Feeling Bookish

Never let it be said I’m quick on the draw. As if any further proof is needed for how glacially I can move around the internest, 30 days ago — as in One Score & Ten More; as in a full lunar cycle; as in a month! — my favorite Pittsburgh-based grad student Carolyn Kellogg who L.A. and I miss very much tag-your-it’d me over at her blog Pinky’s Paperhaus on a literary-type meme and because I’m lame I only found out about it this morning.

Am I too late? Nevah!

1. One book that changed your life?

One? One’s tough. But had I but one single solitary story to pick I’d have to go with Allan Eckert’s The Silent Sky: The Incredible Extinction of the Passenger Pigeon. It widened my very narrow highschool-aged worldview to unblinkingly understand how careless and destructive man is as a species. It made me ashamed to be human. It made me the animal champion I am today.

But I can’t leave this question without mentioning the effects John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath and Richard Adams’ Watership Down had on me as a writer. The third chapter of the former was pivotal in my education as a reader and writer. The latter was the assigned book for my seventh grade English class at Le Conte Junior High and I had no idea what it was about nor had I ever attempted so big a book. I remember looking at the cover after buying my copy at the much-missed Pickwick Books on Hollywood Boulevard and I was puzzled by the illustration of the rabbit on the cover. From the title I’d thought it was about the sinking of a boat. But I was hooked at Page One of the expansive and epic allegory. Not only did I become a life-long lover of books from that, but it totally made me want to write.

2. One book that you have read more than once?

Agh, all this “one” stuff: Stephen King’s The Shining (and Pat Conroy’s Lords of Discipline and Stuart Woods’ Chiefs).

3. One book you would want on a desert island?

One’s enough in this case. I’d go with the Bible. I’ve never read all of it and to be in a predicament such as that seems a prime opportunity to immerse myself, so to speak.

4. One book that made you cry?

Ring of Bright Water by Gavin Maxwell (but that’s more of a long short story, really). It goes without saying that the above-mentioned The Silent Sky, and anyone who reads Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood and A.M. Rosenthal’s Thirty-Eight Witnesses and doesn’t physically mourn the respective murders of Nancy Clutter and Kitty Genovese is way too hard-hearted.

5. One book that made you laugh?

John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces — and I cried at the end of it too because when I finished it I knew I’d read all there is from him.

6. One book you wish had been written?

Howsabout two: The Impeachment of George W. Bush and Bloodless Coup: Darrell Issa, Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Theft of California

7. One book you wish had never been written?

Pretty much any celebrity “memoir” from an entertainer or sports figure under 30 years of age.

8. One book you are reading currently?

I’m not very successful in the present endeavor but I’m attempting to read Rosamunde Pilcher’s Winter Solstice in large part because my wife read it and looooooooved it.

9. One book you have been meaning to read?

Cervantes’ Don Quixote. In the past 10 years I can’t say how many times I’ve picked it up, read the first couple pages of the prologue and put it back down. One of these years.

10. Pass it on.

I’m gonna ping my wife Susan and her mom Jeannie and then leave it up to anyone else reading this who wants to add their perspective either in the comments or on their own blog.

Covet Rhymes With Shove It Or Love It

Mi hermano de los diarios electronicos, Rodger Jacobs, not content to just take the question “What do you covet?” posed by blogging birthday gal Adrienne Crew and run with it solo has instead seen fit to turn it into a meme and tag me with it. Helpless to resist, I can do nothing but answer his call to come clean about five things I blatantly and unashamedly materialistically wantwantwantwantwant (in no real order):

1. A cherry 1972 Chevy Impala convertible or a 1972 Pontiac Catalina both convertibles, both with the 400-cubie engine. Either preferably in black with white interior. Why? When my relatives visited from Tennessee back in the summer of that year my mother rented one for us to all go to Disneyland in. That’s three adults and four kids. And we sailed down to the Happiest Place on Earth with the top down in this dreamboat. It was my first automotive love and I’ve wanted one ever since.

2. A free-standing hammock, like this one.

3. A Segway. Top of the line and decked out with all the bells and whistles.
4. A Canon EOS 20Da Digital Camera — and every available lens for it.
5. A summer in Italy. No, a year.

To Live & Meme In L.A.

I confess I’m a sucker for Q&A memes that waft around out there in the ether. Most of the time I find them on someone else’s blog and just join in. Rare is it that I’m actually and personally tapped to participate — until just now when I found an email from Rodger Jacobs of 8763 Wonderland who wrote: “Tag! You’re It!” and provided a link back to his blog where I find he’d been tagged to answer the “Four L.A. Things Meme” by Kim Cooper of the awesome 1947Project and editor of Scram magazine.

OK, enough with who zoomed who, here are the questions and my answers:

Four Jobs I’ve Had In My Life in LA:

Paper Boy, Herald Examiner
Stockroom worker, Hunters Books, Rodeo Drive branch
Sparkletts Man, Sparkletts Drinking Water
Managing Editor, Pasadena Weekly

Four Movies About LA I Could Watch Over And Over:

Blade Runner
Double Indemnity
Sunset Boulevard

Can’t resist a few mentions, perhaps some more honorable than others: LA Confidential, Darkman, LA Stories, Miracle Mile

Four Places I’ve Lived All Over L.A. (With Food Memories From Each):

Beverly Hills; Dolores Drive-In (long gone)
Los Angeles; El Coyote
Hollywood; The Tick Tock Restaurant (long gone)
Burbank; Chili Johns

Four LA-Themed Shows I Love(d) To Watch:

L.A. Law

Four Places I Would Vacation At In LA:

Palos Verdes

Four LA-Based Websites I Visit Daily:

LA Observed
LA Voice

Four Of My Favorite Foods Found In LA:

Double cheeseburger extra pickles, Tommy’s
Tom Kah Gai soup, Sompun in Silver Lake
Double-dipped lamb sandwich with bleu cheese, Philippe’s
Long Island Dog, Pink’s

Four Places In LA I Would Rather Be Right Now:

Griffith Park
UCLA Mildred Mathias Botanical Gardens
Mugu Peak, Pt. Mugu State Park
Lunada Bay (just to hike and hang… not to surf — even if I knew how)


Susan Campbell
Sean Bonner
Mack Reed
Cybele May