Monday, March 27, 2006

A Day at the Mall...

It’s looking like this blog has turned into a weekly endeavor, mostly because I’ve turned into a hermit… all work and no play. What can I say?

The week whizzes by and before I know it, it’s Friday… time to catch up with a couple of friends, sleep and what was that thing I used to do? Oh, yeah, exercise. So, Friday found me at an author’s event hosted by Tamim Ansary who heads up the longest running writers’ workshop in the city, held at the Meridian Gallery on Sutter Street every Tuesday night. Since I used to call myself a writer (yeah, those days are gone too) I like to support others in their endeavors. As it turned out, someone stepped on my purse and broke my spectacles in two; my fault, I suppose they should have been in a case.

Hence Saturday was spent at the mall first waiting to get an appointment to have my eyes tested, then killing more time while the lenses were cut, etc. All in all, more time than I’ve ever spent in a mall my entire life. As it turns out, Stonestown isn’t that bad a place… try on a few pairs of shoes, check out the lingerie at Nordstroms, discover that I’ve been wearing the wrong size bras my entire life, more shoes, sale at Banana Republic, then the Limited… ah, great bargains to be found there. So, the writers’ workshop only cost me $700, such a deal.

To compensate, I took myself out to dinner with Ms. R and Mr. A… the Slow Club, which on Saturday night was moving kinda’ slowly. A couple of cocktails waiting for a table, a glass of wine with dinner… chalk up another $100.

Ms. R has discipline and went home. Mr. A and I – not so much -- we took ourselves down to Aunt Charlie’s in the ‘Loin, to see some of our favorite Divas do their thing. We were in luck, Vicki Marlane was hostessing… gotta’ love a gal who’s still putting it out there when she’s, well, I shouldn’t divulge a lady’s age, but wow!

I called it quits after the show… after handing out dollar bills, I was more than done for the weekend.

And there you have it... back to earthquakes!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Bad Food = Good Service; Good Food = Bad Service... a San Francisco quandary

It’s been too long since I last wrote… something to do with working long days, busy nights and feeling vaguely disgruntled… Okay, so, St. Pattie’s day was a bust. Had a night out with the girls and had shitty cocktails served to us in Harry’s Bar on Fillmore Street followed by the worst food I’ve ever seen a restaurant serve at the Fillmore Grill. I spoke up in my usual no-nonsense way and the burger that I could have soled a shoe with was replaced with something edible along with an apology from the owner by way of a carafe of wine. It, however, did not help the other gals who ate their food while quietly grumbling. I have to say it’s the first time that the Fillmore Grill was not impeccable in every way… good food at realistic prices with courteous staff.

Saturday turned out no better… Rachael’s art reception was stunning… interesting people, good food and music, and I’m sorry that Mr. A and I left. But, we had a ressie at Limon, where I’d eaten once before and to which Mr. A was very excited to be going. Wrong. They offered us a seat by the door and since I’d requested one upstairs, we chose to wait another twenty minutes to be seated. It was another twenty-five before our waiter took our order. Need I say, another twenty before the appetizers appeared. The empanadas, ceviche and tuna tartare were delicious. However, by 10:30 when our entrees had not arrived and we’d waded our way through another pitcher of sangria, well… who was hungry? We asked to speak to the manager. The “substitute manager” arrived and was rude and unapologetic, pointing out that we had not ordered our meal until 9:15 pm. Duh! Mr. A intercepted, pointing out that the table of eight to our right had been seated, served and had since eaten and departed. The establishment’s compromise was to take the price of the pitcher of sangria we’d been drinking while waiting for our food to arrive (too much ice and fruit for my taste, by the way) off the bill. Needless to say, Limon is off my list.

Movies: Where the Truth Lies… started off interesting. Kevin Bacon and Colin Firth in unusual and interesting roles, but, my, the story was all over the place and hard to follow. Still, I’d say watch it, if you've got time to kill. On the other hand, Head On, a German film, directed by Fatih Akin and starring Birol Unel and Sibel Kekilli (as if you'd know who they were; I didn't) as immigrant Germans who live and work in the port town of Hamburg, is brilliant. Dark, brooding, realistic, yet hopeful.

So, maybe that’s me these days… dark, brooding, too realistic… yet, strangely, hopeful!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Big One...

Uh, what day is this? Is April over yet? Oh, course not… There’s just so much hoopla working up to the centennial of the Big One that I feel like I’ve already been there, done that. Well, here’s hoping, indeed, we all get through it without a re-enactment of. My Lord...

Though I subscribe to San Francisco Magazine, sometimes it simply doesn’t reach my mailbox, hence I missed James’ article last year about the horrors of a ‘quake the scale of 1906 hitting us today… not that I didn’t have the facts from when I helped him write the novel, but, fact is, I’m as guilty as the next person of complacency.

Yeah, yeah, yeah… I ‘used’ to have an earthquake kit. I still keep a few cans of food in my cupboard. I do still have a portable radio. Batteries? They’re around somewhere. Or, maybe not. Water in gallon containers… a few to be safe? Uh. Nope. Got the bottles, just haven’t made it down my three flights, out the front door to my super next door where I can refill for 35 cents a gallon. Kitty food? I'm sure there'll be lots of mice running around the ruins.

What I learned today from Harris Bostic, Director of the Bay Area Chapter of the Red Cross, is that the number one thing we should all have is an agreed-upon meeting place with our family and friends. As I told him, when I was first an ex-pat here with my geophysicist other half, we had a place we agreed to meet should the necessity arrive. But, since I’m other-half-less, haven’t thought about it…

In 1989, I was sitting in the St. Francis Hotel, having just finished a meeting with my macho architect colleague, a cool beer about to touch my lips, the ball game about to start, when the table began to shake. “No matter,” I thought, “a second from now it’ll all be over.” It wasn’t. As all the tourists rushed outdoors (silly people) he and I shared a look and I still maintain that he was under the table before I was. Back in our seats, it wasn’t until the TV went black that we realized, “uh, oh.”

The seriousness of the situation still didn’t hit us, even when we discovered block after city block without electricity. And so, on we went to what was supposed to be my friend Jim Heron’s big art debut at Limn Gallery. Got there to discover that the reception was cancelled. As we made our way gingerly through non-functioning traffic lights, it was then we saw the flames on the other side of the hill in the Marina i.e. the direction in which he and I both lived. When I made my way home to not-quite-the-Marina, but Cow Hollow, I discovered my apartment in tact. But from my third-floor view I could only stare in horror at the flames in the distance.

Let me tell you folks, 1989 was nothing to what we’re facing compared to a temblor the scale of 1906. So, read James’ article on San Francisco Magazine’s Web site, then do yourself a favor and pop over to the American Red Cross and get prepared.

This is not an if. It’s a when.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Rachael Stoppello Opening Reception...

For once I trucked all the way out to City College prepared for the starvation attack that usually hits me halfway through class only to have my teacher send us all home because she wasn’t feeling well… which is pretty much like having free time – woo hoo!

A chance to throw out the trash, pick up papers and discover that card I’ve been looking for about an opening reception this coming Saturday. Mr. A and I met these lovely ladies at Mecca (which I’m going to have to add to my list of restaurants on the sidebar ‘cos it looks like we’re going to be regulars), the sweet Holly Lynne and her artist girlfriend Rachael Stoppello. Rachel’s having a show at Muse Art Gallery, 615 Alabama @ 18th, at 5:00 onwards on March 18th… so stop on by to check out her ‘Cycles of Life’.

Now, where did I put that tax form?

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Weinsteins have done IT again... Bravo!

And the contenders for next year’s Oscars are already lining up… Johnny Depp and Samantha Morton set the stage on fire in The Libertine. Malkovich is equally brilliant, but that goes without saying. I saw him on stage in London back in the nineties in 'Burn This' and, though I was in the balcony, could feel the power of his raw charisma.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Mecca and Pink (to make the boys wink) ;-)

Our intentions were good. Aren’t they always? It was supposed to be a hair-do, art reception, a light bite and one cocktail then home to bed. Early. Yeah, well, that was before it was 8:30 and Mr. A was just finishing my hair… worth the 3-hour effort!

Change of plan led us to Mecca… and, no, we’re not changing our religion. I do mean Mecca on Market, which is under new ownership that has revitalized the atmosphere and where you can see Mr. A as he spins his own brand of dance this coming Sunday 4-8 pm. And if you don’t make it for the music, be reminded that they have happy hour from 5-7 pm with $1 oysters and all drinks are $6!

Thursday nights are Ladies’ Night… and the place was swimming with a gorgeous bevy of gals… not that that’s where my own interests lie. We quickly got a spot at the bar where our new favorite bartender Steve took excellent care of us… with a friendly help from Eddie. Our ‘light bite’ was grilled shrimp ceviche served with mango salsa and tuber chips; crawfish spring rolls served with a tomato corn tartare, which Mr. A described as, “crisp, fresh, perfectly cooked… stunning.” Me, I had my hands full of Mecca French Fries… hey, you can take the girl out of Scotland, but you can’t take Scotland out of the girl... I love my French fries and these are top notch. Maybe one day I’ll write up the top ten French fries in San Francisco. Not to be outdone by the Windsor Valley fois gras with Anjou pear, spiked pumpkin puree and porto gastrique. But, I’m just getting started.

Mr. A had a belini; I had a bloody belini… sheer frozen deliciousness. However, sticking to my one cocktail rule (surely, you don’t think red wine counts?) I then moved to wine. When I couldn’t decide between the Taz Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County, 2003, and the Havens Merlot, Napa Valley, 2001, Mr. A suggested I have a half glass of each. Steve promptly obliged with, ahem, two ‘half’ glasses.

All, nicely followed up with a Rosenblum Late Harvest Viognier.

Sounds like a perfect night, no? But, it didn’t end there… moseyed on over to Amber to meet Mr. A’s new friend Gary, a fancy Maiden Lane ‘hair colorist’, who’ll soon be hosting Monday night bingo at Otis, a private club owned by my friend Damon. But, I digress… Amber was jumping, from what I could see through the smoke-friendly bar. Gary and I hit it off instantly, so much so that he wanted to find me a date and suggested we jump ship to Pink. Great! Strictly for a half-hour, of course.

Mr. A got behind the wheel of my Miata while Gary and I got to know each other even better on the passenger seat. Needless to say, we got rock star parking right out front. Pink used to be Liquid, where I used to dance my tush off with my good friend John Zane (wherever you are) during the heady dot-com days. It’s been glammed up and extended so that it’s less of a sweat box. Olivier the owner greeted us at the door and immediately provided shots of the house drink, which would have been rude to decline, then Gary pulled me onto a table to dance…

See what I mean about best intentions?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Red Carpet Style...

Well, Inside Edition over-ruled me and voted Keira Knightley as their Number 1 Best-Dressed… mmh. At least we both agree on worst dressed… probably isn’t a doubt in anyone’s mind but the woman herself… Helena Bonham Carter. What on earth was she thinking? Besides that the dress was too short, white shoes, and that hair do – your everyday drag queen is better put together! We can all take her misguided style as a guide on “how to add 10 years to your look.”

More later, the Divine Mr. D just got back from New Orleans and I do believe I’m first on his dance card… off to dinner at the cozy Blue Jay CafĂ© on Divis.

Monday, March 06, 2006

The Oscars Redux

So Brokeback didn’t sweep as I’d wished, but then I knew it wouldn’t. Everything else was as equally predictable…

John Stewart was witty, urbane and, who could fail to notice, HOT! Among my highlights was his joke on Scientology. Bodacious Ms. B, with whom I watched the show, thought that was the reason John Travolta looked positively peeved when he came on to present.

The ladies were seriously lacking in bling, except for Keira Knightley, way over-decked for her age. The look overall was neutral and natural… the winners being Uma, Reece and Ziyi Zhang… in my humble opinion. I hate to admit that the dress I coveted was worn by Jennifer Anniston, who’s not my favorite.

The most memorable part of the evening? Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin… clearly professionals at their art.

Oh, and let’s not forget the indomitable Dolly Parton… even though she’s had a bazillion surgeries… she looked fabulous. Less fabulous? What’s up with Hilary Swank? Poor girl… you could see her ribs!

Faux pas of the night surely was the failure to let Robert Moresco say his thank you’s… boo!

So I lost $25 in our pool, because I voted for Paul Giamatti to upset George Clooney… but kudos to George… have always been a fan of the man! He’s right up there in my new list… Stewart, Ferguson and Clooney…

Friday, March 03, 2006

'Quake Country...

Is it Friday, already?

Okay… since I’ve started working with James Dalessandro on the production of “The Damndest, Finest Ruins,” a feature-length documentary on the 1906 earthquake and fire, I’ve barely had a minute to think of anything other than, well… earthquakes and disaster! Speaking of…

We’ve had a couple of minor rumbles in the past week and last night there was one particular burst of thunder that sent my kitty running for cover. When he wouldn’t come out from beneath the Afghani rug in my hallway, I was paranoid about going to sleep, lest there be a major quake in the night… You know, that thing about animals having paranormal senses. Not to worry, I was soothed to sleep by the dulcet tones of my favorite Scotsman and awoke this morning to find everything in tact. Phew!

Wanted to mention Bruce Willis’ appearance on Letterman earlier this week… gotta’ love the guy for his sense of humor and lack of vanity. If you didn’t see it, he came out looking like the left side of his face had been splattered with buckshot, which brings me to this particular little tidbit sent to me by the delightful Katie D… for all your Johnny Cash fans this one’s for you!