10

Eat, Pray You’re Fast Enough to Order

Thanks to my good friend Nance over at Mature Landscaping, and also of the fabulous new blog HEN’S TEETH (of which I am a member– *flash promo sign* here), I was off on a wild goose chase this afternoon to acquire the hot book of the nano-second “Eat, Pray, Love:  One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia”, which inspired a new movie with a considerably shorter title starring Julia Roberts.

The book came out in 2006, but being the slow-witted individual that I am (and also the cheapest) I merely read the reviews and didn’t get around to reading the book itself.  I must say, the reviews were what are often euphemistically described as “mixed.” 

Either you loved it or it left you cold, according to the critics.

Now, with all the hoo-ha surrounding the movie, apparently interest in the book has reached a fever pitch.  And I got it bad.

The first and, for me, the cheapest route to reading EPL was to check it out of the library.  Wrong.  I went online to check availability and found it was out until the 18th.  No problemo.  I can wait for it to come back in. 

But I overlooked the new feature on the library’s website which allows you to put in a request for any book that is currently out and they’ll hold it for you. 

When I looked at the requests for EPL, there were already five

At this rate I’ll be able to read it sometime around Halloween.  Provided other people don’t get the drop on me and put in their requests first. 

This appears to be the pattern of the day, as we shall see.

I was at Walmart (where else—my second home) later this morning and saw that they have the paperback edition for $12. 

I don’t think I want to read it that bad.

When I got home I looked at various websites like Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and eBay; all sites where you can get good used copies.  EBay had some up for auction, but the bidding looked competitive and the end dates for the auctions were about a week away.  I needed instant gratification.

So I went to Barnes and Noble and found some used ones from $2.79 or thereabouts plus shipping. 

I kid you not—while I was deciding which seller to choose, the books were snatched up right under my nose! 

At least three of them in quick succession.

So I went to over to Amazon.com, my favorite book site, and damned if the same thing didn’t happen—even after I’d selected one and was actually in the process of check out! 

Someone must have had a faster internet connection than I did. 

Let’s face it.  Ben Franklin had a faster internet connection.

So I hurried back to the marketplace seller’s list and frantically clicked on one who’s here in Texas.  The book was going for $3.99 plus $3.99 shipping. 

Mercifully, that order went through.

All I can say is—it better be good. 

If not, I’m tempted to buy this parody from the distaff side:

What do you want to bet they make a movie out of this one too?

8

Last Call

I went to our local library today to return a couple of books I’d checked out last week.  Usually I’m pretty lucky in picking out something worthwhile to read.  Our library is kind of small but it does have its complete catalog online now, which is a big help in determining beforehand which stacks I’ll be browsing.

This time though, I went in completely clueless.  Let’s see…fiction?  Emm….No.  I tend to get too involved with a story and come to resent it when the author plays around with my emotions.  That’s my mother’s job.

Our library has a rather extensive “Texas” collection, with a whole room upstairs devoted to it.  Nah…I’m not a native Texan so the only Texas history I know is LBJ, the Bushes, and Kinky Friedman (who is also a mystery writer, by the way.)  Someday I’ll get around to his book “Kill Two Birds and Get Stoned.”

The political section could be interesting if it didn’t have so many copies of Anne Coulter and Glenn Beck leering out at me from the shelves.  (I have been tempted to take some of them and “mis-file” them, but I think that’s what happened with the only copy of “The God Problem” by atheist Richard Dawkins, since I haven’t been able to locate it.  I bet if I looked in the Texas room under “Varmints” I’d probably find it.) 

I decided to browse the biography section, starting with the “A’s” and working my way down alphabetically.  I’m afraid I gave short shrift to the books on the bottom shelves because it required cricking up my neck too much to read the titles.  Yes, I’m that lazy. 

I gave a pass to Maya Angelou (book too thin), Lucille Ball (book too thick),  Princess Di (too sad), Ava Gardner (too drunk), Judy Garland (ditto), Cary Grant (too handsome…hmmm…maybe later),  Audrey Hepburn (already read one), Adolph Hitler (too crazy).

I finally landed on one that felt just right.  It’s called “American Jezebel–The Uncommon Life of Anne Hutchinson–The Woman Who Defied the Puritans.”  Anyway, we’ll see.

Although engrossed in my search, I was vaguely aware that the rather large room was becoming quieter and quieter.  Usually there are at least three or four other browsers around me and a couple more folks on their laptops.  I really didn’t think anything of it.  I was kind of enjoying the peacefulness of it all, like I had the whole place to myself. 

Turns out, I did.

As I was looking at some art books, a lady came around the end of the stacks and informed me that the library was closing. 

 WTF?  At 2:00 pm? 

It seems that 2:00 is, indeed, their Friday closing time (It’s on a big sign on the front door as you come in—but who reads?)

I apologized for being the last one standing and hurriedly checked out my book.

Maybe I should have picked the book about Lucille Ball. 

I wonder if Lucy ever got locked in at the library…

2

Fowl Play

grammar_crackers_large

 

Who would have guessed that a book on grammar and punctuation could be just as much fun to read as say, Sex and the City?  Well, maybe not that much fun, but fun nevertheless.  The book I’m referring to here is Eats, Shoots & Leaves–The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss, a droll and entertaining Brit.  She writes about the use and misuse of commas, apostrophes (don’t get me started on those!), semi-colons and colons much like an historian would chronicle the secret lives of the saints. 

I find it fascinating, but then I’m one of those terrible people who take umbrage at those misplaced apostrophes.  Yes, I am a “stickler” (as Ms. Truss calls her followers) and I, too, fear there has been a general dumbing-down of written English since the advent of email and text messaging.   

People just don’t give a hoot anymore. 

Mr. Townsend would be appalled.  He was my 9th grade English teacher and the pivotal force behind my emergence from the shadows of grammar apathy into the golden dawn of English language enlightenment.

Up until 9th grade I was only a mediocre student, at best.  Somehow, I found myself placed in the top English class my last year in junior high school.  It must have been my reading scores that landed me there because reading was the only subject where I excelled and exhibited any interest.  I had been floating through school on a wave of indifference.  Mr. Townsend threw me a lifeline and pulled me ashore.

About Mr. Townsend:  he was very slim and fairly short.  He was a natty dresser; given to fitted tweed suits with nipped-in waists and two back vents.  He was originally from Louisiana, so he had a Southern drawl that dripped honey when he wanted it to, but he could also make it bite like a Copperhead. 

He used to assume a sort of pose at the blackboard where he would slouch back on one hip, one arm held tightly across his waist in front, while gesturing with the other hand that held the chalk; much like Bette Davis smoking a cigarette.  All that was missing was, “What..a..dump!” 

Then, still holding this basic position, he would swivel and turn back and forth from the blackboard as he demonstrated some aspect of grammar.  Think of Tim Gunn on Project Runway and you get the picture:  he was wonderful to watch.

Early in the year, Mr. Townsend approached us with a request to help him proofread an article he was writing for a gourmet magazine.  It was about the correct method for cooking a chicken in a clay or terracotta container.  He was very serious about this article, and I’m sure he thought we would be suitably impressed with his magnificent grasp of English and be properly awed. 

He wanted us to read the draft he had written and then pass it on to the person behind us.  I happened to have the good fortune of being in the front desk in the first row.  This position wasn’t awarded to me because I was the top student in the class.  Our seats clearly weren’t assigned because of merit.  We had each chosen our own seat on the first day of class and I chose mine because it was closest to the door, allowing me the ability to make a quick exit if the need arose.

Mr. Townsend handed me the paper and went back to his desk.  I couldn’t have gotten more than half way down the first page when a glaring error leaped out at me.  To my astonishment, he had written the word “foul” in describing the star of the recipe, when what he had meant to write was “fowl”. 

I got up and took the paper back to his desk and showed him the error of his ways.  He was very embarrassed and fell all over himself in gratitude for my discovery of  this egregious mistake.  (I failed to mention that he always gave us two new vocabulary words every day.  That has come in handy over the years.)  I returned to my desk feeling somewhat good about myself and we all went about our work.

The good feelings didn’t last long.  I may have become more enlightened by Mr. Townsend’s approach to English but, apparently, he hadn’t lifted me out of my attraction to pedestrian literature.  One of my book reports was on Gidget Goes Hawaiian, and you can imagine the terrible razzing I got from him on that one.  War and Peace it ain’t.  My face flushed with humiliation, I vowed to get my revenge somehow. 

Finally, the opportunity presented itself.

Mr. Townsend was demonstrating how to diagram a sentence at the board, which required a lot of spins and turns and flourishes on his part as he tried to drum the information into our skulls. 

I don’t remember what I said that displeased him, but he was giving me a hard time for not recognizing something that he thought should be as obvious as balls on a tall dog. 

That is when I did it.

Still seated at my desk, I calmly turned over the large hand-printed card that I had been keeping face down on my binder for just such an occasion. 

I flashed it at him like a judge in an Olympic competition. 

Mr. Townsend immediately crumpled against the blackboard in paroxysms of laughter.  Still laughing, he raised his chalk into the air and said, Touché!”

The word on the flashcard?

“FOWL”