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It's been quite a week, to say the least.

As most of you know, I was admitted to the hospital on June 26th with gallbladder pancreatitis.  This is a serious condition where a gallstone attack leads to inflammation of the pancreas, to the point where permanent damage becomes a real possibility.  Fortunate the cure is simple, if painful:  removal of the gallbladder as soon as the pancreas has calmed down a bit.  

This was done one week ago, by a very skilled, incredibly gentle Haitian-born surgeon and his students.  I spent the rest of the weekend in the hospital (the same one where I donate platelets, ironically enough), was discharged on Sunday, and have been home resting up and recuperating ever since.

I'm pleased to announce that I feel much, much better.  I'm not in any pain from the incisions, I'm able to tolerate non-fatty foods pretty well, and I can drive, cook, do laundry, and otherwise engage in what the medical profession calls "customary tasks of daily living."  I've read a couple of books, watched a lot of movies, finished knitting a sock, and spent several happy hours with my dear friend Tally and her mother on Independence Day.

Note that the word "writing" does not appear in this list.

It's not for want of desire - I have some great ideas.  But it's been horribly hot and humid in these parts, I've been sleeping a good deal, and the brainpower needed to actually sit down, outline a piece, and then write simply is not there.  I expect it will be back next week, when your regularly scheduled mayhem will appear in this space, but right now I'm not pushing myself.  I had a near-miss, I know it, and trust me, I'm not going to make myself nuts or hinder my recovery for anything.  Writing Walt Evans' War on the 4th took more out of me than I thought it would, and I'm just glad it worked.

So...instead of a new diary tonight, I bring you a chance to return with me to those thrilling days of yesteryear revisit some old diaries.  Below are links to ten old favorites, some very old indeed, some newer.  Enjoy, and if you have suggestions for future "greatest hits" lists, please share!

Peper and Solt It As You Plese- Lord Timothy was not only a terrible, terrible writer, he was also one of America's greatest and earliest eccentrics.  A Newburyport merchant who'd made a fortune selling cats in the tropics and mittens in the South Seas, he became notorious for his self-bestowed title of nobility, his insistence that his long-suffering wife was actually a corporeal (and very annoyed) ghost, and his ownership of a veritable forest of wooden statues of people famous and infamous.  One of these famous individuals was Lord Timothy himself, proving that, if nothing else, he had the ego to be a writer, if not necessarily the talent or the grasp of grammar, spelling, or punctuation…..

Noble, Honorable, and Utterly Unbelievable:  The Unsung Legacy of Jean-Louis de Pouffe- what started as a throwaway prank by my friend Tom has morphed into the legend of Jean-Louis de Pouffe, deranged French collector of horrible medieval kitsch, and his identically named descendants.  I presented this as part of the Pseudo Society at the Kalamazoo Medieval Studies Congress last year, where it got plenty of laughs and later went viral for about fifteen seconds (go, me!).  Tom has since joined the SCA, where he is now known as Brother Jean-Louis de Pouffe of the Brotherhood St. Elan, the only order of monks dedicated to improving the fashion sense of the upper classes.

Happy Life Day!  Have A Wookie-Ookie! - this is barely about books, but if ever something So Bad It's Good deserved the attention, it's this little piece of cosmic horror inflicted on the unsuspecting populace in the 1970s under the name of "The Star Wars Holiday Special."  Part variety show, part look at Chewbacca's home life, part excuse for Art Carney, Bea Arthur, Jefferson Starship, and Harrison Ford to ham it up, this exercise in attempted fan service is so eye-blisteringly bad that, alone of all Star Wars ancillary merchandise/programs/prophylactics/comics/records/what have you, that Lucasfilms has refused to let it be rerun, rereleased, or otherwise exposed again to the public.  The copies found on Youtube are therefore basically samizdat, so guess what?  Even though you'll lose half your cerebral cortex, you'll be fighting the power if you watch this!  To the barricades!

Just What Was that Art Director Smoking? - part of an extremely irregular series of eviscerations of Cover Art So Bad It's Good, this one includes illustrations for the likes of a book called "Satan Burger," a sexay sexay sexay romp about Julius Caesar by the creator of Wonder Woman, a Nero Wolfe cover where the great detective appears to have been decapitated, and something called "Pregnesia," about which the less said the better.

Let's Talk Turkey, or a Reasonable Facsimile Thereof- this tasty little exploration of the wonders of holiday cooking was simultaneously a look at people who eat roadkill (yes, really) and my aunt Betty's insistence that my poor mother prepare a gigantic and less than delicious gelatin mold for Thanksgiving dessert.  Betty claimed that this was because the said dessert was Lady Bird Johnson's all-time favorite, served at the White House itself, and if it was good enough for the President it was good enough for her.  Not only was Betty wrong about the Gelatin Mold That Ate Pleasant Hills, she was wrong about it being Lady Bird Johnson's favorite dessert; the First Lady's signature sweet was from-scratch lemon bars, not gelatin molds, so where Betty found this "recipe" is still a mystery.  

I Busted My Cerebellum Making Them Up - or, more than you ever wanted to know about Harry Stephen Keeler, prolific, incomprehensible, and highly, highly, highly original pulp writer.  Circus stories, bad ethnic dialect, weird Chinese wills, characters named things like "MacAngus MacWhiffle" and "Scientifico Greenlimb," Dame Coincidence's long arm getting a workout that will win her first prize in any body dysmorphia competition, webwork plots...it doesn't get any weirder than what Bill Pronzini called Keelerland, and thank God for it.

The Inklings Laughed - anyone who thinks that JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis spent their time at the Eagle & Child either discoursing learnedly about Old Icelandic grocery lists or reading the first drafts of The Lord of the Rings/Narnia to each other is advised to read this diary, wherein we learn that Tolkien, Lewis, Charles Williams, and all their buddies used to laugh themselves into a stupor over the works of Amanda McKittrick Ros.  Utterly inept at dialogue, characterization, dialogue, and basic sentence structure, Ros, who enjoyed a surprising vogue among people who liked to laugh themselves into apoplexy, struck back at her critics by writing not only a bitter satire where her critics end up in a ridiculously mild version of hell, but by naming almost all the characters in one of her novels after types of fruit.  Yummy!

"I Was Isis In A Former Life!"- books about past lives, ghosts, and reincarnation get their due in this look at Rosemary Brown (aka, "I channeled Beethoven, Brahms, and Liszt to give my very ordinary pastiches some cache") and Bridey Murphy (aka, "I let a friend hypnotize me and channeled a bunch of old comedy routines I memorized as a child").  My aunt Betty owned one of Rosemary Brown's records, and trust me:  the pieces sound about as much like the works of their purported authors as Fritz Kreisler's "Corellis" and "Boccherinis" sound like actual 18th century Italian Baroque works for solo violin.  The difference, of course, is that Kreisler actually knew something about composition....

The Seduction of the Crossover - one of the first and most influential "OH MY GOD THE KIDS ARE READING AWFUL JUNK AND TURNING INTO JUVENILE DELINQUENTS HELP HELP EWW EWW HELP AAIIIEEEEE!!!!!" panics was fueled by Frederick Wertham's popular, unsourced, and, as it turns out, largely faked screed against "crime comics."  The result was the Comics Code, which every geek out there knows basically gutted what had been a lively albeit somewhat disgusting America art form, at least until DC allowed Green Arrow to discover that his sidekick was shooting smack almost twenty years later.  Less influential and a lot funnier is a crossover between Star Trek and the X-Men, which includes some highly peculiar flirtation between Captain Picard and Storm, and Worf on a strike team with Banshee.

"Come, Muse, Let Us Sing of Rats!" - bad poetry gets its day in a diary devoted to the works of Colley Cibber, 18th century hack who somehow ended up Poet Laureate of England (much to the fury of Alexander Pope, who provoked a war of words with Cibber that continued until the latter basically went nuclear on the former and wrote a pamphlet about Pope's unsuccessful attempts at l'amour with a prostitute approximately twice his size), and Julia A. Moore, the Sweet Singer of Michigan (whose works, called "worse than a Gatling gun" by an admirer for their obsessive focus on premature death, hit the bestseller lists after Mark Twain all but swallowed his mustache laughing at her first book).

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So...there you have my ten picks for a hot Saturday's entertainment.  What say you, my friends?  Have I missed a particularly enjoyable diary?  A particularly stupid one?  Come crack open an icy cold glass of your beverage of choice and share....

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Readers & Book Lovers Series Schedule

DAY TIME (EST/EDT) Series Name Editor(s)
SUN 6:00 PM Young Reader's Pavilion The Book Bear
Sun 9:30 PM SciFi/Fantasy Book Club quarkstomper
Bi-Monthly Sun Midnight Reading Ramblings don mikulecky
MON 11:30 AM Political Book Club Susan from 29
Mon 8:00 PM Monday Murder Mystery Susan from 29, michelewln
Mon 11:00 PM My Favorite Books/Authors edrie, MichiganChet
TUES 5:00 PM Indigo Kalliope: Poems from the Left bigjacbigjacbigjac
alternate Tuesdays 8:00 AM LGBT Literature Texdude50, Dave in Northridge
alternate Tuesdays 8:00 AM All Things Bookstore Dave in Northridge
Tue 8:00 PM Contemporary Fiction Views bookgirl
WED 7:30 AM WAYR? plf515
Wed 2:00 PM e-books Susan from 29
Wed 8:00 PM Bookflurries Bookchat cfk
THU 8:00 PM Write On! SensibleShoes
Thu (first each month) 11:00 AM Monthly Bookpost AdmiralNaismith
Thu (third each month - on hiatus) 11:00 PM Audiobooks Club SoCaliana
FRI 8:00 AM Books That Changed My Life Diana in NoVa
Fri 6:00 PM Books Go Boom! Brecht
SAT (fourth each month) 11:00 AM Windy City Bookworm Chitown Kev
Sat 9:00 PM Books So Bad They're Good Ellid
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