Saturday, December 31, 2005

the yuck awards

I have a very mature and professional rating system
for movies that I don't like. I just write "yuck" next
to the title. With books I simply return them to the
shelf, because we have a book loan program that
is now, and always has been, the best part of working
in a bookstore. I don't even list the books that I
return, but with movies I feel I need to keep a record.

So here are a few yucky movies from 2005:

I Heart the Huckabees
Ocean's 12
U.S. of Leland
Lila Said

And now I wish everyone a fine New Year. It has
to be easier on more people than 2005 was. My
favorite day of work is tomorrow ~ I go in a 6am
and work customer-free until 11am. Heaven.

Friday, December 30, 2005

our tough city birds

When I worked down by Fisherman's Wharf, the Wild
Parrots would fly over (squawking loudly) every day
about 3:30 in the afternoon. They would land in a big
tree that was exactly the same color as their feathers
and then they'd fly off about 20 minutes later. Often
the fly-over was the highlight of my day.

Tonight we watched
The Wild Parrots of Telegraph
and it was even better than I expected. And we
even got to see the flock that lives down here in the
Mission, in the palm trees on Dolores. Beautiful scenes
of our bird-friendly city, too. Rent or buy it now!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

me and my silent flip

Today I deposited my old cell phone at the Verizon®
store on Market Street. They have a big bin there and
a program they call HopeLine® wherein they recycle
old phones and give them to women who have suffered
and (we hope) escaped from abusive relationships.

My new phone is half the size of the old one, but the
buttons are larger and it's easier to use. I've been a
happy Verizon customer for about 8 years and when
I read that this company is rated #1 for mobile
phones, it's no surprise to me. Of course I still haven't
memorized my cell phone number and if anyone ever
called me I'd be utterly shocked. So don't.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

some small movie treasures

This morning I'll list five lesser known films from
the Flix®, which is really where they shine. We all know
movies like
Hotel Rwanda and Born Into Brothels are
worth seeing, but these are older, little jewel films that
you might have missed. Again, in no particular order:

Bread & Tulips ~ an Italian film about a woman who
runs away from home.
Mostly Martha ~ Sarah the Chefnik agrees that this
German film about a restaurant chef is authentic.
Dark Days ~ recommended by Jen. A documentary
about some homeless people in NYC. Sad/sweet.
Vera Drake ~ a realistic look at how abortions are
done if they aren't legal. (No lectures, move on M.A.)
In the Realms of the Unreal: The Mystery of Henry
~ wait until you see how this janitor-by-day
created a whole fantasy world in his "real" life.

(Oh, I have to mention
Walk on Water and My Summer
of Love
here too. So that's a quick seven.)

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

lists on top of lists

I keep a list of the books I read and the movies we
rent from Netflix®. My book reading is shameful and
I need to increase that activity in 2006. I am
surrounded by books and book people, so I have no
excuse for not reading more.

Here are the five books I most enjoyed last year
and in no particular order:

Pattern Recognition by William Gibson ~ my rare
sci fi read. Wonderfully strong main woman character.
Gilead by Marilyn Robinson ~ elderly preacher looks
back on his life. Try
Housekeeping, too. Same author.
Refuge by Terri Williams ~ an older nonfiction book
about the environment and author's growth.
A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby. Four people meet
when on roof top New Year's Eve pre-suicide jump.
The Sea by John Banville. Glorious writing and winner
of the Man Booker Award.

Well, now I know why I keep lists. That was a beneficial
exercise for me. Tomorrow ~ my movie BESTS.

Monday, December 26, 2005

dressing down

I had to be at work at 5m this morning to set up the
after xmas sale, so I broke all the rules and wore
blue jeans and felt comfortable all day. It was busy
once again, but the Great Plotnik and his mother,
Rose, came in to visit and to buy some audio tapes.
I heard "there's Mrs. Mushnik" while I was helping
at the registers and that cheered me immensely.
Mother Plotnik (she doesn't like that name) is indeed
a beauty, but I expected that.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

grey, wet and quiet

05xmas walk
Originally uploaded by the omster.
San Francisco on Christmas is unlike our city any other day of the year. No traffic, no horns honking, plenty of parking (free) downtown and all muffled in an unreal way, like we're wrapped in a soft grey gauze. And today the fog horns. We could hear them all over the city. I love that gentle moo-like sound.

My friend Michael and I had breakfast at the Cafe de la Presse (Sutter and Grant) and then walked down here near Crissy Field. I wanted to take my 843rd photo of the Golden Gate Bridge, but today we couldn't even see it. The fog/rain was pretty heavy, but we had a pleasant time and it's hard to believe that today was
our 6th Annual Christmas Day Walk.

All in all, another excellent day.

finally ~ a day off

So after all the retail season was successful. Big sales and
happy upper management. Exhausted workers. I'm in front
of my morning fire which is a splurge because it's really
not cold here in Bernal Heights. Still feeling a bit sensitive
to people and sounds, but delighted that things will be
back to normal soon.

Holiday good wishes and love to all my friends: bloggers,
readers and even (gulp) customers.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

and now Lucky's on board

Take a look at the newest link over here to the right
and thank you Michael for your highest technical help.
This blog is lovely. Baby Girl is named for Lucca's
Deli and that's how it should be. The momma is my
sweet writer friend, such talent. Enjoy.

one more day

How I'd like to amuse you with little retail tidbits or
perhaps some angry barbs. But I have turned into a
mean machine that works on the registers and makes
excuses for being out of books and looks at my watch
and eats too much chocolate during the day. This
is not what our ancestors had in mind when they
escaped to this country seeking freedom.

Tomorrow is a quiet fire, a beach walk with my friend
Michael and dinner in Kennsington with our middle son
and his wife. Simple. Perfect. That keeps me going....

Thursday, December 22, 2005

under destruction

Two more days to endure in Retail Hell. Everyone is on
each other's nerves and I don't think I'll be able to
write much unless some miracle occurs. I feel not
one iota of word play or even a hint of creativity,
so I will go to bed and dream of all the situations I
could have handled better today.

If that man with the umbrella (wet) comes in again
tomorrow and leaves it on the books I might have to
resort to physical violence. Loathsome man. If the
obstreperous woman bothers Jon G. about the broken
book light one more time, it will be lights out for her.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

bake at 325º for ten days

Over the years I have trained myself to look for the
unusual "city thing" when I walk. A sight one would not
see in San Leandro or Abilene, Kansas. Yesterday it
was an easy winner and so delightful that I had to
return for another look-see, even if it meant a few
rain drops on my head.

There is a used appliance store at Bryant and Cesar
Chavez (nee Army) and it does a brisk business. In the
front window is a stove without a door. Inside the oven,
on a small red rug, is a manger scene! There are tiny
multicolored lights framing the oven, and two too
large angels guarding the wise men and the Jesus
family. The first time I walked by I did a "what the?"
and wished that I had brought my camera. Then I
decided it would be a good exercise to describe this
little treasure for you here on commano.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

a 3 kleenex® morning

I couldn't sleep in this morning, even though I've been
looking forward to doing so for 5 difficult get-up at
4am(s) in a row, so for the first time in my life I
watched a movie before the murk of dawn. I
borrowed "the murk of dawn" from John Banville's
The Sea, by the way. This book is so beautiful that
I can only read about two pages before I put it down
to say, "oh my lord". Or whatever. It is well worth the
$23.00 price tag, even if you have to sell something
really valuable, like the parking space in front of your home.

Anyway, I watched
Saint Ralph this morning. I can't
remember where I read about it, or if someone told me
to rent it, but it was delightful. Tears and small smiles
and a nice way to ease into this day. About a boy kid in
the 50's who runs the Boston Marathon. And more.

Monday, December 19, 2005

according to carrie

Now here's an interesting article in today's Chron.
that I can actually paste for you. I'm thinking of maybe
a Great Plotnik apron or a calendar for next year. (It's
a little longer than my usual post, but I bet one or two
of you will get some good ideas.)

The headline:
Many bloggers are experimenting with
selling merchandise

By Carrie Kirby
Chronicle Staff Writer

Katy Barzedor of Flint, Mich., had no trouble choosing a 2006 calendar for her office wall. She happily paid $15.99 for one featuring 12 photos of Chuck, a mixed-breed dog that lives in Salt Lake City.
"It makes me a little disturbed to want that, but I'm just a huge fan of Chuck," said the 40-year-old systems administrator. She got to know the dog -- whose full name is Former Congressman Henry Buck Chucklesworth -- through the blogs of his owners, Heather and Jon Armstrong.
The transaction is symbolic of a trend sweeping the blogosphere: As more and more bloggers look to their Web sites to supplement or replace their regular income, they are experimenting with selling merchandise. While advertising is still the leading revenue source for most bloggers, many find they can leverage their popularity by selling T-shirts, coffee mugs, calendars and books.
John Aravosis, publisher of, said T-shirt sales generated a third of his site's income this month, thanks to holiday shoppers. Aravosis, who stopped working as a political consultant to concentrate on his blog in early 2005, normally gets about a fifth of his income from merchandise, with ads and donations taking care of the rest.
Americablog is a liberal political blog that's very critical of the Bush administration, and its products reflect that slant. People are snapping up T-shirts featuring Karl Rove's face and the slogan, "Treason's Greetings," in Christmas red or Hanukkah blue, said Aravosis, who lives in Washington, D.C.
Aravosis and Heather Armstrong, publisher of
, are both among the top 100 bloggers on the Internet, according to Technorati, which ranks sites by the number of other sites linked to them. But even lesser-known bloggers have found -- to their surprise and delight -- that they are able to leverage modest popularity for supplemental income.
Margaret Mason, a freelance writer and editor in San Francisco, said she started selling T-shirts on her blog,, to fund the purchase of a digital camera. On Mighty Girl, Mason publishes often humorous snippets from her daily life, such as conversations with friends, things she overhears on the street and excerpts from things she's reading.
"Now I've become addicted to the micro-income," she said. She estimates that she has made a few thousand dollars selling hundreds of shirts in the past two years.
Eden Marriott Kennedy, who writes about her life as a parent in the Santa Barbara area at, said she has been making $600 to $700 a month selling shirts, enough to pay her son's preschool tuition. Her first batch carried the phrase, "Writing well is the best revenge," while her most recent design says simply, "Fussy."
Barzedor said that when she proudly showed off her new dog calendar at work, she got a lot of head shaking from people who just didn't get it. But experts say that it's no surprise that people want to buy products that promote their favorite blogs.
"People have worn entertainment brands for a long time," said Robert Kozinets, a professor of marketing at Toronto's York University. "I don't think it's any more surprising than if someone wears their favorite TV show on their shirt. They're saying, 'This is something I think is cool, and I want people to ask me about it.' "
It seems that some bloggers have developed fan bases rivaling those of television and movie stars, in dedication if not in number. And like television audiences, blog readers have the feeling that they have real relationships with the bloggers they read every day, said Keith Campbell, a University of Georgia psychology professor.
"This is part of that reality TV thing. It's kind of voyeuristic," said Campbell, who studies narcissism.
Heather Armstrong, whose Web site income is supporting not just her but also her husband and their toddler, acknowledged that people buy the dog calendar because "they feel like Chuck is part of their own family."
"Some people think it sounds creepy, but it doesn't to me, because I'm sharing my life with people around the world," she said. Armstrong has written about such intimate topics as her hospitalization for post-partum depression and every family member's bowel movements, including the dog.
Readers have actually been clamoring for merchandise featuring photos from the Web site, Armstrong said. However, the calendar project has not been a big financial success, with about 250 unit sales at $3 profit each. That's not much when you take into account that Armstrong's Web site gets viewed about 3 million times a month. She increased the number of ads on the site recently after Jon Armstrong quit his job, and now the ad revenue pays as much as his salary used to, she said.
"This is all in the experimental stage right now," she said.
The fact that readers feel that they know bloggers also drives them to be concerned about their well-being, which also drives sales.
"People who read blogs want to support the people who are giving them free content," said Peter Freedman, a spokesman for Raleigh, N.C.'s Lulu, one of the production-on-demand companies that helps bloggers make and sell products. "Buying merchandise and donating to virtual tip jars are common ways people support creators they like and admire."
Companies like Lulu are partially responsible for this trend, because they make it possible for anyone to design and sell a T-shirt, calendar or other merchandise with no up-front investment and very little hassle. Another such company, Foster City's Cafe Press, said it has seen the number of bloggers using its services double since 2004.
Using such services, anyone can upload art or text for printing on merchandise, then offer the product for sale. The fulfillment company sets the minimum price, which it keeps. The seller determines the markup, which she keeps.
One blogger, Jennifer Laycock of Sunbury, Ohio, recently set out to demonstrate how just about anyone can start with nothing and turn a profit within 30 days, using a fulfillment company. Laycock, who works as the editor of Web site Search Engine Guide, decided to open a blog and Cafe Press shop selling shirts that promote breastfeeding and breast milk banking. She'd been pumping and donating some of her milk to a bank for babies in need since her daughter was born last year.
Now, several weeks into the experiment, Laycock has earned $200, which she will donate to her local milk bank. She's chronicling her efforts at
Those who skip the fulfillment company and mail out items on their own get to pocket more profit. But it's hard-earned, said Mason.
"Fulfillment is so monotonous it makes my eyes glaze over," she said. "People are used to getting things almost immediately when they order online. When they order something and it doesn't come within three or four days, some people freak out. They don't realize that it's just me, hunkered down in my bedroom closet with a shelf of shirts, a Sharpie, and a box of envelopes."

Sunday, December 18, 2005

and yet another book list

The good Doctor (J) gave me this list from the 12/23
Entertainment Weekly. Stephen King's 2005 picks
are interesting, especially his #1 and I'll discuss
that in a minute. He lists them from 10 to 1, so
I'll do the same:

The Godfather Returns by Mark Winegardner
The Mad Cook of Pymatuning by Christopher
Drama City by George Pelecanos
The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly
The Hot Kid by Elmore Leonard
Harry Potter & the Half Blood by J.K. Rowling
4. No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
Saturday by Ian McEwan
This Book Will Save Your Life by A.M. Homes
    (not published until April, 2006)
Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

I've been reading this
Case Histories and stopped
because it seemed a little too violent and pointless
to me. But King says, "not just the best novel I read
this year, but the best mystery of the decade. There
are actually
four mysteries, nesting like Russian
dolls, and when they begin to fit together, I defy
any reader not to feel a combination of delight and
Case Histories is the literary equivalent
of a triple axel. I read it once for pleasure and then
again to see how it was done."

So I'll bring it up from the garage resell pile and give
it another chance. I often don't read far enough into
a book to get hooked. It took me quite a few pages
Middlesex for instance, but it was well worth the
initial struggle.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

nocomma blogger calmer

xmas 05
Originally uploaded by the omster.
I know, you've been looking forward to seeing this tree. So different from all other trees. I couldn't find the pink angel, so I put a bright cerise doll that someone brought me from South America, on the top. And I should have done something with the picture, like crop it and maybe fiddle around with some dial or other so the tree looks green (it is) instead of an odd fuzzy white. Next year I'll buy a couple more light strings too.

I plug the lights in/on the first thing in the morning, even before I put the coffee water on to boil. Despite the cold, I open the drapes because I think maybe I can add a little cheer to someone driving or walking by.

Today, though even busier, was much easier for me and I learned once again that my attitude affects people around me. When I am a snarl ass the customer senses it and when I feel mellow, I can diffuse almost every situation.

I completely forget all that, however, when I'm "in a mood".

Friday, December 16, 2005

la frantica

That was the nickname I gave a boss at one time many
years ago. It was in retail, of course, and it was this
terrible time of year. She took everything waaaaaay
too seriously and I was thinking of her today because
I was getting to that dangerous state of high anxiety
myself. I don't like me when I get this way and I start
spinning my wheels and making mistakes and getting
all caught up in this craziness.

So now I'm sitting quietly beside the Christmas tree
in front of the fire, reading e-mails and watching
the Polar Express. Multi-relaxing. I'm also working on
my resolve to handle things better tomorrow. I
won't let anyone push my irritation buttons and I
will remember that this madness will be over in
a few short days and life will get back to normal.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

a giftee from e.e.

Yesterday we bought, lugged upstairs and
decorated our tree. The nice man at the tree lot
said he felt that it was going to a good home
and that made me think of this delightful poem.

little tree
little silent Christmas tree
you are so little
you are more like a flower

who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?
see    i will comfort you
because you smell so sweetly

i will kiss your cool bark
and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would,
only don't be afraid

look     the spangles
that sleep all the year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,
the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,

put up your little arms
and i'll give them all to you to hold
every finger shall have its ring
and there won't be a single place dark or unhappy

and then when you're quite dressed
you'll stand in the window for everyone to see
and how they'll stare!
oh but you'll be very proud

and my little sister and i will take hands
and looking up at our beautiful tree
we'll dance and sing
"Noel Noel"

e.e. cummings

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

it's still retail!

I was interested in the article (written by Adair Lara)
in today's Chronicle on the Goodwill Stores in SF. I wish
I could remember how to link it here, but I can't, so
I'll do a quick recap. Basically, the Goodwill stores are
getting very smart, finally, and selling stuff on eBay
themselves, rather than losing the high profit. Of
course the customers who used to seek out great
buys, so they could reap the rewards, are pretty pissed.
And that is a lot of people, is seems.

They are also merchandising their products better
and paying more attention to customer service. They
put tables and chairs near the used books, "just like
Borders". The front window displays are current and
themed and I say, more power to 'em.

Salvation Army, Goodwill and the Community Thrift store
on Valencia add so much to our life here in The City.
They train people, recycle goods, offer shopping
fun and hope. Once when we were very poor, the only
stores we dared browse in were second hand stores.
We remain loyal customers even though we are not
officially poor people anymore.

The least I can do is link you to the Chron. Then just
type in "Goodwill" to find the excellent article.
SF Gate: News and Information for the San Francisco Bay Area

the lazy way out

This morning I'm just going to post a joke from my
friend Leah in New York. We had lunch together last
February during our trip to see The Gates. More on
that trip at a later date.


Crawford, Texas ~ a tragic flood destroyed the
personal library of President George W. Bush. The flood
began in the presidential bathroom where both of the
books were kept. Both of his books have been lost.
A presidential spokesman said that the president was
devastated, as he had almost finished coloring the
second one. The White House tried to call FEMA, but
there was no answer.

Monday, December 12, 2005

chuck and kiki

Today I had a little change of pace because I visited
the museum, mainly to see the Chuck Close exhibit.
SFMOMA | Exhibitions | Exhibition Overview: Chuck Close
It was especially delightful to walk into our MOMA
where it wasn't crowded and I could get up as close
or as far away from his work as I wanted to. At the
end I watched some of the video and was impressed
to see him painting from his wheelchair. So interesting
to see him change and age over the last 40 years
and his work is amazing because only recently has he
started using color.

I didn't want to be late from my slightly extended
lunch hour, but I did drop in to see some of Kiki
Smith's work and found it to be disturbing. Some of
the images will be difficult to whisk broom out of
my mind, so maybe they just need to remain there.
SFMOMA | Exhibitions | Exhibition Overview: Kiki Smith: A Gathering, 1980-2005

Sunday, December 11, 2005

the man booker prize

Today I brought home The Sea, a small novel that
won the Man Booker this year. The author is John
Banville from Ireland. Of all the book awards and
prizes, this is the one I pay the most attention to.
With one or two exceptions, these are the best of
the best books every year. I'll report on this one
in a few days.

If you'd like to know more, I recommend:
Powell's Books - Award Winners - The Man Booker Prize

Saturday, December 10, 2005

25 years, imagine

strawberry fields
Originally uploaded by the omster.
Every time we go to Central Park I take a photo of the John Lennon Memorial at West
72nd Street. How impressive that so many fans of all ages congregated here last week to mourn his death 25 years ago. It doesn't seem possible, of course, that so many years have passed without him. His music, his voice lives on.

Friday, December 09, 2005

world weary

Too many people to deal with in one day, plus I have
that extra touchiness because I was up too late with
the Tiapos writers. It was a lovely evening in front of
the fireplace, but we missed our Jane. Maybe someday
Karen H., Martha and Eric will return too. Thanks
to Sarah the Chefnik for bringing all that food and
Will for the pizza, Dougo the chocolates. Will's new
nickname is "Ten of All Trades" because he isn't
much of a handyman. Hahaha, good one!

Tomorrow will be wall-to-wall customers with totally
unbelievable questions, so I'll probably be in bed
at 8pm tonight. I was a little too close to the edge
today and that really doesn't work for anyone.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

walkie talkie talk

Things are heating up now and here's a sampling of
the constant retail jabber on our walkie talkies:

Kevin: Mary Ann, are you in the store?
M.A.: No, I'm across the street at Saks.
Kev: In the lingerie department?
Craig: Who has phone 373?
Craig: Who has phone 373?
Felix: We need someone to gift wrap
M.A: Where are those damn gift wrappers?
Lisa: I'm completely out of ones
Ryan: Here's a customer who wants 200 Streetwise SF maps
M.A.: Sounds like a corporate customer, call Terri
Craig: Has someone logged out of phone 373?
John: Why can't I find "1776"?
Pam: Are we still out of "March of the Penguins"?
Linda: Can I take my 10 minute break?
Kev: Who wrote that book about the two young women in rural China?
and on, and on...add much nauseum
What a pleasure to remove that thing from my ear and trudge
down Powell Street to BART at the end of the day.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

pondering pain

I'm having a cup of green tea now to jump start my
brain. That and typing here in ol' commano should
help me reach some conclusions. Maybe.

There is a short story in the 11/14 New Yorker by
Paul Theroux and he tells of the absolute worst year
of his life. Title:
The Best Year of My Life. Here is
the passage that I marked with my pen:

This whole plot - the beginning, the middle, and the
end - had been lived before by others, but I had had
to live through it myself to understand it, to know
that agony can be an analgesic, that the memory of
pain can itself be a painkiller. That year made the
rest of my life easier.

Now I remember once again my worst year. When
I was in college and my father died. I did not think
I would survive that, and yet I did. Subsequent
deaths have not been quite as horrible and I do
believe that his death taught me how to live my
life. It never occurred to me until that awful year
that I had even a drop of inner strength. I do.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

xmas lite

I spent the morning writing little notes and sending even
smaller Am Ex gift certificates to the children. I do not
miss the buying, wrapping and sending of presents. It
is perfectly calm and delightful not to struggle with the
xmas cards. So far no guilt.

We hope to send a sizable check to the Red Cross this
year with the money we are not spending on gifts in the
wrong size and unacceptable (to the recipient) color.
I repeat the phrase in each note, "we have so much".
We all have so much.

Sunday night was the final
Curb Your Enthusiasm and it
was filled with "let's watch that again" details. Larry
David is a comic genius ~ watching him go to/fro Bisby,
Arizona on the plane was worth the HB0 monthly charge,
but there was so much more. Finally we meet his mother
and I won't say anymore because some people have
not seen this yet. It's all we are talking about at work
and surely makes the whole difficult scene there so
much more tolerable. "I have a SYSTEM", we say and
laugh uproariously.

Monday, December 05, 2005

do you know maxine?

I'm too tired to write tonight, so I'll type one of
my favorite poems by Maxine Kumin from her book
Our Ground Time Here Will Be Brief. I don't know
why I love it so much since it's sort of depressing,
but I do.

How It Is

Shall I say how it is in your clothes?
A month after your death I wear your blue jacket.
The dog at the center of my life recognizes
you've come to visit, he's ecstatic.
In the left pocket, a hole.
In the right, a parking ticket
delivered up last August on Bay Street Road.
In my heart, a scatter like milkweed,
a flinging from the pods of the soul.
My skin presses your old outline.
It is hot and dry inside.

I think of the last day of your life,
old friend, how I would unwind it, paste
it together in a different collage,
back from the death car idling in the garage,
back up the stairs, your praying hands unlaced,
reassembling the bits of bread and tuna fish
into a ceremony of sandwich,
running the home movie backward to a space
we could be easy in, a kitchen place
with vodka and ice, our words like living meat.

Dear friend, you have excited crowds
with your example. They swell
like wine bags, straining at your seams.
I will be years gathering up our words,
fishing out letters, snapshots, stains,
leaning my ribs against this durable cloth
to put on the dumb blue blazer of your death.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

sunday morning thoughts

It's so cold (for the West Coast) this morning that I turned
on the oven and opened the door when I made coffee. Our
back room has a huge plate glass window and we keep that
door closed and hunch in front of the fireplace in the living
room during winter months. But I find a million little reasons
to keep going into the freezer just so I can check on my
city. Scattered lights on Potrero Hill to the right, downtown
all lit up with even more sparklers than usual, Twin Peaks
with those distinct almost-mountains to the left. Not even
a wisp of fog or a cloud this morning glorious. But cold.

The holidays are heating up and The Season is officially here.
I'm mentally exhausted from too much customer contact
and trying to keep my irritation in check. People close to
hysteria because they can't find exactly what they want
at a discount, of course. I understand that, on one level,
but on another I want to give them the toast/tragedy
lecture and piss them off even more.

Downtown streets are over flowing with red and green bags
Santa hats, sweaters with snow men and trees, strollers and
always the cars. Cars, taxis, trucks and buses ~ all honking
at once in blocked intersections. When customers call for
directions from say, the East Bay, I give advice, "please,
take do not want to drive here". Do they listen?

I return with a second cup of coffee and the calendar.
Three weeks from today is a Day Off. A rare Sunday off
for me, the Christmas celebration for many. Sanity
will return for retail workers the world over.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

cracking good crab

crab season
Originally uploaded by the omster.
Lucky you, the dining room table again! Almost like our lives are centered around food, isn't it?

Note the SF Chronicle table cloth. This is part of the tradition. You toss the crab shells on the newspaper and wrap them up after the meal. They will start to smell ghastly after about an hour, so we freeze them until garbage day. (I know you wanted to know that.)

The first time I had cracked crab was on the back deck at Neti and Frank's house in Twin Peaks. It was one of those very special warm/clear winter days and I had just returned from a "break up". We had been living in New York and I returned alone to my friends in Frisco. Neti and I devoured cracked crab in the sunshine, drank gallons of white wine and solved my problem, as best we could.

Need I mention that sour dough bread is an absolute necessity here?

This was decades ago, but it is one of those strange memories that stay right in the top of my head. When it's crab season again, I think of that day and as trite as it sounds, it must have just been last week.(A salute to friendship.)

Friday, December 02, 2005

the 10 best books of 2005?

Thanks to Bruce Almighty bla bla bla for this list from
the New York Times:
Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
On Beauty by Zadie Smith
Prep by Curtis Sittenfield
Saturday by Ian McEwan
Veronica by Mary Gaitskill
The Assassins Gate by George Packer
De Kooning by Mark Stevens & Annalyn Swan
The Lost Painting by Jonathan Harr
Postwar by Tony Judt
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Thursday, December 01, 2005

quads on wheels

This morning I want to recommend Murderball, a film
you can now rent on DVD. It's the unlikely story of
quadriplegics who play this violent game of some
sort of rugby, but of course that's not the real story.
Spend an hour and a half being inspired by these men
and their families and friends. I will misquote something
I heard the other day (Chekhov?) on radio: "there are
tragedies and then there is burnt toast". Mostly I've had
the toast trouble in my life, but once in a while I treated
it like the disaster that it wasn't.