Not The Store I Hoped For

So I saw the Battery Outfitters on Campbell the other day, and as I needed some supplies, I stopped in.

I was greatly disappointed! I hoped to pick up some 105mm shells for my M119A3 and some 150mm shells for my Paladin (well, what kind of mobile artillery did you think I would own?), but all this store had was small power cells.

It’s back to the black market for me, I guess, and grizzled guys named Sergei and Michal.

But it takes a lot of concentrated fire to keep Japanese beetles off of my peach trees. Also, for keeping peaches, leaves, branches, and limbs off of my peach trees.

I’ve Marked My Calendar

Herb Alpert, Lani Hall will perform in Springfield:

Herb Alpert and Lani Hall will perform at Gillioz Theatre on Saturday, Sept. 30, at 8 p.m. Reserved seating tickets start at $36.50 and go on sale Friday, July 14, at 10 a.m. Gillioz Club members will have a presale opportunity on July 13 from 10 – 10.

You know what I am doing on Friday morning: Burning up the Internet.

It crossed my mind to try to get him to autograph on of my LPs. But which one? Rise? The Lonely Bull? Whipped Cream and Other Delights? I could try to get Lani Hall to autograph one of my Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66 CDs. I’ve got a bunch of their CDs as well, including recent work like Steppin’ Out and I Feel You, but, come on, a signed CD is not as demonstrably cool as a signed LP.

I probably won’t do that, but I am surely going to that concert.

Book Report: The Bible’s Cutting Room Floor by Dr. Joel M. Hoffman (2014)

Book coverI picked up this book at the Fair Grove branch of the Springfield-Greene County Library. You’re saying to yourself, “Hey, has he run out of books to read in his own library and the more local branches of his local library so that he has to drive almost an hour to find something new?” No, gentle reader; this summer, my boys and I are trying to visit each branch of the Springfield-Greene County library, and when we got to the Fair Grove branch (a small room off of the Fair Grove City Hall), I spotted this book in the one shelf of philosophy/religion/magick whilst my children were picking out books of their own. As I’m interested in learning more about how the Bible was compiled over time, I thought it would be a great place to start.

The book starts out pretty scholarly (but eminently readable). It talks about the history of Jerusalem around the time of Christ with some mention of the various tensions between Rome and the peoples of that area, including the Syrians and the Jews. It then talks about the Dead Sea Scrolls and what they might mean and the intersection of those texts with the Bible. It talks about the Septuagint, why it was created, and the intersection between its texts and what later appears in the Bible. It discusses Josephus, a scholar that documented history of Judea around the time of Christ and where that intersects with the Bible.

Then the book takes a turn toward parables. Well, not parables; the book recounts apocryphoral stories such as Adam and Eve after their banishment from Eden; the apocalypse of Abraham, which is a bit of a prequel to his portion of Genesis and some visions he had; and the books of Enoch, father of Noah and a bit of an interesting but underreported figure in the Bible. He mentions very briefly the source text of these stories, and then spends their respective chapters telling the stories and a bit of what we can learn from each story as a lesson. He then wraps up with a short chapter trying to tie it all together with a message about Biblical and related textual scholarship.

I enjoyed the first chapters the most and got a bit from the last of it–particularly a familiarity of some of the Apocrypha–but the shift in its focus sort of turned from what I wanted to learn to something else.

At any rate, it’s a readable bit of popular Biblical scholarship. The author has written a number of other titles of the sort, and if I run across them (perhaps an hour away at the library branch in Strafford), I’ll give them a read. It’s the sense I got from the author of the pop philosophy book Travels with Epicurus by Daniel Klein–I’ll pick them up if I see them, but I’ll not actively seek them out.

CORRECTION: Originally, this post referred to the Ash Grove branch of the library. Silly me! The Ash Grove branch is a shotgun shack of a two-room library in downtown Ash Grove right off of the train tracks. The boys and I were there earlier in the year. I got this book at the Fair Grove branch. Fortunately for me, Fair Play is in Polk County, and I won’t be able to confuse it with anything.

“Do You Have Any Health Conditions?” The Coach Asked

True fact: When I was taking a triathlon class preparing for my first indoor triathlon this winter, the coach did ask me if I have any health conditions that would impede my performance. He asked this after watching me flail about in the swimming pool for thirty minutes. (I have previously related the story.)

But medical professionals have helped me uncover the thing that will keep me from becoming a top-flight performance athlete: I am fundamentally lazy I have an underlying heart condition.

My heart is three sizes too small.

Actually, it is not, and I have no heart condition that I know of (but if I continue with these foolish mid-life athletic futilities, who knows what I might learn?).

I just have a ready-made quip for any occasion related to my athletic performance or lack of endurance.

Not only am I fundamentally lazy inclined to reserving energy, I am also full of excuses capable of reasoned, logical explanations for accomplishments of sub-optimal level.

My Print Credit For 2017

So I’m in the acknowledgements section of a political science/women’s studies/social movements book this summer:

To be honest, I don’t settle for just as critical. My goal is to always be more critical.

The book is Empowered By Design: Decentralization and the Gender Policy Trifecta by Meg Rincker if you’re a political scientist and are interested.

That’s the only time my name has appeared in print this year, so far. I’d better hop on my own writing sometime soon to rectify that.

Probably not a political science/women’s studies/social movements book, though.

An Ode To Automatic Paper Towel Dispensers

So I’ve done my business and washed my hands like a good fellow, and I’m standing before the paper towel dispenser. It’s an automatic one. With the manual paper towel dispensers with the spring-loaded rollers where, if you can’t just pull the exposed paper towel to get it, you can push the bar or turn the reel on the side to get one. But not automatic ones. You have to discover, like in a video game, the angle at which the sensor points and the distance that the sensor can detect.

I’m all like:

But no paper towel presents itself. I spent what seemed to be twenty minutes pleading with SkyNet to give me a couple square inchdes of paper. In truth, it was probably only a minute. Either I lacked the proper thieves’ hand signals to steal something to rip off a towel or the device was not functional.

I left with wet hands.

Again.

That’s A Bold Email Subject Line, Cotton

An email touting a Webinar:

“Kaspersky-KSV -How a Light Agent Gives You More Capabilities.” I dunno, putting “Kaspersky” and “agent” in the same sentence when marketing Kaspersky seems a little risky given recent news headlines that do the same, such as Documents could link Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky to FSB spy agency.

But who knows? Maybe any publicity is good publicity, and marketing people who might find themselves out of work soon can disavow any particular email subject line in five seconds.

Poetry Pro-Tip

When finishing your slam-bang sonnet up with a couplet that rhymes Josephus with Bocephus, remember you have to add another syllable at the end, as the stress on each is on the middle syllable (JoeSEEfus, BoSEEfus).

Although, to be honest, I probably won’t use this particular tip myself, as I’m not comfortable or natively familiar with the pronunciation of either. I mean, although it’s spelled Joseph-us, apparently it’s not pronounced that way (my beautiful wife and Wikipedia agree), and the only time I’ve heard Bocephus spoken aloud was in the song “Redneck Woman”.

Given that the song is entitled “Redneck Woman”, the pronunciation is suspect.

So it’s back to rhyming “love” with “dove” for me.

I Don’t Want To Make You Feel Old, Old Man

but the song “1979” by Smashing Pumpkins (or is it THE Smashing Pumpkins like they say THE Ohio University?) was released 17 years after the actual year 1979.

But 1996 was 21 years ago now.

Chin up, laddie: The song “1985” is still closer to today that the title year. For a little while yet.

But most of you are far behind the ages mentioned in “It Was A Very Good Year” if I’m not mistaken. Probably past the age the narrator calls “the autumn of my life,” too.

Book Report: The Art of Thank You by Connie Leas (2002)

Book cover

This book is not an art book even though it says so right in the title. Instead, it’s almost 200 pages talking about etiquette for thank you notes, including numerous examples. The examples make up a quarter to a third of the page total, actually. I suppose I could count them for you, but I’m inherently too lazy to do so.

I’m a little surprised that the author could get so many pages out of the topic, but she’s an old technical writer. Basically, it boils down to write thank you notes and use nice stationery if you can, but the little folded Thank You cards are all right for less formal occasions. Also, send thank you notes for job interviews.

You know, I’ve been pretty dilligent for writing thank you notes for gifts I have received, which is not had since I don’t get that many gifts. My brother and I wrote out thank you notes after my mother’s funeral to everyone who came or sent flowers. So I’m already up on the basics of thank you writing.

But perhaps I could up my game by getting some custom letterhead and writing out thank you notes to people who have done nice things for me, nice things I’ve seen, or things I’ve enjoyed. I understand that gratitude is one of the self-help trends of the day–along with mindfulness–but I really could be better in perhaps brightening someone’s day with a little thank you note.

If they could even read it. Perhaps I should work on my penmanship first.

At any rate, this book is a bit long for the topic it covers–you could get the gist of it from an article in a women’s magazine–but it didn’t take too long to read.

On the other hand, this book makes an excellent gift if you’re passive-aggressive.

Follow the Logic In My Humor, Here

So my beautiful wife is working her way through computer Spanish lessons, and yesterday, as we were driving, we passed some daisies, her favorite flower.

“What is the Spanish word for daisy?” she asked me because I took Spanish for four years in high school and a year and a half in college.

To be honest, although Dr. Pasero told me I probably could have tested out of college Spanish–that is, taken a test to prove I had enough knowledge of Spanish equivalent to the required two years of Spanish at the university–I took the college Spanish anyway, mainly because hauling myself from my corner of Milwaukee to the campus early in the morning for the test was a pain to my pre-Freshman mind (although I eventually got pretty good at it as my college career progressed).

I even took an extra Spanish class because it was taught by the brother of a fellow who worked with me at the grocery store, and I often got chided for deploying my sense of humor by directly translating from the English idiom to Spanish. That is, the absurd things we say as Americans that are clearly made ridiculous to non-native speakers.

But I digress.

“What is the Spanish word for daisy?” my beautiful wife asked.

“I don’t know,” I said. It’s true: My Spanish vocabulary was never that good, even in my Spanish class days. It eroded over time, but it got a little bump when my children were really little and had a number of bi-lingual board books. But as a couple of recent birthdays have illustrated, that was also a while ago, so my Spanish vocabulario has dwindled again. You make your conversation that fits your knowledge; if I had to, I would simply call it flor. But I am digressing again.

“I don’t know,” I said, and note: here is the joke: “I still call her Ciela.”

Now, let me explain:

In the television program Agents of SHIELD, this one character is called Skye for a while, until she meets her parents and discovers they named her Daisy.

Now, everyone on the program calls her Daisy. It took me a half season to do it, too.

You see, Ciela is a feminization of the Spanish word for sky. So I was saying I still say sky instead of daisy.

Well, I guess you had to be there.

My wife got it after a moment. So I got that going for me.

So if you read me savaging modern comedies and saying, “Why don’t you try it if you think it’s so bad?”

Because, gentle reader, my humor often requires a particular set of arcane knowledge–say, the Spanish language and familiarity with the Marvel television universe–and perhaps footnotes and flow charts. So I cannot write a screenplay with jokes everyone will get. Heaven knows I wrote a full evening play full of obscure jokes that crack me up but might be lost on many people.

And, besides, the perfect, sophisticated comedy film has already been written.

9 1/2 Ninjas. I have seen that movie more times than I can count. Or probably should.

A Few Thoughts On Ted

DVD cover

As I mentioned, I recently got a membership at the video store, and I’ve been renting (although the “renting” there is like a dollar for a week, and sometimes the guy behind the counter finds discounts where I don’t have to pay at all).

As with most trips to the video store, one wanders the aisles debating the pros and cons of various movies. Me, I like to stick to the two-for-a-dollar films which are a little older than the new releases or the almost new releases, so I have a wide variety of slasher films and older actioners to choose from. And it never fails: I spend ten minutes milling about, finding films that I am interested in watching immediately, and it takes me a while to get the two I’m going to rent. After that, I find bunches of films I’d like to watch, too. So I’ve started writing them down and keeping a running list of things to rent in upcoming visits to cut down on my loitering. Also, this explains why all of them start with the letter R or later in the alphabet: That’s where I was when I thought of it.

At any rate, one of the things I put on the list was Ted, the movie about the talking teddy bear. After watching a couple of actioners lately (Sahara and Soldier, both in the S section, see?), I thought I’d try a comedy. Both discs they had for Ted were the unrated edition, and given the topic matter, I thought I’d go with the theatrical release when viewing it.

Boy, howdy. I expected it to be crass, but this crass? I think I’m not going to enjoy any comedies, especially R-rated comedies, made after 2000.

This film made me long for the sophistication of Adam Sandler, word. Listen, in Adam Sandler, the man-boy is presented as an aberration, and through the events of the film, he grows up somewhat and learns a life lesson. In this film, the protagonist and the bear go through some adventures and maybe learn a little, but at the end, the status quo of the man-boy is restored. Well, there is a little change, but it’s lost amid the drug use and swearing.

The presence of Sam Jones, the star of the film Flash Gordon, was an amusing touch, but that’s about the only thing I found slightly amusing in the movie.

Ah, well, back to the actioners for me.

Every time they release another one of these R-rated comedies, it bombs at the box office late. Which is good because hopefully they’ll stop making them. Unfortunately, the intelligence and sophistication of old comedies is probably beyond the reach of the current man-boys making movies, never to be recovered. So we descend closer and closer to Idiocracy‘s Ow, My Balls.

What Does Facebook Know About Me That I Do Not?

Everyone’s worried about Facebook knowing too much about you. If that’s the case, why did it insist on showing me this ad for weeks?

A Spanish language advertisement for WIC? But Pepita and I were just friends!

Perhaps Facebook was feeding me this to see if the state spending money advertising social programs in a foreign language would trigger a rant as I can think of better uses of my tax money, but if the state weren’t burning it on the easy, arts and science degree jobs like this one, it would spend the money on a different set of advertising/communication/marketing/make work and not on, you know, infrastructure or something.

Wait, it almost did trigger a rant there. Never mind, I shall return to whatever else I was doing.

Book Report: Supervillainous! by Mike Leon (2011)

Book coverThis is the other book I bought by Mike Leon when I bought Rated R. Upon further reflection, I did not buy the books because I saw them on a blog; I bought them because a fellow I know from my martial arts school (the same fellow who briefly turned me into a Sinophile) posted a link on Facebook to one of Leon’s frequent book giveaways. The strategy worked, as although I didn’t win a free copy of the book, I bought two at full price.

In the book, a magazine reporter (“Mike Leon”) is writing an article on super villains, and he embeds with a minor league bad guy calling himself Hammerspace because he does the trenchcoat schtick (a term I myself learned five years ago). As Hammerspace teams up with other villains to fight the bad guys, he climbs the ladder of villany because he is direct and evil, unlike some of the other bad guys who only want to look good in beating the bad guys and maybe, just maybe, earning a cross-over, where super heroes team up to fight them.

The book is a fun through-the-looking glass parody of common comic book tropes, and it’s fresh even though parodies of comic books are a genre onto themselves. I enjoyed this book better than Rated R, as it better suits my tender sensibilities. I, Brian J. Noggle, author of John Donnelly’s Gold, do solemnly swear or affirm that this book is better than the Selected Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe. Which is less of a quotable blurb than the one I gave for Rated R, so it’s unlikely Leon will put it on the Amazon page for this book as he did with my favorable comparison of Rated R to The Grapes of Wrath. But after a months-long slog through the Poe, I tore through this quickly.

I’ll probably even pick up another copy of the book (at full price, no less) for my nephew for Christmas. Let that be a testament.

Wonder Woman Who?

As some of you know, I have a cat named Isis.

As a cat owner normally does, I flatter my cat, ascribing all sorts of super powers to the cat and whatnot.

The other night, I said to my beautiful wife, “You know, there used to be a superhero Isis. She was on with Shazam!, I think.”

So, today, I go to the library so my urchins can get some books (I have enough for now, thanks), and I see this DVD facing out from the children’s videos:

So, of course, I checked it out.

The cover is not very flattering to Joanna Cameron, who stars as the young science teacher Andrea Thoma who uses a magical amulet to summon the powers of Isis.

Somehow, the Internet is not full of Joanna Cameron vs. Lynda Carter debates. Maybe there are on the DC Comics portions of the Internet. But I’m a Marvel fan, so I don’t frequent those. Funny, I don’t tend to frequent the Marvel sites much, either. But I digress.

I watched the first couple of episodes with my children, who were stunningly unimpressed with the forty-year-old Saturday morning live action children’s program special effects, and they kept shouting their own solutions to the screen, most of which involved artillery and explosives.

I, on the other hand, was swept away with nostalgia; somehow, I remembered the program from when I was five years old.

At any rate, the 1970s must have seemed like the dawn of geek culture for a while: In the middle part of the decade, there was this show, and as I remembered it bundled with the Shazam program (1975-1977); there were live action television versions of Wonder Woman (starring the aforementioned Lynda Carter), Dr. Strange, and Spider-Man; television also featured the bank-busting Battlestar Galactica; the movies had Star Wars. But the ball never really got going until the next generation came of age around 1999 or so.

Suddenly, I have the urge to watch all those old 70s superhero shows (starting with this one). We own some of the Incredible Hulk and Wonder Woman, and the rest I’d probably have to order since they’re unlikely to be available at the video store or the library (although I did get ten episodes of The Secrets of Isis, so who knows?).

Before I start raiding Amazon, I’d best sit down for a bit. If I wait, these rushes of nostalgia pass as my short attention span moves onto something else, like an urge to read all the history books about the Near East that I can lay my hands on.

Potential Payday for Attorneys of the Uninformed

Home Depot, Menards face lawsuits over lumber size description:

Two home improvements stores are accused of deceiving the buyers of four-by-four boards, the big brother to the ubiquitous two-by-four.

The alleged deception: Menards and Home Depot (HD) market and sell the hefty lumber as four-by-fours without specifying that the boards actually measure 3½ inches by 3½ inches.

. . . .

The retailers say the allegations are bogus. It is common knowledge and longstanding industry practice, they say, that names such as two-by-four or four-by-four do not describe the width and thickness of those pieces of lumber.

Rather, the retailers say, those are “nominal” designations accepted in government-approved industry standards, which also specify actual minimum dimensions — 1½ inches by 3½ inches for a two-by-four, for example, and 3½ inches by 3½ inches for a four-by-four.

Mein Gott, this has been that way forever. People who use lumber know it. But apparently not some people easily influenced by trial attorneys. When these suits are resolved, the attorneys in question will get the money from it, the plaintiffs themselves will get coupons, and Home Depot, Menards, and all smaller lumber yards will have new signage that indicate the actual size (and, perhaps the calorie count of various types of wood just to be on the safe side).

Meanwhile, I’m preparing my paperwork for a suit of my own: A monkey cannot actually use a monkey wrench except to bash things a la 2001: A Space Odyssey. I WANT MY CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT COUPON!

Good Book Hunting, June 23, 2017: Lutherans for Life Rummage Sale

Yesterday, my beautiful wife and I sneaked out to the Lutherans for Life rummage sale and a spot of lunch. It was hot in the gym, and they had no LPs (well, they had four, but that’s “no” in my enumeration), but they had a couple tables of books and videos. So amid the swelter of the church gym, I picked out a few:

I got some things I’m pretty excited about.

The take includes:

  • One of the Dead End Job mysteries by Elaine Viets, Catnapped!. As you know, whenever I review a collection of Elaine Viets’ columns for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (like these), I express hope that I’d find her fiction some day. And now I have, albeit one of many.
     
  • Unexplained Mysteries of World War II. This looks like it could be good writing fodder for when I get back to it.
     
  • The Happiness Project (which my beautiful wife tells me we already own; however, “we” don’t own books in this house, property laws of the state of Missouri notwithstanding; I own books and she owns books, and they must not commingle on the bookshelves) and Lightposts for Living, a book on happiness badged by Thomas Kinkade. Because I am suddenly into self-help and happiness promotion books, I guess. I blame the Buddhism.
     
  • On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I’m building up a complete collection of these slowly so that when I get into reading them, I can do them all in order.
     
  • That Should Be A Word, a book about ideas that don’t have words (except they probably do in German).
     
  • Samurai Cat Goes to the Movies. The cover says it’s a satire of Lovecraft and other writers. We’ll see.
     
  • The Poetry of Events.
     
  • Guide to the World’s Greatest Treasures, a Barnes and Noble book. Another collection of writing fodder, perhaps.
     
  • Hemingway Colloquium: The Poet Goes to Cuba. Something with “Hemingway” in the title.
     
  • Beijing, China, a travel/guide book.

Additionally, I got some videos I’m looking very forward to watching, including Young Frankenstein (which has been on my mind this week), Blazing Saddles, Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, Xanadu (which I looked for on Netflix and Amazon a couple months ago but could not find it), Spaceballs, The Sons of Katie Elder, and a Charles Bronson movie in a thin dollar-pricing sleeve. So I my trips to the video store might abate here for a couple weeks.

The total, along with the beautiful wife’s books THAT WILL NOT GO ON MY BOOKSHELVES and a small planter was $19 somehow. But I pitched in a little extra for a good cause.

And now that I’m done with the recent Poe, I’m eager to delve into some other books, stat.

Better Than I Got In Any College Literature Course

I got 95% in this quiz: Can you name the missing word in each book title?

I’d identify the books by name and author I’ve read in a typical quiz post, but that would kind of defeat the point if you were to try the quiz yourself.

Allow me to say:

  • I have read 17 (maybe 18) of 42 on the list (most of which do not appear in book reports on this site and many of which are due to the legendary Swedish Mechanic);
  • I have started (but not finished) 3 on the list, but I might soon since my mother-in-law might be reading one of them currently;
  • Not counting those 3, I have 4 others on my to-read shelves.

2 of them, clearly, I have never heard of.

Make of it what you will, but I’d like to point out my English degree is not in literature, but in writing.

(Link via the Springfield-Greene County Library’s Facebook feed.)

Everybody’s Trying Too Hard

From a recent set of full color mailers, which I’m plumbing far too much for blogfodder these days, we have two presumably competing dining options.

First up, we have a pizza designed to taste like a burger:

Then, in the same collection of advertisements, we come to an ad for a burger designed to taste like a pizza:

My lord, all I want is fast food that tastes better than the cardboard box it comes in. I would, however, prefer that you not get your chocolate in my peanut butter.

I am pretty sure I was a curmudgeon at fourteen years old.