And Your Little Dog, Too

“Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin told Fox News & Commentary that she found the card to be a bit unusual. ‘It’s odd,’ she said, wondering why the president’s Christmas card highlights his dog instead of traditions like ‘family, faith and freedom.’[Fox]


Did she put Glen Rice, aka “Big Dog,” on her card?

Family? Faith? Freedumb?

From her? Fuck.

TFuckingJ/ Literary advice, please.

I’m ditching The Family Gathering on Sunday. I’ve called a local hospice, and I’m going to hang out and just do whatever the patients like. I think we might enjoy each other more than anyone in my family will enjoy each other on Sunday. So…I am going to bring three books for people who might like to hear stories. I’m doing the short-story thing, and I think I have in a box somewhere Everything that Rises Must Converge, You Can’t Keep a Good Woman Down, but I don’t have a “dude” book. I’m thinking Steinbeck or Hemmingway. Any suggestions? (Also know that our library selection is kinda crap due to poor funding.)

@JNOV has a right to be hostile (it’s a book, okay?): Take some Wodehouse – very funny, and you can do Jeeves’ and Wooster’s voices.

@blogenfreude: I will if I can find it, but I can not do that accent!

I’m thinking, because of where I live, that we’re going to have a mix of cultures and ages. I was thinking about Of Mules and Men, but I don’t think I have that anymore.

I should bring The Boondocks…

@JNOV has a right to be hostile (it’s a book, okay?): Hemingway sounds right. The Nick Carter stories? You might consider Salinger. For Esmée With Love and Squalor. If you don’t think it lah-di-dah, Chekhov is peerless. There’s a fine collection entitled The day With the Little Dog in Penguin.

That’s a sweet card. The room is ready and awaiting the family. Their absence from the picture is the point. It’s about the idea of a family Christmas. But then, Palin is an ignorant, rapacious harridan, entirely devoid of culture or education so that would explain that.

@Benedick: Ah. I forgot I borrowed this book, The Best Short Stories of the Modern Age. The pages are yellow, so I’m not sure what qualifies as “modern.”

Here’s what’s in it (tell me what to skip?):

The Tell-Tale Heart (I think I’ll skip that one)
The Jewels
The Tree of Knowledge
A Clean, Well-Lighted Place
The Rocking-Horse Winner <– that made me cry in 8th grade
The Dead (er, skip it?)
Little Herr Friedemann
The Story of My Dovecot
The Devil and Daniel Webster
A Rose for Emily
The Metamorphosis (Part I)
The Wall
Of This Time, Of That Place
The Lottery <– freaked me out as well
The Ledge

The Dead is beautiful–my favorite Joyce. Rose for Emily is seriously creepy–my favorite Faulkner. I also love the Tell-Tale Heart, because I have a serious weakness for Poe.

@Mistress Cynica: Thanks! I’ll read them tomorrow. I don’t want to make people feel worse, especially people really doped up on pain meds.

@JNOV has a right to be hostile (it’s a book, okay?): Do you think they would appreciate David Sedaris? “Holidays on Ice” is my one annual Xmas tradition. “Santaland Diaries” is the classic, but all of them are hilarious.
BTW, I think this is an awesome way to spend your Christmas. Beats the hell out of Dysfunction Junction.

@JNOV has a right to be hostile (it’s a book, okay?): I’m with Cyn. The Dead is a wonderful piece of work that rises to an ending of great beauty. I also like Telltale Heart. I know Bliss but can’t think who it is. David Sedaris is not a bad idea at all and might be an idea to take along till you suss out what people are up for. What a great plan. Let us know how it works out.

@Mistress Cynica: Sedaris! Excellent! And thanks! Yeah — I’ll visit my family once I’ve had my Wheaties. Ain’t enough Wheaties in the world for this clan on Xmas.

@Benedick: C’mon — do ill people want to hear about some dude bricked in a cellar? I like it, too, but I’ll ask first.

Bliss is um, lemme check — Katherine Mansfield. You saw your Checkov Chekhov? Yes, I’ll let you know how it goes. First issue is getting the green light (should hear from hospice today), and then telling my mother. I’m sure she’ll freak, but c’mon, WWJD?

@JNOV has a right to be hostile (it’s a book, okay?): That’s right! I was going to suggest her but thought you needed a guy. No, which is Chekhov? (The English used to spell it Tcheckoff. This is another reason you should never have anything to do with the English) There’s so many of the damn things and I read them so long ago.

I would imagine it depends on what they need to hear. Something real or entertainment. I was going to suggest The Death of Ivan Illyich but thought better of it. When my mother’s hospice care started at home (only lasted a couple of weeks) a very nice woman came to talk to her who suggested that she have music therapy, which caused me to become hysterical remembering our home life in what they call my formative years. Music therapy aside it was a brilliantly organized service that offered all kinds of help. Good for you.

BTW. I was just accused of elitist condescension. A charge which I have decided is the cultural equivalent of red-baiting. See. Nothing pretentious here. But I was reminded once more how tolerant folks tend to be around this stinque-hole of hope.

@Benedick: I read, and wrote reports on “Ivan Illyich” twice in high school and then again in college, thinking that I had the whole Tolstoy thing down. I was delusional, because I kept getting lower and lower marks – but I loved the story.

O&BTW, we come for the witty exchanges, but stay for the elitist condescension. And the kissing sailors.

@Benedick: BTW. I was just accused of elitist condescension.

Dude. Tell them you play Angry Birds and to STFU.

@JNOV has a right to be hostile (it’s a book, okay?): I know this is decidedly less high brow but have you ever read Lewis Grizzard?

@JNOV has a right to be hostile (it’s a book, okay?): Dude. I am one game away from acing the entire Angry Birds Seasons 2011 game, or as I like to call it Motherfucking Cocksuckers. One motherfucking game! How elitist am I?

Now I have to go to the city. Ciao!

BTW — I think it’s not so much what I read for some but that they hear my voice, ya know? About a year ago, I read to my aunt while she was in the hospital (many of you helped me by recommending mystery novels). It helped distract her from the pain for a little while.

Here’s an option for short stories that are non-elitist and charming and sweet and fun to read aloud to boot: O’Henry. You could probably rock that New Yawk dialect proper too, m’dear! You can even skip Gift of the Magi if you think it’s overdone, because there’s so many other stories of his (SO many…he was nothing if not prolific) that are more obscure but just as charming.

Also, can I just say how much I admire you for doing this? What a lovely idea, JNOV!

@flippin eck: I’m smiling. Thank you.

I feel a little guilty bc there is definitely a self-interest part of this thing (duck the fam!), but yeah. I’m looking forward to it. My kid said texted, “Alrighty. I think it’s really cool of you to do that, but I know how empathetic you are [stop laughing ;-) ], so I’m kind of worried about how it might affect you, y’know?” I think it will do me good and maybe make me less pissed about, oh, everything. I could be wrong, but I’m willing to take that chance.

@flippin eck: Ah! Memories of The Saturday Evening Post! I’m going to hit the library soon. I’ll check their online catalog. Thanks!

@flippin eck: I’m perhaps a quarter of the way through a tidy collection (given his prolificacy, more of a selection) of his stories. “Man About Town” and “A Cosmopolite in a Café” are fun to read back-to-back.

O. Henry, muthafuckas!

….And a Happy Holiday to you all.

ADD: Oops, sorry Flippin’..

Also: why can’t Americans, even the wealthy ones who can afford taste, tell actual art from egregious schmaltz? That Christmas card could have been done by Thomas “I paint with deep feeling and my anus” Kinkaide…

ARGH! I waited until the last minute like a dumbass! I need to go through training and a background check (totally makes sense, but BUMMER!). Next training in JUNE! >:-/


@Benedick: Honey, has there ever been such a thing as a salt-of-the-earth queen? Of course you are an elitist. It is your birthright. And mine, by the way.

Besides, how would people know you are better than they are unless you remind them constantly? This is the crux of my philosophy.

@SanFranLefty: Nope — they’re good for Sunday. I’m going to contact the VA now.

@JNOV has a right to be hostile (it’s a book, okay?): Nursing homes aren’t as picky. You can probably just show up at one, ask if there’s some one who doesn’t have family around, and go talk or read to them. It’s still a mitzvah.

Also, as long as we’re being elitist–the dude bricked up in the cellar is Cask of Amontillado. Tell-tale Heart is the man who is being driven insane by the ghostly sound of a heartbeat, which preys on his guilty conscience.

@Mistress Cynica: “Tear up the floorboards…I confess…IT IS THE BEATING OF HIS HIDEOUS HEART!”

@Mistress Cynica: Oh, well, hell. Couldn’t he hear the dude’s heart beyond the brick wall? Next thing you’ll be telling me a crow didn’t save him. ;-)

@Mistress Cynica: Oh, and the nursing homes were like, “Yo. We have enough trouble with our own staff and elder abuse.” <– Okay, not really, but, yeah.

One more reading suggestion: Maltese Falcon or any of the other Dashiell Hammett Spade/Archer series.

@Tommmcatt Be Fat, And That Be That: Hey, at least you puncuated his name correctly instead of turning him into an Irishman.

@mellbell: His western/tramp stories are all well and good, but I love the ones set in New York. My favorite is The Green Door. Springtime a la Carte is a close runner-up.

@SanFranLefty: Somebody turns 25 today, yes? Many happy returns of the day!

@flippin eck: I should add that The Green Door has some unpalatable racism in the form of a cringeworthy stereotyped black man, including dialect….sorry, I had forgotten about that. My biggest impression was the mini-essay that opens the story about the followers of True Adventure.

@JNOV has a right to be hostile (it’s a book, okay?):

I just checked. Maltese Falcon is a short novel (200+ pages). However, there are some good story collections around. Murder By Gun is a cheap e-book. Nightmare Town and Big Knockover are also good collections.

@Walking Still: Thanks. If it’s not at the library, I won’t be able to get it. Still gotta check their site. Time to change my uncle’s oil. Merry Xmas to him.

@redmanlaw: Oh HELL NO! JNOVJr. thinks Lovecraft will give me the heebeejeebees.

I might read my ahem AUTOGRAPHED copy of Good Night Keith Moon.

@JNOV has a right to be hostile (it’s a book, okay?):
“Memories and possibilities are even more hideous than realities.” – HP Lovecraft, Herbert West – Re-Animator.

@JNOV has a right to be hostile (it’s a book, okay?): I have autographed copies of “Fly Fishing Through the Mid-Life Crisis” by Howell Raines, a Tom Tomorrow book (w/a Sparky he drew – I did him a favor in Eugene) and “L.L. Bean’s Guide to Flyfishing for Bass” by Dave Whitlock (w/an illustration also). I got Mrs RML a copy of Pat Oliphant’s political cartoons, which I took over to his house here to get signed. He’s a fan of her work also, so he was glad to do it and drew one of his little duck faced dudes below his signature.

@JNOV has a right to be hostile (it’s a book, okay?): “Then suddenly I saw it. With only a slight churning to mark its rise to the surface, the thing slid into view above the dark waters. Vast, Polyphemus-like, and loathsome, it darted like a stupendous monster of nightmares to the monolith, about which it flung its gigantic scaly arms, the while it bowed its hideous head and gave vent to certain measured sounds. I think I went mad then.


” It is at night, especially when the moon is gibbous and waning, that I see the thing. I tried morphine; but the drug has given only transient surcease, and has drawn me into its clutches as a hopeless slave. So now I am to end it all, having written a full account for the information or the contemptuous amusement of my fellow-men.”

– “Dagon” by H.P. Lovecraft

Metallica, “The Call of Cthulhu.”

@JNOV has a right to be hostile (it’s a book, okay?):

Well duh – the heebeejeebees are why you *read* Lovecraft. For instance, this one is a wonderful (for suitably chosen values of “wonderful”) introduction to the genre…

@JNOV has a right to be hostile (it’s a book, okay?):
For humor try Jean Shepherd’s books of short stories. “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash” and “Wanda Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories”. A lot of these stories first appeared in Playboy which will give them lit cred at the VA.

@SanFranLefty: Solstice Baby?

Headed for the light now, y’all:

“Across the land, despite the bleak cold, ice and darkness, people of all faiths and beliefs, unite in knowing that the chill of winter will fade. This knowledge is a part of our common humanity, a yearning to reach toward the light and away from darkness. Come Thursday, we reach the other side of darkness.”

@redmanlaw: OH NO YOU DIDN’T! Boo! If I have nightmares, I’m calling you at 5 AM ET. Trust.

@al2o3cr: YOU TOO‽ At least you linked, so thanks. Naw, my kid thinks I’ll throw it against the wall because of the racism and he knows my reality is pretty fucking scary. I do not need psychological fucking about. (I do like psychological thriller type movies, but books tend to get in my head more.)

@redmanlaw: Oh, and now you want me to kill these folks? Not everybody has happy memories of their service, and many people are not happy to rely on the VA for care. It wasn’t until the Walter Reed scandal came to light that veteran healthcare improved somewhat. You should hear our discussions about how the military fucked our minds and cut us loose. There won’t be a whole lotta “Rah Rah!” but folks will dig that I was a corpsman.

You know how many regular patients my primary care doctor sees? Over 800. Eight fucking hundred that she maintains, follows up, addresses urgent needs, not to mention the ones that she sees on rounds. I hope she doesn’t burn out, because she’s a great doc. The one before her — kinda shitty. Glad she retired.

@Tommmcatt Be Fat, And That Be That: RIGHT!

@Jesuswalksinidaho: Thanks! I will look for them. Also remember that there are many women in the VA, too. ;-)

Boo! VA nursing home OVERBOOKED for visitors (which I guess is really a “Yay,” but still). But, just like everywhere else, I’ll fill out the forms and go through the check so this last-minute stuff doesn’t happen.

On Sunday, I am going to feed the ducks.

ADD: And I might just crash the VA. I’ve got ID, and it’s not far from the duck pond.

@JNOV has a right to be hostile (it’s a book, okay?): Kidding. I am deliberately throwing out wholly inappropriate material intended to totally freak people out just because it is outrageous and wrong. Think “South Park,” etc. No one would ever actually do that.

I like to think that at the end I will want to hear my most favorite book read to me while I drool down my nightie. If only I could only locate my best fave from among so many. But you’re right about the presence of a voice. This is why God made radio. To tell me stories in the dark. Or while I peel the spuds.

And then the Republicans destroyed it.

@Tommmcatt Be Fat, And That Be That: Darling, one is not a queen. One is grand. It’s not the same. But like you I hold my elitist status close to my heart. If you knew how much it cost me to achieve (yes, there were boys involved) you would bow before me. You should do that anyway. Or kneel. Whatever is easier. To kiss the ring. I don’t ask for groveling.

But yeah, right, what the hay! Je suis so totes fucken NOT saying I’m better ‘n’ shit ‘n’ stuff. I’m so like totes regular, darling.

@Benedick: Please stop calling ‘Catt Biscuit (not your kinda biscuit) fat. It’s mean. Yes, he’s Pillsbury Grand and has to have the cobbler stretch his assless chaps on occasion, but he’s still our sweetie.

How come when boys are involved, you always come out on top?

@JNOV has a right to be hostile (it’s a book, okay?):
For Christmas reading I just remembered Arthur C. Clarke’s short story The Star. If the star of Bethlehem was a nova or supernova, you wouldn’t want to be too close to it.

@redmanlaw: Not just solstice baby, but one year from tonight is the Mayan End of Days. Mark your calendar!

@SanFranLefty: We should totally have a joint birthday/anniversary/end of days party next year.

@SanFranLefty: Technically just the episodic confluence of their two elegantly designed calendars, but yeah – PARTY!

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