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I love you all.

Well, yesterday was a pretty great day for me.  This is how December’s stats shaped up:

december stats

Now, my blog generates no revenue whatsoever, no matter how many clicks I get; but even if it did, that’s not what I’m talking about.  It was the astonishing outpouring of support and encouragement that made it just completely wonderful.  So many people took the time to write a letter to my editor — and boy, I know how busy people are right now!  That in itself was fantastic.

But what struck me most of all was how articulate, sincere, witty, and above all happyyou all sound.  And then you sent me personal emails, messaged me, passed the word on Facebook and Twitter, and left encouraging comments everywhere encouraging comments could be left.  You guys.  I don’t even know what to say.  I’m just so glad to have people like you for my friends.

And it doesn’t hurt to have an endlessly generous, indefatigable, angry Irish combox berzerker like Mark Shea gallantly drawing off some of the crazybrain fire.  And then one of the funniest, most insightful, most crap-cutting cultural commentators I’ve seen in a long time, Tom McDonald references Spartacus and The Big Lebowski (well, there was a nice marmot, anyway) on my behalf.  I . . .  I now feel able to stand tall against the scathing disapprobation of, um, Spirit Daily.  And Pewsitter.  And Selfrigithous Marmot-Fanciers United for the Magnesium.

Also, Al and Chuck’s Gay Travel Blog is getting a huge bump in traffic this week.  They must be so damn confused right now.

Oh, happy, happy Advent to all of you.

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Why the heck not?

Folks, so many of you have been so encouraging and so generous with your prayers already.  Thank you!  If you have a moment, and if you’ve enjoyed my writing here or at the Register, maybe you could drop a line to the  Editor-in-Chief, Jeanette de Melo.  She’s been getting lots of calls and emails about me lately, and I’d love to have some friends add their voices.

jdemelo@ewtn.com

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50 Books: What Kinkade was aiming for

First, a shameless plug:  order today with standard shipping from my CafePress store,and get a free shipping upgrade so your items will arrive by December 24.

Doesn’t your beloved wife deserve some Dignaroos?  Or won’t you step up and protect her honor on her semi-annual Trip Outside the Home by furnishing her with this presumably finely-crafted aluminum Pants Pass?  Or some other ridiculous crap I threw together?

Fine.

Then let’s retreat from crass materialism.  I hope everybody knows Tasha Tudor, whose gentle illustrations are always full of sweet grace and warmth.  They are what Thomas Kinkade and Precious Moments fail so wretchedly to capture:  simplicity, innocence, and the small joys of the family.  My favorite Tasha Tudor book is

a time to keep

A Time to Keep:  A  The Tasha Tudor Book of Holidays

Endlessly fascinating, this book takes you through a year of traditions and celebrations from the old days.  It makes you feel happy and nostalgic for things you aren’t actually old enough to remember.  I still feel, deep in the heart of me, that someday I will send a multi-layered birthday cake floating down the river for an evening party, or we will make our own tin can firecrackers to scare the corgis.  Some books that hearken to a simpler time make you feel melancholy and guilty when you’re done, as you compare your life to what you’ve read; but this book doesn’t have that effect.  I’m not even sure why.  Maybe because, like Norman Rockwell, she injects enough realism — skinned knees, chapped lips, burnt fingers — to remind you that life was never perfect; and that children are still children, and always will be.

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50 Books: the Ultimate Reading Accessory

Back to books tomorrow, but I couldn’t resist adding in one non-book item:

tv b gone

Perhaps you have found yourself sitting in the waiting room of a doctor’s office, and the wall-mounted TV is on, and you aren’t quite up to answering the question, “Momeeeeee, what is a ‘twanssexual wuv twiangle?’”

Or you’re sitting in a restaurant for your biennial date with your husband, waiting for your bloomin’ onion to arrive, and you realize that your precious evening is being devoured by the eleven wall-mounted screens, all showing the Laker Girls?

Or heck, maybe you’re sitting in that same restaurant and Michael Voris comes on, and you actually listen with an open heart for once and you suddenly realize that he actually is a fearless prophet who will save the world, and is, as  one of my readers pointed out, “completely faithful to the magnesium?”  But, because of your heart of stone, you are unwilling to take back your calumnious words, and so you wish you could just TURN THE TV OFF?

That’s what the TV-B-Gone Universal TV Power Remote Control Keychain does.  It turns off TVs.  Point and click, and whatever’s troubling you on the silver screen goes away, so you can wait for the phlebotomist or bloomin’ onion or continue to dwell in non-Vorisian darkness in peace and quiet for another day.

 

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Seven to Ten Quick Takes: 50 Books: Guest Post: I like colons

7_quick_takes_sm

Today’s guest post is written by my ever-enthusiastic 13-year-old daughter, Dora (who was born and named approximately six months before Dora the UsurperExplorer made her irritating debut). 

Standard disclaimer:  I have read some, but not all of these books, neglectful mother, ideas have consequences, corrupting the youth, blah blah blah.  I have read Shooting Kabul and it was fine, and I loved The Star of Kazan — thought it was really sweet and imaginative, and just altogether much more pleasant, well-written and entertaining than 99% of literature for this age group.  I have a bit of a prejudice against books that come out as an instant series, and haven’t read the other ones. 

*****

#1-3:

The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud

bart trilogy

Individual books:  The Amulet of Samarkand, The Golem’s Eye, Ptolemy’s Gate

This has three really funny, really awesome books.  The series follows the story of a demonic daemon (djinn) named Bartimaeus.  He is constantly being summoned by a snotty brat of a magician, Nathaniel.  In the second one, I was laughing  over a buffalo.  When I first saw the books, I only checked the first two out, and was very angry at myself for weeks before I finally got back to the library, and got the last book.  I recommend this to anyone over ten who is a good reader and has a sense of humor.

#4:

Shooting Kabul by N. H. Senzai

shooting kabul

This is an amazingly good book. I got it from my schools “free book day,” or something.  It’s about a family that’s trying to escape from Afghanistan to the United States right before 9/11.  On the way, the youngest child gets left behind, and throughout the whole book, her older brother, Fadi, is trying to find her.  It is unsure, though, if there is a happy ending.  [I think she means the reader is not sure whether it will end happily.  Spoiler for my more nervous readers, since this is a pretty good book, and worth reading: The little girl does get found! — Admin]  Emotional people,beware, this book will probably make you cry.

#5:

The Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson

star of kazan

A super-dee-duper awesome book about an orphaned girl living in a wonderful home in Vienna.  One day a woman shows up at her doorstep, claiming to be her mother.  This great story is filled with twists, and when I read it, sometimes it gets so good I want to throw it down and stalk away.  [I read this sentence several times, uncertain of its meaning, and finally concluded that my daughter is a weirdo. –Admin] Everything is tied up at the end, and one of my favorite parts is the epilogue.  All in all an awesome book.

#6-10:

The Name of This Book Is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch

secret series

This is the start of a captivating, but maddening, series.  It is called the Secret Series.  There are five books in all, and you need a lot of patience to read them all.  It follows the story of someone who might be named Cass, as she tries to find out the Secret of Life.  It gets a little wearisome after a while, what with all the “Oh, I guess I’ll tell you the Secret.  Oh, wait!  Never mind!” from the narrator, but once you get past that, it is pretty good.

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Did you see Minor Revisions?? UPDATE: YouTube link included

I didn’t get to see Minor Revisions last night!  Jen Fulwiler gave us ten extremely persuasive reasons why, despite the grievous lack of any husbands wearing banana suits, we would want to watch her reality show miniseries.  Did you see it?  How was it?  It’s a three-part series, and the next episodes will air Dec. 20 and Jan. 10.  You can also watch it live online (IF all five internet-enabled devices don’t crap out on you simultaneously, like ours did; in which case you can have some taquitos and fall asleep on your husband while watching a JeanClaude Van Damme movie, and it will actually be the nicest evening you’ve had in weeks.   IF.)

Argh.  I feel like the kid who missed trick-or-treating because I was home with chicken pox.  How was it, how was it???

UPDATE:  Because the servers crashed from so many people trying to watch last night, the producers have put the entire first episode on YouTube, and you can watch it here.  (That is a link to Brandon Vogt, who posted the video.  My computer will not do anything I want it to do today.)

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50 Books: Katherine Paterson

Back to the books!  Today’s pick is a collection of very short stories for older elementary school kids to adults:

 

angels and other strangers

 

Angels and Other Strangers:  Family Christmas Stories by Katherine Paterson

 

These stories all center around Christmas, and they all seem like they’re going to cross the line and get maudlin . . . but they don’t.  This is one of Paterson’s earlier works, and she’s clearly still gathering her powers; but even when she’s not so subtle, she’s great.  These are all stories about love and about finding Christ in, as Mother Teresa would say, His more “distressing disguises.”  Paterson is a true American treasure — and, happily, she is very prolific – and I’ve found only a few books of hers that I don’t like.

This book appears to be out of print, so you’ll  probably want to buy one of the used copies to avoid the crazy prices (please note, the cover I show is just one possible edition!  I’ve been careless before, and ended up ordering something I wasn’t expecting on Amazon) — but you won’t regret adding this one to your library.  Paterson is a great teacher of love in action, something kids (and everyone) desperately need to learn about.