Towse: views from the hill

April 14, 2009

Robert J Sawyer @ Borderlands Books

Filed under: books,bookstores,photographs,writers,writing — Towse @ 6:41 am


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No, actually. That’s Ripley, Borderlands Books‘ hairless cat.

Ripley sat in my lap purring and snoozing during Sawyer’s talk and was reluctant to leave it when the presentation was over.

We hied off to Foreign Cinema afterwards for a late dinner, Sawyer having signed my copy of WAKE before the event kicked off.

Check out the book and the other seventeen books and zillions of short fiction items Sawyer has written.

The pilot for a FLASH FORWARD series is up for consideration in the next few days. Good luck to Sawyer on that.

After dinner at Foreign Cinema it was home again home again via the #14 Mission and the #30 Stockton, and a quarter mile walk up Telegraph Hill and home. The transit connections, though, were perfect. Maybe a four minute wait for the #14 and another four minute wait for the #30. Can’t get much better than that. Thanks, Muni.

January 12, 2009

/ BLOG / Bookride

Filed under: blog,books,bookstores — Towse @ 11:03 pm

Bookride, a blog from ANY AMOUNT OF BOOKS, 56 Charing Cross Road, London.

“a guide to the most wanted and collected books. There is some evaluation of why the book is wanted, what it is worth – with a range of selling prices, some trivia, apercus and bon mots, a few anecdotes, so called jokes and occasional rants.”

Entertaining blog for book huggers.

Walkaround yesterday.

Filed under: books,bookstores,life,San Francisco — Towse @ 6:48 pm

Started out just after 1P. Stomach still gurgling from too much fish & chips at the Duke the night before at the Mx meetup. And I’d ordered the small portion! Not used to fried fish no more. …

We decided that on our way to chk out the rental (we’re meeting the new tenant there today and didn’t want to be surprised by some horrible something) we’d stop at an Open House I was curious about and then wander over to the rental and on to elsewhere.

We set out first to find the Tatiana statue that’s been hidden off the Greenwich Steps. Not so “hidden” anymore. Someone’s chalked TIGER –> arrows on the Steps to point out the side path where the statue’s been placed. Walked back up the steps to verify the location of a GWSF photo. Walked over to Russian Hill and stopped at 1145 Vallejo.

1145 Vallejo
SFH. 3BR 2.5BA sep gdn apt. (“legal” the blurb sheet sez, but only because there’s no stove — only a microwave oven — so it’s considered a guest room with separate entrance, I think. Perhaps the “legal” means that the lower level re-do into guest quarters was done with permits.) Pkg. (Actually, once we saw it, we decided “Pkg” was “parking for two Minis” or “parking for a Mini and “that Smart car I plan to win at the Tel Hi North Beach Citizens raffle”)

Only $1.495m (marked down on the blurb sheet from $1.625m).

Deals abound in San Francisco real estate! Nice wood floors. Maple on the staircase w/ a great banister. Oak on the floors. Gas stove. Yard. Spruced up and all. Quiet street. (Street stops at Jones, so there’s not much through traffic.) No views. Only!! $1.495m. Kee-ripes. There must still be people these days with cash in their pockets or something. I would not want to be an appraiser in this market. Where are the comps? What is a place worth? (Whatever anyone is willing to pay.) How much should a bank lend?

From Vallejo we walked down to Polk and poked around in antique and cool-stuff shops, Walgreen’s. Walked over to the rental to make sure everything was set for the meet with the new tenant today. We walked down Laguna to Fort Mason and stopped by Book Bay, the Friends of the Library Bookstore, to … um … browse

We browsed. I browsed through the ($0.50 or 3/$1) tables. His nibs browsed through the Californiana and elsewhere. I browsed elsewhere. We wound up with the following, which include a couple San Francisciana books:

Ruth Newhall San Francisco’s Enchanted Palace 1967 HB $30 – his nibs was quite intrigued by this book about the Palace of Fine Arts. The book was dust-jacketed and wrapped in Bro-Dart cello and had ephemera tucked inside dealing with the initial setup and publicity for the Exploratorium. The ephemera really sealed the deal for his nibs, who is a huge Exploratorium fan. The splurge for the day.

Jerry Flamm Good Life in Hard Times: San Francisco’s ’20s and ’30s $5 TPB
Patricia Highsmith Plotting & Writing Suspense Fiction HB $5
1930 Annualog (Sci Am Pub Co) HB $5
Lee G. Miller An Ernie Pyle Album: Indiana to Ie Shima 1st. HB $5

on the 3/$1 tables
Round Up: the stories of Ring W. Lardner (Scribner. c 1924, 26, 29) HB
Jacqueline Winspear Pardonable Lies HB 2005 1st
Lee Child Bad Luck and Trouble BookClub 2007
Joyce C Oates. Beasts Carroll &Graf “copyright TK” (TK???)
Angus McDonald The Five Foot Road: in search of Vanished China SC. 1st ed.
Dunning – Booked to Die PB
William Murray – Tip on a Dead Crab PB
Gallagher Gray – Death of a Dream Maker PB (GG pseud for Katy Munger)
Wm Faulkner – Six mystery stories: Knight’s Gambit (who knew Faulkner wrote mystery short stories? I didn’t.)

I had my Friends of the Library card, which gives me 10% off, plus my once-a-year coupon for 25% off, so my grand total was $35 or so after the discounts. Not bad for books enough to keep me entertained for quite a while and a couple of good San Francisciana books.

I’d remembered to bring not only the once-a-year coupon but also a cloth shoulder bag, so we piled most of the books in the bag (they didn’t all fit), took the rest in a smaller paper bag, and lugged them up and over the hills home.

home-> Vallejo 0.9m
Vallejo -> rental 1.1m
rental -> Book Bay 0.7m
Book Bay -> home 2.0m

for walkaround total of 4.7m.

Today we’ll do the walk to rental on a more direct route (1.8m) then to dinner at Isa (0.8m). (We haven’t been in what seems like a long while and we’ll be so much closer than we usually are!) And then home (2.4m).

5m total. How did that happen?

December 26, 2008

Coming Soon to the Tenderloin: Another Dirty, Poorly Lit Place For Books

Filed under: books,bookstores,San Francisco — Towse @ 9:46 pm

Coming Soon to the Tenderloin: Another Dirty, Poorly Lit Place For Books [SFWeekly - The Snitch]

Oh. Now. How come I never knew this bookstore existed until this morning when I was wandering through old links, one of which told tales of this place?

Now it’s gone (possibly to be phoenix’d … some day …).

The pics remind me of Woodruff & Thush, a used bookstore down by San Jose State, a used bookstore my older brother and I used to love. (And hate … Case had a lovely rant about the time he found a great book at a terrific price and brought it to the cash register only to have Craig Thush tell him that he hadn’t repriced the book in a very long time and he was repricing the book on the spot. Couldn’t argue with Thush. …)

I would’ve bought Woodruff & Thush out lock, stock & barrel when Craig Thush decided to retire in 2003 if I could’ve. I still have plenty of books I bought there in my impoverished young adulthood, including a Difco manual I got for cheaps when I was taking Microbiology 101.

Here’s hoping McDonald’s reopens and I get a crack at browsing the stacks some day soon.

October 8, 2007

More photos from the weekend

Filed under: art,bookstores,food,life,San Francisco — Towse @ 7:05 pm

Soze F-Su, we had the Bixby Creek Gang in house.

Saturday, two of the gang were pre-engaged to be with friends on the WWII Liberty ship USS Jeremiah O’Brien to have a day on the water with CB Hannegan’s providing BBQ food and Blue Angels & al. as entertainment.

They left the place soon after 7A to walk down to Piers 30-32 where the JO’B was picking up passengers. Three of us walked down the steps with them to Sansome, to see them on their way and because I had a bag of greencycle to drop off in the green bin at the bottom of the steps.

After breakfast, the rest of us went down to the Ferry Building for the Farmers’ Market, then through Chinatown to check out the fruits and vegetables, then on to the rooftop of a tall building at the corner of Broadway and Laguna to watch the air show, getting there just after noon, when the Parade of Ships came into the Bay under the Golden Gate Bridge.

I’ve added Saturday’s pics to the earlier Blue Angels gallery. The smudges are still there on Saturday’s photo set (drat!) but (hooray!) we ordered a Canon A570 IS an hour or two ago with a discount coupon and free shipping. Arriving on Wednesday, if all goes well.

[Click to enlarge image]

The first added pics show the USS Jeremiah O’Brien under way from Piers 30-32 to their staging station outside the Golden Gate for the Parade of Ships, which started at noon. A tug and one of the fire ships, spraying water, followed closely behind.

[Click to enlarge image]

Quick cutaway to a gorgeous hawk that was circling overhead and settling in nearby trees along the Filbert Steps.

Next stream of shots are from the rooftop in Pacific Heights, showing the Parade of Ships, which included a number of American and Canadian military ships with the Jeremiah O’Brien cruising through as the finale.

[Click to enlarge image]

The Blue Angels flew from 3-4 p.m. Photos kick in at #109/163.

Preceding them were a bunch of fast jets, helicopter search and rescue teams and acrobatic aircraft.

The pilots did amazing things with formation flying, corkscrews, climbs and dives, tearing at each other at full speed only to pull to either side just in time to whiz by, avoiding a collision. … sometimes while flying upside down!

Fun to watch, but a job I don’t aspire to. (Good thing!)

[Click to enlarge image]

And all the while, everyday shipping traffic kept coming into and out of the Bay. We wondered what the crews thought of the action overhead.

[Click to enlarge image]

The Coast Guard kept the hundreds of sailboats and powerboats that were out on the Bay away from certain areas and we couldn’t figure out why until at one point one of the Blue Angels buzzed so low, it created a huge wake in the waters.

Zoom! ZooM!

[Click to enlarge image]

Crowds of people watched the action from building rooftops. The crowds down on the waterfront were enormous.

SFC video of the Blue Angels

And then the day was over. We moseyed on home by way of Fort Mason, Aquatic Park, up Columbus with a stop at XOX Truffles for sustenance and home-again home-again riggety-jig.

Total day’s walk: 6 miles.

Beautiful weekend.

Sunday, the Bixby Creek Grandees joined us and a bit later one couple left. We sat around eating and talking for a while while we mulled over our options for the day: Strictly Bluegrass? Castro Street Fair? Burning Man installation?

Eventually, we walked down to the Embarcadero to catch the F-Line out to Valencia Street, but the cars going toward the Castro were packed, too packed to stop. “WHY?” we thought. “Isn’t everyone headed to the waterfront for the Sunday air show?”

We walked over to Market Street and caught the F-Line there, figuring that anyone headed in that direction was probably headed for the Ferry Building, but no, the cars were still crowded, but at least less crowded and willing to stop for the six of us.

The cars remained crowded. Sure people got off, but more people got on and the cars remained packed the entire way.

It wasn’t until just before we got off at Church and Market, and someone asked us how many more stops until Castro, that we realized that, duh, Sunday was the Castro Street Fair and everyone who wasn’t watching the Blue Angels was heading to the Castro, on the F-Line.

Our first stop was 2223 Restaurant because the niece of the wife husband of a cousin (or some such relationship) of one of the gang has her oil paintings showing at the gallery for the next two months.

After checking out the oils, we walked down to Valencia because (and the afternoon had been set up to accommodate) one of the gang had heard tell of but never been to Borderlands. We stopped on our way to Borderlands at Paxton Gate because I adore the place and like to take unsuspecting visitors there.

From Paxton Gate on to Borderlands where I bought a signed HB copy of Christopher Moore’s A DIRTY JOB — a book with characters based on some creatures you can find at Paxton Gate — and TNH’s MAKING BOOK (which I’m pretty sure I have somewhere, but I can’t find it) and the someone who had initiated the trip in the first place bought three other books and … well, then pokey-poke into shops and bookstores in the neighborhood, killing time until Destino opened.

A pair of the gang has plans to visit Machu Picchu next spring and had asked a day or two earlier whether we could recommend a Peruvian restaurant in the city. Better than that, we told them Sunday, if we’re all doing a fieldtrip out to 2223 and Borderlands, we can have dinner at Destino before we head back.

So we did.

And it was good.

And we got home and sorted out who was taking what food home, and binoculars and jackets and what-not. Get the cars out of the parking spaces. Bye-bye. And to bed for us.

I love these people. We should do this more often.

June 10, 2007

America’s Most Literate Cities 2006

Filed under: books,bookstores,San Francisco — Towse @ 9:10 pm

Someone came through yesterday looking for information on America’s most literate cities. The click on the post from August 2004 went to a 404 site. (Click since updated.)

The most recent information I could find were the 2006 results which showed, among other factors, that San Francisco has the number two slot in booksellers (behind Seattle, WA) when the following factors are considered

  • number of retail bookstores per 10K pop’n
  • number of rare and used bookstores per 10K pop’n
  • number of members of the ABA per 10K pop’n

Overall, San Francisco is #9.

May 24, 2007

Old pals, reunited

Filed under: books,bookstores,libraries,woowoo — Towse @ 11:52 pm

The younger younger guy is out visiting from Boston for ten days or so. Yesterday we drove over to Santa Cruz to meet up with the older younger guy and his partner, have lunch and visit the family matriarch.

The older younger guy’s partner went back to work after lunch and the three of us decided to kill the time between then and when the matriarch expected us by hanging out at LOGOS Books.

For the last week or two, since his nibs and I returned from a short four-day trip up-coast to visit with an old friend and explore, I’ve been making a stab at sorting through the tens of thousands of books on shelves and in boxes (lots and lots of boxes) to identify the duplicates and the not-wanted to donate to a library effort.

In the last couple weeks with a couple full days’ effort and some partial-day exercises, I’ve managed to shift all the crime fiction onto shelves (about eight bookcases worth, sorted by author and by title within the author) and to start getting the travel books organized. (roughly sorted by continent and country, natch).

The travel books include not only books we bought while traveling but also books we bought new and used in stores and a good number of older books that his nibs’ great-great aunt Burta purchased in her day.

I’ve sorted out five bookcases of travel books and have at least another two cases to go before even starting on the United States travel-related books.

Yes, as expected, I had multiple copies of Chandlers and Christies in the crime fiction collection, multiple copies of JD MacDonalds and Karin Slaughters. I found I was missing Q and R from my run of Graftons (said lack since remedied). What I had not expected were multiple copies of Lowell Thomas titles and multiple copies of “glimpses of Europe” sorts of titles in the travel collection. Along the way I discovered that some books had been masquerading as travel but were actually garden titles or history titles or geology titles.

Yesterday at the LOGOS bookstore. I was poking through the crime fiction, the children’s books, the “how to draw” art books, the gardening books. There in the gardening books was this old book that, when I pulled it from the shelf, looked very much like a book that I’d sorted out of the travel books late last week because it was more a garden book, not a travel book per se.

The book I’d come across last week, with illustrations painted by Beatrice Parsons, was titled something like Old-World Gardens and had pictures and descriptions of European gardens.

I looked at the LOGOS book in my hand. Interesting, I thought. How much?

I opened the cover and found this

… the tell-tale spore of Burta — her initials (MBB) handwritten in pencil on the front free-endpaper.

I probably wouldn’t have bought the book otherwise, but how could I resist? I will reunite it on a shelf with its old pal when I start sorting through the gardening titles.


It took until I was driving back to San Francisco to realize just how one of MBB’s books had wound up in a used bookstore in Santa Cruz.

His nibs’ father’s twin brother had lived in Aptos, where the older younger guy currently lives. We hadn’t realized he’d had any, but Uncle Burt must have had at least this one of Burta’s old books. One of uncle Burt’s children must have sold the book or given it away to someone who sold the book to LOGOS.

Thank goodness I thought of a reasonable explanation for how the book wound up seventy-five miles away from San Francisco in a town that Burta, who so far as we knew, had never visited. Very spooky it was to pick up a book in a used bookstore in Santa Cruz and see her scribbled initials.

May 15, 2007

Prayer flags in North Beach: Global Books on Columbus

Filed under: bookstores,life,restaurants,shopshopshop — Tags: , — Towse @ 6:17 am

The flags from Lhasa got old and tatty and finally ripped apart in a storm. I mended them and then searched until I found some more down on Pacific Avenue.

When those needed mending (the weather here is rough on the flags … those flags are still flying mended), I went off to Wonders of Tibet on Lombard, near the condo at Broadway and Laguna. Those flags were cotton and went stiff and sticky in the first rain, needed to be shaken and unstuck after rains and … well, they’re still hanging too.

Haven’t found yet flags like those we bought from the non-Tibetan Han Chinese vendors in the square in front of the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa.

But we need more. These are wearing. The guys come next week to tear off the photo-voltaic panels and then more guys to tear off the roof and replace it. Then our solar guys come back to replace the panels.

The prayer flags up on the deck are on their last legs and need replacing. They probably won’t survive the activity.

A couple weeks ago we went back to our purveyor on Pacific and found he was moving up and around the corner onto Columbus. We went up to Columbus, but he wasn’t open yet.

Today for lunch we hied over to the House and had deep-fried salmon roll with a chinese hot mustard sauce to start, unagi and avocado sandwiches with a side salad with sesame seed oil dressing that came with the sandwiches. Tapioca pudding with mango swirl for dessert. Ym.

Afterwards, we decided to check whether Global Books and Art had the Columbus Avenue location open yet.

They did.

“When did you open?”


“No, when did you open here, after moving?”

“Last Wednesday.”

The new space is excellent. Large windows onto Columbus. A MUCH larger space (and selection) inside.

Global Books and Art can now be found on the west side of the Columbus block between Broadway and Pacific.

Go thee there. Buy some prayer flags, some pashmina shawls, some jewelry, some thankas, some books.

Or just say hey to the guy who runs the space. He is very happy with the new location.

We really hope he does well. Quite a gamble. Hope it pays off.

February 26, 2007

5.4 up near Petrolia

Filed under: book promotion,books,bookstores,life,quakes,writing — Towse @ 7:26 pm

Recent Earthquakes – Info for event nc40193932:

A moderate earthquake occurred at 4:19:54 AM (PST) on Monday, February 26, 2007.

The magnitude 5.4 event occurred 52 km (32 miles) W of Ferndale, CA.

The hypocentral depth is 0.4 km (0.2 miles)

Right at the seaward edge of the Cascadia subduction zone.

We’ll be having dinner with Susan Hough on Thursday after her author talk at Kepler’s down in Menlo Park for her newest book: Richter’s Scale: Measure of an Earthquake, Measure of a Man

(In the area? Stop on by! Thursday March 01, 2007 — 7:30 p.m. at Kepler’s in Menlo Park)

(Buy now!)

I’m sure the our dinner conversation talk will turn to local earthquakes and Cascadia and Hayward and San Andreas. It always does.

February 14, 2007

The Ten Most Expensive Science Fiction and Fantasy Books Sold in 2006

Filed under: books,bookstores,SFF — Towse @ 11:49 pm

From, a list of The Ten Most Expensive Science Fiction and Fantasy Books Sold in 2006.

Some unexpected titles and interesting package deals.

e.g. #8

Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang
Kate Wilhelm

Near fine original manuscript package of this 1976 Hugo award winning novel. Contains: Original ribbon copy and carbon-copy typescript, final draft, setting copy. Signed with a few corrections in authors hand. Also containing file folder with maps, charts, diagrams, rewritten section and correspondence, all pertaining to the novel. Sold for $3,975

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