Saturday, December 30, 2006

Back from some very mellow holidays! My lovely sister cooked up a fantastic Christmas Eve dinner AND made us two beautiful scarves, Trevor and I took a glorious 4.5 mile Christmas hike around Pinecrest Lake in the snow, we were given gift certificates to our two favorite restaurants in the county seat (which we promptly used -- yay for butter and burgers), we got to hang with Mr. Roberson and his beard of legend, and Trevor's hometown done got itself a new stoplight (its first!), I'll tell you what.

Oooh, also got a chance to pore through the thousands of records my man's mom's ex has been collecting over the decades and made a killing. Picked up some excellent jazz and bossa nova records on Verve and Riverside, some of which we kept (Mingus, Getz, Quincy Jones, among others) and some of which we sold today (Righteous Brothers, Count Basie, Sammy Davis Jr. etc. etc.). Got some fun records in the mix too. Best one is a late 50s/early 60s recording of "Sports Cars in Hi-Fi." It's recordings of Porsches, Jags, Maseratis, Ferraris, and the like "at rest" and "at speed." It's boss, Daddy-O.

So, all in all, the trip was quite relaxing, except for my trip for my mother to a place so evil I can only type its name backwards and in a whisper...traM-laW. DUN-DUN-DUN-DUUUUUNNNNN.

Gah, sometimes I think I'm too serious, and just some snobby socialist for hating the Wal, but then I visit it, and I realize, nope, even if it wasn't a den of sweatshop suffering patrolled by many of America's working poor and catering to America's gaping greedy maw, it would STILL be a hellmouth of ick, like a Katamari Damacy consisting of Toby Keith and Kathie Lee, censorship and consumerism, plastic and flourescence, corn-syrup and trans fat. But, since it is actually all of those things AND the aforementioned den of suffering, and a community killer t'boot, it comfortably sails right past a tidy hellmouth moniker to rival the bowels of hell itself. Don't get me wrong, I am often amazed, seduced even, at how unbelievably cheap everything is there. But is it really worth it? Cheap, at what cost?

Shinily tangential, yet oh so related in a maze-like way that may be known only to me and my crazy mind (there are two of us, you know), I've been thinking a lot about a story my dad told me. A few months ago, he went out into the backyard and saw what he thought was a dead fawn with its legs sticking up stiff. Upon closer inspection he realized it was a live fawn with one leg caught in the remnants of a wire fence he had put up around his compost pile. As he approached, the fawn struggled and the fence began tearing the skin from the fawn's leg, so my dad asked my mom to come outside to possibly hold the fawn so it wouldn't struggle while my dad cut the wire to let it loose.

So, as my dad came closer to the fawn again, it began struggling once more. My father spoke softly, and as he reached out to stroke and calm it, it let out a blood-curdling scream. The fawn's scream echoed in the silence of my parents' property, ringing in my parents' ears. My mother said it was unlike anything she had ever heard before. But scream accomplished, the fawn then collapsed into a heap, unmoving, and without another sound. Defeated, and ready for death. My father didn't even hold it as he cut the wires away. As soon as it was free, however, off it bounded. The next day it came back with its mother, and my father saw them happily back to business as usual, eating apples that had fallen from his tree.

It got me thinking about predators, and prey -- the order of the universe, and how these things come about. The roles that are assigned by Nature, and enforced by instinct, and in some higher level animals, immediately shaped by environment (and how consistent environment shapes and reshapes norms for any animal over time). What are we in for?

In that vein, now playing: Nina Simone, The Best of Nina Simone -- 'Pirate Jenny'

But hey, love this quote I read today in National Geographic: If you worry, you die. If you don't worry, you die. Why worry?

In that vein, now reading: Jeanette Winterson, Weight

Atlas knows how it feels to carry the weight of the world; but why, he asks himself, does it have to be carried at all?

Sunday, December 24, 2006

On the day I went away (goodbye)
Was all I had to say (now I)
I want to come again and stay (Oh my my)
Smile, and that will mean that I may...

And I realize...I'm going home...

Wishing the warmest and happiest of holidays to all you lovely lovely folks. May your lives overflow with joy and love. See y'all in a week!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Once again, I squee.

From David J's official website:

New Live Dates

Tuesday, Jan 2, 2007
@ The Stud
399 9th St.
San Francisco, CA
(This will be a special appearance featuring only one song)

Monday, Jan 15, 2007
The 3 Clubs
1123 Vine
Los Angeles, CA
(Featuring David J with Ego Plum, a special song writers preview of four new songs from the forthcoming 'Devil's Muse' CD / Music inspired by the life and mysterious death of Elizabeth Short as featured in the motion picture 'Black Dahlia Movie'.)

From Trannyshack:

1/02/07-Don’t miss the official Peaches Christ Birthday Celebration as Trannyshack proudly presents “Black Celebration”. Heklina is leaving town just in time for Peaches to throw herself a big old-fashioned gothic birthday party. Shroud yourself in dark fabrics, paint your face white, and rat-tease out your favorite black “hair” because it’s going to be a night of death rock, bad poetry, and goth-stalgia. Celebrate the end of “holiday cheer” with Peaches as she presents a line-up of your favorite dark divas and ghoul-friends. No smiling please! Featuring a special appearance by David J. of Bauhaus!

Wow, I had blogged about David's Black Dahlia Movie work one or two times before, lamenting that it seemed I might never get to hear it, so y'all know I have been waiting for this. The music David composed is finally being performed live! A CD is forthcoming! Life is good!

Well, good except that the songs aren't being performed in San Francisco. I am, however, making the trek over to The Stud for Trannyshack and David's "one song." But he's coming all the way to San Francisco from SoCal for one song? It's got me wondering if we may see a DJ gig materialize too. Or maybe he's just got friends in the City he's spending New Year's with and this is a fun little side thingy. Either way, I've been starved, so yay! Should be fun -- maybe I'll even get to buy Mr. Haskins a drink and chat him up.

*edit 1.2.2006 -- looks like things are becoming more clear. And I have a feeling Vinsantos is "Fauxnique," or maybe it's just a coincidence there is a track on his album by that name.

Wonder if he's going to be decked out in drag himself?

If so, David, this is a definite no-no. But I appreciate your enthusiasm (and cheek) while playing for the kiddies at Bat's Day.

Regardless of what the above linked photo implies, David J is one of the few men who looks great in head to toe white.

*edit 1.2.2006 -- here is where I talk incessantly about what he should wear, and what he shouldn't blah blah blah. Oy, the time I waste thinking about this, and I don't even get paid to dress him! Nevermind.

Anyway, the more pressing issue is, what am I going to wear around all that transfabulosity? My bubblegum pink wool floor-length ballroom skirt is calling my name.

*edit 1.2.2006 -- Nope, wearing a black mini fashioned from a t-shirt, my new fantastic olive and teal heels, long sleeve grey tee, and my vintage cropped puffy sleeved cardigan. Channeling Deborah Harry. Sorry, done with the editing -- if you hear any more about this show it will be a new post, because it's happening in about 5 hours!

Monday, December 18, 2006

As of today, I am officially off for two weeks from work, paid. I love my job.

I am completely rearranging and scrubbing down my apartment with a chunk of this glorious time off. Trevor and I moved into our studio a little over two years ago post Japan, after living in a space that was as big as our current kitchen. When we saw it we thought, why do we need a one bedroom? This is paradise! So, we moved in with literally just camping pads and sleeping bags and enough money to pay our rent the next month. We were looking for work, and consequently had nothing -- nothing to sit on except the hardwood floor, only soup and bread and spinach and vitamins to eat, and no entertainment money -- so we would walk all over the neighborhood, sometimes three or four times a day, at all hours.

We began to accumulate the makings of an apartment, and picked up our share of fantastic things from our travels about the neighborhood (I'll never forget you, forgotten Corona 12-pack shining like a jewel in the parking lot under the moonlight -- you were there when I needed you). But as pieces came in willy-nilly -- a fancy dresser from the sidewalk, a sweet formica table leftover from someone'e yardsale, a forlorn chair from our free table downstairs -- we just shoved them into our apartment, grateful for a place to sit or store socks or whatever, and never designed a layout for the space. And then life in the form of jobs and rockshows and school came along and we came home only to sleep and shower. Now here we are 2 years later, living in a studio apartment/storage space that we still hardly ever spend time in, yet is so absolutely unpleasant when we do that we go out instead. Lame.

Our place is already shaping up. It is amazing what a tiny bit of rearranging will do, plus a change in lighting. We just picked up a beautiful oak bookcase that matches the hand-me-down we got from our friend, and another crate for my records, so you can imagine how just that can neaten up our space. And we moved our futon and tatami into the walk-in, which is I swear 10 degrees warmer and oh so cozy. I have been sleeping like a baby. Now to build a platform for the bed and get some more storage bins, and voila -- maybe we will even feel good enough about the space to throw a dinner party. But, it is still a studio after all, so if not a dinner party, maybe I'll at least allow people past the front door.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I've been chuckling about Left Behind, a new computer game in which players must either convert or kill non-Christians.

You've got to be kidding me. Didn't the Simpsons parody this like 5 or 6 years ago?

Apparently more "progressive" Christian leaders are decrying this game as something that teaches Christians to "hate and kill." Well, duh. But I don't agree that this game should be pulled. I am all about freedom of speech, and human choice in life; above all, I am all about (rhetorical) social Darwinism. Let the haters have their game. As far as I'm concerned, it just brings them one step closer to splitting our species. Question is, will they be Morlock or Eloi? And how can I stay neither?

Haha, and I don't believe in hell, but if someone conjures one up this guy's going there with the people who kick dogs, or the folks who don't tip:

Left Behind Games' president, Jeffrey Frichner, says the game actually is pacifist because players lose "spirit points" every time they gun down nonbelievers rather than convert them. They can earn spirit points again by having their character pray.

"You are fighting a defensive battle in the game," Frichner, whose previous company produced Bible software, said of combatting the Antichrist. "You are a sort of a freedom fighter."

Oooh, sounds like jihad to me, with different players, Jeffie. Nice to know that in addition to convert or die (by my hand, grrr!) Christians, those suicide bombers killing "infidels" and Taliban muhajadeen killing schoolteachers because teaching women "goes against Islam" can now be called "freedom fighters" instead of "murderous hateful fundamentalists." Good times!

Religions, and Abrahamic religions in particular -- there's always got to be jackasses coming along and ruining it for everybody.

Anyway, for a real good time, check out the woo-hoo at my local record shop.

This makes my big juicy collector heart go thumpita thumpita. I knew there was a reason I sort through all of those Leo Sayer records at the Goodwill once a month. How many records does that guy have anyway?

Oh good god.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Wow, someone at the San Francisco Chronicle is finally letting the cat out of the bag about Japan and how inexpensively one can take in the number two most expensive city in the world.

This article is excellent. For years, Trevor and I have been telling our friends who dream of visiting Japan that it can be done on the cheap, and that it doesn't have to be painful. We try to go every few years, and will attempt every year starting next year, and let's face it, we aren't made of money. When we last visited in April, we spent, with off-season airfare, lodging in a nice business ryokan, a few nice meals out plus quite a few cheap ones, and trainfare to visit friends and muck around Tokyo, maybe $2000 for 10 days. The key, like anywhere, is food and lodging. Don't get me wrong, Japan is still the home of $5 cups of coffee and outrageous expense, but there are plenty of cheap alternatives.

Having a fridge and microwave in our room, we were able to buy and store food from the convenience store for breakfast and some other meals if we were around, and keep snacks handy (unlike American convenience stores, there are actually things you can eat in Japan's conbini). Eating out, if you take advantage of kaiten ("circle," or conveyor belt) sushi shops, which serve some pretty damn fine sushi, you can get your fill of sushi for much less than $10. The ubiquitious noodle shop is also the way to go, with bowls of hot udon for less than $5. And the basement of every department store (Takeshimaya is a good one) houses a supermarket and food stalls, where you can actually free sample your way through lunch if you're really hurting, though the onigiri and other snacks are cheap and will fill you up nicely. Another tip -- eat at the mall food court. Donburi setto will run you $2 to $5 less than at a proper restaurant and is just as good.

Lodging is tough, but besides hostels and gaijin houses (the latter which, while cheap, usually requires a stay of over 2 weeks) Japan has what are called business hotels, which are cheaper than regular hotels and tend to have fridges and microwaves -- plus, you have access all the time, which a lot of hostels and such don't allow. While the one we stayed in didn't have a garden or onsen, it did have tatami floors and futon, as well as a nice big deep Japanese tub to soak in at the end of the day. And one free beer a day! We also stayed outside Tokyo proper, and had an hour trainride into the city, but it is cheaper that way and you get to see more of the countryside and little towns, which is what we love.

What I love about this article too is the use of volunteer guides. I've never heard of that, and getting to know someone who is from Japan is the best way to see Japan. My only gripe -- the author wanted to see Kichijoji, and it sounds like he didn't go. GO. On the Chuo train line, it is one of my favorite towns in Tokyo, with a gorgeous park and shrine and very cool shopping. While you're at it take the train a few stops further and go to the university town Kunitachi, where Trevor and I lived for three months. Both towns melt away the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, and both are beautiful and fun.

Also, a few stops from Kunitachi is the end of the Chuo line, be sure to go to Takao. Forget spending the money to get to Fuji -- Takao has Mount Takao, and a hike up to the top and back will take you all afternoon and is thought of as the precursor for a Fuji run. Hike through the incredible flora, and enjoy the quiet. We went on a weekend, and even so we met very few folks on the trail, but everyone was so friendly. There is a creek, and you can stop every now and then along the trail by the creek to peer into tiny ancient shrines along the way. Reaching the deserted summit, enjoying the gorgeous view, and walking the pristine grounds of the temple there beats the tourist trap of Fuji anyday.

I love visiting Japan. Can't wait to visit again next year. All I have left to say now is GO!
Took in a pint tonight at the 'Splitter, and it looks like the bar across the way is becoming a haven for the baggy-panted, Chingy-listening, Concord-living set. Considering how our neighborhood has been becoming a haven for the tight-panted, My Chemical Romance-listening, fixed-gear-bike-riding set, Trevor and I have a theory that maybe it's a strategic invasion staged on the part of the chavs, like Take Back the Night.

Oooh, maybe there will be interscene breeding, and a hybrid of sorts will arise. It's so exciting!

Speaking of exciting, this is pretty cool.

Here's the Casual-T. Not too shabby:

Unfortunately, (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) there doesn't seem to be a female version.

I still think our South Park selves from the SP character generator look more like us anyway:

NP: Gang of Four, Return the Gift. This is the album the recently reformed Gang of Four put out in 2005, where they rerecorded their old material and included remixes of the same.

Wasn't going to get this, but got it on a recommendation from a friend, and damn it if Jon King's voice doesn't sound fucking awesome. Their music still sounds fresh, in part because a lot of what is out now is a crude imitation of bands like Gang of Four and their contemporaries like Joy Division, Bauhaus, etc. (haha, who knew I'd become my parents so fast?). Perfect timing for a reunion and rerelease of sorts too, considering the (short-lived?) success of the reformation of said contemporaries Bauhaus, and the film about Ian Curtis that is being buzzed about.

And speaking of one of my favorite bands, if Bauhaus would just get it together and really do a song for Control ("rumored [to include]...Bauhaus", my ass -- I am losing faith that they can get their shit together), or pull a Gang of Four and get a song in a Sofia Coppola film, maybe they wouldn't have to support NIN to get publicity with the kiddies, or live feast or famine. But Bauhaus isn't Gang of Four. Gargantuan egos, squabbling, and power and substance abuse seem to be insurmountable obstacles for (at least two members of) that band.

Contrary to the Haskins brothers' Dorian Gray appearances, they're all 50 years old -- they need to either lose the crap, or use it for good, not evil and make some music, or just call it quits and/or tour once every 5 or 6 years when they can stand it/they need money. It's not rocket science, it's rock and roll. Maybe I'm being too harsh, and rolling out two new songs 6 months ago on a supporting bill for a band that is huge (potential new fans), and then doing nothing at all (or just saying nothing at all) about a new album, not even to their hardcore fans on their forum, and keeping a low profile t'boot is a new brilliant marketing strategy.

It's just so frustrating that they're not doing it my way! I want things to work out, and this doesn't seem like the best way to go about it, all willy-nilly.

Anyway, Gang of Four -- even if you have the brilliant albums Entertainment! and Solid Gold it is worth picking up Return the Gift. As my friend said, they don't make 'em like they used to.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Reading today on Neil Gaiman's blog about one of my favorite artists, Joel-Peter Witkin, and his recent fashion shoot for the New York Times.

I was shocked when I heard about it, because Witkin's work is not something I would ever associate with Ralph Lauren or Louis Vuitton, and his work can also be quite controversial. But leave it to Witkin to make beautiful photographs that creatively touch on his obsessions in a tasteful yet still challenging way, and make it palatable enough for grandma yet edgy enough for art scenesters. And Gaiman is right, the end results are still pure Witkin.

(I've edited out my pics here that illustrated Witkin's obsession with amputations and such, because photobucket deemed them in "violation of their policies." Sigh. Yes, I'm sure Witkin would be truly offended at the free press my liberties with his photos could generate. But, sadly, watchdogs cannot filter for every intention, so I sort of understand. Meh -- you'll just have to click on some official site with permission or summat to see my comparison)

I was also pleased to read that Witkin is one of Gaiman's favorites. You can really see a lot of the Witkin theme and vibe of the macabre as beautiful in numero uno Gaiman artist Dave McKean's work.

Phaidon does a great little book of Witkin's work for anyone who wants to get acquainted with him, or if you're made of money, this one is awesome.

Oh, bitch please, I don't think so!

It can remain in the vagina for a long time without destroying the vagina's chemical balance. Daily use of this product can help maintain genital hygiene and prevent infection by pathogens.

Don't get me wrong, I like to keep my vagina pathogen free, but not with a strange spray that seals me off, like that goo you put in a tire to keep it from going flat. Who can trust what drug companies say too? I think I'd rather ask my partner to wash his hands and not fool around on me.

I know this is something not every woman on this earth has as an option, and there's that whole multiple partners thing if you're nonmonogamous by choice anyway, so in some ways I applaud it. But it seems a little scary -- like Lysoling your naughty bits -- and an invitation to be reckless instead of informed. Can anyone say HPV and HSV on your uncovered ladybits? Ugghhh. That's why male condoms are still the best option. Cover that skin up!

Haha, so guys, you don't get away so easy.

Krause's team is developing a type of spray can into which the man inserts his penis first. At the push of a button it is then coated in a rubber condom.

I want to see this puppy in action! Ah, technology...