Friday, May 31, 2013

Connectivity and bonus puffery

Yesterday, I called AT&T to inquire why my bill was suddenly about $100. The answer was, as it always is, that I had been in a promotional period and it had ended. Mind you, these promotions are usually a year long, so one is lulled into a sense of certainty that the high bill one is paying every month will go no higher. Then BAM! Secret year anniversary is reached and you owe $100. Considering the number of movies I watch on Netflix in a given week, this is probably a bargain (thanks, internet), but that doesn't mean I can readily afford it.

That is how I came to have a very long conversation with Shanti, who wanted to know how she could make me feel like a valued customer. Shanti offered me a phone/internet package for half the cost of my current plan, however, it would require me to purchase a new phone and a new modem--neither of which I want. (This is where I admit that I don't have wireless internet in my house. This is where I further admit that I fear I will get cancer if I have a wireless modem directly under my bed [which is where it would have to be connected].) Shanti told me that in my new wireless world, I would be able to connect up to ten devices without lowering my speed. I was sorry to tell her that I have no devices, but on the bright side, I did make her laugh. I enjoy making customer service representatives laugh.

Ultimately, I agreed to have cancer-internet, but I will not agree to have their special phone, as I am quite attached to the (lousy, but very fetching) phone I already have. This compromise will bring my bill back down to the high rate I have already become accustomed to paying, but not the still lower rate I would pay were I willing to join the 21st Century.


To pay what I was already paying, I must buy a modem that I do not want for $100. Shanti agrees that that is a high price. That is why she is pleased to offer me a $100 rewards card that I may use to offset this cost. Why, one wonders, can she simply not charge me to begin with? Mysterious are the ways of commerce. I was then given the option to have a technician come install the new cancer modem for a fee of $99. I declined. No problem. I am also able to install the cancer modem myself. For $49.

I think that bears repeating. I may opt to personally install the $100 modem that I do not want. For this privilege I will be charged $49.

Rather than making me feel like a valued customer, this makes me feel like an enraged prisoner. Those feelings seem very opposite to me. They might want to look into that.

In closing, Shanti reminded me not to text while driving. I told her that I was certain it would not surprise her to learn that texting while driving is not one of my personal shortcomings. That's what comes of having no devices. It makes me a bit of an oddball, yes, but it also significantly decreases the chances of my running you down in the street. Perhaps I should charge for that service. I'm thinking $49 is about right.


Friday bonus.

My favorite sentence from NPR yesterday: "Puffery is not actionable."

That is what keeps you from being able to sue your local diner for saying they serve "The World's Best Hamburger." I would like to think that the joint commons of sense and decency would keep you from suing anyone for that, but this is America, so we need a law. And, as luck would have it, "puffery" turns out to be a legal term. Hooray.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

What's the word, Hummingbird?

Because my feet have been hurting (oh, how elderly I feel with the aching and the limping and such) I constructed today's ensemble from the shoes up. In this case, the Keds up.

And that, dear readers, is how--quite accidentally and rather unfortunately--I came to be dressed as though I plan to audition for the ingenue role in Bye Bye, Birdie immediately after work.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

On triviality

On Sunday, I heard only a very brief snippet of City Arts and Lectures as my mother and I moved her car from an expensive parking meter (5 minutes for a quarter. How is this possible?) to an expensive parking garage. I don't even know who was being interviewed, but I have to assume she's an important Thinker of Our Time because that's who they invite. In any case, I rather wish I'd missed it altogether because I was only radio-adjacent long enough to hear her say, "Well, you don't read blogs the way you read...writing. Here's some advice for young writers [of whom, alas, I realize I am no longer one]. Just because something occurs to you, you don't have to write it down."


I don't even disagree. This is why I have not been successful in incorporating Twitter into my life. Yet I felt like a mean girl had sauntered up to me on the playground to tell me that only losers wear those dumb jeans--didn't I know? Which is to say, I felt embarrassed and deflated and I don't even know who she was.

For a long time, I didn't tell anyone at all that I had a blog because it seemed so incredibly trivial and self-indulgent. Also, I could not hate the word "blog" any more if I tried. I started it to encourage myself to write anything at all. I thought that the theoretical notion of an audience might help me show up. It didn't, not really, because I am inherently lazy and writing--even silly, brief writing--is harder than it looks. Also, writing for a theoretical audience is like the absurd suggestion that setting your clock ahead ten minutes will keep you from being late. That scheme seems to imply that you are not only tardy, but also an amnesiac who can go around changing your clocks and then entirely forgetting that you've done it. Both of these things are just you trying to outsmart you. Or, rather, me trying to outsmart me. I'm harder to fool than that, it turns out. This is why the advent of the Blog Bully was such a boon. One non-theoretical audience member. One person who is not me who cares whether I write anything or not. It is strangely powerful.

Sometimes I write things here that I consider capital W Writing, but mostly not. It's been a long time since I've devoted any energy to what I consider "real" writing and, lately, that work has been for performance more than for would-be publication. Meanwhile, if I weren't here, my writing would be limited exclusively to my personal correspondence (which, I'll have you know, is sparkling as all get-out) and, like the Italian verbs conjugations I briefly knew and promptly forgot, I might lose the knack altogether for lack of practice.

The reality is, in order to show up here with any kind of regularity, I am obliged, truly, to write anything that occurs to me. Indeed, I am always very relieved when something does occur to me.

Perhaps it doesn't count as writing, but I'm practicing. Thanks for standing by.

Friday, May 24, 2013

It's not easy being green

The end of the school year is a veritable frenzy of events and acknowledgements. It's all cakes and presents and details, details, details. I know it is only my imagination that I am in charge of all of these things, but it feels as though I am in charge of all of these things.

Today, with a start, I realized that I had not yet ordered the hundreds upon hundreds of service items required for graduation. Where there is cake and cider, there need also be plates and cups. For many years, we've been using compostable everything for this. The plates are made of grass; the cups are made of corn; the forks are made of potato. I don't know what the napkins are made of, but they are a very drab color, so they must be virtuous. I was given a price sheet from a different, slightly cheaper vendor this year and was all set to place an order when I noticed that they are in Brooklyn. When you are in San Francisco, having your compostable forks shipped all the way from Brooklyn is to miss a bit of the environmental point. (Mind you, it is also possible that only Brooklyn and San Francisco have ever encountered a compostable fork, which suggests we may be missing a far more daunting environmental point, but that's to ponder another day.)

Begrudgingly, I went back to our local green office supply vendor's baffling website and began the annual adventure of decoding their numerous product categories. After a longish time, I had managed to add the plates, cups, and forks to my shopping cart. But where, pray tell, are the napkins? They are not in kitchen/food service supplies. They are not in paper supplies. Indeed, they don't appear to be anywhere among the TWENTY-FOUR categories of products listed. Among these is the curious office supply option of Art&Nature/Wildlife Photography Gallery. I clicked on it. For all I knew, they were hiding the napkins in there. Nope. Here are the subcategories:

Images-Birds and Owls
Images-Other Wildlife
Images-Sea Life

So, if you're having a party where you need plates, cups, forks, and [presumably recyclable] images of bears, you're in luck. I know just the place.

You need napkins? You're wrong. You don't need napkins. Anyway, we don't sell that kind of thing around here. Wipe the frosting on your skirt and move along.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Take two

I just wrote a whole thing and then realized it wasn't true, so I erased deleted it (isn't it quaint how I still accidentally say things like "erase?") and now where are we? Nowheresville. Hmmm.

All right. I'll tell you this. I saw eight (for your future reference eight is actually more than enough. Eight is too many) student-written one acts yesterday. They went pretty well, in fact, but, what with the set changes, it was almost interminable.

One play has a sort of prologue courtship montage. You know the sort of thing. A voiceover narration and little glimpses of the couple picnicking, skating, driving in a convertible, attending a sporting event, etc. (What? I like romantic comedies. I'm not ashamed.) In the play, the montage is mostly achieved by the actors standing in front of various projected backdrops (for instance, "They went to a soccer game." Actors stand in front of projection of a stadium and say "Yay!") But there was also, "They attended the amateur wine-making festival." Projection of a vineyard. The actors move to a barrel stage right; the boy, almost twice the height of the girl, lifts her straight up and sets her the barrel. She begins stomping.

Theatrical gold.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Consolation prize

A mother is leaving BiRite with her small son. He turns toward the left and she turns toward the right.

"Oh, no, honey. We're going to walk down Valencia. So, you won't see any streetcars, but you will see Google buses!"


It occurs to me belatedly that this is only funny if you live in San Francisco and since I have a vast international readership (what? someone I know lives in Switzerland. Also, the blog "stats" [which I am compelled to put in quotes because I understand them not at all] suggest that I have readership in Russia? This seems very implausible, but the stats, they say so.) I will undertake to explain why this is funny, which, as you know, is the very best way to tell a joke.

Though "Google Bus" evokes images of something magical or, at the very least, whimsical (Is it like the psychedelic tour bus in The Muppet Movie? Is it like the night bus in Harry Potter? Is is some kind of amazing think tank on wheels?), there is really nothing all that fascinating about Google buses. They are very large (I believe they have two stories of seating). They are white. They are ALL OVER my neighborhood. And, their sole purpose is to transport Google employees to and from work. A corollary is to illustrate to the rest of San Francisco that half of the city's population is seemingly employed by Google. Those of us who do not work for Google can be um... a wee bit tetchy about the ubiquity of the exclusive cool-kid transport, (like here and here and here) but, now we know at least one toddler is super excited about them.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Photo album

I was going to have to resort to more stories about how I've been falling asleep on the sofa every night, then [usually] relocating to bed where I am subsequently unable to fall asleep. Is it really frustrating and kind of pathetic? Oh, yes. Is it an interesting story? Not at all.

Imagine my delight then when a friend posted this link on Facebook. You are spared! I don't usually cheat in this particular way, but these pictures are pretty amazing. I'm a little ashamed, but my favorite is young Joseph Stalin. I mean, c'mon. Just look at him. Why is no one ever inviting me to parties with young Joseph Stalin?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Remember that time?

There are many conversations one might have with one's mother that are fairly universal. If I told you I had a conversation with my mother about my posture or about my marriage prospects or getting enough sleep, you might say, "Oh, lordy. My mother said just the same thing!"

The conversation we had yesterday wasn't one of those. All right, look. I was going to be too polite to say it, but here it is: the conversation we had yesterday makes my mom cooler than yours. Sorry about that.
Me: I saw this cool movie at the Roxie yesterday. It was an Othello adaptation, but set in the jazz world. Dave Brubeck and Charles Mingus are in it as themselves. They're just playing at a party.

My mother: I told you about that time I went with Aunt Dot to hear Charles Mingus in the Village, right?
She listened really intently the whole time and said, "That's so interesting."
When she said jazz was interesting, she meant it. She knew a thing or two about music.

Ladies and gentlemen, Aunt Dot.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Is it summer yet?

I think it must be summer. For one thing, the tourists are out in full force. Even at the late-lunch hour of 2pm*, the Haight Street Market was overflowing with people ordering sandwiches in interesting accents; some lady mistakenly went in to browse in the shoe repair shop; and everyone is wearing brightly-colored sneakers and meandering slowly down the [filthy] sidewalk four abreast.

Also, I can't stop thinking about my vacation as though I needed to pack tonight when, in fact, it's a month away. A whole month! A month during which I will worry constantly about what shoes to pack. This has become my latest preoccupation though, sadly, it is largely irrelevant which shoes I pack because my feet seem to have deteriorated to the point where there is no such thing as a comfortable shoe. Every morning I wake up with aching ankles, which seems like a rather esoteric malady, but no less concerning for its exoticism. Yesterday I walked about four blocks and there is still residual throbbing nearly 24 hours later. Not good. Usually, I do a great deal more walking in New York than I do at home, but maybe not this time. Taxi drivers, things are looking good for you.

Tomorrow, in an act of reckless hope, I'm going to a foot clinic at a local pilates studio. In addition to the class fee, I have to buy a "foot kit" for $25 though I believe it is comprised of quite ordinary balls of various sizes (I'm thinking tennis ball, super ball, etc.) that I could get elsewhere for much less, but since I haven't actually seen them, can't. Sigh. The pilates people are very clear that "there will no foot kits for loan!" Slightly disappointing, but since we're supposed to be rubbing our bare, flawed feet all over them, it's probably just as well. What if I got someone else's foot cooties? Maybe someone else has leprosy or something. The last thing I need at this point is more to be wrong with my feet/ankles/knees/hips. It's already a festival of ow.

If the Rub Your Foot on a Ball cure doesn't work (an outcome that seems very likely), I think I'm going to hire four strapping men to carry me around on a litter. If I'm going to be infirm, I might as well be glamorous about it. Surely someone in this town has already constructed a litter for Burning Man or their burlesque show or something. I'll bet I can rent it cheap for the off season.

*I really shouldn't wait till 2pm to eat lunch, particularly since I seldom eat breakfast. When I get that hungry, I can't resist the sultry come-hither of the chocolate milkshake. I know this. As I greedily hoovered it in while waiting in the deli line for a more sensible lunch option, three tourists asked me where I got it. I do appreciate knowing that I'm not the only one afflicted with milkshake weakness. However, by the time I'd gotten my sandwich, the milkshake was gone and, unsurprisingly, I was (and am) no longer hungry. My sandwich, fully wrapped, is hurumphing beside me even as we speak.

I'll be honest, this week hasn't been so hot. It's been all falling asleep fully clothed on the sofa, unauthorized hotdogs and milkshakes, general slovenliness, and crazy leg-aching. I have high hopes for next week, though. See you there.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Slow learner

Why do I go and say things like "tomorrow I'll tell you a great story about pee" when I know I might not? And now I'm a big liar? I'm not a completely pathological liar or anything. There really is a pee story in your future; I'm just busy of late and weirdly exhausted. (There's this thing happening where I stay up too late, then have trouble falling asleep, despite my enthusiasm for the project. In the morning, the Upstairs Baby wakes me an hour or more before my alarm [not cool, UB] so I put in earplugs and continue sleeping, but have vivid dreams about the Upstairs Baby. This has been happening every day for weeks. It's not restful, is what I'm saying.) Still, I didn't want to flake out completely. So here I am. Hi.

Last night I went to see All Through the Night at the Roxie. Have you ever seen a Humphrey Bogart movie that you never even knew existed? It's very exciting. It's a helluva picture. The one-liners don't quit. Plus, a bunch of hoods take down a bunch of Nazis in New York. One of them, of course, is Peter Lorre. It was my idea of a large evening.

On my way smilingly back to my car, some guy slightly ahead of me on the sidewalk, riding a scooter (the kind you stand on and push with your foot, not the kind the belle regazze putter through Rome on) said to me, "They were really letting that guy get into it." "Who?" I asked. "That drummer back there?" "No. The guy at that table. They were all leaning in and he was going, 'I mean, the universe is relative.'" He went on imitating the guy for a bit. "Usually I notice stuff like that," I told him. "But, I missed it." "I find the scooter is really good for that. I listen really intently--and then I'm gone." "Yeah. That sounds like a good eavesdropping strategy," I agreed. "Plus," he said, "I'm a stand up." He swung his scooter around. "I'm going to go back there and hear some more." And off he scooted into the night. If you frequent the comedy clubs, stay tuned for that bit. It'll knock 'em dead.

Tonight in an effort to Be a Grown Up, I addressed myself to the slowly expiring vegetables in the refrigerator. I sauteed a pound of mushrooms with some garlic and red pepper flakes. I steamed some asparagus and topped it with meyer lemon juice. I put on the water to boil for the pasta that would bring the whole thing together and...had no pasta in the pantry.

And so, as circumstances dictated, I had two hot dogs and a glass of cabernet.

Speaking of knockin' 'em dead, I am killing it over here--seven days a week, y'all.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Promises, promises

Oh dear lord. Here it is Tuesday already, which means I'm a day behind on my entirely arbitrarily self-assigned blogging schedule. Egads!

The good news is that tomorrow I'll have a long story to tell you. It's about urine. You'll love it.

For now you'll have to content yourself with the knowledge that I saw the Blog Bully on Friday, which is always a delight, and we saw a really brilliant play, which, when it happens, is also always a delight. You know what else was delightful? The post-show gin I drank. On the whole, Friday really exceeded my expectations, which was fortunate since Pee Saturday wasn't that great.

Do you live around these parts? Are you amenable to Scots swearing a great deal? If so, you really ought to get yourself down to see Black Watch while it's playing at the Armory. It is theatre that takes full advantage of its own genre in a way that is very satisfying. By this I mean that the best plays could only be plays--not novels, not movies. They make full use of a theatrical vocabulary that requires a sort of collaboration between the audience and the performers to give it life. I realize that this sounds disgustingly pretentious while also being almost entirely unclear, which is not an ideal combination for any sentence, but it's the best I can do at the moment.
Short version: it's a great play. Go see it.

Now I'm off to the Roxie for a Noir double feature. Because, hey, I like movies too.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Tick tock

This morning, barely awake, the alarm penetrating the foam of my lousy drugstore earplugs for the fourth or fifth time, I had this conversation with myself:

"What time is it?"
Open one eye, squint at clock.
"It's not a tragedy yet."

Huh. For me, "it's not a tragedy yet" is a legitimate answer to "what time is it?" This is a thing I had not fully articulated before today. It made me realize that I employ a whole different time vocabulary from night to morning on weekdays:

Past my bedtime (when I usually go to bed.)
Insomnia (This spans many hours for which I am, thankfully, usually asleep, though not always.)
What the f*ck is going on with the neighbors (an hour or more before my own alarm goes off.)
Not a tragedy yet (from the first to, say, sixth time my alarm goes off.)
Tragedy (when I actually get up.)

I'm not saying it's a great system, and I can't really recommend it, but there it is.


Oooh. Bonus. Breaking news.

Just this second I realized that there is a glue stick on my desk at work in the same approximate position that there is a chap stick on my desk at home. While I am sorry to deny you the almost certain slapstick results, I am putting the glue stick in a drawer. Right. Now.

May your Friday be tragedy-free.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Life lesson

Here's a little something I picked up from an old movie last night. I'm not saying it will necessarily come in handy for you; indeed, I hope it won't. But imagine you did find yourself in this situation and I'd never warned you? I'd never forgive myself.

If you come to suspect that your fiance has killed two people (or three, depending on how you consider the unborn child of your sister), do not share these thoughts with him while the two of you are ALONE at a MASSIVE QUARRY.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Can I get some angst with that?

Before the alarm woke me, I had a dream in which I was abandoned by a famous blogger (who was very dressed up) and a successful artist (who briefly left some personalized plates for her wedding on a table next to me) in a hospital basement where I was looking after a baby who was in the so-called care of her alcoholic grandmother.

To this I say: WTF, subconscious? Give a girl a break, whydontcha? I realize that I have neither a thriving career, an imminent spouse, nor a baby, borrowed or otherwise, but do we need to trot it all out at once?

So, I'm exhausted, which is a nice way to begin the day. If you need me, I'll be under my desk, freaking out about my empty shell of a life.


In other news, the fog is decidedly back after such an unusually long absence that I think we are obliged to greet it cordially, whether we want to or not.

As I was leaving the house, a Scandinavian nanny passed by with the requisite stroller. It was like spotting the last polar bear in the arctic--a formerly robust species, now nearly extinct. Who the hell does she talk to at the playground one wonders, when everyone else speaks Spanish?

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Getting back

Remember how I went to LA one time for four days and then I talked about it for the rest of my life? Yeah. That's still going on. Sorry. Sometimes it takes two weeks to tell a story. This is the final exciting installment! (I am anxious about the summer when I will be gone for two whole weeks. It will take me six months to tell you about it. I am not a person with much in the way of "mobile devices." I can't imagine typing anything significant on an iPod touch, though I'm sure half of America is thumb-typing novels on their smart phones even as we speak.)

My friend lives comparatively close to LAX, so we left her house at 6pm for my 8:20 flight. All was well. By the time I got through security, I had about an hour before boarding which gave me plenty of time to hem and haw about what, if anything, I might want and/or need to eat. I finally decided I would spend too much on pizza, only to be told that it would take about thirty minutes to be prepared. I guess it's kind of a fancy airport. I feared the pizza preparedness and boarding times risked being simultaneous, so I got a $17 yogurt instead.

Waiting to board? Fine.
Boarding? Fine.
Waiting to actually leave the ground? Fine.
At first.

We sat on the ground for about an hour. When we finally made our first hesitant backwards progress from the gate, we were immediately met with a very loud CLUNK. The sort of CLUNK that makes you look to your neighbor and widen your eyes. Then we did some more sitting. Then the captain came on and said, "When we began taxiing, you might have heard a noise. We don't feel good about that noise at all, so we're headed on back to the gate to have it checked out."

Now, I'm all for having loud CLUNKS about which the captain has no good feelings checked out while we are still safely on the ground, but it was at about this time that I began to feel quite bitter about that pizza that could have been. It was also at this point that I discovered that my seatmate was one of a large group who were traveling from Colombia and for whom LA marked their third layover of the day. I am sorry, Colombians. We didn't mean it. There is something extra vexing about sitting on an unmoving airplane for longer than the duration of the flight. I don't enjoy the drive from Los Angeles, but I enjoy it more than sitting on an unmoving airplane. Mainly because when you get really hungry, you can just get out of the car and eat something. It's very empowering.

We took flight around 11pm, which is a perfect time to leave LA if your goal is to juuuussst miss the last BART train which, as it happens, is the means by which you get home from the airport. I arrived at the station at exactly midnight, to be met with a sign that said the last train had departed at 11:55. The next train would be at 4:30am. Remember that whole shuttle-bus to Beverly Hills thing? And how I don't like to spend fifty bucks on a taxi? Yeah. I like spending fifty bucks on a taxi even less when I'm in my own town. I was not delighted. I considered a dubious city bus. I considered a hotel shuttle to downtown and a cheaper taxi home. However, I was A) tired and B) hungry and concluded that sometimes grownups just have to take the damn taxi. Fine.

The BART station at the airport is in the same zone as the parking garage, which is to say, nowhere very useful if you need a taxi. I needed to get back on the Airtrain and back to any ol' terminal. I turned back to the very train I'd just gotten off, only to be informed that the Red Line was going out of service and that I needed to take the Blue Line, which, allegedly, also would go to the terminals, despite the signage to the contrary.

There were three other BART refugees. We shuffled over to the Blue Line and waited. I boarded an empty car and marveled as we went farther and farther from what I might call the airport part of the airport. We were running alongside the freeway at one point--the same freeway that, had I been in a damn car, would have led me home. The first stop called was actually a street name as though we were on some less specialized form of public transport. The next stop was Car Rental Kingdom--a place I didn't even know existed because I have no reason to rent a car in San Francisco. That is where the Blue Line went out of service. I did some swearing, I'll admit it. I wondered if some family of vacationers might be willing to give me a ride home in their rental car if I pitched it as a "true San Francisco experience" or if, ultimately, I would have to just rent a car myself. It was explained that--no, no-- there would be another Blue Line train if we just waited. It was only the perfectly good Blue Line train that we had just been on that was now mysteriously dead to us.

I began bonding with two other refugees. They had agreed to split a taxi into the city and suggested I could get in on that action. Finally, after a full 30 minutes on the Air Train, we were set free at the International Terminal and eventually convinced a taxi driver that he would love to take three strangers to three completely different neighborhoods for one fare.

I did feel bad that I horned in on the other refugees' plan at the last minute and yet was the first one to be dropped off, but as I walked into my house at 1am, I didn't feel that bad. Plus, I got out of that cab for twenty-two bucks. Thanks, strangers.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Being there

The "difficult to find in an airport shuttle" hotel* had moved its entrance to the side because someone of authority had decided that they could make better use of the lounge (read: serve more people $15 cocktails) if they got the reception desk and the staircase out of the middle of the room. This must have been a fairly recent decision because they were still furnishing it when I arrived. I mean literally. Not "it was not yet entirely furnished", but rather, many employees scurrying around building small tables from kits, and scowling over the handfuls of leftover screws; workmen hanging mirrors over flaws in the sheet rock and the like.

When I first walked into the lounge, it looked as though they were planning on staging a production of The Chairs** in there. So many chairs. Large chairs. Everywhere. The major precepts of the new business model seem to be expensive drinks + armchairs. Somehow though, when I returned after dinner, they'd arranged things normally. There were still many large armchairs, of course, but it no longer looked like a room in which a maniacal chair enthusiast had been given free rein. It was Jazz Thursday and there was a three-person combo playing when we came back around 9:30, as my server, Celeste, who'd provided me with complimentary tea and chatted with me for a longish while during the table-building madness, had urged me to do, so as not to miss it. And then, when I did, not three hours later, she didn't remember me at all, which was bizarre to an almost "Twilight Zone" degree.

The reception area is now stuffed onto a little landing and the hotel "office" is now a desk directly adjacent to but lower than the reception desk. I won't lie. It's kind of silly looking. Fortunately, despite being there on a cut-rate coupon, I was not obliged to spend the night in reception, so it made no difference. Apparently, they had run out of the type of room I was meant to have, so I was upgraded to a king-size room, which was rather thrilling for me. The room was larger than my own living room, though it also had a couch and a table in it. There was a very large flat-screen TV that I was unable to turn on, but I didn't care because there were also several books on the bureau, one of which was Noel Coward's collected diaries. Noel Coward! He just keeps cropping up. Really, had I only had that one night in that huge bed with no baby overhead, reading things like, "Dropped in to see Winston. Found Mrs. Churchill alone. We played croquet." That would have been quite sufficient to count as a vacation.

And yet I got more. Lucky duck. I think I gained several pounds, which is tiresome now, but seemed irrelevant at the time. Marja and I ate many delicious things (including among many things, dinner at Street [outside seating, with blankets provided] and Industriel [more armchairs!]), We also had flaxseeds, which I found uninspiring and which adhered to the inside surfaces of my mouth in a remarkably determined way, but which Marja assures me are the key to health. That is a sentence with far too many whiches, but let's just ignore them. I am a staff of one. There are no copy editors around here.

There was also:
  • miniature golf (!)
  • a search for a dress that exists only in my imagination
  • a search for shoes that exist only in Marja's imagination
  • a discourse on when and why Anthropologie's clothes became so absurd, but no less costly
  • dinner with a friend I seldom see, but love just as much as I always have
  • an extensive Stanley Kubrick exhibition at which I came to realize I have seen very few Stanley Kubrick films.

Then it was time to go.

*Are you dying of curiosity about this? Sorry. I stayed at the Beverly Crescent. It's pretty. Though, of course, it looks rather different now that it does in the website pictures, clearly taken back in a bygone era when they had a front door and a sign. To say nothing of smaller chairs in the lobby lounge.

**I've actually never seen The Chairs; there may not be a lot of chairs in it, but let's pretend there are because, at the time I said to myself, "Good lord. It looks like they're staging The Chairs in here." And I hate to ruin perfectly good jokes I tell to myself.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Important announcement from the '80s

Having recently watched both, I am here to tell you that Beverly Hills Cop holds up much better than Rain Man. I assume this is because Eddie Murphy's character is affable and amusing from the beginning, whereas Tom Cruise's character is all, "Where is my money? I deserve money! I have had a terrible life and it would be fixed by the money I so much deserve! I am so furious that I will yell at all other characters!" for about thee quarters of the movie. Also, Eddie Murphy's hair and, indeed, clothes, still look relatively normal, whereas Tom Cruise's are very "of the moment" for 1988, which, from the perspective of 2013, is not a positive thing.

Also, also: bananas in the tailpipe and later evocations of said bananas trump any number of toothpicks that Dustin Hoffman can instantly calculate.

That is all.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Getting there

Last week at this time, I was in Los Angeles. It feels like last year. This week has been a little crazy and I realize I have not really been meeting my awesome Internet Responsibilities. Fortunately for you, the internet is filled to brimming with things to read, so I imagine that even when I falter, you're able to soldier on without me.

I went to L.A. to visit a couple of friends. The first night I was in town I stayed at a hotel because I had already paid for it long ago via some coupon and because I like hotels. I thought that it would be impolite to make my friend pick me up from the airport in order to take me to a hotel, only to pick me up at the hotel in order to take me to her house the very next day. And so, I decided to take a shared shuttle van into Beverley Hills. By the way, if you are hoping to make a polished, if not actually glamorous, arrival at your fancy boutique hotel (at which you could not reasonably afford to stay without the aforementioned coupon), pulling up to the valet station in a shared airport van and clamoring out of the backseat over your fellow passengers is probably not the best way. I assume most of the Beverly Hills crowd doesn't find it dismaying to spend fifty bucks on a taxi, but I think it does them good to mingle with flat-shoed commoners like me from time to time.

While economically and environmentally sound, shared vans are also not the world's most efficient way to get anywhere. There's a lot of waiting around and then there's quite a bit of circling the airport in case there might be more cheap frugal travelers to pick up. Of course, there are, so that's a whole other thing what with the suitcases and awkward boarding and all. After about an hour in the airport (during which I witnessed a really heart-rending drama of a man pulling up to the arrivals passenger-loading zone--where you're basically arrested if you linger for more than three minutes--and then promptly locking his keys and phone in his car, which suggests that being picked up by your friend can potentially be even less efficient than a shuttle), I was on my way.

Quite luckily, I was the second person (of seven) to be dropped off. This would have been more of a triumph had the driver been able to actually find the hotel. Instead we drove up and down the street and around the block several times while five other passengers pretended they didn't want to murder me and fling me out the side door. Since the last time I was there (a two-night coupon, friends, meted out, ever so cleverly, one night at a time over two years), they had moved the entrance from the front to the side of the building, meaning that the actual entrance no longer corresponds with the address. And there is no sign. (Maybe it's too cool of a hotel to have a sign? I know that "too cool to have a sign" is a category of bar, but is it a category of hotel? It seems flawed from a marketing perspective and from a your-customer-base-is-comprised-of-tired-people-who-don't-know-where-anything-is-because-they-are-not-from-your-town perspective. But I work at a school, so what do I know. We totally have a sign.) By the time we found it, there was rather a steely silence radiating from my fellow passengers. I was relieved to bid them farewell and I'm sure they could not have been more delighted to see me on my way.

Next up: Being there

However, since you've been so patient, I will give you a Friday bonus:
This morning on Haight Street, a large 50s-style convertible passed by, all the occupants of which, with the exception of the driver, were enormous teddy bears. Three in the back, and one riding shotgun.

As with most things encountered on Haight Street, I can offer no explanation.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Biological advancement

There is a commercial currently in heavy rotation that has a jaunty accompanying song, the first line of which is "I swallow the wind through my nose."

Discussion Questions:
1. Can one, indeed, swallow anything through one's nose?
2. Even if so, is it a felicitous song lyric?