Friday, October 29, 2010

What not to put on your book cover

This betrays how very little I actually know about drawing. It is also what happened when I was working at a bookstore and someone propped a four-foot image of an entrepreneur-cum-novelist atop the register.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bathroom Stall Series, #8

Not sure where exactly to locate the tragedy in this particular installment of the Bathroom Stall Series. This was taken in the humanities building bathroom at SF State, which means this girl is probably in her 20s, and is probably pretty torn up about her boyfriend's actual sexuality. I glean all this from the elegantly long downward curve of her frowny-face.

What perhaps is more tragic are the attempts to assuage her feelings of sadness and remorse: "He's confused" counters nicely to "Woo! Fag hag!" I wonder what it feels like to be stuck between two polarizing reactions. It's as if our culture still doesn't know how to approach the complex nature of adolescent sexuality. I mean, we really must not be ready to talk about it, otherwise we wouldn't write about it on bathroom walls.

Monday, October 25, 2010

All About Evil, San Francisco Style

And now, for my latest love letter to San Francisco, I invite you in to the Victoria Theater, the historic Mission theater that has been around more than 100 years. This weekend I had my first opportunity to walk inside its handsome doors, when I went to see All About Evil, the campy slasher flick directed by notable SF drag queen Peaches Christ. The show was marketed as a "4-D experience" not only because Peaches had organized an entire pre-film performance, complete with choreographed monster dances and movie-specific ballads, but also because the film itself was shot in the theater, and all of the gory scenes took place in our very seats. The fabulous SF-based performer Trixxie Carr introduced the show by belting out some impressive ballads while dressed as the film's main character, the diabolical Deborah Tennis (pronounced "de-BOR-ah ten-ISE"). I might go even as far to say that the lovely Ms. Carr would have been just as excellent cast in the film itself--maybe in the sequel? The film also highlighted classic actresses from John-Waters-era camp and gore such as Mink Stole and Cassandra Peterson (a.k.a. Elvira).

I'll be the first to admit that my tolerance for gore is low at best, but perhaps what made this experience so awesome was that the cast and crew were so committed to its campiness, so utterly loyal to an artistic vision that constituted a tribute to slasher films past, that it was hard not to get swept into the visceral excitement in the room. Besides, there's really now way to avoid giddiness when one is just two rows away from the sheer glamor of tangoing zombies and arrogant murderesses in period costume. Add to that the a palpable sense of suspense when we, as an entire theater full of people, collectively realized that the room in which we were very sitting, with its victorian air and old-fashioned decor, was as real a character in the film as the evil twin girls or the naive theatergoers who break Deborah's rules.

I was amazed by the artistry and impressed by the scale of the production, which has been on the road for several weeks now. But perhaps more than anything I was moved by the sense of community that linked all of these performers together. After the first set had finished, Peaches introduced all of the dancers by their stage names, and pointed out who had written the lyrics and who had choreographed the steps, who had put in extra time in the art department and who had helped with costumes. It was a true collaborative effort, and it was as fun to see them acknowledged, and the pleasure that gave them, as it was to see them perform.

The alchemy of that show was heightened by the fact that we got to see it where we did, in a beautiful theater just a week before Halloween in the best city in the world.

San Francisco, I'm so not over you yet.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Go Team!

This is in tribute to Mr. Alpers, who was the world's best runner assistant today at the San Jose Rock N' Roll Half Marathon. He was our chauffeur, our baggage-check boy, our acquirer of GU and our cheerleader. Our bearded cheerleader. Sometimes I have to stop and remind myself how it is that I find myself in these situations: jogging in place with Shirlee (his mom, my running partner today) at 8 am in the morning in a sea of runners, weaving my way through a city still waking up on a foggy Sunday morning. We were surrounded by people in Team in Training jerseys, or in homemade t-shirts with the names of their loved ones written on in puffy paint. I had forgotten my favorite "Diabetes Sucks" cap, but was wearing a belt with pump, GU, continuous blood glucose monitor and blood sugar monitor.

We kept a good pace until about mile 7, at which point I decided to increase my pace. Ryan was waiting at mile 10, which (incidentally) was located right in front of the high school where he works. I kept looking from one side of the street to the other, wondering how on earth I'd see him in this moving, sweaty mob, but when I did finally spot him, he insisted on running alongside me, chattering away, passing me water and GU, his big bicycle bag thumping against his back.

And then we passed the cheerleaders from his high school, all decked out in their school colors, some with ribbons, some with braces, all of them chanting. They slapped high fives and I heard him yell, "That's my girlfriend!" And I felt lucky.

The last two miles were a lot harder than I thought they'd be, especially when I started noticing the number of runners who had stopped, or were seeking medical attention on the side of the road. Ryan later said that, while biking from the 10 mile mark to the finish line, he saw a runner "bonk"; that is, he saw the guy begin to fall backward, until another runner caught him as he fell and helped him to the ground. "I saw a runner go off the course in an ambulance, and it wasn't you or my mom, so I thought the day was a success."

And, all in all, it was. I'm so glad I finally did it, and I'm incredibly grateful for the support not just of Ryan, his family, and my own unstoppable Team HJ, but of all the friends and family members who have donated to JDRF, offered emotional support and overall made it possible for me to do something I at times doubted I could do.

Until next time...