Money got tight, so on Monday I took four boxes of books and music to Half-Price Books in Tacoma. They took half the stuff I'd packed up and gave me $100, which I thought was pretty fair. I've got a little breathing room in my checking account now.
It's hard to predict what they will and won't take. I swore before I made the trip that I wouldn't sell anything I had an emotional attachment to -- no music that I'd miss later because it wouldn't be around to remind me of old friends, old times, good times.
After all that soul-searching, Half Price only took a little bit of the vinyl. I'm stumped on why they took ELO but left ELP, took a Can best-of (which you'd think would have fairly limited appeal, nothing personal) but left English-import albums by Caravan, Camel and Gentle Giant. They took The Headboys, but left Squeeze and The Jam. They took Heart, but left CCR and John Fogerty. They took the Dixie Dregs, but left a King Crimson best-of. They took almost all the travel-writing I couldn't get into last fall, but left short-story collections by Harlan Ellison and Robert Silverberg
They took almost all the CD's. They took ALL the rockstar memoirs I've given bad reviews to over the last month.
Not that I'm complaining. A year ago they paid me $160 for a pile of what I thought was mostly pretty dire stuff. So it all balances out.
Naturally, I didn't come home empty-handed. I grabbed a new edition of THE PENGUIN GUIDE TO JAZZ, which I first fell in love with when I grabbed a previous edition at Half-Price back in 2008. This new version is -- good God! -- TWICE as big as the old edition. And I'm sure there's more great criticism and more hilarious jokes.
I grabbed science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick's EXEGESIS and have already started it. It's a monster. On Page 21, he takes a pretty good shot at describing what happened to him back in early 1974, when he started seeing funny colored lights and started dreaming in Greek. At first he thinks it's some ancient Greek trying to communicate with him. Then he thinks it's his late friend Episcopal Bishop Jim Pike trying to communicate from The Other Side. Then Dick thinks he might have been contacted by some Vast Autonomous Living Intelligence System transmitting from space. And all through it, he's cracking jokes.
God knows if I'll finish it. I've already started skimming and skipping things. But what a story.
I hit the Clearance section and brought home Joe Queenan's CONFESSIONS OF A CINEPLEX HECKLER (2000), a couple dozen articles about movies, only $2. Queenan writes for MOVIELINE magazine.
These aren't really movie reviews -- well, a couple are, and one's a brief book review of a Hollywood producer's memoir. The rest are silly articles about films and some of the BS around them -- how Hollywood presents views of life that have nothing to do with reality; how many ears have been severed in a decade of Hollywood films; how many Merchant-Ivory movies can Queenan watch before his brain turns to Swiss cheese, etc.
In two pieces entitled "Don't Try This at Home," Queenan proves some things done in movies simply can't be done in reality. He dunks himself in cold Atlantic waters to prove Leonardo DiCaprio couldn't have done a five-minute monologue near the end of TITANIC -- he would've been dead in two minutes. (Queenan lasts less than 30 seconds.)
But Queenan IS able to walk through busy Manhattan traffic while wearing dark glasses and pretending to be blind, like Al Pacino did in SCENT OF A WOMAN. Taxis don't run over Queenan -- possibly a first for NYC.
I don't recommend reading this book in one sitting, like I basically did. Though it's funny, the humor tends to wear out. Queenan tends to pick on the same movies over and over, and his stories tend to repeat themselves in structure and punch lines. So read one essay a day for the next few weeks and you'll be happier than I was. I wish the book had been funnier.
But for $2, I'm not complaining.