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Interview'd, part the first

It having been a while since Your Humble Blogger was last beaten with a meme stick, Your Humble Blogger signed on to 5 Questions from Matt Hulan. The way this works is simple:

Anyone who wants me to interview them leaves a comment on this note so indicating. I come up with five questions. That person posts the questions answers on their own blog, should they be embloggened, or should they be disembloggened for whatever reason posts the answers as a further comment in this Tohu Bohu. In addition to the answers, however, the interviewee must agree to become the interviewer in turn, offering (as YHB is now) to ask five questions of anyone so inclined, and they’ll tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends, and so on, and so on, ad infinitum, to the world’s end, amen.

Having asked Matt for five of the best, I promptly forgot all about it, but he reminded me, so without further ado, or with only a trifle of further ado, really barely worthy of the name ado at all, when you think about it, herewith the five:

  1. You seem to read extraordinarily quickly, even by my standards. I’ve been known to read a novel in the space of a day, even an afternoon, but you’ve mentioned reading a novel in the space of a bath. Do you cheat, or are you Just That Fast?
  2. Assuming that the answer to #1 is that you cheat, how do you cheat? Assuming that the answer to #1 is that you’re Just That Fast, what is your page rate, and how did you come to develop such speed?
  3. Choose the sweetest of these three story options and tell it:
    • The story of how you met Your Best Reader
    • The story of Your Perfect Non-Reader’s birth
    • The story of the Youngest Member’s birth
  4. What is it about Elvis Costello?
  5. You analyze faith, and more specifically the literature of the faith of your fathers, more than most people I know. Have you any ambition to become a rabbi? Have you ever had such an ambition?

And the answer to the first question is—wait for it—no, really, this isn’t hard to guess, shall we all say it together? It’s more complicated than that. First of all, I take really long baths. Seriously. Forty-five minutes is a quick bath for me; an hour and a quarter is a decent soak. I likes to submerge me into hot water. So, there’s that. Then my description of my reading habits is misleading. I do take books into the tub, but I rarely finish them in one bath. More usually, a Bathtub Book will be started as I commence to bathe, and then put aside at the end of the tub to be picked up at bedtime, or such later time as I have for reading. Usually bedtime, for those books. For a Dick Francis, for instance, or a Lois McMaster Bujold, I will read for, say, an hour or so in the tub, then another half-hour or more in bed, and then again at bedtime the next day, and then perhaps a stolen chunk of time in the morning— let's call it three hours altogether. Not much more. A long book may wind up in more than one bath, a few days apart. And I don’t mention how long it takes me to finish books, particularly when it does take me a long time. I’ve been reading Aubrey’s Brief Lives in bits and kibbles for months, now. It took me at least three months to complete The Story is True. I had to renew The Staging of Romance in Late Shakespeare from ILL, and then had to essentially skim the last chapter because I ran out of time, and I still turned it in a day late. So this image of me frequently picking up a nice thick book, settling into the tub, and emerging clean and shampooed and finished with the book a half-hour later is false.

Also, I cheat. With rereads, I will on occasion skip bits of description or paragraphs of narration that I mostly remember. I am a very lazy reader. I don’t skip full pages, but I will let my eyes pass lightly along clumps of verbiage until I get to the next interesting bit. I also cheat because I have a trick memory, so when I have read a book before, I often know it very well on the second time through, and so can read it very fast indeed, essentially skimming over the bits that I don’t feel like slowing down for. I also cheat by reading books that are not very dense, books that are plot-heavy and description-light. And books written for teenagers and tweens, I read a lot of those, too. All of that contributes to my hundred books a year or so.

I suppose that’s the answer to the second question, as well, except that, because it’s more complicated than that, there’s another answer, which is that I really am Just That Fast at reading. And I’ll talk about that in the next note. In the meantime, any Gentle Readers who want to answer five questions from YHB, and who are willing to ask five to any passer-by who passes, er, by, should request five from me, and I will do my best to provoke and inspire. Gannet (and Duck, who doesn’t comment much these days, if she still reads) may take a second bite at the apple, should they so desire; after all, questions are free.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,


Sure, I'll bite.

For Michael, and his house out of focus:

What's your favorite venue for seeing live music?

Do you miss having long hair?

If you got to nominate somebody for MacArthur Fellowship (the genius grant), who would it be?

What do you think would be good qualifications (personal history, traits, skills, priorities, etc) for a mayor of a town like yours or mine: old, 50,000-75,000 or so residents, a suburb of a bigger town (the state capitol, actually), lots of retirees, lots of schoolkids, lots of single-family houses and triple-deckers? How could you tell if somebody in town would make a good mayor?

Are there particular prayers in the Shabbat service that you find comforting or moving, even out of the context of the service?


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