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May 18, 2014

Sunday Morning Book Thread 05-18-2014: Unamerican Gothic [OregonMuse]


American Gothic - reduced.jpg
The Most Famous Painting In American History


Good morning morons and moronettes and welcome to AoSHQ's stately and prestigious Sunday Morning Book Thread.

I'd like to digress for a moment to go on a rant that only tangentially relates to books. I found an article for the book thread that listed 25 books every man should read, which I'll be discussing shortly. But it's amusing to read the beta male metrosexuals whining in the article's comment section about the selection.

That includes this gem from some guy I'm going to refer to as "the fool", because, well, that's what he is. In one paragraph, he managed to encapsulate virtually every error of the progressive world view:

Hilariously narrow view of manhood. What a surprise! I just came on here to laugh, I already knew the books would be violent, close-minded, etc... I was raised in America by an American father who never read: Chuang Tzu, Montaigne, Voltaire, Schopenhauer, Neitzsche. They've read Mark Twain, but they don't understand it. Just like they don't understand Grant Wood's painting "American Gothic". They see two fine, upstanding, God-fearing Americans. Backbone of the country. But Grant Wood was a gay intellectual painter who saw the neighbors for what they are and have been throughout history: sour, mean, Nazi's. Just like Twain thought. :)

So, where to begin? First, it's clear that the fool has serious daddy issues. But let's ignore that. Second, while the fool no doubt considers conservatives as h8ers, it's obvious that he is full of hate himself. Let's ignore that, too. Leaving these aside, the one thing that stands out about this screed is that it is so brutally and mind-numbingly dull. Dull, dull, dull. And boring. The whole "transgressive" schtick is just so boring, boring beyond belief. There's not a hint of originality or insight anywhere within miles of it. It is so utterly predictable and parrot-like, it reminds me of that idiot troll erg, whom some of you remember, used to show up occasionally because he was smitten with ace and wanted attention from him (but that's another story). He used different socks, but you always knew it was erg because he would say the same stupid crap over and over again, and you always knew who it was. I'll bet that someone could write a rudimentary state machine in java to generate erg comments, and you wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

But the fool's claim that Wood painted the couple as "sour, mean, Nazi's" is flat out wrong. Not that the fool would be at all interested in facts, but after about 5 seconds of Googling, I found a letter Wood wrote specifically stating American Gothic was not satire. The letter is worth a read. Wood spells out plainly what he was trying to do with American Gothic, and it's nothing like the fool thinks it is. He wanted what he thought was admirable about the rural couple, as well as their faults.

But you see, that's nuance. Progressives aren't so good at nuance.

Too bad the fool didn't know Grant Wood's work well enough to use one of his other paintings, namely Daughters of Revolution, that Wood has explicitly called satirical, which would have better served his purposes.

And as for Wood being a "gay intellectual painter", this is an almost empty claim. Yeah, it's believed these days that he was secretly homosexual, but so what? Even if it's true, it doesn't follow that he's the fool's ideological soul mate, liking what he likes and hating whom he hates. Sexual inclination doesn't determine political inclination.

But progressives have to keep saying this, because it's one verse of the "all gay, all the time" song that they like to sing to each other to reassure themselves of how cool and how transgressive they are.

But enough of this. Let's talk about books:



limbaugh rage monster.jpg
Rush Limbaugh About To Devour A Small Child


More Manly Stuff

This "manly men doing manly things" bit seems to be a recurring theme on the book thread, but there's lots of material out there. For example, this is what I was referring to earlier: 25 Books Every Man Should Read. There are a lot of interesting books on this list, classic novels as well as modern, many of which were previously unknown to me, such as:

Rogue Male, by Geoffrey Household (1939)
Penned on the eve of war in Europe, Household's novel has an unnamed protagonist - a British sportsman with a penchant for danger - who goes on a hunt for the world's most dangerous game. Which, in this case, is not a Bengal tiger or man himself, but an unnamed European dictator. (Guess who.) Household's hero must use all of his hunter's cunning and British reserve to survive and bag his prize, especially once his cover is blown and the secret police come knocking.

Warning: The Amazon blurb for this book contains some big spoilers, i.e what appear to be major plot points that you typically wouldn't discover until you were well into the book. I don't know why they did this, maybe they think that it's OK because it's an old book.

And:

Butcher's Crossing, by John Williams (1963)
John Williams is the greatest writer you’ve probably never heard of. The man wrote four slim works of fiction, and each could rightly be called a masterpiece, and Butcher’s Crossing may be the greatest of these. In the years following the Civil War, young Will Andrews decides to emulate the likes of Emerson and Muir, dropping out of Harvard and heading out to Kansas. Here he falls in with a frontier huckster who tells him of a near-mythological herd of buffalo in a hidden Colorado valley. Shockingly enough, they find the valley and the lost tribe of buffs, but that’s when shit starts to get real. Things get all Treasure of the Sierra Madre as they’re snowed in and forced to survive the elements.

One more, and then I'll shut up:

Wind, Sand and Stars, by Antoine de St. Exupery (1939)
The well-known author of The Little Prince also wrote one of the more moving meditations you’ll ever read on flying, freedom, friendship and survival. St. Exupery, a French aristocrat, pilot and national hero, was lost while flying over the Mediterranean in 1944, but it’s probably safe to say he died doing what he loved. An account in Wind, Sand and Stars describes he and his copilot going down near in the desert near Benghazi in 1935. They survived only by the barest chance, but our dauntless hero was back up in the air in no time.


Limbaugh Wins Book Award, Liberals Throw Tantrum

The bias in coverage of this in the LA Times is jaw-dropping. First, look at the photo. It's obvious they went out of their way to find the most unflattering photo of Limbaugh they could find to use with the article. Yes, they want you to know that Rush is a seething, hate-filled rage-monster:

In accepting the award, Limbaugh was typically combative (if somewhat more subtly than usual standards).

So just what did the seething, hate-filled rage-monster Limbaugh say?

“I love America. I wish everybody did,” he said. “I hope everybody will. It's one of the most fascinating stories in human history ... and it's a delight and it's an opportunity to try to share that story with young people so they can grow and learn to love and appreciate the country in which they're growing up and will someday run and lead and inherit.”

That's it? That's "combative"? Really? Jeez, what a bunch of pussies.

Then there's this:

Limbaugh said: “If your children have read 'Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims' or if they are reading 'Rush Revere and the First Patriots,' second book ... and if they would like to vote, simply go to RushLimbaugh.com and we've got a link that will take you right to the voting page.”

So Rush won because he stacked the deck. And by the way, it is important for you to know that the book is crappy:

At Kirkus Reviews, Limbaugh’s nomination for the award prompted editor Vicky Smith to take a new look at the Limbaugh books. She found poor production qualities and a notable lack of proofreading

So to recap: The seething, hate-filled rage-monster Rush Limbaugh wrote a crappy book that won an award because he rigged the voting for his crappy book, which incidentally is crappy.

The LA Times refers to this as "news."

The LA Times story is based on the NPR coverage which is a bit more even-handed. They even used a more neutral accompanying photo.


Low Tech

When it comes to writing, George R.R. Martin prefers the old ways:

Martin appeared on "Conan" on Tuesday night to talk about "Game of Thrones," his books and his writing habits. He explained that when it comes to fiction, he writes uses WordStar 4.0 on a desktop DOS machine. DOS came before Windows and all those Mac operating systems with cute names; WordStar 4.0 was released in 1987.
br<>"I actually like it, it does everything I want a word processing program to do and it doesn't do anything else," Martin said. "I don't want any help. I hate some of these modern systems where you type a lower case letter and it becomes a capital letter. I don't want a capital. If I wanted a capital, I would have typed a capital. I know how to work the shift key."

Heh. He probably uses the old ^KB ^KK ^KV commands to mark and move a block of text.


Ripped From the AoSHQ Sidebar!

In The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet, author Nina Teicholz challenges the purported connection between fat and heart disease:

She shows that reducing fat, especially of the saturated kind, has been disastrous for health, and that neither olive oil nor fish oils have convincingly been shown to prevent disease. Her groundbreaking claim that more dietary fat leads to better health, wellness, and fitness is sure to spark controversy and conversation everywhere.

Me, I love carbs. Carbs are my downfall. Pasta, rice, bread, yeah, pile it on. I wish I had Mrs. Muse's dietary discipline. I'm threatening to go over 200 lbs. Meanwhile, Mrs. Muse has reduced her weight from a high of 177 back down to 155 lbs. She's done this by using the Weight Watcher's low-carb points system, and it works very well for her.

___________

I grew up in the SF Bay Area and I remember the Zodiac killer back in the late 60s, early 70s. I think the creepiest part, other than they never found the guy, was the ambiguity of it all. Every time there was an unsolved or spectacular murder, you'd think, "oh no, is this another Zodiac killing?" It was hard to know right then if it was Zodiac, or just some random murder. And then he'd go quiet for awhile, and then months later, a SF newspaper would publish yet another Zodiac letter. The murders took place in and around the Bay Area, but there are some probables that occurred other places in California.

And then one day the murders just stopped. And Zodiac was never heard from again.

So this guy thinks his father is, in fact, the Zodiac killer and has set forth the evidence in his just-released book, The Most Dangerous Animal of All.

Eh. Maybe, I guess. Others have claimed they are either related to, or personally know, the Zodiac killer. But at this point, 40 years later, God only knows.

And the movie Zodiac is actually pretty good.


What I'm Reading

Via BookBub, I picked up A Cast of Stones from Amazon. It came in under the "Religious and Inspirational" category, but it's actually a fantasy novel with a young-kid-has-to-grow-up-and-discover-his-destiny plot. Nothing we haven't seen before, but it's a fun page-turner. If you're a fan of "sword-and-sorcery" fantasy, I would recommend it. It's the first of a trilogy, and they're offering it for the low, low price of FREE, presumably to get you hooked on the story so you'll pay for the two sequels. It's also available on Google and also Barnes&Noble.


Books By Morons

Moron Rory e-mailed to let me know his new eBook is out, The 100 Most Influential People In American Soccer History. Rory is also the author of Free Kicks: A Novel About Pro Soccer In the US


___________

So that's all for this week. As always, book thread tips, suggestions, rumors, threats, and insults may be sent to OregonMuse, Proprietor, AoSHQ Book Thread, at aoshqbookthread, followed by the 'at' sign, and then 'G' mail, and then dot cee oh emm.

What have you all been reading this week? Hopefully something good, because, as I keep saying, life is too short to be reading lousy books.

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