Tina Fey in Conversation with Steve Martin, April 19

People often ask me if Tina Fey is gay.  This is because, I think, and unfortunately for me, I’m the only gay person they know, and they assume that we all know who the others are, like Cylons or something.  The larger takeaway, though, is the implication behind the question: that very few women can have the strength of her talents, defy as many conventions, and not talk incessantly about how she should be defined as a mother first, unless she were a lesbian.  There’s a whole lot wrapped up in that implication, too much to deconstruct here, so I’ll just say: that is a terrible work of fiction that no one wants to read but for some reason keeps getting checked out.

For those of you (gay, straight, boy, girl, in between, on the fringe) looking for a little inspiration a la Fey, Live Talks LA is hosting the writer/producer/actress/comedian at the Nokia Theater on Tuesday, April 19.  Fey will discuss her upcoming memoir, Bossypants, with Steve Martin.  Tickets just went on sale on Friday; get them here.  My guess is that these will sell out, soon, so you better get on it, now.

For those curious about Fey’s essaying abilities (because being head writer at SNL, the creator/writer of 30 Rock, and the writer of Mean Girls isn’t quite enough), check out the last few issues of The New Yorker. An essay  first appears in the same issue as the fantastic article on Scientology, about “juggling” her career and her – blahblah – family (“What is the rudest question you can ask a woman? ‘How old are you?’ ‘What do you weigh?’ ‘When you and your twin sister are alone with Mr. Hefner, do you have to pretend to be lesbians?’  No, the worst question is: ‘How do you juggle it all?’”).

The second essay, in this week’s issue, is on the lessons she learned from Lorne Michaels (“Never tell a crazy person he’s crazy.” – I’m assuming she’s talking about Tracy Morgan here, but I may be projecting).  I hope Tina Fey and Rudy Giuliani do a book exchange, BossyPants for Leadership, just to compare and contrast styles.  If you have nothing going on – and, heck, even if you do – go to the newsstand, flip to page 22, and just read it.  It’s great.  It makes you want to buy the book or e-book.  And, yes, see her live from Los Angeles, on a Tuesday night.

An Evening with Tina Fey in Conversation with Steve Martin, Tuesday, April 19 at 8:00pm at the Nokia Theatre. Tickets are $29 (seat only)/$49 (premier seating plus Fey’s book)/$119 (prime seating plus Fey and Martin’s books). A signing will follow the talk.

How to Feed 1,250 Emotional People at an Awards Show

What happens when you ask Suzanne Goin to look "fierce."

A producer friend of a friend once described his pre-Oscar ritual as something akin to a runner prepping for a marathon: “Eat.  Because you’re not going to until hours and hours later.”  That he has to go hungry during the 3+ hours of The Emmys or The Oscars is the worst thing about the gala for him (for people who actually are in it to win it, the worst thing probably is not being nominated or losing what may be your only chance to claim the “O” in “EGOT“).  Anyway, the reason why, say, The Golden Globes and The Screen Actors’ Guild Awards are better in his book is in part because you get to eat.  Eating is, after all, the panacea for all the ups and downs during any awards ceremony, whether it be The SAG Awards at The Shrine or your kid’s end-of-the-year award ceremony at The Overcrowded Multipurpose Room.  Anxious?  Snack, nervously.  Weren’t nominated?  Chomp, vengefully.  Didn’t win?  Nosh, sadly.  Did win?  Feast, gluttonously.  Bored?  Eat, mindfully.

Now, say you’re the chef who has to cater said eating awards event.  What do you do?  Suzanne Goin, chef and owner of Lucques, AOC, and Tavern, is doing the cooking for the Screen Actors’ Guild Awards this Sunday.  She and her entourage at Lucques Catering will serve some 1,250 people who are hungry/nervous/overconfident/not confident enough given the caliber of their work/there for the swag.  To ease the emotional roller-coaster, she will plate a lovely quartet of palate-pleasers that reflect local, seasonal cooking.

Clockwise from the top left: beluga lentils with carrots, pine nuts, and feta; slow-roasted salmon with ginger-mint chutney; slow-roasted lamb with chickpeas and feta salsa verde; a beautiful salad with blood oranges, dates, arugula, and parmesan; and a baked herbed crostini with parmesan and chopped thyme and parsley to bring it all together.  When each part is consumed, and why – well, to each his or her own.

And, because if you’re anything like me and sometimes like seeing how they made, say, Toy Story 3, almost as much as you like seeing the finished product, a couple of photos of the kitchen at Lucques:

For those of you not part of the SAG action on Sunday night, Lucques and AOC are both participating in DineLA.  Lucques is offering a three-course lunch menu for $28, and a three-course dinner menu for $44.  AOC is offering a three-course dinner menu for $44.  Given the caliber of the food at both restaurants – really, unlike other high-end restaurants, I can’t recall ever having a meal at either Lucques or AOC that I regretted – the prix fixe menus are a great deal.  Go on, snack, chomp, nosh, feast, eat.  Your emotions will thank you later.

Best Part of My Weekend: Jane Lynch at Outfest

Waiting in line at the Director’s Guild of America on Saturday, early afternoon, I overheard the couple behind me discuss what we were in line for.  “I am so excited to see her,” she said.  “We are so lucky to live in LA,” the other she said.  Yes, yes.  There are a few times (i.e., Sunday morning, trying to get from Los Feliz to Santa Monica) when I get so angry at this city.  (Seriously, why is there rush-hour traffic on Sunday morning?  Sunday!)  And then I remember things like my then-previous day (Saturday), when I was waiting in line and overhearing that conversation.  Yes.  So lucky.  Los Angeles.

You see, I was waiting in line to see Jane Lynch.  She was set to be on an “In Conversation” panel as part of Outfest 2010, the film festival dedicated to queer cinema (it wraps up later this week on July 18).  I was very excited.  Some of you may know this, but, for a variety of reasons I won’t bother getting into here, I run Her Name is Jane Lynch, an unofficial ode to Jane Lynch.  At this, I’m a little embarrassed (I am, after all, a 28 year old (somewhat) grown-up woman (girl)), but also a little proud (the site was voted LA Weekly’s Best Celebrity Fan Site of 2009, huzzah!).  Now, if you live anywhere but LA, the idea of breaking through the digital fourth wall and actually meeting an object of a celebrity fan club or site is a far-off fantasy.  Here?  Not so much.  You’re more likely to run into your favorite celebrity at brunch than your best friend.

Jane Lynch plays Sue Sylvester in Glee, but hopefully you know she has been in pretty much every television show since the early 1990s and in a great number of movies.  She’s a character actor, one that most people recognize but, until Glee anyway, most couldn’t pinpoint exactly why the feeling of familiarity was so strong.  After some 20-odd years of working in the business and being known as “That lady from…”, she now has two Emmy nominations, Outfest’s Annual Achievement Award, and a ranking (99) on the Guardian’s list of the 100 most powerful people in media.  If there was ever a case of someone working hard and finally getting the recognition they so richly deserve, it really is Jane Lynch.  On that note, wow, am I happy that Tina Fey continues to be awesome and get work.

So, along with the rest of the sold-out crowd in Theater 1 of the DGA, I was eager to see Jane Lynch in conversate for 90 minutes about her life and career.  And she didn’t disappoint.

She touched on everything from her family life (“My family was not very funny”) to being only one of two women accepted into renown Chicago theater comedy troupe Second City to parlaying her “authoritative butch dyke” aura (“let’s call it what it is”) into roles originally written for men (i.e., her role as the store manager in 40 Year Old Virgin originally was written for a man) to her Vogue video on Glee (“I was awesome.”).  The discussion was capped by a question and answer period, which I usually find a bit boring, because people who attend these things often have a scary stalker-ish knowledge of the subject at hand, and will ask fairly esoteric question that make sense only to the person asking and the person answering.  The Q & A period following John Waters discussion with Carrie Fisher, for example, was filled with all sorts of references and allusions I had no hope of making heads or tails of.  (By the by, the John Waters event was organized by Zocalo Public Square’s awesome series; if you can’t support the library directly, buy a ticket to any one of Zocalo’s fascinating discussions!).

Thankfully, this was not the case during this session – people asked questions we all understood (Carol Burnett called Jane after Emmy nominations were announced to congratulate her; her favorite Sue Sylvester track suit is the purple with gold stripes; and she thinks she landed the role of Meryl Streep’s sister in Julie & Julia in part because she was the tallest actress director Nora Ephron knew).

Now, I have never, ever been one to ask anyone questions during a Q and A period.  My friends often do, and that’s usually because they are way more ballsy, and way more informed, than I am.  That said, I found my balls somewhere that day (stuck them in a drawer somewhere) and asked her whether she would be interested in hosting SNL (imagine that, an actress with an actual background in sketch comedy, hosting SNL).  This is the one question that I receive most often from fans who happen by Her Name is Jane Lynch, so I thought I’d take one for the team.  Almost 3,000 fans on the Jane Lynch to Host SNL (Please?)! Facebook page can’t be wrong.  So, would she host if asked?  “Yes.  I’d be terrified, but yes.”  Hello, Lorne Michaels?  Crickets?

Celebrity culture is such a funny thing.  I think as residents, we try to eschew what we consider “touristy” faux pas’es: caring that Ashton ate at your neighborhood brunch spot that morning, becoming excited that Pink is standing next to you at Macy Gray’s impromptu concert at the Hotel Cafe, etc.  We think we’re better than that.  I think I’m better than that.  Nonetheless, that does not stop me from getting a little bubbly every time I see someone I recognize (the level of excitement is directly proportional to how much respect I have for them).  This is a thrill that can’t be quite duplicated elsewhere, especially when one does really respect the particular celebrity for what they do.  That is my Apple-level fanboy love for Jane Lynch in a nutshell.   To actually hear these talented people recognize their own abilities without inflating them, and talk about their work seriously, without a hint of arrogance or entitlement – that is a real treat.

Only in LA.

Love: Still a Battlefield at Border’s, This Friday

Photo by Heidy Escobar

I’m not a religious guy. I believe in science and evolution and Einstein. When people ask me what I think about the origin of the universe, I generally tell them the same story every time: That superintelligent otherdimensional aliens used hyperadvanced technologies to create a simulated universe with the goal that that universe would eventually develop a planet whose inhabitants would evolve to create the most pure, most unambiguously perfect example of art, and that that goal was reached in 1987 when The Replacements recorded “Alex Chilton,” and ever since then the universe has outlived its usefulness and we just have to figure out ways to spend our time until the whole cotillion runs low on thermodynamic free energy and collapses.

Though I admit I could be wrong. The answer could actually be Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker.”

I mention this because Benatar herself will be appearing at the Border’s at 1360 Westwood Blvd. this Friday night at 7 PM to promote her new book “Between a Heart and a Rock Place.” As a fan of small and used bookstores I’m generally not too keen on Border’s, but I’m willing to pay them a visit when they either (a) send me a coupon for 40% off any item in the store or (b) host one of the greatest rock musicians of the 1980s.

Visit the Border’s event page for more information.

JOHN WATERS!!! and CARRIE FISHER!!! Tuesday!!!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DEnA6ASX754[/youtube]

!!!!  John Waters himself will be at the Aratani/Japan America Theatre downtown on Tuesday to sit down and have a little chat with Princess Leia-turned-author (natch) Carrie Fisher about what they are titling “neurotic happiness.”  Really, I haven’t been this excited since the 5 seconds right before I was about to meet Jane Lynch.  The discussion is courtesy ALOUD, the Library Foundation of Los Angeles’ fantastic, cultural gem of a speakers’ series.  Waters probably will talk about this many role models, as he essays the topic in his new book, Role Models. From Johnny Mathis to Leslie Van Houten (one of the women convicted in the Manson murders (read his fascinating essay on his friendship with Van Houten here)), Waters talks about how he looked up to these individuals, amongst others, as wells of inspiration and fascination.  Did I mention how I’m so, so, oh so very so excited to see him in person discuss all this and more?

Tickets are $25, but before you balk at that, the fee helps support the Los Angeles Public Library, which you all know I heart-with-an-arrow-through-it.  Besides, what else are you going to spend $25 on – some overcrowded concert with expensive PBR and hipsters donning the same bulky Clark Kent glasses without the Superman suit underneath?  Thought so.

John Waters In Conversation With Carrie Fisher is on Tuesday, June 8 at 8pm at the Aratani/Japan America Theatre in Little Tokyo.  Tickets are  $25 for the general public; $17.50 for Library Associates. Role Models, incidentally, wins for Best Cover Art, Literary or Otherwise, of the Decade.

Superstar Canter’s

One of the great things about living in LA is seeing character actors everywhere you go. In line to pay for my monte cristo, I stood in front of this guy. Yes, I recognized him on sight. Yes, I knew his name. Yes, I am a cornucopia of knowledge.

A New Gator At The LA Zoo, or, My Excuse To Talk About Animals Doing It

Here’s the thing about alligator sex: It’s weird by mammal standards.

See, mammals like you and me have what evolutionary biologists like to call a “ding-dong” and a “what-what,” and the way we mate is that we put the two parts together until one or both of the participating parties (OK, usually just one) has a Happy Moment. Sure, things may be a little different for monotremes like the echidna and the platypus, but if you’re spending an undue amount of time thinking about platypus sex you are probably a pervert and should be locked up.

Birds and reptiles do things a bit differently. They keep their sex organs in a revolting little flesh pocket called a “cloaca” (the plural of which is “cloaca”). When birds and reptiles mate (never with each other, except in the furry community), they briefly press their cloaca together. Wildlife biologists the world over agree that this process is, from a purely evolutionary standpoint, disgusting.

So why am I telling you about alligator sex? Because there’s potentially about to be a lot more of it going on in Los Angeles.

That’s because Reggie the alligator, the LA Zoo’s resident Alligator mississipiensis, is getting a new girlfriend today. Her name is Cajun Kate, which sounds like the name of the maid of honor at a shotgun wedding. By gator standards, I’m sure Cajun Kate is a real looker, though in the interests of full disclosure I should note that I have not seen her cloaca.

Reggie isn’t your standard zoo gator. In 2005, he was discovered in Machado Lake in Harbor City; despite the efforts of city officials and professional gator hunters, Reggie wasn’t seen again for two years, when he was finally captured and brought to the zoo.

Today, in addition to getting a new sweetheart, Reggie is getting an upgraded habitat, designed at least partially at preventing his escape. Only a few months after his capture in May 2007, he climbed a chain-link fence, leaving his enclosure, and got as far as a nearby loading dock before he was recaptured.

Reggie’s new digs, as well as Cajun Kate (who, it should be noted, is twice his age, which from an alligator standpoint is pretty hot), will be unveiled today at the zoo.

Drive, She Said

From L.A. Observed I just discovered that journalist, Miss USA 1994, model, actress, blogger, and the mayor’s main squeeze, Lu Parker, found herself teaching a 16-year-old girl presumed to be Villaraigosa’s daughter, how to drive.  It’s all going pretty typically until at one point during the lesson Parker admits on her blog to doubting her safe-driving abilities while amazingly showcasing her multi-tasking skills as a distracted motorist:

“How can I be a defensive driver behind the wheel,” she writes, “when I’m texting friends, checking email on my blackberry, or even putting on makeup?”

How indeed, Lu? How. The. Fuck. In. Deed.

An Evening With Women at the LA Gay and Lesbian Center

This post is for you if the following three statements describe you:

(1) You have nothing to do this Saturday night, and would like to hang out at the Beverly Hilton Hotel with Gina Gershon, Heart, Renee Zellweger and Sarah Silverman.

(2) You have an urge to help the LA Gay & Lesbian Center provide a variety of women’s services.

(3) You have $300 to donate.

Yeah? You fit the criteria? Then you’re in luck. Tickets are still available for the LA Gay & Lesbian Center’s Evening With Women, an annual event aimed at raising funds for the center’s women-specific services. That includes health education and prevention, mental health services and career development classes, as well as services for both homeless youth and seniors.

The price tag is high, but the event is packed with personalities; in addition to the celebrities mentioned above, the event will include entertainment by songwriter Linda Perry and dinner by chef Jamie Lauren, whom Top Chef fans will recognize from the show’s fifth season. And if you can’t afford the 300 bucks but would still like to go, $99 will get you the “Recession Lounge Special,” where you can hobnob with other charity-minded folks.

You can buy tickets here.

Actor Andrew Koenig Missing Since 2/14 in Vancouver

Andrew Koenig, perhaps best known for his role as “Boner” on Growing Pains in the ’80s is being reported missing by friends. He was last seen on 2/14 in Vancouver.

From the comic’s comic blog yesterday:

“Andrew Koenig (AK-47, the video guy on “Never Not Funny,” and “Boner” from “Growing Pains”) has been missing for a week, last seen 2/14 in Vancouver. Didn’t make his flight back to the US on 2/16. The Vancouver Police are involved, and lots of people are looking. Could you reblog this and help get the word out? And say some prayers or think some positive thoughts?”

I thought it might be worth posting here in case anyone local has heard from him or has more information. I’ve met Andrew. He’s a friend of my husband and a nice guy. We really hope he’s okay.

Please feel free to repost.

If you’ve seen Andrew since February 14th, contact Detective Raymond Payette of the Vancouver PD at 604-717-2534.

Jewlicious Festival 6.0

CarbonNYC's Star of Me photo used through Creative Commons

Fellow members of the tribe know there’s never been a better time to be Jewish; it’s among the odd list of things now-sexy, formerly-not (like women over 40, people with glasses, and geeks). Beginning tomorrow and running through Saturday, the Jewlicious Festival at the Alpert JCC in Long Beach promises to be a fantastic celebration of that sexy hipness. Their site explains that the event “unites trend-setters, artists and spirit seekers; Ashkenazim, Sefardim, Persians and Mizrachim; atheists, agnostics, skeptics and believers; designers, activists, jocks, and hipsters.” On the weekend agenda is food (of course), music, presentations (Matisyahu is among the presenters), workshops (including boxing workshops by WBA super welterweight champion Yuri Foreman), comedians, yoga, drum circles, wine, movies, djs… In short, a heck of a lot of fun.

Tickets are reasonably priced and vary according to whether or not you’re a student ($63 for all weekend including meals–what a deal I have for you!) or a young professional ($109 for the weekend) or just want to go to a concert or wine tasting. But be warned weekend tickets are only on sale for a few more hours.

Dave McKean Signing and Gallery exhibit!

Amazing mixed media Artist Dave McKean is doing a signing this Friday, followed by a display of new work, opening Saturday.

He’s responsible for all of the covers of the comic book Sandman, as well as The Vertigo Tarot. A long time collaborator with author Neil Gaimen, and the director of Mirrormask.

He’s seriously one of my all time favorite artists, and, the couple of times I’ve been honored enough to meet him, one of the nicest guys ever. According to his Twitter he’ll sign whatever you bring to the signing Friday night at Wacko. (I mean “La Luz de Jesus.” Which is the Gallery in the back of Wacko. Whatever. Details below.)

Signing on Friday, February 12, 6 pm – 9 pm,
LA LUZ DE JESUS GALLERY,
4633 Hollywood Blvd. LA. 90027

“New Works Inspired by Early Cinema”
Exhibition: February 13, 2010 – March 6, 2010
BILLY SHIRE FINE ARTS GALLERY
Opening Reception: Saturday, February 13th, 7-10 pm
5790 Washington Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90232

I don’t think there’s anything Dave McKean cannot do as an artist..” – Neil Gaiman

3 Days Left in Chase’s Community Giving Facebook Campaign — 6 L.A. Orgs in the Running for $1M

[youtube] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLwzxr-DY5A [/youtube]

If you’ve been on Facebook in the last couple of months, then you might have been inundated with requests to vote in Chase’s Community Giving Facebook Campaign. With financial resources drying up for many organizations, this campaign has been a rare opportunity for non-profit orgs to come by cold, hard cash by simply leveraging their social media muscles. Out of more than a half million eligible organizations, the Top 100 vote getters in Round 1 have moved on to the final round of voting, which is happening now. Top 100 orgs are already the recepients of a $25,000 grant, but the top organization gets $1 million.

Six Los Angeles area organizations are in the running for the $1M: [links go to Facebook pages]

  • Center For The Pacific Asian Family Inc (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Hope For Paws (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Imaging Foundation (Malibu, CA)
  • Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Inc (El Segundo, CA)
  • Tiziano Project (Calabasas, CA)
  • Trevor Project, Inc. (West Hollywood, CA)
  • In the spirit of full disclosure, I have been supporting the Center for the Pacific Asian Family (CPAF) in this campaign, since I feel that their “big idea” has the greatest potential for immediate impact on those who are living in Los Angeles, right now. CPAF was founded to help address domestic violence and sexual assault in the Asian and Pacific Islander communities. Up to 60% of Asian and Pacific American women experience domestic or sexual abuse in their lifetime, and are the least likely to report the abuse. Since the economic downturn in 2008, domestic violence has been on the rise. With cutbacks in state funding, non-profits like CPAF are forced to turn away more callers trying to flee a violent home.
    Continue reading “3 Days Left in Chase’s Community Giving Facebook Campaign — 6 L.A. Orgs in the Running for $1M”