Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Yee Olde Traditional Posting of Thee Xmas Mix!

Ah Jiminy Christmas! I've been remiss in performing one of my most beloved holiday traditions: the posting of my holiday mix. I listened to it myself today for the first time this season, and honestly, I'd forgotten how much I like it. I made it as a statement about war, peace, life, death, and the passage of time, and was surprised to find I was actually moved by some of the selections. Because you know what? There's some actually poignant stuff going on here. Anyway, I hope you're moved too, or at the very least, enjoy the polka interlude (because yeah, there's also some not poignant stuff).

Monday, December 2, 2013

Dispatches from the Gift Wrapping Desk, Part 1: The Kid

gift with dreidel by Ace Gift Wrapping Service
the dreidel in question, from Ace Gift Wrapping Service 

He must have been somewhere in the seven-to-nine-year-old range, a gangly boy with sandy colored hair and fair skin. He walked up to my booth with that easy courage some kids have, self-assured and care-free.

“What’s this?” he asked me. “Gift wrapping?”

“That’s right,” I said, “do you have any gifts you need wrapped?”

“No,” he said. “How do you do it?”

“Oh you know, I’ve had lots of practice. Have you even done it before?”

“No, but I want to. I’ve seen other people do it.”

He wandered into the booth and examined my wrapping papers. “Is it hard?” he asked.

“Nah, just takes practice really. Like everything.” How tedious. I was that grown-up proselytizing practice, and right from the get go too; but frankly it’s true, and practice is second nature when you’re a kid.

“What’s over there?” he asked.

“That? That’s the crafts' station. You want to go make something?”

His mother and little brother had already sat down at a table, so he left to join them.

It wasn’t my idea to roommate at the gift fair with the crafts station. Some people were even going so far as to call it the “kid's room” since it attracted a young crowd eager to make robots and monsters and castles from the odds and ends on the tables.

And then there I was, sitting alone in my booth eager to wrap some presents. No one was buying, though. It was too early in the season, and shoppers were out, but not for gifts. They bought things for themselves, food mostly. “Do you have gifts you need wrapped?” I chirped as they strolled into the room.

“Gifts? Oh, not yet. Yeah, no, I haven’t bought anything yet. That’s a great idea, though. Is this your card? Where else will you be? Can I sign your mailing list?”

Well, at least the response was positive, even if I did resort to wrapping empty boxes to look busy.

Suddenly, a voice even chirpier than my own asked, “Excuse me, but can you wrap this?” The kid was back in the booth, standing at my side. He held out his craft: four of those artificial wine bottle corks, bright orange, hot glued together to form a sort of long quatrefoil. As far as crafts go, it was ultra minimal. Without a string or hook, it couldn’t even be that one ornament that gets put on the tree year after year strictly for nostalgia. I took it from him and looked at it.

“Sure,” I said. “I’ll show you how.”

I pulled a scrap of glossy red paper from the recycling box. His quatrefoil was roughly a two inch cube so the scrap was perfect.

“First you want to lay it on the paper like this,” I explained.

“Can you use this?” he asked. He’d sorted through my swatches and pulled out the paper with the cheery snowmen on it. I hesitated. I hadn’t been paid to wrap a single gift all day. Sure I’d wrapped some empty boxes, but I could use those for photos, for staging. Did I really want to cut from the roll just so this kid could have his whatever-it-was wrapped? His cork thing? His thing he probably made just so I could wrap it for him?

“Of course I can.” I pulled a little paper off the roll and showed him how much to cut. “So then you’re going to fold it like this,” I explained. He stood at my elbow and watched attentively as I folded and taped. “Then you tie the ribbon just like you tie your shoes, see?”

“This seems really hard.”

“I’m telling you, practice. I’ve wrapped hundreds of gifts, maybe thousands.”

“Have you ever helped Santa Claus?” he asked.

“Santa Claus?” Oh right, that guy.

“Yeah, have you ever worked for him?” His plain, matter-of-factness caught me off guard. There was no wonder or magic here, just the basic reality of Santa Claus needing a full staff in order to fulfill his duty as global deliverer of presents.

I thought about two friends of mine, and husband and wife who have a son about this kid’s age. I’ve wrapped their presents the last few years. They always have a couple rolls of special paper to use on the gifts from Santa. It’s Santa’s Paper. So yes, in fact I had worked for the man.

“Yeah. Let me see, I did last year…” I thought back to those rolls of paper and played it super cool. “Hm, year before that too, and before that. So three years. I’ve worked for him the last three years. Probably this year, too.”

This seemed logical and reasonable, maybe even a tad impressive.

I handed him the little gift, all wrapped with a bow. Pleased, he took it to show his mother and brother, but something caught his eye.

“Dreidel!” he exclaimed.

I’d wrapped one of the empty boxes in metallic silver paper with an electric blue bow and a tiny orange, blue, and silver dreidel on a string. I’d set it up as a decoy outside my booth, to attract shoppers.

“I love dreidel. We celebrate Hanukkah too,” he boasted happily. “I’m Jewish.”

“I’m kinda Jewish,” I said. But his mother was already scooping him toward the door. “Happy Hanukkah,” I called as they turned down the hallway.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


These sneaky pics are rotten, but this woman's outfit is fresh: lightly broken-in black Doc Martin's, gray Joe-Strummer-tight skinny jeans, gray cardigan buttoned down under a close-fitting, black-on-black letterman's jacket. And then she has a deep red bob, is wearing light-colored cat-eye-esque glasses, and is fully absorbed in her book. I wanted to shout, "you look amazing!" across the two sets of train tracks between us, but the station is noisy and bellowing unintelligibly at strangers isn't my style. So instead I'm secretly snapping pics? Yeah, that's not creepy. Anyway, whatever. Standing ovation to you, Preppy-Punk Lady. You absolutely nailed a fantastic look.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The INXS Effect

Years ago, a coworker and I had a little bit of an office crush going. Nothing scandalous, just a mild mutual attraction, maybe a little flirting but with zero intent. We were both contractors, so soon enough, we didn't work together anymore. Shortly after, we ran into each other again. He had a studio in the same building where we cut the Eggplant Casino record and the sound track for Evolution: The Musical. I was there a lot recording, so I'd stop by to hear what he was working on. We'd talk music and gear and make goggly eyes at each other, so naturally one day we made plans to go out on a date.

The date was going well, we'd coasted easily through dinner and were kicking back cocktails when he mentioned "the INXS Effect". 

"It's when you're, like, on a really long car trip and you can't get any radio stations. Then suddenly some shitty INXS song comes in really loud and clear," he explained. "And it's always INXS, too. It's the worst."

I looked at him stone faced and said, "I love INXS. I really love INXS. I cried when Michael Hutchence died."

And that was the end of that.

Anyway, I'm reminded of that story now because I'm out at a cafe & INXS' Mystify just came on really loud & clear. I love this song. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Hey everybody,

I need to apologize. I thought I'd come home from camping over the long weekend, send out a few emails, post a few status updates, and raise a couple hundred bucks to help kids, youth & families escape homelessness through the Homeless Children's Network.

But I was wrong. I grossly underestimated your generosity and enthusiasm for a great cause. In less than a day, I've gotten over $900 in donations - that's almost four times my fundraising goal. And a majority of that was donated by the good folks at RichRelevance. I'm overwhelmed with gratitude at how wonderful you all are. I don't know who I thought I was talking to, but obviously my expectations of you was entirely too low, and I'm gonna need to step it up a bit if I want to keep up with your awesomeness.

So what do you think, $1,200? $1,500? I bet we can hit $1,500. Sure, that's 600% of the original goal, but it's that much more funding for a local non-profit that helps kids overcome and even avoid the trauma of homelessness.

Donate here here here!! 

And please let me know if you need a donation receipt. And if you'd like me to write anything special along with your name on my running outfit. Of course, if this keeps up, I'll be sharpying names onto my arms and legs, but I'm cool with that.

Thank you thank you thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Do It For The Childrens!

In March, after months (*cough*years) of saying I was going to get off my backside and get in shape, I started a running program for lazy people, figuring I wouldn't like it but eventually might get good enough at it that I'd stick with it for a while. Much to my surprise, it only took a few sessions for me to discover I actually totally love running. I completed the program and have run three times a week without fail since. I know right? Crazy.

So I figure I might as well put all this new found happiness to good use, and am going to run the Homeless Children's Network Annual 5K for Kids Walk/Run Fundraiser this Sunday, June 2 in Golden Gate Park, and I would be honored if you would be one of my sponsors. My goal is to raise $250, which will support HCN in their mission to provide mental health, education, and intervention services to homeless children, youth, and their families throughout the Bay Area. Your sponsorship will help break the cycle of homelessness. And just like a NASCAR driver, if you're one of my sponsors, I'll include your name on my running "uniform", so you can cross the finish line with me. 

You can make donations online through

Thank you for your support! 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Hotel Room

I'm in a really fantastic hotel room right now. I'm not far from home, in fact I can see both my house and the office from here. The window near my cubicle faces this direction, and the next time I'm at work, I'll look out the window at this tall hotel and see this spot and know that I was here, in this room on the south-east corner of the 26th floor.

This room has a stunning view of San Francisco, and a good view of Oakland and San Leandro and beyond. I'm in the dark - so I can see better - in bed, and so help me I could stay here looking at this view for days. I plan to leave the curtains open all night, so when I inevitably wake, I can look at the view.

The Bay Bridge is covered in lights, millions of lights, an art piece recently installed that flashes patterns suggestive of other not-bridge things - champagne bubbles, eddies of water, cars driving, falling rain - and I have a damn fine view of that especially.

The thing is, some jackass put an enormous flat screen tv against the window across from the bed, effectively blacking out the center of this stupefying view. The San Francisco skyline stands lit up and majestic at my feet, but no, here's a fucking tv with it's back turned dumbly to it. If I was staying here longer, I'd move the tv, but since it probably weighs as much as I do, I've been working around it. I ordered room service and pushed the cart right up to the window to eat my dinner, with the lights off of course. Earlier, I stood at the windows at one end of the room then the other and strained to look around the edge, to see as far around the sides as I could.

But it hasn't all be this eager looking. I also went to the spa. As it happens, many months ago I bought a package of three massages at a deeply discounted rate at the hotel spa, and since I was staying here tonight anyway, I figured this would be a perfect time to use up my last rub down.

The therapist I had was excellent. Not only was the massage deep and relaxing, but after, he filled a paper cup with wine so I could take it to the hot tub - no glass at the tub, of course. What a pal! When I got to the tub, it was full of little children, but I was relaxed and happy and had a to-go cup of cheap chardonnay, so I didn't mind. By the time I got dressed, I was ready to become a batty eccentric and move into the hotel, spending my days staring out the window and going to the spa (who'll pay for it I have no idea).

But none of that is why I'm legitimately here. I have an excuse: it's for work. I'm doing a work thing in a ballroom here tomorrow, a thing that I arranged and produced and am responsible for. I have had many emails and phone calls and meetings with the good people of this hotel, and am spending a lot of the office's money here, and I can only assume that's why I've been upgraded from the normal room I was supposed to have. Or maybe it's just because the hotel people came to understand, over all those emails, phone calls, and meetings, how much I'd love this view.

Regardless, after the spa, I came back up to the room, put on my pink velour track suit, turned out the lights, ate mac & cheese and salad while watching out the window, and listened to 70s soft rock. There is little more I could possibly want or need. A humidifier maybe - it's dry as a desert in here. But a trip to the steam room would take care of that.