Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Thursday, October 09, 2008
Wherein Brian J. Whimpers
Check out the library of Internet millionaire Jay Walker.

Then feel disappointment that the journalist focused more on the decorations than the actual books.

But, dang, I want one like it.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008
When Famous Chickens Go Bad
We let our toddler watch football on Sunday, and during the commercials, he's subject to many, many, er, disconcerting images. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles ads run in heavy rotation, featuring explosions and belligerent robots firing weapons of all sorts. Each new gory horror movie that opens runs its ads to catch the young (but not that young) male football viewer, so there's always someone screaming and being dragged away by ghouls, demons, ghosts (not Gus) and whatnot. Additionally, he gets to see plenty of ads featuring Barack Obama's plan for America, things which frighten me to no end.

We try to distract him with books, toys, or questions during the particularly malevolent commercials. When he's seen them, though, he has remained unfazed because he's too young, probably, to understand what the images depict. One commercial, however, caused him to burst into tears. This horror:

Man, I love that commercial because anything with an enraged Famous Chicken in it is hilarity encapsulated in 30 seconds. But the boy? Freaked out.

One thing he can imagine, poor guy, is stuffed animals coming to life and threatening violence.

By the way, if you cannot get enough of The Famous Chicken, here's his official Web site.

Just don't browse it with my son around.

Monday, October 06, 2008
Book Report: Resolution by Robert B. Parker (2008)
Well, it's a Parker Western. I picked it up because Appaloosa's movie version opened this weekend.

The moral bankruptness of the Parker universe progresses. In it, Cole, the marshal from Appaloosa, has left Appaloosa after his lover runs off with another man. Off-page, Cole hunts down the man and kills him simply for taking up with Cole's interest. Then, when he joins Hitch in Resolution, the town of the title, Cole takes up with a married woman. Does he deserve to die for it? Apparently not, for some reason that might include he's a gunman or the woman's husband has beaten her (but she still loves him and returns to him at the end after the empowerment-through-adultery trope that Parker repeats lately).

Forget it. I'm not even wasting money on Book Club Editions of the new Parker books. I'll pick them up at book fairs. Maybe.

Oh, for the plot of the book: Everett Hitch signs on as a lookout man at a saloon, and eventually Cole shows up and they navigate through a dispute amongst the homesteaders and their employer. The book meanders through a large number (70+) chapters-as-scenes with semi-unrelated fuguish subplots. Finally, when the word count is reached, Cole faces down the bad guys in a quick shootout. The bad man and his plot to build subdivisions (!) in the old West are thwarted.

Seriously. The man is running homesteaders off to build subdivisions.

On the plus side, unlike Ed McBain, Bush's name isn't invoked in his historical or contemporary works, not that I'll know anymore until the election is way over. I've also avoided Parker's new line of Young Adult novels, but part of me has a morbid curiosity to see how he injects adultery-as-affirmation thing into them.

And I now pose this question for debate, although none of you will debate it with me because you're all wiser than I am and have avoided the collected works of Parker, but here it is: Which was more detrimental to Parker's writing: whatever adultery occurred in the middle 1980s to make it the single biggest recurring theme in all of his subsequent work, or Parker's work for the Spenser for Hire television show that subsequently turned all of his novels into chapters scenes with simple stage management but mostly dialog along with the reliance on recurring guest stars and formulaic endings?

Books mentioned in this review:

Some Remarks on Headlines

Book Report: Chasing Darkness by Robert Crais (2008)
My beautiful wife read this book before I did, relying on a library copy to keep her up to date with the comings and goings of Cole and Pike. Me, I bought the book to complete my enrollment with the Book of the Month Club. She expressed some disappointment with it which, ultimately, I think was unwarranted.

In it, Cole and Pike go back to an earlier case of Cole's: a fellow that Cole cleared of a murder charge dies from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound with a photo album of dead people in it. The photographs are taken moments after the deaths of the individuals, and the book includes the murder victim from the previous case. Cole is sure that the dead man didn't kill the woman from his case, so he looks into the man's death and finds a special police task force that might be protecting a political figure.

The book uses a couple of things common to Robert B. Parker's writing: the tough narrator and the tougher sidekick and the return to previous stories. However, Crais's writing still includes prose between the dialog, so Crais executes better than Parker anytime after, say, 1990.

The ending features a twist and a simple resolution that one could see a mile away, post-twist that is. Crais also incorporates some foreshadowing that's obvious as foreshadowing, but the meaning of the foreshadowing only becomes clear with the twist.

A good book overall and one that keeps me interested in the series, which makes it one of two contemporary series I appreciate (Sandford's Lucas Davenport being the other).

Books mentioned in this review:

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