Workouts: An Objective Scale

Here is the official Brian J. Noggle scale of a workout’s intensity:

Decent: You mutter to yourself.

Good: You mutter to yourself in a voice from out of The Exorcist.

Very Good: You mutter to yourself in a voice from out of The Exorcist in Latin.

Excellent Workout: You mutter to yourself in a voice from The Exorist in Latin and invoke curses from the dark tome Bellicis Artibus Idoneitatem et Veneficia.

Last night, I had an excellent workout, and I want to apologize to any instructor who is afflicted with painful boils or whose vehicle is destroyed by a hail of toads.

Point/Counterpoint: Epictetus vs. Dave Grohl on Stoicism

Epictetus, Discourses Book IV Chapter 7, “On Freedom From Fear”

And, for this reason, if he thinks that his good and his interest be in these things only which are free from hindrance and in his own power, he will be free, prosperous, happy, free from harm, magnanimous pious, thankful to God for all things; in no matter finding fault with any of the things which have not been put in his power, nor blaming any of them. But if he thinks that his good and his interest are in externals and in things which are not in the power of his will, he must of necessity be hindered, be impeded, be a slave to those who have the power over things which he admires and fears; and he must of necessity be impious because he thinks that he is harmed by God, and he must be unjust because he always claims more than belongs to him; and he must of necessity be abject and mean.

What hinders a man, who has clearly separated these things, from living with a light heart and bearing easily the reins, quietly expecting everything which can happen, and enduring that which has already happened? “Would you have me to bear poverty?” Come and you will know what poverty is when it has found one who can act well the part of a poor man. “Would you have me to possess power?” Let me have power, and also the trouble of it. “Well, banishment?” Wherever I shall go, there it will be well with me; for here also where I am, it was not because of the place that it was well with me, but because of my opinions which I shall carry off with me: for neither can any man deprive me of them; but my opinions alone are mine and they cannot he taken from me, and I am satisfied while I have them, wherever I may be and whatever I am doing. “But now it is time to die.” Why do you say “to die”? Make no tragedy show of the thing, but speak of it as it is: it is now time for the matter to be resolved into the things out of which it was composed. And what is the formidable thing here? what is going to perish of the things which are in the universe? what new thing or wondrous is going to happen? Is it for this reason that a tyrant is formidable? Is it for this reason that the guards appear to have swords which are large and sharp? Say this to others; but I have considered about all these thins; no man has power over me. I have been made free; I know His commands, no man can now lead me as a slave. I have a proper person to assert my freedom; I have proper judges. Are you not the master of my body? What, then, is that to me? Are you not the master of my property? What, then, is that to me? Are you not the master of my exile or of my chains? Well, from all these things and all the poor body itself I depart at your bidding, when you please. Make trial of your power, and you will know how far it reaches.

Whom then can I still fear?

Dave Grohl counters:

Although Grohl counters that the philosophy of Stoicism could easily crumble when actually confronted with the events in life, Epictetus would not disagree. Throughout his Discourses, he laments the students who come to study Stoic thought to learn it, but not to live it, and he acknowledges that it is difficult and requires discipline and training.

So I think Epictetus and Mr. Grohl are actually in agreement here.

I Guessed Better The Second Time Around

At OregonMuse’s prompting, I took the Christian Science Monitor‘s Famous Literary Detective Skills Quiz.

When I went through it the first time on my phone, I got a 73%, but when I went through it on my computer preparing this blog post, I got:

77%.

This indicates I guessed one better on the English detective novels on the computer. Note the mobile version of the quiz does not show you the right answers as you go along, which explains why I only did one better guessing the second time around instead of getting them all right to impress you, gentle reader.

Good Book Hunting: Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library, April 24, 2015

So I went about an hour early before my volunteer shift started at the Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library book sale. When I went on Wednesday, I thought I’d bought a copy of Olivia Newton-John’s Olivia, but the platter inside the cover is If You Love Me, Let Me Know. So I’d hoped the donor had just misfiled them, and that I could find the cover for If You Love Me, Let Me Know with Olivia inside.

Alas, no.

I did buy additional albums, including Newton-John’s Come On Over. Eleven additional albums, which puts me at 42 for the week.

Here’s what I got:

Books include:

  • Poor Richard’s Alamanack, a collection of Ben Franklin’s best sayings from the periodical.
  • The Year 1000, a book about what normal life was like in Britain in 1000 AD.
  • The Stephen King Companion since I’ve started a 1000 page Stephen King book, naturally I expect I’ll want to read about Stephen King when I’m done with his novel.
  • The Red Badge of Courage in the Reader’s Digest edition. Not the condensed edition.
  • Three Classics Club titles, including Locke’s On Politics and Education, Bradford’s History of Plymouth, and Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, of which I only needed the last.

I got three films:

  • Jackie Chan’s Rumble in the Bronx.
  • Wonder Boys starring Michael Douglas, Tobey Maguire, Katie Holmes, and some red boots.
  • Muppets From Space

Additionally, I got three sets of university courses on CD, including The Teaching Company’s Origins of Great Civilizations and Greece and Rome as well as The Modern Scholar’s A History of Ancient Israel. The Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library book sale often has these courses pretty cheap, but the key is to pay attention to what each binder contains. This time out, they marked each binder $10, but some courses are in library binders, where only two discs of a course are in the binder and a whole course might have seven binders. That would be $70 versus $10.

So I’ve got a few things to read, a few things to watch, and a whole lot more to listen to. And I’ve avoided the siren song of half price day today and expect I’ll evade the siren song of bag day on Sunday.

Because, believe it or not, I am running out of places to put books here at Nogglestead. Until I build my stand-alone library building.

The Source Of That Thing That Daddy Always Says When Going To The Hardware Store

Whenever we go to the hardware store, I tell the boys, in my best Jack Nicholson impression, “Ace is the place with the helpful hardware, man.”

Why do I inflict this upon my children?

The old Ace jingle:

combines with an old television commercial for a Milwaukee radio station that had a Jack Nicholson impersonator say, “Like, fa la la la la, man.”

So I did a mashup of two obscure things my children will probably never experience. And I do it over and over again upon those poor fellows.

One would think over the years that my Jack Nicholson impression would improve. But one would be wrong.

Book Report: A City in the North by Marta Randall (1976)

Book coverThis book should fit right into my wheelhouse: An abandoned city of an advanced civilization lies on a planet inhabited by intelligent, but primitive, ape-like beings. A shipping magnate and his off and on again rival shipping company magnate wife arrive on the planet to steal into the restricted area to visit the city. On planet, they find a mostly impotent governor tending a native garden while members of the corporation running mining operations on the planet run most of the show. The corporation members look at the tourists as though they were agents trying to figure out the illegal scheme the corporation is running. The tourists get permission from the apes to visit the forbidden city, and as they hitch a ride on a transport car between the only two bases on the planet, they avoid an attack from the corporate killers and flee with the apes who are migrating north toward the forbidden city. The wife seems to be going native and the husband wonders if his obsession with viewing the city, sparked by a talk he saw when he was younger, is worth the cost.

The story uses multiple points of view shifting intrachapter (but with clear demarcations via heading–this is Toyon’s Journal, this is Alin’s journal, and so on), and it has a pretty slow buildup. The world is interesting and alien, but the reveals at the end are kinda blurted out by principals to the main characters, and then the climactic action takes place. It could have been handled better, but I was afraid the ending and the mysteries would disappoint me, but they did not–only the execution of the story did.

It really brings to the fore the theme of humans coming into a world and observing it for a limited time and how much of that world throughout the ages they might miss, creating a flawed understanding. A good theme for sure.

So give it a look if you get the chance to do so inexpensively.

Books mentioned in this review:

Good Book Album Hunting: Friends of The Springfield-Greene County Library Book Sale, April 22, 2015

Today, I visited the Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library Spring Book Sale for the first time. Over the last couple of years, I’ve adopted a staged approach to the book sale. First, I go for the albums, and then I go back and look over the books, preferably on half price or bag day.

So today I bought 31 record albums (at $1 each). I also got a couple books as I passed by the History and Poetry tables in the Value Books section.

Here they are:

I got:

  • Four albums by the Four Freshmen. I already had The Swingers and have hoped for the opportunity to expand the collection. This time out, I got Four Freshmen and Five Guitars, Freshman Favorites, In A Class By Themselves, and Fresh! which is from 1986 and is probably a new set of singers.
     
  • Linda Ronstadt’s What’s New which looks to be a collection of standards.
     
  • Pete Fountain’s Mood Indigo. I got a couple of Pete Fountain’s albums in the autumn, and I liked them well enough to look for more.
     
  • Mary McPartland Plays the Music of Billy Strayhorn
     
  • Ray Parker, Jr., The Other Woman
     
  • Yello, One Second featuring “Oh Yeah” (which also appears in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. When my children were littler, I played this song for them a lot on YouTube. It will seem strangely familiar to them now when I play it on record.
     
  • Doc Severinson and the Sound of the 70s, Feel Good
     
  • An album of Gregorian Chant
     
  • The soundtrack to the film Xanadu to replace a copy I bought last autumn which skips.
     
  • Two other Olivia Newton-John albums, Don’t Stop Believin’ and something else because my beautiful wife has a lots of her albums. When I showed her the new ones and asked if she had them, she said no. Also, she doesn’t really like Olivia Newton-John.
     
  • Diana Schuur, Schuur Thing
     
  • Tito Rodriguez, Este Es Mi Mundo (This Is My World).
     
  • Jackie Gleason, How Sweet It Is For Lovers
     
  • A collection of television theme songs not by the original artists.
     
  • A bunch of classical stuff because it looks as though the college radio station was dumping a lot of classical records. It’s hard for me to pick amongst classical things, as I’m not sure what of the great composers we have or lack (aside from knowing we have a lot of Beethoven but no Fidelio).

This year, the Rat Pack and Herb Alpert were poorly represented; only The Dean Martin Show and a copy of What Now My Love were present. A lot of Olivia Newton-John, though, and a lot of Barbra Streisand.

I also got a couple of packs of poetry chapbooks (bundled together for a buck each), A History of Rome to 565 AD, and a collection of musings called Ginger Snaps.

So my bookshelves are not bulging much more from the purchase, but my record storage is now sadly lacking. I’ll have to invest in a nice record cabinet sometime to store them properly.

And I’ve discovered that I get a more acute sense of anticipation buying record albums than books. When I bring the records home and put them by the record player, I find myself inventing reasons to be in the parlor just so I can listen to another of the new platters. When I bring the books home, I’m often interested in reading them, but I no longer really get a I can’t wait! feeling. Because, as the years have proven, I often do wait.

Book Report: Bloodsport by “Don Pendleton” (1982)

Book coverThis book finds Mack Bolan in Europe, where he is looking into the disappearance of a number of Olympic-caliber athletes, including a martial arts expert, a skier, a gymnast, and a fencer. Bolan infilitrate a West German terrorist splinter group to stop whatever plot is afoot and to rescue the hostages if they’re still alive.

The book was written less than ten years after the Munich attack in Germany, so its plot was almost based on real life events. The book runs smoothly from set piece to set piece, including the disruption of an arms deal and Bolan posing as a fugitive United States Army pilferer and dealer of stolen goods to infiltrate the terrorist organization. Unfortunately, its plot ultimately is too ripped from the headlines and the pacing again turns abrupt as the word count nears novel length.

Still, by pacing the books out a little more (although this is the thirteen Mack Bolan book I’ve read this year, it’s the only one in a month’s time), I enjoy them a little better as time smooths the disparities between the different authors. And I am reading these for enjoyment, not some project to educatedly discourse on men’s adventure fiction. Well, okay, I do have a goal of someday reading the set I received for my birthday a couple years back, but they’re enmeshed in the larger collection I’ve picked up since then. So they’re a Quixotic quest involved. But it’s still 80% enjoyment.

Books mentioned in this review:

A Baby Bunny Ran Over Me: The Shocking True Story

Yesterday, a baby bunny ran over me.

I’m not making that up, although when I recounted the story to my six-year-old, he did not believe me. There are some drawbacks to being a fatherly fabulist: When something crazy happens, the children don’t believe it.

So.

It’s been four years since I last mentioned my children’s sandbox on this blog. Maybe it’s not; maybe that’s just the last memorable mention of it. But in that intervening time, my children have grown up, started shaving, and are being recruited by several prestigious universities for their athletic and mental prowess. Or, fatherly fabulism aside, they’ve grown too old to be terribly interested in the sandbox (although the youngest remains six and might still be interested in it on his own, he’s often drafted into his older brother’s adventures and doesn’t have the time to enjoy the sandbox aside from dumping the sand out of it and filling it instead with landscaping stones). Last year, bermuda grass choked out the square amusement center, and the beach toys faded and became brittle in the sun. So this year, I decided to remove it.

On Friday, before I could get around to doing my normal amount of nothing, I went into the back yard with a hammer, a rake, some gloves, and determination borne of just doing something before thinking about the more fun alternatives to work, such as nothing. I checked to directions in which the boards were nailed together and struck the first side board to separate it from its fellow.

As I banged on it, I felt something on my foot. “A field mouse,” I thought, and I looked down just as the something leapt into the sandbox. It turned, and in its profile, I saw it was a young rabbit that had emerged from a small hole next to the side of the sandbox. It fled through the fence, and when I whacked the board again, its little brother bounded out of the hole and out of the fence as well. The second was courteous enough to not jump on my foot as it went by.

So I really did get run over by a baby bunny yesterday.

If I were a better writer and less lazy, I’d write this up into a full personal memoir essay juxtaposing melancholy about my children growing older with the eternal youth turnover of the small wild animals around Nogglestead. But this is a blog, and I’m just a fatherly fabulist and not Joan Didion.

Look, I can tell, you still don’t believe me. Fine. I’ve got some footage from our security cameras below the fold so you can see how something landed on my foot, and how I startled, screamed like a little girl (although the security camera footage has no sound, you can almost hear the shriek from the way I act), and fled from the icky beast faster than the beast fled from me.

Continue reading “A Baby Bunny Ran Over Me: The Shocking True Story”

It Makes Sense In A Corporate Marketing Sort Of Way

Brown Shoe to rebrand itself as Caleres:

One of St. Louis’ oldest public companies, Brown Shoe, is stepping out with a new name, Caleres.

Brown has been part of the corporate name since the company’s founding in 1878. Next month, however, that name will be dropped once shareholders approve the change on May 28.

“Brown Shoe doesn’t conjure up the image of who we are today,” Brown Shoe’s CEO, president and chairwoman Diane Sullivan said in an interview. “Our name has to be more than a name — it must be managed as a brand. It’s hard to be emotional about a brown shoe.”

‘Caleres’ conjures up what, exactly?

Book Report: Heathcliff: Smooth Sailing by Geo Gately (1979, 1987)

Book coverYou had to know I would read this book soon. Like a gun over the fireplace in a Chekov play, if I buy a cartoon book and finish a collection of Greek tragedies, the lighter cartoons will follow like night follows day. Wait, I think I’m mixing metaphors madly here. Apparently, cartoons also make my brain turn to mush.

This collection has a bunch of Heathcliff cartoons from 1979 in it. I would have had access as a child to these cartoons in the Milwaukee Journal Green Sheet. Some of you might hearken back to those if any of you are from Milwaukee. I doubt I’ve seen them before.

But I’ve seen their like before. I don’t know what I can say about this collection that I haven’t said before. It’s got the common tropes: Heathcliff on the back fence, Heathcliff fighting dogs, Heathcliff rolling garbage cans, Heathcliff outwitting the fishmonger, Heathcliff outwitting the milk man, and so on.

Still, it’s a bit of innocent comfort food to read and review. It takes one back to childhood, especially if one remembers Heathcliff from the Green Sheet at all. Unlike the Executioner and other men’s adventure novels that I read frequently, I can share these with my children. As I expect I will once the oldest catches sight of this new volume.

Books mentioned in this review:

Book Report: Books That Changed America by Robert B. Downs (1970)

Book coverThis book should have a red cover. Its title should be Books That Advanced The Socialist Agenda for America.

How red is it?

Many of the evils of Bellamy’s day have been eliminated or mitigated in the eighty years since he wrote Looking Backward, and reforms which he advocated have been incorporated into the nation’s laws. The closest modern equivalent in organization to the state-controlled society proposed by Bellamy is Soviet Russia, where numerous obstacles have stood in the way of a fair test. [Emphasis added.]

That is, the socialist Utopia dreamed of in a nineteenth century novel is best represented by the Soviet Union, but its implementation was flawed by “obstacles.” Numerous obstacles. Not that the theory itself was flawed; no, there were numerous obstacles.

It takes one 129 pages into the book before we get confirmation that we’re way down the rabbit hole, Alice.
Continue reading “Book Report: Books That Changed America by Robert B. Downs (1970)”

Book Report: The Oedipus Cycle by Sophocles / Translated by Dudley Fitts and Robert Fitzgerald (1969)

Book coverThis book collects the three Greek plays in the Oedipus trilogy from 2500 years ago.

Oedipus Rex, the first chronologically, is set over the course of a couple of days when the king of Thebes (Oedipus) is told by the oracles that a plague will continue until the murderer of the former king Laius is found and handled. Oedipus says the man will be killed. However, during the course of investigating and interviewing people on the stage, he comes to learn that even though he fled his home town because he was prophesied to kill his father and bed his mother, he was adopted in that town because his real father, Laius, had his son put to death because the son was prophesied to kill him–and kindly shepherds instead of leaving him to die in the countryside let him be adopted in a distant town. So all that was prophesied comes to pass, and when Oedipus learns the truth, he blinds himself and becomes a wandering beggar. Two and a half millennia later, we know the story (at least for a couple years yet, by which time all classical education will be educated out of our culture), but I tried to read with a double-effect reader, learning only the truth as it was exposed on stage. It was pretty suspenseful, so I pretended.

Oedipus at Colonus takes place just outside Athens. Oedipus, the blind wanderer, is accompanied by his daughter Antigone into the grove sacred to the Furies. There, his brother-in-law comes to retrieve him to have him nearby Thebes in case they need him. His son comes to recruit him in a civil war against his brother who sits on the throne of Thebes. Everyone wants to use Oedipus for their own ends without valuing the man, so he ends up cursing everyone except Theseus, the ruler of Athens, and Antigone and prophesies a deadly war in Thebes. Then he dies.

Antigone, which I read in high school, tells of the after-effects of the said civil war. Both of her brothers are dead. One, the ruler of Thebes, is buried with hero’s pomp. The other is left for the dogs outside the city walls. Creon, Oedipus’s brother-in-law, now rules Thebes and proclaims death for anyone who buries the rebelling brother. Antigone, because God’s laws overrule men’s laws, buries him anyway. Creon holds to his word and prepares to put her in a cabin where she’ll starve to death (because then it’s not him killing her, see?). A series of people cross the stage to try to get him to relent, including his son who was to marry Antigone, and Teiresias, the seer, but he remains firm until the end, where he relents. However, when he refused to relent, people cursed him, and by the time he has relented, the fruits of the curses have already occurred. As he gets to the cabin to release Antigone, he finds she has hanged herself and his son kills himself. When Creon returns with the news, his wife kills herself. And Creon must live with the fruits of his arrogance.

There’s a certain parallel between the first and the third plays; Oedipus is a hard-headed and hot-headed ruler who proclaims his father’s murderer must be killed, which leads to his downfall, although his sins of incest and patricide were done in ignorance. Creon evolves over the plays from a trusted advisor to a hothead and arrogant ruler.

I’ll be honest, I feel worst about Creon in Antigone; he finally relents and does the right thing–allowing the burial of his nephew and goes to release Antigone, but he bears the punishment for his wrongs even as he tries to amend them. That, brothers and sisters, is real tragedy.

The translation work by Fitts and Fitzgerald is very good; they’ve taken some liberties, as they explain in their afterwards to Oedipus in Colonus and Antigone but it probably makes for a better read.

It also makes me want to read Aeschylus’ Seven Against Thebes, which is part of that playwright’s version of the trilogy and fits between the events of Oedipus in Colonus and Antigone.

Maybe I’ll find that in an upcoming book sale. As I’m reading millennia-old classical literature, of course I’m going to buy up a bunch of it that I won’t read for a long time.

Books mentioned in this review:

Good Book Hunting: Friends of the Christian County Library Book Sale, April 10, 2015

On Friday night, my beautiful wife forewent the normal extravagant meal at Avanzarre Fine Italian Dining while the children languished at a Kids’ Night Out program at the dojo so that we could go to the Friends night at the book sale in Ozark. Rest assured, we did get something to eat, some fine Italian pizza at Rocco’s in Nixa afterwards. Not that I worked up much of an appetite.

I was the model of restraint.

I might be getting older, or I might recognize that my current book shelvage is already bursting at the seams and know that a still larger house is not coming any time soon, but I only bought books I thought I could browse soon or during football games. Well, okay, after I’d circled the room, I had a box in hand and was getting less scrupulous while my wife looked through magazines, but she didn’t take long enough for me to require a trailer.

I got:

  • One Mack Bolan/The Executioner book. This particular book sale has been a source of a lot of men’s adventure paperbacks, but this year there was only a single one. Which I was pleased to learn I did not already have.
     
  • A Mad magazine paperback, Mad About Town, and a Heathcliff book, Heathcliff Smooth Sailing, which I’ll browse at some point. But I won’t enter them into my book database because they’ll soon end up in my children’s library instead of mine, where the boys will read them, sleep on them, and step on them until they’re destroyed.
     
  • A photo collection of Andrew Wyeth’s work, Christina’s World. I had a print of said image hanging on my wall in college.
     
  • The Mighty Mo, a photo history of the Missouri, the battleship.
     
  • A pictorial history of the Shakers.
     
  • A history of The Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence
     
  • Kill Shot by Elmore Leonard.
     
  • Under the Dome by Stephen King to go along with my growing library of unread Stephen King books.
     
  • A Mercedes Lackey title, Storm Rising
     
  • The Last Man by Vince Flynn. My wife has borrowed a couple of his books from the library, so I picked one up only to learn she didn’t really like him.
     
  • A history of the first world war to go along with my unread history collection.

I passed on a number of Roman history books, which is odd, given that I’m reading a bunch of classic works from the era (starting with The Gallic and Civil Wars). Normally, when I start reading a number of books on a historical topic, I buy up a large number of titles in the focus area as though I’m going to be a scholar in it. Then I read something else instead. This explains my several volumes on Mongol and Aztec history. Or perhaps, as The First World War purchase this weekend proves, I just buy a lot of history books.

At any rate, in the upcoming weeks, I’ve also got the Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library and Friends of the Clever Library book sales to look forward to. We’ll see if my restraint is a going trend or if I just wasn’t in the mood on Friday night.

Lost in the Noise

I’m a little behind in reading my National Review magazines, and I’m just now getting into the February 23 issue. The magazine mentions the passing of Rod McKuen. The New York Times obit is here.

Strangely, I didn’t see anything on blogs, social media, or in the news in January. Unlike the death of Roscoe P. Coltrane, of which I heard all day yesterday.

I’ve read a lot of McKuen over the last ten years (see), and I’ve not always enjoyed the poetry or the record albums, but I’m saddened that he’s no longer part of this world.

Book Report: Blind Spot by Reed Farrel Coleman (2014)

Book coverThis book is the first of the Jesse Stone novels written by the new guy. So we’ve got a little whiplash to account for, as the series jerks back from the television writing to long paragraphs and entire chapters composed of tiny bits of plot development and a whole lot of “nice little moments” that take individual characters within the storyline and give them their time in the sun. And the night. And the light of dawn. And the grey of twilight.

I was going to digress a bit on describing the plot, but let me stay on general lamentation for the structure of the book for a moment: We’ve got dozens of chapters of each major player in the book getting his or her say in what’s going on, which builds some depth and maybe richness to the plot, but at the expense of the plot and a sense of movement. Pacing. This is supposed to be a suspense novel, but not a mystery: we know early on who has done it and what they’ve done, sort of. What we’re supposed to be in suspense for is the ultimate resolution. So I slog through hundreds of pages, and then we get a resolution triggered not by detection but the potentially uncharacteristic confession of a minor character (who gets his chapters, brah) that leads not to a complete resolution, but one of the Parkeriana solutions: A meeting with a bad guy arranged by a bad guy but accepted because they all agree Stone is a man of his word, a brush with danger, and a cliffhanger ending that might lead into the next book or it might not.

Sadly, with what I’ve been reading this year and what I’ve seen in this series, the Parker legacy is a set of series that are destined to be nothing better than fat, wordy men’s adventure novels. Whipsawed between authors seeking to put their stamps on the books, readers get continuity flux, differing styles, and characters who are similar to those who come before in name only.

Seriously, in this book, we get the following changes:

  • Jesse is now a hard core drinker.
  • The cat companion is gone, passed off in a paragraph-long bit of exposition.
  • Molly is back to the previous Irish incarnation.

Amid others.

The plot revolves around a former teammate of Jesse’s, a second baseman who made the big leagues after stealing Jesse’s girlfriend and who is rumored to have intentionally caused the play that ruined Stone’s big league career. After baseball, the fellow got into investments and after the markets fell in 2008, he turned to the mob to help finance a pyramid scheme. He throws together a reunion of his minor league team to get to talk to Jesse to see if Jesse can get him out from under, but before he does, his mob associates kidnap the son of their next target to apply pressure to the reluctant father, and they kill a girl in the process. So the ball player doesn’t get to talk to Jesse before the murder and can’t after the murder. An FBI agent has gone undercover on her own to get the goods on the ballplayer. And the father of the kidnapped boy has put out a hit on the ball player. So we have 300 pages of slow motion resolution that gets wrapped up unsatisfyingly at the end.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m getting older and cynical, but I’m not really enjoying modern suspense fiction as much as I did when the modern was late twentieth century and I was younger. But I have to wonder if I’m going to give up on the Parker properties much like I’ve given up on the Sandford series these days.

Books mentioned in this review: