Monday, December 31, 2007

closing out the year...

I woke up early, thinking about the end of this year. My life/thoughts/actions are so small compared to Gandhi's. I have to reduce it all down to what I keep discovering over and over again: people change and always (it seems to me) in a good way. There are maybe 5 or 6 employees at work that I'm thinking about now ~ each I wanted to fire in the first or second week they were there. Now, after not even a year, they are not only adapting well, they are excelling in our store. I had very little to do with this, other than the small, "good job", from time to time. Mostly it's the support of the other booksellers and the fact that being around books and people who love them is a pretty nice way to earn a living. Of course the fact that the San Francisco minimum wage beginning tomorrow is $9.36 an hour ~ a HR manager's dream, if not exactly enough to live on, helps immensely.

On a personal level, about 10 years ago I made a concentrated effort to (now, no projectile vomiting here) embrace change. It's going to happen anyway, so why fight it? I guess it is another way for me to stay positive, but it works, especially in a big corporation where one change is followed by another and then one more to keep you on your toes. By now, of course, we are back to some policies and procedures from five years ago. I have trained myself when reading or hearing about something "new" to think and say, "okay, let's give this a whirl...I'm behind it!" Sure makes the Bossman's life easier. Yup, change happens...

And 2007 was full of changes, wasn't it? It's all about growth some days.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

the flix® keeps us warm this winter

If you haven't seen Once yet, I would suggest you do. It is a cheery little movie filmed in Dublin, Ireland and it's about two musicians who meet on the street and that's enough, I don't want to give anything a way. See it, and I don't mean maybe!

Oh, my ~ I found this Edith Piaf film too distressing to finish (as did Husbando, but he gave it longer than I did) and then when The Doctor told me at lunch how much he enjoyed it, I felt like a dolt. The main actress is up for a Globe Award and of course the music is lovely. But so dark and depressing that I wouldn't recommend it for the world weary right now.

Naomi Watts has never really ridden a motorcycle, and here Doctor J and I agreed that there were just too many coincidences in Eastern Promises, although Viggo is always a pleasure to watch on screen. It is extremely violent, so I spent much of the movie looking at the xmas tree which now resides on our front curb. I can't recommend this film either. Sorry.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

day four and still going strong

You can have your diamonds, pearls, cashmere ~ for Christmas Husbando gave me the Sanyo Ready-to-Use Rechargeable Battery Power Pack (from Costco) featuring these amazing Eneloop® batteries. I think he was a little tired of me cursing at my camera all the time when the batteries would die after about 8 hours, whether I used the camera or not. But perhaps you have experienced the same thing? Anyway, I have kept the same two batteries in my camera now for 4 straight days and so today I give them the Commano Excellent Product Award.

Friday, December 28, 2007

time to dismantle, disrobe

Sunset Scavengers (our garbage company) will be here early Monday and our xmas tree will be waiting for them in front of our house. Perhaps I'm one of the few people who likes the take-down as much as the putting-up of the decor. Then in a few weeks I'll be noting the people who STILL have their trees up and I'll check their porches to see if a pumpkin or two also remains. This photo is from my yesterday walk and I have a feeling that I'd like the people who live inside ~ the skull is a nice touch. Oh, it's back to work today, argh.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

war on beige, continued...

I decided to try to cheer up a friend who is depressed due to the gruesome tiger mauling incident at the SF Zoo on Xmas Day.

She and I both love colorful houses. This is from my morning nabe walk and all these homes are in ONE block (Franconia).

Sorry, it's garbage day for these houses of color...

Nothing shy about this one!

One time I got lost in a beige SoCal community and it was truly horrifying.

Note the peace sign and the green door on the right...
Feel better!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

a little culture, a lot of lunch

Louise Nevelson (at 80)

The Science Academy from 9th floor of the de Young (to reopen next Spring). The bare-treed music concourse looks European, no?

Lunch at the Park Chalet, right behind the Beach Chalet

We both enjoyed the massive and (to us) incomprehensible sculptures of Louise Nevelson this morning at the de Young. Interesting to note that she had one studio for all her white work and one for the other, darker pieces. She was one of those artists who gave everything to her creative talent and kept on working until she died in her nineties. Plus she was a character with her head scarves and sometimes 3 sets of fake eyelashes.

Then lunch at the Park Chalet. Although sunny today, it was too breezy to sit outdoors, but we loved this casual restaurant with a huge glass ceiling and good food. Lots of children and the kids were all well-behaved because the waiters brought each little darling a coloring book and crayons, allowing the adults to have their own conversations. Food? Salads, onion soup and the best fried onion rings (we think) in the city.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

christmas with nigel

Here is Nigel, our grand dog who lives in Kensington
Jewish Burritos ~ aka, BLINTZES

We had some fine present-opening here before heading across the Bay Bridge for Christmas brunch with the middle son and his wife. It is unbelievably clear and beautiful in SF, not warm, but really quite special. Husbando surprised me by embracing his new cell phone and for the first time in many decades he was NOT reading the newspaper with his breakfast ~ he was (and is) reading the Verizon® manual! By now I have had maybe 10 little-used cell phones and never realized that people actually RTFM. I feared he would be resistant to the pesky mobile, so this experience proves once again that when I think I know someone so well ~ ooooops, wrong-again time! Now I think I feel a nap coming on...

Monday, December 24, 2007

last night crab, tonight clams

One of our favorite holiday traditions is the annual crab dinner
party at Neti and Frank's lovely home in Twin Peaks. We toss our
shells on the NYTimes and roll it all up before coffee and dessert.
Everyone was curious about the oil spill and the crab, but I'm
happy to report that we didn't see or taste any impurity. Neti
drives the crabs around until they settle down and stop scratching
in the bags and then bravely tosses them into the water and boils
them for her heartless/hungry guests. Yes, it refreshed me to be
with friends after my tiring customer-filled, escalator-broken-again?
day at the big box.

And now I have 3 relaxing and very special days off. I think a
movie tonight, so I'll make some pressed coffee to keep me awake.
The tree is lit, the fireplace is roaring and Husbando made some
from-scratch clam chowder (the white kind) for dinner tonight.
Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

a likable scrooge

What I loved most about Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge!
yesterday was leaving work 15 minutes early and allowing this little
SF Playhouse holiday special to separate my work and home life.
Otherwise, it really wasn't exactly fabulous, except every time Tiny
Tim fell down I did giggle a bit. I also enjoyed many of the anti-
holiday lines because they fit right into my humbuggy mood. In this
one instance I agree with The Great Plotnik and his superb review
in his most excellent theatre blog.

Two more days. I do want to clarify that my intolerance for tardy is
strictly work related. I pretty much accept less than perfection from
my friends, generously allowing them 6 minutes grace time.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

report from the trenches

We open at 7am the next and final 3 days, so my sleep is even
more disturbed than usual. I haven't been late to ANYTHING ever,
except maybe 3 times in my life, which I agree is disgusting. But
because of this, I spend time not sleeping and worrying about being
late and I am too intolerant of those who are late. No fair, I know.

Our temps were the best ever this year and we still have about 19
of the original 21. I am honestly not working at the registers as
much as in the past at this time of year. I do help on the floor
in the crush of the crowds and here I wonder how come all these
people get to me so much? I do believe some enjoy the noise and
chaos, otherwise wouldn't they be out at the ocean?

Big sellers? Planet Earth DVD, Onions's Our Dumb World and all the
cookbooks and children's books in the store. We are running out of
a lot of items, but that happens. Three more days...

Friday, December 21, 2007

today ~ the winter solstice

(I borrowed this from the internet)

In many cultures, customs practiced at Christmas go back to pre-Christian times. Many involve divination--foretelling the future at a magic time: the season turning of solstice.

In Russia, there's a Christmas divination that involves candles. A girl would sit in a darkened room, with two lighted candles and two mirrors, pointed so that one reflects the candlelight into the other. The viewer would seek the seventh reflection, then look until her future would be seen.

The early Germans built a stone altar to Hertha, or Bertha, goddess of domesticity and the home, during winter solstice. With a fire of fir boughs stoked on the altar, Hertha was able to descend through the smoke and guide those who were wise in Saga lore to foretell the fortunes of those at the feast.

In Spain, there's an old custom that is a holdover from Roman days. The urn of fate is a large bowl containing slips of paper on which are written all the names of those at a family get-togehter. The slips of paper are drawn out two at a time. Those whose names are so joined are to be devoted friends for the year. Apparently, there's often a little finagling to help matchmaking along, as well.

In Scandinavia, some families place all their shoes together, as this will cause them to live in harmony throughout the year.

And in many, many cultures, it's considered bad luck for a fire or a candle to go out on Christmas Day. So keep those candles burning!

Yesterday at Ocean Beach, at sundown, a group of 5-6 men with their
pant legs rolled up, were writing down bad things from their lives in
the wet sand for the waves to carry out to sea. They had long wooden
writing sticks which they later burned in a bonfire. Then on the radio
coming home, someone mentioned that Christ was actually probably
born in the Spring, but the Christians needed a good reason to continue
the Solstice celebrations. Of course today is also the shortest day of
the year so scurry home early to your candles and fireplace...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

we love the idea of Fringale

It has this delightful French bistro feel and the location down
at 4th and Brannan means easy (free) street parking, but last
night the food didn't seem as outstanding as usual. Husbando always
has the duck confit and I had steak and frites, as did one of our
friends. I believe Fringale (which means "the urge to eat" in
French) is going through a chef change, but we still had a lovely
time because the restaurant is so charming and we were happy to
be with old friends who know us so well, and vice versa. It was
truly a perfect evening, proving once again that it isn't always
about the food.

My solitary confinement worked wonders yesterday and I am ready for
battle again tomorrow. You might be amused by this customer exchange
which will show you some of my superb customer service skills:
Mean Man Customer in Blue Down Jacket: Are you the manager?
Mean Woman who Looks Like Me: Yes (eyeing him with dread)
MMan: It's too hot in here, why don't you turn down the heat?
MWoman: Why don't you take off your jacket?

An interesting aside. The heat/AC in our big box is controlled by HQ,
or not, in many cases. It's a constant source of frustration and
the subject of many emails.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

breakable, handle with care...

I realized that I had reached sensory overload Monday night when a
group of carolers asked if they could sing in our store and I said,
"No!". They stood out front in the cold and of course they had
beautiful clear voices, probably professionals of some sort. On
the other hand, I have had it up to my ears with the holiday music ~
except maybe It Must Have Been the Mistletoe, written by The Great
Plotnik, which we never hear often enough. He maintains that the best
Christmas music was written by Jews, but that's for another post.

Today I picture wrapping myself in those cotton balls above. I am
not talking to anyone, if I can help it, and I already had my delightful
solo walk. No radio or TV, no phone calls and soon I'm going to take
my book (I'm LOVING The Bad Girl!) and the New Yorker to bed for
that long winter's snooze. Dinner tonight at Fringale, one of our faves.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

have you met Josie?

Here is the Blogmaid's grey and white under her tree in Pumpkinville.
She is now a 3-legged furball, and gets around just fine, thank you.
The next photo (which someone, Snowglobe Sally maybe? used as a
screen saver) is Josie undergoing the routine (or so we like to think)
operation to keep her from giving the world more unwanted kittens.
I love both photos, but I think Josie-in-bondage is still my all-time
favorite feline photo. Keeping it real...

Monday, December 17, 2007

finally feeling the joy

We love our friends and as they gathered around our pozole table
last night, my heart was warm with gratitude. The tree was 1/4
decorated by RR who has a penchant for kittens and horses and
even though she snubbed the lemon mousse (and salad) she did
a fine job of sitting through what she must consider boring adult
conversation. One of our guests was quite impressed with our
leaning tree top which we have grown to accept/ignore...

Of course by now you want the before and after table pictures.
The ugly aluminum foil encased the warm tortillas, served on
mother's silver dishes, of course.

It was a wonderful evening ~ the holiday glow reappears just when
I need it most. And yes, it's until 1am again at the big box tonight.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

green house with a blue kitchen

We watched this remodel being built and are fascinated by not only
the location (25th and Alabama, a few blocks away from us) but by
the 52 ft. tall turbine wind generator and other eco-friendly ideas.
It was a Sunset Magazine and Meridian Builders project and I think
you'll enjoy seeing some professional photographs at this website.
It's on the market (for a million plus) and is getting lots of
press because of the many innovative features.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

a movie for your "must see" list

The fabulous Don Cheadle plays Ralph Waldo "Petey" Green, an
ex-con radio disc jockey back in the late 60's in Washington, DC.
You can rent Talk To Me from the Flix® or buy it at the big
box, if you are so inclined. We both thought this was a truly
wonderful film and recommend it highly. One Kleenex® and lots
of pensive after-thoughts...

Friday, December 14, 2007

i had better get to more museums!

Here is a clever (and short) little quiz that you might enjoy today.
Thanks to my friend Shauna at the big box for sending it to me.
If you tell me your score, I'll tell you mine...


This Salvador Dali has nothing to do with the quiz ~ he had a thing
for eggs, but you already know that.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

here it is ~ thanks to Susan

ITTLE 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 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"I

ee cummings

revenge is sweet

Remember when Eric Gagne was a Dodger and he put his fist through
a dugout wall (or like that) because Barry Bonds hit a home run
off this closing pitcher with a record of like 178 to 2? Well,
he must have been having some sort of steroid fit because here
is our Eric (I think he's a Brewer now) on the Mitchell Report
List. Turns out he used some sort of banned substance. Amazing
all the names on that list ~ so many players that didn't have
"it" with or without steroids. You gotta love the memory of all
those fans with asterisks on their shirts when Barry would get
up to bat. Tsk tsk ~ let he who throws the first fast ball curve
hear all of us Giants fans saying, "didn't we tell you all along?"
And Roger too ~ what a hoot. Now let's dig into the other sports,
or is that all "natural talent"? Asterisks galore...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

can you see what i smell?

Husbando requested a smaller tree this year, so of course I said
"yes". I am nothing if not an acquiescent wife. Our favorite
Pumpkinville tree decorator (RR) will be here Sunday night, but
tomorrow I'll hang some lights and try to figure out a solution for
that leaning top thingie. Or not. ee seems out of character here,
but who couldn't enjoy this sweet poem? My memory is that this is
shaped like a tree, but of course I can't do that for you due to
basic computer ineptitude, but my tiny acquiescent and demure heart
is in the correct me on this.

little tree

by: e.e. cummings (1894-1962)

ITTLE 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
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"

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

no photo are lucky to get this graph. Last night was smooth,
if extremely tiring, and I was home drinking Sleepy Time
tea at 1am on the dot. And then I slept! Interesting to
note that when I marched out about 7pm on my dinner break,
the streets were packed with bags/shoppers/strollers and
there were twosomes of teenage police people all over the
place. They were rousting the beggars and (I hope) keeping
an eye out for the purse snatching scum suckers who seem
to multiply this time of year.

I'm 11am to 8pm today. Two weeks until 3 days off in a row.
I accept your encouraging words and thank you sincerely.

Monday, December 10, 2007

the laws of the universe (and more!)

This is crunch time, when we need every single body at work to
deal with the customers, so of course there is enough sickness
in that big bad box to fill every General Hospital in every
major city in America. It's tough, my friends. Tonight we stay
open until midnight and that is the way it will be until I
close the store Christmas Eve when (hooray) we close at 7pm.

Seeing Vince Vaughn and Sean Penn at lunch (in Lori's, of all
places) did ease the pain of my Sunday, however. One of the
reasons I love SF is that we all leave the stars alone. It
sure is great to look, however...

I am just starting to read The Bad Girl by Mario Vargas Llosa,
recommended by one of my favorite customers. So far, excellent!

Escaping at night we watched Waitress and Hairspray. Both films
contributed to sound sleep during these cold nights. No, I stayed
wide awake during, but slept like a non-retailer afterwards.
Thanks, Flix®.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

back to bisbee

Mary sent me this photo of the Sandhill Cranes who reside down there
in the winter months. She says that there are thousands of them and
the sound of their flapping wings during takeoff is astounding. I am
going to concentrate on this glorious visual today during times of
high anxiety. Once again I wonder why and how anyone can get so
upset over one book or DVD or latte. I do get a kick out of the men
shoppers asking, "are we done yet?" so hopefully to their female
companions. I need a museum break next week and will put that on my
To Do List. Breathe. Visualize cranes...

Saturday, December 08, 2007

two dogs, one platypus

My friend Boise went to Santa Barbara for Thanksgiving and sent us
this fine photo of THE PLATYPUS, which I had neglected to include
during last September's report. Auri and Bliss are here also ~ remember
the little dachshund is the one with the Platypus Addiction.

We are planning The Great Italian Reunion for July. Our hostess who
lives in Florence (Adriana) will be visiting Ginger in Santa Barbara
and we will all gather again to laugh, speak flawless Italian and
reminisce a bit. I'm already looking forward to the all-women gathering.

Not many trips in 2008. That will be "the Year of the House" and we are
planning to do some fix-ups as soon as we have gathered enough back-up
money to start. It's always something interesting (expensive) for homeowners...

Friday, December 07, 2007

a classic for the season

Thanks to LoriB for sending us this Hanukaah in Santa Monica
video by the never-to-be-equaled Tom Lehrer. Enjoy. Hmmmm,
I can't get it to up/download, let's try this:
or check You Tube under Hanukaah Santa Monica. Or not.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

a work in progress

Husbando and I are both big, big fans of both Charlie Varon
and the Traveling Jewish Theatre, so we were looking forward
to attending this production last night. The small theater was
packed and we could feel the excitement for Rabbi Sam. Varon
expertly plays 12 characters, but oh my, it's sort of like a
lecture in Jewish History. Maybe if we belonged to a synagogue
we would find the material a little funnier. I joined the woman
next to me for a long winter's nap, but Husbando stayed wide
awake and at intermission said, "let's go".

Charlie Varon usually performs at The Marsh and we have loved him
there in Rush Limbaugh in Night School, Ten Day Soup, etc. Plus
he collaborated on Dan Hoyle's Tings Dey Happen, now playing off
Broadway, so you know he's a great theatre guy.

The Great Plotnik teaches us to appreciate the work and talent,
but to be honest when we review live theatre, so I hope Charlie
and the Rabbi add a little spice, cut a few words and make this
more interesting for wayward Jews and gentiles such as us (we?).

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

what i should have read in 2007

Let's share the guilt ~ here are the 100 "best" from the New
York Times. I've read some, but as usual, I disagree with a
few of these choices. BRIDGE OF SIGHS was dull, for instance.

Fiction & Poetry

THE ABSTINENCE TEACHER. By Tom Perrotta. (St. Martin’s, $24.95.) In this new novel by the author of “Little Children,” a sex-ed teacher faces off against a church bent on ridding her town of “moral decay.”

AFTER DARK. By Haruki Murakami. Translated by Jay Rubin. (Knopf, $22.95.) A tale of two sisters, one awake all night, one asleep for months.

THE BAD GIRL. By Mario Vargas Llosa. Translated by Edith Grossman. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25.) This suspenseful novel transforms “Madame Bovary” into a vibrant exploration of the urban mores of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s.

BEARING THE BODY. By Ehud Havazelet. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $24.) In this daring first novel, a man travels to California after his brother is killed in what may have been a drug transaction.

THE BEAUTIFUL THINGS THAT HEAVEN BEARS. By Dinaw Mengestu. (Riverhead, $22.95.) A first novel about an Ethiopian exile in Washington, D.C., evokes loss, hope, memory and the solace of friendship.

BRIDGE OF SIGHS. By Richard Russo. (Knopf, $26.95.) In his first novel since “Empire Falls,” Russo writes of a small town in New York riven by class differences and racial hatred.

THE BRIEF WONDROUS LIFE OF OSCAR WAO. By Junot Díaz. (Riverhead, $24.95.) A nerdy Dominican-American yearns to write and fall in love.

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME. By André Aciman. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $23.) Aciman’s novel of love, desire, time and memory describes a passionate affair between two young men in Italy.

CHEATING AT CANASTA. By William Trevor. (Viking, $24.95.) Trevor’s dark, worldly short stories linger in the mind long after they’re finished.

THE COLLECTED POEMS, 1956-1998. By Zbigniew Herbert. Translated by Alissa Valles. (Ecco/HarperCollins, $34.95.) Herbert’s poetry echoes the quiet insubordination of his public life.

DANCING TO “ALMENDRA.” By Mayra Montero. Translated by Edith Grossman. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25.) Fact and fiction rub together in this rhythmic story of a reporter on the trail of the Mafia, set mainly in 1950s Cuba.

EXIT GHOST. By Philip Roth. (Houghton Mifflin, $26.) In his latest novel Roth brings back Nathan Zuckerman, a protagonist whom we have known since his potent youth and who now must face his inevitable decline.

FALLING MAN. By Don DeLillo. (Scribner, $26.) Through the story of a lawyer and his estranged wife, DeLillo resurrects the world as it was on 9/11, in all its mortal dread, high anxiety and mass confusion.

FELLOW TRAVELERS. By Thomas Mallon. (Pantheon, $25.) In Mallon’s seventh novel, a State Department official navigates the anti-gay purges of the McCarthy era.

A FREE LIFE. By Ha Jin. (Pantheon, $26.) The Chinese-born author spins a tale of bravery and nobility in an American system built on risk and mutual exploitation.

THE GATHERING. By Anne Enright. (Black Cat/Grove/Atlantic, paper, $14.) An Irishwoman searches for clues to what set her brother on the path to suicide.

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS. By J. K. Rowling. (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic, $34.99.) Rowling ties up all the loose ends in this conclusion to her grand wizarding saga.

HOUSE LIGHTS. By Leah Hager Cohen. (Norton, $24.95.) The heroine of Cohen’s third novel abandons her tarnished parents for the seductions of her grand-mother’s life in theater.

HOUSE OF MEETINGS. By Martin Amis. (Knopf, $23.) A Russian World War II veteran posthumously acquaints his stepdaughter with his grim past of rape and violence.

IN THE COUNTRY OF MEN. By Hisham Matar. (Dial, $22.) The boy narrator of this novel, set in Libya in 1979, learns about the convoluted roots of betrayal in a totalitarian society.

THE INDIAN CLERK. By David Leavitt. (Bloomsbury, $24.95.) Leavitt explores the intricate relationship between the Cambridge mathematician G. H. Hardy and a poor, self-taught genius from Madras, stranded in England during World War I.

KNOTS. By Nuruddin Farah. (Riverhead, $25.95.) After 20 years, a Somali woman returns home to Mogadishu from Canada, intent on reclaiming a family house from a warlord.

LATER, AT THE BAR: A Novel in Stories. By Rebecca Barry. (Simon & Schuster, $22.) The small-town regulars at Lucy’s Tavern carry their loneliness in “rough and beautiful” ways.

LET THE NORTHERN LIGHTS ERASE YOUR NAME. By Vendela Vida. (Ecco/HarperCollins, $23.95.) A young woman searches for the truth about her parentage amid the snow and ice of Lapland in this bleakly comic yet sad tale of a child’s futile struggle to be loved.

LIKE YOU’D UNDERSTAND, ANYWAY: Stories. By Jim Shepard. (Knopf, $23.) Shepard’s surprising tales feature such diverse characters as a Parisian executioner, a woman in space and two Nazi scientists searching for the yeti.

MAN GONE DOWN. By Michael Thomas. (Black Cat/Grove/Atlantic, paper, $14.) This first novel explores the fragmented personal histories behind four desperate days in a black writer’s life.

MATRIMONY. By Joshua Henkin. (Pantheon, $23.95.) Henkin follows a couple from college to their mid-30s, through crises of love and mortality.

THE MAYTREES. By Annie Dillard. (HarperCollins, $24.95.) A married couple find their way back to each other under unusual circumstances.

THE MINISTRY OF SPECIAL CASES. By Nathan Englander. (Knopf, $25.) A Jewish family is caught up in Argentina’s “Dirty War.”

MOTHERS AND SONS: Stories. By Colm Toibin. (Scribner, $24.) In this collection by the author of “The Master,” families are not so much reassuring and warm as they are settings for secrets, suspicion and missed connections.

NEXT LIFE. By Rae Armantrout. (Wesleyan University, $22.95.) Poetry that conveys the invention, the wit and the force of mind that contests all assumptions.

ON CHESIL BEACH. By Ian McEwan. (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, $22.) Consisting largely of a single sex scene played out on a couple’s wedding night, this seeming novel of manners is as much a horror story as any McEwan has written.

OUT STEALING HORSES. By Per Petterson. Translated by Anne Born. (Graywolf Press, $22.) In this short yet spacious Norwegian novel, an Oslo professional hopes to cure his loneliness with a plunge into solitude.

THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST. By Mohsin Hamid. (Harcourt, $22.) Hamid’s chilling second novel is narrated by a Pakistani who tells his life story to an unnamed American after the attacks of 9/11.

REMAINDER. By Tom McCarthy. (Vintage, paper, $13.95.) In this debut, a Londoner emerges from a coma and seeks to reassure himself of the genuineness of his existence.

THE SAVAGE DETECTIVES. By Roberto Bolaño. Translated by Natasha Wimmer. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27.) A craftily autobiographical novel about a band of literary guerrillas.

SELECTED POEMS. By Derek Walcott. Edited by Edward Baugh. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25.) The Nobel Prize winner Walcott, who was born on St. Lucia, is a long-serving poet of exile, caught between two races and two worlds.

THE SEPTEMBERS OF SHIRAZ. By Dalia Sofer. (Ecco/HarperCollins, $24.95.) In this powerful first novel, the father of a prosperous Jewish family in Tehran is arrested shortly after the Iranian revolution.

SHORTCOMINGS. By Adrian Tomine. (Drawn & Quarterly, $19.95.) The Asian-American characters in this meticulously observed comic-book novella explicitly address the way in which they handle being in a minority.

SUNSTROKE: And Other Stories. By Tessa Hadley. (Picador, paper, $13.) These resonant tales encapsulate moments of hope and humiliation in a kind of shorthand of different lives lived.

THEN WE CAME TO THE END. By Joshua Ferris. (Little, Brown, $23.99.) Layoff notices fly in Ferris’s acidly funny first novel, set in a white-collar office in the wake of the dot-com debacle.

THROW LIKE A GIRL: Stories. By Jean Thompson. (Simon & Schuster, paper, $13.) The women here are smart and strong but drawn to losers.

TIME AND MATERIALS: Poems, 1997-2005. By Robert Hass. (Ecco/Harper-Collins, $22.95.) What Hass, a former poet laureate, has lost in Californian ease he has gained in stern self-restraint.

TREE OF SMOKE. By Denis Johnson. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27.) The author of “Jesus’ Son” offers a soulful novel about the travails of a large cast of characters during the Vietnam War.

TWENTY GRAND: And Other Tales of Love and Money. By Rebecca Curtis. (Harper Perennial, paper, $13.95.) In this debut collection, a crisp, blunt tone propels stories both surreal and realistic.

VARIETIES OF DISTURBANCE: Stories. By Lydia Davis. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, paper, $13.) Dispensing with straight narrative, Davis microscopically examines language and thought.

THE VIEW FROM CASTLE ROCK: Stories. By Alice Munro. (Knopf, $25.95.) This collection offers unusually explicit reflections of Munro’s life.

WHAT IS THE WHAT. The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng: A Novel. By Dave Eggers. (McSweeney’s, $26.) The horrors, injustices and follies in this novel are based on the experiences of one of the Lost Boys of Sudan.

WINTERTON BLUE. By Trezza Azzopardi. (Grove, $24.) An unhappy young woman meets an even unhappier drifter.

THE YIDDISH POLICEMEN’S UNION. By Michael Chabon. (HarperCollins, $26.95.) Cops, thugs, schemers, rabbis, chess fanatics and obsessives of every stripe populate this screwball, hard-boiled murder mystery set in an imagined Jewish settlement in Alaska.


AGENT ZIGZAG: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal. By Ben Macintyre. (Harmony, $25.95.) The exploits of Eddie Chapman, a British criminal who became a double agent in World War II.

ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE: A Life. By Hugh Brogan. (Yale University, $35.) Brogan’s combative biography takes issue with Tocqueville’s misgivings about democracy.

ALICE: Alice Roosevelt Longworth, From White House Princess to Washington Power Broker. By Stacy A. Cordery. (Viking, $32.95.) A biography of Theodore Roosevelt’s shrewd, tart-tongued older daughter.

AMERICAN CREATION: Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic. By Joseph J. Ellis. (Knopf, $26.95.) This history explores an underappreciated point: that this country was constructed to foster arguments, not to settle them.

THE ARGUMENT: Billionaires, Bloggers, and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics. By Matt Bai. (Penguin Press, $25.95.) An exhaustive account of the Democrats’ transformative efforts, by a political reporter for The New York Times Magazine.

ARSENALS OF FOLLY: The Making of the Nuclear Arms Race. By Richard Rhodes. (Knopf, $28.95.) This artful history focuses on the events leading up to the pivotal 1986 Reykjavik summit meeting between Reagan and Gorbachev.

THE ART OF POLITICAL MURDER: Who Killed the Bishop? By Francisco Goldman. (Grove, $25.) The novelist returns to Guatemala, a major inspiration for his fiction, to try to solve the real-life killing of a Roman Catholic bishop.

BROTHER, I’M DYING. By Edwidge Danticat. (Knopf, $23.95.) Danticat’s cleareyed prose and unflinching adherence to the facts conceal an undercurrent of melancholy in this memoir of her Haitian family.

CIRCLING MY MOTHER. By Mary Gordon. (Pantheon, $24.) Gordon’s deeply personal memoir focuses on the engaged and lively Catholicism of her mother, a glamorous career woman who was also an alcoholic with a body afflicted by polio.

CLEOPATRA’S NOSE: 39 Varieties of Desire. By Judith Thurman. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27.95.) These surgically analytic essays of cultural criticism showcase themes of loss, hunger and motherhood.

CULTURAL AMNESIA: Necessary Memories From History and the Arts. By Clive James. (Norton, $35.) Essays on 20th-century luminaries by one of Britain’s leading public intellectuals.

THE DAY OF BATTLE: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944. Volume Two of the Liberation Trilogy. By Rick Atkinson. (Holt, $35.) A celebration of the American experience in these campaigns.

THE DIANA CHRONICLES. By Tina Brown. (Doubleday, $27.50.) The former New Yorker editor details the sordid domestic drama that pitted the Princess of Wales against Britain’s royal family.

THE DISCOVERY OF FRANCE: A Historical Geography From the Revolution to the First World War. By Graham Robb. (Norton, $27.95.) Robb presents France as a group of diverse regions, each with its own long history, intricate belief systems and singular customs.

DOWN THE NILE: Alone in a Fisherman’s Skiff. By Rosemary Mahoney. (Little, Brown, $23.99.) Mahoney juxtaposes her solo rowing journey with encounters with the Egyptians she met.

DRIVEN OUT: The Forgotten War Against Chinese Americans. By Jean Pfaelzer. (Random House, $27.95.) How the Chinese were brutalized and demonized in the 19th-century American West — and how they fought back.

DUE CONSIDERATIONS: Essays and Criticism. By John Updike. (Knopf, $40.) Updike’s first nonfiction collection in eight years displays breathtaking scope as well as the author’s seeming inability to write badly.

EASTER EVERYWHERE: A Memoir. By Darcey Steinke. (Bloomsbury, $24.95.) A minister’s daughter confronts her own spiritual rootlessness.

EDITH WHARTON. By Hermione Lee. (Knopf, $35.) This meticulous biography shows Wharton’s significance as a designer, decorator, gardener and traveler, as well as a writer.

THE FATHER OF ALL THINGS: A Marine, His Son, and the Legacy of Vietnam. By Tom Bissell. (Pantheon, $25.) Bissell mixes rigorous narrative accounts of the war and emotionally powerful scenes of the distress it brought his own family.

THE FLORIST’S DAUGHTER. By Patricia Hampl. (Harcourt, $24.) In her fifth and most powerful memoir, Hampl looks hard at her relationship to her Midwestern roots as her mother lies dying in the hospital.

FORESKIN’S LAMENT: A Memoir. By Shalom Auslander. (Riverhead, $24.95.) With scathing humor and bitter irony, Auslander wrestles with his Jewish Orthodox roots.

GOMORRAH: A Personal Journey Into the Violent International Empire of Naples’ Organized Crime System. By Roberto Saviano. Translated by Virginia Jewiss. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25.) This powerful work of reportage started a national conversation in Italy when it was published there last year.

THE HOUSE THAT GEORGE BUILT: With a Little Help From Irving, Cole, and a Crew of About Fifty. By Wilfrid Sheed. (Random House, $29.95.) A rich homage to Gershwin, Berlin and other masters of the swinging jazz song.

HOW DOCTORS THINK. By Jerome Groopman. (Houghton Mifflin, $26.) Groopman takes a tough-minded look at the ways in which doctors and patients interact, and at the profound problems facing modern medicine.

HOW TO READ THE BIBLE: A Guide to Scripture, Then and Now. By James L. Kugel. (Free Press, $35.) In this tour through the Jewish scriptures (i.e., the Old Testament, more or less), a former professor of Hebrew seeks to reclaim the Bible from the literalists and the skeptics.

HOW TO TALK ABOUT BOOKS YOU HAVEN’T READ. By Pierre Bayard. Translated by Jeffrey Mehlman. (Bloomsbury, $19.95.) A French literature professor wants to assuage our guilt over the ways we actually read and discuss books.

IMPERIAL LIFE IN THE EMERALD CITY: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone. By Rajiv Chandrasekaran. (Knopf, $25.95.) The author, a Washington Post journalist, catalogs the arrogance and ineptitude that marked America’s governance of Iraq.

THE INVISIBLE CURE: Africa, the West, and the Fight Against AIDS. By Helen Epstein. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26.) Rigorous reporting unearths new findings among the old issues.

LEGACY OF ASHES: The History of the CIA. By Tim Weiner. (Doubleday, $27.95.) A comprehensive chronicle of the American intelligence agency, from the days of the Iron Curtain to Iraq, by a reporter for The New York Times.

LENI: The Life and Work of Leni Riefenstahl. By Steven Bach. (Knopf, $30.) How Hitler’s favorite director made “Triumph of the Will” and convinced posterity that she didn’t know what the Nazis were up to.

LEONARD WOOLF: A Biography. By Victoria Glendinning. (Free Press, $30.) Glendinning shows Virginia Woolf’s accomplished husband as passionate, reserved and, above all, stoical.

A LIFE OF PICASSO: The Triumphant Years, 1917-1932. By John Richardson. (Knopf, $40.) The third, penultimate installment in Richardson’s biography spans a dauntingly complicated time in Picasso’s life and in European history.

LITTLE HEATHENS: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression. By Mildred Armstrong Kalish. (Bantam, $22.) Kalish’s soaring love for her childhood memories saturates this memoir, which coaxes the reader into joy, wonder and even envy.

LONG WAY GONE: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. By Ishmael Beah. (Sarah Crichton/-Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $22.) A former child warrior gives literary voice to the violence and killings he both witnessed and perpetrated during the Sierra Leone civil war.

THE NINE: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court. By Jeffrey Toobin. (Doubleday, $27.95.) An erudite outsider’s account of the cloistered court’s inner workings.

THE ORDEAL OF ELIZABETH MARSH: A Woman in World History. By Linda Colley. (Pantheon, $27.50.) Colley tracks the “compulsively itinerant” Marsh across the 18th century and several continents.

PORTRAIT OF A PRIESTESS: Women and Ritual in Ancient Greece. By Joan Breton Connelly. (Princeton University, $39.50.) A scholar finds that religion meant power for Greek women.

RALPH ELLISON: A Biography. By Arnold Rampersad. (Knopf, $35.) Ellison was seemingly cursed by his failure to follow up “Invisible Man.”

THE REST IS NOISE: Listening to the Twentieth Century. By Alex Ross. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $30.) In his own feat of orchestration, The New Yorker’s music critic presents a history of the last century as refracted through its classical music.

SCHULZ AND PEANUTS: A Biography. By David Michaelis. (Harper/ Harper-Collins, $34.95.) Actual “Peanuts” cartoons movingly illustrate this portrait of the strip’s creator, presented here as a profoundly lonely and unhappy man.

SERVICE INCLUDED: Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter. By Phoebe Damrosch. (Morrow, $24.95.) A memoir about waiting tables at the acclaimed Manhattan restaurant Per Se.

SOLDIER’S HEART: Reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point. By Elizabeth D. Samet. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $23.) A civilian teacher at the Military Academy offers a significant perspective on a crucial social and political force: honor.

STANLEY: The Impossible Life of Africa’s Greatest Explorer. By Tim Jeal. (Yale University, $38.) Of the many biographies of Henry Morton Stanley, Jeal’s, which profits from his access to an immense new trove of material, is the most complete and readable.

THE STILLBORN GOD: Religion, Politics, and the Modern West. By Mark Lilla. (Knopf, $26.) With nuance and complexity, Lilla examines how we managed to separate, in a fashion, church and state.

THOMAS HARDY. By Claire Tomalin. (Penguin Press, $35.) Tomalin presents Hardy as a fascinating case study in mid-Victorian literary sociology.

TOO CLOSE TO THE SUN: The Audacious Life and Times of Denys Finch Hatton. By Sara Wheeler. (Random House, $27.95.) The story of the man immortalized in “Out of Africa.”

TWO LIVES: Gertrude and Alice. By Janet Malcolm. (Yale University, $25.) Sharp criticism meets playful, absorbing biography in this study of Stein and Toklas.

THE WHISPERERS: Private Life in Stalin’s Russia. By Orlando Figes. (Metropolitan, $35.) An extraordinary look at the gulag’s impact on desperate individuals and families struggling to survive.

THE YEARS OF EXTERMINATION: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939-1945. By Saul Friedländer. (HarperCollins, $39.95.) Individual testimony and broader events are skillfully interwoven.
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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

a recap of the merriness of it all

Here is a little sample of the fun of closing the big box last
night. Who opened ALL the doors of the jails and mental

1) there is a very sweet woman from the Salvation Army who
gift wraps for us to raise money for that charity. One
"customer" asked her to help reach for a book across from
her table and someone grabbed her purse from under the chair.
It took two seconds. Her response, "it's OK, I work
with these people all the time, it's just my purse." She'll
be back to gift wrap today.

2) guy talking trash at busy Info. 2. I go to confront him
and he (ick) shakes my hand and claims to know me from Barnes
& Noble where I had fired him a few years ago.
"I did a good thing", I say as I usher him out.

3) Mr. Smell Bad #45 v. concerned with his rights because an
anonymous person complained about his personal hygiene.

4) Scams galore, I can't keep up with them all. It's a balance
between protecting the company assets and not getting into a
nasty screaming fight with the "customer". For some reason I
never feel that I handle these situations correctly, probably
because I don't. Alas, I have the sharp retort always at the
ready and I have to swallow that and remember that my goal is
not really to show how very, very clever I can be.

5) First temp remembers that she is going to the East Coast for
the holidays. Oooooops, didn't we cover this in the interview?
But that's OK, it's all part of the game and besides, she is a
sweetie to work with. In HR we learn to dread the question, "can
I talk to you for a moment?"

But wait, here's some great news! Three weeks from today I get
3 days off in a row. Thanks for listening...

Monday, December 03, 2007

adair reappears!

Here is one of the many great EX Chronny writers, Adair Lara.
I have a collection of columns of hers from the good olde days
and I was delighted to see this one yesterday ~ even if the
subject matter is a little sad. Of course I agree with her,
I always have. Some of my writer friends actually know Adair,
how fortunate are they?

Treat yourself - don't worry about what you leave the kids

Adair Lara

Sunday, December 2, 2007

My mother died last month. She left behind a checking account with $18,000 in it, and various other accounts. Not a lot of money, but every quarter, every dollar earned, came from waitressing and secretarial work. She never owned stocks, made no money from real estate, so every dime is money she worked for, down to the quarters that dragged down the shiny black pocket of her waitress skirt. She saved and saved.

Even when she'd been in hospice for a year and 10 months with end-stage congestive heart failure, she fretted over the Comcast bill, though movies were a pleasure to someone now too weak to leave the house. If she suspected I was running less than a full load in the washer, she'd accuse me of sending her to the poorhouse. When I grocery-shopped for her, I began leaving some items in the car, to sneak into the house later, so she wouldn't upset herself about the bottle of ketchup I bought when there was still a nearly full bottle in the fridge. "Mom, you have more money coming in every month," I'd say. "Buy the kind of garbage bags that don't break."

But the habit of a lifetime could not be broken. She had not used her spending muscle in so long that it had atrophied, and withered away.

The morning she died, at home with five of us six kids there, I found myself furiously stuffing the cheap set of Mervyns sheets from her bed into the trash - and then kicking the trashcan for good measure.

I was with her a few months ago when she bought that comforter set - $40 for the whole thing, such a bargain! - I kept trying to lead her into the aisle with nicer sets, with sheets that weren't Kleenex-thin, but no, it was too much money, these were fine. When I bought things for her - a nice rug for the living room, soft cashmere sweaters - she gave them to my sisters.

When it was time to empty her house, I tossed her motley collection of dishes into Hefty bags, not caring if they broke. I threw out dusty fake roses that I've been dying to throw out for years. I unhooked stained-glass doodads from the latticework of her porch and wasn't surprised to find they were plastic. Almost everything went straight to the dump.

Recently, my husband, Bill, and I drove from our house in San Francisco to Santa Rosa to visit his recently widowed 83-year-old mother. Her house is a nice carpeted two-bedroom in a retirement community, but she too likes to pay as little as possible for everything, driving all the way across town to Wal-Mart to get the Hanes briefs that are cheaper there. Bill's father died last December at the age of 90, and my mother-in-law has been urging her sons to go to the closet and take some of the shirts. But the shirts were from garage sales to begin with, and no one wants them.

"Don't do to your kids what my mother did," I begged her. "Don't die with a houseful of junk."

I want my mother-in-law, whom I adore, to spring for a better satellite package - she doesn't even get any movies on hers. She does hire a man to drive her the 50 miles to San Francisco to see us, and the 40 miles to Sacramento to see another son, and I'm grateful for that. Recently she announced she has a pedicurist coming to the house. This may seem the obvious move for someone who had macular degeneration and can see neither the road well enough to drive or her toenails well enough to cut them, but she's never done it before.

"Buy things for yourself. Leave your kids stubs of airlines tickets, theatre tickets, beautiful vases, gorgeous rugs, pictures of yourself waving from a cruise ship."

I couldn't get my mother to buy the turquoise wall-to-wall carpet she kept talking about.

You - you of my mother's generation - still can. Buy a new car. Get what you need, and what you don't need. Treat yourself to fresh flowers, piano lessons, a manicure. I would much rather have had my mother buy that turquoise rug than inherit my one-sixth of what it would have cost. I want what I will never have, the memory of her last year in hospice with that glorious color under her feet in every room.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

the red light district

Here is our kitchen nook ~ I just hung these little lights, meaning
the holiday is coming to our home gradually, but surely. The Blogmaid
introduced me to indoor lights when she lived in Pathetica, and now
I can't seem to live without some kind of hanging illumination. I
took down the orange Halloween/Thanksgiving lights two days ago and
the whole kitchen seemed so dull to me that I rushed to Walgreen's
for some reds. How's this for news?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

i'm like all retail lately

My friend Michael from Santa Barbara met me after work and
we had some coffee at that French Jazz restaurant on Ellis.
Then I had a brilliant idea ~ I'll show him our Apple® store
down the street, he's a computer guy. I do love the glass stairs
there and it would be a fun place to people watch from a safe
distance. But it was even more jostle-jostle than the big box
(if possible) and I was getting a little irritable by the time
we left. I am impressed that they have so many clerks, today
all in red shirts and not one over 18, or so it appeared. And
8 computers all set up about 3 ft. off the floor for kids to
play those incomprehensible video games. My day was less than
perfect, but it's almost January and my cold is better. I can
do it, I can do it...

Friday, November 30, 2007

boosting my immune system

I have a slight cold, but am doing all the right things and it should
be completely gone in a few days. What could me more boring than me
writing about a cold? Maybe watching me use 245 Kleenex® in one day?
So I'll go to work, but I think it's too late to spread more germs.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

musical nuttiness

A friend of a friend of a friend...was raising her little boy to be
anatomically correct and she taught him to say "seed sacks" instead
of the usual "nuts" or "balls". I'm sure this lasted until his first
day of school, but in the meantime, my friend and I got some warm
chuckles out of this unusual expression, as you might imagine.

But this year we took it to a new low and forever more the annual
symphonic production will be known as The Seed Sack Cracker. Isn't
that a kick in the...errrrrr?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

it's come to this...

My all-time favorite Curb Your Enthusiasm episode is the one
where Larry's wife (Cheryl) is having a little party for three
of her women friends. They are going to watch the Oscar ceremony,
starting early, of course, with all the red carpet silliness.
Larry calls in the Remote Control Specialist (do they have these?)
to make sure all 6 of their remotes are functioning properly. I
thought of this yesterday because Husbando bought a Surround Sound
System and added yet another device to our media happy home. And
yes, we have our own guy (Gene's Sound Service) who came in to
set-up this thing and he left us easy-to-understand (hahahaha) hand-
written instructions. The only thing I remember Husbando saying
before I fell asleep was, "we need to use all 4 every time". Lordy.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

that friday feeling

Closing the big box gets worse as we climb towards the actual
Happy Holiday, but I'm lucky with a good closing crew who do
not resent my occasional expletive of the F variety. I will
steal Mr. Z's blog thunder and tell you the highest compliment
that came from a woman "customer" last night:
She said to him, "I love the big box because other bookstores
won't let me in".

Seemingly, the jails and hospitals release all the scam artists and
shop lifters this time of year (not that we are free from them
the other 10 months) and they are out in droves. Elaborate
steal-and-return schemes and a myriad of complicated plots and
ploys that always seem to involve dying mothers. The goal is
always "cash back" to fly home for the funeral or whatever.

Oh, well, it's all part of the game. At least I smothered the
phone with a pillow when I got home last night and if the alarm
company called (as they did the night before, twice) I didn't
hear it. No perky until January, that only lasted a day or two
and it was phony anyway. Jingle.

Monday, November 26, 2007

back to the UK telly

After reading that this series The Street won the British version of
the Emmys on Nov. 20th, I lucked out with the Flix® and got the
first of two discs. Each episode involves one family on this typical
little street somewhere in northern England. Some of our favorite actors:
Jane Horrocks, Jim Broadbent and Timothy Spall. The stories intertwine
and yes, I did need a Kleenex® or two already. Nice escape for after
too much jingle belling...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

the trenches ~ my report

OK, I know you are curious. It hasn't been too bad, mostly
because the 21 temps we hired have been working out nicely.
Well, today there were 4 call-outs, but we're still covered
and business is slowing down, finally.

Our big box is blowing both Plan and Comp (last year) out
of the water, or over the mountain, or whatever. We were
14.7% over Pl and a whopping 21% over LY. I sniff a bonus
on the horizon and that does smell good.

The customers have been pleasant, honestly. They don't start
getting testy until closer to xmas when we are running out
of that book or DVD they saw last July on the 3rd floor.
We have seen a few customers who swore they would never return
and the usual number of crazies and thieves.

I am pacing myself this year and that means office time and
not letting the paperwork get behind making January catch-up
impossible. The gigantic tree in Union Square looks more
festive than ever and this year PG&E is one of the sponsors
and they are using energy-saving lights. I swear it gets more
beautiful every year. Come visit!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

the lookout is worth seeing

Joseph Gordon-Levitt was that cute kid on 3rd Rock from the Sun
and he's all grown up now and we thought he did a great job in
this thriller from Flix® that also stars Jeff Daniels. It's called
The Lookout and the only complaint I have is that there were a
few too many flashbacks (we get it, OK?). But the ending was very
satisfying and I thought Jeff Daniels did a great job playing a blind
man ~ not an easy role to play realistically, I'm guessing.