Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My bear encounter.

On Sunday, while strolling through the mountains, I almost walked right into a black bear yearling with white-and-cinnamon fur and a hulking Mama Bear, who was jet black, and right on the side of the trail near Crescent Meadow.

Someone warned me in the distance. "There's a bear!'' According to several witnesses (I have blanked out everything that happened next)I put my hands up to make myself look bigger and took small steps backward, away from the bears, who were only 20 feet or so away from me. After a while, they snurfled around through the bushes and took off.

I am not bragging about this at all, but it's worth mentioning because I've made such a mess of my bear encounters in the past.

It just goes to show that people can learn from their mistakes.

But I have no proof of this. I know that someone videotaped the whole thing but I don't have any way of reaching them (no contact info.)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Cactus Eaters review on Oh Ranger, plus Save Me From the Disgusting Ants

Here is the most recent review -- and thanks to the reader who sent this in today. (I'm counting on you guys, since I don't have much time to trawl through the Internet these days.)

In other news, disgusting ants have entered my residence and they keep trying to carry me off so they can feed me to their ant queen.

When I wake up in the morning, I am exactly one foot closer to the door than I was when I went to sleep. This means the ants are trying to carry me off incrementally, in the hope that I won't notice until it's too late.

Anyhow, if you have any non-toxic solutions, please let me know. It's getting really bad.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Reading list

Colum McCann -- Let The Great World Spin.

Steve Almond -- Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life. The Toto lyrics chapter just about killed me.

Daniel Okrent -- Last Call. This book is a riot, and it's the most precise and engaging book on the subject. Now nudging its way up the bestseller list.

Dan Chaon -- Await Your Reply. Identity-theft nightmare. Will make an insomniac out of you.

David Howard -- Lost Rights: The Misadventures of a Stolen American Relic Real-life historical crime caper. Gripping and real. See blog entry below.

Rebecca Skloot: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

John Richardson: My Father The Spy. Your parents' secret career.

Dave Cullen: Columbine. Everything you thought about Columbine turns out to be wrong.

On order: Beth Raymer, Lay The Favorite. The last time I saw Beth Raymer, it was four or five years ago, and she was giving an hilarious reading from an excerpt of the as-yet-unfinished manuscript. Now it's out, and soon it's going to be a movie directed by Stephen Frears. (movie should be out next year)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bad service: "This is not Baker's Square!!!"

Every once in a while, I am going to post brief stories about the truly horrible service I've experienced or witnessed in local restaurants. Feel free to send in if you have a tale to tell about exceptionally bad service. Meanwhile, here are two stories.

Not so long ago, I took my parents to a fancy downtown restaurant that is known for its home-made lemonade, its chicken entrees and its snide owner. My father complimented the waitress on the lemonade. "That is very, very good,'' he said. "Do you give free refills?''

"No!'' she said. "You think we serve refills for free here? This is not Baker's Square!''

My father took this in stride -- in fact, he thought it was pretty funny. Just to show that there were no hard feelings, when the waitress came back, he decided to give her some good-natured ribbing. When she asked if he would like some dessert, he said, "Thank you very much, but I think we'll go out to Baker's Square instead.''

"They put lard in their pies!'' she snarled.

On another occasion, I was standing in line at a high-end coffeehouse in the same city. A man was at the front of the line. He ordered up an orange juice. The man behind the counter came back a few minutes later with a container of murky liquid.

"Is that orange juice fresh-squeezed?" the customer asked.

"Fresh-squeezed compared to what?'' the barista replied.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010