What Should Be My Annual Halloween Post

Visit my post I Am Buck Rogers.

From 2004.

In hindsight, I said:

It would be the equivalent of dressing like Capt. Malcolm ‘Mal’ Reynolds from television’s Firefly—in 2007.

Clearly, I underestimated the multiplier of the Internet on geekery. I could dress up as Mal Reynolds in 2016, and people would know who I was.

Heck, I’d have to explain it less than my actual Hallowe’en costume from 2016:

I was Pokemon Go.

It’s a NEW Feature

I’ve started to see this in my Twitter sidebar:

Funny, I thought there was a way to control what tweets I saw.

But that’s before Twitter decided what I really want to see is a stream of promoted tweets, items I might have missed out of chronological order, a list of people I might want to follow because Twitter thinks I should, and Tweets that people I follow liked.

I’ve thinned my Twitter usage a bunch. Partly because things have taken a political turn that I don’t enjoy and partly because Twitter keeps upping the noise ratio to the signal.

Good Book Hunting, October 29, 2016: Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Book Sale

In addition to albums, I bought some books from the Better Books section. I focused mainly on art, local interest, and history because my child’s behavior was on a countdown timer.

Here’s what I got:

They include:

  • Two books by local attorney Dee Wampler, Defending Yourself Against Cops and One Nation Under God. Both are signed.
  • Two copies of the Medænas Monograph for Camille Pissarro. I thought I’d picked up copies for two different artists, but it turns out they’re the same. It would have helped if the cover had an image and the artist’s name like the one I just read for Rubens.
  • A collection of art by Hiroshage to ensure I don’t really care for Oriental art.
  • A collection of Raphael.
  • Tolstoy’s A Confession and Other Religious Writings.
  • More True Tales of Old Kansas, an anecdotal history of Kansas.
  • A Winston Churchill history of World War I, The World Crisis.
  • Swords Around the Throne, a history of Napoleon’s army.
  • Seven Years of Highly Defective People, a Dilbert book by Scott Adams. I don’t know if I already had this book, but I know I have to start re-buying them as my oldest child has started appropriating other Dilbert books.
  • The Presidents: Tidbits and Trivia.
  • Old Saint Louis Homes: The Stories They Tell.
  • A collection of Ozarks photographs called Backroads of the Ozarks
  • Cartooning with the Simpsons, a book about how to cartoon the Simpsons way. I bought it for the kids.

As you can see, I was focusing on books I can browse through football games and whatnot. A more disciplined approach than some days where I’ve come out of a book sale with 40 or 50 books, but apparently I now save that profligacy for record albums.

Good Album Hunting, October 28-29, 2016: The Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library Book Sale

Heh, heh, heh. Did I say that the Clever book sale might be the only one we hit this autumn? Yeah, I recant that testimony.

On both Friday and Saturday, circumstances led me and one or more of my children to the northern reaches of Springfield (almost south Bolivar, really) where the Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library had its autumn book sale. The circumstances were that I had some time to kill and the book sale was just sitting there.

Of course, as in recent memory, my main focus was on the LPs. The first day, I hit the dollar LPs, and on half-price day, I looked through the Better Books section’s more expensive LPs.

I bought, apparently, 66 albums.

They include:

  • Al Jarreau Jarreau
  • Anita Ward Songs of Love
  • Benny Goodman Quartet Together Again!
  • Bobby Womack The Facts of Life
  • Boots Randolph With Love
  • Canadian Brass Champions
  • Cheio de Razao Bebeto
  • Chico Freeman Tradition in Transition
  • Dave Brubeck Quartet Jazz Goes to Junior College
  • Dave Brubeck Quartet Jazz Goes to College
  • Dave Brubeck Quartet My Favorite Things
  • Dave Brubreck The Greats!!
  • Dave Gardner Hip-ocracy
  • Dean Martin My Woman, My Woman, My Wife
  • Dean Martin Young and Foolish
  • Dean Martin Happiness Is
  • Dean Martin Remember Me, I’m the One Who Loves You
  • Dean Martin Somewhere There’s a Someone
  • Dean Martin/Jackie Gleason Merry Music Christmas
  • Doc Severinson The Great Arrival
  • Early Music Consort of London Music of the Crusades: Songs of Love and War
  • Eydie Gorme Swings the Blues
  • Grover Washington, Jr. Winelight
  • Grover Washington, Jr. Come Morning
  • Henry Mancini/Doc Severinsen Brass on Ivory
  • Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass You Smile, the Song Begins
  • Herbie Mann Brazil Once Again
  • Herbie Mann Discotheque
  • Hiroshima Hiroshima
  • Jackie Gleason Softly
  • Jackie Gleason White Christmas
  • Jackie Gleason presents Velvet Brass
  • Jackie Gleason The Best of Jackie Gleason
  • Jackie Gleason Music Around the World for Lovers Only
  • Jackie Gleason presents Music to Remember Her
  • Jackie Gleason presents Music for Lovers Only
  • Keel The Final Frontier
  • Keel The Right to Rock
  • Kyu Sakamoto Sukiyaki and Other Japanese Hits
  • Larry Elgart and his Manhattan Swing Orchestra Hooked on Swing
  • Larry Graham Just Be My Lady
  • Linda Rondstadt Simple Dreams
  • Louis Clark / The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Hooked on Classics
  • LTD Devotion
  • Maynard Ferguson M.F. Horn Two
  • Maynard Ferguson Hot
  • Nat King Cole A Mis Amigos
  • Nat King Cole Sings Hymns and Spirituals
  • Olivia Newton John Olivia’s Greatest Hits Vol. 2
  • Pablo Casals Beethoven Cello Sonatas Nos. 2 and 5
  • Perry Como Saturday Night with Mr. C.
  • Perry Como Como Swings
  • Perry Como I Think of You
  • Pete Fountain The Blues
  • Pete Fountain The Best of Pete Fountain
  • Philip Jones Brass Ensemble Easy Winners
  • Rocio Jurado Por Que Me Habras Besado?
  • Ron Carter Patrao
  • Sammy Davis, Jr. Stop the World I Want To Get Off
  • Sammy Davis, Jr. What Kind of Fool Am I and Other Show-Stoppers
  • Shalamar The Look
  • Starpoint Keep On It
  • The Teen Tones From Scandinavia
  • Vikki Carr En Espanol: Los Exitos de Hoy y de Siempre
  • A Solid Brass Christmas
  • Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht

I got new (to me) albums from Herb Alpert, Eydie Gorme, Rocio Jurado, and Maynard Ferguson. I got some from easy listening masters Perry Como and Nat King Cole. I’ve broadened my record collecting to include obscure 80s metal bands (two from Keel). I’ve continued venturing into R&B and disco (LTD and Starpoint–I already own Stargard). I picked up a couple from artists who I bought last time and enjoyed (Herbie Mann, Grover Washington, Jr.). I got five and a half new Dean Martin records. I got four Dave Brubeck platters. And the spring sale featured a number of Brazilian women acts from the late 1970s, this time had a number of male acts, but I only took a couple of them; I’m afraid I’ll find their voices are not as deep as Beth Carvalho.

So if anyone needs me, I’ll be up in the parlor spinning discs.

Coach Brian J. and the Rising Death Toll

Since my wife and I support our children’s school’s sports teams, we got a purple polo shirt this year, much like the coaches wear. I thought I’d snag it, but I wore it once, and it reminded me too much about when I was actually a coach, and all the people who died.

Brian J., you’re such a reserved fellow. How did you become a little league coach? Well, friends, when my oldest son was in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, someone in his class’s parent fielded a t-ball team. But when he went into first grade, the parents involved stopped, so I stepped up so that both of my children could play on t-ball and baseball teams. Well, I shuffled reluctantly up. By the time I’d decided to do it, it was too late to sign up teams for the city parks’ league, so I got started with the YMCA league. I told the parents in both classes to sign up for coach Noggle’s teams, and I registered for a 4-year-old team and a 6-year-old team.

But the YMCA lumped them altogether and, since we didn’t have a full team, glomped the SLS pre-K and 1st Grade team together with some six-year-olds from a local elementary school. The team had four coaches total: Coach F, Mrs. F, a realtor who looks like Dennis Quaid, and me.

Me, I was thrilled to have both of my children on the same team since it halved my number of practices and games to coach. Dennis Quaid didn’t, though, as he wanted his six-year-old to play on a competitive team, so he withdrew. Which left Coach F and me, since Mrs. F handled some administrative work, and Coach F and me ran practices and whatnot.

So I ran practices and encouraged the kids even though I generally don’t like kids (my kids generally excepted). Hard as it may be to believe, I was the loud coach, the one yelling encouragement in practices and in games, shouting “You got it!” whenever a ball was hit toward a peewee infielder or “Run, run, run! You got it!” whenever one made contact while batting (many of the yuts would hit the ball and watch it, so Coach Noggle tried to help them along).

At any rate, our blended team did their best, mostly, and it was an interesting experience. I got on well with Coach F, since he was a friendly fellow with an excellent sense of humor, which means he laughed politely at my jokes.

Then, after the season, Coach F shot Mrs. F and turned the gun on himself, leaving their newly seven-year-old reluctant baseballer to find their bodies and call 911 before school.

I didn’t bring this up with my children, and they’ve only occasionally wondered why they didn’t play baseball the next year. They weren’t really that into it, so it was only an infrequent question as the seasons passed.

Strangely, though, this is not the first time someone on a team I coached was gunned down.

Back in my college days, I was a mascot/unofficial coach for a women’s recreational team in a Milwaukee parks league. I helped out with the practices and attended all the games, providing encouragement less loud than I would 20 years later. I nicknamed one of the women “Thunderball” because she was a power hitter and because she once put another woman in the hospital with an errant throw. Thunderball lived with her husband and kids in a rough area of the city, and one afternoon as she came out of a McDonalds with her kids, a man with a gun robbed her and told her to get on her knees. I don’t know if it was moving into sexual assault or not, but she said, “Not in front of my kids.” So the bad man shot her. I don’t think they ever caught him.

I remember I wanted to write a poem about it at the time, murder on the periphery. If a tragedy or crime like that strikes close, you deal with the direct emotional impact of it. But when it’s only someone you kinda know, you think about it and get bothered by the injustice of it at a rational level but indirectly emotional, too. More outrage than direct grief. Also, the murder becomes an outsized portion of that person to you; instead of having a wealth of experiences with them to remember, you have a bit a couple things and The Murder.

But I think too much about things.

So after I wore the polo shirt from my kids’ school, I washed it and put it into my wife’s drawer. It’s a bright purple shirt, but it brings a dark cloud to me.

Just the Umbrella for a Man Like Me

You 21st century kids with your digital Internet-connected, automated, MP3-playing umbrellas! Why, I’m no Luddite, but I prefer a manual umbrella.

Fortunately, I know just where to get them.

I kid, I kid. Of course I don’t use an umbrella. I wear a hat, for Pete’s sake.

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.