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the latest waddle:

good morning, wordpress - 10:36 a.m. , 2009-07-03

elaborate murder attempt - 2:56 p.m. , 2009-07-01

building a tractor in the basement - 10:42 a.m. , 2009-06-19

ask no questions tell just a few lies - 3:17 p.m. , 2009-06-09

my long lasting flavor really lasts long - 1:10 p.m. , 2009-06-04

2002-03-27 ... 5:01 a.m.

Me too, baby, me too. I'll ask, but I just don't know.

From a medical article I edited, honest: "All subjects reported having seen a videotape of hardcore pornography at least once in their lives." Oh ho!

Sort of related: we must doubt the validity of the plethysmograph!

My friend Elizabeth, in an e-mail, has introduced me to the concept of "comfort reading." What do you read when you don't want anything challenging or too full of ideas? When you are shivering under the maroon woolen blanket of despair, or when you have one of those Shaking Hands Broken Heart Screaming Head days, what do you read? Maybe you don't read. Maybe you sit very still and listen to specific music. Maybe you take pills or down some Nyquil and sleep for fifteen hours. Maybe you sit in a warm bath and cry. Maybe you methodically and without enjoyment consume an entire half-gallon of ice cream with hot fudge sauce. (Maybe you never experience these black hopeless moods, in which case I hate you.)

Hey, those are all good strategies. But if you'd like to give comfort reading a try, here are some things that I read when nothing feels good.

1. Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice can always use a re-read. Sometimes you get fed up with postmodern indeterminacy and just want everything to work out in the end.

2. The simpler, less-wordy Russian novels like Anna Karennina (which I re-read every fall) and Crime and Punishment (seriously a laugh riot, I'm not being facetious). I like the Russians because of all the tuberculosis. Everyone is bright-eyed and feverish and coughing up blood into a handkerchief and given to profound pre-death pronouncements on things. Tuberculosis appealed to me enormously as a child. Also, the characters in Russian novels get really excited and hysterical about things (Raskolnikov faints about sixteen times during Crime and Punishment). However, stay away from Chekov's short stories: they will make you sadder.

3. Cheap horror novels. This one I have to hit the thrift store for (not easy if you're catatonic under the Blanket) or else borrow them from my friend, whose father is a fan of the horror. The writing is so bad that it's bound to cheer you up, and each one can be read in a little less than an hour. And there's the comfort of knowing that no matter how bad you feel, at least you're not married to Satan.

4. My etiquette book collection works well. The next time you get depressed, come over to my place and read about social mores in 1904.

5. Ben Katchor. Or old issues of Crank, by Jeff Koyen.

6. Cookbooks are serious comfort reading. I love to read about food. And cookbooks rarely feature death or despair or the impossibility of honest interaction between humans.

7. John Lanchester. Both Mr Phillips and The Debt to Pleasure are absorbing but not too absorbing, and "edgy" (gack, sorry) without causing any cold pricklies. And quite funny, in places. Similarly, Donald Antrim and George Saunders.

There's my comfort reading list. I hope it helps, you Gloomy Gus.

Some searches that brought people here: Italian women with butts. (Those Italian women. Always with the having of butts.) Also: is masturbating okay? As far as I know, yes...but please check and see if I'm on the El first because I WILL stop you.

---mimi smartypants, Guardian of the Public Good.


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