Book Report: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (1847, 1984)

Book coverThis book shall probably forever hold the Personal Record in my life for the longest time between re-reads at 33 years. I read this book as a freshman in high school and didn’t remember that much from it except the basic outline of a servant woman working and falling for a rich man with a crazy wife in the attic. Uh, spoiler alert.

So not long after I read The Count of Monte Cristo, I spotted this book on my shelf and decided to pick it up since it was a classic and shorter than the aforementioned The Count of Monte Cristo. Still, it took me two weeks to read the book, partially because my evenings have been pretty active in those two weeks with watching playoff hockey and the less occasional movie.

On re-read, I recognize and appreciate the three part structure of the book. The first part is Jane’s unhappy youth at her aunt’s place and the charity school she attends; the second her life as the governess at the said home with a said lunatic; and the third is her life after she’s fled from Mr. Rochester after discovering his secret at the altar when she was going to marry him.

You’ve got a bunch of hints that Jane has some wealth coming (she does), a little bit of resolution with her family line (her mother was from a moneyed family that disinherited her when she married a poor clergyman, and the moneyed family lost the money in a bad speculation), and whatnot. It’s one of those tangly Gothic romances, you know.

It does, however, offer a bunch of topics for school papers, though. You can explore Jane Eyre’s personality: Is she really strong? She yields a lot to circumstances and strong male figures. Is her endurance a strength? Is it weakness? One could talk about the proper ways women relate to men: Should they yield as Jane does? You could talk about the roles of class. You could write about how Jane can only really be with Rochester when he is humbled. I’m sure many could.

Me, I’m thinking that this book warped me at a young age as to how imperious and haughty one can be and still get the chicks. It didn’t work for me throughout school. But I eventually got a babe, so maybe not too much.

So it was interesting to read, shorter than The Count of Monte Cristo, and it makes me feel worthy of my English degree to have returned to it.

But I don’t think I’ll read it in another 33 years when I’m eighty. I’ll not be that far into the to-read shelves by then.

Wait a minute, Brian J., are you saying that you’ve re-read Me and My Little Brain as an adult? Well, gentle reader, I didn’t think you were paying attention. So this re-read of Jane Eyre is probably not my personal record, but I can pinpoint the time when I read it to give it an absolute number, so I went with it. Me and My Little Brain probably went almost forty years between readings. EVERYTHING YOU READ ON THIS SITE IS A LIE! Except the part about my beautiful wife being beautiful.

Everybody’s Doing It

Tam K., as do we all, responds in a Pavlovian fashion to the Daily Double sounder on Jeopardy!:

Personally, as someone who has traditionally yelled “BET IT ALL!” at the screen every time Double Jeopardy came up, I’m enthralled to run across a contestant with the chutzpah to do just that.

In my head, I can still hear my oldest son at two exclaiming that when he heard the Jeopardy! sounder in our house in Old Trees some decade ago.

I went looking through my new computer to see if I recorded it, or if I’ll just have to remember it as best I can. It looks like I’ll just have to savor the memory.

However, I did mention it on Facebook.

Nine years ago today. Exactly.

Good Book Hunting, May 5, 2019: Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library Book Sale

As I mentioned yesterday, I visited the Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library book sale yesterday. It was half-priced day, so I hit the dollar (fifty cents!) records. Sometimes, I can put those in the hold area and take all of my purchases out at once, but yesterday, I paid for the records, put them in the truck, and then went into the Better Books section to look for actual, you know, books.

I limited myself pretty much to the art monographs, history, and Missouri/Ozarks tables because I managed to accumulate most of two boxes’ worth of books there as well (fortunately, I had my oldest boy who is going to be a teenager later this year) to help me carry.

As I mentioned, I got a couple of things.

I got:

  1. The Tent on the Beach by James Greenleaf Whittier, an 1899 first edition in pretty good shape for $25. Because I confuse him with James Whitcomb Riley. I think I already have an old collection of Whittier that I inherited, in a roundabout fashion, from my maternal grandfather.
  2. Little House in the Ozarks: The Rediscovered Writings by Laura Ingalls Wilder / Edited by Stephen W. Hines. Because I’m going to collect them all, now, apparently.
  3. The Legend of the Golden Huaca by Colleen Tucker, a local author. Fiction.
  4. The Great Game of Business by Jack Stack with Bo Burlingham. A local manufacturing executive has created a system to gamify business. My beautiful wife has seen him speak several times, and this book might very well disappear from my to-read shelves. I probably wouldn’t miss it.
  5. Thawed: The Art of Gary Bedell(?), a comic art monograph. It might be autographed; inside the front cover is the sigil that appears on the cover as the author’s name.
  6. Three different collection catalogs of June Wayne exhibitions. One is in French, so it might be a duplicate of one of the English catalogs.
  7. Dan Worth: Photographs 1955-1985.
  8. Pierro Della Francesca.
  9. Dialogs with Nature: Works by Charles Salis Kaelin
  10. Art Noveau Belgium/France.
  11. William Partridge Burpee: American Marine Impressionist by D. Roger Howlett.
  12. Adolph Dehn Drawings.
  13. In Focus photographs by Jim Rathert.
  14. Missouri Images of Nature by Charles Gurche
  15. Images of India by Samuel Bourne.
  16. Gauguin.
  17. Cezanne and Chagall from the Color Slide Program of the Great Masters series. Instead of plates, each comes with 20 color slides. But, Brian J., do you even have a way to view slides? Shut your mouth! Of course I do. Not a projector, though: just a little slide viewer.
  18. Catherine Murphy: New Paintings and Drawings.
  19. Alan Gussow: Oils 1950-1980 by Lyle Gray.
  20. Jon Corbino: A Heroic Vision.
  21. John Shaw’s Landscape Photography. The top of the book says “Professional Techniques for Shooting Spectacular Scenics”, so this is more of a how-to guide than a monograph.
  22. The Art of Carl William Peters.
  23. Steuben Glass by James S. Plaut.
  24. The Art of America in the Gilded Age by Shirley Glubok.
  25. Rodin by Yvon Taillandier.
  26. Henry Fuseli by Carolyn Keay.

I also found a two incomplete sets of Will and Ariel Durant’s The Story of Civilization. The sale included two incomplete ex-library sets: one with the dust jacket and one without. The one with the dust cover had Volume 1, but on the overleaf where the price goes, it said “New” and then had some high prices marked down to $129. Others similar to that volume were marked $4 each, so I don’t think it was to be sold as a set, but I didn’t want to get into a controversy when arguing that that volume should be $2 on half price day and not $65, especially since I was already shelling out $25 for another old book. So I’ll look for Volume I and Volume VI now to fill out the set. I’ve been really jonesing for them since I read The Lessons of History in 2016.

“Will you read that?” my beautiful wife asked when she saw the stack of them.

“I hope so,” I said. I hope to read all of the books I buy. Which is why I am hoping for advances in medical science in the next decade or so.

At any rate, it’s thirty-five new books for me. And, friends, we have reached the stacks on the floor stage of book accumulation. Which means I should probably hold off on getting too many more for a couple of weeks yet.

Also, it probably means I should stop re-shelving books from my book accumulation points.

Good Album Hunting, Saturday, May 4, 2019: Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library Book Sale

Friends, somehow this spring’s book sale sneaked up on me, so I only found an opportunity to visit it on half price day today. Which worked out all right for me, as I only spent thirty some dollars on records.

Which is 61 LPs, double-albums, and boxed sets.

I got:

  1. Asilos de Abandonados Miguel Aceves Mejia
  2. Entre Copa y Copa Miguel Aceves Mejia
  3. Canta…Los Huapangos de Oro Miguel Aceves Mejia
  4. Con Mariachi Los Panchos
  5. Midnight Time The Three Suns
  6. Help Is On The Way Melissa Manchester
  7. Romantic Jazz Jackie Gleason
  8. Trumpet A Go Go James Last Band
  9. El Nuevo Trio Los Panchos Trio Los Panchos
  10. Greatest Hits Boots Randolph
  11. Court and Ceremonial Music of the 16th Century Roger Blanchard Ensemble with the Poulteau Consort
  12. Songs of Italy 101 Strings
  13. Sings Spanish and Latin American Favorites Connie Francis
  14. 1100 Bel Aire Place Julio Iglesias
  15. The Sound of Boots Boots Randolph
  16. The Best of Vicki Carr Vicki Carr
  17. The Yakin’ Sax Man Boots Randolph
  18. Heart Like A Wheel Linda Ronstadt
  19. Songs of the Seasons in Japan 101 Strings
  20. The Manhattan Transfer The Manhattan Transfer
  21. Maynard Ferguson Maynard Ferguson
  22. Forever Gold The Isley Brothers
  23. Fall Into Spring Rita Coolidge
  24. Love Me Again Rita Coolidge
  25. Everything Under the Sun The Three Suns
  26. Men of Brass Massed Brass Bands of Foden’s, Fairey Aviation and Morris Motors
  27. 1980 Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson
  28. Como Swings Perry Como
  29. Miriam Makeba Miriam Makeba
  30. Lead, Kindly Light The Three Suns
  31. Cocktail Piano Frankie Carle
  32. So Early in the Spring Jackie Collins
  33. 30 Hits of the Tuneful ’20s Frankie Carle
  34. Look to the Rainbow Al Jarreau
  35. El Gallo Colorado Miguel Aceves Mejia
  36. A Treasury of the Award-Winning Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass The Longines Symphonette Society
  37. Lo Mejor De Miguel Aceves Mejia (box set) Miguel Aceves Mejia
  38. Lo Mejor De Amalia Mendoza (box set) Amalia Mendoza
  39. Lo Mejor De Jose Alfredo Jimenez Jose Alfredo Jimenez
  40. It Must Be Him Vicki Carr
  41. Le Monde Musical de Baden Powell Volume 2 Baden Powell
  42. Ecos de Cuba Trio Matamoros
  43. Even in the Quietest Moments Supertramp
  44. Sweet Talk Boots Randolph
  45. Spanish Fly Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam
  46. Love Is A Season Eydie Gorme
  47. Louis and Keely Louis Prima and Keely Smith
  48. Cocktail Time Frankie Carle
  49. The Fantastic Boots Randolph Boots Randolph
  50. Portrait of My Love Steve Lawrence
  51. Golden Saxophones Billy Vaughn and His Orchestra
  52. Come Waltz with Me Steve Lawrence
  53. Cantos de Amor Campriano Miguel Aceves Mejia
  54. Para Cantar Yo Naci Miguel Aceves Mejia
  55. Classical Cats
  56. A Man and a Woman (Un Homme et Une Femme) Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
  57. Die Große Stereo-Starparade – Folge 3
  58. Soulful Dionne Warwick
  59. The Road to Romance Dorothy Lamour
  60. Bourbon Street Pete Fountain and Al Hirt
  61. Also Sprach Zarathustra Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Honey, I didn’t buy 100 LPs, I told my beautiful wife via text message to soften her up.

I am not sure it worked.

I jumped on someone’s former collection of Miguel Aceves Mejia; on first listen, it’s more traditional Mexican music than the pop that I have tended to favor. I got a couple of other box sets akin to his that will likely prove similar.

I got some more Frankie Carle, The Three Suns, Boots Randolph, and Vicki Carr to add to my catalog of their LPs.

I’ve also started the slide into 80s pop (Supertramp and Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam) since that music is coming on 35 years old now. As close to today as Sinatra was to us. You might hear a song or two on the radio from these bands, maybe, but I really need to pick up the source material because the stuff on radio playlists is so shallow in breadth. Can you be shallow in breadth? On this blog, you can!

I also got some books, but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see what I got.

A Triple F Musical Throwdown

Harold Faltermeyer was quite the instrumentalist for movie soundtracks in the 1980s, including two from that movie that had a Saturday Night Live alum portraying the title character, an investigator who assumes various comic roles as part of his investigation.

I’m talking about Fletch, of course.

I’m talking about Axel Foley, of course.

I prefer the former due to racism, of course. Also, because it is a little more than the synth progressions of the “Axel F Theme”.

It also made me start enumerating the films where a Saturday Night Live alum starred as a wise-cracking cop or investigator. Between the Fletch and Beverly Hills Cop movies, we’re already up to five. Throw in Taxi, and we’re up to six. Surely there are more, which I’ll give far too much thought and investigation to.

An Ozarks Spring Evening in One Photo


Our shoes spent the night next to the door to our storm room.

Our storm room is an interior room with one side in the earth, two sides of brick, and with the ceiling joists supported with extra braces. It has a gravel floor, though, since our pump tanks and whatnot are in there. We store a card table and matching chairs in there along with flashlights, a little food, and a radio just in case.

Last night, we had tornado warnings off and on from 3pm to a little after 9pm. Our weather radio squalled a couple of times, and the local sirens went off once, but most of the real action took place northwest and southeast of Nogglestead.

Still, we have to be readier than we did in Saint Louis or Milwaukee. Every couple of years, a tornado touches down hereabouts. About fifteen or twenty years ago, a nearby barn got destroyed and a woman was killed because instead of seeking shelter, she went to calm her horses. It’s an apocryphoral story, though, since it’s from before we were here, and I don’t remember exactly who told it.

I know you loyal readers in Oklahoma understand.

UPDATE: A loyal reader in Oklahoma documents his response to the same system, experienced during his commute as crazy thunderstorms.

On On the Beach

Book coverWell, I didn’t get to watch this film on the first try, but I did get to watch it after my triathlon class ended.

For those of you unfamiliar with the premise, it’s a film from 1959 where, after a nuclear war, an American submarine comes to Melbourne, Australia, where people are trying to carry on even though the scientists are pretty sure that the fallout will eventually reach Australia and kill them all.

The captain of the submarine, played by Gregory Peck, doesn’t like to think that his family in the states is dead. The Australian navy places a young officer, played by Anthony Perkins, as a liaison with the American forces, and he introduces Gregory Peck to a local drunk played by Ava Gardner. They start to have feelings for each other, but it’s complicated.

The Australian admirality receives a radio signal, so it sends the sub and its crew to the coast of California to investigate, which gives the sub crew a chance to view the empty coastlines and cities. Unfortunately, it’s not a remnant of civilization. So the sub returns to Australia, and everyone dies.

Well, the film ends with the sub heading back to America because the crew wants to die at home, but, man, it’s a heckuva downer of a film.

As you might know, gentle reader, Gregory Peck is not high on my list of favorite lead actors from the era, and Ava Gardner is not high on my list of actresses, either. However, the film does have Fred Astaire in it, so that’s a bonus.

A downer of a film, for sure, and anti-nuke agitprop. Not something to watch when you want to watch something entertaining, but if you fancy yourself a film buff, you might want to watch it for completeness.

The Only Styx Song I Can Stand

You know, my beautiful wife owns a number of Styx albums, including at least one on vinyl, but I really don’t like many of their songs.

But one, “Show Me The Way”, struck a chord with me.

It came out in 1990, when I was transitioning from an awkward high school student into an awkward college student. I moved from small town Missouri back to the city of Milwaukee, and I certainly could have used some guidance.

I still can.

I often think of Styx as a seventies band, but this hit was from 1990.

Kind of how I think of the Rolling Stones as a sixties band, but they charted records well into the 1980s. But the radio playlists really focus on the greatest hits of both bands, which are the early hits.

Soon To Be A Major Motion Picture From Marvel Studios

Environmentalist superhero Captain Planet visits kids at Discovery Center:

With so many shows and games for kids to play it can be hard to get them excited about things like the outdoors. But today, the Discovery Center brought a superhero in to help bring shows and excitement about the environment together.

Captain Planet from the well-known show made a visit to the Discovery Center today to interact with kids and teach a little about the environment.

From the well-known show?

Which one is that? The one that ran for two years in the early 90s, or the one that ran for three years in the middle 1990s?

Hey, I’m not knocking it. Keep promoting it as “popular” and maybe even “collectible.” I’ve got a copy of the Marvel Captain Planet and the Planeteers #1 that I need to increase in value if I’m going to retire someday.

I Wonder Why The North Side Mindflayers Trivia Team Keeps Me Around

So we have this cat, and I like to proclaim often, “You’re a menace!”

He doesn’t look like much of a menace in this action photo, but he really is. He has the nickname “Foot” which is short for “Underfoot.” He likes to walk ahead of me and stop suddenly to turn to look to see if I’m going. And when I say “Walk ahead of me,” I mean inches ahead of me. He’s also prone to appearing in the kitchen when I’m cooking, and if I start downstairs (and hence towards his food dishes) before him, he will come bowling down the stairs after me, often striking me in the back of the legs as I’m descending. When I say “Bowling,” I mean like a bowling ball. He is, after all, nineteen pounds of cat who thinks affection involves biting the hand that pets him and lying across the pillow in the middle of the night and grooming me while I’m sleeping. And then biting me.

Of course, I call all the cats menaces in the spirit of J. Jonah Jameson.

So recently I started to tell him, “Don’t Be A Menace.”

You know, like the movie.

But then I realized I couldn’t remember the name of the movie, a film that came out in 1996 and which I’ve never actually seen, but which has the words/shortened title on the movie poster.

I had to look it up.

Don’t Be A Menace To South Central While Drinking Your Juice In The Hood.

Which I now tell the cat all the time, and which means I’ll probably retain that bit of information in case it shows up on a trivia night.

Yes, I do talk an awful lot to my cats. But I have been a remote worker for over a decade. I have to talk to someone.

My Next Home

It would be my home in eight weeks if I had the money: A castle outside Clever, Missouri:

5000 square feet on 10 acres, and the shields on the gate already have the letter N on them.

At roughly a million dollars, it might still be on the market by the time I can afford it. Unfortunately, I’ll need hyperinflation to get there, but unfortunately, in that event, I wouldn’t get change from my $200,000,000 bill.

Mr. Keith Begs To Differ

An ad on my Facebook feed makes an assertion that country music science does not support.

The ad:

The study that refutes it:

Why this ad appeared on my Facebook feed, though, I have no idea. One would expect with all the data that Facebook harvests from me that they would know we don’t host many gatherings here at Nogglestead.

We still have blue and orange disposable cups from my oldest child’s fifth birthday party, almost eight years ago. The bags are gone, though, so I could not tell you if they were Solo or Hefty in nature.

The Week of Easter to a Parent

“Dad, can we eat the entire contents of our Easter basket RIGHT NOW?”


My boys, well, the oldest, has a habit of going through the video library and pulling out interesting films to read the boxes, and recently he’s left The Hunt for Red October lying around. Given that it’s PG, I suppose we could watch it together. It will blow their minds to see James Bond older.

You Can Probably Guess The Answer

So I’m in the process of transitioning computers, which means I have to again set my Web browser to stop bothering me when every last Web site wants to send me notifications.

This is a simple config change, but I did a quick Web search to ensure I set the correct preference name to false.

The Web search led me to a Reddit topic:

Which was obscured by Reddit prompting me about its notifications.

Note to self: It’s dom.webnotifications.enabled.

Also, let it be noted that when previewing this post, I had the impulse to click Not Now on the above picture out of recently acquired habit.

Current Status

It sure is Monday.

You know, my knowledge and appreciation of popular music from the middle 1990s is strangely lacking. I think I was listening mostly to country at that time or something.

Speaking of Monday morning, this line of Keats in “The Eve of St. Agnes” which I finished reading this morning stuck with me:

But let me laugh awhile, I’ve mickle time to grieve.

Mickle means “a large amount.” You can bet I’ll use this word on a call today, if not the whole line.

Book Report: Haitian Hit The Executioner #129 (1989)

Book coverTo what do I turn after completing The Count of Monte Cristo? Why, an Executioner book, of course.

This book is not a bad entry. Bolan is in Haiti to put the hurt on some mobsters, and he ends up getting entangled in a revolution looking to overthrow the military junta in charge after Baby Doc fled. Since the junta is allowing the mob to build a casino and resort, Bolan’s plan turns to its destruction.

Once again, these books from the 1980s illustrate how little has changed in the thirty years since they were new. Haiti is still a mess, and the story would not need much updating to be set in 2019 instead of 1989.

Book Report: Dinner with Friends by Donald Margulies (1999)

Book coverDonald Margulies is my favorite modern playwright. I really enjoyed Sight Unseen both on stage and in print. Which makes it weird that it took me over a year to get to this book (bought in in January 2018) while I read lesser plays.

This book has four characters: Karen and Gabe, two married food writers, and Beth and Tom, friends that they introduced a dozen years ago whose marriage is ending. Beth reveals that Tom has cheated on her, and he cannot join them for dinner because he’s gone out of town to visit his mistress. The news shocks Karen and Gabe. Scenes center on meals where Beth or Tom eat at Karen and Gabe’s.

The emotions are pretty raw, and the play really evokes wondering what is happening off-stage as much as on. Karen and Gabe disagree over how to treat Tom after the break-up, and Tom touches Karen’s hair at one point, which leads one to wonder if something happened there. How strong is Karen and Gabe’s marriage? Can Beth and Tom reconcile while eventually destroying their friends’ marriage?

Very good, but not as good as Sight Unseen. Margulies has numerous other works, and one of these days I might start ordering them new instead of hoping to spot them at book sales in Springfield or Ozark.

Book Report: The Zen Way To The Martial Arts by Taisen Deshimaru (1982, 1991)

Book coverI bought this book just last month, and like so many of the Buddhist or martial arts books, I dived right into it. This book is a two-fer in that regard, as it blends Zen Buddhism with martial arts.

The book is a collection of talks given at a retreat in Switzerland in 1975 that blended zazen sitting with martial arts demonstrations. Of course, you can draw many parallels between the focus in practicing martial arts techniques and forms and the Buddhist focus not only on sitting/meditating, but also in the focus on being present in every moment and doing everything fully in the moment.

So there’s not really anything surprising in the book; I didn’t flag anything for comment.

I read these books because I find them a bit calming, but they really do go in one eye and out the other as far as remembering their contents goes.

An Uncomfortable Conversation

Last evening, my twelve-year-old son asked me a question that took me aback and led to a stammering, rambling, and incomplete response that probably left the boy more befuddled than when he asked.

He asked me for an overview of the Terminator story.

I mean, I have only seen the first three movies (of five, apparently), the television series, and read one of the books. So I’m not an expert.

I could made it through explaining Skynet, sort of, and the plot of the first two movies and a bit about the television series, but, honestly, it’s hard to explain them all in gestalt. It’s probably best to explain each movie or property discretely and then gloss over the problems in the timelines and continua.

I don’t think he got it. I’m not sure I do. Perhaps the best explanation is the simplest. Intelligent unstoppable killing machines travel time to kill people who are troublesome in the future.

Man, I wish he would have asked me to explain something I understand better. Like women.