Book Report: Sweet Savage Heathcliff by Geo Gately (1982)

You know, Garfield gets all the attention these days, but back in the old days, Heathcliff was the cat. Of course, his cartoon was a single panel, not a strip, so his humor had to get to the point, and it did. Instead of lazy, Heathcliff was a helion. Instead of liking lasagna, he eats the remnants from trash cans. In other words, he’s a scrapper where Garfield is a dilettante. No wonder I liked Heathcliff more when I was younger. Also, the daily we got had Heathcliff, but not Garfield, which could explain it. Heathcliff even had a cartoon before Garfield did.

This book collects a number of strips, mostly around the motif of Heathcliff’s love for Sonja. Given that, though, the book really identifies how Geo Gately used a limited number of ideas for a lot of cartoons. Another cat looks at Sonja, and Heathcliff does something to him; Heathcliff steals the fish; Sonja’s woman owner asks the man why he doesn’t do for her what Heathcliff does for Sonja; and so on. I hope that over the run of the series, the cartoonist spread these repeated bits out a little more than you can within a book limited by this theme.

Ultimately, I guess this might explain why Garfield would ultimately eclipse Heathcliff.

And although there’s no Heathcliff without Heathcliff blog (unlike Garfield, there is the Heathcliff Explained blog which echoes sentiments expressed above with some profanity and daily cartoons.

Can’t anyone else in the 21st century just enjoy the cartoons, or just look at them?

Books mentioned in this review:

Good Book Hunting: June 14-15, 2008

Saturday: The St. Charles Book Fair

Saturday represented our third year in a row at the St. Charles Book Fair and our first attempt at a book fair with two strollers of children. This particular trip was disappointing because the combination of the crowd and keeping a grabby nigh-two-year-old from the books left me unable to effectively browse. Unless I’m in the right mood, I don’t go wild, and the factors didn’t put me in that gluttonous mood. As a result, the book purchases were far lower than I expected:

St. Charles Book Fair 2008
Click for full size

I got:

  • LA Secret Police, some sort of nonfiction bit that will fit right into my paranoia.
  • The Frumionous Bandersnatch by Ed McBain, a later 87th precinct book that I might not have already.
  • Shadows over Baker Street, a collection premised on a combination of Sherlock Holmes with H.P. Lovecraft. How could that go wrong?
  • 50 Great Horror Stories, a collection, obviously, of horror, obviously.
  • Arson Detection and Investigation, a nonfiction book about police techniques regarding arson. The typeface indicates this manual might be out of date, so I expect it includes pyromancy or something.
  • K-Pax, the book that inspired the movie. Because I get those books, as you know.
  • Kim, by Rudyard Kipling. Now that I am looking for Reader’s Digest editions of these books, they’re unavailable at book sales. The only other volume they had was Twice-Told Tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne, which I almost finished at the time. Now that I have actually finished it, you’ll get the book report.
  • Homecoming by Bob Greene, which I probably already own.
  • The Choirboys by Joseph Wambaugh. First thing when I hit the first table, a volunteer asks me what I like. When I said McBain, he asked me if I’d read Wambaugh. Of course, the only Wambaugh I’d read was The New Centurions when I was in high school, and I said as much, so the volunteer pushed this book onto me. I don’t know what it was about this trip and the gabby volunteers or if a small child overcomes my normal prickly look, but I got into a lot of conversations (2) with the volunteers. The other started when I told my charge on wheels that the Romanian-English dictionary was almost tempting because I don’t own one; the volunteer stepped in to tell me about the languages her kids were taking for fun, and she not only tried to get me to buy the dictionary, but encouraged me to take on a couple of language on tape courses available with the audio goods. I declined both, but I got the Wambaugh. It was the first book I picked up, but it didn’t trigger the normal frenzy.
  • Something by John Stossel, which will be worth the read.
  • Great Books. I think I already have this one, too.

The other stack of books and the crazy number of cassettes (and 2 albums) were Mrs. Noggle’s purchases. Not depicted: the three board books I picked up to distract J1 while we browsed. One he ripped at the fair and another is one of his favorites today.

Sunday: Antiquarian inheritance from my aunt

On Sunday, I lamented about not buying many books, and my sainted mother took pity on me and gave me a stack of antiquarian books from my aunt, whose inheritance to me includes a number of titles already reviewed upon this blog.

My aunt bought these books, like so many of the others, at garage sales and was going to sell them online. Ergo, she bought them because they were old, not because of their subject matter.

Here they are:

Antiquarian donations
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They include:

  • Abridged Treasury of Prayers (unknown), which includes a postcard, a photograph, and a letter within as well as an inscription.
  • William Zorach: American Artists Group Monograph Number 15 (1945). Signed by the artist. Includes a newspaper clipping on the artist’s death in 1966.
  • The Science of Human Life or Eugenics (1920). The original textbook on it. As I said, my aunt bought this book because it is old, and I have this book because it was my aunt’s. So if you come to see it on my shelves, please understand why it’s there.
  • Gainsborough Masterpieces in Colour (unknown). A collection of works by the artist.
  • The Lilac Lady by Ruth Alberta Brown (1914).
  • We Came In Peace: The Story of Man In Space (1969).

Will I read them? Most of them, probably, maybe. They’re going on the to-read shelves anyway.


Instapundit links to a couple of The New Republic takedowns of the new M. Night Someguyan movie The Happening, saving me a couple bucks on seeing a film that ultimately would have cheesed me off. Go head, click here and here, read the spoilers, and know why I’d have been peeved.

However, in the biggest meta-twist of any career (and I’ll guess that Shyamalan’s career is officially over now), the finally movie suggests that the protagonists of his earlier films were actually the bad guys. That’s right: The Sixth Sense‘s burglar, Unbreakable‘s Mr. Glass, Sign‘s aliens, and that mermaid film’s anti-mermaid contingent were actually the good guys, doing the work of the Trees.

Late Night CMT Musings, Delayed

1: Taylor Swift. Day-um, that is a pretty girl.

I mean, I’m from Wisconsin, but this young lady has altered the geographical center of my swearing accent.

That’s the kind of girl I would have gotten stupid over at age 20. Come to think of it, she does remind me a little about my high school crush. I only went out with her twice, as I got stupid about her my senior year and didn’t get the nerve to ask her out until spring. She then went on to date a close friend, which would become a recurring theme in my younger days, and after she graduated college, I hear she married a local boy known for impregnating his step-sister, whom he’d dated before their parents married. I am from Wisconsin, but by high school, I was in Jefferson County, Missouri, where such things are not unheard of.

But back to Taylor Swift. Blonde, pretty blue eyes, and a sweet voice, ruff.

Speaking of Taylors, here’s another from back in the day, also blonde here:

2. Hey, I’ve always liked Billy Ray Cyrus.

Actually, I was fortunate to get exposure only after the whole Achy Breaky thing, so that was something I had to forgive him for after I liked him. Here’s the current video, where he looks like a fat Garth Brooks as Chris Gaines, unfortunately:

Sadly, it’s from an album of country sings Disney which isn’t as bad as a Jimmy Buffett or Def Leppard duet, but I have to think Hank would not approve.

Here’s something from the olden days, his second album entitled It Won’t Be The Last. To some of his critics’ surprise, it wasn’t. You’ll have to click through to see “Some Gave All” because Universal Music doesn’t trust me with the embedded video because if you can see the video here for free, you won’t go buy a $50 Blu-Ray Billy Ray video collection.

What, country music videos in the middle of the night? Well, after four weeks of the late shift, I’ve gotten a bit tired of SportsCenter and Hannity and Colmes or Greta repeats, and sometimes the classic movie stations are running Hope Floats marathons. Watching the country videos makes me a bit nostalgic, as you can see.

Someone Suffers From This Portrayal

Game on for DiCaprio:

The word bounding out of Hollywood this week is that “Titanic”-star Leonardo DiCaprio is intent on doing a gaming-related pic about Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari and the Chuck E. Cheese’s pizza chain. DiCaprio would star as the entrepreneur and, Game Guy presumes, bring a little of the on-screen spice he demonstrated in such flicks as “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” and “The Basketball Diaries.”

DiCaprio as Blinky or Clyde, maybe. DiCaprio as Bushnell? I’ll never look at my Ataris the same again.

Government Counters Begin Counting, Rationing Health Care Beans In Oregon

Previously on State Run Health Care Lost:

State-run health care in Wisconsin begins denying coverage to the most vulnerable, i.e., expensive, “clients”.

Now, another state with universal health care begins its rationing:

Treatment of advanced cancer meant to prolong life, or change the course of this disease, is not covered by the Oregon Health Plan, said the unsigned letter Wagner received from LIPA, the Eugene company that administers the plan in Lane County.


“We can’t cover everything for everyone,” said Dr. Walter Shaffer, medical director of the state Division of Medical Assistance Programs, which administers the Oregon Health Plan.

“Taxpayer dollars are limited for publicly funded programs. We try to come up with polices that provide the most good for the most people. Most cancer treatments are high priority on the list,” Shaffer said.

But the intent of the list was to exclude coverage of treatments that are futile, or where potential benefit is minimal in relation to expense.

That sounds kinda like the insurance industry, except without choice and responsibility-proof government bureacratic effort.

Note to the Kansas City Star: I am against government health care, not for more expensive programs throwing greater amounts of confiscated citizen money after diminishing returns. Thank you, that is all.
(Link seen on Dustbury.)

Good Book Hunting: May 31, 2008

Last weekend, we hit a couple more garage sales and got a couple more books. Color you shocked, I say (if I can mix metaphors and allusions).

Here, we have:

Sports books, mostly
Click for full size

  • Instant Replay and Distant Replay by Jerry Kramer. I’ve read the first, but the copy I read didn’t have a dust jacket. So one of these books is a replacement. The other: To Read.
  • A field guide to Missouri Wildflowers.
  • A couple of books by Eric Flint and Harry Turtledove, faves of the cool kids.
  • The Better Homes and Gardens New Garden Book, sort of like the red checkered cookbook, I hope.
  • Confessions of a Hooker, a book I’d bought the week before in softcover, but this is hardback, you see.

I also got a couple of pictures for a quarter each, as you can see. They’re alkmost like Renoir.

Actually, this was the Concordia Lutheran Church sale, not last week. Sorry, in the immediate post-event period, time gets a little confusing.

Good Book Hunting: May 24-26, 2008

The Memorial Day weekend provided us with our first post-event chances to add to our library, and we took advantage. By we, I mean, me, mostly.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

On Saturday, we hit a couple of yard sales, including one at Concordia Lutheran Church in Kirkwood, Missouri. This last stop (of 3, as we ease ourselves back into it) had excellent prices (and half off by the time we got there), but the book selection was light, and this is all we got:

For a quarter each, this is all I got?
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I got:

  • A little book of love sonnets.
  • A collection of Heathcliff cartoons. He was almost as big as Garfield once, wasn’t he?
  • A second copy of On Man in the Universe by Aristotle, Classics Club edition. For a quarter, I had to pick it up as insurance. I’ll pass it onto someone.
  • All Quiet on the Western Front because it will bring back fond memories of John Boy getting it.
  • Test Your 80s Cultural Literacy, some quiz book Heather picked up for me.
  • Rumbles, a nonfiction work by William F. Buckley, Jr.
  • Favorite Houseplants in case I ever run out of cats and can grow houseplants.

  • All About Pickling in case I actually harvest something this year.
  • How to Shop Wisely, part of the Vanderbilt Success Series for Women. I could learn something from it, surely.
  • A couple other books whose titles are obscured and I’m too lazy to go check.

A light Saturday, so I had to go out again on Sunday.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Actually, there’s this house on Reavis Barracks Road down in Lemay that has a yard sale on Memorial Day and Labor Day Weekends, so I was going here by habit on Sunday morning. A number of years back, I bought my initial set of Gor paperbacks for a quarter each (and sold them on eBay for gonzo money before trying and liking the series myself). This year, the books for sale were heavy on the Light His Fire titles. I’m sure one could probably make a convincing case on the evolution of that marriage, but I’m not going to.

I got a couple titles for a buck total:

For two quarters each, this is all I got?
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  • Confessions of a Hooker, a book by Bob Hope on golf. Paperback. Which will become relevant in my next post, which you’ve already read.
  • Unsolved Murders and Mysteries, a compendium sort of idea book.

Well, that’s nothing, I know, but it means that I’d almost kept pace on the reading for the week versus acquisitions. Well, no, but at least it wasn’t a 1:20 ratio.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sometime in the last couple of weeks, Heather uncovered an unused Barnes and Noble gift card that we’d bought at Christmas as an extra gift we could give to an unexpected guest that we could use if no such guest appeared. She wanted me to use it on magazines, as I often go into a bookstore and come out with $60 in magazines that I thought looked interesting. However, when I have a gift card, I cannot find any interesting magazines. And since the Barnes and Noble music department had no Aaron Tippin or Sammy Kershaw, I found myself in the Fiction section, letter H.

My new Hs
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  • Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill in mass market paperback.
  • A collection of short stories by Langston Hughes.

There we have it, a bunch of books over three days. Not as bad as what I do with a good book fair, but it’s a sad commentary on how few books are out in the wild in garage sales these days, I suppose.

Know Your Limited Rights

St. Louis Magazine has a balanced piece on the creation of the trash districts in the county. Well, it twitches a nod to balance anyway by writing about a hauling company that will go bankrupt when it loses its share of a free market (although the author uses his creative writing chops to even tilt the verbiage against the free market solution in this portion of the story) and then, on the other side almost, adoring licky love to a sales manager for a recycling company (who gets more money from the mandated, unfree, forced recycling program, so he’s in favor of more county-mandated income for his company).

What really got my dander up, though, was this insight from constitutional scholar and unelected bureaucrat in charge of the county’s Solid Waste Management Program John Haasis:

Again, the phone started ringing in Haasis’ office: “We don’t want you to pick who our hauler is. It’s our American right. It’s our right from God to pick who hauls our trash.” Haasis sighs again. “Last time I checked,” he says, “it’s not in the Bill of Rights.”

Understand that, citizen. This fellow asserts that all of your rights are right there in the first ten amendments to the constitution, and the government can do what it wants otherwise.

And fear your government and its disciples.

Congress Keeps Using That Word. I Do Not Think It Means What They Think It Means.

On May 31, 2008, we received our “economic stimulus” check from the US Department of Treasury for $1,500.

On June 16, 2008, we shall send that $1,500 plus some back to the US Department of Treasury as our quarterly estimated earnings tax (we’re self-employed, you see).

Thanks, Congress, for spotting me a little cash flow to pay the government.

If the whole country had to file estimated earnings taxes quarterly, I’d think we’d see a much smaller annual budget.

Book Report: The Job by Douglas Kennedy (1998)

I picked this book up a couple years ago at Hooked on Books in Springfield for 33 cents. It’s taken me until this month to get to it simply because the title was so, well, bland.

The book centers on Ned Allen, a regional sales director for a computer magazine who finds out he’s in a jam. Seems a major client has decided to pull a promised insert at the time the magazine is being acquired by a German publishing company. The Germans are going to replace the magazine’s publisher with the regional sales director, effectively putting him in the position of climbing over his mentor to the big time. However, things go awry very quickly when Ned twists an arm to save his job, but effectively loses it and finds he’s made enemies that will keep him from working in his field and maybe even New York again.

The book sort of struck me as a fun mash-up between And Then We Came To The End and Lloyd, What Happened? for their high-flying corporate business ways and Vienna Days for its compelling central character who, through weakness, tends to make poor decisions and is perplexed a bit by the consequences.

However, about 2/3 of the way into the book, one screw too many turned, I thought, and then suddenly the book departed into a crime-suspense novel with a murder, blackmail, and a resolution out of a Spenser novel, where Ned Allen talks down the big bad level boss and makes a free-wheeling deal to extricate himself and others from danger while giving a bad man his comeuppance. The character’s name could even have been Tony Marcus, for crying out loud, or that guy in LA.

The book, then, really seems like two different books stitched together a bit unsuccessfully. A pity, really. I still rather enjoyed it, but my praise is not unqualified.

I’ll probably keep my eyes out for another Douglas Kennedy book, though. What the heck, I’ve given David Morrell (of First Blood infamy) another shot.

Books mentioned in this review:




Book Report: Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling (?, 1978)

This is a collection of fantastic stories for children, which explains why not many brown people were oppressed in the book, although the book does include the word nigger in it. I’m sure one could go in depth to find language structure and plot points to identify how Kipling wanted to use this book to indoctrinate the young in old England to believe in their cultural superiority and need to overrun the heathens. I think many have.

However, it’s probably best just to enjoy these stories for what they are and for the language within them.

Please note that this children’s book represents the 49th book I’ve read this year. I don’t count the board books, but things over 100 pages, especially Rudyard Kipling, count in my annual reckoning.

Books mentioned in this review:

Book Report: Red Zone by Mike Lupica (2003)

As you know, I’m a fan of Lupica’s fiction (Wild Pitch, Bump and Run, Too Far, and Full Court Press), and I’ve even read some of his nonfiction Mad As Hell). So of course I was very, very happy to find this book earlier this year.

It’s a sequel to Bump and Run. Unfortunately, it’s also mostly a repeat of that book. Jack Malloy, having secured ownership of the New York Hawks NFL team, dissipates a bit and sells half of his share. He has seller’s remorse and tries to get it back, particularly after the paper billionaire who bought it begins edging him out of the life he loved. Before dissipation.

The characters are fun, the plot moves quickly, and it’s not a bad read at all; however, it does seem to be a simple recasting of the original novel. I’d hoped for a little more.

Books mentioned in this review:





Irony That’s Lost On A Technical Recruiter

Classic Craigslist job listing: VAX VMS/COBOL (St. Louis):

We are a Fortune 1000 company with 60,000 employees globally and 2.5 billion dollars in revenue. We provide software solutions and business consulting to global corporations, using some of the world most sophisticated and advanced technologies.

. . . .

Work Experience requirements:

Minimum 5 years programming experience on VAX/ALPHA Machines

Minimum 3 years experience with COBOL/OPEN VMS

Must have hands-on experience in Datatrieve, CMS, COBOL, DCL, RMS and DecForms

Experience with usage of System Service and Run-Time Library Functions on Open VMS

Yeah, the technical recruiter did not even know these things don’t go together.

Without A Drought, Papers Find Way To Lament Problematic Weather

When life gives you too much rain to write about a drought, a plucky journalist finds a way to lament the rain.

Contractors wonder when the rain will go away:

A year-to-date record of nearly 28 inches has been a headache shared by a range of local construction-related companies, including developers, general contractors, concrete pourers, bricklayers and other subcontractors.

The rain delayed several projects, required overtime work and cost developers extra money. And even though the sun reappeared most of last week, companies say the water problem will not evaporate soon.

Cool, wet spring dampening possibilities for corn crop:

A cold, wet spring put crop planting weeks behind schedule across much of the U.S. Corn Belt and drastically slowed growth where corn is already in the ground.

Now, farmers in parts of Iowa, Illinois and Indiana are replanting corn that either sat under water in flooded fields too long to germinate or can’t break through sodden, compact soils. And the cool, soggy weather continues, the last thing a heat-loving crop like corn needs.

“It’s starting to look like a very difficult year,” University of Illinois agronomy professor Emerson Nafziger said.

Fear the unrelenting dreaded fireball in the sky, or fear the unrelenting drowning death from above, but rest assured, the media will insist you fear something.