Friday, September 28, 2007

Thanks a lot, cheese lady

It's official --- I've moved to San Francisco -- and weird things are happening already. I went into a high-end cheese shop in Noe Valley and asked the woman behind the counter if she had any good-quality fresh-made ricotta cheese. She said, "Absolutely,'' and reached into the fridge. She pulled out a huge tub of ricotta cheese. "You would really like this stuff,'' she said, smiling, as she dipped a tasting spoon into the cheese and skimmed off a delicous looking sample. And then, instead of handing it to me -- she ate it herself!! "Ahh,'' she said. "That was really good. You should try it sometime.'' Also, when I was in the Haight, I said hello to someone I recognized. She did not remember me -- and, on top of that, I knocked over a container of organic strawberries, which spilled all over the filthy street. Trying to cover my tracks, I stuffed the strawberries back into the plastic box and was putting them back onto the shelf (not very nice, I now realize) when a homeless man came up and screamed at me for putting the strawberries back on the shelf. Oh well. The apartment is really nice, though.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Bad barber

I just discovered that the aforementioned barber left a small, lightning-shaped dent (a tribute to Harry Potter?) in my hair. I also discovered a bunch of wasps hanging out under my car on two separate occasions. I'm worried that there's a wasp's nest growing deep inside the chassis of my car. More later.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Steinbeck Fellows reading in San Jose

It would be great if you could all come out to hear Peter Malae, Lysley Tenorio and me read on October 4 at 7 p.m. on the fifth floor of the lovely MLK Library in downtown San Jose. Light refreshments will be served. The event is free.

Tales from Cupertino part two: My shapely hair

Yesterday I went to a neighborhood barbershop in Cupertino. These days, barbers don't need a whole lot of instruction or advice when it comes to my hair. I tell them, "Use a one and a half on the sides and a two on the top.'' They scalp me every couple of weeks. Anyhow, the female barber took out the clipper and was buzzing away at my skull. She stopped, looked at me through the mirror and said, "You don't have a lot of hair, but the hair that you do have is shapely. Your hair has a good shape.''
I just thought I'd pass that along. Next time you see me, make sure to compliment me on my shapely hair.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Professor Diddy: the origins of a nickname

I'm not quite sure how this happened. Some of the students in one of my comp classes at San Jose State University call me Professor Diddy. HOw on earth did I get such a nickname? I must admit, it's my fault entirely. Here (I think) is what happened: A couple of my students were trying to figure out what to call me in class. They threw out a whole bunch of possibilities. "Dan.'' "Mr. Dan.''"Professor Dan,'' "Mr. White.'' "Professor White.'' I could have chosen any one of those options and it would have been just fine. The problem is, I overthought the situation. "Mister White'' sounded a little too much like a hated PE teacher, while "Dan'' sounded too informal. I didn't like "Professor Dan'' because it sounded a bit too much like "Ranger Rick.'' I'm a lecturer, technically speaking, but "Lecturer White'' sounds weird to me, like a character for a Phillip K. Dick novel. I said that they could probably call me "Adjunct Professor White'' but that is very wordy and awkward-sounding. Finally, I said that I didn't really care what they called me, as long as they don't call me something ridiculous, such as "Diddy.'' Voila. A nickname was born!

Songs from the 80s I want to forget

I kind of stole the inspiration for this entry from a conversation I had last night in SF. Anyhow, it's strange for me to hear about 80s 'nostalgia' parties and hear 'flashback' weekends highlighting the songs of my adolescence. I'm wondering if anyone in my age group remembers (with a shudder) the following ditties that tormented me on KROQ during my teenage years. I'm talking about the kind of songs that had me in a mad rush to change the dial, even when I was hurtling down the 405 freeway at 85 miles an hour.

"Shanoo, Shanoo'' by Haysi Fantayzee

"I Eat Cannibals" by Total Coelo.

"Pepperoni Ice Cream" by Killer P ....

"Oh! My Janitor" by Suburban Lawns.

"Slang Teacher'' by Wide Boy Awake.

"We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off'' by Jermaine Stuart.

"Rappin' Duke'' by John Wayne.

"P-A-J-A, Pajama Party!" by (I couldn't remember the name for this one, but the singer sounded like she is about six or seven years old.)

I think that 'authentic' 1980s nostalgia parties --- and 1980s oriented karaoke gatherings --- need to draw more deeply from this dark well of noxious tunes.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Willing to live in a storage facility

(I accidentally deleted the second half of this blog entry; here's the restored version from some years back.)

That might be the best way to go. I would just move the lawnmower out of the way and set up my sleeping bag and Therma-Rest.

This is a tough market. San Francisco -- way too expensive. East Bay -- it's the Brooklyn of the west, but it's too far away (one of my colleagues says it took him two hours and fifteen minutes to get to campus yesterday!) and about to become very expensive. Santa Cruz --- you've got to deal with Highway 17 and the fact that there aren't jobs. I've never done the 'blind dating' or internet dating thing but it must be similar to this. The advertisements on Craiglist are always quite different from the reality (i.e. crackhouse by the beach, scary apartments, etc.) I'll keep you posted -- and let me know if you hear of anything.

I should point out that my standards are pretty reasonable at this point.  When it comes to living situations, I am as far from a snob as you can get. At this point I've lived in a hippie commune-type house on the Central Coast, and in a household of nudists in rural New England, where the keeper of the manor and his girlfriend would engage in clothes-free skeet shooting and lawn-mowing,  among other things. I've also lived in an illegal "granny unit" owned by a prominent law enforcement officer. At this point I can get used to just about anything.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Leg in holding pattern

Three days after the hornet situation, my leg now looks like a leg again. I'll keep everyone posted. I'm learning that I have extreme reactions to insects as well as venomous plants, especially poison oak. The weird thing is, yellowjackets, poison oak, and most of my other enemies, are not "non-native invasive'' species. They are all "natural'' and native to California.

More on hornets ...

It's not just that I'm very allergic to hornets. They also, for some reason, find me attractive. They swarm all over me -- and instead of just flying around me in an exploratory way, the hornets usually sting me without provocation. Anyhow, my leg still looks weird but I think the situation is under control. However, I am going to be a bit gun-shy about hiking for a while. I might start hiking with a thick, full-body raincoat or a suit of protective mesh.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Hornets -- nasty little beasties.

I have a fraught relationship with nature --- and my trip last weekend to Point Reyes reminded me of this. It was beautiful there --- fogbound, lots of deer, the rolling Marin Headlands, egrets and herons everywhere. And then, in the middle of a trek, I somehow disturbed a wasp's nest. A bunch of them descended on me. I was stung about four times -- and I had some sort of nasty histimine reaction, causing my ankle (and, really, my entire left leg) to swell up to frightening proportions. Still recovering from this. Keep a close watch for these nasty little beasties. (They are ruthless.)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The rats are disgusting in Richmond

My rat-o-mer is turned down pretty low after living in New York and being exposed to that sort of thing every single day. But I saw a rat in Richmond that beat all previous records. He was at least a foot and a half long from his filthy head to his unspeakable tail. It was a major turn-off from an otherwise nice and sleepy neighborhood.

Cactuseaters blogsite: one billion sold?

Hey, readers --- feast your eyes on that little box at the bottom right of this blog page with the little number in the middle of it. That is my brand new reader-counting thingamabob! Many thanks to Kara for helping me install this wonderful new device that allows me to track the number of 'hits' I get into the site. This is huge for me. Each of the numbers that you see on the screen represents my total number of readers -- in the hundreds of thousands. In other words, if the little box says "nine,'' that means that 900,000 people have read my site. If it says, "10,'' I've reached my one million readers mark. This means I can now accept gigantic advertising clients for my site (and retire comfortably by next year.) T-shirts, cross promotions, action figures, and a special CactusEaters cactus-flavored cereal, are sure to follow.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Sea Monkeys: not a good memory for me

What can I say about Sea Monkeys? They are actually shrimp, they mail them to you in a weird little vacuum-sealed package, and when you put them into the plastic tank, they flail around for a while and die off very soon. The weird thing about sea monkeys is, they never reproduce. There is nothing you can say or do to make sea monkeys take a romantic interest in one another. They just float around and ignore each other and, eventually, they all plotz, one by one. There is nothing you can do about this. In about a month, you've got a useless plastic tank with a bunch of floaties in it.

So far, no break-ins by rats, and no more ants in my car

I have a lot to be thankful for. In the past week, I haven't seen a single ant farm taking shape in my car. That's pretty amazing, considering the size of the antfarm that was living in my car for the past month. I finally got tired of it and sprayed my car down with Fantastic, which did the trick. Also, as of this moment, no rats have tried to break into my house. In New York, rat break-ins were a frequent occurence. Once time (I swear, this is not a fabrication) I had to defend myself from a rat by bopping it on the head with a short work of experimental fiction.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The rats have found me.

I can't believe this, but the rats apparently followed me from NYC to Silicon Valley. I joined the Rat Witness Protection Program but I guess someone "ratted'' me out. The other day I was jaywalking (fun to do in Cupertino, and you need to jaywalk some of the time because the sidewalks end so abruptly) when a giant rat --- the size of a shoebox --- came charging out across the street, with a look of cruel intent in his eyes. In his jaws, he carried a coupon for a $100 I-phone rebate. I got out of his way. He was in a hurry.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Still searching for a house.

I am now living in a peaceful, gorgeous house as part of my very last house-sitting gig. You would not believe the loveliness of this place. There is a pomegranate tree in the front yard, and pears and apples galore in the backyard. Anyhow, once I leave here, i will be living, temporarily, in a smallish tool shed. It will be cozy in there (six by four feet!) and there are lawnmowers and things in there, so it's going to be a bit of a tight squeeze but it should be ok.

By the way, I am temporarily in Silicon Valley, and, as far as I'm concerned, the place gets a bad rap. I had no idea that the place had so many forests, hiking trails, etc. They have a lovely open-space area called Rancho San Antonio -- rolling chaparral foothills, hawks, deer everywhere, quail squeaking around in the bushes, and bobcats skulking around after dusk. I think it's amazing that a place like this thrives in the information nerve center of the world. You see young couples with strollers and joggers all over the place. It's our little Central Park out here.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Another anagram attempt

Given that i misspelled Ms. Lohan's first name in that last post, here's another go at it:

'Lyndsay Lohan arrested again'
anagrams to ...

'Dastardly as annoying healer.'

Not quite as snappy.

Anagrams can save your life, and help you figure out current events

I believe in the power of anagrams. Whenever I'm feeling confused about a current event, a scandal or a situation in my life, I try to enter that situation into an anagram-generating machine that will puzzle out the hidden meaning within.

Here are a few anagrams for your consumption:

The anagram for 'Lyndsey Lohan arrested again' is: 'Rantingly analysed sorehead.'

The anagram for 'Should senator Larry Craig resign" is ... 'Harlot's coarse-grained slurrying.'

more to follow!

Let's hear it for my favorite blogs

Hi everyone. I want to direct you to a very funny blog, Take a look at the list of blind-date-evasion excuses in the latest post. If you want to learn about life in the Bay Area, this is the blog for you. I also dig "dogpoet" (which is extremely well-written, and makes me feel kind of bad about the fact that I write my own blog entries in about two and a half minutes, tops.) and the shocking but very funny "stereolabrat'' blog. I am jealous of the fancy fonts in some of these blogs, and the fact that the bloggers are technologically savvy and know how to put slide shows and films and three-dimensional twirly-swirly decorative stuff while my blog is just blocks of text, with the exception of the "Today Show'' entry, in which you get to see me on television for about nine and a half seconds.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Who knew that crack houses had ocean views?

My wife and I have started our 'house search.' Sometimes the listings are too good to be true. Yesterday we took a four-hour round trip slog in Memorial Day traffic to see an allegedly "nice'' space with an ocean view. It sure sounded cool in the advertisement. Anyhow, the carpets had some sort of organic scunge on them. The whole place looked scraped up. Dingy. Stinky. Dark as a dungeon. I should have known by the thousand-dollar price tag. That's how much Jennifer Connelly paid for her apartment in "Dark Water.''