Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Book Report: 101 Easy Ways To Make Your Home Sell Faster by Barbara Jane Hall (1985)
This is a lightweight tip book, a self-help bit. It focuses mostly on staging your home when you're still in it and provides a lot of ideas about how to alter your furniture arrangements and little things you can do with your accessories to help sell your home. As such, it wasn't that helpful for me, since we're vacating before selling.

However, if you're selling your house with your stuff is still in it, this book is probably worth your time.
Books mentioned in this review:

Friday, September 18, 2009
Book Report: The Yuppie Handbook by Marissa Piesman and Marilee Hartley (1984)
This book, like Real Men Don't Eat Quiche, is an early 80s mocking snapshot of a demographic. In this case, it's mocking the young urban professional, the Manhattanite two-career couple with eyes on improving themselves.

The craziest thing about it is you could substitute casual attire for the pinstripe suit, a DVR or Slingbox for the VCR, an iPod for the Walkman, and add some comic book allusions and come up with the modern urban geek (MUG, I just made that up but you can use it). Some of these books really prove how little has changed since the 80s. It's just we have the Internet now.

Coupled with my reading of Real Men Don't Eat Quiche, this really seems to support my assertion that culture has flattened in the last 30 years. You can read this and recognize the stereotypes and even the more common flourishes.

As with Real Men Don't Eat Quiche, the book is amusing in spots and obviously filler in other spots. Not as good as Real Men Don't Eat Quiche, but longer.

Books mentioned in this review:

Book Report: Working Cats by Terry Deroy Gruber (1979)
It takes a strong man to buy a book of photography depicting cats and then to admit it on his blog, publically. At least that's what I tell myself before the beatings start.

This book focuses on cats in the workplace, mostly in New York City, in 1979. It's worth more for the backgrounds of the workplaces than the cats in the foreground. A liquor store that Ed McBain would have described. The window of a bodega looking out on the New York street. Broadway full of 1970s cars. That sort of thing. I think I'm turning into James Lileks. Moreso. Of course, I'm not scanning them and making a Web site dedicated to them. Yet.

Also, if you like kitties, this book has them. No chinchillas, though.

Books mentioned in this review:

Thursday, September 17, 2009
A riddle based on this news story: St. Louis residents happy with city police service, most tell pollsters.

What do you call a St. Louis City resident who's dissatisfied with city policing?
A St. Louis County resident.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Book Report: TV Superstars '82 by Ronald W. Lackmann (1982)
I couldn't help it; I read another children's book about television stars in the 1980s. See also books as historical documents week here at MfBJN. Earlier this year I read TV Close-ups, and in 2005 I read the next edition of this series, TV Superstars '83. Unlike those books, I knew pretty much all the stars in this book. Perhaps 1982 was the pinnacle of my television viewing.

The book includes the stars from the programs The Dukes of Hazzard, One Day At A Time, The Greatest American Hero, Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, Little House on the Prairie, That's Incredible!, WKRP in Cincinnati, CHiPs, Mork & Mindy, M*A*S*H, and The Incredible Hulk. I won't enumerate them individually; either you know who they are, or you're a damn kid.

I can summarize the bios for you: The superstar was shy/outgoing, decided to try acting, went to LA, became a superstar. A couple other things I noted: The attractive women were all attractive in an approachable, datable fashion, not in the trampy fashion of so many modern television superstars. And all the manly men were six foot tall and 160 pounds. You mean I have finally fought my way up to a manly weight--that is, to say, I'm as big as my father was, and all I had to do to match my boyhood heroes was hit 160? I feel gypped.

Books mentioned in this review:

James Lileks: Heretic
Lileks breaks with the church:
    Given the immense stuff-reduction program I’m on, it seems counterproductive. I set aside a great many books for the thrift store today, to give you an idea of the magnitude of this effort. (The piano required moving a table, which required moving a bookcase, which required distributing the bookcase’s contents.) Five grocery bags full of books – sorry, boys, but that’s the way it has to be. There’s a certain sort of despair you feel when you look at a 500-page book about a particular subject, and you know that you read it, and you’ll be damned if you remember anything about it. There’s an enormous bio of Mao – a Maobio – and aside from the general hideous cruelty of the bastard and his miserable regime, the main thing I remember is the ruinous impact of the drive to increase steel production, how everyone had to give up their woks and build poisonous smelters in the backyard. It’s 900 pages thick.

    Out go the tiny-type art history books from college, because while I know the difference between Mannerism and Rococo I am reasonably sure I will never have to concern myself between the interstitial period between the two styles. Out go the phone books with Stephen King’s name on the spine; out go tidy little non-fiction accounts of narrow moments in history that narrowly affected another narrow aspect of Western Civ. Sometimes it seems as if these books aren’t trees you plant so you can enjoy the shade decades on – they’re bouquets you wear on your mental lapel for a week or two, enjoying the fragrant aroma until the book is filed and the perfume fades.
Suck it up and get a bigger house every couple of years like we do. You do not have to get rid of books, ever.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Book Report: Heathcliff Strikes Again by Geo Gately (1984)
It must be books as historical documents week here at MfBJN. This particular entry is a Heathcliff collection of cartoons from the newspaper (in those days, I would have been reading him in the Milwaukee Journal Green Sheet.

This book, unlike Sweet Savage Heathcliff, does not focus on his love for Sonja, so I got my wish. Unfortunately, the book hits the same tropes of what Heathcliff does. It's mostly a one-panel cartoon, so hoping for the sophistication of Calvin and Hobbes is probably foolish. But some bits are amusing enough to spend an hour or so flipping through this book.

Plus, it counts as one entry on the annual books read list just as much as War and Peace would.

Books mentioned in this review:

Monday, September 14, 2009
A Fundamental Fallacy
The piece is entitled "The Case for Killing Granny", so you know you're in for it. The very lede identifies the core issue of a government health plan:
    My mother wanted to die, but the doctors wouldn't let her. At least that's the way it seemed to me as I stood by her bed in an intensive-care unit at a hospital in Hilton Head, S.C., five years ago. My mother was 79, a longtime smoker who was dying of emphysema. She knew that her quality of life was increasingly tethered to an oxygen tank, that she was losing her ability to get about, and that she was slowly drowning. The doctors at her bedside were recommending various tests and procedures to keep her alive, but my mother, with a certain firmness I recognized, said no. She seemed puzzled and a bit frustrated that she had to be so insistent on her own demise.
This anecdote in defense of a government system wherein appointed or hired officials rethink the health care decisions for you removes all choice from the patient.

It gives the author's mommy the outcome she wanted. But someone who wants to fight on and hope for a miracle? No, sorry, you get to choose death anyway.

Book Report: Real Men Don't Eat Quiche by Bruce Feirstein (1982)
It's been over a decade since I listened to the sequel to this book, Real Men Don't Bond, as an audiobook during my hour-plus commuting days. I thought highly enough of the audiobook sequel that I went ahead and bought the original when I found it at a book fair.

As a document from 1982, it's quite the historical document. Portions of it are amusing, and parts of it are not. Its uneven nature stems from the very, dare I say it, bloggishness? A couple longer pieces obviously appeared in magazines, but some of the shorter riffs are just lists to put something on the pages in between the covers of the book.

Masculine readers can take some chuckles from the work if they can tell themselves he means it. Sometimes, the humor does seem defensive of masculinity, but other parts of it build ridiculous straw real men for the cosmopolitan (ca. 1982) set to mock.

Fortunately, the book is short. As I said, some funny bits, but some not so funny at all. But it's a historical document, too, a peek not only at the image but also the lens that produced it.

Books mentioned in this review:

Sunday, September 13, 2009
Book Report: Shane by Jack Schaefer (1949, 1983)
Of course, I've seen the film with Alan Ladd as the titular Shane, and I own the The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking album which samples from the same, so when I saw the book, I bought it. It is the short novel (120 pages) upon which the film was based. Like True Grit, the book is told in the first person narrator through the eyes of a child. In this case, it's the son of the farmers with whom Shane comes to becomes friends.

The book differs from the film in that Shane's relationship with the husband is more brotherly, and the husband knows that his wife is attracted to Shane. At one point, he gives her a very Hank Reardon sort of "I understand because he's so much better than I am" speech. I guess they couldn't develop that sort of relationship in a short movie. Also, I don't remember the film taking place over the course of a year, but I might be mistaken. Also, the boy does not chase after Shane when he rides off.

Still, an enjoyable read. A lot of people must agree, since the 1983 printing I have is the 65th.

Books mentioned in this review:

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