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Friday, February 29, 2008

Tango Snacks

It's that time of year again.

Damn Girl Scouts.

Just like the tulips that emerge from the frozen soil, just like the bears that awaken from their long winter's naps, just like the spring robins that start to build their nests, it is that time of year.

Girl Scout Cookie Time.

No, I like the Girl Scouts. The two little ones that were freezing their tiny bottoms off in the cold outside of the train station were very sweet and very organized. I know they will be very successful pillars of their communities someday.

(I was never a Girl Scout. I was an Indian Princess, which was a short-lived, not very PC-sounding group that a bunch of wives invented to get their husbands and daughters out of the house from time to time so that they could have some private moments for themselves, or to play mah-jong. Hey, it was the Seventies. I don't make this stuff up. The only thing I remember about the Indian Princesses was learning to rub a paper grocery bag against itself long enough so that it felt like suede--don't ask me what we did with the suede/paper afterwards because I don't remember--and when my dad flew my kite into a tree at an Indian Princess picnic. Unlike the Girl Scouts, I don't recall doing anything that would earn me a badge or help me become a better person, unless wearing a paper headband with a feather stuck in it counts as something.)

Anyway, the reason that I say Damn is only because now I have to buy Thin Mints cookies again. (Don't even tell me that Caramel Delights are better than Thin Mints.) They should name them Crack Thins and be more honest about what one of the main ingredients might be.

I have always felt somewhat guilty about my cookie intake at this time of year because Thin Mints are to be treasured (even if you freeze them, they can't last forever) as a seasonal delight, like chanterelles or truffles.

I am (finally!) going to a milonga tonight so I have decided to make Thin Mints my Official Tango Snack. Normally my tango shoe tote bag (yes, I have a tote bag of shoes because I can't just pick one pair) has several types of chocolate bars, in addition to a shoe brush, bandaids, mints, and gum.

So, if you see me tonight and you know the secret of the tote bag (wink, wink, nudge, nudge), I may very well give you a Thin Mint and share in the bounty of the season.

Or maybe not. It depends.


I should add that Thin Mints do have some medicinal value and can help reduce vomiting, because I used them in such a capacity during an unfortunate incident that involved discovering a boiled slug in an artichoke. Never mind.

It's Always Something

I am not even going to go into it right now, but let's just say that sometimes I feel just like Roseanne Roseannadanna.

It just goes to show you.

PS. When I was in 8th grade, my hair looked like this. But you'll never see the pictures.

PSS. Why are there no Gilda Radner clips on youtube? That seems very wrong to me. Even if it is illegal.

Hello Out There

"Sometimes the internets are magical... little gossamer hellos spun across the world."


I just wrote that in a comment on my own blog. But after I did, I thought hmmm, I like how that sounds, if I do say so myself.

The sound of one hand typing.
So now I am quoting myself. Is that like talking to yourself? I don't know if I'll ever say anything that makes me want to quote myself again, but I guess when you have your own blog, you can do whatever kind of navel-gazing you want...with yourself.
Plus, it made me find these ultra-cool photos of spiderwebs, to illustrate my point.
Pics from wierdomatic.com.


I really have to try to get some work done today, but now thanks to dutchbaby, I am totally distracted.

This is the coolest website ever.

Dutch people must be way way more fun than other people.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

What Does Love Mean?

This question was posed to a group of children ages 4 to 8. Here's what the kids had to say:

"When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love." Rebecca, age 8

"When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth." Billy, age 4

"Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other." Karl, age 5

"Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs." Chrissy, age 6

"Love is what makes you smile when you're tired." Terri, age 4

"Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.'" Danny, age 7

"Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss." Emily, age 8

"Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen." Bobby, age 7

"If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate." Nikka, age 6

"Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday." Noelle, age 7

"Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well." Tommy, age 6

"During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore." Cindy, age 8

"My mommy loves me more than anybody You don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night." Clare, age 6

"Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken." Elaine, age 5

"Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford." Chris, age 7

"Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day." Mary Ann, age 4
"I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones." Lauren, age 4

"When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you." Karen, age 7

"Love is when Mommy sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn't think it's gross." Mark, age 6

"You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget." Jessica, age 8
Okay, people, play nice today. And if you live in San Francisco, the sun is shining! Go outside!
Thanks to my baby sister for sending me these quotes this morning. She was my first love and still is.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Passing Notes in School

I've decided that the only way I am going to survive today--and perhaps for an undetermined number of days to come--is for all of the sarcastic, funny, smart people I know to write amusing emails today (to me, of course) to distract me.

I am going Office Stir Crazy.

For those of you who have already been sending me such welcome sass notes, thank you. You know who you are.

For those of you who haven't started yet, look at this as your Good Deed for Today and some sort of humanitarian public service.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Happy Birthday, George

“I think people who can truly live a life in music are telling the world, 'You can have my love, you can have my smiles. Forget the bad parts, you don't need them. Just take the music, the goodness, because it's the very best, and it's the part I give.' ”-- George Harrison

I remember where I was when I heard that John Lennon was shot. It was in the evening and I was watching Hill Street Blues. The program was interrupted to broadcast the news, and I told my mom, who was in the den, talking on the phone.

I don't remember where I was when I heard that George Harrison had died, but I do remember how instantly my eyes filled with tears and how terribly sad I felt.

I was never old enough to be influenced by the Beatles when they were together, and when George released his first solo album, All Things Must Pass, I was only three. But for some reason, I always loved George, even before I knew anything about him.

As a person I was drawn to him, and as a musician, I appreciated him in all of his incarnations, from the "quiet" Beatle to his Dark Horse days, to the Traveling Wilburys.

I don't know what it is about some people that draws us in, makes us feel like we can instantly relate to them, (maybe we see something of ourselves in them?) or how we can feel attached to people we will never really know, but that's how it is sometimes.

What I love about this video (besides the song) is that it's pure and simple. It makes you remember the days when music came on actual records.

Official George Harrison website (lovely)
Wikipedia entry about George
Rolling Stone article about George's greatest moments in music
The Traveling Wilburys website
George's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
BBC pages devoted to George

His last words: Love one another.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Laughing Hard at The Purple Onion

I was going to call this post "Laughing My Ass Off at The Purple Onion," but then I thought that didn't sound very ladylike. But "Laughing Hard at The Purple Onion" isn't a very good title either because it just sounds like I was laughing at an onion that happened to be purple. Like I'm losing my mind in the produce section.

So I may re-title this post at some point in the future when I can say what I really mean.

What I really did mean to say is that:

  1. I went to a comedy club in North Beach on Friday night (yes, back so soon) called The Purple Onion.
  2. While I was at the comedy club, I laughed so hard that had I still been sick with the most recent cold, I probably would have coughed up a lung. (That is meant as a total compliment to the performers. I laughed really hard.)
The Purple Onion is one of those classic places where some really great comedy talent has taken the stage (Lenny Bruce, Woody Allen, Richard Pryor, Mort Sahl) and when you walk down those crazy, narrow stairs to enter the club (I worry a little about the 2-drink minimum and going up the even crazier staircase to the ladies' room--someone is going to break an ankle there), you feel like maybe this is what it would be like to go to The Cavern Club, where the Beatles first played.

This club has some serious historic atmosphere. You can feel it coming out of the brick walls and low ceiling overhead (how charming to be in an old unreinforced brick basement in Earthquake City.)


Anyhoo, we went to see Dan Piraro, the creator of the comic Bizarro (and a subject of one of my favorite posts, The Food Baby). He's a syndicated cartoonist and I'm sure you've seen his work unless you have no sense of humor or you live in a place where the local newspaper has banned his work. He's incredibly warped, sarcastic and funny as hell, and he even finds the time to be a vegan and an animal-rights activist (although as a devoted carnivore, I will keep that information to myself).

The comic who opened for him, a local guy named Johnny Steele, was hilarious-- especially if you have grown up or lived in the Bay Area for a while.

The clip below is a mini-documentary about Dan and his art and his comedy. You can see parts of his previous show, some of the material he also used in this one. The best part of the night was when he read his hate mail to us, but unfortunately we don't get to see that on the clip. But you should watch it anyway--it's a cool little video. And if you think you'd like to see him, get on his mailing list.

Picture of The Purple Onion was something I should have taken myself if I had a proper camera, but instead I got it off of flickr from someone named Sophiesunset.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

If Only Tony Had Tangoed

Or, When Dance and Movies Collide (inspired by recent comments/posts by Tangocherie and Alex).

An early morning musing: What if Tony Manero had been walking to a milonga instead of to a disco? No BeeGees perhaps, and I sure would have started dancing tango a lot earlier in life.

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers didn't inspire me to dance because they were so perfect and beautiful that I couldn't aspire to be like them. But John Travolta and ahem, Sally Potter, made me get out on the dance floor and give it a shot because I could relate to them as being normal people who like to dance.

I will admit that I have soft spot in my heart for The Hustle. And the above clip might be one of the best openings to a movie, ever.

Come on, admit it. You like this too.

Now I'm going back to bed. Sitting in front of a computer at 6am on a Saturday is insane.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Red Balloon (Le Ballon Rouge)

I don't think of myself as a particularly nostalgic person. Strangely, I seem to have more nostalgia for people and places and times other than my own personal experiences.

I don't know what made me think of this movie today. Perhaps because I think about Paris a lot. Or perhaps because I just wrote this post about color versus black and white in filmmaking, and now I'm ready to contradict myself immediately as I am wont to do at times.

Whatever the reason, I wanted to share a rainy-day elementary school moment with you: Snuggling hordes of small bodies, sitting cross-legged on the flat, nubby carpet, waiting for the AV assistant to thread the film through the spools on the old metal projector. Giggling and whispering. Listening to the scratch and crackle of the audio through the boxy speakers.

Loving Le Ballon Rouge every time and wishing for rainy days so we could watch it.

I hope this brings you a smile for whatever reason. The entire film is posted below.


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4 (fini)

Sometimes Life Looks Better in Black and White...and Grey

Last night, I was watching these Murat and Michelle videos again (see below), and I wondered why they were so appealing to me, more than some of the others I watch. I love watching this couple, and their musicality and interpretation is swoon-worthy.

But I realized that part of what draws me in is that these videos are filmed in black and white.

There's something about the black and white aesthetic that allows us to focus on the nuances, the shadows: the visual equivalent of those ineffable parts that make tango what it is. Black and white reveals an inner life. There's a privateness to it.

It's the same reason why I love black and white movies so much. Faces are more interesting, more beautiful to me that way. Locations have more depth, more character.

Look at Rita Hayworth in You Were Never Lovelier (one of my favorite films ever), and then again in Cover Girl. Same gorgeous woman, but her face is incomparable in black and white.

Glorious color has its place, to be sure, but it also provides a distraction to the eye that can take away from the intensity of the action or the intimacy of the moment.

Murat and Michelle dancing in Tango Amor show in Maui, August 2007. The tango is "Remolino" by Francini Pontier and Raul Beron.

Tango improvisation by Murat and Michelle at the La Belle Epoque Milonga, New York City, June 9th, 2006. Music: "En Esta Tarde Gris".

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Red Moon Rising

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

The start of a lunar eclipse could be seen over Coit Tower in San Francisco on Wednesday evening, but as the moon rose higher, the total eclipse - the Earth's shadow covering the moon completely from 7:01 to 7:51 p.m. - was obscured by clouds and fog. Ancient Greeks first observed the round shadow of the Earth crossing the moon's surface and deduced that the Earth itself must be round, not flat. The next total eclipse of the moon visible from California will occur on Dec. 21, 2010.


Coit Tower is one of my most favorite SF landmarks to see at night. The tower is beautiful all by itself, but I'm sure with the eclipsed moon rising behind it, it was...heavenly.

I guess I was inside enjoying my macchiato at the time. Oh well. I'll try to be a better observer three years from now.

Chronicle photo by Frederic Larson.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Little North Beach Love

Not much to say.

Just meandered around North Beach tonight, all bundled up, eating cannolis and drinking caffè macchiatos.

Looking towards the financial district with the tall buildings all lit up, the moon above half-covered by wisps of clouds.

I could live in North Beach real easy.

Thanks to The Boy for his stylish pic of his favorite pizza spot.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

For My Hoochie Choochie Man

When are you gonna play this song for me? (Your harmonica was asking about you.)

Those Who Are About to Eat, Salute You

This post is part PSA and part curiosity-seeking on my part.

Being in Buenos Aires on a typical tango two-week jaunt, I felt like I was always running from a dance class (once I could peel myself out of bed and dress myself) to a shoe store to a milonga. Food was secondary, even though I didn't mean it to be and anyone who knows me knows that food is never secondary to me. But tango definitely came first.

So in amongst all of that running around, my meals consisted of a lot of empanadas. Pretty much all kinds of empanadas. And a little pizza. I remember having some okay risotto, an okay steak, and a lot of cortados.

I came home with a lot of wonderful memories, a suitcase full of shoes, but no clue about the food of Argentina. I know I missed out as far as the eating is concerned and I didn't plan my restaurant-ing the way I normally would. Reading The Tango Addiction's recent adventures made me see that I didn't know where to go to get a really good meal.

I found this food article by Gael Greene, New York Magazine's "Insatiable Critic." It's her Hot List for Buenos Aires, and I'm really curious to know if any of you agree with her reviews because I'm much more inclined to try something written by a food critic than something I found in a random travel book. I read a lot of food writing and so that's where my tendencies lie.

And, for those of you who are planning a trip to Buenos Aires soon or might already be there, perhaps some of these restaurants would be of interest to you. I sure wish I had tried a few of them. Tina--there's a place called Persicco Ice Cream that has nine kinds of dulce de leches! Did you go there yet?!!! (J. Salguero 2591 T: 4808-0888)

Bon Appétit!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Holding Pattern

“Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.”--Anaïs Nin

It's late, almost midnight, and one of those times where I wish I had a laptop and I could just lie in bed and write instead of getting up and going to my desk. But sitting at my desk feels less like cheating than lying in bed and writing would be. This week I seem to be a virus magnet and today it was a fever. Wednesday it was a sore throat. I have never had so many little colds and flus since I started this job a year ago. I wonder if we have one of those sick buildings?

I started out the day being furious with the nameless co-worker who brought this particular bug into the office. Heading into a 3-day weekend this way was not my intention. My latest quest during all of this is to find the perfect bowl of soup: mine is Vietnamese pho. (I get the chicken.) The wonderful thing about my neighborhood is that it is a tiny paradise of food. Whatever type of food you want, we have it within a four-block radius (I have not been to the Ethiopian place yet, though). Everything is easily walkable from where I live, which is such a revelation to me still, being a child of the suburbs where a car equals your freedom.

Today was a glorious day. San Francisco has a type of blue sky that is breathtaking, perhaps because the ocean winds keep the air so fresh. Today was one of those days where I could look straight down Irving Street all the way to the Pacific, and then to the far horizon, and feel the ocean calling to me.

On my way to the noodle shop, I stopped at my bank to get some spending money from the ATM. The little ad that flashed on the ATM screen when I inserted my card showed a 30-ish woman with her head tilted back in some mild form of ecstasy. The tag line read: "Access your account. Access your dreams." That slogan, provided to me free of charge through Citibank but for which some numbnuts on Madison Ave. got paid a shitload of money to think up, almost made me want to close my account and start putting my money under my mattress.

Is our society that soft in the head now that we can be told that our dreams come out of an ATM machine? Is it really that easy to access your dreams and I'm just too smart for my own damn good? Perhaps having a low-grade fever is like having PMS and I'm ready to rail on the world (hope to god I don't have both at the same time) but reading that line really sent me into a silent tizzy.

What are my dreams? What are yours? How do we access such elusive things? That's how soothsayers and mystics and oracles have been getting steady business for millenia. I used to put some serious stock into other people interpreting for me what my dreams are and what my direction should be. Only very lately in life have I decided to chart my own course, but it's frustrating and difficult at times. Right now I seem to be in a holding pattern. I feel an urge to break out, do something new, find another way. I think it's mostly a job thing, and being out and about during the day emphasizes how much living we all miss out on being in front of a computer for hours on end, days on end. I don't want to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine because I'm taking a sick day from work. Something's definitely not right with that equation.

If I had only known that I could have accessed all of my dreams from my local ATM machine. But my account's getting pretty low so I'll have to figure something else out.

I won't worry about it too much. I always find my way sooner or later.


The writing helps sort things out, even when it doesn't give me all the answers I want. One of my writing influences, Natalie Goldberg, teaches the practice of writing as part of her Zen Buddhism practice. It's not about what you write, it's just that you do it and that you're faithful to the practice of it. You might have heard of Writing Down the Bones, which is a good book to start with. If you get a chance to see her in person, do it.

Beautiful flickr photo from Jane Keeler.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Finding the Other

“The thing that's between us is fascination, and the fascination resides in our being alike. Whether you're a man or a woman, the fascination resides in finding out that we're alike.”
--Marguerite Duras

I posted this clip a long time ago, but in a different context. To me, this scene captures the essence of many things that make life wonderful: mystery, tenderness, searching, a unique moment in time.

I was thinking, it being Valentine's Day and all, about how it is engrained in us to search for that one person we hope/think/want to complete us. (Is it genetic? sociological?) Some of us may have given up on the idea; some of us are still hopeful; some of us already have what we need.

I'm coming around to the idea that perhaps instead of having just one soulmate, one perfect counterpoint, that maybe our lives should be full of all different kinds of mates. They may be our connection to something infinite for just a moment, but the more we allow and embrace these people and these moments, the richer our lives become.

Here's to love and to mates, where ever we may find them.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Universe Is Expanding

I woke up this morning with a sore throat, which was very distressing to me, considering the fact that I spent most of December with the plague.

Previously I'd tried the Chinese food/Marx Brothers cure and the Preston Sturges/Coen Brothers/hot soup cure. I'm going to try to take this scratchy throat in stride and not worry too much about it, and since I don't have a valid driver's license right now, I wouldn't be going to a milonga tonight anyway. So now I've decided to try the bacon/Annie Hall cure.

For some reason, having a plate of bacon and watching Woody Allen at his finest seems like something that might work this time.

Plus, it's kind of a Valentine's Day movie in parts:

After that it got pretty late, and we both had to go, but it was great seeing Annie again. I... I realized what a terrific person she was, and... and how much fun it was just knowing her; and I... I, I thought of that old joke, y'know, the, this... this guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, "Doc, uh, my brother's crazy; he thinks he's a chicken." And, uh, the doctor says, "Well, why don't you turn him in?" The guy says, "I would, but I need the eggs." Well, I guess that's pretty much now how I feel about relationships; y'know, they're totally irrational, and crazy, and absurd, and... but, uh, I guess we keep goin' through it because, uh, most of us... need the eggs.

If you want more, click here. And here. And here.

You Look Like Spring

I am a little late in mentioning this because officially it started yesterday, but this happens to be International Flirting Week. (It started yesterday, February 11, and goes through February 17.)

Not that I resemble any sort of expert on the matter (in fact, I am probably pretty mediocre if not downright clueless on the subject), but it dawns on me that as a nation, Americans are not in the forefront of the art and/or science of flirting. I wonder if it is a byproduct of our country's Puritan roots and industrious nature, or if we have too many microclimates that do not encourage enough outdoor lounging and siestas. Or that people are overly afraid of sexual harrassment litigation.

I know there might be pockets of flirtation in this country, but they probably exist in geographical locations where there is an influx of residents from Latin countries. There are many countries where International Flirting Week exists in the hearts and minds of people every day of the year (to very loosely quote Charles Dickens here--but he was talking about the Spirit of Christmas). Those countries do not need an International Flirting Week. But I don't think just a week would help us change our ways here.

I was actually going to tie this subject into tango in some way, but it seems to me that is not the direction I wanted to take. Tango is a serious passion for me, and for many, many others, and so the subject of flirtation doesn't jive with what my tango is for me. In fact, it plays into the common misconception that tango is all about sex.

But I didn't want to give up on the idea of International Flirting Week because it's not often that a topic like that comes your way. So instead I think I will reminisce about a favorite flirtation, which also will incorporate my newest goal of working a Beatles song into my post. If any of you care to expand on the topic of flirtation and tango, be my guest. The [dance] floor is yours.


It was May. It was Paris.

It was a very rainy early May, where the skies opened more easily to intense and sudden rainshowers than to the more expected blue skies and sun. I had learned my lesson by being caught unawares by two downpours, the kind that produced large, heavy droplets that seemed much bigger than regular American raindrops. These French raindrops got you much wetter much faster.

I started taking my raincoat and umbrella with me, even though I still insisted on wearing a skirt and heels because the attention you get is more positive that way, and since I don't live in Paris, I have to take what I can get while I'm there.

I wore a robin's egg blue raincoat, a cheerful color. I was on my way to the Musée d'Orsay, in the slight hope that I wouldn't have to wait in a very long line to get in. I had just turned the corner onto the Rue de Bac, when I heard a man's voice behind me:

"Vous ressembler de printemps." (You look like Spring.)

He liked my raincoat, I supposed. I turned around to see who was talking to me and found one of those ageless, charming Frenchmen, holding an unopened bottle of wine just purchased at the shop. He had a large husky-shepard-type dog with him.

I thanked him for the compliment in my very broken French (why five years of good grades in French class has completely failed me in conversation is very annoying). He started to speak to me and I had to be honest and tell him I didn't really speak the language, to my dismay. He spoke no English so we tried to have some sort of conversation in French.

By this time, my companion had taken my arm and we continued our walk down the street, where it sprinkled intermittently. He somehow discerned that I was on my way to the museum and he told me he would take me there himself. (Even though I couldn't put together a simple sentence, I still had a reasonable idea of what he was saying to me. I think at one point we also discussed the Pope, but I am not 100% sure on that.)

He asked what my name was, and when I told him, he started singing Hey, Jude to me, en français. (My name isn't Jude, but it's close enough so I got where he was coming from.) Since that was pretty much the only way we could communicate, we finished our walk, arm in arm with the dog trotting back and forth between us, singing Hey, Jude in French and English. (The nah nah nah's are the same in French, fyi.)

We finished the song just as we arrived at the Musée d'Orsay. My guide indicated that he knew a secret side door, where he could convince the guard to let me in so I would not have to wait in the long line (note to future visitors: get your tickets at the ticket office in advance). He confidently strolled up to one of the museum guards and in French, explained that I was the daughter of the President of the United States, and that I should receive special treatment and not have to wait in line. The guard looked at me in bewilderment, I was embarrassed (mostly at being linked in any way to The Shrub) and I'm sure you'll not be surprised that I was not admitted to the museum through the special secret door as the daughter of George Bush.

However, my guide's duty was done; he had brought me to my destination. He firmly kissed me on each cheek, and as he walked away from me, waving, he was still singing Hey, Jude.

So whenever I hear that song, I think of an early morning chanteur who sang me down a rainy morning street in Paris.

The above photo borrowed from a lovely site about vintage hairstyles called The Hair Archives. The youtube clip needs no explanation.

Monday, February 11, 2008

For Elizabeth

Since you mentioned it first, here's a little something nice to listen to before bed.



Here, There and Everywhere

In the spirit of the Grammys honoring the Beatles again (presented by Tom Hanks, no less, so that's really an honor in itself, insert sarcastic tone here), I have decided to name as many of my posts/themes after Beatles' songs whenever possible. (Actually, I'm not sure what point I'm trying to make except I think that giving the Beatles a(nother) Grammy is like deciding to give the Buddha a retroactive Nobel Peace Prize. The Beatles are the greatest band in rock history, so what is a Tom Hanks-presented award going to add? (If we taught Beatles Appreciation 101 in schools and outlawed crummy bands covering their songs, then that would be starting something useful.)

In his own tribute today, the guy with the accordion who plays outside of Mocca on Maiden Lane was doing his version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps, which has to make you laugh a little but he's a cool guy and we always smile at each other, so I didn't giggle. I renamed the song in my head to While My Bandoneon Gently Weeps. I think about George Harrison a lot anyway--he was my favorite--so that was a pleasant reminder.


So...back from Seattle. Where to start? I'm still a little tired so maybe a numbered list would be best to keep me from getting too stream-of-consciousness here.

  1. Song Title: Eight Days a Week. You cannot have a vacation combined with tango classes and milongas. You really have to choose one or the other because if you sightsee, then you miss out on classes and getting pretty for milongas, or else you go to classes and dance and then you're too tired to sightsee. Or, I'm totally wrong on that and I just need better time- and foot-management skills.
  2. Song Title: Come Together. Seattle seems like a wonderful place and I hardly got to see it, so I guess I'm going back. The city itself, and the surrounding 'burbs, remind me in parts of Marin County, a very cleaned up Santa Cruz and a little SF thrown in the mix. The people are really friendly and there's just a nice vibe in the air. There was also a lot of rain in the air and it was freezing cold, so that's another reason why I didn't get to do a whole lot there. We drove around and I peeked out the window at a lot of great shops, restaurants, etc., all of which would have involved being subjected to the elements. And apparently Seattle is a haven for nature lovers and being outdoors (when the weather permits) as all of the parks and lakes and trees must be wonderful in the sunshine. We did go to Pike's Market (awesome) and I took some pics that I just posted to my flickr account.
  3. Song Title: She Loves You. Or I'm Just Happy to Dance with You. Probably the biggest thrill/enjoyment/happy time I had (which should make this Item 1 and not Item 3 if we were ranking things in this list, which we are not) was to finally meet Elizabeth and the famous Alan, and to dance with Alan and Mr. RealityPivots. I was a little nervous to dance with both of them because it's one thing to read what someone writes and like what they have to say, but it's another thing to be in someone's arms dancing and hope that there's some connection and chemistry there. I'm glad to say that this weekend had some of the loveliest tandas thanks to these two wonderful dancers, and I am very sad that I won't have the opportunity to dance with them often. I also got to sit with Elizabeth and we actually had a chance to talk which, as you know, trying to chat with someone at a milonga can be close to impossible. We sat together and just being in her company was a total pleasure. I'm also grateful that Elizabeth and Alan saw fit to introduce me to some of their friends so I could have some other wonderful leaders to dance with.
  4. Song Title: I Am the Walrus. Taking Ney and Jennifer's class on Friday night was more of the same fun I get down here at home, although I kept ending up rotating to the same two leaders more often than not, so I didn't get to dance with many people even though it was a fairly large class. But the follower's technique workshops on Saturday were intense and I just could not keep up at the end. We had two classes back to back, with only a 10-minute break in between, for a total of almost 4 hours on our feet. We learned all of the things that Jennifer breaks down in her youtube tutorials, but seeing them demonstrated in person and then practicing them over and over again will actually give me a fighting chance at doing embellishments someday. However, most of the embellishments for me are like patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time. The faster the embellishments get, the more I can't seem to do them. At the end, the OFF switch I have in my head flips and I literally can't move or think. I was wiped out before the class was over and when we got back to our place, I had to soak my feet in ice water to numb them and take a bunch of Aleve.
  5. Song Title: HELP! Make sure that you don't have an expired driver's license when you get to the security checkpoint at the airport. I'm not going to go into all of the details about that now, but it was a rude surprise to me (obviously I'm letting certain things fall through the cracks these days) and having to get out of the regular passengers' line and get into the special line where the terrorist threat-types get seached and questioned is not the best way to travel. Plus, the young airport security guy called me Ma'am and I hate that. Technically, I guess I am a Ma'am but I don't need to be reminded of it. I am very grateful to The Boy for FedEx-ing me my passport so I only had to go into the Terrorist Line once.

We went to two milongas: Century Ballroom and Dance Underground. Century Ballroom is this magnificent old place, with a huge smooth floor and lots of room for moving fast around the room or taking your time. It's one of those rare venues that makes you want to be on the floor dancing because you know its had thousands of dancers' feet on that floor and you just want to be a part of its history. The Century milonga was very hard to cabaceo, perhaps because it's so large and also for me because I'm a new face and no one seemed willing to take a chance on me, but I wish we had a place like that here in SF. Dance Underground was a cozy, smaller studio with a very friendly feel.

Ney and Jennifer gave a beautiful performance at Century Ballroom and as I watched them dance, I was so grateful that I get to have classes with them fairly often (when they aren't traveling). It's one thing to get used to taking classes with them, and they're so kind and patient and encouraging, but then you see them dance together and you get a little starstruck. You stop yourself and think: "Wow. Those are my teachers."


Song Title: With a Little Help From My Friends. Mucho thanks, gratitude and kisses to Ms. Wellspring for arranging everything in Seattle and being my personal concierge and traveling companion, and many thanks to Ms. Ari and Delegate Dan for so generously hosting me and my 500-pound suitcase full of crap I didn't wear.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Never Say Never

There are three things (at least) that I may never be able to do:

1. Have more than a cursory understanding of String Theory. (Even though I'm told that the theory is unraveling--ha ha, that's my physics joke for today.)
2. Speak French while in France.
3. Pack a normal sized suitcase.

I have a pair of jeans, a few sweaters, boots, and the rest is all dance stuff, including 7 pairs of tango shoes. Why can't I choose a few simple outfits and be content with my selections? I am always dragging a suitcase through the airport that is about the same size as a side of beef.

One can have too many choices.


Ms. Wellspring and I are off to Seattle this afternoon for a tango/sightseeing weekend. We're so excited to take Ney and Jennifer's classes with the Seattle crowd, try out the local milongas, and my travel mate is going to take me on a whirlwhind tour of the city.

I am looking forward to meeting my blogger friends and finding new friends in the Emerald City (I just found out that that's the nickname for Seattle). If you've got any Things To Do suggestions, please let me know. I've been told that we need to watch people throw fish (?!) at the market, and to go on a ferry. But I'm totally open to other possibilities.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


In between sorting loads of laundry so I can get packed for Seattle, I am finally sorting all of my Venice photos and uploading them to flickr.

Thanks to Ms. Wellspring for being my technology guru and helping me set up my little flickr account. It is taking forever to upload the photos and I know it will take even longer to sort them by category, annotate them, crop them, flip them. But I can tell already that I love flickr, even though I don't know what I am doing.

So much sorting tonight. But it feels good to get things accomplished.

You're welcome to check in and look around at the photos, but realize it's a work-in-progress.


The Milonga in My Mind

I won't be dancing tonight due to the most gigantic pile of laundry in my room. Me 'n Ms. Wellspring are going to take Ney and Jennifer's workshops in Seattle over the weekend, so when I say I haven't a thing to wear, it's really the truth.

So I will just have to have a milonga in my mind today. I think I will dance to Caceres. I don't get enough of him.

In BA, I danced the best milonga in my life to this song. It was in a class taught by the Dinzel's, with a sweet young teaching assistant that all of us had a crush on. Every time I hear this song I think about how incredible that dance was. It was like flying.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Why You Shouldn't Play Trombone in the End Zone

Congratulations to the New York Giants. I thought it was really cool that Peyton Manning got to watch his little brother turn that game around at the very end like that. I only watched the last quarter, but that sure was an exciting last 1:59.

The Boy just showed me one of his favorite moments in football history (The Play, Stanford v. Cal 1982). Watch the trombone player get totally flattened (and listen to how the newscaster is freaking out). It's amazing what can happen in a game with 4 seconds left on the clock:

This is my best football memory: The Catch. I remember how my dad and I went totally beserk and screamed our silly little heads off. It was awesome. I just started high school, and my dad and I used to watch the games together. I even had my little Montana jersey. Football has never been the same for me since the days of Joe, Dwight and Ronnie. To me, there is no other team.

I've Learned My Lesson

Last night was the night I finally learned once and for all that if I can't dance tango, then I won't dance at all.

No polkas, schottisches, mazurkas, Les Lanciers, or even the Congress of Vienna Waltz, which I finally figured out how to do. (I do like that one.)

I had planned for weeks to go to a period ball, Les Mardi Gras de Vampires, a Mardi Gras Ball in true 19th-century ante-bellum New Orleans style. Sounds like fun, huh? Something different.

I have never gotten over the Halloween dressing up thing, so the thought of getting all dolled up like a late Victorian/Belle Epoque-era Mardi Gras temptress and dancing sounded like something really interesting and fun. And some friends I haven't seen since before the Dickens' Faire were going to be there. (I even thought that handsome Mr. Crummles might be there. He was.)

I pulled together a fabulous outfit: part of my Halloween get-up (black and red taffeta can-can skirt, and velvet Harlequin mask with a flowery plume of colored feathers, both items purchased in Venice and cost me a small fortune), a jewel-encrusted choker I found on Haight Street with Ms. Wellspring, black elbow-length satin gloves trimmed with black feathers, a black corset (!), fishnets and my black and red Darcos t-strap shoes that I got in Buenos Aires. And my best Shus.

And Kat had done my hair today in the most perfect Louise Brooks yet. Shiny, straight, flawless. I'm telling you, I really pulled out all the stops for this ball.

I don't want to sound mean, and I know this is probably going to come out the wrong way. I don't know how else to describe it: If you ever wondered what happened to all of the drama geeks that went to your high school, this is the kind of dance where they go now. Listen, I don't mean it in a bad way. They are just the polar opposite of tango people. It was like if I went to a dance with all of the people I used to play Dungeons & Dragons with in junior high school. See, I was a geek too. I admit it.

Does this make any sense? Let's just say they are not tango people.

First I took the class. That wasn't too bad, actually. I did learn to waltz, but when they started trying to teach tango, my heart started to break quietly. I so desperately wanted to hijack the class and take it over but I didn't. I was very restrained and obedient, and learned their "tango." God.

The dance itself was pretty much like the worst dance class you ever took, but multiplied by oh, like 1,000. I hadn't the heart to turn down the one tango they played, but I should have. What's missing? The passion, the intensity, the connection. Dressing up is a very poor substitute for tango bliss.

I left as soon as I could. In my haste to make my exit, I left my second new umbrella that I bought this week in the lobby. I have spent $90 dollars on umbrellas this week. I keep leaving them places I won't return to.

My feet are throbbing as I write this. I sweated off all my perfect maquillage and my newly cut bangs are all damp. I just took two Aleve and now I am waiting for them to kick in.


Because the Late Night Milonga at the Metronome saved me. I couldn't go straight home after that ball. It's worse to have a bad dance than not to dance at all.

Thank you, Late Night Metronome wonderful leaders who danced with me tonight, me in my wacky outfit. I loved each and every one of you tonight. You gave me my passion back. You cured me.

PS. But...if someone wants to organize a fancy Mardi Gras dress-up milonga, I'm all for it.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Get the Ocho Habit

I just saw this in a recent auction catalog. It's a pin that dates from 1905. The bidding ended at $48.

Item description: 1.75". Curl has W&H name with 1905 copyright. Reverse has original but blank backpaper. "Ocho" is a pivot move in Argentine tango but text likely applies to some U.S.A. product. N. Mint, displays Mint. First we've seen.

I love when bits of tango intersect with life in general. I wonder what the "Ocho Habit" was. A little mystery for today. What do you think?

My pin should say Get The Ocho Practice.

Friday, February 1, 2008

From Lurk to Lurve

This week has been a week where my mailbox floweth over. For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while but never commented until now, or just found me and took a moment to send a lovely note...I can't tell you enough how that totally makes my day.

Of course it makes me happy to know that I wrote something that resonated with you, something that you enjoyed, but mostly it's the fact that you and I were able to connect about something. Doesn't really matter about what. I just think that's the coolest thing in the world.

I don't know if you ever had a pen-pal when you were in school, but I did when I was in the fourth grade. I remember sitting at my desk, trying to think of something to say to some kid in another school somewhere far away. I remember trying really hard to come up with things that didn't sound boring, but when you're in the fourth grade, your life isn't all that exciting. I don't remember having much to write to my pen-pal.

But boy, when the day came that the pen-pal wrote back, I was in heaven.

So, I guess what I'm trying to say is thanks for taking the time to be my pen-pal. I'll try to be the best pen-pal I can. If I could only write to you with an old fountain pen, that would make it even more perfect.