Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Friday, October 24, 2008
It Has A Ring To It
Obama/Biden '08: Because Unionized Federal Doctors sounds like a good idea!

I Don't Just Want To Cancel; I Want To Besmirch, Too
So I've mentioned that I've fallen back into the BOMC, buying a handful of the books so I could get some relatively recent titles for less than full price. Well, now. It required the commitment of buying one more book over the course of a year at regular club prices, and I ordered Robert Crais's Chasing Darkness. Then I marked the next mailing "Cancel" because I'd completed my obligation, right?


The next mailing came yesterday and said I was still obliged to buy a book. So I called to see what was up, if maybe my payment for the Crais book hadn't cleared. Oh, but no. The fellow politely explained that the book I bought was on a "promotion" price, not regular club price, so it did not count. I asked if this was all noted in the mailed catalog materials, and he said it was.

So I looked.

Oh, yeah, here's where it says only books over $13.98 count:

The BOMC fine print
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It is right there. But the catalog could be a little more explicit, no? I mean, they call it "Member's Edition" price regardless of whether it's "Promotion" (doesn't count) or regular (does count).

Here, let me illustrate some of the pages to identify for you what counts and doesn't count. Since Book-of-the-Month Club does its bed to obfuscate it.

The new Spenser is out, and old ones are available, but do not count:

1 out of 3 ain't bad
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The new David Balducci is out, but again, if you want the old ones, they don't count unless you spend $14 on them:
Balducci for suckers
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Poor Anne Perry; none of her books fulfill the members' obligations:

Perry doesn't fulfill BOMC obligations
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And those books printed on the inside of the envelope? Good luck.

In case you're bored enough to actually look at what's inside the envelope
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Of course, outside the BOMC News flier, your odds are probably worse.

Meanwhile, today I got the chastising letter that I'm trying to slip out of my agreed to obligations:

You, sir, are a Welsher
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Don't worry. I will fulfill my obligation now that I understand it. Also, note that I will never, ever play this game again. Increased deception-lite, cheaper books (newsprint pages, almost), and the double-gotcha "Dual Selections"--you can just continue faltering. Your business model has always been based on taking advantage of your customers, but I hate to see how much further you'll go before collapsing under your own negative brand management.

Book Report: Invisible Prey by John Sandford (2007)
This book tops the scales at 388 pages, and, frankly, it made me miss the days of one hundred and fifty page pulp books. Because let's face it, this book has more akin to those crime thrillers than to more sweeping classical literature that covers more of the human condition and clocks in at a hundred more pages or less.

It's a disappointing entry in the Prey series. The main plot revolves around an old woman who gets killed and robbed of a few expensive antiques that won't be missed. It's a pair of antique dealers doing this, you see, carefully across different states and whatnot. But it unravels when a young black man recognizes that some pieces are missing. I didn't hesitate to tell you who did it because Sandford tips it pretty early, too, and then you see, via the narrative equivalent of split screen, what the bad guys do while the good guys try to figure it out. Sometimes it works, but given the other evidence, it cumulatively just looks sloppy.

To pad it out, Sandford spends a lot of time on a subplot, a Republican politician who is accused of sleeping with an underage girl. This subplot doesn't deal with solving the crime, but how, politically, to deal with it. The Prey books have always had an element of this, but the book really throws this in and then combines the two plots as the antiques dealers use this as a red herring to throw Davenport off. When that doesn't work, many pages later, the subplot doesn't get mentioned again.

In the review of Phantom Prey, I wondered if sometimes Sandford didn't know what he was talking about. Another couple bits within this book often sound tinny, as though Sandford didn't really get into the context of the subcultures he's writing about. For example, the young black man (I mean, high school student) goes to a hip hop club's under 18 night on the night of the murder. He's there with a couple of friends. A hip hop club, you understand. He takes mass transit down, but:
    At ten o'clock, the mother of one of the kids picked up the boys in her station wagon and hauled them all back to St. Paul.
    "What kind of car?" Lucas asked.
    "A Cadillac SUV--I don't know exactly what they're called," Lash said. "It was a couple years old."
Maybe I'm splitting hairs here, but the Cadillac SUV is the obscure Escalade which, as far as I know, a couple of people in the hip hop industry drive. Sure, Sandford intimates that it's a station wagon, which could mean the vehicle he has in mind is the Cadillac SRX, but the narrator shouldn't crop that up, and I really think the boy would relate to the Cadillac SUV as either the Escalade or not. Not "I don't know exactly what they're called."

Sadly, I think the series is drooping. Sandford might be phoning these in, and talking for hours while doing so.

Books mentioned in this review:

Thursday, October 23, 2008
Here's What They Mean
Obama Vote Often Ad

You know, maybe it's just me, but the pop art propoganda iconography of the Obama campaign isn't making me rest any easier. Couldn't they have at least masked the Soviet heroism look and feel just a little bit?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Whither the Political Blogging, Noggle?
I know, some of you readers might be disappointed that I'm not daily dishing out snark about the election or mocking the mockery of a candidate thrown up by the Democrats for the position. However, let's just say I'm feeling a little sanguine about the prospects for the future. So sanguine, I'm italicizing it even though it's not a foreign word.

How sanguine? This describes my mood:

Listen to the words, children. Do not be confused by the pretty Starman like story. Remember Robert Hays for his excellent work in Airplane!.

If you want me, I'll be in the back yard, burying copies of the Federalist Papers, Milton Friedman books, printed copies of Ace's and Porch Girl's blogs, and Sean Hannity's Deliver Us From Evil, the last unwrapped and acting as fertilizer for my upcoming Wealth Spread Garden.

50 at Normandy High face HIV risk:
    The HIV threat at Normandy High School has widened to include up to 50 students, health officials said Tuesday.

    Health officials last week said "some" students may have been exposed to the virus that causes AIDS but recently refined their estimate to 50.
The local news has been running this story pretty hard, with dramatic meetings between school administrators and whatnot. Of course, just using the words "exposed to" spices it up. One might think a cafeteria worked didn't wash her hands before returning to work or a lab experiment went awry. Um, still, no.

    The most likely scenario for HIV exposure among teenagers would be sexual relations, but health experts say sharing contaminated needles for steroids, tattoos or drugs could also be the source.
The story's only commenter gets to the meat in the sandwich:
    I would like to know how those children were exposed to the HIV virus. It would benefit all the schools, and for that matter, any gathering of people in one place, to know how this happened. Of course, if it was something like a gang bang, then I am not worried because my community does not practice those sort of behaviors.
Indeed, by not elucidating on the mechanism of exposure, the media is really trying to gin up the panic without reminding the public that these young men and women acted in a way to expose themselves.

Monday, October 20, 2008
Book Report: The Silencers by Donald Hamilton (1962)
This book is another in the Matt Helm series, the fourth (I think).

In it, Helm travels to Mexico, gets some secret information, and then walks into a trap on purpose to get to an agent known as The Cowboy who might be sabotaging a nuclear test. When he gets caught, as planned, Helm turns the tables on his captors and on the woman who has double-crossed him--as planned--even as they've fallen in love.

It's not very complicated, but it's a 60s paperback adventure. You get a handful of scenes, a female love interest of potentially duplicitious motivation, and then you get a sudden climax with a big explosion. A hundred and fifty pages, and you're done. Man, I love these paperbacks.

Books mentioned in this review:

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