Book Eight

Listen. Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time…

Douglas Adams led me here. Actually a friend who knew I loved Adams introduced me to Vonnegut. I had read a few of his short stories before, but I had not read his novels. What happened was a love affair that’s spanned twenty years and will last until I die. The man nothing short of brilliant. As a writer, his works are awe inspiring and freeing. As a reader, they are equally amazing and entertaining. His asides and illustrations don’t detract from the story, they add to it.

Vonnegut is one of those authors I would short list on those if you could only read the works of five authors again, he would be on it without a doubt.

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The Seventh Book

This is not my first or even third copy of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I have long since worn them out, lost them or loaned them and never received them back. This masterpiece of absurdist science fiction gives the answer to Life, the Universe, & Everything. That answer is 42. It also gives us two great pieces of advice: Don’t Panic and always bring a towel. It is a perennial favorite and reread. This book and the humor in it actually helped me find the eighth book in this list.

So, grab your towel and climb aboard, but don’t forget your Babel fish.

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Book Three

I really could not decide on this one. I have had a love for Neil Gaiman since I picked up my first Sandman comic 150 years ago, or the early 90’s if you want to be closer to accurate. One of my most prized possessions is an autographed Sandman trade paperback. I lost the full run, a few busts and statues and a framed Death print in Katrina. My wife found a copy of the first trade that collected the first several issues and gave it to me as a present. That’s what I have signed. It’s one of the first things on my list to pack if we need to evacuate.

Gaiman has a way of speaking to the soul. His writing is both wry and serious. He can insert humor in the most unlikely places, and every time I read something of his, I learn something. If I could be half the writer he is, I would be more than I can dream.

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Book Two

The second book is very much a favorite and one I try to reread every couple of years. Sometimes I’ll start with The Hobbit, but mostly I just start at chapter one and read through the complete Lord of the Rings. I know technically it’s considered three books, but Tolkien had written it as one and I read it that way. After all, who can read just The Two Towers without the other two? I certainly can’t. Even though LOTR is a gateway drug to fantasy and further to science fiction, I still need to keep it around.

Tolkien created a world I love to get lost in. I love everything about it, but don’t ask me to pronounce Elvish. I can’t do that very well. I used to have more editions and prettier ones than what’s pictured below (next to one of the two college textbooks I have remaining), but as long as I’m able to read it, I’m happy.

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Book One

These are in no particular order, but since last month was PRIDE, I figured I would start with one that means a lot to the kinda scared, closeted kid I was when I first read it.

I first read Fried Green Tomatoes in the early to mid 90’s or about the time the movie came out. It was pretty eye opening for someone from a small town in Mississippi during the birth of Grunge. This book gave me Idgie and though there’s not a lot that we have in common, there are a few big things we share: disdain for women’s clothing and a love for Ruth being the two most prominent. It was amazing and the first time I had anything close to a real role model in print.

Fannie Flagg has grown a lot as a writer, but this book remains a favorite. It’s about friendship, love, and barbecue and it’s written in a nonlinear style. At 20 or thereabouts, it was everything I could have wanted in a book.

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The Rodent Who Came to Dinner Part 2

Where was I? Oh yeah. We’re all at home, snuggled in the bed watching Naked and Afraid XL, because that’s what we do, when D heard a scratching sound come from under the bed. Immediately we look for the three dogs and the cat. All are accounted for. WTF, right? Right. It’s the rodent.

Further chasing of rat ensues as one shih tzu sleeps on the bed while the yorkie and I are trying to catch this thing and the wife and daughter are out in the car. The damn rat runs across the headboard, leaps for the bedside table, falls off the lamp and tries to climb up the wall. The shih tzu is still asleep. He in fact remains asleep until I strip the bed of sheets that now had maybe come into contact with rodent feet. Thanks, Dash. You just wait there, buddy.

D and E end up going to a hotel/motel for the night, because obviously no one is sleeping in that room until there’s a dead rat. Or at least until my loving, big hearted wife sees the carcass (Seriously. She demanded to see the remains.)

Fast forward an hour or so. It’s past midnight. I’m on the couch in the living room with three dogs, only one of which is actively trying to help and a cat who has apparently gone on strike. I have the mallet and the high-powered bb gun my dad gave me when I lived near water in case snakes got in the yard. After about three am I started falling asleep feeling a lot like Private Pyle from Full Metal Jacket.

The yorkie and I did manage to almost catch the damn thing. In fact, we ended up trapping it in E’s room. E is 9. She’s brilliant and thrives on chaos. Her room looks like a landfill made up of books, shopkins and DC Superhero Girls. It’s a mess.

I slam a few more traps in there, complete with a huge glue one, (the yorkie managed to catch herself on that one), shut the door, stuff something between the door and the floor and fall into a heap of exhaustion on the couch. I promptly woke up at every little noise.

That morning, a friend came over to help with the Great Rat Chase of 2017. He was brave enough to enter the room while the yorkie and I kept up the guard in the hallway, alert and ready for it to make a run for it.

Finally though, M got it. We take a picture of the carcass, it gets posted to Facebook, the family comes home and I’m done.

Seems rather anticlimactic, but there you have it.

 

The Rodent Who Came to Dinner Part One

I wasn’t feeling my best Thanksgiving Day, but the kid was determined to start decorating for Christmas. So, I dragged my wretched body out the storage shed and hauled in two boxes and what I thought was the tree. I put them in the kitchen, left them alone and then declared myself done with the whole ordeal. I calmly went back to the couch and continued feeling miserable.

Cut to a scene ten minutes later. The wife (D) opens the largest box and pulls out the tree skirt. She notices it has holes in it, but nothing prepares us for what happens next: the rodent who charged out of the box, ran across my wife’s foot and disappeared. There were yells, screams, I won’t say I saw my wife push our nine year old daughter (E) out of the way and hurdle the back of the couch, but I have vague memories of that. I ran and grabbed the broom. All miserable feelings were instantly replaced with a desire to rid the house of the rodent. The broom soon becomes a croquet mallet E had used for Halloween when she went as Harley (the DC Comic Girls Harley) because I’ve read The Shining and we didn’t have a roque mallet.

We ended up running to Wal-Mart and getting every type of rat catching device they had. The yorkie and I placed them all around the house. We went to bed that night, all of us in one bed, two adults, the 9 yo, two shih tsus and the yorkie. I had to work the real job the next day of course and D and E had tickets to show and went. I made it home first and was disappointed that I did not find a dead rodent in one of our ingeniously placed traps.

So I went on the hunt for it. The yorkie had it cornered, or so we thought. D and E get home and we decide to go to bed after a futile hunt that destroyed the kitchen.

Here ends part one. Part two will be posted soon.