Current Status

It sure is Monday.

You know, my knowledge and appreciation of popular music from the middle 1990s is strangely lacking. I think I was listening mostly to country at that time or something.

Speaking of Monday morning, this line of Keats in “The Eve of St. Agnes” which I finished reading this morning stuck with me:

But let me laugh awhile, I’ve mickle time to grieve.

Mickle means “a large amount.” You can bet I’ll use this word on a call today, if not the whole line.

Book Report: Haitian Hit The Executioner #129 (1989)

Book coverTo what do I turn after completing The Count of Monte Cristo? Why, an Executioner book, of course.

This book is not a bad entry. Bolan is in Haiti to put the hurt on some mobsters, and he ends up getting entangled in a revolution looking to overthrow the military junta in charge after Baby Doc fled. Since the junta is allowing the mob to build a casino and resort, Bolan’s plan turns to its destruction.

Once again, these books from the 1980s illustrate how little has changed in the thirty years since they were new. Haiti is still a mess, and the story would not need much updating to be set in 2019 instead of 1989.

Book Report: Dinner with Friends by Donald Margulies (1999)

Book coverDonald Margulies is my favorite modern playwright. I really enjoyed Sight Unseen both on stage and in print. Which makes it weird that it took me over a year to get to this book (bought in in January 2018) while I read lesser plays.

This book has four characters: Karen and Gabe, two married food writers, and Beth and Tom, friends that they introduced a dozen years ago whose marriage is ending. Beth reveals that Tom has cheated on her, and he cannot join them for dinner because he’s gone out of town to visit his mistress. The news shocks Karen and Gabe. Scenes center on meals where Beth or Tom eat at Karen and Gabe’s.

The emotions are pretty raw, and the play really evokes wondering what is happening off-stage as much as on. Karen and Gabe disagree over how to treat Tom after the break-up, and Tom touches Karen’s hair at one point, which leads one to wonder if something happened there. How strong is Karen and Gabe’s marriage? Can Beth and Tom reconcile while eventually destroying their friends marriage?

Very good, but not as good as Sight Unseen. Margulies has numerous other works, and one of these days I might start ordering them new instead of hoping to spot them at book sales in Springfield or Ozark.

Book Report: The Zen Way To The Martial Arts by Taisen Deshimaru (1982, 1991)

Book coverI bought this book just last month, and like so many of the Buddhist or martial arts books, I dived right into it. This book is a two-fer in that regard, as it blends Zen Buddhism with martial arts.

The book is a collection of talks given at a retreat in Switzerland in 1975 that blended zazen sitting with martial arts demonstrations. Of course, you can draw many parallels between the focus in practicing martial arts techniques and forms and the Buddhist focus not only on sitting/meditating, but also in the focus on being present in every moment and doing everything fully in the moment.

So there’s not really anything surprising in the book; I didn’t flag anything for comment.

I read these books because I find them a bit calming, but they really do go in one eye and out the other as far as remembering their contents goes.

An Uncomfortable Conversation

Last evening, my twelve-year-old son asked me a question that took me aback and led to a stammering, rambling, and incomplete response that probably left the boy more befuddled than when he asked.

He asked me for an overview of the Terminator story.

I mean, I have only seen the first three movies (of five, apparently), the television series, and read one of the books. So I’m not an expert.

I could made it through explaining Skynet, sort of, and the plot of the first two movies and a bit about the television series, but, honestly, it’s hard to explain them all in gestalt. It’s probably best to explain each movie or property discretely and then gloss over the problems in the timelines and continua.

I don’t think he got it. I’m not sure I do. Perhaps the best explanation is the simplest. Intelligent unstoppable killing machines travel time to kill people who are troublesome in the future.

Man, I wish he would have asked me to explain something I understand better. Like women.

Broken News

Clearly, two different city papers have read two different Mueller reports.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel found evidence of collusion:

It’s also running a red banner throughout the site saying that the report shows links between Trump aides and Russia, but ultimately found no crime.

The response in Springfield is more muted:

Join me in speculating why the Gannett properties are so different. The editors know their audiences? They want to tip the balance in Wisconsin, but know editorial spin wouldn’t make a difference in Milwaukee?

Milwaukee Tries Harder

News from DC: D.C. housed the homeless in upscale apartments. It hasn’t gone as planned.:

The SWAT team, the overdose, the complaints of pot smoke in the air and feces in the stairwell — it would be hard to pinpoint a moment when things took a turn for the worse at Sedgwick Gardens, a stately apartment building in Northwest Washington.

But the Art Deco complex, which overlooks Rock Creek Park and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is today the troubled locus of a debate on housing policy in a city struggling with the twin crises of homelessness and gentrification.

Located in affluent Cleveland Park and designed by Mihran Mesrobian — the prewar architect behind such Washington landmarks as the Hay-Adams Hotel — Sedgwick Gardens was once out of reach for low-income District residents.

That changed two years ago, when D.C. housing officials dramatically increased the value of rental subsidies. The goal was to give tenants who had previously clustered in impoverished, high-crime areas east of the Anacostia River a shot at living in more desirable neighborhoods.

Milwaukee is going to try the same thing, only harder: Downtown apartment tower would include affordable units — and the city Housing Authority as developer:

A new $150 million downtown Milwaukee apartment high-rise would have an unusual feature: a large number of units with affordable, below-market rents.

Perhaps even more unusual is the developer — the city Housing Authority.

The proposal, which would redefine Milwaukee’s public housing scene, was unveiled Wednesday.

“It will allow us to change the narrative,” said M. Joseph Donald, a Housing Authority board member.

The 32-story building would have around 315 to 350 apartments, as well as 43,000 square feet of office space. Its conceptual plans call for a swimming pool, fitness center and other amenities typically found in upscale high-rises.

Anyone want to bet that it’s a different outcome? I wonder if the people behind this program would even take the bet.

I Was At That Game

I watched a little bit of the baseball game last night while looking to see if the hockey game had started, and the Cardinals broadcasters talked a bit about Bob Uecker, mentioning that he had been traded to the Cardinals and won a World Series with them in 1964. So I went to his Wikipedia page to learn a little more, and I read about his work with the Milwaukee Admirals:

Uecker also appeared in a series of commercials for the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League in the mid-1990s, including one in which he re-designed the team’s uniforms to feature a garish plaid reminiscent of the loud sports coats synonymous with Uecker in the 1970s and 1980s. In February 2006, the Admirals commemorated those commercials with a special event in which the players wore the plaid jerseys during a game. The jerseys were then auctioned off to benefit charity.

Friends, I was at that hockey game.

I took a trip to Milwaukee for my birthday before the birth of my oldest child. I went to the hockey game alone. The Admirals played the Peoria Rivermen, which was the farm team for the St. Louis Blues at that time. So I was very confused as for whom I should cheer. The Admirals were in these garish yellow plaid uniforms, or the ones that looked like the St. Louis Blues.

You know, given that I haven’t been to a Blues game since my children were born, that might have been the last professional hockey game I’ve seen in person.

Carbondale, Illinois, Police Send Emergency Response Team To Florida

A rare emu-like bird attacks and kills Florida man, officials say:

A cassowary, a giant bird with long claws on each foot, killed its owner after he fell in the backyard of his Gainesville, Florida, home, officials told CNN.

A cassowary? A causetoworry, if you know what I mean.

Forget Florida Man; we need to really worry about Immigrant Floridian Bird.

(Oh, you short term readers–I have to explain the Carbondale Police Emu thing from 2006, look here.)

Gimlet’s Right: I Don’t Listen To Enough Iron Maiden

Well, Gimlet didn’t say this recently. He mentioned in 2012 that I was not familiar with Iron Maiden’s “Phantom of the Opera”.

You know, when I worked in an office, I played Iron Maiden at my desk all the time. My beautiful wife’s Iron Maiden, if I must confess all.

But working remotely, I haven’t listened to much Iron Maiden in the home office. Sometimes I do, but it’s not the go-to metal. Perhaps I rely a lot on my latest metal albums too heavily. I don’t even have any Iron Maiden on my gym playlist.

I should probably listen to some now. Care to join me?

Iron Maiden’s repetoire is so literate.

The Macabre Mnemonics of Nogglestead

So, the other night, I was grilling chicken and pork at the same time, and I had separate tongs for each for sanitary reasons.

The tongs were not the same size, but I could remember easily which was for which meat.

The longer of the two was for the pork. Because who can forget long pork?

I would have posted this on Facebook, but there’s this one guy that I used to work with that would always thumbs up every cannibal joke I made (like this one seven years ago, which I also posted on Facebook along with Donner party gags from time to time). Which was creepy.

Probably as creepy as making cannibalism jokes, but I’m not that self-aware.

Book Report: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (1844-1846, 1999?)

Book coverWell, I finally finished this book.

I read the comic book adaptation of this book last year, and I knew that the comic book adaptation left a lot of things out–I suspect there are panels in the comic with scenes that are hundreds of pages apart in the book. My beautiful wife read the book not long after we saw the film in the theater, so I ordered myself a nice copy to read. And I picked it up in November not long after passing The Villages At Monte Crist. And it has taken me six months to read it.

The book is essentially three books in one, and I only liked two of them.

The first part of the book tells about how Edmond Dantès, a sailor, who returns to port happy to see his fiancée Mercédès, but a disgruntled shipmate, a ne’er-do-well, and a rival for Mercédès frame Dantès as a Bonapartist after the restoration. When the prosecutor reviews the case, he discovers his own father’s involvement, so Dantès is sentenced to the remote Chateau d’If. He passes fourteen years there, his lonely days broken when an abbe from an adjoining cell breaks through into Dantes’ cell. They spend years studying together and planning an escape, but it’s only the abbe’s death that gives Dantès the chance he needs. Once free, he finds the buried treasure left behind by the abbe, whom everyone thought was mad because he offered millions for his freedom–millions that nobody thought he had.

The second part of the book and, sadly, the biggest portion of the book deals with what has happened to everyone else during the years of Dantès’ imprisonment and his travels and studies before he returns to Paris. The people who framed Dantès have prospered. Their children have come of age. So a lot of things go on, and the independent characters who are not the title characters have their chapters, kind of like in a Stephen King novel, but they don’t get killed by flying soda machines shortly after you’ve read a couple thousand words on them. The second part also includes the return of Dantès, now styled as the Count of Monte Cristo, to Paris to exact revenge and some parts of him putting his plans in motion, but it’s a lot more intrigue than action.

The third part of the book details his plans coming to fruition, and how he has set each up to fail according to his strengths. So the third part, with its action, moves along a little faster. As his plot goes on, though, Dantès starts to wonder if the collateral damage in his revenge makes him evil.

It ends, not with a reunion of Dantès and Mercédès, but a happy ending never the less. Dantès really grows as a character, which is rare for an action book, but Dumas has a thousand pages to play around with here.

So I enjoyed the first and last parts of the trilogy, so to speak. And I’m glad to have read it even though at times I did not enjoy reading it. Overall, though, I prefer The Three Musketeers, and I have one or more sequels to it around here somewhere. Which I’ll get into in a couple of years, I reckon.

As I Was Saying To My Beautiful Wife…

on a warm spring night, a little chilled white wine is a treat.

You know who agrees with me? Ned Flanders from the Simpsons.

And a Ned Flanders-themed metal band.

Don’t look for Okilly Dokilly on my music balance lists any time soon, though. It’s a bit of a shame that some metal bands have to do a gag or something to get attention.

But if they’re having fun with it, go with it. They got to make an appearance under the closing credits on a Simpsons episode, so they’ve got that going for them, which is nice.

The 21st Century, Where All Weather Is Above Average

Powerful ‘bomb cyclone’ could trigger 50 mph winds in Ozarks:

A powerful “bomb cyclone” storm that’s expected to bring blizzard conditions to the high plains states has prompted a high wind advisory today for Springfield and southwest Missouri.

The National Weather Service in Springfield said wind gusts of up to 50 mph are likely in our area through 10 p.m. Wind gusts up to 40 mph are expected through Thursday.

The high wind and relatively dry air is increasing the risk of wildfires in the Ozarks.

Spoiler alert: It is neither a bomb nor a cyclone, both of which mean different things, and cyclone is another meteorological phenomenon that serves as a poor metaphor for the rotation of a low pressure system. Also, bomb is a sudden explosion metaphor, and a low pressure system is not a sudden or fast thing.

Why not call it a regional coldnado? Or should I not give the headline writers at Weather.com ideas?

You know what we call wind gusts of up to 50 miles per hour at Nogglestead? Normal for spring.

I am starting to get the sense that all the meterologists are millenials whose life experience consists of reading contemporary reports of how nothing has ever been like this before.

Book Report: Poems by C.S. Lewis (1964, 2016)

Book coverI think my beautiful wife gave me this book right after I read The Screwtape Letters (Three years ago? Are you kidding?), but I might be retconning it.

I’ve read it now between bonzer thousands-of-lines poems in the collected works of Keats that I’m ambling through, and the books are not dissimilar. As a matter of fact, if you put Keats, the Christian-themed chapbooks I tend to read, and modern quality into a blender, you might get C.S. Lewis’s poetry.

The poems are grouped thematically. We start with some with the most Keats flavor, a series of poems retelling folk tales and mythological stories and then move into more modern concerns, lamentations about politicians and progress, and some reflections on God as would befit the best known apologetic from the twentieth century. I flagged a couple of his poems so I could come back to them.

Such as “Lines During A General Election” which begins:

Their threats are terrible enough, but we could bear
All that; it is their promises that bring despair.

I also flagged Re-Adjustment, the first of Five Sonnets, and Footnote to All Prayers (which is by far my favorite).

So the book was a pleasure to read, and it (like The Screwtape Letters) made me want to read more by C.S. Lewis.

But for now, it’s back to the Keats for me.

I Hope That Guy Got A Raise

You know, broccoli producers of the world sell broccoli whole, or they cut the top off and sell it marked up as broccoli crowns, or they cut it even shorter and bag it as broccoli florets (sold at a premium), which leaves them with lots of broccoli stalks that, what, get sold for silege?

Until now.

Now they can shred the previously wasted broccoli stalks and sell it at a premium as “broccoli slaw.”

That, my friends, is innovation.

We All Know The Ultimate Goal

How the Army plans to use Microsoft’s high-tech HoloLens goggles on the battlefield:

The Army recently invited CNBC to see how it will use specially modified Microsoft HoloLens 2 headsets. They’re part of a $480 million defense contract won by the company. The military wouldn’t say how much its version costs, but the consumer one costs $3,500.

We all know why the army is going with Microsoft here.

They want Halo Spartans.

(Link via VodkaPundit at Instapundit.)

Box Wine Sold Here

When I saw this on the wine list, that’s what I thought:

But instead of just snarking, I did some research, and apparently wine in kegs is a thing:

The next time you ask your waiter what’s on tap, the answer might surprise you. How about a Calera Pinot Noir or Bouchaine Chardonnay? A growing number of restaurants and bars are putting kegs of wine behind their bars, pouring wines by the glass from a tap. While the trend is not a new one, it has finally caught on as wineries, restaurants and consumers alike discover that the wines are good and there are economic and environmental benefits to kegs.

Wine drinkers can find keg wines in wine bars and restaurants all over the country, with high concentrations in California and New York. Two Urban Licks in Atlanta has a wine wall 26 feet tall with 42 stainless steel barrels of wine on display. There’s even a Whole Foods in Dallas that sells wine on tap.

It makes sense, I suppose.