Saturday, February 28, 2009

JunkThief Has Moved

Yesterday the very expensive and surly plumbers completed an important project -- taking out a useless utility sink where the dishwasher and washer upstairs have backed up into for the past couple of years. Problem solved, sink gone, and that prime piece garden view real estate is now my second office here at the Junkplex. Yes, I know that sounds a bit extravagant, but I think it's important to keep my paid work space and play work space separate since I use both under the same roof.

Miss Millie dropped in as you can see, to inaugurate this new space and give it her blessing. I was really pleased to get the green hipster chair on hip Valencia Street at the hip interior store Therapy. I was honored that the cute hipster young women who waited on me took such an interest in wanting to know where I would use the chair. They probably thought I was buying it for my grandson's dorm room.
And most amusing is that instead of just walking in from the dining room, Bow enjoys watching me from across the back terrace. I think she's trying to figure out if I am surfing some inappropriate websites.

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Friday, February 27, 2009

Will the Last One out of Union Square Please Turn Off the Lights?

Sony, the Chron,


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Interactive Thursday: 10 Things That Make No Sense

Some things will never make sense to me. Here are ten of mine. Show me yours.

* Hawaiian pizza. Ham. Pineapple. Together. Where is the vomit bag?
* Coke - the drink and the drug. Tried the former and thought it was disgusting, have yet to try the latter but know it makes people dull and stupid
* Bijon Frises - Proof that intelligent design does not exist.
* Madonna - The Virgin and the pop star. The first one just doesn't make sense; the second one just makes me want to cast her as the object of desire in a remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre XIV.
* Spas that dip people in chocolate - Heard an NPR report on this once and had to leave the room to vomit.
* The 1997 version of Titanic - The turd in the punch bowl of the North Atlantic. The most viewed film ever?
* Star Wars movies - I've never made it through an entire episode of these without falling asleep. Wait; is this the one with Dr. Spock?
* The current men's basketball uniforms - Why would I pay to see men in bloomers? Bring back tight short-shorts! Baseball currently has the best costumes.
* Survivor, the TV series. I just learned it's still on the air. I thought it got canceled back in 1999.
* Craigslist and Twitter. I've tried both and still don't know why they are thriving and printed newspapers are going belly up.

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The Carnival of Light

It's been a case of The Electricians, The Plumbers and The Carpenters the past 24 hours. No, that's not the porn video the octo-mommy has been asked to star in but the reality here at the Junkplex.

Much as I don't like to make generalizations, the three professions have lived up to my experience with their peers in this city. The plumber could pass for a wrestler from northern Mexico, and his assistant is a goth band wannabe. He's surly, fussy, overpriced, tracks in mud, is prone to say "That's not gonna be an easy job, and it's gonna cost you," and breaks things.

The carpenter is a chubby, pleasant, kind of homely, probably hard drinking Irish guy with enormous hands, the heart of a poet, and prone to quote Velvet Underground lyrics. He knows and speaks City of SF D.B.I. code by heart. He wants to do a good job and save me money.

The Salvadorean electricians have compact soccer player bodies, have a sweet sense of humor, are respectful, efficient, speedy, discovered my computer and furnace were on the same circuit and fixed it for free, cover everything meticulously with plastic before starting any job and clean up and put back in place everything and remove all their tools at the end of the day, leaving the room looking like they'd never stepped foot in it. I'm really sad they are moving on from my unit to the rest of the building tomorrow. I'll miss little Edwin and Jorge. (Sob.)

All of this renovation has brought up stories about this three storied and much storied building constructed in 1885. I'd love to see what it was like until 1917 as a single family, 7,000 square foot home. It had a rough time from the 1950s onward. Just before I moved in back in 1998, it had been one of the most notorious addresses in San Francisco and home of the leading crack dealer. A crazy woman lived in my building with a dozen or so huge dogs that she slept with in the back yard in the summer and never picked up after them.

I learned today that the man holding the pit bull terrier in a mural down the block was once a resident here, and now I am anxious to learn his story. Maybe Bow and I will be on a mural some day.

When I moved in, my place had been stripped of every Victorian detail stripped, half of the place covered in the infamous BART carpet that loyal readers know was removed earlier this winter. All the lighting fixtures looked like what you'd see in an Econolodge -- at best -- and probably none cost more than five dollars. The overhead light had conduit from the switch box mounted on the wall -- not recessed and flushed with the wall. The worst offender was the hall light -- one you turned on by pulling a chain. That has been replaced with the new track lighting to accent my glorious objet du junque. All overhead fixtures have been replaced with the ones featured.

A big challenge with the overheads is that most of them have gas lines leading into them. Some of my friends can't wrap their heads around that there were once gas lights in my home. A near moment of panic hit when the electricians encountered on of the lines and asked me to go down to the basement to ask the plumbers if they could check the gas line. "Duh, I don't do that kinda work. Tell them dudes up there to be careful in case it's an uncapped line." Seconds later I gasped as I saw Edwin unscrewing one of the lines, his eyes widening as he smelled gas and quickly plugged it back up. I was less concerned about the house than it exploding in his beautiful face. All was well, and now they have moved on.

Now on to carpentry and having my ugly bathroom sink replaced with a sleek pedestal sink which, as the plumber so aptly put "is gonna cost ya."

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

1988: Nina Hagen Presents Tomorrow's Hits Today

So many memories tied up with this one. Recorded in Toronto I think, in between Tegucigalpa and Ouagadougou. Move to Africa? Marry and settle in Toronto? Take that job in San Pedro Sula? Join Edelweiss as a bearded bandoneon player? Edelweiss!?!?!? They had that huge hit "Don't Bring Me Edelweiss". And what was their other hit? Oh, yes, "Don't Bring Me Edelweiss".

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Walking into the Light

I know you've not been able to sleep without another update on the conversion of the Junplex. Here's one of the fixtures -- in the dining room -- that went in today. Discuss among yourselves.
The carpenter came by this afternoon to start working on his bid, and the plumbers arrive tomorrow at 8. The Carpenter, The Plumber and The Electrician. Isn't that the film script the porn producers offered the octo-mommy?

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009


The San Francisco Chronicle may close? Is anyone crying? Is it sad that the family name behind it is no longer mythic, no longer a symbol that would inspire wacko domestic terrorists to resort to bank robberies and kidnapping?

The fact that it may soon follow the Dodos, Studebaker Avanti, Circuit City and Montgomery Ward isn't something to make many get misty eyed, is it? At least the parakeet cages will still have the San Francisco Examiner to make them squawk.

UPDATE: And now the Tonga Room. What next? The Golden Gate Bridge? (No they'll just jack tolls up to $25.)

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Between a One and a Three There's a Two

On Sunday, I went to the 85th birthday party for playwright George Birimisa. George was very excited because he's been cast in the stage version of Skidoo and will recreate Carol Channing's role, complete with a staging of the finale in the San Francisco Bay.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Troubled Scottish Youth

The disturbing prologue to Sondheim's epic new opus Trainspotting: The Musical. This is why parents should be careful about allowing their sons to wear skirts.

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What We're Seeing at the Junkplex

My Salvadorean electricians arrived bright and early today to begin two weeks' work of adding outlets, putting in new fixtures, dimmers, bringing some past work up to code and installing some outdoor lighting as one of the final stages of the condo conversion of the Junkplex. This place is of an old enough vintage that most overhead lights are on top of what once were gas lamps. So that's always an issue.

Bow has been calm but not thrilled to be quartered off with me in the back part of the flat so she doesn't interfere with the workers. She feels this is their loss since she won't be able to share her encyclopedic knowledge of electrical and wiring codes and matrixes.

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The Great Plains Royalty

The Oscars were on last night, and I watched it off and on, but DVR'd it so I didn't have to suffer through the more painful parts. Hugh Jackman was more interesting in the post-Oscar interview when he contended that straight men can love musicals and then did a lap dance for Barbara Walters. Too bad he consented to star in Baz Luhrman's career suicide homage to David Lean, Australia. Related or not, the previous night I watched 1965's Dr. Zhivago on KQED. At the time of its release my leftist Jewish relatives complained that it was shameless, pro-Czarist propaganda. Mainly I liked all the snow and big coats but had trouble with the repeated cuing up of "Somewhere My Love" (the worst song ever pre-"Feelings"/"I Just Called to Say I Love You"/"Ray of Light"). I liked the film as a kid because it was such a long, depressing examination of the futility of life. One reviewer described it as being Chekov for the masses with Omar Sharif being picked because he was a lot cuter than the real Chekov

Growing up in Oklahoma, Dr. Zhivago made me think of our Canadian snow storms that came sweeping down the plains from Manitoba via Fargo and Omaha. That was fitting since much of Dr. Zhivago was filmed in Canada, even though the snow still looks fake. Also, Oklahoma once had a history of being a hotbed of American Bolsheviks and when Eugene V. Debs ran for President in 1912 on the Socialist ticket, he got more votes in Oklahoma than anywhere in the Union.

Things have dramatically changed since then. Oklahoma has gone Red but in the bad kind of way. On the other hand, I learned yesterday from Bryce Digdug that they now have a Czar and Czarina. Perhaps they parade around in Oklahoma's Red Square and show off their collection of Fabergé eggs. If they ever make a movie about them, Joaquin Phoenix should be lured out of retirement and cast as Rasputin. For a mere $25 you can fill out a membership application and become a member of the Royal Barony of Oklahoma. (It's just $15 if you're under 21. Maybe what they say about recruiting the young is true.)

I've never comprehended the San Francisco Royal Court and what powers they possess. Personally, Bow and I want to be declared the Kaiser and Kaiserina of the Mission. We could ride in a gold carriage in the Carnival parade wearing gold pith helmets with elaborate fezes. Of course, I would want to be referred to as Kaiser Permanente (Prussian for Kaiser for life).

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Joanna Lumley, Platforms and Andy Williams

That's what I call a quirky combination. I too have been told that I have a "posh" accent.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Miss Bow Says...

Yippee! The sun has been shining for the past 30 hours in San Francisco, and I have been enjoying sun paths in the afternoon in the front parlor. My daddy has a furlough/leave day Friday, and we're going to be in the back yard pulling weeds, chasing cats on the back fence, and enjoying the sun. At last I've broken free of the chilly temps and snow of Chicago and am a true California girl!

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I Love Honey Nut Cheerios, Just Don't Flake Out on Me

How did I manage to go this long not knowing about Kalup Linzy and the All My Churen series? It's so wonderfully subversive and fitting with the upcoming DVD release of Elevator Girls in Bondage from a few generations earlier. I may have to visit New Orleans soon. This is ART.

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I Wanna Go to the Fair!


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Before She Was Mine

This picture was forwarded to me today from Dogster of Bow with the room mate she had briefly in Michigan before she made her flight out west three months ago. (Bow fashion watcher may notice the schmata she wore upon arrival.) It's a bit odd to see my little girl with this handsome young man whom we'll call "Mr. T" to protect his privacy. It looks like they're having a good time, but I know she's now in the right place.

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Panic on the Pacific

Folks, we have a major crisis boiling over here in San Francisco, so big it crosses the Rockies and nearly touches the Mississippi River Valley. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, collapsing global financial and health systems, planes falling in Buffalo and the Hudson, Zimbabwe imploding, Chavez proclaiming himself dictator for life -- none of these can compare to the stature of this one.

A San Francisco family lowered themselves to appear on reality TV and now they are being accused of being snobs. Here's the short and skinny (pun later plumbed) of it. A couple of weeks ago, Stephen Fowler and Renee participated in the "reality TV" show Wife Swap (the only one of that genre that I ever watch). Renee -- a certified life and destination coach -- headed off to a red meat, Red State family to impart the wisdom of organic food, exercise and the learnings from her various advanced degrees. Meanwhile, Gayla Long left Missouri to spend a couple of weeks with Stephen, British-born green businessman/venture capitalist. The clash of Red and Blue State values was nothing new, but Stephen went further than evidenced in the featured videos.

It's sparked an anti-Stephen website, eggings of their home, obscene phone calls, and a viral wave of Stephen bashers. I have to admit I've been really conflicted on all of this and initially sided with sweet albeit iinarticulate Gayla who was the object of insults on the order of "You are undereducated, overweight and over opinionated." About a third of my family could pass for the Longs. Hell, the Longs may be a part of my family. Another third are just like Renee and Stephen, scattered from Lucerne to L.A. to St. Louis. And about 80% of my friends and professional colleagues are just like Stephen and Renee. I've probably stood in line behind them at Whole Foods, Savor, the SF Symphony and Rainbow Market. But, of course, I say, I would never say anything on the order of Stephen since I'm such a sensitive caring person, even though I probably agree with him on every point. But, at the same point, fear that a person a notch or two above me on the GRE results or economic scale would look at me as Gayla's counterpart.

At first I saw Renee and Stephen as the worst examples of the "old economy". Did they agree to the reality TV contract because they needed to replenish their Goldman Sachs and Bear Stearns vested portfolio? Even the lethargic SF Chronicle has picked up on this. After reading about this on quite a number of blogs, I've done a near 360. I've come to recognize that every one on this reality show was keeping true to the script and the characters they were expected to portray. I've also been following Renee's site and have become addicted to her podcasts. She's pleasantly free of New Age psychobabble. My only problem with her is that she asks us to accept and love ourselves just as we are before starting our exercise and weight loss routine. I just can't do that right now. As anyone who has seen me lately I am in a state of grotesque morbid obesity (a.k.a. seven pounds overweight).

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What We're Seeing in the Mission

We gots us Goom in da Mission. You got Goom? I sees Goom on Flickr too. You know what's Goom? What'z up wid dat?

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Interactive Wednesday: Cadillac Competition

Not that I enjoy being competitive...hell, I love being competitive. It juices me up every time. Our beloved Tugboat Dave posted a really cool photo recently of a Cadillac spray painted purple as an example of the cultural superiority of New Orleans. I'll admit that I was impressed and tip my hat to the many wonders of the Crescent City. However, I submit our local variation on this theme and dare others to top it.

A purple Cadillac is pretty impressive, but can anyone top one with an observation deck? Bring it on, baby, bring it on!

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Monday, February 16, 2009

The Roof Flies Open in a Flash

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What the Hail?

It lasted for a matter of seconds and produced only a few pea sized nuggets, but we had a hail storm in the back garden this afternoon. The sound definitely grabbed Bow's attention. Perhaps she feared the chilly blasts of Chicago had followed her to the West.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

For (Victor) Mature Audiences Only

Groucho Marx [after viewing Samson and Delilah (1949) starring Hedy Lamarr and Victor Mature]: Well, there`s just one problem. No picture can hold my interest where the leading man`s tits are bigger than the leading lady`s.

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Interactive V-Day: Your Wheels Oughta Be in Pictures

Back in the day, Saturday nights were about plucking nose hairs, pumping a bit of iron to make sure the T-shirt fit just right and then heading out into the glory of the night. I can't complain that I'm spending this Valentine's Day with someone who makes my heart pump with unconditional love, even if it's a gorgeous female of the four-legged variety. Love comes from the most unexpected places.

And what would my life have turned out to be when I was in my twenties if we'd had this whole interwebs thingy back then? This week, Bryce Digdug did a great post about his discovery of the Internet Movie Car Database. Is there also an Internet Movie Shoe Database and an Internet Broadway Cologne Database out there? Oh, please tell me that there isn't, or if there is just don't send me the link. I've got dusting that needs to be done! But for now, we really need to have a complete inventory of every car in Vertigo and Vanishing Point and every film in which a Pinto or Gremlin appeared. Is it more disturbing that someone took time to create this thing or that we will all plumb its sweaty depths? I don't really care, all I am concerned about is asking my three follower if they'd like to join in this game.

I'll show you mine first, now show me yours.

Here are the rules.

1. Post a photo of every car you've ever owned.

2. Under it list the years you owned it and one of the films or TV shows in which it appeared.

3. Strive to match the color, exact model and year of issue. But if you can't be exact, go as close as you can. In my case, except for my virgin ride, all of mine are a year or color off. But I'm damned close in each case.

4. Let's make this friggin' thing go virile! Tell every friend, Friendster contact in Manila, and person that notified you that you just won in the UK lottery and let's see if we can make this a Facebook application. Hell, I might even find the person who made me give it up in the back of that 1960 Valiant station wagon the night of our senior prom in 1974. Or wait, did I make that person give it up to me?

I'm sure that there is something very Freudian about the dates, vehicles and their screen appearances below. Also feel free to dish and analyze my psyche. (I still greatly miss that Wrangler and thought I was the hottest thing on four wheels when I owned it.)

Footnote: 1989 - 1992 were the Manhattan/Brooklyn years when I was gloriously carless.
1997 - Present - Desperate Housewives.

1993 - 1997 - Redline

1984- 1988 - Johnny Handsome
1979 - 1983 - To Live and Die in L.A.
1974 - 1978 - Zycie na Goaco
1973- 1974 - Fury of the Dragon

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I'll Wake You Up in Fresno and Buy You a Slurpie

Growing up in the Midwest in a liberal Unitarian family, I always had a warped view of California due to distant relatives who moved there during the Dust Bowl and were scattered about in the trailer parks and subdivisions of Bakersfield and Orange County. This branch of the family was headed by chain smoking, white-panted, Reagan loving matriarchs with stoner sons whom they were often rescuing from peril. "It ain't that he's a bad kid, it's just all those outside influences we got goin' in California these days."

I think this is my all time favorite Tracey Ullman Ruby Romaine sketch, and nothing captures that branch of the family better. A couple of years ago one of my third cousins, who is a prison guard, was proudly showing his e-bride that purchased for $3,500 and was set to come straight from Manila to Bakersfield later that year. I wonder if he ended up at the Army of Armageddon?

I suggest that Ann Coulter watch the clip below since this is what she'll look like in about five years.

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