Joan Didion coming to the Bay Area

She’s going to be in conversation with Vendela Vida at the Herbst Theater. Go if you can. (I can’t.) I went to a fantastic Didion event in NYC some years back. She was in conversation with New Yorker editor David Remnick, and it was all going well until someone in the audience asked Didion a truly dumb and appalling question at the very end.

Skyhopping whales, part two

In case you aren’t following the local news, certain Santa Cruzans have lost their minds in regard to this surge of humpback whale sightings. Kayakers are going right up to them and practically rubbing the creatures’ noses. I think this is a good time to remember that humpback whales can swim 16 miles an hour and have the combined weight of 350 humans. In other words, annoying them is a very bad idea …

The ghosts of Torrington, Connecticut

I chuckled after watching this scary trailer advertising a new horror movie that takes place at the Yankee Pedlar Inn in Torrington, Connecticut. This struck me as funny because the Yankee Pedlar is a real place. In fact, I frittered away a certain amount of my early 20s at the bar on the bottom floor of that very inn. I have a real life, silly “ghost story” that takes place in part at the Yankee Pedlar. When I get a moment, I will upload that for you. (it’s long and rather complicated.)

You might consider reading these next

(this is my scratchboard illustration of Mephitis Mephitis, whose noxious spray can render dogs temporarily sightless.) First of all, stumbling upon this link to an interview with Tom Waits was an unexpected boon. Plus, it’s nice to hear that someone’s car is messier than mine, and that he apparently like Valencia hot sauce, although my brand is Tapatio. A couple of other things. It’s unnerving when I read a very good book that came out a while ago without me knowing about it. One prime example is Bernard Cooper’s The Bill From My Father, as good a memoir as I’ve read in a long while. It has poetic compression, heft, authenticity, the whole shebang, and it doesn’t try to gussy up the grouchy inscrutable dad at the center of the book. Books I also enjoyed recently: Gerry Hadden’s new nonfiction work, Never the Hope Itself (I even blurbed this one!…

True Fiction radio

I’m going on True Fiction Radio in less than an hour. I’d better start driving to the studio now in case I get a flat tire or run into traffic. (or both.) My reading and my talk with Richard Stockton will soon be available as a podcast on iTunes.

Something old, something new

I’m going to do a podcast soon in which I’ll read something old (well, not that old — it’s something from The Cactus Eaters, involving a possible case of mistaken identity and a dirty knife) and a very small section of a work so brand-new it doesn’t even have a name just yet. Will post that link when it’s ready.

Scott Williamson sets speed record on Pacific Crest Trail

Exciting news, and this is the first I’ve heard about it. Thanks to my brother, Phil, for sending this in. Scott is the most prolific PCT hiker ever, and he’s even yo-yo’d the trail (southern to northern terminus, then northern terminus to southern terminus in one sustained effort) on more than one occasion. Amazing accomplishments, to say the least.