Monday, March 27, 2006

Jinky's

Oh. My. Goodness. This is a breakfast shout-out of the highest order. You know how important a good breakfast place is? Especially if you have gone out and pickled your liver the night before? Well here you go, people -- I’m about to go large with this one. Jinky’s in Sherman Oaks. Absolutely, unbelievably, ridiculously good. I showed up at this place for the first time on Saturday to meet Bunnie before a hike in Fryman, and I was nursing the most gawd-awful hangover. I would say it was in the Top 10 Worst Hangovers of My Life. I had taken Bec out to celebrate her birthday the night before, and well, yeaaaaaahhh. Kinda overdid it on the sake and the champagne, but damn it was fun! The only worse hangovers I have had than sake involved an unfortunate tequila episode over one fateful Memorial Day when I was 22 (my ass got SCHOOLED on the ways of tequila because of that), and the suffering that was wrought on my person the morning after a night out with my brother in Tahoe wherein we drank just about every cocktail known to mankind in a sort of casino-club-bar crawl that we did. That night was super-disastrous for my liver. Oh, my poor liver. Pity my liver. Tell your children that if they are bad, they will come back in the next life as my liver.

Anyway! Jinky’s. Bunnie and I shared …. oh my god, are you ready? ‘cause I have dreams about these now that I am in the know …. Banana Macadamia Nut Pancakes (ginormous, with heaps of syrup and, get this -- room temperature butter that is actually spreadable) and Huevos Con Pollo, which was sort of like Huevos Rancheros with a nice chunk of grilled chicken on top and avocado and cilantro and stuff. Absolutely delicious all the way around. You try not to get full because it is so damn tasty, you don’t want to stop eating. Add to this the fact that they know caffeinehounds when they see us, and are kind enough to leave a mini-pot of coffee on the table with you so you can refill at your own pace. Add to this the fact that they serve this very quality green tea, iced, and will provide you a nice refill in a to-go cup to take said tea with you so that you can cram all the antioxidants possible into your toxic waste dump person so that you might have the hope of vaguely resembling something human at some point in the day.

That was Jinky’s. You so want to go there now, right? I know. Me too.

Jinky’s CafĂ©
14120 Ventura Boulevard
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
Phone: (818) 981-2250

It Rules To Be Me


If I sat and tried to conjure up the perfect day, I don’t know if I could do better than yesterday. It was like everything was aligned in sheer perfection. Derek, Jodi and I went up to Snow Summit to take advantage of the recent snow. We thought everybody else and their mother would be doing the same thing, but alas, there was hardly anybody there and we whizzed through every single lift line. The weather was warm and beautiful. We cracked jokes on the chair lifts and made each other laugh all day. Snow was fresh and fluffy and wonderful. We spied some weird little creature repeatedly that we couldn’t quite identify -- like a squirrel mixed with a rat, mixed with about 16 Red Bulls. One spazzy little rodent-like animal. What the heck was that thing? Anyway… I digress. Continuing on with the goodness: There were no major falls or injuries. Lunch was tasty. There were no rude punks on the slopes like at Scrub High. Traffic coming home didn’t even suck that bad. What did I do to deserve such a great day? I have no idea, but I am grateful.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Curvaceous Update

Since I’ve had a total of three friends tell me they have joined Curves since I joined a month ago, I felt it prudent to give a status update for those of you still on the fence. So let me state unequivocally that it does, in fact, still rule. And here is why:

I manage to fit in at least three workouts a week, even if I am swamped as all get-out. It’s just easy to fit it in and “git ‘er done,” as Jillie says. I still really like the vibe of the place and find it is comforting to set foot in there after a hard day of work because I know there will be peace, time for myself and doing something good for my bod, and above all else, nobody bugging me.

I also have to say, they are good about being on top of things. The other night when I was about five minutes into my workout, this lady came in wearing that horrid Stinky Old Lady perfume. Actually, “wearing” is a rather conservative term. It would be more accurate to say that she had lain in a covered glass dish in the fridge and marinated in it. And keep in mind, Curves are not big places -- the entire gym is a very modest sized storefront, the equipment is arranged in a tight circle and you are breathing heavily throughout to keep your cardio up. Thusly, if you are breathing in somebody’s stank perfume, you can taste it in the back of your throat. This is SO not good. This is a one-way ticket to Bitterville, USA. And it's not like you can just walk up to the offender with your coffee cup and be all like Bill Lumberg from Office Space: "Um hi, yeeaaaaah. Just wanted to let you know that um.... yeaaah, you're kinda like um, how should I put this, totally polluting everybody's lungs and making their hair smell like stank and stuff. So... yeah, if you could just sort of like go ahead and like, leave the premises, or the zip code entirely, that would be greeeeaaaat. M'kay?"

I absolutely LOATHE complaining to the management about anything (i.e., stankness in the office, neighbors with barking dogs, whatevs) but sometimes you just have to or you will spontaneously implode from frustration. The management was on the phone as I was leaving, so I held my tongue about it, but to my pleasant surprise, the very next day when I came in, there were signs right there in the front where you check in, and in the restrooms, saying “NO PERFUME, NO PERFUMED LOTIONS”. Well alright! I didn’t even have to open up my can of bitch-ass!

Oh, and as for results, here is what I have noticed with my hyper-critical eye: I now have muscle definition in my arms, my butt is noticeably cheekier, my thighs are a lot stronger, and --check it out!-- I have oblique muscles! Holy crap! Oh, and a marked decrease in the dreaded C-word. Cellulite is no match for Curves.

So yes, as I was saying, Curves does still rule.

Some People's Dogs

I was just at the dumb car wash on my lunch (yeah, THAT’S how you want to spend your lunch break) where I spied the most adorable pair of standard poodles. They were twins in every way except their color -- one was greyish and one was tannish. But all of their motions and expressions were fluid and identical and so cute that I just had to get up and say hello. I asked their mistress if I might pet them and she said sure! to which the dogs enthusiastically gave me lots of lovies and brightened my day. They were so funny -- they kind of swirled around one another in vying for best petting position and were just like yin and yang -- they kind of took turns with me in a respectful synchronicity that was totally fueled by their silent doggie language. They both smiled at me. It made my day.

Friday, March 10, 2006

I Am Goddess, Watch Me Shimmy

So I started a six-week course of Middle Eastern Dance three weeks ago. Here are my observations at my halfway point in the course, which was last night:

1) There are certain ways to move your body (as in yoga) that literally feel ancient. You can almost feel the ghost of a woman doing the same motions alongside you from a thousand years ago. It’s kinda hot in a psychic kind of way. Like walking into a cathedral in Europe that has been there for 800 years. The oldness of it is a feeling in your stomach that you can’t quite describe to someone else.

2) You can make the smallest motion with a single part of your body that is more flat-out sexy and enticing than a world of gyrating and pole-humping.

3) The belly of a woman is perhaps the sexiest part of the body, regardless of its size or shape. It is where life is created and where the sex organs are located. The implications of that are inescapable in terms of its appeal.

4) The sound of finger cymbals is lovely and musical. Until you are in a room with 40 other women who are learning to use them and who can’t seem to stop clapping them together at every given second, even when not dancing.

5) Women in their 60s without any sort of surgical or cosmetic enhancements (as my instructor is), can still look and act younger and more lively than a lot of women in their 20s, and hold an aura of sex appeal that is at once smoldering and dignified. Proving to me once again that a woman’s attractiveness and power come from within. It is an intense power that must be harnessed and pointed in the right direction. It is a gift, not to be trifled with.

6) What a woman does with her hands conveys volumes about what is going on inside of her.

7) Belly dancing requires a great deal of rhythm, though it may not at first seem so. But to keep a constant ¾ tempo going with finger cymbals, while your feet and arms are doing completely unrelated motions, is quite taxing as far as coordination goes. I imagine it must be what it’s like playing the drums.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Color Me Right

Yanno, I hate when I'm right when it's something like this.

I have this theory, see, and many of you as my friends are well aware of this theory due to my past pontifications on this subject. You know how it seems bad drivers on the road are becoming worse and more plentiful? My theory is that the rate of bad drivers out there is directly proportional to the common use of prescription drugs these days. EVERYBODY is taking some shit or other for some ailment or other (even sweaty palms! Hello!!!) Every drug produces a bevvy of unwanted side effects, but I believe the majority of them should come with a warning label that says, in bold neon spazziness: WARNING: TAKING THIS MEDICATION WILL MAKE YOU A CRAP-ASS DRIVER, AND LIKELY TO ANNOY, INFURIATE, POSSIBLY INJURE OR EVEN KILL INNOCENT DRIVERS AROUND YOU. PLEASE HIDE YOUR CAR KEYS FROM YOURSELF BEFORE OPENING THE LID TO THIS MEDICATION.

Turns out I am right, right, right, according to this article from msnbc. You've heard of sleepwalking? That's old news. Nowadays, it's all about sleepDRIVING for Ambien users. What the hell is wrong with people?

Skin So Soft

People, listen to your Mama Valley Girl. Go get yourself a shower filter. I can't believe the difference it has made in how my skin feels after just two uses. I got mine at the Co-Op in Santa Monica for $40, but I'm sure they can be procured more inexpensively somewhere else with a little hunting around. No matter -- I would have paid double for the results: nice, soft, non-itchy skin (without lotion!) without that slick, unrinsed feeling you get from a water softener. It's like taking a shower in rain water. I couldn't have possibly known what a difference it makes until trying it myself. Toni says after using it for awhile, she no longer loses any hair whatsoever when washing and conditioning her hair. And this girl has a ton of beautiful, long hair. And it fits on any shower, even a handheld one, which is what mine is (no girl should EVER be without a handheld shower, m'kay?), and was super easy to install, even for a domestitard like me. You change the filter once a year. Big whoop.

To read more on the evils of chlorine and its effects, see below. And remember that the skin is the largest organ of the body and absorbs everything you put on it. You'll want to kiss me later.

RETHINKING CHLORINATED TAP WATER
Article by Dr. Zoltan P. Rona MD MSc

Most people never give it a thought. After all, our elected public officials keep assuring us that chlorinated city tap water is completely safe for human consumption. Numerous scientific studies, however, report that chlorinated tap water is a skin irritant and can be associated with rashes like eczema. Chlorinated water can destroy polyunsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E in the body while generating toxins capable of free radical damage (oxidation). This might explain why supplementation of the diet with essential fatty acids like flax seed oil, evening primrose oil, borage oil and antioxidants like vitamin E, selenium and others helps so many cases of eczema and dry skin.

Chlorinated water destroys much of the intestinal flora, the friendly bacteria that help in the digestion of food and which protect the body from harmful pathogens. These bacteria are also responsible for the manufacture of several important vitamins like vitamin B12 and vitamin K. It is not uncommon for chronic digestive disorders as well as chronic skin conditions like acne, psoriasis, seborrhea and eczema to clear up or be significantly improved by switching to unchlorinated drinking water and supplementing the diet with lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidus.

Chlorinated water contains chemical compounds called trihalomethanes which are carcinogens resulting from the combination of chlorine with organic compounds in water. These chemicals, also known as organochlorides, do not degrade very well and are generally stored in the fatty tissues of the body (breast, other fatty areas, mothers' milk, blood and semen). Organochlorides can cause mutations by altering DNA, suppress immune system function and interfere with the natural controls of cell growth.

Chlorine has been documented to aggravate asthma, especially in those children who make frequent use of chlorinated swimming pools. Several studies also link chlorine and chlorinated by-products to a greater incidence of bladder, breast and bowel cancer as well as malignant melanoma. One study even links the use of chlorinated tap water to congenital cardiac anomalies.

Anything you can do to filter tap and shower water that eliminates or even minimizes chlorine would certainly be helpful and possibly curative for some immune system problems. The use of at source water filtration devices is increasingly popular and affordable. Discuss their use with your health care practitioner.

REFERENCES
Fackelmann, K.A., Hints of a chlorine-cancer connection. Science News, July 11, 1992;142:23.
Flaten, Trond Peter. Chlorination of drinking water and cancer incidence in Norway. International Journal of Epidemiology, 1992;21(1):6-15.
Messina, Virginia. Chlorine and cancer. Good Medicine, Winter 1994;8-9.
Morris, Robert D. Chlorination, Chlorination by-products and cancer. American Journal of Public Health, July 1992;82(7):955-963.
Rothery, S.P., et al. Hazards of chlorine to asthmatic patients. British Journal of General Practice, Jan, 1991;39.
Shaw, Gary M., et al. Chlorinated water exposures and congenital cardiac anomalies. Epidemiology, November 1991;2(6):459-460.

Friday, March 03, 2006

You Know It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp

So I’m not a critic or a predictor by any stretch of the imadge, but I am known to be a rather opinionated beotch, and since the Oscars is my equivalent of Superbowl, and there are some really good nominees this year, I have to spout out about some of the movies that are up for awards since I have been cramming this week like it’s finals to see as many as I can and sufficiently root for my teams, as it were.

Yes, that was a helluva run-on sentence. Shut it.

Let me commence with my spouting:

Brokeback Mountain



Lord, where do I begin? The other day I had a conversation with a woman at work that I barely know about this movie. She was complaining about how she really wants to see it, but everyone in her conservative religious family was giving her shit about wanting to go see a gay cowboy movie, and hence, she had no one to go see it with. This is what I told her: It’s a shame that people in your life would dismiss this movie out of hand as merely a “gay cowboy movie”. The movie is about two souls who truly love each other, and the uplifting and destructive power of that love. The fact that they share the same gender is incidental to their relationship, but is also the conflict of the story. Wasn’t Jesus about love? Wasn’t Jesus about tolerance and understanding? Hello McFly? Anybody home? It kills me when so-called “righteous” people cast stones and judge before they let themselves feel and understand something in their hearts. I told her I would gladly go see the movie with her a second time, and here is why: I can’t get this movie out of my head or my heart. I saw it a week ago, and it haunts me daily and nightly. The two main characters are astounding on their own, but when in the same proximity in a scene, the resulting chemistry was such that I was anxious and breathless and tearful and turned on all at once. And the director of the picture was kind enough to take many steps back and just let the viewer experience this without getting into any stylized bullshit. This made it all the more beautiful and stark, and something you would want to see again and again. That, to me, is a great, great movie. It is timeless.

I don’t hold any idealistic hope that the Academy won’t wuss out and get homophobalicious over this movie and not give it the credit it deserves, but I am hoping. This one is my favorite. Can you tell? It can’t possibly come out on DVD soon enough.

Crash



This one affected me very deeply and made me think. I love movies that take place in L.A. mainly to see the locations and go “Oh! I just had lunch there the other day!” But this was the first I’ve seen in a long time where the tone actually captured what life is really like here; how diverse people really are; how contrasting lifestyles can be. As an ensemble piece, it flowed very well, and I really loved the message. It didn’t fall into any stereotypes of good guy/bad guy. The beauty of this movie was in its grey areas: sometimes the bad guy does something really good, and it makes you cry.

Capote


As a character study, absolutely flawless. I read on IMDB that they shot this movie in 32 days. Incredible, given the scope of its subtle greatness. I am so happy Philip Seymour Hoffman finally has a starring role truly worthy of his immense talent. I also personally love stories about writers and how quirky, weird and misfitting they can sometimes be. I find it comforting somehow. There is a scene where he is pouring scotch into a jar of baby food, and then eating it. This is something I would do in secret and never tell anybody. I loved that about the movie. It also really made me want to read In Cold Blood. I am really surprised that Clifton Collins Jr. is not up for Best Supporting. I thought he was completely spellbinding.

Hustle and Flow


Poor Derek is going to wish I never saw this movie since I can’t stop walking around the house singing “You know it’s hard out here for a pimp.” I just think it’s hilarious that a goofy cracka like me would walk around saying that. Anyway, Jillie raved about this movie months ago, and now I see what all the hub-bub is about. What I loved about the movie the most was that in the depressing world of pimps and ho’s and drugs and gangstas, there was a message of “follow your dream” that never once came across as cheesy or contrived. This guy was NOT a good guy. But you root for him anyway and want him to win. I also really loved getting to watch how the whole musical creative process takes place. I am in total awe of people who can create music, and it was riveting getting to see that happen. And hello! Isaac “It’s All About The Love, Chil’ren” Hayes and Ludacris are in the movie! And while Terrence Howard is getting all the spotlight for his nomination, I really thought Taryn Manning and Taraji Henson were awesome and made the movie work. There was also one of the hottest kissing scenes I have seen in eons.

Of course, there are nominees I haven’t mentioned here that I liked, but I felt these most deserved my personal shout-out. And I thank you for your time.