What He Said

Author Treacher’s current Column? Newsletter? offers a bit of musing on comic book movies passing their expiration date again:

But a Black Widow movie? After they already killed her off? It just feels like an afterthought. Maybe it would’ve been a huge hit if it had come out in 2016, which is apparently the year it’s set. But now? Nah.

I wonder if the Marvel movies will have the same problem the comics had back in the ‘70s, after being such a commercial and cultural phenomenon in the ‘60s. Once the novelty wore off, the brand name alone wasn’t enough to keep fans forking over their dough. Pumping out titles with second- and third-string characters didn’t cut it. The magic was gone. You could still find some gems here and there, but the golden age was over.

You know, I kind of felt that after the Avengers story arc ended with Avengers: Endgame. I have not yet seen the most recent Spiderman movie. I only saw Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 this month because the resort we stayed at let us borrow the movie for free to watch in our room. The Black Widow? Doctor Strange II? I don’t think I’ll see those in the theaters either. Nor am I hastening to get a streaming service to watch Loki, Paul Bettany, or any of the Star Wars properties over there.

Is it because I’ve grown up? Unlikely. This weekend, I stopped at the local game shop as I mentioned, and I bought a stack of one dollar comics (but not Sarah Hoyt’s Barbarella since it was not in stock). Given what I have seen from modern Marvel comics that I bought at the Comic Cave for a buck each back in the day, I’m probably best served by buying older comics with more elaborate stories than simple stories with Comic Art.

(Ace also offers commentary on the movie’s box office performance.)

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Book Report: Firefly: The Official Companion Volume One and Firefly: The Official Companion Volume Two (2006, 2007)

Book coverThese books collect the scripts of the fourteen episodes of the short-lived television program Firefly which was essentially Joss Whedon’s western in space. It’s kind of funny: Around the turn of the century, when this program was briefly on the air, the geek community quite embraced it, and they embraced it hard. People dressed as the characters for Halloween and used catch phrases from the show (“Shiny” meaning “Cool,” for example). I mean, this kind of went on until my beautiful wife bought the boxed set on DVD and watched it around 2010 followed quickly by the film Serenity which appeared a couple years after the show went off the air. However, I think the show’s cultural moment has passed; now, it’s middle-aged geeks who still sometimes say “Shiny.” Although I could be wrong: I was in a games-and-comics store this weekend, and its selection of role playing games was limited, but one table had three volumes of the Firefly role-playing game displayed prominently. So maybe only my consciousness of it has waned until I bought these books at my last trip to Calvin’s Books in 2020.

Book coverOkay, so as I mentioned, it’s a western in space. The series itself does not go into a lot of exposition, but human settlers have reached other planets after depleting the resources on Earth. A power called the Alliance has won a civil war uniting the planets, but on the frontiers, their presence is not as acutely felt. A leader from the resistance/the Independents/not the Alliance–Mal Reynolds, played by Nathan Fillion, buys an old ship and, along with his second-in-command–Zoe, played by Gina Torres, assembles a crew to trade/smuggle/commit petty crimes on that frontier. They collect a pilot (Wash, played by Steve the Pirate), a mechanic (Kaylee, played by Jewel Staite), a hired goon (Jayne, played by Adam Baldwin), and an itinerant high-quality call girl (Inara, played by Morena Boccarin). They also end up with a priest who might be more than a priest (Shepherd Book, played by Detective Harris from Barney Miller) and a brother and sister on the run from the Alliance, who had the sister in a special “school” to develop her into a killing machine (Sean Maher and Summer Glau). And they have some adventures as their history unfolds along with some hints to why the Alliance was after River, played by Summer. The action is pretty episodic, though, with series business taking a back seat to the adventure of the week.

In addition to the scripts, the books contain a series of brief articles about the actors, the designers, the musicians, and the props and weapons of the series. They offer some insight into the production of a television series. The scripts themselves offer some insight into the pace of the 21st century television, with lots of cut scenes and disconnected dollops of dialog or reaction shots. I found it a bit jarring being someone who mostly reads plays and whose Spenser: For Hire scripts seem like stage productions in comparison.

But I enjoyed re-visiting the series and might want to re-watch it soon. I’m not sure I’m going to do so with my boys, though, as the characters have a whiff of anti-hero about them.

It’s funny–would this show become the phenomenon it did if it had lasted a couple of years? I don’t know. I know that I have warmer feelings about shows that ended after only a season or two, like the original Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Almost Human, Human Target than I do about shows that went on and on like Lost or The Blacklist which might have resolved finally, but I have not watched the later seasons. Also note that the ones I feel most affection for have a storyline carried through the seasons, but the series business is generally secondary to the current episode. But things like The Blacklist end up with the series business being the only business, and it has to be really convoluted and sometimes retconning. Friar has offered a commentary on Nathan Fillion’s latest series The Rookie which leads him down a similar path. What happens in later in series that steals the zest from the program? A turnover in personnel? Maybe.

Side note: Nathan Fillion has played the titular Rookie for longer than he played Malcolm Reynolds, and he appeared in Castle for almost a decade. But will he always be remembered primarly as Mal Reynolds? Probably for some of us.

At any rate, this is the second television series that I have read all the scripts–the first was Monty Python’s Flying Circus whose All the Words Volume One and All the Words, Volume 2 I read in the 1990s even though I have only seen certain sketches from that program.

But I am glad to have paid three dollars each for these books.

The show featured several beauties in defining roles.

Continue reading “Book Report: Firefly: The Official Companion Volume One and Firefly: The Official Companion Volume Two (2006, 2007)”

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A Tale Of Two Mayors

Springfield: Springfield mayor Ken McClure addresses city’s COVID-19 response, recent surge in hospitalizations:

McClure joined CBS’s “Face The Nation” after several weeks of rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the Springfield area.

* * * *

“People come to Springfield to shop, to do business. So people will come here. And I think that has greatly increased our exposure,” said McClure.

McClure noted on the broadcast that misinformation may be leading to the recent surge and vaccine hesitancy.

“People are talking about fears they have, health-related fears, what it might do them later in their lives, what might be contained in the vaccinations and that information is just incorrect,” said McClure. “We as a society, and certainly in our community are being hurt by it.”

Branson: Milton comments on COVID: Mayor’s position draws large social media reaction

Hello friends,

I wanted to take a few minutes today to address the ongoing COVID-19 situation facing our area and my thoughts about how our community can respond to the ever-changing landscape of the situation.

First, let me state clearly and for the record: I will not support another government mask mandate, nor will I support a vaccine mandate. I didn’t talk about freedom and liberty during my campaign for Mayor simply as a way to get elected. I championed those values then, as I do now, because I believe that each individual should have the right to decide for themselves how to best handle their own medical decisions.

With that being said, I want to reiterate a few statements I’ve made since the beginning of all this:

If you choose to wear a mask, I support your decision.

If you own a business and choose to require masks in your business, I support your decision.

And the SAME goes for those individuals or businesses that choose not to wear or require masks for themselves and their businesses.

Freedom means the freedom to decide to wear a mask OR not to wear one.

No businesses or individuals should be persecuted, blacklisted or attacked because they disagree with YOUR individual viewpoint on the mask issue. The wonderful thing about our country and our city is that we can disagree while still coexisting with each other.

Ultimately, our consumers will decide where they want to dine, shop and stay based on their own personal views on the issue. If they feel more comfortable patronizing a restaurant, retail store, theater, attraction or any business that requires masks, they should be able to make that choice for themselves. Again, the same applies for visitors that feel comfortable patronizing businesses without mask requirements. Our community can and should decide for themselves how to handle their own medical decisions, and our visitors will do the same.

Now, to address the issue of vaccines.

I believe your Mayor and Board of Alderman should make sure our local community is informed of the availability of vaccines for those who would like to get vaccinated. The Branson area has 15 locations where vaccine shots are readily available and free of charge. If you want to get the vaccine, you can.

I DO NOT believe it’s my place, or the place of any politician, to endorse, promote or compel any person to get any vaccine. That’s a decision that should be made by each individual in consultation with their doctor and their family. If you have questions about the vaccine and if it’s right for you, you should ask your doctor.

Finally, I do have one request I will make of you, the people. Be good to one another. Be good to those who visit our town. Don’t let temporary disagreements drive us apart forever. Whether you are masked or not, vaccinated or not, make smart decisions. Wash your hands regularly, maintain social distancing when possible, if you are sick STAY HOME and be aware of those around you who may think differently than you do about the issue. Be courteous, be thoughtful, be Branson.

Your Mayor,

Larry D. Milton

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There But For The Grace of God

Over at Riverside Green, young Bark M. posts about a permanent sports injury:

There I was, charging toward the goal from my Center Attacking Midfielder position. The winger, sensing that I was going to make a run, played a perfect cross into the box just behind the centre back. The keeper was stuck in no man’s land—come off your line to try to intercept the cross or stay on your line and wait for the shot. Ultimately, the keeper made the decision to come out just a hair too late, and I was able to slide just underneath the outstretched, gloved fingers and strike the ball perfectly into the back of the net at the same moment I felt the meniscus tear in half in my right knee.

That 10-year-old girl never had a chance.

Yes, it’s true. I injured myself at great cost in a parents versus kids soccer game at the end of my daughter’s fall U11 soccer season.

* * * *

So if you’re doing the math at home—yes, I’m 43 years old now. But I never really felt it until Dr. Van Steyn started that sentence with, “Well, Mark, this is the first step to an artificial knee.”

Over the next seven months, I began to feel every day of it.

The real bitch about a torn meniscus is that it doesn’t get better, and you can’t really fix it. So I’ve had to adapt my entire life to adjust. I was a size 38 slim fit when I had my surgery. I’m lucky to get into a size 40 standard fit now, because I can no longer do any sort of plyometrics or running. As the Doc also said, “Running? That’s out of the question now.”

As you might know, gentle reader, I do foolishly athletic things in my middle age: Martial arts classes, triathlons, running and riding bikes on the farm roads near Nogglestead, playing catch with an overinflated football with my boys. So I am at some risk of self-inflicted irreversible injury often enough.

The worst I’ve ever experienced, aside from a bruised ribs a couple of times which mean a two-month break from martial arts classes, has been a torn groin muscle that took several months to heal and left me unable to tie my own shoes for a while. I can feel the scar tissue from time to time, but most of the time it does not impede me.

Each time I get a little hurt, I wonder if it’s going to be the one that limits me forever. Sometimes, this gives me some trepidation. Sometimes it makes me leery of closing in when sparring (Weet! Run away!)

But I watch the kids who take the martial arts classes or play elsewhere, and they don’t even think about getting hurt. They play and exercise with abandon. And when I’m dealing with a bit of nagging pain and something that’s aching in a not-muscle-soreness way, or when I just recover from something, I have to tell myself to continue to do the thing with abandon.

Because someday too soon, I won’t be able to do it at all, and although I jokingly complain about all of it, I will miss it when I am relegated to the recliner with books as my only activity.

So I feel for Bark. And I’m doing all the superstitious things I can to hope reading that piece has not jinxed me.

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Movie Report: The Horse Soldiers (1959)

Book coverAfter watching The Three Musketeers, when the boys called for a movie, I thought about showing them a real John Wayne film. I thought first of McClintock!, but its VHS tape was not rewound, which sometimes means that it will take some effort to get it rewound. I thought about The Sands of Iwo Jima, but I recently was spoiler-alerted on another site that this is not the first John Wayne film to show your growing boys. So I settled on this film which was also in the to-watch cabinet.

The film is based on a true story (so Wikipedia tells me). Wayne leads a cavalry brigade deep into Confederate territory to attack a town which is the railhead supplying Vicksburg. He is saddled with a regimental surgeon who is caught between his duty to the Union and his duty as a doctor–and Wayne’s commander has reasons to distrust doctors. When the brigade holes up at a nearly abandoned plantation for the night, the mistress of the house, played by Constance Towers, the mistress of the house and her slave eavesdrop on the soldiers’ plans. To prevent them from reporting them to the rebs, the brigade brings her along. Much of the drama comes from the journey as the mistress tries to escape or alert the Confederates. Much of the tension comes in the clashes between the colonel and the surgeon as they come to respect one another. After the battle, as they try to flee south instead of north to throw the enemy off, the enemy susses out their plans and a second climactic battle takes place at the ambush laid for them.

The boys liked the film, and I pointed out how it was not a simplistic, jingoistic picture from the 1950s. Men on both sides are portrayed as men, with complexities and differing motives who are trying to get through the war and who are doing their duty–or padding their resume for a future political career.

I made the older one defensive when he didn’t know what Vicksburg was. I mean, I only know some of the names of the battles and the highest level overview of the war in total, but kids these days spend two or two and a half weeks on the Civil War (he said defensively–as in defending that his schools had, in fact, covered the Civil War). Eesh, they both could probably have better explained the Marvel Civil War in better detail–and we live less than a mile from a Civil War National Battlefield, and they have been there many times.

Ah, well. A nice picture, and a good intro for the lads into the John Wayne world. Although at the beginning, they asked me which one (the commander or the doctor) was John Wayne. In their defense, he was almost thirty years older than in The Three Musketeers and that older serial was in black-and-white. But I have failed as a father that they have only now, in their teens, seen John Wayne. I will do better.

Now, about Constance Towers, the lead actress in this picture.
Continue reading “Movie Report: The Horse Soldiers (1959)”

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Well, Not Everyone Takes Nine Small Town Papers

In this week’s Licking News (which I finally got a subscription to!), a syndicated column entitled Remembering the country correspondents that tells about “country correspondents”:

My family, a longtime newspaper employee and her daughter were in the picture. The photo also captures a group of women who were our “country correspondents.” These women lived in rural areas outside Licking and wrote news about their neighbors. The weekly columns were usually named with something related to where they lived.

Each week the correspondents called around to friends and acquaintances to gather information. Then they’d hand-write it on cut sheets of unlined newsprint that was provided by the newspaper. These missives were then mailed or brought into the office to be typeset for the next week’s paper.

However, it also asserts:

The items produced by these country correspondents would never appear in a modern newspaper.

As a matter of fact, The Current Local and Douglas County Herald both still have country correspondents with columns of what their neighbors are doing (so-and-so is out of the hospital, so-and-so had bunco night, so-and-so went to Kansas City) and what’s going on at their churches.

Although perhaps one might not consider these to be modern newspapers in the Gannett sense. Which is why I subscribe to them.

If you’re keeping track at home, here are the papers I currently take:

  • The Greene County Commonwealth/Republic Monitor
  • Branson/Tri-Lakes News
  • The Current Local
  • Wright County Journal
  • Douglas County Herald
  • Marshfield Mail
  • Stone County Republican / Crane Chronicle
  • Houston Herald
  • The Licking News

Although I might be being premature saying I take the Stone County Republican/Crane Chronicle as I just sent the check out today after picking up a copy from a news box on our recent jaunt to and from Berryville, Arkansas.

There was a time when I only took the Republic Monitor that I would sometimes get a little low on having newspaper around to feed the grill’s chimney starter, much less use it as weed block in my garden. A couple hundred dollars annually, and I no longer have to worry. I just have to keep up on my reading (speaking of which, my stack of Wall Street Journals, which I cancelled in December, is getting down to only a couple of inches tall).

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Movie Report: The Three Musketeers (1933)

Book coverWell, after watching the first four episodes of this twelve-episode serial on a budget DVD from way back, I ordered the whole set on a DVD from Amazon.

I’m pleased to say that its transfer was also a little cleaner than the cheap DVD, which is nice.

So the three “musketeers” of the title are three members of the French foreign legion: Reynard, Clancy, and Schmidt. Their unit comes under fire from Arab raiders, and a man in a biplane saves them. He is Tom Wayne played by John Wayne. They’re the only survivors from their unit, and they call themselves the modern Three Musketeers and Wayne their D’Artagnon. So it’s not based on the Dumas book at all.

Wayne is an American Army(?) aviator visiting his sweetheart at her brother’s house. As Wayne arrives, the brother is writing a letter exposing a gun-running ring that he was part of, but an Arab rebel leader nicknamed El Shaitan (the Devil)–the recipient of the guns–shows up to kill the brother. A member of his band cuts the letter that the brother had been writing to implicate Wayne.

So the storyline, then, is Wayne has to prove his innocence and expose El Shaitan. He has the help of the Three Musketeers who believe in him. Apparently this conspiracy to supply arms to the Arab rebels who want to fight the French might include American intelligence agents, officers in the French military, or perhaps the leader of a purportedly friendly Arab tribe. What! Intrigue in a serial from ninety years ago? Get out of town! Wasn’t that sort of thing invented in 2001 or 2002 or maybe all the way back in 1990-something? One might think so if one were young and undereducated.

At any rate, the running time was a little under six hours–we essentially binge-watched it over four nights. The episodes on this DVD seemed shorter than the others, but that might be because some of the repeated/replayed material in each episode. For example, they generally replayed the last scene and cliffhanger from the previous episode to catch people up who might not have seen the previous episode. Then it twists to show how Wayne got out of the scrape, and then we get some new action for ten or twenty minutes. In the later episodes, we get other flashbacks, too, as the filmmakers stretch their material into the full twelve episodes.

So, was it worth watching? You know, the boys thought it was entertaining enough–or better than reading books which would have been their alternative when video game time was over. Or perhaps they really do enjoy watching old films with their father. But if you want to kind of think of yourself as kind of knowledgeable about films, serials, and whatnot, it might be worth watching. I remember television stations in Milwaukee in the 1970s played old serials like Buck Rogers on, what, Sunday mornings? I remember my father watching them and being engaged with them. So perhaps it’s also if you want to connect with your children over something you connected, slightly, or at least remember from your brief time on earth with your father (spoiler alert: when I say “you” here, I mean “I”). Or, I suppose, if you want to have something to post about, a couple times if you’re me and for weeks on end if you’re Lileks.

What was I saying? Oh, yes, and if you want to be a John Wayne purist. It’s slower than modern pacing, really, and although intriguey, less intriguey than, say, The Blacklist, the last season of which I haven’t even watched because, come on, the intrigue has folded back in on itself in a Möbius fashion that hurts my eyes.

Alrighty, then. I think I have answered all of your questions. Thanks for coming. Sorry, no further pictures of Ruth Hall today, although in the last episode or two, a few female extras appeared briefly, so she was not the only woman in the desert with the whole movie crew.

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At Nogglestead, We Have A Different Word For It

Lileks expands his idiom by reading the Internet:

I trust you had a good summer weekend, like the mid-60s Americans above, who are standing around wondering if they are in a cigarette ad or a soft drink ad. Most of all, I hope you didn’t have the Sunday Scaries!

No, I didn’t know the term, either. A google search produced an NBC news story that said “The term ‘Sunday scares,’ although not scientific, describes a common feeling of anxiety that builds up over the course of Sunday afternoon and evening.” The story was titled “The Sunday Scares are Real – This is Why.”

At Nogglestead, we use the term Sundaynitis.

But given our current workstyle and schedules, it’s less of a problem since we’re not working 9 to 5 or 8 to 6 or what have you.

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Theatrical Plays Based On The Works of Ed McBain? I’ll Take Season Tickets!

Oh, but, no. Apparently, it’s just the number of years this particular musical theatre has been operating. Not actually plays based on Carella, Meyer Meyer, and Bert Kling from the 87th Precinct.

Which reminds me: I need to unsubscribe from these emails, too, since I don’t like musical theatre unless an acquaintance is in it, and it’s been years since my friend from martial arts was in Jesus Christ Superstar.

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Book Report: Oriental Love Poems compiled by Michelle Lovric (2003)

Book coverThis is kind of like a pop-up book for adults. An Andrews-McMeel Publishing concoction, you already know that it’s going to be graphically busy, but this book not only features a lot of color and graphics, but it has origami, often birds, posted in, and the table of contents is a separate card inserted into an envelope in front. So it keeps your attention busy for sure, perhaps distracted from the poetry.

The poetry collects works from mostly Chinese and Japanese sources from across the millenia. If you’re familiar with Chinese and Japanese poetry, you know in the shorter forms it tends to be a bit airy, like the haiku: A bit of imagery to dwell on, not a lot of word play, of course, because that would be lost in translation anyway.

So the book was a quick read, a bit interesting because it’s different than the poetry I write, and I don’t think it will influence me a whole lot in imagery or pasting papercrafts into books. But you never know; it certainly cannot limit my sales any more than being a self-published poet already does.

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Book Report: Fission Fury The Executioner #214 (1996)

Book coverWell, this is an Executioner novel. Not the worst of the series, but, again, not something memorable to read. Since I’m splitting my time between reading books and watching movies in the evenings, perhaps I should read something more memorable for my books. Well, if I ever finish Pamela, the old English novel that I am putatively reading currently but very intermittently, I will remember that I read it, although very few of the episodes in those epistles will I recall distinctly.

Okay, what’s Mack Bolan doing in this book? He goes to Moscow after some missing nuclear scientists and their innovative new plutonium. They have staged their own kidnapping to get the government to pay their ransom so they can retire comfortably, but the new Russian mafia decides they will collect the ransom and sell the scientists to the Iranians. So Bolan along with a Russian former KGB agent move through some set pieces to find out what’s going on.

As I have mentioned, the plots are starting to get a little more elaborate as we move into the 1990s, perhaps trying to compete with the flavor of more modern thrillers versus paperbacks. This one handles the twists pretty well.

I did flag a couple things from the book for snark, though.

Continue reading “Book Report: Fission Fury The Executioner #214 (1996)”

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Movie Report: Her Alibi (1989)

Book coverThis film comes from the 1980s, when Tom Selleck was trying to make the leap to being the leading man in pictures instead of just being Magnum, P.I.. It ultimately didn’t work, though, as he had a couple of lead roles in films including this one and, what, Runaway? (Research indicates he also headlined Lassiter, An Innocent Man, and Quigly Down Under, which I enjoyed, and later Mr. Baseball which I saw in the theater in college.) He never really made that transition and kept busy in television.

In this book, Magnum gets to play the Robin Masters character: A successful author with bestsellers to his credit, but who’s on a bit of a stale streak. He goes to watch a trial for inspiration, meeting up with some other authors who do the same, where he sees Paulina Porizkova getting arraigned for murder. Convinced that she could not be a murderer, he acts as her alibi, claiming that they were having an affair (which meant something a little different sometimes in the 1980s, as neither character is married). So they go away to his home in Connecticut while the Romanian secret police are out to capture or kill Porizkova’s character.

Much of the film is in Selleck’s character writing a novel based on their ongoing misadventures–the difference between what’s actually happening and how the author portrays it in the book providing much of the humor of the film along with doubts as to whether the young lady is an actual murderer–accidents and incidents that could have innocent explanations might actually be murder attempts! The humor is a little thin, though, and it fails to reach amusing–it holds at the level of I see what you’re doing there.

Well, it’s an okay film; it turns out that she’s not a secret agent, but part of a circus family looking to defect. The climax happens at a circus, and everyone lives happily ever after presumably.

I mean, I like Selleck, but I have to wonder why he did not make the move to films successfully. Too much connective charisma perhaps? Not enough detachment that the distant movie screen requires? I don’t know.

Oh, and no Paulina Porizkova pictures for you. If you want to see her without any clothes on, you’ll have to read the New York Post like the rest of us. Uh, probably NSFW, but it is an article in the New York Post.

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Because She Is A Girl, My Beautiful Wife Did Not Understand….

So our boys spent Independence Day at home for the first time in a couple of years instead of at camp (I guess the week is pretty expensive for the church to rent the YMCA camp the holiday week). They’re getting older now, so they get to light some fireworks themselves. Unfortunately, they got some inspiration from their older cousin and cousin-in-law last year–those guys were a little reckless, and my boys, being boys, loved it.

So my beautiful wife has taken to cutting flowers from her garden for locations around the house, and she ordered a couple of new vases for said cut flowers. As I was casting about for something to use to launch bottle rockets–c’mon, man, we used old soda bottles when I was a kid, but they’re not made of glass anymore, you know?–I spotted the recent arrivals on the counter.

“Can I use your new vases to launch bottle rockets?” I asked her.

“Sure,” she said.

Because she’s a girl and doesn’t know what bottle rockets do to their bottle.

Being the good husband that I am… Continue reading “Because She Is A Girl, My Beautiful Wife Did Not Understand….”

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The Joke Is On Me

After watching The Man In The Iron Mask, I decided to jump the boys right into another recounting of the film. Not the 1973/1974 versions of The Three Musketeers/The Four Musketeers with Michael York as D’Artagnon. The John Wayne version of the 1930s.

As we started to watch it, it became clear that it’s not a film, but a serial in 12 parts. And it took us an hour to watch the first two installments–since we started watching at about 8pm, I called a lid after watching two chapters because I didn’t want to watch six hours of ninety-year-old cinema on a weeknight.

After the lights came up, I saw the back of the DVD, where it says the running time is 114 minutes. Ah! I thought. It’s the recut feature film version from 1946 (which I learned of on Wikipedia).

Oh, but no.

We started watching again the next night, expecting to get to the end of something, and right after chapter four, a color set of previews for other public domain discs you could buy from this company (including Africa Screams, so I nudged my younger son who has seen it with his dear old dad).

And that was it.

Apparently, somewhere in the last two decades, I paid maybe up to a dollar for this DVD, maybe even new at Schnucks back in the day, for the first four episodes of the serial. Nowhere on the packaging–a full sized DVD case and not a cardboard sleeve–does it say it’s only the first four episodes of a serial–it refers to itself as an action film, which would indicate it’s an intact unit. Nothing indicates part II and part III are available. Basically, I got rooked.

Well, I can’t just leave those boys hanging since they’re kind of enjoying it–fortunately, Amazon has the whole serial available, and it should arrive today for our review over the weekend. Maybe even with a–dare I hope it?–better and cleaned up transfer.

But enough about me. Let’s talk about Ruth Hall, the lead actress.

Continue reading “The Joke Is On Me”

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Good Book Hunting, July 8, 2021: It’s a Mystery BookStore, Berryville, Arkansas

I mentioned that I learned about the It’s a Mystery BookStore in Berryville, Arkansas, in April when I was looking for a road trip destination and almost almost made the big mistake of going which would have triggered a Wuhan flu celebratory quarantine for my youngest since going thirty minutes into Arkansas was more dangerous according to the Official Protocols than going four hours to a different corner of Missouri.

Now that the media hysteria about the DELTAEPSILONTRILAMBDA variant(s) is spinning up just in time to close the schools for the next year, I decided we should jump to and make the trip now instead of August right before school starts to ensure that we beat out any late breaking protocols and service interruptions.

So we drove down Highway 13, through Kimberling City and Lampe. I made a wrong turn in Blue Eye which added maybe a half hour to our trip (I’m at Big Cedar Lodge? D’oh!) And I got off the track a little ways down the right direction, but apparently all roads in the top of Arkansas lead to Berryville, so we arrived at the quaint town square book shop. Which required masks, so the oldest chose to read in the car instead of look for new books. And the youngest came in to remind me often of how much time I was spending.

The shop itself is not that large–none of the shops on the square are, as the buildings date from the late 19th century, but I managed to find something.

I got:

  • Four Diagnosis: Murder books by Lee Goldberg: The Past Tense, The Silent Partner, The Death Merchant, and The Shooting Script. You might recall, gentle reader, that I picked up a couple of these books in May after reading a couple of Monk books during my television-and-movie books phase earlier this year. I thought the books were priced at fifty cents each as the price inside is 4/2 (some books outside were five for a buck or free), so I grabbed them all. Turns out I already had the last two. Well, they will be a good gift for someone. And the notation in the front is not actually the price–or it is fractionally, as the books were $2 each.
  • Conan the Barbarian by L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter and Conan the Destroyer by Robert Jordan, the movie tie-ins.
  • Conan the Invincible by Robert Jordan, another Conan book.
  • Speaking of Robert E. Howard, I got paperback copies of Black Vulmea’s Vengance, Three-Bladed Doom, Tigers of the Sea, and The Hour of the Dragon: The Weird Works of Robert E. Howard Volume Four.
  • King Solomon’s Mines by Rider Haggard. Technically, this could also be considered a movie book since it was made into a movie with Richard Chamberlain in the 1980s.
  • The Best of Saki by Saki. You know, I am pretty sure this is the first Saki I have outside of some of the college textbook anthologies I have held onto but have not yet fully read.
  • The Samurai: The Philosophy of Victory by Robert T. Samuel. It’s the only hardback I bought, and it’s a Barnes and Noble edition that combines short bits with a lot of art for a quick, easy read. I bet it offers quite the contrast to Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai written by an actual, you know, samurai.

I also got a Jackie Gleason CD, Lush Moods. It says it’s two LPs on one CD, but it does not indicate which LPs it might be. Perhaps they only mean that it’s 20 songs. The proprietrix of the shop commented that she likes Jackie Gleason but that most people did not know what he did before television and the movies. Ah, but gentle reader, as you know, I have accumulated a number of Jackie Gleason LPs over the years, so you know I wondered which LPs were on the CD.

At any rate, the final accounting (for such few bullet points) was about fifty dollars (apparently, the paperbacks were not fifty cents each). And it was my lucky day, for I visited the ATM machine and entered my PIN number a couple days ago and had some cash in my wallet.

Because a lot of Berryville is cash or check. No fooling.

Not only did the bookstore not accept credit cards, but the first restaurant we stepped into for lunch was cash or check only as well. To be honest, the strange throwback, trusting checks but not taking a 5% hit on every transaction for security, as a bit disorienting. So if you’re going to Berryville, bring cash.

Which, you know, I might do again someday. It’s only about an hour and a half down if you don’t miss the turn in Blue Eye, which is not that much longer than a trip to the remaining used book stores in St. Louis from anywhere, and although it’s a bit longer than the trip to ABC Books or Hooked on Books, it’s an event in itself.

Although I did not take my beautiful wife along yesterday, I can envision doing so in the future. She likes to dream of trips to exotic places, but I am coming to appreciate trips to small towns in America.

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