Monday, August 25, 2008

NEW new thing #25: Write right

This isn't something I would have done if I didn't think I was supposed to. I wrote on a bathroom wall. I'm so serious- I had really never done that! I've certainly seen enough of it- phone numbers, political messages, adorable couples' initials, chicken recipes- but had never taken part. My dad has this great story about being in a restroom on the campus at Harvard and seeing that someone had written, "Harvey is a dirty neoclassicist." Since the restroom I chose to grace was in a place slightly less cerebral than Harvard (though probably just as loquacious), I chose a simple, direct message to stand out from all the proclamations like "so and so 4 Eva" and "Your mom is a [farm animal]."
Eat pie!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

NEW new thing #24: Plane Jen

Ah summer. You and your barbecues, beach outings and old-timey upstate plane shows. Never having had the chance to partake in that last one, I joined Kevin and some friends and went up to Rhinebeck and I watched old-timey planes fly around. I used to live in the flight path of a naval base in San Diego, so to have the dull roar of killer war planes replaced by the comparatively soft hum of um, old killer war planes was both historically enriching and oddly comforting. Plus, there was an anachronistic Ferrari display nearby and a fantastic stunt involving an old guy pretending to be a plane-unsavvy farmer. And oops- the pilot of the plane had to jump out to fix something and oops, the old guy flew off and oops, started doing loop-de-loops in the sky! Luckily, he landed safely, even after snagging a clothesline on the tail of the plane and even after losing his farmer hat. Yes, I am a jaded New Yorker. It probably sounds like I wasn't impressed by this, but I totally was. Because planes is cool! Especially old-timey ones. And I still regret not having taken a byplane ride around the fairgrounds.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

NEW new thing #23: Doot n doo doo

Being a west coaster and having made countless trips to beaches to watch the sunset, it is still rather mythical and strange to me that the sun could rise over the ocean. Because in my SoCal mind, oceans are for setting. So I watched the sun rise over the ocean. This picture was taken a while after that happened. I was busy drinking my coffee and singing at full volume as I walked along the beach. And you know what ? You just can't do that in California.

Friday, August 22, 2008

NEW new thing #22: Safe cracker

I love staying in hotels, and until recently have been sort of blindly trusting of the people who clean the rooms. Which is a really dumb idea. Especially now that I take my laptop along so I can write on the road, what's stopping anybody from messing with my stuff? A pink uniform and a plastic nametag do not an honest person make, so on this trip to the Jersey shore, I used a hotel safe. My dad swore by these things when we all used to travel together, but I never really saw fit to use them. But I also don't see fit to get my stuff ripped off. So I followed the rather fool-proof instructions, locked up my Mac and some other stuff, and headed to the beach, worry free.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

NEW new thing #21: Fly Dry

I used dry shampoo. I've managed to deal with the FAA liquid laws on planes rather well, but I anticipate flying quite a bit in the next year, mostly for short, wedding-length trips out of state. I don't want to be bothered with having to check a big bag for a 72-hour trip, and I also can't leave behind my shampoo, or stretch out one measly 3-oz bottle for three days. So I made a stop to Lush, home of the most awesome-smelling, environmentally friendliest, and most surreptitiously naughty bath products this side of Miss Mona's. They have quite a variety of solid shampoos, which escape all FAA standards for "liquid" and "gel," but also turn to foam when you want them to. They clean as well as anything from a bottle and smell even better. But SHH! Don't tell the terrorists.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

NEW new thing #20: Word to My Nerd

I played a role-playing game. Having been just that side of nerdy in high school, I was keen to hang out in fairy wings but never got in with the whole D 'n' D set. The closest I came to that whole scene was showing up in costume at what was supposed to be a Drama Club murder mystery party, but ended up as a karaoke gossip fest. It was rad.
So anyway, pal Kirk, fresh from returning from something called Dragon Con, asked me and several members of his Scooby Doo-esque improv team The Ghosty Teens to get together to help him test drive an RPG he wrote based on a best-selling format called Dread. We each played a specific archetype of mystery-solving teen (I was The Forgeign Exchange Student) and had to help The Geek's stepdad (Shaquille O'Neal) rid his museum of a sinister ghost that was haunting the place. After about three hours, two near-fatalities, one snake attack and a gunfight, we finally solved the mystery, rescued Shaq from being buried alive, and got our ten-year-old sidekick home before curfew. There weren't any costumes or anything, but there were accents, maps, character quirks, strategies and arguments. All par for the course for the crusading Ghosty Teens.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

NEW new thing #19: Roofish

In my seven years in New York and my three as a member of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I have somehow never made it up to the roof (this may be because the roof is seasonal, and I tend to stay away from the Met during the summer). So while on a Staycation of sorts, I went to the roof of the Met. It strikes me as the sort of place that gets super scene-y after dark; there's a bar, and not much art. The sculptures that they do have up there, however, are totally amazing; giant balloon animals in captivating colors that sort of frame the trees of central park. I made balloon animals last year as part of this project- How come they never looked like that? I have three answers, and one of them includes the absence of psychedelic drugs.

Monday, August 18, 2008

NEW new thing #18: Superbook!

A few months ago, I began emailing Kevin's childhood friend Marc, a seasoned author whose books include titles like Green Berets in Action and Giving Things to Your Children Without Ruining Their Lives, to get advice for my own writing. When I finally got to meet the guy in person, I got my own autographed copy of a book as well. The release of his new baby, Men of Steel: The Creators of Superman, coincided with a showing of Superman at Bryant Park, so he had a table set up to greet the more literary nerd who showed up for the screening. I hope he did well- he's super nice and apprently quite talented. I would expect nothing less from a guy who apparently spent his formative years doodling his way through math class. Glad to know I wasn't the only one!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

NEW new thing #17: Wiiiings!

I hang out with a lot of very hyper people, and some of them will openly admit that their hyperactivity comes partly from a can. I know several performers who down a Red Bull before a performance, rehearsal, practice, class or, hell, watching TV. I have so far stayed off that particular juice, having convinced myself that it would make my heart explode. But, throwing caution to the wind, I drank a Red Bull. I thought about downing the bottle before a Blue Man show, to see if it might enhance my tube performance, but decided to test it in the safety of m own home.
Which was good.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

NEW new thing #16: Buildy McBuilder

I've been meaning to redo certain elements of my bathroom for some time, so I went to BB&B and got some elaborate 4-piece bathroom collection thingy, complete with an over-the-toilet piece that promises to reduce all the girly clutter. I have yet to do the big one, but I've put together the door rack, the magazine holder and the towel tower. And I built them without looking at the instructions. I think I saw someone forced to do this the one time I ever watched Amazing Race, and it seemed completely cruel, especially to someone who, until last year, had never even put together Ikea furniture. But since this bathroom stuff isn't so different, and because I thought it would be fun, I hid the directions from myself and navigated all the poles, caps and hangers with nothing but intuition and logic as my compass. Well guided, intuition and logic!

Friday, August 15, 2008

NEW new thing #15: Puppy Love

Hanging out with small dogs is endlessly entertaining. I have dog-sat several times for a dachshund named Blue, and lately have been hanging out with Chihuahua Luca. Since Blue tends to be a bit of a loner, preferring quick dashes to the curb and short, frantic walks through Riverside park, I've never taken it upon myself to try to socialize him Besides, he's not mine. But Luca loves to share the love, so I went into a dog run. I always pass by them to gaze longingly at other people's puppies, but have never had cause to actually go into one. It's like spastic, four-legged kindergarten, with all the exploratory friend-making, digging in the sand and nervous parent types trying to prove that their kid is the best behaved. I'm proud to say that Luca was very well-behaved, and that the incident with the Boston terrier probably wasn't his doing.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

NEW new thing #14: Parish

When you live in New York, you see a lot of different types of people. Unfortunately, there is an overwhelming amount of cliche types; you got your neurotic joggers, 25-year-old sexist Wall Street sharks, mean store clerks, celeb wannabes. It's that last group that cracks me up the most. A lot of them manifest their need to feel famous by taking on the characteristics, if not income level or job description of, "ladies" like Paris and Lindsay. You know what I mean- the hair, the clothes, the fancy bags, the tiny dogs. It may all be a bit annoying, but being a big proponent of "don't knock it till ya try it," I walked around with a fancy bag and a tiny dog. Friend Kate was kind enough to entrust her docile Chihuahua Luca to my care for a couple of New new things, and Luca accompanied me today to brunch in SoHo, where I tried to ignore the discomfort of stepping so entirely out of myself, however fleeting the feeling may have been.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

NEW new thing #13: You really ga mi

I must have gone to a secretly progressive elementary school or something, because unless it's been involuntarily suppressed, I have absolutely no memory of ever having made origami. So I made origami. Somebody wonderful, who knew I never got around to doing this during the year-long project, gave me an origami pack for my birthday. I busted it out and made a penguin, a cicada, a helmet, and several mutant penguins and cicadas, as well as a few colorful wads of paper, and the ever-traditional Square of Paper With a Knee Print In It.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

NEW new thing #12: Case Study

One of my all-time favorite books, not just from childhood, but from ever, is From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. It's a wonderful, odd story about two kids who run away to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I re-read it last fall, after I got stuck trying to recall some of the details. It starts with tween Claudia's elaborate plan to get herself and her brother out of Greenwich and into the city, part of which involves leaving on music day so they can stuff their instrument cases with clothes. Inspired by their clever scheme, I packed my violin case with clothes and went to the Met. I drew the line at hiding in the bathrooms long enough for security to leave, and I definitely didn't start sleeping in the big blue bed or taking baths in the fountain. That's for tomorrow.

Monday, August 11, 2008

NEW new thing #11: Men at Work

I've been very good at staying away from New Things that I'm not supposed to be doing, things that are illegal, dangerous, unhealthy, or involve quicksand. So guess I was feeling risky or daring or something and I walked through a high-rise construction site. Without a hard hat. In open-toed shoes. I didn't really mean to- I was trying to take a sidewalk detour when I veered off the path a little bit and realized that I was standing in what looked like a lobby-to-be, with no discernible walls or ceilings, and lots of dust and scary machinery. I walked parallel to the path in case some burly construction guy came through, but nobody did. Eventually I went back to the path, and nobody ever seemed to notice. Also, they were playing some sweet 80s music.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

NEW new thing #10: Piano Woman

There are better photos of this that I'll post later, but I sat on a grand piano while wearing a red dress and white gloves. The singer/dramatist/drag queen in me has needed to do this for quite some time> though I don't have a video, there was some singing involved, and my audience of zero (and camera crew of two) were more than happy to act like I wasn't crazy for asking to do this.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

NEW new thing #9: Oh Rudy

My sophomore year of college, one of my friends wanted to go to IHOP for her birthday and order the Rootie Tootie Fresh and Fruity breakfast. We'd all become strangely enamored with the commercials, and thought a birthday was a good excuse to order such a tantalizingly dumb sounding meal. Alas, I got sick the morning we were supposed to go, and my friends had to Rootie Toot without me. I meant to go get my own RTFnFB during my year of new things, and somehow never did. But finally, ten years after my first attempt to be Rootie and Tootie and Fresh and Fruity, I ordered the Rootie Tootie Fresh and Fruity Breakfast at IHOP. Kevin ate the eggs, I ate everything else. It was delish.

Friday, August 8, 2008

NEW new thing #8: You were the first one

photo by Keith Huang

This is sort of not new; this year marked the fifth that I have performed in Terry Jinn's Enormous Television, an annual birthday cover concert thrown by the eponymous guitar god. But it was the first time that I performed at Kenny's Castaways. This place has seen early work from some of the greatest names in rock, including Bruce Springsteen, Phish, The Ramones and Aerosmith (two of whom were covered in this show). This year I sang Video Killed the Radio Star (past selections included Beat It, You Oughta Know and MmmmBop, and there was one year when I did backup on about 67 songs), and between that and the 17 other songs, at least one of us is destined for rock legend. Either that, or we will just own a pet rock.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

NEW new thing #7: Vee R Impressed

I recently upgraded the cable here to include more movie channels. As I was hanging up with Cable Lady, she asked if there was anything else she could help me with. I somewhat impulsively blurted out, "can I have DVR?" She said no. Kidding. She said of course, told me the extra monthly charge, and made an appointment to have installation set up. I had previously rejected the idea of needing to record anything, since I don't really watch that much tv, but I do like the idea of being able to watch whatever I want when I do feel like sitting down and zoning out for a while. So I DVRed stuff! The first pick was Soapdish, one of my favorite all-time movies that I don't have on DVD. It was on at 4am, and I went to bed around 11, but I slept oh so soundly knowing that Kevin Kline and Whoopi would be waiting for me whenever I wanted them.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

NEW new thing #6: Especially Tantalizing

This from the Weird Things I Never Did When I Was a Kid files:
I buried myself in stuffed animals.
This was equal parts nod to E.T., belated childhood desire and completely pointless guilty pleasure.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

NEW new thing #5: Dr. Spacebag

Ah, back to New York. It's apparently still August here, and after having gotten used to the idealistically comfortable weather in San Diego, I didn't adapt back to the sticky hot weather so well. The first adjustment I made was getting rid of the down comforter on the bed. Well, not rid rid; I just needed to move it. And Lord knows it's hard to store something so bulky and fluffy, so to make things easier, I used a space bag. I sort of wish this had anything to do with Space space; that would imply that I am an astronaut or perhaps a Martian. But they don't and I'm not (hmpf). But they are awesome and I am quite happy with them; provided you own a vacuum with a hose, you can be too. Just load, suck, and store. Then shove your otherwise unwieldy down comforter nearly under the bed. (Insider tip: tape the top and the duct shut and air will be less likely to creep in).

It doesn't end up being quite as neat and tidy as on the commercials, but my comforter still takes up less space, and it's weirdly fun to watch an otherwise normal bag of stuff morph into something resembling a cotton gremlin. (I once heard a warning that it's risky to use these things on plush down, but the down has become considerably less plush over the years. I should still be okay come winter.)

Monday, August 4, 2008

NEW new thing #4: Mom is great!

When I'm visiting my family, one of their favorite pasttimes is to feed me. And one of my favorite pasttimes is to eat whatever the heck they give me. So when my mom, inspired by a Bill Cosby routine in which he deftly justifies feeding children dessert as a meal asked if I'd ever had chocolate cake for breakfast, I said no, then I said YES and I had chocolate cake for breakfast. The Cos is totally right- it's milk, it's eggs, it's wholesome, and it's YUMMY!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

NEW new thing #3: Scratchmaker, scratchmaker

I fiddled on the roof.
Sounds crazy, no?
But here, in our little village of Anatevka, you might say every one of us is a fiddler on the roof. Trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck. It isn't easy. You may ask, why do we stay up there if it's so dangerous? Well, we stay because Anatevka is our home. And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

NEW new thing #2: Earth mover

My parents recently decided to completely overhaul their backyard- partly for aesthetic reasons, but also because they nearly lost the house to fires last year and it's in their better interest to get rid of anything that court disaster- so they're replacing the eucalyptus trees with liquid amber, the pine trees with succulents and so forth. But for the time being, the back of their house looks like it did when we moved in nearly 20 years ago, complete with a Pot-A-Let in the driveway and Bobcats in the back. The second I saw those babies, I knew I had to do something with them, so I got behind the wheel of a Bobcat. Two of them! For liability reasons, and because they're not total idiots, the construction guys didn't leave the keys and I had to resort to making "vroom vroom" noises from the driver's seat. But still, such fun!

Friday, August 1, 2008

NEW new thing #1: No Plate Like Home

I've never been the hugest sports fan, but I like me some baseball. So while I was home in CA this week, I said yes to some Padres tickets at Petco Park, and I sat behind home plate. It was also my first time in that ballpark- it didn't exist when I was last a full-time San Diego resident, so my last Padres game was at what I like to call Jack Murphy stadium, even though the team and the corporation that took it over call it Qualcomm. Petco is more like a baseball resort- very new and beautiful with waterfalls and in-seat drink service and padded chairs and ponies. My parents, long-time friend Andrea and I had a great view of the game, not to mention the umpire's booty, from our seats about nine rows back. The Pads were down something like 7-4 at the bottom of the 9th, so I put on my rally cap in hopes that they could pull it out. But they didn't, because my rally cap was from New York*. Oops.

*University, not Yankees. But still. (At least I didn't wear my Red Sox hat!)