: views from the Hill

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bits and bytes

It seems to have been all Twitter and no Blogger for far too long. (For the Twitter bits, look over to the right sidebar ...) A brief wrapup of my long weekend.

Saturday morning I walked down to John's Grill on Ellis for a lunch meeting of Mystery Writers of America/Northern California chapter. Along the way I came upon a crowd of "anonymous" with face masks and disguises, gathering near the Transamerica Pyramid for their May 10th swipe at the Scientology headquarters nearby. "Ask me why I'm wearing a mask." read one sign. Jason Beghe showed up on Saturday and mingled with the anonymous undisguised. What more harm could he fear? Search for /anonymous scientology/ for the scoop and the YouTube videos.

Guest for the MWA-NorCal lunch was agent Elise Proulx (Frederick Hill Bonnie Nadell Associates on Union Street in our fair and bucolic ville), who has just become a member of board of Litquake. She talked of this and that, but my notes are elsewhere. Most of what I remember was nothing ragingly new to anyone who read Miss Snark back in the day, or who has read her archives since, but a fair number of the unpublished in the audience obviously hadn't had that experience.

Proulx did say that she hates synopses as a matter of course. She'd rather get a three-para query letter with a overview para, a short synopsis para and a who-are-you-the-author para. If she likes that, she'll ask for a partial. If she likes the partial, she'll ask for a full. She'd rather be reading a partial or a full than a synopsis. Her percentages of how-many-queries become how-many-partials become how-many-fulls become clients weren't terribly encouraging.

Proulx also said that there's a site out there (you may know which one I mean -- she didn't remember the name of it) which sends out queries for writers. She says she gets these e-queries with her name there next to a cc: for a LARGE bunch of other agents in the A-F category. She deletes those queries; she considers them spam. Be forewarned.

Funny stories about queries? Proulx had them in spades. Gaffes? Those too. Note: Do not send a query to her headed Dear Ms Hillnadel. Yes, her e-addr is elise_hillnadell-at-sbcglobal.net, but that doesn't mean she's changed her last name.

A good time was had by all. My chicken caesar salad was excellent. My $3 worth of raffle tickets won me a book of my choice from those donated at the table on the east side of the room. I picked Louise Ure's latest, The Fault Tree. Had her sign it. Started it over the weekend. Intriguing sleuth. Interesting setup.

After the MWA-NorCal lunch, I walked down to the Embarcadero and met up with his nibs and moseyed over to the long line of people waiting to get into KFOG Kaboom! at Piers 30-32. Cost this year: $15 each plus service charges. The sound system was better than years past when things were free. There were more porta-potties. I assume that's what all the money goes for. Wish it were still free. Howsomever. ...

The gates opened early and we found a great spot right at the edge of Pier 30. Mellow people abounded. We ate roasted corn and Philly cheesesteak and crabcake and all sorts of the equivalent of stuff on a stick while listening to Matt Nathanson, Collective Soul and Los Lobos through the afternoon. As dusk drifted in, so did the fog. Trails and trickles, ohpleasedon'tgetanythicker fog. We watched the tugs pull FIVE BARGES FULL OF FIREWORKS into place. If you click on the Kaboom! link above, you'll see video of the fireworks. Unfortunately, a bit diluted by a bit of fog. Next year!

Sunday, we drove over to Aptos and had lunch with the older younger guy and his partner. After lunch we all piled into the Honda with 105K miles on it and drove to Santa Cruz with gifties for the matriarch in honor of Mother's Day. We drove the guys back to Aptos where I got my MD's present (a box of delish chocolates from Richard Donnelly Chocolates in Santa Cruz. Sweet!)

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From there we drove south to see what wildflowers were still left to see, to Carmel and east over the hills to King City where we checked into the Motel 6 (they'll keep the light on for you.) Big spenders: $46.03 including taxes and all =and= a senior discount.

We had dinner at Alexander's, which was suffering pains with new management. Staff all seemed new. No liquor license yet. Uproar. Not staffed up for all the folks showing up for Mother's Day dinner. Loads of patrons. Few staff. (We'd forgotten it was Mother's Day dinner time when we decided to head over there for dinner. ...) Was this the =first= day under new management? Might've been. It was =that= discombobulated. I won't list the woes, but that meal was in the Top Five Woeful Dinners we've had in the past thirty years. Here's hoping things shake out as they get settled in.

Next morning we had breakfast at V's Diner, the little diner next to the Motel 6, where you couldn't just ask for corned beef hash, you had to order breakfast, which meant two eggs anywayyouwantem, corned beef hash, hash browns or fruit, toast or muffin or pancakes. ... well, you get the idea. The corned beef hash was excellent. There was too much food to finish.

We checked out and headed off, first to Mission San Antonio de Padua, the very cool mission in the middle of Fort Hunter Liggett, on the old Hearst Ranch property that the Hearsts sold to the military in 1940. Mission San Antonio is the best mission I've ever visited. We first visited back in 1990 when the older younger guy was in fourth grade and studying California missions. The mission is still stuck out in the middle of nowhere because it's surrounded by Hunter Liggett, and so seems to be closest to what it might've been when his nibs' great-great-great whatever came up with the DeAnza expedition in 1776, tugging on his mom's skirt hem, asking, "Are we there yet?" Lovely spot.

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From the mission, we headed back to King City and then east to Bitterwater where we caught Airline Highway and wandered through places and off to the end of Willow Creek Road


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and back onto the highway and on to Paicines, up Panoche Road toward New Idria. We turned around before we reached the mines but gosh, it's lovely country out there.

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The last time we were here, we came a different route and earlier in the year.

This year we had to cut out earlier than we would've liked because we had to get to the outlet shops in Gilroy before they closed because I needed some new walking shoes. (My current pair are worn to the nub and the outlet shops are too far from home to justify a special trip, but if we happen to swing by on the way home from the far southlands ...)

Home again, home again and a lovely time we had. Next time we will head out earlier in the spring for our wildflower trek. Although there were still some blooming, the spectacular shows that look like someone spilt watercolor paints over the hillsides were weeks gone past. We hadn't had a spare duo of days to make the trip earlier this year, but what we found was beautiful too.

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