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November 01, 2015

Sunday Morning Book Thread 11-01-2015: All Saints' Day [OregonMuse]


Keith Richards library.jpg
Mr. Keith Richards, Esq., Relaxing In His Library

Good morning to all of you morons and moronettes and bartenders everywhere and all the ships at sea. Welcome to AoSHQ's stately, prestigious, internationally acclaimed and high-class Sunday Morning Book Thread. The Sunday Morning Book Thread is the only AoSHQ thread that is so hoity-toity, pants are required. Or kilts. Also, assless chaps don't count. Serious you guys. Kilts are OK, though. But not tutus. Unless you're a girl.


“When you are growing up there are two institutional places that affect you most powerfully: the church, which belongs to God, and the public library, which belongs to you.”
— Keith Richards


Keith Richards Is Not Just Another Pretty Face

I like to make fun of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards because he's the gold standard of ugly. But I'll give him props for (a) getting off heroin and (b) putting up with Mick Jagger for, like, 50 years. And I'm not sure which one's the greater achievement. Also, as was pointed out to me in last week's book thread, (c) he likes to read:

It appears that the guitarist has made a rather startling confession: He is in fact an avid bookworm who has taken great pride in developing libraries inside his homes in Sussex and Connecticut.

Sources in the publishing world who are familiar with the contents of his memoirs, claim he admits to once considering 'professional training' to manage his vast collection of books.

The 66-year-old is said to have started painstakingly arranging copies of rare books about the history of early American rock and the Second World War using libraries standard Dewey Decimal classification system.

Hmmm... So inside this rock guitarist, there's a librarian screaming to get out?

And not only is Keith a reader, he's also a writer. In addition to Life, his memoirs, he's also written a children's book, Gus & Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar which is illustrated by Theodora Richards, his daughter by his first second wife.

Long before there was a band, there was a boy: a young Keith Richards, who was introduced to the joy of music through his beloved granddad, Theodore Augustus Dupree, who was in a jazz big band...This unique autobiographical picture book honors the special bond between a grandfather and grandson and celebrates the artistic talents of the Richards family through the generations.

But then there was the long overdue library books:

Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards has been pardoned by the Dartford Library in England, after he admitted in an interview that he never returned some books that he had borrowed from the library more than 50 years ago. In a Daily Mirror article that was published on May 24, 2013, a library official said that any fees would be waived if Richards made a personal visit to the library.

Which, apparently, he did. I like seeing this side of Richards, that shows he's something more than the wasted rock-n-roller stereotype that he spent years earning. But I can't resist leaving you all with this bit:

He also once claimed to have snorted his father's ashes along with a line a cocaine.

Either that or he was just telling the interviewer what he wanted to hear.

I think I believe him, though.

[Addendum]: I have a Keith Richards story, but it has nothing to do with books: I have a friend who has been a semi-professional rock/blues/whatever musician in the Bay Area for many years. So about a year ago, WB (that's his nic) tells me the story that one time in the early 80s, he's sitting on a bench in a small public park in Oakland on a Sunday afternoon, just hanging out and drinking wine from a bottle in a paper bag (which, I'm told, is not unusual behavior for musicians) and then a nondescript car drives by, slows down, and stops. Driver gets out and he's just massive. WB says to himself, "Whoa, this guy looks just like he could be somebody's bodyguard." Big dude looks around carefully at WB and the rest of the park like he's checking things out (nobody else was there) and after a bit, he opens the back door and Keith Richards emerges, walks over to WB and introduces himself. Which was unnecessary, of course, but the Stones are in town on one of their tours and he's got some time to kill. So they share the wine and talk about music for a couple of hours. Had some choice words to say about Mick Jagger. Apparently, Richards' relationship with him wasn't all that good at that time. He also gave WB the advice that if you're playing on stage in front of an audience and you make a mistake, if you've hit a wrong note or whatever, you should repeat the mistake, and then repeat it a third time. That way, they'll think you did it on purpose. and it's meant to be that way. Which actually would explain much of rock music.

At the end of the conversation, Richards offered WB a backstage pass and an invite to hang out with the Stones after the concert. You'd think that he'd jump at the chance, but actually, WB turned him down, said it would be kind of weird, and said good-bye. Curiously, I think I can understand this.


Day Of The Mule

I read Isaac Asimov's Foundation trilogy back when I was in high school. It must have not made much of an impression on me, because I don't remember that much about it, at least not like other science fiction books I read back then that seemed to stick with me a lot more, for whatever reason, like Stranger In A Strange Land or Roger Zelazny's Amber series. And I guess Asimov wrote a couple more Foundation books later on years after the original trilogy, but I never read them and know nothing about them.

But one thing I do remember, one of the plot points of the original trilogy was that there was a historian/scientist named Hari Seldon who formalized a branch of science called "psychohistory" wherein you could predict the future of human history because the behavior of large masses of people was knowable. So a group uses this in an attempt to ameliorate the effects of an impending galactic civilizational collapse, predicted well in advance by Seldon before his death.

All is going according to plan until some guy called "The Mule" shows up and starts building his own empire, which turns out to be totally unpredicted by the group's previously dependable psychohistorical analysis. This is because the Mule is a galactic anomaly, a one-off mutant, and thus not part of the mass numbers of humans that psychohistory requires to be accurate. And so now a monkey wrench has been thrown into their calculations and they have to scramble for a solution to get future history back on track, else galactic civilization is doomed to a 30,000 years-long dark age.

Anyway, we don't have psychohistory, at least not yet, but I think Donald Trump is the present day's equivalent of The Mule.

Normally, our political candidates are chosen for us by the donor classes of both parties, they are the gatekeepers because they control the cash spigots. Step out of line, do or say something they don't like, and the money dries up. People have been lamenting this for decades, saying "there's not a dime's difference between the two parties" and complaining about "Tweedledum and Tweedledee" candidates. But no matter how loud the complaining, every election cycle is the same, nothing ever changes, nothing is ever really different, and no matter who wins, the donor classes always have things well in hand. The winners of every election is the donor classes.

But maybe not this time.

Because along comes Donald Trump, an egotistical, loudmouthed boor who has, in effect, dropped his pants and mooned the entire election establishment. He's a man who has his own money and is not beholden to any of the donors, not Wall Street, not unions, not any corporate interest or K Street lobbyist group. So they don't have any leverage over him at all, he's totally outside the predictable path within which elections are designed to go. Which is why the anti-Trump rhetoric coming from the GOPe sounds so panicky: he's just totally outside their experience. They can't control him, they can't tell him what to do. You can just smell the flop sweat emanating from the GOPe.

The Mule has entered the building.

Time will tell if the Controlling Class will be able to figure out a way to neutralize The Mule. In the meantime, I have to say I'm greatly enjoying their panic and butthurt. They're in the grip of a "Seldon crisis", only there's no Seldon to save them.


Tolkien Auction

I think most of us have seen that map of Middle Earth that's in pretty much all the editions of Lord of the Rings, right? Well, they found a special copy of it, with comments on it by Tolkien himself:

The map was found loose in a copy of the acclaimed illustrator Pauline Baynes’ copy of The Lord of the Rings. Baynes had removed the map from another edition of the novel as she began work on her own colour Map of Middle-earth for Tolkien, which would go on to be published by Allen & Unwin in 1970. Tolkien himself had then copiously annotated it in green ink and pencil, with Baynes adding her own notes to the document while she worked.

It's on sale, but the price, as you might guess, ain't cheap.

Blackwell’s, which is currently exhibiting the map in Oxford and selling it for £60,000, called it “an important document, and perhaps the finest piece of Tolkien ephemera to emerge in the last 20 years at least”.

I figure it'll be snapped by a flush Tolkien fan before too long.

Thanks to Laurie David's Cervix in last week's thread for the tip.


New Group on Goodreads

'Ette commenter @votermom e-mailed me this week to announce the formation of an AoSHQ-oriented reading group on Goodreads:

It's meant to support horde writers and to talk about the great books that come up on the book thread. Right now it is pretty bare bones but we are well-supplied with valu-rite. It's called AoSHQ Moron Horde and the link to it is https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/175335-aoshq-moron-horde.

Once again, that's https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/175335-aoshq-moron-horde.


Give Me Some Skin

I had this piece ready to go for last week's book thread, but I somehow dropped it and it didn't make it in to the published version.

So, without further ado...

How about books bound with human skin?

According to experts, the practice of binding books with human leather ended around the late 19th century, and there are no known 20th-century examples. Today, the idea seems disrespectful if not repugnant, and there are often strong objections to the public display of such books, even as historical specimens. That's why libraries and museums increasingly want to know whether the books in their collections purportedly bound in human skin are the real thing.

Of course, until you take a little inevntory, you never know what will turn up:

On October 5, staff at the Mütter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia—a renowned collection of medical specimens, artifacts and equipment—announced the results of scientific testing on five of their books whose inscriptions indicated they had been bound in human leather. The testing proved the bindings really did come from people, making the Mütter home to the largest known collection of books bound in human skin in the United States.

So why was this grisly practice er, practiced?

Many of the earliest examples relate to punishment. England’s Murder Act of 1751 stipulated that those convicted of murder would not only be executed but, as an additional deterrent, could not be buried. Until its repeal in 1832, the law required that murderers either be publicly dissected or “hanged in chains.” In some cases, making items out of criminals’ skins provided yet another way to ensure the body stayed aboveground.

Of course, this could also be done voluntarily:

Others gave their skin willingly for the purposes of memorialization. One example of this is on display at the Boston Athenaeum Library. The book, published in 1837, has the highly informative title of Narrative of the life of James Allen : alias George Walton, alias Jonas Pierce, alias James H. York, alias Burley Grove, the highwayman : being his death-bed confession, to the warden of the Massachusetts State Prison. Allen had requested that his skin be used after his death as the cover for two copies of a book chronicling his crimes. One copy would go to John Fenno Jr., the only man known to have stood up to him, and another to his doctor.

Of course, binding books in human skin has a technical term, and it sounds all science-y and stuff: "anthropodermic bibliopegy".

Ask for it by name.

This was yet another tip from Laurie David's Cervix.


Books By Morons

Longtime moron commenter and unrepentant punster Seamus Muldoon has been flapping his gums for a number of months now about writing a novel based on his father's WWII diary. Well, the good news is that he finally published it. To Save Us All From Ruin: A Muldoon Adventure is now available on Kindle at the Amazon, and will soon be out in paperback. Here's how Seamus described it to me in the email he sent:

This lively tale follows the adventures of three brothers (farm boys from Colorado) during WWII. It features Army life, the Anzio invasion, artillery exploits, a hamster, the fearsome Anzio Annie cannon and includes bonus features of a beautiful Italian songstress, all woven on a background of family love. It is accessible to military buffs and non-military buffs alike. Oh, and it features pie quite prominently. The story was drawn from my dad's real life WWII diary and actual excerpts from the diary help to tie the story together. I welcome any reader feedback either in the comments or via email to seamus_muldoon at the yahoo thingy with dotcom ending. Enjoy!

Trigger warnings for war violence, Italian sirens, and gratuitous flaunting of pie.


___________

There's good news for all of us fans of Old Sailor Poet's Amy Lynn stories, the third book Amy Lynn, The Lady of Castle Dunn is finally available as a Kindle edition.


___________

I heard from a new moron author this week. Long time lurker Vince is the author what he calls his "Challenged World" series. He describes them as "action-packed spiritual thrillers". The first one is The Unknown Element, which is actually Vince's debut novel, which a number of Amazon reviewers say is one of those you can't put down.

Ebola, ISIS, Drug Cartels – and Dark Forces driving events.

In pursuit, an eclectic team of three very dissimilar individuals. A reserved small town sheriff on a reluctant quest for justice. A beautiful and eccentric technology genius striving to piece together international clues to terrorism. An epicurean French priest committed to combat. Can they work together to challenge a nightmarish conspiracy without driving each other crazy?

The second book, Pretty Little Creatures, continues the story - and the action.

Speaking of the 3 main characters, one of the Amazon reviewers wrote:

Yet they are clearly Christian. The characters grow in faith and that is one of the major threads of both books. The three hero/heroines are a delight: a typical, 21st century sheriff suddenly confronted with the reality of spiritual evil; a computer geek supreme, completely worldly—confronted with the same; and a Vatican exorcist who acts more like a spiritual Chuck Norris, a la Friar Tuck.

And Vince tells me he is already hard at work on the third book in the series.

I'm guessing there should be trigger warnings in these books for depictions of Actual Good and Actual Evil.


___________

So that's all for this week. As always, book thread tips, suggestions, bribes, rumors, threats, and insults may be sent to OregonMuse, Proprietor, AoSHQ Book Thread, at the book thread e-mail address: 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 you all know, life is too short to be reading lousy books.

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