Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, September 24, 2005
Public Service Announcement
Although it fulfills the requirements, namely:
  • It rhymes.

  • It refers to a cute animal.

  • It also refers to a sweet ice cream flavor.

  • It ends, twice, with the long e sound.
Chunky Monkey is a very bad choice for a pet name for your wife.

Because if I didn't warn you, gentle but unthinking sometimes male reader, you, too, might try it, to poor results.

Book Report: A Season to Be Wary by Rod Serling (1967, 1968)
I inherited this book, whuch collects three novellas from Rod Serling, whom we among the wise ancients remember as the man behind the Twilight Zone, from my aunt. I read it rapidly, as its writing is thicker than R.L. Stine; because the writing is richer, it engages the reader more and pulled me along better than a series of simple declarative sentences and frags that presented numerous opportunities for me to insert my own thoughts (mostly damn, this Stine book sux) into the narrative. But I disliked that book so badly, I'm ripping on it here and am failing to give Serling's book a fair hearing.

The book includes three novellas, as I mentioned, and all are of the Twilight Zone fantasy genre. In the first, a former Nazi officer hiding in Argentina desperately dodges Israeli agents and deals with his own aging and possible madness. In the second, a racial rabble rouser in 1960s Mississippi makes his living, livelihood, and gets his chicks by fanning the flames of racial hatred and inciting riots. In the third, a wealthy blind woman finds someone willing to sacrifice his eyes to give her 12 hours of sight.

In retrospect, none of the main characters of the stories represent true protagonists, as each is relatively subevil in their own way. However, Serling presents them in such a fashion that we can sometimes feel the emotions they do and almost sympathize with them that way, and we're certainly interested in what happens to them. The third story, "Eyes", represents the weakest of the three, though, and really doesn't make one connect to any of the characters, but one still wants to know how the events turned out.

So I enjoyed and appreciated the book. I'll go out on a limb and say it's probably the best book ever dedicated to Sammy Davis, Jr.

They Do The Jobs Americans Won't
Hiker stumbles onto pot farm in national forest:
    It began when a hiker in the Prescott National Forest stumbled across some interesting-looking plants Wednesday and notified authorities.

    It ended on Thursday, after a stakeout, with the arrest of a Mexican national from Los Angeles charged with marijuana production.
That's indeed code. For:
    Rodriguez-Martinez and the others were believed to be illegal immigrants, Jarrell said.
Look who's blurring the distinction between the Mexican nationals from Los Angeles and illegal immigrants. It's not the opponents of illegal immigration.

Joseph Kittinger, Jr., Award Winner Brad Satchell
We at MfBJN hereby confer the Joseph Kittinger, Jr., Award upon Brad Satchell:
    An Australian surfer survived a shark attack by repeatedly punching a small shark he first thought was a seal, the second incident of its kind this month, local radio reported on Saturday.

    Brad Satchell, 44, was surfing about 120 meters (390 feet) offshore at the popular Scarborough beach in Perth, capital of Western Australia state, on Friday when he was attacked.

    "I actually had a smile on my face when I first saw the thing because I thought it was a seal," Satchell told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.

    He said he turned his surfboard on its side to use as a shield when the shark, which he said may may have been a bronze whaler more than a meter in length, began to attack him. He was unhurt and paddled to safety.

    "I lifted my body out of the water and I just got my fists and I remember what I'd read in the paper. I just started punching and I connected with its head," Satchell said.
Gall as big as church bells.

Thursday, September 22, 2005
Book Report: Killing Raven by Margaret Coel (2003)
I inherited this book from my aunt; I don't know if she read it, but I do know she bought it from a yard sale for fifty cents. Perhaps she enjoyed it, or perhaps she merely was hoping to sell it for more on eBay after I suckered her into the used book racket. The book's worth what she paid for it, but not what I gave up to get this book, but that goes without saying.

It's the second book I've read in the last two months dealing with Indian reservations in the southwest (Cyber Way was the first), and it's the best. It's a murder mystery set on an Arapaho reservation. A man's body is found near the local necking spot, and the investigators have to determine whether its related to the new reservation casino. Did one of the aggressive protestors pull the trigger? Or an organized crime figure?

An important aspect to the book is the dynamic between the main characters: a mission priest and the independent Arapaho lawyer with whom he shares a strong attraction upon which neither of them can act. As they go about their investigation through separate paths, the book handles their multiple points of view and their unrequited love very well.

Unlike some of the other series books I've read of late, I think I'd like to read more of this author and her series. The locale is exotic enough and the characters are real enough to merit further attention. Even a couple of bucks.

Ladies and gentlemen, I realized today with some sadness that I don't have any right to publish posts like this one, nor to dub upstanding pillars (and soon to be a flying buttress) of the community "Keith Tkachubbs" because I have never laced up the skates, put on the pads and helmet, and taken a stick out to "do battle" on a sheet of ice.

As such, I have no authority to proffer my opinions nor to suggest nor speculate on how a team should perform.

I am a chickenhock, and I apologize.

The Autumn Collection
Models show 'massive devastation' in Houston.

Thanks, but I don't care what Texan designers have cooked up to sell clothes this year.

Police Seek To Compound Tragedy with Arrests
Boy, 4, lived in filth — and died:
    When Ethan Patrick Williams fell off his bicycle in July, no one would have called the cuts and scrapes on his legs serious injuries. Four weeks later the boy, 4, died from an infection. Police say the boy had been living in filthy conditions, and they believe that squalor might have played a role in his death.
Because the police think that the squalor might have played a role, they did the only sensible thing: broke up a grieving family:
    Ethan's mother, Emily A. Altom, 25, and his stepfather, Michael D. Altom, 25, were charged Tuesday with voluntary manslaughter and three counts of endangering the welfare of a child. They were released Wednesday from the Perry County Jail on $15,000 bonds.
But let's get to the squalor:
    In a sworn affidavit, Cpl. Jason D. Kelley of the Perry County Sheriff's Department described the Altoms' trailer as unfit for any human dwelling. He described walls and carpeting as soiled and stained and said the floor and kitchen counters were piled high with clothes, broken toys, empty beer cans and rotting food.

    He said there "was not enough sleeping space for three children, and no crib for the youngest child." Kelley said the entire trailer reeked of "a foul offensive odor."
Friends, that sounds like the Noggle household to a critical eye. As for no sleeping space for the children, am I to assume they never slept then?

I always get a little queasy with stories about child abuse and neglect, particularly as they play out in the papers and in the affadavits. I realize that I Don't Have Children and Therefore I Cannot Understand (the Sheehanist religion), but building laws to defend the Children which depend upon arbitrary interpretations and impressions of public officials whose livelihoods depend upon prosecution seems like a couple of skips into tyranny. But of course, I don't have children, so I look at this like a rational man and not a parent.

Great Moments in Keynesian Economic Theory
Five accused of stealing Missouri tax credits:
    Five people were indicted this morning on federal fraud and money-laundering charges for what prosecutors called a $10 million scheme to steal state tax credits.
This could have been avoided if the state only adhered to a policy of taxing businesses equitably, regardless of how the state thinks the businesses benefit either the state or the state's whims.

But that would deprive the state of its twofer: giveaways to its favorites and the ability to get tough on the crime its giveaways encourage.

We Got Plans
N. Korea Accuses U.S. of Plotting Attack:
    In a second day of bluster after its disarmament accord, North Korea accused the United States on Wednesday of planning a nuclear attack and warned it could retaliate.
Let's make it clear, rest of the world: We have plans to nuke everyone, from North Korea to China to France to Great Britain to St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. Are we clear on that? Because we understand the nature of man and their collective nature, we are ready to destroy anyone who could attack us, no matter how probable our nuclear plans are to be used.

Because planning is easy, and being unprepared is bad.

So don't think you're special, North Korea, even though you're highest on our list of probable recipients of an unwelcome transfer of nuclear technology. We have plans for every contingency, I hope.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Hard Not To Be Excited About This Team
Man, the St. Louis Blues are going all out to win back fans after the lockout:
  • The owners ensure fan loyalty and media coverage by announcing they want to dump the team.

  • The management ensures fan return after the lockout season by letting popular, productive, but expensive players leave through free agency or through trade. The team suffers, the fans suffer, but the books look slightly better for anyone interested in the team, which will look much worse on the ice and in the standings as a result.

  • One of the highly-paid star players doesn't care enough to get into playing shape before reporting to training camp, showing the fans how much he cares about playing his best hockey.

  • The team suspends the player, which means....nothing, really, except he won't participate in training camp.

  • The player files a union grievance for his suspension which, as I understand it, resulted not in a loss of money but merely in a loss of face.

  • The captain and and assistant captain of the team openly, publicly, and insubordinately question team coaches and management in their decision to suspend the star player.
Someone said hockey was back this year. This ain't hockey; this is cheap melodrama, some sort of working man against The Man mythbuilding where the oppressed working man and his allies are all millionaires, and The Man is putting one of their own down for not keeping in shape to do his freaking job. The passions are all misplaced, and we the fans know it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Thankfully, I Can Sleep Tonight
without worry:

Chesney Says 'I'll Be OK' After Split

Headline I'd Like To See
Lynndie England plans to strip charges, put dog collars on them, and photograph them for your scrapbook

Monday, September 19, 2005
Book Report: Superstitious by R.L. Stine (1995)
Trust me, I am doing you a favor:


If you had any inclination to read the book, I hope I've spoiled it for you.

I bought this book for $2.50 at the Y book fair a month or so back because I've read more horror in the last few years (see also my reviews of King and Koontz). I knew R.L. Stine's name as a young adult horror writer and thought he'd be worth a try in adult fiction. Blech, was I wrong.

What's wrong with the book?

  • Stupid, ill-drawn, underused characters, many of whom are included for no reason. Why does the book spend so much time on the small town cop in over his head? No freaking reason.

  • Sex scenes that are graphic, but pointless, and are also ill-drawn. Matter of fact, Sara eats an orange, Sara has the best sex in the world with Liam. How do you know? The third person, limited omniscient narrator tells you so!

  • Sing-song narrative voice.

  • Pointless details. Whole chapters that could have been and should have been cut because

  • Repetition. It's

      Chip's hand.
      Chip's hand.
      Chip's hand.
    If you don't get the point from this startling stylistic device at the end of the chapter in which the hand being Chip's hand is revealed, on the first page of the next chapter, we get those same three sentences:

      Chip's hand.
      Chip's hand.
      Chip's hand.

    To spice it up, a couple paragraphs later, it's

      Chip's hand, Chip's hand, Chip's hand.

    We get the freaking point.

  • Meaningless cliffhangers that--surprise!--turn out not to be what accompanies the crashing mental chord imagined by Stine as he ended each chapter. The man, falling from gunshot wounds? Playing a joke. The hot-breathed beast with red eyes that leaps out of the darkness? A golden retriever whose owner insists he's never done that before, nor will it again, because it only exists as the segue between one overblown, mostly meaningless chapter and the next.
Don't get me wrong, I didn't hate this book. I merely feel contempt for it. I read several passages to my beautiful wife as I was reading it, and the threats she made frightened me much more than anything within this book. As a matter of fact, the book is only tolerable because it's so bad and because it didn't take that long to read once I actually forced myself to sit down and read more of it.

Who's Afraid of Kelo Backlash?
In an era where citizen everywhere are complaining, post-Kelo, about eminent domain, it's heartening to see a few noble governments remain unafraid to seize private land to redistribute it as they see fit. Kudos, Manchester, Missouri, Mayor Larry Miles:
    However, Manchester Mayor Larry Miles said, "We're not going to have anyone holding up the project because he doesn't want to sell." He noted, "We have 35 residents who have agreed to sell and we would like to move forward."Butler, he said, is standing in the way of progress and change.

    The mayor said Pace Properties might have to use eminent domain to obtain all properties it needs that front on Manchester Road, except for the Eagle Bank site.

    Pace Properties seeks to build a $131.5 million shopping center on the northeast corner of Manchester and Highway 141. It is asking for $29.5 million in tax-increment financing from Manchester and about $17 million from a transportation development district. The center would have 476,719 square feet of commercial space.
It takes a really strong leader to cede the powers of government, and lots of tax money, to private land developers when citizens are standing up for their private property rights.

Sunday, September 18, 2005
It Had To Happen Sometime, Gen X
You got old:

Motley Crue's Neil Breaks Hip at Concert

Sure, they're calling it his "leg," much like they call getting shot in the arse as getting shot in the leg or, more accurately but still as spinny, an upper thigh wound.

Return to Dalton Heights
James Bond writer 'reinvents' spy:
    James Bond is to be given a new image as a younger character with no gadgets, a writer on the next film has told trade paper the Hollywood Reporter.

    Paul Haggis, who is working on the script for Casino Royale, said: "It's going to be good.

    "We're trying to reinvent Bond. He's 28 - no Q, no gadgets."
Just like the time they made the movie James Bond into a modern 80s man. Or so I've heard; I've never actually seen a Dalton James Bond movie, but it took a return to the old form and to Pierce Brosnan to keep the franchise going for another decade or so.

This writer and the studios are willing to sacrifice the traditional Bond fan for a young, edgy audience that might not be there anyway. Like other entertainment businesses, such as sports teams, who might underestimate the traditional appeal of a franchise and the effects of altering/moving it.

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