Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, April 10, 2004
Book Review: Full Court Press by Mike Lupica (2001)

I picked this book up in a Barnes and Noble in Springfield last year. Off the remainder rack, for $6.95, so don't think I am out there buying all sorts of expensive books. However, based on this book, I'd be happy to buy another of Lupica's novels.

The story revolves around the recruiting of an American ex-pat living in Europe to a struggling NBA team. After seeing D. Gerard play in a charity game, scout Eddie Holtz is determined to bring him back to play for the New York Knights. When D. Gerard removes a cap, Eddie's shocked to see it's a woman. He think she's got enough game to run with the males in the NBA, and he convinces Dee that she ought to take her shot at the big time. He convinces his boss to take a shot on integrating the NBA, and the boss is happy to, if only for the novelty. But when Dee starts to play, she's got to prove she deserves to be in the NBA.

Seemed to me that the first Lupica book I read was a mystery, so I almost expected a corpse to turn up in this book. Well, one does, sort of; but it's not a mystery. It's a mainstream novel, one I could enjoy. I don't watch basketball as a matter of course, but the book conveyed enough authenticity in digestible form that my rudimentary knowledge of the game didn't hinder my comprehension.

Most of all, I liked Lupica's writing style. Easy to read, smooth and comprehensible, kinda like Guinness for the eyes. Of course, I remarked to Heather that Lupica's style is rather like my own. So perhaps I am prejudiced.

For those of us keeping score at home, this is the 19 book I have read this year, and the 18th review you've suffered through. Thanks. And sorry for the review for the missing book, which you'll suffer through when I get around to it.

Friday, April 09, 2004
How Very Postmodern

Okay, all you cinema aficianados who proclaimed that Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill Vol. 1 was some sort of masterpiece of poetic violence or whatever rationalizations you offer for chic senseless gore and slashery. He's making screeches about a Vol. 3:
    "The star will be Vernita Green's (Vivica A. Fox's) daughter, Nikki (Ambrosia Kelley). I've already got the whole mythology: Sofie Fatale (Julie Dreyfus) will get all of Bill's money. She'll raise Nikki, who'll take on The Bride," he says. "Nikki deserves her revenge every bit as much as The Bride deserved hers. I might even shoot a couple of scenes for it now so I can get the actresses while they're this age."
For those of you who might be less in the know than me, The Bride is the "heroine" character of volumes 1 and 2. She's left for dead and spends almost four hours chasing down the assassin leader who wanted to kill her on her wedding day. That's Bill.

As part of The Bride's vengeance, she kills Vernita Green, a sub-assassin. While the daughter's home or something. Ultimately, I think the story goes, The Bride will kill Bill.

But in Vol 3., The Bride would be the legitimate target for vengeance, and the audience's sympathy should shift to another innocent bystander whose life was hurt, and the senseless violence would go on and on like the mad god Azathoth, dancing to the music of the universe. I see the cheap political metaphors, brother.

There's your damn mythos, Tarantino. You're a postmodern punk without a sense of morals outside the beauty of violence, or perhaps just your own "genius" in a world of sickophantic cynical "intellectuals" and "academics."

(Thanks, Drudge, for the link.)

Health Update

Via Fark (of course), we have this important health update: Guinness is good for you.

Yes, Guinness apparently, according to certain resarch:
  • Helps prevent heart disease; since my family has a history of heart disease, I better up my dosage just to be safe.

  • Is an important source of vitamin B, which has suddenly gained importance for its rationalization benefits.

  • Has less carbs than other beers. It also has less carbs than eating a whole confetti cake each night, and since I have to do one or the other....

  • Contains less alcohol by volume than other beers, which means I can drink more without forgetting where the bottle opener is.
Unfortunately, the article also contains disturbing news:
    It's a favorite of Bono (obviously), Madonna (with a good cigar) and Matt Damon (no, Guinness does not make teeth unnaturally white).
Even given these side effects, we at MfBJN recommend a healthy daily supplement.

Pejman Will Be First

Pejman wasted part of my Friday evening with trivialities:
His impertinence has been noted.

A Little Perspective From....Tie Domi?

The hockey playoffs have started, and the highly-paid athletes have begun puffing themselves and their profession with hyperbolic metaphor.

Tie Domi, the Toronto Maple Leafs enforcer known as the Albanian Aggressor, interjected a little perspective:
    Domi did want to get something else off his chest, however. Peter Bondra said he thinks the series could be "a war."

    "Using the word war is getting a little stupid in our game, especially in our rivalry," Domi said. "Out of respect to the war that is going on, I don't think it should be used. Those guys are fighting a real war and it is insulting to them."
I never thought I would utter or type these words, but Tie Domi is right.

(Link seen on Hockey Pundits, whose commenters all attack Domi for the comments. I assume they're Canadians and don't need perspective, since they're ultimately protected in their myopia by their benevolent neighbor.)

Baseball Stats Update

As some of you St. Louis residents know, backup catcher Cody McKay pitched two scoreless innings in a game against the Milwaukee Brewers last night.

That gives him an ERA of 0.00, which far surpasses that of Jose Oquendo, the utility infielder (and present third-base coach) whose lifetime ERA is 27.00.

Jeez, I actually remember that game from fifteen years ago. As last year's advertising slogan said, it's definitely a baseball town.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Sign on the studio door at the gym:
    GX classes will be cancelled on Easter Sunday.
Why not go ahead and cancel them now? Why wait until Easter Sunday?

Sorry, that's humor only a Grammar God would appreciate. If you're a Grammar Master or lesser, e-mail me and I will explain it to you.


Pardon me while I cash in on the outrage, but:

They can have my porn when they pry it from my warm, sticky hands (image)

Available in t-shirts or bumper stickers at Cafe Press.

The Right Man for the Job

Stephen Mitchell Sack, author of Getting Fired: What to Do If You're Fired, Downsized, Laid Off, Restructured, Discharged, Terminated, or Forced to Resign.

(Seen on

Indian Tech Companies Outsource, Too

Remember those tech jobs leaving for foreign shores? Cue the Neil Diamond, because they're coming to America. The Washington Post reports:
    Infosys Technologies Ltd., which has become India's second-largest software maker thanks largely to outsourced work from the West, is investing $20 million to create nearly 500 consulting jobs in the United States.
Just stay competitive, fellows, and commerce will flow to you.

Anti-Cat Blogging

A special thanks to Cagey for sharing the Ford SportKa commercial wherein the cat meets the evil twin of the Ka.

I foolishly mentioned it to my beautiful wife. Can I sleep on your couch tonight?

Wednesday, April 07, 2004
Samus Aran Naked?

Coming soon to a theater near you: John Woo's Metroid.

Man, I hope it's as good as Wing Commander.

(Link seen on Fark.)

Honey, About That Scrip

My most beautiful wife and the light of my eyes and el fuego de mi corazón, I want to take a moment to explain this little scrip of paper before you find it on a dresser somewhere. It says, in my handwriting:
    Melanie Thomas
    (314) xxx-xxxx
    meet Thurs. night
That's Melanie at Thomas Construction regarding the work we're about to have done. We should call her back to give her some additional information or to schedule an evening meeting.

(Am I the only spouse out there who preemptively explains his phone message shorthand when it involves a woman?)

Steinberg on the Bandwagon

Neil Steinberg, of the Chicago Sun-Times, jumps on the anti-Wal-Mart bandwagon today:
    Wal-Mart is a thing of evil

    There is great irony that the Wal-Mart proposed for the South Side would be located on the site of the shuttered Ryerson steel mill, a bit of symbolism that would be too obvious in fiction, but in real life just sits there and smirks at us: the good-job, good-salary past of America bulldozed to make room for the penny-shaving gulag of Wal-Mart. Of course it's our own fault. We rhapsodize the small town past of America, with good old Mr. Henderson standing behind the oak counter at Henderson's Drugs, wrapping our box of cotton balls in brown paper and twine. But when forced to act on our convictions, it turned out we'd rather save a few pennies on our cotton balls by buying them in a 55-gallon drum from an indentured servant at Wal-Mart with Mr. Henderson greeting us at the door for minimum wage.

    Tales of Wal-Mart excess -- from forcing illegal immigrants to work unpaid overtime to triple-charging customers through a credit card snafu -- were already piling up when a truly frightening story arrived from Inglewood, Calif.

    The Inglewood city fathers, sensibly enough, blocked Wal-Mart from importing its Third World employment practices to their community. The Bargain Behemoth responded by getting a referendum on Tuesday's ballot with a proposal that would basically create a sovereign Republic of Wal-Mart in the heart of Inglewood; if you think I'm exaggerating, the New York Times said the measure would ''essentially exempt Wal-Mart from all of Inglewood's planning, zoning and environmental regulations, creating a city-within-a-city subject only to its own rules.''

    My bet is that voters pass the measure -- what is the integrity of your government compared to the lure of buying stuff really cheap? -- and no doubt Wal-Mart will find a way to jam itself into Chicago next.

    The most telling detail of the California nightmare is this: The goons Wal-Mart hired to gather signatures to get their measure on the ballot were paid a far better wage than the clerks in its stores.
How disappointing. Steinberg takes a couple of isolated incidents, mixes them together, and decides that the free markets aren't good. Or at least great success in the free markets aren't; maybe Steinberg prefers only moderate success mixed in with enobling failure. Granted, I'm putting words into his keyboard here, but people who hold up Wal-Mart as an example of what's wrong with capitalism are poor thinkers. I don't know what those people want, probably just something else, and heaven forbid if we ever get it.

Wal-Mart got to where it is by building stores where others wouldn't, by selling acceptable quality products at low prices to people who weren't being served by other department stores or boutiques. Although some portions of the corporation have done wrong (skimping overtime pay, hiring un-driver's-licensed illegal aliens) and some unfortunate incidents occur (accidental overbilling), it's not a force for evil. Its customers can shop at higher-priced stores if they get better service there or if that's important to them; its employees can get other jobs if it's important to them. Wal-Mart's the intersection of free wills in this little thing we call commerce. If it bothers you so damn much, bobos, take up substinence farming and start whining about your aching backs instead.

Wal-Mart is just the Microsoft for those who don't pretend to be technical.

Others weigh in:

Tuesday, April 06, 2004
Us and Them

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel catches John Kerry in an unfortunate pronoun:
    Democrat John Kerry said Monday that the violent Shiite uprising in Iraq underscores the Bush administration's failure to build a "genuine" international coalition there and create the conditions for lasting stability.

    "I think they're on a terrible course," Kerry said of the administration's performance, while speaking in Washington, D.C., to a group of reporters, most from Midwestern newspapers.

    Asked if the United States should arrest Muqtada al-Sadr, the radical cleric who inspired the uprising, Kerry said, "I think they've got to do what they've got to do."
I don't agree with all of Bush's policies, Senator, but I do agree that we are one country, and it's our countrymen who are in Iraq right now, carrying out the orders of our elected leader.

So, Senator, how else can you divide this country into us and them?

Pretend like I haven't paid attention to your campaign so far and summarize.

Who Questioned Emil Guillermo's Virility?

In today's, Emil Guillermo looks at the microphenomenon that is William Hung and finds what he expected: anti-Asian American racism. (Hurry, that's a perishable link.)

For those of you who don't know, William Hung wanted to be a contestant on the television show American Idol, but whose cover of a Ricky Martin song, "She Bangs", proved so awful that he didn't make the cut. Instead, he was thrown out at audition, but since these auditions aired, became an anti-star of sorts. He's made the rounds of the television shows and has a CD coming out. America likes an earnest, but ultimately undertalented, performer. Sure, it's funny, but it's also endearing. A lot of us can project ourselves into William Hung.

What does Guillermo project? Seemingly, a lack of virility:
    With William Hung, is there any other reason to extend the joke on America except that it plays to a racist image of the ineffectual Asian-American male?

    What is Hung but an infantilized, incompetent and impotent male image? Strong? No. Virile? No. Sexy? The guy's a virgin.
You know what, Emil? A lot of people are virgins, and some of them don't care for it. The modern message indicates you're a freak if you're not getting head in third grade. I haven't seen William Hung in action--I get my entertainment and pop culture news on the Internet-- but I wouldn't be so quick to call him infantilized, incompetent, and impotent. As a matter of fact, those words don't tend to come to mind for most people unless they're writing television ads for male supplements. Those men are incompetent.

Guillermo hits the v-word again with this bit:
    It wouldn't be so bad if we saw positive images of Asian-American males in the media. But, for the most part, we've been invisible, and the images have usually come with martial-arts enhancements.

    Bruce Lee's combative persona has been the most virile and most enduring icon for Asian-American males. But the stereotypes that predominate are the sinister and inscrutable or ineffectual and effeminate.
Jeez, buddy, give it a rest. You're so caught up in making William Hung's name ironic that you fail to see what makes him iconic: that he's an underdog member of a multicultural society that appreciates underdogs.

Guillermo might want me to prove it:
    You certainly wouldn't see them glorify a black man who couldn't sing and dance on "American Idol." Nor would they prop up a clumsy, tone-deaf white person.
He's wrong. For starters, Don "No Soul" Simmons was a joke in 1987. But that's not the point.

America braces people who sincerely try, often even if they're not the most talented. When I look to my hometown sports teams, I see that the fan favorites are often blue-collar players, not the superstars. The St. Louis Cardinals have had Joe McEwing and Bo Hart; the St. Louis Blues have had Tyson Nash, Mike Danton, and Dallas Drake. They play their hearts out, but they're not eight-figure players.

Still, we lesser mortals can see ourselves in their positions and can root for them to succeed beyond their ability.

Well, some of us do, anyway. Others, like Guillermo, have other projections to see.

Monday, April 05, 2004
Leave the Metaphors to the Professionals, Son

A special snicker-out to the weathercaster on the radio that described today as a good kick off to the baseball season.

That's what we in the professional words biz call an air ball.

We Bear All Alanis

So, according to Drudge, Alanis Morissette has been protesting United States censorship, by which she means commercial enterprises that ask her to change words in her monobrow lyrics before broadcast. Let's examine that more closely, shall we?
  • She's a Canadian

  • who protested in Canada

  • about "censorship" in the United States

  • which is not actually censorship, but a negotiation between the producer (Morissette) and a purchaser (radio stations) that didn't work out according to Alanis's "artistic" sensibilities.

  • She protested this "censorship" by wearing a body suit (not by exposing her actual, slightly dumpy body).
How seriously does she expect anyone to take this protest? Just seriously enough to buy her new album, probably. That's what the smart people who run her told her, anyway. If she understood or remembered.

For crying out loud, U.S. Censorship. I tell you what, honey, but I will take your point a little more seriously if I knew CBC was showing a little nudity between hockey games and shows about hockey. So if you want to see some bodies, agitate for liberation in your own damn country first. When CBC changes its ways, I'll personally write my cable company to get it piped down here.

Other sources for the story: Others weigh in:

I Hate It When That Happens

Fark links to a story in the Fond du Lac Reporter about a woman whose water was cut off because a faulty meter underreported water usage for her late mother. It's a pretty sad story, but what's even sadder is the way the story sort of changes themes in the middle:
    t was no April Fool?s joke when the tap went dry Thursday for a Fond du Lac woman who was left to pay a $1,200 water bill for her deceased mother.

    Sonja A. Terry, said neither she nor her late mother, Maria Wittig, had an idea the utility bills were drastically less than they should have been. The problem with an outside meter was discovered only after Terry?s mother died in June 2003 and water utility officials cross-checked what they call the ?actual? meter in the basement at 120 E. Second St.

    Wittig had requested and purchased the outdoor meter so the reading could be taken outside her home. The outdoor meter had slowed drastically and may not have been working at all.

    Terry agreed in December to pay $50 a month toward the $1,200 bill. When she failed to make the two initial payments, her water was shut off.

    ?I turned the faucet on and nothing came out,? Terry recalled.

    Early last week, she was given another shut-off notice due to two more consecutive months of non-payment. The water was shut off Thursday. She agreed to pay $100 and the water was turned on a short time later.

    ?I can?t make those (extra payments),? Terry said. ?They?re putting it on my regular (utility) bill.?

    Terry said her most recent regular utility bill was $242. Another $150 was added to the bill ($50 repayment schedule for each of three months), bringing the total to nearly $400 for the quarter.

    Before the error at the meter was discovered, Terry said her mother?s bill was $53. The amount is the monthly charge for vacant residences, according to water utility staff. The amount suggests that the outdoor meter wasn?t functioning at all.

    ?I hate doing this,? Fond du Lac Water Superintendent Dale Paczkowski said. ?I don?t like it. (And) it?s time consuming for us to be putting (shut-off) notices on the door and sending letters.?

    Paczkowski said the water was used ? it ran through the actual meter.

    ?I agreed (in December) to $50, which I cannot do,? Terry said. ?I thought I could (pay $50 per month toward the debt), and I had my back surgery, and I lieves headache and eases insomnia. It can be applied full strength to burns, rashes or psoriasis.

    Lavender is a ?must-have? in the home, Vores said.

    n Lemon increases optimism and sense of humor, helps calm fear and increase memory, according to Vores? list of essential oil uses. In very dilute solution (1 or 2 percent) it is good for acne, he said.

    n Peppermint is a mental stimulant, relieves headache and anxiety. It is good for congested sinuses and digestion as well as emotions.

    n Tea tree oil builds strength before surgery, says a list of oils Vores? has compiled. It?s a strong antiseptic that stimulates immunity.

    Vores describes essential oils as the ?lifeblood? of a plant, the part that is fragrant. ?Pure? oil comes from a single source.
It's some sort of content error, but it's always interesting to note how far you go before you realize you've missed something.

Sometimes, when I am reading a particularly hard to follow text, I have been known to skip pages when the last words of one page and the first words of the page two pages ahead mesh in a manner no more confusing than the rest of the work. When reading, I admit I don't slow down and understand each sentence or paragraph before moving on; I tend to gather the grasp of the whole, which is why I keep reading stuff I don't understand as I am reading it. I expect to pick it up from context. As I have a philosophy degree, rest assured I have run into the situation where I accidentally skip a page and don't immediately know it many times while contending with works of on the order of Heidegger, Sartre, Dostoyevsky, and others.

P.S. I didn't get to the whole next paragraph in the above piece, unlike some works.

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