A Very Lutheran Example

So I’m ready to register the North Side Mindflayers Trivia Team for a trivia night to support the local Lutheran Student Center, and the registration form asks you how many children you’ll need to register for child care.

Example: 23.

Now, it’s a table of 6 people. But for Lutherans, that might be a valid example number.

For the record, the progeny of our six is 11, but it’s three couples. If it were six mommies, it could easily be 23 or more.

Also: Note that children who are 3.5 years old must wander the LSC floor begging for snacks from the various tables since children between 3 and 4 will not have child care provided.

Good Book Hunting, October 21, 2016: The Friends of the Clever Library Book Sale

On Friday night, we were some of the first people to visit the semi-annual Friends of the Clever Library Book Sale. Unfortunately, this year it was smaller than it has been in the past. Perhaps I mean “fortunately,” since that limited what I could buy. But this might be the only book sale we make it to this autumn (as we have already missed the Friends of the Christian County Library in Ozark and the Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library book sale is all the way on the north side of Springfield these days).

Still, I bought a couple things:

Mostly, it’s movies, which is a shame: As I might have mentioned, I’ve been trying to clear out some of the films I’ve accummulated in the last decade that I have not watched (yes, I have a to-watch shelf). Thanks to Wednesday Movie Nights this autumn, I’ve cleared a couple out. Enough so that I didn’t have to stack this weekend’s purchases atop the cabinet. I got a couple kid-friendly movies for those rare instances where I watch a film with the children; a couple of World War II things; Top Gun; a Clint Eastwood movie I’d never heard of, Kelly’s Heroes; an Elvis movie, A Change of Habit, and Fort Apache (not Fort Apache: The Bronx).

As to books, I got just a couple including:

  • A 110 year old copy of The Pilgrim’s Progress
  • Five Themes of Today, a collection of philosophical poetry I expect to be very self-conscious.
  • The Bible As History, a fat paperback.
  • A couple of local interest sorts of self-published looking books.

I also got a CD of Sinéad O’Connor’s, Am I Not Your Girl?, a collection of jazz standards. From 1992. Interesting. I haven’t listened to it yet, but I’m sort of looking forward to it.

At any rate, that’s like five new books. That’s as many as my beautiful wife bought and fewer than my children got. What has happened to me? I used to buy so, so many. Perhaps I’m starting to think I won’t live forever and might not have a chance to get to all the books I have already.

Of course, it’s entirely possible that next week, where I suddenly find myself in North Springfield on half price day, perhaps this question will be answered.

A Joke For All You Catholic Theologians Out There

I cracked myself up yesterday when reading First Things magazine with the following:

Unitatis Redintegratio is Latin for “Bless your heart.”

You see, Unitatis Redintegratio is the Vatican II decree on ecumenism, wherein the Catholic church wants to reunite the faith, and within it it says that the Catholic church is doing everything right, and other Christian denominations are doing as much right as they are aligned with how the Catholic church is doing things.

Never mind, if I have to explain the joke, it loses a lot of its funny.

Actually, I’ll have to try this on an actual Catholic theologian to find out if it’s actually funny, or if I just amused myself because I think it’s clever.

Book Report: Peter Paul Rubens: A Medænas Monograph by Susan C. Coffey (1984)

Book coverThis book is a monograph on the work of painter Peter Paul Rubens, but it’s not a very comprehensive monograph, as it is only 30 pages followed by a dozen pages of advertising for a hypertension drug.

At any rate, as you might know, Rubens was a sixteenth and seventeenth century Flemish painter perhaps most known for his fleshy nudes. He (and his team) did more than that, of course, handling commissions for religious installations and whatnot as well as landscapes.

I know, you’re thinking, “Hey, this guy likes the Impressionists so much, what’s with the Baroque?” My friends, I try to review lots of books of art except modern stuff just to see what appeals to me. Even when I already know some of the things I like, I like to try others, you know. At least that’s how I phrase it when I try to get my children to eat something bizarre I’ve bought at the grocery store in the international aisle.

At any rate, a quick browse with a decent bio of the artist. This particular volume has the stampings and markings of the Springfield Art Museum, but no markings that say No longer property of the…. I hope it’s not stolen goods.

Book Report: Monet by Alberto Martini (1978)

Book coverThis book is an Avenal coffee table book of Monet’s work which shows his evolution from his early days to his creation of Impressionism and beyond.

As I’ve mentioned before, I like Impressionism because it not so much conveys the immediacy of a scene in a vital way (which they tell me it’s supposed to) but because it reminds me of a memory of a scene–that is, a little fuzzy around the edges.

Which is why I prefer Renoir or Manet to Monet. His work deals a lot with landscapes, and I prefer my memories with people in them. His later work gets to using larger brush strokes which make the items in the paintings less distinct, and I’m not sure how the bigger brushstrokes are better designed to capture the immediacy of light playing on water or whatnot unless you’re losing your sight.

At any rate, this was a relatively quick browse, and it reinforces what I know about Impressionists and my appraisal of them.

Roark Triumphant

So a couple of years ago, we got a bedroom set with a configurable four poster/canopy/sleigh bed and dressers that actually match. As you might guess, this was not my idea.

But for a number of years, we didn’t have any curtains on the bed. When I looked for sets, I found them to be too expensive. When I bought curtains off the shelf, I found the pockets were too small for the canopy rails. I considered custom sewing, but that, too, would prove expensive. So we didn’t have any canopy or whatnot for a long time.

And then I thought: Magnets.

I bought some craft magnets. I folded the tops of some of the sheers I’d bought but whose pockets were too small for the rails over those rails and used the magnets to stick them. And, voilà! We had the adult equivalent of a fort to sleep in every night.

Until Roark discovered he could leap into the sheer and bat at it until it fell.

I’m really glad we didn’t go with the expensive custom-sewn solution before he discovered this.

As I Was Saying….

WikiLeaks Bombshell: Clinton Relied on Trump Primary Win, GOP Obliged.

Back in December, I said:

And I can’t help wonder if we’re not seeing a McCaskill Manipulation strategy at work here.

As you might remember, gentle reader, back in 2012 I highlighted a pre-primary strategy by Claire McCaskill to run ads claiming that Todd Akin was too conservative for Missouri. Her organization did this because they felt that Akin would be the weakest candidate to face Claire McCaskill in the actual election.

It worked, of course; Akin was nominated and then said something that everyone could pile on, and Akin lost and we have Senator McCaskill for a couple more years.

. . . .

Now, I don’t want to go all JournoList / Conspiracy Theory here (although the mere inclusion of the word JournoList and the aforementioned boasted McCaskill Manipulation should indicate that conspiracy theories might often involve actual conspiracies), but could we be seeing something like it in the Trump candidacy?

So, yeah.

Book Report: The Ballad of Ethan Burns by James D. Balestrieri (2013)

Book coverThis book is a movie script turned into a short almost-novelization, so it falls somewhere between a story book and a full novelization of a film. Also, the book was written by my old drama workshop teacher from Marquette, the workshop that say the germination of The Courtship of Barbara Holt.

It’s a meta book about the film making industry: within the film adapted to prose, Ethan Burns, the son of a famous Western star, works at a cable game show after a lackluster direct-to-cable acting career as his wife and agent manage his father’s legacy. A student approaches Ethan Burns with a script for a proper Western, which Burns finances by selling his fathers famous guns to an Italian fan who agrees to finance the film. They and assorted other motley characters venture to Paintbrush Valley to film it amidst sabotage. Everyone gets a comeppance that needs one and all’s well that end’s well.

The prose starts out with a little depth and characterization that it loses as it moves. Perhaps that’s part of being very closely tied to a screenplay where the characters are established and then it rolls. I dunno. Being more of a novel reader, I thought it could have used a little more through the last half or third. Still, it’s a pleasant read.

On the other hand, it makes me wonder if I could write something like this. I’ve had a couple of ideas for screenplays in mind; perhaps I could first blat them out like this and then screenplayify them. But on the other hand, that sounds like work, and I’d rather sit down with a book.

Fun fact, maybe: The book features a bar called Hegarty’s. Is Balestrieri paying homage to Haggerty’s, a bar near the Marquette campus? Maybe!

Good Book Hunting: Republic Pumpkin Daze, October 1, 2016

As I have mentioned before, there’s a retired educator’s group at the Republic Pumpkin Daze fall festival selling books. This year, I only got two books, but I feel the need to do an online end-zone dance.

Here they are:

The first is a paperback containing three RoboTech novels.

But the second. Ah, the second.

I’ve been looking for a book of Josephus’s writing for some time. Josephus is a first century Palestinian who wrote a bunch of Jewish and Christian history without actually getting included in the Bible. I’ve looked for it at ABC Books, but the one time I didn’t buy a copy because I was already spending a pile on something else proved to be my best shot at the author. I mean, there’s currently an old edition with tiny print that I’d be afraid to read up there for like $20.

But at the bottom of a bin of books on the ground–not even the books on the tables!–I found a Nelson’s Super Value Series collection of Josephus Complete Works. I pulled it from the bin and made a happy sound, and then my eyes darted to make sure nobody was going to take it from me. Only $2 or so (it was not Dollar Bag time, but the accounting was a bit lenient, I think).

So now I’ll have to figure out when to add another 1000 page book to my queue.

Book Report: Wars of the Ancient Greeks by Victor Davis Hanson (1999)

Book coverI’ve tried to pick up works br Hanson before, but I’ve never gotten far into them before putting them back. I thought I’d have better luck with this book because it falls into my specific interest of Greek and Roman history. So I got a good head start and then, when I wanted to put it aside, I was able to plow through it.

It’s not a long book; it is 213 pages plus some end material. Hanson’s premise is that the Greek way of war–farmers in Hoplite phalanxes defending their land–influenced Western warfare all the way to the present day. He talks about the the early tribes of Greece, the Dark Ages in Greece, and then the high point of Greek warfare, the aforementioned farmers in Hoplite phalanxes, and then beyond through the Macedonians conquering much of the eastern Mediterranean and then the Greeks being conquered in turn by the Romans who learned the lessons of the Macedonians well.

Unfortunately, it’s not a very good book.

Hanson repeats himself a lot. In a lot of cases, the same thought will be expressed in almost exactly the same way just sentences apart.

The book lacks a narrative or thematic cohesion: It doesn’t go especially in order, and the chapters are titled like they’re going to flow thematically, but they kind of wander.

Also, Hanson interjects a lot of romanticism of the Golden Age hoplite, and he really, really does not like the Macedonians. He calls Phillip II evil and Alexander the Great an alcoholic and a megalomaniac. Over and over (the author repeats the same thoughts, as I might have mentioned).

As such, I really didn’t enjoy the book, and I’m not sure I learned a whole lot from it. Of course, these days, I wonder if I learn anything from anything I read, but I hope that reading a bunch of the same material will drum something into my head. So I guess I did learn a little about the topography of Greece and how it affected Greek warfare.

Book Report: Dead Man Running by “Don Pendleton” (Stephen Mertz) (1984)

Book coverThis book is another turning point in the continuing Mack Bolan saga.

The first thirty-some books dealt with Mack Bolan waging war on the mafia; the next thirty some up until about this book (#64) dealt with Bolan working under the government aegis as John Phoenix fighting terrorists. This book changes that.

I’ve missed a couple of books in the series. The last one I read was #59, Crude Kill. So I missed the actual death of April Rose, although I knew it was coming somewhere. This book deals with the aftermath, as Bolan hunts the people responsible for the attack on Stony Man Farm. He can’t trust his government contacts, and some of the government is ready to end his Phoenix project.

Bolan has also been framed for the assassination of a Russian, so he’s being hunted by American forces as well as the Russians. He finds a tie between the remnants of the Mafia and the KGB, so he goes on the warpath against both, exposing a high-level Soviet mole after a couple of ambushes and hitting a couple of hard sites. Then he casts off the government and his pardon with them to return to his one-man rampage against the KGB.

I enjoyed the book more than others, but that could be because I read it amongst other books instead of reading a bunch of them together, or it could be partly because it represents a shift in the story arc that promises some freshness to the continuing series. But just to be on the safe side, I’m not going to read a bunch of them in a row. It’s not like I would jump into the next one anyway; I read Cambodia Clash (#65) in 2010.

Book Report: New York: City of Many Dreams by Bill Harris (1983)

Book coverThis book is a collection of photos taken of New York, especially Manhattan, in the early 1980s. Clearly, this is a companion piece to New York At Night and, and author of the text introduction is also the author of Florida: A Photographic Journey. So it’s the same thing: A brief fluffy essay talking about the history and dynamism of New York and then a bunch of pictures of it. Or, more to the point, Manhattan.

Unfortunately, given the number of things one could take pictures of in New York, this book is a bit limited and repetetetive. We have a page dedicated to the Statue of Liberty and then other pictures of the statue and Liberty Island throughout. We have a number of pictures of Central Park from various high places. We have a page dedicated to the rangers in Central Park, which is the same four women on horseback in various poses and profiles. The same four women on horseback appear on other pages scattered around. As a result, it looks as though the book is really compiled from a limited number of photo shoots and set-ups shuffled together thickly to make it look like more than it is.

Which is a real shame, since New York and even just Manhattan are bigger places and could have included more things.

So I’ll think about steering clear of another of these books. At least until such time as I come across one on my to-read shelves or cheap at a book sale and a football game comes on. But, still.

Top Euphemisms For Mowing the Grass at Nogglestead

Here at Nogglestead, we could simply say mow the grass. Not mow the lawn which implies a square footage of uniform grass, and Nogglestead has myriad types of grasses, ground cover, and weeds in lieu of a lawn. However, mowing five acres minus the buildings that make Nogglestead truly a compound leaves one with plenty of time to think of expressions to more poetically capture the experience. So here, gentle reader, are some of the best ones.

Running the Nogglestead 500.
Because the discharge is on the right side of the mower, you’re always turning left, just like NASCAR.

Driving to St. Louis In My Backyard
Early on, I realized that the three to four hours I spend on the lawnmower when cutting the grass is about the time it takes to drive from Springfield to Saint Louis.

Listening to a Long Country Marathon
As I have recently mentioned, my radio headphones can only pick up one station relatively clearly on every spot of the grass, and that’s a newly bro country station. So I get four hours of girl-get-up-in-my-truck punctuated with some heartbreak. Mowing the lawn does not often put me in a good mood.

Closing the Flower Shop
The youngest son still likes to pick flowers for his mother, and when I’m about a week late in mowing, it has a wide selection of flowering weeds and wild daisies for him to choose from. Until such time as I chop them all down.

Feeding the Birds
Once in a while, when I’m out mowing the back field, one or two birds will start swooping and diving around me. It weirded me out the first couple of times. I thought perhaps I was nearing their nests, and they were trying to drive me away, but it’s a relatively flat field and not good nesting for anything. Later, I realized I was kicking up some insects, and the birds were eating them.

Chasing the Wildlife
In addition to the birds and the bugs, from time to time, something will take off running or hopping ahead of the mower. I’ll slow to let a frog get out of my path, but yesterday I chased a rodent a ways to make him reconsider Nogglestead as a future home. Of course, if a rabbit takes off running, it’s best to go very, very slowly, as parent rabbits will run away from their babies to try to draw the predators away.

At any rate, there are others I thought of and have forgotten. Four hours is a long time.

Oh, Susann, How I Cry For Thee

A line from a play review for Valley of the Dolls:

Welcome to “Valley of the Dolls,” a spectacularly awful 1967 movie revolving around three young women whose starry dreams of showbiz glory fade faster than most New Year’s resolutions. If you somehow missed it, imagine a cross between soap operas like “Mad Men” and “Sex and the City” — mixed with a campy dose of Charles Busch — and you get the idea.

No mention of the book, which was the source for the film and one of the best selling novels of the 1960s.

Fun fact: I read the book not long before starting this blog because I saw it at a lot of garage sales and estate sales, so I picked up a copy. I don’t tend to see that many books at garage sales these days, and if I do, it’s about having a baby and/or small children’s books.

Modern Education Has Made History Full of Spoiler Alerts

The latest fad amongst the cool kids and the people who talk about the cool kids is a Netflix True Crime documentary series called Making a Murderer which not only has the cool kids in an uproar about an old murder case but

In a Washington Post piece designed to enflame the cool kids’ ire against Bad Man Scott Walker, we have this bit:

(CAUTION: Some mild spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen the show.)

Dudette. It’s a documentary. Can a documentary have spoilers?

Anything that really happened that you don’t know is a spoiler waiting to happen. The modern education system just ruins all the good surprises. Or it would if they taught history. Do they? I don’t know.

But it’s a documentary with a narrative.