Cheap thrills for book lovers part XXXXXVI: Tim Cahill at SJSU

Tim Cahill will be speaking at SJSU on Wednesday night, (April 28th) and it should be a great event. By the way, I was once at a San Jose gathering where he was present, and I can attest to the fact that he is exactly like his writing persona: the life of the party, funny, self-effacing and smart, roaming from room to room with an endless supply of stories. Currently he’s the Lurie Professor at SJSU, teaching adventure writing to graduate students and undergrads here on campus. It’s pretty unusual when you meet an author and find that he or she squares with the voice that you ‘hear’ on the page and the persona that comes across in the stories. Alas, I’ve met a couple of my other adventure/outdoor writing heroes and found that one of them in particular was … well, let’s just leave it at that.

Thank you, and wash your hands

Thanks to all the many, many people who wished me a happy birthday yesterday. I’m glad to report that my entire family has now recovered from the horrible, horrible stomach flu that had us all out of commission and off-blog for a long while. (I’m telling you, it’s nasty stuff, this bug that’s been going around. Don’t even think about going to Babies R Us or the doctor’s office without lathering up with hand sanitizer. Preferably something non-toxic like CleanWell. Lots of folks are asking where I moved. Not to be cryptic, but here’s a riddle. Suppose you were to drive south from San Francisco for roughly an hour and thought you were leaving behind all the slow food, weirdly high housing prices, Victorians with fishscale shingles and mansard roofs, lovely vistas, hippies and pot smoke of SF, only to find all these things waiting for you upon arrival?

Cactuseaters relocates suddenly

This won’t affect you, my readers, (both of you. Hi, Mom!) but I want to let you know that the Cactuseaters blog is relocating out of San Francisco. I’ve been bracing myself for this moment by eating thousands of English muffins from Arizmendi bakery every day. And playing that Journey song over and over. Just kidding about the second thing. I will miss this city. On the good side, the endless dumb jokes about my name will (probably?) cease. In honor of my move, Lynn Gentry, the Street Poet of Haight-Ashbury, wrote a farewell-oriented poem. I will blog it soon, verbatim.

Read these books

It’s the 50th anniversary (more or less) of Saul Bellow’s Henderson the Rain King. I can see how elements of this book would rub people the wrong way, but what a voice. It’s like an undertow. I can imagine Wes Anderson making a risky movie out of this, with Gene Hackman in the title role. He’d be perfect. You read that here first. Don’t be put off by the morbid title of David Shields’ memoir/meditation, The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead. Yes, it’s about mortality and decrepitude, but mostly it’s about living well. I read the first part of Sam Lipsyte’s The Ask at my friendly neighborhood Burgermeister but I had to switch to something else because it was making me laugh too hard for public appearances. At the risk of oversharing, I was worried that my happy-hour pint of Prohibition Pale Ale might pour…

Ugly Glasses reposted (my most popular blog entry of all time.)

I have no idea why this is so — but this is my most popular blog entry of all time. which is weird because it has nothing to do with succulent plants, weirdoes smoking pot in Golden Gate Park, or New York City’s famous rats. I will repost it here. Ugly glasses When I was a kid, if you wore big goofy angular frames like the ones worn by Elvis Costello on his first record, or Oscar Wao, or Piggy from Lord of the Flies, you would get beaten up or stuffed into a Dumpster. Today, these are your only options! I wonder what poor old Piggy would think, to know that he has been reborn as a fashion icon. Today’s trendiest glasses are all awkward, expensive and absolutely enormous, with huge black bug-eyed frames with weird jagged edges. Anyhow, I was at the eyeglass store in Noe Valley yesterday….

Cactus Eaters wins relentless profanity award

I am humbled and grateful about winning the first annual MPORB (Most Profanity in Outdoor-related Book) Award, given bi-annually to the author of an outdoors or hiking-related book with the most relentless and gratuitous use of profanity. The judges declared that there were “certainly other hiking books with large numbers of very bad words, but a search through the pages of the Kindle and eBook version of the Cactus Eaters revealed that Dan White’s book had more expletives per page than any of the competition.” Thank you, judges. I am &@$&!$%& grateful for this honor.

Translation of Chinese Cactuseaters comment

You might read my blog and think that it’s a very small operation with only one unpaid employee. But you would be wrong. In truth, the tentacles of the Cactuseaters blog reach all over the world. I have a staff of highly trained volunteer translators who help me decipher messages that I receive every week from all over the world. For instance, I received a Chinese comment just the other day. An attentive reader translated it as follows: “When an individual’s heart can embrace conflicting ideologies, he/she becomes more appreciated.” Thank you, translator. This is a useful comment. I could use a few conflicting ideologies in my life. And to my readers: keep sending in those comments, whether they are in English, Mandarin, Tagalog, Sanskrit, Cantonese, Vietnamese, French, Greek, Spanish or Esperanto. (My team of translators will be standing by.)

Coming soon — the Cactuseaters interview with nameless folk supergroup (featuring Wolf Larsen, Kelly McFarling and Megan Keely.)

Stay tuned for my interview with Wolf Larsen, Kelly McFarling and Megan Keely, who put on an incredible performance at the Blue Six in the Mission last Friday. I suppose I should have alerted them to the fact that I want to interview them for Cactuseaters before posting this, but I’ll stick it up on the blog as soon as I’m finished. The group is great, although they do need a name (and a bass player!)The three musicians — who each have devoted followings — perform ‘hootenanny” style, alternating lead vocals on original songs and then uniting to sing three-part harmony. They are all outstanding songwriters, but they also throw some wild, off-the-cuff covers into the mix (ranging from Whitney Houston to Don Ho.)By the way, the Bluesix Acoustic Room is the best place to see acoustic music in the city right now. It’s like sitting in someone’s living room…