anna metcalf
Artist Adventurer!

Blood -N- Guts At Haw Par Villa



My favorite cheesy attraction in Singapore by far is Haw Par Villa (pronounced Whore Paw Villa). As an Ang Mo, of course I love it for the pronunciation of the name alone, but the putt putt golf-like plaster sculptures of bloody Chinese mythology and fables are, like, the best thing ever.

The guy who invented Tiger Balm built this park a couple of decades ago and it’s in the middle of renovations, which makes me really happy. Pictured left is the Laughing Buddha. If you rub his belly, supposedly it will bring you prosperity, good luck and wealth. I think they should turn this place into a putt-putt golf course.

Imagine sinking a golf ball right into the Laughing Buddha’s belly button. Because if rubbing his belly is good luck, imagine  how much good ju-ju you might get from penetrating it. No, with a golf ball, people. A putt-putt golf ball.

Ok – that might be offensive. I get it. Please, no emails about how I’m a horrible person. Historically the Laughing Buddha had a good sense of humor and I like to think he would be ok with it.

The Ten Courts of HellIMGP3417 are the goriest dioramas ever. My friend Jin Hong, who grew up in Singapore, IMGP3413remembers her parents bringing her here as a little girl and telling her that if she wasn’t good, that demons in hell would torture her.

IMGP3422My favorite of all the gore is the entrails being pulled out,  – check out the shadows on the wall behind it, gives it extra creepy cred. I think that’s what happens to adulterers. Or maybe to people like me who poke a little fun at Chinese deities.

The Most Caucasian People In Singapore

My husband and I are *the* most Caucasian People in Singapore right now, I guarantee it.

We have traveled to this equatorial city-state to be a part of a very traditional Chinese wedding. (Well, except that the groom is American.) One of Matt’s best friends, Blair, is getting married and so we decided to bring the most American thing we could think of – fortune cookies. We marched right on down to the Peking Noodle Company in downtown Los Angeles and bought a case of 380 fortune cookies for $11.95.

IMG_2465  When Matt rocked up to check his bag at the airline counter, the Cathay Pacific lady straight up  laughed at us. “They do have fortune cookies in Singapore you know,” she said.

“Yeah, well, not American ones,” Matt said. “This is my carry on,” he added, cradling his precious box of cookies.

“No,” she said, “You are not carrying that on the plane.” So we checked them, along with a suitcase containing a bunch of liquor, several boxes of girl scout cookies and a ten pound box of grits from South Carolina. (My husband refuses to leave the States without copious amounts of grits.) The girl scout cookies were my idea.

We arrived at Changi Airport 8,769 miles and twenty hours later. We hopped on the Singapore subway system, suitcases and case of fortune cookies in tow and headed to our friend’s neighborhood of Ang Mo Kio. Matt and I are used to lots of stares in foreign countries, mostly because of his bright red chops – they straight up scare and/or mesmerize people, especially the elderly and children.

One woman’s eyes bugged out and kept flipping back and forth between his facial hair to the Peking Noodle Company box. By the time Blair walked down to the subway station to meet us, we were tired, hot and I had a migraine that had already made me puke once. So, we made Blair carry his own damn wedding fortune cookies home.

I told him what the Cathay Airlines lady said. Apparently they do have them here in Singapore but they are $20 for about ten of them. So ours ARE better. So there, smarty pants Cathay Airlines ticket counter lady. Take that.

Then Blair patted his gift box of fortune cookies and said, “But you do realize we are the most Caucasian people in Singapore right now, carrying around these things. Plus, my neighborhood Ang Mo Kio literally means ‘red-haired Caucasian {big bad nasty Chinese racial slur}.'”

Ang Mo Kio, hide yo wife, hide yo kids – the red-haired devils have arrived.

99 Problems But A Fucking Brain Squirrel Ain’t One (Anymore!)

I can’t be the only one. Ever get a Brain Squirrel?

Let’s be clear – I’m not talking about squirrel brains, you guys, that’s totally gross. And apparently, squirrel brains are an overlooked delicacy, but I don’t buy it. It can give you Mad Cow Disease. Mad Fucking Cow Disease, ok? Besides, they’re totally gross. I’m an open-minded individual, but I have to draw the line at squirrel brains. Just writing about it makes me queasy. Brb – gotta hurl.

Instead, I’m talking about Brain Squirrels – when that negative inner voice has hijacked my brain, it leaves me feeling, well, like I have Mad Cow Disease. Except this kind is preventable.

It all started after my last job ended. It happens every time. I fight these crazy feelings of what-the-fuck-am-I-doing and my brain just starts this spinning, whirling, constant squirrel in my brain that’s tryin’ so fucking hard to get a nut – *any nut* that everybody (except it) can see the forest of nuts just out of the squirrel’s tunnel vision.

But you know what?  I realized that that’s what my ole brain is up to. And now I’m watching you, brain, got that?

Sometimes my brain whispers horrible things to me – like:
What’reyougonnadotomakemoney, huh?
You’re wasting your time.
You’re old.
What if no one reads this book you’re writing?
You’ll have to figure out a way to make money. Now.

(****OK – these ‘voices’ are not like crazy voices, ok? If you have crazy voices, get some help – or come sleep in the streets in Venice, that’s what a lot of other people with crazy voices do.)

But I realized that these brain squirrels had taken over my normally pleasant and kind thought patterns. I remembered some good advice from my friend Elissa. Her voice glowed when she said, “Anna, do you ever use positive affirmations?” I absolutely love my friend Elissa, love her precisely for her genuine, honey-dripping exuberance for everything. But my sarcastic self has a hard time getting behind the phrase ‘Positive Affirmations.’

My opinion? The name ‘positive affirmations’ really needs a good re-branding. When I think the words ‘positive affirmations’ like sparkling glitter getting pissed in the wind, it’s just really hard for me to take the name seriously. Sure, I’ll let ‘positive affirmations’ float right in on fairy toadstool and let it land in that pile of cow shit over there, thank you very much. ‘Positive affirmations’ makes it sound like I might be required to go do some yoga.

How about for my cynical intents and purposes we will refer to ‘Positive Affirmations’ as NICE SHIT TO SAY TO OURSELVES. 

Brain: I got my eye on you. I found a list somewhere on the net of 100 bits of  NICE SHIT TO SAY TO MYSELF to answer those awful brain questions. (The brain squirrel wants to talk in parenthesis. What a bitch.)

– I may be one of 7 billion, but I’m one in 7 billion. (That is the cheesiest thing I’ve ever heard in my life!)
– I refuse to give up because I haven’t tried all possible ways. (That’s very long.)
– I do not settle for meaningless, boring or frustrating work. (But you have for 14 years!)
– I choose to fully participate in my day. (I can actually kinda get on board with that.)

Aha! And so we have a start.

– I let go of worries that drain my energy for no good reason. (Preach!)
– I am in complete charge of planning for my future. (OK. But still scary.)
– Everything always works out for my highest good. (Yes! So true!) (I’m lucky!)
– The answer is right before me (squirrels are in the way!) even if I’m not seeing it yet.
– I believe in my ability to unlock the way. (I do.)
– I am more than good enough and getting better every day. (Cue Stuart Smiley: And gosh darn it, people like me!)
– I press on because I believe in my path. (Fuck! It’s so true!)
My path has never lead me astray.
I added that last part.
And one last one.

#99 (like 99 problems but a FUCKING BRAIN SQUIRREL AIN’T ONE)

– All that I need come to me at the right time and place in life.
Yep, it always does.

I used all that NICE SHIT TO SAY TO MYSELF for about a week. None of it stuck, but one thing did. Every single time the brain squirrel would try to take over, I’d just would imagine me petting it and simply saying, “You’re ok, everything’s ok.”

And you know what? THAT worked.

What works for you guys? Artist Adventurers have to be vigilant to keep the creativity sucking vampiric Brain Squirrels at bay, so let’s help one another out here.


The Day I Almost Ran Over A Banker In My Hooptie-Mobile

These days, everyone hates bankers, but I decided one day to take it a step further.

But in my defense, he kinda had it coming. I don’t even know his name, but I knew him all right; I knew him on sight. I knew him from the day I went in to analyze the perks of getting a new kind of account at Chase (because I’m a money dork).  This guy, pasty and creepy and with a huge fakey jack-o-lantern grin, was not a genuine person interested in answering my questions. He was interested in speaking to me like a child and trying to sell me a high interest credit card. I’m the exact wrong person to try to hornswoggle into debt. I kept asking about the high interest savings account and he just sat there sweating profusely, smiling and telling me why I needed a line of credit. I can’t stand people who waste my time, especially when it’s almost sunset I want to go roller skate.

So a couple months later, I’m driving past my bank, which I do on a daily basis because it sits on a little residential street where I can avoid a busy intersection with a red light. (Here in California, this kind of thing matters.) I’m rolling down the street in Bomb Diggity, my beloved $350 Gorilla-mobile   . . . and who do I see kinda sorta trying to jaywalk in front of me? That’s right . . . him. The sweaty, arrogant banker-man who represents to me in that moment every dirty trick that the entire banking industry is trying to pull on the public.

This ain’t Boston, where you can just dart out in front of oncoming traffic. This is LA, god-dammit, and unless you got a crosswalk, you don’t have shit, buddy, so I just kept on going. Besides he looked like he wanted to cross, but that he had decided to wait until I passed. My window was down and as I passed by, he scowled and yelled, “Asshole!” and flipped a couple fingers my way. Wrong fucking move. I’d had it with this guy. How dumb is he to yell at a person driving by? He still had his bank name tag on, for chrissakes. So I did the only thing I could do.

I slammed on the brakes, threw the stick shift in reverse and stomped the gas. I got a good look at his eyes in my rear view – lot of white and fear. He ran up to the side of his car, which was parked on the street and looked like he was about to climb on top of the hood. (I didn’t give him much room – I’m a precision driver like that.)

I opened my car door, took a deep breath, looked him dead in the eye and calmly said, “Good afternoon, WHAT exactly is your problem?”

That felt really good.


My neighbor, Lou Diamond Phillips

Or as I refer to him – to his face – LDP. (He’s my buddy, I can get by with that.)

It all started some time last year. I was at a storytelling show in my neighborhood and got invited to sit at a table with a bunch of people I didn’t know. I said hello to my new friends and the natural course of conversation shifted to where I live.

“I’m just around the corner,” I said.

Andrea, the girl across from me said, “Uh huh, go on, go on . . . where?”


“Really? Me too!” Andrea said. “Which end?”

“At the corner of 6th.”

Andrea’s eyes got huge. “Oh my god!!” she squealed. “Do you know who your neighbor is?”

“Yeah . . .” I said, confused as to why she’d be so excited. “Which one? I know all of my neighbors . . .”

“LOU DIAMOND PHILLIPS!” she screams.  “He lives in that new modern house just up on 6th. Drives a white Volvo, I’ve seen him.”

That’s when I realized I was about to break my new neighbor-friend’s blissful star gazing bubble. For alas, I do know this Volvo driving dude and as good looking as he is, he’s not LDP. At least I’m pretty sure.

“I hate to break it to you,” I said. “He may look like Lou Diamond Phillips, but that’s just my neighbor Tommy. You’ve probably seen him walking his three gay dogs, too.”

Andrea, obviously a bit disappointed, “Yeah, I thought it might be weird for Lou Diamond Phillips to have three little dogs. But hey, what does your neighbor do for a living anyway??”

“I don’t know.”

I could almost see Andrea’s bubble re-inflate.  “You don’t know??! How could you not know?”

“I don’t make it a habit to ask my friends and neighbors what they do for a living,” I said.

“Well . . . then. Ma-a-aybe it IS Lou Diamond Phillips! Maybe he just says his name is Tommy, you know, for like, a cover.”

She refuses to believe that my neighbor is anyone other than Lou Diamond Phillips. I think it’s a  fine rumor to perpetuate in the neighborhood. I told Tommy about his doppelganger.

And ever since then, Tommy has taken to wearing shades and ditching papparazzi. So, who knows? Maybe my neighbor is LDP. Except for those dogs . . . what kind of dogs do you think LDP would have around? Who’s your celebrity doppelganger?




Fly Sex – Happy Hump Day!

Happy Hump Day!



Disco Call Helps You Find Your People – Every Time

A few years ago, my sister fell in love with a brash Boston-ite. So, snow be damned, she decided to pack up her brood of three young boys and high-tailed it to Massachusetts to start a new life.

I had helped them move and stayed for a week in hopes to help everyone adjust to the new place. My nephews weren’t so excited about the move and had become prone to bouts of silence, temper tantrums and general moodiness. I took them to Salem one grey, half-rainy afternoon.

We explored the outskirts of town, walking the side of a lonely highway and tried to ignore the mist that collected on our jackets. My oldest nephew Josh ran ahead of all of us and began to kick rocks as hard and fast as he could. The littlest one, Jason, lagged behind with sad shoulders. And the middle one, Jake, just looked up at me with big eyes and said, “I don’t have any friends here, Aunt Banana.”

It was then that I knew what I must do. I yelled for Josh and Jason and gathered everyone around in a huddle. “OK, guys,” I said. “No matter where you are in the whole entire world, even if you don’t know a single soul, there is ONE sure-fire way to find your people.”

Their eyes were huge. “How?” said Josh suspiciously.

“Easy,” I said. “The disco call.” I did it for them. “O-wah! O-wah!” They looked at me like I was crazy. “Just practice it,” I said. “You’ll see.”

We kept walking. There was nothing around except an old run down gas station with an attached mechanic’s garage. A coin operated bait machine out front read “Live Worms and Crickets.”

Josh resumed his post ahead of the pack and as he kicked another rock down the shoulder of the muddy road, it seemed like he didn’t kick so hard, or with as much anger. Instead he practiced his disco call. “Owah! Owah!” he said softly at first a few times. Then as he got the hang of the vocalizations, he became more brave until finally, he belted the Disco Call out perfectly and LOUD! It echoed off the gas station and the surrounding trees.

Josh stopped and turned to look at me, his toe digging the ground. “See – nothing happened,” he said. His younger brothers looked up at me out of the hoods of their rain jackets as if to say, “See?”

I stood there looking back at them as mist caught me right in the eye, not knowing what to say. I just wanted my nephews to not be sad anymore . . . when the magic happened. I looked up just in time to see a mechanic clad in greasy overalls, giant wrench in hand, come running out of the garage, looking frantically all around . . . for someone . . . he looked right at us and wailed . . .

“O-wah! O-wah!”

I smiled and waved back. The mechanic shook his wrench twice at us and disappeared back into the garage, as if part of a mirage, while my nephews caught rain water in their open, disbelieving mouths.

I came back to visit a couple of years later. I took them to a museum. Jason, the youngest, got separated from us. I asked Jake to help me find him. “Easy,” he said. “O-wah! O-wah!”

And from faraway, I hear my youngest nephew’s muffled disco call in reply.

Top Ten Tales

A lot of you have never stopped by before – so THANKS for checking out what I’ve got to say. Here are a few of my favorite stories from the past few years, all in one convenient post.

1. How I Finally Snagged Matt

2. Near Bus Crash

3. Bomb Diggity, The Beloved Jalopy

4. Macho Man

5. Black Friday Pimp N Ho Action

6. Roadside Pissing

7. More Venice Action

8. What is an Artist Adventurer anyway?

9. Camel-Sexy!!!

10. Some Insight as to My Family Drama

Random Barfly With Scissors

Last night, when I left the house, my hair was long. I had no solid plans to change that. And then we went to The Cozy Inn Bar …

A guy wearing a beer distributor’s t-shirt walks into the bar. He’d been tryin’ to chat my friend Liz up for nearly a half hour. Finally he gets her attention, kind of joins our little group. Turns out he’s a nice guy. Turns out – aside from being a beer distributor with crazy punked out blue and pink hair – that he also likes to cut hair.

 “Let me cut your hair,” he says to me.

 “OK,” I said. And we all went back to his place down the street.

Bomb Diggity!

“That is the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen,” said Matt. “I can’t believe you brought that home.”

“Yeah, me either.” I said.

*    *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Ten years ago I made a solemn vow to never be in debt again, especially for a car. I wasn’t playing around, I meant that shit.

Then, a couple of years ago, having just returned from South America flat busted broke and in need of a job, my car threw a rod. In LA, to work, you gotta have a car, right? I mean, how else could I shlep the hour and a half drive each way to get ‘over the hill,’ every single day to Burbank?

I could hardly wait to march down to a car dealership and sign the next four years or more of my life away so I could be a slave to a car payment. And never be able to save money to travel. And be stuck in an endless cycle of working and driving long distances to get there, all to pay for a car. Fuck that, I drew a line in my west side Venice beach sand.

I was lucky enough to find a freelance job in Santa Monica and I rode my bike to work for the next three months, and saved all my money. I like having money in the bank. It’s much nicer than not having money in the bank. I didn’t want to blow my whole load of meager savings on a car, a thing that always depreciates in value. So, I started going every Tuesday morning to an LAPD car auction in Marina Del Rey.

One Tuesday morn, I walked into the tow yard with $1500 in cash. I’d learned a lot after a month of car auction investigation, mostly that there is a whole industry of greasy, sleezy car dudes who scour these auctions looking for great deals on cars to flip. I watched them quietly, took notes, asked a few regulars some well thought out questions, avoided the people who muttered to themselves, and now I was ready.

No car stood out above the rest that day. During the pre-inspection, I noted several cars with potential. I laughed at the plaid seats  of a high-mileage, early 80’s rusted out Toyota hatchback full of car maintenance supplies. The auction started and when they got to the plaid-seated car, the auctioneer smiled and said, “She’s a runner!” and sure enough, they produced a key and cranked that old car right up.

You have to act fast at these auctions. I didn’t really have time to think about it. The only people bidding on this little car were the junk yard guys and I couldn’t let them take it away. I raised my hand to bid and five seconds later, for $350, I was the owner of a dirty, old-man car filled with lotto tickets and cigarette butts. We named her Bomb Diggity. Diggity for short.

I never expected it to last more than two months. Here it is, a year and a half later still going. I’ve cleaned her up – no, I didn’t check all the lotto tickets to see if there was a winner. (So many people ask me about that, I don’t get it.) But last week, I let artist Isabelle Alford-Lago paint blonde gorillas on it. Why?

Why not?