Book Report: Hawaiian Heat by The Executioner #155 (1991)

Book coverSixteen years after Hawaiian Hellground, Bolan returns to Hawaii to rescue comrade and comedian Tommy Anders from a Chinese triad that’s holding him hostage because he’s building up a network of Chinese and Japanese business people who are tired of paying of their countrymen.

So Bolan gets involved to help the businessmen disrupt the Triads and Yakuza who are co-existing on the islands, with a precarious truce as long as the organized crime people stick to their ethnic constituencies. As part of his plan, Bolan nudges them toward a full scale war as long as he can protect the innocent.

So I can see the plot as outlined, and it could have been handled better. Some of these later books must have had more elaborate plots, perhaps more in line with the Super Bolan titles, as the page count increases, but some of the authors don’t execute them as well. In this book, it looks like the author was used to the old 180 page limit. The action moves from set piece to set piece fairly well, but you can kind of see where some plot points are left unaddressed or just mentioned in passing.

The book contains a couple of tactical problems. Of course, everyone has a different kind of gun, again, which means no one can swap ammo if needed. And he carries two spare magazines for a combat assault. Cmon, man. Kim du Toit takes two spare magazines to the bathroom. Also, Bolan takes “cover” behind a couch. It’s a heavy couch, the text says, but, this is the 21st century–we all know the difference between concealment and cover, ainna? I wonder if kids these days steeped in first person shooters could write more intelligently about military tactics and concepts. But probably not the “everyone has a different gun” thing.

Ah, well. It’s not Shakepeare. It was a quick, enjoyable read. Not as good as Firebase Florida, but not bad enough to put me off the novels for a while. I kind of think I’m on a tear here; I am down to 18 titles in the Executioner series. With “dilligence,” I could finish them by the end of next year. However, I would still have dozens of related paperbacks to go, not to mention thousands of other better things to read. So I won’t predict or promise that I’ll finish them out any time soon, gentle reader–you still have several years of intermittent Executioner book reports to look forward to.

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On The Aeneid of Virgil by Professor Elizabeth Vandiver (1999, ?)

Book coverThis audio course, I wish to remind you, gentle reader, cost me a mere fifty cents at the recent Friends of the Springfield-Greene County book sale because it is on audiocassette. I, dear reader, have an audio cassette player in my truck, so I can still enjoy audio courses and books on tape (literally). And when they’re fifty cents, I enjoy them ever so much more.

This book covers, in twelve lectures (roughly six hours), The Aeneid, Virgil’s epic poem about how Aeneas escapes the sack of Troy, sails the Mediterranean, settles in Italy, and eventually wins a war with the Latins to found Rome. It’s a poem chock full of Roman gods interference, much like The Illiad and The Odyssey–to which Virgil’s master work owes a great depth. In addition to reviewing the books in the poem for plot points and character, four of the lectures provide context to when it was written, its influences, and its position in the canon.

The lectures include:

  1. Introduction
  2. From Aeneas to Romulus
  3. Rome, Augustus, and Virgil
  4. The Opening of the Aeneid
  5. From Troy to Carthage
  6. Unhappy Dido
  7. Funeral Games and a Journey to the Dead
  8. Italy and the Future
  9. Virgil’s Illiad
  10. The Inevitable Doom of Turnus
  11. The Gods and Fate
  12. The End of the Aeneid and Beyond

The professor recommends you read along once the lectures get into the meat of the poem. I did not, though, as was driving and listened to a number of the lectures back to back. I am not sure that I even have a copy of Aeneid–certainly I must, with all the Classics Club editions and Harvard Classic books that I have lying around. Well, standing cheek-to-jowl on the to-read shelves of Nogglestead, anyway.

I did get a better, fresher sense of the structure and the incidents in the piece, though, and I hope I can retain them. That Aeneas recounts his escape from Troy whilst in Carthage, talking to Dido; their love affair, broken when the gods remind him of his duty to found a new city; his trip to Sicily, the underworld, and finally to Italy; and the war with the Latins over the hand of Livinia.

The book made me want to read it–and “re”-read The Illiad and The Odysessey–I am not sure I read them in translated poem form, but I have probably read them in adapted prose somewhere along the line. However, given how I bog down with long poems, it probably won’t be any time soon, unfortunately.

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Book Report: Notre-Dame de Paris by Jacques Perrier / Katharine Ball (1986)

Book coverIn keeping with the tradition, I am tearing through the travel and art books I’ve bought this summer and autumn on Sunday afternoons, Monday evenings, and occasionally Thursday evenings as I “watch” football games (which is more and more meaning I look up from my book to check the score from time to time). The weather has again turned to autumn at Nogglestead, and I like nothing better than lighting a fire (okay, a Duraflame log as I have fallen back into all of my dollars-a-day habits even as I have left my full-time position), watching a little football, going on parenthetical digressions in my writing, and looking at pictures in books.

This short souvenir edition describes Notre Dame, that one, in the middle of the Parisian river. It has a pretty heavy text to photo ratio, and the photos aren’t actually captioned, so you have to kind of guess where the text refers to some of the artifacts depicted. The text includes a little history and a bunch of step-by-step, here’s what you see on the tour text which might help jog your memory if you took the tour, but if you have not, the words are wasted. And not helpful.

Still, a bit of an insight into the setting for The Hunchback of Notre Dame–a book that this book mentions on more than one occasion as perhaps the savior of the then-declining church.

It did not make me want to visit Paris as much as All Montserrat made me want to book a cheap flight to Barcelona. On the balance, though, there is a difference sometimes in travel books that are supposed to make you want to go somewhere and souvenir books that make you remember where you have been. The best of the latter should also have the function of the former, ainna? To make you want to go back? I don’t know. I am not a travel writer. For the nonce, I am merely a blogger.

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Where, Exactly, Does She Live?

It’s supposed to be a heartwarming story of people getting out there and voting [the right way], I guess: Michigan woman travels 300 miles to vote:

A 94-year-old Michigan woman went more than the extra mile to vote in this year’s election.

In fact, [redacted] traveled over 300 miles to make sure her vote was counted.

She’s apparently been an activist in Detroit for most of her life, but:

[Redacted] is staying with family in a suburb of Chicago and when she did not receive her absentee ballot, she asked her son to drive her to Detroit so that she could vote.

Questions abound outside the text of the “news” story, such as:

  • Does she live with relatives in Chicago?
  • Did she not get issued an absentee ballot because she had no residence address in Detroit, and Michigan would not mail it to Chicago?
  • If so, why was it so important to vote in what might be a swing state this year and not in Chicago, which is in a pretty solid Democrat state?

Those questions come to my mind, but cynicism is my life, not just my vocation. And I am not a professional journalist who is trying to drum up voting on one side of the political equation (see: cynicism is my life above).

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Book Report: Milton’s Comus, Lycidas, Etc. by John Milton / edited by Andrew J. George (1899, 1908)

Book coverI said when I reported on Milton’s Minor Poems:

These little hardback editions from around the turn of the century seem to have been fairly common–in addition to this volume, I have a couple of works from Alexander Pope in similar editions from similar series. This series, the Eclectic English Classics, look to have cost twenty cents. I wonder if they were the Walter J. Black books of the day.

So I was looking for a science fiction paperback this week on three of my to-read shelves, and I came across this book. A small collection of Milton’s poems from the last years of the nineteenth century still in print in the early years of the twentieth century but from a different collection than the previous one I reviewed. Still, for a couple of dimes, you could have a small hardback that would last at least a century (not that you would have known it). I wonder how popular these were as textbooks–each had some pencil notations in various places, but there’s no telling whether it’s from the original owners or succeeding generations that might have used them as inexpensive textbooks. Heaven knows I did, when I was not checking my English and Philosophy primary sources out from the library.

At any rate, this book contains the same four pieces as Milton’s Minor Poems (“L’Allegro”, “Il Penseroso”, “Comus”, and “Lycidas”) as well as a few others (At a Solumn Music”, “On Shakespeare”, “Arcades”, “On His Blindness”, and “On His Deceased Wife”). The introductory essay is different, of course, and the book includes the Matthew Arnold address I have previously quoted (here and here).

I didn’t re-read the four pieces I read last month; however, I did read the new bits (although I used “On His Blindness” as one of our coronacation family poems, so I had been exposed to it pretty recently).

I don’t have anything really to add to my previous appreciation of Milton; although he gets a pile of accolades from a pile of poets since, including Matthew Arnold, I find him a little longform for my current tastes, although reading a bunch of him in a row will dial me into the language and form than coming into it cold. So these short books are good intros into it before you decide you want to jump into Paradise Lost.

Not that I will anytime soon; I shall probably read some of the Pope poems I have in these editions first.

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News I Could Have Used Yesterday

Here’s why canned corn might be tough to find at supermarkets:

Add canned corn to the list of supermarket staples that have become elusive amid the COVID-19 crisis.

The pandemic has roiled the supply chain for canned sweet corn in several ways, meaning it might be tough to track down at your local grocery store, a new report says.

The New York Post links to a Wall Street Journal slideshow that has all the normal things: limited sweet corn production, limited and expensive transportation, brisk sales in the past. Basically, a lot of people bought canned goods this year, which depleted existing stocks, and not enough will be coming through the pipeline to replace all that was already sold.

I say I could have used this yesterday as I went to the grocery and bought six cans of whole kernel corn on sale, and I should have bought twelve. As it stands, I culled our cabinet collection for the quarter and took a couple hundred pounds of cans, mostly vegetables, to the local food bank. The vegetables at our local grocery tend to have a “best buy” date that doesn’t move but every couple of years; when the canned goods in 2018 say Dec 2020, they will say Dec 2020 until sometime in mid 2020, which means everything I buy for a year and a half will become food pantry fodder at the same time. So I have far fewer just-in-case food on hand than I did earlier this week, and in an election year, too.

Good thing I have news like this so that me and several million of my closest friends can make a run on the grocery stores to clear them of all canned corn to help solve the problem.

Meanwhile, I need to get to the grocery more often. The whole pick up something extra every trip, which goes along with the pick up something for the food bank every trip, kind of fails when every trip is once every fortnight instead of a couple times a week.

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I Don’t Need To Read The Article; I Know The Truth

This movie, apparently, is Wisconsin’s ‘favorite’ horror movie.

Come on, it’s surely this one:

Well, I did read the article. Apparently, it’s locally grown The Love Witch which is a comedy horror film whose DVD sells for $32 on Amazon.

So I will have to take a pass on it. Besides, I just placed a DVD order which probably means I’m topped off on movies for the year. And, unfortunately, I actually only ordered two which offers sad testimony to how few movies I watch these days.

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Book Report: Firebase Florida by The Executioner #153 (1991)

Book coverYou know, gentle reader, for the last couple of weeks, most of my reading has been poetry, art monographs, travel books, and Christian self-help kinds of books (we’ll get to those by and by). Given the sheer number of those books that I’ve polished off in the last couple of weeks, it seems like a long time since I read any fiction (it’s not–I read The Widening Gyre only two weeks ago, but that was a dislocated finger and Exposure Notification ago). And it’s only been two months since I read the previous entry in the series (Combat Stretch). Still, it felt a bit refreshing. Maybe this is actually a better entry in this part of the series. Who can tell?

At any rate, Mack Bolan is summoned to Florida because some of the Cuban immigrants are setting up a crime syndicate, aided perhaps by the Cuban secret police. Thirty years after the revolution, some of the first generation refugees are happy with the lives they’ve built in Florida, but some of their children dream of returning to Cuba triumphantly. The police detective who summoned Bolan wants him to act as a mentor to these second generation warriors who have amassed a small arsenal of their own. However, when Bolan starts his probing and hitting, an expert team of hitters from New York comes to take care of him and a Cuban strike team comes to take care of the young second generation soldados.

It moves along well with the set pieces where Bolan is hitting the various criminal locations with only a few “he shot someone how far with a shotgun?” moments. All right, a few howlers: Selecting Ingrams and Uzis instead of rifles as the weapon of choice, and later shooting down two Mi-24 Hinds with the aforementioned small arms. I mean, I had trouble in 1987 playing Gunship winning against Hinds whilst flying a freaking Apache, for crying out loud–remember flight simulators, how you could sort of realistically fly real aircraft on computers before 2001?

At any rate, I enjoyed the book but for the usual flaws I complain about in the better books in the series: It gets well developed for 150 pages, and then the author remembers he’s running out of words, so the remainder of the outline gets short shrift. The stage gets littered with corpses: the soldados, the police detective and his wife, and the love interest die, Bolan hits a military commander’s house in Cuba, and Bolan hits the Cuban immigrant mobster’s fortified island, and finis.

A too quick resolution, but at least it didn’t go on too long, I suppose.

So I might not have finished these books yet, but I get ever closer, and I kind of want to read the next in my set. I’ll likely be disappointed, of course, which is how I end up with an average time between entries in the series: I read bad books really quickly after the good ones, and then I read the good ones after a longer gap following the lesser ones.

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More Matthew Arnold

Also from his address on Milton I mentioned yesterday:

The most eloquent voice of our century uttered, shortly before leaving the world, a warning cry ‘against the Anglo-Saxon contagion.’ The tendencies and aims, the view of life and the social economy of the ever-multiplying and spreading Anglo-Saxon race, would be found congenial, this prophet feared, by all the prose, all the vulgarity amongst mankind, and would invade and overpower all nations. The true ideal would be lost, a general sterility of mind and heart would set in.

The prophet had in view, no doubt, in the warning thus given, us and our colonies, but the United States still more.

You would expect to hear that sort of things in colleges now, or thirty years ago.

This address was given in 1887. To dedicate a stained glass window to honor Milton’s second wife. Donated by an American.

Yeah, the whole address pretty much builds up Milton by damning the nineteenth century poets and non-Excellent, especially the Americans.

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Book Report: All Montserrat by Fr. Josep M. Soler (?)

Book coverThis book describes the Montserrat monestary just ourside of Barcelona, Spain. The monestary complex sits upon a mountain that has a rather distinctive shape with multiple rock features with individual names; the first part of the book describes its formation and how the natives named pretty much every rock on it over the millennia.

The book then talks a bit about the religious buildings that have been on sight, which includes a couple of churches, monestaries, and hermitages amongst the rocks. However, given how long the site has been given over to religious use, the buildings on site and all the workings are of relatively recent vintage as they suffered in various wars, most notably during Napoleon’s time when they razed the whole site and carried everything off.

Everything except the Morenta, the Dark/Brown Virgin statue which was hidden away and is in place today. So aside from a few ruins in the pictures and some of the art collection, the buildings, the gold and silver work, and even the crypts tend to be a hundred and fifty or so years old. Which, I repeat, is odd for such a historical site, but history has not been kind to the particulars of the location.

As this is a European book, the contents are in the back where the index should be, and although it reads left to right and front to back, it’s only in the last pages that one realizes that this is not just a historical site but also a tourist complex that features hotels, apartments, a couple restaurants, a couple bars, and a market. So, feasibly, one could live there. I am not sure whether the apartments cater exclusively to pilgrims and the penitent. But I did notice that some of the rooms are only (according to the Internet) about $100 a night, which is about what it costs to stay in Poplar Bluff.

So I’m not saying that I’ll be in the area for sure someday, but you know what? It might not be too bad to visit some of these places. When I am old and will not enjoy them as much as I would now, where I still like to climb and run the hills. But unless that Publisher’s Clearinghouse entry that I just mailed turns out to, finally, be a winner, I don’t expect that I will be visiting Montserrat before I turn sixty.

Although the island in the Caribbean with the same name is closer and probably less expensive overall.

Maybe I will be ready for a traveling vacation next year if such things are available.

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Brian J.’s Reading, Listening Habits: Under Fire

I kind of feel under attack from various sources lately as I am known to read less-than-high quality poetry, cheap men’s adventure paperbacks, and artist monographs from artists that I don’t like and who lack basic technical skill if not fine motor control.

First, Friar tries to stage an intervention by linking to a First Things article. Friar says:

Writing at First Things, Leah Libresco outlines why bad art may not be the best thing for us. It’s an interesting piece and one item stood out because it’s an opinion I already held: The CGI Yoda from the Star Wars prequels, despite its ability to hop all over the place in a lightsaber duel, is not as good as the simple puppet voiced by Frank Oz in the original trilogy.

Come on, you know who he’s talking about.

Second, Severian tackles one of my musical crushes from the 1990s, Jewel:

In case you don’t remember, or were too young / old to be aware of her, that’s pop singer Jewel, in retrospect the most Nineties of all 90s poseurs. Trust me when I say that if you had any interest at all in college girls in the 1990s — prurient or otherwise — you can probably still recite the entire track list of Pieces of You (which, not coincidentally, is also the most Nineties possible album title). If you really want to give a guy in his 40s PTSD, play that and Jagged Little Pill back to back outside his bedroom window. After five minutes, he’ll either start shooting at you, or dig out his old flannels and Doc Martens and start kicking around a hacky sack…

Ow, that stings. I got Pieces of You after a epic quest evening of hitting record stores looking for it in that pre-Amazon and mostly pre-Internet era. I even bought her book of poetry, for Pete’s sake (which is the young person equivalent of grandmother poetry; a few nice moments, maybe, but mostly a nice pat for trying). I bought Spirit and even 0304 in this century (I was not impressed). And that was it. A couple of years later, she switched to country (as a lot of pop stars tried), but I haven’t really paid attention in the last fifteen years (how long?).

Also, on a side note, I also had Jagged Little Pill on CD back in the day; I got it before Pieces of You. But I got tired of Morrisette’s schtick and got rid of it sometime early this century. I still have Pieces of You, though, and the iTunes counter shows that I have listened to Pieces of You and Spirit once since I swapped computers a year and a half ago and 0304 twice.

Okay, so the Internet has been targeting me (I am the center of the Internet, gentle reader–everything on it is about me). What about the great masters?

Matthew Arnold, in his address entitled “Milton”, which was given on the dedication of the Milton window at St. Margaret’s Church:

It appears to me difficult to deny that the growing greatness and influence of the United States does bring with it some danger to the ideal of a high and rare excellence. The average man is too much a religion there; his performance is unduly magnified, his shortenings are not duly seen and admitted. A lady in the State of Ohio sent to me only the other day a volume on American authors; the praise given throughout was of such high pitch that in thinking of her I could not forbear saying that for only one or two of the authors named was such a strain of praise admissible, and that we lost all real standard of excellence by praising so uniformly and immoderately. She answered me with charming good tempers, that very likely I was quite right, but it was pleasant to her to think that excellence was common and abundant.

You see? Even late nineteenth century poets were gunning for me.

Although that last sentiment in the Arnold quote, gentle reader, might be a bit more than I truly believe, I am in favor of reading not only excellent things, but also things that are not excellent so as to develop a better understanding of what things are not good and perhaps why. Also, I come from a university English background, where at workshops we’re supposed to find at least something nice in the worst tripe. I didn’t do so well at it when I was in the university, but I have since mellowed.

And, as you might expect, I listened to a Rebecca Black EP, for crying out loud. Without Dustbury continuing to promote her, where will her career go?

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Book Report: At The Sea by Jennifer Bright (1996)

Book coverInstead of a single artist’s monograph, this book collects a number of paintings of the sea from Pieter Brueghel the Elder’s “Fall of Icarus” to modernist twaddle like Jackson Pollock’s “Blue (Moby Dick)”. So you can take one subject like this and kind of chart the evolution of painting through the depiction of sea-side scenes.

So if you’re not sure of whose art you might like, or if you can’t buy complete artist monographs for a buck each at a sale and don’t want to gamble, this might be the survey course to get you started. You can get a flavor of some old masters, some Impressionists, and some of those damned twentieth-century artists who made everything look like rubbish, and you can be reasonably sure that the blue somewhere on the canvas is supposed to be water.

I enjoyed most of it. I was familiar with some, like “Fall of Icarus”. It reinforced a bit of my taste and perhaps nationalism in that I think early twentieth century American artists were able to resist some of the continental foolishness for a while, but eventually succombed to the modern tastemakers, unfortunately.

So a nice browser between deeper readings or deep throws down the field.

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Brian J. Noggle: Apostate?

As you might know, gentle reader, I pretty much think that Eydie Gorme did the best rendition of every song she ever recorded, andall other artists who attempt to record new versions of the songs are fools.

However, as I recently picked up a new copy of the album Eydie In Love since the copy I got in 2015 (that long ago? Already?) skipped. I would like to acknowledge that my beautiful wife bought me the CD for my birthday, but when presented with the chance to buy another record (for fifty cents!), I did. I put it on the turntable the other day, and it includes her rendition of “It Could Happen To You”:

But I had recently heard Ashley Pezzotti’s version:

As you know, gentle reader, I am not generally a fan of scatting, but Ashley Pezzotti might be the best I’ve heard.

The two interpretations have a bit of a difference. Eydie is more wistful and mournful–she warns it’s not necessarily a good thing. Ashley is more playful, and although she might have given you that advice previously, love has happened to her, and she’s happy it did.

So does that mean that I think that Eydie Gorme might be trumped by an upstart? Heaven forbid! The interpretations make them completely different songs (and you thought the difference in pronouns was a dodge!).

But I also got a new copy of Eydie On Stage, which has a rendition of “But Not For Me”:

Ms. Pezzotti’s debut album We’ve Only Just Begun has her rendition:

And, erm….

Well, they’re different songs because Eydie’s has the take of an older, more world-weary poet-narrator, and Ashley’s has the perspective of a younger person who is only, hopefully, temporarily discouraged.

Jeez, Louise, I am walking on a thin line here. I love Eydie Gorme, but I’m also quite fond of Ashley Pezzotti. Whereas I am ever hopeful to find a new record of Eydie Gorme’s vast discography when I go to antique malls and book sales, I am also hopeful that the Quarantine Sessions are building up a repertoire for a new Ashley Pezzotti album sometime soon.

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Book Report: Marseille by G. Foveau and Roselyne Moreaux (2005)

Book coverWell, this is a relatively recent travel book. Most of the time, I find these old travel books are from the 1960s or the 1980s, but someone who went to France in this century brought this back, and this person or the heirs sold it to Calvin’s Books for me to pick up earlier this year.

At any rate, this book is a lovely collection of photographs of the French city grouped by neighborhood or local landmark. Introductory text gives a high-level history of the city from its founding as a Greek colony, its role in holding out against Caesar (as depicted in Last Seen in Massilia. which is an old name for the colony), its stalwart independence through the Middle Ages, and its relatively recent joining into France. Of course, we get to hear about the creation of the fortress on the Isle d’If (immortalized, as this book acknowledges, in The Count of Monte Cristo). So the book has many pictures where this island is in the background.

The pictures are wonderful, and the description of the city does it credit.

I’m not sure I’m inclined to go, though. As I said to my beautiful wife, “I don’t need to go; I’ve seen the pictures.” And although I am a bit of a homebody, if we end up wildly wealthy, she will probably convince me to cross an ocean at some point. But England is higher on the list; perhaps the Cotswolds since I not only liked The Cotsolds, and I have another picture book of that region that I bought at Calvin’s Books that I will pick up this weekend or next.

Yes, I am “watching” footbal, which is really a pretext for “reading books during the day.” I set myself up pretty well between this trip to Calvin’s books for travel books and the visit to the Friends of the Library Book Sale for art monographs. I might make it to mid-season before I have to scour my to-read shelves for eligible books.

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Carbondale Police Update Their Rules of Emu Engagement

Emu runs loose: Big bird named Kermit escapes Haverhill yard, stretches its long legs:

The emu named Kermit was being handled by a Haverhill woman who temporarily cares for animals in need of homes. On Wednesday morning, the woman was in the process of transporting Kermit to a farm in Maine when the bird tried to make a quick getaway. According to a resident who saw the incident, a gust of wind blew open a gate to the property where the bird was being held, and Kermit ran.

The bird calmed down after being given a pear from a nearby pear tree and was carried to safety.

The police did not have to shoot it eight times. Although that was a different time; in the intervening decade and a half, the Carbondale police force undoubtedly has gotten some armored vehicle remainders from the United States Government and can now simply run down the bird with an MRAP if they don’t have a pear handy.

(You can see all of my mockery of the incident here. This link via Neatorama.)

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More Than I Have, Certainly

FULL HOUSE! Hoarder’s amazing £4million Aladdin’s Cave with 60,000 treasures packed into terraced house:

AN INCREDIBLE £4million treasure trove of more than 60,000 items has been discovered in the home of Britain’s biggest hoarder.

Most of the haul consists of unopened packages delivered to the property since 2002.

Neighbours say a full Royal Mail van of parcels would arrive at the collector’s home every Friday.

He eventually had to move into a bed and breakfast and rent a one-bedroom flat and two garages to continue to store the items.

One expects that the you-store-it industry is not as big in England as here.

I don’t know that I even aspire to that amount of accumulation. To be honest, my own gathering has tapered off a bit in recent years. I mean, I still buy books, records, and CDs in fair amounts, but I have only bought a single comic book this year (I think), and I’m not out at garage sales and flea markets where I used to pick up larger items like video games or old computers (not that they’re available at garage sales any more–the real vintage window closed) or old cameras or things I thought were cool but just take up space in the store room or closet. I have not picked up any crafting hobbies that led to trips to the craft store to stock up on a lot of supplies that have gotten sidelined. I never really got into collecting action figures, toys, or mementos to fill a house. I’ve even started trimming my collection of old clothing–I had thirty years of shirts and old jeans stashed away–what depression did I live through?

Although you haven’t seen a depackratification post in years here, gentle reader, look kindly upon me and think, as I do, that I am depackratifying by simply slowing my rate of accumulation. And, should I call upon you during a discussion with my beautiful wife as to whether we really need a bigger home or not (you-store-its are for the weak!), please agree with me.

Thank you, that is all.

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Book Report: Frida Kahlo by Frank Milner (1995)

Book coverYou know, I wanted to really dislike Frida Kahlo’s work because she’s so celebrated by modern tastemakers because she was a foreign Communist bisexual back in the day. Because that’s what titillates a lot of people who want to be seen as right-thinking more than their response to the art itself, their response to the artist as celebrity. Which Frido Kahlo was and might well still be. I mean, I’ve seen ads for merchandise with her on them even in this twenty-first century.

So I really wanted to dislike her work, and, well, it’s still not my favorite–she’s of the surrealist and brutalist stripe from the early 20th century like Matisse and Madigliani and Picasso, and some of her works are pretty gory. But some of the portraits and the still lifes are not bad.

But that’s not what she’s known for, unfortunately.

So I didn’t hate her work, but it’s probably not for the Nogglestead decor.

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It Can, And Does Happen, To Others

Last year, I admitted that I sometimes confused Patty Smyth with Patti Smith.

According to this article with one of them ahead of her first new album in almost thirty years, it happens frequently:

Do people still confuse you with Patti Smith?

It happens all the time, and it’s insane that it still happens. To tell you how far back she’s been haunting me … when I was a teenager, I was getting her mail in the East Village. And I’m not kidding. I had no idea what she did or who she was, but I knew that she existed.

Time will tell whether I get the album, but I probably owe it to her.

Now, if you will excuse me, I am off to confuse myself with the question Is she the one who is married to John McEnroe or the one that had the hit with Don Henley?

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Maybe Realistic Isn’t The Word You’re Going For Here

A woman in essentially a medieval bikini and fishnets with a magic staff and some sort of fire spell? Happens all the time here in Brookline when men are over fifty.

I am not sure whether this is the same game that features pixellated T&A and promises You can do anything you want, but it looks to be different from Vikings, a game targeted at youngsters who are only over 40.

Which the ads suggest is also a hyperrealistic portrayal of a warlike patriarchal society around the turn of the first millennium AD. The bare female midriffs coupled with weapons guarantees it, as does the targeting to men of a certain age.

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Book Report: Modigliani by Jacques Lipchitz and Alfred Werner (1971)

Book coverHave you heard the name Modigliani? I had not. He lived a brief consumptive life around the turn of the century in France, and his art work is somewhere between the Impressionism or whatever Gauguin did and Picasso; the images are representative but distorted in proportion and brutal in execution. He was only starting to get some recognition when he passed away from tuberculosis, so he’s really only known amongst art people, and perhaps fewer of them as we go along.

It’s probably fitting that if you talk about art that everyone kind of knows and artists who a lot of people have heard of, the names really taper off in the twentieth century.

Perhaps a twenty-first century reboot of the Teenage [sic] Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Next Generation with turtles named Matisse, O’Keeffe, and, uh, some other lesser know artists would re-inject them into the zeitgeist. Or not.

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