Friday, June 30, 2006


A reader wrote a comment on my blog a few days ago, asking me why I call myself a bad housewife and although I figured it was obvious to anyone who has ever been to my house for dinner, it's probably not obvious to those who haven't.

I recently stopped working after spending many years as an elementary school teacher in Los Angeles. My husband and I agreed that it would be nice for the whole family to have me at home for a while. With that decision in place, I took up my old dream of becoming a domestic goddess with newfound fervor. Ever since I became a mom - first to my step daughters, then to my own daughter - I've been trying to provide a home where a good home-cooked meal brings the whole family together at supper time. But sadly, that never happened. I'm just clueless in the kitchen. I would attempt making these elaborate meals for my family and never quite get it right.

It's harder than it looks. One of my daughters is a vegetarian, another dislikes veggies and considers herself a hardcore carnivore, and the third one favors cheese and butter dishes and American diner style food. My husband and I like ethnic foods, but our preferences were never first priority. Whenever I cooked a meal someone was always trying to hide the food in their napkin so they could throw it in the trash. My daughters mastered the art of moving and rearranging food on their plates so that it looked like it had been eaten. Sometimes the last morsel would “accidentally” fall from the fork and the person would be unable to eat it. My husband always eats my cooking and always says it's delicious but that’s a biased opinion. My daughters soon figured out that my feelings were being hurt and would always tell me how yummy things were before complaining that they had eaten way too much at the previous meal and couldn't have more than a bite or two. Five minutes after dinner, the smell of microwave popcorn would waft through the air.

But all that would change now that I was at home in Phoenix with the Food Network. Day in and day out, I was surrounded by my mentors: Rachel Ray, Elton Brown, Sandra Lee, Ina Garten; they made it look so easy. The Food Network was always on at my house and hope sprang anew. I bought myself a microplane and a mandolin slicer because the new tools gave me confidence and once again I started cooking on a daily basis. Every meal was an adventure, an adventure in trying to make my food look and taste as good as the dishes my mentors were producing on TV. But meals that took Rachel Ray 30 minutes to prepare took me 3 hours. The fancy dishes that graced Sandra Lee's television “tablescapes” looked and tasted like rejects from a high school Home Economics class on my table.

I tried to distract myself from the truth. After all, a good housewife does more than cook. I decided to add cleaning and sewing to my domestic goddess agenda. If you're failing at one goal, why not just add more?

I must confess that I never learned how to do any of this stuff when I was growing up. I always got out of it because I was working and going to school, and my parents were thrilled enough by that to give me a reprieve from household chores. So, lacking previous experience, I did what I always do. I found a book that explained it all to me. Mrs. Dunwoody's Excellent Instructions for Homekeeping would show me the way. The first thing I did was make a schedule and buy the proper cleaning supplies, then I set to work.

I started off great. I could sweep, vacuum, load the dishwasher, sort, wash and fold laundry, vacuum, clean the toilet, scrub the tub and Windex the mirrors with the best of them, but Mrs. Dunwoody wouldn't let me off the hook with that. No, she wanted me to wash the windows, air out the books, sun and air the mattresses and pillows, clean the lampshades and blinds and miter the corners when I make the bed! Fuck that.

To console myself, I've taken up sewing. My daughter got a little basic sewing machine from Santa a few years ago and after making a little Teddy Bear and stuffed Lady Bug, she decided to take up archery instead. So, I borrowed her sewing machine and set my sights on becoming a seamstress.

A friend of mine provided some additional inspiration when she lent me a book called Generation T. It has all kinds of ideas on how to cut up and recycle old tee shirts and make new things out of them. The author assumes you know nothing and takes the time to explain a few different types of stitches. She also has a real punk D.I.Y. attitude which is empowering for beginners, like me. So I cut up a few tee shirts and soon felt confident enough to do some real sewing. I took my daughter to the fabric store with me. Being the Gothic Lolita girl that she is, she promptly picked out an elaborate Victorian dress pattern complete with bustle for me to sew. I steered her back to the Sewing for Dummies section, but she flatly rejected those patterns as boring, so we left the store without buying anything. A few days later, I went back on my own and picked an easy-looking summer dress pattern to make for her for 4th of July. I bought some fabric from the clearance section and got to work. My handiwork is pictured below. The model has requested anonymity.

So, I guess now you know why I call my blog the Diary of a Bad Housewife.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Don't Knock The Rock - 2006

I'm a little late posting on this event, since it opened in L.A. tonight. The event was kicked off with a performance by the Gun Club, with Kid, Ward, and Terry hosting various guest vocalists to fill in for the late Jeffrey Lee. If you're not in your pajamas yet, you might still catch them.

The Don't Knock The Rock festival is curated by Allison Anders and Tiffany Anders and this year features several of the women I've interviewed for my Women In L.A. Punk series: Jenny Lens, Dawn Wirth, Theresa Kereakes, Tracy Lea and Allison Anders herself.

Tracy Lea takes her star turn when the festival screens Dave Markey's "Lovedoll Superstar" on Monday, July 3rd at 12 noon. Immediately afterwards, check out a panel discussion and photo show with Jenny Lens, Dawn Wirth and Theresa Kereakes from 2:30 - 3:30pm, moderated by Michael Des Barres and Allison Anders. All events take place at Red Cat Theatre in Downtown L.A. Don't miss this opportunity to meet and experience the work of these talented women. An exhibition of their photos is on display now through the end of the festival.

Wish I could be there!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Bagcast # 6 - Alice's Bollywood Faves

I was recently watching some of my old Bollywood videos and it inspired me to assemble another "Bagcast" devoted exclusively to some of my favorite Bollywood related tunes. For those of you who aren't familiar with the term, Bollywood sometimes refers to the Indian film industry as a whole, but more specifically to a style of spectacular musical films.

I was first bitten by the Bollywood bug several years ago and have been a fan ever since. If you'd like to see some of the videos from these films, you can visit my You Tube profile.

Here's the setlist for Bagcast #6, with the song titles and the films they are featured in:

Alice's Bollywood Faves

1. Chamma Chamma (China Gate)
2. Love Hua (Janam Samja Karo)
3. Jaan Pehechan Ho (Gumnaam)
4. Chaiya Chaiya (Dil Se)
5. What Is Mobile Number? (Haseena Maan Jayegi)
6. Aapne Dewane Ka (Dulhe Raja)
7. Kudian Shaher Diyan (Arjun Pandit)
8. Saade Dil Te - by Daler Mehndi (not from a movie.)

RSS Stream - Subscribe to my Bagcasts! Cut and paste this into your iTunes Podcast Library:
Download MP3 by right clicking and selecting "save as" here:
this is an audio post - click to play

OR visit my website and listen to streaming audio by clicking on the bag:

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Eena Meena Deeka

Eena Meena Deeka

While digging through some tapes and DVD's, I came across this copy of an old Bollywood song, Eeena Meena Deeka. This particular video came to me many years ago from my friend, Danny McGough, who made a copy of one of our band's shows on a VHS tape. "Eena Meena Deeka" was already on the tape along with the better known "Jaan Pehechan Ho." I was immediately smitten by its sweet and goofy style and have been a fan of Bollywood ever since.

The choreography doesn't compare with modern Bollywood dance numbers, but it's high on the corn factor and has lots of imagination. The guy in this video reminds me of Tito Larriva. I'd love to see Tito and Jane Wiedlin remake this song.

If you like this video, you might be interested in checking out some more. I've selected some of my very favorite Bollywood musical clips to share with you, and you can check them all out by visiting my YouTube page. Here, you'll find a playlist of videos that I especially like along with some of my comments.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Monday, June 19, 2006

My Father's Gift

I just got back from a trip out to Long Beach to attend my daughter's graduation. I've known Maddie since she was 6 years old, so I think of her as my daughter even though I share her wih her real mom. Recently, we were chatting online and she told me that she had decided to become a teacher. I was thrilled, of course, but I knew that the first thing people would tell her was that she'd never make any money being a teacher. She said she'd already heard that.

Now, it's not that I want my step-daughter to become a teacher. I would encourage her to follow her heart's desire even if she wanted to be a juggler in the circus, but it irked me that people were discouraging her. It bothers me that a teacher's value is constantly being assessed in monetary terms rather than in what they contribute to society, but more than that, it bothered me that people whom she trusted would try to dissuade her from following her dream. I know that sometimes we think that we do someone a disservice if we encourage them in pursuing a dream that we feel they can't achieve, or a career that we believe is in some way inappropriate for them. I know I've been guilty of that. I never put money in the tip jars or guitar cases of musicians whose music I don't enjoy, because I don't want to encourage them. And I must confess that when I was younger, I wasn't above heckling them or throwing ice cubes at them from the audience.

Despite good intentions, these little practical messages don't really achieve the desired effect. All they do is dampen the spirits of the person to whom they are being dispensed. After all, how many of us have been told at some point in our lives that our goals were unrealistic or unattainable?

My father and me.

I guess I'm lucky, because when I was growing up my father was constantly reminding me that I could be anything I wanted to be. "You can be the first woman President," he would tell me. My father was not subject to flights of fancy. He knew exactly the kind of world we live in and for him to think that a poor Mexican-American girl from East L.A. could grow up to be President of the U.S. seems ridiculous. Yet he made me believe that he believed it. His affirmations were so strong and so constant that I think they instilled in me an unshakeable sense of self determination. I still feel that I can do whatever I want, if I really want it and work hard enough.

My father left me quite a gift and it's one that I'd like to give to my own kids. Not just my own kids - we all need the same gift. Not everyone is fortunate enough to hear the magical empowering words that I heard as a young girl. Many of us have dreams and aspirations that, to the outside world, may seem foolish, unachievable, or perhaps simply unworthy. We try to ignore the negative comments from concerned friends or family members who feel that they are suggesting better choices for us. To deny that these comments affect us is probably untrue. I never bought into that whole "sticks and stones" theory; words can hurt just as much. I've always tried to stay away from those who say I can't or shouldn't do something that's meaningful for me.

Being able to count on those we trust for unconditional emotional support and encouragement can make the difference between someone giving up their dream without ever attempting to attain it or striving, regardless of the odds or the external pressures that stand in their way. I know I can achieve my goals, I know that my children can achieve their goals and I know that each of us can achieve our goals if we really set our minds to it.

So, thank you for your gift, Dad. Thank you for constantly fanning that little spark inside of me, all those many years ago.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


I took a look at my stats for my website today and noticed something odd:

As if having 666 page views on 6/6/6 wasn't freaky enough, Phoenix was engulfed by a monster dust storm on the same day. Here's what it looked like as I drove into town yesterday evening:

Hmmm...maybe someone's trying to tell me something.
P.S. This is the 4th time I've tried posting this blog entry, the first three times I hit save, the blog just disappeared as if it didn't want to be posted...

It's End-times my friends! REPENT!!!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Women In L.A. Punk, Part XXI - Kira Roessler

Kira Roessler is one of the most accomplished musicians to come out of the L.A. punk scene. In her lengthy career she's played with several bands, including Waxx, The Visitors, The Mommymen, The Monsters, Sexsick, Twisted Roots, Black Flag and dos. It always amazes me when I hear or read someone describe Kira as "one of the best female bassists." She is one of the best - period.

Kira modestly describes her contributions in her interview, but fans of hardcore punk will know that Kira's bass playing with Black Flag during their prolific mid-eighties touring and recording period helped sow the seeds of punk in every town they blasted through.

I can't recall the first time I met Kira. She used to frequent the Canterbury Apartments and the Masque. My recollection of her is that she was a very pretty tomboy who rarely wore make up or dressed up. I talked her into some make-up and had to persuade her to put on Nickey Beat's jacket for the photos I took of her in the hallway at the Canterbury. I'm glad she humored me.

In addition to her career in the film industry, Kira remains quite active in music and performs with dos, her band with ex-hubby Mike Watt.

Oh, and we both like Shakira better when she sings en espanol.

Click on the Women In Punk thumbnail to read her interview: