Christopher Hitchens

Sad to hear today’s news. Then again he lived and wrote about 17 lifetime’s worth. I don’t agree that he’s our Orwell or our Mencken. I think of him as a complete one-off, and while I’ll enjoy reading his work for a long time into the future, I’ll miss his timeliness and topicality. I won’t be able to read about some demagogue or invasion without wondering what he would have said about it. Regardless of what you think about his positions (Falkland Islands, Iraq War, etc.), you have to admire someone who doesn’t care about the politics of consensus, isn’t afraid to make you mad, and is willing to put his opinions on the line by going on some truly scary talk shows and TV programs. (Sean Hannity, etc.) I’m also amazed that he kept cranking out the essays and columns up to the very end (including a beautifully written…

Nikki Giovanni in Santa Cruz

I just had a great, free-wheeling phone conversation with Nikki Giovanni, who will be here in Santa Cruz in a few weeks. Among the topics we covered: Martin Luther King, Jr., space travel, Occupy Wall Street, Prince Charles, writing pedagogy, and the importance of poetry. I will post that here once I’ve distilled it down to a Q and A. Be patient. It takes time to put it all together. In other news, I’ve got a slamming headache from watching the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” video on YouTube.

The anthology has arrived (and I survived cat bite.)

I just received (in the mail) The 36 Hours/150 Weekends anthology book published by the New York Times and Taschen, and featuring two of my recently published travel pieces. Please go out and buy it but don’t drop it on your foot. It must weigh five or six pounds!!! In other news, I don’t have rabies. Also, I just wanted to know that my pecan pie turned out fine. However, my pumpkin pie was a gelatinous horror that sent people running from the table. Sorry for the bad food, everybody. There’s always next year. I also want to apologize for the small type. I bet you’re experiencing eye-strain right now. I tried to increase the font size but the button isn’t working.

My day can only get better (I just got chomped by my own cat!)

I am going to take a break from blogging for a while because typing is almost impossible right now. My cat took a huge bite out of my finger! It’s not his fault.Here’s what happened. My cat has not been feeling well — he’s been fighting off an infection — so I had to go to the vet in San Jose and get these gigantic, stinky brown pills for him. You wouldn’t believe the size of these pills. Maybe they thought I said “moose” instead of “cat.” Anyhow, he refuses to eat them on his own, even if I stick them in a “pill pocket” that is made out of smelly cat food. Following the doctor’s instructions, I had to stick the pill directly down his throat and push. That meant opening up his jaws, gently nudging my finger beneath his razor-sharp teeth, and inserting the pill into his throat…

More on whales

As it turns out, that crazy whale photo you’ve been seeing in newspapers and broadcasts across the country is by Santa Cruz’s own Shmuel Thaler, “complete with misspelled name in the photo credit.” His whale image recently made the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. Thanks, Shmuel, for sending in. If it wasn’t for people sending in, I’d have no content at all. Still waiting for advice on the pie.

Thanksgiving draws near. Time for me to make another inedible, goopy pecan pie

I’m just looking at the calendar and noticing that Thanksgiving is creeping up on me again. For me, this means one thing: friends and loved ones will soon be gagging on my overwrought, undercooked chocolate-pecan pie. Every year I screw it up in a different way. One year I burned it so badly that the outside was black as pitch, and yet it was raw and glutinous in the middle. No one wants to hurt my feelings, so everybody ends up choking down one piece — and in some cases, more than one piece — of my mucilaginous, viscid baked product. Another time it was so hard that you could barely pry the pieces apart, even when you used a sharp knife and hit the handle as hard as you could with your fist. Last year it came out OK, but for some reason I accidentally added mint flavor so…

Cactuseaters on True Fiction Radio

Thanks again to my brother Phil for finding this and sending it along. I knew it was about to be posted online but didn’t know it was already up! Anyhow, here is that free podcast from True Fiction Radio, including brand-new readings by Wallace Baine and Richard Stockton, and also a brief reading by me (from the Cactus Eaters.), recorded recently in town. If you’ve got access to iTunes, download away. I’m part of the radio show #12, podcast on 10/30/11.