Scary morning: Smoke and Fire in the Haight

To evacuate or not to evacuate? That’s what I wondered at 445 a.m. as the smell of smoke wafted through my living room. I opened up the blinds and saw fire and smoke, and it looked awfully close to my apartment. Then I heard the choppers, crowd noise and fire engines honking. A big black cloud rose over the Upper Haight. The fire burned Tikka Masala and scorched part of Villains, which is part of my weekly neighborhood stroll. Fortunately, no one was injured but seven people were displaced. A scary situation — and it could have been a lot worse.

Bookshop Santa Cruz gives away free nuts with Sarah Palin’s memoir. (read all about it right here.)

Here is some breaking bookshop news. Bookshop Santa Cruz — the same bookshop that sold Rush Limbaugh’s See I Told You So for the price of baloney (per pound) in 1993, is now offering a “free bag of nutz” with each copy it sells of Sarah Palin’s book Going Rogue. Bookshop staff say a bag of Sarah Palin’s Just Plain Nutz is also available for $3.98 to those who have the munchies but don’t necessarily want the memoir. Read all about it right here. You might remember that this bookstore also handed out commemorative air sickness bags for each copy of a Newt Gingrich book. If you look carefully at the bag of nuts on the web site, you will see that each plastic bag has Sarah Palin’s face on it.

One-stop shopping: The Cactus Eaters stories, reviews and web links

This blog doesn’t have any easy-to-find entry that includes related stories, podcasts, reviews and weblinks so here goes. Until now. Here is a clearinghouse, with items in no particular order. Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times. Boston Globe. Salon. Brave New Traveler. The Oregonian. Nextbook. Publisher’s Weekly. Pearl’s Picks. Lisa Haneberg interview. Good Food with Evan Kleiman. Writer’s Block podcast, Operation Water Dump. Denny Smithson, Cover to Cover, Berkeley KPFA. Etude: New Voices in Literary Nonfiction. Mary Magazine with Jillian Kurvers. Synchronized Chaos,National Geographic. Camino Santiago. The Retiring Librarian., and last but not least, Leafing Through Life.

Embittered store manager seeks cashier

My neighborhood has a fashion boutique that is often empty. I avoid going in there because they sell punk rock lace-up boots that would look very silly on me if I ever put them on. But the other day I noticed a bitter, profanity-laced (and unintentionally hilarious!) help wanted sign in the window. By the time I showed up with my pen and my blogging notebook, someone had taken the sign down. This is my best effort at a ‘total recall’ version. “The store is looking for a cashier. If you apply, be professional about it. Don’t just take a crumpled-up wad of paper out of your pocket and hand it to me! That kind of thing will get you nowhere in life. And no, we do NOT have application forms. Also, be aware of the fact that we deal with a lot of freaks, losers, druggies, weirdoes who smell…

Yelling at books

One of you emailed me a funny story about seeing someone reading my book in public and, every so often, turning the book around and shouting questions and comments at my author’s photo. I found this story inspiring because it suggests that physical copies of books might have a future. With digital book readers, you can’t scream at the author’s photo or throw the book against the wall. And thank you to each and every one of you who has interacted in my book in a deeply physical way, even if you wound up flinging it out of a window, pelting people with advanced-review copies, using it for kindling, etc. Long live books unplugged!