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October 11, 2015

Sunday Morning Book Thread 10-11-2015: True Grit [OregonMuse]

sell grit.jpg
Be Honest: How Many Of You Morons Used To Look Like This Kid?

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.

I read a lot as a kid. Some of my favorite books were The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas and The Man Who Would Be King by Rudyard Kipling. Reading opened up the world like nothing else. One day I might be sword fighting in 17th Century France, the next I might be fighting off crazed assassins in 19th Century India. Video games just can’t compare with the variety and intensity of reading.
-Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

More Stuff From Comic Books

I don't have much opportunity to goof off at work anymore (my oppressive tyrant employer actually expects me to do the job I'm being paid for), so I miss out on all of ace's weekday threads, so I'm reduced to posting derivative copycat threads. Like this post from Friday, about dumb stuff you could order from the back pages of comic books, and how much dumber it actually turned out to be when it arrived in the mail and you could finally look at it up close. There were lots of fun comments that brought back memories from my misspent youth, but I was surprised nobody brought up the one thing that I remember most from comic book advertising:


That's right, Grit. With a capital 'G'. As you can see from the book thread pic, it's some sort of newspaper. I never knew what it was, I never saw it in real life, but it was advertised in every comic book I ever read back in the day. I never could figure out how I was supposed to sell something I knew nothing about, or who would want it, and so of course I never bothered to investigate further.

Until now.

So I looked at Grit's wikipedia entry, and it turns out, it used to be quite popular:

Grit is a magazine, formerly a weekly newspaper, popular in the rural US during much of the 20th century. It carried the subtitle "America's Greatest Family Newspaper". In the early 1930s, it targeted small town and rural families with 14 pages plus a fiction supplement. By 1932, it had a circulation of 425,000 in 48 states, and 83% of its circulation was in towns of fewer than 10,000 population.

So those sales figures suggest that perhaps an enterprising young man could do well selling it (as long as he didn't run into market saturation). Also, with a name like "America's Greatest Family Newspaper", you know Grit is going to be to progressives like crucifixes are to vampires. This is further confirmed by how the owner described what he liked to see in Grit:

Always keep Grit from being pessimistic. Avoid printing those things which distort the minds of readers or make them feel at odds with the world. Avoid showing the wrong side of things, or making people feel discontented. Do nothing that will encourage fear, worry, or temptation... Wherever possible, suggest peace and good will toward men. Give our readers courage and strength for their daily tasks. Put happy thoughts, cheer, and contentment into their hearts.

Holy crap, avoid "distort[ing] the minds of readers", "showing the wrong side of things", and "suggest peace and good will toward men"? I can scarcely imagine a more anti-progressive editorial policy than this.

So what was in an issue of Grit? Here's a description of a 1956 issue:

Bennett Cerf wrote a column for Grit. The funnies included Blondie, Joe Palooka, The Lone Ranger, Donald Duck and Henry. There was a crossword puzzle and a serial, a murder mystery called, Tell Her It's Murder. This copy of Grit contained the 29th and final chapter. The first Grit of 1956 also contained predictions for the upcoming year. The unicycle would be the number one sport in the summer of 1956. And the TV program that would replace The $64,000 Question would be one called Can You Trust Your Wife? And in 1956 just like today, doctors still couldn't cure the common cold. Grit carried a full-page ad offering Valentine cards for seven cents each. Grit also carried an ad for Sinclair Gasoline. (Willie Munn operated a Sinclair station at the corner of Main and Jackson streets in Kingstree.) Grit was recruiting carriers to sell their paper. You could make 4¢ for each paper you sold.

The content is actually quite substantial. Now I'm kind of sorry I never saw an issue.

So whatever happened to Grit? It's still around. It was bought and sold and merged by various publishers until:

Beginning with the September 2006 issue, Grit converted to an all-glossy, perfect bound magazine format and a bi-monthly schedule. The revamped editorial policy encompasses more of a contemporary rural emphasis on content, rather than the nostalgic themes of the previous decade. With a print run of 150,000 and Time Warner as the national newsstand distributor, Grit was displayed and sold at general newsstand outlets, bookstores and specialty farm feed and supply stores, including Tractor Supply Company.

And to this day, I (still) have never seen an issue.

I don't suppose it advertises much in comic books anymore, though. I think someone needs to round up every old issue they can find and scan them all in as .pdf documents. What a treasure trove of Americana that would be.

A Slam Dunk

Now here's something you don't see every day: a former NBA superstar who has writes Holmesian fiction. Moron commenter The Great White Snark e-mailed me about this last week, and I had an item about it ready to go, but it disappeared when I had to run s system restore. Thanks, Microsoft. And then I didn't realize it was missing until after the book thread went live, so GWS had to mention it in the comments.

So for those of you morons who were drunk or passed out last week, or simply missed the comments, the book mentioned by GWS is Mycroft Holmes, and the author is none other than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Which perhaps shouldn't surprise us that much, since he was an English/History major at UCLA.

So his novel (co-written with Anna Waterhouse) actually isn't about Sherlock Holmes, but instead

spotlights Sherlock’s older brother Mycroft. He’s 23, engaged and looking forward to a successful career as at this young age he’s already the secretary to the Secretary of War. He has an uncanny power of observation and deduction that sets him apart from others. His best friend Cyrus Douglas, a Negro tobacconist, tells Mycroft of the current incidents in his homeland of Trinidad. It seems that people are vanishing. Children are said to be found dead, drained of blood and if they have not been baptized “they are condemned to walk the earth forever on little backwards-facing feet”. Holmes reasons this is “an ugly fate….not to say impractical”. The legendary Lougarou and their companion demons the Douen are said to be responsible.

...and so they're off to Trinidad, where the game is, as they say, afoot.

And that's not the only book Mr. Abdul-Jabbar has written. Another is On the Shoulders of Giants: My Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance, co-written with Raymond Obstfeld, and there's not much I can say about it since the title makes it pretty much self-explanatory. He's also written a military history, Brothers in Arms: The Epic Story Of The 761st Tank Battalion, WWII's Forgotten Heroes, about which an Amazon reviewer said:

The author has written a well balanced account of life as a black tanker during World War II. He goes into detail showing the differences in their training compared to white soldiers and the racism they encountered. For all the humiliation they suffered in the USA, they didn't let it get them down and soldiered on when called to fight. The battle accounts are detailed and the focus is in the soldiers and not the equipment.

No maps, though. A number of reviewers mentioned this as a big drawback to an otherwise worthy effort.

And I have to close with this quote from one of Kareem's interviews:

I don’t think it will be any surprise that my favorite class was history. I’ve said many times that if I hadn’t become a professional basketball player, I would have become a history teacher. There’s so much to learn from history. The saying, “Those that don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat it” doesn’t just apply to politicians and world leaders, it applies to all of us on a daily basis. We can learn from mistakes of others, whether they’re kings or our parents. When we do learn those lessons, we’re better equipped to make our own dreams come true.

And it seems me that the fact of A-J's authorship of a Holmsian novel can be used to win some sort of bar bet.

The Woman Who Would Be President

Ace linked to this earlier in the week as evidence of Hilary's drinking problem, but I'm not seeing much drinking here. However, I am seeing a lot of hitting and punching and throwing of heavy objects.

The book that discusses these things is The Clintons' War on Women and it's scheduled for release on Oct. 13th. It's sure to be controversial and I hope Roger Stone, the author, is prepared to get reamed by the MSM, his financial records pawed through by Democrat aides, and his home address spilled all over Twitter. And the only reason he's probably not going to be getting a big, fat audit is because Obama and Hillary! aren't really allies.


“Hillary Clinton has a long history of being domestically violent with Bill,” Stone writes. “Hillary has beaten Bill, hit him with hard objects, scratched and clawed him, and made him bleed.”

Well, Bill probably earned it. Perhaps I shouldn't make light of this sort of thing, but I don't have a lot of sympathy for him.

And apparently, this physically abusive behavior is not a recent phenomenon:

Arkansas state troopers assigned to then-Gov. Bill Clinton’s detail had seen worse. Once, when Hillary awoke in the middle of the night to find Bill gone, she called the trooper assigned to Bill and demanded he bring the governor home immediately.

She was waiting in the kitchen, and as Chris Andersen wrote in “American Evita: Hillary Clinton’s Path to Power,” the ensuing fight got violent, with “shattering glass and slamming doors” reverberating throughout the mansion. “When it was over, staff members . . . [found] broken glass, smashed dishes and a cupboard door ripped off its hinges.”

Ugh. Sounds like WWIII. Question: why did Bill marry her? Especially when you see the women he usually hits on (blonde, busty). I wonder what he saw in Hillary that he found attractive?

Also, I've been hearing these kinds of stories about Hillary! for nearly 20 years now, and I am still waiting for the "Hillary is really a kind and decent person and these are all right wing lies" defense from her allies and apologists, but I never have.

The Worst Bad Books

From the Intercollegiate Review website, here are The 50 Worst Books of the 20th Century, and by bad, they mean "pernicious and destructive". Actually, the article says

We define “Worst” as books which were widely celebrated in their day but which upon reflection can be seen as foolish, wrong-headed, or even pernicious.

So I was close. Anyway, the list contains the usual rogues' gallery of crap: Margaret Mead, Albert Kinsley, John Kenneth Galbraith, Margaret Sanger. But here are some you may not have heard of:

The New Basis Of Civilization by Simon N. Patten. Thanks to this yutz, we now have a federal income tax. First published in 1907. Combine that with Herbert David Croly's celebration of the welfare state, The Promise of American Life, first published in 1919, and you've got a can't-miss formula for national bankruptcy and collapse.

Most of the books on the list appear to be quack science, quack sociology, quack economics, quack history, or quack psychology. For example:

The Function of the Orgasm by Wilhelm Reich. Yes, you read that right. Get a load of this:

Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957) was an Austrian psychoanalyst, who tried to reconcile psychoanalysis with Marxism, and contended that neurosis is rooted in a lack of what he called "orgastic potency." He claimed to have discovered a cosmic sexual energy he call “Orgone,” self-publishing books about his increasingly controversial theories, and selling “Orgone Accumulator” boxes commercially...

Quack, quack, quack!

The crap British band Hawkwind had a song called "Orgone Accumulator" I used to listen to back in the 70s when I was stoned and stupid. I always wondered where it had come from, and what an 'orgone' was, and now I know.

Authors inexplicably missing from the list: Rachel Carson, Howard Zinn, Betty Friedan, Al Gore. Quack, quack. Quack.

Oops! I just checked, this is not the first time I mentioned this list. The first time was in 2014.

New Twilight Installment

And speaking of bad books, Stephenie Meyer has penned a new 'Twilight' novel:

I'll probably skip it:

“Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined,” a, well, reimagining of the same story updated with a female vampire and human teenage love interest. Clocking in at 442 pages, the novel challenges the common interpretation of Bella Swan as a “damsel in distress,” Meyer said. “That’s always bothered me a little bit… I thought, what if we switched it around a little bit and see how a boy does?” Answer? “It’s about the same.”

I don't think so, Tim. Er, Steph. Look, the sexes aren't symmetrical. Males and females don't have the same reactions. They don't have the same likes and dislikes.

"Softly he brushed my cheek, then held my face between his marble hands. 'Be very still,' he whispered, as if I wasn't already frozen. Slowly, never moving his eyes from mine, he leaned toward me. Then abruptly, but very gently, he rested his cold cheek against the hollow at the base of my throat."

Can you imagine a male character in a novel mooning like that? Ugh. This is Pajama Boy on stilts.

And as the boss says in the sidebar, "sales are already going to be lower anyway because how many times can you expect people to pay money for the same story?" Also, the more progressive you are, the more untethered you get from reality, and then one day, reality rises up behind you and bites you on the butt. Meyers will get a does of this if the book tanks.

From Amazon, it appears that Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined is currently only being sold as part of the 10th anniversary (dual) edition of the original Twilight novel.

Next up for Steph Meyers: gay.

What I'm Reading

Finally got around to starting Jim Gavin's homage to Edgar Rice Burroughs and pulp sci-fi Smartass of Mars after pimping it on the book thread awhile back. It's quite entertaining, and shot through with moron characters and content. So far there's been gladiatorial combat, a bar fight, an escape in a hover-car, and a visit to a cathouse. And I've only read about a third of the book. All that's missing is the ValuRite.


I downloaded, but haven't started. William Goldman's The Princess Bride. A couple of weeks ago, I heard from Kristen, a lurking moronette who
recommended this 25th Anniversary Edition which came out in 2007, and it has some new material:

In an appendix there's a considerable amount of background on the making of the movie, as well, which Goldman intertwines within this almost-reality land that he created for the story.

Also, a story called "Buttercup's Baby".

Kristen says she especially likes

Goldman's delightful narrative style: matter-of-fact explanations of the ridiculous, a conversational style without being patronizing, and of course, the rollicking adventures. And it's impossible to read Inigo Montoya's famous line without hearing Mandy Patinkin's voice in your head.

It's definitely different than the movie.


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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