The Spider Flowers of Nogglestead Are Blooming

A heavy fog laid some dew upon the spider webs stretched between the canes of defunct butterfly bushes around our well head yesterday:

They sort of look like ethereal flowers, ainna?

I was going to look for a photo contest to enter the shot into, but the iPhone camera isn’t that good for that thing. I used to carry a pocket digital camera just for that sort of moment, but I’ve stopped because I didn’t encounter that many moments. Perhaps I should stick it into my pocket again nowadays, especially as I’ve discovered oversized carpenter jeans in the days where I’m not going Grant.

Lileks Recycles My Schtick

Brian J., March 2012

I went into the nursery last week, and I asked to see the Lileks.

“What?” the man asked.

“The Lileks,” I said. Well, it’s not what I tried to say, but that’s what it sounded like.

“Oh, the lilacs,” he said.

Lileks, today:

Also: next door neighbor is out back for a smoke, waves to me in the dusk, asks a favor. I come over.

“What’s up?”

“We have a dear sweet old lady coming over for dinner tomorrow,” he said. “And she just loves Lileks.”

“Well I would be honored to drop by and pay a visit,” I say, thinking as long as you’re not asking me to stay for the whole dinner, sure – pop in during dessert, surprise the old lady.

“I mean the lilacs.” He points to the bushes. “I wondered if I could snip a few.”

I included a picture in 2012 of the lilacs I hopefully planted around our propane tank. They lasted a couple years. Then we had a couple years of years of sunflowers. Then a year of tall grasses that I thought were sunflowers when they sprouted, but clearly they lacked, you know, flowers. This year, I went with hydrangea bushes. Which are almost already dead.

One of the reasons we moved to Nogglestead was to have more space for gardening, which apparently here at Nogglestead means “Making room for the Bermuda grass.” I’m beginning to wonder if that will be one of the reasons we move out.

I Would Have Titled It The Blair Switch Project

On the way into church this morning (for my children’s school’s closing chapel, not because I attend services several days a week, although I guess attending school chapel means I sometimes do attend a couple times a week), I passed the book Creative Correction by Lisa Whelchel displayed outside the library.

“Is that the actress from The Facts of Life?” I thought. It is.

They probably didn’t call it The Blair Switch Project because its creative choices extend beyond birch or pine?

I probably could have used this book back in the days before my children could be tried as an adult, which is far too soon now.

Transgenre Music

Jack Baruth led me to my newest musical obsession: Leo Moracchioli’s metal covers.

Baruth posted this cover of “Sultans of Swing” and talked about it at length on his blog, especially the payment scheme for using the material–or not:

I’m gonna tuck the rest of the post below the fold because it’s got a pile of embeds, and I don’t want to slow your browsing experience down if you’re just browsing. Continue reading “Transgenre Music”

Wherein Brian J. Fails a Wisconsin Quiz

The “quiz” list? Wisconsin bucket list: 20 things you have to do.

Brian’s score? Not so good:

  • Devil’s Lake State Park
  • Lambeau Field
  • Door County
  • Taliesin
  • House on the Rock
  • Elroy-Sparta State Trail
  • Ishnala Supper Club
  • Duck ride in the Wisconsin Dells
  • Milwaukee breweries
  • New Glarus Brewing Co.
  • Green County cheese
  • Wisconsin River paddling and camping
  • Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
  • Ice Age Trail
  • Cranberry country
  • Holy Hill
  • Waaswaaganing Indian Bowl Living Arts and Culture Center
  • The Northwoods
  • Great River Road
  • American Players Theatre

Although, in my defense:

  • Most of the time I lived in Wisconsin, we were poor, and I was not of drinking age for brewery visiting.
  • I have seen the basillica on Holy Hill in the distance.
  • If you count excursions to the Kettle Moraine State Forest, I’ve been on the Ice Age Trail, maybe.
  • I’ve been on part of the Great River Road on my trips to La Crosse and Fountain City.
  • I’ve been through the Northwoods, but my grandfather’s cabins were across the Michigan border.

Still, not a very good showing.

But I have ridden the 23 bus through The Core in Milwaukee daily. Which is something not many people can say.

That’s Not A Bus Strike

Madison County bus strike possible, agency chief says:

Madison County’s transit agency is preparing for a potential strike by its 200 or so bus drivers amid a stalemate in negotiations on a new contract, the agency’s chief said Wednesday.

This is a bus strike:

Excessive speed played a role in Tuesday’s crash of a Milwaukee County Transit System bus on the Marquette University campus, officials said.

The 59-year-old male driver of a route 12 MCTS bus lost control about 5:15 p.m. Tuesday along West Wisconsin Ave. and the bus crashed into Johnston Hall on the Marquette University campus, just east of Gesu Church.

For the record, I did not take the 12 to get to Marquette. I took the 23.

A Classy Joint Brian J. Shall Probably Not Visit

Sip & Purr cat cafe opening June 1, and you’ll have to pay to cuddle with kittens:

The first cat cafe in Milwaukee, Sip & Purr, has set its opening date.

Customers will be able to cuddle with kittens, if that’s what you’re into, starting June 1. The cafe at 2021 E. Ivanhoe Place will have coffee, wine, snacks and, obviously, cats.

The cafe itself will be cat-free. Felines will stay in the Cat Lounge, where customers can choose to bring their small bites and sweet treats. Cats at Sip & Purr will be available for adoption from the Lakeland Animal Shelter.

Honestly, I don’t suppose it will last until my next trip home. And I’m not sure I’d want to explain to my beautiful wife about my visiting a cathouse. And even if I did, she’d be mad if I went without her.

Brian J. Stays At The Classiest Joints

Is this the place where you stay when you go to the Wisconsin Dells, Brian J.?

Wisconsin Dells water park melee erupts after chair taken from group’s table:

A brawl that broke out at a Wisconsin Dells area water park on Mother’s Day with people throwing chairs, garbage cans and food started when someone took a chair from another group’s table.

The melee at Mount Olympus Water and Theme Park was captured on cellphones and video of the mayhem over something so minor was posted on social media.

Yes, yes, it is.

I’ve always maintained that I always live on the bad side of town because it automatically becomes the bad side of town when I move in. Well, I’ve always said that about my brother, but it probably holds true for me, too.

(Link via Knuckledraggin.)

Book Report: The Best of Wheat and A Little Chaff by Leah Lathrom (?)

The Best of Wheat title page

Instead of the cover of the book, I’ve posted here the title page of it, which includes a photo of the author. A brief preface tells you about her life, and it reads like it was put together by her preacher. Born in the 1800s, Mrs. Lathrom grew up in parts of the Middle West (and lived in a sod house for a time), married, raised some kids, and then went blind. As she did so, she wrote poems. Most of these are from later in her life. She dedicates some to family members to celebrate their graduation or to memorialize them. Many are of her relationship with God and hoping to inspire others to get to know Him.

Overall, some good moments, but the real strength of them comes from the fact that normal people, especially older women, expressed themselves in poetry and shared them with others (see also Ideals magazine). Clearly, we’ve lost something in transitioning from ordering thoughts in lines and rhymes to putting a little text on a picture.

At any rate, it did take me a couple runs to get through the volume. I had it on the table for football game browsing, but that tailed off. I had it on my dresser for evening reading-on-the-deck-at-sunset sessions. But what finally helped me push through it was bringing it along with a fairly dense carry book (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) to my boys’ basketball practice. Two carry books might become my new standard practice. Maybe a little cart with a couple dozen selections that I can wheel wherever I go.

Oh, and one more thing about this book: I went looking for a link online, and I learned there is also a Volume II.

Book Report: Iroshi by Cary Osborne (1995)

Book coverI bought this book a couple weeks ago with the others in the trilogy and got right on it. It’s a short book (216 pages, which is short for modern books, and I do tend to think of this pre-turn-of-the-century book as modern), so it wasn’t daunting as far as reading it (sometimes, I admit, I pick up a book and think, do I really want to spend the next couple of weeks reading this?).

All right, then. The book is about a swordswoman trained in Kendo and some other martial arts. The book starts with her arriving at an out-of-the-way planet and looking for ruins, and then it delves into her past in flashbacks: She’s from a poor family whose father abandoned the them, she went to Earth, the nominal center of a fraying empire, to study with a master. The master was attacked by ninjas as the result of an old mysterious conflict, and when he could teach her no more, he sent her on her way with a sword, and she became a mercenary and a bit of a legend. Now, she finds ruins and finds the spirits of an alien race, and they offer to ‘join’ with her in building a guild to help humanity keep from destroying itself.

Then we fast forward ten years, and the guild is established, and she heads back to Earth to keep the government from moving its seat to the planet with the ruins. There, she discovers the old master’s quarrel was with his own sons whom he disowned because they got involved in organized crime. And they begin their final assaults. Which Iroshi defeats, and part one of the three books ends.

It’s a rather scattershot affair. It’s broken into several parts, with the first being her search for the temple punctuated by flashbacks; then, Part II jumps ten years into the future when she’s been building up this guild of fighters (called the Glaive). There’s sword-fighting, there’s politicking and intrigue, there’s a brief reunion with her father, and then there’s a large ninja assault and some space battles. I don’t think it hangs together all that well.

And it’s the beginning of a trilogy.

I’ll have to jump on the other two books soon so I can sort of remember what’s going on in them and because it’s probably not something I’ll return to after a couple of years with any eager anticipation.

Good Album Hunting, May 9, 2018: Ozarks Treasures Antique Mall

I had a couple of minutes to kill before picking my children up from school yesterday, and instead of going to Hooked on Books and spending a couple minutes browsing the dollar books, I went to a nearby antique mall to browse.

Which led to buying some records, and often for more than a dollar each.

I got four for a total of like ten bucks.

The list includes:

  • Just Sylvia by Sylvia because I get Internet celebrity when I buy Sylvia albums.
  • Another Place by Hiroshima. They must have had some sort of following here in Springfield, since their LPs show up from time to time. Since the band itself has been active from 1979 to now, I guess I’ll have to get some of their work on CDs.
  • Billy Preston & Syreeta, a collection of duets from the eponymous R&B singers.
  • Who’s Fooling Who by R&B group One Way (definitely not to be confused with One Direction).

Note that the last features a woman in lingerie on the phone:

This is not the first record in my collection with that motif:

You might think to yourself, “Brian sure buys a lot of records with pretty women on the cover,” and I’d like to remind you of what I said in 2013:

If “pretty woman on the cover” were the only criterion, though, I’d own a lot more Sylvia albums today.

<moment of self awareness>Oh.</moment of self awareness>

In my defense, my accummulation of records is reaching such a level that I can find numerous motifs in them.

For example, take the back side of the One Way album:

The two cigarettes and two wine glasses motif appears on other albums such as:

Jackie Gleason presents Music for Lovers Only and:

Music for Romancing, which also features a woman reclined.

What was my point? I am not sure I had one. Although I’m pretty sure I need to get to building the record shelves that I’ve been promising or threatening for over a year now.

(For more motif comparison in record covers, see this and this. I’m no LP Cover Lover, except that I am. And I can see the blooming things, unlike the thumbnails of the cover art one sees in computer-based music players.)

Forbes Is Apparently Going Down That Road

I’m not too far behind on my Forbes magazines these days. I let my subscription lapse for a while, and when they offered me a regular magazine rate for it instead of the expensive magazine rate you get for titles like this one and National Review, I resubscribed.

Forbes has gone through an ownership change, and it looks like a lot of the old columnists are gone. Probably some of the old writers, too, with the new regime. It has a bunch of mattress ads, too, which is weird since one of the latter Forbes I read talked about the way the mattress industry manipulated the online mattress review sites.

But I have to wonder if it’s taken a pretty hard turn left. Here are a couple of snippets from the April 30 issue that make me fear for my future enjoyment of the magazine.

From Inside Beachbody’s Billion-Dollar Fat Burning Empire:

Now at the “15-star diamond” level, she’s Beachbody’s top coach, making over $2 million a year. Thanks to Beachbody she’s paid off the mortgage on her suburban Pittsburgh McMansion and takes dream vacations each year to places like Turks and Caicos and Bora-Bora. Her husband, Matt, quit his corporate gig at Heinz to work full-time for his wife. From her spacious home office, filled with flowers, photos and scented candles, Mitro, blonde and blue-eyed with Stepford-wife good looks, spends her days tending to her blog, her podcast (“Women Inspiring Women”) and other social media platforms in an effort to motivate her team. “Ninety-nine percent of my business is social media,” says Mitro, 35.

Sweet Christmas, dismissing the woman’s business (albeit MLM business) acumen and the things she’s bought (McMansion) and her looks (Stepford-wife good looks, which does not make sense in the context of the book which the young journalist might not have read but I have).

So, what, the suburbs sux? Seriously? This is just dropped into an article and not excised?

Then there’s a story called Inside Erik Prince’s Return To Power: Trump, Bolton And The Privatization Of War. The lede is:

Amid reports that special counsel Robert Mueller had taken an interest in his activities, Erik Prince decided to host a fundraiser. On March 18, more than 100 people flocked to Prince’s sprawling farm in Middleburg, Virginia, for an afternoon of pistol shooting in support of Putin’s favorite congressman, Dana Rohrabacher, who the FBI reportedly found had his own Kremlin code name. As the day progressed, the group headed to the barn, where, over sandwiches and Budweiser, they heard from Oliver North, the central figure in the 1980s Iran-Contra scandal, and Matt Gaetz, a member of the House who’s big on Deep State “cabal” conspiracy theories.

Wow, okay, you know how far I got into this “business article”? Yeah, that’s it right up there.

These are not people blogging on the Forbes Web site, which is (or was) apparently open to everyone. This is from the print magazine.

Which I might not renew my subscription to if it cannot tell its business stories in a neutral fashion.

Book Report: Vendetta in Venice Mack Bolan/The Executioner #117 (1988)

Book coverI decided to break up the serious reading with my first Mack Bolan book of the year. It’s been almost six months since Vietnam Fallout. This book, the 117th in the series, is only four later, but their increased girth means they’re no longer quick reads to pick up when I’m in between other lengthier works. They are the lengthier works.

In this book, Hal Brognola is in Amsterdam for a conference when he goes on a bit of a walkabout and ends up getting mistaken for a customer in a person smuggling ring. He taps Mack Bolan to investigate it. Bolan does and discovers it’s really one guy, mostly, and some time later he breaks it up and gets the girl.

The book differs from other characterizations of Bolan–instead of a hypercompetent wish fulfillment protagonist, Bolan here comes off as bit less competent and not necessarily even the driver of the action. He’s more passive, and there’s 250 pages of stuff happening to Bolan. The book only finishes up in Venice, so the title is a bit odd (but is alliterative).

I’d like to think I’m going to read more than two Bolan books this year–I have 72 in the Executioner and related titles to read–but unless they start getting better in the average, I might not. Especially at my galacial pace this year.

The Edge of 12: A Photographic Study

A mess of hair care equipment and a Transformer.

I remember when I was about that age, a friend told me the story of a kid he knew who (this being before the Internet, you had to trust the stories of a guy who knew this guy who) took all of his toys and put them in a pile on his thirteenth birthday and lit them on fire.

That was taking Paul a little far.

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

I thought of my G.I. Joe collection at the time and rebelled against the thought. But that time would pass, as will that time for my children. Someday, they might not have toys by their sink. And, if they’re like me, no hair care equipment either.

Book Report: Well, Duh: Our Stupid World, and Welcome To It by Bob Fenster (2004)

Book coverI read this Internet listicle of a book while sitting in various bleachers while my child or children practiced basketball. This has proven to be my most focused reading time of late, which is why I’ve not yet read twenty books this year, and given the locale, it’s not suited for particularly heavy reading. So Internet listicles in print fills that “I want to be reading something, but now I’m distracted” void.

This book is a collection of stories and bulleted lists about people doing stupid things. What do I remember from it? Only that you cannot trust a word of it, as it recounts the Rutherford B. Hayes knocks the telephone story that I know is not true. You know, in books of trivia, the authors sometimes insert incorrect trivia to try to catch people who violate their copyrights. I doubt this is the case here: instead, it’s just a collection of stories the author heard on the Internet.

So it killed some time for me, but that’s about it.

Something Other Than Coyotes

As the sun is coming up here at Nogglestead, we often hear the coyotes calling as they return to their dens in the national battlefield just across the fields.

But yesterday, about 5:40, we got a novel new sound: a high speed police chase.

Police closed part of U.S. 60 in Republic Saturday morning after a pursuit led to a crash.

The crash happened near Farm Road 170.

Republic police say the pursuit was initiated by the Greene County Sheriff’s Office.

What does a police chase sound like? A siren in the distance, getting closer, and then cars passing by at high speed. I caught sound of the sirens and looked out of my office window to see the fleeing car through the trees followed by a couple of deputies at some remove.

This is the second high speed pursuit I have seen within a year. The last was when the fleeing car and the deputy passed me in the opposite direction on the county highway. Everyone, I was pleased, stayed in their own lanes.

For the record, I prefer the coyotes.

Good Book Hunting, May 1, 2018: ABC Books

You would think that, given that we’ve just passed through the semi-annual book sales for the Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library and the Friends of the Christian County Library, that I would not need to go to a book store any time soon.

Oh, but no.

We like to include gift cards in the thank-you notes we compel our children to write for their various teachers and coaches at the end of the year (or sport season, which for track and field falls at the end of the school year). Our go-to gift card for the last couple of years has been ABC Books because the owners are members of our church and are not pups like that kid at Hooked on Books.

So we went for our semi-annual gift card purchase, and since the owners are downsizing the store because part of their store was apparently below the water table and flooded whenever anyone in the vicinity wept. Which is good for us, because it meant $2 books on select titles as they cleared inventory.

Of which I partook.

The Eastern philosophy and Makers of the Modern Theological Mind books I tend to buy this particular location were not on sale (and, to be honest, I’m not sure where to find them in the reshuffled store). But I did get:

  • Twenty Years at Hull House by Jane Addams. Fun fact: When I was a senior in high school, I killed it in our Western Civ class’s chapter review version of Jeopardy! I beat everyone easily without much effort. So when it came time for a Civics Bee, everyone thought I would do well. They provided us with a book to review on history and the stuff they would quiz us on, and I probably opened it, but I was cocky, and I did not study it at all. My first question was on Hane Addams, and I bombed it. But I’m more sure of what she stood for since then. But I’ve not read her book. Until fourteen years from now, when I rediscover this on my to-read shelves.
  • A Nostalgic Almanac by Edna Hont, a reminiscence of life on a Midwest farm. The kind of books I like to read and clearly like more to buy to read later.
  • Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon, a more recent humorous memoir or something.
  • Travels in a Donkey Trap by Daisy Baker. The flaps indicate it’s about an elderly rural woman who bought a donkey and cart for commuting in the 1960s or 1970s.

The cost of the books: $8. The cost of the gift cards? Well, we won’t go into that. Getting some of the school staff to visit ABC Books, which is a bit out of the way for southern Springfieldians? Priceless.

Book Report: And Eternity by Piers Anthony (1990)

Book coverIn my book report on Job: A Comedy of Justice, I said:

You know, trying to weave actual theological entities into fantasy novels is most often a real mess (see also Anthony’s Incarnations of Immortality series, the for-a-while-last, but now penultimate, book dealing with God somehow–I’ve not made it through that particular volume).

Didn’t you once write a short play set in Heaven with God drinking at a bar? That wasn’t fantasy. That was supposed to be funny. But probably only was to a certain small set of collegiate drama writers, wherein that set might have been exactly one. Given how my humorous plays sell in real life probably proves the point.

At any rate, I picked this book up again and tried to power through it. The last time I got a little caught up feeling squicky with the age of consent philosophical treatise culminating in sex with an underage girl bit along with not remembering what was going on in the series business (apparently, I read the preceding volume, For Love of Evil before I started this blog, so it was some time ago indeed). Between those two factors, I put this volume down and went onto other things. But with the reading of Job, I thought it might be part of a brief theme. Not outlier sex practices, though: more “Actual theological entities in fiction.”

This book deals with the (I assume) long-running series business of a plot to unseat God by Satan. I assume it’s series business. To be honest, I read the first three or four books in the series in the middle 1990s, the fifth book a couple years later, and the sixth sometime around the turn of the century (but apparently before I began the blog–was there such a time? Was it real?).

In this book, a ghost companion of Orb, the incarnation of Nature (Book 5, read twenty years ago) and the consort of Satan (Book 6, read fifteen years ago) who is also married to Orb (Book 5 or 6, but I’ve forgotten which) has been tasked to watch over a woman who was tied to Chronos (Book 2, which I read ca 1994) who is saddened when her baby dies. She commits suicide, and starts to sink to Hell until the companion of Orb (Jolie) catches her and keeps her from descending. The incarnation of Night (Nox, book 8 which was published in this century) snatches up the soul of the child and will return it to the distraught mother if she (Orlene) completes a quest. The two spirits inhabit the body of the aforementioned teen girl, an addicted prostitute whose mother is important to fighting Satan’s plot because MacGuffin. The now-trio must complete the quest, which is to collect something from every other incarnation.

So they do, and they must visit every incarnation in its native habitat to secure the gift, and work toward maybe thwarting Satan’s plot or identifying a candidate to replace God in case Satan’s plan gets that far. I saw the ultimate twist pretty early in the goings on in my second go-round with the book, so the eventual denoument (there really wasn’t much of a climax) didn’t surprise me much.

It wrapped up the series except for, as it became evident, the final incarnation Nox. But I’m not sure how much I liked the final books over the first couple of them. But perhaps my pleasant recollection of those book is colored by the pleasant recollection of those years themselves more than the books themselves.