please stop tickling me

In which we laugh and laugh and laugh. And love. And drink.

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Location: Portland, Oregon

Otium cum Dignitatae

Sunday, July 10, 2005


I have been asked to respond to the following four questions by the Cap'n. Here goes.
1. "How many books do you own?"
A lot less than I used to. I've been dragging a library around with me for much of my life, and after a while, it just makes moving too difficult. Especially when you consider that I also have an enormous number of vinyl records and rusty sharp things to contend with, as well. I'd estimate the number of books at five hundred or maybe more like four-eighty.
2. "What is the last book that you read?"
Depends on what you mean. Some books you can knock off in an afternoon (David Sedaris's stinkin' hilarious Me Talk Pretty One Day, which I've read multiple times), and others take some effort. In the latter category, I offer Nick Tosches' Dino: Living High In the Dirty Business of Dreams, a bio of Dean Martin (excellent!).
3. "What is the last book you purchased?"
Life In a Putty Knife Factory by H. Allen Smith (newspaper man/humorist from the '40's favored by my grampa). Right before that, A Mencken Chrestomathy by H.L. Mencken, and Closed Chambers by Edward Lazarus (a look inside the rise of the Rehnquist court).
4. "Name five fiction books that mean a lot to you."
That's a hard one. Sometimes A Great Notion by Ken Kesey remains one of the greatest books I know, and certainly one of the best portraits of life as a logger in the soggy forests of Oregon. Gain by Richard Powers (an overview of American history as told through the story of a corporation). Any of Robert Anton Wilson's stuff on the Illuminati. Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger (all about what makes up a family). The last one? A three way tie beween Billy Phelan's Greatest Game by William Kennedy, Pagan Babies by Elmore Leonard and A Little Yellow Dog by Walter Mosely. Whoops. The Brothers K by David James Duncan (about growing up in the Northwest, again): the winnah!
I'd like to add a few more questions which others may answer if they wish (Gringa? Carrier? Bitchslap? Erudite Redneck?):
1. "What was the last book someone bought for you?" Gringa Alta Prima bought me Zbignew Brezhinsky's The Grand Chessboard.
2. "What is your favorite biography/autobiography?" Harry Crews' A Childhood: The Biography of A Place, Vladimir Nabokov's Speak, Memory. Gore Vidal's Palimpsest. The Story of My Life by Clarence Darrow.
3. "What is the greatest political tome you've ever read, fiction or nonfiction?" I honestly cannot say. There's too many.
4. "What book have you had the longest, that you still read?" James Thurber's My Life and Hard Times.
5. "What's the greatest spiritual book you've read?" Tales of the Dervishes by Idries Shah or The Boo Hoo Bible: Catechism of the Neo-American Church by Arthur Kleps.
6. "What book do you turn to when you're feeling down?" That'd be Palimpsest, again.
7. "If you could force everyone to sit down and read one book, what would it be?" Listen, Little Man! by Wilhelm Reich.
8. "What reference volume do you turn to the most?" Well, the dictionary, then it's gotta be Dictionary of Classical Antiquities by Oscar Seyffert, whenever I'm doing a crossword puzzle and need to know who one of Zeus's daughters was.
9. "How often do you and your pals sit around and talk about books?" A lot.
10. "Name your favorite comic book/graphic novel." I'm gonna have to say Neil Gaiman's The Sandman, but that's sort of a hard one, too.
Man, this is fun. I may just make up another survey here sometime soon.



Blogger Erudite Redneck said...

Cool addition. I will answer them later. ... Right now, I am SUPPOSED to be writing a book review, oddly enough, for my state historical journal. Can't. Get. Started. pbtbth

4:45 PM  
Blogger rich bachelor said...

Another one might be, "Which book, if you could, would you try to prevent everyone else from reading?"
I actually don't have one, but y'know...

6:26 PM  
Blogger tugboatcapn said...

Well Bachelor, I must say that your list looks a whole lot more interesting than mine did...
I was not disappointed.

7:22 PM  
Blogger tugboatcapn said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:24 PM  
Blogger tugboatcapn said...

I just want to say how much I really appreciate you making me and my blog the subject of your June 30th post, entitled "The Echo Chamber."
That post displayed all the information that anyone could need about the difference between my side of the aisle and yours.

8:08 PM  
Blogger rich bachelor said...

Oh boy. Here we go. And we were getting along so well. Keep in mind: a lot of what we do in this space is blow off steam, and remember too that I've tried wherever I could to find the common ground here...Oh boy, here we go.

8:29 PM  
Blogger ScaryCheri said...

I love it when I stumble on a good blog.

I love David Sedaris! I'm not a big reader, but I do love all of his books, Me Talk Prety may have been the first book I read in 2 days ....usually takes me weeks to read a book.

Also love long posts. I post long posts, and I like to read long posts...the good ones anyway :)

nice to meet you :)

8:35 PM  
Blogger Dr. ER said...

Hey, bachelor, a nice case of insomnia found me taking the time to consider your additional questions posted on your site. I answered both in the comment section of my own blog ( as well as here. I think you are a more literate reader than I, but I enjoy surprising people by how well rounded I am. And in looking at your other comments, there is not a single book in the world I would ever prevent another soul from reading. Never. Such prevention is the antithesis of a free society.

1. "What was the last book someone bought for you?"

ER bought me "Good Poems" by Garrison Keillor; this might surprise him, as it has been awhile since he bought it for me, but I generally buy the books I want for myself. It's a fave. Another fave he bought me at the same time is a book of photography by Don Imus and his brother Fred. Amazing work, Imus has a Hasselblad, something I want and crave BADLY.

2. "What is your favorite biography/autobiography?"

Bill Clinton's. Hands down.
And a second favorite, bizarrely enough, is the autobio., written with some help, called Papa John, about John Phillips, of Mamas and Papas fame.

3. "What is the greatest political tome you've ever read, fiction or nonfiction?"

This will take some thought -- although it is likely to be about 20th century China. No, I know what it is: "Legacies: A Chinese Mosaic" by Bette Bao Lord. These are real stories of real people who suffered through the Cultural Revolution. Heroes, all.

4. "What book have you had the longest, that you still read?"

"The Bumper Book" -- a children's book of verses, by Watty Piper. I lost the book in a tornado, and recently found one on Amazon; rare book, published in the early 1960's.

5. "What's the greatest spiritual book you've read?"

Oddly enough, I'm not going to choose the Bible, but after reading Richard Chamberlain's autobiography (which was so-so; and he's gorgeous, I don't care that he IS gay), I picked up The Complete Rumi. Masterful universal lessons in Rumi. Lovely language.

6. "What book do you turn to when you're feeling down?"

Any Calvin and Hobbes book and I own them all.

7. "If you could force everyone to sit down and read one book, what would it be?"

The little chapbook poem that was distributed at the election of Bill Clinton in 1993. In dark blue, with gilt writing on the front, it is called "The Inaugural Poem: On the Pulse of Morning" by Maya Angelou. I found about 20 copies at a library book sale here a couple of years ago and have given it to several friends. It is a treasured possession with a treasured message -- about the America I miss so much. Type that poem title into Google and read it as well.

8. "What reference volume do you turn to the most?"

The reference volume I use most is not a book at all, but Thomas, the Library of Congress'web-based reference for all activities of Congress. I use it for work all the time, to keep up with bills, votes, amendments, etc.

9. "How often do you and your pals sit around and talk about books?"

All of the time. I'm a former librarian, and people who don't read simply don't fall into my circle of life.

10. "Name your favorite comic book/graphic novel."

I read a lot of comics, so I can't pick a single comic book. My regulars include old copies of the following: Calvin and Hobbes; Doonesbury; Bloom County; Foxtrot; Zits; and of course, The Far Side.

10:22 PM  
Blogger rich bachelor said...

Thank you, 38, nicely done. My pal has told me a bit about Thomas, but I haven't been there yet.
I'm going to check up on 'The Bumper Book'. For some reason, I know the name Watty Piper. Why is that?
I've always been curious about the Papa John book, and The Cultural Revolution has lessons for everybody in it. I have this album from 1950 called 'The Red Flower of Tachai Blooms Everywhere'. It's a little ten-inch from China, and features a drawing of a dam on its cover.
All the songs are instrumental, and are variations on traditional tunes. The only difference is that now they have titles like 'A Long, Long Life To Chairman Mao' and 'Delivering Public Grain to the State'.
A li'l comment about how one survives as an artist in this world.

11:13 PM  
Blogger Erudite Redneck said...

'Delivering Public Grain to the State' -- I coulda wrote that.

6:23 AM  

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