1347

I have a new compulsion, even more useless than the wretched Earworm. I can't stop myself from counting the spokes on hubcaps. Hesitated to mention it earlier, for fear of infecting my readers, nevertheless I do mention it. If you read the Tales, you must be prepared to risk contamination. (I give up on those hubcaps which have more than ten, advise you to do likewise, if you must take up the habit.)

Although Helen R has been known to see a film three or even four times on its initial weekend of release, I don't usually repeat an experience so rapidly. However, I did read Half-Blood Prince a second time. I enjoyed it even more without the pressure of wondering what was going to happen next.

Mitchell was annoyed by the use of a comma when, the rules say, a semi-colon should have been used. It reminded me of the long-running jest on Prairie Home Companion about English Majors. Mercifully, such details escaped me. There must be thousands of instances in the Tales when a semi-colon should have been used instead of a comma. I have never made a habit of using a semi-colon.

He also fretted about the British way of using plural verbs. The group were [British English] ... the group was [American English]. When I first went to live in England this did attract my attention but I soon became used to it, no longer raise an eyebrow at either version. And I don't think anyone, least of all the author, would want an "American edition", changed to accommodate American usage. I certainly wouldn't.

I considered selling the book at a used bookshop but since it had been a gift that seemed not quite proper. So I donated it to Hamilton Library, wondering if it would actually end up on the shelves or if some worker stashed it away and rushed home with it.

After such a delightful book, there was a potential problem about what to read next. Dollar-book shelves to the rescue with, alas, the final book from Edith Pargeter, writing as Ellis Peters, The Penance of Brother Cadfael. I love both her Cadfael and Felse books, eagerly seek out the ones I have not yet read.

And then, I was much impressed with Frank McCourt's childhood memoir, Angela's Ashes, so was delighted to find the sequel, 'Tis. Irish stream-of-consciousness writing, often repetitive (as the mind's wanderings usually are), but creating a rhythm which was seductive. His account of teaching in New York City high schools was especially excellent.

Lord Moana is, at last, out of prison. I saw him at the mall, but didn't speak with him. Let us hope Angelo will soon share his freedom.

A little after three in the morning on Friday after a Magic Third Wednesday, I woke and wondered who had turned on the lights, much too early for the man who opens the Dark Corner. Ah, was those Fool Moon's Eyes shining down on me.

1348

Angelo is out of jail. I saw him late on Sunday afternoon. He looked fine but was very twitchy and nervous, had either been at the pipe or was urgently needing to get to it. Of all the Boys, Angelo is in most peril from that dreadful drug and I have almost no hope that he will escape its clutches.

A quiet weekend. Again no opera, because I have never liked Fidelio and it only took about ten minutes for me to realize that hasn't changed. Prairie Home Companion was a repeat but I hadn't heard it before. Enjoyed it, but not enough to listen to the Sunday encore.

Another autobiography, this time Thomas Merton's The Seven Storey Mountain. I admired the autobiographical parts but wasn't at all touched by the religious bits. I guess I'm just not going to be one of those old folks who find Jesus as the end approaches.

The plumbing problem seems to be under control. If I take one of those tiny Immodium-AD pills every day and very strictly limit the quantity of food I eat at one time, it's okay. It's definitely more a question of quantity than what is actually consumed. The Immodium website is a bit sparse with information about what the drug does, but evidently it somehow keeps food in the body longer so it can be properly processed rather than rushing through and exiting as brown liquid. And that probably explains the vomiting problem. Eat too much at one time, it stays in the stomach and then part of it has to get out ... upwards. One website tells me that about twenty-four percent of the population has IBS. Odd, then, that medical science (or the drug companies) have made so little progress in dealing with it. I'm just grateful I've been allowed most of my life without it.

The zipper on the main compartment of my bag broke. Well, I broke it, trying too forcefully to cram a bottle of beer into the bag. So I had to make an expedition to Chinatown for a replacement. Amazingly, the shop has kept the same Burmese model for about two years now. (Yes, made in Myanmar. Not sure I want to think much about the working conditions at that "factory".) They cost only $20 and last about five or six months, so no complaints when a zipper breaks or, one time, the plastic thing that holds the shoulder strap.

Shopping in Chinatown on a Saturday morning is not a recommended experience.

1349

The providers of my Dark Corner sanctuary operate a breakfast and lunch place, weekdays. I try to keep a little beer in my green plastic disguise bottle so I can enjoy that with the final cigarette of the day and while doing that, I often contemplate the menu there. Pancakes are three dollars, waffles are $3.50. It has been decades since I've had a real waffle. Those packaged things popped into a toaster don't count. Maybe I should return to the Dark Corner one morning for breakfast.

A Proustian menu. When my father was not off in one war or another, it was a tradition in our house for him to prepare Sunday breakfast. It was always waffles. I was very fond of them, especially since I loathed my mother's pancakes. She was an excellent baker and did some other things very well. I've never tasted fried okra better than hers (my own efforts didn't come close). But she cooked almost everything outside the oven in Crisco. Pancakes fried in Crisco are almost nauseating, perhaps moreso when fried in Crisco left from the night before. I didn't get very far when trying to beg off eating breakfast on those pancake days.

I'm a fan of John Sandford's Prey series so was well pleased to find one I've hitherto missed, Easy Prey. There's a new one in paperback, Hidden Prey, but I'll wait for it to appear on the dollar book shelves. And I haven't read Dennis Lehane before but enjoyed his first novel, A Drink Before the War. The later Shutter Island, though, tried a little too hard to be weird. Nevertheless, I'll look for the other books which came between those two. All these people are incredibly prolific.

I'm sick of hearing about the Supreme Court nominee. Give it a rest, NPR.

1350

I didn't have to wait long for Sandford's Hidden Prey. Someone goofed and put it on the dollar shelves when a book that new should have first gone to the intermediate section, at half the list price. Two critics praised him for making an unbelievable plot believable but I couldn't join in their praise, think it's the weakest of his Prey series. Jeffrey Deaver's The Coffin Dancer, which I bought at the same time and read next, was much better.

But they were both trumped by the latest Scarpetta book from Patricia Cornell, Trace. Bought that from a savvier shop where I had to pay four dollars, amazed that it showed up in a used bookshop when it had only been published a few weeks earlier.

I was, though, sufficiently entertained by the Deaver book that I also bought his The Devil's Teardrop and Speaking in Tongues. I was halfway through Tongues when I realized I had read it before. When I graduate to full-blown Alzheimer's, I won't have to buy books anymore. Will just read the one I read the day before without knowing it. If I still remember how to read.

The final weekend of July was unexceptional. The opera broadcast was a 20th century work which hasn't been performed in twenty years. Understandably. Prairie Home Companion was another repeat but once again I hadn't heard it (I'll be in trouble next year when they repeat things from this year). But a report on All Things Considered explained why we're having such a long spell of PHC repeats. Robert Altman's next film will be ... Prairie Home Companion. So Garrison and Company have been busy working on that. Filming is now complete and it's in the editing stage, scheduled for release next spring. I'll be there on the first day.

If I'm still around next spring ...

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the tales