Happy Memorial Day!

We’re off to find the sun.  Safe travels everyone and we’ll see you next week!

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The Kids Are (Phonies) Alright

Riding the 38 means that I spend at least 30 minutes of my commute surrounded by hormone-filled high school students. Most of these kids spend their morning commutes with iPods on, rapidly texting, and gossiping with friends, there are the rare few who actually spend their bus ride with a book in hand. Albeit, most of these books seem to be assigned reading, but at least they are reading, right?

The other morning I noticed two students sitting across from one another, both intently reading their books. One with Salinger’s, Catcher in the Rye and the other with Nicholas Sparks, The Last Song. Salinger v. Sparks…I can only imagine what the authors would duel about.

Felidae on the 39L

This young man is desperately seeking his older missed connection who was reading “The Leopard” on the 39L.

You’re probably a good 20 years older than me (and likely far too classy for the likes of a tattooed ne’er do well like myself), but every time I see you waiting at our bus stop, my heart starts racing…we almost always sit across from each other, if not very close, and every time I can’t keep my eyes off of you.

You’re elegant, sexy, and I imagine what it’s like to be with you every time I see you…

Thanks for making me feel alive!
(and if you’re ever feeling daring…well, you get the idea)

Exclusive BTL Reenactment

And thank you to Muni Diaries for finding this gem!

Of Zombies and Good Spankings

Beth, of previous BTL authorship, has decided once again to delight us with a harrowing tale involving a zombie apocalypse and parenting techniques of generations past (not sure which is worse).  My only question is, will they be slow zombies or fast zombies?  Thanks Beth!!

As I ride on Muni, stopping at every stop light, sometimes for two or three reds, I often ponder how I would escape the apocalypse if it happened while I was riding on public transit. In fact, I even have an app on my phone that helps me determine just how hard it would be to escape zombies if they chased a Muni bus. When I turn the app on, I appear on the touch screen as a tiny dot in a real-time Google map and the zombies travel at a set speed towards the little dot that holds my brains. Almost invariably they catch my bus and I am eaten when some panicky lady tries to flee through the rear exit as the unaware bus driver lets them open to the shrieks of “BACKDOOR!”

Muni has not been helpful to my survival scenarios until it allowed me the time for my latest bus read, “Little House in the Big Woods,” by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Sure, I read it as a kid and fell in love with a quaint life in the woods, but how much more valuable now that I know what an apocalypse is. Those Ingalls kids really knew how to survive!

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Self-Help on the 6

This morning a passenger on the six read, not one, but two self-help books and I was intrigued for multiple reasons. One being that I have always questioned just how helpful self-help books are. Another reason I was intrigued was that the book titles allowed me to easily begin to imagine a life story for this passenger and within a couple blocks I had imagined reasons why she needed advice, who was giving her trouble, and how she was going to turn her life around. Don’t worry I will divulge the names of these books.

Book number one was “How to be an Adult: A Handbook on Psychological and Spiritual Integration” by David Richo. Initially book number one caught my eye because of the phrase, “How to be an Adult,” to which immediately I mentally responded, “Does anyone really know how to be an adult?” Upon further review the book appears to be more about balancing your adult life psychologically and spiritually. Book number two was titled, “Buddhism without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening”  by Stephen Batchelor. I immediately diagnosed a crisis of religion and yet, I found it interesting that both books were geared more towards maturity and divurged from mainstream religion. Even though I am a little skeptical of self-help books I do hope that she finds what she is looking for!

Midnight’s Children at Around 7:30 p.m.

Though I was not prepared to do any formal literary interview on my way home after a 45 minute struggle on a treadmill, I was too intrigued to leave poor Namish alone when I saw him  reading Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children on the train. 

This was the first of Rushdie’s novels that I ever read, and to this day, I still remember what the eccentric lady at the now defunct Forever After Books told me when I bought it years ago.

He’s a great writer.  But not as great as he thinks he is.

I remember enjoying the book: especially how Rushdie weaves in the Partition of India with the needle of a magical realist.  Namish said that he liked the book thus far, but was a bit flabbergasted that the protagonist wasn’t even born in the first 200 pages of the book.  To skirt the edge of needing a spoiler alert, he also seemed to like the angle and tone Rushdie used to recount the events leading up to and after India’s independence.   He thought that he would next read Rushdie’s famous fatwa-inducing Satanic Verses.

You can buy it at Green Apple Books, The Booksmith, and probably several other local bookstores!

The Travels of Beth and (parts of) Henrietta Lacks

Beth was generous enough to share with us her latest literary Muni adventure, involving the story of the (geographically and temporally) lengthy travels of one woman’s cancer cells.  Beth is not only a prolific muni rider (count the number of lines she uses!!), but also a prolific writer, whose own work can be found  at http://www.bethmattson.com/, and all over.


Aside from peering and squinting at the print in the hands of other Muni riders, my main method of finding books to read is to have them recommended by NPR, and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot, has been all over NPR. At least three separate podcasts had convinced me that the adorable and clever Ms. Skloot had written an amazing book featuring the astounding story of clandestine cancer cells stolen from Henrietta Lacks, grown in perpetuity in petri dishes without the knowledge of her family. So imagine my surprise when I managed to get my grubby little hands on a copy of the fresh hardcover from the public library within a couple of weeks.

Most days, I take the 22 Fillmore from my home in the Mission to the 5 Fulton and ride it all the way to 18th Ave and the school of my young nannying charge, where we play and frolic until evening when I hop on a 1 from their house in Laurel Heights back to the 22 home. But on special days, when the Mission Branch of the San Francisco Public Library alerts me that there is a new treasure with my name on it, I walk to the library snatch my newest paper companion and ride BART from 24th St to Powell, where the 5 shoots me all the way into the Richmond while I fondle the new read.

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Casey at the Bat: Are There Any Good Sports-based Books?

Sierra, the wonderful reader of Andre Agassi’s Open whom we interviewed on Muni Diaries the other day, planted a thoughtful seed in the arid highlands of my prefrontal cortex that are normally hostile to any such productive use.  After Sierra lauded Agassi’s work at the net forehand? some bad tennis metaphor book, I walked away with a query slowly taking root.  This was really the only sports-based book about which I remember anyone having anything good to say.

[Cut to Carrie Bradshaw voice-over with scene of her looking quizzically off into the distance with blinking cursor on screen]

An obvious photo choice for a post about sportswriting

Are sports-based books just generally bad?

It seems like every sports star has either written a book, or has a biography out there.  Ahem.   But there’s just something about them that never quite gets me to pick one up.  I’m not sure what it is.

Actually, I'm pretty sure I know exactly what it is.

In the movie I Heart Huckabees, there is a scene where Jude Law, who is playing the role of a soulless corporate executive named Brad, attempts to prove his intellectual and spiritual profundity by saying that he is reading Sacred Hoops By Phil Jackson and that the book has some “good questions.”  I was unclear who the joke was actually on though.  I originally believed it was used to show the superficiality of Jude Law’s character, but Phil Jackson is a Buddhist, and a lot of the ideas in the film are loosely based on Buddhist ideas.  So maybe the ultimate irony is that Sacred Hoops would be a good read.

But I don’t want to end my inquiry at nonfiction and athletes’ ghost writers.  Maybe there is some sports-based fiction out there that is worth a gander.

So how about it internets.  Are there any good sports-based books?

Local Bookstore Adventures: Dog Eared Books

San Franciscans are blessed with a large, though dwindling, number of local independent book stores.  So, in an effort to save our Fantasia from The Nothing that is Amazon, we have decided to spotlight some of our favorite local bookstores, in what will be a somewhat regular, though intermittent, series of posts.

First up is Dog Eared Books.  

This is a great store that will carry the book that everyone’s been talking about, and it will carry some lesser known titles just to intrigue you.

Case in point

Dog Eared Books is also blessed with a friendly and knowledgeable staff.  One of their salespersons once recommended Jorge Luis Borges to me before my trip to Argentina.   I am, suffice to say, forever indebted.

It’s also conveniently located.  I’m having a hard time thinking of a way not to get there.  It’s  a short walk from Bart, the 33, 48, 14, and probably a host of others.  Nice hours too.

Note: on behalf of library systems everywhere, I feel obligated to say that dog-earing is exactly what you’re not supposed to do with  borrowed books.