Books of January

I was never one for New Year’s Resolutions, mostly because I know full well that I won’t keep them. But this year, I decided to do one I thought I could keep. See, when I was a kid, I used to read all the time. Around six or seven years old, I was reading thick epic stories like Mossflower which were well over four-hundred pages. Considering it’s been thirty years since I’ve last read it, perhaps I should read it again. I still have my book from nineteen-eighty-whenever. Anyhow, somewhere along the line, I stopped reading so much; I think it must have been somewhere in high school. With the exception of a story here or there, I almost never read anything.

So the resolution that I made was to read one book a month for the year of 2019. This resolution was actually inspired by a PewDiePie video. I don’t even watch his videos, but for some reason, that was one caught my eye. After watching, I was inspired to get back into my own reading ways and with the month of January now over, I can say I have completed four books.

Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural North Dakota by Chuck Klosterman

A friend from church gave me a copy of this book. Having read it himself and know that I love ’80s metal, gave me a copy. The book was hilarious, insightful, and constantly entertaining.

Naked by David Sedaris

This hilarious memoir from David Sedaris is laid out like a collection of essays, each detailing what I can only describe as a messed up chapter of his life. I’m not saying he’s messed up, just that messed up stuff seems to happen to him. He covers strange topics such as that time he was hiding in his parents closet and watching his mom come in, put on a wig, and go to sleep. Or the time he lived in a nudist camp. Or his misadventures in hitchhiking.

In Broad Daylight by Henry N. MacLean

So, this one I listened to the audiobook instead of reading the actual book, but it’s still a book nonetheless. In Broad Daylight tells the true story of Ken McElroy, the town bully of Skidmore, Missouri and his murder right in the middle of the day with nearly fifty witnesses. And none was prosecuted. To this day, the case remains unsolved. The narrator did a fantastic job and I would listen to this book on my way to and from work, many times not wanting to exit my car upon arrival so I could hear what happened next. Not a wasted word anywhere, this book was fantastic front to back.

Apparent Danger: The Pastor of America’s First Megachurch and the Texas Murder Trial of the Decade in the 1920s by David Stokes

Goodness, I haven’t seen a title that was such a mouthful since The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. That said, this was quite a fascinating book. I could give you run down, but the title really says it all. Literally. One of the incredible things about this book is that all the dialogue was taken from actual court transcripts, newspapers, magazines, etc., so you know everything that was said in this book was actually said. I read the Kindle version which doesn’t appear to be available anymore, so it appears you may be stuck with hardcover. That said, it’s definitely a great read and a very interesting piece of Church/Court history.

That’s all I have for January, but I’ve already started another audiobook and plan to start reading another tonight or tomorrow. I’ve left links to the four books I read this month in my brief descriptions of them if you are interested in any of them.

Fraud Alert

I received a phone call from a scam artist today. It was kind of surreal, actually. You don’t really expect those and when they do happen, your brain is all, “WTF?” It was an interesting conversation, mostly because I was kind caught off guard. This scam claimed to be from VISA representing Publisher’s House. No, not Publisher’s Clearing House, because no person in their right mind would believe an actual legitimate business would be contacting them. That would be just crazy. No, they had to come up with the fictional Publisher’s House because that’s just more believable. Anyhow, this scammer was a sweet lady at the ripe old age of forty-six, or at least that’s how I’m imagining her by the sound of her voice. She didn’t give me her name, but I’m going to say it was June, because that’s just the kind of lady she was.

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Thanks, June.

Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress LC-USZ62- 42001

Now, June had called to inform me that I had been entered into a drawing that will be held on May 31st because of my standing and payment history with my VISA cards. She was so delighted and encouraged me to keep on being a good VISA user. Anyhow, I’d been entered to win $25,000, a 2016 Ford Mustang, or a complete kitchen remodel. I really wanted the kitchen remodel, but since I live in apartment, I decided to go with the cash. Sorry, Barbara. You’re a wonderful landlord, but when having to choose between a cash sum and remodeling your kitchen, I’m going to take the money.

Anyhow, in addition to being in the drawing, I was also going to be given five complimentary magazine subscriptions for 48 months. June, being the sweet lady that she is, asked me what types of magazines I liked. “Gosh,” I said. “I honestly can’t remember the last time I read a magazine.” That was a lie. I had just read an issue of The Lutheran Witness the other day, but since I assumed they weren’t selling good theology, I didn’t think that counted. She informed me that they have all sorts of magazines and asked me if I had children. When I said I had very young ones she told me about the wonderful parenting magazines they had to offer and about parents who trade magazines with each other. Oh June, you’re so sweet. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I would never read a parenting magazine.

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I didn’t have the heart to tell her about the internet.

Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress LC-USF344-007364-ZB

Now June, she wanted to make a little small talk and told me that the publishers liked to know a little bit about their clients. She then verified my address, name, and phone number. While all of these can easily be found online, I was delighted to know that June was so dedicated to her work that she took the time to double check my name and phone number, despite the fact that she had in fact called my phone and asked for me by name. We could learn a lot about manners from our elderly. She asked me how old I was and what I did for work. I told her, not having the heart to tell her about the wonders of Google+. We had a delightful conversation, though. She wanted to know all about the weather patterns in Maine and even invited me to come visit her in California when I won the $25,000.

After the chit-chat, she also told me that I was also was going to be given a complimentary watch. Now, she assured me that this wasn’t like a Rolex or anything like that, but that it was a nice watch. Now, I could get one for a man or a woman. When I told her I don’t wear a watch, she said I could get the ladies one for my wife. I like June. In this day and age when I could have say a husband or a wife who has become a husband or both, she assumed that I had a wife. Such old school sensibilities. Alas, June, I have never seen a watch laid upon my wife’s wrist. I asked her what if I don’t want the watch. She informed me that it was a gift as part of the magazine subscriptions.

Wait. I’m entered to win $25,000, I get a whole bunch of magazines, and a free watch? I had to back track and ask June about the five free subscriptions. That was when June informed that there was some term I cannot recall, but basically, I buy one magazine subscription and I get the other four for free. What on earth would I do with one magazine subscription, let alone five? I needed June to be straight with me. “June,” I didn’t say but did follow up with, “Do I need the magazines to get the $25,000?” “No,” she said, “you’ve already been entered. You can win whether you get the magazines or not.” Okay, moment of honesty. “Okay, I don’t really care about the watch or the magazines, so let’s forget those.””Alright. Good luck. I hope you win.” Click.

June? JUNE!? Oh, June. Where have you gone!? Was it all a lie? Everybody. I need you to help me find June. Her phone number is (310) 519-1008. If you hear from June, please tell her that I like her. Please tell her that I’m waiting. Please tell her, I want to visit if I win the money.

Of Beards and Presidents

I stopped shaving sometime back in October in preparation for Grow-vember. Grow-vember came and went and I kept on not shaving. I’d thought about it, but then I remembered last year when the day after I shaved, we got the coldest weeks we’d had all winter. I’m not going to fall for that again. When spring arrives is when I’ll go back to my traditional appearance. My beard has become quite full over the months, so much so that my wife has informed me that I’m starting to look like the 19th United States President Rutherford B. Hayes and that it turns her on. Had I known that my wife was into well dressed bearded old men, I’d have perhaps updated my wardrobe and spoken more gruffly. As it stands, I have some work to do.

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Bringing sexy back.

Rutherford was one of only five Presidents to have a beard and one of only twelve to have facial hair of any sort. The last president to sport facial hair was William Howard Taft from 1909 to 1913, who had a moustache. It’s been over one hundred years since we’ve had a president with hair on their face which I’m sure has been of great detriment to our great country. Oh, sure, the founding fathers were clean shaven, but look at the time and what was taking place. A good shave was probably one of the few great luxuries they could enjoy, and yes, shaving can be luxurious if done proper. Between war, disease, back breaking labor, FOUNDING AN ENTIRE COUNTRY, and a myriad of other problems, the shaving ritual probably felt like one the few moments of pure bliss and delight. If you’ve never had a proper shave with a hot towel and a straight razor, you’ve never shaved a day in your life.

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Exactly what it feels like after a proper shave.

The last candidate to run for president with any kind of facial hair whatsoever (until now) was Thomas E. Dewey in 1948. Some have gone so far as to credit his moustache with the reason for losing. Both times. Now I’m not saying there’s any correlation here, but I find it mighty suspicious that the last time we see facial hair in the highest seat in the country is just before women got the right to vote. Now we’ve had a hundred plus year absence of the stuff. Then again, maybe it just goes with the fashion of the times. The longest streak of presidents with facial hair was 6 over a period of twenty years. That’s half of them in a twenty year span in the roughly two hundred and forty years we’ve been a nation. Still, until recently, there’s never been a century long gap in facial hair either. Perhaps todays ladies find facial hair threatening. Now that I think about it, perhaps this is the real reason Ben Carson won’t win.

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“Oh, god! What the hell is that on his face!?”

Let that be a lesson to the next Libertarian who want’s a shot at winning the presidency. Find a way to get the Republican and Democrat nominees to both have facial hair, then come out with a smooth face. There’s no way he could lose.

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“The beard, being a half-mask, should be forbidden by the police – It is, moreover, as a sexual symbol in the middle of the face, obscene: that is why it pleases women.” -Arthur Schopenhauer