Monday, April 30, 2007

A clusterfuck of glamour

Where's Dani Leone?

That's what I kept thinking on Saturday night, when In Bed w/ Fairy Butch took over the Rickshaw. If you've never seen IBWFB, which wouldn't surprise me, it's sort of a cabaret/game show/strip club/dance party all rolled into one -- with a lot of FTM action.

These were hardcore Females to Males, meaning they'd gone thru the change long enough ago that they were now losing their hair on their scalp and gaining their hair on their chins.

The night spawned many questions. Like: Why does every FTM grow a goatee? Aren't beards more manly than goatees? Or moustaches? If you're a woman dating a man who used to be a woman, do you think of yourself as a lesbian or bi-sexual or quasi-hetero? And if you're a woman who used to be a man now dating a man, do you call yourself gay? Also: how many drinks does it take to get you to climb onstage and start sticking your tongue way down the throat of a stranger? How about give a lapdance to two blindfolded strangers at the same time?

Alright, my best line of the night: After a woman simulated a very loud orgasm onstage, I turned to the ladies queued up at the bar and said, "I bet you all want what she's having." Sure, I stole it from When Harry Met Sally, but still.

Here's the new Grumpy Guy & Sunshine. It's a cliffhanger! Part two will come on Friday, which is the usual GG&S day.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

That one's headed for New Hampshire

Last weekend, I spent a lot of time in bars, watching baseball. Not exactly optimum weekend activity, but at least the weather wasn't that nice. I don't have a TV so I had to make do, watching the Red Sox play the Yankees at Cato's, Ben & Nicks, and Barclay's.

On Sunday, the Sox-Yanks game was on at 5 p.m. -- prime no-other-sport watching time. Except on this Sunday, Barclay's had advertised they were showing the NBA and NHL playoffs. So after 2 and 1/3 innings of the game, they switched over to a hockey game. Right when Manny Ramirez was coming to bat.

Red Sox fans can be some of the worst people on the planet -- just a bunch of very white, very entitled jackasses braying like donkeys who think they rule the world. So naturally, they went nuts, whining and moping and saying they would take their business elsewhere. It was embarrassing, really. If they were too stupid to check the other games that were on at that time, then they got what was coming to them.

About 10 minutes later, some guy behind me was moaning to a girl who just walked in. "Did you hear what happened?" he said. "My friend just called to say the Sox hit back-to-back-to-back-to-back home runs."

I turned to him, unable to keep my mouth shut. "Your friend is putting you on," I assured him. "There's no way."

"Well, I guess…" he said.

Come on, the chances of the same team hitting four home runs in a row is, like, one in a million. Or, as it turned out, according to a mathematician, one in 1.4 million. And the chance that JD Drew, who connected after Manny and Mike Lowell and before Jason Varitek, would do it two sequential years, after being involved in 4 homers in a row with the Dodgers last year? One in 14 million.

Damn hockey game.

Friday, April 20, 2007

love is a book on tape

I've been reading a lot more lately, partially because of the excellent Full Present Capture (FPC) of Christmas and my birthday, and partially because when I was home for the holidays and had nothing better to do, I remembered how much I liked getting lost in a good book.

Here's what's been read and what's on the nightstand:

You Don't Love Me Yet by Jonathan Lethem. I already told you about it.

Playground by Jennifer Saginor. Memoir about a girl who grew up in the Playboy Mansion, because her dad was Hugh Hefner's personal drug doc. Ultimately repetitive and sad (just like her coke-filled parties), but boy what a crazy life. Hard to believe she survived all the drugs and guns and Columbian mafiosa at age 15-18.

Ten Days in the Hills by Jane Smiley. I'd never read anything by Smiley, because all the books seemed to be about horses or hills or touchy feely lives in the wilderness. But this one's about a bunch of people that are either related or tangentially related hanging out in the Hollywood Hills right when the Iraq War starts. It's got some interesting insight into parent-child relationships, aging ("I think upon retirement you ought to have to apply to continue to exist," one character says), and sexual dynamics (although I do find the older characters' brazen way of talking about sex discomforting, which might be because it reminds me of my parents talking about sex or maybe it's a way that that generation thinks, and therefore writes, about sex, which is different than mine). More than anything, it's about storytelling, since most of the time they all sit around and tell stories, many of which are pretty damn interesting.

Eat the Document by Dana Spiotta. Kathleen said it's good, so I'm sure it is. About '70s radicals living in the '90s, which sounds like a great topic.

The Brothers K by David James Duncan. My dad loaned this to me, and I started it but for some reason got sidetracked. It's about religion and baseball, the first of which usually bores me and the second of which can be hard to write about. But it's also about Vietnam and families, so I'm going to go back to it.

Graceland by Chris Abani. A Thaddeus choice from the book swap. Elvis impersonator in Africa, which sounds promising.

Heat by Bill Buford. Essays about food from this New Yorker writer. I loved his piece on the egg chefs of Vegas. Will give you the munchies.

Love Is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield. Rolling Stone writer remembers his deceased wife and the '90s mix tapes that wooed her.

What Is the What by Dave Eggers. Really nice cover.

Here's the new comic strip:

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

yo, bum rush the queen is dead

Man, not feeling that great. Got some weird virus that makes me only want to sleep and/or watch bad teen sex comedies from the '80s (like Private Resort, featuring a verrrry young Johnny Depp as a teen horndog) all day.

Maybe I picked up something from the truly bizarre Rickshaw weekend just past. Friday was Yo Majesty and Sugar & Gold, which I didn't realize going in would be such an odd juxtaposition. S&G's audience is very hetero, while Yo Majesty's…well, they like the ladies and the ladies like them.

We've had ladies get topless at the club before -- most recently during Music For Animals' set, when a girl actually got on a guy's shoulders and flashed the band, just like if she was at a Crue show -- but never the performers. (Well, save for Jenny, but she wasn't onstage and she's Jenny.) But one of the women in Yo Majesty whipped off her shirt and many of the audience, both on and off the stage, followed suit. Including a certain lead singer of a certain local band, who we hadn't seen in the club for ages. It was pandemonium.

The next night there were another 50 people onstage, but this time they were gay Hispanic gangstaristas and their galpals, and they were all waving tulips. Because it was This Charming Band, a Smiths cover band, and for some bizarre reason Morrissey (or anyone who sounds like him) has a huge Hispanic following. At least it's easier to clean up tulips than it is vomit.

Other odd things: Cameron gave me a Len cd for my birthday, and I thought it was going to be nu-metal rap-rock, but it turns out it's really fun rap-rock. Kind of if the Beasties were from Canada and into trip-hop around 1999. I don't know how I missed their "Steal the Sunshine" song, but apparently it was a big hit. I'm kind of in love with the girl singer of the band -- check the video out.

One last thing: At his Q&A, Jonathan Lethem said he'd recently recorded You Don't Love Me Yet for sale as a book on whatever, the first time that he'd done it. And he'd realized that there were some parts of his book that weren't that good, that they'd been written on days he wasn't that interested in the novel. Which was really interesting to me to hear -- that such a talented writer would let his off days make it into the finished product. It was inspiring in a weird way.

Kind of like how this blog entry kind of sucks, and I'm letting you read it.

Friday, April 13, 2007

that's entertainment

Did you hear? Monday is the new, um, Wednesday. This means you should either be humping or humping over to SF. Because there's two awesome things going on next Monday.

First, Jonathan Lethem reads at the Booksmith. I just read his new book, You Don't Love Me Yet, which had me at the title, seeing as how it was taken from a Vulgar Boatmen tune. Lethem himself has called it "a profoundly unimportant book," which is probably true. Michele compared it to one of Graham Greene's "entertainments," and that's spot on -- it's an entertaining and ridiculous look at a Los Angeles rock band that suddenly finds itself being popular, thanks to the lyrics of a mysterious phone caller. (Shame about the weirdly too-pat ending, though.) Once again, Lethem comes off like a guy who thinks like somebody we'd know: smart, clever, witty, a bit nerdy. He even has an Open Source-inspired page on his web site, in which he offers up short stories for film adaptation -- all you have to do is pay him a buck and sign a paper.

Secondly, the Broken West is playing the Du Nord that night. Who? Just the best Teenage Fanclub-esque (ha ha, indie-rock joke there) band going right now. With a touch of Wilco, the Pernice Brothers, even Big Star and maybe Tom Petty. Basically, super catchy tunes with pretty harmonies and rockin' guitar hooks that sound like they'd be easy to make but really aren't. New album on Merge, which seems to be have the magic touch these days. Extra points for handclaps.

Here's episode three of Grumpy Guy & Sunshine. Happy Friday!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

so many films, so little popcorn

The San Francisco International Film Festival is coming up at the end of April. I used to really go nuts and watch two or three films a day, but now I have job, sort of (or three, sort of) and anyways my bones start to creek after a couple hours. The selection seems pretty decent this year, at least better than the last couple ones. I mean, a double dose of Parker Posey! Sadly, they don't book as many French films as they used to, back when Peter Scarlet was in charge, but I still managed to get tix for a couple.

Here's what I'm going to see, in order of showing (a * indicates a PFA showing):

Grandhotel: "This rueful romantic comedy centers on the travails of a 30-year-old virgin and obsessive weather-watcher and his quirky coworkers at a breathtakingly scenic hotel atop a mountain in Bohemia." Maybe there'll be someone with my last name, which means "stricken by fear" in Czech.

Broken English: "It’s Sex and the City with a dose of Xanax and a hit of ’30s screwball charm." O-kay. Well, it stars Parker Posey and Gena Rowlands, and it's directed by the latter's daughter, Zoe Cassavetes (yes, that Cassavetes).

Fay Grim*: More Posey, this time starring in the sequel to Henry Fool, Hal Hartley's awesomely awesome 1997 film. All the cast is back, with the added bonus of the always eccentric Jeff Goldblum.

Murch*: A doc about renowned film editor Edward Murch (Apocalypse Now, many others). Boring? Hell nah.

Flanders*: A Simpsons spin-off? No, just another creepy character study by the French guy who Humanite (featuring a mentally unstable detective who sniffs suspects' scalps). This one is a war film set in Northern France and in the Middle East, and sure to be very disturbing and slow.

Dans Paris: "Christophe HonorĂ©’s wistful tale of two brothers in the City of Lights invokes the jazzy highs and bridge-jumping lows of love, family and reading in bed." Ending the fest with depression and topless book reading. Yeah.

There's a bunch more, like Rocket Science, Emma's Bliss, Reprise, and Ad Lib Night, but a guy's gotta blog sometime.

Also: Did you know that Stephen Colbert has an ice cream named after him? Ben & Jerry's Americone Dream, with chocolate covered waffle cones and butterscotch in vanilla ice cream. How is it? Well, it's strangely addictive and addictively strange, just like Colbert.

Friday, April 6, 2007

mr. natural rides again

Last night I went with Michele to see the R. Crumb exhibit at Yerba Buena. It's pretty comprehensive -- they even have the original comic books that Crumb and his brother concocted in the early '60s, as seen in the documentary about him.

I've never been too huge a fan of his content, especially the '60s and '70s stuff which feels dated and silly. But he certainly is an amazing artist. The detail in the backgrounds and the expressiveness of his characters are unbelievable. As for the content, Michele nailed it when she said, "He's all id." I wish I could be more like that in my writing. The thing that's amazing about him is he's not afraid to be repulsive or un-PC; he's comfortable being a freak.

They showed a video of him and all the other Zap cartoonists collaborating on a strip, and he looked so different from them all. They had beards and long hair and hippie clothes, whereas he was wearing a suit and a hat and big glasses and a massive goofy grin. It was the happiest I'd ever seen him; usually he's depicted as removed and sarcastic and anti-social, but here he was actually goofing off with S Clay Wilson and others.

Another cool thing Yerba Buena has is these cell phone set ups that you can dial into. You can listen to Crumb and his wife Aline talk about art or old-time San Francisco (before the hippie hordes and yuppies ruined it, according to him) or meatballs (a famous strip of his, inspired by LSD, like many of his early ones). Again, he sounded way less snarky than I imagined him. Maybe living in France will soften anyone. It's all that pate.

In other news, I just changed my IRA to a socially conscious mutual fund. This may be the most boring thing I've ever written about. But for some reason it made me very happy, like I was actually getting Wells Fargo to use their evil powers for good. Then again, I bet the fund isn't exactly devoid of evil companies, but at least it's a step in the right direction.

Now for a step in the wrong direction. An ode to Crumb, I guess. Here's the second installment of "Grumpy Guy & Sunshine."

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

gimme extra action

Last Friday, I went out with Joanna and her brother Steven, who is about to ship out to Iraq for his second tour of duty. Second tour of duty! I can't think of anything funny about that.

I wanted to ask him a lot of questions about Iraq and being in the Army, but I couldn't because Joanna was there, and she was freaked out enough as it was. But I did ask him about a recent San Francisco Magazine article I read that said that 20,000 soldiers have gone AWOL since the start of the Iraq War, according to the Army. And you know if they're actually admitting to that many, then the real number is far bigger (some say double). The reason given for the soldiers quitting? Not because they're scared new recruits, but because they're old timers tired of the Army accepting poor canon fodder (ie ex-cons and gangsters). Steven admitted that there was a lot more violence, theft, and drama amongst the troops in the last couple of years of his service. You don't read about any of that in the papers.

I decided that Steven needed to see something fun crazy before he went off to a world that was scary crazy, so I took him to see the Extra Action Marching Band. They're doing a residency at 12 Galaxies to raise money for their European tour. What I wouldn't give to be an unsuspecting burgher in Bavaria when they troop through town. Anyway, it was a good show, as usual, with some of the dancers crowd surfing right at us.

The next day, I had to get up and DJ Pipsqueak a Go Go. Hung over. For 200 screaming, running, beach ball bouncing kids. But it was fun, especially when the MC, who looked as hungover as I felt, said, "If you're going to throw a beach ball, make sure you hit someone." Or when a Devil-ette asked what could be found on playgrounds and a girl answered "Fairies," to which she responded that lots of odd things went on with fairies on playgrounds. And then there was our soundman, Waldo, who seemed to have his hands full with CW's kids.

That night, after I'd napped in Brent's car for 30 blissful minutes, I worked the Ming & Ping show. This is one of the weirder phenomenon's I've witnessed at the Rickshaw. One Asian guy pretending to be two identical twins, singing duets via video feed, while a guy named Monkey jumps around, and the crowd sings every word. How do they know about this odd act? They get no mainstream press, they release their own records, they play a weird brand of antiquated, catchy synth-techno-pop. Very kitschy, which may be why it appeals to club kids, boutique workers, and Marina nerds (which I didn't know existed until now).

But the crowd was nothing compared to the oddballs who showed up on Monday for MC Chris. Apparently he plays a character called MC Poopy Pants on Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and he has a large (and I do mean large) pot-smoking suburban teen following. When the ipod began playing "No Future," I thought there couldn't be a more serendipitous selection. His songs were very TKS, in that they were stupid and catchy and featured lyrics about vegetarianism and grandma screwing. Not everyone can pull that off or get a couple hundred stoned teenagers to jump around. Of course, it helps if you offer them posters with the words "fuck" and "goddamn" on them.

I guess if this was a funny caption, it'd say something about Chris Cross. Or maybe Christopher Cross. Ha ha. Hoo.