Sunday, June 23, 2013

I went out to get chocolate malts for everyone and I noticed the Blockbuster next to our local Braums was closed and for good.  I know, I know, the Blockbuster closings happened long ago but the boarded up windows brought the sense of finality home.  And I was struck, too, that this was the end of something more than just an obsolete method of entertainment delivery.  No longer would there be those thrilling days of when you having two little girls race excitedly among the aisle looking for the one - okay, two, all right, three - VHS tapes, and later, DVDs - that would mark the beginning of a long weekend or the threat of a snowstorm or any other reason that would find us in that store.  We'd stopped going there a long time ago and we weren't the only ones who'd stopped going and after a lot of not going the reason for the demise of Blockbuster becomes pretty clear.  And those little girls are grown up now and we get our videos on demand through our cable service so there's a lot that's long, long gone.

And then The Byrds' Turn Turn Turn pops up on Pandora on the way out of the parking lot and pretty much sums up this entire post.  That season is gone.  Time for new seasons.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Little Way of Ruthie Leming - Book Review

Rod Dreher, in his very moving elegy to his sister, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, wants you to know this about her:
A long time ago - I must have been about seven years old, which would have made Ruthie five - I did something rotten to her.  What it was, I can't remember.  I teased her all the time, and she spent much of her childhood whaling the tar out of me for it.  Whatever happened that time, though, must have been awful, because our father told me to go lie down on my bed and wait for him.  The could mean only one thing:  that he was going to deliver one of his rare but highly effective spankings, with his belt.
I cannot recall what my offense was, but I well remember walking down the hallway and climbing onto the bed, knowing full well that I deserve it.  I always did.  Nothing to be done but to stretch out, face down  and take what I had coming.
And then it happened.  Ruthie ran into the bedroom just ahead of Paw and, sobbing, threw herself across me.
"Whip me!" she cried.  "Daddy, whip me!"
Paw gave no spanking that day.  He turned and walked away.  Ruthie left too.  There I sat, on the bed, wondering what had just happened.
Forty years later, I still do.
What follows is the story not only of Ruthie and her Little Way of living a Christ-like life in the face of certain death, but a portrait of Dreher's family, the town - St Francisville, Louisiana - in which he was born, and the people with whom he grew up.  Dreher explores the evolution of his faith and his tendency to over-intellectualize everything and compares it with his sister's simpler, more straightforward approach to hers.  It's the difference between thinking about living a good life and actually living that life.

I was an admirer of Dreher's when he was with National Review but I lost track of him during his Crunchy Con days and when he moved on to write editorials for The Dallas Morning News.  I don't know how I found him again but it was shortly after the death of Ruthie and I've been following the living and the writing of this book since its inception.  Dreher bothers me at times with his intellectualism but there's no doubt of his feelings for his sister or his faith in Christ.  This book is a work of love for both.

You're guaranteed to weep.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Third Bullet - Book Review

Goodness me, has it really been over four months since I last posted a book review?  I suppose it has, though I must admit to having re-read Stephen Hunter's Soft Target during that time.  Is that all?  I guess so.  But it's more a testament to my inability to find anything worth reading rather than being too busy to read anything.  And if I don't post about it, it didn't happen.  So I'll have to plead guilty and try to do a better job and read more books.

So since the last book I've read was by Stephen Hunter, it seems only appropriate that I've come roaring back with Stephen Hunter's latest, The Third Bullet.  A tale of the Kennedy assassination, Hunter isn't a conspiracy theorist and claims to be an believer in the Warren Commission Report and Bugliosi's and Posner's conspiracy debunking but he takes the set of known facts, looks at them through the eyes of a well-seasoned sniper, twists a motive here, adds a character there, and gives us an entirely plausible new theory to ponder.  Sure, it's fiction, but why couldn't things have happened the way Hunter describes?  (Hunter has some fun with the conspiracy theorists by detailing one theory of how a second shooter came from the future, a plot device right out of Terminator.  And, if you think about it, it's not too far-fetched.  If you believe in time travel.)

But forget all that.  You want to know if Hunter brings the shoot-em-ups and the best writing you're likely to find on guns and ammunition and sniper-ing.  Dang straight he does.  He takes great delight in killing off his first victim - a thriller-writer whose series' main character is a lot like Swagger.  Hmmm.  Who could this be?  (In interviews, Hunter denies any other purpose than to get the plot a'rollin'.  I think he's a bit too self-satisfied with that explanation.)  But most importantly, Hunter brings back Bob Lee Swagger and even for a few lines Swagger's father, Earl.  Fans, like me, of the Swagger mythos will rejoice and believe the ultimate reason why Swagger investigates the assassination:  no, not because of Kennedy but because of another government official who, like Swagger's daddy, was gunned down while doing his duty.

A slam-bang effort at taking another look at a popular myth.  (Okay, not myth - the assassination actually happened - but the events of that dreadful day have reached a near-myth level in this country.)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Time to Link to My "Ten Reasons Why I Should Be Preparing Your Tax Return and Not Turbo-Tax" Post

Yep, it's that time of year.  I don't have anything to add other than to note that with the recently passed tax package, tax returns aren't getting any easier to prepare and won't be in the future.  I can help.

Ten Reasons Why I Should Be Preparing Your Tax Return and Not Turbo-Tax: