Sunday, October 25, 2009

Update from the Berlin - couple, and a response

Dear Amy !
We're sitting in front of our desk and thinking to you !
How are you, are you still working in the San Fran - City Hall ? It would be nice to hear from you and how your life is going on.
Have you been in holidays and what have you done ?
We hope, your are still fine ...

Greetings from the Berlin - couple

Sonja + Torsten


Dear Sonja and Torsten,

I was just thinking about you today, as well. Adam and I decided to get married. The reasons to outweighed the reasons not to. For example:
  1. If I got him excited enough about going shopping for a ring, I might not have to do the breakfast dishes.

  2. Last week his mom promised us a Cuisinart as a wedding gift. Apparently all her kids get one when they get married.
The egg is still congealing in the sink, and eight hours later, I'm rocking the bling and he's pacing the kitchen, being driven crazy that we don't have a full set of clean plates. In our marriage, which habit will crack first? His need to have a completely clean apartment before any fun can be had, or my belief that as long as you have one dish to put your meal on, you're still sitting pretty?

Anyway, you don't care about the cleanliness of our apartment. It turns out that getting engaged is pretty tough. Neither of us had really planned for today to be the day that we made a commitment, but, then again, when I asked him to make breakfast, I didn't anticipate him using quite so many pots and pans. And, really, why do you need to whip eggs in a separate bowl? What's wrong with just stirring them in the pan?

So we made this big decision, and while I'd never really thought I wanted an engagement ring, it turns out you kind of need one as a reminder that something's actually changed, especially if the plan isn't to traipse down to City Hall tomorrow morning. I've never understood how people wore solitaires without ripping holes in all of their sweaters, and how do you put on mittens over those things?

Google was no help, and yielded only flashbacks of that horrid commercial where the woman squeals to her roommate, "HE WENT TO JARED!" Yelp is a decidedly more hippie way to search for jewelry. But not as hippie as the cashier at a local clothing store, Aviva, who lectured me to immediately begin looking for a dress and to find a way to get into the jewelry mart. I told her I needed to get a ring TODAY. She looked at me like I was a moron, but produced a list of stores that either exhibited local jewelry artists or sold antiques.

There's a lot of hippie crap out there.

We ended up finding the ring at a place called Brand X, in the Castro, across from what used to be Harvey Milk's camera shop. It's been in business for 47 years, and the proprietor has still shots of the movie on display—every time there's a scene in the camera store, you can see Brand X in the background. In addition to hundreds of antique rings, the store also sells old-school explicit gay posters, antique Major League Baseball schedules, old Pez dispensers...It's kind of a miracle of a shop.

The owner, Fred, listened to my list of criteria and pulled out the ring we ended up getting on the first try.

Adam didn't think that making the decision to get married over breakfast was romantic enough (you may recall that he's from the South) (Also, he has no idea how well he makes eggs), so we walked up to Corona Heights, which has a view of the city, and he proposed there. I laughed most of the time.

And now, while we could be getting wasted in celebration, I'm E-MAILING. There's perfectly good champagne in the fridge.

Then again, I notice that Adam has chosen to leave the dishes where they were. Our first compromise? How romantic.

Your friend,

PS I think, to REALLY freak Aviva out, I'm going to come back into her store next week and tell her I need to buy a wedding dress THERE, THAT DAY.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Dog on...God and Career Paths

The Dog is fired from his job as a door-to-door vacuum salesman because of his criminal past, humiliating him in front of his momma:

"When I got home, I got down on my knees to pray to God.

"'Lord, is this what You want? Because of You, I became the best vacuum salesman in the world. But now, that's no longer an option.'


"The Lord spoke to me and said, 'I will make you fishers of men. Follow Me, Duane. Who was the greatest bounty hunter of all? Jesus Christ.'"

- From You Can Run, But You Can't Hide

Dog on...The Importance of Branding

It's not like some genius A&E producer was on vacation in Hawaii and stumbled upon the Dog on her way to the luau. Before the Dog came along, A&E ran arts documentaries and classic movies...I'm pretty sure. But, you know, the Dog is used to being kicked around. He knew that he'd have to fulfill his OWN destiny if he was going to become famous. And that's why, before taking on the allegedly high-stakes bounty that made him allegedly famous, the Dog appeared on several cable news shows, headlined by people I've never heard of. How did he book them? His wife e mailed the producers pictures of the Dog. As I'm sure you can tell, that was enough.

And now we never feel the constant Channel 47 pressure to watch any movie that might be classified as "film." Thank you, Dog.

And here's how he did it:

"'As I got ready for the interview [with The Rita Cosby Show], Beth and I tried to figure out what I would wear so Luster would know I was coming.

"'How about this for the interview, honey?' I stepped out wearing my leather vest and no shirt.

"'You look hot, Big Daddy! Absolutely!' She loved the way I looked. I just wanted Luster to know I was no joke. I knew he was watching.


The fugitive Luster's lawyer attempts to question the Dog's credentials while on the show: "'Who are you? No one even knows who you are.'

"'I am Dog the Bounty Hunter. My job is to catch fugitives on the run.'

"'Job? What job? Who do you work for?'

"'The state of California,' I said. 'When I bring Luster in, he's worth fifteen percent of his bond.'

"'You sound more like a bounty hunter seeking the spotlight than you do a bona fide member of law enforcement. What are your credentials?'

"'If you want to know who I am, check out my Web site,' I could see Beth off camera pumping her fist in the air in victory. Just like in my old boxing days, I took this round clean and true."

Dog on...Media Relations

Before the Dog jumped into the hunt that would make him famous, he first booked some TV appearances. The first was some show called Catherine Crier Live.

"Catherine Crier asked me some tough questions on the air, but the one that stood out was when she dismissively asked, 'So how would you catch Andrew Luster?'

"I looked deadpan into the camera, my eyes hidden behind my trademark black Oakleys so Luster couldn't see my eyes, and said, 'Run, Luster, run.'

"'Obviously, Dog. But if you could say something to Andrew Luster right now, what would it be?' Crier seemed doubtful I was up to the task.

"'You better run and hide, 'cause the Dog is coming after you.'"

- From You Can Run, But You Can't Hide

Dog on...Intimidation

The Dog is inexplicably hated in his native Denver:

"One day I was out collecting a thousand dollars from one of my clients in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven in Denver. We were making the exchange when I noticed a couple of guys approaching us wearing camouflage jackets and baseball hats that had big bold letters on the front: BEA. They both carried two guns strapped to their hips. When I first caught a glimpse of them, I thought their hats said DEA. I'm sure the exchange of cash looked like a drug deal was going down. To make matters worse, I didn't have my badge on me.

"One of the two approached me and asked, 'What are you guys doing out here?'

"I took off my sunglasses, handed them to my client, and said, 'Here, honey, hold these for me.'

"As I turned around, I realized their hats said BEA and said, 'BEA. What the hell does that stand for?'

"'Bail bonds Enforcement Agent.'

"I asked the guy, 'You got any Vaseline on you? Because I'm Dog Chapman and those guns you got are going up your ass.'

"When I started walking toward them, they turned and ran to their cars screaming, 'Run, it's the Dog!!'"

- From You Can Run, But You Can't Hide

Dog on...Publicity Tactics

"People started flocking to Free as a Bird Bail Bonds. We jammed music every morning while I walked my gigantic pet lizard on a leash up and down the sidewalk in front of the other bail bonds offices to get attention."

"When we walked through the door [of a trade association meeting], every head in the joint turned to see us standing there. It was great. I was dressed in a long black leather trench coat, looking like Keanu Reeves in The Matrix, while Beth, well, was Beth. She wore a low-cut, revealing top and high heels that resonated off the linoleum like gunshots with every step she took."

- From You Can Run, But You Can't Hide

Words of Marital Wisdom from Dog the Bounty Hunter

The single best (physical) present I received on my birthday was a paperback copy of the #1 New York Times bestseller, You Can Run But You Can't Hide, by Duane "Dog" Chapman.

It's no secret that I've taken to the reality TV since moving to California, but watching Dog the Bounty Hunter is one of my guiltier pleasures. It really might be the most underrated reality show on television. Dog is an ex-con who hunts down fugitives with his family, his golden mullet, and several cans of Mace. It's not fair to call his family trashy, except for that I'm fairly certain Dog would describe them the same way. His partner is his wife, Beth, whom he's described as "racktacular" and who has those talon-like fingernails and stiletto heels that could only pass as appropriate in a roadside casino outside of Las Vegas...certainly not suburban Hawaii, where they operate.

But no matter, because Beth is my favorite character on the show. After beating a fugitive to the ground, she then nestles them to her enormous bosom and gives them a lecture about making good choices in life. I really couldn't think of a better partner for Dog...which is good, because he's definitely tried others. And so, for the first post of what will obviously be many about Dog the Bounty Hunter, a rundown of the Dog's wives:

- LaFonda, his first betrothed, whom he met and married at the age of 17 in Denver. His first impression of LaFonda, in a mall, was that she "had long brown hair and an unbelievable rack." LaFonda had two of his children, but ended up leaving the Dog for his best friend while he was in jail for murdering a man. (He didn't pull the trigger--stupid Colorado laws!)

- Ann, whom the Dog considers to be the first person he slept with when he got out of prison. (He's not counting hookers, of course.) They did it in his car, obviously, she announced she was only 17, and then announced she was pregnant. So as to avoid a trip to jail for rape ("Seventeen gets you thirty."), the Dog marries her: "Note to self: Don't marry the first woman you sleep with after prison. In fact, you probably shouldn't marry the second, third, or fourth one, either. ... It was only later that I found out: Seventeen was legal in Colorado!"

- Lyssa, whom the Dog meets in a bar in the midst of his divorce proceedings, and makes Dog realize that he needed to be with someone who, like his Mamma, understood God. (If you didn't know it, "Dog" is "God" backwards.) "When Lyssa told me she understood the Lord, I offered her a thousand bucks on the spot to have my baby. I was serious, too! I promised her she'd enjoy the experience, and even told her she could visit the baby whenever she wanted. Believe it or not, she said yes! ... Lyssa got pregnant right away." (BTW, if you're watching the show, don't confuse Lyssa with BABY LYSSA, her daughter.)

At this point, we learn that Beth, Dog's eventual wife, is somewhat of a stalker. The year is 1988, and Beth pops up into the picture. She makes quite the impression, mostly because of her breast size (although Dog quite chivalrously notes that he "had quite a thing for smart women--especially smart women with big tits."). In 1988, Dog is married to kind of a peripheral woman, his secretary, Tawny. He's falling pretty hard for Beth, but, in the spirit of his vows, points out, "I had just gotten married again. I didn't think I had room for another woman." But Beth keeps popping up, showing up in his home to tell him that Tawny's on drugs, trying to move in, inviting the Dog and all his puppies to move into her house. Finally, Dog gives in, after an episode of neck-licking (I'm not kidding) in an alley in Denver. But mostly, Beth keeps the Dog grounded: "Whenever Beth calls me Big Daddy, I know she's being sincere and I'd best pay attention."

I'll tell you about their wedding later.

Monday, October 12, 2009


You know this wrestling suit? And how most dudes kind of layer them, because unless you look like this guy, the outlines are discouraging?

Well, an elderly gentleman was wearing one, and only one, in my gym today. Cell phone cameras are strictly prohibited at the 24 Hour Fitness, which is a great disappointment. This man was at least in his 70s, his suit was red, and it was a little stretched out. He wore Reeboks with no socks. He took those Reeboks off to stretch later, which is a whole different issue, but overshadowed by the wrestling suit.

When you're down to ONE item of clothing in a public place, you'd better hope it's a mascot costume.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Blissfully Naive

Dear Allison,

Confession: I didn't make that butternut squash soup recipe you suggested. Yes, it was cold and blustery outside, and I had been dreaming of butternut squash soup for hours. Yes, I finally own a blender and that would have been the perfect time to try it out. But...well, the recipe you sent me included a calorie count, and 800 calories in a single cup of soup scared me off. I mean, where's the room for bread?

I made this instead.

Yes, french onion soup isn't generally thought of as healthy. Sure, it's coated in half a block of cheese, and sure, it has buttered toast under that fatty layer. But Epicurious doesn't publish calorie counts, and what you don't know won't hurt you, right?


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ridin' Drrrrrty

I flew sick yesterday.

I know you're not supposed to, and I kept envisioning those heat-sensing devices the Chinese put up during the bird flu outbreak. They'd pull you out of line if your body heat was too high. My paranoia was reinforced when TSA set up some sort of mobile command unit at my boarding gate, and pulled a few people out of line for random checks. My primary fear was that they'd open my backpack and I'd never be able to re-pack all the CDs jammed in there--part of my commitment to Mom that I'll take more of my stuff out of her closets in San Diego. But my secondary fear was that one of these gentle souls would feel my forehead.

Anyway, I promise I don't have swine flu, just one of those colds I get whenever I sleep for fewer than seven hours a night. (Wimp.) But by the time Adam and I were getting off the plane, I was wondering out loud if the reason you're not allowed to fly sick is the likelihood that you'll just go apeshit on one of the many morons in any given airport.

We were absolutely surrounded.

The security line on a Monday evening coming out of San Diego is almost non-existant, but we were behind a family traveling with two babies and seemingly about ten bottles of water. (The rule, as declared by the TSA agent, is that you can't bring water on unless you can prove it's for the baby. I'm not sure how they decide that.) Then three women in wheelchairs jumped the line, then complained there was no wheelchair waiting for them on the other side. We later saw them browsing the souvenier shops, no wheelchairs in sight.

There was the guy who got on the plane close to the end, who got everyone's attention by demanding who it was who took "his" space in "his" overhead compartment. I'm not sure how this dude got his carry-on onto the plane--it was a four-foot-long, absolutely stuffed duffel bag. He wasn't happy to have to gate-check it, but what I want to know is how he got that thing through both security and the gate agent. He couldn't even carry it with one hand; he was kind of hugging it to his body.

Then there were the kids behind me, who had a case of the "me-sies." That's what their parents called it when they were fighting or being selfish, like it's a really cute phenomenon. The fighting eventually stopped, because the mother was hosting a sing-along with the five-year-old. This is the SECOND TIME this year I've been in close proximity to a mother who sings to/with her kid for an entire flight. And know what the worst part is? I'll bet when these women's friends take them to karaoke, they're the ones who bashfully and annoyingly decline to participate.

Now, I'm never super laid-back, but on Friday, when I was healthy and pumped for the trip, when the woman behind me in the security line thought she could bring a bottle of Charles Shaw on the plane, I just laughed. We can't do a lot to prevent the spread of H1N1, but by limiting sick people in the airport, we CAN reduce fistfights and boarding gate violence. Because you can bet that if I had the spare energy to lift my arm last night, I would have at LEAST waved it threateningly at these people.