Archive for January, 2010

Gabriel Iglesias at Wells Fargo Center

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

As part of our effort to not get stressed out and lighten the mood in our household, our family went to see a comedy heavyweight”¦Gabriel Iglesias, who by his own admission, tips the scales at 400 pounds. We saw the earlier of his two Friday night shows at the Wells Fargo Center.

We first became aware of Gabriel Iglesias when my daughters were flipping channels one night and landed on Comedy Central. His routine was very funny, if slightly R-rated in terms of language and subject matter. But his ability to tell a funny story, and tell a story funny, won us over.

I saw in the newspaper that he was going to be at the Wells Fargo Center. However, I was concerned about whether his live performance would be family-friendly fare because of what we had seen in his routine on TV and later when Jennifer had looked him up on YouTube. So when I went to buy tickets at the box office, I specifically asked if the show had “Mature Content.” For example, that description was given for Larry, the Cable Guy. I was assured that Gabriel’s show didn’t come with a “warning.”

Good. Our family had also recently seen Brian Regan at the Wells Fargo Center. He is a comedian who is incredibly funny and also very clean in his choice of material and delivery. I really enjoyed his show because I knew he wouldn’t be dropping any F-bombs and his stories would end up in a safe place.

On the day of Gabriel’s show, there was an article about him in the Press Democrat which described him as “squeaky-clean.” That made me wonder if the person writing the article had actually watched any of his routines; Disney Channel material they are not.

However, the article went on to emphasis his “clean comedy.” He said that he used to perform “really, really blue” ““ meaning adult humor ““ but that he had made a decision early on in his career to take that out.

Regardless that the person who wrote the article and I have different definitions of “squeaky clean,” I felt reassured that Gabriel would do a show that wouldn’t make me feel uncomfortable while watching it sitting next to my 13-year-old daughter.

There is always an act to warm up the audience before the headliner, and in Gabriel’s case, there were three comedians who performed before him. The first comic was only about a minute into his routine before it was apparent that he hadn’t gotten the memo that this show didn’t include “mature content.” His material and that of the other two comedians who followed him was pretty raunchy.

Also, hearing something in person always has more of an impact than when the same words are said but you’re watching them in a pixilated video in a three-inch window on your computer screen.

So I’m sitting there with my family, thinking this isn’t what I came to see. I felt misled by both the Wells Fargo Center and the newspaper; I had done my research so I would know what we could expect for the evening and this wasn’t it.

So did I get up and leave in a huff? No, the language and material wasn’t any worse than my daughters hear on the front steps of the high school every day. Did we enjoy Gabriel’s performance? Yes, very much so. But I think I’ll skip the live performances and stick with YouTube for a while.

Sew What?

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

Does anyone make their own clothes anymore? I’m talking about the kind of sewing that involves choosing a pattern, buying fabric and constructing an entire piece of clothing at home. And the women wearing the very homemade-looking shirtwaist dresses in that weird polygamist Mormon cult don’t count. They obviously know how to make a sewing machine work.

My question about whether anyone still sews came to mind when I was in a JoAnn Fabric store last week shopping for buttons for a sweater that I had knit. On my way to the button aisle in the back of the store, I walked past the bolts of fabrics and a mannequin modeling a jacket and dress made from a Butterick pattern.

Did I stop for a moment to see if the outfit had any potential as something I might wear? Nope. The thought that ran through my mind was that I could probably find something more stylish for less than the cost of the fabric next door at Target. And I could wear it right away without investing hours of time to make it.

And over the years as I’ve chatted with other moms, I have never once met one who said they made any of their own clothes or their kids’ clothes. Is sewing an archaic skill that no body does anymore like changing your own oil?

I know how to sew so making something like I saw on the mannequin is fully within my skills. It was my sister who taught me how to sew although if she hadn’t, I would have learned the basics in my “home economics” class in junior high. Instead of a computer lab”¦because there was no such thing as a personal computer back then”¦my school had a classroom with 20 sewing machines and all girls were required to take basic sewing.

I actually loved the sewing class because it was a chance to show off my more advanced sewing skills. I clearly remember many of the fabrics I used and the outfits I made. I was very proud of wearing something I had made that fit well and showed no hint of being homemade. It didn’t get much better for me than perfectly straight rows of parallel topstitching on my pocket flaps.

But it’s been decades since I seriously considered making an item of clothing for myself. Who has the time and motivation when there are so many options for places to buy relatively well-made clothing that’s not expensive which I can try on so I know that it’s going to fit?

And young women these days don’t know how to sew. My own daughters are examples of that. Where I work, I’ve become the go-to person when a pair of pants needs to be hemmed. When I sewed on a button in about 30 seconds, everyone reacted as if I had performed magic.

Knowing that I was pondering sewing, Steve kept an eye out on Craig’s List for me. In the course of a week, he forwarded about 10 requests for people looking for sewing help of varying degrees.

So”¦since women like me who can follow a pattern to sew a skirt or dress choose not to, and girls of my daughters’ generation aren’t learning how to sew, I come back to my original question of who is buying the fabric and patterns?

In the next week, I’m going to do a little research to see if I can get an answer.

Appreciating Solid Ground

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

The horrific earthquake that devastated Haiti and the ““ by comparison ““ the seismic love tap that  Humboldt County recently experienced have renewed my appreciation for my situation. I experienced the 1989 Loma Prieta temblor that at one point closed down both the Bay and Golden Gate bridges and I remember the feeling of shock and disbelief I felt at the time. Yes, these feelings hardly compare with what the Haitian survivors are going through. All the more reason for me to thank God that we are safe and warm, that my children are well and accounted for, and that Steve and I are healthy. I am truly blessed.

Vacationing at Wells Fargo Center

Sunday, January 10th, 2010

A few months ago, Valerie told us about this really funny comedian who she had seen on a DVD at a friend’s house. So we looked him up on YouTube, and after watching a few of his routines, everyone in our house was a big fan of Brian Regan.

At about the same time, Steve and I had been talking about looking for opportunities to lighten the atmosphere”¦or as Steve calls it, the “tense-o-sphere” in our house. All too often, we focus too heavily on the immediate stresses and forget how to have fun.

So, when our youngest daughter spotted an ad in the newspaper that Brian Regan was coming to the Wells Fargo Center on January 9, we decided to get tickets for a several reasons. We wanted to show our kids that we are optimistic about the new year by doing something that we don’t typically do; I can’t remember the last time we got ourselves off the couch on a Saturday night and went to a live show.

Also, we would have an event in January to look forward to following the post-holiday letdown. And from what people had to say about Brian Regan on YouTube, I knew we would get a couple of hours of good clean humor that would certainly leave us laughing and lift our spirits.

Last night’s show delivered on all counts. Brian Regan is an incredibly polished performer ““ the program said he started doing standup in the late 1980’s and we found a video of him on YouTube with a mullet and parachute pants ““ yet because it’s a live performance there is an element of unpredictability. And when those moments happen, such as when an audience member shouts out something unexpected, his finesse and wit are amazing.

I was concerned that because we had watched a lot of his routines on YouTube that we had seen all his material. That was absolutely not the case; the entire show was fresh for me and the only bit I recognized was his encore routine about his visit to the emergency room which he did because it was a shout out from the audience.

And the funny thing was”¦and it was funny”¦that even though I had watched him perform this same routine on a video on YouTube, I enjoyed it even more this time. I guess that’s what makes a really great performer, there’s really nothing spontaneous about the story he’s telling”¦who knows how many hundreds of times he’s done this routine, yet Brian Regan delivered it as if he was telling it for the first time.

One side note about the evening, just as the show was about to begin, a group of about 10 people was escorted into the theater and sat down in the only vacant seats in the house”¦which also happened to be the best seats in the house. I didn’t pay much attention until Steve pointed out that John Lasseter was there. For our daughter who dreams of working at Pixar someday, she was more excited about seeing him in person than if Daniel Radcliffe had shown up. I wonder if Brian and John met up after the show and if we’ll hear Brian Regan’s voice in a Disney movie two years from now.

Milton Berle is so right when he said “Laughter is an instant vacation.” We’re  looking forward to our next one on January 29 when we see Gabriel Iglesias at Wells Fargo Center.

2009: Down the Drain

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

When our garbage disposal stopped working on New Year’s Eve, I figured I would just wait to get it taken care of until after January 4th when everyone is back in work mode. But when I made a phone call to the plumber and found out that he could install a new one that afternoon, Steve encouraged me to go ahead and get it done that day which I did.

Practically, that was a good idea since a home composting unit wasn’t on my Christmas list. So collecting carrot peelings and coffee grounds isn’t something I have much interest in doing.

But I’m also glad that we had a new disposal put in on the last day of 2009 because it’s a symbolic of how I want to approach the New Year: grind up the garbage”¦the anxiety and stress”¦that is leftover from a tough year and run it down the drain but store the good events that were also a part of 2009.

So, what are the highlights from last year that I can be grateful for?

Our son made the transition from junior college to San Francisco State. Last year at this time, we didn’t know where he would be going to school or if he could get the loans he needed to pay for it. He is so happy living the living the life of a student filmmaker in the City; Steve and I constantly comment to one another that SFSU turned out to be an ideal fit for him.

Our middle daughter got her driver’s license, and with some help from us, bought a great used car and completed her college applications. Our experience with our son gives us encouragement that when it actually comes to going to college, that she too will end up at the right school for her.

Our youngest daughter is starting to come into her own as an artist and personality. She also has developed a strong interest in caring for others. And I’m grateful that as she enters high school next year she has friends that I can count on to influence her in positive ways.

Steve continues to have excellent health and energy”¦which shouldn’t be taken for granted now that he is close to the age of Medicare.

And I’m grateful that in an economy of double-digit unemployment, I was able to get a job. Not only am I appreciative of the additional income, but I feel valued for the work I do and love the people I work with.

So in 2010 as I find leftovers in my refrigerator”¦and attitude”¦that have gone bad, they are all getting tossed into my new disposal.