Wherein John D. MacDonald Makes Light Of One Of Brian J.’s Quirks

In The Beach Girls, as the protagonist (if there is one) is falling in love with the love interest (of which there is, whether the fellow is the protagonist or not), they exchange a quirk:

You know, Leo, when I first started reading everything, I was big enough to pick up, that phrase, batting her eyelashes, worried me half to death. I used to wonder if genuine sirens carried a little stick they used. And I learned some mighty big words. Chaos was one I learned. Only in my mind I pronounced it chowse. So one day I showed off in history class. ‘Europe is in a state of chowse,’ I said. ‘Chowse?’ the teacher said. “Complete chowse,’ I said firmly. So she made me spell it. Then she practically had to be helped from the room. It was might humiliating, I can tell you true.”

I remember putting to my mother into a state of semi-hysterics with the word bedraggled. I told her one morning at breakfast she looked a little bedraggled. Only I pronounced it bed-raggled.”

I pronounced it “chay-ose,” for sure. And to be honest, I probably still say bed-raggled.

I’ve learned so much of my vocabulary from reading that I have an accent all my own. I know rabid comes from rabies, so why isn’t it “ray-bid”? It is in my world. The same for vapid which comes from vapor. And I am sure I have been forgiven for saying sub-see-quently to my in-laws (because it has the same root as sequence. And don’t get me started on the morning food called the bag-el (or perhaps that is what Superman was packed in when he was shipped to Earth).

I can get away with it in a lot of cases because I use a lot of words that many people don’t know (or at least they don’t know them like I say them). However, my mother-in-law is a former English teacher, so she and her beautiful daughter correct me gently as though English is my second language. Hah! It can’t be. I don’t even have a first language yet.

How I Select A Book To Read

After finishing a book, I’m sometimes inspired to read another one immediately, or some life event will make me want to read something I know I have. Like today. Here is a dramatic recreation:

I’m listening to a Great Courses lecture series on ancient civilizations (now that I finished the series on Chinese history). We’re on the subject of Sumerian civilization, and the professor keeps mentioning Uruk and Gilgamesh, and I’ve got the epic of Gilgamesh around here somewhere. I think it’s to the left in my office….

Hmmm, I don’t see it. Maybe I moved it in the shuffle when I cleaned and turned over my library last summer.

Hey, here’s a book by Yogi Berra. I’ll read that.

So you’ll soon see a book report on that book instead of something smart like the Epic of Gilgamesh.

On the other hand, there are more people who know who Yogi Berra is than Gilgamesh. But probably not anyone under thirty.

I Only Scored 3 of 8 On This Quiz

This old advert from the back of a comic book looks like a quiz to me.

The question is “How many of these old systems do you own today?”

On the plus side, I own more than one of each. So if there’s some weighting to this quiz, I’ll still pass.

As to how many of the systems do I have Q*bert on, that’s at least one and probably two or three. Maybe even for, since I have a Colecovision cartridge or two even though I have never owned a Colecovision.

I’d say “I’ve got to collect them all,” but I’ve watched for old systems at garage sales and estate sales when I get to them, but you don’t tend to find many in the wild any more. And I’m not likely to buy them from stores or online sites since that’s not the fun of collecting. The fun of collecting is in the hunting and finding (but, no, honey, I’m not going to practice catch and release with any of my acquisitive hobbies).

Captain Olympic’s Sidekick, Brian J.

Back in the olden days, and by “olden days,” I mean the 1970s and 1980s, comic books were rife with offers for enterprising youths who could order away for catalogs that held various items (seeds, greeting cards, and so on). You could then go and hit up your family or neighbors for sales, and you could get a cut of the sales price in cash or you could get stuff.

My brother and I, we went with Olympic, which was greeting cards:

Not depicted: Captain Olympic, the superhero they would later feature in their ads.

We started with the program a year or so after this particular ad from 1980. We were still living in the projects in Milwaukee, and the prizes were a wonderland of things we couldn’t get except at Christmas or our birthday, maybe. With a little hard work and the sufferance of our neighbors and relatives, we could earn them.

Every so often, they’d send us a new catalog, and we’d hit up people for a box or two of greeting cards. We never sold bunches of them, so we never got to the premium level of prizes like electronics, but we’d have ten or twenty boxes sold, and we’d pore over that catalog, weighing our options for hours and choosing carefully. Over the course of time, we got:

  • A Kodak Winner 110 camera (which you can see in the advertisement above). That little camera documented a lot of my life from the early and middle 1980s (although on Facebook I have a large number of images posted, the only mention I have of it on this here blog is the time I won a photography award in middle school using a snapshot from it.
     
  • The microscope set from the picture above. At the time, I was a well-rounded little smarty pants, and it wasn’t clear whether my smarty pantsness would lead me to science or to the arts. We used it for years, my brother and I, looking at the little slides they sent with it and looking at leaves and stuff. Remembering those days, I got a microscope for my boys for Christmas the year before last, and I don’t think they used it as intended before destroying it. But it does make an effective artillery piece for action figure battles, or so I’ve been told.
     
  • A small notepad/organizer thing that I took to my grandparents’ house alone one night, when my grandfather and I talked geneology. I don’t know if it was for a school project, but it was a rare thing for me to spend some one-on-one time with him, and I felt like such an adult at about ten. I took copious notes in that little notebook, and I lost it not soon thereafter. I seem to have a tendency to lose meaningful notebooks. That’s another story, perhaps a Personal Relics entry to come.
     
  • Our first copy of the basic Dungeons and Dragons set. We got this when we lived in the trailer park, and we spent many afternoons and weekends playing, my brother, the two Jims, and I. I’ve played with many gaming groups in the years between then and early marriage, but it all got started with that set.
     
  • A Polaroid instant camera that I got about the same time (“A Picture Holds 1000 Memories” talks about a picture I took with it). I don’t know why I thought I needed a second camera. Perhaps impatience with developing the film. The film was more expensive, though, so it got used on more consequential things, like pictures of our Pekingese doing smart things.

Some pack rat I am; of the items we got from Olympic, I’ve only got the D&D set left. But lots of pictures from the cameras, so they were definitely worth it.

Of course, kids don’t have these sorts of opportunities now. I know in my own life, when I hit middle school or high school, suddenly all my selling went from Olympic greeting cards to school fund raisers of various stripes. Did schools just start with the using children as fundraising tools at that time, or did I just age into it and/or move to a place where it was more common? I don’t know; however, I do know that kids today never hit me up for their own good, but instead from a very early age try to sell me things for their various programs and school functions. I suppose there’s a free enterprise versus ward/tool of the State essay in it were I so inclined. But not today.

UPDATE The top of this ad from 1984 shows Captain Olympic:

You see? I was not making it up!

The Source of America’s Obesity Epidemic–Revealed

Apparently, kids in the olden days were worried about being too skinny given this historical evidence found in the back of every single Marvel comic circa 1980:

The image is that of a young lady, but it’s probably not directed at the ladies, you know (although there is such a thing as too thin for a woman, and if you look at fashion and health magazines, you’ll see it). Instead, it’s directed towards people like me circa 1980.

Rest assured, me in 1980, you’ll gain those inches and pounds once you reach middle age.

I haven’t picked up a recent comic, but if they had any advertising in them these days, I would expect them to have the opposite sort of come-ons. As much because the kids are a little heavier these days, but the average comic book reader these days has probably also reached that place where the pounds and inches come easily. We’re not too far off from television advertisements where the announcer says “See our ad in The Incontrovertible X-Men!

I’ve Never Even Been To Arlington

Police Tase Suspect in Pikachu Onesie During Brawl Outside A-Town Bar & Grill:

A wild fight outside Ballston’s A-Town Bar & Grill last night resulted in two suspects being tased by police, including one man who was brawling while wearing a Pikachu onesie.

The incident happened around 9 p.m. on the 1000 block of N. Randolph Street. According to police, it started when the man in the Pikachu costume, Steven Goodwine, Jr., tried to pick a fight with the bouncers at A-Town after being kicked out of the bar’s weekly “Sunday Funday” festivities.

Although I have never been to Arlington, I have dressed in a Pikachu Onesie. Once.

Halloween, 2017, he added in explanation, and then he shifted his weight nervously, realizing he had said too much already.

Nogglestead, Lacking

As the early spring reboots into a last touch of winter here in southwest Missouri, the threat of snow again looms at Nogglestead. Well, “threat” and “looms” overstates it a bit. When the meteorologists say “snow,” they mean “flurries.” Still, in a bucolic country setting, snow flying in the air over the barns and fields looks absolutely lovely.

I’ve been a fan of the vista ever since I was a young boy in college, when I went to my grandmother’s house in the Wisconsin countryside for Christmas, and I remember after the meal, sitting on her downstairs sofa, which faced her patio doors. Outside, the patio and her rural back yard, which sloped away from the house and into some woods. I sat there in the darkness for a bit and watched the snow fall while the rest of the festivities continued upstairs. I wanted a view just like that.

I mean, when it snows, it’s beautiful at Nogglestead.

However, there’s not really a good place to sit to watch it except at a desk or table.

Our den is below grade, so looking out there allows you to see the raised flower bed directly outside and the bottom of the deck. Our living room is narrow and on the interior of the house, so it only has a small window and a door flanking a fireplace. Our dining room has a pretty good view of the back yard as does our master bedroom, which looks out sliding glass doors into the back yard as well, but it requires sitting on the bed or the floor. Out front, you can see the lower view above sitting at a desk in the parlor (if you look around the record player) or the new guest room (which still lacks most amenities, but has an old desk and an uncomfortable chair you could sit on to watch the snow fall. I dream about a three season room addition to the back of the house, but a three season room specifically omits in the name the season where the snow falls. Nothing here compares to that remembered view from my grandmother’s.

I hearken back to other places I’ve lived, and none really offered that view. The trailer park offered views of other nearby trailers; akin to that, the house in Old Trees looked to the houses on either side of it. In Casinport, I got the closest, where I could look out the window in my office and see our wood-shrouded back yard.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever have a view like that: Interior walls these days tend to be taken up by book cases or large entertainment systems, so the sofas and comfortable seating tend to be with their backs to the windows.

Of course, it’s really a silly thing to consider should I look for another home in southwest Missouri. We don’t tend to have many snowy days and nights here. Counting today, which features some light snow that is not really sticking, this winter has featured something like three, and the snowfalls have not lasted long even on those days. So arranging my home or choosing a home to provide this tableau would be a waste of time.

But when the snow flies in large flakes, as it is today, I just wish.

An Ode To Brian J.’s Repair and Painting Skills

A board came loose from beneath my shed, and it’s been waving in the breeze for a couple of months (probably in multiples of twelve). I had a couple of minutes to look at it this afternoon.

I headed out with my drill and a couple of screws to tie it back down. A shard of it had broken free with the screw intact. So I tried to remove the screw from the shard so I could put it all back together, but I stripped the screw head. Fine, I’ll just align the board properly with the shard with the screw in it and screw the rest of the board back into place.

The board no longer fit into the slot alloted to it. I tried to tap it in with a hammer, but after examining the board below it, I saw that it had warped up so that the whole length of the board was not going to fit. Judging by the twist at the end of the loose board, I don’t wonder if the slow warping of the bottom board wasn’t what caused the board to spring loose in the first place.

Now, I suppose the proper way to fix it would be to replace both of the boards. However, that’s not the way we do it in my family.

With long enough screws, anything is possible. So I screwed the board back into place with a little overlap at the bottom.

So, now, a musical interlude describing how to best inspect my repairs and paint jobs:

Watch for an update in this space in a couple of weeks, wherein Brian discovers that an animal of some sort had been using this loose board as a gateway to a den and has died under his shed and has begun to smell really, really bad.

Symptoms of My Sinophilia

As I might have mentioned (not so recently) that I’ve been studying Chinese history. I bought my beautiful wife a new radio receiver for Valentine’s Day, which allows her to play music from her iPhone. This allows me to monopolize the CD player in the truck, so I’ve returned to the Teaching Company/Great Courses history of China series of lectures.

On Facebook, I said:

I’ve been listening to an audio course on Chinese history, so something in every conversation I have for the next two weeks will remind me of something in the Han or Tong dynasties.

Social Media Headhunter replied:

I heard this, and the first thing I thought of was “Flowers for Charlie.”

He included a link to an excerpt from the television program It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia which I cannot embed, but you can see here.

It was not a flattering portrayal of my efforts to better and to more obnoxionate myself.

Which meant it was open season for me to leave a comment on his every Facebook post that contains an allusion to Chinese history.

For example, he asked:

Anyone feel like answering this?
Interview Question: You’re placed in a group of 5 random co-workers and assigned a project. At the end of the project, how would you describe your likely contribution?

To which, I replied:

Allow me to answer with an anecdote from Chinese history.

Liu Bang was a minor law enforcement official in the Qin dynasty. One day, when he was tasked with taking some prisoners (random people) from point A to point B, some of them escaped overnight. Knowing the severe punishment he would face should he return with only part of his complement of prisoners, he told them he would set them free if they would follow him. They agreed, and he became a leader in the rebellion against the Qin dynasty. It was touch and go for a number of years as he battled against experienced military leaders before eventually besting them and establishing the Han dynasty. He’s one of the few Chinese emperors to come from the peasant class.

So, basically, I’d take the random people stuck with me and do the work myself. Because random people can’t do it as well as I can.

Will I carry the joke too far? To quote the noted Confucian scholar Ferris Bueller, “A., you can never go too far.”

Of course, a little knowing is a dangerous thing. Now, it’s entirely possible that I will in conversation use Bai Ling when I mean Liu Bang.

I apologize in advance. And please note that Bai Ling is not, in fact, the source of my recent Sinophilia. Thank you, that is all.

If anyone needs me, I will be having a conversation with my beautiful wife, explaining that she is more beautiful than Bai Ling. And probably a better prisoner escort than Liu Bang.

Jeez, that Social Media Headhunter guy gets me into some uncomfortable predicaments.

“Do you run a lot?” the doctor asked.

I paused before I answered.

I hadn’t run that morning before going to the doctor, although I had stopped by the YMCA to listen to my iPod a while. The day before, I’d run a little over a half mile doing some intervals and ran a mile at about a 6mph pace for my triathlon class. A couple days before, I’d run a couple miles on a treadmill at a little faster than a 6mph pace. I’ve been doing some treadmill work off and on, and the interval runs as part of my regular workout. I’ve run a couple of 5k races in the last year with respectable times (although I only seem to medal or place when I’m walking the route with my youngest son behind only two runners in my age group).

But.

Is that a lot? I know a couple of serious runners and competitors who do marathons and real triathlons where the running component takes longer than the 20 minutes I’ll have on my upcoming indoor triathlon. I know people who run several times a week and who train for events instead of just showing up, plodding along, and getting a Gatorade and granola bar at the end. Not to mention hypermilers, crazy people who run like 100 miles at a time.

In my circle, I don’t run a lot at all.

I live in so many bubbles, although not political.

Contrary to how often I post about my gym playlist, I don’t go the gym that often. Once or twice a week at the most. Compared to some of the people there, that’s not a lot. I talked to another doctor about a shoulder issue I was having, and how it really hurt when I was doing burpee ladders. “That’s pretty intense exercise,” he said. “I hang out with a bad crowd,” I said. I know some guys who train every day in one form or another. The only thing I do every day is take a nap.

For three or so years, I have studied martial arts, and I can break wooden boards with martial arts strikes. So can everyone else at the dojo. So it sounds wild and cool to a person who doesn’t study martial arts, but it’s a normal part of life for a lot of people I know.

As you know, gentle reader of this blog, as I keep flogging it, I have written and published a couple of books (John Donnelly’s Gold and The Courtship of Barbara Holt, remember, and if you didn’t remember, buy them now before you forget!). To some people, this is a big deal, but those are people who have not written books. My Twitter feed is full of software testing thought leaders, whom I consider peers (but who might not consider me a peer), who have written and published books. I know several other self-published authors including the fellow who designed the cover of John Donnelly’s Gold, Miss Dalla Rosa, and a young lady who wrote and published a book in high school. I assume all of them have sold more than I have; my total is somewhere between 100 and 150, mostly Kindle editions. I read somewhere that this number is about average for self-published authors.

At any rate, this post reads a bit like a series of humble brags, but I don’t mean it as such; instead, I’d like to think of it as a musing on perspective. If you do something interesting or that seems laudable or whatnot, you might get to the other side of the accomplishment to find someone who has accomplished it better, faster, bigger, or harder than you have. You have to make your peace with that or you’ll be unhappy. Even if your making peace with it is to drive yourself harder to be better next time.

I’ve heard that if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. I like to think I’m applying that to the bubbles in which I live, but it’s not like I’m directing it that way. It’s just that I’m trying to do different things, and I’m not the best at any of them.

What was my point? I forget. Perhaps I ought to rename the blog Ramblings from Brian J. Noggle.

“You’re a big guy,” the old man said.

Book coverThe older gentleman has a grandson who attends school with my boys, and we occasionally exchange words about the weather or whatnot as we stand in front of the school awaiting the emergence of our respective progeny. Another topic of the infrequent exchanges is how fast the children are growing, and how big they will be soon. When speculating on it, he noted that his grandson is bigger than he is and that the lad will be pretty big indeed. He assessed my size and proclaimed my children would be tall, too.

“What are you, 200?” he said.

“190,” I said. I’d just been to the doctor and got an official ruling from a trained medical professional.

It is odd to think of myself as a big guy. I haven’t come to grips with it. The picture is from my high school graduation party in 1990. I was six foot tall and about 120 pounds. By the time I got out of college, I was a little bigger, but I still lied on about my weight when asked about it for my driver’s license because I was ashamed to only be 140 or so. I wanted to be bigger, but I couldn’t do it. I exercised a bunch and could lift some weights, but I never gained weight. I ate four thousand calories or more a day, including protein shakes at one point, but I still remained relatively thin.

My father weighed 180, or so I have been told. I’ve also been told he was 6’3″, but by the time I got to my adult height, his years in a warehouse and a couple of back surgeries left him shorter than I was. For much of my life, I never expected to be as big as he was.

But here we are. A couple decades’ worth of slightly slowing metabolism, doughnuts, liquor, beautiful wife’s cooking, and on again, off again, but mostly off gym membership and utilization, and I’m suddenly man-sized.

But I still don’t see myself as man-sized. From inside, looking through the little apertures of my eyes, I still see the world as I did then, when I was a young reed in the wind. I still call everyone “Mr.” and “Mrs.” and “sir” and “ma’am,” but so many of them are younger than I am these days, too. “Kid” to me now covers into the middle thirties, and my doctors and holy men are younger than I am.

Sometimes, I think I see the world the same way as I did when I was that kid. I guess I’m grown up now, too, and I know how to do taxes (send an email to my tax preparer), do small home and auto repairs, and be places on time. But occasionally, I think I’m still a young man. Generally, this comes when I’m facing some character flaw that has dogged me for decades, or whether I wonder whether behaviour I demonstrate appropriate for a man of my middle age (of course, some behaviours, like extraneous British Us thrown in for effect, are not appropriate at any age).

One of the things I’ve done my whole adulthood is overthinking and over-analyzing things, but even in the 21st century, I don’t bow my head to screens all my waking moments, which gives me a lot of time to turn over things in my mind. Like the question of identity. Are our selves only an illusion of different distinct people through time? (A link today on Instapundit leads to an article entitled “Personality CAN change dramatically: You’re a completely different person at 14 and 77, according to the longest-ever study into human character“).

So I guess I might not be that kid any more. I’m certainly not that size any more.

It Happens Every Year

On this day, at 11:58 pm, forty-five years ago, I emerged from my mother’s womb eight weeks early weighing four pounds and four ounces. The doctors gave me a fifty-fifty chance of making it through the night.

I try to give myself at least that shot every day.

The Meanest Swim Class Ever

So, as a mid-life crisis which I’m having three quarters of the way through my life (given that my family members have tended to conk out at 60), I’ve decided to do a triathlon. I mean, I’ve done a couple of 5K races last year and didn’t wholly embarrass myself (especially for someone who does not like to run). So I decided to amp it up and do three things that I do not like to do consecutively.

The YMCA of which I am a member has an annual indoor triathlon, which is a timed event instead of a true distance triathlon. That means you get to swim the pool for 15 minutes, ride a spin bike for 20 minutes, and run on a treadmill for 20 minutes, and ranking is based on how far you go.

Now, as the 5Ks have proven, I can run a distance, and I can not fall off of a spin bike with the best of them, so I am set there.

But my swimming leaves a lot to be desired. Unlike many amateur athletes and suburban kids everywhere, I never had a formal lesson; for the most part, my swimming was all about learning to survive in my stepmother’s parents’ small swimming pool and to get from the bottom of the Hyde Park water slides to the ladder out of the pool. That is, I learned to drown very slowly.

Before the annual Y Not Tri, the YMCA offers a triathlon class where a trainer gives the class drills to improve their biking, running, and swimming. I enrolled in the class, and the class is weighted toward the swimming, as most of the classes include swim drills

The first couple of times I attended class, I did not set the world on fire. As a matter of fact, the coach asked me if I had a medical condition that made me lose my breath easily, as I was coming up for air often. As the class has progressed, he’s taken additional steps to help me along, putting me in the group of the slowest swimmers and giving me fins to wear to help me learn to do the scissors kick.

Of course, the coach and the class are very affirming and encouraging, but the fictional class I’m taking is very mean. I’ve used the following quips on my wife and on Facebook from time to time to illustrate my lack of proficiency in the pool:

Everyone in my swim class calls meme Bob. I keep trying to tell them my name is Brian, but it’s still Bob.

My nickname in swim class is Troll. Because I’m motoring, but I’m not going very fast.

They call me Corky at the YMCA. I’m not sure if it’s because I swim vertically or because I look like something out of a Chris Kattan Saturday Night Live skit.

I’m making some strides in swimming.

Which is not really what you want. Because it’s not running, it’s swimming.

But I should survive fifteen minutes in the pool, which is more than I thought I’d be able to do at the beginning of the class.

UPDATE:

They call me “The Rock.” It must be because I resemble Dwayne Johnson when I take off my shirt.

In Missouri, You Cannot Overlook The Possibility That The Town Does, Indeed, Have A Tank

This weekend, my beautiful wife and I were schlepping our oldest son to a basketball tournament in lovely Piece City, Missouri. We took the two lane US 60 south out of Republic and through the town of Monett. After we passed through Monett, we came upon a piece of military equipment in front of the VFW.

“Look, boys, a tank!” my beautiful wife said. Maybe she didn’t actually say the exclamation point. Perhaps I am embellishing.

“That’s not a tank; that’s mobile artillery,” I said. (Upon further review, it looks to be an M110; my brother was the spotter for anti-armor, so he could hopefully have told you that without having to Google it.)

“Well, it’s the closest thing that the boys will see to a tank today,” she said. Fortunately, she did not ask me how I know such things (as she once asked me how I knew a revolver did not eject its shells, and I was flabbergasted–I do not exactly where I learned revolvers do not eject their shells, except that a revolver does not eject its shells because it is not a semiautomatic pistol). If she would have asked me how I knew, I would probably have tried to be mysterious instead of acknowledging that I own both the GI Joe Slugger self-propelled cannon and M.O.B.A.T. battle tank. Yes, own, not owned. But she did not ask, and I did not volunteer my information source because it might have diminished my authoritative declaration.

“Unless Pierce City has a tank,” I said.

Well.

Continue reading “In Missouri, You Cannot Overlook The Possibility That The Town Does, Indeed, Have A Tank”

Strange Real Life Queries

Dustbury has a long-running series called Strange Search Engine Queries where he rounds up the week’s strangest search engine queries that lead people to his site. I would do a series like that, but I don’t have my stat counter configured properly (or don’t pay enough) to see search engine queries leading to my site, and I don’t get enough traffic weekly to warrant it. I’m pretty sure most of the search engine queries are looking for book reports to plagiarize for books I’ve read, particularly The Sire de Maletroit’s Door.

However, I have gotten asked some strange questions in real life.

Oh, you have a library?

I forget what I was talking about with the school secretary, but I mentioned having a large library, and she asked this question.

Do I have a library? I do.

That image is from the Noggle Library 2010 post. In the intervening time, we have gotten even more books, but only one new small book case. We have a little space in the basement these days, so perhaps I should get a couple more to spread them out.

I used this question as a pretext for going to ABC Books in December; I told Ms. Earhart, the shops proprietor, that I needed just a couple more books to make my library more notorious. That was the first of three trips to ABC Books in late December. Surely, my library is notorious now.

Have either one of you been a dungeon master?

A friend at the martial arts school I attend asked my wife this question because her son was interested in tabletop RPGs.

A dungeon master? I’ve done more than that.

As a reminder, I have all my old RPG stuff handy, too.

I’ve run games in:

  • Dungeons and Dragons
  • Villains and Vigilantes
  • Twilight: 2000
  • Call of Cthulhu
  • Paranoia
  • Marvel Superheroes
  • Dangerous Journeys

And so on.

You’ve written a book?

I get asked this all the time. I’m not the best at IRL self promotion (and my Online Brand either, judging by the number of books sold), so sometimes my beautiful wife brings it up in conversation that I’ve published a book. Well, technically, I’ve published a novel, a book of plays, and two chapbooks of poetry. I don’t need to put a picture of my book below because they’re in the sidebar (well, not Unrequited and Deep Blue Shadows, the aforementioned poems). You can click and buy them if you want.

Back in the 1990s, I listed them on Basement Full of Books, and the listing is still up. However, I no longer live in Lemay. Funny, only when looking for the listing now did I realize the list was initially created by Vonda McIntyre, who wrote the movie adaptations of a couple of Star Trek movies that I would review many years later.


At any rate, that’s a couple of real life questions where there’s a meaningful pause when someone asks them to me.

Because, well, YES!

What Sets English-Speaking Women Apart

In many languages, when a woman gets married, her honorific title gets shorter:

In German, Fräulein becomes Frau.
In French, Mademoiselle becomes Madame.
In Spanish, Señorita becomes Señora.

But in English, Miss becomes Mrs. (missus), which means it goes from one syllable to two.

Only in English does the honorific become longer.

All of the aforementioned foreign language equivalents, the “Miss” form means “Little Woman” (sort of) and the married equivalent is “Woman,” so to speak–that is, the Miss form is a diminutive form of the married equivalent. But both English forms come from abbreviating the same word, mistress.

I suppose one could launch a thousand college papers on this full of baseless speculation that reflects your position on gender bias or the meaning of marriage in personal fulfillment.

Me, I just fill my head with this nonsense throughout the day.

Wherein Brian Demonstrates His Familiarity With Japanese Art

So we get a Christmas card from Northern Michigan University because we endowed a scholarship in memory of my father-in-law (the James A. Igert Memorial Scholarship).

This year, we got this card:

I was able to look at it and say, “That looks like a Hiroshige.” It is: Evening Snow at Kanbara.

Apparently, the art museum at NMU has a number of Hiroshige prints.

Who knew?

Please note this post counts as my touchdown dance for recognizing a Japanese artist and the confluence of factors in my life that make my study of trivia worthwhile.