How Am I Doing?

Now that I have the time, I’m going wild. You’ve seen my reading lists .. but that ain’t nothin’. Would you believe I’m half-way through The Big Bang Theory and still find Sheldon a curious instance of a carbon based life-form in an academic environment (with credentials). Will I tire of Sheldon’s predictability? Do old men still play two-dimensional checkers?

When I was at university a good friend would run off to Cal Tech, returning at night with huge stacks of obscure print-outs he would then spend weeks pouring over only to shuffle a few Hollerith cards and run back to Cal Tech for more print-outs. It’s probably safe to say that I currently have more computing power on my desk today than existed at Cal Tech in those old days. This was before my university offered it’s first computer course; before university business, like registration, was computerized; before they put a man on the moon; before Pee-Wee Herman’s Playhouse; and before Kaley Cuoco was nominated for an acting award.

The vast advances in science, computer, space travel, and animation are impressive but one thing that has become obvious to me while watching The Big Bang Theory is that public attitudes towards the body’s naughty bits, unavoidable elimination, and sex outside of marriage, makes me feel old and out-of-date.. an old fart? Back when I watched broadcast television they never mentioned a bathroom, only showed twin beds in the bedroom, and even ancient euphemisms like bosoms and limbs were still making Jack Parr blush. Sometimes I have that hackneyed dream that is summed up by the phrase: If I only knew then what I know now.

Who am I kidding? If it wasn’t for being drafted I wouldn’t have even learned the wide variety of uses for the F-word, and if I hadn’t gotten married I probably would have been stranded on second base. In my defense, however, I never fell under the spell of Dungeons and Dragons, I missed a full year of Star Trek to attend night classes in William Blake and John Milton, only saw the first Star Wars movie in the theater, and played baseball in the street with the ball my Uncle gave me .. signed by the entire line-up of the 1959 Dodgers.

So here I sit in my Gandalf years reading Heroditus and recalling unfulfilled lust. Soon I’ll forget why lubricious memories were desirable and descend into drooling and Cream of Wheat. Just promise to remind me as I fade into senility that I vowed over my own dead body to never read Stephen King or Anne Rice.

If I make it through the month, these are the books I hope to read:

  1. La Cousine Bette — Honoré de Balzac
  2. They Were Divided — Miklós Bánffy
  3. The Untouchable — John Banville
  4. Wieland; or the Transformation — Charles Brockton Brown
  5. East Is East — T. C. Boyle
  6. Romola — George Eliot
  7. Imperial Bedrooms — Bret Easton Ellis
  8. My Brilliant Friend — Elena Ferrante
  9. Transcendent Kingdom: A Novel — Yaa Gyasi
  10. The Fifth Child — Doris Lessing
  11. A Martian Examines Christianity — Arthur Levett
  12. Boy Toy — Barry Lyga
  13. More Tales of the City — Armistead Maupin
  14. Suttree — Cormac McCarthy
  15. Lila — Marilynne Robinson
  16. Patrimony: A True Story — Philip Roth
  17. Monestary — Sir Walter Scott
  18. The Ice-Shirt – William T. Vollmann
  19. Galápagos: A Novel — Kurt Vonnegut
  20. Le Faute de l’Abbé Mouret — Émile Zola

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