When Bill Gates Comes To Town

The realtor who helped us find Nogglestead advertises realty listings in Ozarks Farm and Neighbor right next to his stockyards ad. Most of the time, he has a bunch of listings with a couple of SOLD or UNDER CONTRACT stamps on them to show that he’s a realtor who can get properties sold.

This last issue, though, shows a very high success rate indeed.

What does this mean? Bill "Bill Gates is the biggest private owner of farmland in the United States. Why?" Gates has come to town?

Or that land continues to be a hedge against possible economic calamity to come?

Also note that Tom still has listings for two lots in the new subdivision going in down the road across from the little church that used to be in the middle of nowhere. Other pastures just south of here are up for sale for subdivisions. Twelve years after he helped us find Nogglestead, suddenly we live in the suburbs. I mean, yesterday morning, I saw the local family of deer crossing my back yard, and they’re up to eleven, which means the predators are staying away and the deer have lots of tasty landscaping to eat nearby.

I feel a bit like Natty Bumpo here. I sometimes fantasize about moving further out into the country. Maybe out to Freistatt or Peirce City.

21st Century American Scientists Invent Vegemite

Seen at Instapundit, this just in: Scientists turn beer waste into new protein sources, biofuels.

You know, the Australians have been doing that for 100 years.

Living on a desert island surrounded by salt water pretty much means Australians have had to invent many, many nasty things to eat, or they would starve.

However, one does not get Federal grants now unless one does something “new,” and instead of doing it because they’re going to waste away otherwise, our American scientists are doing it for the environment. Natch.

Some People Could Not Tell That Clark Kent Was Superman, Either

‘Reading Rainbow’ legend LeVar Burton wants to host ‘Jeopardy!’:

Amid mixed reception for the latest crop of “Jeopardy!” guest hosts, Twitter is campaigning for one beloved celeb to succeed Alex Trebek as full-time MC — former “Reading Rainbow” host LeVar Burton.

LeVar Burton on the left, Geordi La Forge on the right. You see? Completely different people.

They might as well have just said science fiction author LeVar Burton.

I know, I know, he has been associated with Reading Rainbow for a couple more years than the Star Trek franchise. But aside from the 90s kids who make up modern tastemakers, who associates him with that? More people than think of him as Kunta Kinte, but not many.

Book Report: On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt (2005)

Book coverThis is an essay by a philosophy professor emeritus at Princeton, published in hardback by Princeton University Press. I don’t know where I got it; I only know I picked it up as a break between movie novels because it’s pretty short.

Within, the author talks about the difference between lying and bullshit, and the basic crux of the article is that the liar knows he’s lying and subverts truth whereas the bullshitter doesn’t care whether what he’s saying is true or not. It contains lots of philosophical speak like talking about the truth-value of a statement and referring to Wittgenstein (whose progeny call themselves WittgenSTEEN), and the author digresses into how bullshit relates to humbug and whether bullshit has any nutritive value.

I think his definition of bullshit conflates two things that bullshit tends to mean in real life. Bullshit is generally puffing up or marketing kind of talk that is at its heart false, and the person spreading it might or might not know it. I think this author finds bullshit to be worse than lying, but when it’s just marketing or puffing, it’s actually less offensive and wrong. Unfortunately, in some cases, it does cross the line into outright lying. The subtle difference makes all the difference. How to capture into words the distinction, though, is the challenge, and this book really doesn’t go into it.

So, basically, it’s kind of an insipid bit of modern philosophy. Instead of tackling the weighty questions of existence, we have a little pop culture book with a catchy name that does a little of philosophy and refers to some other philosophers. Perhaps the authors of such books (which includes The Simpsons and Philosophy which I started three or four years ago and still languishes on my chairside table) want to introduce philosophy to the masses by roping it into pop culture and hope it will spur the people on to read primary sources. I think it’s probably as useful as feeding kids books full of crude drawings like the works of Dav Pilkey and Jeff Kinney in hopes it will lead children to reading real books–take it from me, as hard as I try, my junior high and high school students still read the Captain Underpants and Diary of a Wimpy Kid books over and over again instead of something more mature. Or maybe the authors want to make a buck.

Regardless, I did flag some quibbles with the book, but I’m not going to bother to go into them. Probably not worth my time.

After a slight detour, it’s back to David Copperfield and movie books.

Book Report: Men in Black II by Michael Teitlebaum (2002)

Book coverI continued with my movie and television tie-in books with this volume which is apparently the children’s / young adult version of the movie. It’s very short (143 pages, possibly shorter than the actual screenplay) and uses simple language. It deals with the sequel to the first film, where Jay has to find Kay because he had a previous mission hiding a powerful energy source that a new alien threat who looks like Lara Flynn Boyle wants it to conquer some other aliens–and Earth isn’t important, but she’s willing to take on the Men in Black and capture their headquarters to find it.

I just watched the first film in the series last year when my quaranteens were watching it during their work-from-home phase, and I plopped down to watch it again. So I have seen the first film maybe three or four times. This one, I probably watched once soon after it came out, so I did not remember the plot of it, but some of the scenes came back as I was reading them.

I was just pleased that I could remember the name of the woman playing the Alien Big Boss: Lara Flynn Boyle. She was featured in a Maxim or FHM magazine around this time, when I was young enough to subscribe to them and convince myself it was to keep hip on the things the kids were into whilst I was getting toward middle age (in my defense, I also subscribed to GQ and Spin around the same time, so the impulse was real). I remembered she was in that lawyer show that I never watched. Ally McBeal? Nah, I thought, but yes. Also, The Practice.

So not as much fun as True Lies, but not as long to read, either, I guess.

That said, I will probably not rush out and get the six (!) other movie tie-in paperbacks they released in support of the movie.

Eesh, I can’t imagine kids being that excited about this particular movie.

Oh, and I did flag some quibbles. With a children’s book. BECAUSE I HAVE NO LIFE.

Mostly, I flagged anachronisms. Kids at the turn of the century might have known what these things met, but kids these days would be clueless.

A Wut?

“I sent you an interstellar fax,” Serleena said. “Didn’t you get it?”

I think all but the most recalcitrant of official documents go through the Internet now.

At Where?

“Sephalopods have been making counterfeits at the Kinko’s on Canal Street.”

After almost forty years of being Kinko’s, Kinko’s became Kinko’s FedEx Office in 2004, just after this film, and then just FedEx Office in 2008 (according to Wikipedia). So Kinko’s has not existed in any name for almost thirteen years.

The When?

Kay reached into the locker and took an old digital watch–circa 1970–from a tall clock tower.

Hmmm, that seems a little out-of-time. PC Mag says the first commercial digital watches arrived arrived in 1972 and cost as much as a car–although in a decade, they would become less expensive and get into wider circulation. Probably the authors were too young to know.

At any rate, an amusing and quick read even though it lacks any real depth. On the plus side, I can’t call it depraved unlike some things I’ve read recently. But I am just the kind of prude who yesterday turned down a job interview with a company that did not mention in its job listing that it is in the adult entertainment industry. PRUDE, I TELL YOU!

Book Report: True Lies by Dewey Gram and Duane Dell’Amico (1994)

Book coverI don’t remember if I saw this movie in the theater in the middle 1990s–I think I saw it first on videocassette–but I remembered the whole plot and most of the scenes. I remember I tried to watch it in the early part of this century, but I had to pop the VHS tape out as the attacks on September 11, 2001, were too fresh for me to enjoy a film that features a nuclear detonation in the continental US. I have since watched it, though, and in continuing with the theme from this year, I read this book, the novelization.

The book is a cut above many novelizations as the authors include some interior life to the characters instead of just reporting the action in the script or in the movie. As such, the book is a little deeper than the film, and the insertions keep the playful tone of the movie itself. It’s not like when they made Serenity after Firefly and suddenly all the characters were darker and haunted instead of happy-go-lucky.

If you’re not familiar, the story follows a secret agent with an agency that tracks nuclear weapons and threats. He has a wife and a daughter that he sees rarely as he is called away often for his computer job cover story. He has a set piece in the Alps, and an Islamic terrorist from the set piece follows him to try to kill him to protect the terrorist plot to smuggle nuclear weapons into the United States. Set piece, set piece, comedic subplot that the wife is getting bored and a used car salesman has crafted a secret agent story to seduce her, set piece that the daughter is acting out, set piece, nuclear detonation, Harrier jump jets (remember when they were a thing?), one-liner, happy ending.

Spoiler alert. There is a nuclear detonation in this film. But I guess I already mentioned that.

So, a pretty fun book with some minor variations from the film–the last voice over by Harry’s handler that ends the film is missing–but no great differences, so this is from a fairly late draft or early cut of the film.

A couple things I noted below the fold.
Continue reading “Book Report: True Lies by Dewey Gram and Duane Dell’Amico (1994)”

Another Strange Easter Tradition at Nogglestead

I have already told you the story of the Easter Chewbacca (which Chimera successfully knocked behind the clock, so it resides there to this very day, and the Easter tie (which I did wear to church this morning).

Now, the story of the Easter bucket.

I got some stuff for Easter for the boys this year. Last year, Easter fell right after the lockdown, and I was still limiting my trips out of Nogglestead, so I didn’t get anything for the boys. And the gap gave me time to forget that we had discarded the old Easter baskets from years before because my boys had beat each other with them between the holidays.

So when I went out to look for the baskets in the garage last night, I only found one that had been part of another Easter disbursement of some sort.

So I used a decorative bucket instead for the oldest.

They’re old enough to buy their own candy year-round, which they do whenever they have money in their pockets and the weather allows. So they only got a couple peeps and a couple of chocolate eggs, a magazine or two each, a tin of Altoids, and a yo-yo. Most of the candy is likely eaten except for a tin of Altoids which has already been spilled.

And the Easter Bucket might just become a tradition. I mean, the oldest only has three more Easters, so it doesn’t make sense to spend a couple of dollars on one at this late date.

So another, albeit brief, strange tradition is born.

Meanwhile, In The Powerline Week In Pictures, We Get My Area

This weeks Week in Pictures at Powerline features a meme from my area:

If I am not mistaken, that is Kearney facing east. North of Kearney, there’s only Interstate 44 and then non-overpass intersections north.

Of course, I hardly ever see the intersection going that way–when I’m going to ABC Books, I take US 65 north to Kearney and then turn west on Kearney to get to Glenstone and my favorite bookstore.

I have seen the sign on rare occasions when I have wanted to catch the highway from Kearney or when I have gone east on Kearney to a sports facility formerly known as The Courts, where my boys had a basketball camp and my youngest briefly played in a basketball league.

Not as weird as seeing a known intersection in a CAPTCHA.

Brian J. Avoids The Big Mistake (Barely)

So my boys were both off of school on Good Friday, and since it was two weeks out from our adventures on spring break, I wanted to take them somewhere if I could think of it. I mean, we have the Springfield places that we’ve either gone often, doesn’t interest them, or is priced for tourists.

So I thought about a road trip.

I thought about going out to Poplar Bluff to have lunch with my brother or nephew, but it’s six hours round trip, and we had church service in the evening. So I looked around for used book stores or places to go that might have interesting things to do. Bolivar apparently has a used book store that is a seamstress’s sideline and a couple parks. But I saw the It’s a Mystery book store down in Berryville, Arkansas. It’s only about an hour and a half away, and it looks like Berryville has plenty of places to eat and a town square to walk around. So I piled the boys into the car with their old road trip Game Boys and, when everyone asked our destination, told them, “It’s a Mystery.” That was about the best part of it.

So they’re guessing as we start down Highway 160. Is it Branson? Is it a museum? And then the youngest, still at the private school, asks, “Is it out of the state?”

“Do you want to go out of the state?” I asked, playing coy.

“If I go to another state, I have to quarantine for two weeks from school,” he said.

Oh, yes, now I remembered that edict from the school. Of course, I hadn’t thought of it because we weren’t “traveling” in the vacation sense; we were taking a day trip on a lark. So I screeched the brakes as we approached the Welcome to Arkansas sign, barely averting the disaster of having him home for two weeks.

Well, it wasn’t quite that dramatic, but I did have to abort the mission and curse the arbitrary PANDEMIC!!!!! protocols which determined that a small town seventy miles away was more dangerous than big cities three hours away on other states’ borders.

So we ended up driving an hour and a half taking the long way around to a diner thirty minutes from our home in Marionville, which did not impress us, and then driving to run a couple of errands in town.

So I basically spent four hours in the car yesterday going nowhere.

It’s not the adventure we’d hoped for, but at least the goal and the result will have been memorable.

Good Album Hunting, April 1, 2021: Relics Antique Mall

I got two $25 gift certificates to Relics Antique Mall for Christmas. Relics’ gift certificates are unique in two ways to Relics’ favor: They expire in a mere six months, and you have to spend the total amount on the gift certificate as they give no change and they’re not gift cards that can carry a balance.

I had a couple of minutes between picking up the oldest from his after school activity and picking up the youngest from his after school activity, so I stopped by to see if I could find anything. When I was in during the Christmas season, I had spotted a set of fencing equipment which I believe had two vests, two helmets, four gloves, and two foils, and I would have been all over that if I saw it again. I mistakenly thought I had two $30 gift certificates, so I thought I would almost afford the fencing set which was $75 if memory serves. But I didn’t see it. I started browsing records though, thinking if I could find $30 in records in fifteen minutes, I would spend one of the certificates, and if I only found a couple bucks’ worth of records, I’d pay.

Well, as I have lamented before, record prices have been rising. Not so fast for the old and the obscure stuff I like as much as for more popular fare, but where records would have been a couple bucks a couple years ago, now they’re five dollars and way, way up.

Still, I was playing with house money. And in about twenty minutes, I found enough to spend both certificates.

I got:

  • Torch Songs for Trumpet by Doc Severinson and His Orchestra.
  • Catching the Sun by Spyro Gyra.
  • All Access, a two record live album it looks like, by Spyro Gyra.
  • Hollywood Byrd by Charlie Byrd. A jazz musician who the people who price records for antique malls don’t seem to have heard of as both his records were on the low end of the price scale.
  • The Touch of Gold by Charlie Byrd. Of course, both records are ‘pops’ more than jazz maybe.
  • One of Those Songs by the Fluegel Knights. It looks to be a compilation; the name would seem to indicate a fluegelhorn somewhere, ainna?
  • Here’s Jody by Jody Miller. She looks very country, but she’s PWOC (Pretty Woman On Cover), and the record has a version of “Won’t You Stay (Just A Little Bit Longer)” that I want to hear.
  • Organ Moods in Hi-Fi with Buddy Cole at the Pipe Organ. C’mon, man, can you have too many organ records? I mean, I have bought Klaus Wunderlich new on CD. You know how I would answer. Plus, this record was fifty cents.
  • The Best of Tim Weisberg by Tim Weisberg. Two bucks; on the low end of the price scale, and I already have several Tim Weisberg albums. Again, I guess this is the obscure stuff I accumulate.
  • Impressions for Flute by Ransom Wilson. He looks much more serious than Tim Weisberg.
  • A Nonesuch record with works by Francis Poulenc. I have no idea who he is, but I know Nonesuch records.
  • Around the World by Frankie Carle.
  • Feels So Good by Chuck Mangione. Because it has a better cover than the other one that I recently bought at another antique mall.
  • Golden Classics by Ace Cannon.

I carefully estimated and thought I’d picked out about $65 in records (profligately). It was only when I got to the register that I re-discovered my gift certificates were for $50 total. But with the discounts applied, the total came to $53 something.

Which means that the records I got only cost me $4. Many of them came with their own mylar sleeves, which is further savings.

However, as my recent tidying of my record shelving has indicated, I really need to build more shelving. Especially with the Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library book sale coming up later this month with its fifty cent records on the Saturday. Ay, if only I had a pickup truck to easily haul lumber.

Unclear On The Concept

I picked at the margins of cleaning up my garage last weekend, getting rid of a couple of bins of glass in various forms (jars, bottles, broken), and I discovered that at some point in the past, I had stored a stepping stool by putting it on the top shelf.

In my defense, I think the then-immediate impulse was to get it off of the floor, and I did. Besides, everyone who would want to get something from the top shelves in the garage these days is tall enough to reach the top shelf (my oldest is about to be taller than I am–what?) or is married to/begat someone tall enough to reach it. This particular stool doesn’t see much use at Nogglestead aside from maybe some painting duty (I’d have to check the colors of paint spattered on it to see if this is actually the case).

As it’s not actually blocking the garage door from opening, I shall keep it there, likely for years. Like so many things these days.

Recklessly, I Picked Up….

So, I finished reading Supercarrier, and I then picked up Supership. When I bought it in 2007, I thought it was a novel set on a supertanker, but I have since learned it is actually a nonfiction account, sort of like Supercarrier on a tanker.

I started reading this, and the cargo ship got stuck in the Suez Canal.

So I picked up The Last Picture Show, and Larry McMurtry died.

I told my beautiful wife these two events, and although she laughed, I feared my reading selections might have more power than providing me several nights’ worth of reading leading to eventual, or sometimes sudden, disappointment.

Maybe what I decide to read dictates world events.

Keeping with my reading of novelizations or sources for movies in paperback, I picked up True Lies.

I am sorry; if that happens, it’s all on me.

Meanwhile, reading of David Copperfield continues a couple chapters every couple of nights. So far, no major mining disasters. So maybe it really is a coincidence.

Book Report: The Last Picture Show by Larry McMurtry (1966, 1979)

Book coverWell, as I mentioned, Larry McMurtry died while I was reading this book. I read Books: A Memoir in February, and I knew I had a couple of his novels on the shelves. I came across this one while I was looking for something to read before picking up Hud, the movie version of Horseman, Pass By.

And I came here to bury McMurtry, not to praise him.

This book, which the cover calls the precursor to Texasville even though this book and its movie came before the second book in what would eventually be known as the Thalia Trilogy and its movie. Published in 1966, the book is set a decade or so earlier in a small Texas town. It’s the sort of literary novel favored by serious artists and those who love them: The novel of pissing on where you came from, your home town where everyone is pitiable. So I did not like the book at all, and that’s before nine teenaged boys ran a train on a blind heifer and the novelist assured us that all the small town boys have sex with farm animals, if not cows and horses then dogs and chickens. Whatever is available. It’s not often that I call a book depraved, but here you go.

I mean, the main character or protagonist, such as it is, is a high school kid estranged from his father and lives in a rooming house with another high school friend. The friend is dating the daughter of one of the rich families in town, a girl who wants to be a legend in town and is a climber, always plotting her next move and/or boyfriend. The book is chock full of characters–the local coach, who might be a latent homosexual; his wife, Mrs. Robinson Ruth, who is turning forty and discovers orgasm with the protagonist; the owner of the pool hall/picture show/diner who is like a father figure to the town boys; and so on. You don’t really like any of them. Mostly, you pity them. The story, such as it is, follows a winter/spring/summer of the boys’ senior year, including football season, a trip to Mexico to score with some prostitutes, sexual escapades/adultery/sociosexual climbing and more prostitutes, it’s all pitiable and games until someone loses an eye, and then…. Well, it ends. To be taken up thirty years later in Texasville if you’re so inclined. I am not.

So this is why I like genre fiction. Because it has heroes and adventures, not normalish-but-quiet-desperation-amid-meaningless-sex vignettes.

I did flag a couple things to comment on, but I have decided not to bother except to bring up two points below the fold.
Continue reading “Book Report: The Last Picture Show by Larry McMurtry (1966, 1979)”

Someone Forgot One

I am so something that I saw something else.

I saw Hewlett Packard mainly because I just ordered a new laptop. No, scratch that: Some months ago, I ordered a new laptop, and Hewlett Packard sat on my money for a couple of months and then sent me a laptop directly from its factory in China which I just received. And rather don’t trust now that I’ve seen where it shipped from.

You know what else marks one kind of a person from another? Getting a new computer/laptop/device and immediately thinking, “Eh, what a chore to set it up” instead of “Cool! I can’t wait to try the new version of Civilization/other game that I bought this computer to run.” I mean, it marks me old that I still run computers for the most part and don’t get excited–or even get the latest mobile devices until the battery on my current one cannot take a charge. But it marks me older yet that I don’t jump right on the new computer, either.

Also, I am not much into gaming on the computer these days, so I don’t need the gee-whizzery of the latest modest improvement.

And even though I saw Hewlett Packard first, I think the other two are more fun.

(Image via Ms. K.)

UPDATE: I am not alone.

Local Debacle Makes The News In England For Some Reason

Inside the $1.6bn ghost town abandoned in 2008 – before anyone moved in:

The Ozarks region of Missouri was set to become home to a prosperous town featuring a shopping mall, a 390-room hotel, the country’s second-largest indoor water park – and dozens of castle-like townhouses.

But the $1.6bn investment went to waste as the town remains uninhabited almost 15 years later.

The Indian Ridge Resort was hit hard by the 2008 financial crisis hit; resulting in defaulted loans and a halt in the construction work.

As someone who watches the bankruptcy auctions from time to time, I still see a lot of those lots coming available for only the past taxes due.

I am not sure why this is news in England today for some reason. Perhaps the new deadly COVID variants are not as bad as advertised. Like COVID itself.