My Other Little Friend

So in addition to working on the The Elements of Style, I have had my boys working on outlining/summarizing various things as “bonus” assignments through which they can earn a little afternoon video game time. I’ve had them outline the forward and introduction to The Elements of Style and the introduction to Vintage Reading by Robert Kanigel. However, I didn’t want to have to come up with a new short essay for them to outline every day, so I have started them summarizing the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius.

You might remember that I read Meditation myself in 2009. What? Eleven years ago? Eesh.

More recently, Adaptive Curmudgeon came across some of quotes from Marcus Aurelius for contemporary consideration.

Also, note that The Elements of Style intersects with Meditations in that the first rule, which describes using the apostrophe and s in possessives, says to use ‘s when the name ends in s except in ancient names, in which case you probably want to change it to the possession of owner. Like the temple of Zeus. Or the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius.

So I got to apply both to this post. Ain’t I smart?

Homeschoolingish Update: Say Hello To My Little Friend

The boys and I have taken a couple weeks (a month) off of continuing education, but I’ve added some schoolish work back into their day by introducing them to one of the greatest books in the history of writingkind:

When I was in high school, I took a college composition class (which offered three hours of college credit for taking it). The class used this as a text book, probably the third edition, and I probably still have the copy I used in that class.

As I have mentioned previously (here, here, and here), if I see it in a book sale, I’ll pick it up and give the copy to someone. I once bought copies for everyone in the company back when I was an Executive in a small interactive marketing agency. So I’m a fan.

The boys, on the other hand, are more, erm, reluctant devotees as our short lessons on this short book interrupt the time they’d rather spend playing video games, fighting, or complaining about being bored. Which, as I remember, was what I did on summer vacations when I lived down the gravel road and had nowhere to go.

It Happens, But How Often?

When I stayed in room 311 at the top of the stairs this weekend, I noticed a little sign that I don’t remember from my trip in the fall (where I did not stay in the same room, admittedly):

The sign says, “Do Not Hang Items from Sprinkler Head/This Will Cause Flooding.”

The sign lead me to speculate:

  • Did that happen a lot or if it only once but was on the top floor and caused catastrophic damage all the way down?
  • Did it happen at this Hampton Inn or somewhere else, which led to the sign’s posting nation wide?

Clearly, I’m still speculating.

A Note In The File

Yesterday, I drove across the state to celebrate Independence Day with my brother and his family (ha, ha, the old man is a grandparent, whereas I am still young and have school-aged children). We stayed at a Hampton Inn off the business loop, and they gave me 311.

Last September, I noted when I stayed in a Tru by Hilton, 311 is my favorite room number because of a song by the band Hiroshima.

So I got this room again, so I must ask you, Did someone see that post and put a note on my Hilton Honors file?

I mean, in years past, one could easily dismiss that as not being likely as the technology was not robust enough. In this world of AI and big data, where servers somewhere suck up every digital smudge you make, who knows? The fairies and devils of the middle ages have nothing on The Cloud.

Also in years past, you could maybe accept Japanese-American jazz fusion. But now we’re in a world of traditional Japanese music-metal fusion. So anything is possible.

And so much of the anything that is possible originates in Japan.

Happy Independence Day

But remember, regardless of Sean Hannity using it as bumper music back in the day, this is not a song celebrating Independence Day.

I am sure I’ve told this story before, but when my sainted mother got the dog that would outlive her, a black lab mix (eventually I would say “mixed with a lot of table scraps”), she was looking for a name for her (the dog). As my beautiful wife and I tend to give our pets literary names, I was excited when my mother proposed Snowball because that’s a character in Animal Farm (my mother just thought it would be an ironic name for a black dog). However, my aunt proposed “Freedom” based on the song, and that’s what my mother went with. “You know that’s a song about a woman killing her husband?” She had not. Some country fan she was.

On the other hand, Independence Day is about this:

In Congress, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

An aspirational document to be sure. I’d like to think we’re getting closer to its lofty ideals, but lately I am not so sure.

But let us celebrate what we have and the ideals this document and this country espoused.

The Strange And Minor Obsessive Things In Life

As you know, gentle reader, I’m a touch off center, and one of the things that kind of trips my circuit is which side of the faucet the soft soap dispenser is in our home. We have four sinks with soap dispensers, and the soap dispenser must be on the left.

I don’t care where it is elsewhere, such as when I am out. But at home, it must be on the left.

From time to time, someone cleans the bathrooms, he or she (my son or my beautiful wife) puts the soap on the right side of the faucet. And it weirds me out.

I have to move it to the correct side of the faucet immediately.

I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the influence of Time Out Of Joint by Philip K. Dick, where a simple incongruity makes a fabricated reality collapse around the man at the center of it. I read that book, what, in high school, when I bought it inexpensively at a drug store? Or is that what THEY want me to remember?

Snakes of the Week

So last week, we encountered a couple of snakes in a couple of different habitats.

When we went to Dogwood Canyon, we saw this snake sunning itself on one of the stone bridges. Not on the part we walked on, fortunately.

To me, it looks like a rat snake of some sort, but I’m not sure. To be honest, the snake flashcards I created don’t really nail a snake if it’s in a different position. I know that lined snakes are okay, but the venomous snakes around here have diamond patterns or jagged ring things. So we gave this guy plenty of room.

When we got home on Wednesday, we found this:

That’s easy to identify; that’s a prairie ring-necked snake. Bigger than the one we saw in April. And dead, so the cats got it. We did have someone tending to the cats, but it’s good to know they could hunt up something to eat in the family room if they needed to.

Although maybe “easy to identify” might be a misnomer; I had the boys look through the snake flashcards, and the oldest came up with Northern Red-Bellied Snake. So maybe the flashcards are pretty worthless.

Maybe I should have made up an acronym like Snake Out, Snake In (SOSI) to riff on like , but that seems like work.

TITO

So yesterday was the last day of my vacation, at least the weekday portion, so I took the boys on what has been our traditional outing: We go bowling, and then we go to the nature center.

We’ve done this summers when they’ve not been in “camps” (read: temporary, themed day care without the stigmatic name) or on holidays like MLK Day or Presidents’ Day. One summer, we did participated in the local “Kids Bowl Free” promotion which gives registered kids under 18 two free games of bowling as long as they’ve got a parent with them paying some freight. So we went, what, every week? Twice some weeks? A lot. But my boys didn’t get into bowling really because it requires skill and patience and taking advice for improvement. But we got to know Cathy and June at Sunshine Lanes a bit. But that was, what, four years ago? Our visits have tailed off to once a year to the bowling alley. And less to the nature center.

But yesterday, we rekindled the tradition. And, hopefully, started a new one.

I got a turkey. Which is three strikes in a row. To start the game.

Jeez, am I bragging again after showing off conspicuous consumption again? I never can tell how insufferable I might be to others, which is my blessing and my curse. But it’s my blog. So you hear about my turkey in.

I’ve never thrown three strikes in a row before. And I might not again. As a matter of face, I did not even pick up a spare the rest of the game until the tenth frame (and then threw a strike on the extra ball), so I ended up with a rather pedestrian 143 on a game where I had a perfect 300 game going through three frames.

At any rate, we went to the nature center next. The building with the animal and ecology exhibits was closed yet as were the bathrooms (which made me glad that I went at the bowling alley). We did the whole loop, a little over two and a half miles, and as we walked along the boardwalk above a glade, a bird crossed the path ahead of us and joined a friend right off the side of the boardwalk, and they stayed beside the boardwalk as we passed.

Wildlife at the nature center is very tame; the deer also are not afraid of people at all.

At any rate, all I wanted to say is that yesterday, I turkeyed in and I turkeyed out.

But, as you know, I also went to the antique mall, so it’s not factually accurate, but I did want to make the gag.

Good Album Stuff Hunting, June 26, 2020: Relics Antique Mall

Sorry to continue with the conspicuous consumption that is the hallmark of these pages, but after we got back on Wednesday night from our trip to Branson, I went looking for my most recent annual pass to the Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield to see if I needed to get one before my boys and I take to bike the loop.

I could not find a pass, but I did find the remaining gift certificates for Relics Antique Mall that my beautiful wife gave me for last Christmas which apparently only have a six month shelf life. They were scheduled to expire on June 30. So I was very glad to have found them this Wednesday instead of next Wednesday. They were $70 worth of gift certificates. I would say “I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve been to Relics,” but Relics was closed for a bunch of that time.

I find it hard to spend gift certificates in the best of circumstances, but I really felt challenged to spend $70 at an antique mall. I mean, I don’t collect a lot of tchotchkes; I don’t have a lot of wall space for art (or furniture); and even with house money, I don’t want to spend the new-normal of seven to ten dollars on a record (!) because I’d get peeved if it skipped when I got it home. Also, as I had my boys along, I could not spend hours poring through the records anyway.

But I did get a couple.

Yes, I got Phoebe Snow’s debut album.

As you might remember, gentle reader, I first spotted a copy of this record at Relics whilst Christmas shopping in 2018, but I could not buy it as it did not have a price on it. And I have not seen another copy since. Today, I found two: One at $7.99 with 20% off and the second later at $1.99. Instead of taking the expensive one back, I bought them both. In case one skips.

I also got a couple other albums: Twilight Time and My Reverie by The Three Suns; The Sounds of Silence by Jane Morgan; and In A Mellotone by Duke Ellington and His Orchestra.

The selection of the antique mall records is starting to run towards 60s, 70s, and 80s rock and pop as well as country instead of the older stuff I like to accumulate. I guess my parents’ generation is reaching that dying or downsizing age, which is bringing that stuff to market, and it’s the stuff people my age in the album-buying mood wants to buy, which is why the records are so much more expensive. But I can generally still find things to buy in my mellow, easy listening genres that’s under $4 a record.

But, Brian J., that doesn’t add up to $70 even with the expensive Phoebe Snow album, you might notice.

So what else did I get? Say hello to my other little friend:

As I mentioned when I got my guitar in February 2018, I noodled around on a bass a bit in college. So now I’ve picked up a bass to mess around with again.

How’s that guitar playing coming, Brian J.? you might ask.

Shut up, Ted. That is, it has not gone well. I took lessons for a while and quit because I wasn’t finding a lot of time to practice between lessons, so I was not advancing much at all. So I discontinued the lessons and found even less time to practice. So it went kind of like the worst possible way short of electrocuting myself with the E string.

But now I have two such instruments in my office which will go much better.

But at least I got something for the gift certificates.

Things Done In Branson When You’re Brian J. (Checklist)

This week, we took a little trip down to Branson

Drive through a BLM protest

We drove down Highway 76 and the protest on Sunday as we were looking for something to eat. Protesters did not outnumber counter-protesters by much, and the parade of pickups greatly favored those with stars-and-bars. Branson police kept it under control, though, and we drove through it again as it was ending.

Go to Calvin’s Books.
Which did not burn down on Sunday as part of the protest (it’s next door to the store being protested). As you might expect, you’ll see what I bought there in a later post.
See a country and western singer in a cafe at 10am on a Monday while eating breakfast.
One of our vacation “traditions” is that Daddy, now Dad (or sometimes “bro” and “dude”), takes the boys on a walk so that my beautiful wife has a little time to herself. This ramble took us “around the block,” which was not that far, actually (about a mile and a half out and back).

But the out part of our route took us to a cafe. As the mistress d’ seated us, I heard loud country music. And then someone greeting us. A singer was on stage at 10am on a Monday.

Uptown Cafe has live performers for every meal and a show in the evening. So we tipped Jackson and bought his CD. And we came back on Wednesday for the lunch performer.

A number of the restaurants in Branson have performers who come in and work for tips, singing over background tracks on a computer. I respect their hustle and their belief in their art and tend to tip them and buy their CDs whenever possible. I’m also the guy who puts a couple bucks in a busker’s hat or guitar case no matter how good the performer is.

But Jackson was pretty good.

Start Christmas shopping.

On the way back from breakfast on Monday, we stopped at a craft mall and bought a couple of Christmas gifts which I’ll wrap up and forget what they are by Christmas. Which gives me the same surprise and joy for the gifts I give that I get for the gifts I receive. Also, I bought the boys–a little peaked from their half mile walk from where we had breakfast–each a piece of beef jerky bigger than a page of legal-sized paper, which they consumed in the half mile walk back to our rooms.

Hiked Dogwood Canyon.

We went to Dogwood Canyon which is about an hour south of Branson. It’s a park of sorts, a valley with a stream running through it, a couple of springs, and several water falls that the owner of Bass Pro Shops bought and turned into a parkish experience. You pay to get in, and you can rent bikes or take Segway, horseback, or tram tours of it, or you can walk the length of the canyon which is three and a half miles or so and crosses the Arkansas state line.

You know, when I was young, I dreamed of being so wealthy that I could buy 10,000 acres like this for a retreat. I don’t think I ever dreamed of being wealthy enough to buy it and open it to the public. I guess I’ll be content with being wealthy enough to buy all the used books I can carry at any one time.

Also, “hike” is a bit of a misnomer as the path is paved the whole way. So it was a long walk more than a hike.

Visit the cat cafe.

By Wednesday, we were four days without cats, so we not only attended a show called Amazing Pets, but we also visited Branson’s Mocha and Meows cat cafe which was around the corner from the place we were staying–the boys and I passed it on our walk on Monday. And, like Chekov says, if you see a cat cafe on day one, you’ve got to go to it by day three.

We did not come home with any extra cats.

Read lots of books on a balcony with a different vista.

We were on the first floor, so it really wasn’t much of a balcony, but the buildings are arrayed on the hillsides so that you have a view from any room. And I read three books in four nights which is not bad. Yes, you’ll hear about those later, too.

Go for a hilly run.

Branson is a little deeper into the Ozark Mountains than we are, so it’s much hillier–I am not sure that there are any flat spots that have not been made so to hold development of some sort or another. But I said I wanted to take a little run on the hills just to say I did, and Wednesday morning was going to be my last opportunity for it. So my youngest son and I did a little more than a mile around the block and up the hills (and down the hills). It wasn’t too bad. It would have been better if I were an athlete.

Leave early.

Branson is close enough that we’re occasionally tempted to decamp early. If we don’t have anything planned for the last evening in our resort, we might just sit in the resort room reading and whatnot, packing up and planning an early departure. When this happens, I’ll say, “Let’s just go home now,” and we’ll throw our gear in the bags/in the truck and get home an hour later.

It gives us time to unpack, start some laundry, and relax a bit before sleeping in our own beds with our own cats (although having to explain to them why we smell like a cat cafe). Actually, the cats will emerge from hiding at different times when we get home–they hide from the cat sitter and get weirded out when we’re gone for any period of time.

We can’t do that with flying destinations or longer drives, but we can do it when we’re in Branson–and we sometimes do.

Which leaves me with two days of vacation left. To fritter away on blog posts like this one, book reports, and wrapping the Christmas gifts we bought.

As A Child of the 1980s, I See A Permanent Shadow

I’m A Stencil:

This is cute and clever. Kevin Parry made a stop-motion video with just a water hose sprayed at a wall -with him between them. Here’s a look at the process.

In the 1980s, we were always on the verge of a total nuclear war annihilation because we had a Republican president (the fear and promotion thereof died down when we got the second Republican president of the decade).

Although perhaps children of other earlier decades also would have thought the same. Ray Bradbury’s 1950 story “There Will Come Soft Rains”, collected in 1950’s The Martian Chronicles, includes this vivid passage:

Ten-fifteen. The garden sprinklers whirled up in golden founts, filling the soft morning air with scatterings of brightness. The water pelted windowpanes, running down the charred west side where the house had been burned evenly free of its white paint. The entire west face of the house was black, save for five places. Here the silhouette in paint of a man mowing a lawn. Here, as in a photograph, a woman bent to pick flowers. Still farther over, their images burned on wood in one titantic instant, a small boy, hands flung into the air; higher up, the image of thrown ball, and opposite him a girl, hand raised to catch a ball which never came down. The five spots of paint- the man, the woman, the children, the ball – remained. The rest was a thin charcoaled layer. The gentle sprinkler rain filled the garden with falling light.

Hey, the way 2020 is going, a nuclear exchange almost seems likely. Although I’d bet on India/China rather than anyone involving the U.S. But these are strange days indeed.

I had an idea for a similar story about the same sort of thing called “The Last Span Falls” about the last bit of a bridge falling sometime in the far future. I never got around to anything but the title and conceit, though, the bad habit of which leaves me with only three books in print-on-demand in 2020.

Living The Life Of Lileks

I’ve always looked a bit at the life of Lileks and thought, Man, that’s what I wanted my life to be, especially when I was at the university (which was before the Internet, so before I knew of Lileks). I mean, family, writing newspaper columns, a vast audience across the country….

Welp, I am finally aligned with his lifestyle, at least the bit he describes this morning:

Can’t say I was the most productive person this week. Can’t say I did much of consequence, besides the usual work. Some weeks I feel as if I did my part, but some weeks I think, well, my part in what, exactly?

That resonates too much.

du Toit and Noggle, Aligned Again

Today, Kim du Toit echoes sentiments I have expressed:

I’ve never been a fan of “Cloud”-based entertainment, whether literature or movies, because it’s always seemed too easy for the “Cloud” to remove stuff that you’ve paid for — Kindle books, Amazon movies, etc. — at their own discretion / whim. I don’t care that my well-filled bookcases take up a great deal of space in my apartment, or that they’d be a pain in the ass to move should I decide to live elsewhere; I bought them, they’re my property forever, and nobody can take them from me. Ditto movies. I have a large number of DVDs of the movies I love and can watch over and over again — not too many modern ones, because today’s movies largely suck — and like my bookcases, my DVDs are eternal. (I have a brand-new-in-the-box multi-format DVD player sitting in a closet in case the existing Philips gives up the ghost at some time in the future, and ALL my computers come with DVD players, just to be on the safe side.)

As you know, gentle reader, I still have videocassettes to watch, so I even have backup videocassette players.

The Weekend In Review

Well, Brian J., did you do something radical in the fitness department this weekend? I mean, last weekend, you did a duathlon that kicked your butt.

Gentle reader, this week and weekend, I took it easy. It’s the first weekend in a month not dictated by a duathlon of any sort, so I took it easy. Next weekend, I have a 5K (that takes me past the Monte Crist subdivision). So perhaps I will take a run some morning or afternoon this week to remember I can do this sort of thing.

Today in the News-Leader, Steve Pokin talks to a local runner that I actually do recognize, and she says:

To race well, Laughlin tells me, it hurts. The body feels discomfort when demands are made on it mile after mile.

“I have a lot of determination,” she says. “I love competition. My goal every race is to see how much suffering I can endure and still maintain joy. Because if there isn’t any joy in it, I don’t want to do it.

“I think there is a lot of suffering in life — a lot of tough times. Can we find a way to maintain joy in the same space as suffering? If we can do that, life rocks.”

Yeah, I kind of think that’s why I run even though I hate it. At the end of last week’s duathlon, I was not that keen on riding a bike, either.

So what did you do this weekend, Brian J.? you might ask.

Well, I slept poorly, again, both nights. Which means I slept later than I would prefer on Saturday, and I got on the lawn mower at about ten o’clock, and….

(Event name suggested back in 2016.)

Let’s face it, if I don’t have a new certificate or t-shirt at the end of the weekend, I feel as though I’ve wasted my time. So I mowed the lawn for four hours and I went to the grocery and gas station, and then it was dinner time.

Sunday, we went to church for the first time in months, but instead of an 8:00 service, we went at 10:45. So before, I puttered and did light chores, and when we got home a little after 12, I ate, snoozed a bit, did a bit of yard work, wrote some blog posts, and then it was time for dinner and bed time again.

Perhaps I need to treat or think of every day as I do a vacation day: We have one great adventure or destination for the day, and the rest of it I have permission to relax, read, and whatnot. If that’s the case, I’m marking down two days of yard work as the pinnacle of the achievement and activity.

Meh, that probably won’t work long term unless I go about accomplishing actual things.

A Timely Post by KCSM

Yesterday, KCSM posted on Facebook:

Which links to a recent bit in the New York Times entitled The Swinging, Jamming Musical Charms of 1940s Soundies that describes Soundies, which were little 16mm reels of music video that played in vending machines. You pay a dime, you see a song.

It was funny to see this on Sunday, as my beautiful wife put a Soundies reel on my desk on Saturday.

As I mentioned, I became the world’s biggest collector of Tommy Reynolds records because my cousin (once removed, by marriage) sang for them in the Soundies era.

I bought this reel and took it to the local transfer shop in December or early January; they told me it would be a couple weeks, but stuff happened. Last week, they called because it was still lying around their shop, although they hadn’t called me to come get it before. So when my wife was out in that part of Springfield on Friday, she picked it up and put the DVD and source reel on my desk on Saturday.

I haven’t looked at my DVD yet, as the computer doesn’t have a native DVD player app in it (what? Is this 1998?). But you don’t have to borrow my DVD; you can find this song on YouTube:

But watching it on YouTube and owning the almost eighty-year-old movie reel yourself are two different things. I, unlike most of Internet-connected humanity in the twenty-first century, am of the latter sort.

Now, to find a Mills Panoram machine to play it on….

On George of the Jungle

On Friday night, the oldest boy stayed at a friend’s house, so the younger, my movie-watching buddy, and I watched a film. He’s always more patient with films; the older boy fidgets, wanders in and out of the room, and offers his commentary track atop what’s happening–but often needing to ask what’s going on because he’s been in and out. The youngest, though, will watch the movie, so it’s a treat to watch a movie with him.

I selected George of the Jungle.

I don’t know when I picked this up at a garage sale; likely almost a decade ago when I was planning on watching movies with my children. Frequent movie nights have not materialized at Nogglestead; instead (no pun intended), we watch a movie every month or so. The last was Tron the end of last month. So I guess they’re picking up as we’ve also watched Ben-Hur and Clash of the Titans since the spring.

At any rate, I have a passel of kids’ movies that we never watched, and the boys are aging out of them. The youngest rankled at the trailers ahead of this film because they’re for Disney cartoons.

And not just any cartoons; this film was on a videocassette released in late 1997, so they’re trailers for Disney cartoons that Disney was only making available on video for a limited time. Do you remember that they did that in the late 90s? You could only get Peter Pan in stores during a 45-day window? They did that to really goose the sales. I’m not sure if it worked, but 23 years ago was a very long time.

When this movie came to video, I had been dating the woman who would become my wife for a matter of months. I surely wasn’t thinking about watching children’s movies from the era with my children in the world that is 2020.

As far as the movie itself goes, it has Brendan Fraser doing the Brendan Fraser thing. You know, like he did in Bio-Dome and Bedazzled which I just mentioned seeing in the theatres. I have a certain appreciation if not affection to the types of characters he played in those days. I don’t know how much I actually identify with them, but I had fun watching them. Although it looks as though he has been making movies this whole time, but nothing I’ve seen since, oh, The Mummy Returns.

George of the Jungle was originally a short-lived cartoon from 1967 that made mock of Tarzan (which had a network television series running concurrently with the George of the Jungle cartoon). I knew of the Tarzan television series because it was in syndication in St. Louis in the 1980s. But the George of the Jungle property has punched above its weight, as the theme song was covered by “Weird Al” Yankovic in the 1980s:

This was not used in the film, however, as the theme was done by The Presidents of the United States of America who apparently were not exclusively a Disney property named after the Hall of the Presidents at Disney World (which was my first guess).

George of the Jungle also had a direct-to-video sequel and was rebooted as a Canadian cartoon in 2006 with a second season in 2016. So it’s due for a reboot soon especially if Disney owns its rights or can get a hold of them.

I piped the video directly to my television from the VCR instead of going through out twenty-year-old receiver, and the video was very clear indeed. The receiver has been having some trouble handling sound from the video sources, so I’ve taken to routing them to the television directly. It will be a shame to replace this receiver, as it has old timey connections that can handle our VCRs and old computers. I fear replacing it as I don’t want to lose that connectivity. But I fear I shall have too, soon. But that’s unrelated to what I was talking about. Watching what my boys would call an “old” movie on an “old” media format, and musing on things other than the content of that movie.

When Life Gives You A Snake Skeleton, Make Snake Skeleton Quips

The other evening driving out of Nogglestead, we frightened a couple of turkey vultures from their bounty at the end of the driveway. I assumed the hawks had gotten and dropped another bird, but when I went to the mailbox on foot, I saw what they had been picking at.

I wondered if it might be the remains of the famous Ozarkian giant carnivorous, venomous centipedes, but it’s actually a snake skeleton. Given that it’s picked pretty clean, they probably dragged an old skeleton out of the ditch to pick at.

But when presented with a snake skeleton, of course I had to take a picture and put a wry comment on Facebook. But a snake skeleton yields more quips than a single Facebook post could provide.

Think of this as a multiple choice quiz. Try to guess the quip I actually went with on Facebook and post your own in the comments.

  • Can anyone identify this kind of snake? It kind of looks like a diamond-backed water snake, but I’m not sure.
  • Does anyone need a snake skeleton? I have an extra.
  • When snake is served at Nogglestead, not a scrap goes to waste!
  • For proper snake broth, remember to simmer the snake carcass for two hours or more.

Strangely enough, there’s enough boy in me yet that I have the urge to do something with the skeleton other than toss it in the ditch on the other side of the road. Instead, I will probably ignore it until it gets crushed by passing cars or disappears–possibly due to the intervention of actual boys present in the household. I’ll let you know if I find it in their rooms in a couple years when cleaning them after they move out.

When You Get Your Biblical History From Facebook

So I saw this on my cousin’s feed the other day:

(Not that cousin but rather her sister, who often posts enlightened Buddhist- and Hindu-flavored posts but lately has given over to celebration of the current troubles and their themes.)

At any rate, I am no biblical scholar, but, come on. Let’s look at some whities in the Bible:

  • The Persians, who originally migrated from the Caucasus. Does that sound like the word Causcasian to you? It should.
  • The Galatians were a Celtic people.
  • Pontius Pilate was likely from Central Italy.
  • I would say Timothy, but he was of a Greek father but Jewish mother, but in the new old one-drop accounting, this means he was not white. Also note that in this ethnography, people of Jewish origin are no longer white, but I think in some accountings, they are still white or not POC. I get so very confused.
  • Various and sundry Romans and roman soldiers.

I am not a Biblical historian, but I can certainly think of a number of instances I can come up with off the top of my head where the Bible might have included a white people put this twee claim (from a church no less!) into doubt.

I don’t know why this rankled me so much. Perhaps because this kind of “truth” is passed around by people who probably don’t believe in the Christian faith to rebuke those who do and disagree with the meme-passers on current thought.

You could argue that most of the “white” people in the Bible are bad guys, I suppose, but it’s pointedly from the time of Paul onward designed to be a religion for Gentiles who are sinners, so perhaps if you went down that road of argument, you wouldn’t really have a point.

Why do I argue with memes? Don’t I have anything better to do than get outraged on the Internet? To be honest, it’s hard to be on the Internet now and not get incensed. Even on Facebook. Even on LinkedIn, which used to be a professional Web site but which is also currently filled with political content. Eesh, pardon me whilst I close my browser again.