28 Feb 2011

Three Doors Down...

..is the name of an alternative rock band I love, and also how close we are to the Oscars. We live less than 5 minutes walk from the Kodak Theatre, and if i strain my ears hard enough, I can almost hear the conversations. Since we are not famous enough to be invited, we are watching them from the comfort of our apartment

Yesterday we took a walk down Hollywood Blvd to see how the preparations were going. The street has been closed for about a week now. It's amazing to see what is usually a main street, now completely blocked off. In reality, the Oscars red carpet is a road! They created diversion for people traffic, that took crowds via alleys inside the Egyptian theatre.
I took photos of the area, enjoy:

they constructed a bypass in the middle of Hollywood Blvd

the grand stairs

The entrance to the theatre

view from Highland Ave. The poster is H.U.G.E

8 Feb 2011

(Not) finding Neverland

I am always fascinated by beggars / homeless people. I am curious to find out how and why they ended up on the streets. It might be a sick obsession, but I like hearing those stories. Could be because I am a filmmaker and subconsciously in search of the next movie story? I don't know. I will talk to some, even help them, and some I will ignore. I don't have a criteria, some I just don't feel drawn towards.

Even the stairs to a parking garage
looks like the the stairway to heaven!

Over the weekend, while in Santa Barbara, Nate and I decided to explore their main street (State Street). Is was a sunny day and Santa Barbara is gorgeous I tell you! It feels like something out of a quaint town in Spain or Italy. And on a sunny Sunday afternoon, it is heaven.

Allow me to tell you  a little bit about Santa Barbara.

It is also known as the American Riviera due to its climate. Very Mediterranean. ( except like most of West Coast, the water is only beautiful to look at, too cold to swim in. Something I find crazy as our Indian Ocean is so lovely to swim in, even in the middle of the night. Yes, I have gone skinny dipping in the Indian Ocean in a beautiful beach called Nungwi in Zanzibar. No wonder they come over to East Africa take over our beaches :)

Apparently, in the 1800s there was a huge earthquake and a tsunami. Almost everything was destroyed. Another earthquake hit on early 1900s. The quake was not as bad but the aftershocks were terrible. Incidentally, that was around the time they were rebuilding the city.  So the man in charge then talked to the Santa Barbarians and they all  chose to stick to the Spanish colonial style architecture.

Got the above history lesson from a lovely Santa Barbara couple who had attended the screening of our film. (BTW, our film won Best International feature Film Award at Santa Barbara International Film Festival shortly after)

One of the most beautiful churches I have ever been in is the Mission Santa Barbara. You can get the virtual tour here, even though its nothing like the the real, physical experience of being there, in the presence of so much powerful history and spirituality. So grand, almost would make me change my mind about a church wedding!

Even their government buildings are gorgeous. The Santa Barbara Courthouse has been rated the most beautiful public building in the US.
Santa Barbara County Courthouse
A section of State Street
You will remember that Neverland, Micheal Jackson's playground is (was?) in Santa Barbara. The Tudor style buildings of the ranch and the Savannah like grassland were described as ' English country manor meets Kenya.
But, no matter how big  and famous they get, or how rich they are, they all wished they lived in Kenya! Go Kenya!

End of history lesson. Back to the story.

This lady walks past us on State Street.  She is in patched cut off jeans that end just below her badonkadonk (always wanted to use that word, a white fitting tshirt with the sleeves rolled back to her shoulders making it look like  a vest, a black backpack, white socks and black and orange trainers that looked like either New Balance or Timberlands. On of her backpack side pockets held a bottle of water. She looked good. The rugged, backpacking good, very nice figure,and an amazing derriere. He hair though looked ashy, some kind of dirty blond and unkempt. Then she stopped at a trash can on the street. At first I gave it not much thought, until I saw her reach in to it. She was dumpster diving! I was shocked. She had on glasses. I swear she looked like a very hot nerd. The hot kind and doesn't know it, spends lots of time studying and all the boys wanna bang her but are too intimidated by her intelligence. She found a brown bag with some food in it. Reached into it, fished out a half eaten muffin and shoved it in her mouth. I turned to Nate and whispered. ' She does not look like a homeless person!' He nodded. Told me that maybe she was a runaway. Maybe she was a rich family and had issues. Couldn't take it anymore...She looked to be either in her late teens or early twenties. Though she can have been even younger.

I wanted to know what her story was. Why such a good looking girl was out dumpster diving. Not that garbage fishing is an activity that should be left solely to non good looking people, but you do tend to get curious when they almost look like Scarlet Johannsen. I did not talk to her, but that her image disturbed me. And it's been bugging me that I did not talk to her. Not that I would have helped her or given her any solutions, but just to hear her story. Kinda selfish of me, that is.

Anyway, it reminded me of the 'Golden Voice' homeless man, Ted  Williams. In early January, some reporter in Ohio came across a homeless guy holding up a sing that said something like. 'I have a God given gift of voice....' and was asking for donations.  He used to work in radio but lost his job, family and home due to drugs and alcohol problems. The reporter challenged him to show his talent. The result was this video

Ted did indeed have a wonderful voice. The kind that you can feel booming in your heart. The reporter posted the video on YouTube, it went viral. Gig / money offers for Ted started streaming in. He was getting a second chance. Lots of second chances! Everyone wanted a piece of him. Including Hollywood.  Funny enough, on one of our daily evening walks around the neighbourhood, we spotted him on Hollywood Boulevard (Walk of Fame)  followed a herd of paparazzi. They seriously do look like a herd, you know, the same word you use for a bunch of cows...you can even hear a moo if you listen keenly.

Actually, Nate spotted him and pointed him to me. He was outside Madam Tassaud Wax museum giving some interviews. We talked a bit about him and how lucky he was, and whether his life would really do a u-turn now that he had this chance. We did not have to wait long to know the answer.

A few days later, news broke that he had been arrested by LAPD after a scuffle with a family member at a local hotel. He later checked himself into rehab, as he had lapsed. Before he could complete his rehab, he checked himself out, against his doctors advise.

I guess its a wait and see game to see if he cleans his act completely or he looses this chance and goes back to the streets. People can only him so far, then he has to walk the rest of the journey by himself. Fame doesn't help either.  Normal people living normal, mundane lives are messed up by fame, it must really eff him up.

Another day, again on one of our walks, we came across some disheveled looking guy on Sunset Blvd. He was about 50+ (I can never accurately tell white people ages, they say the same of black people anyway. I always think they look older than they are, they always think we look younger). Anyway, this guy was walking towards us. He paused as he came close and goes like ' Can you spare a dollar?' Nate answers, 'Sorry, don't have my wallet.' It was true. When we do the evenings walks, we don't carry anything on us, including phones. Now, Nate is a pretty generous person. Wrote about some incident here and I know if he had something on him, he would have given the guy. He really did look hungry. We did not expect what came next. He asked. ' Are you sure?' Yes, we said. ' F*&k you and may you die of cancer!' he shouted to us. My mouth hang open! What? He walked away. I started laughing. I have had insults from panhandlers, but that took the award. Actually, it did not piss us off. We found it strange and funny.

Back to Santa Barbara. On our way to the parking lot (whose stairs photo I have posted above) we come across a panhandler on a public bench. He was sitting, chatting to a fellow panhandler, smoking. On his feet was a photograph. Of him holding up a ' A dollar will help. I am homeless and hungry, blah blah...' cardboard sign I laugh. Nate asks whats funny. I show him the sign.

Even beggars have become too lazy to hold their sign. He figured its too much work. Take a photo of himself holding the sign, place it next to himself.  He doesn't have to talk to you. Even frees up his hands to engage in other constructive activities. Like smoking. Genius.

Yesterday, on another walk along Sunset again, this guy stops us. ' Do you have some change?' He asks. We shake our heads an move on.  Then I thought. He did not ask us if we had some change to give him, he asked if we had some change, period. That's all he wanted to know. And I told Nate as much.

"If we had change, I would have told him yes and kept walking. After all all he wanted to know is if we had it" I argued.
Of course you know what he meant, Nate replies.
That is an assumption!  What if he really just wanted to know if I was one of the people who were lucky enough to carry around some change? I argued back.

Then I told Nate of this one incident in Nairobi.

I had a meeting at PanAfric Hotel and another on at Alliance Francoise. It was around 5pm when traffic is heaviest, when I finished the first meeting. So I decided to leave my car at PanAfric and walk to Alliance.I had just crossed the road when i noticed this matatu next to me. Traffic was heavy anyway, I was actually walking faster than the vehicles. The tout pulled back the door and looked at me.

"Siste unaenda tao?" He asked (Sister, are you going in to town?)
"Ndio" (Yes) I answered and kept walking.  He hit the side of the matatu twice signaling the driver to stop. They stopped, I kept walking.
"Unaenda au uendi?" He asked (Are you going or not?)
"Naenda" I answered as a matter of factly (I am going). Still I did not stop walking.
"Kwenda huko, unanipotezea wakati!" (Eff off you are wasting my time!) He shouted.

You asked me if I was going into town and I aid yes. How I'm I wasting your time? I asked him. He asked why I was not getting into the matatu then. I told him because I did not want to use a matatu, I wanted to walk. He was getting frustrated. Traffic was not moving any faster anyway so i knew this conversation would go on a while. He asked me why I had responded 'yes' to his question. Because, I explained calmly, I was really going to town. He has asked me if I was, I had given him the answer. He was not getting the point I was trying to prove. I went on. You did not ask me if i wanted to get into the matatu to go town. You asked me if i was going to town, period. And truth is, I was. But I did not want to use the matatu. He finally got it and in spite of himself, he laughed.

When I told Nate, he told me I had been a biatch. I said I did not think so. Why do you think he asked you if you were going to town then? He asked. Maybe he wanted to make conversation, I don't know. I answered.

Of course I knew what the tout meant. But once in a while,some questions do deserve the right answers. And I am pretty sure I made the tout's evening.

The title of this post now makes sense? Me talking about Santa Barbara, Neverland and the homeless, how that is ironic since the homeless have not found a 'Neverland' and me putting all of that in one post....ah, forget it!

Disclaimer: All photos in this post were taken by me, except the courthouse. It's courtesy of Konrad Summers

7 Feb 2011

What's in my handbag?

I commented on Mrembo's blog that none of ladies tagged on the "What's in My handbag?" posts had included pads or tampons in them. I thought maybe women stopped doing that and no one gave me the memo...So, she tagged me. And now I have to tell you whats in mine.

**dumps all contents on couch**.
  1.  Business cards. Mine and other peoples.
  2. Moleskin / Pen.
  3. A white and blue tube written serum re activant cils. I got this in a L'oreal Swag bag last year. I never opened it, but it looked cool to carry around. Just Googled it. I think its for eyelashes.
  4. Earrings. - 1 pair 
  5. Pair of Keys
  6. Lots and lots of assorted coins.
  7. Little Lacie harddrive with cable in a small bag
  8. USB drive
  9. Digital stills camera
  10. Laptop charger
  11. Phone 
  12. A random piece of paper with a phone number. mhhh
  13. Ipod touch / headphones
  14. Ipod / headphones (**Ipod touch belonged to Nate. Hegot an iphone, 'donated' the ipod touch to me. Useful coz it gets internet / wifi. Stupid coz i have to carry them both around as the Ipod has all my music.)
  15. Sennheriser  earphones pouch.  Carries various sizes of Ear tips ear buds  covers replacement. ( I have tiny ears. Been hard to find earphones that stay in place)
  16. T-mobile refill card ( gosh, they are so big. should get advise from Safaricom, bamba 50 cards save trees...)
  17. Wallet - contains
  • Pic of me and this Korean girl I met in Berlin. We became good friends,  took silly pics at an instant photo booth. We lost touch.
  • Pic of Nate
  • Pic of my baby sis (one of them)
  • Money (Kenyan, Canadian, Euro, USD)
  • Lot and lots of receipts.
  • credit cards x3
  • ATM cards x2
  • Health insurance card
  • Various supermarkets and grocery stores Reward cards- Kenyan. All US ones are all on the keys. An idea I should share with Nakumatt and Uchumi.
  • Kenya Museums membership card
  • AA membership card (the automobile association. Not the one you are thinking)
  • British Airways card
  • Virgin Atlantic card
  • Turkish Airlines card
  • Lufthansa Airlines card 
14. Make-up bag that contains:
  • Liplicious Lip gloss from Bath&body Works. Can't live without. (x6 tubes of different flavours. They are like 3 for $5!!!. How could i not? Plus they are all so yummy! )
  • L'oreal Made For me Lipstick. I apply it once in a while. I lick it off minutes later. Till the next 'one in a while'. You guessed. Did not buy it. Was in that swag bag too.
  • L'oreal Studio Secrets eye shadow. Swag bag. Use it one in a while.
  • L'oreal Mascara. Swag bag. never used. Tried, eyes looked like I had used a huge piece of charcoal. too much work.
  • M.A.C moisturizing 2 way powder. This I use.
  • Hand Sanitizer 
  • Dior Addict 2 perfume small bottle.
  • miniature toothbrush / toothpaste. From a Virgin Atlantic flight
  • BYS Bronze shimmer pencil. Never used it. Again, some girl gave me.
  • Sunglasses x2 Black and brown cat-eye .
  • Sisley lipstick. A pal had it. convinced it me to try it. I liked the colour. I kept it. Never even looked at what brand  it was till now!
  • Nivea Happy Time roll on
  • Small Black Amethyst perfume - from Bath and Body Works. Yeah i love B&BW)
  • Fair & Lovely. Use a lot. Reminds me, last tube. Gotta check if they sell them here...Most girls have asked me if it bleaches me or reacts with my skin. Nope, I love it. since high school. and mys skin is a testament to that. Don't believe me, check it out here. You also get to meet Nate :)
  • Nivea Fruity shine lipgloss. Bought it Nairobi. Hates how it condenses on lips and becomes whitish. Not throwing it away, yet. What if one day I don't.  have my other Lipgloss and my lips are really dry?
  • Bath & Body Works True Blue Spa hand cream  (x2 tubes. couldn't decided which flavour I wanted. Boyfriend was in a hurry. Grabbed both...plus buy 2 get one free..)
  •  1, 2, 3, 4....14 Kotex tampons. (Their little white and red love-hearts cover is are so cute! But that's not the reason I carry them...)
  • Farmasi wet wipes
  • little paper napkins / towels? no idea what they are called
  • Eyeliner. Used as much as the lipstick
  • Various hair pins and clips- useless anyway as i cut my hair. 
  • Mini shampoos and hand lotions from various hotels. They all smell the same...tacky. But they come in handy. when someone asks me for hand lotion, and i don't think they are nice enough to get my B&BW ones, I give these.  I am men like that...
15. Little ziplock bag containing:
  • Passport (x2 old and new)
  • check books x2 (personal and joint account)
  • Kenya driving licence
  • Int'l driving licence
  • More business cards (mine)
  • Yellow fever vaccination certificate / booklet. (x2. Had to travel urgently once. I was required to have one. Being stupid and cheap, and young, I got a fake one. Stop looking at me like that. Later, I got the shots. I should throw away the fake one)
  • Lots and lots of boarding passes
  • Lots and lots of movie ticket stubs. ( I never throw them away. I am working on making a scrapbook of  all the movie tickets stubs of all films I watch in theatres. One day, in the year 2080, they will be worth a lot of money. My future kindred will thank me)
  • DVD of my movie Togetherness Supreme - I never know who I will meet in Hollywood who will ask for a copy of my film :). Wishes, wishes
  • DVD of the the Trailer of the above movie - Always handy.
16. Black Sandals. ( oh yes they fit in there. I have a HUGE bag. The one where i can never find a thing unless i removed everything. Esp my phone when it rings..)
17. Various brochures from a film festival I just came from.
18. TicTacs
19. Dentyne Ice gum

Is my bag heavy? Most of the time. But I rarely walk...and if i do , I have a man who offers to carry it! And when i am done typing this, Laptop will go in there.

Giddy is the feeling...

...that I have right now. It has been a shitty week. My aunt who i wrote about here succumbed to breast cancer. I have been feeling really low. The kind of ow that toilet flies don't wanna be close to as that is even beneath them.

But our film, Togetherness Supreme, won the Best Int'l Feature Film Award at the Santa Barbara Int'l Film Festival. And that is a BIG deal.

I did not sleep well last night. I took 5 Kroeger Sleep Aids (oh shut up, you are not my mother). Two do not work, and I don't owe you an explanation. If  you did not feel like admonishing me for doing that, thanks.  Anyway, I got drowsy as expected. 1 hour, 2 hours, 3 hours. Crap! I was not awake, I was not asleep. I was stuck in between! I was feeling like a person trapped between this world and the afterlife. Not quite anywhere. This went on for hours! I could not form coherent thoughts, could not even keep track of my thought.. kept asking myself, what was i thinking that led me to this thought. why am i thinking this particular thought right now? why i am thinking about thinking? what was i thinking before i started thinking about thinking? See, fucked up!

That went on the whole night! You do not want to know how grumpy I was in the morning. I made Nate eggs and bagels. He did not touch the eggs. I wanted to shove them up his snobby nose. I do not think he has ever told me i love you and you are beautiful in one day as many times as he did today! And even that was annoying. And all the cheek pecks and are you okay, anything i can get you were too much. I swear he was pissing me off just by breathing next to me. We got on the 101. Everytime we are on 101, i always sing Phantom Planet's California. Today I did not. He started ' We've been on the run...' I gave him a look that shut his mouth faster than velcro. Poor man! He still had 2 more hours in the car with me! He put on the radio, I reclined the seat and dozed off.

I was beginning to enjoy the sleep when the car stopped. We were in Santa Barbara. I told him to leave me in the car and go keep himself busy. He went to Starbucks. 5 minutes later, I followed him. My stomach was getting queasy. I would get this sharp pain, like gas. I could not pass any gas,then the pain and feeling would go away. Great. More things to piss me off further! As if that was possible. I went into Starbucks toilet. There was a lady in front of me. She complimented me on my headscarf and earrings.  Said I looked good. I said thanks, and I am in a shitty mood. Why did I tell her that?? She turned out to be very nice. I didn't see it then. Then she was just a bother. She told me there is a nice church she goes to. i said I was from out of town, was just visiting for the festival. I could see her rearrange her mind troops to find another comforting thing to say. I was gifted with one thing. Eyes. Mine say volumes. You do not have to know me to understand my ' shut up or i swear...' look. She got that one, and retreted. I know. I know.

Then to the award ceremony. We walk to the lobby to ask which room the ceremony is at. The guy at the front desk goes like... pardon? Seriously. I have the most clear accent. I pronounce all my words! But for some reason, Americans don't understand me. I always have to repeat myself. I never have to in London. Americans need English lessons. It's Le-tter, not Le-ra. and Wa-ter, not Wo-ra. Kwendeni huko!

I look at Nate and with my pleading eyes. The 'I will kill him if you don't step in' one. I can honestly feel the sourness coming from my pores. Ugh! The announce that our film has worn. It ALL goes away. Snap. Just like that. Really?? I get pissed off at my moods. At least it could have taken them a bit longer to go away. Like gradually, not just-like-that! One second crap, the next jubilation. I felt shortchanged by my moods!

Anyway, that feeling right then has been with me since. We met up with our pal, called our friends, shared on all networking sites, did tonnes of interviews, then came back to LA in time for Superbowl. I have refused to understand that sport. I don't want to. My mind's quota of the 'sport section' is full. I will have to eliminate a sport from my mind to create room. No way. All I know is that when they say touchdown, someone has scored a point. And that's good for me.

I was still sleepy. I still am. Maybe i am dreaming this post? I will wake up tomorrow, go to my blog and not find this post. Oh well. If it's real, then I guess I need more of those Kroeger sleep aids.

Note to self. Don't take 5 ever again. They will eff you up. badly.

5 Feb 2011

Me, I don't listen...

..not when I am given, or even i read warnings. Don;t you just love the Kenyan manner of speaking. Like 'me i don't and starting sentences with words like imagine...

Back to me not heading to warnings. I am the kind of person who is told, ' Do not do that" and my responses, usually at the same time doing exactly that is 'why?' I was a 'why' child and I never grew out of it. Nate told me one day, driving from Oakland to Los Angeles that I ask more whys that a child. Why? was my response. I just wanna know stuff...Why? Not so that I can be incredibly knowledgeable and have intelligent conversation at dinner parties. Or even so that my blog posts can contribute to my readers mental growth. Uh-uh. Just.

So I ended up on a website that had a little link on the left that said ' Do not click here' . Which in Dark Angel speak meant, Click here with all the might you can muster. And Click I did. It lead me to another page, which the same warning repeated. ' Do not click here' Who died and made you God to tell me when to and not to click? clicks tongue, and clicks the link.

What followed was a  little pop up that said something like, hello, i am an alert box, with an OK button, which miss click, clicked. And then it proceeded to have conversations with me. Like, how are you- click OK - you don't say much- click OK- you are a shallow human being - click OK - don't you have anything intelligent to say except click OK - click OK....and so on. Now, there was no Cancel or Quit button. Just a silly OK button that made me feel oh-so-stupid! This went on for about 5 minutes. The most stupid 5 minutes of my life! then when the silly thing came to an end, after making me feel like the lowliest of worms, there was no way to quit it! So it started all over again! I had to quit my browser, (that will teach me, I had email replies that I was still typing!), and make sure that particular tab did not open again.

If you have 5 minutes of your life you never wanna get back ( not that there are any that you will ever get back), amuse yourself here http://www.blueswami.com/Donotclickhere.html#

My blog is like a good bra

A couple of years ago, I did a post on men's guide to women's bra sizes. It was not original, but it was inspired by the guy i was dating then. He asked me to explain to him what 36C and DD stand for in women's bra (are there men's bras? why do we need to clarify that?). So I did what every person who owns a computer and has decent internet connection does when asked a question that you have an answer to - Googled it. I came across a very stupid proof way of explaining to men the numerals and alphabet behind women's bras. It was done in a language they (men) understand, with graphics they would not be forgetting soon. It was intended to be a little post, those that get tucked away in your archive. But no. I had opened a pandora box. I had put 'men' and 'bra' in the same sentence.

Years later, this little post has become the major source of traffic to my blog. So much so that a Google search of the term 'mens guide to bra sizes' produces my blog as the No. 1 result! Think I am joshing? I took a screen shot to prove it:

No publicity is bad publicity no? But it makes me cringe at the amount of pervs ending up on my blog. But then again, it could be all well meaning men who are trying to understand their women's  bras sizes for when they next got to Victoria Secret for that Valentine day present. Talking of which, I find men buying their women lingerie a very selfish thing. I mean, isn't that meant to send the message 'I want to see you in this little number so that it can lead to even less?' Maybe it's just me...

For now, I will take comfort in the hope that its all well meaning boys ending up here. But it does make me wonder if and when this blog becomes a mommy blog, should I make revise that post and make it about those breastfeeding bras? Maybe even make it about udder covers? I read about those here and I can't remember on which post.