Thursday, December 29

How to put your fist in your mouth - my first video post

This is my first video post on my blog. I thought long and hard about what I might be able to post via video that would be of any interest to anyone, and this is what I came up with... click on the image to play. Let me know if you can do it!

A Picture Share!

Doesn't pix look like a little man?

Wednesday, December 28

SNL's The Chronic of Narnia


Saturday Night Live has been cracking me up lately! Click on the image to play the video. Makes me feel like I can be a rapper too...

Monday, December 26

Dane Cook and Sudoku are "SUperFInger" fun

I had myself a nerdy little Christmas. For the past couple days, I've been playing Sudoku nonstop. It's a number puzzle where you fill in the missing squares of nine 3x3 grids, each containing numbers 1-9; and each row and column also consists of 1-9.

I won't out which of my friends turned me on to my newest geek obsession, but I will admit that I'm totally hooked. I sat around with these friends and played Sudoku games which we printed out from KrazyDad.com for hours. And then I played again with my cousins and brother yesterday. We're all such nerds. And I love it!

(I've been playing online a bit too, but I'm always tempted to cheat with this version.) I'm warning you - it's addictive!

My other current obsession is comedian Dane Cook. We were playing his videos and audio in the background during our Sudoku tournaments.

I was first introduced to Dane when he hosted Saturday Night Live a few weeks back. (Click the link to watch his monologue.) At first I thought, "Who the heck is this guy?" And then he told a story about catapulting a cashew off his penis and into his mouth, and I was in love. (According to him, you can't use a peanut because it doesn't contour to the tip.)

It's impossible for me to really relay how hilarious he is. You'll have to see and hear it for yourself. His newest album, Retaliation, reached the top five on the Billboard charts, which hasn't been done since Steve Martin in 1978. I think his physical energy comes through better via video. He has plenty of those on his own site, and GorillaMask.net also has good ones.

One thing we haven't been able to stop doing is his rock 'n' roll quotes. He gave permission to "use it 'cause I know you're gonna steal it anyway." He's so right. I rock 'n' roll quotes heart Dane Cook!

Friday, December 23

Wishing you the happiest whatever it is you do or don't celebrate

I didn't end up getting my own holiday plant after all, but I did enjoy many others; and I am very much in the holiday spirit. How could I possibly not feel joy in Santa Snoopy's presence? Peace and love to you!

Thursday, December 22

Polly Ann Ice Cream

When San Franciscans want ice cream, there's a good chance they'll all scream for Mitchell's. And the mobs of people who always spill out the door show that there's a lot of screaming going on. I, too, am in love with Mitchell's. But I was recently reminded that my heart still holds a special place for my first ice cream crush, Polly Ann's.

Polly Ann Ice Cream was my little brother's hang out with his naughty junior high friends. I'm not sure how "bad" an ice cream joint can get, but I'm sure they were as naughty as junior high schoolers with waffle cones could be. When we lived in the Sunset, this was our spot for dairy dessert. They have cute doggie cones and a ton of interesting flavors like taro and durian; and their green tea is the best!

I went back recently for the first time in years. They remodeled and moved halfway down the block to Noriega and 39th, but it still held the old quaintness. Plus, they kept their best feature: THE WHEEL.

If you're not sure which of the 48 flavors you want to pick, you can let the wheel do the picking for you. There are even a few spots that promise the possibility of a free cone! It's daring. It's exciting. It's the wheel.

In all of my numerous past visits, I never, ever spun the wheel. Back in the day, I wasn't a risk taker. I liked to play it safe with my usual green tea choice. Or at times when I wanted to be different, I'd get something that included chocolate. However, I wasn't wanting or willing to chance the unknown. But this time was different. I was older and more experienced. I didn't mind challenging myself with something exotically fascinating. I was finally ready.

I looked the ice cream boy in the eye and commanded, "Spin the wheel."

As it danced round and round, my heart raced. Would I get a free cone? Would I land on something potentially dangerous? Ooh... it slowed and finally stopped on American Beauty. The flavor was basically rose petals. Ew.

I hate the taste of flowers in my mouth! What had I done??? I knew it was risky, but I didn't realize just how risky it really was. What if I gag? What if I'm allergic to eating roses? Why me? Why?!??!???

And then I was told I could pick a flavor on either side if I preferred.

Oh. Cool.

I didn't feel like banana walnut, so I opted for pineapple sherbert. Yum! I love Polly Ann's! If you go, give the wheel a spin. I dare you.

Tuesday, December 20

Lis in Martha Stewart Weddings

Lisa and Nick's day is in the current issue of Martha Stewart Weddings!Check out page 92.
Congratulations to the happy family (including Pixel, of course).

Snowboarding season is here

We had a great weekend in Tahoe.Blaine makes a pretty snowbunny, doesn't he? We love snowboarding, but we really love warming up with a bloody mary afterwards!After a couple of those, Lee was open to learning to do this.
They kept trying to name this move after me, but I'm not taking it!

Act your shoe size

This is my size 6 (sometimes 5 1/2) foot next to Nate's size 16 shoe.

Yes, I did say SIXTEEN.

Sunday, December 18

D-D-N ringtones

When my phone plays Beyonce's "Crazy In Love," my booty starts shaking, and I know Taer's waiting for me on the other end of the line. I'm alerted to a call from my parents by the theme song from "Mission Impossible." For a non-identified caller, the default ring is not a regular tone; it's Salt 'N Pepa's "Push It," with a picture of Cookie Monster flashing across the screen.

People always ask where I get all my ringtones, so I thought I'd share D-D-N.com.

They have a lot of good rings, and you can download an unlimited number for only $2.00 a month. I just got an email saying that D-D-N will be raising their prices in 2006, so start downloading soon.

Also, for a whole year of usage, here's a discount code they sent:
Enter: HHFDDN in the box and click continue.
You will notice the ONE YEAR price is now $10.00.

You, too, can start dancing when your phone rings. Sometimes I get so caught up in getting my ring groove on, I almost forget to answer the call.

Thursday, December 15

Steal of the Century jeans

Taer and I did a whole lot of nothing over the weekend, but I consider shopping to live within this category of "nothing." (I'm lucky I've snagged myself a man who appreciates the offerings of the retail world out there.)

Barney's Co-op just opened its doors in D.C. - yay! - and there's always been a handy dandy Barney's outlet within a reasonable driving distance also. We hit both.

During our visit to the outlet, I noticed some Diesel jeans in a sale pile, but the price wasn't marked. I took a load of cashmere and denim into the dressing room with me. The Diesel pair had a higher waist than I was used to, and the legs were also straight and slim instead of bootcut. This seemed to be the new direction of the denim trend, so I was happy to go along with that. Also, they were the right length, which never happens nowadays, so I was definitely ready to take it if the price was right.

I approached the register triumphantly, with my goodies in hand. "How much are these jeans?"

The salesperson scanned and announced, "$19.00"

My eyes were the size of plates. Tina and I have a couple shopping phrases we've created. "Steal of the Century" means you're getting a really and truly deal. It's so amazing, you practically feel like you're stealing. "Shopper's Surprise" happens when you think you're going to pay a certain price for an item, and when you get rung up - surprise! - it's even less expensive than the amount you were willing to shell out.

This was BOTH. That's the BEST.

"Why are they so cheap?"

"They're a discontinued style, the Fanker."

The Fanker?!?? I couldn't believe it. Diesel's Fanker is what we were all wearing back in college. Back then, I could've sworn the waist was super low, and the legs were practically bellbottoms. Could this really be? I guess it could; and it was.

I must've really gotten used to the shrinking zipper and growing flare of the jeans over the years. I tried on my new pair again, and I swear the zipper is a mile long, and I'm zipping for something like an hour. I feel like I'm starting at my knees and going all the way to my neck. And is what was in then really back again? Have I already lived through a cycle of fashion? Or am I looking dated without knowing it?

Someone better tell me if I look like I'm stuck in the 80's.

Conan O'Brien at Harvard

I don't mean to keep just posting stuff written by others, but some things just need to be shared. Here's Conan O'Brien's Commencement Speech to the Havard Class of 2000:

I'd like to thank the Class Marshals for inviting me here today. The last time I was invited to Harvard it cost me $110,000, so you'll forgive me if I'm a bit suspicious. I'd like to announce up front that I have one goal this afternoon: to be half as funny as tomorrow's Commencement Speaker, Moral Philosopher and Economist, Amartya Sen. Must get more laughs than seminal wage/price theoretician.

Students of the Harvard Class of 2000, fifteen years ago I sat where you sit now and I thought exactly what you are now thinking: What's going to happen to me? Will I find my place in the world? Am I really graduating a virgin? I still have 24 hours and my roommate's Mom is hot. I swear she was checking me out. Being here today is very special for me. I miss this place. I especially miss Harvard Square - it's so unique. No where else in the world will you find a man with a turban wearing a Red Sox jacket and working in a lesbian bookstore. Hey, I'm just glad my dad's working.

It's particularly sweet for me to be here today because when I graduated, I wanted very badly to be a Class Day Speaker. Unfortunately, my speech was rejected. So, if you'll indulge me, I'd like to read a portion of that speech from fifteen years ago: "Fellow students, as we sit here today listening to that classic Ah-ha tune which will definitely stand the test of time, I would like to make several predictions about what the future will hold: "I believe that one day a simple Governor from a small Southern state will rise to the highest office in the land. He will lack political skill, but will lead on the sheer strength of his moral authority." "I believe that Justice will prevail and, one day, the Berlin Wall will crumble, uniting East and West Berlin forever under Communist rule." "I believe that one day, a high speed network of interconnected computers will spring up world-wide, so enriching people that they will lose their interest in idle chit chat and pornography." "And finally, I believe that one day I will have a television show on a major network, seen by millions of people a night, which I will use to re-enact crimes and help catch at-large criminals." And then there's some stuff about the death of Wall Street which I don't think we need to get into....

The point is that, although you see me as a celebrity, a member of the cultural elite, a kind of demigod, I was actually a student here once much like you. I came here in the fall of 1981 and lived in Holworthy. I was, without exaggeration, the ugliest picture in the Freshman Face book. When Harvard asked me for a picture the previous summer, I thought it was just for their records, so I literally jogged in the August heat to a passport photo office and sat for a morgue photo. To make matters worse, when the Face Book came out they put my picture next to Catherine Oxenberg, a stunning blonde actress who was accepted to the class of '85 but decided to defer admission so she could join the cast of "Dynasty." My photo would have looked bad on any page, but next to Catherine Oxenberg, I looked like a mackerel that had been in a car accident. You see, in those days I was six feet four inches tall and I weighed 150 pounds. Recently, I had some structural engineers run those numbers into a computer model and, according to the computer, I collapsed in 1987, killing hundreds in Taiwan.
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After freshman year I moved to Mather House. Mather House, incidentally, was designed by the same firm that built Hitler's bunker. In fact, if Hitler had conducted the war from Mather House, he'd have shot himself a year earlier. 1985 seems like a long time ago now. When I had my Class Day, you students would have been seven years old. Seven years old. Do you know what that means? Back then I could have beaten any of you in a fight. And I mean bad. It would be no contest. If any one here has a time machine, seriously, let's get it on, I will whip your seven year old butt. When I was here, they sold diapers at the Coop that said "Harvard Class of 2000." At the time, it was kind of a joke, but now I realize you wore those diapers. How embarrassing for you. A lot has happened in fifteen years. When you think about it, we come from completely different worlds. When I graduated, we watched movies starring Tom Cruise and listened to music by Madonna. I come from a time when we huddled around our TV sets and watched "The Cosby Show" on NBC, never imagining that there would one day be a show called "Cosby" on CBS. In 1985 we drove cars with driver's side airbags, but if you told us that one day there'd be passenger side airbags, we'd have burned you for witchcraft.

But of course, I think there is some common ground between us. I remember well the great uncertainty of this day. Many of you are justifiably nervous about leaving the safe, comfortable world of Harvard Yard and hurling yourself headlong into the cold, harsh world of Harvard Grad School, a plum job at your father's firm, or a year abroad with a gold Amex card and then a plum job in your father's firm. But let me assure you that the knowledge you've gained here at Harvard is a precious gift that will never leave you. Take it from me, your education is yours to keep forever. Why, many of you have read the Merchant of Florence, and that will inspire you when you travel to the island of Spain. Your knowledge of that problem they had with those people in Russia, or that guy in South America-you know, that guy-will enrich you for the rest of your life.
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There is also sadness today, a feeling of loss that you're leaving Harvard forever. Well, let me assure you that you never really leave Harvard. The Harvard Fundraising Committee will be on your ass until the day you die. Right now, a member of the Alumni Association is at the Mt. Auburn Cemetery shaking down the corpse of Henry Adams. They heard he had a brass toe ring and they aims to get it. Imagine: These people just raised 2.5 billion dollars and they only got through the B's in the alumni directory. Here's how it works. Your phone rings, usually after a big meal when you're tired and most vulnerable. A voice asks you for money. Knowing they just raised 2.5 billion dollars you ask, "What do you need it for?" Then there's a long pause and the voice on the other end of the line says, "We don't need it, we just want it." It's chilling.

What else can you expect? Let me see, by your applause, who here wrote a thesis. (APPLAUSE) A lot of hard work, a lot of your blood went into that thesis... and no one is ever going to care. I wrote a thesis: Literary Progeria in the works of Flannery O'Connor and William Faulkner. Let's just say that, during my discussions with Pauly Shore, it doesn't come up much. For three years after graduation I kept my thesis in the glove compartment of my car so I could show it to a policeman in case I was pulled over. (ACT OUT) License, registration, cultural exploration of the Man Child in the Sound and the Fury...

So what can you expect out there in the real world? Let me tell you. As you leave these gates and re-enter society, one thing is certain: Everyone out there is going to hate you. Never tell anyone in a roadside diner that you went to Harvard. In most situations the correct response to where did you to school is, "School? Why, I never had much in the way of book larnin' and such." Then, get in your BMW and get the hell out of there.

You see, you're in for a lifetime of "And you went to Harvard?" Accidentally give the wrong amount of change in a transaction and it's, "And you went to Harvard?" Ask the guy at the hardware store how these jumper cables work and hear, "And you went to Harvard?" Forget just once that your underwear goes inside your pants and it's "and you went to Harvard." Get your head stuck in your niece's dollhouse because you wanted to see what it was like to be a giant and it's "Uncle Conan, you went to Harvard!?"

But to really know what's in store for you after Harvard, I have to tell you what happened to me after graduation. I'm going to tell you my story because, first of all, my perspective may give many of you hope, and, secondly, it's an amazing rush to stand in front of six thousand people and talk about yourself.
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After graduating in May, I moved to Los Angeles and got a three week contract at a small cable show. I got a $380 a month apartment and bought a 1977 Isuzu Opel, a car Isuzu only manufactured for a year because they found out that, technically, it's not a car. Here's a quick tip, graduates: no four cylinder vehicle should have a racing stripe. I worked at that show for over a year, feeling pretty good about myself, when one day they told me they were letting me go. I was fired and, I hadn't saved a lot of money. I tried to get another job in television but I couldn't find one.

So, with nowhere else to turn, I went to a temp agency and filled out a questionnaire. I made damn sure they knew I had been to Harvard and that I expected the very best treatment. And so, the next day, I was sent to the Santa Monica branch of Wilson's House of Suede and Leather. When you have a Harvard degree and you're working at Wilson's House of Suede and Leather, you are haunted by the ghostly images of your classmates who chose Graduate School. You see their faces everywhere: in coffee cups, in fish tanks, and they're always laughing at you as you stack suede shirts no man, in good conscience, would ever wear. I tried a lot of things during this period: acting in corporate infomercials, serving drinks in a non-equity theatre, I even took a job entertaining at a seven year olds' birthday party. In desperate need of work, I put together some sketches and scored a job at the fledgling Fox Network as a writer and performer for a new show called "The Wilton North Report." I was finally on a network and really excited. The producer told me the show was going to revolutionize television. And, in a way, it did. The show was so hated and did so badly that when, four weeks later, news of its cancellation was announced to the Fox affiliates, they burst into applause.

Eventually, though, I got a huge break. I had submitted, along with my writing partner, a batch of sketches to Saturday Night Live and, after a year and a half, they read it and gave us a two week tryout. The two weeks turned into two seasons and I felt successful. Successful enough to write a TV pilot for an original sitcom and, when the network decided to make it, I left Saturday Night Live. This TV show was going to be groundbreaking. It was going to resurrect the career of TV's Batman, Adam West. It was going to be a comedy without a laugh track or a studio audience. It was going to change all the rules. And here's what happened: When the pilot aired it was the second lowest-rated television show of all time. It's tied with a test pattern they show in Nova Scotia.
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So, I was 28 and, once again, I had no job. I had good writing credits in New York, but I was filled with disappointment and didn't know what to do next. I started smelling suede on my fingertips. And that's when The Simpsons saved me. I got a job there and started writing episodes about Springfield getting a Monorail and Homer going to College. I was finally putting my Harvard education to good use, writing dialogue for a man who's so stupid that in one episode he forgot to make his own heart beat. Life was good.

And then, an insane, inexplicable opportunity came my way . A chance to audition for host of the new Late Night Show. I took the opportunity seriously but, at the same time, I had the relaxed confidence of someone who knew he had no real shot. I couldn't fear losing a great job I had never had. And, I think that attitude made the difference. I'll never forget being in the Simpson's recording basement that morning when the phone rang. It was for me. My car was blocking a fire lane. But a week later I got another call: I got the job.

So, this was undeniably the it: the truly life-altering break I had always dreamed of. And, I went to work. I gathered all my funny friends and poured all my years of comedy experience into building that show over the summer, gathering the talent and figuring out the sensibility. We debuted on September 13, 1993 and I was happy with our effort. I felt like I had seized the moment and put my very best foot forward. And this is what the most respected and widely read television critic, Tom Shales, wrote in the Washington Post: "O'Brien is a living collage of annoying nervous habits. He giggles and titters, jiggles about and fiddles with his cuffs. He had dark, beady little eyes like a rabbit. He's one of the whitest white men ever. O'Brien is a switch on the guest who won't leave: he's the host who should never have come. Let the Late show with Conan O'Brien become the late, Late Show and may the host return to Conan O'Blivion whence he came." There's more but it gets kind of mean.

Needless to say, I took a lot of criticism, some of it deserved, some of it excessive. And it hurt like you wouldn't believe. But I'm telling you all this for a reason. I've had a lot of success and I've had a lot of failure. I've looked good and I've looked bad. I've been praised and I've been criticized. But my mistakes have been necessary. Except for Wilson's House of Suede and Leather. That was just stupid.
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I've dwelled on my failures today because, as graduates of Harvard, your biggest liability is your need to succeed. Your need to always find yourself on the sweet side of the bell curve. Because success is a lot like a bright, white tuxedo. You feel terrific when you get it, but then you're desperately afraid of getting it dirty, of spoiling it in any way.

I left the cocoon of Harvard, I left the cocoon of Saturday Night Live, I left the cocoon of The Simpsons. And each time it was bruising and tumultuous. And yet, every failure was freeing, and today I'm as nostalgic for the bad as I am for the good.

So, that's what I wish for all of you: the bad as well as the good. Fall down, make a mess, break something occasionally. And remember that the story is never over. If it's all right, I'd like to read a little something from just this year: "Somehow, Conan O'Brien has transformed himself into the brightest star in the Late Night firmament. His comedy is the gold standard and Conan himself is not only the quickest and most inventive wit of his generation, but quite possible the greatest host ever."

Ladies and Gentlemen, Class of 2000, I wrote that this morning, as proof that, when all else fails, there's always delusion.

I'll go now, to make bigger mistakes and to embarrass this fine institution even more. But let me leave you with one last thought: If you can laugh at yourself loud and hard every time you fall, people will think you're drunk.

Thank you.

Wednesday, December 14

San Francisco Missing Person

My friend emailed me about her missing friend, who has also been all over the news. I thought I'd help spread the word here too. Jerry Tang has been missing since 11/29. He's Asian American, 6'-1", 160 lbs, 39 years old, with black hair and brown eyes. He's possibly wearing a navy blue windbreaker and jeans. He has a medical condition and is prone to seizures; he is without his medication. If he's suffered from a seizure, he might be disoriented, confused or unconscious. Besides his huge group of friends and colleagues, he has two beautiful kids and a loving wife who are waiting for his return.

Further updates are available here:
http://www.seedwiki.com/wiki/jerry_tang/jerry_tang.cfm

W. Won't Read This

The New York Times
December 14, 2005
Op-Ed Columnist

W. Won't Read This
By MAUREEN DOWD
WASHINGTON

Never ask a guy who's in a bubble if he's in a bubble. He can't answer.

'Cause he's in a bubble.

But the NBC anchor Brian Williams gamely gave it a shot, showing the president the Newsweek cover picturing him trapped in a bubble.

"This says you're in a bubble," Brian told W. "You have a very small circle of advisers now. Is that true? Do you feel in a bubble?"

"No, I don't feel in a bubble," Bubble Boy replied, unable to see the bubble because he's in it. "I feel like I'm getting really good advice from very capable people and that people from all walks of life have informed me and informed those who advise me." He added, "I'm very aware of what's going on."

He swiftly contradicted himself by admitting that "this is the first time I'm seeing this magazine" - his version of his dad's Newsweek "Wimp Factor" cover - and that he doesn't read newsmagazines.

The anchor and the anchorite spent a few anodyne moments probing the depths of what it's like to be president. "I just talked to the president-elect of Honduras," W. said. "A lot of my job is foreign policy, and I spend an enormous amount of time with leaders from other countries."

Brian struggled to learn whether W. read anything except one-page memos. Talking about his mom, Bubble Boy returned to the idea of the bubble: "If I'm in a bubble, well, if there is such thing as a bubble, she's the one who can penetrate it."

"I'll tell the guys at Newsweek," the anchor said impishly.

"Is that who put the bubble story?" W. asked. First he didn't know about it, and now he's forgotten it already? That's the alluring, memory-cleansing beauty of the bubble.

The idea that W. is getting good advice from very capable people is silly - administration officials have blown it on everything from the occupation and natural disasters to torture. In the bubble, they can torture while saying they don't. They can pretend that Iraqi forces are stronger than they are. They can try to frighten people with talk of Al Qaeda's dream of a new Islamic caliphate - their latest attempt to scare Americans into supporting the war they ginned up.

"Whether or not it needed to happen," the president told the anchor, "I'm still convinced it needed to happen." The Bubble Boy can even contradict himself and not notice.

W.'s contention that he's informed by people from all walks of life is a joke, as is his wacky assertion that he can "reach out" to the public more than Abraham Lincoln because he has Air Force One. Lincoln actually went to the front in his war, with MiniƩ balls whizzing by. No phony turkey for him.

The president may fly over all walks of life in Air Force One or drive by them and hide behind dark-tinted windows. In his bubble, he floats through a comforting world of doting women, respectful military audiences, loyal Republican donors and screened partisan groups - with protesters, Democrats, journalists, critics and coffins of dead soldiers kept at bay.

(He has probably even been shielded from the outrage of John and Stacey Holley, both Army veterans, who were shocked to learn that their only child, Matthew, killed in Iraq, would be arriving in San Diego as freight on a commercial airliner.)

Jack Murtha, a hawkish Democrat close to the Pentagon who supported both wars against Iraq waged by the Bushes, has been braying against the Bush isolation. He told Newsweek that a letter he wrote to the president making suggestions about how to fight the Iraq war was ignored for seven months, then brushed off by a deputy under secretary of defense. Even after he went public, he still did not get a call from the White House.

"If they talked to people," he said, "they wouldn't get these outbursts."

Mr. Murtha told Rolling Stone that the administration's deafness had doomed Iraq: "Everything we did was mishandled. Plans that the military and the State Department had in place - they ignored 'em. The military tells me that when they were planning the invasion, the administration wouldn't let one of the primary three-star generals in the room."

The president's bubble requires constant care. It's not easy to keep out huge tragedies like Katrina, or flawed policies like Iraq. As Newsweek noted, a foreign diplomat "was startled when Secretary of State Rice warned him not to lay bad news on the president. 'Don't upset him,' she said."

Heaven forbid. Don't burst his bubble.

Tuesday, December 13

Our holiday plant

I love this time of year. Sometimes, though, I wonder if I'm actually a little overzealous in my Christmas cheer. Did anyone watch Grey's Anatomy this past Sunday? Well, I fear I'm Izzie. If you don't get that reference, imagine instead Charlotte from Sex In the City. I know you know what I mean. There's a good chance that my eyes may be a bit too bright for the average person to handle, my tail a tad too bushy...

When I was living with Tina two years ago, we got a huge Christmas tree and had a fun tree trimming party with her mom. Cute, huh? We were roommates while her then-fiancee studied in Chicago for his accelerated M.B.A. I like to brag to Tina's now-husband that I got the chance to be "married" to her before he did. I was practically ready to buy one of those expensive Our First Christmas ornaments from Hallmark to mark the blessed time.

Last year, I didn't have Our Second Christmas, though T&G did invite me to partake in the holiday decorating festivities. I was living in my current place, and I wanted to get a tree then too. However, because Gabe and Court are Jewish, they weren't exactly into the whole Christmas thing; and Blaine wasn't home enough to care one way or another. Since everyone agreed that they wouldn't be offended by such greenery, I picked up a tiny, already decorated, mini pine - carefully avoiding "Merry Christmas" and Santa ornaments - and I placed it on our mantle.

I happily called it our "holiday plant" and was proud of my innovative idea.

Now we're well into the holiday season, and our living room is holiday plant free. Our mantle is currently cluttered with some hair products, a lint remover, a crazy picture Blaine and Gabe took with their hockey team, coasters, a sweet candle, a sperm-shaped stress ball, and a non-decorated fern like plant which looks like it could use some watering.

I'm not sure why I didn't buy another tree to impose my holiday cheer onto my roommates again this year. It all kind of snuck up on me. Between all the traveling and work and craziness of life, I barely had time to notice that the stores were decorated in red and green just after (and some, even before) Halloween.

As I get older, the years seem to pass by faster, and times of celebration seem to get less exciting. I guess no one can hold onto childlike wonder forever. But I hope I never lose my spirit.

It's not too late for me to pick up this year's holiday plant.

Monday, December 12

Don't make assumptions

The concepts are simple, but they're not exactly easy to follow.
  1. Speak with integrity.
  2. Don't make assumptions.
  3. Try your best.
The Rabbi at Annie and Mike's wedding gave this advice and then told a story about a newlywed man who arrived home one day and happily told his wife, "Honey, I'm taking you out to dinner."

The wife's response was, "Why? Are you sick of my cooking already?"

When Taer and I argue, misunderstandings seem to be at the heart of the problem. Assuming anything less than the best of intentions, rather than giving one another the benefit of the doubt, is the worst thing we can do to each other. Even when I'm being extra emotional - like once a month or so - I try to keep in mind that Taer's heart is almost always in the right place. If what's in his heart spills out of his mouth and translates into my ears differently, then I take a deep breath and try to assume the best.

I rarely fight with Taer, especially in person. I spent the weekend doing absolutely nothing with my boy (no weddings, no birthdays, especially no fighting), and I loved every minute of it. Sometimes a whole lot of one-on-one nothing is better than anything else out there.

Here are some more pics of the boys being silly... and dirty. Ew.

Thursday, December 8

Magazines and makeup

Tis the season for giving, and I've got a couple of gift ideas.

BudgetMags.com is a great site for ordering magazine subscriptions. I did a lot of research last year, and they offered the best deals I could find. I'll admit that I selfishly ordered a mag or five for myself. I couldn't resist - it was such a bargain!

You know I love makeup. One holiday find I'm lovin' lately is Clinique's Black Honey collection. Pretty much every girl I know wore the almost lipstick at some point. Now there's a whole collection inspired by the universally flattering shade! But it is limited-edition (and not properly represented by Clinique's site), so stop by a makeup counter and check it out for yourself. Stuff someone's stocking.

... Or go ahead and stuff your own. You've been a good girl this year, right? You deserve it. That's what I like to tell myself, anyway.

Tuesday, December 6

800-555-TELL

When I've been out with my family lately, I've caught my brother barking one word commands into his phone: "Sports.... Football...."

He's been calling 800-555-TELL to stay up on sports scores. It's a free service which also provides information about things like movies, stock quotes, and weather. It's much faster than waiting for the web connection on the phone, and it's safer than trying to send a text message to GOOGL while driving. (Of course I don't do that!)

I know I just posted about talking to live people, but these services have some pretty good non-humans working for them. Try it!

How to find a human when calling customer service

No one seems to talk person to person anymore. Everything's automated or computerized. The "kids" nowadays sit around on their computer every minute they're home with several "chat" sessions open, rather than spending hours on the phone like the teenagers of my generation. Am I old? I dunno, but I like talking to live humans, myself. Apparently, I'm not alone.

Lis sent this great page, http://paulenglish.com/ivr/, which gives instructions on finding these live humans who amazingly still exist when we call those darn customer service numbers. I copied a couple examples here, but it's much easier to read from the site itself. And if you do prefer those computerized voices, then you can just ignore this.

TELCO: phone, steps to find a human
AT&T Wireless 800-888-7600 No easy escape
Cingular 800-331-0500 For faster service, the option that you are looking to close your account, You get the same ppl but an immediate answer
Nextel 800-639-6111 0 five times
Sprint PCS 888-788-5001 "If live person does not answer, 00, then say ""agent"""
T-Mobile 800-TMOBILE "Say ""representative"" at any time."
Verizon Wireless 800-922-0204 #00 or enter phone # then 0 then 4

Monday, December 5

The Look for Less: three days of shooting

I'm finally done shooting for The Look for Less on the Style Network. A lot of work went into this 30-minute show. I spent several hours in front of the camera over three days, and I savored every minute of it! I think I loved the camera a little more than I should.

Day 1: My first day began early in the morning at San Francisco Centre. The session involved a lot of “hurry up and wait.” I hurried to get there on time… and then waited to start filming. I met Yoanna House, while I was in line for Nordstrom coffee. She was just as beautiful in person as I expected her to be. And she’s tall. Very, very tall.

My celebrity stylists were – drumroll - Chip and Pepper! I was really excited when I found out. They haven’t done the show for the past year or two because they’ve been concentrating on their own stuff here, on the west coast. Since San Francisco is so close to L.A., they took the trip up for the day, and I'm so glad they did.

These guys are absolutely nuts and have more energy than anyone I know, myself included. They don’t ham it up for the show; they’re exactly the same off-camera too. It was like running around with five-year old twins who loved to have fun. I had the best time ever with them. We danced around and shopped for my look, and we’re now the best of friends. Pepper has promised to send me pictures of his son, and I’m going to ask the same of Chip, whose wife is expecting. I heart Chip and Pepper!

There’s a lot of running up and down halls and escalators just for the cameras, and then running the same path again to catch a different view. And there are breaks to film the interviews too. (I'm not told what to say, in case anyone's wondering.) There are several camera people and sound people and producers, and the crew is just huge. They all flew out from New York, where the show is based, and everyone was so nice.

This supposed one hour of shopping actually took five hours to shoot. Ah, the magic of television.

Day 2: This was my background shoot. After working at one of my law firms in the morning, I met the crew at my office in San Francisco. I held a mock training session in one of our conference rooms, and then I was filmed just strutting around the office and the building. It feels a little weird walking just to walk and have everyone watch you just walk, but of course I didn't mind. They even shot me driving out of the parking garage in my Prius. I hope my Prius gets on the show too!

We then had a shoot at my parents’ home. My “event” is that we are taking a family portrait, so they wanted background on my family, interviews with my parents and all. My parents have been talking about taking a professional portrait for years now. Literally, I think my mom tries to put my dad on a diet once a year, and she says we'll get portraits done for the holidays each and every year for as far back as I can remember. The whole idea of the family portrait is to make my mom happy.

My reason for needing a look for less is that she thinks I spend too much on clothes, so I’m supposed to learn to put together outfits on a budget, which will please my mom. I had to gather up some of my favorite pieces from my apartment to bring back to my parents' house. They had an extra closet built in my old room, so I get shot going through my wardrobe.

I’m kind of afraid the show will make it seem like I'm a materialistic, shallow girl, and all I do is go around and buy expensive clothes; and it’ll also make it look like I still live at home. Oh, well! Whatever. My mom was happy, and everyone loved her, so that’s all that matters.

Day 3: The reveal took place at a hotel, and my mom was genuinely impressed by my look for less. She kept telling me, “You are really pretty. I mean it! I always knew you were beautiful, but you look really lovely.” One of the producers of the show was so touched by the sweetness of my little mom's happiness that she actually teared up!

My mom is crazy, but she’s adorable. She kept asking the crew, “Have you ever had anyone as pretty as Jenn on your show?” She kept making everyone laugh. She asked the hair and makeup person for hairspray because, "I have to look better than my daughter." What a diva. Now I know where I get it.

We then headed to the Palace of Fine Arts for our family portrait. This was also totally real; we paid our own professional photographer, Lisa Lefkowitz, to take our picture. Our parents will finally get their wish granted.

We chose the Palace of Fine Arts because my when my parents got married in San Francisco, they took some wedding pictures there. They didn't realize they were being photographed by anyone else at the time, but they found themselves on the cover of the magazine in the Sunday paper a few months later. We're very San Franciscan. They even met here, not in Korea. You don't hear about that too often.
The whole thing was terribly fun, and I'm so sad it's over. The show won't air until March or April, but I am supposed to get a DVD copy. I can't wait! I'll let y'all know when I get a more specific date. Until then, I'll try to see whether or not I can really shop for a whole outfit for under $150, shoes included. Anyone want to run around the mall with me?

Sunday, December 4

Good on Paper, good at ReadyMade; Kirstin's Semi-Surprise

Good on Paper was a huge hit on Friday at ReadyMade's Winter Ball!Cards, little books, coasters, and more... G was a very helpful helper by asking everyone who passed, "Would you care for a free pin?" He was pretty much head of PR for the night - everyone who was anyone had a Good on Paper pin. Our friend, Kelly, (of Relish at Home fame) was also there with her adorable hand-made tissue holders.
Yay for Lis! (Clommy was also out to support, and G was taking this photo. Didn't want to leave them out just because their pics weren't posted.)Saturday night, I rushed over to Kirstin's surprise birthday party. I think she was only semi-surprised, but it was still a good time. More than half my photos were of these two, little partygoers. TOO CUTE!!!
Happy birthday, Kirstin! This pic makes me laugh. Kirstin was helping me show off my "Look for Less," and we didn't discuss that we would both do this with our faces. I think that's what automatically happens when you both wear all black.
Will post about my filming experience later. I think I'm gonna go for a run since the weather finally cleared up after all that storming.

Thursday, December 1

The 'rents

My parents crack me up. We were in the car, on our way to meeting Jimmy for linner, when we had the following conversation:

My dad inquired, "Can people be toast?"

"Huh?"

My mom clarified, "We were reading the Korean newspaper, and the person who teaches English phrases said that some person did something bad, so he was toast."

After thinking for a bit, I realized what they were talking about. "I think you mean it like this. If I'm afraid I'll mess something up, I might say, 'I'd better try my best, because if I don't get this right, I'll be toast.' It means I'll be in trouble."

I forgot who asked, but the question, "Can you say you're toasted?" was asked.

"No, it's just toast."

"Is it an adjective?"

"No, I believe it's a noun."

"That doesn't make sense." My dad didn't seem happy with my explanation.

Ever since I was a kid, my parents always worked on perfecting their language skills. "You have to tell us if we say something wrong, or if our pronunciation is incorrect." I used to try to hide my giggles when I pointed out the mistakes of their Koreanized English.

All that hard work paid off. Their English is quite good. I'm not sure how I feel about this "teacher" from the Korean newspaper, though. My parents have been asking me about some pretty funky and/or antiquated phrases lately. And knowing them, they'll actually try to use them in everyday conversation.

I decided to change the subject, and I threw a pop quiz their way. "Do you recognize who this is?" I was playing Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" in the car. "Let's see who gets it first."

My dad was certain my mom would win. She guessed, "Is it Madonna?"

"No."

After listening for a bit, my dad knew. "Michael Jackson."

"Very good! Appa wins."

My mom wasn't going to give up so easily. "It sounds like a woman."

"No," my dad informed her, "It's a typical Michael Jackson beat."

Did my dad really just say that? Does he really know what he's talking about? I guess I should give him some credit. I did once catch him raising the roof.

Maybe I should've just stuck to talking about toast.

Wednesday, November 30

Failing the California bar exam 47 times

I was talking to someone today who passed the bar. The bar pass rate in California is less than 50%. People who took the California exam in July just found out a couple weeks ago whether or not they passed. That's four months of waiting, of pretending you're not worried too much, of trying to lead a normal life, but secretly (or not so secretly) existing in hopeful dread of the highly anticipated day.

The California bar sucks. There's no better word for it. S-U-C-K-S. Even as I say it, I know that anyone who hasn't been through the test won't get it. It's impossible to really give life to the suckiness of it all. It's like a woman trying to tell a man, "Giving birth is painful." Imagine giving birth to triplets.

And each of those triplets has a head the size of a watermelon.

And somehow, these babies are either half-porcupine or half-cactus.

Now imagine going through all of that 48 times. Thankfully, I did not have to take the bar for a quarter century before passing. But this guy did!

I admire him. I don't think I would've lasted that long. There's a small part of me that also thinks he's kinda nuts. He's like one of those H&M first-day shoppers - admirable, but in a crazy way. And definitely persistent.

It's estimated that Maxcy Filer probably spent about $50,000 between 1966 and 1991 on fees, bar review courses, and transportation and lodging related to taking the bar exam; and Filer says the figure is probably about right. When he started, he said, a bar review course cost $100. Later, he was paying $1,000.

Over the years, all his children went to college, and two of his sons, who were in elementary school when their father started taking the bar exam, became lawyers. And he finally did it himself.

The lesson here? Persevere. Don't give up, because anything is possible with enough persistence. Anything.

Tuesday, November 29

Good on Paper at ReadyMade's Winter Ball this Friday!

Good on Paper has been selected as one of the local designers to participate in the ReadyMade Magazine Holiday Party on Friday, December 2nd at Club Verdi in San Francisco. Yay for Lisa! She doesn't cease to amaze me.

Join if you can! There will be free pizza, truffles, and vodka for the first people to arrive (while supplies last), not to mention the illustrious Craft Fair taking place for the first two hours of the event. Lis will be there selling her notecards, little books, notepads, coasters, and the letterpress printed notecard collection called Pixel & Floyd she collaborated on with Paper Monkey Press. Get some great holiday gifts; mingle, eat, and party with local designers and the folks at ReadyMade.

RSVP to RSVP@ReadyMadeMag.com. See you there!

Monday, November 28

Live. Just live.

Two very different, life-altering pieces of family news made me really think about the meaning of giving thanks this weekend.

Thanksgiving has always been a huge affair for our clan. A lot of my dad’s side of the family lives in the bay area, so we always find ourselves with 30-40 people under one roof during the holidays.

When I got to the house this year, Beverly, one of my cousins among the clan, was sharing pictures… the sonogram pictures of the baby living in her expanding belly. Bev and I were the only two girls among us eight cousins who grew up together. This year she, the 26-year old, got married in May. This meant that I, the 30-year old, heard it all from the ajummas (Korean aunts who are the Asian version of the women in My Big Fat Greek Wedding) at my cousin’s wedding. “Jennipah-ya, how old are you now? When are YOU getting married?”

And now, she’s expecting. I’m happy for her, don’t get me wrong. Beverly was actually quite sweet about it all, glumly saying “sorry” to me as soon as I congratulated her, and trying to shield me from the hordes of the in-your-face aunts who attacked me with, “Jennipah, look at Beburee! When are YOU getting married and having babies?” I told Bev that there was no reason to be sorry. This was such happy news for her; I could handle the other stuff.

I just smiled and escaped under the guise of wanting to get more food. We have turkey and all the traditional fixings of stuffing and mashed potatoes; and then on the other side of the table, we also have a Korean feast of meat, seafood, veggies and kimchee. I can never quite fit everything on one plate. I had an especially overflowing plate to deal with this year.

We found out that my other cousin, Alan, had been diagnosed with throat cancer.

Alan, the oldest among the eight cousins, was our proud leader, orchestrating our games of hide and seek, Monopoly or whatever else he made up for our entertainment. One year, he directed us all in our “show” for the adults, where the boys performed their best breakdance moves, and I sang to Madonna’s Dress You Up with a bow in my hair and gloves sans fingers on my hands. He is my oppa, my older brother. He’s only 33 now; he has a three-year old daughter. This can’t be real.

Alan oppa was hanging out upstairs, away from the pitying eyes and his mother’s tears. I joined him, trying to chat about life as normally as possible.

“Hey, Jenn, how’s it going? How’s work?”

“Everything’s good. I still love my job. I can’t complain.”

“Are you still with that boyfriend?”

“Yes, I am. I love him, but our parents still don’t approve. My dad keeps threatening to disown me.”

“Jenn, let me tell you something. The truth is, I could die soon. That's made me evaluate life from a different perspective. I’ve been thinking about what Lance Armstrong’s motto Live Strong means. You have to live each and every day to the fullest, and you have to live freely.

“My parents didn't approve of my relationship either. I was 26 years old, one of the youngest in the family to get married. My bride was 22. It’s been seven years and, I have not regretted one day of it all. I think of what I do regret: the smoking, the missed vacations because I was trying to make too much money too fast.

“If you love him and he loves you, you have to be with him. Don’t waste any more time. Your father holds very high standards for you, as high as I would hold for my own daughter. He is idealistic, and he puts you up on a pedestal.

“But you are not a statue; you're a person.

“I’ve asked all the uncles how to succeed. Your father made it all on his own. He passed the students’ exam to enter the country. Do you know how few people got in that way? He’s a very smart man. He didn’t get a helping hand like a lot of our other relatives did. You should be very proud of him.You know what he said when I asked him how to succeed? He said, ‘Moderation.’

“You did the whole law school and lawyer thing without complaining to them. You were being a dutiful daughter, which is great, but that was never you. That is not moderation. If you keep living for them, you won’t be happy. You know what will make you happy, who will make you happy. Don’t waste any more time. Live. Just live."

Saturday, November 26

The Big Game = a really big loss for a certain Stanford alum.

I made the best bet ever! Cal played at Stanford in the 108th Big Game last week. DLao and I, being Stanford and Berkeley graduates, respectively, decided to place a friendly a little wager on the game.

If Stanford won, I would have to wear one of DLao's school shirts for a week. If Berkeley won, he would have to wear one of mine.

I don't think DLao actually thought through the implications of wearing a shirt which was actually my size. So when Cal crushed Stanford 27-3... well, I think these pictures are far better than any words of description I could possibly string together.

Go bears! (And in case you're wondering, this is a kid's shirt, size medium.)
Look at that midriff!DLao said he had a hard time breathing.The funniest thing happened when we were leaving the bar. (Yes, we were out in public!) This guy who took our table said to DLao, "Hey, I went to Berkeley too. What year did you graduate?" The guy had a big grin on his face, but I don't think he realized DLao didn't want to be in that shirt.

Had I gotten the pink shirt or the camisole with flowers, it would've been obvious that DLao didn't wear it of his own accord. This shirt was so perfectly tight, however,it just made him look like a cheesy guy who meant to show off his bod. Ha!

He's such a good sport. I almost felt bad enough to let him off. I said almost. Thanks for giving me the laugh I needed this weekend, DLao!

Tuesday, November 22

Taking it back to the old school

I've been digging through old photos in preparation for The Look for Less. This is kinda ghetto because I pretty much just took pictures of the pictures... but I thought people would be amused. Enjoy!

I was not the cutest kid, but my mom is beautiful. My grandma's beautiful too!Here we are in our Han-boks. Jimmy was the cutest baby, and I was a protective big sis.My dad sported facial hair for ages. And sideburns. My mom said he was quite the ladies' man.Could my glasses be any bigger?Thank goodness for contact lenses.Jimmy and I grew up with our cousins, Jason and Jeffrey. (Our families went with the "J" theme.) Our grandma took care of all of us after school while our parents were at work. It's like I had three little brothers. And I was the reigning princess of the land!Could my mom's glasses be any bigger? She'd be in style with this look today.Happy family.