MaxBarry.com
legionnaires' disease-free since 1990

Max Barry wrote the novels Syrup, Jennifer Government, Company, Machine Man, and Lexicon. He also created the game NationStates and once found a sock full of pennies.

Blog

Wed 04
Apr
2007

Travel Diary: Days 9-10 (Phoenix, San Francisco)

Writing I can’t sleep. Part of the problem is that when I lie down, all the blood in my body rushes to my sinuses. Actually, maybe that’s rushing phlegm. Yeah. It’s phlegm. The other part of the problem is that back home, it’s Round 1 of the football season, and my team is playing.

It would be stupid to get up, turn on my laptop, and check the scores online. The game won’t finish until 3am my time, so I won’t get to find out the result tonight anyway. But…

I get up, turn on my laptop, and check the scores online. It’s Richmond 44, Carlton 44. I also discover that there’s a streaming radio broadcast available. “Hmm…” I say.

At 3am, I’ve got the laptop in bed with me, piping out commentary. We lose. I turn it off and fall asleep.

Sunday is a travel day: the first day without a bookstore event since I started the tour. All I have to do is fly to San Francisco, check into my hotel, and marvel at the can of personal oxygen on offer in the bathroom. It’s a relief to know that’s there, just in case, say, all the oxygen molecules in the air coincidentally rush to the other end of the room. I will grab that can and inhale until the entropy principle reasserts itself.

For dinner I meet up with Katrina, a NationStates moderator, and discover that she’s the girl who gave me a home-baked banana loaf in San Francisco when I was here last time. I figure this out because this time Katrina has brought me not one but two banana loaves. And not just that: she and players John and Thom have hand-made a “NationStates Monopoly” set, complete with “Issue cards,” “UN Resolution” cards, custom money, and a board where key regions and alliances are the property. It’s amazing. And I would post a picture, except when I set up the game back at my hotel room later, my camera batteries die in the middle of extending the lens. But trust me: it’s amazing. I can’t believe how much time and care went into it.

On Monday morning I shave my head, because my hair was getting so unruly, and meet Frank, who was also my media escort from last time. One of the many great things about Frank is that he has an extraordinary, apparently endless store of pithy quotes. Any given situation, Frank can produce a famous quote to express what I was trying to say, only better.

Frank takes me out to Mountain View, where I’m scheduled to read at Google. I’m very excited about this, because I’m a geek, and because as far as I can tell Google is the best big company in the world. I have heard many tales of wonder about the Google offices and want to see if these are true.

We’re there early, though. Really early. About 24 hours early, in fact. There’s been a miscommunication and I’ll have to come back tomorrow.

So instead of wandering through the magical fields of Google, I drop into San Francisco bookstores and sign stock. Everyone in San Francisco is very fit, I notice. Not that I’m surprised. Just walking up and down those hills, residents must build incredibly powerful thighs. They probably need to exercise a lot to balance that out.

I call home and discover that Finlay has really gotten into YouTube lately. When Jen turns on the computer, Fin comes up and says, “Movies? Movies?” Then she sits on Jen’s lap and watches clips from the “Pets & Animals” section. Apparently Charles has a licking problem is popular.

Then it’s time for my reading. I’m expecting a small crowd, because it’s in Danville, which was met with howls of despair from my Bay Area readers when announced. And indeed there are fewer people, perhaps 15 or 20, but since most have made a big effort to get here, they’re a lovely audience. One guy, Fazil, has brought me a bottle of the legendary Fukola Cola, which I discover tastes pretty much like regular cola. I was expecting to at least hallucinate a little. Disappointing.

On the drive home, Frank suggests that I take a photo of each audience and post it on my blog. That’s a terrific idea, one that I could have used about ten days ago. Damn. Next time.

The last thing I do is a little more bathtub washing. I thought I was done with this, but since my Google reading was knocked back a day, I need one more non-ugly shirt. I decide to try a technique recommended by Tim in the comments of a previous blog, whereby you wrap the wet item in a towel and stomp on it. I’m generally in favor of plans that include stomping on things. And this technique seems to work pretty well, although Tim did promise that I would be “astounded” by it. I’m not sure I’m astounded. I think to astound me, my shirt would need to come out bone dry and already ironed. Or have maybe transformed into a much hipper, more expensive shirt. That would be astounding. This is merely satisfyingly less wet.

Comments

This is where site members post comments. If you're not a member, you can join here. There are all kinds of benefits, including moral superiority!

Machine Man subscriber John (#2674)

Location: South Carolina, USA
Posted: 4522 days ago

I'm glad to hear you liked the game, Max. I trust everything travelled back home well, and reasonably intact. The travel diary has been entertaining from start to finish, and I look forward to hopefully being able to actually attend a reading next time you tour.

Justin (#2198)

Location: Berkeley, CA
Quote: "Sometimes I wonder what the world would be like without mashed potatoes...and then I think, "Hey, shut up, mashed potatoes are tasty!", and all is right in the world again."
Posted: 4522 days ago

i really enjoyed the danville reading, max. nothing like having a beer and pizza in a book store!!

ps. we haven't broken up....yet.

Pat (#99)

Quote: "damnit!! how come i couldnt be member 100. though 99 may just be cooler"
Posted: 4522 days ago

Big mistake listening to that game that way. Itis invariable that when you make that huge effort, your team loses. I spent last semester in Japan. During that time, the soccer team for my part of America was in the playoffs, and winning. I was checking scores and such. When they made it to the championship, I had my family record it and waited, avoided scores. I believe it was a month or two before I got to America, then another week before Boston. Watch the game that night. It goes to overtime. They score the go ahead goal...seconds later, the bad guys tie it. Then we lose in shootouts.
I swear, they would have won if I had decided just to check the scores the next day.

Joscelyn (#754)

Location: California,USA
Posted: 4521 days ago

I dont know what I was thinking, I have been reading you daily updats of you tour and still this whole time you wern't going to be in Danville till next week, silly me. but what books stores in San Francisco did you sign books at, I would like to get a copy. I have one of Syrup from Powells in Portland and would like to add to my growing collection1 I picked up a copy of Jennifer Government just yesterday. Have fun at Google!

Tim Ashwood (#595)

Location: Sydney
Posted: 4521 days ago

OK, so perhaps astounding was ambitious. There is also a water absorption equalisation function that reaches a maximum level - in other words, stomp a few shirts and then order more towels from housekeeping. Sure they'll think you're a messy pig, but you can pay them back by not stealing the towels and shampoo.

Machine Man subscriber Bushra (#36)

Location: Fremont, California
Quote: "www.caffeinatedmuslim.com"
Posted: 4521 days ago

Hi Max, thanks for signing Company for my manager and my copy of Jennifer Governnment. I would have had you sign Syrup, but a coworker sort of messed up my copy a couple of years ago. I would have been too ashamed to present it to you for signing. Anyways. . . hope you got to get some Google gourmet food :)

Machine Man subscriber Katrina (#847)

Location: SF, CA
Quote: "Good sex is like good Bridge: if you don't have a good partner, you'd better have a good hand." -- Mae West"
Posted: 4521 days ago

Hope you enjoyed the 2nd banana bread this time around. :) And I took pictures of the game before I gave it to you.

If anyone wants to see:
http://img185.imageshack.us/img185/6571/gamejs6.jpg
http://img185.imageshack.us/img185/416/boardjp5.jpg

Thanks for a lovely tour stop in the Bay Area, and next time your publisher should find a place actually within the city limits of San Francisco. :P

shabooty (#637)

Location: D.C./V.A/M.D.
Quote: "I will shake your foundation. I will shake the f**cking rafters. Nobody'll be the same -Danny Bonaduce ....& go visit my blog @: http://www.shabooty.com"
Posted: 4520 days ago

katrina
damn u got a lotta time on your hands ;)
lol jk...
cool stuff though...
doesn't max look like the bald head dude on american idol?

Thomas (#3073)

Location: Melbourne
Quote: "Eat Donuts"
Posted: 4518 days ago

Richmond lost to Carlton.
Shame on you for supporting them.

Celeste (#2590)

Location: St.L. MO, USA
Quote: "You can't child-proof the world, so world-proof the child."
Posted: 4517 days ago

I just heard this on public radio, thought of you immediately, this is the only place I could find to tell you.

Coke is blocking the release of an Italian movie...sorry, I didnt catch the name exactly maybe "Seven Miles to Jerusalem"? - it has a scene of Jesus drinking a Coke-----because, - are you ready? - "Jesus is not an authorized representative of Coke."

You can give better commentary on this one than I, but I am on the floor laughing!

Comments are now closed for this post.

Built on Blosxom