Movie Report: Leatherheads (2008)

Book coverYou might remember hearing about this George Clooney football movie. I am not sure how many people saw it. When you come right down to it, you could say that about a lot of George Clooney movies: You’ve heard of it, but you’ve not seen it. He made some interesting selections at the peak of his movie bankability: Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?, The Men Who Stare At Goats, Syriana, Solaris–sometime after 2000, he decided his name alone could bring people in, and I guess it did, but not many. Although, to be honest, I guess I have seen a number of those in the theater, so perhaps I am speaking here without data to back it up (a blogger, abstracting incorrectly? Heaven forfend!).

At any rate, it’s probably best to not think of this as a football movie or a football comedy but more around the drama of the logistics of having a professional football team in the early part of the 20th century. Clooney plays Dodge, a player/coach for a fictional Duluth professional football team struggling to remain solvent as they barnstorm the Midwest to play other teams in similar situations. When the team goes under, Dodge convinces a college star and recently returned World War I hero (Carter Rutherford, played by John Krasinski) to play for his team to draw people into the stands–even though the team doesn’t really exist. As they start attracting crowds, a female reporter played by Renée Zellweger is investigating whether Carter’s war exploits were oversold.

So the focus is not on the playing of the football but rather the off-field antics as Dodge woos Lexie, the reporter, and tries to keep the plates of running the football team spinning.

So although it’s a comedy, like The Men Who Stare At Goats and Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? (I admit twice I added the appropriate second comma to that title, but that would be [sic]), it’s amusing in spots at best and that’s about it. Perhaps Clooney would indicate it’s too sophisticated for me. Perhaps he would be correct.

The war story, though, I recognize that as based on Sergeant York’s story, which was believed initially and then doubted for a time as more skeptical generations arose but has more recently been sort of verified. Although Carter’s story of his battle differs–he awakens from a drunken stupor to find he’s behind a German advance and captures a bunch of them from there–one can see the influence. I guess I’m not sophisticated enough to celebrate tearing down icons, even fictional ones. (As a reminder, I watched Sergeant York with Gary Cooper in 2020 and read Sergeant York: His Own Life Story and War Diary last year).

At any rate, I don’t know if I will rewatch this DVD, but I can if I want. Which is unlike football comedies like Necessary Roughness and The Waterboy which are more comedic and more focused on the football qua football.

As a closing thought, I have to wonder if George Clooney got the sense that he was a modern Cary Grant–I know some press compared him to the black-and-white star back in the day. But Grant’s comedies, such as His Girl Friday and even The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer, are funny. Or maybe just funny to people steeped in the tropes of black-and-white. Who can laugh at the jokes at Shakespeare and Jonson without reading the footnotes first. By whom, I probably mean me. And, for the record, I have never considered going Clooney.

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Good, Erm, Hunting, Saturday, April 29, 2023: Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library

Gentle reader, yesterday was half-price day at the Friends of the Library book sale, so I wandered back up north with my oldest son. Mainly, I wanted to hit the tables of cheap DVDs again, especially as they were going to be fifty cents each (!).

So I did. And I bought a bunch.

Look at that haul. Coupled with the couple of bundles of chapbooks I got on the dollar books side, I spent $20.

The movies include:

  • A Cary Grant videocassette that seems to contain three films: Charade, Penny Serenade, and Amazing Adventure. I am pretty sure I have Charade already, which means I spent 12.5 cents each on the other two.
  • Hondo with John Wayne, of whom I have a very thin collection.
  • The Sacketts, a two videocassette set. C’mon, man, that’s got to be based off of Louis L’Amour books, ainna? To be honest, I didn’t look closely at the videos as I was trying to keep it relatively quick. My boy at almost seventeen has more patience than he did at six, but he’s still no Buddha.
  • Medea Goes to Jail. The library had several of these. I’ve never seen a Medea film, but they were pretty popular, ainna?
  • National Lampoon’s Barely Legal, a National Lampoon-badged film as apparently I’m a fan (see National Lampoon’s Dirty Movie, National Lampoon’s Adam and Eve, National Lampoon’s Black Ball, National Lampoon’s Vacation, National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon I, and so on, and so on….).
  • Death Trap which I saw part of in high school (but I missed the second day of for some reason). I read the play in 2020.
  • Cloverfield.
  • Avengers: Endgame. A library copy, but it was fifty cents. I think we’re missing a lot of the later half of the first phase of the MCU films.
  • Discoveries… America: Wisconsin, a documentary about my favorite state.
  • Borat, something my son tucked into the stack.
  • A Man For All Seasons. I think I read something about the film in a The New Oxford Review recently.
  • About a Boy since I’m on a Hugh Grant kick. Well, not so far, but I did recently watch a movie based on a Nick Hornby book, so it’s almost the same thing.
  • D.O.A., the original from 1950 and not the later remake with Dennis Quaid (1988). It’s probably due for a reboot, ainna?
  • Knocked Up, a Seth Rogen movie. To test if he really annoys me all the time (as he did in The Green Hornet. And note that I picked up this film and I picked up National Lampoon’s Barely Legal, I passed over Zach and Miri Make a Porno. Why? I dunno.
  • My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I’ve seen this before, but not in the theaters.
  • Stand Up Guys which looks to be a mob movie.
  • 50 First Dates, an Adam Sandler film that I have so far missed.
  • The Men Who Stare At Goats, a George Clooney film I saw in the theater.
  • Shopgirl starring Steve Martin based on his novel (novella?) which I read in 2006.
  • The Forbidden Kingdom, a foreign film which might or might not feature action.
  • The Return of the Pink Panther. I have seen bits of these films as a lad (and I was probably disappointed they did not actually feature the Pink Panther cartoon character). I wonder what I will think of them as an adult.
  • Return of the One-Armed Swordsman. Another foreign actioner.
  • Finding Forrester starring Sean Connery, but not an action film, and to my knowledge he does not wear a futuristic speedo.
  • Judge Dredd starring Sylvester Stallone. It only now occurs to me as I type this that it might be included in the four film set I bought that includes Demolition Man. Oh, well, if so, the Lutherans for Life are accepting donations for their summer garage sale.
  • Notting Hill with Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts. Perhaps I am only on a Hugh Grant movie buying kick, although I did pass over Bridget Jones’ Diary and on a later table its sequel.
  • The Out of Towners, the 1999 remake with Steve Martin and not the 1970 original. Perhaps I am also on a Steve Martin kick. Or at least a Steve Martin movie buying kick.
  • The Reader which is that movie where Kate Winslet takes off her clothes artistically. No, the other one. Maybe.
  • Rocky Balboa, one of the later Rocky films. Maybe I am on a Sylvester Stallone buying kick, although I did recently watch Demolition Man and The Expendables.
  • The Bad News Bears, the remake with Billy Bob Thornton.
  • The Best of Gallagher Volume 2. I watched his Showtime specials back in the trailer park an awful lot.
  • Mission to Mars, one of the two or three films that came out about the same time about missions to Mars.
  • Little Miss Sunshine.
  • The Departed.
  • The Italian Job, the remake. I bought the original at the same book sale on Thursday. For twice the price, though.
  • 21 Jump Street, the comedy film. My son added this to the stack, proving that he was amusing himself at the sale tolerably well, and certainly more frugally than his father.
  • The Jade Warrior, a Chinese film.

Guys, that’s 37 or 38 films on physical media for about $17. You can’t beat that with a stick.

So I wrote my first check for $20 and sent my boy to the car with the box of DVDs while I went to the Better Books section.

Where I did some damage.

First off, in my defense, they had a number of audio books and courses that were reasonably priced to begin with and were half off on Saturday. Some years, the volunteers have priced the audio courses at $20 or so, but most of them this sale, at least the ones available on Saturday, were $4, $5, or $8 list price (and half off of that).

So I got a few:

These include:

  • Emerson, Thoreau, and the Transcendentalist Movement.
  • The Science of Mindfulness.
  • How to Make Stress Work For You.
  • Patriots: Brotherhood of the American Revolution.
  • Meaning from Data.
  • Understanding Linguistics: The Science of Language.
  • The World Was Never The Same: Events that Changed History.
  • The Genius of Michelangelo.
  • How to View and Appreciate Great Movies. Although to be honest, I probably could use a course on how to watch middling or bad movies.
  • Unqualified by Anna Faris.

Most are on CDs, but some are on DVD (which play in our primary family vehicle without the video). We had thought about driving to Florida for vacation this year, but backed out of it. Now, I’m a little sad we’re not going to spend thirty or forty hours in the car.

Records? Well, the Better Book section generally only has a couple of crates’ worth, but I found a couple of things.


  • Black Satin by the George Shearing Quintet. Yes, I know I already have it. But this cover might just be slightly better. Funny story about this record. Not long after I got the first copy of it, my youngest son saw it and was SCANDALIZED because he didn’t know how to spell Satan. So he thought this record was “Black Satan.” Perhaps they call the devil “Old Nick” at his Lutheran school. I don’t know. But when I picked the record up this time, I showed it to my oldest and said, in my best Church Lady impression (which, undeniably, is not very good) “Could it be…. SATIN?” And my oldest had no idea what I was talking about because that skit is, what, 30 years old now?
  • About the Blues by Julie London.
  • Good King Bad by George Benson.
  • Let Me Be Your Woman by Linda Clifford, a 1979 disco/funk 2-record set that not only features a pretty woman on the cover (PWoC), but also a centerfold (where she is wearing more clothing than the cover itself).

Oh, and books? I did pick up a couple of those as well.

I got a couple of art monographs and a couple bundles of chapbooks mostly. The haul includes:

  • Lyrics of Lowly Life by Paul Laurence Dunbar. I know, you’re thinking I just bought (well, just two years ago bought) Dunbar’s complete poems. Why do I need this book? Well, need is not the word, but this is a handsome 1914 edition of his third collection originally from 1896.
  • The Tao of the Jump Shot by John Fitzsimmons Mahoney.
  • Jack Rogers: Cowboy, Fighter Pilot by Marion H. Pendleton. For some reason, the name sounded familiar.
  • Chasing Matisse: A Year in France Living My Dream by James Morgan. Not a monograph; looks to be sort of similar to Travels with Epicurus maybe.
  • Auguste Rodin: Sculptures and Drawings. It’s been a couple years since I reviewed any Rodin.
  • Masaccio: The Complete Paintings by the Master of Perspective by Richard Fremantle.
  • Mom at War: A Story of Courage of Love Born of Loss by Todd Parnell. Not a monograph. Pleased to see I haven’t bought it before. I did pass over several copies of Privilege and Privation. Which is good since I apparently bought copies both in 2021 and 2022.

I also picked up a couple of bundles of chapbooks/pamphlets for $1 per bundle. Included in the bundles were:

  • Three Hallmark Treasures titles, The Magic of Children, In Quiet Places, and What Is a Friend. Basically Ideals magazine, but smaller.
  • Three Salesian Mission booklets that you got for a mail-in donation or as a come-on for the same: Golden Moments, The Way, and Love Everlasting. Kind of like Hallmark Treasure titles, but they fit in a #10 envelope. Will I count each as an individual title in the 2023 reading log? Given how fast I’m knocking out books this year, probably!
  • Letters from July by Nicole Simone. This is a 2021 title, so relatively young to be in a bundle at the FOL book sale.
  • Heirarchy by Jeremy Daryl. The POD date at the end is 2022. Perhaps a local literary magazine donated books sent in for review.
  • With Ridiculous Caution by Susan Stevens. From 2013.
  • Shin Splints by Dorothy Stroud.
  • Songs for the Grandaughters published by the Friends of the Lincoln-Lancaster Commission on the Status of Women. Oh, boy. Poetry by commission. I can wait.
  • The Best of Wheat and a Little Chaff Number II by Leah Lathrom Wallace. And just like that, I am the biggest collector of Leah Lathrom Wallace poetry in the country (since I also got the first volume in a similar bundle some years ago and read it in 2018.

Whew! That’s quite a catalog.

I have to admit that I had the same giddy feeling after making this haul as I used to when I’d get paid on a Friday night, cash my check at the courtesy counter of the grocery store where I worked, and take the bus to the mall and blow it all. I’d get home, unpack the bags of video games, cassettes, books, and movies onto my bed, and anticipate all of them and savor choosing where to begin.

Now, clearly, I have chosen to share the bounty with you, gentle reader.

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Movie Report: Man on Fire (2004)

Book coverI popped in this film after I read somewhere–I forget where–I am sorry!–that they’re making a television series based on the A.J. Quinell book from which this movie is based. As I doubt modern movie makers actually read books, I assume they’re making it from the ideas expressed in this film. So I thought I would give it a watch. Which I can do now since it’s almost twenty years old and hence an old movie.

In it, Denzel Washington plays a disolute, dissipated mercenary with a drinking problem who travels to Mexico to visit a friend (played by Christopher Walken) and to interview for a position as a bodyguard for a wealthy family: the son who inherited the family business and an American woman. The bodyguard will mostly be responsible for keeping the daughter safe, as kidnapping wealthy children for ransom is a thriving business. When the girl is taken, he vows revenge on anyone involved and starts tracking the criminals and killing them.

So the plot moves along as Creasy, the mercenary, climbs up the ladder towards the mastermind behind it, the leader called The Voice because all he only communicates through the phone. The film has enough to keep you guessing, but relies a bit much on montages.

Not a bad action film. I’ve got the book around here somewhere, and maybe I’ll pick it up sometime.

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Good Album Hunting, Thursday, April 27, 2023: The Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library Book Sale

Well, gentle reader, I did take a little time today to run up to the Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library Book Sale and run through the records. I’d hoped I’d get premium selections being that it was the second day of the sale, but to be honest, it was not that different from the pickings one would find on Friday or Saturday.

Which is not to say that I did not find anything.

I got:

  • Posh Patrice Rushen. I was pleased to discover that I bought her album Now in 2019 and not a duplicate of this album.
  • 1100 Bel Air Place Julio Iglesias.
  • I’m Leaving It All Up To You Donny & Marie Osmond.
  • Tall Tales The New Christy Minstrels. The first of three I bought as peace offerings for my beautiful wife.
  • The New Christy Minstrels In Person The New Christy Minstrels. The second of three.
  • New Kick! The New Christy Minstrels. Boy, I hope she likes the New Christy Minstrels and not just their Christmas album which she remembers from her youth. Not that I’m saying she’s old now, mind you.
  • Boots and Stockings Boots Randolph. The saxophone master’s Christmas album.
  • Something Festive, an A&M Records sampler.
  • Peace in the Valley Ace Cannon.
  • It Must Be Him Vikki Carr.
  • Dino Dean Martin. Which I did not have.
  • Here’s Eydie Gorme Eydie Gorme. Which I also did not have. It’s always a treat to find a new Eydie record.
  • Music To Remember Her By Jackie Gleason. I already have it, but I think this has a better cover.
  • The Second Time Around Henry Mancini. I think I have it, but this cover is pretty nice.
  • Golden Saxophones Billy Vaughn.
  • Billy Vaughn Plays Billy Vaughn. I got the impression he was a saxophone player, but there’s not one on the cover. He might be a band leader. (Apparently so.)
  • Dionne Warwicks’ Greatest Motion Picture Hits Dionne Warwick.
  • The Songs I Love Perry Como. I might have it, but for a dollar, I’ll make sure.
  • King of Swing with the All Time Greats Benny Gooddman.
  • Christmas Is The Man From Galilee Cristy Lane.
  • Breezin’ George Benson. My hopefully recently ended seemingly unending quest to find one that does not skip.
  • Velvet Carpet George Shearing Quartet with String Chorus.
  • Greatest Hits Boots Randolph. I might already have it, but for a dollar, I’ll make sure.
  • The Greatest for Dancing George Evans and His Symphony of Saxes.
  • We Got Us Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme. I had it already, but this is likely a better cover.
  • Hooked on Classics III. I’m pleased to see that I’ve not mentioned buying this before, which means it’s probably not a dupe.
  • Colours of Love Hugh Montenegro. Love songs by the guy who scored The Man With No Name. Should be interesting at worst.
  • Country Gentleman Henry Mancini.
  • Greatest Hits Volume 1 Dean Martin. Already had it, but this has a nice cover.
  • Dionne Dionne Warwick.
  • Brook Benton Sings Brook Benton with Charlie Francis. Who’s this guy? Ask me after while.
  • More Solid & Raunchy Bill Black’s Combo. C’mon, it has raunchy right in the title. And it’s apparently the second. (Research indicates this was an early bassist, and Ace Cannon is on the sax).

I also got three boxed sets:

  • Benny Goodman Sextet on 78rpm records. I’m not sure if my current record player can handle them. But I have plenty. 4 records.
  • A Treasury of Dean Marting, a Longines Symphonette Society collection. 5 records.
  • Modern Chinese: A Basic Course, a 3-record set. Which brings the total of record sets to teach one’s self a foreign language up to four or five, none of which I’ve listened to.

That’s 44 records total (although sets count as a single unit for pricing). A lot of saxophone. I passed up a lot of Slim Whitman titles, which I am sure I will come to regret if Mars attacks.

I also noted an extensive spread of $1 DVDs–about a whole row, so six or ten tables’ worth. I only breezed over a couple of tables before hitting the records, but I still gathered a couple:

Watch for these films to come to a movie report near you soon:

  • Catch Me If You Can
  • Snitch, a Dewayne Johnson film
  • Domino
  • Taxi Driver. Finally, I will know if he is talking to Travis Bickle.
  • 300
  • The Italian Job, the original with Michael Caine
  • House of Blues Beginner Keyboards. Maybe if I cannot learn guitar, I can return to keyboards, which I tried to teach myself in college.
  • Bad Boys. I am pretty sure I have Bad Boys 2 around here somewhere, and I recently held up my son from watching it because we had not seen the first.
  • The Family Man with Nicholas Cage and Tea Leoni. I saw this in the theater with my beautiful wife.
  • Road to Perdition, the Tom Hanks movie. Which means I can go on a Tom Hanks kick if I watch it close to Catch Me If You Can.
  • The Minority Report

Looking at the list, I’ve seen five of them in the cinemas (Catch Me If You Can, 300, The Family Man, The Road to Perdition, and The Minority Report). Which means they all came out in that relatively brief period of time (say, 1990 to 2004) when I went to more than one movie a year in the cinemas. Man, that was a brief time that seemed to be lasting forever until I later realize it ended.

At any rate, the total was $44, which means the book counter miscounted. I don’t feel too bad about it, as we are members of the Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library, and not at the entry level tier.

I might go back on Saturday. Normally, I would stick to the Better Books section on half price day, but I might take a closer look at the then-fifty-cent DVDs. Because all of a sudden, I’m thinking about Mars Attacks! (1996). Which I saw in the theater.

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Not A Question I Can Ask Myself

Cedar asks:

Asking the hard questions in life: how do you organize your library?

Organize? Hahahaha!

When we first moved to Nogglestead, I tried to organize the books by genre and author, but over the fourteen years, I’ve seemingly doubled the library without doubling the shelving, so now the question I ask myself is Can I put all the books on the shelves and not have some on the floor? Current answer: No.

I guess I do have some organization. I have eleven and a half bookshelves containing books that I have read or reference books or sets and seven and a half bookshelves (and two boxes in the office closet) containing books I have yet to read.

But organized? Not at Nogglestead.

We still dream of a buying a home with a dedicated library. With two-story bookshelves, a reading loft, and a massive fireplace. Someday.

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The Explanation Obvious To People Who Don’t Have The Problem

The Internet has been awash with stories bemoaning the reboot and sequel addiction that entertainment makes have these days such as this New York Post story: Why nostalgia is ruining television one classic at a time:

Nostalgia is officially out of control.

The recent news that two franchises, “Twilight” and “Harry Potter,” will get TV series adaptations doesn’t mean you’ve time-traveled back to a decade ago.

This still is 2023.

The reboot culture in television has run rampant for a while — “Magnum P.I.,” “True Lies,” “Fantasy Island,” “Hawaii Five-0,” “Queer Eye” and “Cobra Kai,” to name a few.

This month alone will offer upcoming small-screen adaptations of “Dead Ringers,” and “Fatal Attraction,” with A-list stars attached to each project (Rachel Weisz and Joshua Jackson, respectively).

But at least those stories have been lying dormant for 20-odd years (or more) before their resurrection.

You know why creativity is going bankrupt in this country these days? No one reads books.

Well, that’s a bit narrow in focus. More broadly, later generations are not ramping up their imaginations by having to picture what’s happening in their own mind–which could come from reading books, or hearing stories, or probably even a little bit from listening to dramas on the radio (although I guess some audio-only podcasts could take this role, but not podcasts on YouTube with visuals that repeat images to not violate copyright or video of some person talking jump cuts to a camera). They hardly go outside to play with just a stick, or with a toy gun and a bike, or even a bunch of action figures to build their own stories.

Instead, they get screens at an early age and endless hours of children’s shows on television.

They only get shallow stories presented to them through television and games, and when it comes time to produce entertainment of their own, we get facsimiles of what they’ve seen. Much of the time, especially for twenty-somethings and under, they’ve seen reboots and sequels already. They don’t have the depth of imagination and the amount of material from wide-ranging reading to churn in their imaginations, and they’ve not had to develop imaginations at all.

So ever faster the vortex will spin.

Man, remember the good old days when you could see a new movie, but you could pick out what other movies it copied for its elements? Mash-ups? The good old days.


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So-So Album Hunting, Saturday, April 22, 2023: Christ Community Church Garage Sale

We watched the church at the end of the farm road set up a garage sale last week, and I thought I’d stop by one day. I didn’t get out in that direction until Saturday, when my beautiful wife and I headed out to do a little shopping. Although the sale had plenty of things–furniture, clothing, glassware, and books–it had few things I was interested in. I did however pick up two records:

Hold On by Connie Scott was up by the register because it was a signed copy. My beautiful wife found this version of Toscanini’s Pictures at an Exhibition in the one box of gospel and classical records they had for sale.

It turns out that this was quite a find: The Hold On album goes for (that is, sells for between $15 and $45. Unsigned. So quite a score at $2.

I have not been buying records very much, gentle reader, because I have not built any storage for additional accumulation–and the existing records have gotten pretty tight in the shelving I have already.

Also, the receiver I picked up in 2021 flamed out. A similar failure: A blinking power button light, I press the power button, and a capacitor blew with a spark that was actually a small explosion. And no records again for a couple of months for Brian J.

It’s my own fault. The receivers have sat on the desk in the parlor, atop the 100 disc CD changer that proved to be a foolish expensive gift right before ripping songs to electronic formats became predominant. I put the receiver on top so that it would have the best air flow to cool it. Unfortunately, that made for a warm place for the cats to lie, and old Radar Love lie up there all day. And shed into the vents of the receiver all day. And occasionally vomited into it.

Late this week, my beautiful wife decided that we needed a new receiver. I mean, I had been looking for a secondhand one at antique malls, estate sales, and garage sales, but I’ve not been going to many of them lately as the season is only now spinning up for garage sales, and we’re entering that period where component stereo equipment is not going to appear in the wild as fewer people have them to unload cheaply. Maybe I should have tried pawn shops. Maybe next time.

I have speculated why she wanted one now. Perhaps she bought me an awesome record for our anniversary. Perhaps she tired of listening to the radio playing in the console stereo, as it only picks up country stations well. Or maybe she misses records spinning during dinner. Who knows?

We also bought a large painting of an Italian cafe scene, which is a genre of painting my wife likes a lot. And so does little Nico.

Well, we did give him an Italian name.

The painting and records were under $20. It was half price day.

At any rate, the new receiver arrived. It’s very small, and it only accommodates a record player or modern inputs (Bluetooth, USB, and so on). And, to Roark’s chagrin and our relief, it’s too small for a cat to lie upon.

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It Ain’t Me, Babe

Comic book hoarder’s house buried in vintage collectibles ‘worth millions’:

What a marvel-ous home.

Vintage comic books and figurines fill an “abandoned” house discovered by urban explorer Devin Dark, who suspects the ’80s and ’90s merchandise is worth “millions.”

“You walk in and immediately you can see everything stockpiled right in front,” Dark, who hails from Chicago, told SWNS. “It’s just overwhelming. You just stand there looking at everything, not knowing what to do.”

Dark, 27, shared footage of the superhero fanatic’s lair on TikTok last week, quickly collecting over 26,000 views. He posted a longer video on YouTube, but didn’t disclose the home’s location.

Given this is the finest in reporting on a TikTok video based on an interview with a company that creates and distributes amazing news content which drives huge audiences across print, digital and social for the world’s biggest publishers, I am sure you can take it completely at face value.

The photos of an “abandoned” home that has not been lived in for 15 years that is in great repair and has not been looted of its pristine comic book memorabilia, fixtures, or copper show a pretty clean house except for the stuff scattered on the floor.

So, yeah, I make a gesture of warding and disbelieve.

What struck me, though, was a discussion in the comments.

As I have explained to my wife, one of the main differences between being a “collector” and being a “hoarder” is shelf space.

And value, hoarders usually have worthless junk.

We are fortunate to have space for the things I accumulate. Not collect as I do not strive for any completeness in particular items, and I do not go to collectors’ shows or prowl Ebay for what I like–I just look to find items in the wild, at garage sales or antique malls or book sales–and I do not like to spend much money on my gatherings. And I do not really hoard–the condition of my garage aside.

But I have been fortunate that we have been able to move to larger and larger houses as we’ve gone along. That keeps things relatively tidy.

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Movie Report: Hard-Boiled (1992)

Book coverThis is an 1992 John Woo film from Hong Kong action genre. To be honest, I’m not that familiar with the genre, and I’m not enough of a poseur to get into it to impress others. I will pick them up here and there when I can find them for a buck or two, but as I mentioned when I bought this film in February, that’s becoming rare as DVD prices are starting to creep up.

At any rate, the film deals with a police inspector, “Tequila,” played by Chow Yun-fat, who is working to take down a big gangster and arms dealer in the city. He encounters an up-and-coming hardman who is manipulated into killing his boss and joining up with another up-and-coming mob boss. This fellow, played by Tony Leung Chiu-wai, turns out to be an undercover agent, and they work together to take down the arms dealer who hides his weapon cache in a hospital. Which leads to numerous almost cartoonish action sequences, although they were filmed with practical effects and not green-screened and then CGIed to death.

So it was an alright film, something I would expect to have seen on cable, and not a spectacle that it would have been in 1992 in Hong Kong, perhaps.

Speaking of spectacles, the film features a brief appearance by Hoi Shan-Lai as a librarian at the scene of a hit:

I am not sure of the actual translation, but I believe that is Mandarin for Velma.

She did not appear in many films, so I didn’t see many pictures of her on the Internet to make this a full beneath-the-fold feature.

ADDENDUM: I did not draw into stark relief something that I wanted to point out with this review: This film was produced in a free Hong Kong, and that might account for some of the thematic difference between this film and mainland Chinese and Hong Kong films after the handover–Kung Fu Yoga, Shanghai Knights (Hero, and Legend of the Fist come to mind. In this film, the bad guys are not Westerners trying to steal Chinese artifacts or treasure. This film has less propaganda in it and more universal themes where the protagonists and antagonists happen to be Chinese in extraction. I wonder if those kinds of films get made in China or Hong Kong today. They certainly haven’t hit the dollar DVD market in Springfield, Missouri, if they have.

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Book Report: Seasons of the Four States edited by S.V. Farnsworth (2019)

Book coverI bought this book last year when I met S.V. Farnsworth at her book signing at ABC Books. She is only the editor on this book which is a collection of works from the Joplin Writers’ Guild.

So the book collects works by the members. Poetry, some genre works, some slice-of-life short stories like you used to read in McCall’s or other general interest magazines. Some of it is pretty pederstrian, but I’m not one to level judgment. I haven’t completed a poem or short story in months. At least these kids (some of whom are older than I am, no doubt) are trying.

Ya know, I was a member of the Missouri Writers’ Guild for a year or so and perhaps a paper member of the Springfield Writers’ Guild. A full member–I’ve had works in national magazines for pay, gentle reader, and don’t worry, I won’t let you forget it. I never made it to a meeting, though. But maybe this book has encouraged me to consider trying again. I am surely less of an ass than I was in writers’ workshops in college, where I was one of the few seriously cranking out works and submitting them. Trying to be a writer, not just a writing major.

But I’ve mellowed.

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Movie Report: Jonah Hex (2010)

Book coverUnfortunately, my beautiful wife was put off on watching films with me after The Green Hornet, so she missed the chance to see a superhero movie based on a DC property.

This film stars Josh Brolin as Jonah Hex, a former member of the Confederate army who has become a bounty hunter who can talk to the dead. After defying his commander (John Malkovich) who wanted Hex to kill a church full of innocents, he is forced to kill the commander’s son, his personal friend. In revenge, the commander kills Hex’s wife and son and forces Hex to watch them die. Years later, Hex is still protecting the innocent in his rough manner when he’s engaged by President Grant to find the commander, presumed dead, and to prevent him from assembling a super weapon that can re-ignite the Civil War–or perhaps win it quickly for the South.

Ya know, it’s not a bad film. The main character is sympathetic. The story is fanciful, but it’s a decent action film. The CGI effects are cartoonish, and the color palette is pretty dark. But I liked it okay.

I don’t have the DVD on the desk because I passed it onto my son, who has played a lot of Red Dead Redemption 2. I think he would like it. So I recommended it to my boy, and I’ll recommend it to you if you can find it on DVD for a couple of bucks. It’s the kind of film I would have watched over and over again in the trailer back in the day were the day not 25 years before this film was made.

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Book Report: The Union Club Mysteries by Isaac Asimov (1983)

Book coverThis collection of short stories by Isaac Asimov could be considered Encyclopedia Brown stories for adults. They were published monthly in Gallery magazine in the early 1980s. Man, I wish I’d known about that when I spent a long, uncomfortable stretch of time pawing through magazines in the Adult section of a used book store looking for the Gallery magazine with Robert B. Parker’s “The Surrogate” in it. I could have amortized the time in scoring some original appearances of these Asimov stories. Also, Stephen King had numerous short stories in men’s bazinga magazines in the early 1980s–at one point I compiled a list of them and started ordering them on Ebay when they were listed strictly as bazinga magazines and whose sellers did not know what was contained in the words within them. But I know now. Not that any used book stores in southwest Missouri have those kinds of back rooms. I associate them with Milwaukee.

At any rate, the book is structured thus: A group of men retire to their club after dinner and chitchat about something. This awakens Griswold, a man whom they don’t really like, and he lays out a mystery or spy story of which he took part, and each ends with a dramatic pause on the part of Griswold, inviting the others to guess how he solved it. In the magazine, the ending would be printed elsewhere or upside down to give the reader a chance to guess, but, man, the reader of the bazinga magazines in the 1980s must have been pretty clever indeed as I think I got one out of 30.

Each mystery is only a couple of pages, which makes for a quick read and something easy to pick up and put down. It has been less than a year since I read a science fiction collection from Asimov (Nine Tomorrows). Given how the stacks here at Nogglestead are sprinkled with Asimov fiction and nonfiction, I shall probably accidentally pick up another before long.

So I see three little paper flags in the book. What did I mark to comment?

He said, “I obtained a very good set of Durant’s The Story of Civilization for a mere pittance and I was delighted. I read each volume from the library as it came out, and I had always wanted a complete set. The only catch was that Volume 2, The Life of Greece, was missing.”

I bought most of them in 2019 (minus Volume I and Volume VI), and I even started to read the first volume three years ago. Well, I picked it back up right before I read this book, starting over with Egypt (which might be the longest chapter/book in the volume). I’m pleased to say I’ve finished the chapter on Egypt.

“Yes, we have some idea. Indirect evidence leads us to suppose he’s a member of the Black Belts, a street gang.”

Me, too, brother, me too.

I’ve often thought to ask kyoshi what he’s going to do with the army of martial artists he has trained, but I have not. When the time comes, he will let me know.

At any rate, a quick and amusing read. Apparently, Asimov wrote 55 of these stories in total, but a second collection of them did not appear. And, sadly, if it hasn’t by now, it probably won’t. I know the blogosphere is very high on Heinlein, but, c’mon, man. If you could have dinner with only one of them, you’d have to pick Asimov, ainna?

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Movie Report: The Green Hornet (2011)

Book coverThis might be the first Seth Rogen film I’ve seen. But, no. Apparently, I saw him in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, You, Me, and Dupree, Donnie Darko, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and the video for Lonely Island’s “Like a Boss”. In most of those, he only had a small role, though, so technically, this is the first Seth Rogen above the title film I’ve seen. And I’m pleased to say between this and my recent viewing of The Hangover, I have cemented the difference between Rogen and Zach Galifanakis in my own mind. For what that’s worth.

I watched the film with my beautiful wife who joined me because the one kind of film she will watch with me is superhero films, but I’m afraid she mistakenly thought the Green Hornet was a DC property (it’s not–the character got a start in radio serials and films originally and has appeared in comics by Harvey, Dell Comics, NOW, and most recently Dynamite). Perhaps she thought I was popping in The Green Lantern which we have in the video cabinet as well. But it was an inadvertant bit of trickery that roped her into watching a film that wasn’t very good.

It’s an origin story, of course, which puts its own spin on the character. Seth Rogen plays a playboy wastrel whose father runs the big local paper in the city. When the father is killed, he inherits the paper. A family friend is the DA, and he wants favorable coverage from the paper. Meanwhile, the heir befriends the chauffeur Kato, and whilst decapitating the statue of the father, they foil a robbery/rape attempt and decide to fight crime. Later they decide to pose as criminals themselves who are taking over the city from an old school European mobster whose mobbery lacks flash. So you get the basics of the story with a modern comedy twist.

Which, unfortunately, doesn’t work. Rogen’s Reid is unlikeable–perhaps that was his goal, but one does not identify or empathize with him. The story itself is kind of stock, without much fresh in it.

So I did not like it much, and, unfortunately, the experience will lead my wife to think twice about sitting down to watch a movie with me again anytime in the near future.

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Not Even Close

Australia man Lucas Helmke beats world record with insane number of push-ups.

C’mon, we don’t want to see a large bunch of text telling us all about the guy. We just want the numbers.

3206 in an hour. Which is 53 a minute.

I’m not even close to that; I can barely eke out 50 in a row for my martial arts fitness test.

I still have not given up on the magic pushup dream. Although I am not actively training for it, either.

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Probably No Longer Valid

I was in the drawer of the second desk in my office, the smaller desk that I bought at a garage sale in 1999 and promptly removed the metal handles and trim so that I could refinish it. And, for coming up on a quarter century, the desk has been in five different offices while the metal bits have been in the workshop room and now garage. Somewhere. I might think about putting the metal bits back on someday, maybe when I come across them.

I was in the drawer looking for a needle, as the fob I encased in needlepoint, started to fall apart after almost four years’ worth of getting jammed into pants pockets.

And floating at the top of the drawer of unused pens, spare luggage tags, and the mirror from the driver’s side mirror of a 1986 Geo Storm, I found a voucher from Dave & Busters.

From 2002.

That voucher has traveled in that drawer since then, from Casinoport to Old Trees to Nogglestead.

Gentle reader. brace yourself for this revelation: After scanning it, I discarded it.

I know, I know, you did not see that coming.

But I must be getting into a spring cleaning mood or something, but I’ve been putting things away recently. Things that have not been put away for years.

Maybe I’m just making it easier for the people who put on my eventual estate sale.

But the coin tokens from the Millennium arcade that was at Crestwood Plaza Mall at about the same time, the turn of the century? Not so fast.

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Book Report: Woodburning with Style by Simon Easton (2010)

Book coverI have to admit, gentle reader, that this book has spent many football seasons on the Sauder printer stand serving as book accumulation point for browsing during football games, and it has spent many off seasons on the lower deck of the table by my main reading chair. It had a bookmark not far into it for all those years. When I’d bought it at the Hobby Lobby, I’d hoped it would be an easy browser, but no. I briefly considered it for the Instructional category in the 2023 Winter Reading Challenge, but I opted for A Beginner’s Guide to Glass Engraving instead. And they both suffered from a similar flaw.

As you might recall, gentle reader, I do a little bit of woodburning or pyrography from time to time, but I’m not the sort of person who can do highly detailed work. See the work I did for Christmas gifts in 2017–as it had been six years, I felt comfortable doing a couple this year as well. And, whoa, the Make It Happen plaque was seven years ago? I probably picked up this book around then.

So, gentle reader, here are the flaws with this book, or at least the flaws at the intersection of what Brian J. can or wants to do and this book.

  • The book is written in British. And by that, I mean that the chapters are full of thick, descriptive paragraphs that one does not generally find in craft books. At least not American craft books. In our craft books, you get a bit of introduction about the craft, and then when it comes time for projects or techniques, you get a photo, an introduction, and a numbered list of steps with only a couple sentences each. Which makes them skimmable. This book has, erm, richer prose, but it does take away a little from the pragmatic or practical application one gets with American craft books. Not a lot of discussion why the author made the choices.
  • The author is an artist, with a degree and numerous awards to his credit. Which introduced some distance between us as I am not an artist, and my fine motor skills preclude anything but thick kindergarten-crayon lines in pyrography.
  • The author uses a wire-nib pyrography machine instead of a cheap solid-state one like I have, although I bought a unit that’s a little more advanced with a stack of Hobby Lobby gift cards I’d gathered over the years. But it was a lot like in A Beginner’s Guide to Glass Engraving, where the author used grinding wheels instead of a rotary tool (or acid etching) to make the marks. One wonders how much the techniques can be transferred from the artist’s tool to the rudimentary tools that the barbarians are using. Some, I am sure, but it still builds distance between the reader and the work.

The author also focuses a lot on small works, like keychains, napkin rings, and keepsake boxes–which I guess are good ways to practice, but of somewhat limited utility either as items for sale or for gifts. Perhaps these are best for practice while honing skills for larger things.

He also talks about working with a lot of different woods, which means he has a better craft store than Hobby Lobby to source from. At Hobby Lobby, it’s all pine, all the time.

At any rate, ultimately not that helpful for me. I’m going to end up hanging around at chapter 3, Silhouettes, for most of my woodburning hobby career.

Which does kind of strike at one of the conundrums I have with woodburning and hobbying: I make these things, and they languish in boxes in my garage, and I’m not sure what to do with them. I deluge my shrinking number of gift recipients with whatever I’m trying out when I try them out, but other than that, I’m reduced to putting things in silent auctions from time to time. I could do holiday bazaars or try Etsy or a booth somewhere, but that would probably only indicate how much money I lose per item.

I mean, I kind of enjoy making something, but I hate learning how little value my skill is to others. I mean, gentle reader, that’s what this blog is for, to keep me humble.

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