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Peening

And ...

On campus today to visit the library to borrow books of poetry by Dickinson, Poe, Whitman, Eliot and Dylan Thomas, I stopped by my office to check the mail. And there it was: the newest edition (the 11th) of The Little, Brown Handbook. Word nerd that I am, punctilious, nay, pedantic punctuator, this media-mail-rate package tempted me to step into the hallway and proclaim my good fortune, especially because it is an "instructor's" (read: free) copy, but experience has taught me that few people treasure knowing the definition of "squinting modifier" and thus might attribute my joy to standing bareheaded for too long in the unallayed sunshine.

And ...


I stopped at a Large Furniture Store today to buy a bookcase, only to learn the store (which boasts a showroom floor about the size of a football field; I'm not exaggerating) had not one of them. The sales associate, in a roundabout way of trying to justify the shortage of inventory, remarked that it's a shame "books are becoming obsolete" (important disclaimer: those are her words).

And ...

I guess books are becoming obsolete if I believe the aisle-capping display I saw yesterday at Staples promoting the Sony electronic reader. The display showed a thirty-ish man, obviously a professional, smartly dressed, stylish eyeglasses (of course) sitting in an airplane seat, eyes joyously affixed to an electric book. I'm not sure I understand the appeal. I realize there may be some utility to the device: after all, you probably can ask it to search the book to find out exactly where the author used the word "kith" without immediately following it with "and kin" ("kith" looks like such a weird combination of letters that now I wonder if the word really exists — but I'm letting it stand, I'm not going to strike it, because I like the concept of it), but half the satisfaction of reading a book for me is trying to find something I read a hundred pages ago or so, saying, "I remember seeing it on a left-hand page, lower half," and then finding it. I like the feel of a book in my hands; I find it hard to read for very long on a screen. That's probably a generational thing; I'm not sure how many of the students in my courses would agree.

And ...

In the above entry, let's all be sure we fully realize I was referring to a "left-hand" page, not a "left-foot" page, or ...

And ...

So I stopped by another Major Furniture Store later, still looking for a bookcase, and the retail income enhancement specialist (there's the future of "sales associate" for you; remember, you heard it here first) told me yes, they had bookcases, step right to the front of the store please sir, and there they were, four bookcases of varying size, all in Ubiquitous Oak from Hell. I'm sorry, I said to him, that style doesn't appeal to me, but I added I could understand the store's shortage of suitable shelving, considering how books are becoming obsolete. But oh, he said, tapping his suit jacket conspiratorially over his heart, I have a book right here that I read when it gets slow—which prompted me to wonder silently what his definition of "slow" was, as I could have stood at the front door and hit live 2-irons through to the back of the store without grazing a soul. I asked what he was reading, and he confided it was something to do with Dungeons and Dragons ("trying to work up a little fantasy," he explained, his use of the words "working up" and "fantasy" immediately jarring my brain for reasons that will become clear in a moment). At the door, I thanked him for his help and said, "Enjoy the rest of your book." He replied, "You too," a response I found somewhat puzzling.

And ...

His response reminded me of a time I was a newspaper editor and a campaigning congressional candidate stopped at the office to meet with our editorial board. By way of greeting him, I stepped forward, extending my hand for a shake, and said my name. "Absolutely," he replied.

And ...

Should you find yourself engaged in mixing a cocktail some late summer afternoon, say, a gin and tonic involving a gin from a microdistillery that an old friend has given you (given you the gin, that is, not the microdistillery), and you need to open a fresh bottle of, say, tonic water, a bottle that has been stored outside, unrefrigerated, occasionally exposed to direct sunlight, be advised that said bottle will gush its contents all over you and your surroundings once the cap is removed.


And ...

Having just read "Lolita," I can safely say Nabokov probably would have used a verb other than "gush."

And ...

I picked up a tool from my workbench today, a ball-peen hammer, and found myself wondering if there is such a word as "peen," and if so, what part of speech it is. I am not going to look it up; not knowing if it exists, or in what state, will allow me to use it in all sorts of inappropriate contexts, to, I hope, humorous effect.

Comments

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
vivitalia
Aug. 14th, 2009 10:41 pm (UTC)
Teehee. Peen. I may join you in that request. And I loved the structure of this piece. It read like a shopping list of thoughts, like the reader was ticking one off (as in getting it off the list, not angering) with every "and." Bravo, and thanks for sharing.
patrick_vecchio
Aug. 14th, 2009 11:48 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you enjoyed it. I was too lazy to come up with more ambitious transitions.
nodressrehersal
Aug. 14th, 2009 11:07 pm (UTC)
A delightful stroll through your brain, this. Office Depot actually has some decent bookshelves that you put together yourself, (maybe you could peen on it) with a nice little bit of architectural moulding for visual appeal and shelves that can actually hold books without bowing, 25-50 lbs. per shelf. They come in a maple or cherry finish and retail for less than $150 bucks before coupons.

Office Depot bookcase link

Kith and kin - the Constantines. I love that song... Oh, and books simply can NOT become obsolete, even if I have to see to it single-handedly.
patrick_vecchio
Aug. 14th, 2009 11:52 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the tout on the bookshelves. I've got something specific in mind; now, I just have to see if anyone makes it.

Yeah, that word came to me from the Constantines, which is one of those records that gets better every time I play it. I don't know the song titles yet, and when I listen to the disc I can't remember which song follows which, but that CD is going to be the only one I'm listening to in the truck for the foreseeable future. Thanks again!

Oh, and based on your post, it sounded like The Decemberists were even better than you'd hoped. Isn't it great when that happens?
penshark
Aug. 15th, 2009 12:33 am (UTC)
If you can't find the bookshelves anywhere, holler. I know someone who might be capable of making them for you.
patrick_vecchio
Aug. 15th, 2009 12:57 am (UTC)
Thanks much, Carole. But I think that "someone" needs to work on building a dam or dikes or something outside your office door first. Maybe a moat? Or a canal?
penshark
Aug. 15th, 2009 01:17 am (UTC)
If I could rechannel the water in the direction of the culprits ...

I've careened this week between fury and deep discouragement -- I'm not sure anyone's ever going to bother really fixing it. And the timing was awful -- it happened over a weekend when Steve was in the hospital. (He's home now and much better.)

The someone with the bookshelves isn't in a position to build a canal or a moat. Pity...
nodressrehersal
Aug. 15th, 2009 02:14 am (UTC)
I can't put into words (although I did indeed take a stab at it) how truly fantastic their show was. It was everything creative all rolled up into one marvelous event that sent hand to mouth in awe...

Oh, and besides The Decemberists, I've been listening to The National again and really liking them, so thanks back atcha.
nokomisjeff
Aug. 15th, 2009 12:03 am (UTC)
I am a big fan of bookshelves and just added two more 36"X90" to the 11 I already own. I filled them up with books lying around and find that I need to buy a couple more. I've contacted a very strange affliction that I will buy a hardcover book and then download it on Kindle and switch back and forth depending on my mood. I am addicted to the Kindle though.

I switched Gin, going away from Bombay Sapphire which has been been killing my liver. I've returned to my roots and gone back to Tanqueray.

Good book recommendation....Thomas Pynchon's "Inherent Vice." Read it and you can thank me later:)

Jeff
patrick_vecchio
Aug. 15th, 2009 12:15 am (UTC)
Jeff, I'm not at all surprised you have the need for so many bookshelves.

A Kindle "addict," you say? What's the attraction? (And that's not a smart-ass question; I'm just curious.)

Can't go wrong with Tanqueray—but I looked earlier this summer at a bottle of Tanqueray 10 and was surprised by the price difference. Since I'm diluting the gin with a lot of tonic (unlike you and those five-finger liquid horse tranquilizers that you mix up) and adding some Rose's sweetened lime juice, I don't think I could really taste the difference.

I'll pick up the Pynchon as soon as I finish taking my comps later this month. Thanks for the tout.
nokomisjeff
Aug. 15th, 2009 12:51 am (UTC)
The Kindle is just.....so easy and seductive. I can whip it out in a cab or at the coffee shop or even at the beach and not worry about turning a page. They've improved the screen, added to the charge so it won't run out of juice, and you can get downloads of classics very cheaply. I get the Financial Times sent to it every day, and a couple of magazines also. Since I was a early adopter of the very first Kindle, I've noticed more and more people using them.

Still, there's nothing like the feel and smell of a book. Since my girlfriend and I are both bookhounds, every trip to B&N costs a couple hundred bucks....and we go there way too much. My girlfriend also has a cognitive problem with ordering a book on Amazon, forgetting about it, then getting it over at B&N.

Jeff
cwmackowski
Aug. 15th, 2009 12:52 am (UTC)
Yeah, I'm big on my Kindle, too. Coolest thing since sliced bread. Or fire. Although fire is usually hot and not cool.
nokomisjeff
Aug. 15th, 2009 04:02 am (UTC)
chris,

Please send me your e-mail address that I can give to a scholarly friend so he can send you those civil war letters. His name is Chris Tucker, and I will vouch for him. He has 21 good letters from the battlefront to home and I know you'll be interested.

Jeff
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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