Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Operation Water Dump (and a library of literary podcasts---updated!)

I don't read this chapter of the Cactus Eaters live any more because it makes me so darned thirsty that I get dry spots in my throat. No kidding. The very last time I read it, I was at the Rotary Club in Sebastopol (excellent group) and I drank an unbelievable amount of water.

Anyhow, this broadcast is part of the sound library at the Writer's Block on KQED, here in SF. This program is great because it gives you a chance to hear selections from books in the authors' voices. I want you to take this evening and listen to some of my recommendations:

Junot Diaz

Zoe Ferraris.

Sigrid Nunez.

Sloane Crosley.

Kate Atkinson.

Daniel Handler.

Rodes Fishburne.

Lysley Tenorio.

Mary Roach.

Amy Tan.

John Wray.

David Sedaris.

Peter Malae.

Andrew Sean Greer.

Kim Addonizio.

I have to run now (literally) but I'll post more soon.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The most interesting bookstores in the world(?)

Thank you, Anonymous, for sending me this intriguing link.
These are some very lavish bookstores -- and I like the ugly, hairless cat too.

Friday, June 26, 2009

My lap top exploded

This explains why I've been mostly AWOL from your messages for the past week or so; it flashed the infamous "blue screen of death,'' and became completely non-functional while I was in the middle of an intense writing session over at Coffee to the People, which is my de facto office these days. The issue has been resolved, at last, so I'll get back to you soon, about my SF writing class and other things.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Nature writing and hiking -- in San Francisco!

Following the success of my nature writing/hiking class down in the Pogonip Meadow, in Santa Cruz, I'm setting up a hiking/nature writing seminar up here in San Francisco. Contact me directly through this blog if you're interested, (cactus.eaters@yahoo.com) and we'll be in contact soon. Looking forward to reading and sharing your writing this summer.

A great conversation

Thanks to the large, attentive crowd that showed up yesterday to the Andrew Sean Greer conversation. I hope to moderate another event soon. See you then. No one recorded the interview (as far as I know) so you just had to be there, but he talked a lot about the origins of his latest two books, his connection to old San Francisco, and his feelings about the "Benjamin Button'' brouhaha. Good times.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

We're not the same person

Tomorrow's Booksmith event should also clear up a bit of confusion. I have a (very vague) physical resemblance to Andrew Greer. In fact, I once went to a book store in the Marina --and the book store staff gave me a stack of his books to sign!! It happened again in another bookstore (in another city. Alos, just a couple of days ago, a friend saw Greer's photo at the Booksmith and thought I was doing an author's appearance there. And the weird thing is, we really don't look that much alike.

By the way, I somehow got into the Elvis Costello concert. It was great! He was in excellent voice, and did a bunch of numbers from his new, "old-time'' bluesgrassy album. He also pulled out an oldie from "My Aim Is True.'' It was pretty cool to see him put on a performance in, of all places, my local record store. The place was absolutely mobbed, and it was very hard to move.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A conversation with Andrew Sean Greer at the Booksmith

This coming week, I will be leading a conversation with Andrew Sean Greer, author of The Confessions of Max Tivoli and The Story of a Marriage. The event is free and takes place at the Booksmith, here in SF, at 7:30 p.m. this Wednesday. He is appearing at the Booksmith to mark the recent release of The Story of a Marriage in paperback. He is a haunting, lyrical writer who delves deeply into the strange, unsettling history of this city.

P.S. -- in other news, Elvis Costello is going to play the Amoeba here in the Haight tomorrow!!! Camp out early.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

It's not too late to talk me out of it ...

Still planning to run the hill-acious San Francisco Marathon in a little over a month. I'm behind on my training on this one. If I pull it off, it will be my fourth marathon.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Farm City

Novella Carpenter read from her hilarious and informative urban farming memoir, Farm City, in the Haight last night. I've only just started to read this book, but it's a hoot so far. Carpenter has a working farm that squats on a piece of land in a rough part of Oakland. In spite of the loud traffic noise, she's created a thriving environment for vegetables, goats and pigs; in fact, her book has a terrific scene that involves Carpenter dumpster-diving, in a tony part of Oakland, in search of victuals for her discerning, fussy porklings. That scene alone is worth the price of admission. It is clear, from reading the book, that Carpenter is no dilettante; the book is very funny, but she is dead serious about farming, food, and waging war on chicken-killing possums.

Innovative neighborhood book stores: reader swaps and book deliveries

Every once in a while, I blog about various neighborhood bookstores doing interesting/weird/crazy stuff that runs against the grain of traditional bookstore practices. One of my favorite little shops, Cover to Cover Booksellers in Noe Valley, (on 1307 Castro Street, here in SF) now offers free delivery directly to your house (as long as your house isn't very far from Noe Valley.) Even if you order a big fat book that is many hundreds of pages and weighs many, many pounds, such as the new one by Peter Matthiesen, which weighs 170 kilos (I've bench-pressed this book), they will still deliver it for free, as if your book were a pizza.

Here in the Haight, another neighborhood store, The Booksmith, is having a "lit minded mixture'' on the evening of Friday, June 19th. They will close the store early, dim the lights, supply the food and drinks -- and if you go, you can exchange books with the people you meet at the mixer. That's a pretty wild idea -- trading books in the middle of a place where the books are for sale. To get in, you need to buy a ticket -- there is more information online at www.booksmith.com

PS -- just kidding about Matthiesen, one of my favorite authors of all time. Read Far Tortuga and Killing Mister Watson.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Three more fascinating facts about Canada

1. The United States attempted to invade Canada on two separate occasions -- but screwed it up both times.
2. All members of The Band, in its original line-up, are from Canada, with the exception of Levon Helm, who is an American.
3. Jolly Rancher Original Flavor hard candies (and delicious choking hazard) are manufactured within Canada (although they are manufactured under the auspices of the Hershey corporation, which is in Pennsylvania, USA.

That's all for now.

Disintegrating Cactuseaters prize fiasco is finally over

If you check in with my blog from time to time, you know I had egg on my face a few weeks back when a loyal reader won a special prize through this blog, and then I sent her the prize and it started disintegrating before her very eyes. Well, I'm glad to report that the disintegration is now in remission, and she's figured out how to frame the thing and put it on the wall. Thanks for the update, Anonymous. Eventually I'll have more contests through this blog, as soon as I can get my prize quality control up and running again.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Farming in Oakland???!

Don't miss Novella Carpenter when she talks about the joys and travails of urban farming at the Booksmith this Monday (at 730 in the Haight.)I've never met Novella Carpenter but I recently read the rave review of her book in the New York Times Sunday Book Review. Also, I mentioned her in my recent "Cactuseaters readers in the news'' column. I have no idea if she reads this blog, but she is friends with someone who does, which makes her a Cactuseaters reader once-removed.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A wrinkled old tree in Golden Gate Park

Here is a sketch I made of a very wrinkled tree in Golden Gate Park, near the eastern entrance. As a matter of fact, a hapless dealer once tried to sell me "sticky green bud'' while he was still sitting near the top of this very tree. I don't know why I added those upside-down dangling gnomes at the last minute. I think the sketch was doing just fine without them. I tried to erase them but it caused an ugly blur on the sketch, like a creeping fungus, so I decided to draw them back again. (In other words, the gnomes seemed like a lesser evil when compared to the creeping fungus.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Resting up at home after my latest wild adventure

I've just returned home after my latest wild adventure, which included traveling alongside (and at one point inside) a frothing river, exploring farmland and forests and passing through one extremely long tunnel. I almost collided with a huge snake and a small yappy dog at one point. I'm glad I had back-up support on this one! Aside from a couple of very small nicks and bruises, I'm perfectly fine, although I'm pretty sleepy at the moment. I'll have a detailed story about this experience in the very near future, and will link it to this blog. Meanwhile, my obese 20-pound cat is furious about my absence and keeps trying to sit on my trachea while I'm sleeping. Revenge is the motivation. (This is a difficult situation because I can't breathe without the use of my trachea.)

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Parks in peril

In case you haven't seen this already, here is a disturbing article by Paul Rogers about the potential closing of many state parks (including my beloved Nisene Marks.)

Lighting out

Perhaps I'll see you out on the Eastern Seaboard. I'll be out there soon on business for a brief spell. This will be a good chance for me to have some exciting new adventures and let my tennis elbow heal before my obese cat sits on my arm again.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Time for a free upgrade

I think my cellphone has burned a hole through my cornea. I'm having retinal flashes. Maybe it's part of the new "instant blindness'' app.