Book Report: Thanksgiving by Ideals Magazine (~1970) and Prayers and Meditations by Helen Steiner Rice (~1988)

Book coverThese two slim volumes came in the bundles of chapbooks that I bought at this autumn’s Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library book sale. As I have mentioned often and will continue to mention every day or so for a couple of weeks, they bundle a small stack of chapbooks and pamphlets together for a buck, and I cannot help but buy many of them. Something about a grab bag appeals to me–it’s like when the old record store would bundle ten 45 rpm singles fresh from jukebox duty or remainders and mark them $1.99; I bought a lot of such bundles and sometimes found something interesting (such as Madhouse). So it is with the chapbook bundles. Plus, it gives me something to look at between plays whilst watching football on Sundays–and, let’s be honest, watching football on Sundays is a pretext for me to read during the day, not purely to watch football.

At any rate, these two slim volumes are not so much chapbooks as they are holiday cards with several pages of poetry in them. The first is by Ideals magazine (See also here and and was given as a Thanksgiving greeting from Mother and Daddy in 1970. It collects a lot of poetry and photography with harvest, autumn, and Thanksgiving themes with some Christian content thanking God, not just being mindful and grateful. Given that I have Ideals magazines dealing with Autumn and Thanksgiving, I have to wonder if I’ve read some of this material before.

Prayers and Meditations is a Christmas card signed by Norm and Jan in 1988; it collects nine poems by Helen Steiner Rice, religious-themed prayers and musings about the meaning of Christmas. It’s an exclusively religous card, with thoughts and prayers about the birth of Christ and its meaning, and nothing about sleighs and family. Handy, I suppose, if you can’t find only one card with a single poem that expresses what you want about Christmas. Less expensive than a full little gift book, perhaps, and a keepsake a little more than a card. I mean, thirty years later, I read it and counted it toward my annual total.

The two of them remind me how far we are into the year already, another year almost passed, and the fact that they’re fifty-one and thirty-three years old, respectively, reminds me how far I am into life already. Bittersweet, for sure.

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Link Dump

It’s so unlike me to do a link dump, but I’ve got a number of interesting bits open in tabs and not enough time to write a post about each. Not that I spend hours writing intelligent, well thought out, and cohesive/comprehensive gloss on what others write anyway.

Suddenly, living in trailers is a hipster paradise: Micro House On Wheels Built For Off-Grid Living.

Yeah, no, I lived in a trailer because we couldn’t afford anything else. I’m not going to do it because it’s cool. Although kids today live in the new subscription economy, where monthly payments for lots more this-n-thats, cell phones, streaming services, and food delivery and whatnot have more line items in the budget than the utilities of old.

Although sometimes I think life would be simpler if I downsized to a single wide somewhere, I know it would not solve the restlessnesses that vex me from time to time because it’s not the sky, it’s myself. Or what Horace said.

A Study of Action-Adventure Fiction: The Executioner and Mack Bolan

Joe at Glorious Trash, whom I linked yesterday, also pointed me to this scholarly work on the early Mack Bolan books. However, a quick online search reveals that it runs $300 or so, so I’ll have to wait until after I get my copy of Summa Theologica, if ever–I have scheduled to forget I want this for next Tuesday.. Unless I find it for a buck at a book sale.

At the Imaginative Conservative Poetry and Holding the Center talks lauds memorizing poetry and how what you’ve just read tends to appear in the real world:

In an article for First Things in May of this year, the British writer Dan Hitchens reflected on what it meant to have poetry memorized, to have it “by heart,” as the old expression goes. He quotes a number of poems that have had a personal meaning to him or to others; as he puts it, they often don’t produce an epiphany, but rather “make sense of a feeling.”

What he means is a little different from the way that literature illuminates experience by making us see the real world more perceptively. The other afternoon, my daughter Julia was reading to me from the The Little Town on the Prairie, the seventh in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s series, and in this scene, Laura tries to teach a young calf to drink milk rather than to suck it from her mother. She has to counter the calf’s instinct to butt the cow’s milk bag because the calf would knock over the bucket. After Julia finished reading, we went inside to dinner, and through the glass door we could see a fawn and a doe (mule deer are everywhere in Wyoming) close by in the adjoining pasture. The fawn repeatedly butted its mother’s milk bag, swinging its head up violently as it tried to nurse, obviously with the same instinct as the calf. It was like an illustration. Would we have noticed it in the same way if we had not just read Wilder’s description?

(Bob Belvedere of The Camp of the Saints turned me onto The Imaginative Conservative through Facebook postings–I am thinking about adding them to my blogroll but have not yet.)

An almost two month old article came to my attention via a Facebook feed: Some white-collar workers are secretly balancing 2 full-time jobs and earning up to $600,000, a report says. They drop in and out of multiple meetings to avoid getting caught.

I have known some operators like this, and double-dippers like this have made for awkward moments when interviewers ask me if their companies hire me whether I’d continue to consult. The answer is, yes, a little, from time to time, to keep my company active and to continue to support local causes who might have come to depend a little on my company for support. But not two full time positions at once, brah–I’m not going to burn myself out like that. But I am sure many of the interviewers have not believed me. If I were unscrupulous, though, I would just lie.

After reading John Kass’s recent As the Idiocracy takes the country to the dogs, who wins the Golden Moutza of the Month?, I wanted to learn to do a proper moutza. So here’s Kass himself explaining it:

I still need to learn to properly pronounce feesah etho, though.

Okay, I think that’s it; I can close all those tabs now.

Now, in a Paul Harvey voice, Good day!

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Springfield Public Schools Continues To Crown Itself In Glory

SPS asks for at least $170,000 to search for ‘critical race theory’ records sought by Missouri lawmaker:

A local lawmaker has made an official request for Springfield Public Schools to search three years worth of email and other documents for any reference to critical race theory and 21 other “trigger” words or phrases.

State Rep. Craig Fishel filed the far-reaching Sunshine Law request in early September. The district responded to provide the cost for searching, copying and redacting an untold number of public records.

The district requested a deposit of at least $170,000 to start searching different servers. The final cost, including any copying and redaction, was expected to be higher, although the exact amount was unknown.

Fishel, a Republican from Springfield, alleged the district used “worst case scenarios to inflate the cost of fulfilling the request,” according to a press release sent Sept. 28 by the Missouri House.

Remember, gentle reader, SPS was just sued by employees over equity training and revised its public comment policy at its school board meetings.

Nothing to see here, move along.

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And Here We Are

In the review for A Bend In The Road, a book of poetry put together by a nursing home operating company featuring poems by its residents, I said:

Man, I remember nursing homes in the 1980s. Two of my sainted mother’s aunts ended up in a couple of different facilities, and the facilities were as cold and efficient as hospitals but with less care. It depressed me to go visit those old ladies–I was young then, and impatient. Times have changed now, though; one local senior living facility has been running ads showing a tatted up, goateed and mohawked pierced grandpa with big headphones on taking a selfie. One expects the new facilities are more fun, but then again, the ones that advertise in 417 are probably the nicer ones anyway; one would probably find my relations in more traditional centers.

I went through several copies of 417 we had on hand to try to find the ad in question to share it with you, but I could not find the full page ad nor remember the name of the place to look for the ad online.

But I got the new issue of the local slick this weekend, and Turners Rock has reduced it to a quarter page, which trims it a bit, but you can see whom they expect to live in their senior living facilities:

I guess he doesn’t have a mohawk after all. And we can’t see piercings, but they’re definitely implied.

You know, I’m not far off of eligibility for senior living facilities, but I can’t see myself downsizing that much. I have too many books yet to read and too many records to fit into a small apartment, and I am used to playing my music as loud as I want. But fifty-something is not turning out to be adulthood and elderliness that I remember from when I was young. I cannot tell whether that’s because my perception has changed as I have aged or whether being older has changed. Probably both, and both to a large degree. But, truly, truly, I say to you, most of the metalheads I know these days need Advil after a concert, not so much for hangovers but for body aches.

In a related note, they’re building a lot of senior living around Springfield, giant complexes with hundreds of units. Theoretically, many of those seniors will be moving out of their homes and putting them on the market. And builders keep building lots and lots of new single family homes. Who is going to live there? The population has been holding steady. We haven’t been cranking out babies to warrant this much growth (we only did one for me and one for you but not one for the bishop). Are the powers that be planning for a population boom from somewhere else (abroad or aliens?), or are they merely pursuing a build-build-build strategy not unlike China’s which will lead to an eventual bubble bursting?

I dunno, but I’m not taking out any home equity loans based on valuation that says Nogglestead has almost doubled in worth since we’ve been here.

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Good Thing I Stocked Up

Oregon Muse at the Ace of Spades HQ Book Thread says used book prices are about to go through the roof:

Slow Books

Well, here’s something else we can thank Joe Biden and the pack of ignorant fools he has surrounded himself with: New books will be hard to come by for the rest of the year, due to their ill-conceived economic policies that completely messed with the supply chain. First toilet paper, then, lumber, and now books:

Publishers are warning sellers and consumers that supply chain issues have forced a major slowdown in book production and threaten a shortage of certain titles for the rest of the year. Supply chain problems have touched almost every aspect of book production, storage, and delivery, mostly as a result of Covid-related bottlenecks. Printer capacity issues plagued the publishing industry last year, too, though 2021 is expected to be worse.

Naturally, those of you who prefer printed books will be, as they way, hardest hit….

Not me, brother. I have thousands of books to choose from here at Nogglestead, more than I can read in a lifetime.

I’m just waiting for the federal government’s forthcoming Cash for Thunkers program, where you must trade in used books for cash, or maybe just copies of the latest “educational” material, and the black market of books leads to real price increases. And organized crime. Where you can go to Bidnetto’s Lending Library, but if you fail to return a book, let’s just say that it won’t be the Library Policeman that comes for you.

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Movie Report: Bachelor Party (1984)

Book coverI picked this film up recently at a garage sale or thrift store as I accumulate films on media because they’re about to disappear–I see that this film is not available on Amazon Prime in my location, perhaps because I’m in the buckle of the Bible belt.

The film comes from the era when Tom Hanks made silly comedies and Hollywood was trying to make Adrian Zmed a star. Hanks plays a guy who’s about to get married to a nice girl from a rich family (played by Tawny Kitaen, this character is sweet and it’s from before Kitaen became a full Vixen around the Whitesnake video era, as I recollect, but I was young then). Hanks is a bit of a slacker, a school bus driver for a Catholic school who is also a metal sculptor, but he doesn’t measure up to her parent’s standards–they prefer Cole, played by Robert Prescott (who would later play Kent in Real Genius, which I watched this spring). When he announces the engagement to his friends, they decide to throw Rick a bachelor party with hookers and booze. Rick promises his fiance that he will behave, but hijinks ensue as the women at the bridal shower go to a strip club and then dress like hookers to crash the bachelor party, but they end up mistaken for real prostitutes.

So the story has a lot of room for raunch, and there’s some nudity. Drug usage is not a big part of it, but they do bring in a donkey for sex at one point–although the relationship isn’t actually consummated.

Strangely enough, though, I found it less offensive than more modern comedies like Ted because the main characters demonstrate some mature care for one another, and Rick makes a promise and stays true to it in its fashion. and Or maybe I’m just partial to 80s movies. Rick doesn’t get the full he-grows-up-and-does-great-things redemption at the end–this isn’t a Michael J. Fox movie–but one wishes him well.

The film also has Michael Dudikoff in it, fairly fresh from his turn in the brief sitcom Star in the House, when he was playing silly, high-pitched comic characters before American Ninja turned him into a B-movie action star.

Overall, amusing in spots and certainly a cultural artifact of a more innocent time, where even the raunch was more innocent.


But, did someone say “Tawny Kitaen”?

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Another Book Reader of Note

Wombat-socho at the Other McCain occasionally does a round-up of his recent reading.

He did one today.

I know I have not been reading much over the last couple of weeks; a chapter or two of a book or a short story or part of a long short story at night, Christmas cards and chapbooks during football games.

Which is not going to get me through this library any time soon. And it’s not getting me to reading the source material from audiobooks and audio courses I’ve listened to such as Aristotle or St. Augustine (although Pamela which I heard about briefly in The English Novel, remains only barely started beside my reading chair).

Part of it is that my reading chair is near the video game arena in the family room, so most nights it’s given over to my boys playing video games and watching one or two different videos each which does not lend itself to quiet, reflective reading (unlike, say, football games).

I might have to remove myself to another location to read in the evenings. When we first moved to Nogglestead twelve years ago, I did my reading upstairs because my recliner was in front of the television for watching football until we got a living room set for the lower level. I might make my way up there again, which would also lend itself to listening to records, which would mean that it wouldn’t take me months to read the things I accumulate at book sales.

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The Music Pulls Me Back

So I mentioned that I recently bought Brenda Russell’s album Get Here amongst sixty or so other records at the Friends of the Library Book Sale a couple weeks ago. I didn’t recognize the name, but as I was spinning the platter tonight for the first time, it yanked me back.

Her biggest hit, “Piano in the Dark”, comes from this album.

Suddenly, I am back in the computer room–a, what, spare room or bedroom except it had the stairs to the basement in it–in our house down the gravel road. It’s summer, and I’m monkeying around on the Commodore 128, typing programs in from magazines or playing disks’ worth of games we downloaded from BBSes before moving to a house in a valley a mile or so off the state highway where we had a party line. In 1988. The songs from those two and a half years are somehow more vivid than from other periods in my life.

Then I heard her sing “Get Here”, the title track from the album, and I thought, That’s not quite right.

Because I remember the Oleta Adams cover, which charted much higher, a couple years later.

Suddenly, I’m in college, noodling around either on the Commodore 64 I bought from the later Goth King of St. Louis to take to school or on the old 286 that that my stepmother’s mother bought for $2000 with an employee discount at Sears and I repaid over the course of six months at minimum wage. Probably playing it on the stereo I bought from Iron Maiden poster Dave for $20 My mom says I should charge more because it’s a good stereo, so give me $5 more for the speakers in the days where WKTI played songs like this one and “I Wanna Be Rich” over and over again.

Well, that was certainly worth the dollar I paid for it.

When I pulled up the YouTube video for “Piano in the Dark”, YouTube queued up Breathe’s “Hands to Heaven” and Glenn Frey’s “You Belong to the City” as things to play next. I already have both on CD already, on All That Jazz and the Miami Vice soundtrack. Because I was into 80s pop in the 80s, and I’ve only gotten into LPs and R&B records (and R&B influenced pop) in the 21st century. Or because I’m a racist/misogynist. Maybe both.

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In Case You’re Wondering Who Has My Man Card

Jogger hit by a car on U.S. 65 near Fair Grove, Mo.

The woman kept on running after the car hit her. She eventually returned to the scene with minor injuries.

You know, running out of Nogglestead takes you on a number of two-lane farm roads with high rates of speed and a state highway, but I’ve only had to dodge a car once (as it turns out, one of the fellows with whom I’ve studied martial arts and who built our new pool fence nine years ago was driving right behind the car I dodged and saw the whole thing).

One more reason for me to not run. Because if I got hit by a car, I would take the opportunity to lie down for a little while. Unlike some Gladyses of the world.

Also, the question arises, How out of date is “man card”? Seven years? Ten? Or more?

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Wrong Century

My Facebook feed these days is about 70% ads and promoted posts from old Hollywood, random authors, and retro/nostalgia sites.

One of which recently delivered this up to me:

How many of you had pieces of furniture in your house in the 1970s?

Well, I did not have any of these in my house in the 21st century, but my sainted mother had two differently sized end tables and the coffee table in her home in the 21st century:

My brother inherited the items after she passed. I am not sure if he still has the pieces–I didn’t look too carefully the last time I was out there–but these are heavy and heirloom quality. After all, I am pretty sure that my mother inherited them from her mother in the middle 1980s or perhaps from her sister.

Regardless, I have to wonder how many of these nostalgia clickbait posts are written by young people who don’t realize that, as you get older, the past, especially the artifacts, come along with you. Or perhaps it’s just me, someone who relies on personal relics to connect to the past since so many of the people I knew and could corroborate my stories have passed on or don’t remember.

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I Do Better Than British Journalists

One of the British tabs had a guessing game headline:

GUESS WHO Hunky actor is unrecognisable after he’s transformed into an OAP for new film

C’mon, man, it’s Benedict Cumberbatch. Even less difficult than guessing Simon LeBon.

And as for a bit of a behind-the-scenes note here at MfBJN: In composing this post, I fact-checked myself and did not publish two things I thought to be true but which are not.

First, I asserted in a throw-away line that Benedict Cumberbatch had two doctorates, one in Who and one in Strange. However, I looked to make sure he did play Doctor Who, but guess what? He’s one of the British actors who appeared in American media around the same time, so I just assume that they all played the new Doctor Who at some point. However, neither he nor Tom Hiddleston actually played Doctor Who, which I shall have to remember to avoid making this mistake, perhaps in haste, in the future.

The second one was that I was going to make light of this other article from The Sun the same day:

SHOVEL WHAMMY Shocking moment driver chases man with a SPADE and smashes his back window after being body slammed in road rage row

I was going to say, Haw, Haw, dumb journalist! That’s not a spade, that’s a shovel! However, apparently in Britain, according to this Web site, and perhaps everywhere in the world except Nogglestead, the spade does not look like the playing card suit with a pointed tip; what we call a spade at Nogglestead is merely a digging shovel, and the spade has a flat edge after all.

So journalists and headline writers in the U.K. might be smarter than me. Or perhaps I need to work in the garden more instead of spending a lot of time writing and researching a blog post to be seen by a handful of people.

But rest assured, I have lairs and lairs of fact checkers.

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Great Minds Think Alike, And So Do Ours

I was talking to the woman at the cleaners who handles my eldest’s JROTC uniform weekly about how time passes differently for kids versus we elder folk because each year is a larger percentage of their lives than ours. So a kid who’s fifteen, his fifteenth year is 7 percent of his life, and likely 10 or more percent of the life that he remembers well. Someone who’s going through his fiftieth year, the year is only 2 percent, and he might not remember much of it at all.

On Friday, Wilder, Wealthy, and Wise, explained:

I’ve long felt that I understood why this was. Let me give it a shot.

For a newborn, the second day it’s outside and breathing is 50% of its entire life. For a six-year-old, half of their life is three years – much more. It’s not a big percentage, but it’s much smaller than 50%. For a sixteen-year-old, half their life is eight years.

If you’re forty – half your life is twenty years. 1/8 versus 1/20? It’s amazingly different. We don’t perceive life as a line. We’re living inside of it – we compare our lives to the only thing we have . . . our lives. Each day you live is smaller than the last.

But that’s not everything.

As we age, novelty decreases. When we’re young, experiences and knowledge are coming at us so quickly that we are presented with novel (new and unique) information daily. New words. New thoughts. New ideas.

I have known this and have explained it to my sons and to everyone who will listen.

I have some photos rotating on my auxiliary monitor beside me; one crops up of the boys with medals for a middle school event. To me, it was very recent; to the boys, this was, what, 2018? A long time ago. By the time that period elapses again, the oldest will be out of the house, and the youngest will be, what, a junior in high school? The whole lives that they have known here will only be an interlude in my life, and the soon-to-be-over beginning of the rest of their lives. I’ve known this, too, for a while–I have been saying that we’re on the downhill slide since the oldest was nine. But it gets realer and realer in my imagination.

I already grieve for this time, even as I spend too much of it on work and other things or being frustrated/exasperated with them when I’m with them. Fortunately, I will only remember the best parts. And not my own, what, dread of our separation?

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Book Report: The Controlled Clasp by John Bahnke (1972)

Book coverI bought this in one of the three packets of chapbooks that I got for a dollar each at the Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library book sale this autumn. The three sets of chapbooks and another volume of poetry are about all the books I got, instead focusing on albums as you might recall, gentle reader.

Well, about this book. Apparently it’s a chapbook of “poetry” from 1972. That’s what I gather from limited Internet searches for the book and the poet on the Internet. The first poem, or perhaps the section, is called “Nightmares in the Dark”, and the whole collection with its dated poems ranging from 1968 to 1972 read like a Vietnam veteran working through his PTSD or perhaps a patient in an institution working through some things. The prose poems are reflective of nightmares, where the poet-narrator is in the jungle, or meeting with a woman whom he gores or who gores him, and there’s a clown that keeps reappearing.

Most of them are in paragraph form, not verse, and some themes repeat. But it’s not very poetic, and it’s not compelling reading. I finished it, not browsing during football–the prose is too dense to glance down and glance up–but in the chair just for completeness sake. And to add to my annual tally easily.

So far, no nightmares of my own on account of it, which is nice.

So probably something to avoid.

But I get the sense that the story behind the book is better than the book, and that’s quite probably lost.

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Book Report: Carver: A Life In Poems by Marilyn Nelson (2001)

Book coverI picked up this Scholastic book to browse during a football game, and I thought, a collection of poems about the life of George Washington Carver for kids? Who needs that? Who would read that?

But, you know what? I kind of got into it eventually. The book builds poems, not very poetic poems but rather poetry-prose with line breaks and distinct phrases instead of full sentences–to talk about Carver’s incidents from Carver’s life. From his early years as a slave and his early attempts at formal education to his eventual work with the Tuskogee Institute and, yes, peanuts.

So perhaps a good intro to an amazing life, but you would definitely want to follow it up with something more weighty, such as George Washington Carver and/or a trip to Diamond, Missouri.

Also, you know George Washington Carver was a black American. This book, coming from the turn of the century, makes a couple of references to our people, and the poet’s father was one of the Tuskogee Airmen, but the book is not an especially racially themed book. One wonders whether the poems were written twenty years later would differ greatly from the interesting and straightforward presentation of a fascinating figure of American history we have here. Sadly, one thinks so.

Oh, but this children’s book has the baddest word ever in a poem called “My People” about the envy the other instructors and staff at the Tuskegee Institute felt toward Carver. But it’s further proof of my latent white supremacism that I read books with the baddest word in them. That is, books written in the dark past of twenty years ago.

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Lileks Looks Down On Brian J.

Lileks pities the technical writers:

Of course there were manuals. In binders. Sitting on the shelf of everyone’s desk. Never used. Tossed out en masse. I feel a bit of sympathy for the people who wrote them, but that’s probably misplaced. A job. They were paid. Wasn’t creative. Kept the lights on.

Yeah, I’ve written manuals for money. Pretty good money, actually.

But one does not finish a manual or set of updates to documentation and feel any sense of creative accomplishment, for sure.

Kind of like writing a backwater blog.

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Try Again

A local religious university, under pressure from some vocal but numerically small group or another, changed its mascot from the Crusaders

to Valor.

Um, yeah, no. Try again. Maybe the Robins.

Or they could go with Golden Eagles, which is what the university I graduated from changed its mascot to to get out from the naked racism of…

the Warriors.

The countdown begins until some vocal but numerically small group starts saying that valor is a white European thing that offends someone.

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Wherein Brian J. Respectfully Disagrees With Severian

In a post called simply Dignity, Severian says:

Karen Carpenter and Linda Ronstadt were always singers, but they were primarily folkies, and while Linda Ronstadt was really something back in her Stone Poneys days — yum! — her biggest hit with them (“Different Drum”) made it clear that she was not the one for you.

One might infer that Linda Ronstadt was not really something after her Stone Poney days (1966-1968). I beg to differ.
Continue reading “Wherein Brian J. Respectfully Disagrees With Severian”

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Brian J.’s Recycler Tour: Medical Tips Edition

From September 23, 2015:

I was sitting on the edge of the roof for like an hour before I realized that gargoyling didn’t help a sore throat at all.


You know, I used to post those kinds of quips here, too; in the early years of MfBJN, you’d find a lot of one-liners and whatnot in posts. I sure got away from that. I’m not sure whether it’s the posting of one liners or of coming up with funny one-liners at all.

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