Friday, November 9, 2012


There's been a lot going on these past few weeks in this place I'm from.

Sorry for the slight absence. I've been, dare I say, kinda busy?

Several things. List form. You know the drill.

1. After Game 7 of the NLCS, I went to see Pitch Perfect the next day with my mother. Totally hungover. Thank god for giant movie sodas. Even if they don't serve Dr Pepper. It should be unsurprising, if you've been paying any attention at all, that even in my hungover state I LOVED this movie. Loved loved loved. I have to really thank Hollywood for churning out strong female lead movies lately. I know this has become a thing. Or a category of things, with NYT think pieces and all but: It's really good, in my opinion that you didn't ask for, for girls, and even grown ass adults like me, to see struggles of other women that we can relate to and aren't completely about getting the hot guy to fall in love with you. I don't remember that really existing in movies/TV when I was younger. (Exception: My So-Called Life with broad teen angst and not just *swoon* Jordan Catalano.)

Even more than a really great story with some really great singing (it puts anything Glee's ever done to shame), it featured something near and dear to me.

I'm, again, hungover watching the movie. When the main character, Becca, pulls up at her brand new college campus I think, "Huh. Those buildings sort of look like ones on LSU's campus." But I let this thought go because I am not an expert on architecture and it could be any one of dozens of college campuses. It's just nondescript college campus, as far as I'm concerned. Our fictional university is called Barden, and for the first half of the movie I assumed it was in the Northeast because most college campuses in movies are set at "Not Harvard".

Shortly after that, the movie progresses to an initiation party that happens on some stadium seats of an outdoor theater. I pause again, "That looks like the Greek theater at LSU." But for all I know, in my limited experience, any number of college campuses could have Greek theaters. Berkeley has a rather large one so...what's to stop just about every school full of drama nerds from having one? I also, don't, of course, connect this with my earlier thought because I am an idiot.

As I remain slightly incapacitated, I'm paying attention to the plot and characters and not that much to setting. Then the group performs at a "frat" house. After the song falls apart, they excuse themselves to the front of the house to have their fight. Which is when it becomes unmistakable. The "frat" house in the scene is a sorority house (maybe Chi O's?) looking out across the LSU lakes. That's my school, bitches!

Now I notice everything about the setting. The Music and Dramatic Arts building with it's Roman writing on the front. The south end of the quad because it is far prettier than the north end of the quad with the monstrosity that is Middleton Library. The main character's dad's house is one of the mansions that sits on the other side of the lake from the Greek houses. The frat house of the competing male group is, I'm pretty sure, the TKE house, dressed up for the film.

I now want to know if Anna Kendrick hooked up with anyone while filming at LSU. Or Anna Camp. Or even Rebel Wilson. And how did I completely miss that this was being filmed there? I guess because I mostly follow LSU sports news and this didn't hit any of those feeds?

Louisiana is definitely living up to it's Hollywood South tag, as searching for pics of Pitch Perfect led to pics of Looper showing up, also filmed there. As was 21 Jump Street, a new movie coming out with Emmy Rossum called Beautiful Creatures (which I've heard bitching about the switch from South Carolina in the book to La. (Read this piece on Emmy Rossum because Emmy Rossum (that dress in the last picture: want) & also for namechecking Covington, which in my time in La was a horrible suburb I wanted nothing to do with but sounds bearable now?), and an upcoming Diablo Cody project.

Reminds me of when in the 90s SF wanted to bring in a bunch of films with tax credits only to fail at that and now there's an old airplane hanger on Treasure Island with a bunch of rotting film equipment the city doesn't know what to do with. Better luck to you, Louisiana!

2. The Friday after that, 2 games into the World Series with Giants up on Detroit, my dad and I went to the Grand National Rodeo. My dad has been taking me to the rodeo since I was about four years old. He once pulled me out of school when I was about 8 to go to the rodeo matinee just because. That was my first lesson into what a "mental health day" is. I think we should have way more of them.

About five years ago they tried to make it REALLY big, with big name country bands playing and everything but it didn't grab hold and then they changed the date to April which was confusing, before moving it back to the traditional October slot, but only over the weekends, and not a week long thing.

It's not the same as when I was a kid. It seemed a lot bigger then because it used to be the last chance to qualify in a PRCA rodeo for NFR in Vegas. But then PBR split off and SF isn't exactly cow country so, along with the above mentioned issues, it's a lot more modest than it used to be, as is attendance. Still, I was excited to resurrect a childhood tradition and head to the rodeo with my dad.

San Francisco being San Francisco, there were protesters out front with "think of the animals!" signs. I don't know if it was their presence or that I'm older attending the rodeo, but even with my understanding that most rodeo events are related to real working ranch necessities, it did seem pretty violent.

Even with that awareness, I enjoyed myself thoroughly. I don't get to indulge my faux cowgirl side nearly enough, what with the living in a West Coast major city. I've pontificated before on the joy of sitting on a porch listening to country drinking beer, and that's what this reminds me of, with the added bonus of hot guys in big hats.

About those hot guys in big hats: I didn't get to flirt with any of them because I was with my father. Who though I love dearly, I don't go after guys in his presence. We have our boundaries. So when bull riding ended, we left the rodeo. And didn't go to the live music bar thing to 2 step (which I actually can't do at all).

Which left me sort of...disappointed? I like going out and flirting and the opportunity hasn't presented itself lately. Or at all.

But LSU had a bye week. Which meant no football on Saturday. And a night free to do what I wanted with, since I wasn't glued to my TV. I asked my ever trusty wingwoman if she wanted to go back to the rodeo with me, after much agonizing debate. On the one hand, I should/could stay in. On the other...broncs and bulls, dust and mud, the roar of a (Saturday night) crowd.

She was kind of sort of game. "Are they mean to the cows?" Uhhh. Kinda? I mean...they're used to it?She reluctantly agreed to attend.

Taking an Asian-American, Pasadena raised, UCSB alumn to the rodeo is AMAZING, let me tell you. Cheryl always asks weird questions anyways. The kind of detail oriented, don't really matter questions that I can never answer. This time I felt like I should have read the history of rodeo before going. I mean, I can bluff and know that some of the events are about penning off cows to brand or castrate them or check for health and only seem really awful even though I'm sure we've invented better ways of doing this in industrialized farming?

But still. The look on her face and her comments were the best. She was rooting for the cows to get away in almost every event. She heard Toby Keith's the Red, White, & Blue over the arena PA and looked at me aghast. "Is this a real song?!" Yeeeep.

Oh yeah, and explaining how they got broncs and bulls to buck? HILARIOUS.

She said her biggest problem was the deep philosophical differences she assumed she had with everyone else attending. That those that support the rodeo are in love with a version of America that doesn't really exist and is more about how big the flag on your Dodge truck is than anything. I couldn't really argue with that, other than the presumption that all rodeo people are deeply conservative Republican being a broad, and probably not completely fair generalization in the same way that the "Isn't everyone in San Francisco gay?" question I regularly fielded in college is. I could see her point, while still enjoying the rodeo.

Overall she said she enjoyed it and had a fun time. And I made damn sure not to put too much pressure on this outing like I had the last few and to just enjoy myself for what it was, no matter happened.

With her accompanying me, we did attend the live music dance thing after. I regretted never having let my college friend teach me how to two step because so jealous of all the cute boys dancing with cute girls and unable to do so. An incredibly good looking blue eyed cowboy walked by, making eye contact the whole way. And then did nothing. And I hadn't had nearly enough to drink to do anything in return, though I pondered it/would have been helped incredibly by an ability to dance. We had a couple drinks, enjoyed the amazing people watching, and called it a night. AND didn't go out after, wisely going home, as I had a date to go visit my ailing grandfather in Rio freaking Vista the next morning. (He's fine...ish. He's old. There's really not a lot to say about that without me looking incredibly insensitive because my views on death kept to myself because I look like a heartless witch when I discuss them.)

Two nights at the rodeo confirmed my desire to: buy a cowboy hat, buy (more) boots, someday own a gorgeous appaloosa, and venture to warm weather sit outside and drink cold, crappy American beer kinda bars more. None of which I think are necessarily bad things.

3. That next Monday the Giants won the world series. That was cool. I was in charge of my dogs that week as the parents were out of town so I didn't do anything for Halloween or the parade. If it hasn't become readily apparent, while I love people watching, I am incredibly crowd averse and hearing stories of the parade/watching some of the feed on TV, I was totally fine with my decision not to go. It rained Halloween night and though I actually had a few costume ideas for the first time in forever, I was fine skipping that as well, saving my energy for LSU/Bama on the weekend. Also: having both dogs full time feels like an endless amount of work. Though I realize my dogs are NOT children, it convinces me further that the devotion that parenting would require is 1000000% not for me. You wake up and walk them, you feed them, you walk them again, you feed them again, you walk them again. It never freaking ends. I love them but oh how I wish we had a backyard I could throw them in every now and then so I could have some down time. (We have a back deck with slats that the little dog can easily escape from and doesn't provide the right "let's just chill" environment.) I ate horribly, turning every last item in the house into something edible because I am a cheap/incredibly broke bastard. I was pretty damn impressed with my grilled chicken pasta-roni with fresh broccoli. No, actually, it just tasted like sadness, spinsterhood, and student loan debt.

4. LSU BAMA LSU BAMA LSU BAMA! Well that fucking ended in heartbreak, didn't it? I can't bring myself to re-watch it. For the record: it's far more painful to actually play up to your potential and fall short than it is to just all out suck. To have your coach doing some maniacal rolling the dice play calling bullshit that helps tank things than to play ultra conservative and barely beat a flailing Auburn team. Goddamn everything about that game.

Though not the company. I went over to my friends Dave and Sarah's with Chuck, brought my dog to play with their pygmy Boston terrier and their mutt of unknown provenance that resembles in shape my mutt of unknown provenance and eat all the good, homemade junk food while drinking too many Abitas and yelling loudly at the TV to the amusement of my friends. Sarah in particular going, "This is an INCREDIBLY violent game!" and cringing at each hard hit as I cheered it on, no different than the crowd at the Roman Coliseum, was particularly great. Beth even took BART to the East Bay to join us.

Because I am friends with amazingly quirky, smart, wonderful, ridiculous people, a lot of the during the game conversation ended up being about things completely not at all related to football but to their limited understanding of football like whether or not I would sleep with Les Miles? How 'bout Nick Saban? How 'bout Verne Lundquist? All of which somehow led to an illegal drugs conversation and an explanation of the issue at the University of Tennessee regarding butt chugging. We're an interesting bunch. It was glorious.

5. After the game wrapped up, we wandered down the street to the weird carnival thing going on. After we'd been there for a few minutes I whispered to Beth, "We're so not hip enough to be here that it's come all the way back around in a circle so that we're so uncool we're cool." I imagine that when people talk about things being hipster, this is what they mean. It's some sort of artistic collaboration circus thing. It felt very steampunk to me with girls in old style hats and clothes and corsets, with midway games fashioned out of old materials and not new and fancy. Don't get me wrong, it was VERY cool. But like too cool? There was a good band playing...I can't even tell you what genre of music one would classify them as playiing but it was fun to watch people twirl and dance as I stood back with my dog, listening to them play pirate songs, I think? ended up having an article on it a few days later that Beth alerted me to. I was like, "Whoa! Look at me going and doing things that are being written about in the paper! I' ish?"

We went back to Dave and Sarah's after that wrapped up, chatted a bit more. We accidentally caught the Louis CK Lincoln Saturday Night Live clip everyone has been talking about and even commented during it, "Who knew the assassination of a president could be so completely hysterical?" So for a Saturday night I was amazingly tuned in. I'm as confused by this as you are. Especially in the wake of the fucking defense on that final drive in the Alabama game.

I briefly considered going to a bar by myself once I dropped everyone off. But took the wise road and went home, again. It's the hangovers, man. They're fucking brutal when you're old and just becoming increasingly not worth the day and a half I lose with them. I got to peace out to the beach house for a little quiet time, which I enjoyed by taking long baths while listening to Clare de Lune but then was too lazy to make the bed that I thought was already made when I wandered downstairs at 3 in the morning and slept like a frat boy on the mattress with the comforter. I'm such a catch, y'all. It was unseasonably warm Sunday and Monday so I worked on my tan and generally screwed around. Sigh. I have to stop screwing around. Imminently.

6. Oh man. Monday night. This is where shit gets really weird. My aunt had to go to Hong Kong on business. And because it was a somewhat last minute trip to straighten out work stuff at the office there, she had to give up her ticket to...wait for it...The Barbra Streisand concert at HP Pavilion. She offered them to my mother before disposing of them some other way and we said yes. So just to really solidify my spinsterhood: I went to San Jose with my mom for a Streisand concert. I made many a joke ahead of time about that there would be no single, straight available men. I wasn't wrong about that. But other than that, I really had nothing to snark about.

Other than it broke my heart a little more to be in a hockey arena, sitting on the arena floor, WHERE THEY WEREN'T PLAYING ANY HOCKEY. God I miss you hockey. Hurry up and get a deal done, mkay? Please? For the love of all that is holy? (My school is still in the top ten, my baseball team just won the WS. As sportsfans go, I've got it pretty good. Still: I WANT MORE!)

There was an interesting mix of groups of 50 something women out for girls night, 50 something couples out on a date night, gay men young and old, and a smattering of people my age. A lot of people got really dressed up, which was kind of nice. (Oh, the fashion in San Jose, as we ate and people watched on Santana Row, is so wildly different from the way SFers dress, it was kind of mind boggling. Just 50 miles down a freeway and the culture is entirely different.)

The show was more TV variety show than concert. She, with her 70 year old pipes, only really sang about 10 songs and passed a lot of it off to her guests that included some teenage tenor boys from Italy (Il Volo), trumpeter Chris Boti, and her son, who sang "Nature Boy", which is one of my favorite songs. Babs sang "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered", though a much edited version of it, which is also one of my favorite songs.

As she started belting out "Don't Rain on my Parade!" I could find nothing to snark. It was an entirely pleasant, and fun, evening. By the end I was a little drained, a sinus headache setting in and entirely too much time with my mother, so that we left before she did her encore and beat the traffic. But still! I was snark free at Streisand concert. I'm gonna just adopt five cats and call it. Because obviously I'm the next "Little" Edith Bouvier Beale. (My mom is having ankle surgery in mid-December. She won't be able to do anything for three weeks and then won't be able to drive another six weeks after that (at least?). I get to be her chauffeur! If anyone would like to employ me to do ANYTHING between now and then, I would be forever grateful. Because seriously...this can't be my life.)

7. Cinemark theaters show old movies once a week. I had totally forgotten that when we were waiting for Pitch Perfect to start they mentioned that on November 7th, they'd be showing The Great Escape. My mom hadn't. Steve McQueen is her favorite. (While I like him, I'm firmly in the camp of the man whose movie, The Sting, they are showing next week: Paul Newman. Sigh.) Since the movie was only playing at 2 or 7, we decided on the 7 p.m. showing. And on sneaking in burritos for dinner instead of eating popcorn at "dinner time". I don't know if it's a uniquely SF thing, but sneaking burritos into a movie theater is fantastic and everyone should do it as long as they don't crinkle their foil too loudly. We ended up not disturbing anyone, as we were an hour early to the movie and the only ones in the theater for a good half an hour.

I've seen The Great Escape dozens of times. Hell, I own it in my iTunes library. And still there is something so cool about seeing these movies on the big screen, the score coming over several digital speakers.

(Try not to whistle that all day long.) 

(Aside: a related film, as Elmore Bernstein also wrote the score and a lot of the same actors are featured, was directed by the same guy who did TGE, you should all have already watched: The Magnificent Seven.)

7. Today I saw Skyfall. I unabashedly love Daniel Craig as James Bond. I half want to bed him and half want to be him. Maybe 3/4s want to be him. Whoever he beds ends up dead. As I only saw the movie a few hours ago, I have yet to parse out all my feelings on it other than "WHY ARE YOU SO HOT, DANIEL CRAIG?!?!?" and "If Rachel Weisz ever gets sick of you, can I have dibs?" and "Good god, who makes the suits/why doesn't everyone dress like you? Maybe I should stop wearing hoodies and jeans if I want to meet men who dress like that?"

I'll probably be checking it out again, but in IMAX, by myself when I need a break from all this too much family coming up with the holidays/my mother's surgery.

8. In other news: I was thinking to myself a week ago, "I really need to be writing more." On that same day, I read an article about NaNoWriMo. Or: National Novel Writing Month. So I signed up. Because someone who hasn't written fiction in forever (at least not more than a few paragraphs) should totally undertake writing a novel. I've only 1500 words so far. So now put myself behind the 8 ball of needing to write 2200 words a day. NO BIG! (And just realized I should completely scrap the narcissistic bullshit that I started.) But. I could use the challenge. A little fire under me would be good. Something to strive for. So I'm working on that.

For now: I'm gonna go to the gym. On a Friday night. Because that's just where things are at, ya know?

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