Cool Stuff You Should Know

There are a lot of them--things, that is. But I feel the need to dash off a list of some of the coolest nouns in my life these days. People, places, events, programs.

The Best New Literary Series in San Francisco

would have to be Quiet Lightning, a monthly reading series curated by Evan Karp and Rajshree Chauhan. I was first turned on to this by my classmate (and Managing Editor of SF State's kickass graduate literary magazine, Fourteen Hills) D.W. Lichtenberg, who has been actively reading work from his first published collection of poetry, The Ancient Book of Hip. Karp and Chauhan take submissions of 5 minute pieces early in the month and then arrange them in specific reading order for the event, which has hopped from bar to gallery and back again. Writers are invited to submit poetry, flash fiction, excerpts and really it seems anything that can be performed in about five minutes. Not only is the event itself a fun gathering of writers and friends, but Karp and Chauhan have managed to bridge that gap between open mic and literary journal by publishing all the work in sPARKLE & bLINK, and by video-recording all of the readers and posting them online.

Best New Radio Shows

New to me, that is. Just yesterday I got turned on to Snap Judgment, an NPR program that explains itself as an "audio rollercoaster." Glynn Washington hosts these hourlong programs, which are sensationally produced with music, sound effects, and dramatic moments of pause in between personal narratives.

is a New York-based personal storytelling program in the tradition of The Moth, except it allows its readers to offer long, entertaining and practiced personal anecdotes. Kevin Allison (most famously known for his work in the comedy troupe the State) hosts, and sometimes has celebrity guests such as Janeane Garafalo or Elna Baker -- two ladies whose writing I definitely admire.

Best Local Music Show

Golden Beat, from Berkeley's KALX, is my go-to when I've got a few hours to write an assignment and crave some indie, funky, country, bluesy, eclectic beats.

Best Impersonal Email Message

VSL, or Very Short List, has mastered the art of anonymous culture-busting. I got turned on to this by following Kurt Andersen, host of Studio 360 and another one of my literary heroes, who helped found the website in 2006. Basically, their concept is to summarize "one must-see gem" a day, and it's usually an underground book, film, band, or even political movement that might not otherwise see the light of day.

I'm not usually one for the mass email, but this one I read every day.

And, finally, last but not least:

Best Way to Respond to a Bad Pick-Up Line

A short, accidental moment of true, unblemished impoliteness. Every now and then someone will see the little machine on my hip and use it as a way to chat me up. 99% of the time it's a perfectly harmless exchange, but every now and then I find that it acts as an excellent screen. One example:

After the reading Monday night, I was talking with my cousin and my friend Max, and a young guy approached me and interjected rather loudly, "WOAH you must be a doctor or something because I haven't seen a PAGER like that in a long time!"

To which I responded, "I'm diabetic." In my head, I modulated the tone as a kind of "I'm happy to talk to you about it if you ask," but it actually came out in a much more of a "fuck off, you ignoramus" way. I didn't realize that until I saw the startled look on his face, and I turned back to my friends just as he did a full about-face and walked away.

So yeah. I think this stuff is cool. You don't have to agree with me, but if you ask me about my pager, I might accidentally shut you down.