Good Book/Album Hunting, December 15, 2018: “Christmas Shopping”

I had a couple of hours to myself this afternoon as my children and my beautiful wife prepared for the Sunday School Christmas Program tomorrow. So I went and did a little bit of Christmas shopping which brought me to ABC Books and Relics Antique Mall, where I found a little something for myself as well.

ABC Books posted on social media that they’ll be closed next week for the annual inventory, so I told the proprietress that I would help by making it so they didn’t have to count so high.

I got:

  • Cold, Dark Night by Mike Daniels, a short story chapbook whose author had a book signing today.
  • Games Zen Masters Play.
  • Pragmatism by William James, which I would be surpised if I didn’t own in some form already.
  • Taekwondo Kyorugi: Olympic Style Sparring to see if I can learn any new tricks since everyone at the dojo has seen my old tricks.
  • The Martial Artists Way by Sifu Glen Doyle and with a forward by Elvis Stojko. Because if anything screams authentic martial arts, it’s an intro by a male figure skater.
  • The Paper Dragon by Evan Hunter. I told the proprietress that he was better known as Ed McBain, but his birth name was Sal Lombino (look it up). I am a font of knowledge.

I have more books than I could ever read at this point, but not more books than I want.

I also picked up a couple records at Relics (but not the Phoebe Snow album that I spotted earlier but seems to have disappeared). Browsing records is getting to be painful at the antique mall as the prices still are climbing.

Nevertheless, I got:

  • Gentle Is My Love by Nancy Wilson, who died earlier this week.
  • Passion Fruit by Michael Franks since WSIE is feeding me a steady diet of his song “The Lady Wants To Know” (which is not on this album).
  • Prisoner in Disguise by Linda Ronstadt because by Linda Ronstadt. QED.
  • Inside Moves by Grover Washington, Jr., because who doesn’t like sax?
  • The Misty Sax of Ace Cannon because who doesn’t like sax? Do I have to repeat myself?
  • Dream with Dean by Dean Martin. I think I already have it, but the cover on this is cherry.

I think I’ve fallen out of the “One for you, one for me” protocol this year in Christmas shopping, but I’m still spending more on others than myself, but that’s only because I’m avoiding the eight dollar LPs. For now.

Reality Television Show Concept

So while tooling through IMDB yesterday, I came up with a reality television show concept: Celebrity Crush.

Basically, it would take actors and actresses, often from older movies and television shows, and have them call upon people who expressed having a crush on them back then.

The producers would scour social media and blog posts looking for harmless admissions that so-and-so liked that actor/actress from that movie from back in the day, would run a background check on the poster, and would then look to get that actor/actress to call upon the non-celebrity to–well, it would depend, I suppose. Go on a date? Get together and talk about the movies and the times in the old days?

Say, for example, someone remembers fondly Judie Aronson from Weird Science and American Ninja:

Then
Now

Producers could find someone who thought she was cute in those films and get them together to talk about where they were then, what they’re doing now, and whatnot. It would be a bit of a Where Are They Now? with the chance for the celebrity to promote new projects (new movies or gyms). The show could catch some of the non-celebrities by “surprise” when the celebrity crush just shows up. The producers could vary the format from “dates” to just discussions and reminisciences (which is not how the real word is spelled, but some of us have nostalgia down to a science, so it seems fitting). They could vary the ages/eras of the celebrity to keep it interesting. I’m telling you, it could work.

I’d watch it.

I’m exaggerating there. I don’t watch much television, especially not reality shows or celebrity news magazine types of things.

But I would happily accept a junior producer credit for writing this blog post.

Book Report: Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder (1933, ?)

Book coverWow, how time flies. It’s been September since I read Little House in the Big Woods and Little House on the Prairie. I don’t know where that time has gone, but I guess I have read or finished 27(!) books since then. Which is weird because I don’t vividly remember a bunch of them. I mean, I see the titles and remember what the books were about, but I don’t remember them as having read them this year in particular. Some years, I remember a couple of books easily that I read, and I have to look again at the tally to remember the books. The Little House series are going to be the ones I remember easily from 2018. And probably 2019.

At any rate, this book deals with Almanzo Wilder as a nine-year-old boy and his experiences on his father’s farm in New York State. The Wilders are not vagabonds like the Ingalls family; they have a well-established farm with lots of livestock and acres under plow, and Mr. Wilder is a known and important man in his community. The book follows the pattern of the other books, starting in winter and following the seasons through planting, growing, and harvest. The book details how the farmers worked in those days and offers important life lessons in money management and growth. And it’s from a boy’s perspective; although the point-of-view in the books focused on Laura and her sisters doesn’t dwell too much on their being girls and this one does not completely toxically masculine, but there is a difference–and Almanzo has brothers and sisters, so the family dynamic is different.

So a fun book, a quick read, and it might very well be the first book that my boys and I have all read (not counting books that I read to them). They each read it in fifth grade leading up to a visit to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s home which is nearby (and, I have learned, I know people with firsthand knowledge of Mrs. Wilder and her life there). Hopefully, the boys and I will eventually read other books in common. Of course, now that I think of it, we might have all read a collection of cartoons or a joke book, since they raid my shelves for that sort of material from time to time. But that’s neither here nor there.

Now I need to find the rest of my collection so I can once again determine the gaps and fill them in so I can complete the series.

Now That The Die Hard Battle Is Won….

Now that all reasonable people agree that Die Hard is a Christmas movie (one of the top five, in fact), we can move onto proving beyond the shadow of a doubt that these, too, are Christmas movies:

Gentle reader, Weird Science and Night of the Comet are Christmas movies.

The arguments pro:

  • In Weird Science, when Chet is in toad form, Wyatt expresses fear that he will spoil Christmas. Night of the Comet takes place right before Christmas.
  • Night of the Comet features Catherine Mary Stewart, who, in addition to being cuter than Carrie Fisher, stars in a lot of Christmas movies (see also A Christmas Snow and A Nutcracker Christmas).

The arguments con:

  • Why do you hate Christmas?

Q.E.D.

The End of a Vehicular Era

I traded my pickup truck in for a more family-friendly SUV.

I bought that truck new in March of 2001. I wanted a pickup truck so that I could haul video games. I’d bought an upright Thunderblade off of eBay, and I hoped to pick up some other games at auction and maybe start a video game or vending route in my spare time, so I got a small, economical truck that could handle them. I did haul a couple back from auction, but I never did start a business around them.

I did, however, eventually learn that it was not a half ton pickup truck. Not the hard way, fortunately, but someone told me and set me straight. It could still handle over a half ton of soil and landscaping material as I built the famed gardens of Old Trees and Nogglestead. Without destroying the suspension.

I didn’t put a lot of miles on it. I started working from home not too long after I got it, and it was not arrayed to ferry children. It had a jump seat in the back, and it’s only since my boys have outgrown their car seats that I could drive them around in it. They were very excited to ride in Dad’s truck, briefly. Unfortunately, often when they rode in it, we had to accommodate two boys, two backpacks, one or more brass instruments, and/or three or four gym bags full of martial arts uniforms and equipment. Suddenly, it was not an effective conveyance.

I can’t help remember the people who’ve ridden in that truck. My friends Doug and Brian from Wisconsin visited the week after September 11, 2001, and were among the first to ride in the back. I spent a Saturday going to yard sales with my Aunt Dale before she passed, and she thought my plan to have a vending machine route showed I had “hussle.” My sainted mother fit into the back seat once or twice before she passed away and rode in the front seat other times.

Look at those bumper stickers: A “I’m Proud Bush Is Our President” sticker I thought of removing once or twice and might have tried. A Packers sticker. A foil-backed flag sticker that faded to nothing but the foil. The RIC decal. A Webster Groves Historical Society member sticker (a membership that I have kept current whenever they have bothered to send me a renewal). Little reminders of who I’ve been for almost two decades.

It was starting to show its age. Well, it was starting to accumulate little things that I didn’t bother to fix. The rear window clasp on the passenger side had been broken for a long time–I held the window shut with duct tape. The third door opener was broken, so anyone getting into the back had to climb between the front seats. The CD player didn’t play–although it had quit on me for a while once before and healed itself. The air conditioner failed on it last summer or the summer before, but I don’t need air conditioning unless my beautiful wife rides with me–I even had told the car dealership when I bought the car that I didn’t need it, and I wanted to pay less for a truck without it. But the dealership would have had to order one from a lot in Alabama to get me a truck with no air conditioning, so I ended up with the amenity. The bed of the truck was starting to get a bit rusty, and the paint on the walls of the bed was getting scratched up. A little was due to the time I scraped a Love Tester machine when putting it into the bed after an auction, but most of it was because the boys started using it as a fort for Nerf wars.

My beautiful wife could not drive it; it has a manual transmission, and although she tried to learn a couple of times, she grew very frustrated with it. So when I had the boys in the family vehicle, she couldn’t go anywhere. So it really was probably past time to replace it.

I didn’t use the truck that much, but it certainly came in handy when I did need to haul something. Even now, I still think about picking up some lumber, and I think, no, or I fancy throwing my bike in the back to take it to the Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield for a ride, and I think, no.

The former family car is getting high in mileage, so we’ll replace it in the next year or so, probably with a full size pickup truck with a crew cab and automatic transition. But the odds are pretty good I won’t drive it for almost twenty years.

Grammar Nazi Strikes Christmas Classic

Or a winter classic, I reckon. “Jingle Bells” lyric sheets contain one or more grammatical errors.

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way

is incorrect. The singer is addressing the bells, so it needs a comma for the noun of direct address:

Jingle, bells; Jingle, bells; Jingle all the way.

It could probably use a semicolon or two as well.

The misunderstanding of the song has made people think there is a class of bells called “jingle bells,” but in the song, the class of bells is probably sleigh bells which jingle.

Actually, I have no idea of if any of the preceding is true. I’m just sitting here trying to do my Grammar Virtue Signalling, wherein I expound upon some fine point of grammar that no one disputes because nobody knows grammar like I think I do and because nobody continues listening when I go into Grammar Nazi mode. You yourself are probably not reading these words.

Creepily Accurate

So Facebook has built an animation for me that shows just how few photos I’ve shared on Facebook this year, and I cannot help but note that one of the images is peeking through a keyhole:

You know, if I were reviewing this, I would have said, “Isn’t that what our users are afraid of?”

Good Book Hunting, December 8, 2018: Publishers’ Warehouse, Osage Beach, Missouri

This weekend, our youngest son participated in a robotics competition in Camdenton, Missouri, which is about an hour and a half away from Nogglestead. Instead of getting up at a very early hour to have him at the competition at 7:15 am, we took lodging in Osage Beach, Missouri, for the weekend. Osage Beach is one of the communities on Lake of the Ozarks, another one of the large dam-created lakes in Missouri that filled in valleys and made lots of lakefront property. However, December is not the peak tourism season for Osage Beach, so we essentially had the place to ourselves.

While the lad did his robotics thing, we did our normal visiting-a-new-place thing: look for book stores.

The area does not abound with book stores. The only we could find within thirty miles was a Publishers’ Warehouse at the outlet mall. Which we visited, and I was pleased to discover they had a $1 book cart (just like Hooked on Books, but with newer books).

I got a couple.

I got:

  • Seaworthy, another book about being on the ocean by Linda Greenlaw. I’ve been picking them up since I read The Lobster Chronicles, but I haven’t read another. I should rectify this soon, since I probably have the whole set.
  • Saint Odd, the last (?) of the Odd Thomas novels. I have not read the one that precedes it (Deeply Odd), but I am current to Odd Apocalypse. I bought this one since I’ll need it after I get that book and read it, so why not save? Although I did pay more than a dollar for this book.
  • Contemporary Mosaics, what I thought to be a modern art book collection about mosaics, but as I started to browse
  • Painted Treasures, which I thought was a book about painted objects, I discovered this book is a collection of how-to projects for how you can recreate the painted objects. The book was published by the parent company of Writers Digest which has a number of art books in its stable, but this is the first painting project book I’ve looked at. So perhaps the mosaics book is about making mosaics as well.

We also got a couple of gifts, and others in the family got fully priced mark down books, so I cannot tell you how much I spent. Maybe ten dollars.

The funny thing was that I did not want to spend a lot of time driving in the darkness, but my trip to Osage Beach was in the darkness Friday night, and we left early this morning from Osage Beach so we could see my beautiful wife sing in a Christmas Cantata at 8am this morning, so what I really did was just split the driving in the darkness by twenty-four hours. Which is okay; I’d never been to Osage Beach before, and it became an adventure with a little book shopping attached.

Book Report: Dammit Bre by Samuel Rikard (2017)

Book coverI bought this book at Library Con this year. As I mentioned, it’s the author’s account of being a single father for his eight-year-old daughter, chock full of incidents and considerations from dating to juggling work and childcare needs. I related to a lot of incidents in the book, and I related to the humble origin story.

The book kind of falters towards the end, where it moves from parenting topics to more general thoughts, but all in all, not a bad effort.

I’ve got the first in his fantasy series around here somewhere. I’ll have to see how he does at fiction.

It Must Be Real–It Warns Me To Watch Out For Fraud Messages

This morning, I received a communication from the Director of the FBI:

Office of Christopher A. Wray
Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
(FBI)Anti-Terrorist And Monitory Crime Division.
Federal Bureau Of Investigation.
J.Edgar.Hoover Building Washington Dc
Customers Service Hours / Monday To Saturday
Office Hours Monday To Saturday:

Hello,

We hope this notification arrives meeting your good health and mind.Series of meetings have been held over the past 7 months during Federal Bureau of Investigation with the secretary general of the United Nations Organization. This ended months ago when I took to office as the FBI Director. It is obvious that you have not received your COMPENSATION FUND which is to the tune of US$10, 500,000 (Ten Million Five Hundred Thousand US Dollar) due to past corrupt Governmental Officials who almost held the fund to themselves for their selfish reason and some individuals who have taken advantage of your fund all in an attempt to swindle your fund which has led to so many losses from your end and unnecessary delay in the receipt of your fund.for more information do get back to us.

The National Central Bureau of Interpol enhanced by the United Nations and Federal Bureau of Investigation have successfully passed a mandate to the government of the States and Nigeria the exercise of clearing all foreign debts owed to you and other individuals and organizations who have been found not to have receive their Compensation, Contract Sum, Lottery/, Inheritance.

We are happy to inform you that based on our recommendation your outstanding COMPENSATION FUND of over-due payment in tone of US$10, 500,000 (Ten Million Five Hundred Thousand US Dollar) has been credited in your favor in Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Having said all this, we will further advise that you go ahead in dealing with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, accordingly as we will be monitoring all their activities with you as well as your correspondence at all levels.

NOTE: There are numerous scam emails on the internet, imposters impersonating names and images. We therefore warn our dear citizens to be very careful with any claim email you receive prior to these irregularities so that they do not fall victim to this ugly circumstance anymore. And should in case you are already dealing with anybody or office claiming that you have a payment with them, you are to STOP any further contact with them immediately in your best interest and contact the real bank (Federal Reserve Bank of New York ) only where your fund is laying, with the below information:

Bank Name: Federal Reserve Bank of New York
E-mail: fed-reserva-bnks-new-york@outlook.com
Phone: +1 209-248-2297
Contact person: William C. Dudley
CEO/Federal Reserve Bank of New York
Department Code:63804

Contact the bank today and furnish them with this information below for processing of your payment/funds accordingly.

FULL NAME:
CURRENT ADDRESS:
CELL PHONE No:
OFFICE PHONE No:

NOTE: In your best interest, any message that does not come from the above email address should be nullified and avoided immediately for security reasons. Meanwhile, we will advise that you contact the Federal Reserve Bank of New York office immediately with the above email address and request that they attend to your payment file as directed so as to enable you receive your payment/fund accordingly.
Ensure you follow all directives from Federal Reserve Bank of New York as this will further help hasten up the whole payment process in regards to the transfer of your fund to you as designated. Also have in mind that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York equally has their own protocol of operation as stipulated on their banking terms.

All modalities has already been worked out before you were contacted and note that we will be monitoring all your dealings with them as you proceed so you don’t have anything to worry about. All we require from you henceforth is an update so as to enable us be on track with you and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Without wasting much time, we will want you to contact them immediately with the above email address and phone number so as to enable them attend to your case accordingly without any further delay as time is already running out.
Should in case you need any more information in regards to this notification, feel free to get back to us via email so that we can brief you more as we are here to guide you during and after this project has been completely perfected and you have received your payment/fund as stated.

Thank you very much for your anticipated co-operation.

BEST REGARDS,

Christopher A. Wray
Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
J. Edgar Hoover Building
601,4th Street,
935 Pennsylvania Avenue,
NW Washington, D.C.
20535-0001, USA

That is the most meta Nigerian scam I have ever seen.

Book Report: The Branson Beauty by Claire Booth (2016)

Book coverI don’t know where I got this book; it has the markings of a Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library Book Sale, but I don’t see it in the photos from this year. It also has a Barnes and Noble Autographed Copy sticker on the front, so it’s possible I paid full price for it at Barnes and Noble and didn’t take a photo of it. Weird. What is this blog for if not to remind me where I get all these books?

The plot: A showboat similar to the Branson Belle runs aground on Table Rock Lake, and as the local authorities are ferrying the survivors to shore, they discover a murder victim on board. The newly appointed sheriff has to deal with Branson business interests and a blizzard in his investigation.

It’s a standard midlist sort of book, something akin to the Jesse Stone novels from Robert B. Parker.

Except.

Boy, howdy, the author, who resides in California, gets a lot of details wrong. It starts when a deputy says that they’re getting some assistance for the boat rescue from the next county. It doesn’t identify which county, which made me wonder about how many details were going to be wrong. Well, not only does it mention that Table Rock Lake is close to freezing–heaven forbid, the lakes down here do not freeze, especially one of the big dam-created lakes like Table Rock. Then, it’s revealed that the sheriff is from Branson County. But Branson is in Taney County. The kids go to Branson Valley high school, which does not exist–in Branson, the kids go to Branson High School. The book refers to 76 as Seventy-six (this is a copy error, not a factual error). There’s a Latino woman saying there’s no Latino community and that people look at her strangely, but, come on, this is not true. When watching the airports for a fleeing suspect, the sheriff talks about the small airport south of town, the Branson airport, and then talks about friends watching the Kansas City and St. Louis airports, but nobody accounts for the Springfield National Airport here in Springfield. The sheriff waits at a convenience store on the corner of Glenstone and Battlefield across from the mall here in Springfield–and there’s no such convenience store. The Springfield Channel 12 reporter–there’s no such station. Oh, and the cold and snow–it’s not typical down here, so people are not that well-equipped for it and it doesn’t tend to last long.

The book has enough errata of this nature to draw one familiar with the area out of the book and perhaps even doubt if the person whodunit really done it.

Which is not to say that she gets all the details wrong–she mentions the twisty drive to Forsyth, and that’s true, especially if you roll through Rockaway Beach, and she talks captures the drive north out of town on 248 pretty well.

Which makes me wonder about how she got some things right, but so many things so wrong.

Apparently, this is the first of a series, so I’m a bit interested if later books correct some of the errors or whether they just let them slide. If I come across others inexpensively, I’ll pick one up to see. I thought about offering to read the manuscripts to flag things that don’t ring true, but I’m not sure I have the time for it.

The Mysterious Frog of Nogglestead

So as I was going to get my children from school yesterday afternoon, I opened the door in my garage and found a large stuffed frog laying against it.

This stuffed frog does not belong to my children; I am familiar with their stuffed animals, especially the large ones.

It was set against the door where the postal carrier tends to leave packages, so I checked it for shipping labels in case someone had mailed us a frog without a box; there were none.

Which leaves me a little mystery, gentle reader: From whence came this frog?

As I am prone to wild speculation, I can only create increasingly outlandish scenarios in my head:

  • It is a warning from the frogs that we should not open our pool in the summer, as too many of their kind jump into the pool and die when they cannot get out.
  • It is a MacGuffin in some plot, laden with drugs or microfilm.
  • It is a gift from a stalker who has, for some reason, nicknamed me “Froggy.” Perhaps because I once looked like this:

    But that would have to be someone who knew me way back when.

  • It blew into the back yard of our next door neighbor, and she or her daughter assumed it belonged to my boys and “returned” it.

To be honest, I’m not sure what I’ll do with it. We’re not bringing it into the house–as one of the unmentioned possibilities is that it is a Trojan frog filled with frogs hoping to invade my home or, slightly more likely, full of bugs of some sort that we don’t want in. I haven’t talked to my newest neighbors of a couple of months yet, and I haven’t talked to most of my other neighbors for years, if at all. If you think I’m going to use it as an excuse to introduce or re-introduce myself to them, well, think to yourselves how you would react to a strange man knocking on your door to ask if this was your stuffed frog. Yeah, I think that, except probably with more 911 calls and gunfire.

And, to be even more honest, I’m posting about it to keep myself on the amused side of the amused/seriously weirded out line.

Book Report: The Tao of Christ by Will Keim, PhD (1997)

Book coverI bought this book in February along with three other books at ABC Books, and I predicted I would read it first since I read The Tao of Pooh in 2016 and The Tao of Elvis in November of 2017. However, of the four books I bought that day in February, I have already read two others (The Virtue of Happiness and The Beauty of Gesture); the other, a history of the Celts, joins another history of the Celts that I bought in 1993 floating around in my backlog.

Well, that’s a lot of bookkeeping. What about this book?

I hoped, as I mentioned, that it would be an insightful comparison of the parables of Christ and the teachings of Lao Tzu, identifying similar thematic elements in each as well as a contrast where appropriate. With a focus on how the Bible is better, of course, along with some little hope that people interested in the Tao might find their way to Christianity through this book (as opposed to Buddhism through Christian Eyes which warns Christians about the sweet seductive lure of heathen philosophy).

Oh, but no.

It’s more of a daily meditation structure. Each of the 48 lessons presents a teaching of the Tao, a parable or Gospel teaching, and then Keim’s own meditation, some of which seem to have nothing to do with the preceding. Many of them rely on an, erm, contemporary translation of the Tao Te Ching, such as:

When a country is in harmony with the Tao,
the factories make trucks and tractors.
When a country goes counter to the Tao,
warheads are stockpiled outside the cities.

There is no greater illusion than fear,
no greater wrong than preparing to defend yourself,
no greater misfortune than having an enemy.

Whoever can see through all fear
will always be safe.

Strangely enough, the original does not mention factories, tractors, or warheads. So I started comparing the translations of the Tao in this book with another translation that I have, and it has quite a bit of variation in it. I didn’t compare the translations of the parables, though, but the stories themselves were familiar and not updated to modern contrivances.

But Keim is not traditional in the Christian sense as he often refers to God as She; I thought perhaps it was only a translation thing as he refered to the Tao Te Ching Master as either he or she, but, no, he was probably equitably translating the same there as well.

So I was going to say that the best thing about this book was that it got me to reading the Tao Te Ching again and the parables, but now I’m even not sure I read them in honest translations.

So I’m going to have to say the best thing about reading this book is that I’m done.

Book Report: Matisse by Volkmar Essers (1989, 2002)

Book coverI bought this book a couple of weeks ago and delved right into it. I hoped it would be a football browser, albeit something I could browse during night games to hopefully not expose the nude model photographed on the back to my children. But it turns out this book has a lot of text that includes not only biographical information about Matisse and a broad discussion of his artwork as it relates to trends in the art world and whatnot but also lush descriptions of the images that explain why the images are awesome.

Text like this:

In 1944 the Argentinian diplomat Enchorrena, who was resident in Paris, commissioned a door to connect his bedroom and bathroom. Initially Matisse opted to present an idyllic theme: a nymph sleeping, observed by a faun. But both subject and composition left the artist dissatisfied, and his work was a trial to him and stagnated. The diplomat persisted, and Matisse tried again. He chose a new subject, and this time succeeded. The mythological ‘Leda and the Swan’ (p. 82) has been stripped of all narrative content. Jupiter, who according to the myth came to Leda in the form of a swan, can be seen in the upper part of the picture, his arabesquely curved neck and head bending across a black space to Leda, who turns away. The monumental female nude has been fashioned sparingly and vastly. The empathetic, streamlined figure has something heroic, and restores the dignity to the myth. To right and left, red panels with a leaf design provied the triptych’s frame and give Matisse’s interpretation a revelatory flavor.

Which describes this:

The text contains a lot of art criticky words about the colors (the subtitle of this book is “Master of Colur”), flattening of the foreground, the additional complexity of the patterns when a table is turned in perspective in an otherwise flattened picture, and the wonderfulness of simple geographic patterns (sometimes repeated!).

But, come on. This stuff is insipid and stupid.

I have mentioned that that I don’t grok primitive art, and I really, really don’t care for the early 20th century’s descent into simplistic, unrefined brushstrokes as art. I mean, looking at a lot of this, I conclude that individual choices in the strokes, lines, and coloring doesn’t really matter. If that crescent had been an inch to the right, what difference would it make? My beautiful wife said she could probably not do better, but I don’t think she could do worse, and she and I are not fine artists with devotees and collectors and some influence (for some reason).

I’m starting to wonder if my beloved Impressionists, even the good ones (Renoir, Manet, Cassatt, and I suppose Monet) irretrievably broke art when they diminished the reliance on clean lines. The bad ones (Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, and so one) might have led to Cubism and whatever ism Matisse is. In celebration of the hundredth anniversary of World War I, a lot of commentators told us that the war broke Western civilization. Looking at Matisse, I expect the cracks were already there.

So don’t expect to see Matisse prints at Nogglestead nor any other monographs of his work reported on in these pages. A Good Book Hunting post from 2015 indicates that I have another Matisse title around here somewhere, it might be akin to What Makes A Picasso A Picasso?–that is, a children’s book. So that might be the exception–I’ll certainly not buy another Matisse monograph.

Oh, and since this the Internet, I know you’re all jonesing for the back cover. I’ve put it below the fold.

Continue reading “Book Report: Matisse by Volkmar Essers (1989, 2002)”

Coming Sooner to Missouri

Well, Missouri passed Proposition B which will raise Missouri’s minimum wage to $15 an hour (see also Won’t Someone Think Of The Soulless Automatons?), we can look forward to our retail establishments being early adopters of technology like this: Robot Janitors Are Coming to Mop Floors at a Walmart Near You:

Robots are coming to a Walmart Inc. near you, and not just as a gimmick.

The world’s largest retailer is rolling out 360 autonomous floor-scrubbing robots in some of its stores in the U.S. by the end of the January, it said in a joint statement with Brain Corp., which makes the machines. The autonomous janitors can clean floors on their own even when customers are around, according to the San Diego-based startup.

Who could have guessed it? I mean, aside from someone with any proper sense of economics? Which is in very, very short supply amongst people under, what, forty in this country?

Compare and Contrast, St. Louis Post-Dispatch-Style

Why housing choice is important for voucher holders:

Mobility Connection is a program that helps voucher holders move from low-opportunity areas to high-opportunity areas. Tara Kennard, a Mobility Connection Client, and Janie Oliphant, program director at Mobility Connection, talk about why some housing voucher recipients seek greater flexibility in choosing where they live.

Housing people in government-run centers is bad! Letting them choose through vouchers is good!

Editorial: Bad report card for federal school voucher program:

There’s long been a cherished belief among some education reformers that student performance can be lifted by giving private-school tuition vouchers to children stuck in low-performing public schools. That belief took a big hit last month, the latest in a series of big hits.

The U.S. Department of Education’s research division released a report saying that first-year participants in the District of Columbia’s Opportunity Scholarship Program did much worse in math than the kids who were denied a voucher and stayed in public school. Students from kindergarten through fifth grade also fared much worse in reading, and among older students, reading scores were close to those of their public school peers. The findings help debunk the notion that voucher-enabled students in private schools produce better outcomes than those attending public schools.

Educating people in government-run centers is good! Letting them choose through vouchers is bad!

Just kidding about the compare and contrast. Clearly, these are conceptually two different things, not alike at all. At all, you hear me?