Sorry for the light posting this week. The bug that has been wandering around Port Swiller Manor recently finally decided to pay me a personal call. It’s an odd one this time. One minute you say to yourself, “Self, I think I’m getting better!” The next, your head suddenly feels ten pounds too heavy, your entire body aches, you break out in a sweat and your knees threaten to fold the wrong way.
Rinse and repeat.
Anyhoo, I’ve spent most of the past 56 hours, at least the ones in which I’ve been awake, rereading a stack of old Dave Barry books, of which I have 6 or 7. (Today it was Dave Barry Turns 50 and Dave Barry in Cyberspace.) It’s been a while since I last clapped eyes on any of them and, while it might just be the ‘flu talking, I must say that while I’ve always liked his stuff, ol’ Dave is a hell of a lot funnier than I remember.
Just thought I’d throw that out there.
By the way, Wandering Bug would be a pretty good name for a rock band.
UPDATE: Long-time friend of the decanter Cap’n Ned brings up an important (and I suppose apropos, given the pic of Dave I chose) issue, that of appropriate bathroom reading.
This is a subject to which ol’ Robbo has dedicated some study over the years. What is it that makes a given book appropriate to the library of the loo, the bibliotheca of the bog, the repository of the depository, the athenaeum of the ass-can? (I’m so very sorry about that last one but I needed a closer. If you imagine Robin Leach saying it, it’s not so bad.)
Well, I’ll tell you. Said book must be both granule and lightweight. It must be something on which you can nibble at will, taking it and leaving it as suits your biznay. At the same time, it must be something for which less than full concentration is required, IYKWIMAITYD. So both War and Peace and Quotations of Chairman Mao are right out.
Of course, the downstairs W/C at Port Swiller Manor has its own basket of reading materials.
As a sort of substratum, said basket always contains the latest alumni magazines from our various schools, together with copies of the local fish-wrapper and of Modern Luxury: DC magazine, which continues to show up in our mailbox despite the fact that we’ve never subscribed, much less shown any interest in it.
The real meat, though, is in the books.
Before sitting down to type out this update, I stepped into the downstairs W/C and rummaged around the reading basked in order to ascertain the current Port Swiller reading list and see if it complies with ol’ Robbo’s criteria. It includes:
– Two compendia of Calvin & Hobbes cartoons;
– Two compendia of FoxTrot cartoons;
– Several volumes of Down East humor by noted Down East humorist John McDonald, including his Maine Trivia: A Storyteller’s Useful Guid To Useless Information; his A Moose and a Lobster Walk Into A Bar; and his Maine Dictionary (also the Boston Dictionary by John Powers, the success of which caused the publishers to hustle McDonald into producing the Maine version);
– The Devious Book for Cats, which styles itself as a parody but which is actually too close to the truth to be funny and is really rayther depressing;
– James Lileks’ Mommy Knows Worst.
I may admit that the last one is my current favorite, and it surprises me that no one has asked any questions about why Dad is locked in the loo, giggling, snerking and snorting.
Now certainly, as Ned suggests, Dave Barry would qualify for inclusion in a reading list of this sort based on substance. The problem is that the guy is prolific, having something north of forty titles to his name. Were I to introduce one or two of his books to the loo basket, pretty soon it would be three or four. And then six or eight. And then a round dozen. At that point, I’d start talking about a need for more space, perhaps a series of shelves, in which to deposit all of Dave’s words. And in a bathroom? That’s too weird for me.
No, at least at Port Swiller Manor, Barry gets confined to what I call the Bookcases of Misfit Authors. These are the ones down the basement to which ol’ Robbo bans books that he deems not appropriate for his “library proper”. At the moment they’re all sitting in stacks scattered about the house and awaiting the post-flood restoration of said basement which the contractor promises is less than two weeks out now, but once that’s done, they’re going back downstairs where they belong.