Christmas is over, and I now own more DVD’s, books and CD’s than any human being deserves to own. Pantaliamon and I need a new bookshelf to accommodate the new DVD’s. Looks like we’re going to thinning our collection of books -- I don’t know what we would have done before Probably just given them away to Goodwill or something.

I have this terrible hording problem. I just feel the need to buy books, records and movies rather than just rent them or borrow them from the library. Part of the problem is that the libraries in D.C. are pretty sad, but I had this problem even before we moved into the city. In college an acquaintance of mine who had deluded himself into thinking he was dating Pantaliamon when in fact I was (amazing how dense some guys can be, especially in regards to girls), tried to taunt me with: “Why rent when you can buy?” He meant, of course, that I was being silly by buying instead of renting -- that renting was the better option. Besides being dumb about Pantaliamon, he was also dense about the concept of a personal library. It’s my dream to someday have a room filled with nothing but bookshelves containing movies and books -- and I’m well on the way to achieving that dream. I imagine that my old acquaintance would be happy to just have an empty room.

Speaking of the books I’ve horded, I’m currently reading Michael Chabon’s Summerland. I really don’t know where to begin regarding my feelings about Chabon. In every interview with him I’ve read I’ve really liked him, and I really want to like his books, but I just can’t get any kind of emotional response to them. I don’t know what it is -- his use of language is incredible, but I just don’t find his characters very compelling. And the fantasy in Summerland doesn’t seem “real” to me -- he introduces the elements into the book without first earning the right to, if that makes any sense. It’s somewhat jarring. It’s the same problem I had with The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. Things happen that I just can’t believe.

Not to worry, though. I’ve a huge pile of books to read when this one is done. Some of them have got to be more engaging ...

Inexplicably, I bought a 2003 Civil War calendar from Barnes and Noble last weekend (50% -- I love those year-end calendar bargains). So a very dirty and stoic-looking Ulysses S. Grant is looking down at me right now. I find myself absolutely transfixed by the strange expression on his face -- sort of stern bewilderment. I suspect that in the dawn of photography, people just didn’t know how to pose for a picture. Or maybe Ulysses was just blinded by the flash? Despite what I might think of his expression, I have to admit that the man had a very fine beard. All presidents would be better with beards, I think -- even George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter, two men I’m sure probably can’t even grow a whisker.