Friday, February 26, 2010

Cactus Eaters book on tape?

Lots of people have asked about this. Right now you can find portions of the book in recorded versions, but only in small bits and pieces. Could happen, though. However, it would have to be the 'clean' version because I can't read swear words out loud.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Sigrid Nunez, The Last Of Her Kind

Meloy, Maile. Both Ways Is The Only Way I Want It

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sawing Wood: a chronicle of the joys, struggles, and artistic endeavors of a young working-class family in the city of San Francisco

Here it is.

A quotidian amount of pastry pain

selected reruns, part IV

NYC has a very good bakery called Pain Quotidien --- but the people who wait on you aren't very nice, at least when I'm there. You might even say that it's the Kim's Video of pastry. The other day, I went into the east-side branch to get a French Cream Bun. I asked the guy behind the counter what was inside the bun. "FRENCH CREAM,'' he snarled, pointing at the sign. This cream bun was beautiful to look upon --- two wedges of pastry with a finely sculpted layer of goo inside it --- but when I told the guy that my order was to go, he took out a little plastic cup and squashed the pastry inside of it, literally pounding the cup with his fists until the pastry flattened out and spewed its custard-cream guts all over the packaging!

It was still edible but looked very bad by the time I brought it home. If you go, bring your own packaging.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Scalping free tickets in Golden Gate Park (plus "Extreme Mammals'')

I saw a scalper asking $25 per for tickets to the King Tut exhibit at the DeYoung this morning. The problem is: tickets are free today! Not very nice if you ask me. Also, I saw some employees of the California Academy of Sciences moving a big, scary-looking crate into the museum's loading area. The crate said "EXTREME MAMMALS" in bold letters. What was in that crate, I wonder? I'm imagining a yeti or a sasquatch. Or a pair of snow-boarding giraffes.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Someone had a wall post on Facebook griping about the lack of funny fiction books. The griper obviously has not read Homeland by Sam Lipsyte. I don't want to wreck it by giving anything away; just go out and get it. You'll never look at high school reunions in quite the same way again. I've exhausted Homeland by reading it twice. Now I need to get my hands on The Ask, his latest. Not that she needs my help, but you need to read Lit by Mary Karr. Look at the seamless way she incorporates the reflections of her older self and the way she uses poetic language and compression without gunking up the motor. She's earned the right to be grumpy about other memoirists. I read the large-print edition, which is kind of like having a low-fi Kindle.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Positive change inspired by book (hooray for Lemmy)

I just heard from someone who has started listening to quite a bit of NWA and Motorhead after reading my book. I'm glad that I'm doing my bit to promote Motorhead awareness -- although I must confess (sheepishly) that "Ace of Spades'' is the only Motorhead song that I have ever heard.

Conquering the NCT in winter

Get a load of this. An impressive journey, to say the least! Any one of these trails would be accomplishment enough -- but all four?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentine's Day in the Haight

The sun was out, which was remarkable enough. People were lawn-bowling and guzzling cases of Pabst. A famous author walked unnoticed through the Panhandle. Dogs ran amok with no owners in sight. And some guy was standing there in the middle of the field, cracking two bullwhips at once. Lion tamer in training?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Discovering Joyland

A hub for short fiction.

Beef Monster Taco

selected reruns, part two:

Back when I was a hardcore backpacker, I spent up to 10 days in the woods. Most of the time, when I arrived at a supply town, I would take a pay shower at a campground, load up my food, and slip back into the forest. In those days, motel rooms were a rare treat. I wasn't discerning at all. A motel had to fulfill four basic qualifications: 1. It needed to cost twenty-eight bucks a night or less, 2. It needed not to be a working brothel, 3. It had to be across the street from a place where you could get a two-dollar breakfast, and 4. it had to have running -- and, if possible, warm --- water. My younger self did not care if the curtains smelled like Salem Lights, or if there were mystery splotches on the comforters and on the ceiling, or if there were shirtless burly dudes hanging out in the parking lot all night, slurping Boones Farm Strawberry straight from the bottle. I didn't even mind if the doors to my room would not close unless you propped a bunch of couches against them. As far as I was concerned, a motel was a motel. Right?

But not anymore. These days I've grown a little soft. For example, I just got back from a whirlwind visit to Seattle. The trip itself was fantastic, but I had some concerns with my accomodations on Aurora Avenue. A certain online cheap reservations service (I can't tell you the name, but I can tell you that it rhymes with Shmavelocity) stuck me in a chain motel room that was exactly seven feet from a Jack In the Box drive through window. I was so close, I could have leaned out and ordered myself a shake at three a.m. All night long, I had to put my hands over my ears because of all the people driving up and bellowing orders: "I WANT A BEEF MONSTER TACO, A STEAKMELT, CHOCOLATE OVERLOAD, TWO PITA SNACKS, TEN ORDERS OF CHEESY MACARONI BITES and A SOURDOUGH ULTIMATE CHEESEBURGER.'' And then the perky woman in the drive-through counter couldn't quite hear them, so she would shout back at them, and then they would shout their order even more loudly until my motel room began to quake. I put several pillows over my head, and even put on the kind of industrial strength earplugs that jackhammer operators use on the streets of Manhattan. In spite of my best effforts, the hungry, shouting customers and the perky-voiced attendant just got louder and louder. Next time, I'm going to stay in a nicer, more quiet place. (Or maybe I'll just pitch my tent in the middle of a Jack In the Box and see if anyone notices.)

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Cactuseaters Reruns Part-One: Dancing the Muni Macarena

As I've said before, this is a nice city. However, I am not enjoying MUNI. Part accordion, part bus, part cable car, part marionette, the MUNI takes forever to arrive. The MUNI squeaks as it makes its slow, poky way through the city. I hate sitting on the little reversible seats while waiting for MUNI. They aren't really designed to hold a human being's weight. In fact, they have a tendency of dropping you down onto the indescribably filthy sidewalk if you aren't careful. But the worst part of it is the 'transfers' they give you once you pay your fare. The transfers are printed on what seems to be one-ply Charmin Ultrasoft Toilet Paper. These transfers start to disintegrate the moment you put them in your hand. Also, they are insanely easy to lose. That's why you always see all kinds of panicked people on the MUNI, clutching their chests and hips while making all kinds of desperate faces and mad gyrations as they tear open their wallets and turn their pockets inside out in their efforts to find the vouchers. It looks as if they are dancing.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Free Beer and Bacon at SF 1/2 Marathon

What a race. A group of young folks was handing out warm, gristly bacon and Coors Light to the runners while blasting GNR's "Sweet Child O' Mine.'' Remarkably, some of the runners actually accepted these dubious treats and did not throw up. I did not partake. The course was beautiful -- wrapping around the Panhandle, then weaving around the GGP and stretching out to the Great Highway, finally turning back at the entrance to the SF zoo. I did just fine, although I was overambitious in the first eight and a half miles (for which I paid a stiff price in the last five!) My pacer was a woman dressed up as a unicorn, complete with a floppy horn made out of felt. No kidding. It must have been very uncomfortable to run like that! By the way, I saw the front-runner, finishing up the race. Can you imagine, being able to run 13 miles in roughly an hour? Scary. From the look of it, he wasn't even breaking a sweat.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Monday, February 01, 2010

In-training for Marathon Number Five

Too late to back out now. For starters, I'll have to conquer a scary-sounding, hilly 13 miler right here in SF in a couple of days. Yikes.