Old Man Things Brian J. Is Trying To Purge From His Behavior (II)

I have started getting irritated that inexpensive Rubbermaid and even less expensive garbage cans and laundry baskets are breaking down.

We have had the same garbage cans for years–my beautiful wife has said that the main kitchen garbage can precedes our wedding. It has broken around the top edge from repeating grabbings at the lip to replace the garbage bag or to make it more accessible–let me do the math–several thousand times in five or six different kitchens. Some years ago, when the top first cracked, I wrapped duct tape around the top several times, but the duct tape has broken down by now.

We’ve also got a set of inexpensive laundry baskets where the handles are separate plastic parts from the body of the basket, but the handles are breaking off because apparently we’re grabbing the laundry baskets by the handles instead of the more solid corners of the single-forgedmolded piece of plastic that forms the body (and the corners and lip of the basket are far stronger than the lip of the garbage cans.

I know, they’re basically disposable things designed to last for but a couple of years and not be family heirloom quality (what these days are heirloom quality except seeds?). Now that I am getting to that late youth where I measure “just” and “recently” in decades, I realize just how short of a lifespan these things have.

And as this is a blog, where twee observations lead to profound discoveries, I suppose I could make this a metaphor for the brief lifespan of man, but maybe I will do that later. Like the later where I replace these broken household items.

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Movie Report: Bedazzled (2000)

Book coverI saw this film in the theater, without Mike as I just mentioned, although in this case “just” is three years ago as befits my work-from-home-addled memory.

In it, Brendan Fraser plays an obnoxious dweeb customer tech support worker at a tech company in San Francisco who tries too hard to relate to his co-workers and earns their disdain and mockery for his efforts. On an uninvited outing to a bar where his co-workers have gathered without him, he runs into a co-worker upon whom he has a crush but who dismisses his clumsy attempts at conversation. When he says he’d do anything to be with her, the Devil, played by Elizabeth Hurley, hears him and offers him seven wishes in exchange for his soul. He reluctantly accepts, and the bulk of the movie depicts the situations where he wishes to be rich, to be erudite, to be strong and athletic, and so on, and how the Devil thwarts him. He wants to be rich and married to Alison (his crush), and he ends up as a drug lord whose wife despises him (the scenes in the trailer of this piece prompted my call to Mike in el español), or a giant dumb athlete with a small, erm, you know, Johnson, and so on. Amusing and even funny at times (can I say that as a snoorky blogger, wherein I blend snooty and snarky into the portmanteau).

The film also has Gabriel Casseus as “Elliot’s Cellmate” but a stand-in for an angel or God. I’d remembered this role as played by Don Cheedle, but no. And at the time of my original viewing, I thought It’s that guy from… but looking at his IMDB entry, I can’t think of what it would have been. I saw him in Blackhawk Down and Black Dog) not an actual movie review, but a posting of when I bought the film which I watched shortly thereafter).

Theologically, the film gets a little muddy on the Devil/God thing, showing them at the end playing chess when Brendan Fraser’s character walks by with his ultimate earthly reward (a relationship with a pretty girl), and the Devil tries to cheat after pointing out the lovebirds and drawing the cellmate’s attention away. It does not mention Jesus, et cetera, but if you need to, you can kind of, sort of, recast it a bit as the book of Job, but not really. Although I’m not sure how one should recast the book of Job anyway.

But enough about theology. What of Elizabeth Hurley?
Continue reading “Movie Report: Bedazzled (2000)”

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Old Man Things Brian J. Is Trying To Purge From His Behavior (I)

You know, a current line of Progressive insurance commercials feature a therapist/coach who is trying to help people from becoming their parents, and some of that has resonated with me. As I am entering middle age late youth, I’ve started looking into my behavior to see what repetitive things I do that are only interesting to myself but which I do over and over again.

Like commenting on the price of gas when I pass gas stations.

And it’s not just a matter of muttering about how high gas prices are relative to when I was young.

Oh, no. It is/was commenting on the variance in gas prices from station to station. In the Springfield area, it’s not uncommon to see a thirty-cents-a-gallon or sometimes more swing between gas stations on the east side of Springfield (well, on Glenstone Avenue, which is east of here but I am unsure whether natives consider that east) and stations in southwest Missouri. Republic’s gas prices tend to be a dime or more less than southwest Springfield as well, and sometimes you will see a dime swing between Conoco/Rapid Roberts and Phillips 66/Fast ‘n’ Friendly just blocks away.

So for a while (probably years), I pointed this out to passengers in the car. Of course, nobody else seemed as, what, not incensed, not enthusiastic, maybe interested, as I was in the phenomenon.

So I’ve decided to let it go and to focus on not bringing this up every car ride.

My renewed youth: in progress.

In other news, my oldest, who has been driving for almost a year, has use of a family vehicle, and now has the responsibility of fueling it with the proceeds of his first job, came home and talked about the price difference between the Battlefield gas stations. Well, the Conoco and the White Oak. None of us even consider the Battlefield Eagle Stop, located on the corner of two county highways and with highway prices to match. But he did point out the disparity in gas prices.

Someone is clearly turning into his parents.

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Movie Report: Get Shorty (1995)

Book coverAh, gentle reader, this film provided a bit of mental relief for me in the real world. When I proposed watching this film, my beautiful wife said to me, “We saw that in the theater.” To which I responded that I had never seen the movie. Given that the film came out two years before we met, we did not see it in the theater. I was pleased to see that she, too, pencils me into some of her memories from that brief interlude between childhood and marriage. I myself have on several occasions said something like, “Remember when we…” only to discover she was not a part of the we I was thinking of. I thought perhaps I alone was muddy on that brief interlude between summer 1994 and early 1997, the interregnum between college and being a couple, which were very busy and whose memories I sometimes retcon my wife into.

At any rate, this film is based on an Elmore Leonard book. A small time loan shark, Chili (played by John Travolta) has a run-in with a henchman of a major Miami player (the henchman played by Dennis Farina) and humiliates the henchman but cannot be retailiated against because of his powerful boss. Chili goes looking for someone who has run out on a debt and whose $10,000 skimming has blossomed with an insurance settlement for a plane crash that the drycleaner/welsher (played by David Paymer, hello, hello–did I see Crazy People with my wife or before?). Chili goes to Vegas, braces the drycleaner, and is asked by the Las Vegas mob to collect on a debt from a horror movie producer, Harry Zimm (Gene Hackman). When Chili breaks into the house where Zimm is staying, he tells Zimm about the adventure he’s on, pitching it as a movie, and Zimm is interested–if Chili can help get the rights to a screenplay held by the writer’s widow (Bette Midler).

Oh, yes, it gets complicated. But it has a movie-within-a-movie that a medieval drama enthusiast would enjoy. It’s chock full of stars, and it has clever twists that you would expect from an Elmore Leonard book-turned-movie (see also Out of Sight and Jackie Brown, neither of which I’ve actually reported on… yet). I said to my wife after having seen the film that it’s a shame that they don’t make movies from Elmore Leonard books any more, but they’re still making them. Get Shorty had its sequel Be Cool and a television series; 3:10 to Yuma had a remake; Justified was based on a series of books by Leonard, and it’s getting a revival.

Probably a better question, with a worse answer, is why we don’t make writers like Elmore Leonard any more. Or why Hollywood would not adapt their works if we did.

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Q: How can you tell Brian J. complained aloud last night that he’s a bit bogged down in The Story of Civilization‘s section of Our Oriental Heritage that covers India, especially that is coverage of philosophy/art/music section’s dry and merely enumerative nature?

A: Today, Brian J. starts getting Facebook “suggested posts” on India and its history:

On the other hand, I did just post a brief nugget on India’s history a couple days ago. So maybe Facebook is just reading the blog.

Even if you are paranoid, they might be trying to sell you something.

Also, point of order: Why Bonjour? Maybe on account of the French and Indian Wars or something.

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Movie Report: Men Who Stare At Goats (2009)

Book coverI saw this film in the theatre with my beautiful wife probably on a date night–I mean, 2009 was a busy year for us, what with my sainted mother passing away, my brother returning to the St. Louis area, and our decamping Old Trees for Nogglestead. Still, a year is full of individual days that fit around the big events or the not-events of less consequential years. So we undoubtedly deployed our then-teenaged and by now nearly thirty babysitter and went to see this movie.

You know, I said about Jet Li’s Fearless:

But it’s an interesting film once you peel away the layer of Chinese propaganda film that hovers over all.

* * * *

So, well, yeah, a good story wrapped in Chinese anti-Western propoganda.

You could make a similar statement about a bunch of George Clooney films: A good story if you ignore the anti-American, anti-military, and especially anti-Iraq War message wrapped around it (see also Three Kings et al.).

A journalist, portrayed by Ewan MacGregor, loses his wife to an editor and makes his way to the Middle East to report on the war there and re-establish his manhood. He hooks up with a former (?) military man who participated in a paranormal research program who has a mission in the Iraq War, although he is not sure what it is. Through a series of flashbacks, the military operator, played by George Clooney, tells of the origins of the unit when Jeff Bridges, playing the Dude character, becomes a flower child and soaks up New Age stuff like a sponge and runs the military research unit like a commune, but it comes crashing down when a more military-minded and potentially inferior “gifted” officer, played by Kevin Spacey, fouls it up.

So it’s got some wryly amusing moments in it. It doesn’t really acknowledge the paranormal, leaving it a little ambiguous but certainly nobody here is a superhero at best.

But, yeah, a mocking tone that questions the military and its involvement in the Iraq War. While the Iraq War was still sort of going on. But more intelligent than anything that would come later with The Message.

And I have it on DVD in case I want to watch it again in another fifteen years.

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Accumulations, Saturday, July 3, 2023

Not exactly a Good Book Hunting or Good Album Hunting post per se, although that’s ultimately what it comes down to.

I have started hitting garage sales and estate sales again here and there, gentle reader. I don’t know exactly what I’m looking for–well, a table/entertainment center to replace a printer stand and maybe a horizontal piece of art to put above our headboard now that kitten adventuring has led us to remove the canopy bed rails that we rarely put fabric on and that wall space is now obviously bare. Some craft supplies? It would follow since I’ve started doing a little project work here and there that I would once again begin acquiring things to use in projects right before I stop doing projects again, leaving the supplies to lie fallow in my garage for decades (although I am getting to an age where it’s awful presumptuous to think in terms of future decades).

At any rate, I visited a garage sale at the Methodist church on the corner of Elm and FF in Battlefield and a handful of other sales just inside Battlefield. The town was rife with them, and I had thought I would roll down Elm/Farm Road 182/Plainview Road to Golden/Farm Road 135 and back, but I didn’t make it that far.

As I might have mentioned, around the turn of the century, I was very heavy into Ebay, and I would spend all Saturday morning and part of the afternoon hitting estate sales and garage sales in the St. Louis area to buy things to list. Most days, I went with my friend Pixie (actually, Jimmy’s mom from my youth, not a manic Pixie girl–and I am not entirely sure why she was called Pixie at the time, although sometime everyone else started calling her by her first name again) and occasionally with my Aunt Dee. So it was a social outing, and actually slightly profitable.

Now, though, if I go alone, I make it just so far before I get a little lonely doing it, and as I don’t really have a compelling reason to attend a lot of garage sales, I call it a day after a couple of sales.

At any rate, I picked up some Marvel–well, mostly X-Men movies at the church garage sale and a book for $20 ($12.50 rounded up to the nearest sawbuck since it was a fundraiser).

I got:

  • Captain America: Civil War
  • Ant-Man
  • X-Men: The Last Stand
  • X-Men: Days of Future Passed
  • X-Men: Apocalypse
  • X-Men: First Class
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • My Life at the Zoo by Betty White

I’m seeing a lot of $1 and $2 DVDs at the garage sales I visit, and it’s people unloading their stock as they become used to streaming. So it’s the time to get them in the wild cheaply. In a couple of years, they’ll dry up, and you’ll be paying retail prices for used films.

The sales I attended were rather bifurcated. Some had really low prices as people wanted to unload things, and others had fairly expensive items that people hoped they’d get their worth. But I tend to run on the cheapskate side of the street. One had very nice pieces of décor for a buck or three, and I was suspicious of their origins for that little. I did pass on a little side table that would have served as a living room television stand because it would have needed refinishing, and although it is generally my wont to accumulate more than I’ll actually do–let’s maybe not buy more furniture to refinish until I actually refinish the last such piece.

* * * *

In the afternoon, I dragged my youngest to Relics so I could do the other half of the store from what I did on Monday. The young man does not enjoy garage sales, estate sales, antique malls, or generally anything in the real world these days, but it was less lonely dealing with his stream of complaints than browsing alone.

I did end up with a couple of records and a DVD which is the opposite of Monday’s haul.

I got:

  • Makin’ Magic by Pat Travers because I will confuse him with Pat Metheny every time.
  • Al Jarreau in London, a fine live album. I don’t generally do live albums, but it’s Al Jarreau. He, too, is from Milwaukee, you know.
  • Warm and Sensuous by Les and Larry Elgart. Pretty Woman on Cover (PWoC), but I happen to like the Elgarts as well. The record has a fine rendition of “Harlem Nocturne”.
  • Natalie by Natalie Cole. Pretty sure I already have it, but this copy was $2, so I spent it to make sure.
  • Superbad on DVD. After watching Knocked Up, I thought I’d revisit the Apatowverse.

This set was ten bucks–I don’t really browse the record bins as most of them have records for $10 or more these days–but if I find one with records for $2 or $3, I will give them a look. Also, some booths still have DVDs for a buck. But probably not for long.

Between the two trips to Relics, though, I spent less than the face value of one $25 gift certificate. Given I’ve seen the whole store now, I will probably put the gift certificates away and revisit the store just before Thanksgiving to do some Christmas shopping.

At any rate, thanks for sticking with my consumerist/materialist/junk on the bunk posts. Even though I am watching several films a week, I am still outpacing my capacity with these excursions. But someday, these things won’t be available. Mostly because I will have bought them all.

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Quibble’s Raiders

In a post on the likelihood of a hot civil war, Animal says:

A second civil war would be catastrophic. It would be fought not on distant fields, not by massive armies maneuvering against each other in open country. It will be fought in the streets, in the towns, amongst us in ways no other war has touched us since the Revolution, and if similar conflicts are any indication – see not only Bosnia but also the Spanish Civil War – it will result in hatreds that will last generations.

As I have mentioned before, here in the Ozarks, it was house-to-house and family-to-family raiding during the Late Unpleasantness. And some of the locals still have a kind of respect for Quintrill’s Raiders.

So I have imagination enough to know how that might go.

(Yes, I do read the rule 5 posts for the articles.)

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Mommyblogger, Where Do Aryans Come From?

Unsurprisingly, the answer the journalist presents is a mixture of racism and modern loneliness of immigrants.

However, gentle reader, one with historical perspective might point out that Aryans where proto-Persian/Indians from way, way back in history who conquered India and placed themselves, with their lighter skin tones, at the top of the heap and established what would become the caste system in India. As the young man in question has a lighter complexion and immigrated to the United States with his family, he might have been of those upper classes in India who might have looked down on other Indians. I’m not going to actually ascribe motives to him (or posit that he might be a fed like all the cool kids are).

But I am bogged down in the India book in The Story of Civilization (the Our Oriental Heritage volume), and this history is fresh in my mind.

Never is the question “How do other nations/ethnographies treat those of other nations/races/ethnographies?” Because that answer would be worse than the West and especially Americans do.

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“I Have This Gift Certificate”–The Gift That Keeps On Giving

My beautiful wife gave me two $25 gift certificates to Relics, so I popped by on Memorial Day to see if I could spend them. After a long weekend that I’d looked forward to that ultimately underwhelmed–I blame the banana bread fiasco–I hoped the trip would cheer me a bit.

Relics gift certificates are problematic. First, they are paper certificates and not gift cards of any sort. They expire six months after issue, and they do not provide change if you do not spend the face amount of it. So you have to spend over the amount or lose it. The combination of these factors has led to certificates expiring in the past as I’ve lost track of the dates or I’ve not wanted to expend a gift certificate of $25 for $11 in value.

Which was the case on Memorial Day.

I hoped to find something over $50 that triggered my fancy. An old computer reasonably priced. Perhaps something for a new or future hobby, like the bass guitar I bought with one set of certificates or the fencing equipment that I did not.

I really only had an hour to wander before I had to leave to make it home for dinner time, and as a result I only got a record and a couple DVDs.

Here’s what I ended up with:

  • The Longest Yard, the Adam Sandler remake of the Burt Reynolds film.
  • Step Brothers with Will Ferrell and that guy who’s always in Will Ferrell movies (I know, I know, John C. Reilly, and he’s been in movies without Will Ferrell).
  • Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow with Angelina Jolie and an eye patch. Also, some other actors and CGI that has probably not aged well.
  • The Watch with Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, and Jonah Hill. I’d never heard of this film, and I’ve considered myself a bit of a Ben Stiller fan.
  • Lost in Translation which I am pretty sure that my wife and I saw in the theater because I consider myself a bit of a Bill Murray fan.
  • Bedazzled, the Elizabeth Hurley and Brendan Fraser remake of the Dudley Moore film which I also saw in the theater but without Mike.
  • Laine Kazan‘s self-titled album. I’d never heard of her before, but Dean Martin had a blurb on the back, so I gave it a go (and it was a rare one dollar record). Turns out she’s more known as an actress than a singer, that she posed nude in Playboy before I was born, and that she’s still alive. Amazing.

When the hour was up and the total was calculated, it was $11.78.

So I did not spend either of the gift certificates. Which means that I’ll have to go back. Maybe this weekend. And I will turn right at the entrance and work my way westward in the shop as I tend to go left and work eastward, so I see those booths twice for every time I see the eastern half of the store. Perhaps there’s a $52 hobby for me to pick up, or at least $52 worth of clutter for my office or garage.

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Working From Home Can Do That To You, Too

COVID-19 lockdowns had same effect on memory as serving jail time: study

Last month, the local software developer’s group had a panel discussion on the pros and cons of working from home. One of the very last questions was about how working from home affects your sense of time. I don’t know whether the questioner had seen similar studies, but I have often given this thought over the years and certainly since the developer meetup–I came right home and started drafting a post for the group’s Discord server, but I showed a draft of it to my beautiful wife, but she was not impressed, so I discarded instead of discording.

However, here’s a bit of a related musing:

1. In the short term, your time is integrated.
I found that once I started working from home, my days were no longer bifurcated into the work day spent away at work and the home life, spent at home and everywhere else. I mean, when I would think back on this or that, work time was separate from the rest of my life, and I didn’t correlate last Tuesday at the office with last Tuesday night having dinner with my wife and watching hockey. If I wanted to remember when something happened for work or in real life, I would have to count back using the events at work to remember something from work or using life at home to remember things from home. It was weird.

Once I started working from home, though, all time and experience flowed into a single bucket. My whole timeline was integrated in a way it had not been before. So that was really nice.

2. Over the long term, though, time melts together.

I’ve worked from home for 18 of the last 19 years, and 14 of those have been from my office at Nogglestead. As I have mentioned, we don’t change things up very much at Nogglestead, and my office has not really changed since we moved in–after all, the bookshelves, arcade game, and giant desk with enormous hutch really can only fit together one way (although it should be noted that in our little under 3 years in Old Trees, I did move my office from one place to another as we made room for another baby). I have had numerous clients and a couple of full time jobs, and the look and experience of going to work has been almost exactly the same, day in and day out, for fourteen years. My office with F—-, my office with G—–, and now my office with C—- have all looked the same. A big monitor, a mouse, and a keyboard.

So events of the years have blended together in memory. I rely an awful lot on this blog to help me remember where I was or what I was doing or reading or watching at any given point in time–and if you read my book reports or movie reports, you’ll often find me saying, “I read/watched this related thing …. how many years ago?”

It’s probably exacerbated by the fact that I’m quite a homebody, and my choice of leisure is often sitting at my computer or in the recliner which is very much the same year after year, too.

So, basically, the old saw that “The days are long, but the years are short” becomes “The days are longer, but the years are shorter.”

And now if anyone asks me what it’s like working from home, I’m going to answer that it’s a lot like prison. And the more introverted you are, the worst it is.

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Movie Report: Jet Li’s Fearless (2006)

Book coverWell, gentle reader, you know what you’re getting with a modern Chinese film. You’ve got some star power in Jet Li (whose other films I’ve enjoyed, including Kiss of the Dragon, Hero, The Black Mask, Lethal Weapon 4, and most recently The Expendables). Okay, an older Jet Li, kind of like you get an older Jackie Chan in similar films, but still interesting and exciting to watch. But it’s an interesting film once you peel away the layer of Chinese propaganda film that hovers over all.

Jet Li plays the adult son of a martial arts teacher whose father lost a public bout with honor and tried to instill that honor into his son, but did not. Eventually, Jet Li becomes the leader of a washu school of martial arts that his father began, and he becomes successful in drawing students. He starts to live a bit of the high life with it, but when a rival school’s leader beats one of his students, for no reason (he is told by the student), he fights that leader in his (Jet Li’s character’s) friend’s restaurant, leading to its (the restaurant’s) destruction and the loss of the friend. Worse, he kills the other school’s leader, and then he learns his student embelished the story and the whole thing was unnecessary. He ends up wandering, falls in with a family and a blind girl (played by Li Sun) and learns to love and live again. So he returns home to fight again, this time for China against the forces of the West plotting against China.

So, well, yeah, a good story wrapped in Chinese anti-Western propoganda. Although, strangely, the Japanese champion comes off humanized, or at least lives up to the Chinese ideal.

So all right. Perhaps in a couple of decades the Chinese propoganda element will be lessened or merely a historical note. And then we can look upon it as a story of redemption, and not preparing to paste it to my children who are coming into draft age.

But enough about us. About Li Sun.
Continue reading “Movie Report: Jet Li’s Fearless (2006)”

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The New Animal Sounds Of Nogglestead

It has taken a little over a month, gentle reader, for me to finish listening to the records I bought at the Spring book sale. And “finish” is a relative term–the current turntable cannot accommodate 78 rpm records, so I have not listened to the Benny Goodman set, and I have not listened to the three LP “learn Mandarin from records” set (which might go into the drawer with the other learn-a-foreign-language sets that I have gathered over the years before I actually learn a language via LP–see also the audiocassette teach-yourself-Japanese course that’s been in my office closets for 25 years).

I finished with the New Cristy Minstrels because they’re more of my beautiful wife’s thing, although she has said they’re more of her mother’s thing, and that she (my wife) really did only hear the Christmas record as her mother did not listen to records that much in her memory.

I also held off, strangely enough, on the Eydie Gorme record (Here’s Eydie Gorme) as the first time I tried to listen to it, the turntable was acting squirrelly, leading me to fear its imminent failure. However, the next day, it had no problems, but by then the Eydie Gorme record was lower in the stack.

And as I completed (mostly) listening to them, I realized that this stack of records has more animal sounds than perhaps my whole library previously had (an untrue assertion, as we have a record version of Disney World’s Enchanted Tiki Room and some of Kipling’s Just So Stories, but bear with me here–I’m blogging).

The Eydie Gorme record has “I’ve Gotta Crow” which apparently (according to Wikipedia) was her first single with Steve Lawrence circa 1954, but the LP I got is from a decade later. In it, Eydie Gorme, well, makes what presumably are Brooklyn crow noises as crows don’t sound like this in the Ozarks:

Then, relatively shortly thereafter, I heard the song “The Cat” from the The New Christy Minstrels Tell Tall Tales! (Legends and Nonsense) which features band members meowing:

At Nogglestead, that song is more closely associate with Ralph the Dog from The Muppet Show:

I’m hard pressed to think of another record where the band makes animal noises. I’m sure we have one or more in the library, but these leaped out at me because I heard them in such close proximity.

Oh, and of those New Cristy Minstrels records: New Kick! is apparently signed by one of the players:

Pete Henderson inscribed this to John and pointed out which songs he played or was featured. Not bad for a dollar.

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Movie Report: Knocked Up (2007)

Book coverAfter watching The Green Hornet, I picked up this film which might have been the movie that launched Seth Rogen’s career, to see if his characters always annoyed me. Which is a little less than rage-watching, but he had a big moment about a decade and a half ago, and I wanted to maybe catch a little of his career in case it ever comes up in a trivia night. After all, the things I thought were trivia–pop culture details from the 1940s-1970s–is now ancient history and the lost wisdom of the Ancestors.


In the film, Rogen plays a frattish bro living with a bunch of friends who are hoping to make it rich off of an Internet site (coming sometime) that tells you when you can see boobies in the movies. Katherine Heigl plays an up-and-coming broadcast talent who finally gets her break in front of the camera. The frattish boys are out at the club because that’s what they do, and Heigl’s Alison is celebrating her promotion, and after many, many drinks, Rogen’s Ben and Alison hook up. The coitus they barely remember results in Alison becoming pregnant, and against the advice of her family and at risk of her career, she decides to keep the baby. When she tells Ben, he decides to help, and they get to know each other as they prepare for the baby’s birth.

So the manboy in this film does undergo some character growth–the woman too–but I attribute this more to it being a Judd Apatow film more than a Seth Rogen film. some of Apatow’s other works also have those bits of growth and depth to them–This Is 40, The 40-Year-Old Virgin maybe–but some are just straight ahead comedies (Anchorman, Superbad, Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby, et al). Looking over Apatow’s ouevre, I have seen a lot of his films, and although I note that many of the same actors appear in them–his family, Leslie Mann, Paul Rudd, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, and so on–I don’t think of the Apatowverse like I think of the Stillerverse or the Sandlerverse. Probably because he’s behind the camera–far behind it as a producer and writer not always the director.

So the film was not as bad as I had feared it would be. Like most 21st century R-rated comedies, it has a lot of swearing and requires drugs or blackout drinking for major plot points–I need some Cary Grant films as a palate cleanser–but it is easily the best Seth Rogen film I’ve seen. Of which the sample size is small (although he has smaller parts in other movies in the Apatowverse, he stars in but a few).

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Spotted in the Wild: An Acrostic Poem

You know, in school, in poetry units, the teachers always brought up the Acrostic poem form where the first letter of each word spells something else. I didn’t think they were a thing but rather an easy poetry type to grade (like haikus, where you just have to count the syllables and not judge content).

But apparently, Keats wrote at least one:

Acrostic: Georgiana Augusta Keats

Give me your patience, sister, while I frame
Exact in capitals your golden name;
Or sue the fair Apollo and he will
Rouse from his heavy slumber and instill
Great love in me for thee and Poesy.
Imagine not that greatest mastery
And kingdom over all the Realms of verse,
Nears more to heaven in aught, than when we nurse
And surety give to love and Brotherhood.

Anthropophagi in Othello’s mood;
Ulysses storm’d and his enchanted belt
Glow with the Muse, but they are never felt
Unbosom’d so and so eternal made,
Such tender incense in their laurel shade
To all the regent sisters of the Nine
As this poor offering to you, sister mine.

Kind sister! aye, this third name says you are;
Enchanted has it been the Lord knows where;
And may it taste to you like good old wine,
Take you to real happiness and give
Sons, daughters and a home like honied hive.

Yes, I’ve picked up the collection of the complete works of Keats and Shelley that I’ve been working on for at least four years.

Las Vegas oddsmakers are evenly split whether I will complete this book or The Story of Civilization first. To be honest, I’d take the latter. And as far as the over/under goes, eight years might be the way to bet.

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Cursed by the Old Woman in the Marketplace

Well, it sounds dramatic, gentle reader, on purpose. To be honest, she was not that old–older than me, but not a crone, and it wasn’t a marketplace, it was an estate sale in Republic last Saturday. And she didn’t mean it as a curse.

As you might know, gentle reader, I have been on a multi-decade quest, well, not so much a quest as something I think of from time to time, to replace the remaining Sauder particle board printer stands used as major pieces of furniture at Nogglestead. These printer stands come right out of the 1990s, with a slit in the top where you can slide the pin-fed paper for your dot matrix printer. Back shortly after the turn of the century, one often found them at garage sales for a couple of dollars, or at least I did, when I was furnishing an apartment and later a house or two. So I picked them up, and they have faithfully served as side tables and entertainment centers for almost a quarter of a century.

So I’ve started stopping at intermittent garage sales and an estate sale or two, maybe one a month, looking for an actual end table. Not just any end table, but an end table that costs about $20.

So I made an outing of it on Saturday, going to breakfast with my oldest son and stopping at a couple of yard sales on the way. On the way back, I told the bored boy (well, almost-man) that the estate sale whose signs we followed deep into a subdivision would be the last one. It was billed as an estate sale, but it was not run by a professional company–it was mostly in a garage. It looked like the man of the house had passed and the mother was downsizing. The garage was full of tools and whatnot, but a sign said “Furniture inside.” So I went inside, and I found what looked to be a serviceable end table, and it was only $20.

As I carried it out, the woman cursed me: “If you’re looking for projects, there’s a cart in the corner. If you like to refinish things.”

I had my hands full, so I could not make a gesture of warding, so I was cursed.

When I got home, I looked at the end table, and it had some dings in it and some of the parts were colored a little differently, so I decided maybe I would refinish it before bringing it in. Instead of bringing it into the house right away, I set it down in the garage.

I had a little time on Saturday afternoon, so I thought I would strip the finish off of it and apply one of my 20-year-old stains (some are younger, only a decade or so old, but I don’t remember which). But my 20-year-old can of stripper was empty, having sublimated sometime in the passed years. So I stopped at Ace Hardware and bought a new can of stripper and a new can of dark stain for $40. Which, if you’re accounting, makes this $20 end table into a $60 end table.

If it makes it out of the garage. I still have a coffee table and two end table set that my brother gave me about 20 years ago, broken down into pieces for easy refinishing (and, more importantly, easy moving from our first rented house to Casinoport to Old Trees to Nogglestead). I also have a little child/doll rocking chair, again broken down for refinishing and it turns out easy moving, that I picked up at a garage sale over 20 years ago. And a desk I bought in 1999 whose metal pulls and accents I removed to refinish, but it got pressed into actual service sometime in those years and has adorned my office, sans pulls and accents, for two decades. Somehow, one of the metal accent pieces has ended up on my workbench in the garage. I’m not sure where the others are, but I presume they’re together.

So the new end table is out in the garage, where projects go to be forgotten or ignored for a long, long time.

Perhaps the woman cursed the end table and not me. But time will tell how soon I get any of this done. After all, playing a couple of turns of an old version of Civilization that turns into a couple hours of an old version of Civilization is far easier, and as we go into summer, cooler.

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