Saturday, January 24, 2009

Thanks, And Have Fun Running The Country, Part 2

McSweeney's has posted a short video of some of the kids from 826 National reading a few of their letters to President Obama.

If only we could listen to these kids, the world would be a much better place.

All proceeds from the purchase of this book benefit 826 National. So buy the book. It's for the kids.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Thanks, and Have Fun Running The Country

One of my favorite extracurricular activities is being a writing tutor at an amazing place called 826 Valencia. 826 Valencia is one of 7 826 tutoring centers around the country, all dedicated to supporting children ages 6 -18 with their writing skills. Students, mostly from low income areas, come in after school for help on their homework and personal writing projects.

Recently, the students at all 826 locations were given the task of writing a letter to our newly elected President Barak Obama. These letters, together with drawings of our new Pres have been compiled by the tireless Jory John, Program Director for 826, into "Thanks, and Have Fun Running The Country: Kids Letters To President Obama".

I've said it before, and I will say it again: It will never cease to amaze me just how brilliant these kids are. I don't get to hang out with the younger students, my time is spent working with the high school kids. Nevertheless, it is an amazing opportunity to work with these students and see the world through their eyes.

The collection of letters is humorous, charming, and even a little heartbreaking. For a glimps at what is truly important as our country begins this new chapter, look to the children.

"Thanks, and Have Fun Running The Country: Kids Letters To President Obama" is available online through the McSweeney's Store.

An Excerpt: "To President Obama, If I were president, I would help the people. If we don't throw the trash away, we are going to get sick. I could walk around and check where there is trash. From, Kenia Zelaya, Age 6, Los Angeles."

Monday, January 19, 2009

Happy 200th Birthday, Edgar Allan Poe

Master of the Gothic story and the inventor of the mystery-suspense genre Edgar Allan Poe celebrates his 200th Birthday today. While his life was short and tragic, the contributions Poe made to American literature are immeasurable. So take a moment this evening, in the still quite dark to read a page or two of your favorite Poe story or poem. Allow yourself to be frightened, even for just a few moments. Consider what an amazing talent Poe was. My favorite? The Tell Tale Heart.

For more info on the celebrations of Poe's bicentennial, visit these links:
The Baltimore Sun
Eerie After All These Years
Poe Bicentennial Project

Quoth the raven, Nevermore!

Monday, June 2, 2008

King of Smut

No, your eyes do not deceive you. You are looking at a life sized, anatomically incorrect inflatable man. And yes, his crotch is autographed.

Recently, cult-favorite author of "Fight Club" and "Choke", Chuck Palahniuk visited The City on a book tour for his newest page-turner, "Snuff". The new novel is the story of aging porn star Cassie Wright, trying to break a world record by having sex with 600 men on film in one day. The story is told by various participants up and down the long line, starting with would-be record breaker Mr. 600. The story shifts to Mr. 72, a young man who may or may not be Cassie's son. But there is a twist: Cassie is planning a much darker ending to her record breaking day.

The evening with Mr. Palahniuk started with a quick contest: The person who can blow up an inflatable sex doll the fastest wins a book. We got the doll, not the book. He continued with a conversation with an NPR talk show host whos name at this moment completely escapes me. The questions posed to Mr. Palahniuk seemed a bit rehearsed, but Chuck seemed genuine in his answers and was very funny and frank in telling tales about his life and growth as a writer.

A highlight of the event was Chuck reading a story he had written just for this tour, something that has yet to be published. It was a short story titled "Loser" about a fraternity pledge who finds himself on stage for an episode of "The Price Is Right".

This man must spend days on end signing things. For instance: Each person in attendance received a signed copy of "Snuff". Then came the autographed blow up dolls, maybe several dozen of those. Then, he threw out personalized "autograph hounds", a stuffed dog signed and raising his hind leg. Then at the end of all of this, he took the time to personalize the books of 150 attendees.

As a personal touch, the books personalized for the women in the audience got a few spritzes of Stetson cologne. The personalized message scribbled inside my copy of "Snuff"? Let's just say that while very appropriate for the tone of the book, it is probably not appropriate for a family blog. It was, however, very complimentary.

Thanks Chuck.

Check out "Snuff" in bookstores now.
A couple of videos from the event can be found on YOUTUBE. The first is the conversation with Chuck, and the second is a short interview with a few audience members. FYI: I'm in there somewhere, but I'm not saying where. Here are the links:

Audience Interview


Friday, May 23, 2008


Yes. That title was me squealing like a giddy schoolgirl. A giddy schoolgirl who is giddy about the return of Indiana Jones. INDIANA FRICKIN JONES is back, people!

Unless you have been living under a rock in the Sonora Desert you probably know that the new Indiana Jones movie was released last night, and I can barely contain myself. The trailers for the movie just keep getting cooler and cooler. Despite the fact that Shia Le Bouef is co-starring, just the fact that Harrison Ford is stepping back into his second greatest role of all time (1st? Han Solo. No Question.) is enough to make me twitch with giddy excitement. Giddy schoolgirl excitement, no less.

So just because I can't get enough of watching these trailers, I am going to place the newest one here for all of you to watch. That is if you haven't watched it already. And, really, even if you have, why not watch it again? Enjoy.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Things To Do, Books To Read...

San Francisco is a truly cultured city; a city of music, film, art and of course, literature. There are so many events celebrating literature around San Francisco each week that it would be impossible to describe them all here. But I want to give you a few of the events I found around town coming up in the next few weeks and months. There is plenty more where these came from, so take a look yourself and see when your favorite author is coming to town. See you at the show.

Augusten Burroughs
Monday, May 12th, 7:30 pm
BOOKS, INC., 2275 Market St., San Francisco

On his second stop through the bay area on his book tour, Augusten Burroughs will be at the Books, Inc. location in San Francisco's Castro district on Market Street to sign and talk about his newest memoir, "A Wolf At The Table". The book focuses on a topic not touched upon since "Running With Scissors", his abusive, alcoholic father. Be prepared for Burroughs' witty, dark humor, and a story that will keep you laughing.

Michael Chabon
Tuesday, May 20th, 7:00 pm
BOOKSHOP WEST PORTAL, 80 West Portal Ave, San Francisco

Michael Chabon, author of The "Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay" and "Wonderboys" is coming across the bay to visit the lovely West Portal neighborhood to talk about and sign his most recent novel, "The Yiddish Policeman's Union". The novel, one reviewed on this very blog, is a noir-ish mystery set in a world where the Jewish Diaspora settled in Alaska, not Israel, after World War II. Chabon is a great story teller and a fun author to hear read. The shop is small, so get there early.


This one here is the big one. This is the one that doesn't come around but every once in a long while. This is like The Rolling Stones coming to town. This is Chuck Palahniuk. Chuck Palahniuk is a genius. Chuck Palahniuk is twisted. Chuck Palahniuk is a rock star. And he is going to be in town promoting his new book, "Snuff". The author of "Fight Club", "Choke", "Invisible Monsters" and "Survivor" is back to share more of his brilliant yet deeply disturbed imagination. I won't go into any details, but since it's Chuck, it's gonna be a wild ride.

*Tickets for the event are $35. Ticket price includes admission to the show, along with a pre-signed copy of the new book, "Snuff". For more info, please visit the Booksmith website.

These are just a few of the many, many upcoming events here in The City. Keep watching for more events on books, film, etc. I'll scan the calendars out there and keep you updated on what's coming up. Enjoy the show.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Seeing Double?

It is not very often that someone from my generation gets to see a film of my parent's generation on the big screen. Thankfully, there are some people out there in this great big world who see fit to restore and archive some of these movie masterpieces for the enjoyment of future generations. And then there are the beautiful old movie theatres that have it in their hearts to show them.

Such is the case with San Francisco's Castro Theatre, a magnificent old movie house from the 1920's, where the missus and I had the rare opportunity to see Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 classic, "Vertigo". The film, probably my favorite of Hitchcock's, stars Jimmy Stewart and the beautiful Kim Novak in a tale of deceit, fear, treachery, murder, and of course, love. Sort of. I won't ruin any of the surprises Hitchcock is famous for, but it is easy to say that all is not as it seems, and Hitchcock leaves you biting your nails until the very last seconds of the film.

The Castro Theatre has developed a reputation for showing a great many restored classic films, and is the home of the annual Noir City Film Festival, a week showcasing some of the best old noir films, many of which have never been seen anywhere since their original theatrical release. The theatre keeps a steady schedule of programs, mostly single day releases, ranging from Opera to silent films, dramas from years past, and totally geeked out sci-fi double and triple features.

Highlights of the upcoming programs include: A "Blue Velvet" and "Something Wild" double feature, an "Explorers", "Aliens" and "Dark Star" sci-fi triple feature, a silent film triple feature of "Sherlock Jr.", "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari", and "Nosferatu" accompanied by the Club Foot Orchestra, and my personal Can't Miss, the double feature of "The Great Escape" and "The Magnificent Seven".

For all upcoming shows, show times, ticket information, and history of the grand Castro Theatre, visit The Castro Theatre Website.