Saturday, December 20, 2008

M-m-m-m-m-m-My Menorah!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Quoth Sarah Palin, "I Want More"

(with apologies to Edgar Allan Poe)

Once upon a Tuesday dreary, while I waited, drained and weary,
Done with speeches, no more crowds to fill my ears with a mighty roar
On the TV, votes were mappin', suddenly there came a tappin'
As of some one gently rappin', rappin' at my hotel-suite door.
"'Tis my subconscious," I muttered, "remindin' me what I adore —
Oh, the limelight. I want more."

Ah, distinctly I remembered it was just this past September,
When Katie Couric's “gotcha!” questions I strove mightily to ignore
What would happen by tomorrow? – if I lost, would I have to go home and borrow
A cup of sugar from my Russian neighbors on the nearby shore?
I didn't want to go all the way back to my obscure Alaskan shore.
I wanted to be famous for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustlin' of each Florida votin' booth curtain
Thrilled me — filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beatin' of my heart, I stood repeatin',
“'Tis only the bleatin' of the liberal media press corps
The Un-American socialist terror-lovin' press corps
This it is, and nothin' more."

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitatin' then no longer,
I called the hotel's front desk, and for a plumber to be sent up I did implore;
For I had a cravin' for some clappin', and when I heard the plumber's rappin'
Oh, so faintly he came tappin', tappin' at my deluxe penthouse hotel-suite door,
“I swear I will never raise your taxes,” I told him as I opened wide the door; --
He winked at me, and I wanted more.

And his plunger, red as a mitten, still is sittin', still is sittin'
On the entry table right inside my Wasalia home's front door;
And when I see it, my tears start streamin', for my heart is always dreamin'
Of the time the Joe Sixpacks were beamin' at me, and my life was not such a bore
And my soul from out of the plunger's shadow emerges and declares that bein' without power is such a bore
I miss the limelight – I want more!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Drill, baby, drill

Life imitates satire.

My satire, this time!

Last night at the Republican Convention, during Rudy Giuliani's speech, the crowd started chanting "Drill, baby, drill!"

Six weeks ago, I wrote an entry for a satire contest, which had John McCain trying to woo the youth vote by putting on a hoodie and awkwardly attempting to rap. It started like this:

Look around America, and what do you see?
A million phat sites where a fresh oil rig could be
Drill, baby, drill, baby, bring me that sweet oil
Bring it to me piping hot right out of the soil.

To hear the R's chanting it for real last night was a Twlight Zone moment for me.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Shakespeare in the Park

Went to see the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival on Labor Day in the Presidio. They're doing Pericles, which no one ever does. Wonderful production, done as if it were a Western movie, complete with twangy accents and Western-style music and dance. Great costumes that could easily have been on a Broadway stage.

Just went to their website to see if they had any pictures I could post, and saw that they had a YouTube video. The wonders of modern technology!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Jennifer Hudson and Will.I.Am -- last day of the Democratic covention

These are great. I missed seeing them on TV, because they came on before I started watching.

I snagged the videos off of Shakesville.

Jennifer Hudson:

Will.I.Am and John Legend:

Thursday, July 17, 2008

New Yorker cartoon event

Went to a wonderful talk given by Robert Mankoff, the cartoon editor of The New Yorker, held in conjunction with the William Steig exhibit at the new SF Contemporary Jewish Museum. He told funny anecdotes about how he got started (when he told his parents he wanted to be a cartoonist, his father said, "They already have people who do that"), and presented a lecture, with slides, on the history of cartoons and cover art in the magazine, along with a detailed analysis of how humor works, the latter appropriate from this editor who had come close to getting a PhD in experimental psychology before turning to cartoons.

The elephant in the room was the infamous Obama fist-bump cover. Mankoff mentioned it a few times in passing, but it wasn't until the audience question period in the end that the focus really turned to the topic. I was disappointed that so many in this audience (more than half, by a raised-hand estimate) agreed with the lefty blogosphere sentiment that the cover was a mistake that would reinforce the prejudices of a hypothetical irony-deficient person in Ohio. (When someone made that point, Mankoff replied, "Do you actually know such a person? Be honest!") I had expected a different reaction from people who would come out for this kind of event, who presumably were quite familiar with the magazine, its cartoons, and its covers. I thought Mankoff made a lot of sense when he said that having the flag burning in the fireplace and the picture of bin Laden on the wall made it obvious that the picture was meant to be over the top. Things started to get tense when a few people in the audience shouted their disagreement on this point, though, and everyone was relieved when the next questioner changed the subject.

Overall, Mankoff seemed a bit defensive on the subject, seeming to think the cover was a failure because so many people didn't get it, but defending failures as necessary for creative work. He also thought that David Remnick hadn't anticipated the reaction, and that if he had, he wouldn't have run the cover. Tina Brown enjoyed creating controversy, but Remnick, according to Mankoff, does not.

Also on the stage for part of the program was Owen Smith, an illustrator for the magazine. He's the one who did the wonderful covers in pulp-detective-novel style for the fiction issues. Those covers too, by the way, generated a stack of subscription cancellations. Just goes to show that you can never please everyone.

As for the current cover controversy, I think Jon Stewart got it right.

Starting the program was an eight-minute preview of a documentary film that's still in progress about the New Yorker cartoonists. It was fascinating to see the faces, and drawing hands, behind some of the magazine's most familiar cartoons. The film looked like it was very well done, and I think it could turn out to be the most entertaining documentary since Wordplay, which is saying a lot! The filmmaker is Leah Wolchok, the flim is called Laugh Lines, and there should be more info here at some point.

When someone asked how she could get a cartoon into the magazine, Mankoff answered, "the same way you get to Carnegie Hall." He himself submitted 2,000 cartoons before having one accepted.

I guess persistence pays off -- except when it doesn't.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Flower pictures

Yesterday, in the Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park:

The Contemporary Jewish Museum opened today

Very nice! Interesting architecture, with the new literally smashing into the old. There were two major exhibits, one a multi-artist show on various reactions to Genesis, and the other a retrospective of the work of William Steig, New Yorker cartoonist, cover illustrator, and children's book illustrator and author. He's best known as the creator of Shrek (which means "fear" in Yiddish). There was also a sound installation inside the "yud" space.

The blue structure on the left is the new part of the museum building. It contains the gift shop, visible through the diamond windows, and the "yud" gallery above. The red brick building on the right was originally a power station built in 1881. Daniel Libeskind was the museum's architect.

Inside of the "yud" gallery.

Eeek, I've gone digital!

I got a digital camera for a birthday present.  It's just a point-and-shooter, but I've been playing with it to see what it can do.  Love not having to buy film.  Hate not having more contol over the focus, aperture, and shutter speed.  Love, love, love that it's tiny and weighs almost nothing, and I can just throw it in my purse and take it with me anywhere.  

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I won a contest!

After months of being among the runners-up (always a bridesmaid and never a bride) for this weekly satire-writing contest, this time I won! The assignment: write 400 words or less on the topic "Polygamy is made legal."

Update: Won again (6/24/08): Another former Bush adminstration official publishes a tell-all book, and this one tops all the others!

And again! (7/15/08): Cheney declared election winner after Haliburton wins electronic voting machine contract

And another (7/22/08): To attract young voters, John McCain raps

Friday, April 25, 2008

And I thought my landlord was bad ...

From yesterday's SF Chronicle:

Morrow fought his eviction and won ... That was when the trouble started....

One day, Morrow noticed the blade of a saw come through his living room floor, his attorney said. He and a friend managed to bend the blade, which had cut a 2-by-4-foot hole in the floor.


The other tenants in the building didn't fare much better:
The couple were also charged with terrorizing two other tenants in the building who began paying the Macys reduced rent after concluding that they were being overcharged under the city's rent control law.

Prosecutors said the Macys broke into the tenants' apartment last June and stole $2,000 in cash, a Gucci watch and a cell phone....

When Hernandez came home and confronted Kip Macy as the landlord was ransacking his apartment, Macy kicked him in the chest, the suit says...

In October, Nicole Macy broke into the apartment and poured ammonia on clothes, bedding and home electronics, prosecutors said.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Leonard Cohen inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Leonard Cohen singing "Suzanne" -- Isle of Wight, 1970

Ack! Nostalgia attack! I was crazy about Leonard Cohen when I was in high school -- the written poetry first, as I recall, and then later the songs, which I played over and over.

Monday, March 10, 2008

And even more Dorothea Lange

I went to another Dorothea Lange event. This one I hadn't even planned on attending. I just went to my branch library to drop off an overdue DVD and saw a flyer announcing the event which would take place that same evening. Nice bit of serendipity!

Dorothea Lange's son Daniel Dixon and his wife Dixie were there, and they narrated a slide show of photographs of and by Lange. The event was being filmed for a documentary about what it was like to grow up the child of two accomplished, larger-than-life parents (Dixon's father was Lange's first husband, the artist Maynard Dixon). Should be an interesting film!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Dorothea Lange -- Steep Ravine photos

I went to a film and discussion about Dorothea Lange at the library a few weeks ago. Then last week, I went to see the related exhibit of the Steep Ravine photos.

These were taken in the late 1950s to the early 1960s during vacations with her children, grandchildren, and friends in the Steep Ravine cabins on Mount Tamalpais. The exhibit contains many large black-and-white photos, mostly portraits, some of which have never been publicly displayed before. Lange had planned to make a book of the photos, but was unable to complete the project before she died in 1965.

To Lange, Steep Ravine represented freedom. The library's exhibit shows the contrast between her relaxed time at Steep Ravine, and her usual life, with a photo by Ron Partridge taken of Lange in her home office, where she is sitting on a table, talking on the phone, in charge, everything surrounding her impeccably organized.

The primitive cabins perched on the side of the mountain, directly above the ocean, look much the same today as they did in Lange's day. They are now operated by the State Park system, and anyone can reserve them, though they are popular and reservations are hard to snag. Maybe some day ...

The exhibit runs through March 16 on the 6th floor of the Main Library. It closes early -- 6 PM (5 PM on Sunday) -- even when the library itself is open later.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Hillary Clinton, last night, after winning Ohio:

For everyone here in Ohio and across America, who’s ever been counted out but refused to be knocked out, and for everyone who has stumbled but stood right back up, and for everyone who works hard and never gives up, this one is for you.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Oscar notes

I did predict one of the short film winners -- "Peter and the Wolf." I loved that when the filmmaker went on stage to get his Oscar, he brought a little statue of Peter and his pet duck.

It will be on Great Performances on PBS -- on March 26 in NYC, but check the link for the dates elsewhere.

I didn't expect the other winner, "The Mozart of Pickpockets." If I had ranked all five of the live-action shorts in order of probability of winning, I would have put "Pickpockets" last.

As for the feature-length films, the only ones I've seen so far among the winners are "Atonement" and "There Will Be Blood."

I'm glad that "Atonement" won for its music, which was an important part of the experience of the film. Too bad there wasn't an award for Best Sounds of a Manual Typewriter Clacking. And I wish "Atonement" had won for Best Costume Design, solely on the basis of the green dress that Keira Knightley wore, which is one of the most beautiful dresses I've ever seen.

While I was looking on the web for a picture of the dress, I found out that it's actually for sale. It's being auctioned off for charity -- the high bid right now is (gulp) $10,000, with 4 days left to go. (Update: the dress sold for $46,000!)

I haven't seen "No Country for Old Men," and I'm not sure I want to, given the subject matter. I loved "Raising Arizona" and "Fargo" -- but "The Man Who Wasn't There" and "O Brother Where Art There," not so much.

I read this morning that the Coen brothers are going to be making a movie of Michael Chabon's book "The Yiddish Policemen's Union." Interesting. The last third of the book is already quite cinematic as written and should be easy to film. It even has chase scenes! But what about the beginning, which is slower and takes place a lot more inside someone's head? And the language? Will they trim down the Yiddish slang? Will they use subtitles? Can this book really be turned into a mass-market film? I'm looking forward to seeing it, but with fingers crossed.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Oscar-nominated animated shorts

I went to see the animated shorts this time. There were five films, all using inventive and interesting animation techniques, including 3-D animation, watercolor, and puppets. But three of them had storylines I wasn't that crazy about.

The two films I liked the best were "I Met the Walrus," which had witty line drawings illustrating, extending, and sometimes punning on the words of a 1969 interview with John Lennon, and "Peter and the Wolf," which was set to Prokofiev's music and had wonderful portrayals of several animals, including a charming pet duck, which unfortunately got eaten by the wolf. "I Met the Walrus" was very short, so I don't think it will win. "Peter and the Wolf" might. The other film I think might win would be "Madame Tutli-Putli," which was visually quite interesting, but left me saying "Huh?" at the end.

Both programs of shorts will be playing in S.F.'s Embarcadero theater at least through Thursday (the runs may be extended if there is still demand). A list of other theaters where they are, or will be, playing around the country is here, and a list of all the films in both the animated and live action programs, along with brief descriptions, is here. A DVD will also be released at some point.

Recommended. Although I liked some of the selections more than others, I enjoyed both the live-action and the animated shorts programs, overall, more than any regular-length feature I've seen recently.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

God drafts "State of the Union" speech (satire)

This won Honorable Mention in the 1/21/08 contest:

Thank you, humans, flora, fauna, bacteria, viruses, blue-green algae, and distinguished guests.
Continued ...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Dorothea Lange event at the library

The San Francisco Public Library put on a program about the photographer Dorothea Lange tonight in the auditorium at the Main.

They showed a film, Dorothea Lange: A Visual Life, which displayed many of Lange's photographs, accompanied by her voice (mostly from interviews that had been conducted earlier by KQED) discussing her work and her life, along with interviews with her sons and her assistants.

Lange had started as a society portrait photographer who felt she wanted to do more. Her chance came when she was asked to document the life of field workers during the Depression in what became her most famous work. She went on to photograph the Japanese-American internment camps during the war, people in Utah and Ireland for Life Magazine, and later people around the world and, in a situation that provided different kinds of challenges, her own family.

After the film, the filmmaker, Meg Partridge, came out, along with her sister, Elizabeth Partridge, who has written biographies of Lange, and their father, Ron Partridge, who had been Lange's assistant and talked at length in the film about his experiences with Lange while she was taking her Depression photos. He is also the son of Imogene Cunningham. They talked and answered questions for about half an hour.

As I was leaving, I heard the man at the book table in the back saying this was one of the most enjoyable events he had seen there, and he wished it had continued longer.

I agree.

The image at the top of this post, "Migrant Mother," is from the
Library of Congress.

Although Ron Partridge emphatically stated that photography is not art, it's journalism -- I'm still including "art" as a tag to this post.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Went to see a program containing all the Oscar-nominated live action shorts yesterday.

What I would like to see win: the hilarious Il Supplente (The Substitute). What I think will win: At Night, a memorable and well-made, but extremely depressing story about three young women who are dying of cancer.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Nina Simone - My Baby Just Cares for Me

I found this while reading the Echidne of the Snakes blog. The name Nina Simone is vaguely familiar to me, but I don't think I've heard her music before. Glad to discover this song. Wonderful animation in the video too:

Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong -- Summertime

I just realized I could find songs on YouTube that were recorded long before personal computers existed.