Marilyn Manson with Butcher Babies, San Francisco, 2013.

As it is natural for all things, they come and go. Major excitement gets replaced with anything but. This February, for instance, there was an event in San Francisco to stir the city scene up: Marilyn Manson performed at Warfield theatre on the chilly Tuesday night of 19th.

Of course, many of you fans were there, or already read about the show, or heard the buzz from someone who’s attended; if not, well, here’s a little something. Even if you’re not a fan, read on: as my friend well put it, “Who doesn’t like this lovely weirdo?”*

So, as it was announced, Butcher Babies opened the show. For the band relatively young both on stage and in life, their performance was very energizing. Both female vocalists were electric, their voices fresh and sincere. Plus, just the watching itself was rewarding for any eye-candy lover. Butcher Babies’ performance wasn’t long; they left everyone with a sweet anticipation of what was to come.

Mr. Manson, in his turn, took his time. After the opening band left the stage, more than an hour passed till things started to look like the main show of the night was about to begin. When the stage went dark, everyone instantly turned silent.

Behind the curtains, the figure appeared. It was tall and sleek. With few cords, “Hey, Cruel World” filled the concert hall. Marilyn Manson moved with the music, cradling his microphone like the most precious thing. Curtains dropped, and he revealed himself. Dressed in all black, wearing moderate amount of make-up and simple, parted on the side hair. While his style remains the same, the attitude and stage behavior change by year and it feels good.

As it often happens, the show was meant to support singer’s new, 2012 album, Born Villain. And, as it often happens with Manson, he did something completely different. After opening the show with the new song, (“Hey, Cruel World”, which is also the intro song of the album), he, perhaps, felt nostalgic about the yore and went ahead with audience’s all-time favorites. “Lest we Forget”, here’s the Track List of the February 19th, 2013 show:

  1. Hey, Cruel World
  2. Disposable Teens
  3. Fight Song
  4. No Reflection
  5. (M) Obscene
  6. Dope Show
  7. Slow Motion
  8. Rock is dead
  9. Personal Jesus
  10. Sweet Dreams
  11. Running to the Edge of the World
  12. Antichrist Superstar
  13. Beautiful People

Yes, that’s right. Thirteen songs total. And only three songs from the new album. Nevertheless, it was all worth it. The first song was beautifully performed, the second, the third… There was some talking – mainly, about San Francisco, some walking, few contacts with the audience which were especially nice because, well, when artist says “Thank you” instead of usual “F… you”, it’s that much better to hear.

For the “Fight Song”, Manson dug up this red, Pope-like gown with golden embroidery, from his closet. While performing “No Reflection”, he wore a shiny, apron-looking dress. After a short break, he requested a sweater from the public. Soon, there was one in his hands – faux fur beige vest that was used, of course, for (M) Obscene. The “Dope Show” was for everyone to sing, “Slow Motion” looked a lot like an official video for the song – it was bathed in purple lights. Next two songs were great, that’s when there was real excitement in the audience. “Sweet Dreams” opened with an amazing set: a dark stage and a single street lamp, hanging from the ceiling on a chain. Slowly, Manson rocked it from side to side and filled the concert hall with everyone’s memorable sounds. Throughout the song, there was soft psychedelics lighting. Mr. Manson did a great job while performing the last three songs, and then there was the end, when everyone least expected. Of course, it may have been the best number available to finish such a show, it just felt like the band was somewhat in a hurry. It was quite obvious that props for AS were the same since 1999. There was a little pause, and finally, there were the “Beautiful People”. The energy was rolling through the premises, when Mr. Manson murmured, “San Francisco”, and left the stage. Everything looked like he just went to get some refreshments, only when he never returned, it was clear that concert was over. Most of the people left pretty soon. Some left in fifteen minutes. We waited for half an hour, and after seeing uniformed people cleaning between empty seats, it was time to accept the “tough truth”.

There were people still waiting for the impossible. Someone started to yell, “Pu..y!”, addressing the stage. Many others joined. I thought it was funny and, in a way, true, yet I still felt it was a little too much.

 Marilyn Manson is who he is, he can afford to perform thirteen songs and get away with it. That’s why we were all there. In the end, seriously, who doesn’t like this lovely weirdo?!

*The phrase “Lovely weirdo” was used by my friend, writer Dayna Ingram in relation to other person(s).


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A Week With iPhone 4S

Before I start, I want you to know that present post has nothing to do with advertisement or a product promotion, neither I, nor my friends/family members work for Apple or their affiliates. This post is about my personal experience with Apple’s latest phone, so if you’re thinking about purchasing it or just want to read someone’s review, this is for you.

In March of 2012 an idea occurred to me: It was time to choose a new calling device! Of course, I wanted it to have some extra features, like web browsing, e-mail support, apps and it was clear the smartphone was the option. Luckily, it wasn’t the only option: our information era is very generous when it comes to smartphones, and it can be very challenging to actually make a decision you won’t regret. Especially before opening a 2-year contract, you need to make sure the device will meet your requirements, remain modern and functional, and stay with you in a shape close to its original one. Every carrier now offers dozens of different makes and models, and to find a right for you is another quest. Since I have had a smartphone before, I decided to stay with my current carrier but choose a different phone. (Without much detail, just want to add that I had a Droid phone for 2 years and it was time to try something else).

First thing I did was checking my carrier’s website to learn about their new products and services. Many deals sounded very good, and some decent phones were even offered for free with an activation of a 2-year plan. Then, first time in my life, I got tempted to try an iPhone. Many of my friends have or had an iPhone in the past, and everyone was extremely happy with it, but, for some reason I was always skeptical. Probably, it had a lot to do with publicity and the fact everyone was talking about it, while I wanted to have a quality product without any wish to use it as a fancy accessory. However, with more research I realized iPhone is the tool I need.

The local carrier’s office didn’t have an iPhone 4S in stock, so they advised to place an order and wait for a couple of days. Now, this is the most exciting – and most relevant – part of the story, revealing what happens after you open a little neat box. Well, I didn’t actually experience the pleasure of breaking the seal since the store consultant had to do it as a part of his job, but it didn’t take long before I received the device with all the data from my old phone transferred and new possibilities open.

My first thoughts were:

– iPhone 4S is not that heavy! While studying the product information, I found many people mention its weight but for me, it feels normal considering that phone’s body is made of metal and glass and not plastic.

– It looks thinner in real life than on the webpage.

– It does look nice!

Soon I had to go back to work yet I did have a chance to send a few messages and make a phone call, to see how it all works out. The experience was quite pleasant; the interfaces of all screens are very user-friendly and inviting. Plus, resolution is amazing and watching videos/reading/web browsing/typing doesn’t make your eyes tired. Text/image on the screen looks like it’s printed on real paper, with no sun glare of blurred spots. Then, device is really fast, it allows you multitask and have several web pages open without ever slowing down. Many useful apps come preinstalled, among them are: Calendar, Camera, Weather App, Notes and Music/Video apps. I was very pleased with the ability to make a screen shot of any page, whether web page, app or my own document, which I can save in photo gallery and use it later anywhere.

When I got home that day, I couldn’t put my new phone aside – there was so much to explore. Since the App Store comes preinstalled, all I had to do was create an Apple ID. After that, everything out there is at your fingertips. First my gigs were mobile banking, social network sites, book readers, but then it was clear there is something for every aspect of your life! I really enjoy using Photoshop Express app, it’s a quick and easy way to improve any picture. Among App Store’s categories are: Books, Business, Education, Lifestyle, News, Productivity, Weather and more. You can find something attractive in each of the categories. Maps navigation is a very handy tool; it gives you directions and shows alternate routes. Plus, you can print a map right from the phone’s screen. Message app is conveniently located to the left from the home screen; it provides an easy access to all your conversations.

iPhone 4S also makes your life easier by displaying Phone, Mail, Safari and Music icons at the bottom of each screen. And I don’t even want to mention Siri – you can always look it up online. I personally enjoy it as much as everything else. Is there something I don’t like? Not so far.

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Posted by on March 25, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Cafe au Lait.


Coffee shop in downtown Concord, CA.

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Posted by on February 21, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Wild and Free: Artist Reception by Michelle Kendall-Lawrie

Few days after Valentine’s Cupid left the city of Concord, Bay area, another wonder came upon its residents: an exhibition-gallery by local artist Michelle Kendall-Lawrie, held at California’s famous Panama Red café. Placed in the heart of Todos Santos Plaza, Panama Red has always been tourists’ and city-dwellers’ attraction. On the day of the official opening, February 18th, the place looked livelier than ever: many visitors were drawn to the beautifully presented artwork. Among them were people from different parts of the Bay area: artist’s friends, family members, coworkers, and many more. Michelle, aka Store Inventory Merchandiser at an adjacent bookstore, is also known as a creative heart and soul of the place she works at. All year round, she spends generous amount of time getting ready for seasonal holidays, creating attractive window displays and decorating the entire store.

Michelle grew up in a Mt. Shasta area in California and, as she declares herself, “had the ability to run wild in the woods and feel free”. Anyone could experience that “wild and free” environment in most of the displayed works: paintings, collages and even frames of presented works were filled with warm and freshness of an enchanted forest. Some of the visitors were taking pictures; others stood close, trying to remember the details. After the greetings exchanged, I had a chance to talk to Michelle about the show and her life as an artist. She was very friendly and happily answered all the “tricky” questions.

–Michelle, looks like many people are truly impressed with what they see, and it would be interesting to know, what kind of critique do your creations get from your family/friends?

-I am very blessed to have an amazing support from family and friends. When it comes to critiques, I have received positive feedback on the collage work. Also, my painting style has changed so much through the years!

–As of now, how would you characterize your artistic style? 

-Well, I would describe it as a literary, accessible, with a dash of folk.

–If you could only use three words to describe you style, what would they be?

-Sleight of hand! (Laughing)
–Wonderful, and how did you discover your passion for art? Was there a family member who inspired you to start your first project?

-Jeez, I have always loved art and have always been around it. There are many artists in my family and my environment. My mom has always had a love for art and history and my dad has always painted or worked in metal. It just became second nature.
–They say, the personality is formed in first three years of life. Do you recall who was your childhood hero/heroine? (It could be a real life person, movie/book character, etc).

-I don’t think I really had heroes at that time but if I had to choose characters that I loved and wanted to be, it would be either Pippi Longstocking or Wendy Darling, which is funny because those two are polar opposites!
That’s the best part, right? As of today, what’s your “hero” material to work with? Do you use mostly same materials throughout your career or do you find something new/experiment with terra incognita from time to time?

-The only reoccurring theme in my work is using recycled materials. Maybe I’m deathly afraid of blank canvas, but I have always been drawn to materials with a bit of history.  I will either try to incorporate the material’s original history into the theme of the work or I will just let the beauty of it enhance with what I am getting across. Now that I am older I always have a solid supply of materials to work with, because there is nothing worse than wanting to create something and being out of paint. For the last couple of years my favorite material has been books.
–Do you remember your longest project and how many hours/days it took you to accomplish it?

-Yes, it was a mural I did in our last studio and it took a couple of months. The thing about murals is that they’re big and you can’t put them away when they piss you off! They just stare at you until you get it right.

–Good point! And what was your shortest project?

-I tend to knock out craft projects in a couple of hours but I also don’t intend to hang them on someone’s wall.
— What influences your creativity today? What is your inspiration?

-What doesn’t inspire me? I figure I am taking in inspiration 24/7! Interaction with the environment is my inspiration.

–When do you prefer to work – at day or night hours?

-I love working in the morning, when everyone is still asleep.

–Way to go!  And do you listen to music while working or you enjoy the creative process in silence?

-For me music is as important as the medium, I listen to many different types of music because it enhances the experience of what I am creating.
— Are there any seasonal/holiday collections?

-Not unless you count tree trimming!
— Does weather affect your artistic productivity?

-Yes, when it’s sunny I want to be outside playing; not inside, working!

–Fantastic, and what would you like to say about today’s exhibition – are presented exponents parts of the same collection or each one is an individual piece?

-They all have been made in the same time frame and I think there is a certain flow to them, but they do have enough power to stand alone.
— Are they assembled in a chronological order in which they were created?

-Well, they have all been made in the last 2 years.
— Do you give your pieces a work name – let say, this one is a “birdie and a flower”? 

-No, I do not title work anymore because I always come up with cornball titles. I figured if I just number a certain piece, people are able to take what they want from it.

— Is it true that no art project can be really finished?

-I think there is always a good stopping point, and the artist should know when that is or the piece can become overworked.


–What do you like more – starting or finishing projects?

-I love the first idea of a project when I start seeing the possibilities in my mind, but when it comes to the actual work I love the end result! It gets me every time!

–Would you share you plans for the nearest future?

-No need to make plans at this point; I am in the moment and I am enjoying myself!

Michelle was smiling the entire time and still managed to greet new-comers or wave her hand to the friends. Most of the people stayed from the moment they came in till the end of the show. To make things even more exciting, it was decided that Michelle’s coworker and friend would perform on that day. Ester Kang and her band, Banty Hen, were playing live music by means of acoustic guitar, ukulele and a vintage-looking floor accordion. Ester’s deep, astute voice captured everybody’s attention.

Summarily, February 18th was a beautiful day. That beauty could be seen everywhere: in a bright sunshine outside, in an amazing presentation of the artwork, and mainly, in every guest’s happy, inspired smile.

Related link with close-up pictures by Michelle Kendall-Lawrie:

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Posted by on February 21, 2012 in Uncategorized


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How to Make an Irresistible Strawberry Jelly During Winter.

Winter is almost here, with all its holidays and festive meals, giving us a perfect chance (and excuse!) to enjoy many of fantastic-yet-not-so-healthy-foods. Stews, pot-pies, potatoes and roasted meats may sound wonderful; still they can’t provide us with some important vitamins. On top of that, quality of winter fruits is not the same, and better/safer way to enjoy – is to preserve them. Below is an elegant and extremely easy way to make a delicious Strawberry Jelly.

You will need:

-2 lbs fresh strawberries;

-1 lb confectioner’s sugar;

-1 tea sp. cinnamon;

-1 tea sp. lemon zest.

In a small bowl, mix confectioner’s sugar with cinnamon and put aside, grind lemon zest.

Step One.

Select your strawberries by hand, rinse under running water, and leave in a colander to dry a little. After few minutes, cut off all the green tips, any soft parts, and make sure the berries look perfect!


Step Two.

Place prepared berries in a pan with a thick bottom (the casserole pan works just fine), sprinkle evenly with sugar-cinnamon mix. Berries should be covered from all sides.

There’s no need to use a lid, in about 30 minutes jelly-to-be will show light foam in the center of the pan, it means, it’s boiling. Stir in lemon zest and put it aside.


Little Tip:

To prevent berries from falling apart, it’s always a good idea to boil them several times, for only few minutes each time. Whenever the batch is boiling, turn off the stove and put the pan aside for couple of minutes, repeating the procedure until jelly is thick. When it’s ready, your kitchen will smell amazing!

Step Three.

Meanwhile, prepare your containers to store the jelly for up to 6 months. Small glass jars with wide mouth work best, wash them thoroughly and let dry on a paper towel. Then, to make sure it’s bacteria-free, fill a big bowl with hot boiled water and soak containers with lids detached for 5 minutes. Take them out with a clean dry fork and place on a paper towel again until it’s completely dry. It’s better this way so it’s really clean and safe to use.


Step Four.

Divide jelly between prepared containers using clean dry ladle and leave to cool down with no lids until its room temperature, then place lids on each container and… Congratulations! You succeeded.

Strawberry jelly is an amazing winter-time treat, it looks beautiful and tastes wonderful with any bread; it can be added to tea, fruit juices, pastries, cupcakes, pretty much, anything! Also, charming  little jars filled with Strawberry J. make lovely gifts! Enjoy!!!

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Posted by on November 29, 2011 in Uncategorized


10 Reasons You Should Read This Blog.

First of all, and most important:

•Why Not?

Well, there’s a lot of articles on the web, you probably have your own favorite sources, but you haven’t try this before! And you never know where you will end up, following your natural curiosity instincts.

•It Will Crack You Up.

Remember those boring days and everybody-get-out moods? This blog will bring you a lot to think (and laugh!) about.

•You Will Learn Something New Every Time.

We’re not talking quantum mechanics or gold mining, but I’ll do my best digging fascinating facts and bringing you alternate points of view. You might learn a new language, some awesome ways to aromatise your car,  few cooking tips, or, perhaps, proverbs from around the world.

•There Will Be Pictures.

And videos, too! I’m going to use real snapshots without heavy editing. Also, most of the photos will be uploaded from my camera, not from the internet.

•We’ll Discuss Music, Movies And More!

Say, books. Books are good.

•You Will Be Heard.

If you tell me what your interests are, we’ll see what I can do/write about it!

•You Will Want More!

Some of the articles will look like a thread of related topics.

•It Won’t Take A Whole Lot Of Time!

Considering my passion for conciseness, you’ll only find short, staight-to-the-point pieces.

•You’ll Have An Adrenaline Rush Every Time You Open This Page.

Since we never know what’s beyond the title, you can’t possibly get prepared for what’s coming to you. And, consequently, you’ll be super excited.

And finally,

•You’ll Have A Chance To Observe A Virgo Madness!!!!!

It’s not About Virgo, it’s about Being a Virgo! There’s no secret that Virgo is one of the most obscure and unpredictable signs, with an “upright judgement”;  also, many Virgos I know (including myself) are irrational eccentrics. So, good luck and have fun!

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Posted by on November 21, 2011 in Uncategorized


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