Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Friday, September 25, 2009
Book Report: The Return of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1913, 1963)
This is the second book in the Tarzan series. Given its origins in pulp fiction, one must forgive some of the circumstances that come around for no other purpose than to spin a good yarn.

Tarzan leaves the United States after leaving Jane to his cousin, who has assumed Tarzan's birthright. Then, he enlists in the French secret service. Stop snickering. Then he goes to Africa on a mission, meets some of the desert nomads, is almost killed, and then catches a ship that also holds Jane's best friend. Tarzan is pitched overboard by bad guys, but he survives by swimming to Africa and then has some adventures becoming the king of a tribe and going to a lost city of gold. Meanwhile, Jane meets her friend, who tells her Tarzan has died. They start cruising up the west coast of Africa and are shipwrecked near where Tarzan's cabin from the original book lies. Then Tarzan comes back, finds his cousin has died, rescues Jane from some bad men, and they are married.

Man, if I were Jane, I would never get on a boat again. I wonder what will happen in the next book, too. These pulp adventures are a guilty pleasure.

Books mentioned in this review:

Thursday, September 24, 2009
Book Report: Celebration of Poets Showcase Edition by International Library of Poetry (1998)
This is a collection from one of those poetry contests that makes everyone a winner and then puts all the winners into a book and then sells the winners copies of the book for $50. Full disclosure: I appeared in one of these books in 1984, and my sainted mother bought a copy. I probably even still have the copy of the Henderson Highlighter that reprinted the poem. But I digress. As for book quality, this isn't the phone directory of the olden days like my poem appeared in, with 15 poems to a page of newsprint. This is actually like a real book of poems, with one or two per page.

Unfortunately, the poems aren't that much better than I could have written in the sixth grade. I'm sorry, that's not true; some of them are on more sophisticated subject matter, but that doesn't mean that many of them are any good.

On the one hand, it really is awful that I subjected my children to hearing these as I read them aloud. On the other, it's good to run through a bunch of these poems, especially after one has gotten a little bored with Ogden Nash, to recognize, again, what good poetry is.

Books mentioned in this review:

Painting with a Broad Brush
Business owners admit fraud

Crap, they're onto us. We charge more than things cost us!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Book Report: The Taking of Pelham One Two Three by John Godey (1973, 1974)
This book is the novel that launched two films. The paperback I have is not a true tie-in since it doesn't have the stars of the original on it, but it does mention that it will soon be a major motion picture.

The book hinges on four guys who take a subway train hostage. It's gritty seventies suspense, and seems somewhat dated because these days we expect more dastardly plots than the lives and deaths of sixteen hostages. The book bounces between scenes and characters and occasional flarings of violence.

Frankly, I don't see how you make it into a movie featuring Mattheau or Washington, since the dispatch cop isn't a featured player, but there you go.

Good piece of writing. I enjoyed it, but it does seem dated.

Books mentioned in this review:

Someone's Publicist Sucks
Sarah Michelle Gellar, husband welcome baby girl

That husband, of course, is former "actor" Freddie Prinze, Jr.

Or, to AP headline writers, nobody.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Book Report: Brimstone by Robert B. Parker (2009)
So far, I've kept my word. I didn't buy this book, I checked it out from the library. It's not that bad of a bit, really, compared to some of Parker's other recent entries. In it, Hitch and Cole rescue April Kyle Susan Silverman Allie from a whorehouse and they move to Brimstone, a town on the upswing. There, a revivalist preacher works to shut down the saloons. Hitch and Cole work as marshals and set up shop and home with Allie and the daughter of a farmer. The unholy alliance between the preacher and the biggest saloon owner breaks down violently, and Spenser and Hawk Everett and Virgil call winner. Then they decide to leave Brimstone and return to Appaloosa to settle down.

I think I got the major things, but I left out a sidebar about an Indian with a vendetta against the saloon owner. But Parker could have, too.

Books mentioned in this review:

County Government Has Official Lobbyist
Do you think there's a problem with this?
    St. Louis County's chief governmental lobbyist announced late Monday night that he would resign his position with County Executive Charlie A. Dooley's staff in favor of a career as an independent political consultant.

    Darin Cline, Dooley's one-time campaign director who was appointed to the county job of director of intergovernmental affairs in 2007, said the move had nothing to do with persistent rumors that he was the subject of any federal investigation into county government.
I'm not talking about his leaving nor the rumors of corruption. I marvel that the St. Louis County government has a highly paid staff position whose sole purpose (and his whole staff's sole purpose) is to lobby other governments for money.

Monday, September 21, 2009
Book Report: The Shepherd, The Angel, and Walter the Miracle Dog by Dave Barry (2006)
I think David Barry wanted to write A Christmas Story for our generation. The book is short (117 pages, which is just right for a movie script). It's a sweet little story that's not full of quite the absurdity of his normal work or his full novels, and it's cut into a short number of scenes. It tells the story of a dog's death on Christmas Eve against the backdrop--or maybe it's the foreground--of the children's participation in the Christmas pageant.

Now, the text itself is not 117 pages. As a matter of fact, almost fifty percent of the book is old pictures and illustrations designed to visually evoke the scenes, although they are not direct illustrations of the scenes. It's Lileksian.

It's a plenty short piece and an easy read, so it's worth its time.

Books mentioned in this review:

Consistency Ain't Even A River In Egypt
On the national scale, the Republican Party and rightwing commentators say that proper health care reform would include allowing insurance parties to sell across state lines and eliminating state mandates for coverage.

On the state scale, Republican state legislators push for more mandates:
    "We know if we pass legislation, we will give these children a better shot," Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, said Sunday at a rally supporting legislation requiring insurance companies to cover therapy for children with autism.
The Republican Party is a large, diverse organization. But sometimes I wonder if it has any core principles. Less government mandating does not seem to be a common bond.

Full disclosure: Senator Schmitt represents my district and is actually part of my township party club.

Sunday, September 20, 2009
A Touching Story That Could Use Improvement
Here's a touching story about how a high school football team gave up a shutout so that its opponent could have a Downs Syndrome running back get a touchdown:
    So in the final stages of Benton's third game of the season on Monday at Maryville, McCamy decided it was time for Ziesel — a 15-year-old freshman with Down syndrome — to make his season debut.

    With about 10 seconds left in the game, and Benton trailing 46-0, McCamy called his final timeout, told an assistant coach to organize the team for the "Matt play" and ran across the field to the Maryville defensive huddle — and to some puzzled looks from the opposing players.

    "I've got a special situation," McCamy remembers telling Maryville freshman defensive coach David McEnaney. "I know you guys want to get a shutout. Most teams would want a shutout, but in this situation I want to know if maybe you can let one of my guys run in for a touchdown."
Here's the video:

Those kids on both teams (and the coaches) did a nice thing.

But you know what would make it even better for some people?

A compulsory government program to redistribute touchdowns from the teams who can play football to those who just try. And take 14 points from each good team each game just to run the program.

I know, I can't leave a nice story alone. My comment doesn't diminish the real story at all.

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