What’s creepier than Ted Haggard?

Narcissism reaches new heights with the My Twinn doll! You send in a photo, and in four weeks, voila, they send you a doll with your coloring, hairstyle, and lips. If you look closely at the My Twinn photo gallery, you’ll notice that all of the faces are almost identical, save for the shading and a couple of variations on the pout. If you really want a post-Halloween freak-out, click on the Girls & Dolls photo gallery. A bargain at $149.

The exercise:
Write about an idea gone terribly, terribly wrong.

richmond in the richmond: balboa movie theater

The Balboa theater is Simply the best neighborhood theatre in San Francisco. (Okay, the Castro and the Roxie are certainly contendors, but I’m biased, as it takes me only about two minutes to walk to the Balboa). Unpretentious. Excellent popcorn. If you get on the mailing list, owner Gary Meyer will keep you updated on upcoming shows and special events. Manager Roger seems to really dig his job. So does the hottie who has practically grown up tearing tickets there. Almost three years ago, when she sold us our tickets one quiet evening, she told us she was about to celebrate her 17th birthday. She’d never had a cake before. Her hair and her stockings change with the times. She’s an absolute charm.

All of the films are double features, the popcorn is always fresh, and you can fill up on Dibs. They used to sell Its Its, but sadly, the Its Its have gone the way of the old-fashioned popcorn buckets (just recently, they converted to bags). Before they updated the bathrooms to be wheelchair accessible, they had this wonderful ladies’ room that was shabby chic before shabby chic was, well, chic, with a torn old sofa and a big mirror. Now you have to pee the modern way, sans salon, but the Balboa has managed to magically retain a feel for the old and elegant.

Currently, the Balboa is home to Howard Stein’s Last Frame of Picture: Needles to Natchez, a traveling show of huge photos of small-town theatres across the country. Hurry–the photographs vanish on Sept. 30.

Bay Crossing

Weird films abound on You Tube. Ever cross San Francisco Bay in a home-made rowboat?

The Exercise:
Write about an ill-advised undertaking.
Or write about a watery adventure.

Inside the Authors’ Studio, & Pluto’s Downfall

Katia Noyes, author of Crashing America, has just put up a wickedly funny faux interview on her blog, called What Authors Really Want, wherein she chats with Author Famous Head, Author Amazing, Author Sincere Dyke, Author Obscure Lesbian, and Author Special Press, among others.

Plus, new on Segundo! Ed Champion interviews Jonathan Safron Foer and A.M. Homes.

Plus, if you’ve long considered Pluto to be your favorite planet, you’ll need to pick a new darling of the solar system. Turns out, it’s not a planet! So say “an international body of astronomers.” This from the Mercury News:

Pluto is no longer our most puny planet, but King of the Kuiper Belt, a collection of small, orbiting objects in the outer solar system.

“There was going to be a change, no matter what. This was not a whim. A decision was required,” said Andrew Fraknoi, chairman of the astronomy program at Foothill College in Los Altos.

“Pluto has always been considered a little strange,” he said. “It’s like the cousin you don’t want to invite to Thanksgiving dinner, but you have to — but he’s so weird, you hope he doesn’t show up. It is as if Pluto has been living under an assumed identity all these years, and we finally found out.”

more on the city by the bay

Nicki Richesin just posed a few San Francisco questions for me on her May Queen blog, 3 Things Before 40. Discussed: favorite SF view, best date restaurant, what people should know about SF, escaping the city, etc.