Thursday, July 30, 2009

Little People in the City

I've become quite a fan of Slinkachu's miniature street art. You've got to pick up the book, Little People in the City -- photos of homunculi in compromising positions.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cactuseaters readers in the news, episode II

It's time for installment two of "Cactuseaters Readers in the News,'' in which you, the readers, step out of the shadows and talk about yourselves. Send in a brief bio of what you are up to, and what you are working on and I will try to cram it into a "digest'' column that will appear anytime between two weeks and a month, depending on whether you are forthcoming and bold (or shy and reticent.) Feel free to send in whatever you like -- just keep in mind that this isn't an advertising site, so I won't let you hawk bamboo steamers, cleaning solvents, etc, through Cactuseaters. Keep them rolling in!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What is "Cactuseaters"?

To those of you who are new to this blog, Cactuseaters is primarily a way for me to amuse my Mother-in-Law.

Marathon aftermath (I can't stand up)

My legs feel like they are made of warm gelatin. I can barely move. Part of the problem is the run itself. Part of the problem is what I consumed on Sunday while running up and down through the entire city: about 10 tablespoons worth of sugar, one Starbucks coffee in a can (with artificial sweeteners), four bananas, 10 gloopy carbohydrate blocks and two packets of coffee-bean-shaped instant energy boosters. I feel like Keith Richards in 1973.

Nevertheless, I have zero regrets. I'm planning to run at least one more before the year is out. (marathons are addictive; once you start, you really can't stop)

Monday, July 27, 2009

A runner's lament: "Man, I wish I was stoned.''

Well, I managed to finished the SF Marathon. I had a nice time, although I practically crawled the thing. I could tell, from the first mile, that it just wasn't happening for me this time. My legs felt heavy even in that first stretch along the Embarcardero. The Golden Gate Bridge was spooky and fogged in, but it slowed me down even more -- it was a real traffic jam in there. Although I went quite slowly and hit The Wall the entire time, there were many highlights:

1. The man trying to hand out free Bloody Marys and beers to runners at the race. I saw no one partake.

2. A strange man clapping for us and wishing us well on the sidelines. The strange thing was -- he was facing away from us, not toward us, while cheering us on. Really odd. It was almost as if he were trying to wish us good luck in reverse.

3. A man running the race while dressed up as a Roman centurion with spear, shield, helmet and everything.

4. A runner, at the halfway point, loudly announcing, "Man, I wish I was stoned.'' He soon got his wish, in the form of noxious second-hand ganja smoke wafting down Haight Street.

5. A runner holding a very heavy looking MIA/POW flag, while charging across the bridge in military garb.

As for me, I am going to scale back my ambitions and stick to much smaller races, until I figure out why I "bonked'' so hard on this particular race. Since my times keep getting slower and slower, I might switch to a less strenuous sport. At this point, bocce is looking good.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Run along with me (virtually) this Sunday in SF

Now here's an expiriment, and I'd like to know if this works. I've posted a link here that lets you plug in my name and see how I'm doing in the SF marathon, which begins for me on Sunday at 630 a.m. -- I'm in one of the 'slow waves.' I will have a GPS sticker thing on one of my shoes. Two of my friends will be meeting me with water, etc, at Golden Gate Park; this should give them a pretty good sense of when I'll be running through the GGP. Here, by the way, is the map of this crazy course. I'm a little edgy about that rather daunting-looking hill after we complete the Golden Gate Bridge.

Controversial/polarizing choices for your book groups

Here are some books that will do more than just bring spirited discussion and debate to your groups. These books will cause actual feuds. Your book group will then split up and you'll get a break from it all, and then you can reconvene with all new members (except for you, of course; at that point, you will be the only original member.)

Here are the choices:

Nicholson Baker -- The Fermata. My prediction: If you have seven people in your group, six will hate it and one will like it.

Christopher Hitchens -- God Is Not Great. Slightly different split: I predict five against two. Or maybe four against three.

Sarah Waters-- Tipping the Velvet. This book is a beautifully written, ribald period romp, but it's bound to rub some people the wrong way. The leather object scene will easily take up 98 percent of the discussion.) Predicted split: Five to two.

Stanley Elkin -- The Magic Kingdom. This book is a classic, but it's bound to antagonize most of the people in your group. That's because The Magic Kingdom is a comedy about a bunch of kids with disgusting, terminal diseases running amok at Disneyworld with a group of oversexed chaperones. Contains one of the most un-erotic love scenes in literary history. Predicted split: six against one. Or maybe seven against zero.

Let me know if these do the trick for you; if not, I'll put up a few more six months from now.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Summer reading (in six words or less)

White Heat by Brenda Wineapple. Will Thomas and Emily hook up? The Forever War by Dexter Filkins. He almost died for this book. Atmospheric Disturbances by Rivka Galchen. Ignore the noise; read for yourself. Farm City by Novella Carpenter. Up with the pigs!The Lost City of Z by David Grann. Better him than you. The Selected Letters of Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder. Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder. Notes on a complicated friendship. Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart. Stay out of your garden. All Over Coffee, Paul Madonna. A cartoonist/walker in the city. The Indifferent Stars Above, Daniel James Brown. Donner Party = not funny! The Selected Works of TS Spivet. Reif Larsen. Tween cartographer rides rails, maps all. Also: Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Good reading group selection;super-short. Autiobiography of Red, Anne Carson: Try this dragon memoir in verse. Nickeled and Dimed. Barbara Ehrenreich. More relevant now than ever.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Marathon course: they're closing down (part of) Golden Gate Bridge!

Look out. From 6 am to 9 am, about 20,000 people will storm across the two northbound lanes of the Golden Gate Bridge (there will be a third “buffer” lane between the runners and traffic.) In other news, there is an outside chance that i will post a special link that lets you follow my progress -- or lack of progress -- in running the marathon. More on that front later on.

Friday, July 17, 2009

It's on!

I've just registered for the SF Marathon. This means that I will be among the thundering herd that starts out at the Embarcardero, crosses (and re-crosses) the Golden Gate Bridge and makes a long, slow parallelogram through the city. A couple of my readers were slightly worried about my doing this, but I've trained well (with incremental distance runs and raw-chicken resistance weights.) I don't expect to have a great time but I'll do my best (and try not to walk.) This will be my fourth marathon, and my last one for at least the next four months or so. I'm hoping to do two marathons a year from now on if I can.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Cactus improving, in good health

A few months ago, I issued a stern warning through this blog to the anonymous creepy soul who was devouring my neighbor's cactus, piece by piece, lobe by lobe. I worried that it might have been a 'copycat' cactus-eating situation; perhaps this weirdo read my book and decided to go out and try it himself. Well, I am happy to announce that the cactus is thriving again and in good health. Here's an updated photo.

However, it must be said that the rest of the neighborhood is going to hell in a handbasket. Today some guy spray-painted the same wall that I was leaning against -- right in front of me! (for the record, he sprayed the words "CPA'' on the wall, so maybe he's a certified public accountant/vandal.)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Running with (raw) chickens

Yes, that was me, running up and down the street the other day with two huge plastic Andronico's bags full of raw chicken.

Sounds crazy, I suppose, but the chickens are my recession-minded answer to expensive hand weights for marathon training.

The only drawback is that I can't run for long or the chickens will go bad.

Paw Prints

My brother, Phil, has officially launched (and is regularly updating) his excellent new blog.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

It's live -- the Sierra Club hiking wiki is here ...

Here it is.

Find a trail, add a trail.

"There is no green!" -- capturing nature with Mary Harden

Well, the secret is out. The brilliant Mary Harden -- whose art classes could change your life -- is featured in this SF Chronicle story by Steve Rubinstein.

The trail awaits you

I'm getting lots of messages lately from people who are wondering if they could manage hiking the PCT (or other major trails.)

My answer is: yes, you can, and if you can't do it this year, or next year, it will be waiting for you some other year.

I'm not a good person for trail advice or logistical help, (as you know from reading the book) but I can hook you up via email with people who know what they're talking about!

That's my thought for the day.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Sierra Club launches hiking Wiki! (for up-to-the-moment user updated hiking information)

Hikers and backpackers, take notice. The Sierra Club is about to launch a new website called Sierra Club Trails. It's (as far as I know) the first-ever comprehensive hiking wiki, "a website where anyone can post their favorite hikes and anyone else can edit the descriptions so that the trails are constantly up-to-date.''

The planned launch is imminent so stay tuned; I'll link to it here, of course.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Five years of All Over Coffee at SFPL

After starting intensive art classes in the GGP, I've become quite a fan of Paul Madonna and his wonderful, off-kilter pen and ink drawings of the city. His artwork makes me feel like I'm (willfully) lost in the city, stumbling upon its creaky old Victorians, bridgework and windswept parks for the first time. And the total absence of people -- in these pictures, and the slightly discordant '"what the heck are they talking about" snippets of overheard conversation only add to the effect. Don't miss the Paul Madonna exhibit (free) at the SF Public Library main branch, and make sure to pick up the All Over Coffee Book. Click here for an interesting video snippet.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Long run: hairy bison, Golden Gate Bridge, and disgusting electrolyte drinks

Well, I finished that darned Monster Run. Started out in Haight-Ashbury, under the oversized pair of fishnet-stockinged mannequin legs above the Piedmont Boutique. I paid my respects to the bored-looking, placid bison in Golden Gate Park, ran around the entire park, fought my way up into the Richmond, crossed through the Presidio, got lost in the Presidio, tagged the Golden Gate Bridge (with my hand, not spray paint) and crossed through Fisherman's Wharf, than Embarcardero, the Tenderloin and Hayes Valley.

Now I can't move.

It was a pretty good run, although I overdid it, and I almost gagged on the salty apple electrolyte beverage that I stole from my friend David when I visited him in Pennsylvania three weeks back. Too crowded in Fisherman's Wharf -- I could barely punch through. On the plus side, the Shrub Man wasn't there. (he's that guy who hides behind a fake shrub, jumps out and frightens tourists and runners. He's shocked me more than a few times. One day I'm going to sneak up on him and pour a Big Gulp on his head. Extra ice. Revenge is a dish best served cold.)

By the way, the Golden Gate bison are reviewed on Yelp!! Isn't that strange?

Friday, July 03, 2009

July 4th Monster Run

Honk if you see me. Tomorrow, early in the morning, I'll start the day off by eating a couple of tablespoons of barley malt syrup and then I will drink a disgusting 16-ounce apple-flavored caffeine/electrolyte drink. Then I will try to throw down 20 miles -- Upper Haight through the GGP, than crossing over Arguello through the Presidio to Golden Gate Bridge, than around the Embarcardero and back again. If this goes well, I'll sign up for that marathon. If not, I'll sit this one out.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

"Mark the Postman'' from The Cactus Eaters -- in the news!

Mark, one of the heroes of The Cactus Eaters (and, of course, a real person) is the subject of this inspiring update in the Star Courier. In case you forgot, he's the guy who prevented us from doom and disaster by forcing us to abandon most of our worthless backpacking junk, including a kite, in Agua Dulce, CA.

Also, stay tuned for more author podcasts (in blog entry below.) I'll keep adding to the "Writer's Block'' list in the next few days,