Book Report: Dress Her in Indigo by John D. MacDonald (1969)

Book coverI guess it has been nine years since I read a John D. MacDonald Travis McGee novel (three, actually, in A Tan and Sandy Silence and Two Other Great Mysteries which also includes The Long Lavender Look and Bright Orange for the Shroud) and five years since I’ve read McDonald at all (On the Run in in 2019). As I might have mentioned then, I’m pacing them out.

In this book, a wealthy businessman asks McGee and Meyer to go to Mexico to find out the circumstances in which his daughter was living before she died in an auto accident, perhaps while drunk or high. She had fallen into a bad crowd and had travelled to Mexico with them, and McGee and Meyer find layers of intrigue as they try to find her associates. The father of the other girl in the group has also come to Mexico to find his daughter and is also trying to find himself and get tuned into the youth culture. A wealthy woman emerged from seclusion, although the two girls were staying with her, to identify the body and has gone back into seclusion somewhere around the world. And the group itself descended into drug-fueled madness and free sex, culminating in a plan to use the dead girl’s savings to smuggle heroin into the United States. McGee and Meyer unpeel the layered plots over time with a lot of speculation taking pages along with the normal existential musings you get in MacDonald.

The plot and goings on might have been edgy and shocking in 1969, but you could set a similar story in a high school and play it out on a network television show (not even a cable or streaming show, although presumably if you did you’d get more skin and depicted violence). It has a few anachronisms, like presenting Mexico as a fairly safe destination for travelers and easy border crossings without a passport, but it’s still relatively timely to someone who lived in an era before cell phones and personal tracking devices became a thing. Access to these devices and their pings would have made a much simpler story indeed.

As you know, gentle reader, if you’ve been around long enough and remember previous MacDonald reviews, I like the man’s writing. He writes pulp with a depth of theme and depth of writing that was beginning to fall out of practice in the 1960s. I mean, Robert E. Howard’s work had depth to the writing (but not as much overt philosophizing thematics). Don Pendleton had a little philosophy, but his writing was not as thick and rich. Now, of course, you get length that has replaced depth. I wonder why the writing changed. The nature of the business? The difference between education in the eras? Something, for sure.

So I will continue to dabble in reading the MacDonald, although I have to think I have read most of the popular work, and it would take some doing on my part to figure out definitively what books I have read since I have started tracking my reading and books that I own (I have no way to be sure what I would have borrowed from the library when I was younger) and to seek out the ones I have not. And I have a bunch of projects ahead of me in the queue. So that’s a thing for another day. Meanwhile, I will probably continue to pick the books up when I see them and re-read them as I come across them in the stacks here at Nogglestead.

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Good Book Hunting, Saturday, July 20, 2024: The Senior Center Garage Sale and Rublecon

I’d circled this day on my calendar. Well, not really. Although I do still have a wall calendar upon which very little is written, I didn’t circle this day. But I had looked up when Rublecon was this year, and I remembered; and after celebrating my oldest son’s 18th birthday at the Red Lobster, I drove the back streets to see if the Senior Center up on Fremont was having its garage sale. And it was also today, so I was able to remember both because I planned to go to both. I can’t remember the last time I made it to the Senior Center’s garage sale–it might have only been once a decade or more ago–but I know I was at Rublecon in 2022.

So I did. And I spent a lot of money, relatively. Mostly at the con of course.

At the garage sale, I got a couple DVDs for a buck:

  • The Alamo with John Wayne
  • Three Tarzan movies: Tarzan the Fearless, Tarzan and the Trappers, and Tarzan and the Green Goddess. They’re actually serials from the 30s with Herman Brix as Tarzan.
  • Hell On Wheels: The Complete First Season. I had no idea what it was, but apparently it’s a cable television series about the construction of the transcontinental railroad.
  • Captain’s Courageous with Spencer Tracy. It’s been fourteen years since I read the book.
  • The Warlord with Charlton Heston. Because Heston. And it has to be better than Warlords with David Carradine.

Books were only a quarter each, but I only got a few.

  • Ethan Allen: The Treasury of American Traditional Interiors, presumably a picture book of furniture.
  • Sunset Basic Carpentry Illustrated. I might already own it, but I probably could use a refresher course.
  • Mickey Mantle: Before the Glory by John G. Hall. Which will include some stories about his time in southwest Missouri, no doubt.
  • The Tai Chi Directory by Kim Davies. Because I might as well have a book about tai chi which is not about walking.
  • File, Don’t Pile: A Proven Filing System for Personal and Professional Use by Pat Dorff. Maybe I can find some pointers for keeping my desk clean, but it’s not filing that accumulates here.
  • The Christmas Train by David Baldacci. Because the more I seed my to-read stacks with Christmas novels, the better chance I will have of actually finding one when I go looking in December.
  • Cats and Dogs Unleashed, a cutesy little book of photos which I will turn to when I am desperate to log books later in the year. If I can find it.
  • The Wisdom of Yo Meow Ma, a humor book by Joanna Sandsmark. I hope it’s humor. One never knows these days.

The book selection was lousy with books about teaching home economics and about fashion design and the fashion business; in the old days, my Ebaying days, I would have bought the lot, but old textbooks really didn’t move well. And I can’t buy them all.

I bought a couple other things at the sale, including a double-boiler for fifty cents, a puzzle, and a backup videocassette player for five dollars.

And at Rublecon, I bought a bunch even though only one author/artist was there.

It was Cody Walker (and his young son). I recognized his City Noir comic and said I’d bought it last time, but it was at LibraryCon 2017. Which falls in the Noggle definition of “just” and “recently.”

I bought a couple of comics from him: Everland which is a malevolent take on Peter Pan, and one that was done by his young son called Hunt Alone which is a Kevin McCallister vs Predator.

In the interim, though, Walker has been writing books. I got:

  • Loot the Bodies.
  • Popgun Chaos Mixtape which is a sampler of the other books and a short story.
  • The Lion, The Wizard, and the Eye.
  • Lost Your Own Paradise, a choose-your-own adventure where you’re the devil trying to tempt Adam and Eve.
  • Hang Me If I Stay Here, Shoot Me If I Run.
  • Down the Road and Back Again: Poems for the Golden Girls. Poems based on episodes of the television show.
  • Songs for Sisu, another collection of poetry.
  • Everland Book 1: To Kill a God. Based on the comic.

The guy is prolific, no question. I wish I were that disciplined.

I will likely read the comics soon and probably try out one of the other books before long. If I can find them.

If I had gone to the book signing at ABC Books today, I would probably have spent less. But it would likely have been spending only deferred until Walker had a signing there.

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About the Old Men Last Night

We watched a bit of the RNC last night, hoping to catch Donald Trump’s talk, and I couldn’t help note that the entertainers who took the stage were all old. I mean, my boys didn’t even know who Hulk Hogan was (“He’s our generation’s John Cena,” I said, but he’s more likely between John Cena and The Rock. I told them I watched the cartoon in the 1980s.

And Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” is forty years old this year.

I remember seeing him perform that song at Savvis Center in the St. Louis Blues home opener in 2001, the first game since the attacks (somehow I managed to be at Busch Stadium when it reopened in 2001, but all we got was Jack Buck reading a poem). That was twenty-three years ago.

And my beautiful wife was surprised that Kid Rock was a rapper. She was not familiar with his 1990s work.

“Bawitdaba”
“Cowboy”

“You’re more familiar with ‘Picture’,” I said, knowing that his 21st century work, the hits that have crossed over onto the country charts/radio stations, are more sung songs.

“Picture” (2002)
“All Summer Long” (2008)

Sweet Christmas, “All Summer Long” was sixteen years ago.

But my wife was not actually familiar with Kid Rock’s oevre at all. Which is to say she hasn’t listened to the radio in a long, long time. “Cowboy” and “Bawitdaba” make appearances on classic rock stations, and “Picture” and “All Summer Long” were all over The Greatest Hits of the 80s, 90s, and Today stations and country stations back when they were fresh (but I don’t hear them much anywhere now).

Still, they are all old.

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Book Report: Agent of T.E.R.R.A #2: The Golden Goddess Gambit by Larry Maddock (1967)

Book coverI picked up this little 1960s-era paperback almost 10 years ago at Pumpkin Daze. It’s the second of a brief series of four books featuring Hannibal Fortune and his alien symbiote protoplasmic partner as they try to protect the natural timeline from changes made by their enemies in a war where time itself is the battlefield.

In this volume, Fortune and Webley, his partner, go back to a continent that will be lost in the sea in the future to find out who Kronos is and why he was worshipped as a god there. They discover that Kronos has planted the seeds of a goddess-worshipping cult but whose queen/goddess figure might not want to share power when Kronos returns. Fortune and Webley foment a rebellion and look to restore the queen’s sister, the rightful heir to the throne.

It’s a short book–158 pages–and moves along pretty well. But I was amused to find myself, again, in prehistoric times on a continent/island that could be Atlantis. It fits in with the history books I’ve read recently (Ancient Mines of Kitchi-Gummi) as well as fiction (the Bucky and the Lukefahr ladies books Walking the Labyrinth and Songs of Three not to mention Robert E. Howard’s work such as The Cthulhu Stories of Robert E. Howard). I’m not even seeking out books that feature ancient Cypriot/Minoan/Celtic/Pictish books at this point, but I keep finding them anyway. Funny how that works.

As it happens, I picked up the third book in the series at the same time, and I’ll probably delve into it soon as well. Heaven knows with all the thick hardbacks in the Nogglestead to-read stacks that I will constantly pick up the small mass market paperbacks instead.

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Mourning Recent Losses at Nogglestead

Ah, gentle reader, as you might know, I hate to part with anything. But as part of my recent urge to very, very slowly clean the garage and other events have led me to repurpose or get rid of a couple of things.

For example, the Scipio Africanus tour shirt which I bought in 2020. You know, this one:

Nico, the kitten (who is now two years old but forever a kitten) likes to jump on my shoulders to ride around the house or to get atop the bookshelves or game cabinet, so many of my t-shirts are now getting holes in at the top of the chest or upper back.

It’s a shame because it was a cool shirt; for some reason, at dinner the other night, my oldest son brought up the general with the elephants, and I mentioned that Scipio beat him and some of the tactics at the Battle of Kama. Which is more than he was hoping to learn while eating. But I wore the shirt and showed it to him, and it turned out to be the last wearing.

I’ve cut it into scrap cloths for cleaning so I’ll still have it near me.

Also, I “cleaned the garage” by putting a couple of Green Bay Packer automobile floor mats in the trash.

We received them as a gift probably more than a decade ago, and they were the floor mats in our Highlander. The rubber backing on them was pretty thin, so they started breaking down and curling several years ago. The Highlander became the oldest’s default driver, and it was totaled in an accident in December. We brought them home when cleaning out the vehicle in the tow lot, but the breakdown of the backing meant they were not likely to go into another vehicle. So, what, eight months later, I have discarded them.

It’s a two-fer: A gift, and Green Bay Packers paraphernalia, so it’s surprising that I did. But I kiind of felt like they deserved an official retirement ceremony at the local Green Bay Packers pub or something. Not just getting dumped into the trash bin. But there they are.

I know, you’re riveted by the minutia of Nogglestead. But me getting rid of anything is remarkable. And so much of the garage cleaning so far is throwing out a couple of things and recycling some glass. Eventually, we will have a clean garage. Maybe in 2030, but more likely after my estate sale.

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Book Report: The Cthulhu Stories of Robert E. Howard by Robert E. Howard (2020)

Book coverFacebook must be reading my blog as it seems to know that I’ve read a pile of Howard this year (Tigers of the Sea, Conan the Invincible, and The Hour of the Dragon). So it’s been showing me a hella lotta Dungeons and Dragons suggested/sponsored posts. And, in June, an ad for this book, which I proceeded to order from Amazon.

The stories certainly do not have the flavor of Lovecraft’s stories of the mythos (or other writers who followed him). Instead, they only share some thematic elements, specifically that alien races preceded man on the Earth, including Atlantis which sank beneath the waves.

The book includes:

  • “The Shadow Kingdom”, a Kull the Conqueror novella wherein Picts help Kull to learn that an ancient shape-shifting snake people have infiltrated his palace.
  • “The Skull Face”, a novella wherein an ancient magician has laid plans in the shadows to unite non-white races to overthrow the white men around the world and establish his own global empire. The magician ensnares an opium-eater in London as his thrall, but the man recovers himself to ally with the authorities to try to stop the plot.
  • “The Children of the Night”, wherein a modern Englishman is hit in the head and regresses to a previous life where he was a barbarian hunting the Children of the Night, an ancient race of non-humans, and when he returns to the present day, discovers one of his cohort is a desendent of them. This story has elements of the mythos and refers to the Call of Chulhu and other texts shared across the mythos.
  • “The Gods of Bal-Sogoth”, a novella similar to the Wulfhere/Cormac Mac Art stories from Tigers of the Sea blended with Kipling’s “The Man Who Would Be King”. Two enemies are cast ashore on a remote island where the savage population has been ruled by a white woman who was their goddess until unseated by the practitioners of the old religion. She hopes to use the two to regain her throne.
  • “The Black Stone”, a story wherein a traveler in the back roads of Europe decides to visit a mysterious monolith and has a vision of an ancient race celebrating a black and eldritch ceremony in the distant past.
  • “People of the Dark”, wherein a modern man goes to a cave in a plot to kill his rival in a love triangle, but a blow to the head regresses him to a past life wherein he was Conan and entered the caves to capture a woman but has to unite with a rival to fight off a subterranean race. Then the modern man un-, de-, or re-regresses to the present day, he saves his rival and love from the remnant of the ancient race.
  • “Worms of the Earth”, a novella wherein Bran Mak Morn summons an ancient race to attack Romans who have crucified on of his citizens.
  • “The Thing on the Roof”, wherein an adventurer who has stolen a temple gem asks for help from an antiquarian to discover the meaning of its power in an old book.
  • “The Haunter of the Ring”, a story wherein a man’s newlywed bride seems to be trying to kill him, and it’s tied to a cursed ring given to her by a jilted lover.
  • “The Challenge from Beyond”, a story written in the round by many authors. C.L. Moore starts off with a conceit about a man finding a strange cube in the wilderness and gazing in it; A. Merritt extends the story; H.P. Lovecraft sets his stamp on it by setting up how it’s a mind transfer probe from a distant and ancient worm-like race to seek habitable planets to plunder and populate; and then Robert E. Howard and Frank Belknap Long turn it into one of their stories by explaining how the human mind transferred to the worm body conquers the worm planet due to the violence only human consciousness brings but rules as a benevolent despot. It’s funny how Lovecraft turns the story one way and Howard and Long turn it into one of their style stories at the end.
  • “The Fire of Asshurbanipal”, wherein two adventurers in the Middle East are pursued in the desert but seek refuge in an ancient city feared by the locals, and, in it, they discover a gem in an ancient idol. Before they can steal it, though, their pursuers find them, bind them, steal the gem for themselves, and deal with the deadly consequences.
  • “Dig Me No Grave”, wherein a man asks another man to help with a ritual that an old, old man who recently died tasks the man to perform on his death. It turns out to be an eldritch ritual releasing the man’s soul to the evil it had been promised.

So some of the stories have a modern-day setting to them that more closely aligns with stories in the Cthulhu mythos, but others are more straight-forward Howard stories.

I thought the book was a cheapo collection of public domain stuff, but it’s actually more than that: It’s part of the MFA program at Western Colorado University where students put together and publish a book. So it’s not riddled with typos and stuff (I saw one), and I have a couple of design notes I’d add. The page headers have the author’s name on left pages, but on right pages, they have the name of the novella if it’s a novella or the book title if the heading is on a short story. I’d have made it consistent, probably with the book title and story/novella title (the book title has the author name right in it). Also, the last chapter of the novella “Skull-Face” appears in the table of contents as its own short story (and the heading of the right pages does not have the novella title but the book title). Still, I have an eye for that.

I guess the program/publishing house has published a couple of other books, but I’m not going to run out and get them–I got this one just because I have been so much on a Conan/Howard kick this year. But binge reading them (if three or four books over six months is “bingeing”–) really highlights the tropes and repeated motifs that make the material seem less fresh. So I’ll likely put them down for a bit now.

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Brian J.’s Saturday: An Olfactory Atlas Of How My Hands Smelled

Sometimes you tell the day by the bottle that you drink, the Philosopher has said. And sometimes you can tell how I spent the day by the smell on my hands.

Not that I am asking you to smell my finger; however, many times you might see me smelling my hands to see if I have yet washed them enough to get a scent off of them. Most days, I only have one scent to worry about, but some days, most often Saturdays, I stack up tasks that end up trading one smell for another (or not, if the first smell was dominant).

So, this weekend, what did my hands smell like? Not that you asked, but since you haven’t ewwwwed on to another page or post yet, let me tell you.

  1. Skimmersam and chlorine.
    I cleaned the pool early in the morning, which means that my hands got a combination of chlorine and organic decay from the things caught in the skimmer baskets. Although the skimmer baskets do have handles, so I don’t have to touch the grass, bugs, frogs, and occasional other critter in the basket itself, I do pick up a bit of its scent that handling chlorine tabs does not completely cover.
     
  2. My boxing gloves.
    Or, worse, the inside of my boxing gloves which smell of years-old and fresh sweat. I’ve tried to clean them, putting absorbing powder in them, but it might just be part of the material now, to forever scentedly scar me after a martial arts class. Because, let’s face it, I am unlikely to wear them out and buy new ones.
     
  3. Salsa.
    After a shower after martial arts class, I mostly neutralized the smell of the gloves and made myself a bit of lunch which was cheese “burritos”–basically shredded cheese and Pace Picante sauce or salsa microwaved until the cheese is melted. Whilst eating them, I tend to get a little salsa leakage onto my hands. This is the least difficult scent to wash off.
     
  4. Gunpowder.
    I have tried to get the whole family to the range for a pistol safety class for a while–how long? Well, I had us signed up in January 2021, but I had a sniffle and wanted to postpone because we still weren’t sure that sniffles didn’t kill other people around whom you sniffled and besides you didn’t want to be judged as evil for sniffling around strangers. But at that time, the instructor was going to be out for some number of months, and it took me over three years to make it happen.

    But I did, and the boys had a great time, and my beautiful wife got over her initial trepidation.

    How did I do?

    Not bad, but it was just a .22 at 10 feet. Essentially tied with my oldest who had marksman training with JROTC a couple years back. And I’d like to point out I shot faster. Because it’s important that I still sort of win at something sometimes. Sheesh. Those guys have been hitting the gym almost every night, and soon will be able to lift more than I can (who only hits the gym once or twice a week these days,

    Oh, and you might be asking, Is this really the first time you’ve been to the range since 2012? Yes, gentle reader: for a longtime member of the NRA, I have popped off a relatively small number of rounds in my life. Perhaps this will change in the near term. When I can find time to head to the range again.

With those four scents, I am pretty sure that I only missed gasoline from some attempt at small engine repair to hit for the hand odor cycle (GoJo hand cleaner would have been included after the gasoline smell).

I am pleased to say that my hands smell of hand soap this Monday morning, which means I will not keep smelling them, and you will not have to wonder why.

Not that you ever did. But you might now.

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Book Report: The Last Best Hope by Ed McBain (1998)

Book coverI passed over this book which was on the outer rank of books in the hall for a number of years. Even when I’m in the mood for a McBain, which happens from time to time (such as when I am working on the Winter Reading Challenge), I pick up an 87th precinct book. This is a Matthew Hope book, the other series McBain did, about the attorney in Florida. I am sure I read a number of these when I was younger (the series ran from 1977 to this book in 1998), but I’ve only read one since I’ve been reporting on books for this humble blog (Rumpelstiltskin in 2004).

Matthew Hope is an attorney who has a team of investigators working for him; in this book, a woman hires him to find her husband who walked out on her and went up north. Presumably, she wants to divorce him or have him declared dead. So Hope and his team swing into action, and a corpse turns up with the husband’s wallet but is not, apparently, the husband, the start to unravel a complicated plot for a heist that involves a couple of different bisexual love triangles and plans to steal the heisted cup of Socrates from the original heisters.

The story occurs partly in real time and partly in flashbacks amongst the good guys and the bad guys and features a team-up with the detectives of the 87th Precinct as they look into what the husband did when he was up north in The City.

But, ultimately, although the good guys catch on at the end, it relies a little on coincidence to put Hope at the museum as the heist occurs, and a quick climax with bloodshed and finis!

Yeah, ultimately, I don’t like the Matthew Hope books that very much. I am pretty sure I have one or more amongst the to-read shelves here (including, likely, one or more that I have already read), but I will space them out. Maybe every twenty years or so.

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Movie Report: White Men Can’t Jump (1992)

Book coverLike Friday, I watched this film when it was fresh on videocassette and I was visiting Milwaukee and staying with my friend the Elvis impersonator. And I’m not sure that I’ve seen it since, but my boys are big into basketball these days, so I watched it with my youngest so that he could pick up some pointers, more on smack talking than actual basketball fundamentals.

In it, Woody Harrelson, still relatively young, plays Billy Hoyle who comes to LA to make some money hustling basketball. He’s staying in a variety of cheap apartments and motels with his girlfriend, played by Rosie Perez, a step ahead of a couple of toughs who are following him around the country, apparently, seeking repayment of a relatively small loan that the girlfriend took out and could not repay, and they asked Hoyle to throw a college basketball game, but he did not. Hoyle runs into and teams up with a local hooper, played by Wesley Snipes, and they hustle some, but Snipes’ character hustles Hoyle out of his share of their winnings, so their respective women decide that they should enter a tournament with a $5000 prize.

Basically, it’s a series of basketball games and some trash talk. It’s a fine film, amusing and not without depth in the characters and story. It has a bit of a downbeat end as Rosie Perez’s character realizes her dream of appearing on Jeopardy! and does very well, but she leaves Hoyle who continues to gamble and does not seem ready to give up his hustling ways–even though the end makes clear to us that he has grown up enough to do so.

So of all the films I report on, this one fits into the tier of those that I might watch again, and probably not after thirty years have passed. After all, it has Rosie Perez.

Continue reading “Movie Report: White Men Can’t Jump (1992)”

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How Does Discogs Know So Much About Me Now?

When I went to Discogs recently, its front page thought I might want to learn more about Brazilian Death Metal.

Which is odd; most of the things I search for on Discogs are records I’ve bought which tend to be easy listening and jazz, not the kinds of CDs I buy new.

Like Brazilian death metal.

It’s been a while since I bought a Semblant CD (2022); it looks like they might be on hold/hiatus/broken up. But Mizuho Lin is recording with Confessori now, so I guess I’ll have to check that out.

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Movie Report: To Hell and Back (1955)

Book coverI ordered this film and Sergeant York in 2020, and I would have watched the film in 2020 except the copy that I bought back then was a European DVD. Although I did not soon find a used copy of To Hell and Back at a garage sale, I did find a copy at Vintage Stock when I had a gift card to burn. So when Independence Day came around and I wanted something unapologetically patriotic to watch, I finally popped this DVD in.

Like Sergeant York, the film starts with the pre-war bio. Murphy is a poor boy from a rural area who leaves school to support his family. When his mother dies, his siblings go to the church orphanage, and Murphy, although underage, eventually signs up with the army and is sent overseas. Although he is small and has had a rough passage, the men in his company take him under their wing, and they fight in North Africa, invade Sicily, invade the Italian mainland, and eventually invade France as part of the Third Division under Patton.

Murphy performs a number of acts of heroism, and a number of his friends die during their campaigns. In the final push to Germany, the film depicts Murphy alone lying ahead of a German advance to direct artillery fire until they’re almost on his position, and he then jumps onto a burning tank and fires on the advancing troops, hopping down after a couple of minutes before the tank explodes cinematically. I’d read that the film tones down what he did and squashes incidents–the particular climax here was taken from two separate incidents lasting an hour each, both of which resulted in medals for Murphy.

According to Wikipedia, Murphy got his start in the movies when James Cagney saw a magazine article about the most decorated soldier in American history and brought Murphy to Hollywood. Murphy played in a number of Westerns and whatnot, and when Hollywood optioned his autobiography, he was eventually convinced to play himself. I cannot imagine what it must have been like to go through it all again, albeit Hollywoodized.

Back when we watched Sergeant York, I asked who was cooler: Audie Murphy or Alvin York. I chose York then because he went back home to the farm after his wartime exploits, but in my research (reading Wikipedia) related to this post, it looks as though Murphy had a more exciting military career in addition to Hollywood. He died at age 41, though, not long before I was born. Hard to imagine such men lived almost during my lifetime.

Oh, and one other note: I invited my oldest to watch it, and he asked if it was about the guy who jumped on the tank. I said no because I hadn’t seen the film yet (Murphy does jump on a tank). But I thought my son was mistaking Murphy for Missouri’s own John Lewis Barkley, who also jumped into a disabled tank and won the Congressional Medal of Honor for it. But my son probably meant Murphy after all.

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Not Depicted: Missouri Proposition C (2008)

Ozark Electric Co-op members vent to state leaders about ‘demand charge’:

Some frustrated Ozark Electric Cooperative members appealed to state leaders and lawmakers on Monday. They’re upset about the “demand” charge on their bills.

The new charge affects more than 30,000 co-op members or customers.

I paid my first bill with the new charge on it, and it was an extra fifty dollars, or about an extra 13%. We run appliances all day here, and summer means the A/C is kicking on all the time and the pool filter pump is running constantly.

Not mentioned in this story are the reasons why the price of energy is skyrocketing, including man-made and government-made decisions such as Missouri Clean Energy (Proposition C) from 2008 (which you might recall, gentle reader, I opposed in 2008, and as expected, the price increases it caused are coming over a decade later when the item was on the ballot, so the public can not know (and I note that some dude is trying to get another ballot initiative to increase the percentage from 15% of power production having to come from “renewables” to 30 or 50%).

Also not depicted: EPA mandates which have caused power companies to shutter generation capacity. Although perhaps with the Chevron deference no longer operative, maybe some lawsuits will restore some sanity to power generation. Eventually. Maybe.

But it would be nice if people would recognize it’s not the electric company responsible for this. It’s motivated, uninformed voters and government lackeys forcing the prices up, often years or decades after the cause has been made.

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Other Locales

In his subscribers-only Sunday night post, Jack Baruth takes issue with a certain headline style:

I’m a hick. These headlines are annoying to me

Post-Indycar, your humble author was idly scrolling through the headlines of the week on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox, when my attention was caught by the simultaneous appearance of these headlines on MSNBC’s front page:

I’m a doctor. Biden’s debate performance led me to a very different takeaway.
I’m a meteorologist. Hurricane Beryl’s ‘Armageddon-like’ destruction scares me.
I helped prosecute Watergate. The Supreme Court just proved Richard Nixon right.

This phrasing simply doesn’t exist on Fox, the WSJ, or even at the NYT. Why is it omnipresent at MSNBC?

I don’t read MSNBC.com, so I have not seen it there, but it’s also prevalent at the New York Post and the British tabs I read.


I think it’s prevalent because these stories sum up TikTok videos generally, and the content producer has but one or two seconds to establish credibility before going into the Impossible meat of their three-minute wisdom.

But enough about this; let’s get to the real headline sin of our time:

breaks silence

After so many events, we get headlines about someone “breaking silence” about it, whether it’s some stoopid music/celebrity “feud” or an actual news story where someone noteworthy issues a statement after a reasonable period of time (like hours) after the initial Internet headline.

It’s the “I know, right?” of our age, and I will not miss it when it’s gone.

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Book Report: Ancient Mines of Kitchi-Gummi: Cypriot/Minoan Traders in North America by Richard Jewell (2000, 2015)

Book coverAs I mentioned when I bought this book on June 20, I fully expected to read it fairly quickly as its premise matches that of the Bucky and the Lukefahr Ladies books I’ve read recently (Walking the Labyrinth and Songs of Three)–that is, that a Hittite travelled with Minoans to the Americas a couple millennia B.C.

Also, I actually read an academic book about the copper mining ancient peoples in Michigan back around 2008. I got the book through Inter-Library Loan at the Old Trees library from something I’d read in a History or Renaissance magazine; the volume I got was a numbered book out of a thousand published, and I forget from how far away it came. I pored through my book report archives here and did a quick search of the old Blogspot blog, but I cannot find a book report for it. Which is odd; I thought I did them all, but perhaps I did not do this one because it is not or was not available on Amazon, and there was a time when I thought I could monetize this blog (spoiler alert: no, and it hasn’t served as much of a spring board to book sales, either).

At any rate, that previous book was an academic work by a university professor, but this book is an amateur work, a labor of love, by a guy who’s had numerous jobs including working for the United States Forestry Service in the upper midwest which sparked his interest in this topic. He wonders where all the copper that the natives mined went and why they seemingly stopped mining it and regressed to hunters and gatherers about 1200 BC.

He lays out reasons why he believes the Minoans were able to sail beyond the Mediterranean, up the coast of Europe, to Britain and then Greenland and Iceland and beyond where they established trading posts and helped the natives to mine the copper which they then brought back to the Mediterranean. He refers to something called the Newberry Tablet, a stone tablet found under an uprooted tree (which also happens in Walking the Labyrinth) with cuniform writing as well as similarities between Algonquin written language and Cypro-Minoan script.

The book is not very well written; it repeats itself and is a bit stilted in spots, not like academic speak though. It’s a bit informed by cable television history, but you know what? This guy has done some research, and he has traveled to Europe and the Mediterranean to view artifacts in various museums. He says that the establishment does not take his theory seriously, and I believe that’s true whether his theory is true or not: The academy selects for people who will not rock the boat and will parrot the established narratives to ensure continued funding and employment.

So the book presents an interesting theory, one worth considering, even if it’s just to use the concept for a series of fantasy books that I’ll get back to by and by.

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Five Things On My Desk, And Most Are Related

Another compelling entry in this series, but a glance at what lies on the vast horizontal surface of my office desk.

There was a time, gentle reader, when I was most actively on toddler duty where my desk became piled with things as I only spent intermittent minutes at the desk, and I’d throw things and papers on the desk and they would pile up (sort of like has happened with my work bench in the garage over the last two years, again). But now that I am in the office all day, the desk is tidier; the bills are not lost; but I still have a few things that accumulate for future projects or as the result of other projects, as we shall see.

What do we have?

Supplies and tools to repair my mother’s jewelry box.

It stayed in the store room since we moved to Nogglestead not long after my sainted mother passed away in 2009. Like many of her things, it smelled of cigarette smoke, but in the intervening years, that smell has faded (and had been replaced with cat litter dust). As my beautiful wife’s rather inexpensive jewelry box has fallen apart (and I have been unable to find her a comparable unit–so many jewelry boxes are so small these days), I thought I would restore my mother’s jewelry box. I bought some screws to fix the hinged trays and some anti-tarnish fabric to re-line the drawers and trays, and….

Well. Like so many projects I line up, I gather the materials for them, and then I don’t actually start them because I am afraid I will screw it up. So the tools (not depicted) are on the desk and the supplies are on the desk, but I have yet to actually try to reline a tray.

Maybe sometime after the fence painting.

Two wooden crosses

Also from the store room. After our church remodeled sometime in the past, one of the congregant woodworkers made a number of crosses from the old altar rails, and the church sold them as a fundraiser. I bought one to make into a shadowbox for a visiting pastor who got called to a church out in Republic with whom we were sort of friends at the time. I never got around to that–I wanted to somehow make a background of the church’s sanctuary or exterior, but never did.

I might have gotten the other as a gift for my mother-in-law, or maybe I got three.

Nogglestead does not have any religious iconography decor. No crosses, no praying old men and/or women, no Jesus looking down on you and having his eyes follow you around the room. To be honest, I am not entirely sure what I will do with the crosses. Maybe I’ll make my way to the choir loft to get that good photo for a background. More likely they will ride the pine pressboard of my desk for a while until I put them back into the storeroom (he said, spelling it both ways in this post to improve his chances of finding this post in a search sometime in the future).

An old alarm clock.

An old alarm clock which I have not even dusted yet (a month and a half later). I think this was my wifes, as the one that got me through high school, college, and the first fifteen years of my “career” is still on the bureau in my bedroom. We have no use for this, since we use our phones as alarms now, but I can’t just get rid of it as it is not mine. And I keep forgetting to ask my wife if we can donate it.

Two silver platters.

Or maybe steel platters. I did dust them off after cleaning the store room over Memorial Day weekend, and I’ve thought about polishing them and putting them…. Well, somewhere. We don’t have anywhere to display them, and it’s not like we’re serving crumpets to the king here at Nogglestead.

I suppose I could put them in the anti-tarnish cloth for now.

By the way, the bag of spoons which I first mentioned as being on my desk in 2012 has made a return appearance as I keep meaning to getting around to polishing them and hanging them. But they’re very tarnished. Maybe I should see if I can use the new wire wheels for my drill or rotary tool on them. Most of them are just spoons from different patterns, not souvenir or collectible spoons, so it would not really diminish their value.

A State Street® Electronic Device.

I bought this little device at the Lutherans for Life garage sale in June. I wasn’t sure what it was, and I’m still not: Even though I have replaced the batteries and figured out how to turn it on, the LED screen doesn’t work right. It presents a grid of some sort, but not much else. It comes with a stylus, so maybe it was a cheap PDA type device or mere touchscreen calculator given away by the financial firm whose name is on the front.

I might crack it open to see if the screen would be easy to replace or if I could connect it to some other display peripheral just for fun, but this is the sort of project that I enjoy more in the ideation stage. Likely this will go into the store room or the trash. But not quickly.

Like I said, the desk is mostly clean and tidy, but these things are a bit out of place and will not likely be put into their places, or have their related projects completed, in the near term.

I wonder how the pace of Nogglestead’s change will slow once our children move out. Sometimes, it seems like they’re the only thing changing at all.

And a good prop bet might be “How many of these things will still be on Brian J.’s desk when they’re empty nesters?” I think the over/under is 2.

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Biden Administration Finds New Way To Raise Prices

Biden administration announces new rule to protect workers from heat-related illnesses:

Senior Biden administration officials announced a proposed rule Tuesday to prevent heat-related illness in the workplace, as climate change brings hotter temperatures around the nation.

In a call to reporters Monday, officials spoke on background about the new rule, which the administration sent to the Federal Register Tuesday for review. Depending on the heat index, the rule would require employers to monitor workers’ heat exposure, provide cool-down areas and take mandatory cool-down breaks.

This new rule comes as extreme temperatures will engulf much of the country at some point during the year. Heat waves occur more frequently now compared to the 1960s, from an average of two per year to six in the 2020s, according to data from the Environmental Protection Agency. Heat waves have also increased in duration and intensity.

You would not believe this, but all of history has occurred within the living memory of young striving activists in government and in “independent” news organizations like the Missouri Independent.

You know what this will do?

Make the cost of building anything higher; make it harder to repair roads; and so on. Springfield Parks have had to establish a rolling schedule for their public pools even amidst the most frightening weather that twenty-three-year-olds from elsewhere can remember because they cannot hire enough life guards to staff the pools. Good thing that this particular initiative will help with people suffering from the heat by further limiting the pools’ hours of operation due to increased staffing requirements.

But nobody could see the downstream effects of this plan except for those who are not experts in public policy and who instead live in the real world.

(Link via the Springfield Business Journal‘s free daily newsletter.)

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Not the Placement He Wanted

The Branson / Tri-Lake News has started dropping cocked ads in the middle of its news stories above the fold on the front page, which catches one’s eye, I suppose, but it can lead to some unfortunate occurrences if the paper publishes actual news on occasion.

Wherein it almost looks as though the candidate for office has been charged with murder.

I wonder if he got a freebie or two out of the situation.

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And Some Younger Folk

Facebook showed me this:

And I knew who it was not because I remember the program from my youth, but because we have Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas on VHS, and we’ve watched it maybe twice with our boys when they were young.

You know, the boys never really got into watching the same videos over and over as some people indicate their kids did. They liked their Sesame Street, and they watched a bunch of shows, mostly from a DVR, but they had a rolling set of cartoons they watched: Scooby Doo, G.I. Joe, Spiderman and His Amazing Friends, Transformers…. They never got big into Disney stuff, and they never wanted to watch things over and over again.

But as I am who I am, I accumulated a bunch of videocassettes and whatnot for my children. Actually, I bought a bunch before we even thought of having children when I was doing the Ebay thing around the turn of the century.

So I have a bit of a conundrum now: What to do with the portion of the Nogglestead video library (and book library) which is geared toward children? So I box them up and store them for eventual grandchildren? Try to sell them (who watches old videocassettes these days except me?).

Ah, gentle reader, you probably know better if you’ve read me for any time, you know what I will do: Nothing soon.. I will continue to dust the videos and the children’s books that my aunt gave us in the late 1970s. Eventually, I will remove the children’s books from the bookshelves in their bedrooms and load them with my books.

But in 2013, when writing about The Future Forgotten Half-Empty Bottle of Mr. Bubble, I mentioned their bath toys, and in 2021, I said the bath toys were long gone, but I must have meant that their playing with bath toys was long gone, as the bath toys are still in the bin under the sink in the hall bath.

So, where was I? Oh, yes. Emmet Otter.

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