: views from the Hill

Friday, October 27, 2006

[WR] New kid on the block: International Independent Literary Agents Association

Victoria Strauss snoops around and discovers -- Qu'est-ce que c'est? Quelle horreur!!! Quelle surprise! Really! Yikes! -- IILAA isn't quite all it claims to be.

Adding on pounds? A Made In America solution!

Been eating too much deep-fried Coke and not enough fruits and vegetables?

Not getting enough exercise?

Put the GJ toilet seat on your wish list.

The Great John Toilet from the Great John Toilet Company of Laredo, TX, has a seat with >150% more sitting area than the standard toilet seat. The toilet has tested as carrying at least 2000 pounds and comes with extra anchors and a super wide base.

Robust. Stable. Sturdy. Comfortable.

Ain't America a special place?

Abel Gonzales Jr. -- genius or menace?

Just when you thought the world had its ultimate deep-fried treat (deep-fried candy bars, deep-fried Peanut Butter, Jelly and Banana Sandwiches, deep-fried Twinkies), Abel Gonazles, Jr. comes up with his latest hit:

Deep-Fried Coke.

A fat laden, high calorie snack that hasn't taken off in the States (yet!) is the artery-clogging Ukranian chocolate salo.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Avoid the mud slinging. Vote early.

I've voted -- absentee.

Have you?

No October/November surprises for me.

If you call to tell me whom or what I ought to vote for, I'll tell you it's too late. ...

If you can't tell me a month ahead of time that my girl's been tainted by seven years of late nights at a "questionable" bar down near Castro Street, well, you don't deserve my attention.

Rove's October surprise?

Rove's November suprise?

Go for it, Mr. Rove.

Folks, you are too late to influence the likes of me. I done already voted.

And I'm not the only one ...

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Happy Diwali

May Good triumph over Evil.

May each and everyone of you have a happy, healthy, prosperous new year.

photo © Manan Tuli
for openphoto.net CC:Attribution-ShareAlike

Diwali sweets and more...

Holidays are coming or maybe someone special's bday is just around the corner...


PJ Parks would like everyone to know that she has the perfect gift for someone who has impossibly high standards or who is difficult to buy for or who is just a giant softy or who could buy anything they wanted if they only knew what it was or who is in need of some home cooking or who is need of some warm fuzzies or who needs some downhome talking to about relaxing for a bit and making some memories and enjoying family.

That's right. Buy that special someone a copy of Welcome Home: Recipes, Memories, and Traditions from the Heart a memoir/cookbook/survival manual written by our PJ.

Sound like you might know someone Welcome Home would be perfect for? Buy one! Buy two and give one to Grandma. Get a third and give it to your new college graduate who is allzasudden out on her own and calling home at inopportune times, asking how to make oven pancakes.

Click on that photo -- right now -- and order a copy or two or three ...

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Private World of Truman Capote. A fascinating collection of stuff up for auction.

Sale 14244 - The Private World of Truman Capote. New York, 9 Nov 2006.

Three hundred-plus piece collection belonging to Joanne Carson to be offered at auction by Bonhams New York

Twenty-two years after his untimely passing in 1984, his name still commands attention, interest and excitement, inspiring the recent 2005 film Capote, featuring an Academy Award®-winning performance, and the upcoming feature film Infamous due out in October.

The Truman Capote collection consists of hundreds of items providing a unique and fascinating insight into the life and character of the man. Highlights include the tuxedo worn in 1966 to his famous Black and White Ball at The Plaza Hotel; his personal pair of ice skates; the intriguing collage boxes he created in the early 1980s; needlepoint pillows; Baccarat glass; as well as books, prints, photographs, manuscripts, jewelry and furniture.

The catalog describes a varied collection of stuff including scraps of paper with notes, postcards addressed (mainly) to Joanne Carson, ex-wife of Johnny Carson and longtime friend of TC's, his passport, his MasterCard, clothes, ephemera, memorabilia, sketches, paintings, silver, pillows, cigars and suitcases.

Lot No: 1104. Ed Ruscha. Dish, (E. 67), 1973
Lithograph printed on Rives paper, signed in pencil, dated and numbered 32/250, with the blindstamp of the publisher, Cirrus Editions, Los Angeles, printed by Ed Hamilton, with full margins, in apparently excellent condition, framed (not examined out of the frame). 10 x 13 1/2in sheet

I'd love it, but Estimate: $1,000 - 1,500.

I'd also love the copy of A signed Esquire magazine featuring "La Côte Basque 1965".

"La Côte Basque 1965" was the short story that promised a peek at what Capote intended to do with ANSWERED PRAYERS. That peek caused his high society friends to break off long-lived friendships and snub him for the rest of his life for being a gossip and a tale monger.

The catalog itself has bits of quotes from Capote and from people who knew Capote that don't show up on the Web site.

An interesting quote from Aileen Mehle reads,

When I went to stay with him in Palm Springs, he was writing ANSWERED PRAYERS, the shocking book I thought ruined his life. "Want a peek?" he asked me one night after a few margaritas, showing me what he had written in his crabbed little hand on a yellow legal pad. Describing Henri Soule, the famous New York restauranteur whose chic establishment La Côte Basque (which figured in ANSWERED PRAYERS) drew the tippy-top elite of the city, he had called him "a fat pink marzipan pig". "My God, Truman," I said, "You can't do that. Soule is still alive. You go to his restaurant all the time." "Never mind," said Truman, "a writer writes what he thinks, knows and feels. He's given a special license." And that, as we all know was that.


If you're planning to bid on any of the lots, be sure to take the added Important Notice under advisement.

Buyers of property lots offered in this catalog will not acquire any copyright, intellectual property, publicity or similar rights in the property (including without limitation the artwork, photographs, books and manuscripts being offered) or in the images or likenesses that may be contained therein. Accordingly, buyers of lots may not publish, reproduce, distribute or create derivative works of any such property without the prior consent of the holders of such rights.

Please note that Truman Capote's personal wardrobe lots are in various states of condition. As with all lots offered at auction, we recommend that potential auction participants request detailed condition reports before bidding.

The Truman Capote Literary Trust is neither a participant nor sponsor of this sale.

Serendipity-doo-dah or a walk in the park

Last Thursday afternoon we were due at a SF Botanical Society reception at the Strybing Arboretum, so we decided to head over after noon to the park and take a look at what was happening at the de Young, sip some tea at the Japanese tea garden and just sort of wander until we were due at the Strybing.

We walked down to Washington Square and caught the 30 to Stockton and Market Streets, where we got off and ducked into the Powell Street Muni Metro station. Multiple Js, Ks, Ls and Ms came and went while we waited for what seemed far longer than we should've for the N-Judah.

Hopped off at 8th and Irving and walked over to the de Young.

Snapped a couple pictures of the in-progress new California Academy of Sciences complex, scheduled to open in late 2008.

The Quilts of Gee's Bend show lived up to its buzz. We roamed around checking out other work in the de Young before heading up to the top of the tower to see the amazing view on such a clear and sunny day.

After we checked out the goods in the museum shop, we headed out to the public art in the garden where we (Serendipity-doo-dah #1) bumped into Steve Berger and Paula Hughmanick, long-time East Bay-based friends whom we know from years and years (and years) of SSC-Fallenleaf Lake Week 11s. If we'd been a few minutes earlier or later or taken a different path, we would've missed them. Always nice to see them. Sitting on a wall in the sunshine, we caught up on each other's news.

The day was too nice for them not to go up in the tower to check out the view, we told them. Paula admitted that they'd seen the view in the fog and seen the view at night, but never on a glorious day like Thursday was. Off they went.

And off we went too. We moseyed over to the Japanese Tea Garden to mellow out, sipping oolong tea and munching cookies at the pavilion. His nibs reminisced about sipping tea and munching cookies over sixty years ago when he was a young child and would visit the garden with his mother and grandmother.

We decided to wander around the garden for a while before heading over to the Strybing reception. The garden had been expanded and given a facelift since the early days his nibs remembered.

Halfway through our walkaround, we heard a familiar voice call out to his nibs. Turns out his cousin Meredith and her friend Suzanne had picked this day to come up from Santa Cruz and visit the Quilts of Gee's Bend exhibit.

(Serendipity-doo-dah #2) If we'd been a few minutes earlier or later or taken a different path, we would've missed them. If they hadn't decided to visit the tea garden -- Meredith, having grown up in San Francisco had fond memories of the garden herself -- or if we hadn't, if we'd lingered longer over the tea or swilled it down, our paths would've never crossed.

After catching up on the years that had passed since we'd seen Meredith and exchanging childhood memories of the park, we parted ways. Meredith and his nibs swapped contact information and promised to meetup for lunch one of the two days a week he's working down in Campbell, near where she works in Los Gatos.

We walked over to the Strybing and wandered in the gardens until it was time for the reception.

I checked out possible victims for our deep shade garden and took pics of Mahonia blooming. Mahonia is one of the best "good neighbor" hedge bushes of all time ... no bratty kids will plow their way through those spiky leaves. ...

After the Botanical Society reception wound down and before we ruined our appetite too much with tasty wine and yummy food from Angelina's Catering, we grabbed a return N-Judah downtown and stopped off for dinner (sweetbreads in lemon and capers for me, sweetbreads with mushrooms for his nibs) at Sam's.

A walk in the park: photos

Larry's in town

Wandered down to the convention center area on Saturday to watch the roadies set up tents on Howard Street, which has been closed off between 3rd and 4th to give Oracle some extra space for Oracle Open World, which opened yesterday and runs through Thursday.

Oracle-ites have already reserved virtually every hotel room in San Francisco during the week - 65,000 hotel stays -- said Jennifer Petrucione, Mayor Gavin Newsom's spokeswoman.

Virtually? Really? No one else in town except Oracle-ites?

500 local temp jobs. $50 million cash tossed into the city economy. There's a reason the City decided they'd give Larry the extra room he was asking for despite the grumblings.

The weather's been beautiful. The sun is shining, after the fog burns off.

Chartered buses plastered with Oracle signage are cruising down to Fisherman's Wharf and over to the ferry building.

We had Sunday brunch at butterfly at Pier 33 on the Embarcadero and had to walk through the shouting, raucous mill of pickets outside Pier 31 1/2.

Hornblower's ferries to Alcatraz are packed despite the milling, sign-carrying pickets from the union. If you come to San Francisco but once in your lifetime, you have to be pretty sympathetic to the cause to "do the right thing" and give up your trip to Alcatraz as the pickets are demanding. Shouting at people and waving placards in people's faces probably doesn't change many people's minds one way or another.

When we came out of the restaurant, after brunch, the pickets were gone.

Between the 42K people that Larry Ellison's brought to town and the 15K+/- runners who raised $16 million for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society with a marathon and half-marathon yesterday and whoever else is in town, the F-line's packed, the Embarcadero's packed, the new Westfield Shopping Mall on Market's packed, and we're on the lie low until the weekend.

Friday, October 20, 2006

A note from Kevin Tillman re Pat Tillman, our current war and Pat's upcoming bday

A note came to me in e-mail today from a long-time friend.

I'd been reading the papers. I'm aware that there's a buildup of ugliness in Iraq and elsewhere right before our elections.

I'm aware that people are asking why. I'm aware that in this runup to the election there's been a political spin to the questions.

Is the ugliness an attempt to influence the elections? If so, who would "they" want to win? Are "they" wanting the Democrats to win because the Democrats are soft on defense and ready to cut and run? (Well, so say Rush Limbaugh, Fox News and others of the Benevolent & Protective Order of Ilks of the USA as they warn us to stay the course and vote Republican because "they" would like us to do elsewise.)

My guess is that "they" would want the status quo to win because the status quo is, afterall, the best recruiting mechanism they have ... but then I've been a chess player since pre-school.

After Pat's Birthday
By Kevin Tillman

Editor's note: Kevin Tillman joined the Army with his brother
Pat in 2002, and they served together in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Pat was killed in Afghanistan [ST: belatedly acknowledged after
the memorial services and sermons and op-eds to be friendly fire
and that that information was kept from his family and from
his brother who was serving with him] on April 22, 2004. Kevin,
who was discharged in 2005, has written a powerful, must-read

It is Pat's birthday on November 6, and elections are the day
after. It gets me thinking about a conversation I had with
Pat before we joined the military. He spoke about the risks
with signing the papers. How once we committed, we were at
the mercy of the American leadership and the American people.
How we could be thrown in a direction not of our volition.
How fighting as a soldier would leave us without a voice…
until we get out.

Much has happened since we handed over our voice:
Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct
threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored
terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or
received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile
weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we
needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or
stop a civil war we created that can't be called a civil
war even though it is. Something like that.

Somehow America has become a country that projects
everything that it is not and condemns everything
that it is.

Continued in After Pat's Birthday, by Kevin Tillman

OpenSecrets.org and the California District 11: 2006 Race

California District 11: 2006 Race .

OpenSecrets.org is an interesting Web site. By serendipiticity, I found that the Mashpee (MA) Wampanoag Tribal Council donated $12K to Richard Pombo's re-election campaign.

Swell of them.

(A cousin once told me that a Wampanoag ancestor stood on the Massachusetts shoreline to welcome the Mayflower ancestor back when. The Mayflower ancestor I'm pretty sure of. The Wampanoag? Not so sure. ...)

If you're curious what highest Pombo donor (checking in at $24,300) AG Spanos Companies is when they have their working clothes on, I looked it up for you.

This morning's prowl through donorland and election finance sites started because I was curious which of this season's campaigns and candidates my neighbors were supporting financially -- who? what? how much? Alas, fundrace.org, which proved so entertaining (and informative!) two years ago doesn't have any information re the 2006 elections.

If anyone knows of a site as cool as fundrace.org that gives donor information for the 2006 fall campaigns, shoot the URL my way. Thx.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

[WR] Search for the next great [USAn] crime writer -- a "no fee" contest

DEADLINE: November 27, 2006

Make a Killing

Do you have a killer book idea? Then this is your chance to make crime pay. Court TV is offering you a chance to win a book deal with Regan (an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)."

Official Rules

Over 18yo. Legal resident of the fifty states or DC. Not under exclusive book publishing contract. Not employee, immediate family, sharing household of employee of Courtroom Television Network LLC, Regan books, "their respective parents, subsidiaries, affiliates, divisions, trustees, franchisees, participating vendors, distributors, and advertising and promotion agencies (collectively, with the Sponsor, the "Contest Entities")" and yadda and so forth.

Submit between now and November 27, 2006 a 1500-3000 word synopsis and sample chapter(s) of 5K-10K wds.

First round judging will separate out ten semi-finalists. Second round judging (by crime writing panel) will select five finalists. Final round judging will be via votes for one of the five finalists placed by visitors to CourtTV Web site.

Winner gets $1000 and "and an opportunity to sign an exclusive book publishing deal ('Publishing Deal') with Regan Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers ('Regan Books'), at an approximate market value ('AMV') of One Thousand Dollars ($1,000)."

If you do win, your book is probably good enough to deserve a publishing contract with more than a $1000 advance.

[WR] For want of a nail, a shoe was lost. For want of a comma ...

A $2-million comma? Au contraire, Rogers tells Aliant

From Monday's Globe and Mail

A dispute over the proper use of punctuation in a multimillion-dollar contract for utility poles has turned into l'affaire comma for Rogers Communications Inc. and Aliant Inc.

Rogers, which lost a debate this summer over the placement of a comma in a contract to lease thousands of poles in New Brunswick, is now turning to the French language to make its case.

Federal regulators ruled in July that a single comma in a 14-page contract meant the deal could be scrapped by Aliant, potentially resulting in as much as $2.13-million in extra costs for Rogers.


Sunday, October 15, 2006

Kazakh gers

Here's a click of the inside of a Kazakh ger.

Kazakh ger... not a "yurt" we were told by our Kazakh informant ...

Note the supports holding up the roof and the cross hatching of woven work holding everything together. The Kazakh felt work on the walls and floor liven up the interior. Warm. Cozy. Clean. A place for everything and everything in its place.

The ger exterior is heavy duty felt sometimes covered by decorated/painted canvas for added protection from the elements.

We ran into this ger and several others on our way back to Altay/Aletai from Kanas Lake.

The upcoming week would be a combination of National Day holiday (Oct 1st) -- a week-long celebration of fifty-seven years of the PRC -- and Autumn Moon Festival, which fell on the Friday (Oct 6th).

Because of the double holiday, everyone, it seemed, would be heading home or going off somewhere on vacation. Every shop had moon cakes. The government was limiting entrance to popular tourist areas in anticipation of flocking holiday crowds and allowing charter flights to book trips to/fro Taiwan for the week so that families could reunite for the holidays.

Luckily we were heading off within the next day or so to Kashgar and then on to Tashkurgan and over the Khunjerab Pass via the Karakoram Highway into Hunza (Pakistan) for the bulk of the holiday period and would miss the holiday crowds.

The days and nights were getting colder up in the mountain pasturelands. Most of the Kazakh families had already folded up their temporary summer homes and headed back to their winter quarters with their flocks and herds. Some were still moseying home.

Our Kazakh entrepreneurs with the gers and their herds had decided to stay on until after the Autumn Moon soze to make a little cash by renting shelter for the holiday makers before heading back to winter quarters.

ger for rent

Gers for rent.

We didn't stay here, alas. There wasn't enough room for us, for one thing. Additionally, heck, there was enough hoohah within the band of travelers over less-than-clean public squat toilets and hotel digs without 24-hour hot running water to even consider spending a night somewhere where there was no running water at all and the toilets were not only not American-style but were rudimentary and requiring a trek out into the cold night and the wild outdoors.

These photos plus additional ...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

I'm drawn to that further shore

Don sez (in comments), I'm drawn to that further shore, and wish for a mule team, some guides and companions and about six months free time.

You would've loved his nibs' great great aunt Burta, who roamed the world until she was booked on the return (US->) of the Titanic and decided ghod was telling her not to wander again.

Burta roamed through Afghanistan with a bunch of guys packing along her long black dresses and a tea pot back in the late 1800s. She went to Greece, Italy, China, Japan, dug relics in Pompeii, and found herself a place wherever she roamed.

I wish I'd known her.

We have her photos and a few things she brought back. The pater familias' much younger second wife got the stuff -- including most of the stuff Aunt Burta had brought back with her -- and the bulk of the estate, so we must be content with what we have.

We have the pics and a role model.

Man, I wish I'd known her.

Peter Callesen

Peter Callesen and his art, including some amazing papercuts.

Back safely.

Back safely.

Heavenly Lake Posted by Picasa  Heaven Lake at 6000' in the Tian Shan (Celestial Mountains). Bogda Peak (17K'/5595 M) in the background; Xinjiang, Uyghur Autonomous Region, northwest China.

Picasa doesn't seem to want to make thumbnails for the blog since I updated to the lastest version of Picasa, so I'll need to setup a different routine. I'll post more photos when life is back on even keel.


John M. Ford (1957-2006)

I'm back and find that John M. (Mike) Ford died while we were away.

Read this post by his partner, Elise Matthesen, and this tribute at Making Light.

Google Reader

Playing with Google Reader -- better sliced bread than Bloglines?

Some say so.