Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Trevor Calvert will be reading from his first book, Rarer and More Wonderful -- out from Scrambler Books -- on Friday, June 6, 2008 at 7:30 pm at Pegasus Books in downtown Berkeley.

Please come out to support Trevor's first book, and both independent bookstores and independent small press. The inimitable Eleanor Bayne Johnson will also be reading.

Plus, a very fat cat.


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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

All things that are good, Jones and O'Farrell, San Francisco.


Monday, May 26, 2008

My friend Jack, who is vegan, recently informed me about the use of animal products -- particularly gelatin -- in beer production, and how it's low on the radar of most folks.

While I'm not at all vegan (or even vegetarian for that matter) I am friends with many people of both persuasions (hey, more sausages for me!). Out of respect for my friends' dietary choices and their full enjoyment of a cold one, this is of concern to me.

Also, it's not just veggies who get the shaft when beer companies use animal products rather than say, the more innocuous seaweed, as their clarifying agent. It's also bad juju for folks who follow kosher Jewish dietary restrictions (forget about having certain beers with a grilled cheese!), some followers of Hinduism, and folks who do not eat beef products, or who avoid certain types of beef (gelatin being of particular concern). It is also off-putting to folks like me who see using animal products in this case as unnecessary and strange, as well as sneaky and insensitive on the part of breweries to not be more forthright with consumers -- even if, admittedly, people with dietary restrictions should be vigilant.

I don't understand this choice by breweries, even if it is a cost-cutting measure, again because there exists a less controversial alternative in seaweed. By using animal products they are alienating a small but significant portion of their market, and by keeping it on the down low they're opening themselves up to lawsuits.

Anyway, lucky for you the internets are here so you can find a safe beer for your next mixed-diet BBQ!

And what do you know? NorCali craft beer represent! Yay for two of my favorites -- Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in the town of my collegiate alma mater, and the Bay Area's finest Anchor Brewing Company -- being given the all-clear.

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Trevor and I took a day off and hiked the Palomarin Trail in Bolinas -- part of the Point Reyes National Seashore -- on Thursday. We did the 8 mile round trip to Alamere Falls.

Oh my, was it spectacular!

On the way, this mountain girl saw a bobcat for the first time! Other notable wildlife sightings included little bunnies on the trail, cranes, and the cutest baby squirrels -- which I thought were rats at first. Must. Get. Out. Of. The. City.

The trail begins with a jaunt through fragrant eucalyptus, and opens up into a dry but pleasantly shrubby dirt path:

It then meanders along the coastal ridge overlooking the ocean. The views are stunning:

Then the hike turns uphill, and you hoof it up a canyon through more scrub and oak and wildflowers, picking your way up a rocky trail. But it's worth it, for the rocks soon fall away and you are among lush ferns and pine trees, making your way by not one, but two, lakes.

Bass Lake is a gorgeous swimming area about two miles in where you can rest up and cool off, but my favorite -- even though there is no access for swimming -- is Pelican Lake, just a mile further up the trail. It is a basin that is always lively with numerous birds, with a view of the ocean through the hills that flank it:

A few more minutes from here is the entrance to the (unmaintained) trail to Alamere Falls. A half-mile slightly overgrown downhill trek toward the ocean brings you to Alamere Creek, which cascades down in four separate waterfalls:

One, two, three - where's the fourth? Off the cliffside overlooking the ocean, and onto the beach:

Can you believe it? I was in heaven. Not a soul around too. Careful footwork down the crumbly slate cliffside got us down to the beach. It was majestic.

Spent some time frolicking near the surf, and then realized we should be packing it up for the hike back while we still had the energy. Completely gorged on beauty (and PB and Js), we scrambled back up the cliffside and began our ascent.

Always more fun getting there than heading home:

Especially when the return is mostly uphill!

'tis okay -- we were rewarded nicely in Stinson Beach at the Sand Dollar Restaurant:

Oh blissful day!

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

My friend Shoko rocks the drums -- 4 months after picking them up -- in her band Experimental Dental School:

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Oh my god, I've just heard about the sudden passing of Rory Root on Monday. He was only 50 years old.

When Trevor and I first moved to the Bay, first things first, we looked for a good comic book store. Rory's beautiful store, Comic Relief -- at that time on University Avenue in Berkeley -- was unlike any comic book store we'd ever seen. Crammed literally floor to ceiling before moving to the expansive location on Shattuck Avenue a few years ago, it was more like a cool alt-bookstore than a comic book store. But comics were, and are still, the main focus, and if it exists in comic book form, Comic Relief probably has it, as well as knowledgeable, unpretentious staff and excellent events.

But the best thing about visiting Comic Relief was always Rory -- a welcoming, friendly, and no-BS presence with a love for the comic book medium that transcended other retailers. And as a woman, I will remember Rory as such a gentleman. He kissed my hand when we first met! Comic book stores being traditional boys' clubs and all, I always felt welcome at Comic Relief. This is in no small part because of Rory's role as a true advocate for women in the comics field -- in both production and as consumers.

RIP Rory Root. You will truly be missed.

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Aarrghh, matey...Piracy NOW!

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This Freakonomics post -- which postulates that the ever-widening gap between the rich and poor is a myth -- is quite frankly, ridiculous.

When people talk about inequality, they tend to focus exclusively on the income part of the equation. According to all our measures, the gap in income between the rich and the poor has been growing. What Broda and Romalis quite convincingly demonstrate, however, is that the prices of goods that poor people tend to consume have fallen sharply relative to the prices of goods that rich people consume. Consequently, when you measure the true buying power of the rich and the poor, inequality grew only one-third as fast as economists previously thought it did — or maybe didn’t grow at all.

The post goes on to state that the poor have that which cannot be named to thank for this glorious world where economic gaps are shortened or even eliminated by the fact cheap crap is so cheap, while the rich still have inflation to contend with when buying yachts or country club memberships.


Then there are the comments! Going by the relative insanity of the post's premise, I suppose this could be valid:

I was watching a youtube video of Warren Buffet speaking to a group of university students. He said to them that really there’s not much difference between what they can consume and what he does, except for the fact that he can travel more.

I think the real gap between the middle-class and the uber rich is really not all that much. It’s a nicer house, car, more travel and financial security. But many of what I regard as the most important items are the same: mobile phones, computers, internet speed, roads and time don’t really have that much variation anymore.

Warren Buffet drinks the same coke I do, watches the same movie and tv shows and only has 24hrs in a day. Except for a jet and some fancy friends there’s probably never been a time in the world where the standard of living of the median before of America is so close to that of the richest person.

A stunted worldview which, to me, is in part the sad, sad result of tech-libertarianism. Something I see every day here in the Bay, and a rant for another day.

More important and true, but still not quite hitting the mark for me:

I am beginning to fear that quality is becoming synonymous with luxury. While the rich can afford quality goods that will last a long time and retain resale value, the poor are doing little better than “renting” goods, which quickly wear out and require replacement, or buying good that exact a high external cost on their health or time. In either case the long term advantage will be to the wealthy who can continue to invest in their future, while the poor will continue to have all of their income drained away.

Somebody needs to do a study on the effect of diminished quality of the new globalized goods and see if there really are positive benefits or if we as a nation have found another way to extract a short term savings at a high long term cost.

Yes, the fact that Joe Schmoe can buy 20 pairs of crappy plastic shoes for the price of one pair of Italian leather loafers does not negate the fact that those loafers will most likely last longer than the combined lifespan of those 20 pairs of crappy plastic shoes. Nevermind how buying this cheap crap directly correlates to a warped conspicuous consumption, poverty-style, as well as commodity fetishism -- the latter being what I see as the hallmark of our increasingly ignorant, unapologetically selfish society.

But, while I do care about the steaming dump load that is cheap goods, even cheaper expectations, and the resulting cheapening of life that is defining the existence of a large portion of our world, this isn't my biggest issue with this post. The reason why I find this post so sad is thus: today I had a conversation with some friends about caring for our aging parents. We all have parents in different economic strata -- anywhere from "under" class to "capitalist" class. The only one of us not worried about how to take care of Mom and Dad is the friend with capitalist class parents. Also ironic and telling, given the subject matter of my post -- this friend majored in economics.

Healthcare. Quality, access, ability to pay. That is the vast in-equalizer, and it is a crime to write any paper or conduct any study on the gap between the rich and poor and come to any sort of conclusion that would care to be taken seriously without presenting that crucial factor.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

I love this song.

My parents used to play this all the time on reel-to-reel when I was small. If I close my eyes while listening, I'm wearing my red corduroys and cowboy boots, and I can see the muted 70s autumn colors of my childhood. Dark wood-paneling. Green formica table, brick-red linoleum, morning sun streaming white through the catalpa trees and illuminating the dust in the air and creating warm patches on the carpet. The carpet that makes me think of Mama's spaghetti sauce, flecked with red and brown and yellow. Screen door creaking. The crickle-crackle-pop of the vinyl transfer to tape, strangely thrilling as it punctuates the heavy bass coming out of enormous Sony speakers that are so hard to dust because of their elaborate carved wood faces. A koto on the wall. The smell of sawdust and 3 in 1 oil. The taste of green popsicles.

The person who uploaded it even included the lyrics. I've never been able to make out all of the lyrics, so now I can finally attempt to sing along. I read that the first time the songwriter, Rokusuke Ei, heard Kyu Sakamoto sing this song, he was appalled because it didn't sound like the Japanese language. Apparently, Sakamoto chose this style because he wanted to sing the song like Elvis!

I also love this little tidbit from Wikipedia:

The title, sukiyaki (which is a Japanese steamboat dish), has nothing to do with the lyrics or the meaning of the song; the word served the purpose only because it was short, catchy, recognizably Japanese, and more familiar to most English speakers (very few of whom could understand the Japanese lyrics anyway). A Newsweek columnist noted that the re-titling was like issuing "Moon River" in Japan under the title "Beef Stew."

Ah, the pre-culturally sensitive American days of yore!


I'll look up while I'm walking
Ue wo muite arukou

So the tears don't fall from my eyes
Namida ga koborenai youni

I think back to spring days
Omoidasu haru no hi

It's a lonely night
Hitoribocchi no yoru

I'll look up while I'm walking
Ue wo muite arukou

And count the scattered stars
Nijinda hoshi wo kazoete

I think back to summer days
Omoidasu natsu no hi

It's a lonely night
Hitoribocchi no yoru

Happiness is above the clouds
Shiawase wa kumo no ue ni

Happiness is above the sky
Shiawase wa sora no ue ni

I'll look up while I'm walking
Ue wo muite arukou

So the tears don't fall from my eyes
Namida ga koborenai youni

Even while I cry I walk on
Naki nagara aruku

It's a lonely night
Hitoribocchi no yoru

Sadness is in the shadow of the stars
Kanashimi wa hoshi no kage ni

Sadness is in the shadow of the moon
Kanashimi wa tsuki no kage ni

I'll look up while I'm walking
Ue wo muite arukou

So the tears don't fall from my eyes
Namida ga koborenai youni

Even while I cry I walk on
Naki nagara aruku

It's a lonely night
Hitoribocchi no yoru

It's a lonely night
Hitoribocchi no yoru

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

California Supreme Court Says Same-Sex Couples Have Right to Marry.

In a 4-3 decision, the justices said the state's ban on same-sex marriage violates the "fundamental constitutional right to form a family relationship." The ruling is likely to flood county courthouses with applications from couples newly eligible to marry when the decision takes effect in 30 days.

I am crying tears of joy right now. We're on our way out of the dark ages!!

My hope is that Californians find it in their hearts, minds, and souls to agree with today's decision by rejecting the religious right's likely attempt at a constitutional ban in the fall elections. I hope love, justice, and common sense trumps religious dogma and antiquated ideas about same-sex partnerships.

But for now, I'm celebrating!

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008



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Tuesday, May 13, 2008


University of Calgary, Department of Economics Discussion Paper 2007-08 -- On the Efficiency of AC/DC: Bon Scott versus Brian Johnson

I would, however, argue that the superior lyrics to "Shoot to Thrill" are at the root of any effect deemed more desirable vs. "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock & Roll)."

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Vatican: It's OK to believe in aliens.


But the million dollar question is: unlike human women, will the Vatican allow their "extraterrestrial brothers" ordination?

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Monday, May 12, 2008

BlöödHag at Dark Carnival, 5.10.2008.

Geek Love:

At the ready:

Bruce Sterling guitar salute:

Book distribution to the unread masses:

Philip Pullman headbang:

And the only acceptable Croc sighting in my life:


Lewis Carroll
Phillip Pullman
Daniel Pinkwater
Roald Dahl
Douglas Adams
Orson Scott Card
Anne McCaffrey
William S. Burroughs
Jack Womack
Bruce Sterling
Anthony Burgess

The faster you go deaf, the more time you have to read.

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

My track record for keeping secrets from Trevor being what it is, I completely surprised myself by completely surprising Trevor for his birthday this weekend.

First, a hike Friday in San Francisco at Land's End:

We had a gorgeous view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands for most of the hike. Plus, shipwrecks!

(Engine block of the Lyman Stewart)

(No, really)

(Look closer)

After the hike, we headed over to Nihon Whisky for Japanese-style tapas. We had this many whiskies to choose from:

Totally overwhelming, non?

After much deliberation, we had the Inchmurrin Scotch (smooth, silky, smoky -- divine), a Welsh whisky called Penderyn (too sweet but with a spicy finish), and a Nikka whisky from Japan (as expected, a little meh).

The comestibles, however, were consistently delish.

Radish Salad and Inchmurrin:

Agedashi Tofu:


Of course, this being Trevor's birthday weekend and all, there was much merriment to be had on Saturday as well. Saw BlöödHag at Dark Carnival, ate sushi at one of our favorite places, shared ice cream with friends, hit a friend's 40th/graduation party, and had gorgeous drinks poured for us by the inimitable Mr. Lane at the Missouri.

Lovely lovely weekend.

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Friday, May 09, 2008

Trevor Calvert's first book of poetry, Rarer and More Wonderful, is being published at the end of the month by Scrambler Books. I am so excited for him!

(gorgeous cover art by the obscenely talented Chris Lane)

Trevor's work is simply brilliant. But, as you may think me biased, I won't allow you to merely take my word for it...

[T]hings / hidden remain alive." Like—and with—Jack Spicer before him, Trevor Calvert helps us to celebrate this notion by bringing light to the lives of hidden things—answers, insects, music, the heart—without ridding them of the veils, the walls, or the hidey-holes to which we're initially drawn. Rarer and More Wonderful is aptly named. -- Graham Foust

Rarer & More Wonderful are the attachments, the combinations, of these poems. Here, language, carved and specific, secures one figure to the next, to its double, or is that a ghost? Perhaps both. And then what appears in the negative space of what happens: "none of these things / will act as the thing itself that / is soon ending." So there is a serious struggle here with experience, with being, and then when you least expect it comes the debonair turn, like getting away with wearing period hats. The period? Well, there's no closure, either. Of its moment. -- Stephanie Young

Trevor will be reading from his book at Pegasus Books in Berkeley on June 6th, and in Denver, Colorado on June 14.

Times, guest readers, and more reading dates will be coming soon!

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The characters from Futurama as the characters from Hellboy, in the Free Comic Book Day issue of Hellboy:

This is so very cool. Zoidberg (my favorite) as Lobster Johnson is CLASS!

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

A big favorite for me to watch on teevee at the gym is Everyday Italian with Giada De Laurentiis. Watching Italian comfort food being made by a gorgeous woman who is as slim as a stick, whilst sweating away on the treadmill? Yes, I'm sick like that.

One of the best things about cooking that is so easily forgotten in the sea of 30 step recipes and exotic ingredients is how easy and fun it can be. De Laurentiis brings that to her Italian kitchen.

The other day she made a tortellini bake that looked so delicious and was so easy to make that I could remember the basic recipe all the way home. But even so, luckily, with the internets, the recipe wasn't hard to find and I could double-check my memory.

The thing is, even if I hadn't found it, it would have been okay. It is exactly these types of recipes that put some joy into cooking, and help beginner cooks gain confidence and become better, because 1) you can fudge the ingredients a bit or add your own flair and probably still come out with a decent dish, and 2) it is so easy that even someone with limited cooking experience can put something stellar on the table.

I made this for my husband for one of his birthday week special dishes and he raved. But like De Laurentiis always says: pasta, marinara, cheese -- how can you go wrong?

Cheesy Baked Tortellini

my tip: don't whisk the marscarpone into the cold sauce -- too much work! Wait until you add the hot pasta and use the heat to melt the marscapone to blend and coat the pasta. I also like to add a bit of cayenne pepper to the marinara mixture -- the heat with the smoked mozzarella is a really nice combination.

Olive oil

2 cups marinara sauce
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 pound purchased fresh cheese tortellini (or dry tortellini)
2 ounces thinly sliced smoked mozzarella
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil an 8 by 8 by 2-inch baking dish.

Whisk the sauce, mascarpone cheese, parsley and thyme in a large bowl to blend. Cook the tortellini in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 2 minutes
(for fresh). Drain. Add the tortellini to the sauce and toss to coat. Transfer the tortellini mixture to the prepared baking dish. Top the mixture with the smoked mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover and bake until the sauce bubbles and the cheeses on top melt and begin to brown, about 30 minutes.

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Finally saw Iron Man last night. Loved it! Loved the Stan Lee cameo. Loved random Paul Bettany. The "civilian detector" scene -- completely badass. And good god man, make sure you stay until the end of the credits. *stinger spoiler in link*

But oh my stars, the best thing of course is how perfect -- in looks and in life -- Robert Downey Jr. is as Tony Stark.

Even though he's been in a few fine films since, I truly last loved Robert Downey Jr. in Less Than Zero. How's that for a comeback?

He is an excellent actor, and even though he always seems to be playing himself to a degree, most of his roles have been varied and versatile. I've been hearing a lot about how RDJ -- like Tony Stark, a recovering addict -- is really truly back to business with Iron Man. Let me tell you, he definitely brought it.

The knowledge of RDJ's very public struggle with addiction made his portrayal of Stark even more poignant and well done for me. I'll be very interested to see if they play up the alcoholism angle at all in sequels. I think it will be an injustice to the complexities of Tony Stark's -- and in a way, RDJ's -- story, and struggles, if they don't.

So, acting aside, I've been hearing so much more about how RDJ is also back to being absolutely delicious -- cleaned-up, fit, happy, over-forty deliciousness. Given I've never thought him attractive, I thought I would be immune.


Total hotness.


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Sunday, May 04, 2008

Back from visiting the alma mater before it gets too hot to do so humanely. Lovely time as always.

Spent my time cruising the streets on my temporary transportation unit -- what I christened, "the Cadillac"

...whilst drinking the best damn Bloody Marys in Cali, yo...

...and hiking and biking gorgeous Bidwell Park:

All of which was supplemented generously with plenty of sitting in the sun with coffee, hanging out in my friends' gorgeous and incredibly inexpensive houses, reading, cooking, watching birds dig up bugs in the yard, and generally being a layabout.

With the right jobs, Trevor and I agreed we could move back in an instant.

I guess we'll see.

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Friday, May 02, 2008

In Houston, a Texan protesting amnesty for illegal immigrants argues that anyone who can't master English doesn't deserve to live in America.

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Best to you on this International Workers' Day!

Giving kids clothes and food is one thing, but it's much more important to teach them that other people besides themselves are important and that the best thing they can do with their lives is to use them in the service of other people. -- Dolores Huerta

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I have returned victorious from another mildly harrowing yet extremely fruitful trip to the land that eBay forgot, the charity shops of suburban Sacto.

Amidst the plentiful basics I picked up, and the Night Moves disco instruction record (with detailed pictorial instruction booklet), here is the best of the best:

Alex Colman vintage minidress:

With built-in modesty:

Okay, and surprise -- I bought more boots a month or so before it is officially summer. So totally my m.o.

I am in love with these vintage Nordica Italian après-ski boots! They are so fabulous, I actually wish it would get cold.

And of course, I would have to turn in my woman card if I didn't buy a bunch of shoes I don't need. I lucked out on a sweet pair of vintage Salvatore Ferragamo pumps, vintage Perry Ellis green flats, and bright orange heels.

Just look at the snakeskin detail, and the only way I can wear yellow, on those Ferragamos:

And check those ugly-chic red/multicolor sandals, yo: huarache-style sandals being all the rage in the fashion rags this year, I had been lamenting how cheapo Payless Shoe Source used to make the best ones when I was a junior high school student in the '80s (back when they still made most of their shoes in leather). Fat chance finding those again, right?

Resigned to buying a new pair at some godawful price, lo and behold, I found a brand spankin' new pair of original Payless Coasters huaraches at Goodwill in Antelope!

Suburban Sacto: like shopping the Bermuda Triangle.

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