Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Early Adopter
Now that's a pioneer!
    On the other hand, I was one of the first retailers to have a presence on the Web. I've been doing it since 1988 or 1989, and I've been reinventing. That's gotten us a head start.

Friday, November 23, 2007
Book Report: New York at Night by Bill Harris (1983, 1985)
I bought this book on September 29, 2007, and as I suspected, it's better than the other city-themed picture book I've read this year, Detroit. Whereas that book focused on helicopter shots of the buildings in the city, this book covers New York at night. The text is a bit affected with first person sort of you-are-there visitations to New York City in 1983, the photos display a variety of things: people on the job in staged portraiture, buildings, streetscapes, and slice-of-life snapshots.

Of course, everyone is wearing that hair that occurred as the 70s transistioned the the 80s, and most of the buildings have bars on the windows before the renaissance of the 1990s, but it's an interesting artifact and collection of images.

With no random quotes, unless you count the introductory essays.

Books mentioned in this review:

Book Report: Tales from the Coral Court by Shellee Graham (2000)
I borrowed this book from the Old Trees library's local history section, a section that I will probably completely consume by the end of 2008. This book covers, as the title might indicate, the Coral Court motel, a motor court built in 1941/1942 that was not only a mainstay on the Route 66 circuit, but also proved instrumental in founding the municipality of Marlborough, a former speed trap town (that has since disbanded its police force and has slid from the St. Louis County consciousness as a result) and provided St. Louisians with something about which it could giggle behind its hands (the fact that each unit had a garage that opened into the bedroom led itself, led itself from the realm of the modern into the realm of the merely seamy once the Interstate built some miles to the north removed the middle class tourist from the client list).

This book fits more into the In Retrospect mold, as it provides some text about the original owners, the architecture style, and the evolution of motor courts and motels in America, but mostly relies on quotes from random St. Louisians (and some poetry, heaven forfend) about the motel. Still, the author took a number of photos in the period between the closing of the hotel (1993) and its demolition (1995), and the author gathered some other photo material from people who'd heard about her project.

In a couple years, no one will remember the place, since its heydey came in the Greatest Generation years and its ill repute came in the Boomer years, so this book's novelty will pass but its usefulness as a historical document and collection of photos will live on.

Full disclosure: in that same period before the demolition and the raising of the Oak Knoll subdivision where the motel used to stand, I was dating a photographer and got the opportunity to do a little trespassing for photography purposes myself. So I remember the Coral Court from first hand experience, although not from the authentic Coral Court first hand experience. And that first hand knowledge is what makes this book resonate, so as I said, I suspect it will only be a curiosity in a couple years when that resonance is gone for most people.

Books mentioned in this review:

Thursday, November 22, 2007
Interesting Contrast
Spot the contrast:
    St. Louis County Councilwoman Colleen Wasinger, R-Town and Country, plans to scrutinize next year's county budget to find ways to save enough money to avoid a tax increase.

    St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley has proposed a county budget of $505.4 million for next year. It includes a property tax increase of 2 cents for each $100 assessed valuation. Dooley estimates that will raise slightly more than $4 million.
Where's Dooley's D?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Not So That You Noticed
But Diane Duane, the author of the book I reported on earlier this week, appears in the comments for the post to discuss the book, her library, and writing Star Trek novels.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Book Report: In Retrospect (I) edited by Kathy Condon (1975)
This book, the result of a high school project, came about when Wilda Swift (co-author of Webster Park 1892-1992) started a class to explore local history. Students interviewed a number of residents of the community who could remember life before 1914 and put the book (more of a magazine in a library binding) out.

As such, its quality is what you might expect; it looks as though it was typewritten with some photos pasted in. What a high school class could do 30 years ago before desktop publishing became available, then easy.

The book doesn't get into narratives; it just drops little sentence or paragraph excerpts from the interviews organized around topics. So it's more of a quilt than a cloth. Still, interesting enough to get details and a flavor.

Books mentioned in this review:

In Retrospect

Monday, November 19, 2007
Book Report: My Enemy, My Ally by Diane Duane (1984)
Well, I hadn't been in much mood to read for a number of days, which explains why it's taken my 10 days to complete another book not written by Tolstoy or Hugo. Instead, to get myself back into the game, I picked up one of the Star Trek novels I bought at some time in the past en masse; the others include the novelizations of the first few movies.

Now, I'm not the Star Trek book guy, so this was my first dose of that part of the canon (the Blish short stories based on the series episodes are a different thing entirely; see also Star Trek 5, Star Trek 6, and Star Trek 10 among others).

The book was written after the first and second series (I count TAS!) had ended, the first two films were released, and appeared about the same time as the third movie; ergo, it's historical in its canon. Since it's a book and has no special effects budget, we get a lot of alien races serving on Federation starships and some descriptions of them. We also get insight into the Romulan way (a sequel to this book, I assume, is called that).

But the main thrust of the book is like a television episode with a lot of exposition. The first half of the book details the plot: a Romulan commander, exiled for unpopular views, is set to die in a mission that will foment a Klingon-Federation War. She learns of the existence of a secret Romulan plan to give Romulans the same mentalist abilities that Vulcans have and knows that this will destroy not only the Federation, but the soul of the Romulan empire. She convinces Kirk, on patrol in the Neutral Zone, to act as though she's taken the Enterprise prisoner so they can go to the research facility and destroy it to save the universe.

I don't want to ruin it for you, but in the last 80 pages, they do. It reads like a filmography and relies on the normal tricks of the showm pseudo deus ex machina and timely reversals, to climax and then a film-friendly denoument.

I mean, it's not a bad book, but it's not high art; one wonders if the authors of these books write these like movies in hopes of getting the extra dough out of having a movie adapted from it or if that's just the way they imagine the stories. Or maybe I'm generalizing based on a single data point.

I'll read the rest of what I've got and won't purposefully avoid the series, but jeez, lots of tentacles and an awful lot of characters laughing uproariously at only partially humorous lines don't compel me to read more right away.
Books mentioned in this review:

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