Good Album Hunting, March 2, 2023: Stick It In Your Ear Records

Yesterday, my beautiful wife and I went to a record shop in downtown Springfield where I had permission to buy up to $100 of highly priced records.

You see, gentle reader, I suffered a birthday last month, and my wife often gets me a gift certificate or something for the event. But when she got to Relics the day before my birthday, she found a line winding up the aisle to check out, meaning it would have taken her an inordinate amount of time to purchase the gift certificates. And, as you might have read here, the Relics gift certificate is not the best gift, as it has a six month life span, and it is a gift certificate where you must spend all of the value of it, as no change is given. Instead, she allocated $100 for me to spend on fun stuff, which is kind of funny as I tend to buy what I want anyway.

So I decided to make an excursion of it: She and I, together, would go to the record store, and I could spend $100, and I would pick out a record for her, and she would pick out a record for me.

To be honest, I hoped to fill out my Billy Joel collection. When I was visiting Recordhead over on Hampton in Milwaukee in 1990, Billy Joel records were easy to come by as people were replacing their vinyl collections with cassettes or CDs, so I bought a bunch of them. But, oh, gentle reader, what a fool I was a couple of years later when I sold those very records at garage sales for a couple of needed dollars. I recounted all this when I bought (another copy of) 52nd Street last November. But I thought this would be a good opportunity and excuse to splurge on other Billy Joel records.

Oh, but, gentle reader!

The Billy Joel section was but a couple of copies of 52nd Street and a copy of The Bridge. No Piano Man. No The Stranger. No Glass Houses. No Greatest Hits Volume 1 and 2. Oh, the empires I have lost!

I did get The Bridge, though, which I had not owned previously.

I went through the jazz section, looking for Hiroshima, or Keiko Matsui, or Najee, but nothing. I flipped through the Herbie Mann section, and I said Not today. Well, it was more like let’s see what else I can find, but it turned into not today.

My wife pointed out they had $.99 records in boxes along the wall, so I started pawing through them, but the deleterious effects of a martial arts class arose: I could not crouch at the boxes long, and I really had to pee. So I called a lid on it so we could find a restaurant that offered a restroom after our purchases.

We got:

  • The Bridge by Billy Joel.
  • Send It by Ashford and Simpson. I have their earlier album Is It Still Good To Ya? (purchased May 2021). Like previously mentioned artists, Ashford and Simpson had a career spanning 40 years, and I only learned about them by buying their albums and then, today, reading Wikipedia.
  • Fever! by Doc Severinsen. Maybe this can count as the record I picked out for my wife. It was in the dollar section, and although we have numerous Doc Severinsen albums, I was not certain we had this one. And as I grew uncomfortable, I threw the original terms of the trip out the window. Perhaps this should count as the one I picked out for my wife, as I had expected I would pick out a trumpet album for her.
  • Alternating Currents by Spyro Gyra. Since learning that they are not, in fact, zydeco, I have been picking up this fusion jazz band when I can.
  • M.F. Horn 3 by Maynard Gerguson. My wife found this record. I know we have MF Horn 2, and I am pretty sure we did not have this one. We do now.
  • Walk On by Karen Brooks. A Pretty Woman On Cover (PWoC) record. Going by the titles, I’m not sure if it’s pop, 70s folk, country, gospel, or what. The first song is “Country Girl”, but who can tell? (Research indicates: country.
  • Lets’ Dance with the Three Suns by, well, The Three Suns.
  • Super Girls. I didn’t actually buy this one; they have a couple of boxes of “Free with Purchase” up front, and I found the fortitude to paw through them, grabbing this sleeve containing three records. I figured this would be some trashy exploitation band with a couple of extra platters thrown in, but it turns out this is a compilation of girl band hits. With a trashy exploitation cover.

So we didn’t end up spending $100. The records I bought were priced kind of like what you see in antique malls–between $.99 and $10, but the platters themselves were in very good shape, whereas at the antique malls and book sales, they tend to be a little marred.

I did shy away from records close to $20, which means, of course, known and popular acts. Earlier in the week, I rediscovered The Shaft soundtrack in our music library, and I recounted to my beautiful wife how I bought a number of blaxploitation soundtracks about ten years ago and the R&B stars’ other records, such as Isaac Hayes and Bobby Womack, and how I picked them up on vinyl sometimes later. And although I saw Curtis Mayfield’s Superfly soundtrack. For $50. I passed.

Still, I am thinking about going back and checking out the rest of the dollar records later. Well, when I get downtown again, which is fairly rare.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Potentially Creepy, But Likely Random

Facebook hit me with this suggested post the other day:

I recognized the album, as I bought it in 2021, and since it’s on the Internet, I assume the AIlgorithms know it.

But Facebook feeds me a diet of hockey players, 80s and 90s nostalgia, and jazz musicians, the last probably because I follow KCSM and WSIE and Herb Alpert on the radio. So it was inevitable that I’d get a record that I own sometime. I’m a little surprised that I haven’t gotten more given how I acquire randomish easy listening and smooth jazz on vinyl.

Speaking of that trip to the library book sale in 2021, I also picked up Najee’s Najee’s Theme, his debut album, that trip, and I just spun that record earlier in the week, mentioning that I liked it an he might be a one-hit wonder.

He is not, and neither is Al di Meola. They’ve both been active for decades, but I guess I’m not that aware of them because the jazz radio stations I listen to do not play a lot of their work. So I keep thinking I’ve discovered something obscure, but it’s really just that I’ve found something new to me.

Perhaps I should watch out for more records by these artists and research them a little deeper when I buy their records. But given that I buy those dollar (or fifty cent) records sometimes sixty at a time, I don’t get to look that closely at each one when I make the Good Album Hunting posts. And when I am listening to records, I am not at the computer.

But what I should really do is use the warming weather to build some new record shelves.

P.S. That’s not a typo beneath the photo. I thought I might portmanteau AI and algorithm in a feat of cleverness, but it looks like a typo. Also I see that it’s already been coined and claimed for a tech company. So let us never speak of it again.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

I Cannot Help But Notice My Grocery Store Is Downsizing

One of the things about living in one place for a while–coming up on fifteen years at Nogglestead this year–is that you get perspective in seeing the changes and variations in the same place over time. We have seen fifteen winters and are about to have seen fifteen springs, so we get a sense of how wide the seasons can individually vary. Warm winter? Cold winter? We’ve seen both. So the exclamation-point-driven media definitely has a harder sell to convince us that IT’S NEVER BEEN AS HOT (or COLD) AS THIS ON THIS DATE! Well, except for the record set in 1930. Or a couple times that show up in my Facebook memories where I cracked wise about having my window open on this date or pictures of my driveway shoveled on this same date in history.

So I remember the evolution of the Pricecutter where we shop. Well, the big Pricecutter. It’s a relatively new store (but it was there when we got here). A little further west on Republic Road, a smaller, older Pricecutter held on for a couple of years, but it closed, sending Ron, a bagger some decade and change in his second career, to the new(er) Pricecutter. Which has been our go-to grocery after we turned our driving habits Springfield-wise. Even after the Walmart Neighborhood Market opened closer.

About ten years ago, they remodeled the store, freshening its look and, more importantly, expanding its produce section to include more variety. They added a salad bar and increased deli options as well, including a lot of ready-to-eat meals. They have this little isolated cul-de-sac they stuffed with health foods and organic options. They built a classroom for cooking classes. In short, they tarted up the place and filled it with more profitable offerings, but those offerings were parishable.

Althought they did cut the pharmacy a couple years later, the store has been relatively unchanged for that time. But within the last month, they started another remodel. But this time, they’re cutting the perishables.

I first noticed a missing bunker right when you walk into the doors. Between the produce section and the deli, they used to offer a variety of…. well, I think it was dressings, cut fruit trays, and some ready-to-eat things. But that bunker is gone. Bunkers by the cheese and lunchmeat and in the meat section have been replaced with smaller bunkers, and a large section of the meat case has been replaced with closed-door cases that hold longer-shelf-stable items. The meat racks have also been downsized so that they don’t have as many types of cuts prepackaged and fewer of each cut available. They’ve cut down the organic section and replaced it with sodas. In other words, they’re stocking less of the higher profit but perishable items, instead focusing on lower profit items.

The store has gone into a defensive crouch, expecting consumers to spend less on fresh meat, fresh vegetables, and convenience foods from the deli. Because we are.

Also, I cannot help but notice eggs are $5 a dozen again. But I haven’t seen this on the news Web sites I frequent.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Retiring a Personal Relic

When I was working for my first startup right around the turn of the century (he said, hanging an onion on his belt, which was the style at the time), I was also doing the garage sale and estate sale thing on the weekends and posting the gleanings on Ebay on weeknights, and I guess that’s how I came up with this glass candy jar which I brought into the office and put a TIPS sign on.

I brought it with me to, what, two office jobs after that? Maybe only the one, as the second started as work from home, and it’s possible I did not bring it into the office downtown. But that itself was 20 years ago, and I can only remember certain elements of the cubicle there, where the major design elements were old Purina swag that my sainted aunt had accrued from her time with the company before I worked for a digital agency serving the Nestle Purina PetCare company twenty years later.

Since then, it has been in one of the cubbies of my desk in my home office. It looks as though I must have spilled some coffee on it at one time as the TIPS paper is stained.

For a long time, I would empty change from my pocket into the jar. This probably happened more in the Old Trees days, where I would walk around with a baby in a stroller and maybe buy a coffee or a pastry with a bit of cash. Then, when we moved to Nogglestead, the walking around ceased, and the dropping carrying money pretty much ended. For the last decade or so, any change I’ve accrued over the day has gone into the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League mite box in the kitchen, between the garage door and emptying my pockets, and not to the basement.

So this last weekend, I emptied the jar of its remaining change, keeping the single fifty cent piece and the single president dollar coin for myself. I spent some of the coins as “votes” in a chili cook-off on Sunday and put the rest in the church’s big mite box on Sunday.

And now… Well, I guess I will take off the paper and put the candy jar in the garage with the other glass and whatnot that I fully mean to etch or paint with stained glass paint one of these days, where it will likely languish for a decade until my estate sale or until I actually grind a little evergreen tree onto it and fill it with candle wax before putting it into a craft sale where someone knowledgeable about glass will discover it and recognize that it was an expensive piece of glassware that I marred.

I mean, the thing has spent half of antiquehood with old pennies and dimes with it on my various desks already. But its time has passed. Or, perhaps, this will be in a Five Things On My Desk, Shamefully post in 2026. Life is full of possibilities in different stagnations.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Book Report: Dirty Jokes and Beer by Drew Carey (1997)

Book coverWow, this book is almost thirty years old. I bought it at some point since then–the historical records (the blog here) are incomplete as to when, but the copy I have is a hardback without the dustjacket and has only the price marked in pencil on the frontspiece. The book, he acknowledges a with a smirk, is a bit of a money grab based on the popularity of his television show The Drew Carey Show during the Clinton administration.

Carey had been a standup comic from the middle eighties, and this show which ran for nine years in the 1990s into the 21st century. He concurrently appeared in an American version of Whose Line Is It Anyway? for about the same time, and he took over for Bob Barker on The Price Is Right seventeen years ago. I say this, amazed, because although I would have known him by site these almost three decades, I have never really seen much of his work whether the scripted sitcom, improv work, or standup routine. I had a picture of him as a bit of a schlub, a maybe smart everyman, but that’s not exactly been his schtick as far as I can tell.

This book has a tripartite structure. It has three sections: Dirty Jokes, which is sort of humorous essays/anecdotes/memoir; Beer, which is talking about The Drew Carey Show with some behind-the-scenes looks, responses to critics, working to thwart the will of the people in charge of standards and get dirty words and jokes onto the air; and Stories of the Unrefined, which are fictional (mostly) short stories based on Carey’s life and experiences in Cleveland and Las Vegas with a character named Drew Carey at the center. Dirty Jokes and Beer start each chapter with a dirty joke; as you might know, gentle reader, I do not get the vapors with dirty jokes (which began with “borrowing” my mother’s copy of the Frank O’Pinion dirty joke book and become sort of popular at North Jefferson Middle School for my vast store of off-color humor in 1985 to 21st century readings such as The World’s Best Dirty Jokes and Lecherous Limericks to watching and enjoying National Lampoon’s Dirty Movie). So a couple of the dirty jokes made me chuckle in my head.

However, the book is kinda meh aside from that. It offers some insights into the making of television, a la Jeopardy! or Star Trek Memories, but those books cover the material in greater depth. It’s got just a little biography, not enough to be compelling. And the fiction is the kind of material that I’d read by other college students when at the university in the writing program. Better than some of the self-published books by local authors that I read in writing style and quality, but the slice-of-life incidents leave me with a bit of “So what?”

Probably best if you’re a Drew Carey fan, but not if you’re a little old lady watching The Price Is Right and want to learn more about that nice young man (current age: 65). Because part of the character, schtick, or person of Drew Carey is that he was from a working class background, went into the Marine Corps Reserve, and became a comic, and when he became famous/successful, he got to do what he wanted, which included dating strippers and living a libertine lifestyle. Hopefully it was more character than real person, but who knows? Maybe I am just jealous, although I would like the world to know that I started out looking like a dork and got better looking, whereas Carey started out all right and then got dorky looking and wore the dorky glasses after getting his vision corrected when he was “on.” So…. character?

I would also be remiss in missing comparing this book to Unqualified by Anna Faris which I listened to this winter. Carey’s book is less earnest, a bit smirking, and it was far better to read a book than to spend hours dedicated to listening to the book (as I mentioned, I’m not spending an hour a day in a car, so listening to an audiobook requires sitting in a darkened room and just listening instead of listening while driving). An unfair comparison, but they are similar in that the books don’t really focus on humorous observations from the author, and they’re less pure comedy than the thoughts of a comic actor/actress. Well, better luck to me next time, although I’m not sure how many other comedian/comedienne/comic actor books I have in the unread stacks.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

A Quiz, Sort Of

The Web site of the Springfield News-Leader has a tile that presents it as a quiz:

However, the title gets more to the point: These 16 television shows, movies are set in Missouri — but were they filmed here?

The majority of the series [Ozark] is set in the dark, ominous Ozarks, but critics didn’t hesitate to point out that hardly any of the episodes were filmed in Missouri. The majority of the series was filmed in Georgia, according to IMDb. As for the lake scenes, most of these were filmed at Lake Allatoona, a reservoir similarly shaped to the Lake of the Ozarks about 45 minutes northwest of Atlanta.

In recent years, “Ozark” may have been at the top of people’s minds when it came to how Missouri was showcased by Hollywood, but there have been several other award-winning television shows and movies set in the Show Me State — some of which, like “Ozark” weren’t actually filmed here.

Perhaps the journalist is disappointed that she does not have the opportunity to see stars on location, but the article points out that Georgia ladles tax breaks and incentives on production companies. One wonders if this is supposed to serve as a call to action for Missouri to also ladle out tax money so Shia LeBeouf can fly in and film for a couple of days before flying out.

However, since it was presented as a quiz, I must ask myself: How did I do? The sixteen from the article are:

  • The Act
  • Sharp Objects
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbings, Missouri
  • American Honey
  • Gone Girl
  • Switched at Birth
  • Winter’s Bone
  • Up in the Air
  • Waiting for Guffman
  • Road House
  • Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
  • National Lampoon’s Vacation
  • Paper Moon
  • Meet Me In St. Louis

I’ve seen five of sixteen.

The list skews to recent and to piss-on-Missouri stories and includes a number of entries where a scene nominally appears in Missouri in a larger travel film. Coincidentally, the latter overlap a lot with the films on the list I’ve seen.

The journalist does disclaim:

Note: There have been countless television shows and movies set and filmed in Missouri. This list is not exhaustive.

However, if one goes to the AUTHORITY (the Wikipedia entry Films set in Missouri), one sees this pretty much is the pattern: Piss on Missouri or just passing through. Guardians of the Galaxy? Deep Impact? I have seen these films, and they might have a scene in Missouri, but to say they’re set in Missouri is a stretch.

I am glad to see One Night At McCool’s is listed. But Larger than Life is not. The latter falls in the “Passing through” category, with a scene in Kansas City, and something that was filmed in St. Louis–Mike and Todd, both veteran actors of The Courtship of Barbara Holt, were extras in a scene that did not make the final feature.

At any rate, I’m not much into movies, books, or articles that piss on the heartland or where the writer is from (after the writer has moved to the big time). So I probably won’t watch Winter’s Bone (although I did just check movie accumulation posts to make sure I hadn’t already bought the DVD somewhere) but I do have the book in the stacks somewhere (I ordered it from ABC Books during the LOCKDOWN).

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Book Report: Doctor Who and the Day of the Daleks by Terrence Dicks (1979)

Book coverI got this book in 2015, which was far after any semblance I had of Doctor Who fandom.

As I might have mentioned (briefly, in in 2011, before I bought this book), Doctor Who played on Sunday nights at 10:30 on the St. Louis PBS station (followed by Red Dwarf, which I was talking about in 2011). Of course, my bedtime in the trailer days was 9:00, so I didn’t watch it live, but I did record them on videocassettes. Initially, I think that I only started recording them when we lived down the gravel road, but I have a lot of videocassettes (of course I still do) from that era, and when I was in the creative writing class probably my sophomore year of high school I wrote a series of short stories wherein the main character steals the TARDIS, so I was already familiar with the program in 1987 or so. I haven’t rewatched the videocassettes in a long time–I tried watching a program when my boys were children, but the first episode featured a plot where people were getting attacked by people in the sewers, which meant that they did not hardly see Colin Baker on the screen before someone went into (grainy videocassette recording) darkness and screamed, and that was all they could take–the oldest had an imagination full of darknesses which he might have outgrown (even as his father has not). Perhaps I’ll use this as an excuse to rewatch some of those old videocassettes. And perhaps the Red Dwarf box set I got in 2011.

One more Doctor Who memory, gentle reader, if you will indulge me. When I was at the university, I was not watching the show because it was not available in Milwaukee as I was aware (nor St. Louis when I returned). I made the acquaintance of Doctor Comic Book when we were in the English program at the University, he a year behind me. We got to be…. Acquaintances, I suppose, but close enough that he let me stay at his apartment on the East side one night my senior year when I attended a party that ended after the buses stopped running. And in the months (years) after college, when I was travelling to Milwaukee monthly (and later a couple times a year, but quite often), he let me stay with him for the weekend. One night, alone in his apartment (well, there with my college crush, who was not at all interested in me, of course), I opened one of his closets to discover a stack of old Doctor Who paperbacks, with this one probably on top (as it is the first in the American paperbacks). I teased him about it, saying, “That explains it!” as he favored long coats and a long scarf. He chuckled guiltily. He would later really get a doctorate and teach courses in comic book rhetoric when we reconnected on Facebook, as happened in the early years of this century, and then parted in political acrimony, as happened in later years of the century. Still, this paperback makes me think of the fellow as well as being young once.

So this is the first American paperback in the line, although Britain had seen numerous Doctor Who tie-ins before then, but I guess in the late 1970s, the show had made some appearances in America (given that, what, six or seven years later I saw it). This book tells a story from the third Doctor, played by John Pertwee (years as the Doctor: 1970-1974). That’s back when the Doctor was in England for an extended period as he tried to work on the TARDIS and helped the Brigadier and UNIT (United Nations Intelligence Taskforce).

An aging diplomat is to chair a conference to avert a war as tensions between the West, the Soviet Union, and China are boiling over. He leaves his estate for China, and when he does, a group of rebels from a future where the Daleks have taken over the Earth return, certain that their goal is to kill the diplomat whose actions lead to their dystopian future. The Doctor is less certain about what triggers the war that diminishes humanity and leads to the Dalek dominion–what if their success caused it? So we have (one can tell low budget even from the prose) scenes in the dystopian future and (one can tell low budget even from the prose) scenes on the estate as the Doctor tries to rescue his companion, taken to the future, and to avert a Dalek assault on the compound when the diplomat returns with dignitaries of the hostile nations.

Terrence Dicks was a writer for the show, so he was working with actual scripts, so the story probably pretty well matches what one would have seen on the BBC when I was lying nude on rugs for photographs (gentle reader, I assure you, this was when I was young, before I turned fifty). Rumor has it (and by “rumor,” I mean some Doctor Who fan site I read after reading this book but which I didn’t save in a tab until I wrote this, and I am too lazy to post it for you, oh, all right, it might have been this one or something that scraped it) that Pertwee didn’t like the episode that much at first, but, c’mon, man: it was 1970s television. In Britain. Nobody expected much more until Thatcher came to power, and to be honest, not much more after that. And by “nobody,” I mean “Americans.”

At any rate, it’s a quick 139 page read which, like all other paperbacks of the era, talked about other series the publishers had going at the time. Instead of Deadlands books, though, this one promotes a series called Blade, which was like a Deadlands with a timelord in it.

Man, if I put some effort into it (and, you know, had good guaranteed employment in the future whose base pay could keep up with base Biden-economy expenditures), I would like to be a serious collector of these old paperbacks. But I am not likely to find myself much in the paperback sections of the big book sales. Although one never knows what the future or the possible future saved by the intervention of a British television science fiction series might lead to. Who knows? I might even reconcile with Doctor Comic Book when I and my clan are driven north by the invading hordes and we take refuge on the shores of Lake Superior and reluctantly have to liberate the fortified campus from what they voted for.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

It’s Not A Twist If You Follow Emu News

Pulaski County Emu chase ends with a twist:

The deputies tried to keep the Emu out of the road and catch him again, but he ran off into the woods, evading capture.

The Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office said that residents should not approach the Emu if they see him. They said he hisses and may try to kick a person.

The Sheriff’s Office admitted defeat, for now, saying: EMU 2 Deputies 0.

We here at MfBJN have long been monitoring the emu rebellion, so we know the emus emus always win.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

If He Were Older, He Would Have Said, “Again”

Column at Outkick: Change Is Coming: It’s Not A Question Of If Big Tech Buys Media Companies, It’s When.

But the author says:

When I started working in sports media 20 years ago way back in 2004 — that’s when I wrote my first articles online — big tech was just emerging on the scene. When I first started writing online, the best way for a story to go viral was via email. Or to get picked up on listicle sites inside of big company websites. ESPN’s Page 2, SI’s Hot Clicks, College Humor, Fark — remember those? — there was no real social media. Back in those days people had the decency to tell me to kill myself via an actual email, as opposed to via Twitter.

Well, the young man can be forgiven for his ignorance of the words AOL Time Warner.

No, just kidding. As an old man, I cannot forgive him for his lack of perspective and authoritative take without mentioning or maybe knowing what occurred back in the 20th century.

Although perhaps I should not be so proud that I am so old that I used America Online before it was America Online.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

You’re Not From Around Here, Are You?

On the front page of a local television site’s news:

As any person from the state of Missouri knows, Missouri (Mizzou) is in Columbia, and they’re the Tigers.

Missouri State, formerly Southwest Missouri State University, formerly Southwest Missouri State Teacher’s College (and research indicates was Fourth District Normal School before that), is the home of the Bears.

I will leave it to you, gentle reader, whether this headline blunder was made by a young journalist who doesn’t know better (and doesn’t know that’s so) or by an AI trained on the works of young journalists who didn’t know better (and didn’t know that was so).

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Ackshually, Steve

At PJMedia, Stephen Green asserts:

This one might only be underappreciated by PJ Media/Townhall readers because while it sold well and earned a Grammy, I’m guessing we don’t have a whole lot of Queen Latifah fans around here. If we do, please speak up now.

[crickets]

I’m here to fix that.

Ya know, I bought both The Dana Owens Album and Queen Latifah’s other jazzy album relatively recently (in 2021) which means I can correct VodkaPundit when he says:

Latifah recorded a follow-up album three years later, “Travelin’ Light.” The second album maybe isn’t as consistent as “The Dana Owens Album.” But its high points — including Phoebe Snow’s “Poetry Man” and Bessie Smith’s “Need A Little Sugar In My Bowl” — reach every bit as high. You could play the two albums back-to-back and think she’d recorded a double CD.

Ackshually, it’s Trav’lin’ Light.

And, as you might remember, gentle reader, I actually have more than one copy of Phoebe Snow’s record with “Poetry Man” on it. But only one of each of Queen Latifah’s jazz CDs.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Movie Report: Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988)

Book coverAfter completing the 2024 Winter Reading Challenge, I took the opportunity to pop in some films. I was in the mood for this one for some reason, one that I thought maybe I could watch with my boys when they were old enough, but they’ve gotten too old now. Jeez, when did I pick this film up? Before I was enumerating film acquisitions on this blog, gentle reader, so a long time ago that was not so long ago.

I did not see this film when it came out, but it was a big deal at the time; the film blends animation with real characters and a sense of neo-noir, if you can circle that square. The film takes place in the late 1940s in Hollywood where cartoon characters exist and work side-by-side with humans on animated films. The film’s cold open features an adorable baby character, played by a fully grown toon in a baby body, whose mother leaves him in zany Roger Rabbit’s care. But Roger Rabbit blows the scene when he produces stars instead of birds when given a blow to the head. The head of the studio thinks Roger Rabbit has lost his head in jealousy over his wife, Jessica Rabbit, and rumors of an affair. So he (the studio head) hires a detective to get pictures of the cartoon woman in adultery with the owner of a factory and benefactor of Toon Town, the residence of the cartoon characters. Bob Hoskins’ detective gets the photos, and when the factory owner winds up dead, Roger Rabbit is the suspect. The detective discovers that it might be a frame job and looks to discover…. well, who framed Roger Rabbit and why. To do so, he’ll have to confront his greatest fears–a return to Toon Town and to confront the toon that killed his brother.

Still amusing, albeit silly and not cress. Because it’s fantastic and a retro/throwback film set before the 1980s, the film has aged well. It remains as fresh as it would have been in the last year of the Reagan administration and in the early days of the Internet, before the World Wide Web, when one could discover naughty pictures of Jessica Rabbit on bulletin board systems and newsgroups. Or so I heard.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Uh, Priorities?

Missouri firefighters rescue bald eagle in route to another emergency

Jeez, Louise, may G-d help me to not bleed out because Heroes stop to save a hungry-looking stray puppy on the way to staunch the flow of my life blood.

Wait, no.

Firefighters with the Mid-County Fire Protection District made an unexpected emergency rescue on Monday morning.

The crew was on the way to another emergency when the firefighters spotted a bald eagle in a ditch.

After getting the initial call complete, the crew rushed to rescue the eagle by wrapping it up and bringing it back to the station to keep it safe.

Wait, AI/AP, help me out here. Were they on the way to an emergency or coming back from an emergency call?

Ah, who cares? What does it matter, humans?

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

An Indiana Jones-Related Anecdote

So when I popped in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade on Saturday night to complete my viewing of the trilogy, I said to my beautiful wife, “I’m going to watch Indiana Jones and Troilus and Criseyde.”

I had to repeat it a couple of times, and she said after I explained a bit, “Oh, Troilus and Cressida.”

Ah, gentle reader. My mother-in-law taught Shakespeare, so my wife knows the story as Troilus and Cressida. But I have read the Chaucer poem Troilus and Criseyde where she has not, and I was using the Chaucer title as a pun. Criseyde rhymes with Crusade, you see, whereas Cressida clearly does not.

Normal people do not have this problem, and I suspect few modern professors do, either.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Movie Report: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

Raiders of the Lost Ark (c’mon, man, it’s not Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark)
Book coverWell, since I just read the novelization of this film, of course I was going to rewatch the series. Well, the real Indiana Jones movies. I picked up a VHS box set from the turn of the century (it looks like the commentary is copyright 1999). Which is why the videocassettes call these Chapter 24, Chapter 23, and Chapter 25 respectively; the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, a two season series plus four television movies, comprise the first 22 chapters of the story. And as far as the 21st century entries into the film canon go, well, we will not speak of them again.

So, Raiders of the Lost Ark: In the cold open, Indiana Jones is in a South American jungle, looking for an idol in a lost temple. When he reveals a map, one of his partners draws a weapon, only to have Jones whip it out of his hand. Native bearers flee when they reach the temple, and Jones and his remaining partner, Doctor Octopus, enter. Jones seemingly discovers the booby traps and swaps the idol for a bag of sand, and he must flee a final trap–the rolling boulder–and a betrayal from Doctor Octopus, and….

Well, never mind, gentle reader. You already know the story, and if you do not, you should definitely watch the movie and not read a recap. So I will just jump into my normal commentary on the film(s).

I did not see Raiders of the Lost Ark in the theaters, and it was some years after it came out on home video and cable that I saw it. I was familiar with the story, though, as I had one or more comic books telling at least part of the story. For some reason, I think I saw this in school, maybe in high school, eventually, and I’ve only seen it a couple of times since then. However, Indiana Jones was part of the zeitgeist in the 1980s, and it probably more than anything else popularized the archeologist/treasure hunter archetype that had a healthy go of it in the era–see also Firewalker, the Allan Quatermain movies King Solomon’s Mines and Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold, and the Romancing the Stone/Jewel of the Nile movies and so on.

Sometime around the turn of the century, about the time I decided to ditch the gas permeable contact lenses and wear glasses instead, my beautiful wife decided that I looked like Toht, one of the bad guys in the film. So I asked her to write a JavaScript clickable image carousel for me, and Toht Or Not was born (and originally hosted on Geocities).

I posted that on Slack where I work (for the nonce), and those kids were not familiar with a lot of the concepts therein, such as dial up connection and certainly Hot or Not, which was a thing in 2003.

At any rate, Lucas and Spielberg put together a rollicking adventure that moved very well.

Oft quoted lines:

  • “Top. Men.”
  • “Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?”

As I suspected, the book is paced a little differently than the book and includes several scenes which were not in the movie, particularly in the beginning of the film when the Nazis decide to go for the ark. It differentiates and elaborates on the German chain of command in a way that is lost in the film. And although Marion in the movie says that she was a child during her earlier affair with Jones, we’re left to imagine what that is. 18? 19? In the book, she goes on and mentions she was fifteen. No telling on whether that was in the script, filmed, and/or cut or if the novelizationer added that in.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Book coverThis film, the events of which take place before Raiders of the Lost Ark, has a cold open where Jones has recovered the remains of a Chinese emperor for a gangster who does not want to pay and double-crosses Jones. Jones escapes with his life and the singer at the gangster’s nightclub, and although they (and Short Round, the annoying young sidekick) think they’ve gotten away, they’re passengers on a plane owned by the gangster–and the pilots bail out while Jones and crew are sleeping. Their narrow escape as the plane crashes in the Himalayas brings them to a village in India where the home stone has been stolen, and Jones decides to help return it. Which leads them to a fortress and a renegade rajah and a cult, including the cult leader who rips out still-beating hearts during rituals. Which is the gross-out moment in this film (akin to the face-melting in Raiders of the Lost Ark).

The film features some callbacks and in-jokes–the gangster’s club is Club Obi Wan, and at one point Indiana Jones faces not one, but two swordsmen who twirl their swords before attacking, and he reaches for his holster–but unlike in Raiders, he finds it empty and says, “Heh.” So already there’s a touch of fan service.

But the mine cart chase scene. Boy, howdy, did that go on for too long. Indiana, the nightclub singer, and Short Round hop into a mine cart to escape the bad guys from a–well, it’s not a mine, it’s a dig for the remaining Macguffins–and bad guys pursue them in other carts. Man, I don’t know if they were grabbing onto a height of roller coaster fame or if they had visions of future theme park attractions dancing in their heads, but the sequence is a bit over-the-top ridiculous.

It has gotten a bit of a bad reputation as the red-haired step-child of the Indiana Jones movies (before the delinquent foster children came along), but it’s not a bad sample of the genre. According to the Wikipedia entry, they set the film before Raiders so they wouldn’t have to make Nazis the bad guys again. If only they’d stuck with that. But in the 21st century, that’s the only real evil the world has seen, so it (and, perhaps, Republicans) are the only allowed villains in these simpler times.

Oft quoted lines:
Well, none, really, although maybe I will start saying, “Fortune and glory, kid. Fortune and glory,” to change that. Although my kids are not really kids any more.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Book coverI saw this film in the theater, gentle reader, I think. It seems to me that my brother and I came into a windfall that summer when the owner of my father’s favorite tavern at the time hired us to load a roll-on dumpster with junk stored in the three- or four-bay garage attached to the saloon. We worked two days and got sixty dollars each, and, gentle reader, we could do anything we wanted. So we went to see this film instead of UHF because this film had been out for a while and would likely be ending its run, and UHF had just opened. Well, as it happens, UHF also closed before this film. But we saw it at the first run theater on Mill Road, not the second run theater which was across the street. We had a wealth of options in the world; I guess we have a wealth of options now in our homes, but it really isn’t the same.

At any rate, this is the film with Sean Connery as Indiana’s father who goes missing when searching for the Holy Grail. Prior to going missing, he sent his diary of clues home to Indiana, and when an industrialist asks Indiana to continue the search for the grail, Indiana takes the job to search for his father. Along the way, he meets a headstrong Austrian doctor, Elsa, who helped his father as well, and unknowingly brings the Germans the diary, which they wanted to get from Jones Sr. So when Indiana frees himself and his father, they have to race to Berlin to recover the diary and then beat the Nazis and the industrialist (working with the Nazis, including Elsa) to the temple in the canyon of the crescent moon.

The film has some throwbacks, including an escape via plane where Jones Sr. asks Indiana if he knows how to fly a plane and Indiana says, “Fly, yes. Land, no,” which hearkens back to the plane scene in Temple of Doom, and a convoy fight scene where Jones has to rescue his father and Brody from a tank definitely throws back to the ark convoy scene in Raiders.

So eight years after the initial movie, the original trilogy wraps up in fine fashion. I guess Lucas started planning the fourth installment which sounds a lot like The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in the early 1990s, but it would be fifteen years before that appeared. The cold open features a young Indiana Jones, played by River Phoenix, which laid some groundwork for the television series.

Quotable lines?

  • “It belongs in a museum!”
  • “We named the dog Indiana.”

I dunno. Not as prominently quotable as the first, and by that time the genre itself was starting to wind down, although examples of the genre have always been there (the Tomb Raider game came out in 1996, and the films in 2001 and 2003).

I spent $2 for the boxed set here (which did not include the television series, presumably available separately) and three evenings reviewing the material. Time and money well spent, or at least better spent than how I sometimes spend the evenings. It also makes me want to revisit some of the other listed examples of the genre even though I have seen Firewalker with my boys sometime in the last decade or so and Romancing the Stone and Jewel of the Nile sometime since I bought them again in 2015. The material and setting (at least of the cold opening of Raiders) remains fresh as I listened to part of an audio course last summer (and will probably revisit it soon) and because the news headlines have been full of new archeological finds in the Amazon and the highlands of South America. So one could imagine stories like this being told today with some technological updating.

And I’d like to just reiterate something I’ve noted in book reports from thrillers from the 1980s about the use of Nazis as bad guys. In the 1980s, Nazis were the bad guys in a lot of books because World War II was still in living memory and because some of the younger people would have grown up with the World War II movies where the Nazis were the bad guys. In the 1980s fiction, it was always old Nazis putting into motion their decades-old plots to start the fourth Reich. The trope was aided by the fact that actual German World War II Nazis were found or dying in South America and whatnot. However, now in the 21st century, the use of Nazis as the bad guys is just a photocopy of a copy, as the only experience modern film makers and authors have of Nazis is from the popular culture. Which is why the stories and films have a sort of washed out and faded sense of plot. Photocopies of photocopies.

And in a sad personal side note, I saved these films for watching with my boys until I thought they were old enough to handle the gross-out scenes, but I guess I waited too long, as the boys no longer want to watch movies with me. They’re too busy working and dating (the older boy) and building an ephemeral legacy in Minecraft (the younger). So no telling how much they would have enjoyed the films even though they’re about the age I was when I saw them.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

They’re Even Rebooting Ira Einhorn

Cops hunt runaway boyfriend after woman’s body found decomposing in suitcase:

A man whose girlfriend’s body was found decomposing in a suitcase two weeks after he fled is being hunted by Interpol.

The body of Laura Isabel Lopera Osorio was discovered after neighbours complained of a sickening smell coming from her apartment in Medellin, Colombia. Laura, 21, had been dating Canadian national Jesse Wiseman who is understood to have returned to North America soon after she was reported missing on January 31.

Not exactly a reprise of The Unicorn Killer, but we couldn’t have the new version impugn the environmental movement, so….

You know, I seem to recall writing a lot about the Einhorn case back in the day, but I guess that was before the blog (and I didn’t see anything that jumped out of the headlines in the old The Cynic Express(d) columns); the only mention I see of it is from a blog post in 2015 which recounts the story a bit:

Ira Einhorn, a celebrity of the sixties lefthippie type, killed his girlfriend in Philadelphia in the 1970s. After Einhorn skipped bail and hid overseas for decades, a dogged investigator found Einhorn in France. A lengthy court battle ensued over extradition and the illegitimacy of an inabsentia trial. Einhorn returned to the United States in 2002, some 23 years after his crime. He’s in jail now after a repeated prosecution, but he remains a touchstone for reminiscing radicals. Like Einhorn, Saddam faces trial for a crime committed 23 years ago. Although Hussein’s crime exceeds Einhorn’s by several factors of ten, time has rounded the moral outrages many people espouse to mere cluck-clucking or rationalization that at least Hussein made the trains run over dissidents on time.

I guess Saddam Hussein did not end up dragging his court case on for years after all.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Book Report: Raiders of the Lost Ark by Campbell Black (1981)

Book coverWell, I could not have read this for the 2024 Winter Reading Challenge in the Made Into A Movie/TV Show category because this book is the novelization of the film. I bought it in May 2009, not long after my sainted mother died and not long before I packed up the smaller Old Trees library for shipment to Nogglestead. Looking at the list of other movie paperbacks I bought at the St. Charles Book Fair along with this one (Outland, The Taking of Pelham 123, Meatballs), this is the last of them I needed to read. Heck, I even read Star Trek Memories (but not Star Trek Movie Memories). Man, I do so like going through those old Good Book Hunting posts to see what I have already read, what I have yet to read, and what I know I can easily find in the stacks should I be inspired to read it next.

At any rate, this is a better movie novelization which doesn’t just put the screenplay into paragraph form but adds some depth to the characters interior life, although I am not sure how much of it would be considered canon. For example, does the movie indicate that Indy’s past with Marion took place when she was 15? I dunno. Also, I don’t know if the book’s pacing matches the films. Does half of the film take place before they get to Egypt? Or is the pacing just off because the action sequences that take up the latter half of the movie are condensed while the introduced interior thoughts are longer? Regardless, the book does seem as though it starts thicker and then speeds up toward the end, with less of that interior stuff. Which happens in a lot of formula men’s adventure fiction as well as these better film novelizations.

But you know what? It makes me want to watch the film again, and I have a set of the first three Indiana Jones movies on videocassette, and this is just the excuse to do so.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Book Report: A History of Pierce City by David H. Jones (2005)

Book coverI bought this book at Rublecon in 2022. The author had a table full of old magazines and ephemer as well as one copy of his book. As I had visited Pierce City several times for sporting events (and have seen its tank many times), I bought the book.

The subtitle of the book is “Through Post Cards, Photographs, Papers, & People”. The author was a collector of post cards, so he explains how post cards were easy mechanisms for short, inexpensive communications before telephones. Which also explains why a small town like Pierce City produced such a great number of post cards.

So the author collected numerous postcards from around the turn of the 20th century, and he researched the buildings, people, events, and so on depicted in them. The book, then, includes reproductions of the post cards and builds an anecdotal bit of history. Amazing things: The number of passenger trains that stopped in Pierce City was incredible. 20 passenger trains each day. And the town had a population of 2,500. When the trains stopped, the town declined a bit, but it’s still a nice place to visit. The postcards also mention whether they were sent (most were) and where they went. One wonders how the author accumulated postcards mailed to Illinois or St. Louis. The story behind the book is probably as fascinating as the book itself.

As I read this, I thought this might be the sort of thing that Lileks would like. I also thought maybe I would start accumulating post cards. Fortunately, though, I will likely move on before I come to a place where I can indulge this new interest.

Still, an interesting book which will give me lots of tidbits for my beautiful wife should we find our way out there again.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Thick and Rich and Irony-y

I picked this up at the library a couple of months (years?) ago, meaning to riff a bit on it. But it was one of the five things on my parlor desk for a long time until I finally brought it to the office to scan.

It’s a tract about combatting disinformation.

Yeah, so it’s a political tract disguised as a non-partisan informational pick-up. It says you shouldn’t trust things you read on the Internet, but things that you get from government-funded nonprofits are fine. Note that it wants what it calls disinfo removed from the Internet! But not library tables.

It looks like it’s a product of the St. Louis Violence Prevention Commission, whose raison d’être is preventing gun violence or something. So a little out of its lane with this bit of info that I’ve dissed.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories