Something I Never Imagined Myself Saying

Overheard the other night at Nogglestead:

This is the best disco flute album I’ve ever heard!

I am referring to Herbie Mann’s Super Mann.

I’ve got a couple of Herbie Mann’s more straightforward jazz, but this disc, which I picked up for $.99 this weekend, is a singularity of sorts. It has attained an infinity of 1978 coolness.

Here’s a taste–“Jisco Dazz”:

I defy you to find anything better, or anything that does not appear on the soundtrack to Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy that comes close.

Best of the Best Books of 2017

Someone has taken a several Best Books of 2017 lists and coallated the information into a single list that weights the books based on how many times they appeared on the best of lists.

You know me; any list of books, and I make it a quiz.

So here we go: Which of best books of 2017 have I read? I have put in bold the books I have read; I have put in red the books I own and have yet to read, and in underline books that I want to get someday.

For the fiction:

  • Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
  • Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
  • Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
  • Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
  • White Tears by Hari Kunzru
  • The Power by Naomi Alderman
  • The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott
  • The Answers by Catherine Lacey
  • What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons
  • The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
  • Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
  • Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta
  • Ill Will by Dan Chaon
  • Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
  • Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong

For the nonfiction:

  • Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann
  • We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy
  • The Future Is History by Masha Gessen
  • You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie
  • Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood
  • Hunger by Roxane Gay
  • Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari
  • What Happened by Hillary Clinton
  • The Evolution of Beauty by Richard O. Prum
  • Sticky Fingers by Joe Hagan
  • Locking Up Our Own by James Forman Jr.
  • Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson
  • Grant by Ron Chernow
  • Behave by Robert M. Sapolsky
  • Ants Among Elephants by Sujatha Gidla

That’s right.

Not a damned one.

I’ll let you, gentle reader, be the judge of whether that more indicts books published in 2017 or the taste of people who publish Best Books Of lists. To be honest, more likely the latter.

Book Report: A Christmas Promise by Thomas Kinkade and Katherine Spencer (2004)

Book coverThis book represents my annual Christmas book, and it’s the one I bought most recently (http://brianjnoggle.com/blog/2017/10/14/good-book-hunting-friday-october-13-2017-friends-of-the-christian-county-library-book-sale/” target=”_new”>October, in fact). Although I’ve bought a couple more such books this year, they’ve hidden amongst my to-read shelves, whereas this book was still relatively front and center.

At any rate, apparently, this is the fifth of the Cape Light books; I read one from ten years later last year (All Is Bright from 2014), and I didn’t care for it. As a matter of fact, I said:

So although I undoubtedly have destiny that includes one or more Kinkade paintings, I doubt I’ll revisit this series.

Well, fortunately, I forgot that particular New Year’s Resolution, as this book was better.

A pastor visiting Cape Light while he recovers from malaria collides with a pregnant woman on the run and under an assumed name on a snowy evening. He helps her out, and they start to have feelings for each other, as she hides out in a boarding house and integrates into the friendly community until a private investigator hired by her vindictive ex-husband shows up. Side plots include one daughter of a wealthy widow wanting to marry and another daughter dealing with the lingering effects of a miscarriage and her husband’s attention paid to a needy boy at a local shelter.

Overall, a pleasant book to read. A nice bit of fiction without major crimes involved, but enough intrigue with the woman on the run story to keep a genre-fan like me engaged. Which might be what the other Cape Light book I read lacked. It has its unanswered questions: What, exactly, is the promise in the title? How did the detective find her? It rather quickly covers the whole holiday period with big gaps, and then it drills into conflicts that might have been resolved within those intervening weeks, but do not. That’s a flaw I see in some television programs, too.

Now, back to the genre fiction for me.

A Photoshop That Fans Of Eric Carle and John Godey Will Appreciate

Soon to be a major motion picture:

The Taking of Pelham 123 To The Zoo

Come on, it’s a mash-up of 1, 2, 3, to the Zoo, a children’s book by Eric Carle, and John Godey’s gritty thriller The Taking of Pelham 123.

Of course, I probably didn’t have to explain that to you, gentle reader. Certainly you are well-read, or at least used to my obscure sense of humor by now.

When it’s time to leave somewhere, I still say to my children, “1, 2, 3, to the zoo.” But they’ve started to doubt our destination is actually the zoo in these instances.

Balance Has Returned To The Music Library

Well, perhaps it’s not the music library and more the recent purchases.

As I’ve mentioned, my music purchases tend to fall into two camps: Heavy metal and female jazz vocalists.

However, the I recently noted that I’d bought a run of metal:

  • Danger Danger Return of the Great Guildersleeves
  • Fozzy Judas
  • Danger Danger Danger Danger
  • Disturbed Indestructible
  • Hellyeah Unden!able
  • Herb Alpert Music Volume 1
  • Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey Music from the Motion Picture
  • All That Remains A War You Cannot Win
  • Ozzy Osbourne No More Tears
  • Sacha Boutros Live from Hawaii

Well, I recently bought a run of jazz and pop:

  • Anna Danes, Find Your Wings

    She, like Sacha Boutros, is based in San Diego, which means clearly San Diego is a hotbed of jazz divas.

     

  • Lauren Meccia, In Your Eyes

    I have joined the 21st century and have installed Spotify to get introduced to a few more musicians akin to those I already like, so I’ve used it to discover the aforementioned Anna Danes and this artist.
     

  • Anastacia, Heavy Rotation

    I already had Freak of Nature based on a friend’s Facebook post. (Another good source of new music: Facebook. Also, old music, like the aforementioned Danger Danger.)

     

  • Rebecca Black, RE/BL

     
    Hey, this salesman won’t take no for an answer.
     

I also bought the new Imagine Dragons CD, Evolve, but it really doesn’t fit into the two categories listed above.

So clearly I am due to go on a tear and buy a number of new metal CDs. Perhaps the new Rudyard disc.

Is That The Name of the Song or the Name of the Band?

I’ve often asked this when presented with the written title of a song and a band I’ve not heard of. Mostly, I’m joking.

But when I learned that Fozzy has a song (and album) called "All That Remains", I thought that was funny because there is actually a band called All That Remains (whose album I bought before I bought Fozzy’s Judas this autumn).

So I got to thinking: What other bands have songs that are actually the names of other bands?

Now, to gamify this, we would want to establish some rules:

  • The song cannot be about the band or act. So Taylor Swift’s “Tim McGraw” would not count.
  • The title of the song must be the complete name of the band and must not just include the band name (sort of) in it. So “Like a Rolling Stone” and “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” would be out.
  • Scoring would have to be based on the number of words somehow; one word titles/band names are easy, so maybe a multiplier of some sort.

Here are a couple samples:

  • Montgomery Gentry, “Hell Yeah” (although Hellyeah presents it as one word–I’m not sure if that would be disqualified under the second rule how to score it–one word or two–if it’s allowed).
  • Prince, “Cream” (the band).
  • Prince, “Kiss” (the band in 1991–those old men back then look pretty young now).
  • Alice Cooper, “Poison” (band).
  • The Alternate Routes, “Nothing More“, (band).

Confession: I did an Internet search to get the last one, so I’ll leave it to those of you who want to play along to search for obvious choices like Breathe, Heart, and Jewel.

Book Report: Vietnam Fallout The Executioner #113 (1988)

Book coverIt’s been almost six months since I’ve read a Bolan book (Death Has A Name in July), and this book is 17 books later in the series. Thicker than the old Bolan books (a transition I noted in the previously mentioned review), this one might be a touch better, but it’s still a bit dissatisfying overall.

Within this volume, Bolan is in New York when an ambassador from Vietnam who is making back channel overtures for normalization of relations with the United States is assassinated. Bolan is riding with a cop who happened to be an old war buddy, and they pursue the assassins. The friend is cut down, which sends Bolan on a search for vengeance that leads him to Vietnam. Although this book kinda treats this like it’s a fresh return for Bolan, we who read the books instead of write them for hire recognize that he has already been back in a book entitled Return to Vietnam.

Once in Vietnam, Bolan engages in a rehash of Heart of Darkness–or maybe Apocalypse Now, the original rehash of Heart of Darkness set in Vietnam, albeit during the actual war. As he follows that plot line, he engages in some questionable decisions that seem to go against the marrow of the character for future plot twists. And then the book reaches its shoot-out climax, and Bolan wins.

The first part of the book, in New York, has a different feel from the second half. One wonders if two incomplete manuscripts were grafted together to make one longer book. Or, one fears, maybe the remainder of these books will be like this. Which would be awful, since one has a lot of these later books from scattered places in the 400 or 500 book canon.

A Couple Book Links

While I’m busy doing nothing, but different than the day before, here are some book links for your reading pleasure. They have pictures, though, if you don’t like to read.

  • Friar thinks this new library in China is cool:

    Well, that’s interesting, but I prefer a more traditional, dark, wood-paneled look to my libraries.
     

  • Now, this is more my speed:

    Surrounded by books has been a main circumstance of my long life. So it is now, near the end of my 94th year, when I am in my large library of perhaps 18,000 books in the western wing of my house in Chester County, Pennsylvania.

    I don’t know which part I liked best: large library, 18,000, or western wing of my house. If I had a library in a wing of my house, I doubt it would take me 40 more years to get there.

    Note that this gentleman is, in fact, a professor, which is the highest level of book accumulator, and I’m on my way to being an honorary professor.
     

  • I’ve seen a link to this Intellectual Takeout recap of a couple of surveys that indicate that 27% of Americans have not read a book in the last year and another survey that indicated that 20% of British adults could not name an author.

    I’d be a little more upset if I didn’t realize how easy it is to stump people with questions like this. Twenty-five years ago, I stumped fellow English majors by asking them if they could name two morals, and most could not.

That should hold you until I can think of something witty to say or get around to writing another book report for a piece of throwaway fiction. Except at Nogglestead, we don’t throw away any books.

Things to Do in Tampa While Traveling for Business

So this weekend, I spent some time in the Tampa area (well, not as far north as Tampa, but I landed and departed from St. Petersburg). As you know, I provided a handy guide to Florida fauna and flora for the Midwesterner. So I thought I’d provide a handy checklist of the things I’ve done (and you can, too).

Visit Missouri Comics.

Missouri Comics used to be up on Chestnut Expressway here in Springfield, and I used its Web site as a test location when testing for a company I was working for, so I eventually took my kids up to the physical shop, and I bought a number of Marvel Team-Ups in our infrequent visits.

Clearly, our three-times-a-year (probably three times, total) visits for dollar comics couldn’t support him, so he moved to Safety Harbor (I’m sure there’s a story there). He kept the name because he does brisk trade on the Internet and didn’t want to lose traffic by changing the domain name.

The first thing we did after landing and getting out of the airport was to visit his new location and buy Marvel Team-Up comics.

Attend a business meeting with native Floridians and be the only one wearing shoes.

They must put some Florida in the water, because I was not the only one visiting from Missouri, but I was the only one in shoes.

Do the AirBNB thing.

Apparently, you can rent a lot of condos in Florida whose owners live there part time (and live the rest of the time, they live at their other condos). When not in residence, they put their slightly used properties on AirBNB, and you can lease them for a night or two.

So we did, and we stayed in a rather nice little three bedroom house with one bedroom converted into a high quality home theater, which I didn’t get to use because I was a businessman, doing business. (Is that two Beverly Hill Cop II references in one checklist item? Yes, it is! You get the best allusion deals here at MfBJN!)

I haven’t even seen that movie in a while. I don’t know where its presence on my mind comes from.

At any rate, this was my first AirBNB experience, and it was weird for me. The house had lots of interesting things, a K-Cup maker, a full and elaborate bar, and I’m not sure what I was allowed to use if anything. I mean, in a hotel, I don’t tear the place up (or, at least I haven’t since the The Variation Machine 1993 tour), but I treated this house like I was a guest there.

Also, although the agreement said no pets, I am pretty sure the owners had a cat. Cat food under the sink (which I didn’t eat, because I didn’t know if I was allowed to), a scratching post in the garage–and a woman whom we surprised as she was going around back of the house. She explained there’s a cat in the shed that she feeds twice a day. So I don’t know if the owners lock their cat up in the shed on nights that they’re renting the place (or for the weeks when they’re away). I am pretty sure, though, we would have paid extra to have the cat in the house with us.

Ride a gator.

Well, it was a John Deere Gator, and given that I live in the country, I didn’t have to go to Florida for that. But I did see people driving around in golf carts, and not on a golf course.

See a Tampa Bay Lightning Hockey Game.

Although they played on Saturday night, I had an early flight, and like the old man I am, I went to be early.

Fun fact: I was slated to go to a conference in Tampa around the turn of the century, and the Tampa Bay Lightning were playing at home over that week. As it stands, I left the job sending me to the conference, so I didn’t get to go to the conference nor the game. So the Tampa Bay Lightning are the team I could have seen most but never did.

Wander around Tampa, asking anyone if they’d seen Dave.

When we landed, I remembered that my old friend Dave, he of the famous Iron Maiden poster lived in Tampa. So I thought about going around Tampa, taking photos and asking if anyone had seen Dave.

Which they hadn’t–I knew from Facebook that he was on vacation himself.

Which is what would have made the photos, when shared with Dave, better.

Perhaps I’ll catch him, and maybe the Lightning, the next time I’m in town.

My goodness, I’ve been to Florida three times in the last, four years? I’ve been there more than Wisconsin.

Partly because of the business, partly because of family vacation destinations, and yes, partly because there are direct flights. I don’t like to fly. Which is down from “I hate to fly,” which is where I was four years ago.