Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Friday, August 06, 2004
Book Review: Dreamcatcher by Stephen King (2001)

I can count the number of Stephen King books I've read on both hands, and it makes it much easier that I'm not a Stephen King surviving protagonist, because they never finish with 10 digits. I've read The Stand, Eyes of the Dragon, the first three books of the Dark Tower, On Writing, The Dark Half, and this book. I really like his style and his attitude, and I liked this book too.

The plot: four friends on a hunting trip encounter an alien invasion or biowarfare during a blizzard. Cripes, it would be a simple enough pitch for a movie, but undoubtedly the two hour feature couldn't begin to delve into this book.

I'm going to speak about a few things in my few paragraphs, the first of which is his style. As I mentioned previously, a horror novel is simply a fantasy novel wherein the heroes don't know they're in a fantasy novel until it's too late. That gives King the opportunity to play with the timeline, using foreshadowing and flashback to great effect. The simple, throwaway foreshadowing in the beginning of the book really draws the reader in, but King knows when the hook has been set and lays off after the first third of the book. Swell. Also, King lavishes a lot of detail on most of the characters in the book that are more than names. It really bugs the reader when the good guys die, or when they lose fingers.

Secondly, King's well read and slathers his books in allusions to popular and literate works. He alludes to Poe unself-consciously and mentions a boook by Robert Parker by name. Cool.

Also, I found this book an interesting artifact. Although King, in his author's note, talks about writing this book in November 1999 through March 2000, Bush is the president (and it's apparent that he's not well thought of by many characters). The president has to give a speech about an incident in which aliens bearing infectious and dangerous, world-conquering philosophies spores. The book is published in 2001. That's a little....creepy.

Of all contemporary mythmakers, if I had to guess whom students from the year 2200 would read from our era (assuming their studies of literature aren't limited to the Koran or Mao), I'd pick King. He's an engaging writer, he's smart, he's good at his craft, and he explores deeper human truths by transcending his genre.

Post-Dispatch Math

That's some mighty smart figurin':
    Brett Hull, third on the NHL's career goals list, signed a two-year contract with the Phoenix Coyotes on Friday.

    Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

    The free agent forward, an 18-year veteran who starred for the Blues and spent the last three seasons with Detroit, has 741 goals -- second only to Coyotes managing partner Wayne Gretzky's 894 and Gordie Howe's 801.

Sounds Like a Threat To Me

Hostage situation in Tosa: Parents protest class sizes in Tosa:
    Parents and educators warned School Board members Thursday night that kindergarten teachers at several schools will be overwhelmed and children will suffer if kindergarten classes with as many as 27 students aren't reduced before school starts.
They will make the children suffer unless they get their way? What?

Steinberg Off The Wall

Neil Steinberg continues kicking Bob Greene:
    There are honors I covet, as befitting the pie-pan depths of my soul. Not the standard newspaper milestones -- not the Pulitzer, God knows, not since they nearly gave it to Bob Greene.
Jeez, Louise, this absurd envy thing can only merit one response: I must quote the wise and beautiful Jem of Jem and the Holograms:
    Every place you go, everywhere you turn
    Someone else is movin' in,
    And they're makin' time
    And it's gettin' underneath your skin,
    Whoa, whoa!

    Doesn't it hurt?
    Jealousy, baby!
    Doesn't it burn?
    Doesn't it consume your soul?
    Makin you lose control,

    Nothing to be said,
    Nothing to be done
    Someone else is in your place,
    And you won't forget it
    And it's hittin' you right where you live
    Whoa, whoa!

    Doesn't it hurt?
    Jealousy, baby!
    Doesn't it burn?
    Doesn't it grab hold of you?
    Breakin' your heart in two

    All at once, you're wild and runnin',
    Runnin' blind
    Revenge, revenge, revenge
    Is the one thing on your mind,
    Whoa, whoa!

    Doesn't it hurt?
    Jealousy, baby!
    Doesn't it burn?
    Jealousy !
    Doesn't it consume your soul
    Makin' you lose control
    Jealousy, jealousy, jealousy,
It takes cartoonishness to fight cartoonishness.

Thursday, August 05, 2004
Quick Reference

Horror Novel:

A fantasy novel in which the protagonists do not realize until it's too late that they're in a fantasy novel.


Headline at Command Post: General Assembly President appeals for States to observe Olympic Truce.
    With less than 10 days to go before the start of the Olympic Games, the President of the United Nations General Assembly, Julian R. Hunte, today appealed to all States to demonstrate their commitment to peace by observing the traditional truce during the quadrennial competition.
Fans of blowing random things up, such as Palestinians, Al Qaeda, and other non-State groups, rejoice at their apparent exemption from another UN call to action.

Okay, Hijinks Now A Felony

Two lawyers play around in their office building by shooting BBs at each other, someone in another office sees and calls the cops from beneath her desk, and now they're going to get it:
    Police said they discovered that two lawyers who work in the building apparently had engaged in a BB gun fight with each other. Police arrested one of them, Gary K. Burger, 37, and booked him on suspicion of flourishing a dangerous and deadly weapon, a felony. Police have not yet sought formal charges from the prosecutor's office.
It would take a greater legal scholar than I to sort through the byzantine implications of this law, such as whether brandishing a dangerous and deadly weapon is a worse crime, or whether this law covers holding ceremonial muskets or sabres over one's head when presented with it, although one suspects it could at NRA rallies.

Dispatch from the Sports Wars

Speaking of a ballot initiative to prevent sale of the naming rights to Candlestick Park, a San Francisco 49ers offers this level-headed and non-hyperbolic assessment:
    "I think putting this on the ballot has catastrophic consequences for the future of Candlestick Park and the future of professional sports in San Francisco," said 49ers spokesman Sam Singer.
Perhaps he needs a reminder of what a catastrophe is.

But should one even hope for better from a spokesman for a team with gold-digging right in the name?

Wednesday, August 04, 2004
The Wonder of Cats, Part XVII

When I say I am, when I am say I, and even when I cry the out obvious, some organic creature will respond with a meow, even if it's only hoping for a Whiskas fish-flavored chunk.

No more worrying about the furniture's silent treatment.

(Jeez, I gotta cut down on the Jeff Goldstein.)

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Wants Packer Bloggers

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is looking for bloggers to cover the Green Bay Packers this year. Those bloggers selected get a free subscription the the Packers Insider, an extra supplement to the paper for which people actually pay extra, and a trip to Lambeau.

Entry details here.

Me, I'm not entering. Even though I listen to Weber and Dolan in the mornings, including the Green Bay Grapevine on Fridays, and I read the Journal-Sentinel religiously, and I plan my autumn around the weekends when I can watch the game on television, I cannot think of three things to say about training camp. As a matter of fact, most of my blog entries about the Packers taunt Pejman or Cagey as needed.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004
A Conspiracy of One

Once more, Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski opens her mouth and shows more of her Peter Principle qualifications:
    Karpinski told British Broadcasting Corp. radio that she had information suggesting officials took action to keep her in the dark about the mistreatment.

    "I have been told there's a reliable witness who's made a statement ... indicating that not only was I not included in any of the meetings discussing interrogation operations, but specific measures were taken to ensure I would not have access to those facilities, that information or any of the details of interrogations at Abu Ghraib or anywhere else," Karpinski said. She didn't identify the witness.

    "Correct," Karpinski responded when asked if she thought there was a conspiracy at senior level to stop her knowing what was going on.

    "From what I understand ... it was people that had full knowledge of what was going on out at Abu Ghraib who knew that they had to keep Janis Karpinski from discovering any of those activities," she added.

    Asked whether she thought the conspiracy reached up to the Pentagon or the White House, she said: "The indication is that it may have."
So she's telling foreign news services that her underlings, and maybe those shadowy administration figures, conspired to make her a poor leader.

Monday, August 02, 2004
An Irrelevant Link

Humorist Frank J., who will probably enjoy publishing success before I do (the bastard!), pens:

Know Thy Enemy: Democrats.

Truth to power.


I don't mind telling you, I will be glad tomorrow night after 7 pm when the polls close. Every time I have answered the phone today, a recording from some former political hack has greeted me, undoubtedly encouraging me to vote one way or the other.

Unfortunately, I hang up once I recognize the call for what it is.

These recorded calls insult me more than a volunteer calling me live to talk to me about their candidate or issue. I know, they occur mostly during the day when people aren't home with the specific purpose of having a recorded message engage a recording device (the answering machine). Come on, though..... I work at home, and every time your goofball devices call, I oughter bill you for an hour of my expensive consultant time.

Unfortunately, I never make it long enough into the recorded message to know whom to blame.

Sunday, August 01, 2004
Welcome to the Market

Last month, had its IPO.

This month, the first shareholder lawsuits were filed.

If I weren't laughing, I would be crying.

Drink Up That Geritol, Generation X

Duran Duran, Poison, Huey Lewis, and Whitney Houston are as fresh to kids today as Cream, Traffic, and J.J. Jackson were to us.

I SAID, DURAN DURAN, POISON, AND.... Oh, never mind, you won't remember it anyway.

Sure, Blame QA

Somewhere, some project manager is undoubtedly chewing out his or her QA staff for letting this one get through:
    A computer glitch grounded American Airlines and US Airways flights from coast to coast Sunday morning, causing delays that were expected to last all day.

    American had its planes back up after two hours, while US Airways flights were grounded for about three.

    Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Diane Spitaliere said the FAA was alerted to the problem, and both carriers asked the FAA's air traffic controllers to help communicate with planes to keep them on the ground until the problems were fixed.

    US Airways spokeswoman Amy Kudwa said the airline's flight-operation database malfunctioned, due to "an internal technology problem." A similar problem affected American's flight plan system, grounding about 150 flights, spokesman John Hotard said.
But hey, I bet EDS delivered the system on time, on budget, or neither, by trimming some quality assurance somewhere.

I Want That Job

The BBC reports:
    Five memory cards for digital cameras were subjected to a range of tests.

    The formats were CompactFlash, Secure Digital, xD, Memory Stick and Smartmedia.

    They were dipped into cola, put through a washing machine, dunked in coffee, trampled by a skateboard, run over by a child's toy car and given to a six-year-old boy to destroy.
That beats software QA any day.

(Link seen on Instapundit.)

To say Noggle, one first must be able to say the "Nah."