Thursday, June 30, 2005

always bizarro

Yesterday the cartoonist Dan Piraro was on KGO and I enjoyed
hearing the interview, although he sounds more "normal" than I
expected. I've been reading his cartoon in the Chronicle for
more over 20 years and I still enjoy him, even though it has
shrunk so much that anyone over 50 needs a magnifying glass
to catch the important details. He talked about how impossible
it is for a cartoonist to make a living doing this, unless one
makes it BIG like with
Doonesbury or The Far Side.  The money is
in the stuffed animals and tee shirts, according to Piraro.  In
any event, here is his web site, which is intriguing:
Piraro said it only takes a few minutes to draw the cartoon, but
coming up with the idea will often take up to 5 days. He is in
town for a one man show taking place in Millbrae or Mill Valley,
or one of those towns across the bridge.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

secret lives

We rented In the Realms of the Unreal: the Mystery of Henry Darger
from Netflix and watched it Sunday night.  Since then I have been
thinking about all the people who might possibly have secret lives;
probably not to the extent of this janitor by day - illustrator and
writer by night.  Henry did more than practice his craft, that is all
he did, other than work.  This was back in the 50's and he didn't
have TV, computer, friends, travel, restaurants, etc.  He wrote
his fantasy story and drew miles of amazing pictures.  How sad
that his work wasn't discovered until he was on his deathbed.
Also, the movie was interesting from an historical point of view
with some tantalizing scenes of the city of Chicago.
This is a fabulous documentary - rent it!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

huge discovery!

On Saturday, Bruce Almighty told me that we could email
to these blogs and after I said, "no way", he responded
that "I read it in the book you recommended".  Hmmm,
did he mean the same book I have here at home stacked
on top of all those other computer books?

sure enough! This means that I can add italics,
underlines , some color and even use big mother
so no more messing around with that
HTML stuff that I never really understood.  Plus, it seems
so much more personal and easy to type in an email here.
Way to go - thanks.  OK, now I can even add a link because
you should be reading about my friend's trip to Cape Town
The Great Plotnik  Enjoy!

scroll & noodle

My friend Michael posted some photos of the
David Best pagoda here in commano, but you
need to scroll around a bit to find them.
And, like magic, you can click on the one
with the altar and it enlarges. Gol' darn,
just like a real blog!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

team Newsom

I didn't vote for Gavin because he wasn't liberal
enough, so imagine my delight and surprise when
he supported gay marriages more than a year ago.
Makes me pretty up and walkin' proud.

Speaking of walking and pride, I meandered down
Powell Street today to see the Gay Parade, enjoying
the costumes and happy people along the way. About
a block from Market, the buzz got to me. Laughter
and applause and joy. Every year on my lunch hour I
have this overwhelming desire to be at the parade
and this year I felt the goose bumps earlier than
usual. The crowds were huge and I didn't have time
to find a really good spot for viewing, but I did catch
the gay and lesbian police officers and next came
a whole bunch of people wearing pink tee shirts that
read "Team Newsom". Most of them were walking, but
some drove in those little electric cars that we are
seeing more and more of. (I know my friend in Santa
Barbara who drives the Great White will cringe when
she reads this, but she does have those two dogs as
an excuse.) I imagine Mayor Newsom was walking with
the people in pink, but I couldn't see him from behind
all those people.

It was one of our foggy days today, but not cold and
windy. There was electricity everywhere. I'm not
gay, but I am so proud to live in this city.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

a daily lesson

Our email program at work is a half-assed Outlook
budget job that gets clogged from what it considers
too many emails and attachments. Often I will have
to wade through 50 to 100 important messages before
I start my work day. (Of course if I have any
personal emails, those are read first.) Every day
there will be 4 to 10 duplicate back/forth messages
about high-level executive items: escalators, urinals,
discipline problems, trash cans, dumpsters, the
always faulty AC system, snarly customers, scam
artists and outright thieves.

Sometimes my temper will flare and I'll shoot back
an email, only to get a "so sorry, you need to delete
some of your mail first" message, so I save the letter
until later. After I read and cleanse the program,
I go back to read the emails that I'd planned to send
and almost every time I change my mind and delete or
rewrite what I had originally written in the heat of
the moment. It seems I shoot from the hip more often
than I think I do and the much-criticized Outlook is
looking out for me.

Friday, June 24, 2005

ah yes, the overlap

I am fighting fiercely
for it by lying down,
but the Walden of my mind
fills up with berry pickers,
litterbugs, picnickers
and outsize children,
all the crying kind.

Actually, overlap
is my worst problem.

When the lines that I dangle
in Walden
are hauled in,
the tail of one thought
is found to be hooked
in the mouth of another
and that one
is equally firmly caught
by another of which I am not
especially fond,
and the endless flapping
of fishes ends by
swamping the pond.

But I digress,
making images of sleeplessness.

Somewhere is Innisfree,
is Zion,
somewhere a womb
opens inward,
a kind of whale whose stomach room
is warmly moist
and undangerously brown.
I am fighting fiercely
for it by lying down.

Maxine Kumin

Thursday, June 23, 2005

it's all so temporary

Yesterday we took a fine walk up and down
Hayes Street with the express purpose of
seeing this pagoda created by David Best
of Burning Man fame. There's a tiny park
there at Hayes and Octavia and the pagoda
is fenced inside. Someone had thoughtfully
left an opening in the fence, so I was able
to take some close up shots of this glorious
work of art. Very intricate, very lovely.
(photo or photos to follow...)

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

it must be love

One of the recurring themes in the writing I've
been doing the for past 3 years is how fortunate
I am to live in San Francisco. IN the city,
not on the outskirts - not some place where there
is easy parking, but right here in the heart
of things. And now, after many years of working
in Berkeley, San Mateo, Colma, Milpitas, Daly
City, Sunnyvale, etc., finally, I work
in the heart of San Francisco at Post and Powell.

As with any irrational love affair, I don't see
clearly about my city. During the height of the
homeless problem I was able to put my blinders
on and walk right over the many sad mounds of
poor people passed out on the streets and in
the doorways. We plan an extra half hour to find
a parking spot when we go out and think nothing
of it. We pray to our Lady of the Asphalt and
rejoice when she comes through for us once again.
I won't even discuss real estate stuff, that's
too obivious to everyone. "Pish tosh" I say with
a dismissive wave of my hand...

Last night at dinner, for instance, our friend
Frank was describing a scene from out at the
Legion of Honor when they watched the fog and
some clouds roll in through/under the Golden Gate
Bridge and then disappear. I could picture it too
and once again I thought, "there, see? right here
is where I belong"...and I do.

I feel for the Great Plotnik and his Ducknik
leaving here during the best weather of the year.
When I got up this morning I was humming, "who
will buy this beautiful morning?" The sky is
clear, the light is incredible and the air feels
soothing on my skin. I've already been out to our
(thankfully) small garden to pat the roses on
their heads and to gently pull a few minor weeds.

When I bought my belated digital camera this year
the first photos I shot were of the skyline from
our back room. It's not as though I don't have
a few thousand others, but, sheeeesh, it was just
too splendid that particular day.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

the bag in the hall

(Or sack if you're from a red state)

I'm getting ready for a July trip to visit my oldest friend
Ginger who lives in Manhattan, Kansas. Part of the Mullen Ave.
travel ritual is to put a brown paper bag (or two) in the hallway
and we drop things in: notes, magazines, books, gifts, clothes,the
tickets and other assorted odd little items that should not be left
behind. I always write the destination in big, black letters - as
though we might forget where we are heading.

This time it's a Mollie Stone bag, but in the past it has been
from Trader Joe's. I hope this isn't a bad luck thing. The
bag legally shouldn't be installed until a month before the trip,
but I cheated by about a week this time, because today is the
longest day of the year.

They call it "The Little Apple" and it's several hours away from
Kansas City. A nasty drive on one lane roads and scary to do at
night after a long day in a cramped airplane. So this year I'm
going to fly from KC to Manhattan, not a very appealing idea either.

So far the only things in the hallway bag are the e-tickets and a
pair of shorts that I hate. They are probably 20 years old, why
don't I toss them? I will also drop in the little red shoe pin that
Ginger gave me when she first moved to Kansas a few years ago.

I love getting ready for a trip and the anticipation is so much
a part of the fun. I wonder if we'll go the 4H fair again this
year. I never knew pigs were such a bright pink...

Monday, June 20, 2005

good intentions

Officially, today, my Round Robin writing course
is over and for the first time I have not
signed up for the next one. I have decided for
now to use my commano blog to do my daily
writing. I can't be quite as personal as I
have been due to the wide readership here - I'm
sorry to disappoint you all, but I have my
reputation to protect.

I don't feel as free blog-typing yet as I
do in emails to close friends - I know that's
my best and most creative writing and the time
when I make those "oh-my-God" discoveries
that make all the work of writing so worthwhile.
I'm hoping things will change here as I keep
rambling away and getting used to the whole thing.

Monday night is my Friday night because I am
off on Tuesday and Wednesday, so it's about
the best night of the week for me. We're
having lunch tomorrow with the Great Plotnik
and his wife Ducknik before they head to South
Africa on Friday. They'll be gone for 5 weeks
and that's a very long time.

Tonight I want to suggest that you word people check
the "bla bla bla" link and read Bruce's thoughts
and words about writing. Excellent stuff there.
Also the new SF Chronicle Culture blog which will
soon be linked here (thanks, Michael).

So there, I wrote for about 10 minutes or so.
Maybe this will work if I can only loosen up and
simply write.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

preacher man

Yesterday I brought home "Gilead" by Marilynne Robinson, the novel
that won the Pulitizer Prize this year, and I'm enjoying it immensely. I
hesitated before because the idea of reading about the life of a
midwestern preacher as he prepares to die didn't really sound too
enticing. But I was wrong, this is a compelling book and beautifully
written. I did enjoy "Housekeeping" by Ms. Robinson which I
believe I read that about ten years ago.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Meet Two of my Faves

Here you get to admire my dear friend Kristin's
19 month old daughter Ryan Rosemary (aka RR)
and her striper Dorffie, who won the prestigious
"shortest legs on any cat ever" award back in
the Fall of 2002...or was it 2003?

writers & friends

Some of my happiest moments during my current
life are spent with our Tiapos writing group.
Last night we all met at my house, squished
into our little back room with the impressive
view of SF. Here are some of the writing
topics - I'll go around the room mentally now:
.isolation vs. solitude
.the penis gallery
.big blog's big book of fiction
.dirt man and the haight street fair
.her teeth were sooo big she couldn't
close her mouth
.standing in line at the bakery in heaven
.starving a cat to death

My husband was good enough to hide away, but
after my friends left he said, "there sure
was a lot of laughter!" And there was, there
always is. Often tears too, but not last
night. Two of our favorites (the Great Plotnik
and LargePants) are going on extended vacations
and we will be missing them. We missed our
own poetic Lenore, too, but we'll see her for
the next meeting. Nice to have SpottyWest back
where he belongs - with us.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

are those italics?

I am NOT enjoying the new Michael Cunningham book
Specimen Days, so I will take it
back to work and select another. The employee
book loan program is what I missed most when I
spent a year not working in the bookstore business. And here you
thought it was the customers...

My faithful and patient readers will note that I actually
used italics up there for the book title, but it's a
tedious process on this blog. Or is it (gulp) me? Anyway,
thanks to the Goleta Guy again for pushing me here.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

but can she cook?

Last night we went to see "The Goat,
or Who is Sylvia?" presented by ACT.
This is an Edward Albee play and my
introduction to bestiality as a theme.
Surprise, it was not as disgusting as
one might imagine, and of course the
dialogue was Virginia Woolfish enough
to keep all people who like words and
word play interested. The man in front
of us left early, (it was a one act play)
but no one else rushed out. To me,
basically, it all revolved around our
overwhelming need (or perceived need)
to connect with someone or something
completely and our hero felt that he
had met that someone when Sylvia looked
at him with "those eyes". I definitely
recommend this play with the subtitle:
"Notes Toward a Definition of Tragedy".

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

the onion unpeeled

So good to have The Onion published here
in SF and now it's FREE every Thursday. There
was a little piece about how the basketball
playoffs were interrupted by the first
pre-season game of next year. We thought it
was true because basketball is now a year
'round sport. And not my favorite, obviously.

Monday, June 13, 2005

about denial

I like this quote from an East Indian poet
named Tagore:
"Truth comes as conqueror to him who
refuses to receive him as friend."

Sunday, June 12, 2005

bubkis = nada

Famous people come into the store where I
work, but they always seem to arrive after
I've left for the day, or on my days off.
Sometimes I only know they were there when
I see the little red and white author
stickers on their books. Some examples:
.David Sedaris
.Sean Wilsey
.Sue Grafton
.Elizabeth George (I did meet her!)
.Ruth Reichl
.Whoopi Goldberg
.Willie Brown (frequent customer)
.Gavin Newsom

Before his book came out, President
Clinton visited and bought a lot of
mass market mysteries. Several people
got his autograph, but I wasn't there,
of course. Dr J keeps an autograph book
in his locker and has lots of valuable
greetings and signatures. I have bupkis.
Or is that bubkis?

we love the marsh

Yesterday we went to a 5pm (!) show at The
Marsh (22nd and Valencia) to see the most
excellent Brian Copeland in "Not a Genuine
Black Man". This is now the longest running
solo show in SF history and the funky little
theatre was standing room only. I bought
our tickets on line: Brown Paper Tickets -
The first and only fair-trade ticketing service,
or you can call the Marsh ticket hotline
at (800) 838-3006. There are also performances
at more traditional 8:30pm times, but right
now that seems very late to someone on my
strange working schedule. Many thumbs up,
even though I'm sick of that hand gesture.

Friday, June 10, 2005


This poem always reminds me of my brother
who died as he lived - stubborn. Evan was
a good-looking man with piercing blue eyes.
(I can hardly wait to see what the various
browsers do to ee's poem-design here - it's
not supposed to be flushed left as it shows
on my preview, so apologies.)

Buffalo Bill

Buffalo Bill's
who used to
ride a watersmooth-silver
and break onetwothreefourfive pigeons justlikethat
he was a handsome man
and what I want to know is
how do you like your blue-eyed boy
Mister Death

ee cummings

Thursday, June 09, 2005

why yoga? why me?

When I was young I would have laughed in a
mildly contemptuous manner at people who
did yoga. "We mock what we are to be", I
think that Mel Brooks said that. Anyway,
now I go to the Integral Yoga Institute
once a week and would actually go more
often if I had the time. It's that lovely
Victorian building on Dolores Street and
I feel peaceful the moment I slip out of
my shoes and walk in the front door.

I've been doing this yoga thing for almost
5 years. At first I didn't like the
chanting and breathing, but now those are
as important to me as the stretching.
Yoga gets me out of my little world and
makes me feel as though I really do belong
to the whole universe. I try to use the
breathing techniques at work when things
get stressful and I even mutter the
occasional "om shanti om" during a crisis.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

a rebuttal

OK, here is an email from Susie Parker and I
might have to admit that I have made a rare
mistake this time and perhaps I spoke before I
thought. I wish I could put this in italics,
or bold or something, but that just seems too
much for me and my blog.

I don't quite agree with your op down below. I won $2000 once and a month long stay at a writers retreat. so I pay entry fees and subscriptions (for poets and writers…) I'm careful about it, but by entering contests it forces me to look at my work carefully, it’s part exercise, part editing, part motivation, etc. whatever works…. onward! sp

book o' the week

I'm reading "The Wonder Spot" by Melissa Bank
(author of "The Girls' Guide to Hunting and
Fishing") and although it's a novel, it is
what the wonderful local writer Susie Parker
(aka Ms. Q) would call "thinly veiled fiction".
It takes place mostly in NYC when the young woman
heroine (Sophie) finally lands her first job as an
underpaid pink collar worker at a publishing
house. I've noticed that people who love words
and writing will suffer greatly just to be near the
things they love. But maybe that's true of others,
I'll need to think about that. Later.

Not only do writers not get paid well, there is
this odious practice of requesting a check when the
writer submits a piece of work. I say "no" to
that, no matter what it's called: entry fee,
subscription cost, dues, etc. Now I'm getting
irritated just thinking about it.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

anne bancroft

She was one of those people I just sort of assumed
would live forever. Not only was she beautiful
and talented and funny, but I have always believed
that her marriage to Mel Brooks is the kind of
partnership we all dream about. Lots of laughter
and chatter because they both seemed to be such
warm and bright people. Poor Mel.

I last saw her on one of the final episodes of
"Curb Your Enthusiasm", last year I believe.
She looked older, of course, but so elegant.
I'll miss you, Ms. Bancroft.

Monday, June 06, 2005

simple blog rules

I've decided that in the 10 posts here,
I will always try to have one quote and
one poem. So those are my new blog rules
for my blog, and here is tonight's quote:

"Writers have two main problems. One is
writer's block, when the words won't
come at all, and the other is logorrhea,
when the words come so fast that they can
hardly get to the waste basket in time."

Cecilia Bartholomew (who?)

Sunday, June 05, 2005

the scam what am

Ask me if I'm sick of this one. A customer
buys 4 DVDs in our "buy 3 get the 4th free"
month-long sale. They return 3 and either
keep the freebie, or ask to trade it for
another, of course. It makes a
woman even more snide than her usual self.
Big Blogs would be proud because for some
reason she fears that I might be silenced.
Fat chance.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

those daily writes

As you know, I write every day for my Round
Robin class. This week I have been particularly
stale and started to wonder if I should change
my direction and become an escalator repair
person. But tonight our prompt was to write
a story about something small. So I wrote
a fun little piece about a kitten who gets
lost in a large bookstore. Interesting how
it seemed to get me out of the doldrums. My
kitten's name is Getta, as in "can I get a
discount?" She's an orange striper like my
most wonderful, now deceased, Uncle Junior.

too much information?

You NEED a vertical transportation engineer at that place - maybe someone that works on the Eiffel Tower. The first modern type escalator was invented in what 1921 or something and they still can't get it right - just look at BART. Have you ever seen a non-functioning wood escalator? Not me. Admittedly most have disappeared now but in the mid 1960's most of the department store escalators where wooden. Maybe it's only because yellow caution tape wasn't yet invented.
(from Michael in Goleta)

Friday, June 03, 2005

free advice

Here are two important things that I would
pass on to young women:
1) everything goes out of style except
scarves - you can save/wear them for decades.
(donate or sell the other clothes, shoes,etc.)
2) keep a hard copy file of your jury duty,
you'll need to refer to dates, cases, etc. often.

finally a photo!

Scroll down (on my computer anyway) and you'll
see a photo (!) and the links have also moved
down and that's fine with me. Thanks to my
high tech Goleta guru who understands all this
stuff and helps me immensely.

My day was OK, a little exhausting because the
escalators have crashed, well half of them,
but surely I don't need to write about this
again. I'm going to follow the advice of the
Great Plotnik and have a mammoth sandwich now.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

4 floors of chaos

Today was easier - the 5am didn't seem so strange
and I am amazed at how many people are on BART
at 4:45am. Mostly workers, rather than executives,
even though we live in a country without a class
system. Sarcasm becomes me.

There is great tension in the store with all the
workmen tromping up and down the escalators and
holding the one elevator for 20 minutes at a
time. We had two escalator repair men in all
day and I'm sure they'll be back tomorrow. The
customers are even more cranky than usual and
it is hard on all of us walking up and down the
dead escalators.

Then this morning the manager of the hotel next
door came to visit in a rage because they had 30
calls of complaints about our noise during the
night from their guests. Ooooops, we forgot
about them. The workmen dragged the old fixtures
out on the sidewalk and break them down before
throwing them into the dumpster. And of course
they have to yell loudly at each other - we all
know that's standard macho behavior.

The good news is that I get to leave there at
2pm and I rush home to nap and spend a few
quiet hours cursing the numb nut Giants.
And do some writing, reading and blogging,
of course. Bed on or before 9pm. Fun!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

it's just an hour!

Today my work schedule changed and I am to arrive
at work at 5am, instead of 6am. This is just for
a couple of weeks until the remodel is complete.
But it makes a huge difference and I'm having
trouble adjusting to losing an extra hour of
sleep. That and dealing with a mess every day
when I arrive. But at least I get to leave at
2pm and come home for a nap.

Last night I watched "The Sea Inside" and I
recommend it strongly. I'm always surprised when
the subject of death can be so life-affirming,
as it was in this tender Spanish movie.

Our writing prompt today: It's not going to happen
(I think I can tie that into my working life)