Saturday, November 29, 2008

My December To-Do List

I can’t help my excitement about wintertime this year. Since that first day in Atlanta when the air had teeth, visions of sugar plums have been dancing in my head. Perhaps it’s that I had two back-to-back trips planned to cold places – Chicago for Thanksgiving- or perhaps it’s that Thanksgiving is a week later than usual this year, I’m so impatient for Christmastime.

I know I’m not the only one who is reveling in Yule anticipation either. From the Facebook status updates wistful and longing for the beauty that comes with the coldest time of year to my favorite paper Creative Loafing’s hilarious DIY Atlanta Christmas suggestions, folks seem more than ready for the most wonderful time of the year.

So for all of you out there that can’t help but grin at the Christmas songs already playing in some shops, and those of you feeling more Grinchy, here is my to do list for December to help celebrate and get you in the spirit of the season. I would welcome company so if any of these strike your fancy, let me know. I’d also love to hear other ideas!

• Ice-skating outside – either in Atlanta at Centennial Park or Chicago at Millennium Park.
• Go to an Evil Santa party.
• Decorate a giant Poinsettia (my tree tradition) at my Atlanta home.
• See David Sedaris’ Santaland Diaries at the Horizon Theater.
• Consume lots of creamy after-dinner drinks. Think Baileys on the rocks, Grasshoppers, White Russians. Maybe Tequila Rose on New Years Eve.
• Abstain from the rampant seasonal consumerism and make as many of my Christmas gifts as possible.
• Listen to Twisted Sister’s Christmas album, aptly title “A Very Twisted Christmas” while wrapping gifts. The best is their version of the 12 Days of Christmas – “On my heavy metal Christmas my true love gave to me a tattoo of Ozzy.”
• Shovel snow with my mom at night while flakes land on our already wet-gloved hands.
• Sing the Alleluia Chorus of Handel’s Messiah in harmony with my siblings on Christmas Eve.
• Go to Binny’s (the local booze store) with my Dad to shop for our New Year’s Eve Party. “One of each, good man!”
• Make a million kinds of cookies with Sandy.
• Make a Christmas/winter-themed playlist.
• Stare at hundreds of Christmas lights every day.

And finally, my only Christmas to-don't:
Not slip on black ice and break my elbow like I did last year.

For Emil

For Love and Loss, 11" x 14", acrylic, paper, and beads on canvas.

I painted this for my little brother Emil earlier this month for his birthday. I started out doing something totally different but this is what happened (perhaps he'll get the original thought for Christmas). The words on the scraps of paper that are sort of bursting out from the sides of the heart are from DeVotchKa's song "Dearly Departed". It's about the dark and light parts that come together to create deep love. I'm really happy with this piece which is a bit unusual for me. Most of the time I focus on some part that I couldn't get right and can't get past it. This one though turned out just right, and better than I had hoped.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Little Help? The Greatest Thanksgiving TV and Movie Moments

I'm really getting in the spirit of the holidays this year y'all. This is my partial list of greatest Thanksgiving TV/Movie moments of all time. I know I'm probably missing a million- little help? So far I have only 6 and 2 are from Addam's Family Values. What? It's my blog.

1. Wednesday Addam's soliloquy stopping the Thanksgiving feast in Addams Family Values:

Wednesday: Wait! We cannot break bread with you.
Amanda: Huh? Becky, what's going on?
Becky: [whispered] Wednesday!
Wednesday: You have taken the land which is rightfully ours. Years from now my people will be forced to live in mobile homes on reservations. Your people will wear cardigans, and drink highballs. We will sell our bracelets by the road sides, you will play golf, and enjoy hot hors d'oeuvres. My people will have pain and degradation. Your people will have stick shifts. The gods of my tribe have spoken. They have said, "Do not trust the Pilgrims, especially Sarah Miller."
Amanda: Gary, she's changing the words.
Wednesday: And for all these reasons I have decided to scalp you and burn your village to the ground.

2. Charlie Brown making toast instead of turkey in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving:

Charlie Brown: I can't cook a Thanksgiving dinner. All I can make is cold cereal and maybe toast.
Linus van Pelt: That's right. I've seen you make toast.

(later) Peppermint Patty: What kind of Thanksgiving dinner is this? Where's the turkey, Chuck? Don't you know anything about Thanksgiving dinners? Where's the mashed potatoes? Where's the cranberry sauce? Where's the pumpkin pie?

3. Grandpa Simpson's explanation of the Walking Bird (The Simpsons "Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy"):

... Anyway, about my washtub. I'd just used it that morning to wash my turkey, which in those days was known as a walking bird. We'd always have walking bird on Thanksgiving with all the trimmings: cranberries, injun eyes, yams stuffed with gunpowder. Then we'd all watch football, which in those days was called "baseball"...

4. Pugsley Addam's "Eat Me! I'm a Turkey" song from Addam's Family Values (as part of Gary's vision of course):

Camp Children: Eat us! Hey, its Thanksgiving Day! Eat us, we make a nice buffet! We lost the race with Farmer Ed, eat us 'cause we're good and dead. White man or red man from east, north or south, chop off our legs, and put 'em in your mouth!
Pugsley: Eat me!
Camp Children: Sautéed or barbecued!
Pugsley: Eat me!
Camp Children: We once were pets but now we're food! We won't stay fresh for very long! So eat us before we finish this song! Eat us before we finish this song!

5. The Friends Episode when Monica puts a turkey on her head to cheer up Chandler:

6. Beverly Hills 90210: Brandon Walsh decides to invite Jack, a homeless veteran, to his family's house for Thanksgiving dinner. Jim, Brandon's dad, is a bit wary ("Did you ever see such a literal interpretation of the Golden Rule?") but then gives in when a bath and fresh clothes let the real, respectable Jack shine through.

7. The Family Guy episode when they spoof what John Goodman's family would look like at Thanksgiving:

Lois: You know some people would be happy to have this food, like John Goodman's family.

8. The Ice Storm, the Thanksgiving angst scene where Ms. Ricci has yet another diatribe about the plundering and pillaging of the red man by the white man:

9. and thanks to William's suggestion, pretty much all of Planes, Trains and Automobiles as Steve Martin and John Candy try to make their way home to Chicago for Thanksgiving. A ton of great quotes are here.

10. And from Mica, Home for the Holidays:

11. From Kori, the Thanksgiving episode of Everyboday Hates Chris when Chris gives a speech to his class about how he is grateful that he is not Native American:

12. From Tiffani, the infamous Gobble episode of South Park:

Monday, November 24, 2008

My Annual Trip to Minneapolis

What a wonderful weekend in Minneapolis with my friend Michelle! As a birthday gift, her husband Michael flew me in to surprise her (truly a gift for me too). With any surprise, there is the unveiling. Michael decided to build a "fort" out of chairs and a blanket for me to hide in (while still in his scrubs from work):

I had an incredibly difficult time being quiet and not laughing as she came down the stairs. Later Michelle told me that she had been hoping that I was her surprise but when she saw the fort she got worried that her surprise was actually this device from the SkyMall catalogue that allows you to hang from your ankles. (Apparently even after nearly 7 years of knowing each other I still have a lot to learn about my friend...) But she was really happy that it was me and not the Inversion Stretch Station.

The best thing that happened this weekend was that I got to meet Michelle and Michael's son Phoenix for the first time. He is an absolutely delightful 5 month old who smiles and chats all the time and is clearly in LOVE with his amazing parents. He even maintained his sweet disposition while having his first cold ever - (courtesy of a sick playmate at daycare named Salvatore, who I imagine to look like Maggie Simpson's arch-nemesis Baby Gerald).

Michelle and Michael's family is complete with Little Cat, also known as the Hall Monitor. She patrols the house checking on the baby, the parents and the leaves falling outside the window on her neon-colored toenails.

I am amazed at how much Michelle and Michael are able to do in addition to caring for a very young person. They whipped up all sorts of delicious food all weekend long. For dinner on Saturday we made think, savory Spanakopita, an abundance of sauteed beets and homemade pita bread with zaatar. Thankfully Michelle did the kneading with the pita bread because I can't handle the way flour feels- it's like nails on a chalkboard to me, ugh.

It was a beautiful dinner, complimented by a game of "would you still be my friend if..." (They did not want to be my friend anymore if all I ever ate ever was plain hot dogs, no bun.)

The cherry on top of the weekend (not the spoon this time guys) was stopping to get the new Guns N' Roses album Chinese Democracy. We were worried that it was going to be sold out and that we were going to have to go searching at various Best Buy stores in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area- I mean my god, we've been waiting 17 years for this! I asked one person beside us if he wanted his picture taken for posterity next to the display; Michelle asked the store manager if they brought in extra staff to deal with the crowds. (If you're not laughing right now then you just might be as lame as the snow queen manager who didn't crack a smile at our hilarity.)

I love my friend Michelle so much and am so grateful to hubby Michael for making this weekend possible. Since this is the second year in a row that I came to Minneapolis on the weekend before Thanksgiving, we decided that we should make it an annual tradition. What a wonderful trip to look forward to!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I Can Finally Publish this Secret

Secrets are challenging. I love them, I adore juicy tidbits whispered only to me. But how I detest actually having to keep certain ones to myself! I get that playground chant in my head: “Secrets, secrets are no fun. Secrets, secrets hurt someone.” My lips seal easily with hurtful secrets; it’s the good news (or good gossip) that gives me problems.

I am in the midst of a beautiful secret as I fly 30,000 feet in the air towards Minneapolis. My eyes flit between the shadow of the plane floating on the tops of trees and the Atlanta skyline growing smaller. I’m always amazed how far away you can still see the glint or the Georgia State Capital’s gold dome.

My seatmate is subject to my urge to tell my secret. I surprise myself by exhibiting uncharacteristic plane-friendliness as opposed to keeping my eyes down and my thumbs punching out texts till I’m forced to turn off my phone. The poor man looked a little frightened when I joked about how we should all probably stop eating french-fries in response to the captain’s statement that we carrying unusually heavy cargo. He glued his eyes to his bible when I added, “Wait till the Sunday after Thanksgiving, Captain!”

Ok, I get it. Not everyone is excited as me that I am about to surprise one of my favorite people on earth with a visit in celebration of her birthday.(Why else would I journey somewhere that boasts a morning temperature of 7 degrees?) Michelle’s lovely husband Michael called me a couple weeks ago and asked if he could fly me out to surprise her – um yes! A series of cryptic emails with titles like “the eagle has landed” later – he also apparently has me listed under an Asian name in his phone- and I am on my way to see my dear friend and meet her new son for the very first time.

I love Minneapolis. Coincidentally, I visited Michelle on this same weekend one year ago; it was that weekend that she told me she was pregnant, 5 weeks along at that point. We had a marvelous time on our weekend defined by art, delicious food and great friends; the highlights included seeing the original painting “My Dress Hangs There” by Frida Kahlo, a heart-and-soul-warming dinner with Michael and Michelle at a cozy Greek restaurant, being an audience member of a taping of Prairie Home Companion and standing at the base of the Minneapolis’ magnificent sculpture, Spoonbridge and Cherry.

I have been daydreaming all day about what Michelle will say when she sees me. I simply cannot wait to tell this secret. I’m wondering if I can try to take a picture of that moment…

Spoonbridge and Cherry, Minneapolis Sculpture Gardens

Friday, November 21, 2008

Amazing and Terrifying New Beasts in Town

It's official: there are now six Sand Tiger Sharks living .8 of a mile from where I work.! According to the Georgia Aquarium:

The three male and three female sharks are at home in the 6.3 million gallon habitat alongside the whale sharks and manta ray. The new sharks range from five to eight feet in length and weigh between 56 to 237 pounds. They are large-bodied and display a mouthful of sharp teeth that protrude in all directions, even when the mouth is shut. Despite this, they are a docile, non-aggressive species.

They are beautiful and terrifying! I cannot wait to see them - I'm planning on going next week - but I just might have nightmares before and after. Check them out on this video for yourselves:

Oh that classic Jaws music will always send chills up my spine.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

First and Last and Always: the Sisters of Mercy in Atlanta

OMG y'all. I am typing this still mired in disbelief of what I saw tonight.

Tonight, at the Variety Playhouse in my hometown of now almost 9 years, I was just three people away from Andrew Eldritch, AKA the Sisters of Mercy. The last time I saw this man was in 1991, with Gang of Four, Public Enemy, and Warrior Soul at Poplar Creek in Chicago. This means that tonight, I was inches away y'all... normally not such a big deal because I usually don't engage in such star-fuckery... but this was the Sisters of Mercy.

This is a band that has been defined by it's elusiveness. And its not just cuz of their extremely impressive fog machine that put our Carnival of the Dead fog to shame. Can you imagine that it has been 17 years since I last was in their presence? When I last saw him Andrew Eldritch had long hair! (as opposed to tonight's shaved head.) I become a teenager instantly at the memories of less than an hour ago. They skillfully and instantly make me a drama queen.

I couldn't have been more delighted to have at my side my sister Kristi who was also indulging her goth inner-child. The show we saw tonight was grounded in their Floodland album, highlights including First and Last and Always, This Corrosion, Dominion/Mother Russia, and Lucretia, My Reflection. (My inner drama queen gasps as I type these sacred names)

Can I help it if the Sisters of Mercy, the quintessential goth band, makes me smile as much as the Grateful Dead does?

Absent the women's choir that is so present in the album version (and 1991 tour version) of their songs, tonight the audience sang along with the crucial parts. The harmonies and chants rang through. Y'all, I am way too cool to sing along with bands live, but for some godforsaken reason I relished the opportunity to do so with the Sisters. It felt perfect.

It was an amazing night- complete with Something Fast and even Vision Thing. Those of you out there that are similarly gushing know what I'm talking about. But perhaps even you haven't experienced it just three people away from the source. Be still my teenage heart!

Monday, November 10, 2008


During our stroll at dusk this evening through Oakland Cemetery, Ela and I came across a special sight at Maynard Jackson's grave. For my readers outside of the south, Maynard Jackson was first elected mayor of Atlanta in 1973, making him the first African American to serve as mayor of a large southern city. Someone wanted to make sure he knew of last week's historic election of Barack Obama and offered a newspaper like a bouquet.

It made us smile so wide to see this and to think of the intention and gratitude behind the gesture. Ela wondered aloud how many other ancestors' resting spots at this moment also bore physical proof of Change in the United States. On days like today, the realization that we are living history is as close as damp leaves.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

November in the North Georgia Mountains

Driving up to the North Georgia mountains, the sun set highlighting the majesty of the purple-red mountains. Landscape marred briefly by a number of signs that read “McCain not Hussein”, I recovered quickly by queuing up Public Enemy’s Fear of a Black Planet and let it run loud. I take pictures over the steering wheel as I drive.

Underneath a star-filled approaching-midnight sky (see OPI nail lacquer Russian Navy), I listened to the stories of the proud mother of two of the stout men that make up Bang Camaro. I can’t help but grin quietly while my hot tub-wet bangs curl on my forehead.

The lovely weekend rolls out, full of delicious food including Sandy's deftly discovered real whipped cream/crack-filled fresh-baked donuts, Georgia barbeque and collectively built homemade meals with gallons of wine. Note: as tempting as it was, we did not eat the Confederate Hotdogs.

All the while the backdrop was the beautiful mountain:

the brightest reds, oranges and yellows that define autumn:

and breathtaking sunsets, preludes to crystal clear glimpses of Orion

all framed and embraced by beautiful people I am so lucky to be welcomed by.

Job Postings- Work for Justice in the South!

Three organizations very near and dear to my heart are currently hiring for a few great positions.

I would love your help in spreading the word. Check these out:

1. The Southern Center for Human Rights is looking for a Lead Community Organizer.

2. Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty needs a Coordinator.

3. The Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana is seeking a Youth Advocate.

With your help, I think we're going to find dynamic people to fill these positions and continue the struggle for justice in the south! Thanks so much for sharing this with people you know who would be a good fit.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Reliving the old hairdying days of high school- only this time it was Special Effects instead of Manic Panic and I had the foresight to wear rubber gloves and so I wouldn't have to walk around for days with bright purple hands.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

This Is Us

Sandy, Maggie and I - with Shelley there in spirit - at the historic moment that the election was called for Obama.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Kiss of Death

At No Mas! Hacienda & Cantina on Halloween night, Reem, Layla and I each drank the Kiss of Death: a blood orange margarita, made with Scorpion Mezcal, garnished with a sugar skull on a floating blood orange wheel, served on fire.