What A Difference Two Weeks Makes

February 2: James River Power Station is now ‘officially decommissioned,’ City Utilities says

A fossil-fuel power plant that helped drive Springfield’s 20th-century growth is now “officially decommissioned,” after a draw-down process spanning several years.

In a board meeting update last week, City Utilities officials noted that the last two remaining generator units at James River Power Station were recently retired.

Five turbines at the station generated energy from both natural gas and coal for CU customers beginning in 1957, CU said. In 2017, the CU board voted unanimously to shut down three of the units, which hadn’t been in service since the mid-2010s, the News-Leader reported.

Yay! Fossil fuels are bad! Shut down the fossil fuel plants!

February 16: SW Missouri saw more rolling blackouts Tuesday. Here’s what you need to know.

Not that excess capacity in fossil fuel burning power plants is good. Nah, bro. Here are tips for living like it’s the nineteenth century because it makes you feel better about the environment when you’re not examining cause and effect.

And are you making these wrongthink inferences like I am? Don’t worry: The twentynagers in the media will help correct your thinking: Texas blackouts fuel false claims about renewable energy:

Conservative commentators on Tuesday shared a false narrative that wind turbines and solar energy were primarily to blame for power outages across Texas as the power grid buckled.

In all, between 2 and 3 million customers in Texas still had no power nearly two full days after historic snowfall and single-digit temperatures created a surge in demand for electricity to warm up homes unaccustomed to such extreme lows, buckling the state’s power grid and causing widespread blackouts.

A variety of misleading claims spread on social media, with the Green New Deal and wind turbines getting much of the attention. But the Texas state power agency said that gas, coal and nuclear plants actually caused nearly twice as many outages as wind and solar power.

This does not actually refute that more capacity from fossil fuel plants would have alleviated this situation. All it points out is that some fossil fuel plants had trouble, too. Which is a logical fallacy called tu quoque. Not that they teach logic in j-schools. Or anywhere for that matter.

You know, my editor Jerry Pournelle used to point out a lot that cheap, reliable energy brought a lot of benefits. But renewable, green energy is neither cheap nor reliable, and the only benefits it confers are government subsidies and cotton-headed up twinkles for people who support it. Which is not to say that it cannot get there, but it surely hasn’t yet, and government subsidies and up twinkles are not the way to make them more efficient, cheap, or reliable.

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My Choice In The Pool

Who is Satoshi Nakamoto? Bitcoin’s creator remains a mystery

Bitcoin was supposedly invented by Satoshi Nakamoto, a genius from Japan.

But no one knows who Nakamoto actually is — and nobody has come forward to convincingly take credit for definitively being Nakamoto. Lately, more and more people are speculating that it could be Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk.

The article lists a number of people who might be or who have been speculated to be the legendary developer.

Allow me to put forward a dark horse candidate. Continue reading “My Choice In The Pool”

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Book Report: Force Down The Executioner #180 (1993)

Book coverBrian J, you say, surely you’re not going to count an Executioner novel as your book set in another country? Well, gentle reader, time will tell: I have a little over a week to finish as many books in the Winter 2021 Reading Challenge categories as I can, and I have five slots left. So I might not have the chance to read something with more heft and depth for the In A Different Country slot.

And, truth be told, this book takes place in several different countries: The Executioner goes to Brazil to establish a relationship with counter-insurrgency agents as they raid a paramilitary group’s hideout to rescue a woman being held for ransom–willingly, as it turns out. Then he stops by Miami for a briefing, and then he’s off to Jamaica with a cross-national defense team to take on the paramilitary group’s beachhead there, and then he goes back to Brazil to take on the paramilitary group with the counter-insurgency agents, and then decapitate–or deliver the coup-de-grace–by eliminating the businessman behind the scenes. And, finis!.

The stop in Miami makes me wonder if I can truly, in good conscience, say this book took place in a foreign country. But ethics fall by the wayside when it comes to filling out my Winter 2021 Reading Challenge form.

As Executioner novels go, it has a lot of development in the first half to two-thirds of the book, which lead me to think maybe it was the beginning of another trilogy in the series, but no–about two thirds of the way through the book, it jumps into action set pieces and finishes quickly. Also, Bolan is a bit of a bystander through much of it compared to other adventures where he works solo. But it’s not a bad entry in the series.

I am down to 13 volumes in The Executioner series, not counting the Super Bolan books and related series. My goodness, what will I do without Executioner novels as the default for times when I need a book to read? It’s taken me ten years to read the 47 books my beautiful wife bought me for my birthday in 2011 and the others I have picked up since then. They’ve been a constant on my bookshelves almost since we moved to Nogglestead. So I will, someday, miss them.

But I probably won’t re-read them, unlike the Ed McBain and John D. MacDonald books that I come across again.

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Who Hasn’t Made That Mistake?

Over at Ace of Spades HQ, my friend (I say because he’s pimped my books on the Sunday Morning Book Thread and has netted me more sales than an In The Mail mention on Instapundit) Oregon Muse has a feature every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday that includes memes and a little game called “Who Dis?” wherein you are to guess a male and a female celebrity and their connection.

Unfortunately, today he makes a probably common mistake: confusing Heather Thomas with Heather Locklear.

Photo 1:
Photo 5:
Heather Thomas
Heather Locklear

I mean, in the 1980s, teenaged boys would not have made this mistake, but it is not the 1980s nor are we teenagers any more.

I mean, who didn’t have the Heather Thomas towel poster?

Well, I didn’t have it. I think my brother did.

I didn’t mention the error in the comments at AoSHQ (nor Heather Thomas’s connection to Lee Majors, which is the television program The Fall Guy) because I’m a lurker there who doesn’t comment. Also, I wanted to include pictures of who might be the second and third hottest Heathers ever. What, with the picture of Morena Bacarrin yesterday, it’s pretty clear that Musings from Brian J. is becoming one of those kinds of blogs. Perhaps I’ll even bother to send one or both of these posts to Wombat-Socho at The Other McCain for official Rule 5 post consideration. But probably not. I’m too lazy to comment and too lazy to linkwhore.

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Good Thing All The Pipeline Construction Is Halted

City Utilities calls natural gas supply ‘critical,’ urges customers to conserve power:

City Utilities said late Sunday that the energy market’s supply of natural gas available for the Springfield area is “critical” and that the public should make every effort to minimize energy use during the current cold snap.

CU stopped short of issuing a “peak advisory” alert at this time, chief spokesperson Joel Alexander said. But he said it was “potentially” possible that a peak advisory or even “rolling blackout or brownout” conditions could be seen in Springfield in the near future. Meanwhile, market prices for natural gas have surged, costs that are likely to be passed onto ratepayers — a reality that prompted howls of online umbrage from customers who took to the City Utilities Facebook page Sunday.

The cancellation of the currently incomplete pipelines and whatnot did not lead to this shortage.

However, continuing to oppose new energy production and streamlined transportation of the energy products will lead to these situations continuing in the future.

But we never apply the if it saves one human life from freezing in the sort of cold snap that happens every couple of years yardstick to energy production and transportation, ainna? It’s always if it saves one animal life or some such.

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The Real Mystery Is How I Got A Hold Of It

So, over the weekend, I scoured my bookshelves for a book on food and a book by a Native American author to fill out my Winter 2021 Reading Challenge form. I thought I might have a Native American poet (another one, I mean, since I read Linda Hogan’s Savings right before the challenge began) or maybe a collection of Native American folklore like Raven Steals the Light written by a Native American. At the very least, I know I have a contemporary history of the Spanish conquest called The Broken Spears (which I bought in 2008 that I could count.

But I came up empty.

Well, not exactly: I found a complete idiot or dummy’s guide to healing foods, which I promptly lost again after I set it aside. I also found a lot of good books I want to read when the reading challenge is over, including Larry McMurtry’s The Last Picture Show and Hud, the latter being the movie tie-in for Horseman, Pass By (I just read McMurtry’s Books: A Memoir for the reading challenge, as you might recall).

But I did find an independent copy of Agatha Christie’s The Caribbean Mystery, which I read last year in the omnibus edition of Five Miss Marple Mysteries. As I started to enter it into my book database because I can safely put it on my Read bookshelves (and if I didn’t do it now, gentle reader, I would likely have forgotten that I read it the next time I encountered it on my To-Read shelves). When I opened the cover of the cheap book club edition, I saw a previous price stapled to the front cover.

40p? That’s English pricing right there.

Sure enough: This particular edition is from the Crime Club, a London book club, and this particular volume was in the Kensington and Chelsea Public Libraries for a while before being remaindered and sold, perhaps for sixty pence.

You know, I’ve gotten books that started out in England before (see Five Themes of Today). I’m always amazed when they end up in my library here in the southwest corner of Missouri. Perhaps, sometimes, the books could tell better stories of their journeys than the stories in their covers.

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A Geek, Frozen In Amber

Page Six has a weekly round-up of celebrity pictures, and this week’s includes a misattributed star:

C’mon, man. Everybody knows Morena Baccarin was the star of Firefly.

I mean, it’s not quite twenty years old, ainna?

And, to be honest, we have reached a point in time where I don’t even bother to see some big tent science fiction and comic book movies. I’m not sure it’s because I’m an old man or because that sort of thing is just so… common these days.

False dilemma! It could be both.

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Book Report: Danger on Vampire Trail by “Franklin W. Dixon” (1971)

Book coverAs you might know, gentle reader, the Winter 2021 Reading Challenge has a category Re-read a Childhood Favorite. At first, I thought I would skip this category–one only needs to fill out five to get the free coffee cup–but when I was dusting and re-arranging the shelves last Sunday, I came across this volume. Which I have owned since childhood, gentle reader; this book was one of the books that my recently departed aunt gave to us because her step-children had outgrown them. That was when we were young and in the housing projects; we got a little bookshelf and a couple dozen volumes of young adult literature, which in those days meant a Hardy Boys book (this one), a couple volumes from other mystery series (Nancy Drew, The Power Boys), a couple of boy-and-his-dog books, and a couple of a young-person-and-his/her-horse books. As you might guess, I read most of the mystery books, but the books about pets? C’mon, man, I was living in the projects. Murder and crime, I could imagine. Pets? No way.

So this might trump (sorry, is that word verbotten yet? No? But it will be, and here I used it before it was officially double-plus-ungood) Me and My Little Brain as the longest time between re-reads. I re-read that book in 2018, but I am not sure in what order I read these books in my youth to establish which I might have re-read after thirty-eight years and which I might have read after only thirty-seven-and-a-half years.

In this volume, Frank and Joe and their chums Biff and Chet (who were The Missing Chums in an earlier entry in the series–forty-three years in real-time) go out west to the Rockies to investigate credit card forgers, and they come up with some illegal sapphire miners to boot. So, yeah, that’s it. They travel, have some adventures and whatnot, and solve the mystery of Vampire Trail, which is a path that leads up the mountain to the villians’ redoubt.

You know, for someone who feels as though he was steeped in the Hardy Boys’ mythos, I can only say for certain that I read three of the books. This one, and The Missing Chums and The Twisted Claw, but surely I read more of them when I was young, ainna?

I’ve tried to get others into the series–when he was young, I bought my half-brother the first two books in the series for his birthday or for Christmas and told him that I’d get him a new one every time he finished one. He never hit me up for another, so I don’t know if he ever read them. I’ve also picked up other copies from the series and set them out for my boys to read, but I don’t think they got into them. I asked the youngest, and he said in not so many words that they were too formulaic. How sophisticated the youth have become through the years. Although I think it’s more that they didn’t have enough cartoons in them.

At any rate, it ticks off a box–or fills a line–on the summer reading challenge form. And, as my wont, as far as one can develop a wont in but a month and a week, it would fulfill two categories: Re-read a Childhood Favorite and Crime. So I have not filled out the form completely (yet), but I have filled it with things that cross categories.

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Apple Loves Green

So I spoiled my beautiful wife with an Apple Watch for Valentine’s Day, and when I ordered it directly from Apple.com, I noticed how much Apple loves green.

Apple loves green so much that it does not include a charger with the Apple Watch.

It loves green so much that it will sell you a charger for an additional $30-80. A charger that will come in its own set of bespoke packaging that you will throw away after you get it.

Hey, I’m an Apple shareholder. I love how Apple extracts money from me for me. It’s kind of like the government, except with more for me at the end. Well, it would if I were to sell more of my holdings before the economic bubble bursts. Which I probably won’t.

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Book Report: Widows by Ed McBain (1991)

Book coverIn keeping with my Winter Reading Challenge schtick, I have selected a book that would fit into two categories: One Word Title and Crime. Since we’ve already got Larry McMurtry’s one-word titled memoir about books Books in the one-word title slot, this will have to be my crime book for the challenge.

I first got into Ed McBain novels in the middle 1980s, about twenty-five years into the series, and I read a bunch of them from the library and from my aunt’s collection, out of order, but the eariler books, it seems, were more episodic and less serial in nature–but that might be only my memory of it, since Steve Carella first marries Teddy sometime back there, and his kids get born somewhere along the way. And patrolman Kling becomes a detective. So, nah, I’m mistaken. Strike this whole paragraph from the record, your honor.

But by the time the 1990s were rolling along, I was reading the books pretty soon after they came out, so I was following the series business in real time. But by now, I’m a bit lost. Who is dead by this book? Who has joined the team? Is Fat Ollie a force yet? I was thinking maybe there would be some small market for an 87th concordance to help put one back into the proper context when picking up a book in the middle of the series. Not that I would do that, gentle reader; that’s a lot of work, and I have many other things to read before I return to this series (although I did just spot a copy of Vespers on my bookshelves and, from a distance, thought it might be a duplicate of this book, so I might read that after David Copperfield).

In this book, the 87th has to find the killer of a kept woman. The man who was keeping her, an attorney, is also killed, and was the writer and recipient of any number of naughty letters reproduced in titilating detail in the book. In another part of the city, Carella’s father is killed during a hold-up, and the detectives from that precinct work on that case. The third main strand is that Eileen Burke, fresh from trauma that I’ll probably read about in Vespers, starts training with the hostage negotiator team. The first thread does not tie into the other two, but when they close in on the people who killed the elder Carella, they take a hostage, which ties those bits up.

So, definitely a good book. McBain was one of the masters, although by mid-career here, the books have expanded a bit to befit higher prices, I guess. And we have the cop-and-therapist trope. Maybe that just seems so outsized because it was such a thing in the Parker books. I dunno.

But I liked the book, and I’ve picked up McBain books here and there, so I’ll have to re-read them a bit as time goes by. Unlike John D. MacDonald, I think I have read all the McBains, although that’s probably only the ones that are easy to come by. Regardless, enough time has elapsed that I won’t remember the plots too clearly and can enjoy them with a little newness again.

I did flag a couple bits.

Asimovian Self-Insertion

Actually, it was a greenboard. Made of some kind of plastic material that definitely wasn’t slate. Eileen wondered if the move she’d seen on late-night television last week would have made it as Greenboard Jungle.

Lombino/Hunter/McBain wrote the book The Blackboard Jungle, but not the screenplay.

I’ll Have What He’s Having

“Yes, sir, that’s it, Pellegrino, like the mineral water.”

In 1991, I would not have known what that meant. In 2021, I was drinking Pellegrino’s whilst reading it.

The War

Tommy had moved back to the house that used to be his parents’ while he was away in the army. Nowadays, you did not have to say which war or police action or invasion a man had been in. If you were an American of any given age, you had been in at least one war.

Which was true at the time. When this book was published, it would have been Vietnam or Panama or Grenada; earlier books would have been World War II (the series began in the 1950s) or Korea. However, with the end of the draft in the 1970s, later generational military endeavors, from Desert Storm to the second Iraqi War and Afghanistan, were not widely shared amongst the young people. But you can still talk about veterans who have been overseas under fire.

Misquoting Yogi

And, as Yogi Berra once remarked, “When you come to a crossroads, take it.”

Ackshully, he said when you come to a fork in the road, take it. Perhaps McBain is misquoting on purpose?

What We Could Show McBain In The Future

The kid had been black.

That meant that one of the city’s foremost agitators, a media hound who liked nothing better than to see his own beautiful face on television, had rounded up all the usual yellers and screamers and had picketed both the project and the local precinct, shouting police brutality and racism and no justice, no peace, and all the usual slogans designed to create more friction than already existed in a festering city on the edge of open warfare.

Yes, he means Sharpton. But what would Sal Lombino think about Sharpton and 2020?

Shoot Him In The Leg

“And you’re wrong when you say she had to put him away. She didn’t have to. Her perception–and, again, the reality as well–was that this man was going to cut her if she didn’t stop him, she was going to get cut again if she didn’t stop this man. But she didn’t have to kill him in order to stop him. The man was armed with only a knife, and she had her service revolver, a .44 caliber Smith & Wesson–plus a .25 caliber Astra Firecat in her handbag. She certainly did not have to kill him. She could have shot him in the shoulder or the leg, wherever, anything of the sort would have effectively stopped him. The point is she wanted to kill him.”

The therapist is talking to Kling about Burke’s recent justified shooting, and McBain is demonstrating a bit of ignorance about guns and self-defense informed by popular culture which says that’s a good idea.

Help Is On The Way

That was the trouble when a city started sliding south. You couldn’t bother about the little things anymore. When people were ggetting killed, you couldn’t go chasing kids spraying graffiti on walls. You couldn’t ticket a truck driver for blowing his horn. You couldn’t bust people who were jumping subway turnstiles. When you had murder and rape and armed robbery to worry about, the rest was merely civilization.

You might think that in the Dinkins era. But a couple years after this book appeared, Rudy Giuliani became mayor of New York, and the police started enforcing a Broken Windows policy that says you do arrest and punish for those petty crimes, and the effects trickle up. It certainly seemed to work, and current large city administrations are looking to prove the opposite is true as well. Well, mainly, they’re just looking to limit prosecution for petty and small larcenous crimes, and the resulting crime spike is completely unforeseen.

Again, The Future Has A Surprise For You

The people form the nearby project all came out to watch the Late Night Show. This was either Die Hard or Die Harder on a summer’s night at the very top of August. Except this wasn’t a high rise in L.A. or an airport in D.C.

The third entry in the series, Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995) takes place in New York City. As you know, gentle reader, The City of the 87th Precinct is a stand-in for New York City.

Cancellation Notice

The Preacher was in the streets already, doing what he did best, doing in fact the only thing he knew how to do, which was to agitate people into a frenzy. Pacing behind the barricades, long hair slicked back, gold chains gleaming in the reflected light of the spots, bullhorn in hand, he kept telling the crowd that whenever a white girl yelled rape, then the nearest African-American males were always accused of it…
“But take a pure innocent young virgin like Tawana Brawley, who gets reped by a screaming mob of white men who then scrawl the word nigger…”

I sure read a lot of books with that word in it. I must be a racist. No telling what Ed McBain would think of this modern world where characters like The Preacher are running the asylum. McBain passed away in 2005; he barely had any time to work in anti-Bush sentiments into his novels much comment on or embrace the rising ethos. When you read the books from the later part of the 20th century, you get a sense of cynicism and detachment. I’m sort of glad we didn’t get to see how earnest he might have become.

Don’t Now Much About Guns And Stuff (II)

She saw a big, muscular man with a close-shaved skull, wearking a white T-shirt, that was all she could see of him in the window frame. AK-47 in his right hand. Just the sight of that gun always sent a shiver up her spine. The illegal, Chinese-made assault rifle–a replica of the gun used by the Viet Cong–was a semiautomatic, which meant it required a separate pull of the trigger for each shot. But it could fire up to seventy-five shots without reloading, and its curved clip gave it the lethal look of a weapon of war, no matter how many claims the National Rifle Association made for its legitimate use as a hunting rifle.

Well, he got the semiautomatic part right, and that it should be illegal because it looks scary; however, the 75-round magazine is a drum, not a curved banana magazine. C’mon, man, do you even read Executioner novels (or, as the younger generations do, play first person shooters)?

Still, even though sometimes McBain’s politics seeps into the books–like that passage above, it’s not odious and permeating and he offers enough sentiments that an evil-thinker can agree with to make up for it.

So, yeah, McBain is up there with John D. MacDonald as masters of the craft that didn’t get to the phoning it in phase of a career or to injecting politics into the books so overtly as to alienate readers who didn’t vote for Dukakis. The books have depth, and just a bit of series business seeping in.

You will know how serious I am in the endorsement by how soon you see a report for Vespers. Well, I mean another one.

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That’s Not A Go Bag

The story: ‘Go bags’ found at home of woman who used megaphone at Capitol riot:

Federal prosecutors are asking that a Pennsylvania woman arrested in connection with the Capitol insurrection remain in jail.

They say Rachel Marie Powell, who directed fellow rioters with a megaphone during the attack, had smashed cell phones, firearm paraphernalia and “go bags” at her home.

Prosecutors say this evidence proves she’s a danger to the community and a flight risk.

The subtext, of course, is that preparing for emergencies means you’re an insurrectionist. Also, probably racist.

The story has a picture of, apparently, one such go bag:

C’mon, man, my brother had a better set of thrown weapons when he was in middle school.

I am not sure how far you’ll make it with one hand warmer, though.

Has anyone accused her on Twitter for cultural appropriation for having throwing stars?

I am not sure why this made it to the front page of my local television station. Perhaps the twentied-aged news aggregators want to make her look whack-a-doodle, therefore GUILTY! DON’T BE LIKE HER! But this is southwest Missouri, man. People are reading the article for tips for their go bags.

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The Christmas Straggler 2021

Ah, my foes, and ah, my friends, how very carefully we undecorated last month from Christmas to make sure we got everything into storage. It helps that we’ve got a diminishing number of little touches that we put into random places, and although I felt confident that we got all of the things we put onto display, apparently I overlooked one thing: A Christmas ornament that we laid aside, not to display, but to either put on the tree or put back in the box.

Apparently, when decorating or undecorating the downstairs Christmas tree, we laid this little angel atop the books on the bookshelves next to the tree and unfilled book jackets were shuffled atop it, hiding it from sight. I found it when doing the detailed dusting on Sunday. I posed it artfully for this picture; it was, as I said, lying on books toward the back with a dustjacket over it.

So, in my defense, it was not a decoration put on display in such a fashion where it would be nominally visible, so I hope I can be forgiven for overlooking it.

Although, admittedly, there is a non-zero chance that this is a Christmas straggler from some previous year that has gone unnoticed for more than one solar orbit.

But the betting is on: The over/under of me actually putting the ornament with the Christmas decorations, instead of just taking a photo of it for the blog, is four weeks. Hang on, Southie is scratching something else on the chalk board as I type: four and a half weeks.

Probably still worth taking the over no matter how far it moves.

Also, watch for its appearance in a future Five Things On My Desk post.

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What! Not Robert B. Parker?

Neo posts the complete Macbeth quote that includes the passage sound and fury which Faulkner later used as the title far a book. Actually, I made it through the first section of The Sound and the Fury some years after I was assigned the book in college; the first part is the disjointed bit told by the mentally handicapped brother, and it was only after I got a bit into Quentin’s section that I put it down.

The focus on Shakespeare’s quote and the Faulkner book are because, apparently, a journalist tried to Ha, ha! a Republican Senator for quoting the Shakespeare when everyone knows that’s Faulkner. Because that’s journalism in the 21st century: Ha-haing the ignorant Republicans. Even when they’re right.

But that’s neither here nor there.

What I did want to point out was that the Shakespeare speech that yielded the title of one of Faulkner’s most unreadable works (right up there with the rest of his work) is the source for the title of two Robert B. Parker novels:

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Not to mention the old Signifying Nothing blog. And an Alistair McLean novel (The Way to Dusty Death).

But Real Important Journalists are forgiven for overlooking genre fiction and Chris Lawrence (sorry, Chris).

At any rate, in researching this post, I have learned that I stopped reading in the Parkerverse, for the most part, about five or six years ago, and it looks like I am, what, fifteen or twenty behind? Well, I say behind as though I’m planning to catch up. Which I am not–I have plenty of Executioner novels yet to read as well as finishing up the Winter Reading Challenge and then David Copperfield (which is not going to be the In a Different Country category, as I am only a third of the way through it and could probably not finish it in the next two-and-a-half weeks if I tried).

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The New Shows of 1987 Quiz

Earlier this week, I watched a video that listed the new shows of 1983 and turned it into a quiz wherein I listed the ones I remembered.

I have done the same with the 24 New Shows of 1987 (26 if you count the two Fox shows mentioned but not depicted).

As then, I have bolded the shows I remember and included links to any I mentioned by name on this blog.

  • Dolly!, a variety show. Come on, kids did not watch these.
  • Women in Prison, a sitcom?
  • A Different World, which I didn’t watch. But I didn’t watch The Cosby Show, either.
  • Full House
  • Second Chance
  • Everything’s Relative complete with shot of the World Trade Center in the beginning of the intro.
  • My Two Dads; I remember a single episode, where they give a party and try to engage the teens in conversation, and the daughter imagines them as really old.
  • I Married Dora; I am pretty sure I watched this every week and was very disappointed when it was cancelled. I remember the ending of the last show, where they break down the fourth wall and say they were cancelled and all bow. Also, this program more than Down and Out in Beverly Hills caused my crush on Elizabeth Peña.
  • Buck James
  • A Year in the Life
  • thirtysomething; although this came on at nine, so I didn’t watch it. Not that I would have. Thirty-something was old.
  • Frank’s Place; I’d like to think I kind of remember this, but not for sure.
  • The “Slap” Maxwell Story
  • Hooperman; although all I remember is that John Ritter was the title character. Good enough for trivia nights.
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Once a Hero
  • The Oldest Rookie
  • The Law and Harry McGraw; although, again, only the title and that Jerry Orbach was in it.
  • Jake and the Fatman; Joe Penny’s show after Riptide
  • J.J. Starbuck
  • Leg Work
  • Private Eye; I want to say I remember this, but there were so many shows (and video games with the same or similar names.
  • Wiseguy; didn’t see it though, as I think it was a nine o’clock start.
  • Tour of Duty; also here and here. I actually have the whole series on DVD as I previously mentioned.

So I rmemember a bunch of them, but only watched two of them back in the day (watching the videocassettes that my father recorded with him and my brother counts).

Weird; I thought I had a lot of time to watch cable in the old days; however, by 1987, we were living in the trailer and we had cable, so I was watching a bunch of movies on Showtime over and over as I have previously mentioned.

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Crazy Glazy Days at Nogglestead

Well, on Monday, I made light of schools cancelling based on predictions of an ice storm.

A couple hours later, both of my boys’ schools sent them home early, and they have not been to school since. Today is Thursday; one boy has off tomorrow because teachers are people, too, and they need mental health days built into the school year. The other has school scheduled, but the principal sent out an email that says “See you on Monday!” which is odd, because today is not Friday, and Monday is Presidents’ Day.

The issue has not been a snowfall of any note (so far–see below, or maybe just the next sentence). We had freezing drizzle on Tuesday, which got the boys of school on Tuesday and Wednesday; and although it did not drizzle exactly yesterday, we did get some freezing fog which doesn’t really fall per se but does leave a glazing of ice on the things it touched, like plants and roadways. So they’re off today as well. And it has started to snow, so perhaps the younger’s school will just call the whole week a wash.

My beautiful wife was out on Tuesday night and said it was a bad drive–mostly, the freezing rain kept freezing on her windshield. On Wednesday morning, she was scheduled to do a livestreamed presentation from a studio in central Springfield. About twenty-five minutes before she was scheduled to leave, she awakened me and asked me if I would drive. Of course I did–I haven’t lost control of my vehicle in an ice storm in like three or four years, so I am just the man for that job.

I schlepped her up there and then sat in an underheated warehouse studio while she streamed live.

In case you’re wondering what talking dog joke I tell at about 4:30, off camera and before the audio and presentation begins, it’s this one:

A man walking down the street comes to a sign that says, “Talking dog: $10.” So he goes up to the house and knocks on the door. A man answers, and the first guy says, “I understand you have a talking dog for sale.”

The dog nudges his way to the door and says, “You bet. I was in the military, an explosive sniffing dog, and I found a lot of IEDs and saved a lot of our guys. After my tour was up, I worked for the highway patrol, and I found many kilos of bad stuff headed for the streets. Then I worked as a rescue dog on the beach, saving people who were drowning.”

“Wow, and he’s only ten dollars?” the man said.

“Yeah. He’s a liar. He ain’t done any of that,” the owner said.

Heather smiled and the host roared with laughter because he’s very polite. But I do like my talking dog jokes.

At any rate, so it’s been a cozy week of mostly going nowhere with a nice wood fire burning. One of my belated Christmas gifts was a cord or so of wood to burn this year instead of Duraflame logs. The man who delivered it asked how many cords of wood we burned every year–I didn’t know as I’ve not burned wood much, but judging how we’ve gone through this cord, it’s probably between three and four starting a fire about five at night and burning it into the evening and starting a little earlier on weekends or snow days.

I wish I could say I have been getting a lot of reading done, but I don’t tend to like to sit down during the day or afternoon with a book–I really am only comfortable doing it after dinner and the evening chores. Because this is good weather to sit and watch the snow with a book on your lap.

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A Two-Fer Quiz

Yesterday, Ace posted a link to a YouTube montage of the intros of new television shows of 1983.

22 in all. I thought I’d treat it as a quiz, though, and put the ones I remember in bold and include links to those I’ve referred to on this blog which is at least three. I’m going report on this in real time, posted after I watch the whole video, because it’s like 25 minutes long and I only have time to watch it once.

The shows are:

  • It’s Not Easy
  • We Got It Made–although I was sure I referred to it somewhere, I cannot find it, but for a while, I misremembered Bill Maher as the straight man male lead.
  • Oh Madeline–although as I mentioned when I referred to the show last month, I remembered it was on, but I never watched it.
  • AfterMASH
  • Jennifer Slept Here–really, I haven’t brought that up? It didn’t run very long, but I can still remember the theme song. Also, with this and the short run Eric Idle vehicle Nearly Departed makes me wonder why we don’t have reboots of ghosts-live-here sitcoms these days–but both of these were very short runs indeed, which perhaps answers my question.
  • Just Our Luck
  • Webster referred to in the book report for Alex Karras’s Tuesday Night Football.
  • Mr. Smith
  • Manimal, although I think it came on on at nine p.m., so I only saw the intro before I had to go to bed.
  • Hardcastle and McCormick; okay, I’m cheating, I referred to it on another blog.
  • The Scarecrow and Mrs. King
  • Whiz Kids
  • Boone
  • The Rousters
  • The Yellow Rose
  • Cutter to Houston
  • Trauma Center
  • Bay City Blues
  • For Love and Honor
  • Emerald Point N.A.S.
  • Lottery
  • Hotel

To be honest, I thought I was going to clean up on this show because I knew so many early; however, it looks like they stacked sitcoms early in the list, and I was most familiar with those programs.

I also thought I’d referred to a couple more shows than I thought I did, but I’m almost half-convinced it’s because my quick searching failed. Did I now go on about how pretty Ann Jillian was at some point?

At any rate, it was an interesting bit of nostalgia (the whole point of the montages, I know). I saw a bunch of that guys whom I saw in other programs. And I saw numerous actors and actresses who lucked out that these shows were short lived, as that meant they were available for other projects that really worked out for them. For example, Susan Dey and Richard Dean Anderson were in Emerald Point N.A.S.; if that show had been even a trifling hit, who would have been MacGyver? And if Bay City Blues had worked for a bit, would Sharon Stone have become a movie star? Would Dennis Franz have become a bankable cop in Hill Street Blues, Beverly Hills Buntz, or NYPD Blue?

I don’t like to spend thirty minutes watching YouTube as a rule, gentle reader. And my television (or streaming) habits are not such that I’m well poised to even bother with quizzes like this in 2050 (not that there will be enough shared nostalgia to warrant them anyway–the prevalence of cable in the 1990s pretty much splintered us starting even then).

However, I do have the urge to try something similar with 24 New Shows of Fall 1987–by then, my viewing habits had changed and I was no longer roaming the housing projects at night (the street lights come on later in Milwaukee) and was instead in a trailer in the soft southern lands, so I might do even better. Although perhaps not with the references.

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The Covered Books of Nogglestead

I said last week:

As you might remember, gentle reader, I inherited a box of my grandfather’s old books when my aunt passed away a little over a year ago. They have remained in the box as they include a fourteen volume (plus index) set of The Classics in Greek and Latin from 1909 that I really don’t have shelf space for as a unit. Although I did get the books that I stacked on it during the great ABC Books ordering frenzies during the lockdown of Spring 2020 moved up into the shelves, the box has remained on my office floor the whole thirteen months. And I’ve had to move it around to keep it from the background of video computer calls during that period. The number of which has been increasing as I’ve been interviewing for other work and presumably will continue once I accept an offer since everybody does video calls now.

I recently ordered a small roll of clear book-covering to put over the covers of some of my older works, especially the ones I hope to read some day–I recently covered a nineteenth century collection of poetry with an old paper bag the way we did old text books back in the days when public school kids learnt something instead of playing computer games all day on suddenly imperative expensive school budget line items (get offa my lawn).

I wasn’t kidding about the paper bag.

It’s an 1886 copy of Mrs. Mary D. Brine’s From Gold to Grey, a collection of poems of what appears to be an American Romantic sort–I covered it to protect it whilst I browsed it during football games, but I didn’t get too far into it before the football season ended.

So I spent some time this week using up that small ten-yard roll of plastic. I got the 16″ wide stuff, which was probably too wide for my application as I cut several inches off of it for each book. But I did wrap the Brine:

My wrapping is not really tight yet, and I don’t use squares, protractors, and cutting boards like I’ve seen in the YouTube videos, but I am an amateur here.

So I had enough for the fifteen volumes plus index of the 1909 Parnassus Edition of The Classics: Greek and Roman by the Vincent Parke and Company, my grandfather’s copy of The Poetical Works of Alexander Pope Illustrated from the 19th century, and the Longfellow I just bought.

Here’s the slightly-wrinkly collection of the classics in their new home:

I have numerous other books I’d like to cover, but I might hold off on ordering another ten yards from Amazon or something like the 100-yard rolls directly from Brodart because covering those books is work. I mean, in addition to the couple of hours actually covering the books (badly), I spent four hours moving and tidying the bookshelves to make room for these books. I might not have to put in that level of effort in covering, say, covering my Edna St. Vincent Millay books, but you never can tell. This also probably leads me to buying another smaller roll than a bigger one so I can tackle these projects in smaller chunks.

Maybe after my nap.

However, hopefully practice will make me better at it.

Then perhaps I can start tackling books with dust jackets by covering the dust jackets, not just being lazy and covering the jacket with the book.

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Book Report: Books: A Memoir by Larry McMurtry (2008)

Book coverThis book is a trifecta in the Winter 2021 Reading Challenge. I could count it in any of three different categories: Memoir/Biography, Book About Books, or One-Word Title. As I have already entries for the first two (Sid Meier’s MEMOIR!, Book Lust). So One-Word Title it is, which means I don’t have to read Linda Greenlaw’s Seaworthy out-of-order. But, Brian J., you read The Hungry Ocean and The Lobster Chronicles out of order, you might point out, but that’s different. Back when I got The Lobster Chronicles from the book club, I did not have her later work–and now I have All Fishermen Are Liars around here somewhere–so I have the luxury of reading them in order. If I ever do, that is.

Wait a minute, whose book memoir is this–mine or Larry McMurty’s? Both, gentle reader, both.

You might know Larry McMurtry as the author of any number of books, such as Horseman, Pass By, The Last Picture Show, Terms of Endearment, or Lonesome Dove–I say that because those books were adopted to films sometimes by McMurtry himself. Or you might know him as the guy whose shirts got pinched by Robert Clark Young.

In this book, McMurtry collects a number of musings and recollections about receiving books as a young man, buying books, and then becoming a book scout and a book seller in the 1950s. He ran a book store, first in Georgetown and then in his hometown of Archer City, Texas, until 2012 (after this book was written), so he offers insights into the secondhand and antiquarian book business through the mid-to-end of the twentieth century when it was a going thing. He also talks about the changes to the industry with the advent of the Internet, and how he was a throwback–which lasted only a little longer than after this book was published.

The chapters are short–the book has 109 in 258 pages–as the topical reminisces sometimes only last a couple of paragraphs. The book has no structure or flow, either, as the memories go backwards and forwards in time, with anecdotes of his youth following stories set later in his bookbuying (he prefers the experience of buying to selling). They drop a lot of names in the business but without a lot of character for most of them–just names, what store they were with, and maybe what they did once–but he somewhere says that’s intentional, as many of them have passed on and he doesn’t want to tell stories about people who cannot defend themselves. And the book ends not with a real conclusion, but a list of booksellers with whom he’s done business, including whether they’re out of business or not. He only lists two in St. Louis, Anthony Garnett and Lost Generation, neither of whom I’d heard of–and I was in the St. Louis area at the time. But McMurtry dealt in antiquarian books, not the cheap stuff I tend to buy.

So this book did not dissuade me from wanting to buy books and to read books and maybe even buy and sell books. As you might know, gentle reader, around the turn of the century, I spent my Saturday mornings at estate sales and garage sales looking for books and old games to sell on eBay–so I remember the thrill of that hunt and the triumph of a good find. I also marvel at how much McMurtry seems to read–he talks about re-reading certain books every couple of years, but I can’t make headway against my library without re-reading.

So I did flag a couple things for comment here.

A New Personal Goal

I now own Mr. Taylor’s mansion and have filled it with about twenty-eight thousand books, which took a while.

I don’t know where I am–I have about 2500 books in my book database, but that’s books I’ve read and reference sets. I have no idea how many books I have on the to-read shelves–probably that many or a little more–so I have a ways to go. Although I will probably get a boost from collecting volumes in a set–say Reader’s Digest World’s Best Reading editions–whose individual entries I have already read. I know, the sets I collect are very middle-class tastes. But they’re currently affordable, and they’re something, and I’m accumulating them more than collecting.


I read these comics with shock, but I didn’t really become interested in comics until I was an adult, investigating the Yellow Peril panic, which in essence had the Mongol Horde riding agin. The various Fu Manchu movies starring Christopher Lee are the modern-day Yellow Perilism; and our current worries about being crushed by China’s economic might is an extension of the syndrome.

Well, that very glibly dismisses policy concerns by calling them racist without using the word itself, ainna?

I wonder if McMurtry feels differently twelve years later? Probably not.

Brian Feels Smart

A dealer in Wichita Falls made a big paperback purchase, and was happy to sell the vintage stuff to me. These numbered several hundred books, and contained at least eighty percent of the titles I sold to Greg [McMurtry collected the first five hundred titles from five early paperback publishers but sold his first collection]. When Booked Up [McMurtry’s store] purchased Barber’s Bookstore, in Fort Worth, I siphoned off a few hundred more, all of which now ring the shelves of what once, long ago, was Mr. Will Taylor’s servants’ quarters, a plain two-story brick house which we nicknamed the Petit Trianon.

I know what that is not because I lived near Trianon Parkway in the St. Louis area, but because I read a book about Versailles and the original Trianon last year.

Almost The Second Book In A Row with De Sade

The book I got at Second Story that day was Marquis de Sade’s Justine, the first edition of which is an easily acquired book. But this wasn’t the first edition. It contained a few erotic engravings, meant to be dirty but not likely to raise much heat today. The book was priced $350–with my dealer’s discount I got it for $280.

I suspect a de Sade book is the one alluded to in The Picture of Dorian Gray but is unnamed in that book. It’s not finding the word brougham in two books in a row–and I have read a book between this and The Picture of Dorian Gray, but I like to find connections between my bibliowanderings.

Reminds Me Of A Bookseller I Knew

Ought dealrs to collect? A good many dealers just don’t seem to want to. Leo Weinstein of the Heritage Book Shop (now gone) once showed me his collection of first American editions of famous books. My polite view is that Lou Weinstein’s heart is not really in acquiring books that he can’t sell.

I once said to Sheldon, the proprietor of A Collector’s Book Shop in University City and later Maplewood, he who was notorious for gigging people by pulling books out of the bookshelves by putting their fingers on the top of the spines and pulling them out that way–I said to him, “I can’t imagine what your collection is like.” He responded by saying, well, chided me that his business is buying and selling books; he did not collect them.

And I am serious about his notoriety for gigging people–when I took people to the shop for the first time, I would tell them to watch for it, and surely enough, Sheldon would chide someone for putting their fingers atop the spines while we were there. My goodness, I have not thought about A Collector’s Book Shop in a while, but right now, I am walking through it–going upstairs and then into the other rooms above the shop next to his on the ground floor.

Not Unlike My Experience

Underlying all these adventures was one motive: I never wanted to be without books I wanted to read, and if I could be reading four or five books at the same time, so much the better. With books pouring into the shop almost daily, this was not a hard thing to achieve.

I do pretty well without running a book shop with the biannual library book sales and frequent trips to ABC Books. I could probably lose half my unread books–maybe two-thirds–and I’d still have enough to read for a lifetime. But let’s not take that risk.

At any rate, I thoroughly enjoyed this book which I have in a fine first edition with mylar over the dustjacket that I ordered from ABC Books during the great stay-at-home of 2020 (how’d that work out?), although I have personalized it with Cheeto dust and pizza grease. Which is just as well–I might be of the last generation, and perhaps a throwback amongst my generation–who loves books this way and who would really enjoy this sort of book and the attitudes contained within.

Which has a silver lining: cheap books in the near future, and plentiful kindling for my succeeding generations.

Amongst that future kindling, I have a copy of The Last Picture Show and maybe the movie book for Hud, the film version of Horseman, Pass By. Perhaps I shall pick them up after the reading challenge ends at the end of this month (and I finish the interrupted David Copperfield).

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