Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Recognizing that One Is No Longer a Part of the Target Demographic
As a matter of fact, I do own a shoe horn.

Book Report: One of Us Is Wrong by Samuel Holt (1986)
I wanted to say that it's been twenty years since I read the second book in this series, but I'd be misstating my own longevity as well as warping the former Clinton presidency into a longer period than it was. I only read it the book I Know a Trick Worth Two of That probably in 1990 or 1991; I suspect I picked up the copy I had of that at a paperback exchange in Milwaukee the summer before I began college. I don't know why I remember it that way.

So I recognized the naming scheme/"author" when I found this book probably earlier this year, and the memory was such that I bought the book. And you know what? Worthwhile endeavor.

This book sets the tone for the series: a former policeman/basketball player/television show star Samuel Holt has to deal with his celebrity but also finds himself in a situation where a crime has been committed and where he, the man who played PACKARD, must find out who or what is going on.

It's a light read from the 1980s featuring Arabic terrorists plotting an attack on American soil. Really, though, that's secondary to the voice navigating the LA scene suffering from the cancellation of the television series that made him a household name and identifiable celebrity. The Samuel Holt character drives the book, and the missteps, mistakes, and typographical errors are forgiven. After all, Donald Westlake, who wrote this book and the four-book series under the pseudonym of the main character (a la Ellery Queen), churned out a pile in the 1980s.

Friends and readers (and by "Readers," I mean "Deb, CG, and Gimlet"), I'll look for the remaining two books in this series. So if you're into light mysteries, you might want to check these out, quirky as they might be.

Books mentioned in this review:

Personal Relics: The Good Bookmark
   You can tell I’m a serious reader, not one of the rank amateurs who merely picks up the latest mass market paperback for airplane or beach reading or who parrots lines from the latest hot talk show host book club’s recommendation so I can sound smart at card parties. No, it’s not the fact that I carry snapshots of my library instead of my children to show to random coffee shop patrons. My continual enumeration of the books I read each year and my easy answer to questions of what I’ve read lately don’t give me away. The identifier that signals my serious pursuit of letters, which can often include mass market paperbacks and hardback thrillers amid the serious highsnoot stuff, is my good bookmark.

   Make no mistake, I own more than my share of the common paper bookmarks that blizzard any book buyer. I have colorful, bag-stuffing scrips of paper with the names of the large chain bookstores and the large Internet bookstores. I have many folded, worn used bookstore bookmarks from shops I have visited in myriad cities across the country. I even have several from used bookstores that I’ve never visited that came with books I bought elsewhere. I have a couple of bookmarks enclosed with unsolicited fundraising appeals; I didn’t send money, but I kept the bookmarks. We even have one or two congratulatory bookmarks given for elementary or middle school achievements floating around here. All get their usage between book covers.

   During my reading lifetime, I’ve not been particular about separating the pages where I last imbibed the language with a piece of refined bookmarkery. I’ve used envelopes, receipts, the odd note page, napkins, smaller books, and other varied materiel to let myself know where to resume and to mark for the world exactly how many pages’ worth of wisdom I bore. When one is away from home, one must make do with what nature and its descendent civilization provide. When I am at home, I prefer to use a real bookmark, and for the main book I am reading at any time, I use the good bookmark.

   I speak its very name with reverence, as one speaks of the good china. This good bookmark bears my last initial stamped into the top and looks to be brass. The front side shines brightly, and the rear displays a handsome sheen of green paint. Like all good things, it is formal and practical at once.

   I received this particular bookmark as a graduation gift when I matriculated from high school. No doubt, my distant aunt bought the bookmark at the bookstore when she was buying my gift certificate and impulsively added the five dollar’s worth of finery to my gift. Regardless, it not only bore my initial, but it became mine.

   Almost twenty years later, the memories of most gifts from that era have faded after the utility or quality of the gifts faded or failed. I’m sure I spent the accumulated capital on used books as I bought reading material for the interim summer. I wore the clothes, played the harmonica a couple of times, and I forgot the thoughtful or thought-free presentations of friends and family. But the bookmark lives on.

   The bookmark retained some of its mint condition by spending much of the 1990s in a complete collection of Emily Dickinson’s work, somewhere in the middle 700s of her numbered list. A few years ago, during one of the periods when I continued my trek through the wilderness of poor capitalization, I swapped out the good bookmark for a pair of bookmarks—one to tell me where I am, and one to tell me how long I had to go to finish the hundreds of poems Dickinson wrote in 1865.

   So while those bookmarks spend the next decade in the Dickinson, I use the good bookmark now for my primary reading material. It lends a certain air of class to my reading, elevates my place marking. Anyone who invests in or continues to use an actual piece of metal to mark a place in a book obviously plans to mark a lot of books with a permanent artifact.

   I’ll have to remember again to thank my aunt, long after she has forgotten the gift.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007
A Headline You Would Not Have Seen In 1960
Hoffa to announce Teamster support for Nixon

Put that in Back to the Future IV and have Marty call it "Heavy."

That's News?
Headline: Police officer tasers woman, 82. However, if you're doing anything but scanning the headlines, you get a slightly different story:
    Chicago's Police Department is investigating an officer's use of a Taser last month on an 82-year-old woman who was swinging a hammer when police arrived.
You're forgiven if you thought cops were tasering another 82 year old woman.

Book Report: The Black Hole by Alan Dean Foster (1979)
Sometimes, when you've seen the movie, you compare the novelization to the movie. However, I've not seen this movie. I did, however, have the activity/coloring book when I was much younger, so I do have a means of comparison, and at times this novel suffers in comparison.

Hey, I like Alan Dean Foster (see also Cyber Way, Midworld, Codgerspace, and even The Dig). I liked his novelization of the movie Outland, for crying out loud, which I read way, way back in the day.

This book runs about 200 pages, and the first 70 lead up to the docking with the mysterious space station. You see, the Palamino is a scientific discovery vehicle which comes across a 20-year lost space station-sized vessel, the Cygnus. Its expensive mission was similar to the Palomino's, but it was recalled to earth and never came back. Once the crew of the Palomino is aboard, things start to happen: they find that only one human remains, a meglomaniac scientist who wants to fall into the Black Hole to see what's on the other side, and the Palomino just wants to go home.

Calamities occur, and the ending differs from the comic book and probably from the movie (from what I read on a fan site). This time, the book goes all Space Child and the movie has a better resolution.

So it ran a bit long in spots and probably didn't do the film any justice, since the film probably relied on a lot of visual effects not carried over. I forgive Alan Dean Foster for the effort.

And I liked it so much that I've added it to my Amazon wish list along with another DVD of the same title that's apparently set in St. Louis. In case any of you cheapskates has any money left over after donating to the Fred Thompson campaign through the widget in the sidebar to the right.

Books mentioned in this review:

Gravy Train Turf Battle
A senior Congressman sees fit to inject his office into oversight of televangelism:
    The top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee has launched a wide-ranging investigation into the financial dealings of six TV evangelists, including Joyce Meyer, the popular preacher who has built a $124-million-a-year empire headquartered in Fenton.

    On Monday, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, asked Meyer to provide his staff with documents detailing the finances of the Joyce Meyer Ministries, including the religious group's compensation to Meyer, her husband and other family members, as well as an accounting of their housing allowances, gifts and credit card statements for the last several years.
Congress shall make no law doesn't say a thing about fishing expeditions into religious organizations, does it?

Update: James Joyner links to another article that describes other targets of the investigation and applies the adjective mundane.

Monday, November 05, 2007
Compartmentalization at Work
So KMOV TV runs this commercial barking about its INVESTIGATION! into the fact that our government is woeful on its obligation to maintain highways and bridges so that they don't, I don't know, actually collapse into the Mississippi River. However, it's good to see some homeowners have their priorities in order:
    Nearly 100 signatures have been gathered from residents whose homes sit along Interstate 270 in Kirkwood, calling for a study to see if a sound wall should be constructed to shield residents from traffic noise.
Whenever you see stories about people who bought homes along the interstate suddenly confronted with noise and who now clamor for government-funded remediation, remember that every last study conducted to see if it's necessary and every last dollar spent on making their backyard decks more enjoyable is less steel and concrete to make sure the highways safe for everyone.

I don't want to hear breakdowns of city/state/government funding or dedicated resources to these sorts of things because that same city/state/government funding could and should be dedicated to the basic repair of the roads.

I speak as someone who bought a house on an interstate. I got a better price because of the noise; I'm not going to expect you to make my cheap property more valuable nor to improve my lifestyle. Period. Especially not at the expense of vital infrastructure maintenance.

In St. Louis, Even The Police Headquarters Is A Hoodlum
Drive-by shooting by police headquarters injures 1

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