Here’s the new Sam’s Club eyewear ad that Facebook is presenting me because I am squinting in all of it surrepetitious photographs it takes of me in my natural surroundings to better serve me with relevant and interesting advertisements. Little does Facebook know, I only do this to look tough. And, well, to sharpen things up a little bit because I’m probably do for a LASIK touch-up after fourteen years.
I spent much of my youth and thousands of dollars in LASIK surgery trying to escape that look, thanks.
Although, on the other hand, Lewis did get the girl, and the actor Robert Carradine has ridden the look and the nerd schtick even into the modern day with the game show The King of the Nerds (and by modern day, I mean a couple years ago, where the ads for this television show heavily populate the comic books I’m reading from that era).
This book fits a little in with the old timey children’s books I’ve been reading lately (LittleHouse books, Me and My Little Brain). Whereas those books were set in the late nineteenth century, this book was written by a woman born in the late nineteenth century. As she gets older, in the early 1970s, she decides to buy a donkey and cart so she can travel around her neck of the English countryside.
So her riding in the donkey trap gives her a lot of time to reflect on life and her youth. She worked for a while as a maid in a couple of houses in her younger days before marrying, so she reflects on those duties as well as her father, who drove a horse-driven delivery van. Missing from the reflections: married life or children, although she does talk about her daughter who lives on the property in the big house (where the author lives in a mother-in-law cottage). She talks about all the animals they have, including numerous cats, goats, and a rabbit. She name-checks an awful lot of flowers and foilage on the way to creating a textual landscape which doesn’t make that much sense to me because I don’t know my English flowers that much. It’s structured a bit like the Little House books in that it covers the first year she had the donkey, from her birthday in January to a nice little Christmas story.
Still, it’s a pleasant little book. Apparently, she received some notice on the news back in the day for using the donkey cart, and she turned that exposure into this book. Which made it to an American imprint, too, so clearly back in the old days, the midlists were a thing.
Question: The English call whiskey “whisky,” so why don’t the call a donkey “donky”?
A quiz for you, I mean. You’ll notice I have not bolded or italicised things that I store in the garage. Because I don’t want my home insurance rates to go up based on my blog response to a listicle composed by a 23-year-old marketing intern from a series of other Internet postings he/she/it found.
Note that storing extra fuel or solvents in your garage might also violate the contract you signed with your mortgage. What, you didn’t read it?
Not depicted, or detypeted as the case may be, on this list, other things that you might consider storing in your garage:
Automobiles. These things can emit dangerous gases or, based on our marketing intern’s research in watching action films, might be extremely prone to explosions.
Power tools. Which are electrocution dangers at best, death, decapitation, or disfigurement dangers at worst (according to our marketing intern, based on studious research of historical documents 80s slasher films).
Anything not valuable. They’re hazardous to your marriage if you just keep random things (or so I’ve heard) and can be a fire hazard.
Cigarettes. Because smoking is bad, and if you’re not planning to smoke them, you’re smuggling them, which comes with all the attendant organized crime risks.
Toys from the twentieth century. No matter what they are, they are killers of one sort or another. Jarts? Books printed with lead ink? Asbestos-stuffed teddy bears? Chemistry kits with real acids? Just call out the hazmat team or ordinance disposal professionals!
21st Century Nerf Guns. Advances in Nerf technology have made it so you don’t need a BB gun to shoot your eye out. Or, more likely, your brother’s.
I’ll not answer that list, either.
Although if you retitle the article Whatnot to Store in Your Garage, that probably describes the contents of my garage.
Well, what should I think about this book? Let’s get into what I think might be the back story of this volume: Based on a couple of Internet searches, I think this book was actually published in 1993 under a pseudonym. The “author”‘s name also appears in a review of a book entitled Navigating Infinity:
Author Michael Langthorne and Wilbur Topsail, the main character and narrator in Langthorne’s novel “Navigating Infinity,” have some things in common, but the novelist says it would be wrong to call the book autobiographical.
* * * *
The second part of the book features poems that Wilbur wrote from his childhood, through college and into adulthood.
“When you read the poems, you will see that sometimes he is venting and he is angry at his parents and then you will see the other side of him wanting to be a sexual person and wanting to have fun,” Langthorne says. “As he gets older and starts to mature, he writes poems that reflect the fact that he is an older person. You see that he has different feelings as he ages.”
That pretty much describes the poems in the book. It’s a lot of Rod McKuen territory, with the aging sex-seeker lamenting less sex and more aging. But instead of the lyricism of Rod McKuen, we’ve got more modern (and therefore lesser) free verse and a couple of prose pieces with some free-form association.
I didn’t like the book very much, thinking it less than some of the more earnest poetry by less serious “poets” like Leah Lathrom or Ronald E. Piggee. Piggee, as a matter of fact, would be contemporary to “Topsail”: both books were published in 1993, and both men would have been about the same age.
But as I got closer to the finish, I thought perhaps I should appreciate the book more if I thought of it less as a book of poetry and more as a collection of performance pieces. Back in the days when this book was fresh, I did poetry open mic nights, and a number of the St. Louis poets like Paul Stewart and Michael O’Brian did great performance pieces that, if you looked at them in their chapbooks, really weren’t much on the page. You could apply this to the Nuyorican Poets, too–I saw them when they were traveling through St. Louis at that time. Once I got that into my head, that maybe these were a product of the time, I tolerated the poems better.
Then I got to one poem, called “Generations”, that was pretty good. So I guess that redeemed the book for me.
It’s odd, a bit of double-effect going on here: The author is a little younger than I am now, but the poems are from my most fecund poetical era (captured, of course, in Coffee House Memories) in the middle 1990s. I can relate to some of the themes of aging now, but I was not very impressed, overall, with the execution. Especially the prose poem things which were a little free-association with little point aside from the free-association and the poetating.
Of course, now that I’m aware of it, perhaps I will pick the novel up if I spot it at a book sale to see what the older (still) author does with the material.
On Monday, my son and I had a little time to kill before a meeting, so we stopped in at a small grocery store in Republic, hoping to use the bathroom and to pick up a couple of things that were on the whiteboard on the refrigerator as things to pick up at the grocery.
Strangely, the store had neither orzo or Advil gel caps in stock, so I stopped at the service desk and bought a couple lottery tickets. I explained to my son, who balked because buying lottery tickets was a waste of money since you have no chance to win, that the difference between no chance with no tickets and an infinitesimal chance because you have one lottery ticket is completely different (left unsaid that buying a second ticket, now that is a waste of money). Also, I explained to him the important rule that, if you use the bathroom in a business, you have to buy something.
Suddenly, Facebook is showing me Missouri Lottery ads.
This is very interesting timing, especially since:
I paid cash because you cannot use a credit card on it. So there’s no electronic transaction tying my personal identifying information to the purchase.
I don’t have Facebook installed on my phone. I mean, I did, but I removed it. Or did I?
So how did Facebook know I bought lottery tickets this week? Science! Of some dark sort. Or luck.
I haven’t checked the numbers yet because I’m lazy about that sort of thing, not the sort of person to watch them as they’re announced on television.
But Facebook has not started showing me ads for really expensive things, so that probably indicates that I didn’t win. Again.
As I predicted when I read Little House in the Big Woods, it was not long before I picked up this book. Of course, I had some control over that, so it’s not really prophecy. As I mentioned in the previous book report, this is the third of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books; the second, Farmer Boy deals with the young Almanzo Wilder’s experiences in the 19th century. I don’t have a copy of that book, but my youngest son is currently reading a school copy of the book ahead of a field trip to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s home near Marshfield, and he offered to surrepitiously bring the book home every night so I could read it at the same time as he’s reading it. I’m thinking about it.
At any rate, this book covers the move from Wisconsin to Indian territory in Kansas, which Charles Ingalls has heard will be opened for settlement. So they’re sooners sooner than the actual Sooners. They build a little house, meet some neighbors, and not only have to deal with the different challenges and topography of Kansas, but they also have to deal with Indians who they really, really don’t want becoming hostile. Much of the book, as in the previous volume, deals with the man-against-nature stories of building a house, trading, and whatnot, but the introduction of the Indians adds a little drama, as they can suddenly appear in ones or twos and steal your food and tobacco or get together a bunch and threaten to wipe out the settlers. But this drama is told at a distance, as the family huddles in the cabin and watches for a war party.
So it’s not a greatly dramatic narrative, but it is interesting in its historical perspectives. This book was written in the 1930s and takes place in the post-bellum west midwest, but the father speaks respectfully of natives even as others do not and, when the family is sick, a black doctor tends to them. So it’s almost suitably woke (but clearly not enough since it is not Woke™), which might lead one who is paying attention and bothers to read things not written on computers, that maybe the past was not as asleep as they’ve been told.
A couple things of note: I flagged one passage in this book, wherein Laura explains that she and Mary share a cup for drinking water at dinner, and that they only get water, and won’t get coffee until they’re adults. I contrasted this with A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, where the children drink coffee all day and all night.
Additionally, as I read this book listening to the Big Band station streaming from my DirecTV, I realized that the Glenn Miller I was listening to was closer in time to Little House on the Prairie than to today. Weird, we think about culture slowing or stopping in the eighties or nineties, but the rate of change has really slowed down before that.
So we’ll see how soon I dive into On the Banks of Plum Creek or if I take the lad up on his offer of sharing his school copy of Farmer Boy with me.
It seems I have read these books out of order. A Woman’s Work Is Never Done, which I read over a week ago, is a later Sally Forth collection. This book appeared a year earlier. Not that it matters, though; the strips are not particularly serial in nature, and the drawing doesn’t evolve over time, and new characters haven’t been added so I’m dealing with a pre-Asok or post-Asok world (to use Dilbert as an example).
Well, the tropes are all here: The business woman who is the primary housecleaner deals with work and her family. On the plus side, although they’re not the main characters, the males in the strip, that is, the husband and the boss, are not merely the butt of jokes, as they have their moments. So we’ve got that going for us.
It did not give me a laugh out loud moment like the aforementioned later collection did, and it did give me a moment where I wondered if I’d already read a particular strip before. I might have. Perhaps I should not read the collections so close together.
Regardless, it’s the second of the two copies I bought this spring, so I am fresh out of Sally Forth collections until the October book sales at the earliest. And I’ll let them simmer on the to-read shelves for a while to keep the stories fresh.
Now that I’m done with them, my boys can have at them. I’m not sure what they will think of it. It doesn’t match their lifestyle, as mom and dad do not work outside the house, and the strips are computer- and device-free. But they do like to look at the old cartoons since they’re cartoons.
You know, Springfield is not Milwaukee. In Milwaukee, you can find more than one church festival on any given weekend, even the weekends where Summerfest is or one of the heritage festivals is running down on the lakefront and drawing tens of thousands of people.
No, in Springfield, only two churches through proper church festivals with food, music, and whatnot. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic church and St. Thomas the Apostle Greek Orthodox church are about a mile apart on the southwest side of Springfield, and they both have their festivals on the same weekend.
Given that I’m half Catholic and went to a “Catholic” university (Catholic in quotations because it may have been founded Catholic, but it’s all modern university), you can probably guess which I attended.
I am half Catholic, but all Milwaukeean. I went to both: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton on Saturday and St. Thomas Apostle on Sunday.
As my boys and I were entering the festival on Sunday, I saw a man with a camera, and I briefly thought he might be for the News-Leader, but I dismissed it. Most of the time, the faces in the crowd photos are taken by Brenna Stark or Karen Bliss, who you might remember was following me around a couple weeks ago. The photographer took a pass on taking a picture of moi, but it turns out it was the News-Leader‘s photographer.
Instead of me, he captured jazz vocalist Kristi Merideth:
Kristi Merideth, unlike Erin Bode, is a local performer who does shows individually and with a band called 83 Skiddoo. I’ve meant to catch her live, but her performances don’t tend to coincide with the date nights my beautiful wife and I infrequently enjoy.
Here she is singing “Rhode Island Is Famous For You” from her self-titled EP which I picked up a couple years ago:
More Stacey Kent than Sacha Boutros.
Full disclosure: Our children go to school together and, dare I say it? play in jazz band together. But I don’t know Ms. Merideth other than to say “Hi” and “How are you?” a couple times over the years.
It’s a little different reading a book about remembering where you live, thirty years before you lived there. For starters, the book uses the whole Ozark Plateau as “the Ozarks,” which means there are photos from almost as far as St. Louis, whereas Missourians don’t start counting the Ozarks until, what, Fort Leonard Wood? Waynesville?
At any rate, I didn’t recognize much. Some pictures of Table Rock Lake, perhaps. But the book focuses on generic landscapes for the most part. Springfield is not represented at all. Silver Dollar City and Branson, which get a couple of pages, but they’ve changed enough since the photos were taken, probably in the 1970s, that neither looks the same exactly.
So it’s more of a historical document than anything I’ll actually remember.
Still, worth flipping through.
And now that I know this is a series, I must collect them.
One of the joys of John D. MacDonald books is that you’re not really sure what you’re going to get, even by the cover. He writes books about business shenanigans and land deals gone bad, he writes crime books, and sometimes he just writes character studies where the characters deal with disasters. Sometimes, like this book, he creates a sympathetic character who makes bad decisions and more bad decisions, and suddenly he’s a bad guy (as also happened to a lesser degree in Clemmie).
In this book, the main character is a former World War II special forces sort who, twenty years later, is a construction project manager. He started his own company, but fell in love with the daughter of a larger construction company’s owner and has married her. Their childless marriage has descended into that alcohol-soaked suburban immorality and adultery that one finds in MacDonald books sometimes. One of his war buddies comes in from South America with a plan to relieve a courier of several million dollars for an arms purchase just as an attempted coup is thwarted, and with the coup plotter dead or in prison, nobody will care about the money. They devise a plan just like in the old days, and it goes off without a hitch–well, except the friend gets wounded and has to hole up at the main character’s house and dallies a bit with the missus.
Then we’re off: An accidental death, covered up, and then murder to cover up the accidental death, and the police come knocking, and….
Well, it is a good read even as the sympathetic character descends out of that sympathy. The end, though, is pretty abrupt, as forces from the government and from South America that were looking for the money show up and set the stage for a bloody climax and then a less bloody anti-climax.
Still, it’s good writing for the most part and reinforces my belief that John D. MacDonald is one of the best writers from the 20th century.
I have no idea what an Axis Strength Trainer is, but I can tell the models in the Facebook advertisement are using it incorrectly.
If you’re smiling when you’re using a piece of physical fitness equipment, you’re doing it wrong.
Also, if you can have a conversation on your cellular phone when you’re working out, you’re not doing it correctly (although shouting quips to passersby is apparently okay in my completely arbitrary life rules, but note that my previous post is about how I do 5Ks, not how they should be done).
Also, kudos to Facebook for either figuring out how to thwart the ad blocker I have installed or for partnering with them to ensure that the informative, helpful ads I really want to see to mock appear in my news feed instead of posts from my friends. To be honest, it sort of beats the previous method, where the posts appeared briefly and then disappeared instantly, like data-driven Tyler Durden stills in my news feed instead of posts from my friends. Also, kudos for the algorithm that determines I really want to see political posts with opposing view points from friends I have not interacted with in years instead of more relevant posts or most recent posts.
A number of years ago, my mother-in-law gave us a decorative wine bottle for Christmas. It had a madonna-and-child painted on it and a string of Christmas lights in it through a hole drilled in the back. I kind of tut-tutted it when we got it, but in the years since, we’ve taken to putting it onto the mantle in our family room. We’ve also taken to leaving it burning all night, which served as a nice navigational light in the dark. We liked that so much so that I bought a Tiffany lamp for that spot so we could have that navigational light all year round (was that only March of this year?).
So I’ve been interested in wine bottle art for a little bit. I once bought a glass cutter on a compass so I could cut the bottles, thinking I’d make candle holders by cutting the tops off, but I never perfected that.
I did, however, buy a diamond hole-cutting drill bit with the intention of making the lights/lamps like the one we received as a Christmas gift. So I saved a bunch of wine bottles up, built a template to steady the drill, and bored a hole through a pile of bottles with varying degrees of success.
Once holed, they sat for a while, as I, like my sainted mother, do not like to rush into things. I painted some with stained glass paint and didn’t really like that look 100%; the new lights I bought have white cords, and the cords are very visible through the bottle instead of just shining some light on the bottle.
So I got some diamond etching tips for my rotary tool (a gift from the aforementioned sainted mother, a gift that I thought I would never use for anything), and now we’re talking.
That’s the first one I’ve done, a winter scene probably because I just read Little House in the Big Woods. You can really see the cord in that one.
I’m pleased how the etching turned out, especially since I did it freehand, which is unlike how I do my wood burning.
So I know what everyone is getting for Christmas this year, and I have enough bottles saved that perhaps I’ll have some things for the craft show I’m going to someday participate in.
A Washington, D.C.,-based nonprofit donated $3 million during the weekend to a political action committee supporting an effort to increase Missouri’s minimum wage to $12 an hour.
. . . .
Supporters of U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, are hoping the issue will increase her chances in a tight race for re-election.
Sweet Christmas, she is a plucky heroine, ainna?
I was out working in my garage over the holiday weekend, and another group was running “educational” spots every commercial break about how Josh Hawley wants to suffocate type 1 diabetes sufferers with a sofa cushion or something.
It’s certainly a good time for me to have discovered streaming music from my phone instead of listening to the radio.
It must be my year for catching up on my old-timey children’s books. Early last month, I re-read Me and My Little Brain from The Great Brain series, and now I’ve read this book, the first in the Little House series (not, as one might assume because the television series bore the title, Little House on the Prairie, which is the third in the series, and I think I have all my commas right between the parentheses here, but I cannot be sure).
As you might know, gentle reader, if you’re over forty years of age or if you’re a school child who has grown up within field trip distance of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s last home in Marshfield, Missouri, these books tell the story of young Laura Ingalls and her family as they grow up on the frontier in a variety of locations during the late middle part of the 19th century.
This book takes place on the western edge of Wisconsin over the course of a year. The chapters are little vignettes of things that happen, starting in the winter with Pa hunting and storytelling by the fire in the long winter evenings, through the emergence of spring and maple syrup season, to the work in the summer (and no meat–as Pa does not hunt during the summer so the little deer and whatnot can grow up) to the harvest and the beginning of the winter. The author touches upon the isolation–it’s several hours ride to their relatives’ homes, and Laura has never seen two houses near each other until she goes to town for the first time–and the amount of work and the frugality (dare I say it, sustainability) the family practices.
The book includes a couple of primers on how to make butter, maple sugar, and various other necessities, so in addition to your Foxfire books, you might want to keep a set of these books around in case TEOTWAWKI teotwakis (because, let’s be honest, it should be a verb by now).
The difference between this book and the aforementioned Me and My Little Brain are separated by a mere twenty some years (that is, the distance between the dot com era and now), but the differences are vast–the world of Adenville, Utah, and the Big Woods. It’s not so much a difference of the decades, although some of that is true–but it is a difference between town and country that was far greater than it is today, although the differences definitely exist. The practices in this book are close to those found in Nebraska after the turn of the 20th century as found in Over the Hills and Past Our Place or even the 1940s in Missouri in Growing Up In The Bend.
I saw a link on Instapundit to an excerpt entitled The Unbearable Darkness of Young Adult Literature that talked about how children’s and young adult literature is currently preoccupied with After School Special parables about the politically favored lifestyles and problems, and I contrast this Man (Child) versus Society (Squares) focus with the children’s books I grew up with that were very much conscious of Man versus Nature and Man versus Man. Most of the contemporary titles won’t have much to say to kids a decade or two from now, not like books about the 19th centuries could speak to child readers in the end of the 20th century. I just hope kids can still relate to these stories.
I can, but I’m a late twentieth century kid whose reading of these classics has been displaced a couple decades.
Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that I heard the television theme whenever I picked up the book.
The next book in the series, Farmer Boy, but it deals with the young Wilder boy whom Laura would later marry. I don’t have it, but I do have Little House on the Prairie which I will undoubtedly pick up before long.
Because I have fallen behind in my annual reading goals this year, and I don’t think looking at cartoon books during football games is going to catch me up. So I must rely on children’s books and religious tracts. And, maybe, counting comic books after all.
Sally Forth has been around a while now, as this book (and the Wikipedia page) indicates. The book is set at the end of the yuppie era; the parents are busy career professionals, and the title character herself is a career woman offering an empowered heroine at a time, youngsters, where there weren’t that many women executives. I know some would say there aren’t enough now, but back then, there were not any (and as far as how many are enough, gentle reader, I say “enough” is “as many as want to be and are competent to do so” which is not a scientific law measurable with a simple percentage).
At any rate, the two business professionals have a single child, a daughter named Hilary. Where they warning us? Not likely. So you get a crossover of business humor, family humor, and parenting humor, but no sibling rivalry humor. Which keeps the cartoon fresh, I reckon, as it switches contexts. You get some storylines that carry over a strip or two, none of the longer conceits that would stretch weeks like you see in Dilbert.
I mean, it looks to be standard funny pages filler, but I laughed out loud at one of them, which is something I rarely every do. And I remember the era where the topics were current, so it’s got a little nostalgia to it. I see from the Wikipedia page that the cartoon has carried on, so it’s probably also contemporary, so less meaningful to me now. And carried on by others than the original cartoonist, although the strip never broke out of the papers into films and television like some others did.
As I have mentioned, over and over, in an effort to humblebrag my way to your respect, gentle reader, I run a number of 5Ks in the autumn and winter.
This is because my boys are in their middle school cross country program, but since they go to a small school, their cross country events are not actually meets with other schools. Rather, they run 5Ks in their school uniforms, and once they started doing so, I started running as well because physical self-abuse of distance running is easier than making small talk with the other parents or just lingering around the event venue awkwardly without making small talk (my preferred option of the two).
As I’ve entered my third year this season, I’ve come to appreciate the finer points of distance running. To whit:
It feels so good when I stop.
I don’t have to make small talk with the other parents and embarrass myself.
I get to make quips as I’m running.
There are free bananas at the end.
Perhaps the last thing is the best thing. Like, on Saturday, when I crossed the finish line…
…I said, “I’m pretty tired. I think I’ll go home now.”
Come on, that’s from Forrest Gump:
I had to explain that to my wife. Come on, the film in only twenty-four years old now, old man. Surely you remember it?
I’ve also used the line noted as number 1 above, which is from an old joke: A doctor asks a man why he keeps hitting himself with a hammer, and the man says it feels so good when he stops.
At any rate, the highlight of the run for me is the things I quip at other runners and volunteers on the route.
I try to keep my breathing such that I can shout out good morning to the volunteers along the route, pointing us in the correct direction, or to people who come out in their front yards to watch us go by. But I like to crack wise as well.
Some of my favorites include:
It’s a lovely day for a walk.
There must be some mistake. I signed up for the 100 meters.
Are you in my age group? Good, I don’t have to pass you.
Can you get me an Uber?
Are we there yet?
Or whatever fool thing comes to mind. Of which there are plenty, because 5Ks give you a lot of time to think, and they give me a lot of time to think fool things.
The quipping keeps me from thinking of myself as a serious athlete or runner, that I focus on the wisecracks instead of Peak Performance. I could probably shave a minute off of my time by taking it more seriously, but that would be less fun than running already is not.
The cross country coach referred to these events as races which would put a little pressure to, you know, win if I took him seriously.
Instead, I’ll continue to think of them as moving open mic nights.
I read in Metal Hammer magazine that metal is family, but I found that hard to believe. When I was growing up, the kids who listened to metal in our trailer park certainly didn’t treat the awkward, small younger version of me like family at all. So I’ve been skeptical of the claim even as I’ve outgrown being small.
Theatrical metal band Ghost’s sold-out show at the Riverside Theater in Milwaukee on May 31 came to an abrupt and tragic end when fan Jeff Fortune collapsed at the venue and died that evening.
* * * *
The band also will be selling an exclusive shirt at that show, with an illustration of band frontman Cardinal Copia and Fortune wearing Michael Myers costumes from “Halloween,” with all proceeds being donated to Fortune’s family.
Ghost recently came to my attention because the local radio station has been playing their new song “Rats”, and I liked the sound of it: