I Know The Feeling

David Harsanyi talks about his personal library:

Not long ago, I popped into a Salvation Army store in suburban Maryland to check out the used-book section. I’d unearthed plenty of gems in similar places, so it wasn’t surprising that the visit proved similarly productive. Home came copies of William Safire’s On Language and the novel Van Loon’s Lives, an 890-page tome written in 1942 that imagines what dinner parties featuring some of history’s most famous people might look like — Torquemada dines with Robespierre, Saint Francis with Mozart, and so on. Or, at least, this is what Wikipedia informs me Van Loon’s Lives is about. The thing is, I probably won’t read Van Loon’s Lives. Actually, I may never again crack open Van Loon’s Lives. Yet there it sits on my bookshelf between well-worn copies of A Short History of Byzantium and A Man Called Destruction: The Life and Music of Alex Chilton — and, if I have my way, there it will sit for the next 30 years.

What he says matches my experience, although instead of hitting the local thrift stores frequently, I hit book fairs and sales where I can really stock up. And on box days, I might as well pick up ever more esoteric titles and subjects because 1)it fits in the box/bag, and I’m paying a flat fee for the box or bag anyway, so I might as well fill it up, and 2)If no one buys it, it will be shredded into kitty litter (Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library sale anyway).

Book Report: Devil’s Pool: A History of Big Cedar Lodge by Charlie Farmer (1995)

Book coverWe spent a couple of days down at Big Cedar Lodge, a resort on Table Rock Lake owned by the Bass Pro Shops people, and the gift store had this book. I’m always interested in very localized history offerings, and this book is hyper localized. Whereas Webster Park: 1892-1992, Elm Ave., Heart of Webster, and North Webster: A Photograpic History of a Black Community, this book chronicles two houses.

Well, a little more than that.

The book starts out with allusions to the Devil’s Pool and its legends, including the story of an Osage named Wah ‘Kon Tah. The section covering this early history of the region is quite nebulous and abstract, as it would have to be. It’s also a bit of an elegy for the beauty of untamed wilderness versus the predations of man who builds stuff on it and ruins it.

The book gets historical when the land is purchased by a pair of fellows, a Worman and a Simmons, who build homes on it for country retreats during Great Depression I. The book looks at the men and their wives for a while and then goes into the sale and transfer of the property until it becomes the Devil’s Pool Dude Ranch in the 1940s. The book includes a number of first hand accounts from those years, but in the 1960s the owner sells it to a man who dies shortly thereafter in an automobile accident. In 1979, a fellow buys it from the Army Corps of Engineers and tries to turn it into a time-share property, but that doesn’t survive. Then the fellow behind Bass Pro Shops bought it and turned it into the excellent resort it is today, which includes some time shares on the property.

So it’s fittingly a short book: although the landscape has been there a while, there’s not a lot of history to report on the property except that people have moved through it. The author plays up the stories of strange apparitions and ghost stuff tarts it up a bit, where some people think that perhaps Mrs. Worman whose ashes were scattered on the property (although she did not die there) might lead to her haunting it. The structure of the book is not straight ahead in timelines, either–sometimes a person is mentioned and gives some account of his or her time there, so it goes beyond where the character was introduced, and after he or she is done speaking, we go back to the time period where he or she is introduced. That could have been smoothed out.

This piece ultimately reads as a for-hire piece, a sort of white paper for the lodge itself. Which is okay, but it’s not a grand historical document.

And let’s be honest: The one bit of history I’d like to know about is what happened to the purchasers of the time share from the 1980s when the Bass Pro people bought it. Because I just bought a time share in it, and I was assured by the 20 year old sales closer guy that we’re covered in the case of the company reorganizing. And I don’t believe him.

Books mentioned in this review:

The Whut?

Stronger Economy Means More July 4 Drivers

— Is it a burst of patriotism, a sense of tradition or another sign that the economy is recovering?

Maybe it’s a combination of all three factors. Motor club AAA is projecting 41 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from their homes this upcoming Independence Day holiday weekend. That’s an increase of nearly two percent from last year’s figures, and a 14 percent jump compared with the recent Memorial Day holiday weekend.

And AAA says about 80 percent of those travelers will be on America’s roads. Nearly 35 million people are expected to move about by car during the July 4th weekend; the highest level for that holiday since the pre-recession year of 2007.

Stronger than what? Stronger than a 4% decrease in economic activity or a 2% decrease in durable goods orders, baby!

People are driving more in older cars rather than taking airplanes, and this is a sign of boom times to news media that are experiencing boom times of their own.

Dance Like Nobody’s Watching, Or You’re A Mad Blind God At The Center Of Chaos

I don’t go dancing much these days, not that I ever did, but I really had only one set of moves.

I called them The Azathoth.

Because I danced like A GOD.

Also, because humans who viewed the eldritch and inarticulate gyrations to the unholy beat of the indifferent cosmos instead of the music tended to be stricken with madness at the sight of arms gyrithing like tentacles and a head nodding and grinning like an arisen Great Old One.

I was literally a terror on the dance floor.

Compare and Contrast

In 2007, I did a book report on Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Monday, Friar reviewed it as well.

Seeing Friar review a book I’ve read is as good of an excuse as any for me to go back and read what I thought about the book.

Funny thing, though: in my review, I noted that I’d bought two of the sequels to 2001 the week before I found it. And I have yet to read them. That testimony underlines what I said in my review about my feelings for Clarke.

UPDATE: Welcome, VftP readers. Take a moment to check out John Donnelly’s Gold, my novel. It sucks less than The Garden of Rama, guaranteed!

To Coin a Phrase

I don’t like the twee made-up word tween which apparently means a child between toddler and teenager.

Instead, I prefer the term middle-aged child. Because it further muddies the aging process that the introduction of “adolescence,” which means not a child and not grown up and without responsibility, apparently, that leads from puberty to age forty these days. By calling them middle-aged children, we’re just begging for hundreds of Internet articles about mid-childhood crises to gull young (and adolescent-at-thirty-four) parents to solve a problem that didn’t exist before the word invented for it.

Fortunately, though, most of the time I’m just talking to myself and Young Nick, the office kitten, so this phrase won’t catch on and a psychological crisis amongst our youth will be avoided. You’re welcome.

An Incomplete Headline

The headline is Millions Paying Less Than $100 Per Month For Obamacare.


Now the numbers are coming in, and it appears that for many Americans the health-insurance plans bought under the new government program are fairly affordable. Almost seven out of 10 people who bought plans through federally run marketplaces and who receive tax credits are paying monthly premiums of less than $100, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said on Wednesday.

So the real headline should be something like Millions Paying So Millions Can Pay Less Than $100 Per Month For Obamacare.

I’m surely in the former millions. I’m not even paying less than $100 a week on insurance these days.

Setting Higher Standards

When I was young, I set Seeing Halley’s Comet again as a personal goal. I mean, let’s face it, the last go-round was less than spectacular. I might have seen it one night/morning from the porch of the mobile home where I was living at the time, but I might have only hoped that the blur I thought I saw was it.

But now that we’re in the 21st century, I’m setting my goals a little higher: Now, I want to enjoy the millennial celebration of The Battle of Hastings.

Yes, I know: These events are only five years apart some fifty years hence.


To celebrate the latter, I’ll have to obtain a passport at the very least. At the not-quite-worst, I’ll have to convert to a rival religion as well.

Eh, ask me again in thirty years, when this blog will still be chugging slowly along on the old timey Internet they had in the twenties. The 2020s.

Good Book Hunting, June 14, 2014: Spirit Life Church Rummage Sale

This morning, we were headed down County Highway FF, and a couple of kids along side the road were holding a sign for a rummage sale in front of their little storefront church. So we stopped.

I got a couple books.

Most notably, I got:

  • A couple of Conan novels written by people who are not Robert E. Howard and another book about Conan also not written by Robert E. Howard. These will complement the complete Conan stories I’m working my way through.
  • A couple of books based on X-Box games in the Prime Dark and Brute Force mythoses.
  • A picture book of Thailand history.
  • A couple of VHS tapes as insurance. That is, I bought Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Batman Forever just in case I didn’t already own them.
  • A collection of Shirley Temple films.
  • The novelization of Terminator 2: Judgment Day
  • A book about kids in the outdoors in the Ozarks.

The kids made out like bandits, and the wife got some CDs. Not bad for $20.

A Paean To Personal Relics

Dierks Bentley talks about holding on.

I try to explain this to my beautiful wife whenever she gets into a decluttering mood about how I keep many of these things because they remind me of too many people who aren’t around to remind me of themselves.

Almost Coulda Been

The City of Springfield is auctioning off an old police car, and it could be mine for $500:

The new Briansmobile

You know you want it. I want it just so I could say “It’s got a cop motor… cop tires… cop suspension… cop shocks…”

However, you know if you bought an old cop car, you wouldn’t be jumping draw bridges with it. You’d be constantly in a pack of cars on the highway doing four miles an hour below the speed limit because they thought you were looking for speeders.

So I’ll pass on asking for it for Father’s Day.

Inside Sources Have Indicated

Inside sources, and by “insider sources,” I mean those in my head, have informed me:

The Obama administration traded for Bergdahl knowing full well what he’s done, and it is turning him over to the Veteran’s Administration health system for punishment.

More breaking news of this nature after my inside sources stop meowing “Girl, You Know It’s True” and other hits of Milli Vanilli.

A Dedicated Revenue Stream Slush Fund

A sales tax initiative is on the ballot in the state of Missouri. Roads and bridges are in disrepair, and the only way to solve this crisis is to levy more taxes upon the citizens.

At this time of great need and penury, it’s good to see the city of St. Louis writing its letters to Santa before the tax passes instead of after:

Bike paths. Street cars. Sidewalks.

That’s the wish list released on Monday by Mayor Francis Slay, meeting a state deadline to submit projects for the proposed sales tax to fund transportation projects.

The city’s list of $268 million in projects is a dramatic shift from most other places in the state; a wish list that focuses on pedestrians and less on building more highways and bridges.

“Only 25 percent of it goes to old fashioned roads and bridges,” said Jeff Rainford, Slay’s chief of staff.

So they’re already bragging that they’re going to spend this DESPERATELY NEEDED FOR SAFETY money on fluff appealing to the small new-urbanist population that makes its downtown lofts home.

Quiz: What Does Your Favorite Bill Murray Movie Say About You?

What Your Favourite Bill Murray Movie Says About You.

Mine says, “People admire you and trust you for your lack of ego. Now’s the perfect time to steal their valuables… or perhaps their hearts?”

My favorite is Groundhog Day, of course. However, I think I’m still more a bad Phil than a good Phil, but I’m only part way through the ten thousand years’ of days.

Another favorite, The Man Who Knew Too Little, might say more truth about me than Groundhog Day any way.

(Link via Friar.)