Advance copy from the newsletter of The Bryant Library for September 2019:
My current “fun” project is making bits of things for an installation that I will be putting up in our local library inspired by a 1923 copy of the dreadful book by Christopher Morley that we got in as donation at the used book store. Some of the bits that I am making are scary little bonsai that erupt from tatty books.
I know. I have to work more on making with the “erupt” part. I thought that having the tree’s roots creep out from inside the book would be, well, creepy, but it’s not. It’s barely noticeable. Back to the
drawing board mat knife.
P.S. The editor of the newsletter gave me two days’ notice about getting a blurb ready, so I wrote this in about ten minutes and I took a photo of the only finished piece I have so far.
Officially, the used book store is closed for the month of August, but I still have to show up a few hours a week to meet with c
rack pot hoarders donors and to process their stinking shitty trash donations. On Thursday, I had scheduled to meet with three separate donors at the used book store, so there I was, at 1 o’clock in the afternoon until 2 o’clock in the afternoon, as per our arrangement, dutifully keeping myself busy while I waited and waited and waited. . .
. . . NONE of the
pissant purveyors of filthy paperback crap donors showed up!
Jesus. My time is very valuable and I am not to be trifled with. From 2:00 until 4:30 I was in a murderous mood, resentful of all the good work I do for an ungrateful community yadda yadda yadda.
At 4:31 I remembered that it was only Wednesday.
So today (being the real Thursday) I was back at the used book store, taking in boxes of garbage. I should have known: the old couple who called saying that they “want to get rid of some books”, and with whom I very carefully went through the list of books that I will not take. . . still brought in four boxes of old, moldy, beat up religious and text books.
They also brought a few books of collected short stories from mercifully forgotten writers. Such as this, from 1955:
It seems to me that Anne was not all that sure that this book was Harry’s cup of tea. So, Jesus, girl — go get him a book that you know he would like!
A woman brought in about 25 children’s books, of which a good 16 were acceptable. Among them was this, my new favorite book in the whole world:
And something that has never happened before, happened today.
With the third donor, a young boy just graduated from college who was giving me all his old space books (he called them “space” books, so I had to ask, “Do you mean astronomy?” and he agreed that yes, they were about astronomy, and I had to wonder, good lord, what the hell kind of college did you go to??) included some general reading materials, along with the “space” books.
He gave me a copy of Wonder, without the dust jacket — exactly the same book, in the same sans-dust jacket condition, as I got from the woman who gave me the children’s books. I can’t remember which copy of Wonder was which, but one was the 40th printing, and the other was the 70th.
SEVENTY PRINTINGS!! 5 million copies sold in 29 languages and it was made into a film that starred Julia Roberts.
I have never heard of this book! Or the movie! (It’s a YA novel about a 10-year old kid with severe facial deformities.)
So here’s one example of how working at the used book store has brought me up to date with the culture around me. Which is a good thing, about 80% of the time.
In other zeitgeist news:
In August, the world flocks to Edinburgh (Scotland) for a theater and comedy festival that is the European Sundance of theater and comedy. It’s a very big deal, worth about 250 billion pounds to the Scottish economy and has been responsible for such break out stars as Peter Cook and Dudley Moore (a long time ago), Alan Rickman, Rowan Atkinson, Sasha Baron Cohen, Steve Coogan, and Billy Connolly (who is crazy famous and beloved in the UK and not so much in America ).
Every year, the festival awards a prize, called Dave (ha ha) for the funniest one-liner. This year, a Swedish comedian who goes by the name Olaf Falafel (I think he’s trying too hard, with that name) won the Dave.
He took the title with the gag: “I keep randomly shouting out ‘Broccoli’ and ‘Cauliflower’ – I think I might have florets”.
Well. There has been a broo-ha-ha about this joke. A lot of people don’t like it because it makes a “joke” at the expense of sufferers of a much-misunderstood neurological malady. It’s also not funny.
Suzanne Dobson, the chief executive of Tourette’s Action in the UK, told the BBC: ”Humour is a great way of educating people – but not only is it not funny to poke fun at people with Tourette’s, it’s not even that funny a joke, is it?”
I didn’t know why this dumb broccoli joke won the award until I read up in the competition. Some of the other contenders are just as bad, but a few are actually funny. Here is a sample (from The Edinburgh International Festival 2019):
“I can give you the cause of anaphylactic shock in a nutshell.” Gary Delaney
“I saw a documentary on how ships are kept together. Riveting!” Stewart Francis
“I waited an hour for my starter so I complained: ‘It’s not rocket salad.” Lou Sanders
“Crime in multi-storey car parks. That is wrong on so many different levels.” Tim Vine
“I picked up a hitch hiker. You’ve got to when you hit them.” Emo Philips
“As a kid I was made to walk the plank. We couldn’t afford a dog.” Gary Delaney
“I was watching the London Marathon and saw one runner dressed as a chicken and another runner dressed as an egg. I thought: ‘This could be interesting.’” Paddy Lennox
“I’m sure wherever my dad is; he’s looking down on us. He’s not dead, just very condescending.” Jack Whitehall
“I’ve given up asking rhetorical questions. What’s the point?” Alexei Sayle
“I have two boys, 5 and 6. We’re no good at naming things in our house” Ed Byrne
“I wasn’t particularly close to my dad before he died… which was lucky, because he trod on a land mine” Olaf Falafel
“Whenever someone says, ‘I don’t believe in coincidences.’ I say, ‘Oh my God, me neither!”‘ Alasdair Beckett-King
“A friend tricked me into going to Wimbledon by telling me it was a men’s singles event” Angela Barnes
“As a vegan, I think people who sell meat are disgusting; but apparently people who sell fruit and veg are grocer” Adele Cliff
“For me dying is a lot like going camping. I don’t want to do it” Phil Wang
“Why is it old people say ‘there’s no place like home’, yet when you put them in one …” Stuart Mitchell
I often confuse Americans and Canadians. By using long words.” Gary Delaney
“Why is Henry’s wife covered in tooth marks? Because he’s Tudor.” Adele Cliff
“Don’t you hate it when people assume you’re rich because you sound posh and went to private school and have loads of money?” Annie McGrath
“If you’re being chased by a pack of taxidermists, do not play dead.” Olaf Falafel
“I’ve written a joke about a fat badger, but I couldn’t fit it into my set.” Masai Graham ****( see end of post)
And my favorite:
“Trump’s nothing like Hitler. There’s no way he could write a book” Frankie Boyle
And that’s the blog for this week. But before I go, I want to alert you to a situation that Top Cat and I have been tracking for most of this Summer.
Our dear sweet Lickety was diagnosed with a mass on his liver about 8 weeks ago.
He is still a very loving and personable kitty, hanging out with his buds on the patio and glomming onto us any time we sit on the Adirondack chairs, but his days are dwindling as surely as the Summer light.
I have a feeling that we will be making that final visit to the vet’s soon, maybe as soon as this coming week.
So have a wonderful weekend, Dear Readers, and do something extra special while it’s still August, while the sunshine is still like powdered gold and the Summer still trembles like a butterfly.
***** Dear Reader and Stromness Rock Tour Guide Angel: I’m so sorry! I know you’re not a badger — you’re a wolverine!! I got Michigan and Wisconsin mixed up like I’m from the UP or something, and I send you my deepest apologies. Statehood for Superior!