Book Report: White Line War The Executioner #134 (1990)

Book coverAfter reviewing my annual reading list (so far) and lamenting how many picture books and poetry books I’ve read, I sat down with a Mack Bolan men’s adventure novel to get some narrative fiction on the list. Which is not saying that I reached high into the qualitysphere.

This is a pretty good entry in the series. An up-and-comer in the Columbian cartels is hoping to take over the crack and cocaine trade on the Eastern seaboard from its Mafia partners. To thwart an interstate law enforcement effort, the Columbian wreaks unrelated havoc along an interstate corridor to distract the cops from the drug trade which draws Bolan’s attention. He then plays the Columbians against the Mafia to disrupt both operations.

It moves along well and doesn’t have any real groaners in it, so it was a nice little bit of two-night reading to help me remind myself that I read real books, too, in addition to picture books and poems. Well, as real of a real book as this is. Perhaps I shall read some literature, too, in the two months remaining in the year.

An Ill-Conceived Quiz

So yesterday, I illustrated a repeated motif in the television series Airwolf, that the climactic air battles were always a bit touch-and-go, dramatically, until the Airwolf pilots did the loop. You see, Airwolf had jets and could actually do a loop unlike, you know, real helicopters. And at the end of the climactic air battles at the end of the show, Airwolf always won by doing the loop. So I did an extended rant about how they should maybe do the loop immediately and win decisively in the first minute of battle. But that would make for bad television. And perhaps it stressed the airframe and they tried to avoid it if possible.

So then I got to thinking about helicopters in television shows, and then maybe a quiz wherein you try to name the television program from the name of the helicopter in it.

You know, like Blue Thunder, which was spun off from the movie of the same name (and featured Dana Carvey in a dramatic role). Airwolf essentially ripped off the super copter schtick, but did it more successfully than the Blue Thunder television series did.

But the thoughts of a quiz evaporated quickly when I realized that the helicopters were the star of the shows, so the shows were named after the helicopters. What show was the helicopter “Airwolf” on? Not much of a quiz after all.

The only one I could think of off the top of my head was the Screaming Mimi, which was not the title of the show on which it appeared.

Do you happen to know the show I’m talking about?

Continue reading “An Ill-Conceived Quiz”

Book Report: The World of the Polar Bear by Norbert Rosing (2006)

Book coverThis book is my 100th of the year, and it’s not even November. Of course, I look back at what I’ve “read” this year, and it is a lot of artist monographs and poetry collections, so perhaps I should not be so proud.

This book collects a number of astounding photos of arctic wildlife and landscapes focusing on bears. It has a bit of text talking about the arctic seasons and the habits and habitat of polar bears. Amid this text, though, is a bit of allusion to what an arctic nature photographer has to do to get the photographs. Travel far north, hire a competent guide, find signs of animal habitation, and then wait for hours or days to get the shot. And to work with camera equipment not really optimized for subzero temperatures. Frankly, that’s almost as interesting as the photos.

Which are very interesting indeed.

There’s an equipment section at the end for photography buffs to geek out on.

Definitely worth my dollar and couple of hours, although the large form factor of this book displeased my cats who could not sit on my lap whilst I read it and are glad I am done with it.

The Source of That Thing Daddy Always Says (IX)

In the mornings, I have a couple (or six) cups of coffee. But sometime in the mid-morning, I have decided I’ve had enough, and I switch to water. I lay up a dozen or so liters of sparkling or mineral water per week, generally Mountain Valley but Perrier if I don’t get to the southeast corner of Springfield, where Lucky’s Market looks to be the only place stocking Mountain Valley these days.

I have taken to calling the sparkling water Fizzy Bubbly with a mock Israeli accent. Because that’s how Adam Sandler says it in Don’t Mess With The Zohan.

Here, the woman who plays Sandler’s love interest offers him one.

I know, I know, it’s dubbed in German, but you can hear it named. Watch the clip now, because sometime soon the Copyright Patrols will recognize it as “protected” material even in German.

I watched the film again earlier this year because my oldest son has been on a Sandler kick, and I wasn’t sure whether this film was appropriate for young people.

Spoiler alert: Oh, but no.

But when my boys see it, sometime after they turn 21, they will recognize the source of my nickname for sparkling water.

Book Report: I’m a Stranger Here Myself by Ogden Nash (1938)

Book coverAside from the (then) complete works of Emily Dickinson that I started to read in 1994, this might have been the book that took me the longest to read from beginning to end. I started this book probably nine years ago, back when I read other Ogden Nash collections and other poetry to my toddlers as they played. This would have been one of the last I started reading to them here at Nogglestead before I abandoned the practice. This volume languished in my bedside table and then on my dresser for a year (both book accumulation pointsa>) as I started to read it on the deck in the evenings.

It took me a while to get dialed into Nash again. As I said, it’s been a decade since I’ve read his work in earnest, and I’ve read a bunch of poetry since then, some good, mostly bad, but I found myself only reading a poem or two from this book before getting tired of the schtick. After probably a year of this mostly off and sometimes on reading, I packed the book along on a couple of trips and read it a little more doggedly. So I came to appreciate again the humor and get back into it.

So, if you’re not familiar with Ogden Nash, he wrote wry humorous poetry in the early part of the 20th century focusing on urban topics. He varied line length to a great degree and did some whacky spellings to make rhymes. Once I got back into it, I was amused appropriately.

One of the interesting things, though, is one of the allusions jumped out. From “Locust-Lovers, Attention!” we get this:

It is as fantastic as something out of H.G. Wells or Jules Verne or G.A. Henty
To watch a creature that has been underground ever since it hatched shortly previous to 1920,

I mean, I know of H.G. Wells, and I’ve read Jules Verne. But who is G.A. Henty?

Apparently, he was an adventure novelist from the 19th century who influenced a generation of writers. But he’s all but forgotten today.

Nash refers to Henty in another poem, “And How Is My Little Man Today?”:

Because you feel heroic like a hero out of Alger or Henty,
And a couple of degrees of fever are as stimulating as two drinks and as soporfiric as twenty,

Clearly he influenced Nash if nobody else. But I’ll have to keep an eye out for his work–most likely in the old falling apart books section of the book sales.

I’m not sure if I have any other Nash books scattered amongst the Nogglestead library, but I can tell you that I do not have any others on the book accumulation points. Now, I’ll have to delve into the Neruda that will likely surpass this book as the longest between start and finish since I read a couple of them to my children a decade ago as well.

Good Book Hunting, October 26, 2019: ABC Books

ABC Books had a book signing this weekend, so I made my way up there. I’ve missed a couple over the last couple of months due to travel and other obligations, so I was eager to visit since the proprietrix appreciates that I do.

I only got a couple of books, though.

The author signing books, Larry Wood, was promoting his latest book, Bigamy and Bloodshed, which is a case about a man who becomes involved with a temperance heroine but turns out to have been still married, and he kills his earlier wife.

I was familiar with the story, as I had read about it somewhere, and I asked him if he’d excerpted it elsewhere. It turns out I read about it in his earlier book Wicked Springfield, Missouri.

I bought a copy of Bigamy and Bloodshed and another collection called Murder and Mayhem in Missouri as well as a copy of Wicked Springfield Missouri for my boys, one of whom is really into true crime. I also picked up a copy of The Book of Five Rings, a treatise on sword fighting from Japan. I picked up a book called The Martial Artist’s Book of Five Rings, an American commentary on the original work, at a previous trip to ABC Books and told the store manager I’d like to get my hands on a copy of the original. So I was sure to thank him for laying one up for me.

So it’s only three books, but I’m mostly ‘reading’ picture books these days with everything else going on. Hopefully, I will get some time to read books books sometime this year.

Book Report: Colorful Missouri Photographs Selected by Edward King / Introduction by Bill Nunn (1988)

Book coverI got this book two weeks ago, and I got an opportunity to browse it the other night when watching a football game that I was not particularly interested in. So I could pay more attention to the book than to the screen.

It’s a nice collection of middle 80s images from the countryside of Missouri. Most of them are landscapes focusing on the different topographies you can find in this state. It almost made me a little proud of the state in which I have lived for most of my life, a pride that I would prefer to only feel for my home state, thank you. So let that be a testimony about what I think about the book.

So a nice picture book to review. The book collects photos from a variety of photographers, and one of the photos by DIck Kahoe has the photographer’s signature below it. So this is a signed copy, and I spent only a dollar on it. W00t!

From the Nogglestead Archives

As I mentioned, one of the benefits of Nogglestead is that I can easily lay my hands upon lots of the ephemera from my life that I have collected over the years and refuse to part with. The second thing, aside from the spaciousness of the storage, is that I pretty much have not reorganized or moved anything since we moved in, so these things are generally in the last place I saw them, ten years ago when I put them there.

So when my beautiful wife found and old business card and posted it on Facebook, I immediately took it to be an Old Business Card challenge. So I went to the cubby where I keep ticket stubs and whatnot and came up with two within minutes:

At the top, we have my second technical writer position circa 1998. I would later become an automated tester there before leaving for a startup that only left me with a worthless stock certificate.

Below, we have the business card for my magazine which I published in 1994 and 1995.

I am pretty sure that I have other business cards around here; when I remembered my little business cards book, I found another from my days as the director of quality assurance for an interactive marketing agency circa 2005:

I also have a large number of other business cards that I printed on a little vending machine at the Grand Avenue Mall in Milwaukee. For a buck, it would print out four business cards for you, so I have a number proclaiming me a freelance writer, president of Triple N Enterprises, the lawn mowing company we had in the trailer park, and the bassist in a band called Ghostriders. Which don’t count, but I still have them and at hand.

Then, Friar posted about about a self-made audio cassette (I, too, shy away from mixed tape as nomenclature for this endeavor), and I was able to easily lay my hands on a couple I made in the early 1990s:

Theme Songs contains:

  • “Carry On Wayward Son” by Kansas
  • “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake
  • “Foreplay/Longtime” by Boston
  • “Feel Like Making Love” by Bad Company
  • “Hard to Handle” by Counting Crowes
  • “I Go to Extremes” by Billy Joel
  • “Show Me The Way” by Styx
  • “Somebody Save Me” by Cinderella
  • “Electric Blue” by Icehouse
  • “It’s a Sin” by the Pet Shop Boys

Almost thirty years later, two of those are on my workout playlist and another was on it for a while but got removed because it’s not angry or fast enough.

Rain Songs contains:

  • “I Love A Rainy Night” by Eddie Rabbitt
  • “The Soft Rains of April” by a-ha
  • “Storm Front” by Billy Joel
  • “Another Rainy Night (Without You)” by Queensryche
  • “Crying in the Rain” by a-ha
  • “Rain Down On Me” by RTZ
  • “Falling of the Rain” by Billy Joel
  • “I Wish It Would Rain Down On Me” by Phil Collins
  • “Riders on the Storm” by the Doors
  • “After the Rain” by Nelson
  • “Here I Stand And Face The Rain” by a-ha

Face it: a-ha did a lot of rain songs, and I really liked a-ha in those days. I still do, but not like I did then.

I easily laid my hands on these because they were in the tape bins under the bed.

Note the Huey Lewis and the News album Sports, the first full-length album I bought at a garage sale in the trailer park in the middle 1980s and the a-ha album Scoundrel Days, the first a-ha album I got for $2.99 on a reduced price tape rack at Walgreens in 1990.

We’ve got a couple of those, and my beautiful wife has a number of tape organizers in here office where they are on display. A number of years ago, she set about to ripping the audio cassettes to MP3s (perhaps MP2s–it was a while ago). Which is why we still have the audio cassettes–they’re the source of the MP3s, and if we donated or sold them, we would be honor-bound to delete the ripped music from our iTunes libraries.

But I still listen to them from time to time.

For example, I’m listening to Night Ranger’s Big Life right now, which features the song “Rain Comes Crashing Down”:

Given that I bought the cassette on the discount rack at Walgreens about 1990, it seems odd that “Rain Comes Crashing Down” did not make it to the Rain Songs cassette. Perhaps I ran out of room or didn’t think so much of the song at the time.

Note that “The Secret of My Success” would be on my gym playlist except that songs ripped from audio cassette play back at a lower volume in iTunes even if you set the audio volume to auto-correct. So it would not be loud enough for exercise. Perhaps I should buy a copy of the song or the CD so I can get it appropriately loud.

At any rate, what was my point? Oh, that I can lay my hands on a lot of personal relics. As my family and the number of people who knew me back when continues to shrink, I rely on these relics an awful lot to prove that I was then and that the eternal now wasn’t all there is.

The Difference Between The Old Neighborhood And The New

I check out the crime stories that mention places I’ve lived to see if I know the alleged perpetrators. Hey, it happens; once I saw the name and picture of the kid who sat behind me in 8th grade Civics class with Mrs. Padgett, but he wasn’t a kid anymore.

In the new neighborhood, I check the news stories to see how close tornadoes came to Nogglestead.

This one? Very close indeed. According to a map in the Greene County Commonwealth, it ran just a little south of here:

It was passing to our south when the weather radio alarm went off with the tornado warning. So we got away with one there.

Two Words: Ivory Crockett

Bark M. challenges a man of trivia:

I defy you to find a track record of any type that is twenty-three years old—nutrition and training are now far, far superior, and athletes are shattering times from that long ago on a daily basis.

Ivory Crockett still holds the world record in the 100 Yard Dash:

In 1974, he ran the fastest 100-yard dash with manual timing of 9.0 seconds, a record he still holds. This was deemed at the time by the Los Angeles Times as “Immortality in 9 Seconds Flat”, and he was quickly tagged with the title the world’s fastest man by Track and Field News who put him on their June 1974 cover.

Sometime after he set the record, probably as part of the global conversion to the metric system, the powers that be eliminated that particular event from the Track and Field canon. So Ivory Crockett’s record will stand forever.

I actually just told the story of Ivory Crockett again to my children as we were in Old Trees on Sunday, and we passed under the banners for the Ivory Crockett 5K and fun run which had been the day before. So it was fresh in my mind. Not that this particular fact is very far from mind.

UPDATE: Sorry, I originally attributed this to Jack, but it was Bark M. posting over there. I have updated the attribution above and would vow to pay more attention to post authors, but, come on, we all know I won’t.

Other Sticky Commercial Characters

Ms. K. has a blog post about Durable Characters in commercials, and she cites Flo from Progressive Insurance and Mayhem from State Farm who have been in ads for a decade (although Mayhem had a hiatus if I recall, and I should, as I consider Mayhem to be one of my professional heroes).

I see her Flo and raise her the Sonic Guys who have been doing commercials for Sonic since 2002 almost continuously and Jack in the Box, who has been in Jack in the Box commercials since the middle 1990s through, what, 2017 (according to the Jack in the Box Fandom wiki)?

1994:

I have to wonder how those actors and comedians feel to know that their most famous work comes from thirty second spots over the course of decades. Hopefully happy for the steady work.

Intersection of Interests

So I’ve been reading the Ogden Nash poetry collection that’s been spotted on a book accumulation point, and I carried it to church in St. Louis this week. I read a couple, and I took a break to read the Ace of Spades HQ Book Thread and then to read the Ogden Nash Wikipedia entry, when suddenly I encountered information that should have been accompanied by the dramatic sound of a needle stopping on a record.

Ogden Nash wrote the lyrics for the jazz standard “Speak Low“.

Say what?

You mean the song performed by the lovely Sacha Boutros?

No way.

Way.

Apparently, Ogden Nash wrote part of a Broadway musical, One Touch of Venus, in which this song originated. And it’s the only thing anyone remembers from it, no doubt. The song has been covered by singers from Sammy Davis, Jr., to Steve Lawrence (but not, as far as I can tell, Eydie Gorme).

You know, my estimation of the man is elevated to a degree I cannot express with your primitive Earthen mathematical symbols and concepts.

Book Report: Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (1951, ?)

Book coverThe second of the books I bought last weekend is a bit deeper than the first (Mother Goose in the Ozarks). I think this counts as Literature, ainna? Hesse won the Nobel Prize for literature, so all signs indicate yes.

The book covers the journey of an Indian? Nepalese? son of nobility who wants wisdom, so he leaves his family and joins a group of ascetics with a friend. When the ascetics encounter the Buddha–the Siddhartha of the title is not, as it turns out, that guy–the friend joins the Buddhist movement, and Siddhartha goes to town where he encounters a courtesan whose beauty is described in detail and I can only assume foretold Morena Baccarin (who played a courtesan/companion in Firefuly, do I have to inline cite my allusions? Yes, if I want to stay out of trouble with my beautiful wife who might wonder why I brought Morena Baccarin into this discussion out of nowhere). Siddhartha wants her to teach him of love, but she points out that she likes nice things and he’s an ascetic, so he becomes a merchant, dissipates a bit, and then tires of that life and becomes a ferry man where, by listening to the river, he becomes wise. The courtesan becomes a Buddhist, and as she is traveling to pay her respects to the dying Buddha, she comes to the river but dies, leaving Siddhartha with the charge of his son Siddhartha. The willful, formerly pampered boy rankles under his father’s simple lifestyle and runs away. The title Siddartha thinks of searching for him but lets him go.

So I did read it, and I remember the plot better than I do the plots of most Executioner novels I read, certainly.

At any rate, it reads a little like an Existentialist novel in reverse (see The Fall for example.) The narrator comes from a position of comfort but has a bit of mental disquiet as he hungers for wisdom pursuing knowledge. A series of events occur leading him to question everything, and he finds peace. Existentialist novels start from a sense of peace where things shatter that peace and lead to a new understanding. Or maybe it’s exactly like an Existentialist novel. I certainly put it in the genre as I read it, but the Wikipedia entry argues that it’s really a Buddist novel.

Or perhaps they’re very close to one another, Buddhism and Existentialism.

No, that’s not it. In this book, Siddhartha has been taught that reality is an illusion, and he learns instead about the unity of all. In Sartre’s Nausea, the protagonist learns that reality is an illusion. So, yes, backwards.

At any rate, a quick and engaging read. The volume I have does not say who the translator is, but the prose is very lyrical, with lots of prepositional phrases. Which, sadly, is how I’ve found myself writing these days. And I don’t have a translator to credit or blame for it.

So perhaps I’ll find Steppenwolf somehwere and pick it up, too.

Good Album Hunting, Wednesday, October 16, 2019: Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library Book Sale

Yesterday, I took the boys up north to the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds to attend the Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library book sale where I predicted I would gorge on $1 record albums.

Which proved truer than I thought.

I bought a bunch.

I got:

  • KC and the Sunshine Band by KC and the Sunshine Band. Our Halloween trunk for the church trunk or treat is going to be disco-themed, and it’s a real shame we can’t put a record player back there to play all the disco records I suddenly have.
  • Greatest Hits Volume 2 by Dean Martin.
  • Soulin’ by Lou Rawls.
  • Golden Classics by Ace Cannon.
  • Song of Joy by Captain & Tennille.
  • Ibert/Glazounov/Villa-Labob on Nonesuch Records. My bored son joined me as I flipped through the last dozen or so record crates, so I narrated what I was looking at to keep him amused. “Look, it’s almost your grandmother’s name,” I said. “Her last name,” he replied.
  • Piano Sonoata No. 1 by Noel Lee on Nonesuch Records. “I might be the biggest Nonesuch Records collector in Springfield,” I told him. He was unimpressed.
  • Let It Be Now by Helen Schneider. I bought it because the woman on the cover is pretty.
  • Contact by the Pointer Sisters.
  • Special Things by the Pointer Sisters.
  • Chess which I thought was some symphonic production because it features the London Symphony Orchestra. Turns out it’s a musical, a genre heavily represented at the book sale. I had told my son I did not buy musicals, but when I found another edition of this album which clearly proved it was a musical, I asked him if he thought less of me; he did not. Which might mean he doesn’t think much of me already. He certainly didn’t care for me taking a long time looking through records.
  • Remember by Peaches and Herb. “Who can resist Peaches and Herb?” I asked. “I could resist Peaches. I could resist Herb. But Peaches and Herb? Impossible!”
  • Equinox by Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66. “It probably has ‘Mais Que Nada’ on it. Most Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66 albums do.” I didn’t recognize the cover, so I got it, but thinking on it now, this might be the Brasil ’66 album that I already have but in the wrong sleeve.
  • Carolyn Hester by Carolyn Hester. I should just have a notation like PWC that indicates I bought it because the cover has a pretty woman. Looks to be guitar, as the PW on the C has a guitar and the first song is “House of the Rising Son” which Drew tried very hard to teach me to play on guitar, but I never got smooth at changing chords in time.
  • Shandi Sinnamon by Shandi Sinnamon. PWC in a fedora.
  • Gloria Loren by Gloria Loren. PWC.
  • Steve and Eydie At the Movies by Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme. I already own this one, but the cover on this LP is better than the one I have. I bought it in the Better Books section and paid $2 for it.
  • Three pieces by Glazunov; apparently, I also bought something by this composer on the Nonesuch record listed above, but it’s spelled differently.
  • 5 Concerti for Diverse Instruments by Vivaldi on Nonesuch Records.
  • The Planets by Holst. My beautiful wife likes this symphony, and I wasn’t sure if we have it on record, so I splurged the dollar.
  • Carmina Burana for when we need an epic start to the morning.
  • Greatest Hits by Captain and Tennille. Apparently, I’ve been saying it wrong for years, inserting a definite article before Captain.
  • The Chase is On by Carol Chase. PWC.
  • Rufusized by Rufus featuring Chaka Khan. I just read they’re nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year.
  • The Renaissance Lute but not on Nonesuch Records. It’s something up their alley, but this is Duetsche Grammophon Musikfest.
  • Never Alone by Amy Grant. My beautiful wife likes her, so I threw it in the stack, hoping the “It’s for you” would mitigate any damage my bonanza would cause in our relationship.
  • Honey and Other Hits, one of those mid-60s compilations. PWC.
  • Her Latest and Greatest Spicy Saucy Songs by Sophie Tucker. I think I read about her in Funny Ladies.
  • Tito Schipa Sings Neopolitan Songs. I like foreign language records.
  • Madrigals and Motets. Also not a Nonesuch Record.
  • Sweet Bird by Lani Hall. You know, I don’t remember ever seeing another Lani Hall album in the wild. Were they not good sellers in this corner of Missouri?
  • Mountain Fiddler by U.S. Senator Robert Byrd. No kidding. It has a picture of him in his Senate office with a violin on the cover.
  • Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose by Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose. Looks to be 70 funk or R&B. I hope.
  • One Enchanted Evening by the Three Sons.
  • Golden Rainbow Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme. I told my son it was a musical, but I made an exception because of Eydie Gorme.
  • Sonatas for Flute and Piano in C Major and G Major by Haydn on Nonesuch Records.
  • Choral Songs of the Romantic Era on Nonesuch Records.
  • House of Music by T.S. Monk. Looks to be R&B. I hope.
  • Ethel Smith by Ethel Smith. PWC with an organ.
  • Robert Schumann on Nonesuch Records.
  • Sins of My Old Age by Gioacchino Rossini on Nonesuch Records.
  • Hot Together by The Pointer Sisters.
  • Love Lost by The Four Freshmen. I have a lot of albums by the Four Freshmen, but we cannot overlook the PWC.
  • Cool Water and Seventeen Timeless Western Favorites by the Sons of the Pioneers. I already have a copy of this album somewhere, but I couldn’t find it last Christmas, so I picked up another.
  • Selections by Francis Poulenc on Nonesuch Records.
  • Music Box, a compilation album from A&M Records. I think I already own it, but I spent $1 on this copy just in case.
  • Aerie by John Denver because I love my boys more than I disdain their musical tastes.
  • SHAFT-Music from the Soundtrack by Isaac Hayes. I already own it on CD, but now I have it on Vinyl as well.
  • The Brass Are Comin’ by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. Of course I owned it alread, but this cover is in far better shape than the other, and I spent $2 for it.
  • Cantebury Tales by Chaucer. Actually, just the General Prologue, Prologue to the Parson’s Tale, and The Retraction read in Middle English by J.B. Bessinger, Jr.
  • Two boxed volumes of the Beethoven Bicentennial Collection: Volume I Symphonies and Overtures Part One and Volume II Symphonies and Overtures Part Two. Some years ago, my wife bought most of the collection, but skipped the symphonies because we had them on other media. Now, we’re just missing Volume III which I presume is Symphonies and Overtures Part Three out of the set of XVII.
  • So that’s over sixty records counting the box sets for a little under $60. I will probably need to order more Mylar sleeves and build more record shelving, though.

    I also bought two Foxfire books, #4 and #7, and a Great Courses CD set called Thinking Like An Economist. I looked at artist monographs, but I wasn’t willing to pay six or ten dollars for them. I have commitments that will keep me from attending the lowered price days this weekend, so I’d better pace myself on going through what I got. Fortunately, I won’t be watching any more baseball games this season as the Cardinals were eliminated from the playoffs, and commitments keep precluding me from watching football.

    My boys found a number of books which they could not wait to get into. I’m glad they did, as they sometimes get really bored and impatient with the whole book sale thing. I’m pretty sure they only agree to come because we have a new tradition of stopping at Five Guys afterwards for a burger.

    So not a lot of books to add to the to-read shelves, but a new stack of records that it will take me weeks to listen to. Although when I move the stacks upstairs after writing this post, I will leave the John Denver record on top, and I wager it spins this very morning.

Book Report: Mother Goose in the Ozarks by Ray Wood (1938, 1983)

Book coverAs I accurately predicted on Sunday, I read this book first of the ones I picked up. I have so little time to read these days that monographs and twee little books are about all I can get read in a timely fashion.

This book is a 1983 reprint of the 1938 original, a sticker on the cover informs us, and it is an illustrated collection of what might have passed for nursery rhymes in the Ozarks around the turn of the twentieth century. The perface tells us about the author and the history of the rhymes in this collection which later appeared elsewhere (we’ll get to that in a minute). H. L. Mencken had nice words to say about it when it was published.

The little rhymes in it are a bit twee and facile, but I’m coming to them from a position where Mother Goose and the European nursery rhymes are wisdom received at a young age. Perhaps if I were exposed to these rhymes in my youth and Mother Goose as an adult, I’d have the completely opposite reaction. So, some were amusing, but most were just rhymes for children to recite because nobody had television or radios yet.

One thing that modern audiences would zot onto is the use of perjoratives for blacks. A couple of the rhymes involve accusing a black person of something or just denigraating a black person, but that loses a bit of context that a lot of people mentioned in these rhymes are not represented in the best light. The book also disparages Irish people and other individuals. Face it, if you’re in a nursery rhyme, you’re not doing to well. But modern scholars and readers have their own biases and focii, so that’s what they would see first. Not that I’m defending the viewpoint; only that I can read something like it and say, “That’s not right,” where modern arbiters might not let me read it at all because they don’t trust my judgment.

Some things sounded familiar, though, such as:

Chicken in th’ bread-pan
Pickin’ up th’ dough
Granny will your dog bite?
No, child, no.

Where have I heard that before?

Also, this one learned me the source of an expression that was a fabled book and then a major motion picture:

William tremble-toe is a good fisherman
Catches hens–puts them in pens
Some lay eggs–some lay none
Wire, briar, limberlock, three geese in a flock
One flew east, one flew west
One flew over the cuckoo’s nest.

The nursery rhyme listed as the source of the title in Wikipedia differs, though.

Another features a character asking for his jimmy-john. I wondered if he wanted a sandwich, but after a little research which was mainly trying to formulate a search query that would return me something other than information about the restaurant chain, I discovered this probably refers to a whiskey jug.

At any rate, a quick read. A little educational, as it taught me the things I mentioned above. But it would be doubleplus ungoodthink to many who would then not learn what else it might have to teach.

Overseen on the Plane

This weekend, or more to the point, this Sunday and Monday, I traveled to a work retreat in the Washington, D.C., area. When I travel, I like to pack my personal item with magazines that I can read and discard on the way, which means my bag gets lighter as I go.

As I might have mentioned, my magazine subscriptions wax and wane over the years, and I have accumulated a bunch of old magazines in a drawer in the parlor that I’ve been meaning to read (including a number that came out of the trunk 17 years ago).

I have to consider what to pack carefully. My beautiful wife wants to browse some of them after I am finished, so I cannot discard Forbes or 417 on the road, so I might as well not pack them. I don’t want to pack magazines with guns on them as I don’t want to have the TSA give me the side eye or give some fellow plane traveler the vapors, so Garden and Gun, Ducks Unlimited, America’s First Freedom, and various other items are right out.

Which leads me to an eclectic collection in my bag, to be sure.

So in rapid succession, someone sitting on a plane next to me is likely to see me go through years-old issues of:

  • Chronicles, kind of like a Midwestern National Review;
  • St. Louis, the slick from St. Louis, natch;
  • National Review, kind of like a hipster coastal elite Chronicles;
  • First Things, a magazine of Catholic theology;
  • Birds and Blooms, a lightweight photography magazine about flowers and birds;
  • Metal Hammer, a British magazine about heavy metal music focused on European bands.

As you know, gentle reader, I am a man of eclectic and diverse interests.

But, Brian J., won’t your beautiful wife want to read Metal Hammer? Well, yes, which is why I have brought it home.

And why I have looked up Follow the Cipher on YouTube:

Watch for that album on a future Musical Balance post.