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.

Book Report: The Wards of Iasos Book 1: The Leftovers by J. Christopher Wilson (2016)

Book coverI mentioned in September that this local author was stalking me, appearing at different cons and festivals I attended until I bought his book (to recap: I saw his table at Library Con 2017, but didn’t buy the book because he was on a panel at the time–and I’d already bought a bunch there anyway; I saw him at the Mini Maker Faire; and I saw him at a street fair in Hollister, where I finally bought this book). Well, I hadn’t gotten to it, but I saw him at the First Lego League competition in his home element–the middle school in the system where he teaches. So he was stalking me to make sure I read his book. Although, to be honest, he is an inefficient, ineffective stalker, as he did not even notice me leaning against the wall in the corridor as he ushered teams into the auditorium.

Still, it prompted me to pick up his book. Also, note that I’ve been reading a bit of fantasy lately. See also Jules Verne (all right, not exactly fantasy, but bear with me), Obsidian Son, The Catswold Portal, and John Carter of Mars (which is an omnibus of five novels). Does back in late summer count as “lately”? I dunno. But there you go. What was I saying? Oh, yes, a book report.

You know what? This book is pretty good. I’ve lucked out with the self-published fiction this autumn. The aforementioned Obsidian Son was also pretty good.

But this book differs from that, so let’s talk about this book. It’s targeted to younger adults and is high fantasy. The book deals with a collection of outcast students at the mandatory academy for youth in the nation of Iasos. Each comes from a broken home or has been cast aside by his or her parents. We have a large half-Orc cleric type, a half-goat warrior maiden, a scarred magician who wears a hood, a young barbarian, and an empathetic thief. The house leader/teacher is a battle-weary dwarf who takes the group under his wing to teach them how to work as a team and whatnot.

The book starts running through some threads that will continue in later books, and the adventures in this book come to a head when the group travels outside the academy’s sanctuary. They encounter some mercenaries sent by a foreign power to destabilize the country, and the young charges want to fight to liberate a small, illegal community oppressed by the mercenaries. After the mercenaries kill one of the wards, a reckoning comes that sees the wards fight together for the first time.

The author’s bio says he’s a Dungeons and Dragons player, and you can see a little of that in the descriptions, particularly of the locations. The narrative stops, and we get a couple paragraphs or pages of descriptions of the building. One almost wants to check the east wall for secret doors. Also, I’m tempted to try to identify influences for the work–I remember the old Advanced Dungeons and Dragons cartoon had the smallest, youngest kid be the Barbarian, although in the cartoon, the boy was not primitive. Looking at the cover, I can’t wonder if the artist was not influenced by the Teen Titans–one of the characters looks like Raven, and the Behemoth (the half-Orc knock off with the splotches of lighter color) kinda looks like Cyborg. But it’s unfair to the author that I’m looking for these influences where they might not exist.

At any rate, that’s two for two on the self-published books I’ve read this autumn. I expect I’ll get the next installment when it comes out because otherwise I’ll see this author at all the local cons and whatnot, and he’ll not let me rest until I do.

Good Book Hunting, November 25, 2017: ABC Books

On Saturday, we took a trip up to ABC Books because it was Small Business Saturday, and the books were 50 percent off. Which didn’t help us with the cost of the gift cards we bought for our children’s teachers, but it did give us an excuse to buy some books.

I bought a couple books from the Makers of the Modern Theological Mind Series (H. Richard Niebuhr, Teilhard de Chardin, and Martin Buber) and Don’t Know Much About The Bible.

It was a rare day, as my beautiful wife bought more than I did. She attributes it to the wine she had with lunch. I attribute it to the fact that I stop by the store every couple of months and drain it of the items I want regularly, leaving me less to gorge on the next time I come. Regardless, it was a fruitful trip, and I’ll get to these books someday.

Book Report: The Best of Jules Verne by Jules Verne (1978)

Book coverI picked up this book because I know the chicks dig Jules Verne.

Well, maybe it’s only one, and maybe she is fictional. But still.

I probably picked this up because I’ve been doing the omnibus thing this year. I’ve shortchanged my annual numbers by reading books containing multiple books all year long (Three Novels by Damon Knight; Selected Tales and Poems by Edgar Allan Poe; John Carter of Mars). So why not another three-in-one? Besides, this book is sort of like picking up a split–I have a Reader’s Digest edition of A Journey to the Center of the Earth which I can move over to the read shelves as this volume contains that novel.

At any rate, my dear Clara, this volume contains three of Verne’s works, and we could spend many evenings by candelight discussing whether they are, in fact, the best. Before I did so, I would have to read a bunch more of what he wrote to argue intelligently, as these are the three books I’ve read.

The three books contained with are:

  • Around the World in 80 Days, the story of a reclusive and mysterious Englishman, Phineas Fogg, who makes a bet at his gentleman’s club that he can travel around the world in 80 days. He takes his new valet along for the ride and rescues a beautiful young Pharisee from sacrifice in India. A bank robbery right before he leaves London puts a detective on his tail who’s out to thwart him until an arrest warrant catches up with him.

    Of the book, this is the best–its protagonist is aloof, but the new valet, Passepartoute, is accessible, so we are rooting for them to complete their adventure in spite of the setbacks and adventures they encounter along the way. We even feel sympathetic to the detective who’s only doing his job. And the adventures involve exotic places and peoples. The other two novels included falter in comparison.

  • The Clipper of the Clouds, also published as Robur the Conqueror, starts with a duel scene. A Yankee and an Englishman argue over whether mysterious trumpet sounds coming from the sky played “Yankee Doodle” or “Rule Britannia”. The rest of the first chapter details mysterious sounds and trumpets heard from the sky around the world and the arguments as to what it might be. Then, we’re at a meeting of the lighter than air travel society, proposing to build a giant blimp or dirgible, when a stranger says that heavier than air craft ar the way to go. A ruckus and riot ensues, and the two most powerful men in the society disappear–they’ve been kidnapped by Robur, who has essentially a boat with rotary wings on the masts in addition to sails. So it can fly! He then, for reasons of his own, take the two men around the world and to different locales. Their adventures are a bit underwhelming, and then they return. I guess Verne did a sequel to this book, but I’m certainly not compelled to read it.
     
  • Journey to the Center of the Earth details a professor who finds a several-hundred-year-old coded note from an explorer who was censured and considered a heretic. The note contains the location of a secret cave that leads to the center of the earth. So the scientist enlists his nephew for a trip to Iceland, they take on a stoic Icelandic guide, a load of food, and they descend. They spend months walking through caves and having dry misadventures–running low on water, getting lost–until they find a giant underworld sea, which they build a raft and ride on for weeks, and then they find dinosaurs and evidence of humanoids under the earth before they trigger a volcanic eruption and ride it to the surface.

The second and third books in the volume have a whiff of the hard science fiction about them, where the draw is the science and the speculation, but not so much the story. Which is not what I read books for–not fiction, anyway.

So I was not, ultimately, impressed with them. Not for their lack of imagination, but rather by the execution where the speculation drove the books more than the stories based on the speculation.

I’m not sure what Clara would think of that.

The book also contains an interview with Jules Verne from The Strand magazine called “Jules Verne at Home”. This is a very nice bit capturing Verne and his wife at their estate, giving some insight into the popular author at the tail end of his career.

Ozark Police Assault Some Deerde Who Wasn’t Doin’ Nothin’

As Ms. K. likes to say, gas stations and convenience stores are like watering holes on the Serengeti for criminals (or something like that).

On Wednesday, November 22, somebody called the police on a suspicious looking young deer loitering outside the Casey’s General Story (famous for pizza). Probably asking for money or for someone to buy some beer.

The police responded less brutally than the Carbondale police department handling an emu, but still, when the deer gave them a little lip, they brutally assaulted the innocent piece of Bambiana.



The question on my mind, though, is who called the police on a wayward deer?

The answer, I think, is the manager of the Casey’s, who wanted to get free publicity for the fact that he or she is currently hiring.

It’s only the Black Friday deals that have kept the protesters otherwise occupied than to organize marches in Ozark.

Book Report: Rogue Warrior: Seal Force Alpha by Richard Marcinko and John Weisman (1998)

Book coverLet’s get it right out of the way: In my book report for They Call Me Mercenary #7: Slave of the Warmonger, I dinged that volume for misspelling the name of the Browning Hi-Power.

Welp, this book:

On his thigh, I could see the butt of an old SAS-type Browning High Power pistol peeking through the ballistic nylon restraining strap.

So consider this volume officially dinged.

As with any of the Rogue Warrior novels, you know what you’re getting: A crassly composed, often vulgar voice describing a pretty tight military/suspense story. This book deals with the specialist SEAL team destroying a clandestine Chinese weapons ship only to discover that the tangos had their hands on a particularly Top Secret electronics weapon called Big Brother–which means someone in Washington has been working with the ChiComs. So Marcinko and crew have to stop a plot (dealing with the disputed Senkaku islands–here in the future, in 2017, we know all about those still-disputed islands, don’t we?).

It’s fast-paced and fun reading (if you can tolerate the voice, which is strangely part of the charm for me). Apparently, these books are still getting written and put out, and I have to wonder how they will evolve–in 1998, the main character has open disdain for the Clinton administration, for example–as history has unfolded. Sadly, they could just about recycle a number of the post-Cold War plots since the same hotspots from 1998 remain places of suspense in 2017.

Check out the foresight as to the hot things to come:

No, Dick–what you sometimes gotta do is take the Oriental approach. Use the discipline of Mindfulness. Let everything be everything, and in equal degrees of being.

In 2017, all the cool listicle and life-hack sites talk about mindfulness (as does this blog, as I end up reading a bunch of that stuff to relax).

As I have said or alluded, these books are scarily timely even after 20 years.

Book Report: Teachers: Jokes, Quotes, and Anecdotes edited by Patrick Regan (2001)

Book coverThe people behind this book built it to be a teacher-friendly gift for students to give their secret Santas and whatnot in the educational system. It collects quotes about education from a variety of classical sources, includes a jokes relating to schooling that cast teachers in a flattering light, and shares anecdotes from actual teachers about amusing incidents they encountered.

Although it’s a pretty thick little book–260+ pages–with only two short bits per page, it’s a pretty quick scan, amusing enough but not something that’s going to stick to your mental ribs.

So an amusing couple of hours of flipping, and nothing more. Unless you receive it as a gift and you’re a teacher, in which case it could be a memento.

Stuck in Reruns

You know, as I mentioned, I’m going through old posts and whatnot, and I notice that I used to comment on the news of the day every day.

Lately, though, my posts have been mostly music, mostly books, mostly life.

Why is that, you ask?

Well, it’s partly because I don’t want to sound like a crank on the Internet, and I don’t devote enough time to my commentary to not were I to jot a couple things here and there. Also, in the modern world, I can’t help but wonder if I would lose career opportunities based on my commentary. Although this site with its rich archives is still here, so any job opportunities I would lose I have already lost. And I’m thinking that the field that I am in has changed enough to leave me behind a bit as it were anyway.

Also, it’s partly because like reading a Rogue Warrior novel, I see the same things come up over and over again over the years, and I’d just be repeating myself.

A couple cases in point: From 2012, stories about local governments in St. Louis County and Republic looking to consolidate trash hauling to a single government-selected option. I know I’ve written at length about this as far back as my Suburban Journal days. Well, look, here the issue is again in Springfield. I wrote about it earlier this year even. What more do I have to say about it except to point out further examples?

I also spotted a story from 2008 about the Hidden Valley ski resort in St. Louis County clashing with local governments about blocking an amenity, and the resort threatened to or it will have no choice to shut down.

It just seems so dull to keep posting the same things, year after year, with little change.

Occam’s Razor Suggests Robur the Conqueror

BOOM! MYSTERY BLASTS RATTLING THE GLOBE:

Those are the questions experts and non-experts around the world are asking themselves in recent weeks as curiously loud mystery BOOMS have not only been hear around the world, but felt – shaking buildings and rattling nerves from Alabama to Michigan, Idaho to California, Russia to Denmark.

The Alabama boom last Tuesday at 1:39 CST was heard and felt through 11 counties, but an earthquake event has been ruled out.

The day after Alabamans were shaken by that incident, something similar occurred in Idaho. No explanation has been forthcoming from law enforcement officials there.

Then, last Saturday, much the same thing was reported in Michigan, according to various local newscast. Still no explanation.

Clearly, it is Robur the Conqueror in his Clipper in the Clouds:

Never had the sky been so much looked at since the appearance of man on the terrestrial globe. The night before an aerial trumpet had blared its brazen notes through space immediately over that part of Canada between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. Some people had heard those notes as “Yankee Doodle,” others had heard them as “Rule Britannia,” and hence the quarrel between the Anglo-Saxons, which ended with the breakfast on Goat Island. Perhaps it was neither one nor the other of these patriotic tunes, but what was undoubted by all was that these extraordinary sounds had seemed to descend from the sky to the earth.

What could it be? Was it some exuberant aeronaut rejoicing on that sonorous instrument of which the Renommée makes such obstreperous use?

No! There was no balloon and there were no aeronauts. Some strange phenomenon had occurred in the higher zones of the atmosphere, a phenomenon of which neither the nature nor the cause could be explained. Today it appeared over America; forty-eight hours afterwards it was over Europe; a week later it was in Asia over the Celestial Empire.

Hence in every country of the world—empire, kingdom, or republic—there was anxiety which it was important to allay. If you hear in your house strange and inexplicable noises, do you not at once endeavor to discover the cause? And if your search is in vain, do you not leave your house and take up your quarters in another? But in this case the house was the terrestrial globe! There are no means of leaving that house for the moon or Mars, or Venus, or Jupiter, or any other planet of the solar system. And so of necessity we have to find out what it is that takes place, not in the infinite void, but within the atmospherical zones. In fact, if there is no air there is no noise, and as there was a noise—that famous trumpet, to wit—the phenomenon must occur in the air, the density of which invariably diminishes, and which does not extend for more than six miles round our spheroid.

(Link via.)

Book Report: Wisconsin: A Picture Memory text by Bill Harris (1996)

Book coverI’ve read a number of these Crescent Books picture books with the text by Bill Harris before (New York At Night, Florida: A Photographic Journey, New York: City of Many Dreams). So when I saw a book with images from my home state last month, I hopped on it.

This volume is pretty slim–64 pages in all–which makes me question the committment of the publishers. Wisconsin has varied landscapes, and one could easily do a whole book on the north, on the lake shore, along the Missouri river, and the prairie.

However, this book gives each a nod and a page or two along with three pages of pictures of Madison, a page of Milwaukee (including the interior of a brewery, natch). I was pleased with how many sites I’ve seen–I’ve been to La Crosse, I’ve been up north, and I’ve visited the Dells and the House on the Rock. I have seen the state capitol lit up at night, but I haven’t been to Madison by day–the only time I was in Madison was late on a Friday or Saturday night for a quick trip to the Pizza Pit and back to Milwaukee, so I didn’t really even notice the birds’ eye view of its position between its two lakes.

So I enjoyed the book. Certainly more than the Wisconsin-based football game during which I flipped through the volume.

I have more of these books, I think, and I kind of look forward to them. Perhaps I should find them amid the thousands of books I’ve got on my to-read shelves.

Also, extra poignant note: The book has a little sticky note inscription in it that says To Dad From Brian. As this is a 1996 edition of the book, my own father was already but a (fresh) memory for me then.

Book Report: Zobmondo! Created by Randy Horn (2001)

Book coverTo be entirely honest, I didn’t actually read this book.

I bought it because my beautiful wife and I, when we were young, took little quiz books along on rode trips and asked ourselves the little essay questions to amuse ourselves and to learn more about our partner as the miles rolled away. So somewhere along the line, I picked up this book to amuse ourselves again when we had older children and took road trips.

Well, the children are older now, and we sometimes drive a distance with them, but when we packed this little “Would you rather?” game, it was pretty clear that I had only read the back and had not read actual questions in the book, or if I did look at actual questions in the book, I must have accidentally landed on the things that weren’t particularly odious.

The first questions in the book are:

  • Would you rather chew on a wild rat’s severed tail for a half hour or thoroughly brush your teeth with a toothbrush from a prison’s community toothbrush bowl?
  • Would you rather bite into a piece of chocolate and find it filled with maggots or filled with pus?
  • Would you rather walk around all day with a dead mouse in your butt or a dead frog in your mouth?

Well, we found something else to do on the trip

I guess the question for me is would I rather keep this book on my to-read shelves even though I won’t actually read it or put it on my read shelves even though I haven’t actually read it? Clearly, I’m migrating it to the read shelves (like I could ever give a book away!). Perhaps it will give my children some amusement someday, although given that some of the questions have sexual content and not just gross-out conundrums, I will try to keep it out of their grasps for a couple years yet.

So be warned: It’s more a book for road trips with Tom Green than with children or your sweetie.