Good Album Hunting, April 29, 2022: Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library Book Sale

As I mentioned, I made it out to the Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library’s book sale yesterday and hit the dollar record bins. The selection was smaller than the last sale’s–I guess everyone is realizing the value of old records, or perhaps the old, old records in the genres that I like have worked their way through the resale markets already.

At any rate, I found a few things.

This includes:

  • Al Jolson Volume 3, a 10″ record (Discogs minimum price: $1.55).
  • Mexicali Brass South of the Border. Man, Herb Alpert really spawned a genre, ainna? I am constantly finding new examples of it. ($6.00).
  • When You Come to the End of the Day by Perry Como. I don’t think I have this one, but I have so many now that the odds of me buying a duplicate are getting higher. On the other hand, Perry Como put out a lot of records. I saw his Christmas album with another variant cover. ($0.98).
  • Ready for the World, self-titled debut. Probably more pop than soul/funk. ($1.08).
  • Natalie by Natalie Cole from 1976. ($.40).
  • Warm and Willing by Norrie Paramor and His Orchestra. The first entry today with the Pretty Woman on the Cover (PWOC). ($3.99).
  • Emotion by Samantha Sang. 1978 Funk/soul/pop, or so Discogs says. PWOC. ($.25).
  • Sound Ideas by Les and Larry Elgart. I have a couple by Les and/or Larry, including one I bought last weekend. I would have had another today, but it was only an Elgart cover with another record in it. ($1.00).
  • Night Rider! by Tim Weisberg. Not my favorite flutist, to be honest (top three are my beautiful wife, Herbie Mann, and Amber Underwood). ($.79).
  • This Land Is Your Land by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Philadelphia Orchestra. Pops renditions of American folk songs. What was I thinking? ($.25).
  • Burnished Brass by the George Shearing Quintet with Brass Choir. PWOC. And I like the George Shearing groups, to which I was exposed because the records often have PWOC. ($1.50).
  • Four Rococo Quartets. Classical, but a bit obscure. ($2.50).
  • Highlights from Saint-Saëns’ Samson and Delilah. ($10.32).
  • Holy, Holy, Holy: Hymns We Know And Love. Some hymns, but some pop hymns. This record is not on Discogs, so it must be really collectible.
  • The Music of the Caribbean by the [WIRL] Steel Band. ($1.69).
  • Lightly Latin by Perry Como. Pretty sure I didn’t have it. Everyone released a Spanish-language album in the 1960s, ainna? ($.98)
  • Holidays in Portugal by Lídia Ribeiro. The cover for this record is actually a brochure for a hotel and casinos in Lisbon, with photos and amenities of each. ($5.26)
  • Country Boots by Boots Randolph. Apparently, everyone also put out a country album. So it’s not too different from today. ($1.00)
  • Della on Stage by Della Reese. ($1.25)
  • Tijuana Voices Sing Merry Christmas. I own more mariachi Christmas music than you do. This is not my first. ($1.90)
  • The Holly and the Ivy by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. We already have a MTC Christmas record, and my wife really likes it. So now we have another, which means our record player or receiver is scheduled to flame-out around the holidays again. However, thanks to my mother-in-law’s recent move and downsizing, we have spares.
  • Today by Perry Como. This is a 1987 record, so in my lifetime. ($1.00)
  • The Way of Today by Vikki Carr. Of course, as with the previous listing, Today in the title is now The old days; this record is sixties hits. ($.63).

So that’s 23 records; according to the Discogs marketplace, I paid just about what they’re worth from collectors, although the covers on many of them are in rough shape. But I’m not doing this to make money: I am doing this to see how much weight the floor of my parlor can take before collapse.

So we will see whether I get back up north today or spend my time on something productive.

So far, though, my purchases at the book sale have been fairly responsible. Which is unlike me.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Good Book Hunting, Friday, April 29, 2022: The Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library and ABC Books

Today, I took a trip to the north side of Springfield for the Friends of the Springfield-Greene County library book sale, ostensibly to look at the dollar records, but I also picked up a few books and videos from the dollar books section. As I was already up in that area, I also stopped at ABC Books to pick up gift cards for thank-you notes for teachers, but I picked up a couple books there–and told an employee, the son of friends, that he should go door-to-door looking for books for the martial arts section.

Although I hope to return tomorrow to visit the Better Books section and prowl amidst the art monographs and audio courses, I might not make it back–consider this a cliffhanger! And if I do, ABC Books is hosting another book signing with S.V. Farnsworth, so I might swing by there again–as you might remember, gentle reader, I missed Farnsworth when she was at ABC Books last December.

At any rate, today, I got:

  • The 4-Hour Body, an audiobook from Timothy Ferris, author of several books my beautiful wife has liked. I think I have The Tools of Titans in book form around here somewhere.
  • A Night at the Opera, a Marx Brothers movie. As you might recall, gentle reader, I watched Horse Feathers and Duck Soup last November.
  • The Caine Mutiny with Bogart, where he is not the protagonist but is Captain Queeg. I saw this in high school and not since.
  • Swing Shift with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. The film that started it all for them? I haven’t seen it.
  • Twelve O’Clock High, a war picture with Gregory Peck.
  • Where Water Comes Together With Other Water, poems by Raymond Carver. I was just telling someone, probably my wife, that Carver, known more for his short stories, taught my university fiction professor and advisor. Mid-to-late century modern short stories, which explains why she and you have not heard of them.
  • The Loser’s End by William Heyliger, a young adult novel from 1937 about a young man who goes into steel construction and becomes good at it and a successful businessman. Kind of like The Fountainhead without, one would assume, the rough sex.
  • Two volumes from a Mark Twain set that includes The Gilded Age, The American Claimant, and Pudd’nhead Wilson.
  • Pensées, by Blaise Pascal, which I have not read. This one has a Used sticker on it, marking it as a textbook–one wonders if it’s highlighted inside. Yes.
  • Lifetime Collection of Poetry by Lucille Christiansen, a chapbook.
  • Within This Center: Poems and Images by Robert C. Jones, also a chapbook.
  • Thin Ice and Other Poems by Marcia Muth, ibid chapbook.
  • Pioneer Proverbs: Wit and Wisdom from Early America, a saddle-stitched little book.
  • Unspoken: Feelings of a Gentleman, poems by Pierre Alex Jeanty. He has three or four such volumes at ABC Books. Hopefully, they’re good.
  • Road Atlas: Prose & Other Poems by Campbell McGrath.

The Friends book sale did not bundle several chapbooks for a dollar as in years past; I had to pay full price for each. Still, I only spent a combined $35 on all media at the book sale along with $20-something at ABC Books. Almost frugal.

Although tomorrow is half-price day. I might be able to convince my wife to come along to help me carry, and it might be in the Better Book section where I go nuts.

It was strange, too–so many times, I have dragged my boys up there with the promise of a Five Guys burger after, and I have had to hustle before they went into full boredom revolt. Today, though, I did not have them, and I was in and out in under an hour. Part of that, I suspect, is the paucity of records to paw through–less than a third of what it has been some years–and that I really only look at the media and the poetry sections in the dollar book section. Also, I wanted to hurry home as I have other things to do. Like this blog post.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Something I Noticed

C’mon, man, I can’t be the only one who noticed this, but Google Meet displays you a mirror image of yourself, as though you were looking in the mirror:

While Zoom and most other video call/recording systems show you a true image, which is what you look like to someone else:

I imagine that Google does that because one tends to think one looks weird or off when viewing one’s self true instead of what one sees in the mirror all the time.

Maybe I’m the only one to notice, since I have had to use so many of the meeting technologies in short order–sometimes two or more per contact (I had a Zoom meeting cut off at the free limit, so we had to switch to Google Meets to finish up recently).

It’s also why you tend to think you look different in photographs. Perhaps Google is trying to help avert video meeting fatigue/stress by making ourselves look more familiar.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Brian J.’s Recycler Tour, Arkham Edition

From this date in 2010:

Brian J. Noggle is so vain, he thinks this song is about him and is sending him coded messages from The Messiah Team detailing the secret conspiracy of grocery store bread vendors against him. So maybe “vain” isn’t the operative word.

Facebook, and Twitter, used to be good for a quip, before the algorithms got too sophisticated and stopped showing them to people I know.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Good Album Hunting, April 24, 2022: Relics Antique Mall

This afternoon, my youngest son had one of his few remaining middle school youth group activities; his activities are an hour and a half long, and the ride into town is 20 minutes, so instead of coming home and going back to get him, I killed the time at Relics Antique Mall.

As you might recall, gentle reader, I received four $25 gift certificates for Christmas, and they’re not gift cards–they’re old timey gift certificates, but the antique mall does not give change on them, so the best strategy is to spend a little over the face amount and pay the difference. Well, that’s the theory.

So I got some records.


  • Sundown Lady by Lani Hall, aka Mrs. Herb Alpert, but a noted singer (and author) in her own right. I actually own this album on CD, but now I can spin it in the parlor.
  • The Shape of Things To Come by Larry Elgart. I’ve got some of his other works and they’re okay, so I’ll spend $2 on another.
  • Steve & Eydie Together on Broadway by Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme. Apparently, I bought a copy in 2015, but if I’m not sure, I’ll spend the $2 to make sure. Besides, this is a radio station copy, so more collectible?
  • Family Portrait, an A&M Records sampler collection.
  • Watch Out! by the Baja Marimba Band. I probably already have this one, too, as I own a lot of this A&M band’s recordings, but it was gift certificate money, man, and I don’t see it in a quick search of previous Good Album Hunting/Good Record Hunting posts. Something interesting about this: It was in a different booth from the tag, and it had two Longine Symphonette records stuck in it. I took them out and left them at the booth where I was shopping, but this will likely cause all sorts of mayhem and perhaps my picture on the Relics Wall of Shame.
  • Artie Shaw and His Gramercy Five
  • Crash and Burn by the Pat Travers Band because someone, I think it was Jack Baruth, posted about him once upon a time recently, although a quick search of his blog does not come up with a post about the band.
  • Hot Pennies by Red Nichols because he’s blowing a trumpet on the cover, and trumpet music is always in fashion at Nogglestead, home of the prettiest trumpet player in the world (leaving Cindy Bradley and Tine Thing Helseth to battle for the #2 spot).
  • Meet the Five Pennies by Red Nichols, because if I like him, I should buy all of them available right now.
  • Swing Along With Jonah Jones by Jonah Jones (a copy of which I bought two years ago at Relics.
  • Swingin’ ‘Round the World by Jonah Jones. When I bought the first album two years ago, I mentioned a second album that I did not buy. There’s no telling if it was this album that I saw. Certainly not this copy.
  • Brazilian Bird by Charlie Bird, another duplicate–I bought a copy in September 2020. This is the first record I picked up, so my trip was snakebitten with duplicates from the start.

So that’s twelve records with 3 or 4 duplicate copies and one an album I already had on another format. So maybe that’s not actually good album hunting.

Jeez, maybe I do really need to organize my record collection so I know what’s in it.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Another Book Hunter Heard From

At Ace of Spades HQ, Perfesser Squirrel, who has taken over the Sunday Morning Book Thread after OregonMuse, PBUH, posts some recent book acquisitions:

I had a major book haul this week. The university library in which I work (but I do not work for) had a book sale. Managed to walk away with 20 books for the low, low price of $11. Not too shabby.
Here is my haul:
* The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination edited by John Joseph Adams
* Downtiming the Night Side by Jack L. Chalker
* Lord of the Silent Kingdom by Glen Cook
* Surrender to the Will of the Night by Glen Cook
* Working God’s Mischief by Glen Cook
* Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia
* Monster Hunter Vendetta by Larry Correia
* Monster Hunter Alpha by Larry Correia
* Star Wars: The Joiner King by Troy Denning (side note: I ordered this on Amazon several weeks ago, but it never arrived. According to the tracking number, it got lost in Delaware, so maybe it was left on FJB’s doorstep. But it only cost me $0.50 for the replacement!)
* The Dreaming Void by Peter F. Hamilton
* The Temporal Void by Peter F. Hamilton
* The Abyss Beyond Dreams by Peter F. Hamilton
* Gentlemen Takes a Chance by Sara H. Hoyt
* Lost in Translation by Wil McCarthy
* To Crush the Moon by Wil McCarthy
* Wellstone by Wil McCarthy
* Galactic North by Alastair Reynolds
* On the Steele Breeze by Alastair Reynolds
* The Mammoth Book of Steampunk edited by Sean Wallace
* Book of the New Sun Volume 1: Shadow and Claw by Gene Wolfe

A Jack Chalker book I had not heard of as well as three of Correia’s Monster Hunter series and a Hoyt novel? Not bad indeed.

The Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library book sale is this week, gentle reader. I shall probably go on a weekday to prowl the dollar records and maybe on Saturday for half price day. I don’t tend to roam the fiction sections much, but you never can tell.

Watch this space for Good Book Hunting and Good Album Hunting posts in the coming days.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Not Depicted: Who You Are

I guess there’s a comedienne coming to town, but the Facebook ad does not say who it is:

I guessed correctly Margaret Cho even though her name was not listed on the advert, and even though I was not familiar with her work on the listed programs, but I remember she was a big deal from the television program All-American Girl. Twenty-eight years ago. Right about the time I stopped really paying much attention to television or stand-up comedy. So, yeah, I could not really name any comedian under forty.

On the other hand, at least Facebook presented me with an ad for a show in Springfield. Other times, I get ads for artists I’d like to see, like Joss Stone, but she’s performing in Memphis.

Other times, I get bands I’ve never heard of performing nowhere near me.

The who? In Memphis?

And the other who? In LA?

Someday, I would like to have more money than sense. But until then, no jetting off to see unknowns. Given what I’ve heard on the “free” CDs and downloads I’ve seen advertised on Facebook, I’m not even inclined to take those low-cost fliers, either.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Book Report: The Samurai: The Philosophy of Victory by Robert T. Samuel (2004)

Book coverI bought this book last summer in Berryville, Arkansas. Whilst I am bogged down and bored with the children’s book I’m reading, I have been looking for various other things to read between chapters, and I settled on this volume, especially as I recently succumbed to latent nipponphilia when listening to Understanding Japan: A Cultural History.

However, this is a Barnes and Noble book, so it’s more of a coffee book akin to Samurai Warriors than an actual history. It is lavishly illustrated, which unfortunately often means watermarking images behind the text that make it hard to read in spots, and its text relies heavily on Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai and The Book of Five Rings, texts which Professor Ravina tut-tuts because they’re written a bit anachronistically.

At any rate, it collects some aspirational material about how to live like a samurai, the warrior code and whatnot, interspersed with some stories and legends of samurai. Unfortunately, many of the non-Hagakure and Five Rings sources are unattributed, so one cannot look for those source materials for further reading.

So a bit thick for a simple browse, and not detailed enough for real study. But, I suppose, if you’re looking for a bit of self-help in how to live well, you could do worse.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Book Report: Tiger Stalk The Executioner #220 (1997)

Book coverI thought this might be the first of the Executioner novels I’ve read this year, but apparently I read Terror Intent to start the year. Which proves, I suppose, either how forgettable the later Executioner novels are or perhaps how long ago January was from now in my mind.

At any rate, this book is a rare artifact in the Executioner series in that the title kinda refers to the plot: Mack Bolan goes to Sri Lanka to find an American diplomat held by the Tamil Tigers. C’mon, man, if you’re of colonoscopy age like me, you cannot read Sri Lanka without a muddy British accent and pronouncing it Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, can you?

Spoiler alert: Mack Bolan does not beat any shopkeepers to death with their own shoes, although this book was written long enough after the film came out that the author could have inserted such a scene. Or perhaps dropped in a Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon for us. But no.

So Mack Bolan meets up with an intelligence counterpart who is playing all three ends against the middle: the government of Sri Lanka, the Tamil Tigers, and the Americans–I have not done the calculations to determine exactly what number of agent that makes her. She’s ostensibly in the service of India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), but she’s sleeping with the head of one of the factions of the Tigers. So when I read Pergelator yesterday, and he mentions RAW in terms of a film he watched, I was all like oh, of course I know what that is. So these books have some small educational value.

Bolan, like my middle school (and high school) Dungeons and Dragons group, does not use the encumbrance rules. Check this out:

A large canvas carryall at his feet contained more gear, including extra clips for the Uzi, as well as for the Beretta and Desert Eagle. Additionally, a 5.56mm M-16 A-2 assault rifle, fitted with an M-203 single-shot grenade launcher, lay beside a small radio transceiver to send messages to the fishing boat waiting in a port in India just across from Palk Strait. An assortment of M-40 and 40mm fragmentation and incendiary grenades, C-4 plastic explosive, miniaturized detonators, trip triggers and timers, and three compact missile-launching LAW 80s completed the portable armory.

He’s carries this bag various places, but it’s well over a hundred pounds of equipment easily, so he should not be carrying it with one hand. I don’t know how big of a carryall that is, but that’s a lot of weight and cubic dimension for a single bag. But I can’t talk. It was not uncommon for my fighters to go into a dungeon with a 10′ pole, 50′ of rope, carrying a pole axe, two handed sword, long bow, and food and water for a week (plus whatever loot we found).

A serviceable book in the series, torn from the headlines of 1997–and the civil war in Sri Lanka, which began in 1983, would last until 2009.

So maybe one can learn things even from these men’s adventure paperbacks from time to time.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Proving the Rule

Speaking of artists who try to cross types of art, Severian sez:

Indeed it seems the only “artists” who won’t stay in their lanes are actors. I can’t even count the number of actors who have released shitty albums (and no actors who have released good ones).

C’mon, man, I know William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and most of the other actors who appeared on Golden Throats compilations (full disclosure: I own three of the four) fit this description, some actors/actresses did release records that did not suck.

It might not be high art, but Bruce Willis’s The Return of Bruno was fun:

I like it so much I am disappointed there was never a follow-up.

I am not sure I ever saw an episode of E.R. in its entirety, but Gloria Rueben had a role in it somewhere, at sometime, before she started releasing jazz recordings:

Of which I have two so far, and they’re pretty good.

And, as you might recall, I ordered Pier Angeli’s record, which is not half bad:

She was a movie actress in the fifties and sixties linked romantically to James Dean and Kirk Douglas. She, too, looks to only have released this single album.

And Chris Jericho’s band Fozzy rocks:

Alright, alright, alright, so he’s a professional wrestler, but you know that’s not real, right?

So, most actors recording music (and a lot of contemporary “musicians” recording music which is their voices, corrected, dubbed over computer renderings) are vanity projects of dubious quality. However, using the logical square, or rectangle, or quadratic equation (it’s been decades since I’ve formally studied logic, so I’m a little fuzzy on the particular geometrology of it), to disprove Severian’s All assertion, I need only to prove One is not, which I most certainly have.

But one must have sympathy for Severian, who apparently thinks the Lenny Kravitz version of “American Woman” is superior to the original by The Guess Who. Clearly, this marks him as a closeted fan of 1990s music.

UPDATE:I was talking this over with my beautiful wife this evening, and I said, “You know, there are some actors who fronted bands, like Gary Sinese and Kevin Bacon. And…wait…. Jared Leto’s band, Thirty Seconds to Mars…”

Which doesn’t suck, although I haven’t listened to a lot of them. Here’s a recent track:

Jared Leto strikes me as a moonbat. Which is better for a rock star than an actor anyway.

So maybe this will evolve into a series of posts over time.

By the way, my beautiful wife suggested Jennifer Lopez, but I demurred, saying she was a dancer, so she was in music first. But her timeline on Wikipedia indicates she was an actress first and a singer second. However, gentle reader, I cannot in good conscience put her forward as an example as I am unconvinced as to the merit of her music. Strangely enough, for a guy who owns a bunch of Paulina Rubio and Shakira CDs, not to mention jazz artists like Rocio Durcal, Rocio Jurado, The Triplets, and, yes, even Selina (for whom Jennifer Lopez got noticed when she acted in a movie about the young songbird), I don’t know much of Jennifer Lopez’s music.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Shopping Like Lileks

James Lileks recently went into a Macy’s, looking for a belt, and….

I could go to Target, but it’s jammed up and jelly tight on Saturdays. (Note: jelly is not, in fact, tight. Ever.) Macy’s, then. I hadn’t been there since they reconfigured the place. The new look is more “open,” which gives you a full appreciation of the paucity of the merchandise. Perhaps they’re just being more selective. Yes. that’s the idea. Go for that Apple Store look; we know how well it worked out for JCPenney.

I knew where the belts were – Men’s Furnishings, I believe it’s called – so I went there. No belts. A lot of athletic gear. In fact half the men’s department now appears to be sweatpants.

You know, gentle reader, I like to dress like an adult if not entirely the whole Cary Grant. I have often bought George apparel at Walmart, but it doesn’t tend to last very long before the points of the collars show wear from machine washing or the waistline of trousers gets a little banged up. I’ve had pretty good luck with clothing I’ve bought at Target or Kohl’s, but I’ve not tended to go to those department stores frequently. I recently (recently being the last two years) have bought shirts off of Amazon, but they often arrive with loose stitching and popped threads right out of the bag–and even if they don’t, they have the longevity of the George apparel with the price of the upscale department store.

So I went into a Target a couple of weeks ago to pick up some things, and I thought I’d look for shirts whilst I was there. The store is being remodeled (but at least they weren’t jacking up and moving aisles whilst I was shopping). After I dodged closed sections to get to the men’s wear section in the back, I wandered through the diminished stock several times, and the store had no dress clothing whatsoever. No slacks. No button-up (or button-down) shirts. Polo shirts and hoodies and athletic gear, but nothing for an adult to wear.

I have not been in since, and I have not tried Kohl’s to see what its stock is like lately, but I, too, have to wonder if it’s going to be specialty shops and online orders in the future.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

The Perfect Easter Movie

Ladies and gentlemen, we at MfBJN have conclusively proven that Lethal Weapon is a Christmas movie, and we have admitted that Lethal Weapon 2 is not a Christmas movie. But hear me now and believe me later:

Lethal Weapon 2 is an Easter movie.

Now, it is not set during the Easter season that I can tell; however, review the following:’

  • Martin Riggs is tortured;
  • Riggs carries the means of his execution to the place of execution;
  • Riggs “dies”;
  • He descends to a watery grave;
  • He rises again;
  • In his second coming, he brings justice and retribution to the wicked.

You see: It was The Passion of the Christ before Gibson had enough clout to make the movie he really wanted to make.

Follow me for more insight into how the Lethal Weapon movies all deal with important events on the church calendar, and how Bird on a Wire is a documentary.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

A Family Photo From The Paper’s Archives, Or Something Else?

When I was reading this week’s Houston Herald, I kind of glanced at the “Years Ago” corner of the paper.

All of them have it: A page or part of a page where they reprint pictures or summaries of articles from the newspaper in years past so that the old people, aside from me, the old people who’ve lived there their whole lives can revisit some things they might remember. They might see their friends, or their family friends, in the pictures and stories kind of like they want to see their friends and family friends in print in the modern paper for good things, but not for the meth busts. The “remember when” features tend to look more toward the positives unless something really notorious is recounted.

So I kind of glance at these things because I’m a carpetbagger in these parts, which is often different from the parts from which I take the newspaper, such as the Houston Herald. I have driven through Houston twice: once out and back on a trip to De Soto, Missouri, from Nogglestead. That trip yielded me subscriptions to the Houston Herald and the paper I sought ought to begin my subscription adventure, The Licking News.

So I only glanced at the family portrait at first. Then I looked again.

It’s not actually a family photo; it is a picture of winners of the electrical co-operative’s essay winners.

Which probably means that they’re in high school.

The photo is undated, but I’m guessing early 1960s.

I’ve mentioned before how kids from the 1960s and earlier looked older (see They Don’t Look So Young, But…. and Scandinavian Teens Circa 1965).

I don’t think I ever hit that middle-aged look, the responsible father–in old family photos we have with my beautiful wife and young boys, I still looked young. Kind of how I still think I look young in the mirror, but in the photos–I certainly look older than I think that high school kid above looks. Which is a bit of a change for me.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

I Knew Which of The Three He Meant

Last night, on the way home from Maundy Thursday service, my oldest in the back seat said, “‘Learning to Fly’ is a pretty dope song.”

“Coming down is the hardest thing,” my beautiful wife said, quoting Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

“He doesn’t mean Tom Petty,” I said. I know the young man. He did not mean the Foo Fighters either.

No, the young man, my son, meant Pink Floyd’s “Learning to Fly”:

You know, it’s the oldest of the three; it came out in 1987 on A Momentary Lapse of Reason which I first got on audiocassette early in college. Tom Petty and the Heartbreaker’s version came off of their 1991 album Into the Great Wide Open; I am pretty sure that I bought the song on a cassette single, but not the whole album. The baby of the bunch, the Foo Fighters song, came out in 1998; I bought the CD for There Is Nothing Left To Lose based on this song. They all came out within, what, eleven years of each other, each an aspirational sort of song about trying and succeeding.

Do they even make pop songs about that any more? Don’t ask me; I don’t listen to pop, and Brazilian death metal is not quite so aspirational.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

I Know A Guy In The News

As I have mentioned, I have been known to click crime stories in Milwaukee or St. Louis to see if I knew any of the participants, and once in a while, I would. Well, I have been out of those cities for over a decade or two these days, and most of the guys from the projects or the trailer parks who had gotten on the wrong side of the law have probably died by now.

But here in Springfield, if I click through a story, if I know someone, it’s probably on a positive story. Like Gyms in the Ozarks returning to normal as pandemic restrictions end. I clicked through to see if it was a gym I’d recognize (basically, Planet Fitness on Republic Road, the parks’ Chesterfield or Kinney Family Center, or the downtown or Pat Jones YMCA).

And so it was–it was the Pat Jones YMCA, where I work out. So then I watched to see if I knew anyone there. Or see if I made an appearance, although I would not immediately recognize the old man I am in photographs but not the mirror.

I didn’t recognize anyone working out–the bit was not filmed at my normal time, 8am to 9am on weekdays, or I would have recognized many of the older people who have been working out there for years in the mornings. Like me–almost a decade now, off and on, at roughly the same time in the mornings (although I am probably going to switch to afternoons soon, as I will not make a daily run into Springfield to drop a child off at the Lutheran school there).

I didn’t recognize any of the staff–the CEO of the YMCA was interviewed, not any of the front desk people or trainers that I see around.

However, I did recognize the young man they interviewed. Well, no, I recognized the name and then the young man.

He and his mother and father studied at my dojo; they were a couple of months ahead of us. When they reached their black belts, the mother dropped, and then the father and son came sparingly, and then the son dropped, and then the father came on his own a couple of times before dropping. It’s a common pattern amongst families, one I’m trying to avoid.

Of course, I did not recognize the guy because it’s been five years, and he’s grown up a bit in the interim and grew some facial hair. But working off the name, I recognized him.

Between my martial arts classes and the church, I end up recognizing a far better class of people in the news these days.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Book Report: True Tales From Dickerson Park Zoo by Mike Crocker (2022)

Book coverWell, it only took me a week to read this book–I bought it at ABC Books a week ago Saturday, and it was a nice book to intersperse with my reading of The Red Badge of Courage.

The book is a series of very short stories–most of them are only a couple of paragraphs long, but they’re not broken into individual chapters–dealing with animals and zookeeping and talking a bit about the evolution of zookeepery over the last fifty years, from the concrete cages of the 1970s–heaven help me, but I kind of remember those kinds of exhibits at the Milwaukee Public Zoo when I was but a kid and Chandar, the white tiger, was there–to the more lavish and proper habitat that you see these days.

Crocker specialized in snakes, so a lot of the stories deal with the slithering fellows, but many of the anecdotes that do not feature snakes indicate how dangerous it is to work at a zoo.

I did flag a bit in the book:

One weekend day in the early ’80s, I got a phone call about a lion loose on North Glenstone in Springfield. I think people had called 911 to report spotting a lion. At that time, I lived not far from the location, perhaps a two-minute drive. By coincidence, another zookeeper, Terry Letterman, was at my house.

Terry and I jumped into a vehicle and headed to the location, which was a motel just south of the intersection of Glenstone and Kearney, on the west side of the road. By the time we got there, animal control had already caught the cat and had it in one of the holding units in their truck. It was an African lion, about one-third grown by my estimate, and weighed perhaps seventy-five to one hundred pounds.

The animal was not aggressive. Animal control drove to the zoo with Terry and me following behind. Once we arrived, animal control let the cat out. I straddled the lion, grabbed it by the scruff of the neck, and walked it into a stall in a building located in the southwest corner of the zoo property.

It didn’t take long to locate the owners. They were traveling through Springfield with the cat and had stopped at a motel at the corner of Glenstone and Kearney. They left to eat, and while they were gone the lion got out of its crate and wandered into the swimming pool next door. I’m sure this caused a bit of panic as the people evacuated the pool area.

That motel has been in the news recently as it was closed, and the corner slated for redevelopment, but squatters on the property had caught bits of it on fire in March, and it was torn down while I was reading this book.

I passed the property several times recently as it’s just north of ABC Books.

Also, I could have stopped the quote with the mention of the motel, but I finished out the story to give you a sense of how long the individual anecdotes are. Not especially detailed; more spoken history written down than anything else.

So a quick and amusing read. As I mentioned, this is the second copy of the book that we have at Nogglestead–my beautiful wife got a copy first, and she read bits of it to me, so when I saw that the author was going to be at ABC Books, I made sure to go up there and get my own signed copy.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

On Boondock Saints (1999)

Book coverI became aware of this film sometime around the turn of the century when colleagues at work talked about it. One of them is of Irish heritage, so he probably felt some affinity for this film, which is a story of Irish brother vigilantes in Boston taking on various mobs in their amateur fashion while being pursued, and then aided, by an FBI agent played by Willem Dafoe. But then the local capo arranges the parole of an extreme hit man to track down and eliminate the boys.

The story is told in a variety of flashbacks and whatnot, where the police come to a crime scene, and the FBI guy figures out what happened, and then the film flashes back to the actual happening. Sometimes the agent is correct, but sometimes he just misses because the brothers are not as professional as he assumes.

For some reason, I’d gotten the impression that this was an ultraviolent production, but it’s really not that bad. Although I am not sure if that’s because it really isn’t that bad, or my impression of that bad has evolved over the last 20 years.

So, not a bad film. Not the touchstone for me as it was for my co-workers. And I’m not sure why they put the word Boondock in the title. The group calls themselves the Saints, but they aren’t out in the sticks–they’re in Boston. So, I dunno.

Normally, I would include pictures of an actress in the film, but the movie doesn’t really have any female leads. It does have Willem Defoe in a dress and make-up, but I will spare you that.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories