As one would expect, I toned down my bike riding for the month of December. I logged only 612 miles, mostly on my CrossCheck. I brought Big Nellie inside so that I could avoid riding in inclement weather.
When I wasn’t riding I was reading. I am sworn to not buy new books during December so that my wife and daughter don’t have to run off to the bookstore to return a Christmas gift. (My daughter says that I am easy to buy for. Books, Bikes, Beer.) To avoid this annoyance, I bought a paperback copy of The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. All I knew about it was that it had been on best sellers lists forever not long ago. It’s the tale of a Christian missionary who moves his family from small town Georgia to a village in the Belgian Congo in 1959. The story is told from the alternating points of view of his wife and four daughters. (Oddly, my second book of the year that uses this multiple narration device. Cloud Cuckoo Land was the other.) It’s a complex story with layers upon layers of detail. Definitely one of the best novels I’ve read in recent years.
With time remaining until Christmas, I read Kingsolver’s first novel, The Bean Trees. It’s not in the same class as Poisonwood but still an enjoyable read.
For Christmas I received four books, two from my wish list and two surprises. I immediately read Richard Osman’s The Bullet That Missed, the third and latest in his Thursday Murder Club series. Unlike the bullet, this book doesn’t miss. Loved it.
I watched If These Walls Could Sing , a documentary about the legendary Abbey Road recording studio in London. It’s produced my Mary McCartney, Paul’s daughter, who was is seen as a baby on the rug of Studio 2 presumably during a Beatles recording session. (She’s also the baby peeking out of her dad’s coat on the cover of his first solo album.) The film, of course, spends a good deal of time on the Beatles who recorded most of their music there. But the history of the place is a rich one, going back to when it first opened in 1931. Along the way we hear about an incredible array of music that was produced there including classical, rock, pop, film themes, film scores, and Afrobeat.
On Christmas Eve, we watched Glass Onion, under the presumption that each of us liked it’s predecessor, Knives Out. It turns out that none of us was really keen on Knives and even less so about Glass. After that, we watched The Snowman on YouTube. (The original version, not the one narrated by David Bowie.) It’s a family tradition in our house.
On Christmas night, we watched The Banshees of Inisherin. Gloomy. Moody. Exceptionally well acted. Subtitles came in handy as the Irish accents are pretty strong.
On the night of the 27th, we watched Bullet Train, a Brad Pitt movie that sends up genre after genre. Funny as hell. Don’t watch this with the kiddies though. Lots of blood and gore all done for a laugh. Monty Python meets Sam Peckinpah meets Strangers on a Train meets dozens of Japanese culture gags.
The next night we watched Georgetown, about a man who offs his socialite wife in Georgetown, DC. To be honest, I slept through most of it. My wife and daughter said I didn’t miss much.
Then there was the fun stuff. Early in the month my wife, daughter, and I drove to Salem. Massachusetts to attend a surprise party for my brother Joe’s 70th birthday. Remarkably, his wife and sons pulled off the surprise. For me it was a surreal experience seeing some of his old classmates whom I hadn’t seen since the 1970s.
For more fun I had my fifth colonoscopy which seemed much more of an ordeal than the previous four. Ugh.