PaperBackSwap Blog


Musings, Memories and Miscellany from our MoM’s

Today our featured Member of the Month is Greg (VOSTROMO). Greg was named our Member of the Month in January, 2011.

Hello, minions. — I’m sorry, that was rude. I meant to say “prior minions.”

I’ve been asked, as your former higher-up and current lower-than, to say a few words about my experience as a PBS Member of the Month. I can assure you it was no picnic — no siree, I had to pay for my own food throughout the entire month. I did lose seven pounds, so there’s that. But even a cupcake would have been nice. Just saying.

Anyway, I was thrilled to discover I’d been nominated, never mind chosen, as a MoM, because I never really thought the whole mass-hypnosis thing was viable. But that turned out to be the best 1-hour class I’ve ever taken. And the cookies at the Y are pretty good, if you get there early.

As it happens, I found out about my election not through the PBS newsletter, which I read every… never or so… but from the personal messages and 500-thread-count CMT posts, which were extra-special because they matched my overpriced bedsheets so nicely.

When I joined PBS back in the pre-Kindle days — imagine, there are people being born now who will never know the thrill of dropping a book from a great height, like a tree branch which just happens to be extremely close to my ex-girlfriend’s bathroom windowsill, and having it not break! — I was a mere piker who, having lived in New York City and spent many a bedusted afternoon sidling through the Strand Bookstore, had only — get this — six hundred unread books on his shelf! I know!! Now, after almost 4 years of near-constant Wish List finessing, I’ve lost count, because my eyesight isn’t what it was and I really have been trying to catch up on all the laundry.

There are a few standard questions which Team PBS has suggested as starting points, so let’s take them just so:

1. How long have you been a PBS member?

I joined PBS in January of 2007, not that it’s really any of your business. I can’t say the day stands out in my memory as particularly noteworthy for any other reason, which is to say it’s unique, since most of my days are unstoppable festivals of unceasing amazement and wonder. Or maybe that’s Clooney, I’m not sure. Yeah it probably is. Oh I remember — I was drinking my morning Folger’s and checking out Lolcatz when I got an email from the President of Namibia telling me I’d won US$4,500,000 in the Pan-African Lottery. Again, kudos to the Y for those awesome classes! I was making out the transfer-fee check when I saw something about PBS on some or other website for People Who Are Cheap And Unashamed, and thank goodness I noticed it because I almost sent out that check! I mean without a stamp or anything! Yeesh!

2. How has PBS impacted your life. What does PBS mean to you?

PBS has impacted my life in some positive and negative ways, to be frank. I’ve certainly enjoyed virtually-meeting the faithful in the Forums, and trying to get them to learn to spell – there are limits, after all, to what hypnosis can accomplish even with the internet – and getting a book in the mail fairly bristles with pleasurable anticipations and frissons of, er, frissonation, I guess. And certainly I’ve saved a lot of money over retail prices. But to be fair, there are downsides: my butt falls asleep now much more than it did before, because I can’t reach the keyboard without sitting down; worse and ironical, I think I’m actually reading less because I can never decide what to start next, so I just go back to the Forums and wait to fall asleep. I know a lot of people post “tell me what to read next” threads and such, but I’m not sure I want to relinquish control to anyone who lives near a Y, if you take my meaning.

As for what PBS “means to me”, I think it stands for “PaperBack Swap” – yes?

3. Did you read as a child? What was your favorite book growing up? What book impacted you most as a child or young adult?

I did read as a child, though I found I enjoyed books much more if I read them using my skills as an adult. Sounding out words phonetically gets tiring, and seems unnecessary for the letters in Penthouse.

The first book I remember reading on my own is a book I wish I could remember more: some YA novel about a kid racing cars with his dad – that’s all I remember, except for a vague, indescribable but definite mental picture of the cover – and I’d give anything to find out what it was and re-read it now! Except my Pan-African Lottery money, and anyway I’m still waiting for that.

If I had to pick a favorite book read while “growing up” (a meaningless concept if ever I heard one!) I’d probably say Harriet the Spy. But the short stories The Problem of Cell 13 and The Lady or The Tiger? made as big an impression on me as anything ever since, at least after my sub to Penthouse ran out.

4. What is your favorite or most meaningful book read as an adult?

You mean, other than Penthouse? Well, as I’ve noted a few times in various CMT threads I’m very hesitant to single out specific items as absolute favorites or most meaningfuls because I think the cumulative effect of time has a huge impact on what and how much one appreciates any type of artistic work – you are a different reader every year! I also find there is a gap between what one may consider best and favorite – certainly, to switch media for a moment, Citizen Cane is among the best and most meaningful films ever made, but it can’t hold a candle to Kung-Fu Panda in rewatchability. I can say with confidence that Moby Dick, Song of Solomon, and Ninety-two in the Shade are among the novels I consider to bridge the gap quite well; I’ll never forget The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy but I don’t know if I want to re-read it all that often. I loved Catch-22 and Something Happened and Rabbit, Run and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and The City and the Stars and of course I could go on and on and on, like I always do anyway.

Certainly the works of Alexander Pope made a tremendous impression on me, and I have striven ever since to give up any hope of achieving real wisdom.

Lastly, I will single out Studs Terkel’s Working as having had a particularly strong impact on me, because it affected my sense of place in the world profoundly, reading it as I did at the start of my musings about such things, which never end.

5. What are you reading now?

I’m ¼ of the way through The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and while I’m enjoying it, I had no idea how old-fashioned in scope and style it was. I haven’t read such a detailed work since How to Hypnotize Everyone in Your Neighborhood, and even that was only six pages long with illustrations. Actually the contract with the Namibian Lottery Council was pretty complicated, but of course who reads contracts, am I right?

6. What would you like the PBS members to know about you?

My middle name is the single initial X. Or that’s my dad’s name on my birth certificate, I always get those two confused. Damn.

If you have any nominations for Member of the Month, submit them to us here.  Your nomination will not “expire”–anyone you nominate will have a chance at getting Member of the Month if enough nominations accumulate over time. Each month the person who has the most votes accumulated when the Newsletter goes to press gets to be Member of the Month and gets a newsletter mention and a nifty MoM icon to wear on profile and forum posts with pride.  So go for it! Tell us who’s helped you in the Forums, who’s been a great swapper, who in your opinion is a credit to PBS.  We are keeping a list of all the nominated members.  Who knows–one of them might be YOU!

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2 Responses to “Musings, Memories and Miscellany from our MoM’s”

  1. Mary S. (kilchurn) , says:

    Thanks so much for sharing a little bit more of yourself with us Your Highness -er former Highness.

  2. Greg (VOSTROMO) says:

    Yes, I know it’s Citizen Kane, just a typo I didna catch til now.

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