Iced Earth Sells 74 Million Albums

Pro-Trump heavy metal guitarist reportedly identified as Capitol rioter:

A pro-President Trump heavy metal guitarist has been identified as one of the US Capitol rioters, according to a report.

Multiple sources told the Indianapolis Star Wednesday that one of the suspects in the deadly Jan. 6 siege is Jon Schaffer, a founding member of a Florida-based heavy metal band called Iced Earth who is originally from central Indiana.

The article also notes no charges were filed against the artist. Maybe that means yet.

According to Iced Earth’s Web site, they have released like 30 albums and EPs since the founding in 1988. I have never heard of the band, but that’s true for most metal bands, even metal bands with recording contracts and multi-decade careers.

Don’t expect to find Iced Earth on my musical balance posts, though: I’m buying jazz lately, not heavy metal. And by “lately,” I meant this week. Last week was a long time ago. I cannot remember that far unless I look at my purchase history.

But I want you to know, gentle reader, I am keeping up the latest metal news for you.

On Rush Hour (1998)

Book coverIt’s our new-ish New Year’s Eve tradition with the boys to watch a movie and play a game to pad the hours until midnight, and this year we watched Rush Hour. Which, apparently has two sequels.

I don’t remember if I saw this film in the theatre–I can hardly imagine a time where we went to the theater and saw ten or more movies a year. I don’t know if I see that many at home these days. But that’s because all my books are calling in way the my accummulated videocassettes and DVDs are not. This film, though, was on a DVD, but it’s a little clearer now that we’re running it through a different receiver.

If you don’t remember the plot: Basically, Jackie Chan is a Hong Kong police inspector who breaks up a crime organization right as the British are handing Hong Kong over to the Chinese. The Chinese consul to Hong Kong ends up in Los Angeles with his wife and young daughter, who is close with Jackie Chan (come on, Jackie Chan is playing Jackie Chan, as he always does). The daughter is kidnapped for ransom by the very criminal mastermind whose organization was disrupted in Hong Kong, and the consul imports Jackie Chan to help the FBI. The FBI, though, wants nothing to do with the inspector, so they bring a loud, brash, unconventional LAPD detective, Chris Tucker, playing Chris Tucker, to entertain Chan. But they end up solving the crime after various set pieces and beginning to understand each other’s culture.

So it’s a funny movie. But twenty years on, the honeymoon for Hong Kong is over, and one cannot help but wonder how much the Chinese government influenced the film to put China in the best possible light. Even then. I didn’t sit through the credits, but I would not be surprised to see at the end a thank you to some Chinese agency or bureau. Twenty years on, we all look at things with a bit more of a gimlet eye.

But the film is my boys’ first exposure to Jackie Chan (and Chris Tucker). A virtual decision tree unfolds: What next? The Jackie Chan path? Rumble in the Bronx? That’s rated R. Perhaps Legend of the Drunken Master? Or the Chris Tucker path? Certainly not Friday, but they’re old enough for The Fifth Element by now. What about the Jackie Chan+1 fish out of water path? Shanghai Noon has Jackie Chan playing Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson playing Old West Owen Wilson. I haven’t actually seen that one yet. However, it would require buying the movie–and we own many of the others listed, and I’m saving my money for jazz and metal CDs.

Time will tell, and it could very well say, “You won’t decide this question until next New Year’s Eve.”

In Florida, You Cannot Overlook The Possibility That Someone In Town Might Have a Lightly Armored Reconnaissance Vehicle That Looks Like A Tank And Gives The Press The Vapors

Maniac drives tank around neighbourhood scaring neighbours in disturbing footage:

In many parts of the US, it’s commonplace to see people carrying guns in the streets.

But even the unflappable people of Florida draw the line at a tank.

The apparently street-legal armoured vehicle is owned by a man living in the sleepy gated community of Old Cutler Road., in Palmetto Bay, a little way down the coast from Miami.

The shocked residents complaining that the tracked beast that’s been smashing up their kerbs is a “military-style” tank – to avoid any confusion with the perfectly-normal civilian-style tanks we’re all used to seeing on our roads.

Amateur video taken of the vehicle suggests it could be a current FV107 Scimitar or possibly an FV101 Scorpion, a light armoured reconnaissance vehicle that saw service with the British Army through the 70s and 80s.

It looks like the British press has typed up a local (Florida) television station’s minute-long segment on the story. Basically, the television story is some phone footage of the vehicle out on the road, a couple seconds talking about the tank, allegations that it’s destroying curbs (kerbs, as the British say), and a shot of the television report buzzing the intercom of the walled estate asking to talk to someone about the “tank.”

The British tabloid story extends it by calling the driver a “maniac” (unsupported) and identifying the vehicle not as a tank but a British scout vehicle (to women, apparently, all military vehicles with guns look like tanks, which is why when you’re picking you’re Civil War II fantasy team, you should probably leave the anti-armor to the boys, he said, incrementing the variable in the algorithm to his eventual deplatforming with a +1).

I mean, come on now. Let the guy drive his street-legal British scout vehicle in peace.

Here in Missouri, I have seen a number of pieces of post-military equipment out on the roads, generally on the way to an event or parade or perhaps on loan on loan for small-budget local movie shoots.

This is America, [Union] Jack. There’s a rifle behind every blade of grass, and there just might be a privately owned armored vehicle behind every wall.

Come On, We Need To Call It Something Scarier

The polar vortex is about to split again, and it could bring a ‘big’ winter storm by MLK Day

Polar vortex? Ho-hum.

What about a nuclear snowwicane? A neutron coldaclysm?

I mean, snow bomb and bomb cyclone have already been taken.

Meanwhile, in Britain, speaking of which, the tabloids are talking about an ALL CAPS STORM whose weather has not been seen in the north of England since… since…. Well, I saw it at the beginning of Wuthering Heights, but I’m going to go out on a limb that I am one of the few who has recently.

This being Springfield, I’ll believe it when I see it. This leading story from the local paper looks to be, beyond the headline, the weather over the weekend for New England and the very eastern edges of the midwest.

You know, where the important people live.

On the other hand, teams from down south are going to be playing in Buffalo and Green Bay, so that might be fun to watch.

In Researching, I Find A Gap In The Noggle Atari Collection

So I was researching my post for this morning (that is, I searched the Internet for Private Eye Video Game or something), and I re-discovered the Atari 2600 video game Private Eye.

I remember that game, too, although I am not sure who had it. Jimmy? Jimmy T.? Someone else?

I don’t actually have a copy of it and certainly have not seen it in the wild in the 20 some years that I’ve been acquiring things like it (although a lot less over the last decade–you don’t find stuff like this at garage sales any more, and you don’t even see things like it at antique malls, where common Atari cartridges are marked $7 or $10).

I’ll keep my eyes open for it, but I’m not sanguine at my prospect of finding either of these games out.

Maybe I should start going to estate sales again. Especially since I’m getting to the age where peers are dying, and they might be my best chance at getting a hold of things like these.

And, brothers and sisters, watch out for my estate sale someday. It will be quite the trove of miscellany.

On High Anxiety (1977)

VHS coverI’m a little late writing this one up–this is the film we watched on Thanksgiving, but I have had it sitting on my desk since then and a text file with the title in it (I do my drafts for these On… posts and the book reports in a text file editor before I copy and paste them onto the blog–clearly, I had one such post eaten by blogging software at some point in the past or I just wanted to template out the basics of each post–the title, the image, and back in the old timey days the Amazon affiliate link). So because I am very slow in reading these days–David Copperfield is like 750 pages, but I’m enjoying them–I have decided to tell you about what I watched two months ago.

You know, you kind of had to be there for the early Mel Brooks. I mean, stuff like Blazing Saddles remains funny and quotable unless you have a modern mindset where That’s not funny. Somehow, it’s crude but not crass. Or maybe I hold it in enough esteem that I overlook its crassinosity. Later comedies like Space Balls and Robin Hood: Men in Tights were hit or miss with me–they have a more modern speed and sensibility, unlike this film and Young Frankenstein (which I rewatched a couple years ago)–they move more slowly and require a little familiarity in the material that the film spoofs. In the middle 1970s, we saw those films on television on weekends. In the 21st century, not so much.

At any rate, this film spoofs sixties thrillers, especially Alfred Hitchcock movies. A noted psychologist is recruited to run an asylum where people have mysteriously died, including the most recent head. He discovers that some of the other staff are keeping rich inmates against their wills and after they’re cured–and the Mel Brooks character is dealing with his own Vertigo-like issues that come into play. I would say the name of the character, but, come on, as with Abbott and Costello in Africa Screams!, Mel Brooks, Harvery Korman, and Cloris Leachmann are playing their respective characters, the ones they tend to play in all these mid-Brooks movies.

So it was amusing to me in a I see what you did there fashion. Both of my boys watched it, which means the older one is growing in his cinema appreciation to be able to sit through something more slow-moving than a ten minute speed run YouTube video. They laughed at one bit, but the youngest proclaimed it a bit cringey. You remember RiffTrax, the thing where you can record your own commentary a la Mystery Science Theater 3000 on a movie? I think if you mashed up 21st century young people watching old movies, you would probably have pure comedy gold. Actually, someone has probably already done that as Kids Try To Figure Out and Reaction videos are all the rage. Or so I heard; I only use YouTube to watch Mizuho Lin sing and my accountant cast pods.

Also, whilst we’re on the subject of Mel Brooks’ usual suspects, I have recently discovered that Madeline Khan was all that.

I mean, my early exposure to her would probably have been Blazing Saddles, where the blonde look really didn’t work for her, and Oh, Madeline on television, which she did when she was forty-one, which was to then-me old but to now-me young. I didn’t really like her voice when I was eleven or twelve either, but it has grown on me since.

Also, she was older than my mother, so that would be a definite deal breaker for an eighties kid. I am not so sure how that would be now, as women might be looking better later in life, or maybe I’m just later and life and think so. It would make for an awkward conversation with my boys, one that I will avoid for the nonce. Boys, given that your mother is the most beautiful woman in the world, what about Elizabeth Hurley who is sixty?

Still, back to the film we’re talking about. Or more related topics. When researching this film, I discovered Silent Movie which I had not heard of. It sounds like Steve Martin’s Bowfinger. I’m going to have to look for that one at garage sales. And, probably, have to order it someday when I’m feeling profligate and think about the film again–perhaps whilst reading this post in the future.

While researching the preceding paragraph, I discovered that Heather Graham and I were born in the same hospital, albeit a couple years apart. Huh. I will be sure to mention that the next time we see something with Heather Graham in it, probably License to Drive since I have boys coming of that age. Of course, I will act as though I always knew it as I always know everything about Milwaukee.

The end, he said, before he fell more into the Wikipediaverse and didn’t get anything of value at all done today.

How I Got My First Jazz Album

So I took the back-up car to drive the youngest to school yesterday, and I have my audio course lectures in the primary vehicle. So I set the audio system to pick up music from my pocket computer.

Instead of my workout playlist, which I tend to stream from my wrist computer when I’m at the YMCA, it started playing a Keiko Matsui album, a light, jazzy tune as I drove along. Suddenly, I’m having a flashback to driving a car in 1996 or so. But it’s not me driving: It’s Philip Marlowe in a video game called Private Eye.

Screenshot courtesy Good Old

I bought the game at a little PC shop that started out in High Ridge but ended up in Murphy; I had done my own time in a different PC seller before hand. I was driving a grey sedan at the time and had been wearing a fedora for several years by that point. So when I spotted this game, I hopped on it. I remember playing it in the dining room of my aunt’s house in Lemay, where my mother and I lived for a couple of years.

When Marlowe is driving, the game plays a little jazzy music. And I wanted the same for myself.

Although St. Louis had (and has) a jazz station broadcasting from across the river in Edwardsville–WSIE–reception is a bit spotty towards the southern part of the St. Louis area (such as Lemay and later Old Trees when I lived there). So I thought about picking up a jazz album–on CD, as I was not thinking in terms of records then. So I did a little research, perhaps on AOL (lol), and I decided on a saxophone jazz album:

To be honest, my cars at the time did not have a CD player–and I don’t think the grey sedan even had a cassette deck–so I was dependent mostly on the radio for my music listening. So my foray into jazz at that time didn’t go very far. I did end up with a Miles Davis and Ella Fitzgerald CD, though, by the time I moved to Casinoport–where I could receive WSIE on my radio when it was on the top of the bookshelves and the antenna was pointed just so.

Well, that was a long time ago and many jazz albums ago. Although, as you know, gentle reader, my jazz tastes tend to run to pretty women doing jazz these days, so I haven’t listened to the Coltrane album for a long time. I should probably rectify that. At some point, probably around the turn of the century, my beautiful wife gave me a Coltrane box set which I should listen to as well.

On Africa Screams (1949)

Book coverOn Sunday evening, my beautiful wife and my oldest son were out of the house for a church youth group event, so the youngest and I had an opportunity to watch a film. So I picked this one because the youngest is a good sport and will watch black and white moviews with his father. Also, Big Brother Alphabet says I should watch some Abbott and Costello.

In the film, “Buzz”–Abbott–and Stanley Livingston–Costello–work in a book store in New York when people come in looking for an out-of-print book with a map of Africa in it. Although they do not have the book, the people offer Costello (come on, I’m not going to call them by their character names because they’re not playing different characters–they’re playing Abbott and Costello) large sums of money to draw the map. Abbott catches on that there’s bigger money involved and inveigles them onto a safari whose purpose is ostensibly to capture wild animals, but in reality seeks diamonds. So it sets up several set pieces with African animals, bad guys, and cannibals.

The film comes from 1949, which means I would have seen it as a kid when it was a relatively fresh 30 years old instead of (shudder) 70 years old. My son watched it silently for a while, but toward the end he found some of the bits amusing and laugh-out-loud funny. So some of it endures. I was amused, too, but I was steeped on Abbott and Costello bits and movies growing up–enough that I prefered them to Laurel and Hardy.

Researching the film led me to some interesting tidbits. First, by the deep-dive research of looking at the credit card, I see that Shemp Howard played a role in the film. I didn’t recognize him, but that means this film is Abbott and Costello and a Stooge. So it was like a bonus.

Also, two of the bits in the book come when Costello, who has been played up as a great African hunter, tells exploits to two men he meets. One is Clyde Beatty and the other is Frank Buck–both actual celebrity animal collectors who played themselves. I have to wonder who amongst the audience in 1949 would have recognized them and gotten the joke before the moment when they reveal their real identities to Abbott and Costello. I mean, this is before television. I would have had a tough time picking Marlin Perkins out in a movie in 1980. Of course, when Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom came on, I often changed the channel. Which is why I can hear Perkins saying the title of the program but not much else about it.

At any rate, an amusing little film that you probably won’t find streaming anywhere even though I’ll bet it was on television plenty back when we only had limited options.

A Mistake Only A Listener of the Local Rock Station Could Make

Sure, who here hasn’t confused Royal Blood:

with Royal Bliss?

I mean, they don’t even sound alike.

But the local rock radio station has been playing them both, and when the former came on the radio, and I mentioned I liked it, kind of, to my beautiful wife who was trapped in the car with me, a couple of teenagers, and a pre-teen. I was very careful and only ninety percent sure I got the name right.

But I did.

And I bought the single “Trouble Coming”–I would have bought the whole album, but it’s not out yet. Which is just as well.

I will leave it to speculate, gentle reader, which is actually the British Royal family and which is the guy and his American wife who left because they didn’t like the attention, only to spend all of their time trying to get attention.

Better Than My Attorney Bernie

My accountant and his wife have a podcast. You can see them on YouTube for the nonce, but given that the podcast is entitled “Right From Us”, perhaps not for long.

I spotted it when I hit his wife’s blog today because I was looking for something to read that would not be too newsy because, brother, I’d rather not right now.

Funny story: He’s actually my accountant because I spotted Mrs. C.’s blog on an old Springfield blog collection when I first moved to town (and got myself on that blogroll). She posted that he had just gone solo as an accountant right as I learned that the woman who did our taxes had retired–and I parted ways with our St. Louis tax advisor right about the time the firm was getting heavily sanctioned by the IRS. Not that my parting with that firm meant that they did not still try to send us intermittent invoices for years afterwards.

When I first met the accountant, Mrs. C. was in the other office, and I mentioned reading her blog. It was an awkward moment, as meeting someone whose blog I’ve read for a while without commenting or anything makes me feel like a cyberstalker a bit.

An awkward moment that I’m sure to recreate in a month or so when I sit down with my accountant after having watched their podcasts and learning a lot of cool things we have in common.

(Oh, and as a reminder, my attorney is not really named Bernie–it’s a song I heard again recently on WSIE and recognized immediately.)

But, Amazon, You Know I Bought Those Items

So I was looking at Semblant’s latest album, Obscura on Amazon and really thought about buying it since their penultimate album is available for $1000, and I even added it to my cart before signing in. I know, everyone is signed into everything all the time except the crazy conspiracy people on the Internet like me. Or, Web software testers who clear their cache and cookies several times a day.

And I got this recommendation from Amazon:

C’mon, man. Amazon, you know I already bought Manifest, Abyss, and Human. :||: Nature.

Of course, Amazon is playing coy, as though it is not using advanced and shady tracking techniques to monitor my every move, click, and time my eyes focus on something in the virtual world and maybe the real one.

Although the recommendation did lead me to Ad Infinitum, which might be worth a listen.

The lead singer, Melissa Bonny, a Swiss miss, looked kind of familiar. Which made me wonder where I’d seen her before. Oh, she’s also in Rage of Light, whom I’ve heard before:

Kind of like Nicoletta Rosellini is in both Kalidia and Walk in Darkness. Even down to the band itself wearing masks.

I have to say, I’m a bit topped up on symphonic metal presently. I’m more looking for numbers I can put on my gym playlist; as I’m going several days a week for an hour or so per, I’m rolling through my existing playlist fairly frequently.

But YouTube’s suggestions are just as amusing:

Semblant, Rage of Light, Accept, Warkings, and…. An Abbott and Costello bit?

I think the algorithms and artificial intelligence is just playing dumb so we don’t know the Internet is alive.

The 2021 Perspective

On Friday, Lileks gave some commentary on linkbait ads (not that your congenial host, gentle reader, would do such a thing!), and he includes this one:

In 2021, we don’t see an attractive starlet getting a makeup touch-up.

We see an attractive starlet getting a COVID-19 nasal swab, ainna?

And by “we,” I mean “we old timers.” I am not sure that children under the age of 35 can even see black and white photos at all. Their eyes have evolved only to see color and YouTube.

The Springfield-Greene County Library Winter 2021 Reading Challenge

So this week, I stopped at the Library Center, which apparently is my home library now that my wanderings and errandings take me into Springfield instead of Republic, just to pick up the form for the Winter Reading Challenge for adults. I mean, I can totally crush it, ainna? I read 126 or so books last year, and I was on the cusp of completing a couple shorter works.

But, it turns out, the reading challenge is to read five books from amongst fifteen categories. The categories include:

Well, not too woke; only a couple of identity group choices of the fifteen. Some critics have alleged, according to the introduction of Wuthering Heights, that Emily Brontë might have been gay. At the very least, it was set in another country. But….

The reading challenge runs from January 2, 2021, through February 28, 2021. I started Wuthering Heights last year, so I don’t feel right counting it. Or the half-completed collection of poetry I started before then. And I can’t count Savings, which I finished in December. Too bad–that’s a collection of poetry by a native American author. I could have picked it!

So, gentle reader, for the next month or so, my reading will be guided by hitting at least five books that fit one of these categories. You can probably guess which ones I will hit–crime, poetry, one-word title, books about books, and in a different country come to mind, with translated and historical on the outside–although I will have to be careful with the latter to make sure that, if I read a piece of classical literature, that I properly identify it as historical if it took place in the past of its writing/publication (and so many do–Wuthering Heights and Barnaby Rudge both were historical novels before they became classics from history).

So bear with me here as I try to earn a coffee cup, which I need since I only have thirty or forty cups to choose from–and only five of them at 12 ounce mugs, so really, only five.

On Great Masters: Brahms–His Life and Music by Professor Robert Greenberg (2005)

Book coverAs you might remember, gentle reader, the stack of Teaching Company Great Courses I bought last September includes a number of shorter biography lecture series on classical musicians and composers. I have previously listened to (but not reported on) the series on Mozart. They’re all done by Professor Robert Greenberg, who also did the series How to Listen To and Understand Great Music which I started listening to a couple years ago with my beautiful wife. He’s probably my favorite of all the lecturers, and it’s probably indicative that when the Teaching Company used to send out sample discs, How to Listen to and Understand Great Music was one of the sample lectures.

The lectures in this line, the Great Masters / His Life and Music, are more biographies than musical analyses, but they do include snippets of various works or opuses (opi? opia?) to illustrate. They do put the composers in the context of musical trends and their relationships with other composers. For example, Brahms apparently hated Liszt and often Wagner.

The lectures include:

  1. J.B., We Hardly Knew You!
  2. The Brothels of Hamburg
  3. The Schumanns
  4. The Vagabond Years
  5. Maturity
  6. Mastery
  7. The Tramp of Giants
  8. Farewells

Based on my two examples (Mozart and Brahms), I think I’ll start seeing some patterns. Both were the children of musical parents. However, instead of taking him on a European concert tour as a curiosity, Brahms’ parents made him work in brothels, where he was an object of curiosity and probably abuse which marred his relationship with women throughout his life. Later, he would become a celebrity for his music and would become a bit prickly or full of himself, and a bit of a rascal. Brahms certainly fit this mold.

I am not sure I completely grok the music as it is, though–I never did complete How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, remember–and I don’t hear the content of musical notes and structure as clearly as some in this family do. I mean, I am a words guy–I tend to think of the lyrics as the important part of a song and the music as supportive of those lyrics. However, if I steep myself in these courses, I am sure my appreciation will go up.

I have already started the course on Liszt because learning about Brahms’s enemy right after Brahms.

When I was in Kansas City last autumn, my uncle asked me what I learned from these courses (as opposed to watching documentary series on cable, which he and my aunt do). It’s generally more a sense I get than actual learning things. From this course, I will likely remember Brahms played in brothels, had unrequited relationships, sometimes on purpose, with many women, including Clara Schumann, and that he was compared early to Bach and Beethoven and that made him self-conscious, but that he eventually earned his place there. I will not likely remember the bits that Professor Greenberg flags as trivia–such as the third movement of the third symphony is the only Brahms piece using the triangle. Which is just as well. Twenty- and thirty-something people writing the questions for trivia nights don’t know that either. And quite likely might only know Brahms for his lullaby, actually called “The Cradle Song”.

The Mysteries of Nogglestead

Why are the glass tumblers and the coffee cups in the left cabinet stored right side up:

But the wine glasses and the plastic tumblers in the right cabinet stored upside down?

The nearest I can figure is that I loaded the right cabinet initially with the wine glasses, and a youth spent in taverns made me put them upside down, and I put the other glasses that way to match and didn’t think of it when I loaded the other.

It’s always been that way, though, and likely always will.

Book Report: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (1847, 2004)

Book coverWell, I finished this book. The Bolan Number for this book is only two (Black Hand and War Hammer, although I did start a Larry Dablemont book as well, so maybe the Bolan Number should have a decimal–albeit, it would be a low decimal, like maybe .05). Perhaps there should be a Bolan Quotient, which would be the number of other books I read divided by the total number of pages in the piece of classic fiction during which I read other books. I mean, I read two plus books in Wuthering Heights, and it’s 326 pages plus an introduction (which I read last, of course). I have since started Dickens’ Davif Copperfield, and it’s twice the length. It hardly seems fair to compare Bolan Number to Bolan Number between these books since one is twice the length of the other.

At any rate, if you have not read the book–and, c’mon, man, this is the 21st century, you haven’t–the main story is, well, it’s too complicated, let me sum up: A landowner brings in a foundling orphan to his house; the orphan and the daughter become close; when the father dies, the older brother inherits and treats the orphan badly; when they’re out together, the orphan and the daughter spy on neighbors, and when the dog bites the daughter, the neighbors take her in but drive off the orphan; the daughter and her new friends, the neighbors, laugh at the orphan once; the orphan runs off, only to return years later, when he’s wealthy, and finds the daughter married to the neighbor; the orphan encourages the affections of the neighbor daughter (younger), marries her, and then abandons her; when she begets his son and dies, the orphan brings the sickly son back home to win the affection of the original daughter’s daughter (believe me, two daughters in the paragraph here is less confusing than all the characters who shared names in the book); they wed, the sickly son of the orphan and the daughter’s daughter, and when the older neighbor who married the daughter dies, the orphan becomes owner of both properties as his son dies, leaving him in control. Well, that’s the first eighty percent of the novel. Maybe ninety.

Although the professor of The English Novel (Timothy Spurgin, if you’re keeping track) ascribes the birth of the frame story and the unreliablish narrator (why is the narrator telling the story?) to Joseph Conrad, this book has the same thing going on. A servant relates most of the story to a tenant who rents the neighbor house from the orphan after he has become master when said tenant meets the residents of Wuthering Heights in real time and then falls ill and asks her about them. So…. Who is Mrs. Dean, and why does she tell this story to a stranger? I mean, throughout even her story, she seems a bit conniving, gossipy, and although powerless to alter the precedings (as she tells it), she still keeps a job (among the other servants who do not). And after the ill tenant recovers and leaves with eight months on his lease, he returns on a lark to find the orphan has died, the daughter’s daughter has fallen for the rustic cousin–the son of the older brother who treated the orphan badly–whom she treated cruelly her part of the first ninety percent of the book, and there might be a happy ending after all!

Yeah, right.

I spent most of this book wanting to beat all of the characters with a stick. Only the original papa that brought in the orphan child eluded my predisposal to violence, but I thought maybe the big reveal would be that it was his own illegitimate son (I see from the Wikipedia entry that some critics have speculated this was the intent). But, no. All a bunch of vapid, cruel, mean, and evil characters; even the nice-seeming ones end up cruel and mean until the end is tacked on.

I read the introduction last, as is my wont, and I discovered just how awesome this book really is. It’s a dream-like musing on brutality of the moors or something. Also, I learned many salacious details of Emily Brontë’s life, like she was a closeted lesbian and/or had an incestous relationship with her brother. Or that Charlotte wrote this book–it appeared after Jane Eyre (which I read in 2019 and prefer). She, Charlotte, did edit a revised edition of the book in 1850 after her sister’s death, but she really insists her sister wrote it. I am not so into textual analysis and literary forensics to dispute it.

I do wonder if the Brontës punched above their weight in the canon, though, as Jane Eyre was okay, but this book was not very good, and you don’t really hear about the other novels except maybe Anne’s Agnes Grey and only then when reading about the sisters. Their books were originally published under pseudonyms, which gave them an air of mystery and allowed for speculation, and Charlotte was very active in curating and correcting their works for posterity. Also, they were women writing in a male dominated world, so they stand out for study for that. They also all died young–Charlotte lived the longest, to age 39. If not for all these factors, would only English professors think of them in the 21st century? Just kidding. This is the 21st century, you know–I am not even sure if English professors think of them these days.

At any rate, it does give me reason to run this again, which I first ran in January, 2017, before I re-read Jane Eyre:

I am pretty good on being able to name all three, and I shall probably be able to remember the name of the brother (Branwell) as well. Which will definitely help me in trivia nights if such things ever come to pass. As might knowing that "Wuthering Heights" was Kate Bush’s biggest single, which I just learned in researching this book report. So this book proved educational in 20th century trivia, too.

Back Into The Past It Goes

Springfield area Family Videos will soon close for good.

As you might recall, gentle reader, I joined Family Video in 2017 and went on a slow-motion binge of renting movies for a while. After that summer and running the boys up to pick various movies for their days at home, I kind of fell out of the habit, although I was just in on Christmas Eve because I wanted to rent Scrooged but had to settle for It’s a Wonderful Life.

The stores are closing not just because of Covid traffic levels, but because the cinema releases getting pushed off meant new video releases were getting pushed off and because studios were bypassing video releases for their own streaming services.

I hope someone grabs a bunch of the stores’ inventory and opens a smaller video shop, but maybe not. Its time might truly have passed.

Meanwhile, I have to think whether I am going to try to snatch up some of those DVDs for myself. Because I am not eager to spend a bunch of ten dollar bills every month to watch what the studios and multinational conglomerates want me to see (which is why I joined Family Video in the first place).

Good Album Hunting, January 2, 2021: An Actual Record Store

For Christmas, my beautiful wife gave me a gift card for $60 to an actual record store downtown, and after taking down the Christmas decorations and cleaning the house, I headed out in the snow to go.

I haven’t been in an actual dedicated record store in…. well, probably since the 1980s, when the music stores were predominantly record stores. This shop, Stick It In Your Ear, has mostly used records but also some new titles–which, as you might know, run $25 or more. So I was prepared to run through the gift card quickly.

Also, browsing Vintage Stock, the antique malls, or the book sales pretty much means flipping through uncategorized, jumbled collections of records and being sometimes pleased with what you find. An organized record shop means I would have to think of an artist first and then look to see if the store had the artist and what by the artist.

I got over my trepidation and went in. And found more than I expected at the worst.

I saw the Chuck Mangione section pretty clearly, but I had trouble finding the Herb Alpert section. I mean, what was he? Jazz? No. 80s/90s? No. Pop? No. He was in the 50s and 60s section along with the bubblegum pop from that era. I had all of the records except the live album Main Event that he did with Hugh Maskela. I had heard a song from this record on WSIE and went looking for it, but it was pretty expensive on Amazon at the time. But I got it for $8.

I could not figure out where Eydie Gorme might be, and so I returned to the Chuck Mangione selection. I mean, it’s only been a matter of days since I got my first Mangione albums, and I wanted more. They had plenty; I got Journey to a Rainbow, Friends & Love (the Chuck Mangione Quartet), Main Squeeze, Eyes of the Veiled Temptress, and the eponymous Chuck Mangione Quartet album.

I did the calculations, and I had a couple albums’ worth of money left, so I got two by trumpeter Maynard Ferguson: Body & Soul and Trumpet Rhapsody.

The records ranged between $4 and $10, which is to say about what they run at the antique malls. So maybe I’ll drop in at the record shop more often. Or maybe I just like hunting for $1 or $3 steals more than buying records on their own.

But the Chuck Mangione records led to a slightly comedic exchange through mandatory speech mufflers.

The record store guy, flipping through and calculating the total: “Ah, Chuck,” as though he was familiar with the oeuvre.
“No Feels So Good,” I said.
“So you came out and bought some records,” he said.
After a beat, I replied, “You don’t have Feels So Good by Chuck Mangione.”
“If we did, it would be in the Chuck Mangione section.”
But I wasn’t asking it as a question.

Ah, well.

I have listened to some of them, but I forget which ones.

I guess I will have to listen to them all over again.

And probably hold off on the record buying until I build another set of record shelving.