Friday, May 28, 2010

Seven Quick Takes -- I've Been Sick Edition

A bit belatedly, I'm joining Jennifer at Conversion Diary in presenting "Seven Quick Takes," a medley of mini-topics, each of which is too slight to support its own blog post.

1) I had foot surgery at the beginning of May. Because my house has stairs, I decided to spend my convalescence next door at my mom's house, and I'd brought my laptop with me hoping to catch up on my blogging. After all, my wireless network extends to my mom's house, and I wouldn't have much else to do, would I? You'd think, wouldn't you, that having had similar surgery on the other foot twelve years ago I would know better! (Note to future self: lying in pain with foot elevated is not conducive to writing.)

2) Previously read Georgette Heyer novels are probably the best sort of books to read after surgery. They are light and undemanding, -- essential qualities for a book intended to distract one from pain and nausea. (Note to self: No fear of ever becoming a drug addict -- everything seems to make me throw up.)

3) Netflix is wonderful resource for light and cheerful movies, and since my new laptop can use their instant play feature, there's no waiting for the US Postal Service to deliver the next disc. However, I still had a DVD of Housewife 49 which had been delivered before the surgery, so I decided to watch it. Big mistake. I'd originally ordered it because I couldn't get a copy of the book on which it was based. The protagonist is a withdrawn and depressed housewife in Britain at the start of World War II. Though her husband had previously discouraged her attempts to become involved with people who might be outside her class, she heeded her doctor's advice to join the Women's Volunteer Services and gradually blossomed into a stronger and more independent person. She also volunteered to write a journal for a British agency which was documenting the lives of ordinary people during the war. Now that I'm feeling better, I still want to read the book. But the movie did nothing to improve my spirits while I was still on my bed of pain. (Note to self: Timing is everything!)

4) Since I cannot drive yet, my mom's been taking me to my weekly followup appointments which means that I can actually look at the scenery along our route. (I did not learn to drive until I was middle-aged, so I still feel like a relatively new driver. I tend to grip the steering wheel with a white-knuckled grip of death and fear to let my eyes stray from the road by even a fraction of an inch.) So yesterday I enjoyed being able to look around, but then I noticed a billboard with a blatantly misused apostrophe. Normally, I can hide the fact that I'm a grammar geek. But abused apostrophes make me twitch. Coincidentally, this morning I stumbled across this poster: "How To Use An Apostrophe" which I think ought to be widely distributed as a public service announcement.

5) Okay, as long as we're on grammar peeves, I also love "The Alot is Better Than You at Everything" which my daughter just emailed to me. (Is she trying to tell me something?) It will not improve anyone's grammatical usage, but it could definitely help someone like me develop coping skills.

6) While I was still too weak to sit up and use my 4 lb. laptop, my brother came to show me his new iPad. Kewel! It's so light I could have held it up while lying flat on my back (with my foot elevated) to watch movies and read books. And it comes with an ebook version of Winnie the Pooh! What fun I could have downloading obscure short stories by Louisa May Alcott. (Note to self: Don't be silly. You can do that on your laptop. Besides, you just spent all your money on your foot!)

7) On the bright side: I have no more feet eligible for surgery. I will never have to do this again!

For more Quick Takes, join Jennifer and her posse at today's Conversion Diary.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Life, the Universe, and Everything

Today is Towel Day. No doubt, the rest of you already know that. (I am always the last person on Earth to know anything.) But on the off chance that you don't, I'll just mention that May 25th is the day on which fans the late Douglas Adams carry about a towel in honor of the author and his work, especially the multitudinous permutations of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

This is an embarassing admission for a bibliovore, but I have never liked the novels of Douglas Adams. I thought they were over-written and that there were far too many of them. And I just didn't think they were that funny.

However, I thought that the original radio broadcasts were brilliant! (How sad I sometimes feel when reading cranky reviews on Amazon from young people who think that the novels came first and that the radio shows are recent and faulty adaptations.)

I first heard the radio series in the early years of my marriage, possibly on KPFK and probably in the late '70s or early '80s. My husband recorded the two original series (including the bridge episode) on our reel-to-reel recorder from which he later made cassette copies for everyday listening. It must have been a recording of the original broadcast since it includes the Pink Floyd background music which was later cut from the segment where our heroes land on Magrathea. (Copyright problems.)

Over the years, The Hitchhikers's Guide to the Galaxy became an important cultural influence in our family. Our children grew up using phrases such as "You've got to build bypasses!" or "Forty-two?" in everyday conversation -- even though they had never read the book, heard the radio broadcasts, or seen the television series. And when they were not washing their heads at us, they generally considered their parents to be hoopy froods who really knew where their towels were. Until, of course, they got old enough to swipe our cassette tapes and discovered that we weren't actually witty, but merely given to inveterate quotation.

Actually, they may have first encountered Hitchhiker's in our library. For there, in the media and humor section, we had a copy of The Original Hitchhiker Radio Scripts. Every now and then I reread them and "hear" once again the original voices, music, and sound effects of that long ago broadcast. And they still make me smile.

So despite not liking his novels, I'll raise a glass to Douglas Adams (carefully spreading a towel on my lap in case of spills) and thank him for enriching our family vocabulary. May he rest in peace.

(By the way, the shirt pictured at the beginning of this post can be found at Think Geek.)