And no green fees.

Depending on what they are, hobbies can be a good thing – to let you focus on fun while reducing stress. Hobbies can do that.

Except golf.

After spending time at that one, I decided that for me – the hobby was mainly walking around, lugging a heavy bag, and donating golf balls to the gods of the water hazard. I also enjoyed tossing peanuts to the squirrels at LaFortune Park’s course. Even if they had been rabid wharf-rats it would have been more enjoyable than adding up my way-over-par scorecard, where families of snowmen partied. (A snowman is a single-hole score of 8, for you lucky non-golfers.)

In truth, I did enjoy walking the course. It was the part involving the ball that proved to be my downfall.

At another point in time, I spent many hours (and mucho moolah) restoring a British sports car. The work was furious fun at the beginning. As months turned into years, other hobbies got in the way. And golf. After about ten years, the car was brightly painted, chromed out, newly-upholstered, and ready to start. Drove it around the block, and hated it.

It handled like a tractor.

The jewel is now residing in Texas, having been hauled away by another hobbyist.

The big table in the front of the bookshop was jammed up this afternoon with a couple of projects. Volume Two of a leather-bound antique set has the front and back boards re-attached, and will be ready for a new leather spine as soon as it dries. As a hobby, book repair seems a lot like work. That’s why the book press was hugging the edge of the table.

Next to it sat a brand new project competing for my time and attention.

Both of my everyday guitars have developed a noise. They call it fret-buzz. I call it annoying. In my experience, it is about as expensive to have repairs made as it is to just buy another. Probably not for cars or houses. But those stereos, watches, hair dryers, and the like? Toss ‘em and buy new.

So, I tried some guitars on Sunday. I probably picked up nearly two dozen different instruments, plunking around on them in the store’s special plunk-around room. One in particular sounded extra-fine.

It was way too much for my budget.

I hustled out before my willpower weakened. Went online. The seller on eBay called this one a project-guitar. I’m familiar with projects. (Even my first home was one.) And here it is, the same model six-string I’d fallen for at the shopping center, except the price tag is less than a tenth of the store’s. Of course, I can’t play it yet – it’s a project. But after half-an-hour, I’ve already successfully removed the gooey-gum filmy slime that marred the finish of the wood on top, and now, at least that part is nice and shiny.

Even if it doesn’t work out, this project will never compare to the decade-long car repair that filled up half the garage and eventually had to be hauled away. And if worst comes to worst, I can always El Kabong it as a stress reliever. (You are free to Google El Kabong, you non-Quick Draw McGraw folks…)

And there’s an outside chance it will make some music one of these days…

Downloading a book: a new thing?

No, it isn’t.

The technology was less complicated, but the prices more than made up for it. For a mere quarter, you could select a title, move the lever, and BLAP! your book drops down the chute, all ready to read. Faster than a 3G Kindle download any day.

It dates from 1947, early in the year. It was a time when “mat” was King. Anything worth buying had O-mat attached to it, an abbreviated version of automatic, I presume. There was the chief offender Laundromat – a place where the machines took coins in exchange for clean clothes.

The drawback to the Book-O-Mat was the lack of a sneak preview. It kept the books from getting shopworn from folks thumbing through them, but even the front cover artwork was hidden by the display method. But – what’d’ya want for a quarter?

A solution to that problem was offered a short time later by Rock-Ola, the creator of the Book-O-Mat. Rock-Ola is better known these days as the company that manufactured exotic jukeboxes. The later machines positioned the paperbacks – which were generally called “pocket books” back then – in a manner that offered a view of the front cover.

The Book-O-Mat machine carried a price tag of $175, which – in today’s dollars – equates to nearly two-thousand bucks.

Unlike the eReaders of today, which are advertised as having a viewing surface like “paper,” the Book-O-Mat was so sophisticated that it dispensed actual PAPER products, bound in a heavier printed stock with graphic images.

Man.

My head is spinning.

I don’t have a Book-O-Mat, but for a couple of short stacks of quarters, I’ll do a throwback to some really old-times and hand-deliver a Pocket Book to you in a futuristic thin container designed for easy carrying.

We call it a bag.

Come visit!

McHuston

Booksellers & Irish Bistro
Rose District
122 South Main St. Broken Arrow OK!

Barkis is willin’

Sometimes they get it right. But it’s rare when a film equals or surpasses the story that it’s taken from. We’ve got pretty good imaginations, most of us, and when we read the words we invariably create our own mental movies.

There are some movies that meet with critic’s approval and have little to do with the original story. I’m thinking about that adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining. Stanley Kubrick brought his own take to that one, and it hardly resembled the book. On the other side of that one, I watched 2001: A Space Odyssey and had to go buy the book to figure out what it was that I had just watched.

I’m not sure it cleared it up for me.

Fans of the Lee Child action hero Jack Reacher were up in arms when it was announced that Tom Cruise would play the part. That was a tough call for me, too. I’m a Reacher fan, but I’m a Cruise fan as well. I kept an open mind and enjoyed the movie, even though Reacher in the books looks nothing like Tom Cruise.

There’s that mental image thing, again. In my imagination, Reacher is more of a handsome gorilla, if there can be such a thing. I figure that is the only way he can always win the fights and still impress the ladies.

Many of the characters from the Charles Dickens novels have been given the illustrator’s touch. Not always to the advantage of the story. Every time I think of A Christmas Carol, I envision Ebenezer Scrooge being played by Mister Magoo. I suppose I saw that cartoon a few times too many.

But, then – I’m a Dickens fan.

That’s why I had to thumb through another estate sale purchase, a small book put together by Mary Angela Dickens – a granddaughter of the original. Somehow, she reduced David Copperfield (and others) to a dozen pages or so in her 1893 retelling of her grandfather’s stories in Children’s Stories from Dickens.

Harold Copping did the artwork, and being a fan of all things illustrated, I couldn’t help thumbing through the pages. I was pleased to see the color plates that were included in my much-later reprint copy.

And, how about that? Mr. Peggotty, the adopted father-figure of Little Em’ly, looks just as I had imagined him. I’m a particular fan of Copperfield, possibly because Dickens confessed that it was his own favorite, but probably because I had such an enjoyable time reading it and discovering its many memorable characters.

Mr. Peggoty lives in a house that was originally a boat. Works at the seashore and is comfortable with everything marine, as is young and excitable Ham.

“Well said, Master Davy, bor!” cried Ham, delighted. “Hoorah, well said! No more you wouldn’t, bor bor!” returning Mr. Peggotty’s backhander, while little Em’ly got up and kissed her uncle.

Now there is some ACTION.

(In retrospect, it may well be the stuff people hate just as much as I love. Go figure.)

A signed copy of a limited edition of Children’s Stories was owned by Eleanor Roosevelt and brought over $1,500 at an auction about a dozen years ago.

You can bring Ham and Mr. Peggotty home in this version for under five bucks. Same words. Same illustrations.

No autograph, though.

Come visit!

McHuston

Booksellers & Irish Bistro
Rose District
122 South Main St. Broken Arrow OK!

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