They Saw Me Coming

Facebook has taken to showing me suggested posts from 1970s science fiction television programs,including stills from Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and they sent me back with this one:

Let the first amongst you who has not said, “Broot-doot-doot. SPECTRA!” in the manner of Keyop cast the first stone.

I loved this show as a kid when it was in heavy syndication. I can’t remember if it came on before or after school–probably both at different times. But it was my favorite of the Japanese imports that preceded the toy-based cartoons (the Transformers, the Go-bots, G.I. Joe, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe) that would come along in a couple of years.

And, like with Airwolf doing the loop, the climax was generally not over until they reluctantly decided to use the Fiery Phoenix (where some sort of plasma fire covered their regular space ship and they were about invulnerable). Although unlike Airwolf’s loop, the Fiery Phoenix did come with a cost as demonstrated by the agonized character stills that accompanied it every time they used it.

Ah, well. Facebook seems to have turned, if not only for me, into a wellspring of nostalgia. In addition to the aforementioned shows, I get vintage cheesecake served up (some overlap) along with nostalgia-themed pages about growing up in the 1970s and 1980s. Maybe it’s just tailored that way for me since I primarily log into Facebook these days to see what I posted on Facebook in years past. Kind of like what I use this blog for primarily.

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Television Report: The Twilight Zone Volume 21

Book coverWell, the joke is indeed on me, as I said when I reviewed Volume 19:

I’m clearly not watching them in order–well, it will become obvious when I finish the next volume and its number is not higher than 19….

Even though I shuffled them into the cabinet instead of keeping them together, I somehow ended up pulling them out in order. Well, unless there’s another one that I haven’t spotted which is somewhere in the middle of the volume numbers. Which is, again, not akin to order in the actual television series as each volume includes episodes from different seasons of the original series.

The wingspan of this volume is wider than the others; it includes an episode from the first season as well as from the fifth season whose opening was the one used on the syndicated program when I was growing up, so the one I associate most with the series.

At any rate, this volume includes:

  • “Mirror Image” from the first season where a woman at a bus station finds that the man at the counter and a woman in the restroom mention encounters and conversations with her that she does not recall, and she has checked her suitcase–or has she not? When looking in the restroom mirror, she sees through the open restroom door herself sitting on the bench outside. A friendly man, played by Martin Milner (who played Tod on Route 66, some episodes of which I watched in 2021 and I mentioned here and here), listens to her story but agrees with the station manager that she must be crazy. After the nice policemen take her away, Milner’s character sees himself run out of the bus station door. And he pursues his mirror image but loses him outside. And the episode ends, not with a DUN DUN DUH! but without a resolution. More speculative.
  • “Dust”, a message-based episode. The son of an immigrant family accidentally runs down a girl in an old west town and is sentenced to be hanged. The grasping peddlar who sold the rope to hang the young man also sells the superstitious father a bag of magic dust–a fake–to save his son. At the actual hanging, the father throws the magic dust at the townspeople, and his actions and words cause them to rethink the hanging. A message program again with no DUN DUN DUH!
  • “Five Characters in Search of an Exit” finds several different people in a featureless cell from which they seemingly cannot escape until a new resident convinces them to make a human pyramid to reach the edge where they discover they are toys in a toy collection bin in Victorian England. A nice bit of speculative work here even with its DUN DUN DUH!
  • “Ninety Years Without Slumbering” features an elderly man who believe he will die if his grandfather clock stops, so he tinkers with it constantly. His family, with whom he lives, makes plans to get rid of the clock to prove to him that it is not the case. AND IT IS NOT THE CASE! A reverse DUN DUN DUH?

An interesting collection, especially with the inclusion of something from the first season which might have been the strongest, before Serling and crew were driven by necessity to churn out more boilerplate and genre-adhering shows.

Still, my television watching these days has pretty much been confined to black and white, and it’s probably not at a personal loss.

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Movie Report: D.O.A. (1949? 1950?)

Book coverWhen I mentioned that I was watching this film to my beautiful wife, she associated the title with the 1988 Dennis Quaid film of the same name (which is now almost as old as the original was in 1988). But, no, I was watching the original, which is (does math) 74 years old now. But it doesn’t seem dated to old people who remember life before computers and cell phones. Of course, the Quaid film also comes from the before time, but shots probably included office environments with PCs, so it would look slightly less alien to kids.

Also, I have seen this film listed as 1949 and 1950 in various sources, so I am not sure whether the film was released in 1949 or 1950. I guess I could watch it again and convert the Roman numerals, gentle reader, for proper accuracy in this movie report, but I am far too lazy for that.

In it, Edmond O’Brien plays Bigelow, a California accountant who decides to have a holiday away from his town and his receptionist/flame Paula in San Francisco. He joins a group of convention attendees on a night out and is unknowingly given poison by a figure in a suspicious looking get-up. When he falls ill, the doctors tell him he has only a short time to live. So he investigates and learns that someone from San Francisco named Philipos has been trying to reach him–and said fellow has committed suicide. It looks to be tied into a bill of sale that Bigelow notarized for Philips, almost forgotten because it was a while back and a routine transaction for someone passing through Bigelow’s home town, and that leads Bigelow to encounter some organized crime types who might have stolen the sold good–iridium–and whose theft put Philips into a legal jam.

There’s a twist ending, but the twist is not that Bigelow survives. The film has a frame story which seems to have been popular at the time (Double Indemnity had a similar one) where the main character tells someone the story in flashback–in this case, Bigelow is telling it to homicide detectives.

So if you’re a fan of original noir films, this one will please you. If you’re a damn kid, you’ll probably be bored through it.

I mentioned the main actor, Edmond O’Brien. You know, he won an Academy Award (for his supporting role in The Barefoot Contessa) and was nominated for another (for Seven Days in May), and he appeared in films I’ve seen like The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence and a bunch of other notable films. But he’s not a common name now. He was that guy for a long time, but the world has moved onto its insipid streaming series instead.

Still, it has made me curious to watch the Quaid version. Which I think I will have to find on videocassette. Online sources indicate there are three other iterations of this film, although it counts the Jason Statham film Crank among them, so the connection to this film as the source looks to be more inspired by than remake.

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Proper Music For The Reading

Yesterday, Severian started a post by talking about Michael McDonald (What a Fool Believes).

WSIE provided the proper music for the occasion.

Although, to be honest, WSIE plays a hella lot of McDonald, whether with the Doobie Brothers, with a single other Doobie Brother (depicted), solo, or with James Ingram. WSIE has a pretty small playlist, and no matter how often I send a message on the request line to play the Pitch Pockets, no, here’s Steely Dan with “Aja” again.

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Book Report: Wizard by Ozzie Smith with Rob Rains (1988)

Book coverI read Bob Gibson’s From Ghetto To Glory earlier this year, so it seemed a prime time to pick up this book as I came across it in a partial book turning this autumn.

Ozzie Smith played a generation after Gibson, starting his career in the late 1970s in San Diego before being traded to the St. Louis Cardinals. I knew him twice: Once as an enemy as a member of the team that eventually beat the Milwaukee Brewers in the 1982 World Series, and a couple of years later as a favorite on the team that then lost the World Series to the Royals and then to the Twins. He didn’t get traded; I moved from Milwaukee to St. Louis, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch kept me awash in free Cardinals tickets for good grades. Between my brother and I, we got to see six to eight games a year gratis, so we became fans of the hometown team. So I’ve seen Ozzie Smith in person, and I’ve seen him do a back flip as he took the field, and I booed Royce Clayton when he appeared in the Dennis Quaid movie The Rookie (Tony LaRussa replaced Smith when Clayton in the 1990s, which caused a rift between the Cardinals and Smith that took years or decades to heal).

At any rate, this book does talk about Ozzie Smith’s race (he’s black), and it mentions he lived in the ghetto (Watts, during the riots in the 1960s, when Smith was very young). But the book focuses mostly on the business side of baseball–Smith’s dealings with the Padres, a penny-pinching team in that era who didn’t want to spend money on retaining players and vilified players who went elsewhere for more money, often beginning in their contract years if the players did not sign right away–to the difficulties and pressures of being a highly paid defensive player. The book also focuses on how Smith approaches self-improvement, including trying to become a better hitter even after he received a big contract.

So the book is more inspirational throughout than the Gibson book. I wonder how more modern sports bios written later than 35 years ago and with different generations scan. Probably not as hopeful as this one.

Not many books have sentences where I know exactly where I was when they happened. This one does.

Some of the fans may have had a little doubt in their hearts about then, but we didn’t. If anything, the Brewers’ rally picked us up as we came up to bat in the bottom of the sixth. We loaded the bases, and that brought up Keith Hernandez to bat against Bob McClure, who had been Keith’s teammate in Little League in California. Keith must have had the book on him, because he came through with a single to score me and Lonnie and tie the game.

Gentle reader, my brother and I left Boogie’s apartment, where his mother had been watching us while my mother had gone out, when the score was 3-1, and when we got to our apartment in the next building over, the score was tied. And we know how the game turned out–if not, you can read this book to find out–and I cried myself to sleep. For a long time, I called Bob McClure “Chicken” McClure, and that probably wasn’t fair. But I was ten, understand.

I also flagged a bit in the book where Ozzie Smith said about a trip to San Francisco for the All Star game where he was going to start the game for the second time, but he was more excited to meet Huey Lewis. C’mon, man, did Ozzie Smith say that, or did Rob Rains through that in because Huey Lewis was one of the biggest musicians of the 1980s? I guess we’ll only know when there’s an estate sale at Smith’s house–if we see a bunch Sports and Picture This on cassette, we will know he really was that excited.

Given that he retired a couple of decades ago, he’s still a beloved figure in Cardinals nation. We used to eat at Ozzie’s when we lived in Casinoport, and a relatively new medical center called Ozzie Smith IMAC Regeneration Center opened in Springfield a couple years ago.

Maybe someday I’ll come across a copy of Ozzie Smith–The Road to Cooperstown by Smith and Rains, written 14 years after this book. I’d like to think it has a similar tone, but one never knows when it comes to athletes who have retired and are not in the middle of their careers.

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In Local Deep State News

Republic City Administrator gets smaller raise after report showed imbalance:

After KOLR 10 Investigates uncovered Republic City Administrator David Cameron received several 5-figure salary raises in recent years, city council approved a more conservative pay bump during his most recent review.

Cameron’s impressive raises included an almost $60,000 raise in 2021, which pushed his salary over $262,000 last year. But now for the first time in three years, his merit raise will come in under $10,000.

Cameron’s previous combined raises more than doubled his salary between 2018 and 2023. Taxpayers we interviewed for the original story in May were mostly shocked to learn how much he’s making.

I would say so. I would be, too.

If I recall the last city administrator in Republic ended up going somewhere bigger (Casinoport?) which illustrates that, unlike elected officials, city administrators might not represent the communities in which they’re employed–not elected. They could easily represent instead their guild (government experts) and themselves moreso than the small towns who need “expert” help.

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A Little Christmas Retail Therapy At Nogglestead

On Thursday night and Friday, I fought vainly that old ennui. You know, the telos versus deontos: Is what I am doing good for something? Or is it good in itself? If so, why am I not going anywhere and not feeling good about being present in the moment much like I have been present in similar moments for the last fifteen years? Pragmatism versus stoicism/Buddhist mindfulness, if you would. And thinking whichever one I was supposed to be doing, I was doing it wrong anyway.

So on Saturday, I headed over to the Hobby Lobby looking for some wire and some camouflage scrapbook paper. I mentioned last year that I wanted to put my father-in-laws waterfowl calls into a shadow box, and in between then and this summer I did. I used camouflage scrapbook paper instead of fabric, and I used fishing line to tie the calls to the shadow box back. Why? Because the shadow box my mother-in-law had built for us used fishing line, which is unobtrusive, in it. But the fishing line knots, inexpertly applied by yours truly, came loose, and the calls partially fell inside the box.

So I thought I’d do with with wire this time. So I headed to Hobby Lobby for more paper and some wire. And Christmas decorations were in full bloom in the Hobby Lobby. So, on a whim, I bought a little resin Santa Claus for $3.50 and stuck him on the mantel in the living room to see if/when anyone notices.

I told my youngest we would be putting up the Christmas tree in a couple of weeks, and he protested, saying we normally don’t decorate until Thanksgiving. I pointed out that is in two weeks, regardless of whether the daily high temperatures are 75 degrees right now. And I mentioned to my beautiful wife that the local radio station that goes to Christmas music has done so for the last two months of the year.

Putting that little Santa on the mantel made me feel a little better, probably more so than the amusement of wondering if/when they will discover it (no one has so far, although everyone walks through the room several times a day) than the Christmas spirit. But it could have been worse: On the way to Hobby Lobby, I passed someone giving away free Australian Shepherd puppies. Now they would have noticed that (and I was tempted, because what eliminate ennui like a puppy?).

At any rate, it’s not like we have put up a small Christmas tree like after our Christmas-themed trunk for Trunk or Treat in 2021 or when I started playing Christmas records in October 2020. So I’m still not that guy. But I am getting closer. Also, I found a Christmas record that was misfiled in the Nogglestead LP library (where the Christmas records are the only ones kept together and sort of organized, apparently only mostly), so it’s on the desk by the record player. So the odds of it finding its way to the turntable in the next couple of days are pretty high.

UPDATE: It was less than ten minutes before I started listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s The Holly and the Ivy, the aforementioned formerly misfiled Christmas record. My beautiful wife, passing through, commented on it. But she has still not seen the Santa.

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Television Report: The Twilight Zone Volume 19

Book coverThis is the second volume of this collection that I’ve watched this month (the first was Volume 6). I’m clearly not watching them in order–well, it will become obvious when I finish the next volume and its number is not higher than 19–but this set of DVDs does not really have the episodes in any order, either, skipping through the seasons–and seemingly focusing on later seasons.

This disc contains:

  • “A Most Unusual Camera” wherein a couple of two-bit thieves knock over an antique store only to come up with cheap knock-offs, but they do discover something–a camera that takes photos a few minutes into the future. They figure out a way to monetize it–take it to the horse racing track and take a picture of the winner board before the race is run. They make a pile of money, but end up getting–their just desserts? In a totally tacked on twist.
  • “The Jungle”, wherein a project engineer who has been to Africa to scope out a hydroelectric project finds that his wife has become very superstitious, and they fear the magick of the shamans in a tribe opposed to the project. After a night at a bar, he has to walk home after car trouble and finds New York City turning into a jungle around him.
  • “The 7th Is Made Up Of Phantoms” wherein a National Guard tank crew finds itself on the path to the Battle of Little Bighorn with past events occurring to them in the present–or have they gone back to the past? This one ends with them cocking their modern weapons and charging down a hill into the battle. Which seems like a tactically poor decision. I mean, they abandon the tank and then do not use cover or concealment to approach but run down the hill close together. Maybe they taught things differently in the National Guard in the 1960s.
  • “Uncle Simon”, where a shrewish niece takes care of her wealthy but abusive uncle but is prohibited from entering his lab. When she accidentally kills him, she discovers that the will says she must take care of her uncle’s creation: a robot that comes more and more to resemble her uncle in its abusive behavior toward her.

So it’s a little better than Volume 6 in that it’s not both formulaic and sharing very similar topics, but by the end of the original series, Serling’s well must have been running dry and the stories were but a single quick DUN DUN DUH! at the end away from things you’d have seen on other programs in other genres.

I guess that’s the real story arc of most open-ended television series: they start out with imagination and promise, and after a couple of seasons the grind of producing a weekly show and probably network penny-pinching leads to weakened episodes and related viewer disappointment, ratings drops, and cancellation. I guess with modern television, they have a story arc to carry through a series, but the related knock is that they pad that story arc out with insignifica to fill a whole season.

At any rate, these programs are 60 years old at this point and can still hold my interest, although they don’t necessarily inspire me to speculative fiction as much as reading about them did.

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A Cure For Wrong Thinking

‘United Springfield,’ a new PAC forms to support candidates for school board, City Council:

Prominent, long-time Springfield leaders have formed a political action committee to support candidates in upcoming school board and city council races that are required by state law to be nonpartisan.

The launch of United Springfield was announced Monday, a day before potential candidates were eligible to pick up packets to run for school board.

Organizers of the new fundraising PAC said its creation is a direct response to a dramatic increase in the participation of partisan and “dark money” groups — that opt not to disclose donor names — in local elections.

Springfield would all be united if only the proles followed the instructions given to them by the elites!

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Book Report: A Week in the Life of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (1996)

Book coverI picked this book up off of the free book cart at church. Although I check the cart every week, or at least when my beautiful wife needs to be at church early because she’s singing, playing trumpet, or ringing bells (which might only be five out of every six weeks), I do generally wait a week or two before grabbing a free book because I do have other things to read here.

This is a coffee table book that covers seven days in the beginning of April and documents various activities going on throughout the world at churches of the LCMS, its schools, and its missions. The church, from its then-new headquarters in the St. Louis area (I drove by it many times back in the day, which is right after it opened, although I, a new driver exploring the St. Louis area for the first time, did not know that), the church called (well, not called called) for members of various congregations to take photos and submit them, and then the editors up at Concordia Publishing (in the same then-new building) selected photos from every day of the week.

So, that’s it, basically. You get churches and services on Sunday, school kids, missionaries doing their things, the little old ladies of the church doing their crafts and outreach, and the people at LCMS HQ hard at work. You’ve got some photos of church members in their professional lives, and you’ve got what seems to be an overrepresentation of church members working to get the services on the radio or to record the services on video, but I guess those distribution channels would have been pretty novel in 1996. Well, except radio–church services on the radio and television predate this book, but maybe this offered a behind the scenes look? Or maybe it was new to Lutherans then.

I admit that, with some photography books, I only glance at the photos and spend most of my time reading the captions. Such with this book: the photos themselves were fairly pedestrian, although I could not help notice that most of the fashions would have as easily been at home in 1983 as 1996. Nary a bit of flannel here. But, for the most part, the engines of any church are people in their thirties, but more likely their forties and beyond. And these people would have fixed their fashion and how they thought they should look in the 1980s. The young people tend to be in their best or, even in casual clothes, in rather timeless casual wear. The people who would chase fashion would be in their late teens and twenties, the ones looking to define themselves in how they look, and they’re pretty thin in churches now as perhaps then. Not that we’ve had a “look” aside from maybe haircuts and makeup trends this century. Or maybe I am too old to know the subtle differences that youth see.

Given that this picture book showed up on our church’s rack, of course I looked for members or names from the church that I recognized, but I did not find any I knew. I also looked for churches that I have visited, which is not a large number, but we do tend to go to a local LCMS church when possible when we’re vacationing, so I’ve been to LCMS churches in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Arkansas. I only have sort of visited one of the churches down the road from here a ways–my sons played basketball at its school, but I’ve not attended service there. One of its youth in 1996 has the same last name as the current principal of the school, to whom we have sent some money from time to time when possible.

I did, however, spot a confirmand named Kaepernick from Turlock, California, and I looked it up: It is, in fact, the former football player’s older sister from his adopted family. I also learned that not only was that former football player likely raised in the LCMS, but that he was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Geez.

At any rate, an interesting artifact, probably more interesting if you attend an LCMS church. Especially if you did so in 1996.

Now this book will not go on my read shelves immediately. It has been routed to my beautiful wife for her review, and from thence it shall likely go to my mother-in-law for review. And heaven knows if or when I will see it again.

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Comedy Report: Ron White: A Little Unprofessional (2013)

Book coverThis is a comedy special by Ron White. You know, that other guy from the Blue Collar Comedy Tours from the turn of the century. No, the “Here’s your sign” guy is Bill Engvall (whose book Just a Guy: Notes from a Blue Collar Life I listened to in 2019). Of course, the big two are Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy. I get the sense Ron White is really the forgotten man in the bunch.

And, to be honest, that rating probably matches the reality. I have enjoyed Jeff Foxworthy for decades; I’ve seen a Larry the Cable Guy comedy special or two; and I enjoyed the couple of Blue Collar Comedy tour specials I’ve seen. But that’s probably despite White, not because of him.

You know, I get it: Comedy shows are going to have their off-color moments. Gallagher had a couple moments. Charlie Berens, the Manitowoc Minute guy, whom I saw earlier this month, even Charlie Berens had a moment or two that made my poor wife cringe because she was at a comedy show with her children, and she was afraid she would have to explain a joke or maybe she was afraid she would not now that her boys go to public school.

But Ron White’s show, or this one perhaps, did not offer many topical insights into the foibles of human nature that did not involve being drunk, having sex (especially receiving oral sex), or drugs. One party situation or sexual situation after another, and finis!

Not my bag, baby.

I do have to wonder if comedy has followed a similar arc to pop music: that it increasingly has to cater to an audience who comes out to the clubs, and those are the party people and not the, you know, adults. Or maybe there are diminishing adults in the world to entertain.

One good thing came from watching this: I discovered a new jazz artist, Margo Rey.
Continue reading “Comedy Report: Ron White: A Little Unprofessional (2013)”

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Off By One (Decade) Error

Singer Diamante has a new single coming out, entitled “1987”, and the cover looks like this:

I don’t want to go all Lileks on it, but the typeface and dress looks more 1977 than 1987. I guess she could be forgiven as she was not even born yet.

In related Diamante news, when I bought her second CD American Dream from her Web site, it came with a three-quarter sleeve shirt with Diamante on it. I hadn’t worn it as I’m not really a fan of the three-quarter sleeves. Last week, though, I put it on, and as I did, I wondered if my beautiful wife would comment. She did. I defended myself by saying I wear a t-shirt with Miles Davis’ face on it all the time. Apparently, having another attractive woman’s face on my torso is different.

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Book Report: Hey, Cowgirl, Need A Ride? by Baxter Black (2005)

Book coverThis book is a sequel to Hey, Cowboy, Want To Get Lucky?, and the joke’s on me. When I bought this book in 2015, I bought them both. And they quite likely might have been together on the hallway to-read shelves until we had to move those bookshelves into my office. So they were not together when I picked this book up during the month or so my to-read bookshelves have been (mostly) in my office, or I would have looked closer and picked up the first one first. Ooops.

At any rate, this is a modern(ish) cowboy book, a modern Western. Lick and Al tend cattle in Idaho/Nevada, making a lonely living in a small trailer miles from anyone else. One day, while they’re out on the range, they spot someone walking–it’s an attractive woman who has just emerged from a small plane crash. It turns out that she has taken $500,000 from the man she’d been living with, to whom she pretended to be married to appease his wealthy parents and to hide from a possible drug trafficking charge in her past. Her “husband,” who runs a casino, has partnered with a Las Vegas animal trainer who runs an exotic animal sanctuary to allow the richest of the rich to hunt endangered species at the sanctuary–and the $500,000 represents the deposits the “husband” has gotten from participants, part of which is owed to the partner. So he sends henchmen to find his “wife” and bring her–and the money–back.

That’s the plot. It’s a bit of a chase as the bad guys find where the woman is, and the cowboys have to get her to safety, and then when she’s safe (spoiler: she’s not safe for long), the goal becomes to stop the hunt from taking place or to minimize the damage. Which they might (they do) with the help of a posse of retired rodeo riders.

So it’s an amusing book. Better than The Adventures of Slim & Howdy which probably falls into the same modern genre of comic contemporary cowboy stories.

I enjoyed Black’s columns in the Republic Monitor back in the day (it being the first of my adopted hometown newspapers). I enjoyed Croutons on a Cow Pie, a collection of verse and silliness, when I read it in 2019. And I’ll probably enjoy the book that precedes this one when I get around to it.

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Trivia Night After-Action Report: A Subpar Swiftie

Last night, the Lutheran Student Center hosted a trivia night fundraiser at one of the rival Lutheran churches in Springfield. One of the hostesses called it the “Second Annual” but that is not exactly true. It is the second year in a row after a hiatus, but the LSC has held trivia nights before at the LSC on the Missouri State University campus before. I know because the North Side Mindflayers won like three in a row.

But it does illustrate a bit of the mindset and myopia of trivia nights hosted by the college students and millenials. The world starts and ends with popular culture from the time when they were born. The questions they compile lean heavily on movies and television of the 21st century as well as slant toward younger topics like children’s books and Disney. Maybe they just stopped reading after that, and if they need questions from literature, it’s recent children’s books or things assigned in high school.

With this in mind, I figured the odds of a Taylor Swift category were very, very high indeed. I mean, c’mon, man, biggest pop star on the planet and “dating” the star tight end of the Kansas City Chiefs, for whom people in this area cheer. So high as to be approaching 100%.

So I spent yesterday afternoon taking notes from her Wikipedia entry and studying the order of her albums, her hits, her few acting appearances, and some of her conflicts and controversies, although the anchor woman of got a list of previous boyfriends and the songs written about them for study.

So we got to the venue and I took one last look at my three pages of notes and crumpled them up and threw them away before the game began.

And the Taylor Swift category was: “Taylor Swift lyric or verse from the Book of Lamentations?”

Aw, hell, I didn’t know I was going to have to listen to the music, too.

So I guess I should have spent the afternoon reading my Bible instead.

As it turns out, we ended up tied for third after the table full of school teachers and the table with the church pastor on it (who I believe went ten for ten on the Book of Lamentations category). Which is out of seven.

It’s weird: I think I’m losing a step in the trivia game as we’ve not done so well with the couple of church trivia nights we’ve been to in the last couple of years, including this “second annual” event. But when I play along with Jeopardy! on rare occasions when I see it or when one of my co-workers asks a trivia question, presumably from a Jeopardy! list, I am pretty quick with the response. I really do think that there’s a real divide between these general trivia games which go back into the 20th century and beyond and the games put together here locally.

That’s what I tell myself in consolation, anyway.

And if anyone accidentally creates a Billy Joel category, I will be set. Although “old” music questions that they ask tend to come from or be about songs in rotation on the greatest hits of the 80s, 90s, and today radio stations. So like the literature questions, they’re pretty basic if you’re, erm, out of college.

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Another Generation Hearing From

I mentioned a while back that my father and I both enjoyed the music of Billy Joel. I’ve also mentioned on occasion that my boys, especially my youngest, listens to a basic playlist of 70s and 80s music that includes not only selections from the Guardians of the Galaxy movie soundtracks but also a number of Billy Joel songs from The Stranger through An Innocent Man. To be honest, I don’t know where or why he picked them up, as I only have “I Go To Extremes” on the gym playlist, and it and “We Didn’t Start The Fire” from their extra work during the school closures come from Storm Front.

At any rate, in the early 1990s, during my college years, I picked up videocassette versions of Billy Joel’s Video Album Volume 1 and Video Album Volume 2 which contained music videos from Cold Spring Harbor to The Bridge. Most of the older stuff is concert/performance videos, some shot in black and white (“Los Angelenos” and “Everybody Loves You Now”, for example). And I watched them over and over in my college years as was my wont. My father joined me on occasion and mentioned that he liked Billy Joel best when he was sneering, such as “Big Shot”, but he also like the harmonies in “For the Longest Time”.

So I dug the two videocassettes out–I think I have the Storm Front videos somewhere else–and I put one on the other night. I put volume 2 in first, not on purpose but because of the luck of the draw in the darkness, and it starts with “You’re Only Human (Second Wind)”:

“You’re Only Human (Second Wind)” and “While The Night Is Still Young” (which appears on the other videocassette) are from the greatest hits albums. I also have the former on a single, which skipped (hence it took me a long time to sing it correctly).

Not much tugs at my cynical heartstrings, gentle reader, but hearing my youngest son sing along with Billy Joel songs my father–whom my children know only through stories–enjoyed, well, that’s one of them.

You know, I have not listened to much Billy Joel these days as the music in my library has been ripped from cassettes and is disordered by the songs on the greatest hits album not appearing as part of the original albums–but I’ll have to make a point of it. Billy Joel wrote music that speaks to young men and then grows along with them, so one–I mean I–can appreciate the perspectives in them and can remember appreciating them from a younger perspective as well.

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One More Set

When my boys were young, they delighted in new sheets or new pajamas (sometimes just long underwear that they wore for pajamas) with cartoon characters on them, and they liked new novelty shirts. So I would buy them on occasion to give them a little joy and me a little joy in their joy. Brian J., did you spoil your children? In some simple ways, perhaps, but one of my love languages is gift giving, so those around me must fight against being spoiled on their own.

One year, when they were, what, two and four? Three and five? I bought them a matching set of novelty Halloween shirts from Walmart. They loved having the same shirts and dressing themselves alike, and they loved their Halloween shirts. So it became an annual thing for a couple years (they’ll remember it as all the time). The youngest, who chooses his favorite shirts and wears them almost daily even into his high school years, would wear those Halloween shirts all year round and into the next school year.

When I saw the shirts displayed this year at Walmart, well, I:

I bought them in the men’s section now, two larges. One for my high school senior and one for my sophomore. It could be the last time the oldest spends Halloween at Nogglestead.

I have put them in their rooms amidst their laundry without fanfare. We will see if they find them and wear them or if they’re lost in the maelstrom of teen boys’ rooms forever.

I shall probably do something like this with grandchildren some day if the boys extend our line.

Or, you never can tell. I might do this again next year.

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Local Deep State Update

Yesterday, I mentioned the current mayor of Willard is in a bit of a kerfluffle as competing power blocs fight over the composition of unelected power blocs.

Today (or later yesterday; I forget when I opened the tab), we got news of a former Willard mayor under a cloud: Former Willard Board of Aldermen member & mayor faces charges of embezzling money from Prime.

Definitely sounds like embezzlement embezzlement and not the worst reading of, erm, optimistic use of a corporate expense account, which is sometimes cast as shrieking EMBEZZLEMENT! THEFT! when the alleged thief is on the wrong side.

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Your Local Deep State

We’ve been seeing a lot of contention in southwest Missouri between elected officials and the permanently hired “city administrators” who actually run things. Two come to mind:

I’ve seen similar infighting in some of the smaller communities covered by my weekly arrival of my adopted hometown newspapers.

Why so much fighting over the city administrator?

Because people are starting to realize that these unelected officials can strongly influence policy and are only indirectly responsible to the citizens, and they will outlast changes in the electoral direction of the city/town/county or the will of the voters. And their career paths will take them to larger cities so their loyalty is to their betterment, their blending in with the wills of larger employers (larger cities) and not to the constituencies where they currently work.

Not all of them, but some of them.

Smarter men than we are set a framework for a system of government that limited this sort of thing, but cleverer men than we are have found ways around it.

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Hey, What’s Robin Carnahan Up To These Days?

General Services Administration head worked mostly from Missouri after calling employees back in:

The head of the General Services Administration, the government agency that helps to manage and support federal agencies, spent most of her time working remotely from Missouri during the year after she ordered employees back to their offices, according to a letter from the agency to Congress.

GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan, an appointee of President Joe Biden, spent 121 weekdays in Missouri and 64 weekdays in Washington from March 2022 through March 2023, GSA Associate Administrator Gianelle E. Rivera informed House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer, R-Ky., in a letter on March 31, Axios reported after obtaining the letter Friday.

As you might recollect, gentle reader, I disagreed with Robin Carnahan when she was the Missouri Secretary of State about a decade ago, a little after her father was elected to the United States Senate after he died and her mother was appointed in his stead. Meanwhile, her brother was serving in the House of Representatives from my district.

It’s good to see she’s stayed in the family business. Although, to be honest, I should be a little pleased that she’s working from Missouri and not living the high life in D.C. Although with current crime levels, I’m avoiding cities larger than Springfield myself these days, and I’m a little cautious going to Springfield.

(Link via Stephen Green at Instapundit.)

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