It took me three hours to get home yesterday. That's all I'm going to say about that.
Thanksgiving was nice this year - just the immediate fam... which is probably the way to go. My efforts consisted of roast garlic mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. I would have liked to do more, but frankly, as much as I like to cook, the freak-out I had while mashing the potatoes told me that it's probably best that ease into the holiday dinner process.
For the past few years, I've gotten a little bummed at Thanksgiving, knowing full well that no Thanksgiving could ever compete with the Bufa Thanksgiving of 2004. It was like the first Thanksgiving, the loaves and the fishes, and... James Brown - all rolled into one. I dare anyone to make an amazing Thanksgiving dinner for ten people in Italy, with limited utensils, a fridge the size of shoe box, and a stove the size of an EZ Bake oven.
Magical times, my friends. Magical times.
The other day, I bought two one-way tickets to Ireland for April! Why, you ask? Because Rachel and I are doing it up as cheaply as possible. As much as we'll want to stay in Ireland - home of alcoholic wonders and the nicest general population ever - Italia and the Amalgamation will be calling. From Dublin, we'll hop on a cheap-o RyanAir flight to Bologna and hop on a train to Flo-town. Next step - buying the one-ways back. I'm not sure whether we'll be flying out of Barcelona with Aerlingus (they have a stop there) or with Ryanair. It's inexpensiveness vs. a slight convenience.
I haven't done any Christmas shopping yet, which is technically fine. It's not even December. But this whole "SHOP NOW OR YOU'RE SCREWED!" push by every retailer under the sun is making me panicky. Well, that, and I have NO idea what to get anyone. I have back-up ideas for my dad and brother, but frankly, I want to do something a little different (don't we all?)
I should get my dad "A Charlie Brown Christmas." He'd probably torch the DVD and chuck it out the window. It was on TV the other night, and upon landing on it, he just said, "oh dear God," like you would upon seeing a car accident or a crime against humanity. I don't have as strong a feeling about C.B.C. as my dear father, but then again, he's been bombarded by it for 20 some-odd years more than I have. Ugh.
I finished The History of Love a couple weeks ago. And even though (or maybe because) it felt like a companion piece to the author's husband's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, I enjoyed it. Very similar styles and storylines, really. I'll say this: if you dig Jonathan Safran Foer, you'll probably like this.
I also churned right through The Best American Nonrequired Reading, 2006. I read the collection from 2002 a few years ago, and was discouraged - there were some good reads, but nothing to get really excited about. Luckily, I borrowed the 2006 collection from my brother, and it totally turned my opinion around of the series. Oddly enough, Dave Eggers was the editor of both collection, but he really seemed to create a cohesive but somehow diverse book for this past year. There is a slightly leftist political bent to the collection, but what do you expect from an author/editor in the SF Bay Area? The introduction by Matt Groening is a pretty nice start to the whole collection - pretty much a declaration to his love of literature. I'm normally not a fan of short stories, but two of them, "Nadia" and "Peg" were... interesting. "Nadia" is about a man acquiring a mail-order bride, told from the perspective of a female friend; "Peg" is about... who knows what... a man going off the deep end, pretty much. It's one of those stories where you don't want to take it literally, but it forces you to do so. I like them more than dislike them, but struggled with both, all the same. "Shipwreck" (a quasi-journalistic look at the plastination process), "The New Mecca" (a piece on the uber-capitalist city of Dubai), and "Letting Go of God" (ex-SNL cast member Julia Sweeney's struggle with Catholicism) were all highlights.
Speaking of ditching the big cheese, I'm about a little more than half way through God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by British-American author/journalist/pundit Christopher Hitchens. I'm an atheist and not a fan of religion in general, so in this case, he's "preaching to the choir;" I can see however, how this book could be offensive - even to people who don't subscribe to any particular religion. He's a bit brash and gets right down to business, mostly tearing apart the big three monotheistic religions, though sporadically, Hindu and Buddhism. He once said, "I'm not even an atheist so much as I am an antitheist; I not only maintain that all religions are versions of the same untruth, but I hold that the influence of churches, and the effect of religious belief, is positively harmful." He's a divisive individual, and interesting, to say the least. I'm going to hold off on saying anything else about this book or Hitchens until I'm finished with it, but I just felt compelled to say it's definitely interesting enough to keep me awake on the commuter rail... instead of conking out, mouth agape... a position in which I sometimes find myself, unflattering as it is.
I love long sentences.