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!

SPORTS! Yay! – Thoughts on the Olympics

Getty Images – Synchronized Male Platform Diving

Ok, so, I think a key component to enjoying the Olympics is having television.

That may be super obvious, but for the last eight years, I didn’t have television (we owned a TV in Davis, but had nothing coming to it). In 2004 and 2006, I watched a little bit and started a Very-Important-Tradition of watching the Opening Ceremonies with my friend Drew, but what I caught was always at other people’s homes.

In 2008 and 2010, I had no TV and no cable, I tried watching parts of the Bejing games on my computer while living in Ithaca, but it was basically a bust. The screen was tiny, the advertisements were huge, and the internet was slow.

Now, we come to the last two weeks, where I have seriously main-lined some Olympics coverage. (At least main-lined for me – watching anywhere from 20 minutes to 3 hours of coverage a day). This has been steadily helped by our excellent and large TVs, the wonders of the DVR, and my super-fan sister (who has possibly watched everything. I left for work one morning, and she had the TV showing one thing, the computer another, and was checking other updates on her phone).

I started out the two weeks at a lovely Opening Ceremonies party at Syche and Drew’s. (As I said, a Very-Important-Tradition). We ate foods of the world (including lumpia, which may have made my month) and alternatively enjoyed and were snarky about the spectacle. (I really enjoyed it up to the dance/technology montage, which I didn’t understand and was so very long).

After that, I would just watch whatever my sister was watching. Sometimes briefly, and sometimes being sucked in for the whole prime time segment. (This first Wednesday, I came home from the gym, sat down for a moment and got majorly sucked into swimming & men’s gymnastics). My favorites have been: synchronized male platform diving, track in general and the women’s 4×100 relay in specific (which the Americans kicked ass in), all the swimming relays, BMX (though, Jesus Christ that is brutal), and then, today, the women’s Modern Pentathlon.

Donna Vakalis in the equestrian portion of the Modern Pentathlon

I watched the women’s Modern Pentathlon because one of the Canadian athletes, Donna Vakalis, is a Jordan Jesse Go! listener. This show, my favorite podcast, has a segment called “Momentous Occasions” where listeners leave messages about the exciting things in their lives – people call about weddings and babies and craft projects and more. Donna called to say she would be competing in the London games, and Jordan and Jesse followed up that call the next week with a phone call to learn more about Donna’s story.

It was super interesting and kind of insane. The Modern Pentathlon was created to be a collection of sports a modern (at that time early 1900) solider would need to know. It is four events: fencing, swimming, riding an unknown horse, and a running/shooting combination. And it all happens in one day! The NY Times article about it is entitled In Modern Pentathlon, a Day of Madness. We watched the second half of the women’s competition today, and I was super impressed.

So, thanks to my sister and the MaxFun community, I watched and was invested in much of the Olympics. I almost can’t wait for the next summer games. As Andy Zaltzman said “How am I going to last four years without being able to remember to care about rowing?”

(That leads me to a side recommendation: Andy Zaltsman and the Bugle have done daily recaps of the games. They are hilarious, relatively short, and I think would hold up way beyond the games ending. Go! Listen!)

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn

July 2009, I get on BART after a day of development data entry at the Red Cross. I sit down, pull out my Sudoku and key up an AJ Jacobs audiobook. As I’m settling in, I notice a guy in his late-20s with a black “the Sound of Young America” (TSOYA) t-shirt. I had listened to this radio show/podcast a few times, so thought, neat. At this point, I only listened to a handful of podcasts and was always interested in finding new ones and meeting other fans. But, this is public transit, and I’m not going to strike up a conversation over a t-shirt.

At least not on a normal day, but this train ride was unusual. About 15 minutes into the normally 25 minute train ride, the BART train stops. We wait. And wait. And wait. At about 10 minutes into the waiting process, I give up on the puzzle and have made eye contact with the t-shirt guy. I comment on the shirt, and we end up having a five minute conversation about TSOYA and “Jordan, Jesse, Go!” It turns out he went to college with Jesse Thorn and recommended I dive deep into both shows. Then, finally, the train resumed and our conversation ended.

I am forever thankful to that random train ride. As my data entry job continued, I devoured the many excellent interviews and well curated comedy of TSOYA. And I fell in love with JJGO, a bantering comedy podcast also park of the Maximum Fun media empire. I began to support MaxFun with monthly donations in the spring of 2010, and continue to do to this day. I tell everyone I can, I go to live shows, and last year, to the wonderful MaxFunCon. So, yes, I’m a bit of a fan girl.

But I’m also someone who would not listen if the quality was not there. Thorn, who has many admirers in public radio and elsewhere, picks excellent and interesting guests across many genres of culture – he doesn’t differentiate between high and low and most importantly always has interesting questions that show he really dove into the work of his interview subject.

Today, TSOYA is rebranded as Bullseye with Jesse Thorn and you should listen immediately. The blurb says:

Bullseye is a public radio show about what’s good in popular culture. With a keen editorial eye, Bullseye sifts the wheat from the chaff, and brings you hot culture picks, in-depth interviews with the most revered and revolutionary creative people and irreverent original comedy.

In the first 50 minute episode, Thorn talks to the AV Club, cast members from the amazing Downton Abbey, Chris Lilley (Australian comedian and creator of Summer Heights High), Dan Deacon (Baltimore musician) and Thorn’s love for E-40’s anthem “Fuck Them.” So if you like costume dramas, comedy, or rap music there is something for you. And the best part is, if you listen to Bullseye for the Downton Abbey chat, you can be easily pulled into the humor of Lilley or the compelling lyrics of a rap song that I, at least, would never have otherwise heard.

Of course, the bit with the cast of Downton was my favorite, so I’ve embedded that here for you. Bullseye Downton Abbey Interview

After you check out the new Bullseye, I recommend diving into the past episodes of TSOYA.Thorn and TSOYA introduced me to the great authors Colson Whitehead (Sag Harbor, Zone One) and Sarah Vowell (Wordy Shipmates, Assaination Vacation). He has great interviews with creaters I already loved from the Mountain Goats to Doctor Who cast members. And his year end comedy special (2011 here) are wonderful looks at brilliant pieces of standup and sketch and other comedy gems.

This is a quality radio production – an analysis of what doesn’t suck in the culture landscape. I love it, and think you would too.

If you are already a fan, what is your favorite episode of TSOYA? What are you hoping Bullseye will cover?

On a quest, for a great outfit

I am not much of fashion-person. Meaning…. I’m not very fashionable.

And I never have been.

I think the proudest of an outfit I ever was was when I was 8 or 9, and my Aunt Sandra (who was, and still is, the “hip and cool” aunt) decked me out in a dark flowery dress with doc martins. That was when I first learned the term “grunge,” though, looking back,  I’m not sure if it actually applied to said outfit.  (I promise to try and find a picture when home this June).

Beyond that, I have never been super into fashion.  I don’t have an immediate eye for it.  And often, any time I have liked something, and thought it looked good (super clunky/square heels freshman year of high school, weirdly washed out jeans in college), I later learned from my dear friends (or, honestly, photos) that it was something of a disaster.

So with no inate talent plus my body type of the last 7 years, I haven’t tried anything too exciting. Lately, I have been happy with simple looks, learning about silouttes, and wearing A LOT of dresses because I like how they fit more than pants and they are easy to wear.

Since my interest in blogs and photography has increased, I have started to follow a lot more fashion blogs, and do love what is out there in the world.  And I greatly admire my friends who are able to create amazing looks and hit the town. I have a few who seem to be able to look stunning 5 nights a week, and I do not understand how this is possible. But I admire, and I would like to try…

Which is good, because this June, I need to put together two outfits. The first is for a “Country Estate” Party at MaxFunCon and the second is a steampunk costume look for my dad’s CombatCon in Vegas.

From the MaxFunCon website:

The dress code for our Saturday evening party at MaxFunCon is “Country Estate.” Please dress as you would for drinks at your country home. Plus fours are not suggested, however tweed is generally strongly encouraged.

Everyone says that everyone at MFC is super nice and great, so I’m sure as long as I put some effort out, it won’t be hassled. But as I will be attending an event thrown by someone who runs a fashion blog (Put This On) and with my dear friend Kate, who always looks amazing and interesting AND has a degree in costume design, I would like to be able to hold my own.

So what am I to do? Who has advice on fashion and looking good and not awkward?

The answer, I believe, is going to have to come from thrifting. If, for no other reason, then I cannot spend a fortune on an outfit I will wear but once.  Fortunately, my friend Annie is a bit of thrifting expert, and she is going to take me under her wing.  I hope to come back with a pleated tweed skirt and some sort of blouse and vest/blazer combo, that makes my silhouette nicer, and not squished/lumpy.

For the steampunk event, I am working towards something with a corset and my brown boots, and two layer skirt with tool. Plus googles and gears, of course.

The above is from Hark! A Vagrant, one of my fave webcomics.

Once I go on my outfit quests, I will post some updates here. Til then, any and all help is appreciated.

Bad Wine and Lemon Cake

Next Wednesday is a huge crazy day for my job. We have been working on this gala for months, and I have been staying much too late at my job to make everything happen.  I have been a little (more than a little stressed).

But, there have been a bunch of things that are making me happy this week as well. So this post is here to celebrate them!

Things making me happy this week:

1) The Photos of Gabriela Herman

2) The MaxFun Drive

It is hard to express how much I adore the Maximum Fun Empire, run by Jesse Thorn. Especially the podcasts Jordan, Jesse Go!, The Sound of Young America, and Stop Podcasting Yourself, which bring hours of joy and laughter into my life every week.

I have been supporting MaxFun with $10/month for almost two years. And it is sooo worth it. Right now, they are in the middle of a pledge drive, which means extra cool episodes for donors like me, and an extra reason to tell EVERYONE that you should listen and laugh and fall in love with this great independent media.  I have pledged $0.05 for every new donor, and so have a bunch of other great folks, so each person who joins brings an extra $5/person. So listen, donate now, and you will not regret it.

3) My friends just had a baby! This is the first of my college peers to have a baby, which is absolutely crazy, as it makes me feel old. But I am so excited for them, and think they will make great parents. (I only wish I was in California so I could see the baby soon, but fortunately I will be visiting in April, which is not too far away).

4) Circa

Over at Ken Davenport’s blog, there is conversation going on about how to stop discounting theater tickets. He is specifically talking about Broadway shows, and I think it is an important conversation to have. However, I think it is also problematic. Take tonight for example:

My friend Kristin was perusing TDF last week and asked if I wanted to go see a dance show for tonight. I almost said no, because of how crazy work is and how poor I feel. But she told me the tickets were only $20 and I have been meaning to see more dance. So, I went….

And I loved it! It was an absolutely stunning performance of CRAZY acrobatic skill and lovely moments, and it was funny and beutiful and invigorating. And I am now a huge fan. I will go see more Circa, every time they are in town, I will join their mailing list AND I will pay a lot more money to see them next time. I will also consider seeing other things at the Skirball Center, where I had never been before and never had thought about attending shows. So I think discounts can work.

Here is a clip of Circa from a different performance:

5) Famous Objects from Classic Movies – an online pictionary/hangman adventure

6) And, last but not least (as it is what made me start this post originally), “Bad Wine and Lemon Cake” by the Jane Austin Argument and Amanda Palmer