The International Flavor of MfBJN

The Artist Formerly Known As The One Hand Clapping Guy notes that he receives a lot of traffic from Spain.

Here at MfBJN, we’ve had more of an international flavor of traffic over the last couple of days:

I have no idea why this is. I do spend time speculating, though

What I do know, though, is that the book report for The Sire de Maletroit’s Door continues to be my most popular book report and one of the most-read blog posts ever. For some reason.

Two Words: Ivory Crockett

Bark M. challenges a man of trivia:

I defy you to find a track record of any type that is twenty-three years old—nutrition and training are now far, far superior, and athletes are shattering times from that long ago on a daily basis.

Ivory Crockett still holds the world record in the 100 Yard Dash:

In 1974, he ran the fastest 100-yard dash with manual timing of 9.0 seconds, a record he still holds. This was deemed at the time by the Los Angeles Times as “Immortality in 9 Seconds Flat”, and he was quickly tagged with the title the world’s fastest man by Track and Field News who put him on their June 1974 cover.

Sometime after he set the record, probably as part of the global conversion to the metric system, the powers that be eliminated that particular event from the Track and Field canon. So Ivory Crockett’s record will stand forever.

I actually just told the story of Ivory Crockett again to my children as we were in Old Trees on Sunday, and we passed under the banners for the Ivory Crockett 5K and fun run which had been the day before. So it was fresh in my mind. Not that this particular fact is very far from mind.

UPDATE: Sorry, I originally attributed this to Jack, but it was Bark M. posting over there. I have updated the attribution above and would vow to pay more attention to post authors, but, come on, we all know I won’t.

Someone Wants To Renew A Blogwar

Kevin McGehee says that I don’t count:

As evidenced by my reduced blogging frequency in recent months, the loss of my only known occasional reader is not the sole cause of the Tally Book’s dearth of content; it’s a cause, but not the only one.

Oh, I am nothing, am I? I’ve kept you in my blogroll all this time even though you kept changing the URL to confuse me?

Bear in mind, son, we only declared a truce or got bored with the blog war. We never signed a peace treaty.

But I agree with him on this:

Another big part of it is that, when it comes to things political and social, the only thought that ever occurs to me anymore is to wonder whether it’s possible to roll one’s eyes so hard and so often that they eventually just pop right out of their sockets.

You might have noticed, gentle reader, that this particular blog has also gotten less focused on the news and politics since its inception. But that’s because after the first decade, you realize that you’re just repeating yourself and that history, or at least governments and politicians, repeats and without much, if any, improvement or learning.

So, yeah, you get twee book reports that are a couple of paragraphs about what the book made me think of and pictures or stories of life. And by “you,” I mean “me in a couple of months or years when I stumble back upon each post.” Or when I have to crawl the archives again trying to update all the YouTube links because it has again changed its embedding format. As I fixed in one of the posts from the 2006 Blog Yee Hawd.

But enough about me. Kevin McGehee is responsible for bee colonoscopy collapse disorder.

Flashback: Brian J. Noggle, Flip-Flopper

Way back in 2003, I pooh-pooh LASIK surgery.

Spoiler alert: A couple years later, I had LASIK surgery.

Perhaps it was when I corrected the misunderstanding:

Pardon me, but my family doesn’t have a generations-long tradition for opening the front of the eyeball like a can of french-cut green beans and firing a computer-guided thing-we-used-to-call-a-“laser” against the retina until it scorched enough of the cones and rods to make things better, as though it was a military expedition to win over the hearts and minds of my optic nerve with napalm. Oh, yeah, and then they close it back up, and it either works or you’re blind, oops.

The laser doesn’t work on the retina after all.

Flashback To That Time I Interviewed A Dolphin

Well, not really, but I did dedicate a lot more time to the blog in the distant past, such as that one time I put together a pod cast to make fun of something John Kerry said extraneously a couple presidential elections ago: World Exclusive!

As with the photoshops, they’re fewer these days. Where did the time go? And I don’t mean the passage of the years: I mean all the time I had every day.

Oh, yes. Children. A better use of the time, surely.

Lileks Recycles My Schtick

Brian J., March 2012

I went into the nursery last week, and I asked to see the Lileks.

“What?” the man asked.

“The Lileks,” I said. Well, it’s not what I tried to say, but that’s what it sounded like.

“Oh, the lilacs,” he said.

Lileks, today:

Also: next door neighbor is out back for a smoke, waves to me in the dusk, asks a favor. I come over.

“What’s up?”

“We have a dear sweet old lady coming over for dinner tomorrow,” he said. “And she just loves Lileks.”

“Well I would be honored to drop by and pay a visit,” I say, thinking as long as you’re not asking me to stay for the whole dinner, sure – pop in during dessert, surprise the old lady.

“I mean the lilacs.” He points to the bushes. “I wondered if I could snip a few.”

I included a picture in 2012 of the lilacs I hopefully planted around our propane tank. They lasted a couple years. Then we had a couple years of years of sunflowers. Then a year of tall grasses that I thought were sunflowers when they sprouted, but clearly they lacked, you know, flowers. This year, I went with hydrangea bushes. Which are almost already dead.

One of the reasons we moved to Nogglestead was to have more space for gardening, which apparently here at Nogglestead means “Making room for the Bermuda grass.” I’m beginning to wonder if that will be one of the reasons we move out.

Stuck in Reruns

You know, as I mentioned, I’m going through old posts and whatnot, and I notice that I used to comment on the news of the day every day.

Lately, though, my posts have been mostly music, mostly books, mostly life.

Why is that, you ask?

Well, it’s partly because I don’t want to sound like a crank on the Internet, and I don’t devote enough time to my commentary to not were I to jot a couple things here and there. Also, in the modern world, I can’t help but wonder if I would lose career opportunities based on my commentary. Although this site with its rich archives is still here, so any job opportunities I would lose I have already lost. And I’m thinking that the field that I am in has changed enough to leave me behind a bit as it were anyway.

Also, it’s partly because like reading a Rogue Warrior novel, I see the same things come up over and over again over the years, and I’d just be repeating myself.

A couple cases in point: From 2012, stories about local governments in St. Louis County and Republic looking to consolidate trash hauling to a single government-selected option. I know I’ve written at length about this as far back as my Suburban Journal days. Well, look, here the issue is again in Springfield. I wrote about it earlier this year even. What more do I have to say about it except to point out further examples?

I also spotted a story from 2008 about the Hidden Valley ski resort in St. Louis County clashing with local governments about blocking an amenity, and the resort threatened to or it will have no choice to shut down.

It just seems so dull to keep posting the same things, year after year, with little change.

Behind the Scenes at MfBJN

It’s been a couple days (what, almost a week?) since I posted, but I have been working here behind the scenes at MfBJN.

As some of you might know, this blog has been around for over fourteen years. It started on Blogspot back before Blogger supported a title, not to mention categories. In 2010, I switched to WordPress and self-hosting (and moved my images from one site to another).

The result of the transition and the old timeyness of some posts meant that some images were missing from posts, many posts didn’t have titles, and none of them had categories. I’ve been working on them here and there, but I’ve started making an effort to catch up on them. So I’ve been reading individual posts from nine or ten years ago and reading comments (what? people used to comment here?), adding categories, and standardizing some tags.

So it seems like I’ve been working on the blog, but you haven’t seen any new content.

I’ll get back to it in a bit here. Thank you for your indulgence.

Most of My Book Reviews Are Problematic

The Problem With Calling Something “Interesting”:

Calling something interesting is the height of sloppy thinking. Interesting is not descriptive, not objective, and not even meaningful.

Interesting is a kind of linguistic connective tissue. When introducing an idea, it’s easier to say ‘interesting’ than to think of an introduction that’s simultaneously descriptive but not a spoiler.

I often use interesting in book reports.

I suppose it’s fitting, since the book reports are the connective tissue that holds this blog together. I go periods without saying something interesting meaningful except for the book reports that I post mainly so I can look back upon them on the blog to see what I thought about this book or what else I’ve read within the last two decades by the author or on the subject.

You, gentle readers, all ten of you every day, are only along for the ride.

And by “ride,” I mean “looking for a book report on The Sire de Maletroit’s Door on Google so you can cut and paste it for a paper tomorrow.”

The Clearing of the Drafts Folder

Apparently, I’ve somehow started and saved fifty-some draft blog posts over the last couple of years. Some of them are fairly complete posts, some of them are incomplete enough to warrant dumping because I don’t know what I was thinking, and some are stubs for longer posts.

Regardless, because I’m lazy, I’m clearing it out and publishing things I can make whole posts from. So some of the links in the posts over the next couple of days are going to be from news items and tidbits from over the last couple of years. So comment “Dude, that’s from 2015!” as you like, but I know.

Wherein George Burns Corrects My Understanding of Kierkegaard

So, in my book report on Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling, I wrote:

One telling word choice that jarred me was vaudeville. Certainly Kierkegaard did not use a direct translation since he preceded the American theatre form by half a century or so.

A couple weeks later, and I’m reading a book by George Burns that includes some photos, including one of a playbill for one of his and Gracie Allen’s vaudeville bits:

Note that this 1926 play bill says that it is Vaudeville’s Centennial Year. Which would put vaudeville’s origin in 1826, which is about fifteen years before Fear and Trembling was written.

The Wikipedia entry is a bit closer to my original reckoning of the origins of vaudeville in the latter part of the 19th century, but given a playbill in a George Burns book and wikipedia, who are you gonna believe? Me, I’m going with the playbill.

So I’m sorry to have spread misinformation. I didn’t look it up; I assumed I knew what I was talking about regarding the origin of vaudeville, and as the old saying goes, “When you ASSUME, you make an ASS of UME,” and ume, as I seem to vaguely recall, is French for yourself. But I’m only a blogger on an untrafficked blog. I can’t be arsed to look it up.

Today We’re Going To Party Like It’s 1998

A couple years ago, when I posted about a weekly column and Web site I did back in the olden days, I mentioned I had my old AOL Web site stored somewhere and would someday reproduce it.

Well, I must have gotten started on it but never finished it until now.

So here’s what my Web site looked like circa 1998.

Mostly samples of my writing and the complete text of my two chapbooks of poetry and a teaser for my forthcoming book Flipside Id which I never did finish after losing touch with the artist who was working on the cover.

Back When I Did PhotoShops

Back in the olden days, I used to edit photos for humourous effect. Then, I had children and no free time. Although I have a bit more free time now, I haven’t gone back to it because the interest isn’t there, and the Internet has moved onto just putting text on a still image and calling it funny.

But for old time’s sake, here are some of my favorites from the annals of this blog.

Welcome Back, Potter:

The Harry Reid series of young adult novels:

Harry Reid's Babysitting ServiceHarry Reid's JourneyHarry Reid, Inc.

Soviet, Jedi:

All the sweet, sweet emus after the police in Carbondale shot a loose emu:

Emu in body armor Emunator Bulletproof Emu

I never claimed to be good at it. I only claim to have done it.