Discover more from The Writing Shed with Tommy Tomlinson
Just take that old Bugs off the shelf
Plus more book news, and my weekly shareables return: Country radio, Moravian cookies, and so many golden retrievers
Before we get to the above gentleman in distress, here’s a gentle and not at all obnoxious reminder that MY NEW BOOK IS NOW AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER. If you missed my post last week, all the key details are there. … but I will take a moment to remind you of the great deal we’ve worked up with Park Road Books here in Charlotte. If you preorder through them, I will not only sign your book but also inscribe it however you wish, as long as it’s 25 words or less. I have had two friends tell me I will have to inscribe their books with the words “Cats are better.” This pains me already. But you buy the book, I write what you want. Just mash the button:
By the way: I’ve heard from a couple of Shedheads who are ordering the book through their own local bookstores instead, both to support those stores and to avoid shipping costs. That’s absolutely fine! Whatever works best for you. And if you’re not in a position to buy a copy at all right now, that’s fine too. I’ve been there.
Several of you have been generous enough to support this Substack at what I called the Golden Ticket level ($250 or more). One of the perks for Golden Ticket holders is a free signed and inscribed copy of DOGLAND—and any other books I might write in the future. (If I end up cranking them out like Colleen Hoover, this will be a GREAT deal.) I’ll be in touch with Golden Ticket holders as we get a little closer to publication day. In the meantime, if you’re interested in subscribing, or upgrading to a Golden Ticket, I believe this button will get you there:
Please holler with any other questions about ordering the book, subscribing to the newsletter or whatever. I’ll update y’all with new details about DOGLAND as we go along. And now, to the regularly scheduled portion of this newsletter …
This past weekend, for the first time in maybe 10 years, I hooked up our DVD player. It was actually a bit of a Geek Squad situation; I moved the DVD player from my stereo rig (where it was serving as the CD player) and connected it to the TV, then hooked up an old pre-Blu-Ray DVD player to the stereo to play CDs. (More on that when I get to this week’s shareables.)
We needed a working DVD player because a friend of my wife’s family sent us some old home movies from when they lived next door to my in-laws in Wisconsin. The movies were charming and my wife’s grandpa had a surprise cameo that we were all thrilled to see.
But for me, the fun part was testing the DVD player to see if I had hooked it up right. Because I got out my old Looney Tunes DVD set.
I’ve actually got three Looney Tunes sets, the first three volumes of the Golden Collection, 12 DVDs in all. The Looney Tunes characters—Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam, the Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote—are the stars of the greatest short films ever made. I’ll even hear an argument that they’re the best films ever made. They’re undoubtedly the ones that have made me laugh more often and harder than anything else, from the earliest times I can remember until … well, this week, when I watched LONG HAIRED HARE again. Poor Giovanni Jones. He didn’t know that when Bugs says “Of course you realize, this means war,” you’re done.
There’s an extra layer here for me. Looney Tunes are what I watched the most with my best friend, Virgil Ryals. We were friends from 1976, when we started seventh grade, until 2017, when he died of a heart attack in the house he grew up in. Our conversations were often a thicket of inside jokes and movie quotes, and so many of them were from Looney Tunes. If I ever tried to explain something and got tangled up in my own syntax, I knew Virg was coming with the Daffy Duck line from RABBIT SEASONING: Hold it right there! Pronoun trouble.
So I can’t watch Looney Tunes without thinking of Virg, which meant I didn’t want to watch Looney Tunes for a while, and then with streaming we didn’t really need a DVD player anymore. But the other day I spent an hour watching a dozen of the classics—that player needed to be thoroughly tested. It made me miss Virg, because I always miss him, but this time the memories felt better. And I mean, how can you not laugh at Yosemite Sam being tricked into jumping off the same high dive over and over again?
What I’m saying here, I guess, is don’t let your favorite memories gather too much dust.
10 things I wanted to share this week:
This week’s SouthBound guest was Craig Renaud, director and producer of the excellent PBS documentary series SOUTHERN STORYTELLERS, featuring Jesmyn Ward, Jason Isbell, Natasha Trethewey and many others. There’s even a cameo from Ted Danson. Craig worked on this and many other documentary projects with his brother, Brent, who was killed in Ukraine last year as he was filming a documentary on refugees. The first half of the podcast is about the PBS series, the second half is about Brent, and they both sort of fit together.
My weekly for WFAE was about a brilliant editorial cartoonist losing his job, and what it means to do something distinctive.
Congrats to my friend Jen McGivney on her book deal! It’s about how to apply Thoreau’s principles to the uncertain economic times of today, and I can promise you it’ll be great.
How Nashville changed, but mainstream country music never seems to. Pretty timely, given that Jason Aldean song that I’d just as soon not get any more attention. (New Yorker)
DOG NEWS: From now until DOGLAND comes out (April 2024!), I’m devoting this slot to dog stories. This week: Golden retrievers return to their ancestral home, and the adorableness is overwhelming. (BBC)
A great Brandon Sneed story on the guys who caught a marlin they thought was worth $3.5 million … until they got back to shore. (NYT)
If you’ve never had Moravian cookies—I hadn’t until I moved to the Carolinas—they’re thin and crispy little slices of paradise. Kim Severson has a beautiful obit on the woman who made them famous. (NYT)
We finally finished all 12 seasons (!) of NEW TRICKS, which is fine entertainment when you need a British mystery-of-the-week that’s not too heavy. (Hulu)
I mentioned earlier in this post that I hooked up a CD player along with the DVD player. I still buy CDs from bands I really want to support, but to be honest, I don’t play them that much—streaming is just so easy. I will say, though, that the sound quality of a good CD is awesome. Especially if you play it loud. Which I did with Jason Isbell’s version of “Honeysuckle Blue,” the old Drivin N Cryin track that Isbell and his band recorded for their GEORGIA BLUE album (which has a great backstory). Here’s a live version, with guitarist Sadler Vaden stepping up to take the lead vocal. Damn, I love this song.
See y’all next week, everybody.
This newsletter is completely reader-supported. If you’re willing and able, please consider becoming a paid subscriber. You can also still buy my memoir, THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM. Thank you so much for your time and investment!—TT