Book Report: The Lilac Lady by Ruth Alberta Brown (1914)

Book coverAs I mentioned, gentle reader, we have taken in some kittens, which means that they spent the first couple of weeks at Nogglestead sequestered in my office while the other cats got used to their smell and presence and until the veterinarian could pronounce them with a clean bill of health. As such, it has been quite an adventure, as they scamper and romp, most excitingly among the cords and cables that power my QA laboratory–many mornings, I would come into the office and have to troubleshoot what they turned off or unplugged overnight before I could get to work. They’ve also made some book recommendations by knocking the books off of the bookshelves, so I have started to take their advice and read what they’ve knocked down, starting with this book.

This book is the middle of a trilogy, apparently–and the first book, At The Little Brown House, ends in the moments before this book begins, so it took me a minute to figure out who the people are. The story centers on Peace Greenfield, a middle child in a set of six orphaned sisters. As the book begins, they’re adopted by a university president who is grandparent aged, and they go to his house and learn various and sundry lessons there.

Peace likes to give to the poor, and she’s often duped by ragamuffins and hoboes who show up for a handout, but she learns that some individuals who arrive are not in desperate straits but want the money to fund their non-working lifestyle or for alcohol. So her adopted father explains she should give to charities that can filter and follow-up on giving.

She meets the Lilac Lady, an injured and dying former singer from a well-to-do family who lives next door but behind vast hedges. The Lilac Lady shut herself off from the world after her accident that left her invalid, but Peace comes over and gets her to open up. Peace meets kids at the local orphan home and gets an inside view after briefly changing places with a resident who looks like her. She then gets the Lilac Lady to host a party for the orphans to the benefit of both.

When she returns to her old town to visit old friends, a scarlet fever outbreak at her new home forces her to live with her friends for a number of months, and she makes friends and has adventures there, too.

So it’s not a single plot piece, but some of the elements come together at a big Independence Day party at the end (as I assume happened in the first book, as they are leaving a party early on). But it’s a series of smaller adventures with little life lessons in them an examples of a child having a good heart. She’s like an older generation Ramona Quimby.

So this is a children’s book, presumably geared to little girls, perhaps even to be read to little girls. But let’s look into the language used, ainna?

Having a naturally light-hearted, merry disposition, Peace did not find it hard work to “smile and talk,” but it was hard, very hard, to restrain her generous impulses to give away everything she possessed to those less fortunate than herself, and it soon became a familiar sight to see her fly excitedly into the house straight to the study where the busy President spent many hours each day, exclaiming breathlessly as she ran, “Oh, grandpa, there is a little beggar at the door in perfect rags and tatters! Just come and look if she doesn’t need some clothes. And she is so cold and pinched up with being empty. Gussie has fed her, but can’t I give her some things to wear? I’ve more than I need, truly!”

This is not diction from a children’s book in the 21st century.

So a good book to read to your kids, but also a good artifact of the way we were.

The book itself only bears the copyright date, 1914, but not a printing/publishing date–but it doesn’t look as though this would have been in print for decades. So the pages are a bit brown, but the binding is tight, and it’s not disintegrating like The Saint Meets His Match. So that’s kind of nice. And helpful considering how it was suggested to me.

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Melodrama I Saw On Television and the Internet

The cover of Reader’s Digest November 2022, which would have hit homes and checkout counter magazine racks right before the midterm elections:

Siege at the Capitol: A Drama In Real Life®

Wait, no, that’s not right. Let’s try again.

Siege at the Capitol

No, how about

Siege at the Capitol

I’m getting there, I suppose, but I’ll stop now.

Contrary to what partisan Congressional “committees” and partisan news media would have you believe, this was ultimately less life and death than it might have seemed at the time to members of the elite who might have felt they were at risk. But it was less of an insurrection and more of an unauthorized parading.

I don’t remember Reader’s Digest talking about long-lasting riots or no-go zones in 2020 or the Occupy movement a couple of years before as Dramas in Real Life®, but I guess they were longer-term events than singular incidents you usually see in this feature.

Or maybe used to see in this feature if you ignore the subscription renewal forms that start when you first subscribe and continue twice a month until after your subscription lapses to the ultimate conclusion.

Someday soon, my periodical intake will fall to the NRA magazine and a couple of Catholic theology monthlies. If the Catholic theology monthlies can stay for the most part out of politics.

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Book Report: The Broken Snare by R.D. Symons (1970)

Book coverWell, I seasoned this book well enough. I bought it in October 2012 at the Friends of the Christian County Library book sale. It must have been on the shelves at the Christian County Library for a while, as it has pockets for the cards they used to use for checkouts and it has the bar code for computer checkouts, which meant that it was probably on the bookshelves in a small southwest Missouri library for nearly forty years. Hopefully, they put it into the book sale to make more room for books, albeit by 2012, books were well into being pushed aside for computers.

I have to admit that I’ve confused this book with The Broken Spears, a book about the Spanish conquest of the vulgar Aztecs that I bought in 2008. I’ve gone looking for that book a time or two on my shelves, but did not find it. I must have found this book at one point, as it had one of my bookmarks in it (no Found Bookmarks post–it was a Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library book sale whose date was after I owned the book), but I abandoned it as a bit dry. Which must mean I delved into it last before I went through the Little House books in, what, 2018-2019? Maybe those children’s books prepared me for this volume.

So, the “plot”: A Canadian, his urban English wife, and two young boys (later joined by a much younger sister) homestead out in the western part of Canada. The father finds a nice valley where he can stake a claim, and they build a ranch over time, which starts with living in tents but culminates in a cabin. It also goes into the accumulation of cattle, which is less dramatic than in Bendigo Shafter–the cattle and horses are built over time, dealing with local “horse traders” who are probably also horse thieves. And the book also changes point of view to two anthromorphized animals: a cow moose bearing young and an old wolf with a three-pawed wife who bedevil the family known as “The Man”, “The Woman”, “The Kid”, “The Boy”, and eventually “Small.”

So some of it is clearly fictional and some is not, but the actual balance is unclear–if you look for the author on the Internet, you don’t get a big presence–remember, this book was from when ARPANET was three or so–but you do get stories about his impact on art and the west (akin to Charles Russell, which is to say significant among people who knows who he is), but you also get comments from people who knew him as a park ranger or in his other pursuits. So, again, like Buff Lamb: Lion of the Ozarks, we have some history overlapping with the present, or with people you know in the present.

But: In spite of this book containing horses, pack mules, and eventually cars and bulldozers, this book takes place 50 years(!) after the little house books. I mean, the book mentions the Depression in passing, but when The Kid decides to join the military, he goes to the Korean War. By that time, my elderly church associate had already stopped trick-or-treating at the elderly Laura Ingalls Wilder house in Mansfield.

At any rate, an interesting read, and proof that sometimes I have to be ready to read a book when I read it. The previous time, I was not, but I read it through this time. Not at a great rate like an old timey (less than 300 pages) suspense novel which I could read in a day (this book, at 224 pages, took me a bit), but still interesting, and a connection to a past that I would say is forgotten, but it’s a past that’s unimagined by kids today.

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Not Exactly Like The Facebook Suggested For You Post Would Have It

I might have mentioned that my Facebook feed is basically ads, promoted posts (Suggested for you, I suspect, is just an ad by another name), a couple things from people I went to high school with, a posts from Gimlet’s wife showing their kids, bible quote posts from that guy who runs 5Ks in a Speedo and then his, erm, saucy comments on the posts of Influencers who showcase their legs, rock music posts, and old movie posts. I’m not sure whether the algorithm has improved my engagement–sometimes I slow down a bit on some of the posts, but I don’t click buttons on them.

But they do give me blog fodder.

Like this one from some twee pop culture site which is going to tell me about martial arts:

A spin kick (or a jump spin kick) or something like a spin knife hand can be just as powerful or more powerful than a lift or step kick. A spin heel kick, for example, can combine the motion of the spin with the motion of just the leg to knock someone’s block off. And we’re not allowed to throw spin ridge hands in touch sparring because it’s too powerful–and, to be honest, too easy to miss your distance and timing so that you hit someone full power, that is, hard enough to hurt them.

You don’t throw a spin kick first, though, because the wind up is quite visible. However, if you want to throw two strikes from the same side, or if you want to use the momentum from the twist of your body to add power to a second strike, you use the spin. Say you’re in a guard stance with your left side forward (if you’re right handed, this is kind of natural). When you throw a turn round kick with your back leg, you pivot on your left leg as turn your body to strike with your riight leg.
Your body is already rotating counterclockwise, so you can put the right leg and continue the momentum, pivoting now on your right to spin and kick with your left leg. It’s one motion, and it can be quick and smooth.

As to flips, I agree, that’s cinematic. But rolls have their place. My current school does not emphasize forward and backward rolls as much as the bujinikan dojo where I studied for a few months. Rolls are helpful when you lose your balance and have to regain your feet relatively quickly. Standing back up is slow, but carrying the momentum of the fall a little further until your feet are under you is not. This is most useful for martial arts that emphasize strikes from a standing position, not necessarily grappling arts like Brazilian Jui-Jitsu.

Of course, that’s only the experience of a experience and perspective of an eight-year student of martial arts who’s off to get his but kicked in a black belt boot camp later today ahead of perhaps rank confirmation testing next weekend and not that of an actual instructor or an Internet listicle writer.

And, no, I did not click through to the actual listicle to see what the other 11 dumb things. No need reward the algorithm for showing this to me.

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Book Report: Buff Lamb: Lion of the Ozarks by Randy H. Greer (2022)

Book coverI got this book at ABC Books during a book signing in August, and I delved right into it. Well, relatively–sometimes books go into the Nogglestead stacks for decades (I have a couple of books I bought in college that I still have not read, so within a couple of months is instantly when it comes to reading a book I bought).

So Buff (short for a longer nickname Buffalo) was a circus rider and driver who ended up a town marshal in his early 20s who parlayed that into becoming a sheriff’s deputy and then getting elected sheriff of Christian County, Missouri, for a long time and in non-consecutive terms. He served at the same time as Mickey Owen (former big league baseball player turned Greene County sheriff whose reelection notepad I still have on my desk, albeit not on the surface but in a cubby with notepads). He was a bit of a womanizer, married many times, and had a couple of children from whom he became estranged. He was a larger than life character, but his bluff and bluster and occasional brutality made Christian County safer, but it took a toll on the man and his family.

I have probably mentioned before, gentle reader, that I only went on one travel vacation in my youth (I did mention our trip to Rockaway Beach in a post about a vacation in Wisconsin). The trip to Rockaway Beach would have been when I was in middle school or high school, so the middle 1980s; my mom and my brother stayed at some cabins where my mother had stayed with her family at one time. Rockaway Beach, although it is close to Branson and is on Lake Taneycomo, one of the three lakes that gives the Tri-Lakes area its nickname, was deserted. And one of the proprietors of the few amusements on the main road through town said that in the 1970s, within recent memory, the town was taken over by bikers and had not recovered. Although Rockaway Beach is in Taney County, when the Taney County sheriff called for help when one of the biker parties got out of hand and turned into a riot, Buff Lamb and his deputies joined in the clearing of town. So that account connected up with something I knew.

So this book straddled a line between history and current events (well, events current to my lifetime) in a way that history books generally don’t. Another connection was that a deputy whom Buff promoted and backed but then turned on when he wanted to be sheriff again was appointed interim sheriff in 2012 when the then-current sheriff was ousted for corruption. I remember that. And I’m surprised that it was ten years ago already.

I guess that’s how it happens: The older you get, the more you’ve lived becomes history.

It looks as though the author has been making a lot of appearances in support of the book, including talks here and there. It’s a pretty good book. A couple of typos, including a passage where a person’s name is spelled both Francis and Frances (prompting this post). But he’s fair in his treatment of the subject, and it was an enjoyable read.

It makes me hope that the kittens soon knock down the other book of his that I bought at the same time.

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Book Report: The Saint Meets His Match by Leslie Charteris (1931, 1944)

Book coverThis might have been only the second Saint book (or is it The Saint book?) that I’ve ever read. The first would have been a modern paperback (well, then modern) that I read in high school or thereabouts. It was one passed onto us by my Aunt Dee right about the time we moved into the house down the gravel road. We got a small stack of books from her–less than I would buy if I went hog wild at a church or friends of the library book sale–but my aunt introduced me to Ed McBain, Anne Rice (Interview with the Vampire, which is the only Anne Rice I’ve actually read), and, perhaps The Saint. So it’s been a while.

In this book, which was apparently published originally as She Was a Lady and then as Angels of Doom before appearing with this title, The Saint pursues a woman who runs a gang who help criminals, but the woman is actually the daughter of a disgraced and deceased policeman wrongfully accused of corruption. She’s using her life of crime to go after those who set her father up, and Simon Templar, the Saint (or is it The Saint?) joins her in her quest. The Saint himself is a roguish, doing good but outside the law, figure himself, but he briefly joins the police force to get some information he needs. And they fall in love, of course.

It’s an interesting bit. It’s from the Depression era, but it’s set in England, and urban England at that, so it feels more hardboiled than an Agatha Christie book, with fights and a little gunplay here and there. The pacing, though, is more British than pulp, and it took me a longer time to read it than it would have a comparable hard boiled pulp. Although the density of the language probably mirrors Chandler more than Hammett, the argot is just foreign enough. So I won’t go out of my way to grab other books of the sort.

This edition is a late World War II hardback (I think). It is in an inexpensive binding similar to a Walter J. Black or other book club edition–and it’s possible that The Saint even that early had a Saint-of-the-month club (Remember, gentle reader, Doc Savage had a monthly “magazine” with a short novel every month). But this was an inexpensive edition even then–the title on the cover and on the title page are The Saint Meets His Match, but the tops of the pages say Angels of Doom. It’s a Triangle Books edition from the U.S., and the edges of the pages flaked off as I read it–I’ve never seen a book do that, and the pages are very dark. Probably inexpensive paper, anmd perhaps the book got wet at some point.

Still, better than a Jack Reacher novel.

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Ask Why Brian Is Leary of AirBNB

Tyson Foods CFO John Tyson arrested for entering stranger’s house, passing out in her bed

You know, one of the places we stayed was a garage behind a house, and the entrance and “address” of the apartment was on a narrow alleyway. Other places have been in condominium buildings or developments where things look the same. So I can too easily imagine myself prowling around someone’s house in error after dark. So I avoid AirBNBs and use hotels instead when I’ll arrive after dark, drunk or not.

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On Blankman (1994)

Book coverI am pretty sure I picked up this film when I bought Friday, but I will be darned if I remember where I picked them up. At the antique mall? I have a couple of new movies atop my to-watch cabinets that are mixing with the “new” movies I bought last year and left up there. Face it: My to-watch movies are in worse shape than my to-read shelves, because even though I’m not reading as many books this year in years past, I’m certainly not watching any more movies. Maybe three in October, which is trending up. Some cinephile I am.

So, about this flick: It came out in 1994, which is last century, before America healed its racial divide by continuing to listen to racebaiters and electing one president (before sitting down to write this, I was presented with a Facebook adversomething with Dusty Baker lamenting that the World Series teams did not have an American-born black player, so look how far we’ve come, baby). In 1994, I would have thought that the characters were like me and my brother, but now in the 21st century, I think first that these guys are black, and maybe I am guilty of something for liking the film and wishing we could go back to the bad old days of the 1980s on racial relations.

Ah, but I cannot, but I defy them and liked the movie anyway.

In it, two brothers played by David Alan Grier and Daymon Wayans grow up with their grandmother. Grier becomes well-adjusted, grows to be a cameraman for a tabloid program, and Daymon Wayans becomes an inventor and tinkerer whose machines made from common devices are more humorous than groundbreaking. Their grandmother volunteers for a candidate for mayor running on an anti-corruption ticket, and when the candidate refuses to get in bed with a mobster, the mobster’s goons kill a bunch of volunteers, including the grandmother. Which leads the tinkerer, influenced by the Batman! television show of the 1960s, to become a crime fighter. Which draws the attention and admiration of a news anchor played by Robin Givens, whom the cool brother flirted with briefly.

So a bit of a love triangle ensues, and they go after the bad guys, and some set pieces, and resolution, and….

All right, it’s not Oscar material, but it’s akin to the stuff we gorged on in the 1980s, whether it was direct-to-video or direct-to-cable or disappointing box office (full disclosure: I saw Wild Thing on Showtime many, many times, and I enjoyed it).

And, I mean, even, uh, a couple years from its original release date, I still relate to the awkward nerd character who gets the girl. Before this film came out, I wrote a couple chapters on a teen who has gadgets and becomes a super hero (White Knight, not likely to be released in my every-couple-of-years self-publishing attempt at relevance). So it harmonically resonates with me, and even if “Rotten Tomatoes” hates it, I do not.

Also, the film had Robin Givens, whom I remembered from the nerd-friendly Head of the Class.
Continue reading “On Blankman (1994)”

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Brian J. Lives Out The Robert Frost Poem

Namely, “Two Tramps in Mud Time“:

Out of the mud two strangers came
And caught me splitting wood in the yard,
And one of them put me off my aim
By hailing cheerily “Hit them hard!”
I knew pretty well why he had dropped behind
And let the other go on a way.
I knew pretty well what he had in mind:
He wanted to take my job for pay.

Good blocks of oak it was I split,
As large around as the chopping block;
And every piece I squarely hit
Fell splinterless as a cloven rock.
The blows that a life of self-control
Spares to strike for the common good,
That day, giving a loose my soul,
I spent on the unimportant wood.

Not the complete poem; That’s the first two stanzas. Gentle reader, you would most likely know it from its closing lines:

Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future’s sakes.

As you know, gentle reader, that is the source of the title of Robert B. Parker’s Mortal Stakes, back in the old days when his writing was deep and rich. Or, if not deep and rich, before he went Hollywood and his prose got thin.

So how, exactly, am I living it?
Continue reading “Brian J. Lives Out The Robert Frost Poem”

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Some Skits I’d Write

Lately, as I’m going to bed, I’m starting to have viable ideas for writing. Last week, an almost finished poem burst forth from my tired cranium like Athena from the head of Zeus.

Last night, it was a series of skits based on what would happen if horror movie serial killers became examples in OSHA safety films.

Imagine:

  • A chainsaw killer goes after a co-ed, but he does not hold the chainsaw so it is not to the side of his body, so when he encounters kickback, it kills him.
     
  • An axe-wielding murderer, again, swings so that the follow through is in line with his body, so he strikes himself.
     
  • A poor oversexed teenager rests against a door or a wall to catch his or her breath, feeling momentarily safe, when the killer punches through and grabs the teen. When the killer punches through a door’s window, the killer is cut by the glass and bleeds out. When the killer punches through the wall beside the door, the killer hits the electrical lines leading to the light switch. Et cetera.
     
  • A killer has the body of his latest victim and takes it to bury it, but he did not call for a survey before he digs, and he hits a gas line and self-immolates.
     
  • A puzzle killer has chained a victim to a railing or piping, but the victim is able to pull the railing/piping free because the contractor cut corners. Actually, this was inspired by our experience at our Old Trees church yesterday when we were coming down some steep stairs in the rain, and my wife fell because the railing she was holding broke free. It looks as though the contractor who put it in had not actually bolted it down at all points, instead using adhesive, maybe. She is alright, but she made sure to completely break the railing down so that someone else, perhaps someone older, would not grab the unstable stabilizer.
    • You know, when I was younger, I might write these skits for fun knowing they would never be made. Although when I was younger, I was more optimistic and believed maybe they could. But now I am just pleased with the ideation.

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Book Report: John Donnelly’s Gold by Brian J. Noggle (2011)

Book coverWell, there you go again, you might say, but in my defense this is only the second time I’ve read my novel since I published it in 2011 (the first book report on it appeared in 2016, eight years ago.)

So, unless you’re new here, you know the plot: Four laid off tech workers decide to stage a heist and steal the gold bar that their vainglorious CEO bought and put into his house with a live video feed. The tech is slightly dated, but not too bad, and the zeitgeist might just be circling around as tech company layoffs are on the rise again.

It’s got funny moments–after eight years, some of them still catch me by surprise and I chuckle–but about three quarters through I just trudged to the ending and the humor kind of leaks out of the book. Still, I like reading it more than many of the other books I read.

But what gets me, eleven years after I published it and almost twenty years after I wrote it: How easily the writing came to me then. Even more so when I was in my 20s. I could, with confidence that arose out of, I dunno, youthful ignorance, I wrote piles of prose and poems effortlessly. These days, when I sit down to write a short story, it’s excruciating, the second guessing and the wondering if it’s worth it and whether anyone will read it anyway. As John Donnelly’s Gold and the light traffic to this blog indicate, the answer is probably no.

I remember when I was in my Existenialism class, and the discussion came around to careers, and the S.J. running the class said that our vocation would be to serve others, and I, hopped up on the Ayn Rand, demurred. He asked what I wanted to do, and when I said, “Write,” he asked if I would be happy sitting somewhere and writing without others. I said no, because you need an audience. And I still think that’s true.

I think perhaps I would have been more successful as a writer if I were compelled to write, and I would be happy to have written even suspecting that I would burn all my writings before death. Or maybe I just think that because I’m not, and I’ve not had a lot of success otherwise. But, hey, I wrote a poem the other night that is okay, not that anyone will ever see it.

At any rate, I did get this book off of my desk and onto the shelf with the collection of proofs of this and other books I’ve published to no fanfare.

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And Then, Again, There Were Five

On Monday, two weeks after I buried Athena, I heard a meow from my open office window. I stood up and looked out to see if it was Peirce, the black cat that hung around and helped himself to some of Athena’s food. And I looked down, and it was a black kitten. Who hopped up onto the sill of my window and meowed at me.

I went out the back door to look to see the kitten, and I heard her meowing from the wind break, which would have meant a pretty quick flight for a small kitten while I walked thirty feet out the back door.
Continue reading “And Then, Again, There Were Five”

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Who Didn’t Know That?

Outkick is shocked to learn JEOPARDY MAKES CONTESTANTS PAY THEIR OWN AIRFARE, HOTEL AND FOOD

C’mon, man, we all knew that already. Or maybe just those of us who were in the Jeopardy! contestant pool at one time.

Spoiler alert: They make you pay your own way and for your own lodgings for the auditions, which are generally regional in nature, as well. I had to go to Kansas City for mine. Other times I picked places like Boston because making a Jeopardy! audition would make a good excuse to visit those locations.

I mean, c’mon, man, even if you’re a returning champion for a couple of days, you’re not winning life-changing money. It’s not about the money.

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Spotted in the Obits

I kinda sorta scan the obits in my hometown newspapers. Not because I will know anyone–I mean, my “hometowns” where I take the newspapers are all adopted home towns, and I didn’t go to high school there. But rather because I want to make sure that the people who have passed away are older than I am. And they are, for the most part, but that’s probably just as much because only old people and their families put obits in the paper any more.

At any rate, in the Stone County Republican and Crane Chronicle last week, I did spot a familiar name.

As you might remember, gentle reader, I read his book Traces of Silver about the mythical Yocum Silver Dollar not long after I moved to the area. Well, two years after I moved to the area, but in the perspective of the time that has passed, not long at all.

The book made an impression on me–I mean, I know the origin of Silver Dollar City’s name, and I know enough of the story that I can tell of it. And at the coin show this weekend, I thought about asking at the booths whether they had any Yocum dollars today, but I did not.

So rest in peace, Mr. Ayres. While the world mourns another actor, I’ll give thanks for your life and its slight impact on me.

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Book Report: Star Trek 11 by James Blish (1975, 1977)

Book coverWell, having just finished the Doubleday children’s books I own with 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, I might as well move onto polishing the books in this series I have on my to-read shelves. So I read this, the penultimate volume I have of James Blish’s series of books that present the original Star Trek episodes as short stories. As I have mentioned, I also have several of the Star Trek Log books where Alan Dean Foster does the same with Star Trek: The Animated Series, but I’m not sure if I will jump right into that series after I finish Star Trek 13 someday in the near future.

At any rate, when I started this book, I noted that it was in exceptional shape. The spine is not cracked, the cover is cherry, and this despite the fact that previous owners(?) have written their names in the front and back cover. The front cover has Richard S. Musterman (?) Dec 2 1979, and the back cover has Steve Laube (?). How they wrote their names without cracking the spines… a mystery for the ages.

This book collects the following episodes as stories:

  • “What Are Little Girls Made Of”, the one where the Enterprise beams down to an inhospitable planet to find Nurse Chapel’s former flame has discovered technologies of an ancient civilization to build androids–and the Enterprise team learns that Korby, the aforementioned flame, is an android himself with the consciousness of the human transferred to it.
     
  • “The Squire of Gothos”, wherein the Enterprise encounters a rogue planet and investigates. Kirk and Sulu disappear from the Enterprise, and when an Enterprise away team beams down to the planet, they find an old castle with a seemingly omnipotent figure there. So it’s a bit of “Catspaw” and “For the World Is Hollow, And I Have Touched The Sky” from Star Trek 8 blended with Under the Dome, but that came later.
     
  • “Wink of an Eye”, the one where the crew beams down to a planet that had an advanced civilization, but the people are gone, and the crew hears an insect like buzzing. When they beam up, they hear the buzzing on the Enterprise, and something seems to be taking over the ship. Kirk learns, as he is accellerated by the former residents of the planet, they have been “sped up” so that they move faster than humans–and the queen of the planet has sped-up Kirk to make him her mate. But an ordinary injury will kill him, as all the time he has spent sped-up will cause him to rapidly age with any wound. I actually remembered this episode.
     
  • “Bread and Circuses”, wherein the Enterprise finds the wreckage of a merchant ship and are kidnapped by residents of the planet where they found it. A planet where the Roman Empire did not fall, and the Enterprise landing party will fight the gladiators. Kirk discovers a friend of his, a crewman on the merchant ship, has been elevated to leadership by the real powers in the Empire, and that a small group of Christians have arisen later that will change the planet forever.
     
  • “Day of the Dove”, wherein the Enterprise responds to a distress call but finds no sender–and then a damaged Klingon battle cruiser appears, believing the Enterprise responsible for the damage. Everyone, Klingons and all, end up on the Enterprise, and they eventually discover an alien form that feeds on hostility–not unlike the alien that feeds on terror in “The Wolf in the Fold” which I read, again, in Star Trek 8.
     
  • “Plato’s Stepchildren”, wherein the Enterprise finds a seemingly omnipotent group of humans whose leader has developed a simple infection that they cannot treat because they’ve spent their lives improving their mental powers, but they’ve lost their understanding of the physical world–so they compel the Enterprise people to tend them and to entertain them. Which includes Nurse Chapel’s declaring her love for Spock and That Interracial Kiss between Uhura and Kirk.

So I remembered clearly one of the episodes, but by this time and through repeated viewings in my youth, it’s easy to understand why so many were immemorable: they shared so many tropes and shuffled similar concepts and conceits.

Well, as I might have mentioned, I have but one to clear from my to-read shelves that I know of, the last, Star Trek 13. Blish died in the middle 1970s, so this series proved to be his most lasting contribution to science fiction. I’m not knocking it–as you might know, gentle reader, I have published a couple of books and have sold maybe 150 total. So I cannot cast aspersions upon any writer, especially writers with big house contracts who sold piles of books.

This book, unlike Star Trek 8, had a table of contents and a preface by the author. I must wonder if these features come from later printings and not the originals.

But enough about me. Let’s talk about Sherry Jackson.
Continue reading “Book Report: Star Trek 11 by James Blish (1975, 1977)”

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The Key Question The Men Amongst Us Wanted To Know

Man clocked at 163 miles an hour on U.S. 60; arrested on Friday:

A Georgia man was clocked Friday by a Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper traveling on U.S. 60 in Howell County at 163 miles per hour, the agency said.

Troop G of the patrol said it is believed to be a record speeding violation within the nine-county area.

What we’re all wondering: What was he driving? A BMW M3.

Also, note that they did not pursue him and catch him. They conducted a search for him, which means that he was not just passing through on his way to Poplar Bluff or Springfield. Or was he? Hopefully, the print edition this week will have more. Considering that I have picked up numerous papers along US 60 in my trips to my brother’s and back (and to De Soto and back), I shall probably read about this in various places.

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