Good Book Hunting, April 28, 2018: The Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library Book Sale

Well, I did it again. I returned to the Friends of the Springfield-Greene County semi-annual book sale on Half Price Day and went through the better books section seeking more bargain-like books.

And, honestly, I mostly looked for audio courses like those produced by The Teaching Company. And boy howdy did I find them. In the past, they’ve been priced at twenty or thirty dollars, and I could get them for half that. But this time, they were originally marked ten bucks, so I got them for five dollars each.

Here are the stacks:

The Teaching Company courses include:

  • Psychology of Human Behavior
  • The Lives of Great Christians
  • Algebra I
  • Luther: Gospel, Law, and Reformation
  • Geometry (by James Noggle)
  • A Day’s Read

Books include:

  • Milton’s Minor Poems
  • The Murder of Lidice by Edna St. Vincent Millay
  • Brush Up On Your Classics by Michael Macrone
  • The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and illustrated by Frederic Remington
  • The Literature Lover’s Book of Lists by Judie H. Strouf
  • Under the Sunday Tree Paintings by Mr. Amos Ferguson/Poems by Eloise Greenfield
  • Guitar 2, a book about guitar techniques and whatnot
  • Miles Davis: Sketch Orks, a music book for trumpet for my youngest or my beautiful wife, both of whom play trumpet

Records include:

  • Black Satin by the George Shearing Quintet and Orchestra
  • The Chick Correa Elektric Band
  • Handel Sonatas for Recorder, Op.1
  • Time Further Out The Dave Brubeck Quartet
  • Boots Randolph Plays 12 Monstrous Hits

The records were cheap, too (a buck or two each after the price was halved). Overall, the prices were more affordable than I remember. Which is good.

The pickings were less books than things to listen to, but that’s alright. I have plenty to read until the next sales.

Good Album Hunting, April 25, 2018: Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library Book Sale

Friends, I hit the Friends of the Library Book Sale on the first day it opened this year within fifteen minutes of the big bell ringing. Except they don’t have a big bell.

It was busy, but not packed, and I made my way to the record section in the back, as is my wont. I discovered again to my dismay that the record section is shrinking–or at least the dollar section (there’s no telling what my lie in the Better Books section, but one of the things about my record accumulation is that I’d prefer not to pay over a dollar for a record. Which lends itself to buying some discs of ill use and hoping for the best.

The diminished selection probably means there will never again be a day of buying sixty albums at a shot. I did, however, optimistically buy seventeen.

I got:

  • Foreign Tongue by Taxxi. Clearly, this is the best album with two scantily clad women on horseback bearing crossbows that I own. Although you never can tell. I might own a couple like this.
  • Mad Love by Linda Ronstadt
  • Snapshot by Sylvia (all right, I yield! I will buy the Sylvia albums!)
  • Energy by the Pointer Sisters
  • Eydie Gorme’s Greatest Hits, most of which I already own on the original records. But I must be complete in my accumulation.
  • Handel: The Complete Flute Sonatas by Jean-Pierre Rampal
  • Love Is A Game Of Poker by Nelson Riddle. Although I have Linda Ronstadt and Nelson Riddle, not together. Although I already own the three records they did together anyway.
  • The Yakin’ Sax Man by Boots Randolph
  • To the Limit by Joan Armatrading. My beautiful wife mentioned having one of her records once. So I bought that one for her and now another.
  • Jackie Gleason Presents Music For Lovers Only. Do I already own this? It’s hard to tell because I already own so many, and Gleason put “For Lovers Only” in a lot of the record titles.
  • Give Me The Reason by Luther Vandross. The first record I spun; unfortunately, it skips a bit on the first song, so it might be time for a penny on the needle arm.
  • Rapture by Anita Baker. Clearly, I’ve moved into more R&B as I can find it since I’ve pretty much topped up my collection of swinging 60s music.
  • Jackie Gleason Presents Music For The Lonely Hours. For those without lovers only, perhaps.
  • Reach Out, Burt Bacharach, Burt Bacharach and Friends, and Burt Bacharach Plays His Greatest Hits. No, now my swinging sixties music collection is topped up. For now.

Perhaps tomorrow I’ll go back for some actual, you know, books. And the more expensive, although half priced, LPs. And some CD courses, perhaps.

I’m Also A Murderous, Grotesque Monster

An empowering meme from Facebook:

You know, if you see a quote from Shelley, it’s probably from Frankenstein. And, odds are, if it sounds remotely ’empowering,’ it’s either Frankenstein’s monster or Frankenstein in the throes of his hubristic feeling of power in making the monster.

This is a lot like posting a gun-loving quote from author William S. Burroughs, who shot his wife.

File this under the unread write. Or meme, which is, sadly, the modern equivalent.

Read This, Not That, Since Modern Readers Have To Choose One

For some reason, Friar delved into a list of books provided by GQ entitled 21 Books You Don’t Have to Read:

We’ve been told all our lives that we can only call ourselves well-read once we’ve read the Great Books. We tried. We got halfway through Infinite Jest and halfway through the SparkNotes on Finnegans Wake. But a few pages into Bleak House, we realized that not all the Great Books have aged well. Some are racist and some are sexist, but most are just really, really boring. So we—and a group of un-boring writers—give you permission to strike these books from the canon. Here’s what you should read instead.

Sounds like the ill-read leading the unread to me, but it does present itself as a book quiz! Here’s the list. I’ve bolded the titles I’ve read:

Old Canon: New, Improved GQ Canon:
Lonesome Dove
by Larry McMurty
The Mountain Lion
by Jean Stafford
The Catcher in the Rye
by J.D. Salinger
Olivia: A Novel
by Dorothy Strachey
Goodbye to All That
by Robert Graves
Dispatches
by Michael Herr
The Old Man and the Sea
by Ernest Hemingway
The Summer Book
by Tove Jannson
The Alchemist
by Paulo Coelho
Near to the Wild Heart
by Clarice Lispector
A Farewell to Arms
by Ernest Hemingway
The Great Fire
by Shirley Hazzard
Blood Meridian
by Cormac McCarthy
The Sisters Brothers
by Patrick deWitt
John Adams
by David McCullough
Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President
by Clarice Millard
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
by Mark Twain
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave
by Frederick Douglass
 
The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll
by Alvaro Mutis
The Ambassadors
by Henry James
The Rise and the Fall of the Third Reich
by William L. Shirer
The Bible
The Notebook
by Agota Kristof
Franny and Zooey
by J.D. Salinger
Death Comes for the Archbishop
by Willa Cather
The Lord of the Rings
by J.R.R. Tolkein
The Earthsea series
by Ursula Le Guin
Dracula
by Bram Stoker
Angels
by Denis Johnson
Catch-22
by Joseph Heller
The American Granddaughter
by Inaam Kachachi
Life
by Keith Richards
The Worst Journey in the World
by Apsley Cherry-Garrard
Freedom
by Jonathan Franzen
Too Loud a Solitude
by Bohumil Hrabal
Gravity’s Rainbow
by Thomas Pynchon
Inherent Vice
by Thomas Pynchon
Slaughterhouse Five
by Kurt Vonnegut
Veronica
by Mary Gaitskill
Gulliver’s Travels
by Jonathan Swift
The Life and Opinions of Tristan Shandy, Gentleman
by Laurence Stern

Of the entire list, the books that I have not yet read but might someday includes Dracula and maybe some Pynchon (although I think the title I have on my to-read shelves is The Crying of Lot 49). The rest of it? Meh, the kind of thing you already find on college syllabi these days.

But to call them canon–even some of those on the left side of the list–presupposes that anyone will give a flying fish about them in a couple of decades. Which I doubt.

How Can We Miss It If It Hasn’t Gone Away?

THE RETURN OF MAD MAGAZINE AND ITS ALL-NEW GANG OF IDIOTS:

MORE THAN 40 years ago this month, MAD Magazine founder William M. Gaines managed to outrage hundreds of his loyal readers, all by barely lifting a finger. For the April 1974 issue of his happily juvenile comedy rag—a mix of pop-culture parodies, political humor, and sound-effect-saturated comic strips—Gaines’ staff went with a cover illustration guaranteed to shock school teachers and parents around the country: A raised middle finger, accompanied by the declaration that MAD was the “Number One Ecch Magazine.” Gaines had casually approved the image, which he didn’t even find that funny. But when some of the magazine’s nearly 2 million readers began complaining, he wound up personally writing letters of apology. “We put it out, and the roof fell in,” Gaines later said of the issue.

It’s hard to imagine a similarly outraged reaction to the just-released MAD No. 1, the first issue since its publisher, DC Entertainment, announced a much-needed relaunch.

Wired makes it sound like Mad had gone away. But it had not. As a matter of fact, we bought a subscription for our oldest son for Christmas.

I wonder if the Wired writer knew that. Or it mattered.

Not Me, But Don’t Think I Haven’t Thought Of It

Self-storage units surge in Milwaukee because ‘people don’t like to get rid of stuff’

As you might know, gentle reader, I like to retain things as artifacts of my youth as I’m a few decades ahead of my peers in not having many friends or family with whom I can reminisce. So I have bunches of things from my dead family members on mantels and shelves and in boxes in my closets. I also collect a lot of things, from comic books to old computers, that take up space in our store room. I don’t like to let things go.

But strangely enough, the only time I’ve considered renting storage space is to clear space in my garage, where we have boxes of children’s or my beautiful wife’s books, some kitchen stuff not in frequent (that is, once in a decade) use, and some craft gear that I’m not actively using, and some furniture that I’ve been meaning to refinish for the last twenty years (what, you say–have I really moved these articles four times? Yes.). If I put them in a storage unit, I can make room in the garage for me to actually do things in it.

But so far, no. I’m afraid of what would happen were I to get one storage unit. I fear it would be like putting the first item in the bag at a book sale’s bag day.

So I’ll just have to resign myself to the remedy that we’ve used over the years: buy a bigger house.

Good Book Hunting, April 19 and 21, 2018: Hooked on Books/Friends of the Christian County Library Book Sale

Well, it is Book Sale Month here in Springfield. The friends of the local libraries hold their book sales. Did that stop me from swinging by Hooked on Books to see what they had on their dollar carts when I had a few minutes to kill on Thursday? Of course not.

I got:

  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks which I don’t have to read in case her case comes up in a trivia night as it already has.
  • Going Postal by Terry Pratchett. The suspicious young man who didn’t know Hooked on Books used to put red dots on the spine for dollar books was skeptical that this book by a popular author was on the dollar books cart, but he found some damage to the spine that might account for it. Probably brought some termites home with me or something on this book.
  • Golden Times: Tales Through The Sugarhouse Window, which looks to be a collection of columns or musings.

Meanwhile, in Ozark, the Friends of the Christian County Library book sale had already kicked off to little fanfare, and we only managed to go on Saturday morning. Bag day. It still had a sizeable selection when we got there, which allowed me to fill only three bags (and my beautiful wife filled one). So, for eight dollars, we got:

  • The Willow Bees, a collection of musings from a local author, I reckon. There was a stack of them available.
  • 1001 Ways To Be Romantic. Probably not like Keats and Byron.
  • Death of a Doxy, a Nero Wolfe mystery.
  • Act of Treason by Vince Flynn. Heather likes him, so I’ve been picking up his books. Since I’ve not started reading them yet, I’m probably picking up multiple copies of each. But, hey, bag day. I had to pick this up in case I hadn’t already.
  • Country Editor’s Boy, a collection of country memories.
  • A collection of stories by Dorothy Parker.
  • Athabasca by Alistair MacLean.
  • Naked Came The Manatee, a novel by a collection of Florida authors including Carl Hiaasen and Dave Barry.
  • The Secret Power Within by Chuck Norris, a Zen musing by the actor.
  • Two collections of Sally Forth comics by Greg Howard.
  • The Trivia Lover’s Guide to the World.
  • Home Song, a Cape Light novel that might not even be about Christmas. What’s next for me, cozy mysteries and romance novels?
  • License Renewed, one of Gardner’s later James Bond novels since I’ve been watching the films with my boys.
  • The Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Susan McBride, one of the Debutante Dropout mysteries by the St. Louis area author. My god, is this a cozy? How far have I fallen?
  • Nightmare Town, a collection of stories by Dashiell Hammett. I’ve probably read them before. But not in this volume.
  • Fast Fiction: Creating Fiction in Five Minutes, a writing book. Because I’ve been meaning to delve into fiction again.
  • Farnsworth’s Classical English Rhetoric. It looks to be a collection of quotes with explanations about them.
  • Einstein for Beginners. After my recent failed forays into higher physics, I probably need this. If I can’t get it, the next stop is Physics for Dummies.
  • Sharpe’s Fury, one of Bernard Cornwell’s historical series. Which I might already own in paperback, but bag day. Although I probably would have paid a buck for it anyway just in case I didn’t have it.
  • Skin Game, one of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series. Which I probably don’t already have.
  • Pocket Quips, a little paperback of one-liners and gags.
  • The Bourne Identity. We passed through Nixa on the way to the book sale, and I remember that someone recently put up a joke sign on the Welcome to Nixa sign that said “Home of Jason Bourne”, but I guess that’s the movie version. I’ve not read the book, but some years ago I listened to one of them on audiobook. My wife loves them, though.
  • Starwolves: Battle of the Ring and Star Wolves: Dreadnaught. Because they had a similar name to Star Wolf: The Weapon From Beyond. But the series are quite likely unrelated.
  • Iroshi, The Glaive, and Persea. I picked up The Glaive to see if it’s related to Krull (no). It’s the second book in a series about a hero with an actual glaive. I found the first (Iroshi) and another in the series nearby, so I bought them. Because bag day.
  • Gust Front by John Ringo.
  • March to the Sea by John Ringo and David Weber. I’ve been seeing a lot of Ringo hit the book sales and used book stores lately. There must be something in the publishing cycle of an author that dictates how soon this happens after an author gets notice and sales. Ringo seems to have hit that point in his career. I really should read one of the ones I’ve been picking up to see if I like them before I acquire the whole collection only to determine I don’t like them. Well, another besides The Hero, I guess.

So that’s, carry the one, thirty-three new books. Or, at my current pace, two years’ worth of reading. For essentially nine dollars.

I’d better get to reading instead of telling you about it.

Word of the Day: Chautauqua

So I started reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance this week, and the narrator keeps mentioning a Chautauqua, which is his lesson he’s trying to impart in a chapter. I kinda meant to look it up, but I didn’t.

The Green County Commonwealth, currently the only paper I subscribe to, has a throwback history article every week, and Wednesday, it talked about circuit Chautauquas in the Springfield area in the early part of the 20th century.

Apparently, a Chautauqua was a summer camp like thing for education, where common people could go listen to lectures and hear great music. Circuit Chautauquas were kinda like traveling carnival versions of the same. They were started by an organization that held the first on the shores of Chautauqua Lake in New York, and they got the nickname from that.

Man, I hope that’s a question in a forthcoming trivia night since it’s something I learned and will probably retain.

Un Homme Et Une Femme Et Un Homme Et Une Femme

It’s been a while since we had a “Who sang it better?” post here on MfBJN, and as I know I’m your most important source for old timey musical comparisons, I feel like I’ve been letting you down.

This morning, as I was spinning Rendezvous Mit Mireille, I heard Mireille Mathieu singing “Un Homme et Une Femme”:

Now, you might remember that Mireille is my favorite French singer.

Sacha Boutros covers the song on her album Simply Sacha:

Given the topic matter of the song, I prefer Boutros’ more intimate approach versus the European poppish rendition. It’s less performance and more confessional.

But what about Eydie? you long time reader (sadly, the singular is intentional–well, not intentional, but unfortunately accurate) might ask. Well, fortunately for Sacha, Eydie Gorme did not actually do this song (according to my thirty seconds of Internet research and years’ experience in playing Eydie Gorme records). She did do an English version with Steve Lawrence on the album A Man and a Woman, but, dude, it’s in English. Totally a different song. (Note this is not the only time I’ve invoked this technicality; see also Eydie vs. Herb: The Ultimate Head-to-Head Musical Throwdown.)

When You Get Your Statistics From Facebook Ads

Apparently written by thirteen-year-olds.

For the record, $100,000 in utility bills, specifically electric bills, would take, what, thirty years if solar reduced my bill to absolutely zero and. Of course, the cost of installation and maintenance of said unproven systems would extend that thirty years by a, what, decade or so? So I think this claim might be a little, erm, speculative.

Oh, and add more onto it for the interest if you go $0 down.

Brian J. Goes To The Comic Shop

Yesterday, I had a couple minutes before my guitar lesson, so I stopped by the comic shop nearby. The Comic Cave has a good selection of comics marked a buck, and I have had some luck in picking up titles recently with actual stories in them. So I rummaged through the dollar boxes for a bit and picked out five books.

I paid cash, and the guy asked me if I needed a bag.

“No,” I said, “I don’t have to hide them from my wife.” I paused. “But I’ll put the Gamora on the bottom.”

It was an amusing little quip, but in the interest of transparency, here is the salacious comic in question:

Not salacious at all.

The guy behind the counter smiled, and my beautiful wife chuckled when I recounted the story. So perhaps I should tag this post as Humor instead of merely Life. Also, perhaps I should create a category for comic books since I’ve started talking about them from time to time over the last year or so.

I know nothing about these new Guardians of the Galaxy aside from what I’ve seen in the movies. I’m used to the old team, mostly because I’m an old man.

Brian J.’s Interior Monologue At The Gym, As Read Dramatically By Professional Actors

Pretty much, it’s this for an hour or so:

I guess I’ll continue getting to old for it until I’m too dead for it.

I don’t know if the exercise will lengthen my life at all, but it will sure make blocs of it more painful.

In another note, I was at my martial arts class, complaining about my creaky hinges (elbows) which might have a slight strain and might prevent me from doing any upper body work for a couple of weeks (returning to upper body work after a couple weeks off is what caused the achy), and I referred to this moment from Lethal Weapon 4:

I’m only…. (distressed arithmetic….carry the one to the decades column….)

I came to exercise and athleticism late in life, and I often feeling like I’m bumping into a ceiling.

But maybe it’s only a drop ceiling, and I can break through it to do some chin ups on the plumbing and girders I expose.

I’m just kidding. I can’t do chin ups.

But I would totally rock the elementary school Presidential Fitness Medal test now.

At least the girl’s test, maybe.

Musing on Shakespeare: Measure for Measure

I’ve started to read the Complete Works of William Shakespeare, and instead of writing one book report at the end, since this could take years, I’ve decided to post my thoughts on each play as I finish it. Of course, it will still only count as one book on my annual reading count in 2020 because I’m silly that way.

It took me quite some time to get through this play. Originally, I thought I would do a couple acts of a play a night, which would mean I could finish a play in a couple of days. This is not me at my peak Middle English consumption–that was in college, when I read five Ben Jonson plays in five nights to catch up on the semester’s reading ahead of the final. But it would mean I was progressing steadily through the collection. Then the reading tailed off to maybe an act a night. Then, maybe a scene. Then maybe a scene a week. Which is where we got to with this play.

The setup: The Duke places his second in command in charge of the town while he travels because he’s been lax in enforcing some of the laws, and he knows that the second will vigorously enforce them, cleaning up the city and allowing the Duke to return and lessen the hand of government. The Duke, though, stays in town in disguise of a friar. The second behaves as expected, and as part of his sweep catches up a young man who has impregnated his fiance before the marriage, which is punishable by death. The young man’s sister is just a couple vows short of becoming a nun, but she goes to implore the subduke to spare her brother, and he is taken with her and promises to release her brother if she will sleep with him (the subduke, not the brother). That is the crux of the play: Whether she will give in and save her brother through carnal means or not.

We get some good theorizing about mercy versus justice, but eventually the play breaks down a bit with a number of characters that don’t do much but keep sixteenth century actors busy and provide a bit of convenience to wrap the play up happily. It’s not as tight as some of the better-known plays, and it really has put me off a bit on reading more in the canon–although the next one is Much Ado About Nothing which I remember most as Keanu Reeves’ Shakespearean turn. So one of these days I’ll get into it.

Brian J. Finds The Loophole

We signed up for the Camp Barnabas Run this morning a couple months ago, anticipating that it would be warmer than our last run (The Christmas Run in December, where runtime temperature was 27 degrees). Hey, it’s April, right? It should be a nice day to start the running season off right.

Oh, but no.

Runners brave the cold, snow in Camp Barnabas half-marathon in Springfield:

Runners from around the Ozarks braved temperatures in the 20’s and snow to compete in the Camp Barnabas half-marathon Saturday.

When it started with the freezing rain last night, I decided I’d awaken at 5 am, the time we’d need to be up to get ready, and gauge whether to go or not. So I did, and I looked out the window. There was snow on the ground, and it was still snowing, so I called off our trip into town and went back to bed.

If I had been thinking, though, I would have exploited the loophole in the rules.

Although roller skates and inline skates are prohibited, ice skates are not.

Perhaps I can exploit this loophole next year. Or in any 5K we sign up for in May.

Book Report: Job: A Comedy of Justice by Robert A. Heinlein (1984)

Book coverThis is a later Heinlein novel. Published in 1984, it has a heft to it that the earlier rocket jockey stuff had, but it’s a bit boggy and ends less than well from my perspective.

The story: A fundraiser from a world where religious fundamentalism has its way is on vacation cruise when he bets fellow passengers that he could walk on fire like the south Pacific natives. After he does, he faints from the fumes, and when he awakens, he is not in his own world any more. Things have changed, from the underlying technologies to the name by which his fellow passengers recognize him. He discovers that his alter-ego in this world is carrying a million dollars in cash and has been having a (sinful!) fling with an attractive ship’s maid. After a while, he professes his love for her and suddenly, both of them find themselves shifting worlds with nothing but what they’re wearing and carrying. On each, they pick themselves up and make plans, only to be thwarted when worlds shift again.

It’s an interesting conceit, but it becomes a little unfocused toward the middle, and the last quarter or fifth of the book gets a little unwound as the book, as a wise man put it in a comment on the review of The Cat Who Walks Through Walls:

…its final act falls apart when the story goes cosmic.

At the end, we have a relationship of Satan and Yahweh along with some other deities as subordinate to a still higher power (which might be subordinate to an even higher power, onto infinity). Of course, spoiler alert: They were testing this fellow, and the end takes place after Armageddon. Also, after Ragnarok. Where the world has not ended for the Norse gods somehow.

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).

Still, Job is a good read in spite of all of that. Heinlein keeps the story moving along rather well, which is a nice contrast to the other science fiction book I’ve read recently (Voyage From Yesteryear). I’m pleased to be getting to the end of the Heinlein later stuff, but I probably won’t reread it unlike some of the rocket jockey stuff.

Know Your Lutheran Countersigns

As you might know, gentle reader, I’ve attended a Lutheran church for about five or six years. I’m not a Lutheran, per se–I am half Catholic, being that my father was Catholic (but as my mother was not, the Catholic term for this is bastard), and I was baptised into a Church of Christ (I think–I was rather young).

But I’ve learned the Lutheran countersigns so when I walk amongst them, they don’t know that I’m a stranger. For your benefit, should you ever need to infiltrate a Lutheran church, I present this list of signs and countersigns so you know how to respond when challenged.

Sign: Countersign: Comment
The Lord be with you. And also with you.  
May the Force be with you. And also with you. Lutherans sometimes reply automatically even though this is not the traditional Star Wars response.
This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.  
He is risen! He is risen indeed. Hallelujah! Especially prominent on Easter.

Join us next time when we discuss the proper identification tokens to present. Hint: At the potluck dinner, the answer is not Lutefisk in Missouri: You should, in fact, bring a dessert to ensure that the proper balance of four desserts for every meal item such, as meat or vegetables, is maintained.

The Story of the Easter Tie

Many people have Christmas ties with snow, snowmen, Santa, or other seasonal imagery on them. Some involve lights and music.

But, friends, I have an Easter tie.

It looks like it’s made from an old bed sheet, and it feels like cotton instead of a more silky tie material. I’ve only worn it a couple of times prior to before making it the official Easter tie, but now it’s an annual tradition.

I bought this tie, what, 26 years ago? I was at the university, and I worked at a grocery store on the northwest side of Milwaukee that required its baggers to wear shirts and ties–along with slacks and nice shoes– every day. Why, when I started, they also required a blue vest with your name tag on it, but a bagger rebellion and the cost of replacing them eventually led that to go by the wayside. So I needed ties when I was nineteen years old.

On Fridays, we could cash our paychecks right there in the store, and a friend and I would hop the 76th street bus (Route 67, which is weird because it was on 76th Street, but I am no mass transit expert) to the local mall (Northridge). Where, too often, we (and by “we,” I mean “I”) would blow a whole week’s pay (around $100 in the days of $3.65 minimum wage).

One day, we were in J.C. Penney’s. My aunt had given me a gift certificate (not a gift card), and I wanted to buy something inexpensive because the store gave refunds in cash in those days. And I was a poor college student prone to blowing his whole paycheck on music and movies and video games, so I always needed extra cash. So I found this tie marked down to $1.98, and I jumped on it.

As I was checking out, I told the cashier I was lucky because it was the last one. He didn’t realize I was joking.

Not to be confused with the Easter Chewbacca.