Brian J. Lacks A du Toitian Education

Kim du Toit has posted a list of things he encouraged his children to read while homeschooling them.

A list of books? That’s a quiz!

So how do I do compared to a du Toit?

Once again, I will bold the things I’ve read and underline the things I own but have not yet read.

  • 1984 George Orwell
  • Animal Farm George Orwell
  • Of Civil Government John Locke
  • On Liberty John Stuart Mill
  • Our Enemy, The State Albert Jay Nock
  • The Prince Niccolo Machiavelli
  • Basic Economics Charles Sowell
  • The Wealth of Nations Adam Smith
  • From Dawn To Decadence Jacques Barzun
  • Heroes Paul Johnson
  • A History Of The American People Paul Johnson
  • A History Of The Jews Paul Johnson
  • The Iliad Homer
  • The Odyssey Homer
  • The Proud Tower Barbara Tuchman
  • United States Declaration of Independence
  • The Articles of Confederation
  • United States Constitution
  • The Federalist Papers
  • Carnage And Culture Victor Davis Hanson
  • The First World War Martin Gilbert (or John Keegan)
  • A History Of Warfare John Keegan
  • The Second World War John Keegan
  • A War Like No Other Victor Davis Hanson
  • The Bible (The NIV, so one of the short ones)
  • The Book of Journeyman Albert Jay Nock
  • Confessions St. Augustine
  • Essays Moral and Political David Hume
  • Intellectuals Paul Johnson
  • Meditations Marcus Aurelius
  • Memoirs of a Superfluous Man Albert Jay Nock
  • The Republic Plato
  • Summa Theologica St. Thomas Aquinas
  • Coriolanus William Shakespeare
  • Hamlet William Shakespeare
  • Julius Caesar William Shakespeare
  • King Lear William Shakespeare
  • Macbeth William Shakespeare
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream William Shakespeare
  • Othello William Shakespeare
  • Richard III William Shakespeare
  • Romeo & Juliet William Shakespeare
  • Billy Liar Keith Waterhouse
  • Faust Goethe
  • The Importance of Being Earnest Oscar Wilde
  • Lysistrata Aristophanes
  • ‘Tis A Pity She’s A Whore John Ford
  • Waiting For Godot Samuel Becket
  • “The Eagle”, “Charge Of The Light Brigade” Alfred, Lord Tennyson
  • “Dover Beach” Matthew Arnold
  • “The Soldier” Rupert Brook
  • “The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner” Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • “The Good Morrow” and “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning” John Donne (I’m not sure if the first is in the Selected Poems I read in 2011, and I can’t find it quickly to see.)
  • “Ode To A Nightingale” John Keats (If not now, then by the time I finish the complete works I’ve been working on for a year or so).
  • “The Gods Of The Copybook Headings” Rudyard Kipling (I haven’t alluded to it in a whole week!)
  • “To Althea, From Prison” Richard Lovelace
  • The Sonnets by William Shakespeare
  • “Ozymandias” Percy Bysshe Shelley
  • “Leaves of Grass” Walt Whitman
  • “Tintern Abbey”, “The Solitary Reaper” William Wordsworth
  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain
  • Alice In Wonderland — Lewis Carroll
  • The Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck
  • The American Henry James
  • Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy
  • As I Lay Dying William Faulkner
  • Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury
  • A Handful of Dust Evelyn Waugh
  • The Chronicles of Narnia C.S. Lewis
  • The Count Of Monte Cristo Alexandre Dumas
  • Don Quixote Cervantes
  • A Farewell To Arms Ernest Hemingway
  • Emma Jane Austen
  • To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee
  • The Invisible Man H.G. Wells
  • Zorba the Greek Nikos Kazantzakis
  • Gulliver’s Travels Jonathan Swift
  • The Mayor Of Casterbridge Thomas Hardy
  • The Sound and the Fury William Faulkner
  • Fathers and Sons Ivan Turgenev
  • Stranger in a Strange Land Robert A. Heinlein
  • Les Misérables Victor Hugo
  • Carry On, Jeeves P. G. Wodehouse
  • Lord Of The Flies William Golding
  • Crime and Punishment Feodor Dostoyevsky
  • Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert
  • The Harry Potter Stories by J.K Rowling
  • Women In Love D.H. Lawrence
  • The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (probably not all of them, but I did read The Return of Sherlock Holmes this year.)
  • Catch-22 Joseph Heller
  • The Portrait Of A Lady Henry James
  • The Wind In The Willows Kenneth Grahame
  • Rebecca Daphne du Maurier
  • Robinson Crusoe Daniel Defoe
  • Sons And Lovers D.H. Lawrence
  • Uhuru Robert Ruark
  • The Birds“, “Don’t Look Now” Daphne du Maurier
  • “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”, “The Killers” Ernest Hemingway (likely, but I’m not 100% sure.)
  • The Pit And The Pendulum” Edgar Allan Poe
  • “Bartleby the Scrivener” Herman Melville
  • “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” Ambrose Bierce
  • The Jungle Books Rudyard Kipling
  • “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”, “Good Country People” Flannery O’Connor (although perhaps they’re in a collection I bought in 2008 and deserve an underline.)
  • “Boule de Suif”, “The Necklace” Guy de Maupassant (although I also have a collection of his gathering dust which might mean the first need underlining.)
  • “The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty”, “The Unicorn in the Garden” James Thurber<
  • The Gift Of The Magi“, “The Cop And The Anthem” O. Henry
  • “Where I’m Calling From”, “Little Things” Raymond Carver
  • “Sredni Vashtar”, “The East Wing” Saki
  • “Mountain Victory”, “A Rose For Emily” William Faulkner
  • Ars Amatoria Ovid
  • Delta Of Venus Anaïs Nin
  • Lady Chatterley’s Lover D.H. Lawrence
  • Memoirs Of A Woman Of Pleasure (or Fanny Hill) John Cleland
  • The School of Whoredom Pietro Aretino

How did I do?

Not good enough.

Especially since I have not made much progress in thirteen years on improving my score on the list of Kim du Toit’s favorite short stories.

Good Book Hunting, Saturday, July 13, 2019: ABC Books

Well, ABC Books had a book signing on Saturday, so of course I went to pick up a copy of a local author’s work. Well, two local authors’ work. And a couple other things.

The two fellows signing books were Jordan Bennett and Michael Jay, both fresh out of school and presenting their post-apocalyptic fantasy novel The Book of Heroes (the first volume of a continuing series called The Books of Magic).

I also got:

  • The next Little House book, The Long Winter.
  • A chapbook called Gettysburg Visions by Sam Weaver.
  • The Ninja and Their Secret Fighting Art by Stephen K. Hayes.

I noticed that the Martial Arts section had a couple new titles (well, not for long) and that the Football section next to it had a couple more Green Bay Packers titles.

It’s almost like the proprietrix or the more technologically minded manager have figured me out.

Book Report: Funny Ladies by Stephen M. Silverman (1999)

Book coverWhen I picked up this book at Hooked on Books last year, I might have though the book was authored by Sarah Silverman, who is a comedienne and might have collected stories of those who came before her (even though in the Good Book Hunting post, I got the author’s full name). I say I might have then, because when I’ve seen it on the bookshelves between then and now, I’ve had the same thought. But it’s by a dude who’s been a reporter and a celebrity book writer for a while by 1999.

At any rate, the book collects short bios about a number of comediennes (I wrote it again because I’m pleased I know how to spell it) from the various 20th century media (including theatre, which is not media per se, and I put those in italics because the italic store had a discount). It runs roughly in chronological order, with women from vaudeville and burlesque through women on The View (Which is 23 years old now? Crazy!).

You’ve got Fanny Brice (and Barbra Streisand, who gets into the book by virtue of playing Fanny Brice). You’ve got Gracie Allen, which reminds me I have more George Burns to read, and I should. You’ve got Mae West, Lucille Ball, Dorothy Parker, Sophie Tucker, Tallulah Bankhead, Carol Burnett, Totie Fields, and so on. When we get to the modern era, we’ve got Roseanne Barr, Tracey Ullman, Ellen, Rosie O’Donnell, Rita Rudner, Margaret Cho, Whoopi Goldberg, and so on. Apparently, Joy Behar was considered a comedienne (I really hope I’ve spelled it right because I made a point of saying I did) at some point.

On the one hand, like Whatever Became Of…?, it makes me realize how many movies from the early part of the century I missed.

The book talks about all the things that the comediennes did in the early part of the century, movies and theatres and television series, but the latest in the book have much thinner resumes. I mean, Whoopi Goldberg has Ghost, The Color Purple, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Sister Act, and Eddie (knowing this last might make me a Whoopi super fan). I like Rita Rudner, but aside from a book and some cable stand-up shows, what does she have? Not to mention Margaret Cho–she had a short-lived television series, I recall.

But after the 1970s, the funny ladies are all a little more, erm, political–as is this book. We get to the 1970s, and suddenly there are jabs at Nixon (“Richard Nixon appointer her [Pearl Bailey] the country’s unofficial Ambassador of Love, one of the few nonpartisan things he ever did.”) and digs at conservatives. And, of course, even beyond 1999, we’ve seen how political comedy has become.

Of course, twenty years after this book, we see what has become of the then-young modern funny ladies (which is easier to spell than comedienne). Mostly talk shows and not a lot of movie credits. It’s a different career now than it was then, I suppose, and the media have changed. These women can maybe get by with an occasional book and movie where the women of the 1940s had lower salaries and had to hustle more, which leads to lengthier IMDB entries.

At any rate, it’s a pleasant book. I wish I would remember more of it than I will; perhaps if I get into actually watching these women, I’ll remember them better.

What MAME Cabinet Is He Playing?

A story at Hollywood in Toto claims ‘The Last Starfighter’ – Still the Best Video Game Movie, and I cannot argue with the premise as I have logically proven The Last Starfighter is better than Star Wars.

However, I cannot trust any of the authors facts or assertions since he says:

Some helpful exposition clearly explains how the arcade game [The Last Starfighter] works (it’s one of those fun shoot-em-ups with multiple joysticks, a la “Centipede”).

Sweet peas and chicks, Centipede is played with a track ball and fire button.

But I guess not everyone has the advantage of a local arcade with original machines so one could actually have played the game in the last seven months.

Nogglestead: Guilty of Violating Stephen Green’s Fashion Sensibilities

Vodkapundit, on Facebook, links to a Washington Post story called The fashion trend that won’t go away: Matching clothes for the whole family, and he disapproves.

Friends, I must confess that we at Nogglestead, have embraced this trend because we frequently run 5k races, so it’s not uncommon for us to wear matching t-shirts on a Saturday morning.

And sometimes after, two of us will end up wearing the same shirt on a day.

I hadn’t realized it was trendy.

Know Your Rips

It’s easy to get confused if you’re me. If you’re not, you probably won’t know either of these guys, so you won’t confuse them.

Rip Torn,
star of Dodge Ball and Men in Black
Rip Taylor,
star of Wayne’s World 2 and a bunch of things I haven’t seen

Only one of them is R.I.P. now, and strangely, it’s Rip Torn, who was the older of the two, although Rip Taylor seemed old in the 1980s.

Book Report: The Coloring Book by Colin Quinn (2015)

Book coverWell, it has happened: I have finally been reduced to reading an actual Coloring Book to pad my annual reading statistics. Oh, how the might he? have fallen.

You might know Colin Quinn as the guy who was the anchor of Saturday Night Live‘s Weekend Update for five years, but I didn’t watch it then. I know him as the guy from A Night at the Roxbury and the announcer from MTV’s Remote Control.

The subtitle of this book is A Comedian Solves Race Relations in America. Which it does not, really. The book is part a musing on race relations, but mostly a memoir of Colin Quinn growing up in multi-ethnic Brooklyn in the 1970s. “Growing up” might be a misnomer; some of it deals with his pre-adulthood, but a lot of it deals with his early adulthood when he was an ass and drank a lot and did a lot of drugs.

But it does make some interesting points. I do think that race relations were better in the old days, where we had just had normal human friction amongst groups and individuals, not the dialed-up Meaningful animosity. I didn’t grow up in Brooklyn, but I was living in the projects in the era he describes, and I was enmeshed within a vibrant community of different races, backgrounds, and cultures, and we could laugh at each other’s caricatures. Maybe it’s that I was younger then and am different now, but I don’t think so. I think the environment has changed a lot. I mean, I close the shades when watching Blazing Saddles and Airplane! now, and I would have been comfortable watching it with black friends then.

But the book itself is broken into different chapters talking a little about different races blending in Brooklyn at the time, how Quinn related to them, and the drugs and alcohol he consumed. You’ve got lengthy chapters on black, Puerto Rican, Jews, Irish, and Asian immigrants, and then you’ve got some clearly tacked-on short chapters at the end about Europeans and Arabs. But the book bifurcates between the musings on race and the memoir, and it really doesn’t do justice to either theme.

This was actually the second of the books I read from Calvin’s Books this year; I read it before Into the Wild, but I wasn’t sure if I had anything serious to say about Race in America to go along with it. However, I guess not. So the book reports are out of order. Not that you were keeping track. But I am.

Two Different Facts In One News Story?

Via Gail Heriot on Instapundit, we have this story: San Diegan featured in program about notorious D.B. Cooper skyjacking case dies in Banker’s Hill home.

Which has two different facts that seem to contradict each other in the same story.


Rackstraw completed a 15-month tour in Vietnam in 1970 with 50 decorations, including dozens of air medals. He was drummed out of the military the following year after one too many incidents of misconduct.

That sounds like insubordination or disrespecting an officer or something.


In 1991, he earned an economics degree from the University of San Francisco — two decades after getting kicked out of the Army for faking college transcripts.

Which sounds like an administrative thing.

Maybe the last incident of misconduct was faking transcripts? Perhaps. But to the layman, it looks like two different things. Or maybe just the lazyman who needs a morning blog post.

Book Report: Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer (1996)

Book coverI bought this book at Calvin’s Books at the beginning of the summer, and I have set as a goal to read all five of those books this year. I know, it’s one of my twee goals, but it might represent the only time in the last couple of years that I have read all the books I bought at once within the year I bought them.

At any rate, I rage-read this book. It angered me quite a bit. The author says:

When McCandless turned up dead in Alaska and the perplexing circumstances of his demise were reported in the news media, many people concluded that the boy must have been mentally disturbed. The article about McCandless in Outside generated a large volume of mail and not a few of the letters heaped opprobium on McCandless–and on me, as well, the author of the story, for glorifying what some thought was a foolish, pointless death.

Which is exactly how I feel (and I even know how to pronounce opprobrium these days). This is a hagiography of a well-to-do young man from a messed-up family who gave up his comfortable lifestyle after college to wander the country as a vagabond and who had too much confidence in his own abilities, which led to a poor decision to live off the land in Alaska that proved fatal. The author presents this kid as a pilgrim, as an ascetic, and as perhaps as an example to emulate–without the fatal consequences, of course.

I have to wonder who made this book a National Bestseller–as the cover touts. I have to expect that it was done by people who had that sort of wanderlust and sense of invincibility who did something like it and survived (like the author) or people who wanted to do something like it and think they would have done better (likely not). I don’t know. I was four years younger than the subject of the book, so the book is set and is published around my formative years, too. Perhaps there’s something in the 1990s zeitgeist that supports the sort of behavior that no longer exists–or perhaps the young men who would have done something like this, the cross-country car trip with no money or the desire to live off the land (but not in quite as hospitable environment as Alaska) now are in the basement playing video games or covering their faces and taking to the street to start a riot.

The author expands upon his original article (I assume, since these sections seem to be grafted onto the narrative) by adding stories of other people who have wandered out into the wilderness in Alaska and a fellow who wandered into the desert in the 1930s. The author also includes a story about one of his individual expeditions that ended in failure but not in death. He visits the abandoned bus that served as the subject’s base camp and where he died. And he appends an artificial coda of helicoptering the parents in to visit the bus as well.

At any rate, yeah, the subject is not an exemplar of anything positive. He was a poor (rich), misguided young man. I didn’t relate to him much–we both had newspaper columns in the college rag (which means the names Biden and Trump both appear in this book from 23 years ago). He read The Death of Ivan Ilyich. I don’t like to speak negatively of the dead or speak to a hurtful event in a family, but this book is a misguided opposite of that.

I think the book might have triggered a bit of latent classism in me, as I couldn’t think of many in my cohort doing anything like this, and I consider mountain climbing as a rich kid’s game. But I was urban poor and then rural poor in the Midwest. Maybe rural and urban poor in the mountains do free climbing for fun, but they certainly cannot afford a lot of gear and to travel for their hobby.

I must have mellowed; although this book is a paperback, I didn’t throw it at any point. Although I did curse at it a bit. It took me over a week to go through 200 pages. But I’m glad to be done with it.

And as to my twee goal: I still have a Barbara Ehrenreich book to go through. In hardback. So that might block my goal of reading these five books this year.

Brian J., The Gods of Copybook Headings, and Smelt Fishing

So my wife showed me this meme on her Facebook feed:

And it reminded me of smelt fishing with my dad.

As I said:

Although I’ve never bitten the head off of one, so I’m not properly initiated.

I remember going one night with my father, where he and his buddies waded out into Lake Michigan with what seemed like a finer meshed tennis net, dragging a bunch of the small fish onto the beach. I mean, they were tiny, enough that my brother and I could easily wrap our elementary school fists around them.

My father tried to convince us that you weren’t a real smelt fisherman unless you bit the head off of one. I don’t know if that’s an actual smelt fishing tradition, or if my father was joking with us, but my brother actually did bite the head off of one. So in our family, he’s that one kid. Or maybe my father was.

Of course, I also remember from that trip putting my finger on the top of a lantern and burning it until it blistered. So I cannot make it out like I’m the smart brother.

As a matter of fact, as Kipling noted:

That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

Years later, at my grandfather’s cabin in northern Michigan, I remember holding a completed sparkler and watching its metal turn from red to carbon color and touching it to see if it was cool. Which is was not.

Definitely not the smart brother.

(But, yes, I eventually learned the meaning of “hot,” thanks.)

Sometimes, The Line To The Pun Is Short

So I have been messing around with Git and Github since it’s the versioning software all the kids use, and I’ve found the pull and push nomenclature, not to mention the order of operations, a little strange to someone used to Visual SourceSafe or Subversion. So I downloaded a picture of the Pushmi-pullyu from the film Doctor Dolittle, the original one with Rex Harrison and not the Eddie Murphy remake (although I have seen neither–but I read the book in middle school).

I was going to make a gag about it being the cover of my new book about Git.

But. Or, more precisely, butt another opportunity for mirth presented itself.

For Christmas this year or the last, we gave a friend of ours a set of cat butt refrigerator magnets for Christmas because she has cats.

So this week, I’m helping take care of her cats while she’s out of town, and one of my boys spots the magnets and puts them together in some sort of eldritch unholy alliance you would find in Lovecraft:

I said to my mother-in-law, “A pussy-pullyu.”

She didn’t get it.

So I snapped a picture of the monstrosities and said, “I’ll put it on my blog. Someone will get it.”

You, gentle reader, now have the context of the pun and why it came so easily to me.

Get it?

Eh, who cares. I’m just doing the for the mad search hits for whatever kind of sexual trick the pun means it the seedy seamy underbelly of humanity that is our Internet.

Twenty-Some Years Later, The Truth Is Revealed

So Mr. Hill posts a story about Fiona Apple, and I’m about to leave a comment that I can hear the first song from her album because my office mate at the time played it all the time.

But I wasn’t sure which album it was: Tidal or When the Pawn…. So I did some research, namely, hitting Wikipedia to see which album it’s on.

I remember that I learned the song is called “Not an Addict”, which was a bit of a downer; I thought she was singing “I’m automatic,” not “I’m not an addict.”

But what I have learned today is that the she who was singing was not Fiona Apple but Gert Bettens of K’s Choice.

It’s entirely possible that we discussed that she sounded a little like Fiona Apple but was not, in fact, Fiona Apple. But that would have been twenty-some years ago, and I cannot be expected to remember that conversation.

I’m not even sure I’m going to remember that this is a K’s Choice song instead of a Fiona Apple song. Or, if my tricky memory is feeling clever, perhaps I will think it’s a song by Vitamin K, confusing it with Vitamin C‘s song “Graduation (Friends Forever)” from the same era.

Truly, I have a dizzying intellect.

Just To Mess With Everyone

It looks like the Internet is having a problem again and many images on Web sites and Facebook are not loading, so I’m just going to share this image on Facebook a bunch:

What else would expect from the designer of the original broken image t-shirt?

I still have a Cafe Press store which sells just enough Project Manager Wall Clocks to keep me from having to pay to have a Cafe Press shop.

Be Careful That Your Internet Translation Does Not Start A Reign of Unholy Terror

Facebook is very cautious. It thinks this is German:

Translated to English by Facebook, this text says:

That, as you know, gentle reader who probably also delves into eldritch tomes by the mad Arab, is not the real translation, which is:

In his house at R’lyeh, dread Cthulhu waits dreaming.

I was finta say that Facebook is being overly cautious here in hiding the meaning of unholy phrases, and that Big Tech is a conspiracy to keep this knowledge from the masses, and that no dictionary sites offer pronunciations for these words to help those who’ve only read them, but….

never mind.

Every time you watch that video, you strengthen the cult magic that seeks to raise the Great Old One.

Answering Yesteryear’s Questions Today

In 2011, I asked, “Why Can’t Modern Football Players Act?

Today, Washington Redskins tight end Vernon Davis is planning his post-football career:

The producer knocked on the trailer door, needing Vernon Davis on the set. It was time for his scene, one rich with dialogue. Davis, though, needed another minute. He wasn’t done preparing.

There’s a reason Davis is entering his 14th season and remains the Washington Redskins’ No. 2 tight end at age 35. There’s also a reason he is receiving praise for what he hopes will be his post-NFL career — acting. It’s preparation.

On the set of “Hell on the Border” this January day, it meant telling the film’s producer he needed to get into character.

“When I heard that, I was so excited, like, ‘Oh, my god, this guy really came to do this movie and is prepared,'” producer Henry Penzi said. “He had a big monologue. I read it and said, ‘Oh, god, I hope he can pull it off.’ I never told him that because I didn’t want to scare anyone.”

Time will tell if he’s another Marlin Olsen or Alex Karras or merely another Brian Bosworth.