Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Being an Imperial Pilot Has Its Privileges
TIE Fighter lane Such as your own lane on suburban streets.

Woe to that minivan; a couple of proton torpedoes from a couple upgraded fighters, and soccer mom is walking her kids to practice as punishment for parking in the TIE Fighter lane.

Sick Joke
What is the difference between Michael Vick (Falcons' Vick Accused of Executing Dogs) and the city of Denver (Denver pit bull ban draws dog lovers' ire)?

Michael Vick bought his own pit bulls and "executed" them, whereas the city of Denver seized other people's pit bulls and "put them down" for the good of society.

Haha! No, I guess it's not funny. It's even less funny when you think of the lack of principles involved.

And you know what's really cheesing me off about the dogfighting thing? It's the perversion of the language. I mean, come on, a rape stand? That's not the term by which you buy them in the catalog; it's called a breeding stand, and it's designed so that mating dogs don't hurt each other during mating (or to hold the dog for grooming or whatnot). But the papers and the indignirati all use rape stand because rape is an automatic bad word above reproach. Like here's Brian J. Noggle saying that rape isn't rape when a breeding animal hasn't given its consent to be bred.

Or Michael Vick "executing" dogs. I mean, seriously, executing them? We've used that term to refer to a procedural sort of killing by some sort of authority, not tossing kittens in the river. But, again, it's an automatic bad word, worse than killing a dog, Michael Vick was executing them.

George Orwell would nod sadly but knowingly.

Friday, August 17, 2007
Good Book Hunting: August 16, 2007
The Jewish Community Center in Creve Couer has been holding its annual book sale all week, and we picked the absolute worst night to go to it. The first night is preview night with a cover charge; Friday, today, is half-price day; Saturday, tomorrow, is bag day, where one can buy a bag and have everything that fits into it for five dollars. Last night, then, was the last day at full price, and hence the most picked over selection possible for the full price. Not that it stopped me from finding far too much:
August 16 Book Fair Results
Click for full size
We have:
  • A number of Perry Mason mysteries, including The Case of the Mischievous Doll, The Case of the Fiery Fingers, and The Case of the Horrified Heirs.

  • Several of the Classics Club books I've taken to collecting. New books include History of Plymouth by William Bradford; Selected Stories by Anton Checkov; The Way of All Flesh by Samuel Butler; and Seven Plays by Henrik Ibsen. I already had Selected Works by Cicero, but it was a different printing. This brings my collection to, what, 29 volumes in this set?

  • The Pathfinder by James Fennimore Cooper; I have most of the Leatherstocking books now. Perhaps I should read them.

  • Hallowe'en Party and The Mousetrap (a play) by Agatha Christie.

  • A collection of poetry by someone I'd never heard of, James Kavanaugh.

  • A "chapbook" by local poet Pam Puleo. I knew Pam when I was doing the open mike circuit about 10 years ago. This "chapbook," which looks more like a school project and includes some loose poems tucked into it, looks like a school project. When I read these to the boy, I might try to imitate Ms. Puleo's voice and delivery.

  • A bunch of Camus, including The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays and Caligula and Other Plays.

  • The Realm of Numbers by Isaac Asimov.

  • Star Trek: The Return because I'm interested to see how Shatner got them to resurrect Kirk.

  • The Lost City of Zork because I'm an old school geek.

  • Some philosophy books, including Basic Ethics, Dilemmas, Bertrand Russell's The Problems of Philosophy, and A Casebook on Existentialism.

  • Open Net, George Plimpton's hockey book.

  • Friday by Robert A. Heinlein.

  • A hardback copy of The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton.

  • The Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom. I am getting quite a collection from Bloom. Probably because I keep thinking he's the guy who got a hand on Naomi Wolf's thigh.

  • The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran.

  • A Death In China by Carl Hiaassen and some other guy. The Carl Hiaassen is what's important.

  • Night Thoughts of a Classical Physicist, some musings of some science guy.
Brian, you say, that's 30 books, meaning that you've picked up 62 this week. Isn't that more than you read in a year?

Not this year, friends; I am at 72 total books and I'm going all the way! Although I'm not sure where that is, but if I can get there in my comfortable recliner, I am there.

Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit, Endorses Giuliani
First, he flirted with the Giuliani campaign, saying it was "highly recommended" and "it's quite good". Later, Reynolds described his experience with Giuliani by saying, "I liked it very much" and said of Guiliani's speechwriter "He's like Neal Stephenson's more poetical cousin."

Book Report: The Parisian Affair by Nick Carter (1981)
This completes my recent reading of three great novels set in Paris (the others: The Three Musketeers and Hunchback of Notre Dame). This book, number 148 of about 260 featuring Killmaster Nick Carter, offers everything a growing boy needs. The action and the story are tied together. The story moves. The cover's not as lurid as one would hope from a paperback original, but one can learn to accept.

Plot Summary / Spoiler Alert!

Nick Carter is ambushed, saves damsel, sleeps with damsel; Nick Carter is ambushed, kills a couple ambushers, one escapes; Nick interviews model who might be an expert assassin, sleeps with her; Nick is in building that explodes; Nick sleeps with woman he saved; Nick ambushes model, kills level bosses, discovers model is only a junkie; Nick finds another model, dead, declines to sleep with her; Nick drives Ferrari fast; Deus ex maquina encounter as Nick discovers big boss and kills him; Nick drives Ferrari fast, rescues his boss; book ends with more implied sleeping with damsel formerly in distress.

Fortunately, no trained goats tempted Nick, or it would have been a much different story.

Now, I can read some quality junk fiction to clean some from my shelves.

Books mentioned in this review:

Thursday, August 16, 2007
Every Google Search Tells a Story
Apparently, I am the number 3 Google hit for winning the lottery and awol.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Book Report: The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo (1831, 193x?)
As you might have guessed, gentle reader, I've been on a French Lit kick for some reason lately; I guess it was because The Three Musketeers was good enough to warrant another look at a potboiler from France in the nineteenth century. Well, this book is not quite that fast of a read.

For starters, the first third to four ninths is mostly exposition. We're introduced to some of the characters through a long and mostly meaningless scene depicting the titular cathedral during a festival of fools. Some extraneous ambassadors are in town, and Quasimodo, the bell ringer, is elected the king of fools. The poet/philosopher who wrote the main drama finds the audience's attention continues to be diverted by all sorts of interruptions, comings, and goings, and ultimately he's disappointed. Dejected, he wanders about Paris and ends up in the neighborhood frequented by the vagabonds, who'll hang the intruder unless someone saves him by marrying him. Against all odds, the beautiful Esmeralda does.

Then, we get not one but two long essays on architecture and the way Paris looked in the time period in which the book was set. Remember, like The Three Musketeers, this novel was a historical novel when it was written, so the author must have felt the need to pad up 40 pages of exposition to educate his readers. But it really kills the pacing of the story.

To make a short story long, this book really collects a very brief number of scenes with a lot of words dedicated to them (much like other older books, I've noted). Ultimately, the author lavishes detail on characters that play minor roles in the action (although major roles in the story, I suppose; the action and the story being two different things here).

Spoiler alert!

So Esmeralda falls for a philandering captain of the guard; a repressed bishop fixates on Esmeralda; the poet/philosopher drops out of the book for a while as the bishop stabs the captain while he's entertaining Esmeralda, framing the young pseudo-gypsy for the crime; as she's sentenced to hang, the bishop offers to save her, which she rebuffs; the hunchback steals Esmeralda from the hangmen and takes her to Notre Dame, a sanctuary for criminals; the bishop meets the poet and gets him to foment a rebellion of the vagabonds so they--bishop and poet--can secret Esmeralda from Notre Dame; the bloody uprising occurs; the bishop and the poet steal Esmeralda and her trained goat from the church; when they reach the opposite shore of the Seine, the poet takes the goat instead of the alluring Esmeralda to whom he's already wed by the laws of the vagabonds; the bishop again pleads for Esmeralda's love, and she rebuffs him; and they all die, including the subplots, except for the captain of the guard, the poet, and presumably the goat.

I don't know how you can turn that into a Disney film; I suppose it's only American audiences' lack of knowledge of the basics of the plot that allowed it to happen. I mean, Disney wouldn't dare to try Hamlet. And the hunchback: not a nice guy.

So I've got one more French book to go and then I am thinking about knocking off some junk from my to-read shelves before the next book fair later this week.

Wish me luck.

Books mentioned in this review:

If the Police Get Initiative and Hit Rolls Are Favorable
Melee might lead to arrests

Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Book Report: Poems of Flowers edited by Gail Harvey (1991)
As I mentioned, I bought this book at an estate sale this weekend. Since it's one of those lite collections of poetry that came out in the early 1990s, printed by companies happy to have content from the public domain, I assume that Mr. Paul got it as a gift.

It contains 43 poems dealing with flowers. Irises, hawthorn, roses, and fields of flowers. Poets including Dickinson, Wordsworth, Longfellow, Herrick, and so on extol the virtues of blooming plants. Most of them are accessible even though many are hundreds of years ago. These are definitely middlebrow poems, written with cadence and rhyme for the enjoyment of all readers before the academy determined that poems should be inscrutible to the bourgeoisie.

So it's a nice collection of fun little poems to read. A couple of insights into the human condition, but mostly various poets playing with words pleasingly.

Apparently, it's not available currently on Amazon; I had not realized how much of a collectors' item (hem) this was. I have provided a book search link below for your convenience, if you're interested. You see, here at MfBJN, it's all about your convenience, gentle reader, not my ability to make a couple quarters every couple of years from Amazon referrals. You illiterate sops.

Books mentioned in this review:

Poems of Flowers

Monday, August 13, 2007
Post-Dispatch Misses Soccer Coverage
I don't know how else to explain that they're running another story on the guy who wants to trick Collinsville into wasting its tax revenue on a sports venue.

Has the Post-Dispatch ever found a cockamamie tax-spending scheme that didn't make it want to hump a land developer's or highly paid consultant's leg?

Sunday, August 12, 2007
Good Book Hunting: August 11, 2007
We bought so many books yesterday, I should have a hangover. I almost do, but we'll come to that bye and bye.

We decided, as it was a cool (only 90 degrees at 8:00am) morning, to walk to a couple nearby yard sales with the boy in the stoller. So we loaded up on all our spare cash and a couple vessels of water, and we headed southwest to the outlying small home subdivisions of Old Trees, Missouri.

We found a yard sale selling cassettes for a quarter, specializing in 80s music, so we loaded up on Barry Manilow and some country and western (Heather being the operative part of we here) and a couple of CDs (Billy Ocean's Love Zone and Roxette's Joyride) for fifty cents each. Then we passed through a couple small but well organized (Heather said) sales featuring kids stuff (how disorganized can you be with very little, I asked). Then we hit a nearby estate sale, and the gluttony occured.

Friends, the people handling the affairs of this gentleman had his books and cassettes priced at twenty-five cents each, at which point "Because we're walking and you'll have to carry them" doesn't hold up as an excuse not to buy. I mean, we did have a cart/dolly since the boy could walk now. About time he starts learning how to walk for distance.

I mean, look at this haul:
August Estate Sale Purchases
Click for full size

The gentleman's collection of music focused on Big Band and jazz, so while Heather helped herself to some Benny Goodman (or Benny Youngman--whichever was the musician and not the comedian), I got some Sarah Vaughn, John Pizarrelli, Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne, and Diana Schuur. The books included some serious literature, a pile of art books and some very nice and old art museum supporter giveaways, and a few conservative tomes. Of which, I acquired:
  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabakov. You know, that book mentioned in the Police song.

  • Five volumes by Ogden Nash.

  • Ariel by Sylvia Plath; I apologized to Jimmy Ray in advance for reading these at him.

  • Flowers of Evil by Baudelaire; I mean, if you have to have flowers.

  • Sonnets of Blood, a collection of poems written originally in Slovak and somehow made to fit an English rhyme scheme. That takes more than mere translation.

  • Dynamics of Faith by Paul Tillich; it will go along side the copy of Morality and Beyond and will probably remain so on my to-read shelves until the middle 2010s.

  • Poems of Flowers; we probably won't be so lucky that these, too, are evil flowers, but they'll break up the Dickinsonotony.

  • Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving, which talks about that famous building in Spain.

  • Down with Love, a movie tie-in; I can only assume that Mr. Paul owned it because of its tie to the song.

  • Gentleman: The William Powell Story by Charles Francisco; I don't normally buy celebrity bios, but I just watched the documentary about him that came with the Thin Man DVD box set, so I was primed for this particular book.

  • The Confidential Clerk by T.S. Eliot; this is the first American edition of his verse play. For a quarter!

  • The Seduction of Hillary Rodham by that one guy who was a good guy and is now a bad guy or who was a bad guy and is now a good guy or however the mythology goes.

  • A boxed two-volume set from 1948 called The American Constitution.

  • Detectionary, a reference guide for early detectives in fiction; a special printing by the Hammermill paper company.

  • Couples by John Updike; a first edition for a quarter!

  • A Collectors' Club edition of Edgar Allan Poe's select tales and poems. I should put this on my read shelves, since I've already read everything from Poe in a complete edition, including the Narrative of A. Gordon Pym.

  • A single volume that collects Carl Sandburg's Smoke and Steel, Slabs of the Sunburnt West, and Good Morning, America from the 1920s. I said so.

  • A play entitled Tiger at the Gates translated from the French.

  • The Meaning of the Creative Act, an early 20th century musing on creativity, translated from the German or from the Russian.

  • Resistance, Rebellion, and Death by Albert Camus; I'll read this when I need a good pep talk.

  • Hardluck Ironclad, the story of a sunken Civil War vessel.

  • Time and Again by Jack Finney; a first edition! W00t!

  • A St. Louis County Geneology study of last names in the county in 1989-1990. Because I could.

  • Literary America, a study of American writers and photographs of the things/places about which they wrote.

  • Political Bestiary, a collection of political humor of some sort, I guess.

  • Collecting Nostalgia, a guide to things from the 1930s and 1940s to collect. Heather no doubt hopes I don't get into collecting stuff from that era since I'm packing away enough clutter already with my narrow bands of material I seek.

  • Light of August, a William Faulkner book that got too close to my stack. Seriously. It was nearby, so Heather thought it fell from my stack and added it.

You can see Heather's two books standing upright; if I had seen Varieties of Unbelief, I probably would have nabbed it for myself.

That's 32 books for me, 2 for Mrs. Noggle, and a collection of audiocassettes for Heather to rip into digital format, ensuring that she's not bored well into 2009.

So I better stop reading long classical works and take time to clear some of the shorter reads off of my shelves or I will face a space crunch. I mean, a greater space crunch than I have now.

And I carried the collection, some 45 pounds of it, the half mile or so home. You know, it used to be automatic that I could do that, but perhaps it's because I'm aging or because I think I'm aging that I mentally pause before doing it (without actually pausing, you see, because that's unmanly). As a result, my shoulders are a little tight today, but that only means they'll look better tomorrow. Lots of books and ripped shoulders: this is possibly the best book sale ever.

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