Archive for December, 2008


Stiff neck. Aching lower back. Left hamstring shot. Sharp cramps behind both shoulder blades.


An 800 milligram Ibuprofren and a heating pad later … I mentally justified my agony as I stretched this morning.


A little background info …

I’ve played Wii several times before; once at a promo party when it was first released and a few times at various friends’ houses. Threw a few strikes with a virtual bowling ball and raced on a cow’s back for fun between beers. Yeah, I thought it was fun, but never really got into it. Not in the way that I’ve gotten into certain Xbox or online games. Not in a way where I felt like I might die if I couldn’t play.

My Wii emotions changed over this holiday. I met DDR on Christmas Day, fell head-over-heels in love and knew for sure that I might die if I woke up tomorrow and the blue and white mat wasn’t waiting for me in front of the TV.

Santa brought me new Choos, an iPod (to replace the one I left on an airplane), a Wii and Dance Dance Revolution. I’m terrified that the big guy made a mistake and hit the wrong house. What if my stellar gifts were intended for the girl who lives next door … you know … the one who was nice all year????


My stuff hasn’t been repo’d yet, so perhaps I was left off the naughty list for the first time since ’88.


My new favorite toy couldn’t have come at a better time. I smashed 6 tamales and about 8 cocktails on Christmas Eve … a workout was definitely in order. The family gathered ’round and we each created our Miis, which is an inexplicably comical process.

Why is a cartoon-like image of people you know so funny? I have no idea, but it is hilarious.

About 15 of us battled one another in Wii boxing, baseball, tennis, bowling, and golf. It got competitive … REALLY competitive. My parents’ family room sounded like game 7 of the World Series … bases loaded, bottom of the ninth, 2 outs … only difference was my cousin was up to bat, not Babe Ruth. Our series wrapped up around 2:30 a.m. and after everyone turned in, I decided to crack open the DDR box for a looksie. I envisioned the one-legged champion who I’d seen crushing it on YouTube … had a moment of inspiration so I ignored the clock, popped in the disc and plugged in the mat for a quick test run.

Six hours later, I saw my mom’s reflection in the slider. I was mid arrow left+down, double right nunchuk … I turned to look at her just as she stopped dead in her tracks and said, “Oh my god,” in a low, serious voice. With one hand over mouth, no doubt an attempt to hold back laughter at the sight of her adult daughter in a sweatsuit, cutting a DDR rug, in her living room. I stepped off the mat and paused the techno beat. I was instantly overwhelmed with fatigue and nausea.

“What time is it?” I asked. I blinked and it stung like tiny pieces of glass were slicing through my eyes.

“Six in the morning,” she said through a chuckle.

I walked to my old bedroom and crashed out. Six hours later, I was woken up by dishes clanging, people laughing, and music pumping — the standard soundtrack at my rents’ house.

I found the fam and some friends already deep into some Wii sports action. There were empty beer cans, glasses of wine, and finger foods everywhere. I saw a pad of paper revealing a pool that my dad created and my aunt was holding an ice pack to her ankle.

Holy $#%! We’ve all lost our minds.

I was pretty sore from my private DDR party, but got suckered into a cold Chelada and a bowling tourney by 1 p.m.

Day 2 was much like the day 1. Wii sports all day, DDR all night. On day 3 I had to slowly roll out of bed, OUCH! My calves were on fire and my right tricep throbbed. I limped to the bathroom and took advantage of the steam. About 15 minutes into a piping hot shower, I thought about how Wii-crazy I’d gone and how I’d really like to spend some one-on-one time with mom. I figured maybe I’d take her shopping or to a movie. I quickly got ready and headed for the kitchen to put on some coffee. I was pleased to find the smell of fresh grinds lingering in the hallway … someone had beat me to it — nice!

Oh, how I wish I had the next minute on video to show you … I’d kill to have it all on tape!!!!

I turned the corner and found my mom standing in front of the 50 inch flatscreen, one Wii controller in her right hand and THE SECOND CONTROLLER IN HER LEFT HAND.


Mom had to get her Wii on so bad that she was actually playing 2 Miis at once?! Yes, I saw it with my own eyes, she was smashing tennis balls … serving AND playing.


She spun around with a face of embarrassment laced with guilt. I BUSTED OUT laughing.

“No one was awake, so I … I thought I’d, I was bored so I just, I — ” she stammered.

“Who’s winning?” I asked. I could not hold in my laughter.

“Oh, shut up,” she said and handed me one of the controllers.

And like that … day 3 began.

Somewhere into day 4 I had another moment of what are Wii doing … uh, I mean we … but everytime the gaming stopped, it never lasted. The “let’s stop moments” were merely time outs.

Some of our family traditions were skipped this holiday … my mom and I usually do some after-Christmas sale shopping, I didn’t make my famous sugar cookies, and my dad never built the fire he does every year on Dec 25th (we were all sweatin’ from the Wii, it was too damn hot). But, now that I think about it, those traditions were not moments lost, they were moments gained.

Rather than spending more money, eating more fatty sweets, and sitting still like a pile of over-stuffed potatoes on the couch … we played as a family, we laughed as a family and hell, we even burned some calories as a family! There is definitely something to be said about that.

Today is day 5 of my new found Wii love. I’m back at work.


But it’s going to be okay …

’cause in just 9 hours …

I’ll be free …

free to Wii.




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I am sitting here staring at the monitor trying to decide what to blog about … my weekend in Pismo Beach, last-minute Christmas shopping, NFL playoffs, being the only girl at Hooters yesterday not wearing fluorescent orange daisy duke shorts … I can’t focus.


How can I possibly concentrate knowing that in 50-something hours I will be devouring my family’s homemade tamales that I wait for all year?

I could care less about what’s under the tree, it’s all about unwrapping steamy, flavorful beef from a fresh corn husk.

Eating tamales at midnight on Christmas Eve is, by far, my favorite family tradition. It is what makes this holiday so incredibly special to me. Lets put it this way, if I was going to die tonight and I had to choose between an ice cold Grey Goose straight-up or one tiny nibble of a tamale … I’d have to really think about it.


The time and work that goes into making the masa, the sauce, and folding each husk is no joke … especially when you’ve got over a hundred mouths to feed. On Christmas Eve morning my grandmother’s back patio will morph into a 25-person assembly line, each person dedicated to a very specific part or flavor of each tamale. The individually-wrapped compilations will be piled into two giant pots that will be cooked over an open flame until midnight.

The anticipation is insane. Right around 10:30 PM, everything is turned up a notch. Cheery smiles evolve into loud joyous bouts of laughter, wine from dinner is swapped out for stiff cocktails, music is cranked up and the aunts and cousins start dancing. The countdown to midnight/Christmas Day is more exciting for me than the countdown that comes 6 days later.

Until I smell that magical aroma of my family’s tamales, I think I might remain in a fog. Co-workers are talking to me and I hear Charlie Brown’s teacher, my phone is ringing and it sounds like pieces of masa being plopped into a pot of water (this is the test to see if it’s done, when it floats it’s ready), and only my Cumbia playlist is coming in clearly on the iPod.

Drop me into a pot of water, I promise I’ll float, I AM SO READY FOR TAMALES.

Is it Christmas Eve yet????????????????????



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I spent the morning with Jet at KUSF radio and was reminded of the two great loves of my life that I’ve put on the back burner.

Music and San Francisco.

I was feeling a little foggy from last night’s holiday soiree … ouch, did it hurt when the alarm went off. I washed 2 extra strength Tylenols down with some hot coffee, threw on some jeans and was out. It was raining when I left the house … pouring by the time I made it to the dark 101 freeway. I unplugged my iPod to listen to Jet’s show. As soon as the dial landed on 90.3, my ears filled with a slow, funky reggae beat layered with an electronic melody that made me want to be dancing in a smoky house party packed wall to wall.

This is definitely Jet’s show, I thought. It just sounds … cool.

Her music kept me in a euphonic trance through 4 cities. I nearly missed my exit. Not sure if it was the emo track Jet happened to be playing or the fact that I was driving 2 blocks away from where I used to live, but by the time I turned onto Fell Street, I was drowning in a pool of love.


I wanted to hook it on Grove and find my old flat just as I left it. A 10ft x 12ft Lichtenstein on the south wall, turntables in the living room, my roommate on the couch writing songs for her unsuccessful punk band, and my bedroom at the end of the hall; plastered with black and white photos that I had taken, developed, and printed myself. They sucked, but they were mine.

I miss that apartment. I miss the dive bars down the block. I miss the music.


That question rang in my head even louder when I arrived at Jet’s studio.

A tiny blur came flying around the corner just as I was reaching for the door handle next to a KUSF poster with a big skull on it. A petite Jet — dressed head-to-toe in black — opened the door for me. “Come in, come in,” she said motioning down a long corridor. The little blur disappeared as quickly as it arrived. I faintly heard Jet telling her listeners about the artist who’s track she just played. I tried to walk, but I couldn’t.


Cannot remember the last time something shook me so hard on the inside that all I could do is stand still. I was surrounded, ceiling to floor … VINYL RECORDS, as far as I could see. I immediately leaned into the nearest stack and squinted to read the names on the albums … oh sh– … they’re alphabetized! I thought for a split second that I might have gotten in a wreck on the way here, died, and THIS WAS HEAVEN. The angel in black was going to fetch my family and we were going to listen to music and dance on clouds forever and ever. AWESOME.

Back to reality … I didn’t want Jet to wonder if I was trying to gank some of her records, so I started to walk forward down the never-ending hallway. I noticed that the LPs are on slider tracks, there must be at least 10 billion of them.

I got seated inside of the studio and immediately took off my earrings, knowing that headphones would be coming shortly. Part of me hoped that a pair of Technics SLs would be coming with them. I imagined Jet standing in front of her collection with the presenter pose of a Price Is Right girl saying, “Here ya go, Nicole. Have at it!”

Good thing I snapped out of it in time to hear Jet introduce me on-air. I threw on the cans that were brought in and we started our radio chat. Jet is very cool, just like her music. We ranted about holiday madness; the shopping, the traffic and over-lapping party invites. We talked about my show on rileysride.com and how the Internet has changed how we socialize. We also discussed, and agreed, that even in the name of charity, Scarlett Johansson selling her boogers on eBay is just gross.

After I signed off and said goodbye to Jet, I walked to my car that was parked in front of a classic Victorian house with a coffee shop filled with bright colored furniture on the bottom level, beats playing faintly. All of the historical moments that have made San Francisco what it is today, flashed through my mind in a series of glossy photographs. I started to remember all of the pictures that I took here, with my own Pentax K1000. All of my memories that I have as a child flickered like a pre-produced slideshow in my brain … I LOVE it here!

Why did I ever leave?

Why did I pack all of my belongings into my car and run away in the middle of my lease … in the middle of the night … ????

Another story, for another blog.

(Shout out to Jet: KUSF 90.3 FM, Fri 6-9am)


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Is it me, or are fast food burger patties shrinking even more?

Is it the economy? Can’t figure out a way to cut costs, so we’ll just cut a fourth of beef off of every hamburger?

Is this what’s happening?

In an effort to not throw one of my favorite fast food joints under the bus, I’ll be referring to it as Burger Heaven for purposes of this blog. That’s actually a fitting name because my typical experience is nothing short of divine. There truly is something extraordinary about a warm, charbroiled hamburger patty covered with melted cheese, smothered in ketchup, with lettuce and tomato inside a fresh bun. It’s magic.

Unfortunately for me, no sparks were flying last night. No angels singing at Burger Heaven because for the first time ever, my cheeseburger SUCKED.

I had to lift the bun to see if there was even a burger in there, giving me flashbacks of those Wendy’s commercials where the old lady squinted through her glasses, searching for any sign of a patty and then said straight into the camera, “Where’s the beef?” Remember that? And it seemed like only a few hours after that first spot ran, every mullet in America was covered with a “where’s the beef” trucker hat and every girl with big bangs was wearing an oversized T-shirt with the stupid slogan printed on it. Aaaawwww, the eighties. So many fashion fabs and SO MANY trendy trainwrecks. The “where’s the beef” clothing line, hands-down, the most tragic of them all.

Back to Burger Heaven, last night, where I was seriously disturbed that the beef in my burger was noticeably different in size … how can a restaurant change something like that without giving us a heads-up?

I am devastated. This is my favorite burger — you could blind fold me, give me bites of a hundred different cheeseburgers and I would know which one was mine in an instant. You can’t mess with my burger, Burger Heaven!


Like a dork, I went home and got online to do some burger research. I was praying that Burger Heaven did the right thing and posted some of its new changes on its website. Wishful thinking. Why would a restaurant print, “We are excited to announce a transformation in our best selling cheeseburger, it will be half the size from now on, giving us the opportunity to stay afloat in this sh—y economy.” Come on Nicole. Of course BH is not going to publicly announce a burger downsize.

I am very upset about this. I bust my butt at work all week and sinking my teeth into a big, fat, juicy burger is a treat that I look forward to. Even though it happens about twice a week, it always tastes like a reward (especially when I wash it down with a cold beer). What if I get a wicked bad burger craving late night, over the weekend?

I’ve always been so loyal to Burger Heaven, will I cave and cheat?

I had an affair with White Castle when I lived in New York. I justified my indulgence of those tiny, individually-wrapped bundles of joy by telling myself that it was okay because I was across state lines. What was I gonna do, fly to Cali everytime I wanted Burger Heaven?

I’m hoping this sheisty modification is purely temporary and my favorite burger will return to the menu in its normal stature soon.

Meantime, I’m in the market for a new place to call burger home, any suggestions?


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Remember when Steve Jobs’ obit surfaced on the Internet over the summer?


We are back there again, as evidenced by pre-market trading, while rumors swirl about Jobs’ health.

Thanks to Bloomberg we were able to get a glimpse of what a final farewell to Apple’s CEO would look like. Bloomberg newswire retracted its morbid remembrance and we all carried on like it never happened. It’s not unusual for news outlets to prepare obituaries for high-profile individuals, but a leak is most definitely out of the ordinary … especially for a powerhouse like Steve Jobs with a known history of pancreatic cancer that scares the pants off of Apple junkies and share holders alike.

Jobs was slated to open the big Macworld expo coming up in a few weeks, and the announcement that he will not appear has sunk Apple shares down some 4% today, adding insult to an already injured economy.

Whether you’re a fan or not, the death of Steve Jobs would initiate an earth-rattling quake. With his money and mind involved in so many major developments and acquisitions over the years (NeXT, Pixar, Lucasfilms, Disney — to name a few) the magnitude would be unimaginable.

What would Apple Inc. be without its Houdini?

Something about the black shirt he wears and the shock-and-awe reveal he does with new Mac products is very illusionist, no? Not to mention the pure magic of his vision which was born before I was. He and Wozniak created the first PCs and shaped the tech world as we know it with their bare hands.

As Apple spokespeople scurry to calm analysts, comfort share holders and quiet the press, it’s tough to even listen to them as the announcement is made that this Macworld conference (which will be held at the Moscone Center January 5-9, 2009 in case you’re interested) will be the last.

What does that mean?

What are they not telling us?

Some hypothesize that the death of Macworld could have less to do with a speculated death of Steve Jobs, than it does with a lack of new products to showcase. Either way, fear is alive and well and a “retraction” cannot be made in this case.


Steve Jobs, the Apple Inc. co-founder who never misses an opportunity to be on-stage unveiling the latest Mac creation, will not take the stage at a much-anticipated event. The idea of never seeing Jobs, holding some tiny tech gadget with the face of a proud father again is … unimaginable.

Let’s hope this most recent Steve Jobs news has the validity of the Bloomberg newswire on August 27th.


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I ate Cocoa Krispies for breakfast this morning and my, how different the world looks!

Why did I ever remove Frosted Flakes, Lucky Charms, Fruit Loops, Cap’n Crunch Berries, Honey Smacks, Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Krispies from my diet?

Oh yeah, Dr. Atkins and the American Heart Association got into my head and I started eating fortified oatmeal.

I actually like the oatmeal. It’s tasty, and it’s loaded with protein, flax and vitamins. What it DOESN’T have is the ability to transport me back in time.

One snap, two crackles and a pop this morning and like magic, I was sitting on my best friend’s couch watching Jem and the Holograms in our matching neon pink hoodies sharing Krispies out of a gigantic salad bowl. Memories of eating Lucky Charms with a plastic spoon out of those tiny foil-lined cereal boxes on camping trips and digging for the useless plastic “prize” deep inside a box of Fruit Loops made me smile and zone out. For an hour, I sleepwalked through my morning routine dreaming of sugary cereal moments from my past. It was awesome.

I really did forget how good these high carb, totally-bad-for-you cereals are! They’re sweet, they leave behind colorful milk to drink after the crunchies are gone, and come with a free fit of nostalgia that I highly recommend.

Over the weekend when I snagged the Cocoa Krispies on sale for $1.99 at the supermarket, I thought aww 2 bucks, why not, what the hell … ?

Now I’m thinking … what the hell have I done?

How will I ever go back to that powdery fortified crap?

I probably won’t go back and it’ll be SO WORTH EVERY CARB.


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You would think that I cursed an entire race or religion by the 200+ vicious comments left in response to my most recent blog.

I haven’t worked in a restaurant in many moons, but due to the years I spent in the food service industry, I will never forget how it feels to be the server. I am empathetic, perhaps overly considerate toward ALL THOSE WHO WORK IN CUSTOMER SERVICE.

I want to hear what you think, please feel free to agree, disagree, or agree to disagree with me. No need to launch a full-on verbal assault and drop mad F-bombs, these are MY thoughts drawn from MY experiences.

Most of the harsh replies were directed at my tipping rule. I worked as a food runner once and when I was scheduled with the notorious bitchy waitress, I knew I wasn’t going to make rent. It didn’t matter how quickly I got the food from the kitchen to the table, because of her negligence and bad attitude toward the customers, I wasn’t going to get tipped out enough to pay the landlord. Due to this personal experience and MANY more that I witnessed, I have certain tipping practices … you don’t have to agree or subscribe.

As I sifted through all of your heinous emails and comments, I couldn’t help but feel incredibly thankful to live in a country where it’s completely acceptable, even invited, to voice your opinion.

While we all revel in the beauty that is our First Amendment, let’s also try to remember the first rule book that was thrown at us by our mommies and teachers, the one that began … If you can’t say anything nice, then ….


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