I’ve moved most slow-loading scripts (e.g., sitemeter) to the right panel, which should mean that the page will load the center panel before running them (which sometimes causes the page to hang for a while before loading). If this works then you will be able to read the hot fresh content while the rest of the page is loading.
I still need to fix the blogroll, which also hangs sometimes. One plan is to just switch it with the book recommendations (I put the images directly on the site instead of using Amazon to host them.) The other plan is to maintain it manually. Whichever I choose, by Monday slow-loading should be a thing of the past.
Thanks to twh, Wayne B., and Kevin Drum for the tips.