Wednesday, February 27, 2008

the odd genius

You know when you see a piece of art, or read a good story, or see a lovely dance performance, and you think, "That was so great, but it would have been better if they just took out X?" Often, less really is more when it comes to the arts.

In that spirit, I give you Garfield Minus Garfield. A schmaltzy cartoon becomes a nihilistic, angsty, dark-humored take on life. From cartoon to graphic storytelling, if you will.

You can find anything on the internets!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Colin Cowie, you're fabulous!

When I read this article in the SF Chron about party planner extraordinaire Colin Covie, I felt a connection. This man knows how to *live,* people. He earns a living throwing wonderful parties. He loves it so much, he thinks we all should be injecting more beauty (and for me, I'd add levity) into our lives. I say amen, brother.

I adore my collection of books and buy them carefully (libraries are for fun reading that I don't want to own). But I have to say, Colin Cowie's lovely book Chic is one that ought to be on my bookshelf. I can see that it's a book I'd refer to in pages and chapters, for a fun pick me up.

I took a look at his website, which should be required reading for anyone wanting inspiration for anything from wedding planning to party planning to home decor. Anyway, a website that has the words "fantastic," "elegant," "chic," "fabulous," and the most inspiring pictures on the homepage is a website that I'll be frequenting. Just because it's fun. I mean, I can't spend all my blog-reading time on CNN politics and DailyKos, right? Maybe it'll inspire me to have more fun with dinners-- or life in general! Who knows, but one can always hope.

Poipu- more low-cost options in HI

Maybe I'm just noticing because we've booked our tickets to Hawaii this summer, but it seems like there are a lot of articles on low-cost options to visit to Islands. I'm all ears!

This lovely article from the SF Chronicle features Kauai. I love this first line:

"Rainbows are free.

So, of course, are blazing red sunsets, plumeria-scented trade breezes, golden sand, sensuously warm water and nodding coconut palms."

It's a simple but important point, I think. As I've been searching for lodging options, I've noticed that the glitzy places can be really distracting. They offer a lot of things that sound good in the moment, but then I realize that the breathtaking ocean views, the sound of the wind and waves, the sunsets are not just for those who lease a penthouse or get the presidential suite at a hotel. They're for everyone.

Just reading about the garlicky shrimp truck, the fragrant coconut desserts and all the other amazing roadside treats made my mouth water. We're bringing a toddler on this trip, so the fancy restaurants can be enjoyed at home with the grandparents babysitting.

(Very fortunately, we live in the Bay Area, so fancy restaurants are everywhere. Even the boring old suburbs are starting to realize they need to get classy to satisfy the desires of those driven out of the city by high prices but still want a taste of their old city life. But that's for another post.)

This article is great because it describes how you can enjoy Hawaii (Kauai in particular) in high style and low key. We are definitely interested in both! Bring on the mai tais AND the gorgeous trails. We'll be there.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

tonight's lunar eclipse

Paloma was in fine form tonight, pointing at the stars and the moon as it was being eclipsed by the Earth's shadow. She loves pointing at pictures of the stars and moon, then pointing upward. I love the language comprehension acceleration of young toddlers! The best part was when I told her we were watching a lunar eclipse. She pointed at her head, and then I understood-- she was pointing at her hair clip. Clips, eclipse. A very intelligent mix-up!

Here are beautiful photos of the progression from a blog on Vox:


Progression from

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

and one more funny

"Many observers believe Fidel Castro will either be replaced by his brother Raul, or by his idiot son, Fidel W. Castro."
- Dave Letterman

That is good stuff!

Dave Chappelle and Howard Dean

Together at last! You won't see them together in this video, but the audio (Dave) and video (Howard and assorted) work together very well. *Tell* me that baby isn't funny! (And I know we need a bit of funny after my last post!)

Goodbye to Robin Morgan

Two people have sent me the Robin Morgan essay "Goodbye to All That #2," both saying it put tears in their eyes.

It put tears in my eyes, too- and not in a good way.

Here's my response to her essay. Let me say at the outset I find her to be condescending and her words ugly, wagging her finger in the face of young feminists who think differently from her. I don't need her to tell me how to be a good feminist. And neither do you! Be who you are, and don't let Robin Morgan or anyone else tell you you're not part of the movement.

Let me also say that Nancy Fraser provides a sane, intelligent and reasonable response to Morgan's essay/diatribe.

***This is my answer to a friend who asked how best to call out gender bias that is happening against Clinton without resorting to racial comparisons, which Morgan and Gloria Steinem both made the grievous error of doing.***

I think the strongest way to call out the horrible gender bias that is indeed happening is to clearly and simply name it. For me, Morgan's essay would have completely hit the nail on the head if she had just named the outrageous occurrences (the Nutcracker, the 'iron my shirt,' etc.). That has integrity. She would have been making statements that are clear, simple, true-- and without question, demonstrating that those occurrences were sexist, demeaning and disgusting. Contrary to what she may have intended, the race-based comparisons do not make her argument that the media treats Hillary unfairly any stronger. They just inflame. If she wanted to say the media treats Hillary unfairly because Hillary is a woman and Barack is a man, fine- say that. But to say "if they had made *RACIAL* slurs, everyone would be all over this,"-- well, to that I say, great!

It always pains me a lot when there are comparisons like "X was done to a woman. If X was done to a person of color, it never would have been tolerated!" Morgan has a laundry list of those, and to be honest, I think it's a divisive and hurtful tactic. It's horrible that someone yelled "iron my shirt" to Clinton, full stop. Her race-based comparisons are flawed and unnecessary to make the point that women have it tough. I saw Gloria Steinem do this too- compare oppression (even though she said "I'm not trying to compare oppression," that's exactly what her NYT piece did.). I am really weary of seeing this mistake made over and over.

It's obvious that mainstream media provides sexist analysis and perpetuates sexist myths. And Morgan's list of the ways in which women have been and are oppressed is heartbreaking. But I disagree with her on many points, including "goodbye to blaming anything Bill Clinton does on Hillary." She's referring, I'm sure, to Bill's comments on Obama being a Jesse Jackson esque (ie, token) candidate. I'd bet everything that Hillary knew he'd say that, that he'd take that angle, and signed off on it. So I believe they do need to share the blame for tactical campaign mistakes. There are other points that deserve examination, but that's emblematic.

Morgan says she knows black women supporting Hillary who are called "race traitors," but Morgan is essentially calling women who support Obama "gender traitors." It's enough to make me, as a woman of color, want to crawl into bed and stay there!

Nancy Fraser's essay succinctly and powerfully made the case for Obama. I especially appreciated her argument for the need for an improved political terrain on which to further build feminism and progressive politics. This doesn't take away from Clinton's abilities, only argues that the time is right for Obama's. I found it thoughtful.

Monday, February 18, 2008

hilarious McCain spoof/ riff on Obama video

Shelby over at alerts us to the latest hilarity to ensue from these primaries. Have you seen the Obama "Yes We Can" video on YouTube? It's here if You haven't:

Very inspiring. I encourage you to watch and keep a tissue handy (although ScarJo, as much I love her, is a little jarring).

Watch that first. Then watch the McCain spoof. Keep that tissue handy, for the tears of laughter that will roll.

Oh snap!! Passing on a deal to you (professional photos)

I am here to tell you that YES- it so totally worth it to get professional photos taken of your family. Or just of yourself-- I did it at 21, and it is so great to look back at that age and remember what it was like.

I'm not talking about the big box department store sittings, although if that floats your boat, go for it. I'm talking about getting outside and doing a really beautiful, natural shoot that captures who you uniquely are. I mean, regular Joes have access to pretty fabulous point and shoot cameras these days. If you have friends who are aspiring professionals, have them do a shoot of you in a local park. You will never regret it, I promise.

This past weekend, we went to the gorgeous Cordonices Park in Berkeley, across from the famous Rose Garden. That's where we got our photographs taken by the one and only Jessamyn Harris, who is running a wonderful February special. If you're in the Bay Area, I would definitely take advantage.

for laughs!

Lest you think we take ourselves too seriously... you must check out Baby Bush Toys: Simple Products for Simple Minds. My favorite is the Li'l Looming Disaster Pillow, but they're all great. Be sure to read the testimonials too.

We all know parents who take waaaaay too much stock in believing that Baby Einstein and products like that will make their baby a genius. If you find yourself confronted by that competitiveness, just look at this website, relax and have a good laugh.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

review- Panache Spa, North Berkeley

I just had the Best Pedicure of my Entire Life. Now, I am not a huge pedicure junkie. I enjoy them but I don't get them regularly. However, I'd still say I can tell a good pedicure from a not-good one. This. Was. AMAZING! Here's what I told my online mama friends:

They had my feet in warm water in a huge wooden bowl with purple orchids, did all the cuticle and scrubbing stuff, then did a mint sugar scrub all over my legs and massaged me with grapefruit lotion and covered my legs with a hot towel. They brought me tea and a chocolate wafer cookie.

When Derek came in with Paloma, nobody blinked when she climbed into my lap and asked to nurse; they just said "look, how cute!" AND- there were two men, two women working- the man who greeted me also brought me the tea and helped bring stuff for the pedicure, and I appreciated the egalitarian service, if you know what I mean, and I think you do. All for $35. I think I can handle that a couple times a year. For you locals, it's the Panache spa in north Berkeley on Shattuck.

More info from some very happy yelpers.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Hollywood Issue- Ads!

It's big, it's beautiful, it's the Hollywood Issue! Weighing in at 8,579 pounds and finding the first article on page 637, it is indeed impressive.

Ok, so there are as usual a ton of ads. I'm actually not annoyed by them- I like breaking them down. Sometimes I *love* breaking them down. Thusly:

Estee Lauder ad: what's up with the 80s makeup these days? Is it me, or are there more people sporting the black eyeliner + red lips + pink blush + red nails look these days? It has got to stop. I love a good flashback as much as the next person but COME ON. Pick a great era!

Gucci ad: I'm not in favor of thick straps on shoes. In fact, this is another sad trend I'm noticing. Shoes are going chunky, and not in that fun 90s Jeanine Garofalo way. It's weird chunky (and I meant it to sound as gross as that sounds). Gucci isn't the only victim...

...Dior ad: All right, we've got full on 80s makeup, graceless chunkster shoes AND shoulder pads to boot! I can see how the designer might have been thinking 'these shoulders are so *courtly*! And so strong!' Or not- who knows, maybe they're thinking 'Let's recreate the ugly ugly Reagan era everyone is talking about-- let's do that black/red thing!' In that case, it totally worked.

Saks: yawn. I mean, it's nice to yawn after the Dior assault. But still, yawn. Please note the funkdified chunky heeled shoes.

Armani: digging on the black micromini, although I'm all done with the scales.

Prada: ah, Prada. Graceful, light and ethereal? Or are you creeped out by the way all Prada models look related? (I mean, from other Prada ads- I know these aren't triplets. Or are they? Prada- designer genetic engineering! And isn't that a hot mess of a topic I'm not getting into on this blog!)

St. John: oh, Angelina. You are far too young and glamorous for the frump that is St. John. Remember that St. John model from some years back, with the short hair? She will always be the St. John model to me. I am not even someone who's ever subscribed to a fashion mag, and she's that iconic even to me.

Chanel: I usually don't go for that style of sunglasses, but I totally totally would purchase that beautiful pair. They're sleek but not aggressively so. And the logo on the side is so much more tasteful than the ridiculously large DG and Fendi ones I've seen around.

Bottega Veneta: Here we are, sitting on our fine grained leather couch in this fabulously bare and shabby looking apartment. But the fourth wall is missing! We know you're there, dear audience, watching us with as much interest as we're watching the paint on the third wall dry.

Clinique: so labby!

Burberry: oh, those crazy Brits. They're so cool and androgynous. Wait- there it is again! The thick strap on the high heeled open-toe shoe, except this one is elastic and paired with black socks. That is how cool Burberry is- they can do that! They can get away with it! Or maybe, they think they can and it's as wrong as ever. You be the judge!

Yurman: and on the next page, Kate celebrates her Burberry exodus with a chunky ring. The model on the next page is like "Darn! I'm all chained up and wet! SIGH!" I am not into David Yurman jewelry.

Balenciaga: Oh how I laughed...

ok, you get the point. The ads are entertainment. I'm definitely not interested in buying- or even coveting- the wares they peddle. But they do provide rich fodder for comments!

We're back!!

Sorry for the lull. The Indiana Jones issue didn't hit my mailbox until after it hit the newsstands and I was just kind of...meh about it. I wanted to love it-- I mean, it had Spielberg, it had a fabulously snarky article on Bush, it had a tell-all on Scaife. All very stylishly told. Yet I couldn't bring myself to read it cover to cover like usual.

Ok, for those of you thinking "What is she talking about? I *loved* that issue!" you simply must share why in the comments.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day from MomsRising!

You have never seen more adorable healthcare factoids. I promise.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

review- Greens at Fort Mason

I went to an amazing tech training in SF this past week. It was at Fort Mason and it. was. SUNNY!

Fort Mason is a beautiful setting for Greens restaurant. It's right on the marina and has floor to ceiling windows. The ambience is casually elegant.

The service was impeccable. We were seated quickly and attended to with care. When I go out to eat, when I finish a course I place my fork and knife on my plate with the fork tines down crossed over the knife. It's some obscure etiquette thing I read in a book, and it means "all done" (as opposed to "just taking a break"). I do it out of curiosity to see if the server will respond, but I don't hold it against anyone for not knowing.

A server immediately approached me and asked to remove the plate. It could have been a coincidence but it seemed very deliberate. I was impressed.

And the food! Much of the food comes from the dreamily beautiful Green Gulch Zen Center, where the fog rolls through the hills and valleys of Marin County to the ocean, visible from the farm. The food seems to retain this ethereal yet substantial quality.

The salad was gorgeous- grilled winter vegetables with a lovely shaved goat cheese and a perfectly paired vinaigrette. It was refreshing, savory and satisfying. I am definitely not the kind of person who feels disappointed when I don't have a truckload of food overloading the plate. The salad was small but the grilled, savory taste was perfect.

My entree was a brochette (kebab) of tofu, potato, onions, and some other veggies with a light peanut sauce. Coconut rice was on the side, and a spicy slaw. It was good-- not quite as good as the salad, but still bright and fresh.

Dessert was really special. Three tiny scoops of sorbet, all varieties of citrus- one satsuma, one tangerine, one variety I can't remember. It was wonderful to have them next to each other and be reminded how different they are. It gives me something to appreciate about each one.

A key lime cookie topped it all off.

Highly recommended!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Groundhogs and Checking Accounts

Here's a sentence I never thought I'd type: Our financial advisor sent me a Groundhog Day e-card.

It's animated. It has nothing to do with finances. It's just funny. I'm not even a Groundhog Day traditionalist-- I don't even know when the day is.

I just know that damn- that's good blog fodder. I hope he keeps 'em coming. Maybe it means my finances are in such an awesome state, he doesn't even worry about it; he just pokes around for some e-cards with furry animated creatures and bad electronic music. Maybe it means my finances are in such a dire state that instead of telling me the bad news, he'd rather send me a ridiculously cheery Groundhog Day card.

A win-win, really.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

JK Rowling's Tale of the Beedle Bard

For all you Harry Potter fans out there, you will love what, that crazy juggernaut of a website, has done now. They've dipped into their coffers and produced the winning bid at Sotheby's (1.95 million pounds sterling, or about $3.83 million) for one of seven handwritten and illustrated books by JK Rowling-- The Tale of Beedle Bard, which is referenced in Book 7.

On one hand, I wonder about economic systems that support this kind of obsession, such that a book, mere paper and words, could be valued so highly. I wonder about all the hungry kids that could be fed and all the good that could be done with that money.

On the other hand, I love this human tendency to value art so highly, to hold dear those beautiful things that move us and inspire us and make us think. There's part of me that totally delights in the fact that this book exists and that people love it so much.

And then there's the happy fact that sales of the book meant an enormous contribution to Rowling's charity. I'm having my cake, I'm eating my cake.

no worries!

I love the title of this book: Einstein Never Used Flashcards: How Our Children Really Learn -- and Why They Need To Play More and Memorize Less.

Ain't that the whole truth. There is so much pressure these days to turn your child into a super achiever before birth (if you think I'm kidding, google "prenatal education"). But there's no real evidence that these fetal lectures lead to genius adults, much less happy ones.

D is an extremely talented physicist with an intimate knowledge of the work and life of Einstein. I trust him- and my own instincts- in the decision to make like Einstein, and give our child plenty of free play time. We don't have to put pressure on ourselves as parents or on our children to achieve a cookie cutter model of success. We simply need to nurture them, observe them carefully, and encourage them to explore and to have fun!

To enjoy the lightness of childhood, to learn to be low-stress and naturally curious, to be loving-- these are the things I will nurture in my child.

Friday, February 01, 2008

the weight of Minkie

Last night during the Democratic debate, Minkie decided she wanted to color. So I put some paper and crayons in front of me. She climbed on my lap and colored.

I thought about what this would have felt like before I became a parent. I had about as much exposure to people under 3 as your typical 20-30-something-- which is not much. I remember how special it felt when they chose me to hold them, when they wanted to hold hands. When, on very few occasions, they settled into sitting with me. That sweet weight of a little one on my lap, the soft little hands, the downy hair.

I realized that it still feels special.