Thursday, March 25, 2010

Eastern Sierra stormfront

Reposting this image in memory of my brother, David Gordon White aka Zooknoone. Thank you for your remembrances and messages, and feel free to send in again. This pen and ink drawing was done a year ago while returning home from a celebration of his life.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Rush Limbaugh: bring your own hot sauce

Just wanted to wish Mr. Limbaugh well on his permanent and irrevocable sojourn to Costa Rica. In fact, I hear he will be jumping on a plane any minute now. Some travel advice: bring a large bottle of Tapatio hot sauce. The food is great but it can use a little seasoning. Once he gets there, he should ease into the lifestyle gradually. Perhaps he'll rent a cabana near the Arenal volcano, and then light out for the cloud forest, or the Pacific coast. Happy travels!

Monday, March 22, 2010

(Revised to correct the spelling of 'embarrassment): An embarrassment of riches: many author events this week (clear your calendars.)

Do not miss Sam Lipsyte when he speaks in SF tomorrow at the Tosca Cafe. He will read from his acclaimed new book, The Ask. Peter Malae will be at City Lights Bookstore this Thursday to read from his just-released novel, What We Are. Also this week: a slew of author's events at the Booksmith, including a talk by Alex Lemon, subject of a fascinating profile in the latest P & W. Alas, I can't go to any of these events, but I'm reading all the books in tandem, starting with What We Are this week.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Cheap thrills for book lovers, part XXXV???: Soul Making Literary Contest winners converge on SF Public

Congratulations to my friend, Professor Sam Autman, who will speak at the Koret Auditorium today. He is a Soul Making Literary Contest winner and is here in SF to mark the occasion. The event is at the main branch of the SF Public, and if you would like to go, try to get there around 1230 when the doors open. The talk runs from 1 to 3 p.m. And my apologies for the extremely short notice.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Translations of Cactus Eaters comments in Chinese

This just in. One of my readers has stepped up and translated all of the recent Chinese comments on my message board. Stay tuned for the translations. I will post them next week.

Dog with stupid name

I was minding my own business in the park over the weekend, reading Michael Slater's new Charles Dickens biography (which I recommend very highly, by the way. A fascinating and beautifully researched book. But don't drop it on your foot.)Anyhow, a small and yappy dog ran out of the bushes with a little kid and her mom running right behind it. To get the dog to stop running, they called out its name. "Here, Zagat!'' they said. "Come on, Zagat! Time to go home, Zagat!'' And it made me wonder: what kind of a person would name their kid's dog after a customer rating system? I hope this isn't part of a trend. ("Yelp," at least, would have made some sense.)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bicyclist stops at stop sign in Golden Gate Park

I saw the weirdest thing in the park yesterday. I stepped out in front of a stop sign, not realizing that a bicyclist was barreling straight towards me. And then, to my astonishment, the bicyclist actually stopped at the stop sign -- in San Francisco, no less! Not only that, but she said, "Please go ahead of me. I'll keep riding after you cross the street.''

For a moment, I was speechless. I have only seen this happen once before; see below for details. For the uninitiated, out in San Francisco, if you are a bicyclist and you see a stop sign, you are supposed to barrel straight through it, as if the stop sign did not exist. In fact, most folks actually accelerate when they see one of these signs. Even police officers on bikes will do this, too. In fact, the cops --- from my personal experience -- seem to ignore more stop signs than anybody else.

In her defense, the bicyclist was only six years old. She'll learn. For the record, this has only happened to me once before, out on Waller, when another bicyclist stopped at a stop sign and let me pass. She turned out to be a foreign exchange student.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Michael Ondaatje at the deYoung

Sounds like another great event; will try in earnest to be there. (I'm a proud member of the deYoung Museum, so the discount will be nice, too.)

Monday, March 08, 2010

Cheap thrills for book lovers, part ??: Big literary goings-on at the JCC

It looks as though everyone in my teaching syllabus is showing up to my town, and all within the same time frame. Andre Aciman, Richard Rodriguez, Ruth Reichl and Elizabeth Strout are all coming to the JCC soon. Clear your calendars. By the way, I think I spied Mr. Rodriguez in the crowd at a recent ACT play, but I might be wrong.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

You and me could rent a Betamax

I was surprised the other day when I turned on the radio and heard Lady Gaga celebrating the virtues of a clunky, outmoded and long-forgotten videocassette recorder that was popular starting in the mid-1970s but soon went out of fashion.

"I want your love and all your lover's revenge
you and me could rent a Betamax!"

How refreshing, to hear the electronic/dance superstar extolling the virtues of a long-forgotten technology, a clunky and oft-ridiculed cultural artifact, once featured in an Itchy and Scratchy episode of the Simpsons.

But the very next day, I was walking down Masonic, near the Haight intersection, and noticed that a Gaga fan had scratched out the actual lyrics to the song, including the line: "You and me could write a bad romance.''

As John Prine once said, "It's a happy enchilada and you think you're gonna drown.''

Friday, March 05, 2010

You must make a circle out of cupcakes (do not haste)

Thanks to everyone who joined me in today's grand 12-month celebration in honor of the family's shortest person. See Wall Post for uncryptic version.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Strange fortune cookie promotes misgiving, confusion

I frequented a New York City restaurant (now out of business) that specialized in fresh-kill chicken specials and incomprehensible fortune cookies.

On my last night there, I got a cookie with the following fortune:


I went home, as directed, and made a circle out of Altoids.

I left it out on the kitchen table all night long, and let the circle remain there for the next two days.

Absolutely nothing happened as a result of doing this.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010


I keep trying to wean myself from blogging about weird goings on in and around Golden Gate Park -- but I found it hard to resist this one. I was walking down the block just the other day and saw some guy asking people to smoke his thumb. Indeed, when I looked closely, I could see a plume of smoke rising up from beneath his thumb. One person actually stopped and smoked it, and then the guy started smoking his own thumb. Eventually, the (presumably illicit) contents of his thumb burned down and singed the inside of his finger. "Ow,'' he said, and the demonstration was over.

Monday, March 01, 2010

A disgrace to jugglers around the world

Just got home from shopping and saw the very worst juggler I've ever seen -- juggling only one ball at a time and still dropping it on the filthy city sidewalk. In her defense, she was also trying to play the ukelele and drink a beer at the same time.

Recession dents local bong industry. (Ugly glassware priced for quick sale.)

I can't help but noticing 20 percent discounts at several cheesy local bong emporiums in my neighborhood. Now you can pay a few bucks less for a hideous and highly breakable five-foot-tall bong shaped like a demon or a grinning skeleton. I guess these places are getting desperate. Alas, the price of alcohol remains in a holding pattern.