the cafeteria and put down her Holly Hobby lunchbox.  She opened it and looked inside and then couldn’t hold back the gulps any more.  She put her head down on her folded arms on the table and just cried.  It was just so unfair!  When you work so hard on something, you shouldn’t be finished for taking a bit longer!  Her story had at least 20 more pages than any one else’s book.

And then someone sat down next to her at the table.  She looked up.  It was Charro.  Charro Ward was a boy in her class and he never finished his work on time.  Not once.  Mrs Brewington was always saying things like “Charro Ward!  You are the laziest boy I ever saw!” outloud in front of the class about him.  Once she whacked him across the knuckles with a ruler when he couldn’t read the word ‘elephant’ from a worksheet.  He rode the same bus, but his stop was after hers, so Meg didn’t know where he lived.  Sometimes he wore clothes to school that had belonged to her brothers.  That was funny to see.  Her mother had brought in a big bag of clothes to donate to kids who didn’t have enough clothes.  Meg and Charro were two grades ahead of her brothers, so it didn’t make sense that their clothes would fit him.

Meg looked at Charro.  He was ugly, with googly eyes and he smelled.  He had white crust in the corners of his mouth, like too much spit had dried there.  Meg was shuddering from the exertion of her crying and she wiped her nose on the back of her hand.

Charro patted her hand.  “It’s ok.  It’s ok to not finish.  It happens to me every day.”

Meg’s eyes started to well up again.  She pursed her lips together tightly and nodded, looking down at her hands.  Charro patted her hand again and then he stood up.

“Don’t worry,” he said and he left.

The next day, Meg did finish her work on time today, and she got an orange goldfish badge.  But for the rest of the year, there were 4 other days that she didn’t finish and she didn’t get a badge.  And she didn’t cry, either.

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Filed under these are the days of my lives

Alex & Emiliana

IMG_1774_1622Alex and Emiliana were married on Saturday at the Berkeley Rose Garden.  Emiliana was an old friend from The Princeton Review, the early years.  She was often gone for long stretches of time, going to school in Philadelphia, traveling, visitng family in South America.  But we became good friends.

I will never forget how she told me one day, at a concert at the Greek Theater “You’re not happy.  You should break up with Bob.”  In the rules of what’s allowed between friends, there’s definitely a chapter about being supportive of half-assed relationships.  Telling me that I should get out of it was a ballsy thing to do.  It took me a little while, but I finally did it.  And I thank her for planting that seed.

Evidently, I get some credit for putting Alex and Emiliana together, as each of them mentioned it several times that night.  Apparently, I finagled Alex, who was teaching SAT for me, to drive another local teacher with him on the job.  My intentions were decidely un-matchmaking, but rather came from a place of desperation.  About 95% of my job at The Princeton Review was spent trying to achieve the impossible and in doing so, coercion played heavily.  So, by having Alex drive another teacher, I now how 2 teachers out at an offsite location that required a car.  He says that he said he woudl do it if it was a cute girl.  I probably would have liked and told him it was the cutest girl ever, even it was that really fat guy with bad skin.  Luckily, it was Emiliana, who is very cute indeed.


Later, the naggy hens of the office manipulated Emiliana into bringing Alex to the office Christmas Party.  And it all ran a rather nice course from there.

I have such a huge love for both of them, nothing could please me more than to see them happily together.  Alex and Emiliana are such excellent, good natured, wonderful people.  It adds incredible richness to my own life to think of knowing them, and I’m sure that the joy they will continue to bring to each other will last for a very lovely lifetime.

The wedding was absolutely beautiful.  Emiliana looked like a South American movie star from the 1940’s.  The rose garden was a glorious splendor.  The ceremony itself was quite brief and I might have liked to have heard a bit more from them, but knowing them, I’m sure they were both quite nervous and happy to not have to say much of anything.  The reception was wonderful, at Dona Tomas, a restaurant that I had been to with Emiliana and her mom before.  The outdoor courtyard was just a perfect spot and it was a warm enough night that it was quite comfortable into the evening.  They couldn’t have had a nice day and there aren’t people who deserved it to be so perfect as they do.

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Filed under Special happy things

Wishing the lyrics to “My Obsession” were more amusing

picture-3I have become obsessed with Twitter.
It’s not an entirely new obsession.  My first tweet was on July 30, 2007 and since then, I’ve updated 476 times.

But a few days, someone with 600+ followers tweeted a message about following me and my followers have since doubled.  And a very few tweets have been favrd by someone other than Allib.

Because of this, I’ve started harboring delusions of grandeur, if grandeur could possibly mean Twittery success.  And that supposes that you can somehow achieve Twittery success.  But whatever it is, I feel fever pitched in my pursuit of churning out up to 140 more characters of something amusing.

When I was in New York, a friend there was griping about how dumb and pointless Facebook and Twitter are, and she challenged me to explain why I liked Twitter.  I said that since I couldn’t write a novel, I got a great deal of satisfaction in knowing that I could write one, just one, nice sentence.  She couldn’t argue that really, but couldn’t to sniff about how she’d never do them.

So I do love how Twitter lets me write a little tiny bit in a non-intimdiating way.  And I love how it feels a little competitive.  Like the Twitter gods are goading “how good can you write it?  just 140 characters?  bring it!”  And I love having something that updates so frequently.  Better than any good conversationalist, I can ask Twitter to “Tell me more!” and it will.  And, I admit it.  I love having a tweet Favrd.  Oh, the indulgent joy it brings me!  Like a pat on the had, but with a little yellow star to boot!

And thus, I am reduced to constant stalking and plotting.  I try to Favr other people in the hopes that it will engender like mindedness.  I search for new people to follow who might follow me back.  I am manic about checking and Favotter and in a constant state of puzzle as to why the two don’t match.

Sweet David watches all with amusement and warns “don’t try to be funny.  It isn’t funny.”

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Filed under Nifty things, these are the days of my lives

I know that I’m popular

My squiggy squiggy cute sweet boy and I went to see Wicked on Friday night.  I had caught a bit of the hype sweeping San Francisco, and yet every commercial I heard had music that just fell a bit flat.

But all the hype!  Every time I turn around, someone I know, or someone who knows someone is raving about it!

But then there’s that song…”no wizard that there is or was is every gonna bring me down!”  Sigh.  It’s JUST. SO. CHEEZY.

And then there’s the book that I read and was completely taken by.  It was an amazing story, which made me feel like I had learned something about something relevant and important, when what I had learned about was the fictional land of Oz.  And instead of feeling duped by my faux learning, I was rather charmed.

The costumes were beautiful and the set was impressive.

Glinda was ridiculous, but actually quite funny.  She made me do that “ha ha” noise **out loud** so there is that.  And Elphaba was also very good.  I felt for her and her plight and was completely behind her vision for a better Oz.  If only she could sing better about it.

As the play progresses, it turns out that the plot is more about the friendship of the wicked witch of the west and Glinda the good witch.  They are forced to make choices that separate them and Glinda leads a crusade to turn the people against Elphaba.  A man comes between them (Feore), which is very disturbing for the blonde, pretty, popular one.

So they are separated, come back together, have a heart wrenching exchange about the impact they’ve had on one another’s lives, and then Elphaba dies. Well, its actually just a trick to make people think she’s dead but everybody,  including Glinda believes it and Elphaba and Feore take off for a whole new world.  Which I believe takes us to a different country all together, one populated by magic carpets.

At the end of the day, I enjoyed it. And there’s a bit of me, even, that kinda wants to see it again.  I feel like maybe I missed something.  That if they could just sneeze on me a bit more solidly, then I too can catch the love.

Even so, it suffered from having some poor music sadly.  The chorus songs were terrible.  Even the “good” songs, were only good because one line of the chorus was nice.  So sigh.

Which leaves me still unknowing:  do I like musicals or not?

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