Book Report: The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1982)

Book coverAs I mentioned, I recently returned from a trip to Michigan. What are you going to read if you’re going to Michigan? A book set in Michigan which is a series of poems/songs about Native Americans.

The Song of Hiawatha is a collection of native American folk stories told in verse. Wordsworth based some of the work loosely on the studies of explorer Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, who also visited the Ozarks and has a section of the local highway named for him. Which I mention only because it’s interesting how mobile some people, particularly explorers, were in those old days.

The plot, as it were: Hiawatha, a heroic figure if not a demigod, has multiple adventures where he fights fantastic beasts and learns things to share with his tribe. He wins Minnehaha and befriends a couple of fellows. Then the friends and Minnehaha die, and when the white man arrives, Hiawatha leaves his tribe and heads west.

As I mentioned previously, I recently read an excerpt from The Song of Hiawatha in a collection. You know, I’ve been resistent to reading long-form poems, but this book was fairly easy to read. Part of it lies in the poem itself, with its song-like rhythm, its breaks into chapters and even stanzas within the chapters. Part of it lies in the layout of the book, with only 27 lines to a page and lots of white space. When you get a big collection of poems whether by a single author or a collection, you often get lots of lines jammed onto a page in tiny print which makes it harder to read as your eye can skip over lines easier. Or maybe I’m just getting old. But I’d like to point out that my collection of poetry, Coffee House Memories, is pleasingly arrayed in the paperback edition. The Kindle edition, well, you’re reading on an electronic device anyway, you damn kid.

Strangely enough, tucked into the book was the Reader’s Digest edition booklet discussing the book. Reader’s Digest released a number of classics in a subscription collection, and with each book, they sent a small pamphlet with information about the book and the author. I think I’m going to start collecting and placing these pamphlets along with the teasers for Classics Club editions in a binder so I can show them to houseguests when it’s time for the houseguests to leave. The Reader’s Digest pamphlets are particularly informative. This book had a forward of its own to give that sort of context. Many times, I don’t read the forwards because they tend to be critical essays best read after you’ve read the book, but this forward was informative and context-building.

At any rate, I liked it a bunch, and it’s starting to cement my enjoyment of American poetry, especially that in the vernacular, contrasted with British Romantic poems. See also my book report on Little Orphant Annie and Other Poems by James Whitcomb Riley.

Book Report: A Question of Accuracy by Arthur G. Razzell and K.G.O. Watts (1964)

Book coverBack in December, I was talking to an engineer, and I said that my FitBit was precise, but not necessarily accurate, when it gave me 250 steps’ credit for sitting on a bar stool and speaking expressively. The engineer was impressed that I knew the difference being that I have an English degree and all. So when I saw this book on the sale cart or in the sale room at Hooked on Books in January, I bought it, even though I figured it might be a kid’s book. As a matter of fact, it is a kid’s book, but it’s a discussion of the philosophical aspects of accuracy.

That is, the book talks about the different aspects of what sorts of measurements are “good enough” for the task at hand and how you can always improve accuracy with better instruments. It also talks a little about the challenges of accurately representing measurements (the problem with maps, for example, which are flat representations of a sphere). And the book also mentioned the Mackinac Bridge, which was fitting since we were vacationing in Michigan at the time and I drove over that very bridge a couple days later.

So, yeah, the book reading has been kind of light this year; I’ve been starting a lot of long books and not finishing even the short books I’ve started. I’m not even at forty books and the year is almost half over, but you can see I’m taking drastic steps. Namely, reading a bunch of children’s books (see also Crosshairs) on vacation. It’s just as well that I read a couple short children’s books because the remainder of my vacation was taken up with a fitting title.

Book Report: Crosshairs by R.P. Vogt (2013)

Book coverFull disclosure: when I moved from a nice suburb and good school district to the trailer park in the middle of my seventh grade year, “R.P.” was the kid assigned to be my friend to help me get around North Jefferson Middle School in Murphy, Missouri. He was a smart kid. I was a smart kid. I’d like to think we were numbers 1 and 2 in the smarts for our seventh grade class, but I might be giving myself far too much credit. By the time we finished high school, I certainly dropped a couple points in the rankings because I didn’t put any effort into my schooling, and he did. But I digress. We go way back, and when I saw he had a book, I ordered it.

This is a young adult novel about a boy (about my kids’ age) who gets to go hunting with his father, uncles, and cousins for the first time. While he’s there, he finds one of his cousins stealing from other family members, and the book deals with the fallout of that including a run in with a local hood. It’s a short book (120 pages) with none of the cartoons that are rife in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid or “James Patterson”‘s Middle School series. I’m not sure how much the book captures the zeitgeist of contemporary middle schoolers, but my oldest has expressed interest in the book, so I suppose he’ll let me know. The questions the lad has about honoring your word and doing what’s right in spite of your word are real and tangible concerns for a young man, and thematically the book works.

So I enjoyed it well enough. But I’m probably giving some weight to being pleased that someone I knew wrote a pretty good book. And, quite likely, has sold more copies of this one book than I’ve sold of all three of my books. Curses, R.P. wins again!

The Au Naturel Native American Way To Protect Your Garden From Pests

From The Song of Hiawatha, Chapter 13 (“Blessing the Corn Fields“):

     Once, when all the maize was planted,
Hiawatha, wise and thoughtful,
Spake and said to Minnehaha,
To his wife, the Laughing Water:
“You shall bless to-night the cornfields,
Draw a magic circle round them,
To protect them from destruction,
Blast of mildew, blight of insect,
Wagemin, the thief of cornfields,
Paimosaid, who steals the maize-ear
     “In the night, when all Is silence,’
In the night, when all Is darkness,
When the Spirit of Sleep, Nepahwin,
Shuts the doors of all the wigwams,
So that not an ear can hear you,
So that not an eye can see you,
Rise up from your bed in silence,
Lay aside your garments wholly,
Walk around the fields you planted,
Round the borders of the cornfields,
Covered by your tresses only,
Robed with darkness as a garment.
     “Thus the fields shall be more fruitful,
And the passing of your footsteps
Draw a magic circle round them,
So that neither blight nor mildew,
Neither burrowing worm nor insect,
Shall pass o’er the magic circle;
Not the dragon-fly, Kwo-ne-she,
Nor the spider, Subbekashe,
Nor the grasshopper, Pah-puk-keena;
Nor the mighty caterpillar,
Way-muk-kwana, with the bear-skin,
King of all the caterpillars!”

I’ve encouraged my beautiful wife to try this method, but to no avail. Of course, our gardens don’t have corn since it’s a little dry for corn around here in the late summer time, and she is probably right to be doubtful about native methods since my attempt to use the “three sisters” method of growing corn, beans, and squash together did nothing but leave us with a harvest of more spaghetti squash than we could eat (which, to be honest, is any).

Book Report: The Sword of Genghis Kahn by James Dark (1967)

Book coverIf you only read one Australian spy thriller featuring a Mongolian mad scientist’s plot to take over the world with a metal-melting satellite, this should be it! Of course, I’m not sure where you would be if you wanted to read two such books, as this probably is the only one. But it’s a series book, so you could easily find other things like it to read.

Well, I’ve pretty much given it all away here: Mark Hood, an operative for a trans-national spy agency (which operates freely in the Soviet Union as well as the West because all parties agree to give this group, Intertrust, the ability to ferret out nuclear proliferation concerns). In this book, a strange phenomenon–weapon?–destroys a Japanese fishing fleet and damages a U.S. destroyer, drawing the attention of Intertrust and its dashing hero. Additionally, scientists are disappearing–being kidnapped?–, and hero travels to the Soviet Union to protect a similar scientist only to find the scientist has been snatched away just before Hood and his associate arrive. The agency provides them cover to travel to China, and they discover the kidnapped scientist aboard a train with a beautiful young Asian woman who’s delivering the scientist to Mongolia and her father, a distant descendant of Genghis Khan, who has discovered the treasure of Khan and used it to finance a solar-lensing satellite that can target anywhere on the planet with a heat ray.

Yeah, it’s complicated.

The book is written in a British style. The prose is polished and the story moves along, but it’s a little dry and at a distance. So it’s not that thrilling. The plot, though–outlandish. Somehow the combination of the outlandish plot with the sedate language doesn’t work for me. But it is definitely the best Australian spy thriller I’ll read this year.

(For a review on the first book in the series, Come Die with Me, see Glorious Trash.)

New Hat Day at Nogglestead

Whilst in Traverse City, Michigan, my beautiful wife pointed across the street as we where on the way to our car at the parking meter into which we’d dumped all our available change. Traverse City, Michigan, has a hat store.

Friends, it’s been six years since I replaced my cover with something I bought off of the Internet because most of America lacks a hat store. So although I was quite concerned about the parking meter situation, I agreed to go in to look for something to replace my hat with. It’s starting to pill in spots, especially on the top of the crown. My hats tend to wear out there, where I grab them and where they get set upside down to hold sunglasses or whatnot.

At any rate, although I tend to buy pants from the top of the stack at Walmart and don’t even try things on at the department store, I tend to be fussy in choosing a hat. I have to try on candidates multiple times and look at myself in the mirror with them from various angles.

I mean, I know what I want: Fedora, crushable/packable, C-crown, classic brim (not the little contemporary brim), a thin hat band. This time, I was hoping for a lined hat because I was feeling luxe. Which took us from the hats on hangers to the behind-the-counter selection. I tried on some of the nice hats, but so many of them were made from some very thin felt. Eventually, though, I didn’t find something that suited me quite right, and the concern over the parking meter situation won out, so I left without buying anything even though I was in a hat store, dude.

Still, when I held my current hat against other black fedoras, I learned exactly how much it had faded in near-daily wear for six years. So I immediately ordered the same hat I did previously on the Internet.

It arrived yesterday.

Every new fedora comes with a feather in it. Friends, I might like a liner in my hat, but I’m not so swank as to want a feather in it.

Ah, that’s better.

So I’m inventing reasons to leave the house so I can wear my new hat. Not that anyone would notice because it’s the same as my old hat, but darker and a bit stiffer. But I know.

Also, I don’t want to leave you in suspense with a cliffhanger: We got a ticket, but overstaying your meter in Traverse City is apparently only five dollars, which is not bad considering a city parking lot or garage runs more than that in a bigger city. But I could have tried on even more hats and wasted more of the saleswoman’s time.

Good Book Hunting, June 10-14, 2018: Michigan

Well, as you might know, gentle reader, when we go on vacation, we tend to find used bookstores in the area to browse. Unfortunately, on our trip last week to Michigan, we found the book stores are few and far between in that corner of the state.

We only hit a couple of these: Horizon Books in Traverse City and Island Bookstore on Mackinac Island. We tried to hit the local place in Boyne City, but it was closed every time we drove by.

As we packed to leave, my beautiful wife talked about how hard it was to pack because of all the books I got. How heavy everything was. And so on. But, know this, gentle reader, these are the books I got:

Basically, some local history books:

  • We Live On Mackinac Island, a school fundraiser
  • Mackinac Island: 350 Years of History
  • Murder at Cherokee Point, a locally set mystery novel, and part of a series. Mackinac Island, if you go buy the number of murder mystery series set there is a very violent place. In addition to this author’s three books, I also saw cozies spun off of bicycling and fudge.
  • All Our Yesterdays, a history of the Traverse City area that shares a title with a Robert B. Parker non-series book I enjoyed
  • Mackinac Island: Its History In Pictures

Five books. And one Ideals magazine.

You know what weighed a bunch? Complete sets of clothing I had to buy because United Airlines “Bulk Out”ed my baggage because it stuffed too many people on my flight, which is why I’ll avoid United Airlines in the future.

You know what I like? Driving vacations. To places where there are many used bookstores that are not an hour away.

Five Things To Do In Michigan If You’re Brian J. (Checklist)

Well, it sure was quiet around here last week. That’s because unlike some people, I don’t have a variety of smart people to step up and keep you occupied while I’m on vacation. As it happens, my family and I travelled to the upper part of the lower penninsula of Michigan.

Here’s what I did in Michigan:

Visit a Walmart.

Did you know, gentle reader, that United Airlines has a little trick it calls “Bulk Out”? Neither did I until last Sunday.

Storms in Chicago led to delays across the board. Our flight to Chicago was a couple hours late, and then our flight from Chicago to Traverse City itself was a couple hours late. So United cancelled the next flight to Traverse City and split the people between our (late) flight and the next. Then, after we were all boarded, the cabin attendant said the plane was overweight and could not take off, so they were looking for a couple volunteers to take a later flight, but she offered no incentive. Then here supervisor stormed aboard, already angry with the passengers since no one volunteered, and threatened to just pull some random bags from the hold to lower the plane’s weight if no one volunteered. But she offered no incentives, and no one volunteered, so United Airlines removed checked baggage–which comes with an extra fee, remember–until the plane was light enough to dance lightly upon the sensitive runways at Traverse City’s airport.

It turns out, my bag was one of the chosen few. And by “few,” I mean “Most of the checked bags were taken off.” I had to file a claim at the counter in Traverse City and wait for them to (maybe) deliver my bag to my resort an hour and a half away.

So we went to Walmart to buy me a complete set of clothing and the toiletries I’d need for the coming days. The closest one to our resort in Boyne Falls was in Petoskey, 20 miles away. So we went late on a Sunday evening and pushed a laden cart through the only (Express) checkout open at that time.

The “Bulk Out” isn’t the only reason we hit a Walmart–as we often stay about a week in a well-appointed room, we also like to stock up on basic groceries and whatnot. So wherever we go, we end up at a Walmart or a Publix or something.

But it did give me an opportunity to remind you that, to United Airlines, you’re just cargo, and they’ve got fine print and procedures for ensuring you know it.

Try to convince the locals to call it the UCLP.

St. Louis residents often refer to the hinterlands as UCLA–the Upper Corner of Lower Arnold (Arnold being a small municipality in the extreme reaches of St. Louis County). I tried without success to introduce Upper Corner of the Lower Penninsula into the local idiom.

Wear Packers apparel in enemy territory.

Apparently, the lower penninsula is full of Lions fans who suffer from some false optimism this year, as in many years. Of course, I did not wear my Packers shirts outside of the resort. Not because I was afraid, mind you. I just tend to wear collared shirts and khakis along with my signature black fedora out.

Buy the latest copy of Ideals.

The book store in Traverse City had the latest issue of Ideals so I bought one.

As you know, I associate the magazine of popular poetry with my youth, but it’s still a going concern. It’s a different publisher in Tennessee, but apparently the target market is still upper Midwest old ladies and middle-aged men trying to recapture something they didn’t actually capture in their youth.

Smell lilacs.

I’ve mentioned before how much I lilacs, and how I’ve tried to grow them wherever I go. Well, spoiler alert to that post from 2012: The lilacs don’t grow so well in southwest Missouri. Or when I try to grow them in southwest Missouri. But when we got to the resort, it was the height of lilac season, and as a matter of fact was during the local lilac festival. So I got a snootful of lilac on the balcony while reading or on the pool deck while reading or in just random places while perambulating. It was very nice.

It was a five day trip if you lop off the travel days. A couple quick one hour flights, and I was back up north where people talk right (although on the east side of Lake Michigan, people don’t talk all the way right like they do in Wisconsin and Minnesota). We visited Mackinac Island, which means I’ve now been on two of the five Great Lakes. We drove down to one of my beautiful wife’s home towns in Michigan (she has many). And we hit the fashionable Front Street in Traverse City. A pleasant trip, and I got some reading done as you’ll see in the coming days.

(See also Things To Do In Wisconsin If You’re Brian J. (Checklist).)

Tonight, My Children Learn Life Lessons From 1980s Television

I just ordered the first season of Magnum, p.i. from Amazon on these little silver discs to watch with my children between James Bond films.

Why Magnum, p.i.? Three things recently:

  • I saw someone post on Facebook that there’s a reboot in the works or on television. Hey, it worked for Hawaii Five-O. The person on Facebook was less sanguine about this particular reboot, though.
  • On Sunday mornings, one of the local radio stations plays a repackaged version of the “American Top 40” radio programs from the 1980s with Casey Kasem. One recent Sunday, they played Mike Post’s theme song for this program, which charted in 1982.
  • I was in my children’s room collecting laundry, and on the wall I espied some framed tiger photos, one of which came from my Aunt Dale, who collected tiger pictures and items. She was fond of the mustachioed PIs of eighties television, including Tom Selleck as Magnum and Lee Horsley as Matt Houston, both of whom she would say curled her toes.

Clearly, the universe compelled me to get this show and watch it.

But I’m not sure I’m going to expose my children to the last season.

A Trip to the Record Store, 1981

Tucked into a paper LP sleeve, I found a receipt from Waxie Maxie’s, which was apparently a record store chain on the east coast.

Before Christmas in 1981. Perhaps it was a Christmas gift. In my life, it was the first Christmas without my father in the house. I couldn’t tell you what I got–I know one year I expected an Atari because my mother hid one of the neighbor’s gifts in our basement so her son wouldn’t find it, and we found it, but we got Donkey Kong and Frogger tabletop electronic games instead, but that might have been 1982.

At any rate, this little sales slip has traveled quite a ways, as I bought the LP in which I found it in southwest Missouri. Also, the LP purchased that day was apparently Conway Twitty’s Heart and Soul, and I found it in Stargard’s self-titled debut album.

Well, the Internet is the place for floatsam like this, so here you go. When I complain about the cost of a $15 CD, remind me again of how much this LP would have cost in today’s dollars.

I Was Just Telling My Child About Recycling

He was slowly dumping a bottle of old soy sauce into the sink while I was trying to do dishes, so I grabbed it from him, put the cap on, and tossed it in the trash.

“But recycling!” my children chirped as they’ve been taught.

So I gave them a little talk about how recycling consumes resources and produces a recycled product of dubius utility.

This was last night. Today, a story reiterates what those of us paying attention and concerned with actual economic costs instead of simple absolution rituals already know: Some Inconvenient Truths About Recycling:

It has become an article of faith in the U.S. that recycling is a good thing. But evidence is piling up that recycling is a waste of time and money, and a bit of a fraud.

The New York Times recently reported that, unknown to most families who spend hours separating garbage into little recycling bins, much of the stuff ends up in a landfill anyway.

Penn and Teller had a program on in the old days called “Bullshit!” that had an episode on recycling. The whole thing doesn’t look to be on YouTube, but a small sample is (Penn language warning):

Me, I recycle just because otherwise I might have to pay for another garbage cart to be picked up weekly.

(Link via Instapundit.)

It Makes Me Feel Like I Live In The Country

The neighbor calls me up; she has a message for her son, could I drive down to the back pasture at the Jones place where Warren is raking hay and give it to him?

I did, of course.

Even though I live in the country, I spend a lot of my time in my home office connected to a computer or driving into Springfield and doing things in the (small) city. So I forget where I really am.

I must need to sit on my back deck a couple more nights and watch the luciernagas or the wah-wah-taysee at sunset, when it’s quiet and the wildlife come out. Although clearly I’ve done that, since I learned the word wah-wah-taysee from “The Song of Hiawatha” when I was reading it last night at sunset. Luciernaga I learned some time ago.

Both words mean “firefly.” But the one from Sesame Street is not my favorite firefly song, as you might guess.

What was my point? Probably that I shouldn’t be sitting connected to a computer right now.

“In Game Purchases Are A Waste Of Money,” I Said.

Trying to teach my children about the value of things you buy, I strongly discouraged my child from spending money on something in a game that would help him out. A game that he would probably not be playing in six months.

This, from a man who as a boy spent plenty of money on these:

Probably more than my son wanted to spend on his latest in-game need. Which he could use for however long he plays the game at the level where the purchase would be helpful, which is far longer than the twenty seconds it took me to play each card.

Still, I encourage him to buy personal relics which can trigger memories, unlike soon-to-be-forgotten collections of algorithms on his borrowed video gaming device.

(Earlier musings on video game cards here.)

This Montaigne Is Aging Nicely

I’ve reached an age where decades are a drop in the sink beneath the mirror in which my face suddenly sags. You know, a couple years ago (six being “a couple,” where ten is “a few”), I started a category on this blog called DeRooneyfication, which covers projects I’ve completed after the passage of time. It’s not a very big category, sadly, as so many projects remain incomplete.

But what’s rather striking to me today is the copy of Montaigne’s essays atop my dresser.

You know when I set it there?

I carried that book on one of my trips to Kansas City the beginning of last summer. I read a couple of the essays in the beginning, and then I laid the book aside for later reading.

And a year has passed. I’ve moved the book to dust (infrequently), but it’s been atop my dresser for a full year. It sits there with the rotating cast of carry books that I put in my gym bag when I make my (infrequent) trips to the martial arts school, (weekly, mostly) trips to church where I can read the book over the Sunday School hour, or to various sports practices where I sit in the bleachers while my child or children run around. A book of poems that I take out to read on the deck sometimes at night joins the stack. But the Montaigne? That’s been a year.

I don’t know what it says that books that I pluck from my shelves to read sometime languish on side tables or dressers for years before I pick them back up or, in a fit of cleansing, put them back on the to-read shelves. But a year.

The vertigo of passing time that I get from these realizations might explain why I don’t open my nightstand drawer. Within it, a couple of poetry books I started to read to my children when they were very young, when I would read poetry to them while they played their toddler games, reside. Pablo Neruda and Ogden Nash en media res. I haven’t lived in this house for a decade (yet), but these books might make it a decade in the nightstand before I find them or before an estate sale appraiser looks them over and marks them fifty cents.

An Unfortunate Banner

417 magazine has a cover story this month Your Guide to the Best Swimming Holes in the Ozarks.

Although it’s not the magazine cover image, here’s the banner on the Web site:

The magazine hit the stands this week. Also in the news this week: High cliff jump into Buffalo River breaks paddler’s neck:

Nearly 40 feet high on the side of a cliff, [redacted] knew instantly that his double backflip into the Buffalo River wasn’t going right.

“When I turned backwards on the cliff I started falling backwards,” [redacted] remembers. “I over-rotated on the way down and I didn’t land it well.”

I’m not from around here, so I was not aware the cliff jumps were a thing. I grew up in the projects, where we went wading in the storm water basins, and nobody was going to dive from the overpass into a couple inches of water over concrete. But apparently it is.

Although it’s not illegal to jump from cliffs in Buffalo National River Park, ranger Casey Johannsen advised against it because of the risk for injury.

“We have signage in the park that strongly discourages it,” Johannsen said Friday. “My recommendation, always, is don’t do it.”

There are no fines if someone is observed jumping off a cliff, but Johannsen said several people a year are injured doing risky cliff jumps.

It shouldn’t be illegal, of course, but people need to be careful.

Strangely enough, the incident reminded me of a book: The Dive from Clausen’s Pier. Between the book, though, and cliff-jumping into an unknown stretch of river, I’d be torn.

Book Report: The Long Good Boy by Carol Lea Benjamin (2001)

Book coverAfter reading a book about magickal cats who solve crimes, it only seemed fitting to turn to this book, which I just bought in March, which features a private investigator (Rachel Alexander) and her pit bull (Dash) who solve crimes. Dash, it should be noted, does not talk. Also, note I read an omnibus edition of a couple earlier books in this series in 2009.

At any rate. In this book, Rachel is hired by a trio of transvestite hookers to investigate the murder of one of their colleagues in the meat-packing district of New York City. She finds that a manager of a local meat plant was murdered around the same time, so she wants a look into the files of the plant. She spends many pages teaching a dachshund belonging to one of the prostitutes to unlock a bathroom window so she can break in and fax files to her home line. The meat plant might be tied up in mob activity. The plant’s assistant manager, who was passed over for the job when the murdered manager was hired, is a frequent client of the prostitutes, including the one who was murdered.

Much of the book is spent in chasing down or set pieces that don’t really amount to much. The whole plant break in thing takes a long time, and then Rachel is outfitted as a hooker and spends a couple nights on the streets for no real reason other than to explore the experience, and then in the last third of the book, she finds out not so much that family secrets are involved and a couple of failed police stings, and then the book wraps up in a rather abbreviated and confusing climax.

Still, it was an enjoyable read. The pacing was good, even when it was going nowhere. I liked it enough to maybe pick up another the next time I find it for a buck.

Robert B. Parker created the Sunny Randall series to be adapted by Hollywood for Helen Hunt, or so I heard. I wonder why this series hasn’t been optioned?

Also, as a side note, the topic matter and discussion of transvestite and pre-operative transgenders: Although this book is sensitive for 2001, how insensitive is it in 2018? If the chronically offended read old books, perhaps we would know. And the answer, likely: INTOLERABLY!

(Also, if you’re interested, here’s my book report on the book whose title is the source of this book’s title: The Long Goodbye.)

Book Report: I Hate Ann Coulter by “Unanimous” (2006)

Book coverWhat a mean-spirited, insipid little book this is.

Of course, with a title like I Hate Ann Coulter!, what would I expect? Probably something akin to Rush Limbaugh Is A Big, Fat Idiot by Al Franken, which is also floating around on the shelves somewhere here.

I’ve not been a fan of Coulter. The only book of hers I’ve reviewed here was Godless, although I might have read one of her earlier books before this blog–although it’s hard to imagine any life before this blog. I know she was kind of popular with the early blogosphere, but I don’t think I’ve seen anything linking to her in quite some time. Her books are quite incendiary, with a bunch of name calling and near-nastiness that’s supposed to be humorous as she makes her points.

But that differs from this book, where nastiness is the point, and the author or authors do nothing but lay into Coulter’s looks and whatnot. They insinuate she’s a man. You know, the kind of thing that in the year 2018 would be doubleplus ungoodthink, but only if not targeted to Ann Coulter, apparently.

The times when they bother to attack her credibility as a commentator, they mock Coulter’s points that time has borne out. Such as:

Ann makes the wonderfully deranged contention in Godless that a liberal, when questioned, “might turn violent–much like the practicioners of Islam, the Religion of Peace, who ransacked Danish embassies worldwide because a Danish newspaper published cartoons of Mohammed.”

Well, we’ve seen an uptick in political violence from the left in the intervening years, ainna?

Or the stunning ignorance on offhanded display, such as an assertion in a quiz to see if you’re like Ann:

6. Does it bother you as a Christian that Jesus never kicked anyone’s ass?

Seriously, kids? Have you never heard this story?

The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!”

You’re refuting Coulter’s point about liberals being, well, Godless by demonstrating a relatively common story from the Bible.

My goodness, I cannot believe I read this. Well, no, I can. I read anything, and this little stroll through the gutter did not take me very long, fortunately, and my book count this year needs some padding.

I would recommend you not bother. Go visit Twitter if this is your thing. No doubt the author(s) of this book have a sweet feed somewhere over there where they DESTROY and OWN conservative commentators all day long.

How Are The Guitar Lessons Coming, Brian J.?

Well, I mentioned I bought a guitar, and I tried to teach myself to play from YouTube videos and books. Which went about as well as I expected, so I enrolled in some lessons.

So for about two months now, I’ve been spending a half hour on Monday afternoons with an instructor and varying amounts of time on other days picking simple and sometimes coherent notes.

But the guitar instructor has been playing for decades, and his lessons are full of musical words I don’t know since this is just about my first music experience (aside from listening to it really loud). He would talk about chords, progressions, pentatonic scales, chromatic, and stuff, and I have no idea what he’s talking about. It sounds important, so I hope I’ll learn about it later once I’m done learning where to put my fingers at the same time.

But he did mention one word I do understand: staff.

Awww, yeah. I know all about the staff.

Hopefully, we’ll get to musical tonfa and musical escrima sticks soon, but probably not. They’re more per concussion instruments, as I’ve learned in my martial arts studies.

So, How’s That Reading Of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Coming, Brian J.?

As I might have mentioned, I’ve been reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance off and on for a bit.

How far am I in reading it? Well, I took apart a small engine today and cleaned the carburetor.

So I’m about three-quarters through the book.

Frankly, I’m hopeful that the next chapter covers reassembling the carburetor. Because I’m afraid I’m going to lose parts if I have it disassembled too long.