Good Book Hunting: Friends of the Christian County Library, October 16, 2015

Well, just in case you were missing the Good Book Hunting posts, I went to the Friends of the Christian County Library book sale yesterday afternoon in Ozark. We picked our children up from school, and the whole family cruised down to check out what they had. As I already own many, many books, I assured my beautiful wife that I would not be buying too many.

Well, books.

Here’s what I got:

Friends of the Christian County Library book sale October 2015 purchases

It was the videocassettes that got me. I’ve taken to watching films in the evenings after a bit of a lull, and I’ve been procuring them from garage sales and thrift stores a lot lately. Among yesterday’s accumulation, I got:

  • Romancing the Stone and Jewel of the Nile
  • The Grizzly Adams movie Grizzly Mountain. Remember, children are impressionable and are guided by what they see on television as was proved when a bunch of them got eaten by bears based on the pro-ursine propaganda in that television series.
  • A collection of bits from Bing Crosby’s Christmas specials.
  • Two Chuck Norris films: Missing in Action III and Lone Wolf McQuade.
  • A Rutger Hauer film, Wanted: Dead or Alive. Which is a reboot of the Steve McQueen television series.
  • Charade which features Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. And was the first thing I watched of the set.

I also picked up nine Toby Keith albums which is almost half of his canon.

Amongst the books, I picked up:

  • Two Tom Wolfe titles, The Right Stuff and Back to Blood.
  • I Ching.
  • White Night by Jim Butcher which is a fantasy novel with a hard-boiled wizard if the cover is to be believed; I expect it to be similar to Hard Magic in some regards.
  • A Rod McKuen collection of poetry, Moment to Moment.
  • Space War which is a nonfiction prediction about how World War III might start with engagements in space.
  • An Isaac Asimov mystery, A Whiff of Death.
  • A book of book lists, Book Lust.
  • Lake Wobegon Days by Garrison Keillor.
  • The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope. Apparently, it’s a classic of some sort according to the book’s imprint.
  • The Seige of Eternity by Frederik Pohl. The cover says it’s as good as Gateway, but covers being covers, the proof of the gooding is in the reading.
  • Two books I already own: Widows by Ed McBain and Mind Prey by John Sandford (see the book report? I didn’t when I was at the book sale.). If I don’t know I own them, I often buy books just in case I don’t, especially if the books are cheap. In the case of the Sandford books and so many modern series, the similarity of the titles makes the books harder to tell apart. I’ll probably send the Sandford book to my brother but I might keep the Ed McBain book on the to-read shelves as an excuse to read it again sometime in the future.

All in all, it was a pretty good gathering of content to consume. Because it was half-price day, the total came to $18. Definitely cheaper than a movie.

The best part: Since I’ve been reading a little more this year and not buying as many books, I had room on my to-read shelves for the books. Well, I mean, it’s not like they’re tidy or single stacked or organized or anything, but I did not have to stack these new volumes in strange places.

Next week, though, all bets are off.

Book Report: Peacemaking: On Dusting the Wind by David P. Young (1989)

Book coverThis book was published by some arm of the Presbyterian church at the end of history (which was right after communism fell in the Soviet Union, for those of you children too young to remember, before history clawed its way out of the grave and began shambling around and moaning again).

This is not supposed to be a pure poetry collection; instead, it’s said (in its introduction) to be a sourcebook for musing about interacting with the world, other cultures, and other faiths. So it includes some doggerel thoughts about different cultures, a lot of indictment of personal comfort and wealth while there are so many poor in the world, and, dare I say it, a lot more equivalence between the religions than I would expect from a book published by a Protestant church. The very first bit is about how Christians, Muslims, and Indians are all holy or something. Perhaps it’s meaningful to remember that all people are people, but if you’re going to be a church, I should expect if not an overt pitch as to why one’s particular flavor is the best then at least an implicit understanding that not all paths are the same.

But that sort of thinking probably explains why Presbyterian numbers are declining and little schisms are happening.

Ah, well. The book didn’t make me much more thoughtful about the poor. But it did have some colorful photographs.

Undoubtedly, I got this in a collection of chapbooks and whatnot from the Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library book sale. Which is coming up next week just in case you missed my "Good Book Hunting" posts.

The Corkboard iMac

A couple years back, when I made the laptop mirror, I also decommissioned an old iMac that I’d bought my wife for her birthday somewhere after the turn of the century. It was one of the new-fangled flat ones, not one of the neon colored ones. It sputtered out, and in lieu of spending a lot of money sending it off for repair (or having it done locally), I took the guts out of it and wanted to use it for something.

I’d initially thought of painting some plexi to put in the monitor bezel and then some flashing LED lights inside it. Perhaps a fire motif to make it look a bit like an electric fireplace but without the heat.

I guess I didn’t really like that idea, since I didn’t bother to go through with it in the couple of years I’ve had the iMac case empty even though I’ve bought plexi, LED lights, and paint.

So two weeks ago, I went to a church garage sale, and there’s a little corkboard for fifty cents. I picked it up because I knew I’d use it someday. Which turned out to be soon.

I cut the cork down a little, glued it into the iMac case, filled the rest of the case with foam from old packing materials, and glued the case shut (because originally it relied on internal bits of the computer and monitor housing to stay closed.

And voila! A desktop corkboard.

Continue reading “The Corkboard iMac”

Book Report: Distant Replay by Jerry Kramer with Dick Schaap (1985)

Book coverThis book comes fifteen years after A Farewell to Football and details the first reunion of the Super Bowl I Packers in Green Bay. Kramer discusses what each player at the reunion has done since his football days ended. It’s a wide variety of stories: Max McGee founded the ChiChi’s restaurant chain and then cashed out for $18 million. A couple players went onto other teams, but never had anything like the Packers even if they won Super Bowls with other teams (and many did; the league was smaller then). Some have beaten cancer. Many are on their second wives (including Kramer), which is strange, because those of us latchkey kids from the 1980s thought our parents invented divorce.

It’s chock full of some good trivia, including the first player to play for both the NFL and Major League Baseball (Tom Brown, not Deion Sanders or Bo Jackson) and the first player to play in a Super Bowl and to coach a team in the Super Bowl (Forrest Gregg).

The tone of the book kind of makes you feel a little sympathy for Kramer, though. His optimism from his previous book seems a little forced in this book, and he does seem a little envious of those who have done better than he did since he mentions their net worth a lot. He’s not unconscious of the scorekeeping though, and he’s not done bad for himself, but he’s a six-hundred-acre guy (the size of his ranch) and knows although some people are sixty-acre-guys, a couple are six-hundred-thousand acre guys. And it rankles a bit.

So it’s a bit of a melancholy read being a retrospective of sorts and because it comes right on the heels of the previous book. That fifteen years vanishes instantly. And fifteen years after they stopped playing, all of these guys are a little older than I am and they’re far ahead of me in Krameresque scorekeeping. But in 1985, none of them had blogs with ten years of archives generating dozens of Google search hits a day and twenty cents annually in ad revenue. WHO’S WINNING THE 21st CENTURY? ME!

Books mentioned in this review:

Book Report: The Shakers by L. Edward Purcell (?)

Book coverThis book is a bit thicker on content than many of the photo-centric books I spend my Sunday afternoons with. The book contains a pretty good history of the Shaker movement, from their leaders being expelled from the Quaker movement to the different communities established in New England and the east to the eventual thinning and dying out of the sect–after all, they were not allowed to reproduce, only to convert to the religion.

As to the photos, they’re professional and whatnot. They highlight the design of Shaker furniture and crafts as well as some of the buildings in the various communities. Many of those communities, as they declined, effected transfers from the Shakers to nonprofit organizations that transitioned them into museums, sometimes while a few elderly Shakers remained in residence.

At any rate, a good enough coffee table book to flip through and to learn something.

Books mentioned in this review:

I’m Not The Shorting Sort, But I’d Short Simon Properties If I Were

I hit the local mall every couple of months when I have one of my vehicles serviced. The garage (who am I kidding, it’s not a garage; my Great Uncle Tony had a garage–I go to an Automotive Service Center which is a fast food restaurant of oil changery) that I use is in the out lot of the Battlefield Mall, owned by Simon Properties. I’ve been fairly impressed with the mall over the years, as it’s always been pretty busy and has had few vacancies (compared to my next-most-recent memories of Crestwood Plaza ten years ago, which was a movie theatre and a lumber showroom, or so it seemed with all the plywood on the storefronts).

Things must be changing.

I’ve noticed a couple more vacancies in the last couple of months and a whole lot of renovation, which means store turnover which might not be as bad as vacancies, but it’s not good.

Then I noticed that the lights don’t get turned on until 8:30; last year, when I got to the interior Starbucks at 8:10, the lights were all on for the mall walkers and early employees. But the lights were out and the mall was relying on natural light through the skylights for illumination. All right, I thought, someone at corporate is making small changes to save big dollars in the aggregate.

But there’s this sink in the men’s room.

Every time I’ve been into the mall since summer, the same sink has been “temporarily” out of service. Starting in May through August at least. I haven’t been back to the mall in about 2300 miles, so I’ll be back in to see if it’s been fixed yet in a couple of weeks. I’m not sanguine at this point. When I was in a couple weeks ago, the soap dispenser on the sink next to it was also broken.

It makes me feel like a detail-oriented stock analyst to dig deeply like this, to visit the locations and businesses I’m considering for buy or sell recommendations or merger and acquisition targets. Which I’m actually not, I’m just a guy using the bathroom at the mall.

But when one reads Forbes for the articles and not the pictures, one must be forgiven for framing every day experiences in terms of stock market analysis.

Packrattery Justified, Again

So a decade or so back when we lived in Casinoport, our closets had those inexpensive wire shelving organization system in them. As so often happens, one of the brackets in my office shelving broke, probably under the weight of the boxes of books I stored on those lightweight shelves. So I went to the hardware store to buy a couple of the brackets to replace the broken ones.

Except they don’t sell them individually. They sell them in bags of 20, and I needed 1.

So I’ve had nineteen of these for over ten years tucked away.

A couple years ago, while playing in the back yard, one or both of my boys grabbed the cable running from the DirecTV dish to an unused outlet and pulled it free from the staples that originally held them to the bottom of the edge of my deck. So I thought about buying some metal brackets to screw into the deck to hold the cable more securely. I mean, hey, some day we might want to put a television in the dining room. Someday.

Instead of buying brackets, I remembered the white plastic brackets and so I knew I could use them for this job. When I got around to it. Someday.

Once in a while, I got to thinking about doing that particular repair, but I couldn’t remember where I’d put the clasps out in my workshop area in the garage. They weren’t amongst the other fasteners or in the cabinet that makes up the bulk of my storage. So I often got distracted by other incomplete projects or clutter in my workshop before I find them.

But earlier this week, I opened the other drawer, and there they were. Now, a word about my “workshop”: It consists of a high table with a tool box (and a lot of clutter) on it; a couple of topless cabinets I acquired from somewhere covered with clutter, some tools, and an organizer for loose fasteners; a desk that was the tool area in the small space between the furnace and the wall of the utility room in Casinoport which, of course we took with us when we left because I accumulate things; and various shelving units of tools, paints, raw materials, and, quite frankly, junk that I’ll probably clear out very gradually over the next twenty years. I store most of my stuff in the cabinets because they’re closest to the workshop and, frankly, because the floor space in front of the desk is generally stacked with junk.

But on inspiration or when looking for something else or perhaps just because I felt like I was Indiana Jones in an ancient temple, I opened the seldom opened drawer and there they were, right on top.

So I affected the repair years later without having to spend a buck on brackets.

The hero of the story: My packrat habit!

Which is why it is definitely too early to throw that thing out!

And if anyone needs a white c-clamp, I have sixteen left.

Book Report: Magnificent Hearst Castle

Book coverThis book is a little program guide from Hearst Castle in San Simeon, Florida.

It’s a lot shorter than Hearst Castle and probably predates it by a couple of decades–although the booklet itself does not include a copyright date. It does, however, contain the then-current prices for admission to the attraction along with parking instructions. Were I more curious and a real Hearstophile, I suppose I could look up the prices to determine the exact era of the book. But I’m not.

At any rate, it contains a number of photos and descriptions of the rooms, but none of the real detail the other, thicker hardback has. Of course, this book was probably far less expensive initially and it’s not too expensive now.

Worth a quick browse to get a quick summary of the mansion and complex, I suppose. Or to pass a part of a football game’s men-in-jerseys-walking-around and commercials bloc of time on a Sunday afternoon.

Books mentioned in this review:

Book Report: Whispers of Love by edited by Deborah Gaylord (1980)

Book cover

Apparently, the Internet does not know that this book exists. But it does.

This is a 1980 magazine or book published by Scholastic Magazines, a division of Scholastic Book Services. It is 32 pages containing a single quote about love and a large photograph of happy 1970s people, presumably in love. I mean, here’s what we’re working with here:

Apparently, this was targeted to school children. That’s Scholastic’s ballwick, isn’t it? Or did this appear on the drugstore shelves for a quick gift for a loved one? Who knows?

All I know is it took me less than an offensive series in a football game to flip through it, and I’m going to count it in my annual tally. The book is more interesting for the photographs than the quotes, and not because the photographs are spectacular. It’s because the photographs remind one of the 1970s, and I was alive in the 1970s, so I knew people who followed the fashion and tried to look like this. Because it is cool. Frankly, it’s why I’ve never followed current fashion: It leads to photos of one like these. Also, I am cheap.

Also, I can’t help but wonder how many of the people from this book went home to furniture from this book.

Book Report: Stormbreaker: The Graphic Novel by Anthony Horowitz (2006)

Book coverThis book is apparently the graphic novel adaptation of the screenplay of a young adult book (or so the Internet says). So it’s a graphic novel, but with a plot of something other than a tournament of magic, pocket monsters, or whatnot. So it’s not manga.

Alex Rider is the nephew of a secret agent, and when that secret agent dies, the controlling agency takes an interest in Alex who has been groomed as a secret agent from an early age. Out of options, they insert him into the mansion/complex of a wealthy technology entrepreneur who is offering to donate thousands of new virtual reality computer systems to schools across the UK. Although initial clues indicate each machine might include a computer virus, the plot is to release an actual virus into the schools to kill hundreds of thousands of children. Because, evil.

Alex stops the plot and gets the girl.

It’s about par for the graphic novel course, and were I inclined to share this with my children, there’s apparently a whole series of books out there with Alex Rider as the hero. Young adult books without wizards, vampires, or some other supernatural element that sets the hero apart from mere mortals? I was not sure such a thing was done in the 21st century. Maybe I will share these books with my boys after all.

Books mentioned in this review:

To Add To My Confusion

I recently said elsewhere on the Internet:

When I’m talking about the film Romeo Must Die, I always have to say it slowly to make sure I don’t say Romeo Is Bleeding.

Face it, the 1990s were bad all around for Romeo. But I guess this has been true for centuries.

Now I learn there is a new film called Romeo Is Bleeding. It’s not a gritty reboot of a particularly gritty movie; instead it’s a documentary about a group of urban students staging Romeo and Juliet.

Which will only heighten the confusion in my internal monologues.

Probably Not The Headline He Would Have Chosen

St. Louis magazine has a promotional section called “Faces of St. Louis” where business people can have their portraits printed along with a blurb about what they do.

Based on this entry, I have to wonder if the business people wrote the headlines themselves or if it was the work of the magazine’s staff.

Because who would want to be the face of male infertility?

Book Report: A Farewell to Football by Jerry Kramer with Dick Schaap (1969, 1979)

Book coverJerry Kramer wrote this book a little more than a year after Instant Replay. The year after that book, the first year after Lombardi (who retires from coaching at the end of Instant Replay), the Packers cratered and lost more games than they won. Kramer’s Instant Replay became a best seller and he was quite in demand as a speaker and television guest. So he decided to give up playing football and to be a businessman since he has quite a few irons in the fire already.

So this book is a bit musing along those lines and a bit more detailed biography than Instant Replay. It doesn’t hold together quite as well as the first book as it had a unifying theme, and this one does not as much. It also might have been rushed out to capitalize on the success of Instant Replay.

At any rate, as I was reading it, I couldn’t help but wonder if Kramer’s optimism in his post-football life and business dealings were a bit optimistic. I wondered whether a lot of deals and opportunities came his way simply because he was a champion professional football player. I was pleased to see toward the end of the book that Kramer himself acknowledged this doubt.

So it’s not as good as Instant Replay, but it’s a pretty quick and easy read.

The books might also explain why Jerry Kramer is not in the football Hall of Fame: both of these books have a perspective about playing football that the industry might not want expressed. Kramer sees football as a job that he knows will end someday and, honestly, might not be the job he focused on in his last years in football. That might have stung some of the league officialdom at the time who might have wanted more focus on football, if not exclusive focus on football. Oh, how they might wish nowadays that the outside life of football players merely included business deals and hunting instead of lawbreaking.

Books mentioned in this review:

Book Report: Instant Replay by Jerry Kramer with Dick Schaap (1968)

Book coverIt’s been eleven years since I read this book. I remember I took it with me over a long weekend that my beautiful bride and I took to Kansas City. Funny what happens in eleven years. Now I remember well the name of the book store in Springfield since I pass it several times a week. But I probably only go into it as frequently as I did back when it was a pilgrimage when we went to Springfield.

At any rate, this report is going to be a lot like the first one: Jerry Kramer was the left guard for the Packers in the 1960s, and the year captured in this book is the run up to the third consecutive NFL championship and second Super Bowl (although the coach, Vince Lombardi, is more concerned with the former than the latter). Kramer talks about his aging in the game, about the mechanics, techniques, and preparations involved in the game, and his outside interests and investments. It’s a pretty loose and readable style and it carries you along even if you don’t know football or the historical nature of the season. Actually, this report is going to be a lot shorter than the other because I’m just going to summarize the book and direct you to that earlier report for more depth.

I picked up this copy of the book because it had the dust jacket, unlike my other copy, and I got it with a couple of other Kramer books. So expect a couple other reviews of his works during football season interspersed among the picture books.

Books mentioned in this review:

Book Report: Shticks and Stones edited by Miriam Levenson (2003)

Book coverThis book puts me in a moral panic. Should I like it? It’s Jewish humor. Should I feel bad in singling out Jewish humor in this way? The modern world is so very confusing.

At any rate, this little McNeel book is a collection of one liners from Jewish comedians sometimes about the Jewish experience in the United States. It was amusing and very short which is its raison d’ĂȘtre.

Which is a French saying in a book about Jewish humor. Should I have said something Yiddish instead? Shtick is right in the book title so it was used already.

At another rate, I bought this book at an estate sale for a couple of bits, and it’s worth that just for the simple pleasure of a couple of good one-liners whether you have a Jewish mother or just a mother.

Books mentioned in this review:

Book Report: Don’t You Dare Throw It Out! (2006)

Book coverThis book, a pamphlet, really, but it’s football season and I read pamphlets during football season, was published in 2006. However, it strikes me that most of these tips must come from the late twentieth century or indeed the middle part of the century. Instead of an upcycling set of tips for how you can cleverly reuse things, we get a list of ways to reuse product packaging because you can’t bother to go to the dollar store and pick up a Chinese molded plastic equivalent. I mean, there is a complete section on berry baskets for Pete’s sake. Have you seen berries sold in baskets in a long, long time? I have not.

So, instead of the 301 tips, let me boil it down for you. Got a piece of refuse and you can’t afford the garbage bill? You can use it for the following:

  • Use it to organize your car trunk.
  • Make a toy with it for your child or cats, although let’s be honest: your cats will be more impressed, briefly.
  • Use it to organize your desk drawers.
  • Make it into a planter.
  • Frame it and put it on your wall.
  • Make it a gift!

I think that pretty much covers it but with fewer exclamation points.

I’m not sure I got a single idea out of this book.

I did, however, get a blog post out of it.

Books mentioned in this review: