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In the lustrous, halcyon days of my youth, in that long passed season when MTV played music and professional basketball players somehow survived without tattoos or bodyguards, in a time remembered largely for Reganomics and reckless fashion-sense, I used to read.

In fact, I used to read a lot.

At the risk of waxing boastful, let me to say that for the purpose of this story, a “lot” was measured not by the word, or by the page, but rather by the pound of printed material…

I used to consume books like it was calorie amnesty night at Baskin Robbins.

I wouldn’t waste my time with lightweights like Dostoevski or Hemingway, but instead went straight to the hard stuff.

I refer of course to Asimov, Bova and other luminaries of the science fiction pantheon.

A perfect weekend for me would begin by dragging home a half-dozen paperbacks, carefully chosen from the library on the basis of detail and air-brushed coolness of their cover art.

This is a really good book ~ the Ominous Comma

Then, in an informational inrush that would eventually inspire key elements of the film The Matrix, I would plow throw page after page in a eye-flickering frenzy of speed-reading might, until the clock showed the small numbers and I found myself admiring the delicate arrangement of blurry type on the yellowed page.1

The rest of the weekend would follow in a similar pattern until I finally returned to school on Monday with a cranium so filled with futuristic knowledge, that I had no room for further education. Which is precisely why I dedicated my classroom time to sketching spaceships, laser guns, giant robotic snakes and other trophies of my true tutelage.

That I graduated high school at all was only due to the fact that I possessed an equally developed level of reading comprehension that through no fault of my own, and even less effort, caused information to stick to my brain like super-glued duct tape.

Without anything that might be mistaken for intention, I was able to grasp and remember information from textbooks, weeks and even months after originally reading them.

Like so many other blessings of youth, I naively assumed that this gift would be mine to squander forever.

But recently, something has happened. Due to some invading alien entity or cholesterol redistribution in my brain, my delicate neural pathways have been mysteriously rewired, stripping me of my once superhuman powers of literacy.

Following the lead of my traitorous metabolism, my reading speed and comprehension have both slowed to miserable shadows of their former might.2

The worst part of this semi-senility is that it has left me with a shameful pile of half finished books. The same volumes that seemed so full of charm and vitality on the store shelves now lie as lifeless testaments to my lost concentration and mental alacrity.

I won’t drive you to distraction with the full list, but here are the highlights:

Warped Passages by Lisa Randall

Warped Passages ~ the Ominous Comma

I bought this book thinking I would finally have a chance to understand string theory and quantum physics, but unfortunately the only revelation I have been able to wring from it so far is about the relentless and unexpected nature of sleep.

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Moby Dick ~ the Ominous Comma

I hadn’t even thought to read the Great American Novel until Matthew at Defective Yeti confessed his failure to complete it. Smugly, I snatched up a copy and settled down to set the pages ablaze, determined to show him just who his humor blogging daddy really was.

My fire petered out at page 287, extinguished by weight of rabbit trails and asides longer than some books I‘ve read.

Walking on Water by Madeleine L’Engle

Walking on Water ~ the Ominous Comma

I ordered this book, having had it recommended to me some years before by some traveling musicians. Sadly, author Madeleine L’Engle better known for A Wrinkle in Time, apparently gave up waiting on me and died before I could finish it.

I still have fifteen pages to go.

Antisocial Commentary by Rob Kroese

Antisocial Commentary ~ the Ominous Comma

The fact that I have not yet finished this book says nothing about its quality. It is actually quite funny. In fact many of the stories in this book are suspiciously funnier than the posts they were adapted from.

I know we’re all thinking it, so let me be the first to say it: This book shows all the signs of steroid-fueled genetic tampering.

I’m sure the Literary Anti-Doping Agency, Paperback Division will have a field day with this, but until they spring the trap, I am keeping my copy in the bathroom, where I find the hearty chuckles it inspires to be helpful in keeping my bowels neat and tidy.

Yes, this book is an offense to the natural order of humor. Yes, it’s unfair to third world humorists who lack access to literary stacking technology, but in the end all that really means is that I read it with guilty laughter and a measure of self-disgust.

Very slowly.

La la la la la, I’m singing the praises of

  1. I feel it would be wise to explain that the color of pages in no way implies any sort of “accident” or other biological function mishap, but refers rather to the average age of fine reading material in the Beaverton School System libraries.
  2. I’m sure the truth of the situation has more to do with web-induced ADD and other side-effects of wholesale blog promotion then any actual mental malfunction, but truth doesn’t sell blog posts now does it?