Book Report: Robotech Genesis/Battle Cry/Homecoming by Jack McKinney (1994)

Book coverThis book contains the first three novelizations of the original Robotech cartoon series called the Macross Saga. Within it, an alien super spaceship crash lands on the earth, and the nations of Earth put aside war to study the ship and to rebuild it to defend should aliens come looking for it. When the aliens do, ten years later, the crew of the vast ship have only barely begun to understand its secrets, but they must defend against the aliens who attack with greater numbers and greater technological understanding.

The first book, Genesis, introduces the characters and some of the history of Earth and the Robotech project. We’ve got a wizened commanding officer of the ship; an all-woman bridge crew; an ace pilot; an inexperienced young pilot; a pretty girl who might be interested in the young pilot; and so on. After the alien attack, the ship lifts into the air and performs a hyperspace jump from within the Earth’s atmosphere, which carries away part of the Pacific island on which it crashed and the town that had grown up to support the research. Instead of just reaching orbit, the ship jumps to the outer edges of the solar system. The ship, the SDF 1, and its crew rescue the people that jumped with it and rebuild the city in one of the vast holds on the ship.

In Battle Cry, the alien fleet has found the SDF-1 and attack it a couple times as the ship makes its way home to earth over a number of months (as they do cannot make a hyperspace jump).

In Homecoming, the ship has returned to Earth but brought the alien fleet with them, so the leaders of Earth want the SDF-1 to leave and draw the alien fleet with them.

The first two books in the omnibus here are the better two; the third kind of leads to a continuation of the series and is not quite as self-contained.

But, you know, I have read a lot of television and movie tie-in books, and this set adds a lot of depth to a television cartoon series. They read pretty well without foreknowledge of the mythos, and they delve more deeply into the alien psychology and the motivations of the humans. Better than you can get in 20 some minutes of imported Japanese animation, anyway.

So it was a passing bit of space opera, but I’m not eager to run out and buy the rest of the series. I was disappointed, as I implied, with the end of the last book and its mere passing of the torch onto the next in the series without some sort of story arc ending and fear that the other books in the series would be more of that same.

But I’ve started to watch the cartoon series with my children, so we’ll see if it spurs us onto better shared memories.

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You Can Play That Again

So I’m running through my music library, and I come to Quietdrive’s 2006 album When All That’s Left Is You. I’m not sure where I got it, whether it’s something my beautiful wife bought because she likes the band or something I picked up at a garage sale. The play count shows 0, but that might only mean that I haven’t played it since my Mac crashed.

But I chuckled when I got to track 9, “Time After Time”:

Why did I chuckle? Because in this abbreviated day where I’ve only been at my desk for three albums, the first was Naz’s Time After which also includes “Time After Time”:

Had I more time at the desk today, perhaps I should listen to Erin Bode’s Don’t Take Your Time which also features the track:

As it was, the album I listened to between Time After and When All That’s Left Is You was The Pretty Reckless’s Who You Selling For?. Although “Time After Time” is not on that album, given the lighter sound of The Pretty Reckless’s Second Album, it’s only a matter of time until Taylor Momsen gives it a go.

Meanwhile, I’m still wondering where this Quietdrive CD came from.

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Book Report: Advanced French for Exceptional Cats by Henry Beard (1992)

Book coverThis book is by the same author as Poetry for Cats, and it comes from the same provenance (and perhaps Provence) as the earlier volume. In turning over my library this summer, it moved to the front, so I took the opportunity to read it.

A little less creative than the poetry for cats book, this book is a phrasebook for things cats might say translated to French. So it has sections about etiquette, taste, food, and so on. An Existentialist cat might say, “Have I caught this mouse, or is not I in fact who am trapped by the obligations of my own nature?” which is, in French, “Ai-je attrape attrapé cette souris ou est-ce que c’est moi qui suis en fait pris au piège de l’obligation de ma propre nature?”

So it’s an amusing browse, especially if you have cats. Apparently, Beard, a former National Lampoon editor, has a whole line of amusing education books for cats. I’ll keep an eye out for others at book fairs because they’re short and amusing, but I’m not going to run out to a book store to stock up on them. Which, honestly, I say pretty much about any author these days at best.

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At Nogglestead, We Have A Word For It: Saturday

There’s a Word for Buying Books and Not Reading Them:

Suffering from the condition of racking up book purchases of $100, $200 or $1,000 without ever bending a spine? There’s a Japanese word for you.

Tsundoku: the acquiring of reading materials followed by letting them pile up and subsequently never reading them

Actually, I have the intention of reading all these books. Mortality is working against me, though.

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Book Report: Hiroshige: An exhibition of selected prints and illustrated books by Sebastian Izzard (1983)

Book coverThis book covers an exhibition of the works of Japanese artist Hiroshige, a printmaker from the early 19th century. As I have mentioned before in reviewing architecture and culture books from Korea and China, I prefer Western art to Oriental art, but I wanted to give a try to some more Oriental art to see if my judgment changes.

Well, not so much.

To be clear, this is a book of woodcut prints, which is different from pure painting and has a commercial purpose, which puts Hiroshige’s motivations more along the lines of Currier and Ives or Gil Evgren (Hiroshige even did some bijin-ga, beautiful women prints, when they were not illegal in Japan). Not that I’m dinging the commercial motivation for art; as the book reports linked suggest, I respect it and its productivity.

Hirohinge was very productive, with a number of series of prints over his decades-spanning career. Most of them are landscapes, but they’re landscapes with human figures. As I’ve said often when reviewing Monet’s work or other artists, I prefer landscapes with figures in them. So Hiroshige should fit right into my wheelhouse.

It’s interesting art, all right, and not bad to look at. I liked the snowy landscapes well enough. I imagine it’s on the more palatable (to me) end of Oriental art. The book, unfortunately, has most of the work in black and white with text describing the colors. Some of the items at the end are just listed without images at all, as this is something you’d probably have picked up at the exhibition and could follow along with as you went. (has the audio tour replaced this convention? You can’t take that with you.) Undoubtedly, it would have been better with the color images.

As I look at it, though, I wonder if I could turn any of these images into woodburning projects. As they’re woodcut block prints presented in black and white, I could perhaps stylize something. Perhaps if I get a table at a craft fair, woodburnings of Oriental themes would be popular.

So it’s worth a browse if you find one inexpensively and are curious about Oriental art. The book also served as a little bit of a wake-up call that, although I’ve looked into Chinese and Korean history, I’ve not read much up on Japan. Which I’ll have to do sometime. I don’t remember seeing any books about Japanese history at the library except where World War II is concerned. Maybe it’s off to ILL for me.

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Now In Thrown Drink Version

Drops of Jupiter in her hair?

Now available when you dramatically throw this wine at someone!

And, honestly, as the Red Blend tastes like slightly sweet alcoholic prune juice, this is a drink for throwing.

For the record, Save Me, San Francisco winery is Train’s winery that donates to a San Francisco charity. All of the wines are named after Train songs. Also, I like Train.

Man, I have to stop buying novelty wines.

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A More Manly Art

There’s something about autumn that makes me want to sit at my garage workbench and work on handicrafts. I think it’s the fact that, for two weeks, the temperature in the garage is between boiling and freezing. But after finishing the two coffee pots, I decided to take up a woodburning project.

On a recent trip to Hobby Lobby on one pretext or another, I picked up a stencil (it’s supposed to be a fabric painting stencil, I think) with an inspirational phrase “Make It Happen” on it.

So I put it on a block of wood.

The text uses a serif font, which means I had to use a fine tip for the serifs. I’m not a fan of the fine tips, as I’m not the most surgical hand in the OR. You can see I made a mistake on the K. Also, it looks as though it’s a little crooked and slightly off-center.


I don’t know why I’ve taken to woodburning as much as I have. I don’t work freehand; instead I get a stencil or trace something to then use my rudimentary woodburning tool on. So the work I do is pretty primitive, but it’s enjoyable and leaves one with an artifact. It’s like an adult coloring book where you use fire instead of a crayon.

Now that I’ve cleared it off of my work bench, I have room to do something else.

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Book Report: The Lessons of History by Will and Ariel Durant (1968)

Book coverThis book is a tl;dr edition of the Durants’ The History of Civilization series, which was ten volumes by the time this book came out and eleven now. Apparently, people asked them the lessons to glean from their other books, so he put out this slim volume. It weighs in at about 100 pages, the length of some of the lecture collections that I’ve been looking at recently (such as The Experience of Nothingness).

Each chapter takes a topic and looks at what the Durants have gleaned for it from their study of history. “History and Earth”, “Biology and History”, “Race and History” are pretty good musings on the natural world and what role they played in history, but when we get to chapters like “Character in History”, “Morals in History”, “Religion and History”, “Economics and History”, and “Socialism and History”, the Durants’ old left viewpoint comes out loud and clear. They list 1933 as a monumental year in history on par with World War I, World War II, and the like, but this is because it’s the inauguration of FDR. The Durants believe that the Soviet Union is a competing system, but not an enemy, and the United States should have told the USSR and China that we were their friends and would never do anything to hurt them. Also, Communist systems were moving towards freedom and the Western societies were moving toward socialism, so in the end we’d all be friends.

Welp, history is sort of trending that way, but the Durants missed a lot of how history after 1968 would work out. Of course, they were old Left, and the new Left that has arisen after turning over the old, tired institutions in academia, art, and entertainment went in a different direction (and one the Durants would have disapproved of in certain elements).

At any rate, after the first third of the book, I was eager to pick up the complete History of Civilization series, but by the end, I was wondering how colored the book would be by the Old Left sensibilities. On one hand, it’s not as invective as modern books, and it’s easy to read. We even agree on some things, such as the suckage of modern art and the perspective that all societies and civilizations eventually fall. But we differ on economic and cultural things as well as whether character and morals should be relative to time and place. There’s one thing to say that historically, moral norms were different, but I lack the intellectual detachment that allows one to say this is a good thing.

I’ll have to watch for the Durants’ The Story of Philosophy and The Pleasures of Philosophy to read before I take the plunge into the eleven volumes of their popular history series.

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Good Album Hunting, October 15, 2016: Thrift Stores

On Tuesday, one of my children called from school to indicate that he was not feeling well. Whenever I pick up a child sick from school with a questionable ailment, I like to take him somewhere that he doesn’t like to go to celebrate the partial day off school: namely, thrift stores and antique malls.

Although his mother convinced the boy to gut out the day at school, we went to a couple of thrift stores after school to help cement the association in their minds.

I got a couple albums.

Gleanings include:

  • James Galway, Mozart: The Two Concertos
  • Perry Como, I Believe
  • Time/Life’s Great Men of Music boxed set for Prokofiev
  • Pete Fountain and the New Orleans All Stars
  • Pete Fountain’s New Orleans at Midnight
  • Pete Fountain, On Tour
  • The Four Freshmen, Got That Feelin’
  • Unforgettable Dinah Washington
  • Terry Gibbs and Bill Harris, Woodchopper’s Ball
  • Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Greatest Hits
  • Dave Brubeck Quartet, Angel Eyes
  • Maynard Ferguson, New Vintage
  • A Taste of Honey

I haven’t even finished listening to the albums I got last month.

I need to spend some quality time in my parlor with my record player.

Also note the boy is feeling better, or at least covering it better.

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Book Report: Beirut Payback by “Don Pendleton” (1984)

Book coverSometimes, when I finish a book and it’s time to pick out a new one to read, I already have something in mind to read next based on some recent event or thought, something I just finished reading, or something I just bought. Other times, too many times, I spend thirty or forty minutes going through my bookshelves to find something to read immediately. As I’m going through them, I often find books I want to read, just not right now. After this period of terrible indecision, it’s good that I have a series that I can just say, “Screw it, I’ll read the next Executioner novel.” At times, it’s a bit of a punt: It will take me two or three evenings to read it, and maybe then something will jump out at me.

Which is why I read this book (and so many of its predecessors and followers).

This book sees Bolan travelling to Beirut in the aftermath of the Marine barracks bombing. He’s on the hunt of a KGB bigwig, but he encounters a plan to assassinate the leader of the Lebanese government. So he navigates amongst Mossad, CIA, and KGB spies and militias of various stripes to prevent the assassination of the leader of the Lebanese government.

It kind of captures what a civil war looks like, with refugees, multiple sides, and urban warzones. Striking, because certain small elements of the American population seem to want a civil war, apparenrly thinking it might be something like a quick game of Call of Duty on the PlayStation that you’re sort of good at but you can turn it off after a couple hours. Civil war is not what’s depicted in the book, and it’s not a game. But this book serves as a bit of a reminder that it’s bloody.

Note the cover: In it, Mack Bolan carries a child while firing a gun. In this book, he does carry a young refugee through a long set piece of combat. I know it’s reinforcing the Sargeant Mercy bit, but, really? Also, as the series advances, I wonder if the authorship is passing from veterans to people who’ve never handled a firearm. They’re just that way: One bit sticks out where Mack Bolan is under fire (but not behind cover) where he holsters one weapon to draw another. What, did the book on how to write these books actually dictate how many times Bolan had to fire each gun? I’m only partly joking. Of course, the cover artist has no idea of the scale of firearms, either.

So it’s a book in the series, not one of the particularly better ones. Not one of the worse ones. In the end, it served the purpose of bridging the gap between other books I read, as I picked up something else quickly afterword to make sure I didn’t have to read two of these in a row. Just think, if I read two of these a month, I’ll complete my collection of them in a couple of years and could feasibly complete the entire series in a couple of decades.

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A Couple Carafes Of Note

I know, I know, you’re saying, “Hey, man, you’ve got a Handicrafts category here, and you haven’t posted anything in over a year! What’s the deal? Are you not doing craft stuff any more?” Well, gentle reader, I know you’re not coming here for the copious book reports. Indeed, you must be seeking the crazy craft projects. Rest assured, although I spent most of the spring and summer painting the fence around my yard and look forward to completing that project in 2017, I have spent a little time this autumn doing stuff at my workbench to fill up that handicraft blog category.

The first things I did were a couple of coffee carafes into flower pots.

Continue reading “A Couple Carafes Of Note”

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American Fracking Claims New Victims

Residents forced to flee huge ‘wall of water’ after earthquake causes major New Zealand river to break its banks – as ANOTHER huge tremor strikes

6.2-magnitude quake shakes northwestern Argentina

This is probably not caused by new petroleum extraction techniques. But in our memeified world of thinking, had they would be printed in text on a picture of devastation and passed around on social media as evidence for the dangers of fracking if they’d occurred in the United States.

The world and its processes, including climate, are very complicated, and mankind probably understands only a small portion of them (the good stuff from way back: The seasons change, you can grow grain in this soil, pomegranates in this region). But our “thinking” as it is communicated is losing its capacity to transmit complexity and uncertainty and, dare I say it, a bit of wonder that doesn’t fit into 140 characters or a glance as someone scrolls.

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Book Report: The Peter Principle by Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull (1969, 1970)

Book coverMost of us have heard of the Peter Princple: That a person tends to get promoted to his or her level of incompetence. That is, in any heirarchy, any person who does his job well enough to get a promotion will eventually get promoted to a position above the person’s competency, where he or she will not be able to do the job. This book is the source of that idea and not only includes it, but also includes other related observations about organizations.

For example, it explains how people who get put into those positions cope with their placement in jobs they cannot do: often, they substitute some task within the function to focus on. More frequently, though, their efforts go not toward doing the work/serving the customer/making money, but more toward supporting the heirarchy.

When a heirarchy becomes too laden with people who cannot do their jobs effectively, the company folds or the government falls. You can forestall this with by shuffling incompetent people or creating new positions to fill with people who have not yet reached the level of their competency. You cannot fix the problem with computers, as computers merely do what they’re told, and you’ll eventually have incompetent people in charge of them.

You can avoid this yourself by avoiding a promotion when you’re happy with your job, but to avoid stigmatism for not being ambitious, it’s best to fake a certain amount of incompetence to avoid being offered a promotion. Even if you reach the peak of your profession, you might be tempted to move to another heirarchy where you might find your level of incompetence eventually.

How does this book compare to C. Northcote Parkinson’s Parkinson’s Law? The book actually addresses Parkinson and says he does not go far enough because work can not only expand to fit the time allotted to it, but beyond if the heirarchy is too stuffed with incompetent individuals to get the work done.

The book ends with a chapter on the Peter Principle on the scale of the human race and fits in with the Malthusian zeitgeist of the time, unfortunately, but it doesn’t detract too much from the preceding chapters.

It’s a humorous, tongue in cheek look at heirarchies and has some truths in it. It is so tongue in cheek that I wondered if it was all a put-on, but Dr. Peter actually exists and did study heirarchies with numerous other publications, so I guess he’s for realz. A good, fairly quick read and quite a best seller in its day: this book, one year after publication, is the eight mass market paperback printing after 13 other printings, and the book is still in print today. So somebody likes it.

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Book Report: Women The Children Men by Roberta Metz (1979)

Book coverThis book is another poetry chapbook I picked up somewhere. It’s from 1979, so it’s old school.

The title refers to sections of the book, one on women, one on children, and one on men. Each contains poems focused, kind of, on the experiences of each, but all of them are from an older, wiser woman’s perspective, whether it’s about being a widow, about having a sexual relationship as an older woman, having children, having men, and so on. Honestly, the men come off a little bit at a loss here, although it’s not entirely male-bashing.

The poet is a more professional poet than, say, Charlotte Osborn. You can immediately tell because the language is unabashedly contemporary (to 1979) and the lines lack end rhymes. Also, the metaphor and rhythm have a certain facility with them.

So a pretty good collection, a step up from the flowers-and-life poems of the housewife set, with a few lingering ideas and images.

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Book Report: Rogue Warrior: Task Force Blue by Richard Marcinko and John Weisman (1997)

Book coverThis book is ripped from the history books and Obama-era law enforcement documents. The opening bit finds Marcinko’s group storming a hijacked plane where the Secretary of the Navy is being held hostage. Marcinko shoots the SecNav’s bodyguard in the process when the bloke draws his gun during the storming, which is the thing that puts the group outside the wire in their ensuing mission.

A billionaire has drawn a following and has recruited a number of ex-military to his organization. He seems to be amassing a large amount of stolen military weapons and distributing them to a wide variety of unsavory groups, from gangs to the militia-style group that hijacked the commercial plane carrying the SecNav in the first place.

The description of the billionaire could be molded to fit Donald Trump:

LC believed we needed a chief of state who was less the poll-driven, touchie-feelie-I-will-never-lie-to-y’all politician, and more like one of those Latin American caudillos–paternalistic, tough dictators like Trujillo or Bautista. There was a part of me that agreed with him. I want a head of state who is decisive–a man who leads from the front. LC certainly did that–he ran his businesses. He didn’t leave ’em to others to run. An in many areas, our philosophies were similar. He argued that we didn’t need a Department of Defense that ran resuce missions in the Third World instead of staying ready for war. I thought so, too. He thought we should lead, not follow, in world affairs. No argument there, either. He was tough on crime, and believed in education. Right on.
Where I got uneasy with LC was in the constitutional area. He never came out and said it in so many words, but it was kind of like he hinted that we didn’t really need the Constitution. I found that downright scary.
But guess what? Current polls showed that many Americans agreed with him–felt that we needed a strong man running the gummint, and to hell with the Constitution.

Of course, in 1997, the template would have been Ross Perot. But one thing these thrillers from the 1990s shows us that the same thing we’ve got going on in the 2010s has been going around and coming around for a long time. You can’t go back as far as the 80s, though, since those were mostly the remnants of the Nazis in the post World War II fat thrillers (although the thin men’s adventure paperbacks often show themes that continue to recur, like Islamic terrorism, as they spread their villany amid those, ex-Nazis, and militia threats).

At any rate, the book does not balance the fourth-wall-breaking expositon well with the action sequences–it has more of the former than the book can bear. Also, it’s a single twist away from being really good–when the Task Force Blue infiltrates the bad guy’s inner sanctum, they find that the general who has been controlling their shots has a new agenda: not neutralizing the threat, but instead putting the threat of civil disorder under the current administration’s control, for its own uses if needed. Which isn’t that much of a twist in the 21st century, where readers kind of expect that from any administration of opposing viewpoint, sadly.

Marcinko has kept writing these books to the current day. Most of what I’ve read comes from the 1990s so far. I wonder what I’ll find once I get into the 21st century books, as I will, probably, if I find them cheap in book sales. My continued interest in the series is the best endorsement of the book that I can provide. It wasn’t bad enough to turn me off to the series.

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The Rorschach Graffiti

On Facebook, a fellow I’ve known for over a decade posted a link to an article about graffiti with the swastika as the T in Trump and asked someone to justify it.

The papers covering it handily as though this is pro-Trump graffiti, quoting all sorts of anti-Trump people hoping Trump will disavow this:

Philadelphia’s Anti-Defamation League chapter quickly condemned the vandalism, referencing its eerie coinciding with Kristallnacht, a coordinated Nazi attack in 1938 during which hundreds of Jews had their storefronts smashed throughout Germany.

“Swastikas and the Nazi salute send a message of intolerance and hate to the entire community,” Regional Director Nancy Baron said in a statement. “While we view this as an isolated incident, we cannot allow this behavior to become routine. Everyone has a role to play in combating bigotry — we must advocate, educate and investigate until hate is no longer welcome in our society.”

One damn minute, Admiral.

What we have here is a piece of unattributed graffiti comparing Trump to Hitler. The articles present no evidence that the vandals were Trump supporters. NONE.

But of course the vandals must be Trump supporters, because people in the media and on the social media have said so.

Pay no mind to those on the left have equated Trump to Hitler.

Come on, that’s three examples from relatively high profile Internet locations or celebrities. You know it’s been all over your Twitter feed and Facebook feed and everywhere else for six months. “Trump is Hitler!”

Ergo, graffiti comparing Trump to Hitler must be in support of Trump as Hitler. Ergo, somehow.

It’s not just Trump that the left has called Hitler over and over.

Scott Walker is Hitler

George W. Bush is Hitler

Clearly, these protestors and their supporting iconography were not the work of Walker and Bush supporters, but the Trump graffiti is because, what? That was then and this is now?

So we’ve got an incident of graffiti, but clearly it is a symbol that fits into and reinforces a specific narrative. The apex of mid-century American Existentialist thought that sixties thinkers could only dream would become mainstream.

Regardless of the actual realities of the incident, including the vandal and his or her motive. Concrete details are not the point. The narrative and the meme are the point.

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Book Report: Let Us Go Quietly Together For A Little Way by Charlotte Osborne (?)

Book cover This book would seem to date from the 1960s, given that its proceeds would be used for the restoration of the Old Bonhomme Presbyterian Church in Chesterfield, Missouri, and I did some rudimentary research to see when that happened. The book is not available on Amazon or eBay and does not appear anywhere on the Internet, seemingly. So maybe I’m just making it up.

At any rate, it’s a short (12 poems in all), comb-bound collection of poems that are not particularly Christian nor gospel-based. Instead, they’re musings on the common poetical themes of love, the passage of time, and enjoying the fleeting present. The language is at times a bit self-consciously imitative of middle English, but not exclusively so. And the poems are not bad, but they don’t stand out.

On the other hand, it is another example of early-to-mid-twentieth-century women, generally middle aged, putting their thoughts to verse and then publishing them, which means we can still see them fifty years later. It might not be poetry to last the centuries, but it’s a literary endeavor that surpasses what many, if not most, of their contemporaries were doing and many, if not most, of their twenty-first century contemporaries are doing, me included.

So it’s not a bad way to spend a couple of minutes in between sonnets you’re writing or snarky tweets.

I wonder where I picked this up. It’s the kind of thing I get bundled at five-for-a-dollar at the Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library book sale, but its origins are in the St. Louis area. Did someone bring it down here and donate it, or did I pick it up in the St. Louis area many years ago? Fortunately, although I wonder about it. I’ll be done wondering about it when I finish this post, so I can focus on proper insoluble problems, such as “Can I convince someone of something political on Facebook?” (Answer: No.)

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Book Report: Backroads of the Ozarks by Wayne Sullins (1990)

Book coverThis book is a collection of Ozarks photographs, published about the time my beautiful wife was graduating from high school in the Ozarks while I was doing the same in the St. Louis exurbs and thinking about my new life in Wisconsin. Some decades later, I’m in the Ozarks, and I see things like this every day.

The photos in the book focus on wild flowers, landscapes, and old mills.

You know, I’m glib when I say I see things like this every day, but I don’t. Many days, I direct myself into Springfield and its urban and suburban environments for the business of living. I see things like this when I bother to take the back roads from my home to Republic, Clever, or Ozark and get to see the landscapes, the old barns, the livestock, and the other things that remind me of Americana and not just the narrow corridors of life.

So I browsed this book with while watching football, as you might expect, and I sometimes wonder how much more I should actually linger over a book of art or photography than to look at the image, react to it if I feel so inspired, and move on. Sometimes, I just don’t know what I’m doing with these book things.

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Book Report: The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff (1982)

Book coverThis book was classed, apparently, as Humor, but in reality, it is a brief introduction to some of the concepts of Taoism through illustrations and excerpts from Winnie the Pooh books.

Clearly, it’s a Chinese conspiracy to trick our children into being Taoists.

So, basically, it introduces the concepts of P’u, the simple, uncarved block, which Pooh is (according to the book). His simplicity leads him to looking at things differently than the others and to finding solutions that the other, more clever (Rabbit) or wise (Owl) characters overlook. Then there’s Wu wei, the concept of not doing much or anything and letting the simple things and solutions in harmony with nature appear. And t’ai hsu, the great Nothing where you begin your journey and in which you will find most things.

Being as I’ve been steeped in the Existentialist writings recently, I must compare the two. Within Taoist thought, the Nothing doesn’t represent the same thing as in Existentialism, as at the core of humanity and nature there’s something, a harmony that you can discover if you’re quiet, simple, and still. So instead of inventing yourself, in Taoism, you find yourself. It’s a bit more pleasant of a thought. And the thing you find within yourself is not set, as you can alter who you are as long as you work with what it is. Very Eastern, of course.

It’s about 150 pages, but it has illustrations, quotes from Pooh books, and imagined conversations with Pooh characters, so it’s something you can read in a sitting or two. I think it took me between two and three hours.

So I think I have The Te of Piglet and perhaps even the Tao Te Ching around here somewhere. Perhaps I’ll pick them up soon.

Editing a different post from way back in the day, I’m reminded of the Tao Sharks gear I made:

Tao Sharks
Tao Sharks

Strangely enough, these did not prove as popular as the Project Manager Wall Clock.

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