Adventures in Seattle

I really really liked Seattle. I just got back from a three day trip – one day for work, and two days to explore. And I always suck about blogging about my trips (where is that Hawaii blog? NYC July trip? huh!)

So, I liked Seattle – I liked that it was walkable, I liked the sky/clouds, I liked the neighborhood feel, I liked the food, I liked the fall colors. It got very grey and rainy and I was even hailed on. But, honestly, I didn’t mind. I don’t know what it would be like to live there full time, perhaps it would be tiresome, but for three days it was great. And I hope to go back, so that I can explore a whole lot more.

I also saw some excellent art at the Frye (including the above painting) and the fabulous elles:pompidou exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum. So much to say about that…. but for now a quote from the website:

Elles: Pompidou is a landmark exhibition of more than 130 works of art made by 75 women artists from 1907 to 2007. Organized by the Centre Pompidou in Paris, home to the Musée National d’Art Moderne—one of the largest collections of modern and contemporary art in Europe—this exhibition is an unforgettable visual experience that will challenge visitors’ assumptions about art of the past century. This ambitious survey of daring painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, video, and installation by innovative women artists offers a fresh perspective on a history of modern and contemporary art

There is a lot more to say about this, and the whole trip. Hopefully that will happen soon.

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A list of things, making life possible

It has been a totally crazy week/month. I am now only 6 days out from a huge fundraiser gala, that I have been working on for all of the last year. The only way I’m keeping my sanity:

  • having a really kick ass assistant, who pushes back when I’m not being practical.
  • Giants winning NLDS. I wore an orange ribbon in my hair, while I ran errands all around the City yesterday. I could hear the cheers from various bars and homes all over.
  • Going to see Jordan Jesse Go! Live tonight, as part of the new SF Comedy and Burrito Festival.
  • Also! Getting to introduce new friends to JJGO & MaxFun tonight.
  • Adorable photos of my friends’ adorable tiny, new baby
  • Actually going to the gym/personal training, when normally I would let my work take over completely. (Sticking to my goals!)

  • This sky in San Bruno on Tuesday night
  • All of the great music that has come out in the last few weeks: Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Auto, the new Avett Brothers, the new Mountain Goats, the new Mumford & Sons.
  • Especially the Want it Back song and video by Amanda Palmer & GTO. (I still can’t get youtube to embed in a post… help?)
  • Going to the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival this weekend

  • Dinner at Two Sisters Bar & Books, followed by Smitten ice cream
  • Gone Girl – goodness, what a book.
  • John Scalzi novels in audio book form
  • Slate Political Gabfest
  • Weekly round up emails with two good friends about all the Slate podcasts
  • New Fall TV – Have you seen Go On or the Neighbors? If not, you should, ASAP.
  • Knowing the season premiere of The League is on my DVR as soon as I can get to it.
  • jamming in a quick latte with Lysandra in the midst of the insanity, and having a serious Disneyland squee moment.
  • Bittersweet – drinks at the excellent Churchill bar, to say good-bye to Kate & Alex as the go on to their next adventures
  • All the Joe Biden gifs from last night’s debate.
  • And finally, that after next week, I get to go to Seattle. Very excited about that!

On a love of Book Clubs

This past weekend was really lovely. I celebrated my one year anniversary of being back in California by going all over the Bay Area – seeing my dad’s show in Orinda, visiting friends in San Rafael, spending time in Pacifica for the gym and at Syche & Drew’s – and by doing some serious yard work with my parents. (I should probably be doing more of the latter, as I have fully enjoyed a year of living rent-free. Thanks Mom & Dad!)

As you can see in the screen shot above, I also spent part of Sunday in a Google Hangout with Book Club, Both Coasts. I love the moment that Joe caught with this picture, as we are all laughing so hard! (Does anyone remember this part of the convo? Was in reference to traveling in our minds with a Mouse God?)

This moment was an important part of my anniversary weekend, because last September I worried A LOT about my friendships – how would I integrate back into the lives of folks on the West Coast? And how would I maintain friendships with people now living far, far away?

Surprisingly, for … 97% of people it has gone well. And really, book club has helped a lot. Nothing I’m saying here is new – but  I’m a big fan of book club, or any scheduled gathering of friends. It means you get to see people you care about at least once a month, in an organized fashion, and with book club, you get to have serious conversations while still open to tangents and gossip. I know, even when work is really crazy or friends are popping out babies, I will get to see these friends once a month at the bare minimum. So, go book club!

However, as I approach year 2 of my California life, I may be at a point of critical mass. How many book clubs is too many?

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99% Invisible: a Podcast & Kickstarter Recommendation

As I blogged about last fall, Pop Up Magazine Issue #5 was one of my most favorite things, and especially Jon Mooallem’s tale about poor Billy Possum. Fortunately, that tale was then re-told and expanded a bit for Episode 40 of 99% Invisible, a great podcast by Roman Mars about design, architecture and the 99% Invisible activity that shapes our world.

This is the tale of two toys with two very different fates. The Teddy Bear, named after the charismatic president Theodore Roosevelt, was a sensation in the early twentieth century. …. So the powers that be went on the search for the next cuddly companion that America’s children would adore. It was completely logical that they looked at the next president for inspiration, Roosevelt’s handpicked successor, William Howard Taft. In 1909, the toy makers of America placed their bets on the Taft presidency’s answer to the Teddy Bear: the Billy Possum.

I was so happy to have this story show up in another medium. I loved it and wanted to learn more. And, as an added bonus, I learned of the wonderful 99% Invisible, now a staple in my podcast rotation.  The show is incredibly smart, often joyful, and a wonderful way to learn about parts of our daily lives that are often ignored.

UN Plaza, San Francisco, CA

I recommend, especially to my San Francisco readers, to listen to this episode: 39X- The Biography of 100,000 Square Feet

In the center of San Francisco, there is a plaza with no benches. Its central feature at the entrance of the plaza is a unique fountain that was designed by Lawrence Halprin in 1975.The water shoots out at various angles, from inside a sunken pit, filled with large granite slabs. It’s a design that kind of pulls you in and invites you to take the steps down to the water and climb in between the hulking stones. And that’s part of the problem.

After you listen and fall in love, head over to the kickstarter for the third season of 99% Invisible, and pledge a little bit of money to help a great show. As of the writing, there are 49 hours left to go, and your money in whatever amount will allow the show to continue on, and be even better.

This first in a series about supporting media & art that you love. A little goes a long way, and allows individuals to connect with a larger community. (Crossing one off of my “meant-to” blog posts mentioned here).

Corsets, clothes and Photographs – Jean Paul Gaultier at the De Young

After months of meaning to, I finally made it to From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk: The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier.

Kate and I ventured through the wilds of the Sunset on Friday night and headed to the De Young. I lost my Sunset-native card by not bringing a jacket or a sweater with me, and froze a little bit on the walk from the N at 9th & Irving to the museum. But it was wonderful to see Kate, and to actually use the museum membership!

We got in right away, which was great, and the first tableau was quite impressive – a row of a dozen or so mannequins clothed in Gaultier’s impressive work against a vibrant blue background. And the shocker – the mannequin’s faces moved! Through projection, they spoke or sang or merely blinked their eyes. This created a disturbing and beautiful opening look at the collection.  According to the exhibit’s website, “Gaultier partnered with the Montreal-based theater company Ubu Compagnie de Création in the design of 30 animated mannequins who talk and sing in playful and poetic vignettes.”

It was wonderful to go to a special museum exhibition that was not afraid of cameras! I took some shots of my favorite things on my phone, but didn’t know ahead of time, so I didn’t have my DSLR.  I think that if the taking of pictures won’t damage the work, then it is something that should be allowed – it helps me to remember the exhibit better and show to others that they should go.Good job De Young!

There was a ton to see, and it was decently crowded, but not too overwhelming. (of course, I compare this to the sea of bodies at the Savage Beauty/Alexander McQueen exhibit at the Met a couple of year’s back). There was a nice juxtaposition between the actual pieces, runway videos, and wonderful photographs of the work.

“Invitation to the the Dance” with Elena Sudakova.
Photo by Solve Sundsbo Gown by Jean Paul Gaultier, Pirates collection (2008)

Although I loved getting to see the detail on the pieces – all super impressive – I often found the photographs of people in Gaultier clothes much more interesting than the pieces themselves. As Kate said, clothes feel dead without a body inside them, and the photos are capturing that life. (I think that is also why the first room with the projected mannequins worked so well – it brought back some of that life).

Gaultier and Madonna’s collaboration was well documented:

Sketch of stage costumes for Madonna’s Blond Ambition World Tour (1990), “Dick Tracy” Segment

In addition to the sketches, they had lots of interesting pieces from their work together.

I liked this commentary on feminism and the corsets that Gaultier uses:

Unlike the eighteenth-century court corsets revived by his contemporary Vivienne Westwood, Gaultier’s corsets were born of the pin-up girls and movie queens of the 1950s. Gaultier’s women, though corseted, did not negate the feminist struggles of the 1960s and 1970s; rather they expressed a new female emancipation.  The liberation of this era and paradoxically established a new tyranny of beauty, one that imposed a new ideal of women – ultra thin, even desexualized. Pushing for a another redefinition of femininity, Gaultier excavated twentieth-century corsets and 1940s and 1950s waist-cinches out of his grandmother’s closet to create “underwear as outerwear” that celebrated a voluptuous feminine body, culminating in his modern classic, the cone bra.

Here is one of my favorite pieces from his more modern work:

Calligraphie gown, Cages collection

It is a great exhibition and runs for another two weeks. I recommend checking it out!

We finished our Friday with a lovely dinner at Nopalito. I highly recommend their Tamal de Queso Estilo Corunda. Super delicious!

A blog post in lieu of other blog posts

Friends and me at Hendry Wines a couple of weeks ago. One of many things I meant to blog about….

OK, so I have this friend, and she has a great blog.

Why is it great? Well, she writes well, has a good sense of humor, talks about interesting things and isn’t afraid to have an opinion. But, I honestly think that is only 50% of why it is a great blog. The other 50% is because she posts very regularly.  She wrote four times in July, actually a small amount for her, but still once a week. When you go to her blog, you know you are likely to see a post, and be entertained.

Now, me on the other hand? I think I have an ok blog. I am still trying to find a good balance from being enthusiastic over stuff, and talking too much, and also writing about whatever is interesting in the moment, and not just when something is amazing. But my number one problem is I do not do it enough, and I do not blog on a consistent schedule. I’m a little bit better at keeping my tumblr going, but that is mostly because of reblogs.

I’m trying to change that, but it seems unlikely.
So this post is a round up of things I have meant to blog about, basically since January.
Some may end up being posts of their own eventually, but most will not. As it is kind of a ramble, I will put it behind a tag.

2012 Things I Meant to Blog About:

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Plays: Be A Good Little Widow by Bekah Brunstetter

Before I left New York earlier this month, I loaded up on plays. I borrowed a bunch from my best friend who works for a play publishing company, so has a ton on his shelf, and bought 7 or so more from the Drama Book Shop.  I read David Henry Wang’s Yellowface on the plane.

Today I read (kind of devoured, actually) Be A Good Little Widow by Bekah Brunstetter. It was great. Slow, beautiful, funny – even in the midst of tragedy. A good sense of dialogue for a person today in her late twenties – lots of exclamation points and tangents. I recommend checking it out.

A great stage direction from the first page:

CRAIG enters, weary from a flight, in the crisp French blue of corporate America.

And a touching moment from the end:

Hope: Tell him about Craig.
Then you should probably cry on him and see how he takes it.
If he takes it: let him take you to lunch.

I also really like this cover – the image is nicely evocative of the tone of the play and the colors are great.  It is by Michael Lum.

I have always liked Brunstetter – her play You May Go Now was one of the very first things I ever say in New York. I will have to read more of her stuff.

(Plays are also a great way to up my books read in the year – currently at 30, and hoping to reach at least 52 by the end of the year.)

crossposted to my tumblr.