Showing posts from October, 2008

hope and changeling

On the escalator outside the Landmark Theatre Tuesday night, AK asked what I’d thought of Changeling . “I liked it, but I almost can’t tell if it was a good movie or not,” I admitted, “because it has so many elements that I’m guaranteed to like.” 1. Shots of 1920s L.A. Seriously, I could have watched a whole movie of ‘em—without a story, without dialogue, without Angelina Jolie. My ideal afterlife will include the ability to beam myself to any point in history, not so I can kill Hitler or whatever but so I can be a fly on the wall and find out how things really were, especially in places and eras that are close to my heart. 2. Mystery galore. Changeling is based on the true story of a boy who was kidnapped and “returned” to his mother five months later—except it wasn’t him, and no one believed her. What could be eerier and more fascinating? Throw in a police cover-up, a scary insane asylum and a serial killer with a tumbledown shack in the desert and I’m there! 3. All Saints Chu

the bread and bread endorsements

Have you had enough of the talking heads on NPR and CNN? Are you thinking, I’d like to hear the opinions of someone who can parrot the talking heads on NPR but not CNN because she doesn’t have cable? Someone who writes as much about tasty treats at Starbucks as she does about world affairs. Look no further: The first-ever Bread and Bread Election Guide has arrived. Below are B&B’s suggestions on how you should vote if you want to toe the Bread and Bread party line. B&B will to try to refrain from the most most obvious arguments because you’ve probably already heard them, and because, as a partially informed voter, B&B may not have. What you’re going to read about is all gut feelings and pet causes (but hopefully not in a Sarah Palin-y way). Also, if you leave a really good comment explaining why B&B should vote the opposite, maybe B&B will. B&B is gullible like that. President: Barack Obama. Besides the now oft-quoted “chicken or shit with bits of broken gl

…and he’s easy on the eyes

This is a video Jamie ’s friends shot at the gObama! fundraiser party AK and I went to last month. During my three seconds of fame beginning at minute 3:04, I’m referring (in my mind) to The Second World , that book by Parag Khanna I raved about a while back. But more on that later, when Bread and Bread publishes its official voter guide (get ready to learn where I stand on bond measure 1A, everyone!).

making it work, working it

“What do you wear when you want to look like you don’t really care about looking good but could if you wanted to?” I asked AK. Veronica had invited us to the last night of Fashion Week , where she would be modeling in the Kucoon show. I love fashion, but it’s hard to tell because I devote almost no time or money to it. I’m like a person who thinks she likes to read because she enjoys Oprah’s book club segments. I read a lot of fashion magazines—so at least I could point to a page that said slouchy jeans were back when AK became insecure about her pants. I ended up wearing jeans that were neither trendily slouchy nor trendily skinny (Target, $20); a dark orange wife-beater (Nordstrom clearance rack, like $12); a blazer that my friend Daisye had sewn patches on (random thrift store in Tacoma, $10); and silver Jessica Simpson pumps (DSW, $18). With the exception of Daisye’s handiwork, all were fairly embarrassing items, but once we got to the downtown warehouse where the shows were t

chocolate-covered pretzel juice

I think we’ve all been burned by Starbucks’ more creative offerings. The Gingerbread Latte tastes about as much like gingerbread as grape candy tastes like grapes. And the Skinny Mocha tastes like soap. Even the Eggnog Latte, while tasty, is mostly just a latte with extra cream and sugar. But I am of the “more is more” school of food, so there’s no weird new flavor I can resist trying, and half the time I like the over-flavored crap that people with respectable palettes hate (see eggnog latte). So of course I had to try the Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate. Reader, it was amazing. Like a liquid chocolate-covered pretzel, which is one of my favorite chocolate-covered foods. You have to try it. But whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of looking it up online, in which case you’ll accidentally stumble across its calorie content and discover why it’s so damn good.

emphasis on the wondrous

When I was at a book festival in Houston last fall, Junot Díaz read from The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao . It was a passage about a young girl being roped into her mother’s self-breast exam; her embarrassingly enormous breasts were now home to a brooding tumor. A whole class of middle-school kids got up and walked out, led by their teachers. Was it the breasts? Was it the fact that the breasts and the passage were laced with dark and messy feelings? (Although I also kind of remember Junot Díaz swearing a bit in his introduction, which I found refreshing after a day of relentless wholesomeness.) After reading the novel, I wonder if Junot would say this is how the first world deals with life’s ickier issues, collectively uttering, “The horror, the horror.” Oscar Wao is sort of a response to that. The story of a young Dominican-American man—a full-scale D&D nerd and seemingly perpetual virgin—who has inherited the fukú, the curse placed on his motherland and his family by the

10/13/08: fitness + dessert + dessert again

Sunday started with brunch at the New Otani Kaimana Beach hotel, where a lot of the wedding party was staying. We didn’t get too see much of Jamie and Lee-Roy (just enough to grab a picture with them before they departed on their honeymoon), but we hung out some more with Jesi, Tina and I Ching, who are all really interesting and inspiring in different ways. After brunch we ended up hiking—and by hiking I mean climbing—Koko Head with AK’s college friend Tai-An, her husband Mano and their friends Terry and Marie. As we were driving, I saw a steep domed hill with a stripe of brown running straight up the side of it. In the back of my head I thought, “What if that’s our trail? Ha, ha…no, that’s clearly just a fire break or something.” Around this time we also learned that Mano, Marie and Terry had all been in the Navy. Terry was an ex-firefighter and Tai-An, according to Mano, used to play volleyball “eight days a week, 25 hours a day.” And of course that thing that was too impossibl

10/12/08: simple and natural

In Oahu now. We walked across the street from our hotel, the Queen Kapiolani, to the Honolulu Zoo. While we were looking for the entrance, we saw a guy open a side gate to let some people in and he waved us in too. Suddenly we were in the zoo. For free. We looked at each other and shrugged: Slowly some kind of thoughtful volcano goddess was making up for our expensive cab ride. We spent a couple of relaxing hours looking at endangered nene geese, tropical gardens, Sumatra tigers and elderly lions. We listened to a Galapagos tortoise roar like a dinosaur as it humped another tortoise…for quite a long time. Turtles don’t have a rep as the studs of the animal kingdom, but they should. Then we ate vanilla/lime and strawberry/banana shave ice and watched kids on the playground, little zoo animals themselves. Jamie and Lee-Roy’s wedding was beautiful: next to a pink house formerly owned by Dolly Parton, just feet from the water. It was very Jamie-and-Lee-Roy: elegant and simple and na

10/10/08: it’s a great day when you see a volcano and also don’t get murdered by ghosts

We’re at Manini Beach Park, trying to rest off some of yesterday’s fun-but-exhausting-for-the-last-two-hours activities. There are lava rocks and coral and one free-range donkey whom I befriended and petted on her soft gray-brown forehead. There are all kinds of crazy animals here: geckos, a zebra (I’m thinking not native—a haole zebra in a pasture off Highway 11) and a feral pig that we almost hit last night. It was shaggy like a golden retriever and did not know that to get away from a car, you should probably not jog along in front of it. The Manago is an old hotel with clean but plain rooms and gorgeous gardens. How we should all be, I told AK: materially simple and naturally abundant. More and more, I’m realizing how Hawaii is almost like another country: Things aren’t all America-shiny, and it has its own dialect and races. Okay, news break: A woman and two kids just walked up, and the kids asked, “Is this your donkey?” Then a little cat ran by, and they said it was theirs. It

hawaii journal

So it turns out that Hawaii is a great vacation spot. Who knew? Okay, a few people knew. But the last few days have been one lush, green, sea-turtle-y revelation after another for me. Excerpts from my travel journal and lots of pictures of me in front of lush, green, sea-turtle-y things shall follow. 10/9/08: poi and pouting I just woke up in Captain Cook on the Big Island of Hawaii at the Manago Hotel. It’s cool and breezy, and outside our balcony window it’s green as far as you can see. There are palm trees, something I’m going to pretend is a mango tree and a talkative chicken. Pretty idyllic, huh? But the way AK and I were feeling yesterday, you would have thought we were here to do forced labor. We had down time between flights to Oahu and the Big Island, so we took a cab to Ono’s, a local spot Jamie recommended. And given how much time we ended up spending at HNL, it was good that we got out and took in some non-airport air…and butterfish in something green and leafy, and p

live aloha

The first time AK visited Honolulu, someone told her she could pass for a native Hawaiian. Then she opened her mouth. “Oh,” the local said, “except you talk way, way too fast.” I spent my lunch hour at Starbucks across from two guys selling Herbalife or some sort of pyramid scheme on their cell phones. They both had Madonna mics and a lot of product in their hair. “Hi, this is Sean Michael,” one of them said over and over. “So, you’re in the Valley? And what do you do, what’s your background? Are you looking to get started with something pretty quickly?” After he hung up, he would turn to his friend and say, “See, I show them how valuable my time is. Like that guy just now, I told him I’d have to call him back later. They need to know how busy I am.” Why is busy-ness—not just busy-ness but too-busy-for-you-ness—a trait people try to achieve? Yeah, you don’t want to be a total couch potato, but do you really think people will be impressed that you have no time for them because you


I’ve come to realize that a little bit of what I want out of all authority figures in my life is for them to act like my mom. Which is terrible: Imagine the worst employee/writer/underling/volunteer you can. Pretend you’re the authority figure complaining to your friend about said needy underling. You’d probably say something like, “Good lord, does she think I’m her mom?” People say things like this all the time: “Please clean up the conference room. The office manager is not your mom.” “You’re going to need to be better about deadlines. I’m not your mom.” It’s not that I want anyone to clean up my messes, literal or figurative, but I do want the leaders in my life to be nurturing and organized, two qualities that defined my particular mom. I realized how strong this desire was when it was fulfilled this weekend by the folks at City Works Press , publishers of the beautiful and comprehensive new anthology Hunger and Thirst .* I’ve got a short story in there, so I read along with a h

for real commentary, please turn on npr

I was slow to get on the Palin-bashing bandwagon, maybe because I was too disconnected to realize how many people were on the Palin-liking bandwagon--so the hate just seemed hateful rather than like a necessary counterattack. Tonight's debate didn't make me feel any more or less disturbed by her, but I did spend some time thinking about how she's more of a mascot than a candidate. She's sort of wearing a big foam head in the shape of folksiness and mom-ness, and I was going to say that no party would ever trot out a male candidate like that, except George W. is mostly a big foam cowboy head. I don't have a lot more to say about this. I'm not even bitter that America loves Disneyland and all its foam characters because I think they'll love Obama more. And no one can afford to go to Disneyland these days anyway.