Friday, May 30, 2008

And Another

After thinking about it, I would like to revise my book-recommendation strategy.

When people find out I read a lot, they often say something like, "Oh, man, I wish I read more. I've been wanting to read, but I don't know what to read. Could you recommend some books to me? Like, if I only read one book, what book should it be?"

To this I say: "Read whatever book you really want to read." What I mean is that, since there are more books than anyone can possibly read in a lifetime, it's no use worrying about and apologizing for all the ones you haven't read. It doesn't matter if you read Moby Dick or Hank the Cowdog; the point isn't what you read, it's that you read. Besides, reading is supposed to be enjoyable first and foremost, especially if one expects to continue doing it. The kind of people who ask me for recommendations are the kind of people who haven't been swept away by the joy of reading, so if they obsess over reading the right book rather than a book they are interested in, they're likely to continue hating reading.

Thus I tell them, "Go out and read whatever book you've always wanted to read, and don't worry whether it's Mark Twain or Anne Rice. And if, halfway through, you lose interest, pick up another book." Sometimes we aren't ready for books, even when we are interested. Just because I read Huck Finn like a comic book, laughing aloud the whole time, doesn't mean it'll jive with you. You can always come back to a book later and see if you've become ready for it (for example: how I couldn't read Wuthering Heights to save my life in high school but I flew through it last year just for fun [you're next, As I Lay Dying]; how the Book of Mormon all of a sudden started making sense to me sometime in late high school—now I didn't have to decode the language of every verse bit by bit; the book opened up for me and I could enjoy it for the first time).

However, I would like to revise this policy. From now on my recommendation is thus:

"I recommend you go to the library and get a copy of the one book you've always felt obligated to read—something big and scary, preferably—Atlas Shrugged or Uncle Tom's Cabin. Take it home and read it for a few days, and then pop in to a book store and browse around until you find a book that really interests you, preferably paperback and short (feel free to judge by cover). Then read that book instead of and in sight of the first book, thinking often of the impending due date."

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Few More Things To Say About Books

1. The smell. I smell my books. They smell great. Two examples:

  1. This Father Brown book smells delightful. You know that decades-old mass-market paperback paper smell? Well you should. It's one part library, two parts older couple's house, and another part mismatched art supplies. It smells like the Fifties—not the fins and curves themselves, but pictures of them done on card stock with a dated color palette and propped up on a rickety old easel. It's the lampshades and carpet that decorated the church you grew up attending. I think you can find this smell in some of the less-frequented stacks of the Harold B. Lee Library, down in the subterranean floors near the faded photos of smart people with horn-rimmed glasses.
  2. On Sunday I was hanging out after church with the elders and this guy James from the local newspaper who is doing a piece on them, and I found myself once again smelling my scriptures. They're the mini size, smaller than the normal ones but bigger than the military ones, but they aren't a quad (that's right, be jealous, cuz they're discontinued). I got them in Korea when I was a missionary. Back then, for the first month or so I had them, I was constantly smelling them to soak up that leathery smell of the cover—like new shoes only without the thought of funk to come. Now, years later, the leather smelled has mellowed and mixed with the ultra-thin paper smell and the gilt-edge smell. Delightful. James got plenty of pictures of me sniffing it up.
How to smell a book: open the book to a good page in the middle somewhere, bring it up to your face so your nose is right in the crevice of the pages, close to the binding, and inhale. I like my nose to be near the top of the page so I can open my eyes mid-whiff and look suspiciously at any gawkers. Like opening your eyes to look around at whose looking at you kiss someone.

Hmmm, the words are backward but my part is on the right side
(unlike in that last picture).

Well, this is plenty long for now. More things about books tomorrow!

All, or Nothing at All

Today I had a Zero bar and it occurred to me that it was pretty much the polar opposite of a Snickers. I mean, Snickers is pretty much the candy bar, the archetype and all that. But a Zero, it's like the anti-Snickers. Take a picture of a Snickers and then look at the negative and what would you see: a Zero. Throw a Snickers in a black hole and what would you get: a Zero.

Crazy, yeah?

Turns out the real difference between the two is that Snickers has an advertising campaign. I looked around the internet for some Zero stuff, and I found zero stuff. When I looked for some Snickers—you guessed it—I laughed. Here are some of the good things:

    I pity this commercial.
    Pilgrims and Vikings?
    The Feast
    This one is made by superb facial expressions.
    I'm impressed by this website.
    And this seems to be an entire Spanish-language campaign devoted to Snickers.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Stolen Time

It turns out there are few joys that can rival the joy of reading a book you know you shouldn't be reading. Allow me to explain.

Last week I was sitting in a class—Romanticism and War, if you must know—which is held in the Graduate Student Library, a room on the second floor of Ellis Hall that is one side all bookshelves crammed with books in no readily-discernible order (sometimes they appear to be chronological and other times topical), one side all windows looking out on big trees and freedom, and between them both a large table that fills the room. I was sitting in the back corner on the bookshelf side, and as I squirmed a little in my chair, my eye caught on a book quite a bit more slender than its fellows. It was G. K. Chesterton's The Amazing Adventures of Father Brown.

I knew immediately that I must read this book. On the one hand, it was written by G. K. Chesterton, who was a fantastic essayist (even though no one today has ever heard of him). He was also a writer of many other things including 52 Father Brown short stories, 10 of which are compiled in this book, and he was a great popular Christian thinker, like a pre-C. S. Lewis C. S. Lewis.

On the other hand, the book was short, falling apart, and printed on yellowing, mass-market pulpy paper; it was a book you might find on the paperbacks rack at the library, crammed between a Star Trek novel and a beat-up Grisham, while looking for something much more respectable. I couldn't resist the temptation.

The thing was: I knew I shouldn't be reading this book. Not that isn't worthy—I just have so many other books I should be reading. For Romanticism and War alone I was supposed to be reading Byron and Austen, not to mention several articles and chapters on Shelley I needed to be skimming for a paper that's due soon. On top of that there's a stack of books in my room that have just come in from amazon (thank you economic stimulus), half of which are meant to further my career and the other half of which I just wanted to read. On top of that there's a desk full of books bought long before and still waiting to be read, and a list of books to check out when I get the time tacked up on my wall. Of all the books I should be reading, The Amazing Adventures of Father Brown was not one of them.

Which is precisely why I had to read it.

Father Brown is a Catholic priest who has an uncanny ability for solving mysteries, mostly murders. In each tale he applies his unfailing reason to the case and discovers the killer, his method, and his motive. It's a little bit Sherlock Holmes, a little bit Poirot, and a little bit Encyclopedia Brown, and I've been eating up every word, savoring every minute I'm reading this instead of anything else.

And as if that wasn't enough, this book actually incorporates one of the other great joys: the joy of found things. Everyone knows that the best clothes are the ones you didn't buy but found—the t-shirt you borrowed and never gave back after getting wet at your friend's slumber party, the hat you swiped from your cousin on that visit, the jacket left at work that no one claimed. Well it works the same for books. My first one was The Further Adventures of Batman, which I found in a used book shop in Lincoln, Nebraska, and recently I read that Will Smith autobiography that Dave came across. Both were similarly pulpy and brittle, both were stealing time from nobler pursuits, both were awesome.

And so my friends, to bed, where I will be reading the tenth and final case in Father Brown, appropriately titled "The Blast of the Book."

Monday, May 26, 2008

Crazy Hair Day

Last week I got to cut ten-year-old Abe Ogles' hair for Crazy Hair Day at his school. He had purposely let it grow long so he'd have something to work with, and he planned to shave it all off the next day, so nothing was out of the question. Normally his brother Max would do it, but since Max is off at school this summer, I was the replacement. I was honored.

After being treated to a hamburger dinner at Abe's house, I sat with him and his brother Sam and we sketched out some possibilities on a slice of scratch paper. Stripes, mohawks of various persuasions, the Shaolin monk—we even browsed a book called The Mullet: Hairstyle of the Gods. But in the end we decided on a simple design that was sure to shock. Ladies and gentlemen,

the Half'n'half:


Simple, effective, and gutsy. I heard he spiked the long side straight out for school the next day. And even though there isn't an actual winner of Crazy Hair Day, I'm pretty sure everyone over at The Plains Elementary School knows who won.

Me and the winner

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Short Paragraphs for Emily

Early this morning I dreamed was bus driver in New York City, which is perhaps the scariest, toughest job, since you have to drive in Manhattan. In my dream I was rolling and tumbling all over the road, slamming on brakes and gunning it to keep up, and I always seemed to be a block away from a major construction site.

Then I woke up and found that someone had been jackhammering the road outside my window for the last half an hour and that some very large vehicle just out of sight had been idling—is still idling, actually—loudly, like a snoring dragon.

I went back to sleep and dreamed I was visiting an old Irish Republican Army friend and his wife and small kids in rural Russia where they had taken refuge away from the conflict. We sat and didn't talk and smoked a cigarette each; I lived every drag in real time. Then he and I and a dozen of our mates dressed up in old fashioned baseball outfits and jumped on a bus; we were on our way to blow something up and this was our cover. I forgot my hat and his wife sent it up to me with one of his kids just as we were leaving.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Another Reason My Mom is Marge Simpson

Yesterday I watched an episode of the Simpsons in which Homer finds out he isn't cool anymore. He spends the rest of the episode trying to be cool again. At one point he goes to a record store only to be depressed that he doesn't recognize any of the band names on the wall and all his favorites—Styx, Grand Funk Railroad, Bread—have been put in the oldies bin. He laments this to Marge, who replies, "Record stores have always seemed crazy to me, but it doesn't upset me." Then she adds matter-of-factly: "Music is none of my business."

At the end of the episode the whole family is driving home after an adventure (involving the mashing Pumpkins), and this is what they say. I'm pretty sure I've had this very same conversation with my own parents.

Homer: So, I realized that being with my family is more important than being cool.
Bart: Dad, what you just said was powerfully uncool.
Homer: You know what the song says: “It’s hip to be square.”
Lisa: That song is so lame.
Homer: So lame that it’s…cool?
Bart and Lisa: No.
Marge: Am I cool, kids?
Bart and Lisa: No.
Marge: Good; I’m glad. And that’s what makes me cool: not caring, right?
Bart and Lisa: No.
Marge: Well how the hell do you be cool? I feel like we’ve tried everything here.
Homer: Wait, Marge. Maybe if you’re truly cool, you don’t need to be told you’re cool.
Bart: Sure you do.
Lisa: How else would you know?

And off they drive.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

How It All Turned Out

The results are in:

  1. I didn't get published today. But I didn't get rejected either.
  2. I did receive those books today, and there's more coming tomorrow.
  3. She got it; she loved it.
  4. Alright, I didn't register for motorcycling, but I'm going to. My sister already took the class and bought a bike, so I'm pretty much committed.
  5. I'd take a picture of my new camera, but I don't think it works that way.
  6. I didn't get any ice cream, but I'll tell you what I did get. One, there were free cookies in the office. Two, there was a huge spread of fruit and cheese and crackers in the room where I met Dean Ogles (also my stake president) to go over to his house. Three, there were hamburgers on jumbo buns at his house. Four, there was some dessert made of strawberries and whipped cream and cream cheese and crumbleys there too.
  7. Rain kept me off my bike all day, but I don't see how not exercising is a bad thing.
  8. Made it through the first round of working the system; tomorrow's the clincher.
  9. Dave didn't come home so I couldn't watch Jeopardy!, but I did watch last week's Office and now I only have to wait one day for the next one.
  10. Oh yes, I cut that kids hair. Exactly half of it. Pictures soon.

Bonus: Bought stuff for two consecutive barbecues, one tomorrow to celebrate the end of the intramural softball season, another on Friday for the J! Championship. Also, good hair day.

So now it's late and I'm about to jump into bed and I gotta ask myself, Was this day better than the dream? The answer: I don't know. I mean, it was a good day. But I didn't kiss my true love today. I didn't kiss anybody.


The fact that I had a spectacular dream last night has made me excited to hop in bed right now. After all, tonight's another night—who knows who I might kiss? Who says both my days and my nights can't all be red-letter?

Good Dreams Make Bad Omens

Last night I had maybe the best dream of my entire life. I was doing something related to Jeopardy!, though I'm not sure what. I might've been on the show or I might have been doing some work for the show; I don't know. Anyway, I found myself in the company of Sarah from the Clue Crew, and it occurred to me that this was the chance I had dreamed of, my chance to talk to her and make her see what a great guy I was. At first she wasn't paying attention to me really—there was no need to since whatever my purpose there it was only cursory, but at least we exchanged a few words. Then she told me to get on this curved piece of metal because she was going to give me a ride home. I had seen this hunk of metal before (apparently we were here in Ohio and it was something I pass often), but now it turned out the thing was a rocket-seat of some kind. So she hopped on behind me and we lifted off into the sky. We had various flying adventures on our way to Texas, apparently, and I gathered that this was typical Jeopardy! procedure, to give rides home to contestants or whatever (but always on a rocket-seat?). As we flew we talked more, and I realized that Sarah, more than being just a Clue Crew member, was also a scientific genius, for she had created this contraption (was Jeopardy! a front for secret genius development?). She realized that I wasn't just some guy around the show, but a truly dedicated fan and pursuer of great knowledge (although I perceived future trouble when she would find out I wasn't too a mechanical genius).

See, this dream was great because it had flying in it, which is always awesome (but in dreams always problematic—you never have the mobility your waking imagination is capable of producing), and it had Sarah in it, who is my one true celebrity crush. We were sitting next to each other, motorcycle-style, on a rocket-seat, and she was digging me. All my dreams were coming true.

Eventually we had to find a safe place to stop and recharge the seat. (On the one hand, it seemed like we weren't supposed to let people see us, but on the other hand we were constantly in view of people. Also, we somehow veered too far west and ended up in California, passing the Jeopardy! studios.) She showed me how I had to sit in the driver's seat and activate the recharge procedure, which involved me holding down a lever at the front of the seat with my foot for like fifteen minutes. Then she sat and talked to me a bit, looked at me directly for the first time since leaving, and then leaned in and kissed me. On the lips. It was hard to keep pressing the lever with my foot when being distracted this way.

And then of course I woke up. I didn't just regain consciousness, I jolted awake, lying on my side, my face facing the clock next to my bed. It said 7:27, and the room was light. I immediately thought, "That was the best dream ever, and it's over. I have to tell Andrew."

In the past I've had pretty good success going quickly back to sleep and continuing good dreams. But I knew when I woke that this wouldn't be the case, that I was too awake too fast to get back. But that didn't stop me from trying. I rolled over and closed my eyes against the light and tried to go back to sleep. It was a shoddy effort, and I couldn't ever tell if I was actually asleep or just nearly there, with my mind beginning to fire. I think I managed it eventually, because I remember a dream about playing basketball with a bunch of guys and Sarah and others were watching. I think I really wanted to impress her, and to my surprise everyone out there really stunk but me. But there was no kissing afterwards. Oh, and I had another dream in which I parked outside this building (in what turned out to be the milkman's designated spot, but I didn't get a ticket) that turned out to be a museum. I went into a certain room and was looking through these artifacts for some way, some thing, I don't know what, that would help me contact Sarah. It was all just wishful dreaming.

I woke up sometime after nine and was immediately depressed. I went downstairs and told Dave that this day was ruined before it began by dreams that were better than life could be. He sympathized. I looked in the kitchen and thought about breakfast—cereal or English muffins—and then I shouted, "I must have pancakes!"

I'm not going to let some dream win, no matter how good it was. I'm going to stack this day with awesomeness until it comes out victorious over the subconscious meandering of my mind. The first step was pancakes. Further steps include:

  • Getting published. Everyday Dave and I wait for responses from literary journals concerning essays and poems we've sent them. I'm currently waiting to hear about an essay I wrote about Jeopardy!, and I'm taking this dream to be an omen that the response is coming today.
  • Receiving some books in the mail that I recently ordered on amazon using my economic stimulus from the government (is there nothing the mail can't do?).


  • Hearing that Elisa, whose birthday was yesterday (happy birthday and sorry I never caught you), received the very great present I sent her in the mail and loved it (no seriously, the mail does it all).
  • Registering today to take a motorcycle riding course this summer.
  • Buying a digital camera with more of my stimulus
  • Going to Cold Stone Creamery instead of Institute (it's cancelled).
  • Riding 18 miles on my brother's bike to continue my training (thanks, Jon, you rule).
  • Working the system at school to ensure I don't have to take a useless-to-my-future class and get to take a very-useful-but-otherwise-untakeable class next year.
  • Watching Joey smash Vera and Suchita in the last semifinal round of the Jeopardy! College Championship.
  • Cutting the hair of young Abe Ogles, the stake president's son. Tomorrow is Wacky Hair Day at school and he wants me to make him wacky. I think I'm up to it.

Any other bright ideas?

Friday, May 9, 2008

It's My Beardday

It was one year ago today that an anesthesiologist (who looked surprisingly like my dad) put me under before I could even count to ten. When I awoke the ligament in my knee had been sewn back together with a slice, a splice, of my hamstring; I had no hair on my left leg from mid-calf to mid-thigh, and five small holes plus one long incision provided an interesting new counterpoint to the more familiar scars.

At least, I knew they were there. I couldn't see them on account of the surgical tape, the gauze, the bandages, the brace, and the cold pack connected by a hose to a small teal cooler connected to an electrical outlet, the whole of which circulated a constant stream of ice water to the wound. I was loopy, frizzy—falling in and out of consciousness for several hours I think as the twenty-some-odd chemicals that had entered my body made a slow exit (the bill arriving a month later gave the exact names and doses—and prices; the cooler itself rang in at over $300). I think Steve picked me up, brought me home, helped me into bed—I'm not really sure.

It's a good thing my mom wasn't around to see me.

I was told not to shower for three days. I was told, Steve was told (yeah, it was Steve), and it was written on two different sheets of paper that I shouldn't shower for at least three days, that I shouldn't remove the sterile tape sealing the incisions, and that I should take x pill y times a day.1 That's when I decided: No shower: no shave.

And thus my beard was born, the beard which made me a double agent in Provo. The beard which will forever date my brother's wedding photos. The beard by which a whole new state of people have known me, without which they cannot really imagine me.

Today is my beard's birthday.

And, as I promised my niece and as I planned from at least October, it's also its last day. We had a good run, and I'll miss you.

1 When I showed up for physical therapy three days later, freshly showered, the doctor flipped out. "They told you three days?"
"Oh yeah, three days."
"Are you sure? Three days?"
"I have it here in writing."
He excused himself to make some phone calls. Turns out it was supposed to be ten days. Ten days without a shower on account of the possibility of infection. When I think about it, about the impossibility it had been to half sponge-shower that morning contorted on the edge of the tub, ten days seems absolutely reasonable.
"Am I gonna die?"
"No, but keep a close eye on it for the next week." As if I could do anything else.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


The bee died in the night sometime.

Should I have felt death come for him? Does it work that way for bugs? How big does something have to be for its passing to wake you?

May Madness!

It's here: the Jeopardy! College Championship!

In order to properly enjoy this event I request you do the following:

  1. Go to and take a look at who's competing. This year each of the contestants has a video interview and a blog, so you can really get a feel for who's going to be a contender.
  2. Fill out a bracket. That's right, a bracket. Guess who's going to win each match and even the whole thing.1 Click here to download a fill-in-able PDF file, then fill it in and send it back to me at Whoever guesses closest will win a great prize!
  3. Watch the tournament unfold over the next two weeks. Tonight is Day 3 in the quarterfinals and it's going to be big. To see when Jeopardy! is playing in your area, click here.
  4. Come to my house next Friday, May 16, to watch the final two matches back to back and larger than life as projected through our proscenium arch. There will be barbecue and cake, and maybe even some potent potables (for those so inclined).
  5. And if you can't make it to my place, have a party of your own!

1 The exact line-up of the semifinal matches won't be revealed until Friday, so you'll have to guess which 3 from the 9 will make it, without knowing exactly who will compete against who.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

One Night Stand,
or You Knew What I Was When You Picked Me Up

There's been a bee in my room all day. I wasn't here much, so I let him have run of the place.

But now I am here, and I want to go to sleep. Apparently he does too, cause he just sidled up to the fan and seems to be rocking himself to sleep by its vibrations. I'm completely okay with that (and a little jealous), but I'm worried what will happen later. We may be bunkmates tonight, but will we still be friends in the morning?

(I've had an odd urge recently to let a bee sting me, to watch him do it without flinching. I've been visualizing it at stoplights and in lines.)

I'll let you know how this turns out.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Does That Make it a "Conception Album"?

So, as it turns out, English classes are mostly places where professors futilely try to hold on to whatever coolness or trendiness they have had (or think they have had) by imposing their preferences upon a captive audience. By this I mean that English teachers teach their favorite things in the hope that some one student or two will somehow validate that interest.

By this I mean I like to show clips from my favorite movies or have my students read favorite essays of mine, and if they respond favorably I feel like a million bucks. I'm constantly asking, "Yeah, but did you like it?" Of course usually they just groan or laugh at whatever I present (or worse: they stare, completely dumbfounded, and can make no response as to why I might be showing them, say, scenes from an old He-man episode1—they don't even now who He-man is!), but on the rare occasion one of them says, with a modicum of enthusiasm, "Yeah, its okay I guess," I revel in my relevance and reaffirm that the eight years between us is not so much after all.

Enough preface; on to the story:

The other day was one of my favorite classes of any semester, because I was teaching the lesson in which I've managed to sneak three of my all-time favorite clips. The first was the opening scene in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure where Bill and Ted are making a music video in the garage for their band, Wyld Stallyns. It didn't get much of a response from my students, but luckily there weren't too many blank stares either (I was of course hoping for a chorus of "I love this movie"s). The second clip was the scene from Back to the Future where Michael J. Fox is playing "Johnny B. Good" at the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance.

That couldn't fail to get some mild approval, even though the movie is several years older than most of them. Then came the third clip, my absolute favorite. It's a recording of Prince and The Revolution playing "Purple Rain" at the American Music Awards in 1985. Prince is decked out in a green and blue shiny suit and a ruffled shirt—the jacket doesn't have tails so much as it just becomes a cape. His band is just as flamboyant; the keyboard player looks like Stevie Nicks in super-gypsy mode. Prince is playing his signature guitar with the big swirling arms and he struts and spins and squeals and at times looks and sounds like he's actually going to cry. Near the end of the performance he jumps off the platform he's been on and plays a crazy solo while throwing himself violently around—how he keeps his platform-booted footing is beyond me, but when he kicks over the mic stand I pretty much lose it. Hottest. Thing. Ever.

And I really want them to like it.

But of course it's a little too over the top for most of them, a little too 80s. There were chuckles and confused looks, and a couple of people couldn't stop themselves from saying, "What is this?" before they realized that not knowing might make them less cool. But then one of my students, Brendan, silenced us all when he said, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, "Man, it's 'Purple Rain.' I was made to this song."

I may be relevant, and I may have been reaffirmed. But nothing can bridge the eight years between us.

1 Well, I haven't actually shown any old He-man episodes, but you get the idea.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Ovrhrd Rcntly

I was walking home just the other day when I heard a girl say to a friend as they passed me, "I don't know how people walk and text all the time."

At first I felt smug, since I was, at the time, reading a book as I walked. Here I was, the walking, reading proof that I could do what they couldn't.

But it's not that simple, is it? Texting's different from just reading, right? It's reading and writing—and from the looks of it it's an odd and somewhat difficult form of writing not so much based on dexterity as it is on timing. Texting might be quite a bit more difficult than reading. That girl may well be just as accomplished a walker-reader as I am though she has yet to master the art of mobile mobile-phonery.

The truth is that I don't rightly know. I've never sent a text. I've never received one, on account of I don't have a cell phone (but that hasn't prevented at least one person from trying to text my landline; I won't name any names, but her initials are Lauren Everett). I think the typing thing would be pretty tricky, and looking at that tiny little screen has got to be hell. Plus the thinking you have to do to read and then compose meaningful, classy, and often flirtatious responses probably doesn't jive with the thinking involved in not running into things.

See, reading while walking is made easier by a few important factors. For one, bigger books make better reading. You have to hold little books up close, not so much because the words are smaller but because they're harder to hold still. As with ships on a rough sea, books with a little weight to them ride much more smoothly. Also, with larger books you don't have to turn the page so often, which is good, since every time you are distracted even a little bit—by turning the page or turning the corner—you are kicked out of reading mode and become just a walker for a few seconds. To read when walking, you want to take long, straight paths. You aim yourself at the end of the road, look down at your book, and just walk, trusting that people will stay out of your way. You take smaller steps to compensate for uneven terrain so that you don't need your eyes to do more than subconsciously monitor the parallelity of the edge of the page and the edge of the sidewalk. A cell phone is tiny, thus shaky, and they don't command the respect or create the spectacle a book does in a pedestrian's hands (though one fellow of my acquaintance is not so much awed by my books as inspired—the muse moves him to taunt, "Bookie loves his bookie-book," as he tries to slap Dickens or Dan Brown from my hands before I can look up and shift my myopic focus), so more maneuvering is probably involved. And all that switching gears, from reading to composing to punching buttons, probably accounts for more zagged ambles than heels and booze combined.1

Maybe I give too much credit. I dare say it is tougher to ingest, say, the text of a 1790s gothic novel while on the move than the text of a...text. And cell phones are backlit, so there's never a need to "pan for gold," tipping the book from street lamp to headlight to neon sign just to read one more sentence before dusk becomes final.

I guess I won't know till I try. Don't tell my mom, but recently I've felt dangerously close to breaking down and getting a phone. Any ideas2?

1 Not meaning as the sum of two separate factors, but actually combined.
2 what plan I should get? how to combat such weakness?