Archive for August, 2012

In Which I Explain Bay Area Weather

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Here’s the thing about Bay Area weather: It’s the same. Every year.

And not just a little the same. It is VERY MUCH THE SAME, right down to the week, year after year.*

So I’m completely befuddled when people are surprised by it. Complaints? No problem. If you’re not into it, I won’t argue with you, since taste is subjective—and as my beloveds know, I am 100% okay with complaining. (Also known as: Jewish.) But being surprised by Bay Area weather is like being surprised that puppies poop in shoes and oranges squirt you in the eye. Because while it may be many things (foggy, damp, bone-shivering), one thing Bay Area weather is NOT is surprising.

For your reference, a primer:


The rains start. Just a few, at first. The weather’s still pretty warm, though.


Some rain, but often surprisingly warm. Moving to chilly by the end of the month.


This is winter. Winter in the Bay Area is characterized by temperatures in the 50’s, overcast skies, and plenty of rain. Is it more rain than last year? No. Is it more rain than ever? No*. True, it may feel like a lot of rain. It’s not. It’s the same. As always. It’s called winter. Also known as The Rainy Season. You’ve been here before. Now you’re here again. Welcome back!


Spring’s a’ comin’. Things are getting warmer, but they’re not warm yet. Rains are still happening, though less often. You will want it to be warmer than it is. It will not be warmer than it is. Was it warmer than it was last year? No, it was not! Fancy that!


There is a very weird thing that happens every June, and that is this: For about two weeks, we have hot weather. 80’s and 90’s! Yes! I know! It’s weird! And it feels like it has never happened before! But it happens every year! Just like it is happening now! And will happen again! It has a name! And its name is June!


This is summer. Summer in the Bay Area is not like summer in other places. Summer here is like this: foggy and cold in the morning, warm in the afternoon (when the fog burns off), and foggy and cold in the evening (when the fog rolls back in). Do you need a scarf and hat at breakfast? Sometimes! Are you using your down comforter at night? Probably! Are you upset that you’re not getting a “real” summer? That’s insane! Because you never get one of those! We don’t have those here! They simply do not exist! No matter how much you want them to! Not until September and October, anyway. Which brings us to …


This is when things get warm in the Bay Area. How warm? 80’s, very frequently. Sometimes 90’s. Sometimes for a week at a time! There’s a great meteorological reason for this, having to do with the ocean temperature and the fog, etc. But we don’t need to worry about it. We just need to know that it will be warm, and sometimes very warm, during these two months. It’s not shocking! It’s not a surprise Indian summer! It’s not a miracle that you need to cherish, lest it never happen again! Because it WILL happen again! It happens every year! It’s just BAY AREA WEATHER!


Repeat. Verbatim.

*Exception: El Niño, 1997-1998. That was a fucking disaster.

In Which the Issue of the Mulch, which Appeared Incapable of Worsening, Does, In Fact, Get Worse

Monday, August 27th, 2012

First this.

Now this:

J: Sweetie, I thought of a great way to break up the front-yard mulch into smaller pieces.

M: Yeah?

J: We can spread it out on the driveway and leave it there for a while. That way, whenever we pull in or out, we’ll be breaking it up into pieces.


J: Sorry?

M: You’re hurting me!

J: It’s the perfect—

M: Stop talking! Stop saying anything! Don’t speak!

J: But what’s the—

M: [Clutching stomach and rolling on the floor.] I didn’t think this could get any worse! But you found a way! You found a way to make it worse!

J: [Collapsing into hysterics.] But it’s not worse! It’s better!

M: It’s the death of my dreams! It’s the end of my being!

J: [Laughing.] I’m hearing that you don’t like this idea.

M: [Laughing too hard to speak.]

J: [More hysterics.] I really don’t see the problem!

M: [Laughing laughing laughing.] Please don’t kill me. Please don’t kill me this early in my life.

J: [Laughing laughing laughing.] Okay, Sweetie. Okay.

[Finally, laughter dies down and we get in the car.]

M: Let’s just go to the Rep and pretend this never happened.

J: Okay, but what if–

M: It never happened! You never said this!

Ruby Sparks

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

Eh. It’s about what you’d expect.

Endearing performance by Paul Dano and some charming (if stagey) moments of situational comedy, but the script isn’t fully baked.

Writer Zoe Kazan (yup, granddaughter of Elia) is trying to say something about the Manic Pixie Dream-Girl (MPDG), i.e., that the men who desire (and create books/films/TV shows about) that breed of mythical creature do so because they can’t handle the messiness of real intimacy with a real woman. But in the attempt, Kazan succeeds only in recreating yet another MPDG, without ever showing us what the real woman, and the real relationship, looks like. Blech.

I also wonder: Why isn’t the woman the writer? Why is it always the man writing a woman into fantasy—even when the film is written by a woman? Kazan wrote herself into the role of an object, and a MPDG object at that.

Even the literal objects that Kazan chooses to signal her character’s reification are classic fetish objects: high-heeled shoe, underwear, bra. Why don’t we get a book, an umbrella, or a pair of running shoes? I sense that it’s because as much as Kazan wants to say that the MPDG doesn’t exist, she would like to be one. She’s trying to have it both ways, and it’s working against the success of her film.

That said, it’s certainly watchable—and John liked it better than I did.

Two More of Note

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

Caitlin Moran (of How To Be a Woman) and Jackie Siegel (of The Queen of Versailles) don’t have much, if anything, in common. But I saw Versailles while I was reading Moran, and I was struck by how sympathetic both women are, even as Siegel is the embodiment of much of what Moran rails against.

Moran’s book is a hilarious, marvelous memoir-manifesta of both her personal (haphazard—or haphazardous, as my friend Sarah would say) evolution as a woman and feminism in general, and I hope everyone reads it, female and male, young and old.

I have a few gripes with it, mainly along the lines of, “This isn’t going far enough” and “She does tend to oversimplify, particularly around fat as a feminist issue,” but whatever. It’s fantastic, and Moran is an energizing example of a woman in the public eye who refuses to play by the idiotic rules she’s inherited. Bonus points: She’s unflinching around very difficult topics.

The Queen of Versailles is an eminently watchable and surprisingly sad documentary about a morality-free Florida couple’s fall from billions. I expected to revel in their calamity, but instead I felt for them—even for the husband, who in the opening moments of the film claims responsibility for having gotten George W. Bush elected, apparently illegally. (He almost certainly has an inflated sense of his influence, so this might not be technically true. Still. What a disgusting claim.)

The Siegels present themselves as victims of the banks (“They hooked us on cheap money”), but to me they seem so much more the victims of their own unexamined psychic wounds. Or at least he does.

She is more of an enigma. Yes, she spends money as a hobby; yes, she outsources parenting to her overworked nannies; yes, she seems oblivious to the suffering of both her children and those nannies. But she has a good heart—i.e., she’s oblivious but kind—and she doesn’t actually seem IN it for the money. She seems to have taken on all the signifiers of grotesque wealth without fully inhabiting them. I can’t fully explain it, except to say that I liked her and felt sorry for her and saw her more as a victim of the values of our culture than of her own devious devising.

She could certainly stand to read Moran’s book, though. Jackie: give it some thought!


Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

I say it every four years, and I’m going to say it again: WTF is up with the women’s beach volleyball uniforms? WHY AREN’T THE WOMEN DRESSED LIKE THE MEN?

It’s obvious from the fact that the men wear giant board shorts and floppy basketball jerseys that you don’t need a bikini to play beach volleyball. Ergo, the ONLY possible reason for the lingerie wear is objectification and sexism.

I actually read somewhere that until recently, there was a regulation regarding how SMALL the bikinis had to be—i.e., that they couldn’t be ABOVE a certain inch size. And as if it weren’t apparent from their thong-ish appearance (which it is), we can also gather from the fact that Misty and Kerri are always picking them out of their butts that this size is WAY TOO SMALL for comfort.

This is a SPORT. It is not A FASHION SHOW or  A GIRLIE MAGAZINE or anything else I detest. Kerri and Misty, can you please get with the other women in the sport and refuse to wear this deeply insulting pile of oppression? I don’t see how you could do anything else.



P.S. So, here’s a bit about how the bikinis are no longer required—not out of respect for the women, of course, but as a concession to more “conservative” cultures. And how many of the women will keep wearing the bikinis, because they, God help us, like them. Here’s a Kerri Walsh quote that makes me sad:

“We need to be wearing bikinis. You don’t want to be wearing baggy clothes and be lost in your clothes . . . we found something that is functional and sassy at the same time.”

Oh, Kerri. It’s not “sassy” to have half the world ogling your naked butt cheeks instead of marveling at your athleticism. It’s … gross.