How to write a great novel

I found this thoroughly enjoyable WSJ article on the Koreanish blog. I got a big kick out of this, considering that a small portion of the first draft of my first book consisted of emails that I sent to myself over and over again while writing at a workstation that forced me to stand up. For some reason, there were no chairs in the workstation; I think someone stole them.

Fighting back against vandals who can’t spell

Some dummy put an ugly tag on one of my favorite local murals last night. Under cloak of darkness, the person wrote “Kil All Human” on the corner of the mural. This surprised me. Since our local murals are beautiful examples of ‘street art,’ why would anyone want to wreck that? Anyhow, when I saw this, I borrowed a cloth from a passerby and removed the ugly tag, which (thank goodness) was written in chalk, not paint. Gotcha!

Free pile of junky, waterlogged books

My free book luck has run out. Near my apartment, someone left a disgusting pile of waterlogged books with suspicious stains all over them. I was afraid to throw them in the trash (that’s bad karma) so I put them in front of someone else’s apartment instead. I think one of the books was Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

Thanks for the free books!

Someone left a free stash of really good, mint-condition books right outside my apartment, and the strange thing is, they were books I was planning to read anyhow: Haruki Murakami, After The Quake, James Baldwin, Another Country, Brett Easton Ellis, American Psycho. Aside from this, they left me a really nice journal and a couple of promising DVD’s. I guess they fled town in a hurry.

Staunchly refusing to sell dumb products on my blog

The following people or companies have approached me, asking me to advertise their silly and/or reprehensible products on my blog: 1. A company that sells smelly foot ointment (a lotion for people with very smelly feet)2. A company that sells inserts for footwear3. A major car company4. Someone claiming to represent tobacco interests 5. A company that sells lotions for people with cracking and smelly feet. 6. A company that wants to pay me an honorarium to give positive reviews for their silly, disreputable-sounding products. My answer to all of these companies is a loud and resounding “NO!” And please, no more queries from people selling foot-related products of any kind.

Photo of Bigfoot art project

Thank you, J., for sending me this photo of this very crudely constructed Bigfoot sculpture, featured close to the end of The Cactus Eaters. (This is an alternative version of the sculpture.) I know that this sculpture doesn’t look very much like Bigfoot. It’s hard to go for realism when you’re making a sculpture out of binder clips, fake fur, metal wire, Sharpie markings, Scotch Tape, Post-It reminder stickers, cotton swabs and pieces from an electrical circuit board.

How to tip your waiter in Haight-Ashbury

Gratuitous information: The following is an actual (handwritten) sign that hangs on the wall of All You Knead, a Haight-Ashbury restaurant. “Attention, Foreign Travelers:A quick guide to the wacky American custom of TIPPING.20 percent — great tip, great service17 percent, good tip, good service15 percent, fair tip, fair service10 percent: another way of saying to your server, ‘you suck and I hate you.”