Obsessed with Kidrobot

My neighborhood (the Haight) has a few mildly annoying things, including hipsters posing for photographs while flashing the peace sign in an ironic way at the famous intersection, and the sheer number of people who ask if I can show them the famous Victiorian where Jerry and pals lived together under one roof like The Monkees. However, the place has some interesting new things, including the brand-new Kidrobot store, an emporium/museum featuring some of the craziest ‘action figures’ I’ve ever seen. In case you are unfamiliar with the term ‘action figures,’ they are, basically, plastic dolls with muscles and glazed expressions. Those qualities allow companies to sell them as “action figures for strapping young lads” instead of “dolls for sissies.” The Kidrobot dolls are much more original than the Yodas and helmet-haired Luke Skywalkers I collected as a youth. The store has a stunning Storm Trooper doll that costs over…

“Get back on the horse”

My wife wants to give the aforementioned Italian restaurant another try! She thinks they were just having a bad day, and she said she liked her dinner just fine. “You just have to get back on the horse,” she said. While I respect her compassion for the people who run the restaurant, I thought that “horse” was an unfortunate word choice, considering the mystery beef that they piled on top of my gnocchi. http://cactuseaters.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default

Searching for myself on “Ask Jeeves” — with unfortunate results

I was distressed this evening when I entered my name in the AskJeeves search engine — in search of other places where I might place large advance orders of my own book — and the following hits came up: “Dan White 1978 TwinkieDan White Twinkie DefenseDan White TrialState V. Dan WhiteDan White Insanity PleaDan White San Francisco.” Yikes. I’m going to have to change my name once and for all. http://cactuseaters.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default

Horrible meal at new improved Italian restaurant

What’s the Italian phrase for “flat tire with tomato sauce dumped on the top of it along with some shriveled mushrooms” ? The answer is: “pneumatico sgonfio a la fungilli shrivilloso con salsa pomodoro disgustioso.” This is what I consumed during my highly unpleasant recent visit to the ‘new improved’ Italian restaurant that I frequent in San Francisco. Until last week, the restaurant was brilliant. They had a nice way with pastas, sauces, wines and the like. The service was kind of pushy at times, but hey. In the past week, the place plunged off a cliff in terms of quality. They became overly ambitious and highfalutin. They started putting wild game and other assorted creatures on the menu, while experimenting with peculiar new sauces. My wife ordered something that looked, pretty much, like a soggy, insipid bird’s nest with cheese on it. Translation: “Nido di uccello inzuppato y banale…

Meeting Salman Rushdie

Yesterday I met Salman Rushdie. I shook his hand and talked to him for about two and a half minutes, though I can’t remember exactly what I said because I was very, very nervous. When you meet a literary celebrity, it is best to pin down at least something that you have in common and dwell on it for as long as you can. In this case, we both talked about how we don’t really like to grade papers very much, and how a pass/fail system with narrative comments is just fine with us. That was one thing we definitely had in common. Afterwards, I calmed myself down by eating a large helping of Pepperidge Farm cookies from the free food buffet. http://cactuseaters.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default

I have returned from the spooky canyon

I just got back from the beautiful but slightly creepy canyon in Utah. I drove up a chewed-up road with no guardrails for 10 miles over some very steep sandstone cliffs until I reached a parking area with a skull (a bear skull perhaps) lashed to a post. I explored some gold-tinted hills and cliffs with ancient granaries perched on the edges of sheer drop-offs and took a close look at some beautiful, and quite chilling, petroglyphs etched out of the walls. One of the petroglyphs showed a ‘fallen man’ who seemed to have tumbled down a cliff face. Another showed a figure with bird feathers emanating from his head and a long snake-like body. I saw pictures of dancing shamans, rams and hunters all clustered together on a long wall. I also saw a bear cub running around, a bunch of wild turkeys, elk tracks, deer and rabbits all…

Spooky canyon

I’m taking off at this moment on my journey toward the spooky Southwestern canyon full of Fremont-era granaries, petroglyphs, pictograms and other remarkably intact ruins (they found actual corncobs in in some of the granaries!). The place was inhabited about a thousand years ago but the people deserted it quickly for mysterious reasons. The other strange thing is the fact that they built their shelters so far up on the rocks, out of reach from water on semi-vertical cliffs. In fact, you would need to be a fairly skilled rock climber just to reach many of the cliff dwellings in this place. http://cactuseaters.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default