Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Book Report: Now & Then by Robert B. Parker (2007)
This is the latest Spenser book. In it, Spenser gets tasked with finding out if a woman's cheating on her husband; she is, and after Spenser reports to the husband, both the husband and wife are murdered. Spenser suspects he's captured more than the infidelity on audiocassette, he's determined to find out why.

Amazon reviewers give it a pretty good rating; Heather did not. I think it's toward the lower half of the middle of the pack Spenser novels. Sometime in the middle 1980s, probably with Taming a Seahorse, Parker got very recursive with his Spenser novels. Suddenly, the plots are repeats or continuations of old cases, April Kyle, Paul Giacomin's family, Gerry Broz, and whoever start cropping up with new problems, and the series folds on itself. This book, too, fits into that as events within the book are constantly referred back to A Catskill Eagle as motivation for Spenser, as if he needed more than the normal private eye impetus.

Aside from that, which I can sort of overlook, there's a lot of background that's not covered or only supplied as a prop. The main bad guy in this book is a violent radical out of the 1960s who uses violent means to fight the power. Which seems to mean Spenser, sort of, here. It's a fairly stock now for the Spenser universe (see also Early Autumn, Looking for Rachel Wallace, Back Story). I mean, dang, I would love a little scam out of sheer greed.

But Dr. Parker's getting up to 75 these days, so I guess I'll take what I get.

Books mentioned in this review:

Book Report: Webster Groves by Clarissa Start (1975)
This book has a sort of double-effect twist going on; Clarissa Start, a former columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and former resident (as of the writing, she had moved to High Ridge, Missouri), wrote this book at the behest of the city government in Webster Groves as part of its bicentennial celebration. That means it's a history book that's 30 years old.

So I got a glimpse of the past from the past. The tone of the book is very exceptional, so Webster Groves has a hint of Lake Wobegon to it. Of course, a book written on the government dime would explain that the citizens are the best and the town is the best and everything else. I guess I cannot knock some exceptionalism in history, but when it's applied to a small town, it's odd. Also, the book ends with several chapters of Webster Groves at 1975, with a demographic study and the high school commencement speech. I just skimmed these.

Still, the book details the area at the turn of the twentieth century very well and explains the events that precipitated the incorporation (a mugging/murder), the resistance to a layer of government and its eager taxation, and a bit of perspective to the current complaints and how far back those tensions existed.

It brings the book forward, as I mentioned, and the conversational tone tells you what replaced the old blacksmith shop and early businesses downtown. However, 30 years later, the Farmers Home and Trust Bank is gone as well as the IGA grocery store, and those things seem quaint now. But I didn't buy it for contemporary insight, I bought it for its discussion of the old times, and I got it.

More trivia for the cranium, and things that I can tell the child as he grows up so he will think I'm very smart. Fooling the children, really, is the secondary use of all knowledge that comes to the fore after you've succeeded in the primary use of all knowledge, fooling women into thinking you're smart so they will mate with you. One, anyway.

Books mentioned in this review:

Not What Taco Bell Had In Mind
A Taco Bell commercial apparently ran during the newscast near the story about university porn club captured here. As a result, the Taco Bell commercial freeze frame displays with the headline that probably doesn't build the brand equity Yum brands wanted:

Taco Bell frame, frozen

Double funny: the commercial features the character on the left air-whipping the fellow on the right while Devo's "Whip It" loops.

Triple funny: The pull quote says entail. Heh heh heh. Heh heh heh.

That Must Make For Awkward Moments At Cocktail Parties
No, not the death threats; the spouse:
    Ms Whitney, a CIBC analyst who is married to the former World Wrestling Entertainment champion Death Mask, prompted a near 7 per cent drop in Citigroup’s shares on Thursday, after suggesting that the bank needed to raise more than $30 billion to restore its capital cushion.

Friday, November 02, 2007
Probably Not In That Order
F-15 fighter crashes, pilot ejects

Book Report: Farnham's Freehold by Robert Heinlein (1964)
Unlike some, I haven't read much Heinlein. As a matter of fact, as I review a list of his books on Wikipedia, I can't say I'm sure I have read any, although some of the titles sound familiar from my middle school Del Rey paperbacks-in-library-binding days.

I can't say that now, certainly, and I do have a couple more on the to-read shelves, so I'll get my old school sci-fi thing going on.

This book, ca 1964, revolves around a nuclear conflict and a nuclear family plus a friend who duck and cover into the father's bomb shelter when the bomb comes. The family has its problems, from a headstrong son with Oedipal issues to the hard-drinking suburban wife, but the confident and resourceful father holds the family together with the force of his will. A third nuclear strike on a military facility near the home sends the bomb shelter to another place or time.

So the first forty-eight percent of the book details the family's survival in an unspoiled world, the next forty-eight percent of the book details what happens when the family discovers it's 2000 years in the future, and four percent of the book at the end details a denouement or dedeusment of sorts.

The prose is lean and the plot is definitely event-driven, so I enjoyed it, but I guess one could knock it for thin characters. However, if you're a growing lad, this is good science fiction to get you in the mood for the release of Star Wars in fifteen years.

So it's not as hard science as Niven, but it's not as dense as some of the stuff of his I've read, and it's not 500 pages either.

Books mentioned in this review:

Thursday, November 01, 2007
The Things I Remember
Jack, of Jack in the Box restaurant fame? His wife's name is Cricket.

From some commercial probably 5 years ago, I remember this.

What a waste of brain cells.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Speaking from Experience
I speak from experience when I say that Ms. Parton states the obvious here:
    They let your dream
    Just to watch 'em shatter
    You're just a step
    On the boss man's ladder
    But you got a dream he'll never take away
I have been a boss man myself, and I can honestly say, "Who would want that shattered dream that I let you have? Now get a broom and a dustpan and clean it up!"

Did I mention how many years running I got the Boss Man of the Year award? No?

Monday, October 29, 2007
Lindenwood University Launches Successful Recruitment Drive
They sure know how to recruit male students, don't they?
    She is a freshman at Lindenwood, as are six Miss Missouri Teen USA finalists. Also among the student body are Amber Seyer, Miss Missouri Teen USA 2007; and LaTasha Lawrie, Miss Kansas Teen USA 2005. In total, the school says it has about 30 winners or top finishers in beauty pageants.
Lindenwood was sort of in the running for my collegiate dollar, somewhere between SLU and Washington University; however, because my first choice accepted me, it was irrelevant.

A program like this, however, might have altered the equation.

Explaining the Joke
Enormous steel sculpture lifted 12 stories:
    A massive steel sculpture installed Sunday on the side of a South of Market building tells a story of humanity's past and its uncertain future, says the Seattle artist who spent two years on the project.

    The five pieces of stainless steel, obliquely titled "Artifacts from a Coal Mine" and weighing well over 10,000 pounds, were affixed as public art to the outside of a contemporary brick and concrete condominium building at 177 Townsend at Third Street.

    "They evoke a lost world and the uncertainty of climate change," said artist Mark Stevens, pacing Townsend Street as one giant sculpture after another was hoisted 12 stories up by a 200-foot-high crane.
If you have to say what your tangle of metal is supposed to represent, it's not actually evoking anything, ainna?

Sunday, October 28, 2007
Book Report: Like I Was Sayin'... by Mike Royko (1984)
In January, I read Dr. Kookie, You're Right!, so I guess you can take it to heart that I've read another one of his books this year. I mean, I won't even mention both names in a sentence, but this guy probably would think he's like Royko, but he ain't.

This book collects a number of Royko's columns from the Chicago Daily News, the Chicago Sun-Times, and the Chicago Tribune. When the Daily News folded, he went to the Sun-Times; when Murdoch bought the Sun-Times, Royko went, breach of contract and all, to the Chicago Tribune. He didn't like Murdoch and he didn't like Reagan, but I still can enjoy Royko's columns.

Maybe it's because he came from a different era, although the columns that talk about Reagan trend toward the snotty. Perhaps it's the selections of his columns that ensure that the more universal or the less context-centric column inches make it into the book, but I think Royko hearkens back to an era where the political wasn't personal, and where you could get together with people on the other side of the political divide for beers after the day was done. Besides, he excoriated Daley I, Bilandic, and Byrne as mayors, so he's proven he's not a Democratic party lapdog. I think he'd have mocked the netroots and maybe even Hillary Clinton (mostly because he'd be an Obama man, but still).

Royko's collection of 30 year old columns are worth reading just to give you perspective about how little things change. He talks about hipsters on the lakefront, the sort of people who a generation later sport iPods and Starbucks cups. He gets a Bronco to cope with the Chicago winter and deals with the fuel-mileage conscious people who drive the little Japanese imports of the era. Oddly enough, the unchanging nature of these picadillos gives me hope, because I sometimes wonder if our lifetimes will run as smoothly (in retrospect) as theirs did. If the problems and whatnot are simply ongoing and are not cataclysmic as they seem to someone living through them the first time, maybe so, maybe so.
Books mentioned in this review:

4.5 Years of Personal History
I've been on this blog for almost half a decade, and sometimes that's brought back more vividly.

Like when I was doing a bit of research for the post that appears, chronologically, above this one, and I came across a joke I relayed.

A joke that was originally told to me by the aunt from whom I've inherited the pile of books whose reports I've been meting out. She's been gone almost 3 years now; she would have told me that joke right before she'd learn about the cancer.

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