Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Days of Yore

asheville city hall
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
I took advantage of my sick day yesterday to delve into the cheap literature of a prior age: namely, I read or reread a Rex Stout Nero Wolfe murder mystery called Fer de Lance, which actually turns out to be the very first Rex Stout Nero Wolfe murder mystery, published in 1934 and a nifty original hardcover 1920 book I picked up at the Goodwill: The Eye of Zeitoon by one Talbot Mundy. I had never before heard of Talbot Mundy but it turns out he is/was quite famous (as you too can find out by googling him) and has his own wikipedia article even. He was apparently big with the Theosophists, who are another group I know very little about, except that I am familiar with the name Madame Blavatsky, know they dabbled with the occult and thus in many later books of speculative fiction they are referred to as pretty sinister. They have, or used to have, a decidedly unsinister office in downtown Baltimore on Charles Street and I used to try to look in the windows to see if anyone in dark robes was using exotic poisons and a crystal ball, but alas, there was never anything going on in there at all.

The Eye of Zeitoon, however, is chock full of sinister behavior on the part of men in dark robes. It's also chock full of the kind of casual racism that makes a modern reader cringe - Talbot Mundy really hated, I mean he really hated, the Turks, and just dropping the phrase the Color Line into an otherwise ripping paragraph full of smoke and fire and exotically beautiful dancing girls kind of grates on the 21st century ear. This is bad, of course, but I have long justified my fondness for Kipling by saying that well, there is no point in chronocentrism and people just didn't think like us back then.

Or did they? The difference between Talbot Mundy and Rex Stout is kind of striking: those 14 years between 1920 and 1934 were apparently influential ones on cheap literature. Rex Stout comes across as a fairly sexist and classist bastard, as do many private eye authors from the 30s, but compared to Talbot Mundy he reads like a contemporary. For one thing he blessedly does not begin every chapter with bad epic poetry. More pointedly, though, his sentences are crisp and sharp and could have hopped right off a blog if you ignore the constant references to milk, which nobody has drunk by choice since 1957, and hats, which, as we all know, disappeared off the planet some time in the mid 60s. (This is too bad, by the way.)

Anyway, reading the two last night I got fascinated by the differences between them and then I got fascinated by the twenties in general and started wondering just when, really, a century begins. I started thinking about the book I was holding and wondering who had held it in 1920, what the room they were in looked like and what they were thinking about as they read it. Objects have that weight, sometimes, and I thought that, given a time machine, while Rex Stout's New York might not throw me into culture shock, Talbot Mundy's world most certainly would.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Day Off For the Blahs

dogs on the porch
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
I have the blahs. I feel like shit, yet I don't have any real symptoms except being exhausted and mildly dizzy with a headache, small sore throat, ringing in my ears and general malaise. You know, kind of like a hangover except without the part where I had anything to drink last night or, for that matter, the night before. I woke up cranky, took the dogs for a walk, felt dizzy, came home, took a shower, got ready for work and was standing there all dressed up when I decided fuck this, I'm calling in. And since then I have mostly slept except for waking up occasionally to wander around the house wondering if I'm really sick, faking it or just insane. I actually hate days like this and my inner mother won't let me go to Quizzo now, because as we all know, if you're not well enough to go to work, you're certainly not well enough to go to the bar.

In other news, as you may have noticed, I have completely changed the look of this blog. It was high time and yes, okay, I just used a template and haven't done one single tiny bit of editing it beyond clicking EZ buttons. You can tell this by the fact that it looks all clean and doesn't have strange gaps here and there. You may have also noticed that ADVERTISING on the sidebar. Yeah. That is called I am trying like hell to sell out, here, so please give me a hand in my quest to become one of the idle, useless, evil rich by clicking on that ad. I am not super clear on the concept but I believe that every time somebody clicks I get, like, .37 of a cent. Therefore you only have to click 90 times or 945 times - the calculator, due to a certain lack of knowledge of decimals on my part, is unclear - or so for me to have enough for a PBR at the Admiral, a small and worthy sacrifice on your part.

I am anxiously awaiting my first check, the more so since I thought perhaps I would do my taxes this afternoon (health not being a prerequisite for doing taxes) except that I have lost a vital tax document. This is a major drag which will probably end in tears, so I think I'm going back to bed to read old Nero Wolfe novels until the cows, or the google ad dollars, come home.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Buying a Mattress

sunrise river 2
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
When I went to San Francisco a couple of weeks ago to visit my brother, I got to sleep in a real bed. It was, well, not eye opening exactly: kind of more eye closing. Years ago - around 12 or 13 years ago, I think - tired of Salvation Army mattresses (this was before bedbugs and also before my gross out meter got activated; I was young and did not give a shit) and dime store futons, I bought a real futon. It was expensive and I think it was handmade by medieval Japanese nuns in a convent deep in the Himalayas using organic yak foam, or possibly it was made by hippies in Baltimore, either or, but at any rate it was a big thick fancy futon and I loved it. I was in those days fairly convinced that most of Western culture, aesthetics and design were a consumerist commercialized crock of shit while the Asians knew what they were doing and that therefore, futons were just vastly superior to decadent American mattresses in every way. I'm still fairly convinced of this, by the way, and any comparison of a raku bowl to a precious moments figurine will bear me out, like, immediately, but I have also ceded the point that decadent Western mattress companies might just know what they're doing in terms of sleep.

My futon traveled with me from Baltimore to the northern edges of Baltimore county and then to Arden and at last to this, the third of three West Asheville houses that I've landed in over the last ten years, and at some point it just gave up and died. I was used to it though and partly because sleep has never been much of a problem for me - waking up is the problem - I thought it was fine. Besides, I'm Irish American and have not only a few Puritan tendencies but also a deep seated tiny voice that thinks mortification of the flesh in the pursuit of cleanliness or godliness or something is just dandy. That was all groovy and actually I never even though of any of this until I came home from my four nights in a real bed in San Francisco and lay down in my very own bed. Of rocks.

So I decided that that was it and I was going to buy a new bed and yesterday I did just that. First I read a whole lot of informative stuff about how to buy a mattress on the internet so that I would have information to ignore and then I went to Sam's Club. At Sam's Club they have 2 kinds of mattresses and you can pull peculiar half sized versions of both out of the wall on wheels like deranged hide a beds for the Sam's Club slaves who live there. Then you can lie down on them - the internet says that if you are buying a mattress you must lie down on it for about ten minutes at the least and wiggle around as if you are sleeping when loaded to the gills on cold medicine and possibly meth - among all the Sam's Club shoppers in their glory with their giant carts loaded with giant things.

It turns out that I have not after all managed to banish the demon of self consciousness from my psyche and lying down on a mattress and proceeding to toss and turn in front of hundreds of vaguely interested shoppers is not something I can do alone. If I had brought a few friends along I might have been better at it - I can count on my friends in these situations to double over with laughter and make bad jokes, which would have helped - but I was by myself and by the third toss and turn and fascinated stare from a giant toddler and his giant parent, I had to leave Sam's Club, possibly forever and praying that this didn't lead to a really seriously creepy Craigslist missed connection.

Onward, therefore, to the mattress store on Patton Avenue by the Kerr Drug. This mattress store is dingy and has seen better days but also, in case you were ever wondering, has a truly amazing selection of cheap hideous rugs for all your frighteningly ugly rug needs. The salesguy was nice and as I had been warned by the internet everything was on "sale" and I might have bought a mattress there except for the fact that there were actually two sales guys and one of them was pretending to be a customer. No, I'm sorry, nobody stands around for 30 minutes in a store saying things like, "WOW! How do you get your prices SO LOW?" and "Gee, I wish I'd win the lottery so I could just buy everything in the store!" (that one was the best, because immediately I thought, hmm, all they sell are beds and ugly rugs, what, do you own a 40 bedroom house with concrete floors?) and "I hope you don't mind me hanging out here but I'm so excited by what you're selling!" That one was excellent too, because I also began to wonder just what the hell else they were selling and if it was cheap and any good. Perhaps I am overly cynical but it is my experience that nobody on this planet says things like that just out of the blue and particularly not if the person in question is a mid twenties American male from, probably, Leicester NC.

This freaky little two man sales pitch skeeved me out completely. I mean, here I was, the only customer in the store, lying down on a bunch of beds in the middle of the afternoon (which lying down allowed me to notice that the ceiling tiles in this place were all water stained and corroding) while a performance art piece from the 1954 Sales America Bible was going on around me. I had to leave and I was rattled.

Rattled enough to go on to the next mattress place on Patton Avenue, which is next to the Sprint store and a tattoo parlor and just buy a big honking thick goddamn pillow topped American mattress for too much money, load it on top of my car and get it on home. And last night I slept like that proverbial baby who has very little in common with real babies who don't, actually, sleep much. I also discovered that among the other things (it's soft! it's comfortable! I slept for almost 12 hours!) that make it so incredible is the wonderful fact that it is so thick the dog farts and snores wafting up from under the bed, a constant reminder of my status as pack leader and congenital unable to resist stray puppies idiot, have lost a lot of pungency by the time they float to my level. That alone is worth more or less any sum of money, oh yes, it is. And now my poor old futon is out on the curb in the rain and I feel sad for it - but I think I'll recover.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Random Friday

Audrey and I went to Goodwill last night. First, though, we saw these guys taking their goats and baby for a walk, just another west Asheville evening and then we went to Burgermeisters to eat giant cheeseburgers. That is why we needed Goodwill - to work off the burgers laughing at clothes.
"This dress has been here for two years!" exclaimed my daughter.
"Can't imagine why," I said, eying the rectangular and ribbed velour creation, fashionably and tastefully done in two colors: the top a charming beigeish baby shit brown and the bottom that particular maroon that screams there's dried blood in the old basement carpet and you're about to wear it, Scarlett O'Hara.

There was also a bright yellow power dress with navy polka dots that would be excellent for attacking things - any prey animal or subordinate office worker would be blinded and dazzled enough not to notice how you were clutching the sharpened letter opener - and a log. Yes, a log. Like, you know, a log. Such as one finds in the woods or the woodpile. This log, however, had a quarter section sawed out of it so I guess it was a special log. I didn't see how much they wanted for it but you could buy a strange, vaguely gun shaped wooden object with shiny pencils and a reel full of pink string for a mere $2. They also had a bunch of tables with remaindered and terrible kitchen objects like pointy plastic things theoretically for scooping pasta and any number of novelty egg timers shaped like eggs (of course) and timers (how boring) and hamburgers (inexplicable) which kept going off randomly. I got some novelty party toothpicks - they look like little flip flops and palm trees! - and a pile of paperbacks, although I put one back after Audrey pointed out that I had just sent it to Goodwill from her house a few months ago.

In other news, there is no other news. This is a Good Thing.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Weekend Book Reviews

I had a very exciting and busy weekend in which I managed to read no less than five paperback novels. Yes! Five! Well, actually, it doesn't really count as five because I started one on Thursday and finished one today. Still, I am rather proud of my inert self and besides I also managed to work on Saturday and take the dogs hiking on Sunday morning and clean half the house. But I grant you I spent a lot of time burning brain cells with the kind of literature that has a lot in common with crack cocaine: it's widely available, addictive as hell and destroys your brain and finer instincts. Oh well! Here are some synopses and reviews for anyone who might want to emulate this kind of weekend trick.

Last Scene Alive by Charlaine Harris. This is the Sookie Stackhouse lady of True Blood fame and can I just say, ick. She should stick with vampires. This one, instead of the undead, has an uptight independently wealthy librarian protagonist in a small town around Atlanta somewhere and a dumb murder - really dumb - and of course there are all kinds of men who are madly in love with her and there's one steamy-ish sex scene. I have pretty much completely forgotten this one already and that's okay. As I said on mecha today, I eat them like candy and forget them like dreams.

Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison. Yeah, this one pretty much sucks too. I read another one in this series by mistake (this is the problem with the grab 'em and go Goodwill approach to picking books) a few months back and it was confusing and not very good. But I'm a glutton for punishment, apparently, and this is I think the first one in the series; it's even more confusing. Anyway, the important part is that get this, after most people die off of some kind of tomato plague (I am not making this up) then the vampires and pixies and stuff all come out of hiding wherever it was they were hiding for all of however long it's been since anybody has seen one. Also, while this is going on, somehow, it totally becomes normal to murder employees who quit their jobs. It's like a Republican dream come true, basically, with pixies. Did I mention the pixies?

A Cold Day in Paradise by Steve Hamilton. A hardboiled murder mystery set in hardboiled and cold Michigan where everybody is pretty much hard boiled and, um, I don't believe in any of them. I was sure throughout the book that the protagonist was going to turn out to be psycho and the murderer but he wasn't and it was somebody else and, la, whatever. No to the weird small ugly millionaire and no to his horny wife and no to the incredibly wonderful bartender and his wonderful nonexistent bar that might as well be written by Spider Robinson except then it would be more realistic. This book won a bunch of awards although I could not tell you why.

The Summer of the Danes by Ellis Peters. This is an old old book and I have read it before because I love Ellis Peters and I love Brother Cadfael and I love their perfect beautiful medieval world where murder barely disturbs the peace and the birds singing and the faith and the pastoral analogies. Ah, you can just sink into these things and not only feel better when you come out but actually learn a little something about 13th century Britain and Wales. Which, you know, is a subject that comes up all the time.

Black Cherry Blues by James Lee Burke. I also love James Lee Burke and Dave Robicheaux but for completely different reasons than I love Brother Cadfael. His books have a deeply loopy inner core that I can never quite figure out and I'm never sure if it's that the plots don't actually make much sense or just that I'm not all thtat good at plots. Or possibly it is because I do not live in either New Orleans or Montana and I'm not convinced that everyone is all that venal. I don't care though because once he goes into one of those four page mystical rants I'm completely sold. This is an early one and some day I'm going to read them all in order to try to make some sense out of Dave Robicheaux although I have a feeling it's going to bug me because, like a child in a sitcom, he's either not aging at all or aging too fast: I can't tell which. Sometimes that unnerves me, because people who never leave their forties and yet are not undead unnerve me, but, whatever, as long as he goes on writing paragraphs about the color of the water in the marshes, I'll go on reading.

ADDENDUM: I forgot one! There was another book and this one was the best if by best you mean most action packed and highly ridiculous yet containing a local angle. It was the inimitable Bloodstone, by Gwen Hunter, which I thought originally was called Gwen Bloodstone Hunter, due to a tragic failure of cover design. It's set in WNC and the protagonist is a jewelry designer who hangs out at gem and mineral shows and lives in a fabulous loft in, I think, Highlands, because it's the only town outside Asheville that could conceivably support not just one but three high end jewelry designers with fabulous lofts, although, hey, verisimilitude is just not what this book is about. The protagonist doesn't like to swear so she says stupid shit like Spit and Decay! instead, which little rhetorical trick gets old by about, oh, page 2. She's from a psychic family from the lowcountry, which is to say, she's probably related to me except for the actually being usefully psychic instead of just neurotic part. Her fabulously wealthy fabulous brother (everyone and everything is fabulous in this book) gets kidnapped and there are firefights and gold up on the mountain and an Eeeeevil Guvvermint Plot and a Wise Old Auntie and a Perfect Gay Best Friend and the whole thing is totally unbelievable but at least it is fun and not so horrifically written (except for the swearing part, I mean, fuck that shit) that you want to throw it across the room.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Okay, Okay Google Asheville Fiber Initiative

#googleavl. Googleavl. Google google google, my fair city, great googly moogly and so on and so forth. If you live here, you probably know what I'm talking about unless you are one of my under rock dwelling readers in which case I say, hello, kinfolks! Can't wait for that Mole People family reunion! For you, my mud loving friends, I will explain the whole dealio. Dealio! I have been saying this a lot lately because it is so fucking annoying as to be golden and beautiful. The dealio! Anyway, Google - the company, not the verb - is looking for a test market for something called The Google Fiber Initiative, which sounds like a particularly unlovely breakfast cereal but actually will be some kind of blazingly fast (everything says blazingly fast so I'm assuming that's some kind of scientific measurement adverb there) internet service that will go to everybody in Asheville and will be, um, fast. This would be a Good Thing for Asheville, as I have heard from many people including my old friends Gordon Smith and Clarke Mackey who have impassioned and highly comprehensible pleas up all over the place (including blogasheville and here) explaining the whole thing. I went to a meetup/meeting last night that went into it all in some detail and now I can say in an educated manner that, okay, I am For It. Rock on with your Google Fiber Initiative for Asheville bad self! Google on with your flugelhorn on!

In order to make this happen, certain other cities who shall not be named (one is in NC and they are big on chairs and rhyme with Dickory while the other is in KS and I know nothing about it other than that it rhymes with Dopeka) have changed their names to Google. This tactic is, frankly, pathetic. I mean, I'm sorry, but if you are wooing someone and you change your name before the first date, well, that's the kind of behavior that restraining orders were invented for. It is creepy, is what it is, and it smacks of desperation, whereas we, here in Asheville, are so totally not desperate that we are not begging at all. We are pointing out that we are Awesome and therefore they should come here. This is a dating tactic that is supposed to work, actually, but I have never had much luck with it, primarily because I can never really keep a straight face during the I Am Awesome speech. Anyway, we're not begging. Mostly. Oh please please it might bring more living wage jobs here please please we will rub your feet every single night for the rest of our lives honestly and do all the dishes too, we swear.

Anyway, if you would like to nominate Asheville then you can do that here and there is a handy guide here and another one
I confess that the guides exist partially because I am intellectually challenged: last night at the meeting I said out loud that the application was too hard for my sad little brain and lo, people leapt into action and fixed stuff up for the Moron Americans among us, which is to say, me. Actually it's not all that hard - I did it today while wearing my Professional Hat and I plan to do it again this weekend without any hats on - but if you wish talking points other than Bring Me Fast Porn Oh Yeah Google Baby, well, they have them. Although let's face it: it will. Bring fast porn, I mean. No more staring hopefully at the pixels as they oh so slowly resolve!

However! All is not cool with this because, honestly, the name sucks. I'm sorry, but when I see fiber initiative, blazing fast internet is not what comes to mind. No, what comes to mind is Metamucil and bran flakes. Take the fiber initiative and things will move faster! Yeah, see, the jokes: they write themselves. And also, please, blazingly is not an adverb that you want applied to fiber, because, okay, chili cookoff? Jalapeno morning afters? Not so good, Google. You need a better name. You know who could come up with one for you? Somebody in Asheville, that's who.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Wearin' O The Green

Today is St. Patrick's day. I forgot to wear green - well, I am wearing a green stone necklace - and I feel vaguely ashamed and unclean. I think, although I could be wrong, that this is the very first time in my entire life that I've screwed up the green thing. Oddly enough, I was thinking about the whole wearing green bit the other day and I was reminded of kindergarten. In kindergarten, we all had to sit in a circle on St. Patrick's day (actually, we all had to sit in a circle a lot, not just on holidays. Kindergarten, it seems, is all about learning the ability to sit in a circle, which is a skill that comes in extremely handy in later life on hippie camping trips when you need to sit in a circle to most efficiently pass a joint.) and say what green thing we were wearing. One boy was clearly not wearing any green and I think I can say for the whole class that we were all wondering just what the hell was going to happen to him. Stoning? Public shaming? Execution, perhaps? Forgetting green is serious business. Well, we got around to him, finally, after the rest of the class had pointed to their green shirts or green pants or green tights or whatever - this seems odd, in retrospect. What the hell, was it a remedial class for the colorblind or something? - and he said, and I bet you can see this coming, "I'm wearing green underwear!"

Of course, the entire class broke down into complete hysterics because, if you, like me, were in kindergarten in 1969 or 1970, this was not only the funniest thing you had ever heard but also possibly the most risque. The world was different then, okay? Anyway, I thought it was incredibly daring and also hilarious and I was extremely impressed with this boy from then on in. I'm still kind of impressed, truth be told and so, if anybody cares to enquire today, well, I'm wearing green underwear! Or, um, I might be, because frankly I have no clue what color underwear I'm wearing today - that decision is made before the coffee kicks in - and I'm not pathetic enough to check. No, no, I'm not.


Monday, March 15, 2010

So I Offended the Cold Goddess

Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
On Friday night I laughed about how quickly my cold had gone away. That was stupid. What was even more stupid was bragging - bragging! - about how I had done everything you're not supposed to do with a cold and gotten away with it. I said out loud, reveling, that I had waded in the ocean, gone out with wet hair, smoked, drank, walked around, flown in a plane and not stayed in bed with plenty of tea and several boxes of kleenex. Ha ha, I said, and look at me now! I beat that cold! I'm fine.

Yeah, well, what would you expect after that kind of hubris? My old belief that there are minor deities lurking around everywhere waiting to make humans miserable for shits and giggles is yet again empirically proved to be true. Of course I've spent the rest of the weekend being miserably sick with some kind of super cold that makes my head feel like cement, my stomach queasy, my bones ache and the rest of me unable to do much but lie in bed and doze with (of course) hot tea and several boxes of kleenex. That is what happens when you dis the gods. Fear the minor deities! Propitiate them! And perhaps you won't get whatever the hell this is.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Some Thoughts on San Francisco & Travel In General

Well, now I'm well and truly home and everything looks weird. That seems to be one of those travel hazards: I'm homesick for the entire trip until the minute I start heading for home, at which point I immediately start missing my destination. I couldn't wait to get back to Asheville and now I want to go back to San Francisco immediately. Figures.

Anyway, San Francisco is cool. It is also warm, as in when I got there at 3 in the morning my time or a little after midnight Thursday their time, the shuttle driver said, "Cold, cold, is so cold tonight!" and I laughed disbelievingly at him, because it was easily 50 degrees and, as we know, I was coming from the Winter From Hell in Asheville. I nearly froze walking from my car in the Asheville airport parking lot (through several inches of snow) because I left my heavy winter coat in the car with a feeling of worry and disbelief. I didn't need to worry because it is not only warm in San Francisco, it is green. I mean there is green grass on the ground and flowers everywhere and green leaves on the trees and on Thursday morning I nearly wept with joy at this green world. It was more or less exactly like that scene in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy's house lands except for the fortunate absence of the squashed witch. I wasn't expecting it to be so green and I surely wasn't expecting palm trees. Palm trees! Right up and down the center of the streets as if you're in New Orleans! (It has occurred to me that I, who never travel, have now traveled twice in the last eight months, once to New Orleans and once to San Francisco - clearly, I'm on the Anne Rice tour of the world.)

The other thing that was wildly notable to me about SF was how calm it was. My main experience with large cities has been New York and Baltimore, neither of which are noted for their peaceful aura. So I was expecting the usual madness of people shoving and snarling and that sort of vaguely palpable feeling of menace and urban decay that keeps us east coasters on our toes. It was lacking. I mean completely lacking. My brother said, "The great thing about this place is that it has everything New York has but without the agita." And that is the best possible description. People are friendly and polite.

Even the street people (for the most part, although there were a couple who would have fit in okay in Tompkins Square Park back before gentrification days) are cheerful: two punk kids sitting on the sidewalk in the Haight Ashbury asked me to take their picture - they smiled while I took it, shot peace signs and didn't ask me for money. I nearly fell over in sheer astonishment. It was unreal: a lady gave us a two day MUNI pass because, she said, her daughter had left and didn't need it and, I heard from one SF friend that people routinely hand her their bus transfers. That just doesn't happen in New York. I mean, first off, if you had tried to give me a bus pass in NYC while I was living there I would have thought you were crazy and I would have thrown it away immediately, if I even took it. And, of course, that would never have happened in the first place. Ha ha! I laugh at the thought! Yeah, San Francisco is just nicer.

I went out drinking with a group of genial and delightful San Franciscans, a couple of whom were transplants from places like DC and Baltimore and they knew exactly what I was talking about. I asked if it was okay for me to walk home alone and slightly intoxicated through the Mission after midnight and they said yeah, sure. "I've never seen anything here, even in the Tenderloin on a Saturday night," said one, "that even compares to the kind of shit you see in DC on, like, a Tuesday night at 9."

The question is, does that make San Franciscans weak and pointless? Could shock troops from Baltimore totally take them out and colonize their palm tree laden city? I kind of doubt it. I am beginning to believe that there is something to be said for peaceful energy - that just possibly you don't need constant chaos and strife to thrive. I know, heresy, but I'm beginning to think it might be possible. Clearly I have been infected by the California virus. I'm sure it will wear off - probably as I trudge through the sleet to take my dogs to run illegally in the park.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

I'm Back

I went to San Francisco. Now I am back and I have much to say and even more pictures to show - they're all here, with more to be added. I'm running out of energy tonight to go through them and then I must somehow trick the camera into coughing up the 100 or so Friday pictures that somehow got corrupted or disappeared, which is a bummer, because those are the pictures of the DeYoung Museum and the Japanese tea house and the Botanical Gardens and the ever inimitable it's a little too much like Asheville Haight Ashbury. I'm exhausted and still a bit sick - naturally, after not having a cold all fucking winter, I managed to contract a doozy by last Thursday, so that you could follow me around SF by the sneezing noises and trail of kleenex (I'm sorry San Francisco! I hope I did not infect the entire city with the plague! I might be typhoid Mary but I mean well!) - but I will copy down a few bits from my journal for your amusement tonight anyway. San Francisco, by the way, is amazing. It is even more amazing, I think, for dogs than it is for people and if my dogs ever find out how great it is there then they will never let me rest until we move. Therefore I am whispering when I say things like no leash laws! and the beach is full of happy dogs! and the dog parks have no fences!

Let's see, journal stuff. First off, I hate flying. Klonopin is a wonder drug, as is vodka, but it is not enough. The only thing that would be enough is full anesthesia. I kept saying "This is a bus. I am on a bus" to myself but since planes are smaller than buses, not to mention less comfortable, this didn't work very well. But I made it! I got in late Wednesday night and the next day my brother launched us onto what I am fondly referring to as the Death March to Bataan Tour of San Francisco, which involved so much walking that I have blisters on parts of my body you don't even want to know about. It is kind of remarkable what you can fit into a day when you're dedicated.

Delores park with coffee & a croissant.
J train to Powell and Market.
Cable car up the hill to Sacramento Street
Chinatown - I bought stuff! Cool stuff! I should have bought way more stuff!
Walked into North Beach and had coffee at Cafe Trieste
Walked back to Chinatown
Walked back to North Beach
Walked up the Lombard Street steps, which are steep.
Took the cable car down to Fisherman's wharf.
Had a delicious seafood lunch and a bottle of wine at Alietos
Took a cab up to the Coit tower (thank GOD we did not walk)
Went up the elevator at the Coit tower - there was an incomprehensible and charming deadpan guide in the elevator.
Walked down all the steps from the Coit tower - saw the Telegraph Hill parrots! That was cool! - to the waterfront.
Had a shot of espresso with Tcho chocolate in it. Yum.
Walked through the ferry terminal market.
Walked through what I guess is sort of the financial district.
Met my old and wonderful friend Mimi at a microbrewery / yuppie bar called the Thirsty Bear.
Went to SFMoMA
Walked over to Powell St. and caught the BART train back to the Mission.
Walked up to Valeria and had dinner at Taqueria La Cumbria.
and finished the evening by having beers at the 500 Club and then walking another four blocks or so back.

In the next couple days - this was also when the cold decided to really kick in - we walked through most of the Mission and went to Golden Gate Park and the DeYoung Museum (which is fantastic. I mean wonderful. I mean amazing. I mean I want to work there or live there or something. Perfectly great.) and the beautiful Japanese garden there and through Haight Ashbury - on the bus my brother said that it was worth seeing because it was full of old hippies and I remarked that everywhere was full of old hippies, which cracked up a lady on the bus. Actually, the Haight Ashbury was nice and all but honestly it was just like Asheville only slightly larger and with better grafitti. However! That night I went to a Metafilter meetup at the Mission Bar and then on Saturday went to the Asian Art Museum where my friend Angie used to work and went to Ocean Beach and back to Chinatown to buy more stuff and have dinner - my first ever bowl of Pho! I love Pho! We need Pho here in Asheville! - and to a couple of bars. Sunday I took the ferry across the bay to visit my friend Mimi and we drove over the mountains to Bolinas and that was all insanely wonderful as well. Yeah, San Francisco is just as great as everyone says it is and that is good to know but it is also good to be home.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

It Snowed Again

We rocked out at Quizzo last night and came in fourth or possibly fifth for the tournament. This is not too shabby, I think and even though making it to a bar once a week is kind of a dubious achievement in time management, I'm still proud of it. Also, I got to take the moral high ground for a while because I had three correct answers which got booed down by my teammates. Alas, I squandered that high ground on the last round by not knowing the number of tarot cards in a deck. Audrey had a deck in her purse but we felt that checking would be wrong. We are crazy.

So, more wintry weather! What a shock and surprise! I wish to cry. Perhaps this will be the last snowstorm of this crazy winter. One can only hope, although Audrey, who is fond of doom and gloom, says that the Farmer's Almanack is predicting another big storm at the end of March. Gods I hope not; enough is enough. As it is it snowed five inches or so in my yard and we all stayed home all day and ate fishsticks, which was not quite as awful as it sounds.

I'm packed for tomorrow; I'm terrified of course and I have emails and lists of people to call and places to go in San Francisco, where apparently burritos, among other things, are different than they are in Asheville. There's a metafilter meetup in the works; those are always awesome and I am, once I get past the flight terror, completely psyched and excited. However, remember that I do not have a laptop. Therefore, unless I borrow one, which I might, there will be no blogging until I return. But there's always Twitter from the phone, so never fear, I will still be one of those annoying 21st century overwired people. Westward ho! Or something like that.