I Know How They Feel

Sarah Hoyt sez

However, around the edges, I actually found out what makes people bond with you personally. I found it out both by reading a lot of blogs and running one: People want to know you. As a person. They want to know the funny little things in your life. They want to feel you’re one of their friends, and they could drop by the kitchen for a cup of coffee. (To be fair, my fans who know where I live are welcome to.)

So I’ll riff off of a couple of other posts I came across today with a personal flair. Continue reading “I Know How They Feel”

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Book Report: Gracie: A Love Story by George Burns (1988)

Book coverI can slot this book into the Winter 2022 Reading Challenge in either the Celebrity Memoir or the Love Story category; I’ve tentatively put it into the Love Story category because I have a lot of celebrity memoirs I could otherwise read, and most things I have in my library that one could consider a love story are probably 500 pages long.

As you might recall, gentle reader, I read an omnibus edition of his work called The Most of George Burns in in 2016, when I thought I might pick this particular volume up soon. Well, apparently I have reached a certain age where six years later is soon. Although I am pretty sure that my boys would tell you that whenever I say Soon to them, it can be up to never years later.

This book is a memoir of his marriage and act with Gracie Allen, although I guess they came in the opposite order. He is very flattering of her talent and as a person, making light of the fact that she was the star of the show and he was just the foil and straight man. But oh how he glows in his description of her throughout the book, and talks about her attitude towards show business (she was eager to leave it when they’d made bank) and her heart problems and eventual death. When this book was written, he still lived in the house they shared and went to visit her at the cemetary frequently–twenty-five years after her death.

In talking about the movies they made together, he mentions many by title, and they’re not available any more. He mentions his friendship with Jack Benny, but you don’t see a lot of Jack Benny DVDs on the dollar rack in grocery stores (or you didn’t in the day). I guess you can find the Jack Benny show on Amazon Prime….for six more days from today. (Also note that Burns mentions Benny’s wife, Mary Livingstone, which is know they’re married and whatnot). I think Burns got his modern notice, at least my notice, because of his films in the 1970s and 1980s and because that spurred public domain dumpster divers to put his taped shows out on DVD.

At any rate, I loved this book and his adoration for his wife.

I flagged a couple of things for comment:

Opening night was Monday at eight-fifteen. That’s when the critics came. We packed the audience with friends like Jack, Mary, Rena, Blossom Seely, and Benny Fields, dress designed Orry-Kelly, Archie Leach–a handome necktie salesman who was trying to break into show business with a stilt-walking act. He eventually changed his name to Cary Grant and after that was never much good as a necktie salesman.

You and I know Cary Grant was originally Archie Leach–he mentions the name in a bunch of his films. But this illustrates how Burns and Allen knew a bunch of people in vaudeville, radio, and early television–Burns mentions a lot of them by name. In the 21st century, many of the names are unknown (although Cary Grant makes infrequent appearances in memes about how men dress poorly these days).

Bibelots, or as we call them in English, chatchkas, are little trinkets. I suspect they’re called bibelots because if they were called trinkets, or knickknacks, they wouldn’t dare charge the prices for them that they do. Bibelots is a French word that, literally translated, means “overpriced trinket.”

I have learned a new word: Bibelot. Although since it’s a French word, I will likely mispronounce it when I use it, like so many words I learned from books.

She read everything, but she loved philosophy and trashy novels. I always figured that reading one helped her understand the other.

Sounds like what you find in the Book Reports category here at MfBJN unless the Winter Reading Challenge is on.

318 pages that breeze by, a pleasure to read, and it two sections of photographs of Burns and Allen and the whole Burns family.

I hope I do find more George Burns books in my stacks. They are a hoot.

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I Know, I Know

Facebook sometimes shows me posts from an assortment of old movies and dead celebrities pages such as this one:

I know, I know, and Mary Livingstone was a shop girl and not actually in the show business, so she felt a little insecure about it.

It’s one of those things that my beautiful wife might ask me, “How do you know that?”

In this case, I know how I know. But I won’t tell you… just yet.

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Here We Go

An update to the story Don’t approach lab monkey missing after crash, people told:

Woman on rabies meds after crashed truck spills crates of monkeys on road

Geez, I hope she’s okay.

Meanwhile, do not approach lab monkeys missing after a crash or people who have been in contact with lab monkeys missing after crash.

Does anyone think the CDC is on this, or are political opinions made into public health threats more important?

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News I Missed Over the Holidays

Richard Marcinko, first commanding officer of SEAL Team 6, dies at 81

Fortunately, the National Review missed it, too, and only got to it in this week’s issue.

No, scratch that: Their This Week feature that appeared this week, the January 24 issue, apparently originally appeared on the Internet on January 6.

It should maybe be called Three Weeks Ago.

This generally wouldn’t bother me, as I tend to read the magazine months later. This week was an aberration, as I needed a magazine to read whilst waiting in the son’s school car line yesterday, and I grabbed it from the top of the stack.

And, yes, I did resubscribe. They did drop the subscription rate from $60 a year to $10, and I’ll get that much value out of it from the book reviews and columns at the end. The regular Kevin Williamson “Those Republicans in the interior states are stupid/crazy” features? Not so much.

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As I Was Saying

Okay, apparently I did not do the comparison in the book report for Firefly: Still Flying (I compared Firefly to Battlestar Galactica because of a famed reboot).

But a more apt comparison might be to Star Trek.

Star Trek: The Next Generation debuted in 1987, roughly 20 years after the original series.

When TNG appeared, the Star Trek franchise had been pumping stuff out fairly well over 20 years. How does the Star Trek franchise compare to Firefly’s in the first 20 years?

Star Trek
Television Series 3: Star Trek, Star Trek: The Animated Series, Star Trek: The Next Generation 1
Movies 4: The Motion Picture, The Wrath of Khan, The Search for Spock, The Voyage Home 1: Serenity
Books 85:
12 Star Trek episode novelizations by James Blish
16 Star Trek New Adventures titles
10 Star Trek Log The Animated Series novelizations by Alan Dean Foster
4 film novelizations
28 other novels

15 nonfiction
6 novels
10 reference
(most in the last five years)
Comics 61:
49 DC Comics
12 Bantam photo comics
19 Dark Horse
plus a couple of graphic novels and Free Comic Book Day shorts

I won’t belabor my point by delving into the number of games, video and IRL, that each franchise spawned. And just for fun, I won’t compare how the Star Trek franchise has fared in the last 20 years–but it does include 6 television series and 4 movies.

So one of them really has legs. The other has Disney needing content for Disney+. So maybe the next 20 years will be comparable between the two, at least in video formats. I think the Star Trek fans skew older and probably read more, so there might be more books for the Star Trek franchise until they die off and no longer buy the books. But time will tell.

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Words of Wisdom I Will Pass Onto My Boys

Don’t approach lab monkey missing after crash, people told.

If you’re not a lab employee, any interaction with a lab monkey is going to be the start of some awful movie.

They say that the monkey, one of 100 in a trailer, was headed to the lab when the accident occurred. But, c’mon, man, we know that’s exactly what the authorities would say if the opposite were true. The monkey had nothing to do with the lab-American community. We get it.

And we’re all going to get it… whatever it is… the first time someone tries to befriend this monkey.

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Why Brian J. Is Looking At The Floor At The Gym

Apparently, there’s a new genre of Internet video where a woman berates a man who was looking at her while she exercises at a gym.

I haven’t seen the videos themselves, but the British tabloids have run a number of stories of them over the last couple of weeks, but perhaps the tide is turning. Woman who filmed man behind her while she was working out at the gym divides opinion after revealing she was pleased her ‘booty wasn’t his focus’ – with some saying she shouldn’t have had her camera on him at all

Yeah, I’m hopeful this plays out soon.

Being a creepy looking guy, I’m always self conscious about whether I’m making eye contact too long with women at the gym already. This little bit just worsened my self-consciousness and probably made me even creepier. Perhaps I should not flick my tongue over my dry lips quite so much. And try a disarming smile that comes out a smirk.

Instead, I should stare at the floor harder.

I am exaggerating for comic effect a little, but not entirely. What I am indicating clearly, though, is how British tabloid headlines directly effect my perception of the world I live in and my behavior. Which is as embarrassing.

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Until Next Time

I saw this headline, Buddhist monk who brought ‘mindfulness’ to the world dies peacefully aged 95 at Vietnamese temple, and I thought, surely not Thich Nat Hanh, but it was.

I’ve read his books Thundering Silence and Peace of Mind: Becoming Fully Present.

I guess I should not have been terribly surprised that he was still around–Peace of Mind was published but eight years ago. Maybe nine. Sorry, I am still on 2021 in my mental arithmetic.

Jeez, this blog is nothing but death notices of late, ainna? Maybe I should lighten things up and tell you about the most Monday Monday I’ve ever had.

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Book Report: Firefly: Still Flying (2010)

Book coverI bought this book, along with Firefly: The Official Companion Volume One and Firefly: The Official Companion Volume Two at my last trip to Calvin’s Books in Branson in June of last year. I also got the Serenity: The Official Visual Companion, and that would probably have been the next published–this book came out in 2010, seven or eight years after the television show and five years after the movie. I picked it up now because the 2022 Winter Reading Challenge has a category Short Stories, and the cover of this book says Featuring New Stories From Writers Of The Original TV Episodes.

Sounds like a book of short stories, ainna? Oh, but no.

The 158 page book has four “stories,” but one of them is a pair of single-panel cartoons looking like they were from a brutal children’s book featuring Jayne. The other stories don’t really break any new ground. One, “What Holds Us Down”, is the most akin to an episode–Kaylee and Wash break into a floating junkyard to steal some parts needed for the Serenity but it goes sideways, and Kaylee has to quickly fix up another ship to escape before the searchers find them amid the rubble. Another story, “Crystal”, is about River visiting the people on the ship before the motion picture takes place and telling them a little about their fates in her inscrutible way. The last short story, “Take the Sky”, deals with an old retired Mal receiving a package from Zoe, the current pilot/owner of Serenity, and reflecting upon his aging and their adventures. So the stories are not exactly what I would have expected, and they’re but brief interludes in the book.

The reminder of it is celebrity/fan material. Each of the stars of the program gets a section with photos and quotes from various sources–nothing new, and we get to hear from the shows costumers, designers, and stunt coordinators. It has a little feature on what happened to the Jaynestown statue–Adam Baldwin kept the head, but the rest likely got discarded–and on the endurance of Browncoat fandom, which might be a little different ten more years on–are they still doing those? A quick Internet search says no, but I see some speculation that Disney might throw something together for Disney+ with a new cast. Kind of like the new (but now as old as the original series was to its time) Battlestar Galactica that ran longer than the one-season television show it rebooted and updated. It will be interesting to see the old Firefly fans acting like I did when the new Battlestar Galactica came around.

At any rate, given that the book only has, what, a dozen pages of short stories, I cannot in good conscience slot it into the Winter 2022 Reading Challenge–I will probably pick up one of James Blish’s Star Trek books for that. And I will likely pick up the Serenity: The Visual Companion book later this year just to make a clean sweep of the Firefly titles. As I have mentioned, I think the film really lost a bit of the playful spirit of the series–this won’t probably come across as much in the script as in the execution. Which is why I have been avoiding it.

Oh, and should you come across a fan suffering from what Disney does to the property, be sure to point out that more people see Nathan Fillion and think Richard Castle than Mal Reynolds. Or even Johnny Donnelly from Two Guys and a Girl. Remind me to drop into conversation cryptically that Fillion played John Donnelly.

So it’s a good bit of trivia and nostalgia, but not something to stand the test of time. More like a flat spine fan magazine than anything else.

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I Wrote A Short Story About This Once

Mechanic totals $3.4M Ferrari after smashing into tree stump on test drive

Except in my short story, “Joy Ride”, a valet “borrows” a Corvette for a ride over his break, and instead of totaling it, he puts it in a ditch and scratches it. Which might be totaled depending upon the age and mileage, I suppose.

Man, I wrote a lot of short stories when I was in college, back when I thought people might like to read what I wrote.

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In News They Would Prefer You To Think Are Unrelated

The home page of the Springfield News-Leader has three headlines about Springfield Public Schools:

They include:

Given that the Attorney General / Senate Candidate Eric Schmitt has said he’ll sue school districts that impose mask mandates, their legal costs in the next year are about to go up, too.

I am sure professional educational administrators think that their actions make sense and lead to positive outcomes, but I am not sure the actual outcomes back this up.

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On You, Me, and Dupree (2006)

Book coverThis is the second Owen Wilson film in a row that we’ve seen–the first being Starsky & Hutch, and it’s a little later in the, what, downfall of the Stiller/Wilson films? For a while, they could do no wrong, but these later movies didn’t make much money.

In it, Matt Dillon marries Kate Hudson, and when his best friend–Owen Wilson’s Dupree–has a run of bad luck, they allow him to stay with them for a while that extends. And hijinks ensue, as the man-child can’t find a job, and we have a little tension between Dillon’s character having to grow up and to work for his wife’s father (Michael Douglas) who didn’t want to give his little girl up.

So it’s a fairly common set of tropes, trying to rely heavily on Owen Wilson, but that’s not enough to carry a movie, as studios discovered. I own the DVD, but I don’t know if I’ll watch it again–there are better movies with Wilson as part of an ensemble.

But enough about Owen Wilson. How about Kate Hudson? Continue reading “On You, Me, and Dupree (2006)”

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Book Report: Terror Near Town by James R. Wilder (2017)

Book coverI got this book in June of last year at the author’s book signing at ABC Books. It was the same weekend that I got Tea in the Time of COVID, so apparently I am making a tear through the books I bought that weekend. AND apropos of nothing, this is the second book I’ve read this month with the word terror in the title (Terror Intent being the other).

So when I bought this book, I mentioned one in the series has the town name of Grubville in the title, and I grew up in northwestern Jefferson County, so I know where Grubville is–along with a lot of the other towns (Cedar Hill, Dittmer, House Springs, Murphy Flats–when I lived in the trailer, it was in Murphy, and my sainted mother was the only one who affected to call it Murphy Flats) and other geographical markers (Big River, Meramac River). So I got a bit of a kick out of reading a Western novel set where I partly grew up.

The book centers on a young man freshly back from Cuba as part of the Rough Riders. He rescues a horse and brings it home to his family’s ranch, where they raise horses and mules. A neighboring farmhouse burned down, killing all inside but for a pretty young lady, so the Harbisons–the ranch family–take her in and help her manage her family’s cattle. Meanwhile, the young men on the ranch have encounters with the local ruffians, who it turns out helped start the fire that killed the girl’s family because her father was in a financial scam that took an out-of-town man who wants his revenge.

So it’s got a number of Western set pieces, and it’s got a lot of vignette/slice of life stuff to give you a feel for life in the era, but it’s a little light on the plot–I wasn’t sure of the main conflict until the big gun fight two thirds of the way through the book.

Still, it’s a pleasant read, although not really a mystery–perhaps the other books in the series will have more mystery to them. And I am looking forward to reading the others in the line, but only after the end of February and the Winter 2022 Reading Challenge. Where this book slots into the Set in Missouri category.

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The Christmas Straggler 2022

As you know, gentle reader, every year about this time (or sometimes later), we come across a Christmas decoration that we did not pack away when we put up the Christmas trees (although at Nogglestead, putting up is really putting down as the Christmas storage is under the stairs on the lower level, not in the attic as was the case in Old Trees).

This year, the Christmas Straggler was not the plaid stocking that appeared on the desk.

For some reason, my boys got stockings with their names on them from somewhere. Their church youth group, perhaps? And as I was cleaning some stuff out of the car, I found an additional plaid stocking that made its way into the parlor, but not under the stairs yet.

No, the 2022 Christmas Straggler is a two-time winner, and the original Christmas Straggler from 2012: The little elf bearing presents.

For a couple of years running, he has made it back into the boxes of decorations; however, this year, he was on the mirror in the dining room, and as my beautiful wife gathered the obvious decoration (an obnoxious 12 Days of Christmas thing with a thin dowel tree where you hang tiny ornaments representing the lyrics of the song, a gift from my mother-in-law that has become a fixture in that mirror over the holidays), she (my beautiful wife) overlooked the elf, perhaps used to seeing it on the clock for a year lo that decade ago.

At any rate, although I have identified the Christmas Straggler, I have not packed it away with the Christmas decorations yet. Perhaps I will wrap it in the plaid stocking when the time comes, probably in several weeks when I dust the house again.

(Other years’ winners here. Perhaps I should give the annual post its own category.)

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