What’s It Worth?

I was just lounging in a big tub of nostalgia.  (Do I still have any on me?
When I was a kid, a dollar meant something, and there weren’t very many millionaires.

First, the farthing (quarter-penny) disappeared – then the half-pence – now, Canada’s penny is no more.  As inflation lops off the bottom, it piles more on top that we soon get used to.

I recently had the chance to re-watch the old movie, The Girl, The Gold Watch, And Everything.  The hero is accused of absconding with$27,000,000.  At first, I couldn’t understand the fuss that was being made.  Now, twenty-seven million is a nice piece of pocket-change.  As the embezzling Congressman said, “A million here – a million there – pretty soon it starts to add up.”  Pretty soon, mere millionaires are a dime-a-dozen.

The son dug out and lent me the John D. MacDonald book that the movie was based on.  He had the 1980, movie-novelization copy, but the book was originally written in 1962.  An online conversion site showed me that One 1962 Dollar – is worth $9.83 today.  The missing 27 million would be worth over a quarter of a $BILLION in 2021 – now that’s worth getting upset about.

This all reminded me of a television show that aired from 1955 to 1960, titled The Millionaire.  Each week, multi-millionaire John Beresford Tipton, had an agent GIVE a cashier’s cheque for $1,000,000 to someone he had chosen.  Tipton’s socio-psychological curiosity was the reason that the show then followed each recipient, to see what they did with the money.

One man who had lost his wife, was despondent, and convinced that he would never find such a love again.  He took a round-the-world cruise, met a sweet, young, available thing onboard, and it all worked out with soap-opera predictability.  One million, back then, would be the equivalent of $10/12 Million today.  The interest alone would accumulate so fast that they never need get off the ship, except to purchase a Rolls-Royce for each port.

The running gag in this show was that, like Charlie, in Charlie’s Angels, except for a hand passing off the cheque at the beginning of each show…. We never saw Tipton, and yet, when I went to research the show, there was a listing for Peter Frees – as Tipton

I had forgotten that voice actors get credits also.  Peter Frees is the most famous person that you’ve never seen.  He actually did three unseen voices during this series.  He has lent his dulcet tones to dozens of video games and dozens of animated movies.  His list of voice credits is longer than the late, great Mel Blanc – Ehhhhh, what’s up with that, Doc?

Book Review #24

I just read the most sumptuous book.  It was as rich and satisfying as a slab of red velvet cake.

The book: The Boat of a Million Years

The author: Poul Anderson

The review: There are only seven story plots.  All of the millions of novels are just variations and combinations on those themes.  This one is a reworking of the movie Highlander, which was released 2 years before this was published in 1989.  I got a cheap 2004 Kindle re-release, while I was COVID-isolating.  The immortals can be killed.  It’s just that they heal quickly and totally.  They survive and recover from, wounds that would slay a normal person.

It’s ‘like’ a time-travel novel, but the travel is all from past, to the future.  Perhaps once per century, a person is born who does not age and die.  Unlike the Off With Her Head movie story, this book is about survival.  The author wants to show that, while these people are different from the rabble in one way, they are quite the same in others, and different from each other.

It is not at all like several other ‘ray-guns and space-ships’ books of this author’s that I have.  He treads lightly, but shows the historical foolishness of religions, when viewed over hundreds, or thousands of years

The most common, though not universal, drive is to find others of their kind.  A Turkish trader in post-Roman Britain spends parts of several decades finding an immortal Norse warrior.  When he finally locates him, he offers him partnership in a safe venture and way of life that will guarantee them both great wealth and political power.  The Viking turns him down, and walks away.  Several years later, he hears that the berserker died in an epic battle.

It takes over a century for a Mesopotamian ship-fleet owner to locate another male.  When he does, the outgoing extrovert is dismayed to find a reclusive milquetoast who is content to follow, and allow someone else to make decisions and take care of him.

Some of the men make the obvious search for females of their kind, for wives/companions, and to find if two immortals would produce immortal offspring.  They don’t.  After several more centuries, the pair locate an immortal woman in Rome.  Pointing out the gender inequality, she has advanced from prostitute, to madam, to courtesan, where she creates great wealth through pillow-talk investments.

Even before computers, birth certificates or accurate census forms, it was not a good idea to remain in one location with one name, for more than a couple of decades, lest the superstitious populace grow suspicious.  The trader suggests that they move back to Nineveh, or Tyre, and sells off his ships and cargoes, converting them to a more easily transported chest, full of gold and jewels.  Her history made her distrust all men, so she betrays them.  The two men escape with their lives, but lose the fortune which takes the one a century to recoup.

This is a psychological and sociological account.  With no ‘action’ to spur the plot, there is no urgency to rush this deep and lengthy book along.  The author has the time and opportunity to compose it like a story from the Golden Age of Literature, of a hundred or two-hundred years ago.  It is rich, luxurious, and full-bodied.

The construction was intriguing and complex, occasionally non-linear.  The history and geography were informative, well-researched, and wide-ranging.  The words were substantive, and often archaic.  There was hardly a page where I wasn’t poking the Kindle screen for a definition.  Words and phrases like, limned, bedizened courtesan, uxorious, an austere magus, lineaments, indolent insolence and caparisoned, peered from almost every page.  For a word-nerd like me, it was Nirvana.

Reading this book was like wearing a silk shirt and walking barefoot across a Persian carpet, while eating a filet mignon.  It was rewarding and satisfying on several simultaneous levels.  I was delighted with the social and personal insights that the mere-mortal author provided.

Piss-offily

If you are looking for a good chuckle, here are a few of the funniest quotes ever.

Crossing the road

“I have noticed that even people who claim everything is predetermined and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.” —Stephen Hawking, physicist

Insurance gods

“The only people who still call hurricanes acts of God are the people who write insurance forms.” —Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist.

Open-minded

“By all means let’s be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out.” —Richard Dawkins, scientist

Narrow-minded

“He was so narrow-minded, he could see through a keyhole with both eyes.” —Molly Ivins, author

Family debate

“I’ve come to learn that the best time to debate family members is when they have food in their mouths.” —Kenneth Cole, fashion designer

Marriage from heaven

“They say marriages are made in Heaven. But so is thunder and lightning.” —Clint Eastwood

Get married

“My advice to you is get married: If you find a good wife you’ll be happy; if not, you’ll become a philosopher.” —Socrates

Slow computer test

“Before you marry a person, you should first make them use a computer with slow Internet service to see who they really are.” —Will Ferrell

Someone you love

“Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth, and you should save it for someone you love.” —Butch Hancock, country musician

Marriage gift

“Instead of getting married again, I’m going to find a woman I don’t like and just give her a house.” —Rod Stewart, rock star

Everything has a consequence

“All the things I like to do are either immoral, illegal, or fattening.” —Alexander Woollcott, actor

Bacon is everything

“When you have bacon in your mouth, it doesn’t matter who’s president.” —Louis CK

Spending foolishly

“Part of [the $10 million] went for gambling, horses, and women. The rest I spent foolishly.” —George Raft, film star

No character

“I was going to sue for defamation of character, but then I realized I have no character.” —Charles Barkley, TV basketball analyst

A Love Of Reading

Even for a grumpy, retired old dude like me, with nothing much to do, COVID-infested infected 2020 provided me with a little extra time to read ‘em and reap.  I thought that I was doing well, but….  The son swore off TV some years ago, and spends all his spare time reading – something.  He still reads the occasional dead-tree book, but gets most of his from Kindle Unlimited.  Kindle keeps track of how many books he has read – and reread.  In 2019, he went through 152.  During Apocalypse 2020, his list numbered 213.  I recently went to bed.  By the time I arose, eight hours later, he’d (re)read 3 books.
I only got these 37.

Hawking dumbed down ‘A Brief History of Time’ enough that I understood a lot of it. Mlodinow further simplified the concepts, in this version.

Book number 6 of The Expanse series. I am currently watching my way through series number five, on Amazon Prime

Interstellar Sci-Fi, with magic. Thanx to the son for introducing me to this series.

A time-filling men’s adventure book

A little bit of spaceships and ray-guns Sci-Fi

Alternate-Earth, with magic. Second book, Red Magic will be in this year’s list.

More Action/Adventure

A Sci-Fi book about time travel. One of several read last year.

A stand-alone book from these author’s ‘Magic” series, explaining some plot focus changes, and allowing for the beginning of a new series.

A murder mystery from fellow blogger K J Ivany. A post about this book will soon follow.

The culmination of the ‘Magic’ series. Swords, vampires, shapeshifter were-animals, and various monsters. It’s been fun.

Book #2, mate to last year’s ‘Saints.’

Book number five of The Expanse Series – the one I’m currently streaming. Thanx BrainRants – great reading, and watching.

Bourne Identity type of men’s action/adventure

Another in The Innkeeper, ‘Sweep’ series. This husband/wife writing team are almost as prolific as Isaac Asimov, with four series and several singletons.

More mindless men’s adventure. I am highly qualified.

Another Jack Reacher book. Another in the series has just been released for this year’s reading. As Clive Cussler passed his series on to his son, so has Lee Child passed his on to his son.

Tom Clancy’s heirs just passed the writing of the Jack Ryan series on to a committee of commercial writers.

Same series – different author

An invading alien machine makes the gods of Greece, Egypt and Rome real for those trapped inside a reality bubble.

If one was fun – and more importantly – sold, let’s trap another group with the Norse gods.

One of several ‘Classic’ Sci-Fi books that I reread. A book review will soon follow.

I realized that I had not read this book in the 1960s, so I bought it from Kindle for $1.99.

For the same two bucks, Star Rangers (above), came attached to this book, which I had read in the mid-’60s, titled ‘The Last Planet.’ As a matched pair, this second novel now makes more sense.

Eight millennia-old immortals among us, and how they have dealt with change. Another upcoming book review will tell you how.

Historical/urban fiction to pass the time

More Sci-Fi rereading. I originally read this, titled as ‘The Junkyard Planet.’ How to pull a failed world up by its financial bootstraps.

More interesting men’s action/adventure to pass the time. The first of another series which I believe I have to thank River Girl for introducing me to. The rest will help keep me busy in 2021.

Another reread from the ’60s. Urban fiction which barely qualifies as Sci-Fi because a man finds a way to get rich through industrial espionage, by inventing a device which allows him to move about, unseen and unstopped, while time stands still for everyone else.

More historical/urban fiction. They contain a pleasant amount of fascinating trivia.

Not much blood and guts, but lots of brains and gunplay. Solid story arc and character development.

Were the ten plagues of Egypt actually real?? Is the entire biome of the Earth a semi-sentient, interlocked, Gaia-type entity? Dunno! But it makes good reading.

Another ghost-writer, for Clive Cussler, presents a period-piece action/adventure whose hero is an early 20th century detective, reminiscent of the real Alan Pinkerton.

Time travel without leaving home. Bits and pieces of geography and time periods are inexplicably swirled together. Can our hero figure out how to put it all back where/when it belongs?

Centuries of life through organ transplants for planetary monarchs, but not for the their subjects. A topic brought up in this ’60s novel. The author also wrote the 1776/1976 American Bicentennial Saga series. If I read this book soon after its release, I don’t remember it. It was a pleasant discovery in a storage box.

At least one book to reinforce my lack of belief in the supernatural/religion. A disappointing little 156-page novelette with several passages repeated in different chapters.  Trying to justify his position through  philosophy and logic – and failing miserably.  As dry and tasteless as Muffets.

COVID19 should have given most of you some extra time this past year to read.  Aside from my magnificent prose, did you encounter anything morally or intellectually uplifting?

Not For A Billion Dollars

Charles Ray Fuller, a Texas dumb-dumb, tried to cash a bogus check for $360 BILLION. To top it off, the check wasn’t even made out to him. He was arrested on forgery charges and sentenced to a million billion years in prison.

***

A West Palm Beach, FL man was arrested on a slew of charges, and was perhaps a bit too honest on his arrest report. He listed his occupation as “drug dealer” and was charged with being the most obvious criminal in the history of crime.

***

Things were looking up for Frank Singleton when he was released from jail. However, when he realized that he didn’t have a ride home, he walked straight into the prison parking lot and attempted to carjack a woman. He was foiled when he realized that he couldn’t drive a car with a stick shift. As he was re-arrested – this time, for felony carjacking – Singleton told police that he simply “didn’t feel like walking.” We’ve all been there.

***

Polish author Krystian Bala, might’ve gotten away with murder… if he hadn’t written about it in his book. His 2003 novel Amok became a bestseller in Poland, but he paid the price when police noticed that the details of a murder in the book eerily matched those of an unsolved case.

The similarities led the police to investigate further, discovering connections between Bala and the victim, including the fact that the victim was romantically involved with Bala’s ex-wife. Whether or not he was inspired by the OJ Simpson “novel” based on a similar subject is unknown. What is known that he received 25 years in prison.

***

The dumbest policeman in the world, who was making some extra cash with drugs and prostitution, was brought to justice after driving a $170,000 Ferrari to work. Osman Iqbal, an officer based in Birmingham England, was jailed for seven years for running a brothel.

***

John Pearce came to realize the hazards of daylight burglary when in the course of climbing through a window, his foot became caught, leaving him dangling upside-down in plain sight of pedestrians walking down the busy sidewalk. Onlookers proceeded to mock him mercilessly until police arrived.

***

A 22-year-old man in Mineral Wells, TX landed himself behind bars after allegedly posting on his Facebook page that he had more than a dozen warrants out for his arrest. The warrants ranged from traffic citations to petty theft and totaled more than $1,200 in fines.

***

Let it be known that you can now be arrested for ballin’ on a budget. William Anderson, 51, was arrested after attracting attention by applying for welfare while driving an H2 Hummer. Thinking it an odd sight, the local sheriff ran the plates, and the vehicle came up as stolen.

***

An Ohio man reportedly called 911 numerous times, threatening to harm himself, after he had downed an entire bottle of Everclear because his pet pig, Millie, had eaten all of his marijuana. He was charged with disorderly conduct and later said that he would keep his weed out of reach of his pot bellied pig.

***

A 56-year-old woman’s boldly idiotic defense in her trial for drunk driving was that the alcohol did not affect her because she kept one eye closed to avoid seeing double. She was sentenced to two months in prison. If she keeps her eye closed it could cut it down to one.

***

A Florida man and woman spent two days trapped in what they said they believed to be a locked closet – until police let them out and discovered that the door was actually never locked.

John Arwood and Amber Campbell claimed they were chased into a janitor’s closet at Daytona State College in Daytona Beach, FL, by unidentified assailants. They were charged with trespassing and Campbell was also charged with violating her probation.

Book Review #23

more research into Christianity vs. Secularism. The author has more than 20 books about the New Testament. I just can’t believe that he points out all the mistakes and contradictions…. yet says that he still believes.

Christian Apologists insist that Atheists “rebel against God,” or “deny God,” or, “have something against God,” usually attached to a baseless claim that they do it so that they can ‘sin’.  This old Atheist – especially as I get older and older – certainly doesn’t.  My sinning days are long past.  Substitute the word unicorn, for God.  I don’t rebel against unicorns.  I don’t deny unicorns.  I don’t have something against unicorns.  I would love it if they actually existed.  I just don’t see any evidence for either.

Like most other Atheists that I know, as the specter of my imminent demise looms closer and closer, I would welcome the existence of a God, a Savior, Salvation, Heaven and Eternal Life.  In the futile hope of some proof, I sometimes seek the knowledge and opinions of experts.

The Book: Jesus Interrupted

The Author: Bart Ehrman

The review:  I start with an author whose name made me suspect that he was Jewish.  I thought that I might get a glimpse of the New Testament from the outside.  I was mistaken and disappointed.  Still, he attended three prestigious theological colleges, has degrees, and letters behind his name.  He should know something.  He has published over 20 books about different aspects of the New Testament.

He now teaches at a theological college.  He says that, almost without exception, each year’s new batch of students think they do – but really don’t – have any idea of what the Bible actually says.  He laid out a trail of over a hundred examples of Biblical errors, contradictions, misinterpretations, insertions, deletions, forgeries, books credited to Paul or the Apostles but actually written by someone else.

A couple of the forgeries made it into the Canon.  A few of the books which seem valid to researchers were left out.  The four Apostolic Gospels, and Paul’s writings, don’t agree with each other.  He admits that they were intentionally skewed (deceptive propaganda) to mislead different groups, to get them to join the movement.  Of the graduates who go on to become priests, preachers or ministers, he has never heard of one who teaches, or even mentions, any of this to their congregations.

As I was reading this book, I encountered a female Atheist blogger who was reading one of his other books.  She thought that he was, at least, an Agnostic.  In my book, he says that he is a non-denominational Christian.  He shows how modern Christian dogma and Orthodoxy came into being, just because the group centered in Rome – weren’t true and correct – just better organized and more powerful. 

After all of this, he says that he ignores all these inconvenient details, and believes in Christ as a Savior, because the underlying story is so uplifting.  He claims that he will not officially join a particular religion or Christian Denomination until he finds one which doesn’t harass or marginalize females or LGBTQ.  😯  Well, good luck with that.

Each year, when it comes time to teach why the Jews do not accept Jesus as the Messiah, he shows them how He does not fill the requirements in Hebrew religious law.  To them, Jesus was just an itinerant, apocalyptic rabbi, who claimed to speak for God.  He uses the analogy of how foolish it would be for Christians to accept the similar claims of David Koresh, of Waco’s Branch Davidian.  Each year, at least one student complains on their professor evaluation form, “I can’t believe that Ehrman believes that David Koresh is the Lord of the Universe.”  He finds it amusing.  I find it amusing that he does not see the irony.

As always, I had hoped to learn something new.  All I learned was to choose my reading more carefully.

’20 A To Z Challenge – L


What else do I need to say??! I’m not usually tongue-tied, although some people have suggested that it should be put in handcuffs…. Tongue-cuffs??…. I’ll check with the ‘Adult Store.’ They may have something really, fucking kinky.

LALOCHEZIA everyone! Shed the stress. 😈 If you make bail on the public profanity charge, stop back in a couple of days.
***

Adventures In Non-Sequitur Land

This is a framed copy of a reproduction of a Saturday Evening Post cover. It, and a mug with his name, –CYRIL – were all I got back from the nursing home, after my Father died. I don’t know where, or when, or how, he obtained it. I never saw it hanging in my parents’ little house.

Those who know me, know that I am Psmith. Dad was always a little distant, and self-centered. It pleases me to believe that the why that he obtained it, was because of me.

A year ago, when I wanted to attach it to my ‘I’ve Never Herd Of Smith’ post, I kept getting a message from WordPress – Error. Unable to upload image. There are two copies of this image, one taken with a camera, and the other with the scanner/printer. WordPress would accept neither. Recently – JUST BECAUSE – I tried again, and it slid smoothly into the Media file.   😳

Flash Fiction #234

Negotiation

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

VROOM! VROOM!

I’m not a very good bargainer, but I really wanted that second-hand Toyota Supra!  Like cars from my youth – only better.  Something I could feel as I piloted it, not computer-ridden, and self-driving.

Not midlife-crisis-red, it had a four-speed stick-shift, and was painted Electric BlueTravis McGee would approve.*

He was asking $18,000.

I offered $12,000 – book-value.

Standard transmission is rarer – $17,000

I’m stealing from my son’s inheritance – $13,000

It’s got four brand-new tires – $16,000

My credit card is melting. – $14,000

My wife is expecting our first. – $15,000!

Radar-detectors are illegal.  I must be careful.

***

* Author John D. MacDonald invented a Miami-based character named Travis McGee. To support himself, he specialized in finding and returning items that were not precisely ‘legally’ lost, because they may not have been exactly legally owned in the first place – all for a 50% cut.  In novels written between 1964 and 1984, he drove a 1939 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud, which someone had Frankensteined into a pickup truck, and painted Electric Blue.

***

Join the Friday Fictioneers.  Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

friday-fictioneers-badge-web

Jabberwocky

Jabberwocky

In my Poetry In Motion post, I groused that the poetry of some WordPress authors didn’t make a lot of sense. YOU AIN’T SEEN NOTHIN’ YET!! There is a small group of posters who don’t write poetry…. but what they do write can’t be classed as prose, either. I think a couple of them have swallowed random word generators – or non-prescription medication. They may be the authors of some of those strangely-worded spam comments that you get. Here are some examples.

I was heard the sea and are like unto the leopard and made the great favour with his neck and said Figold was handsome.

At a little finger is the sky where she had given to divert the latest news who have his dead and cried but Horn stayed at sunrise.

That would not recognising him to seawhere may be preserved from his real name and as he heard a band of brotherhood we will give birth and he heard these saw her! Better thou wilt hear the guardians of some evil would sooner be the offing.

HUH?? That was actually one of the more comprehensible. Here’s another.

We have the hand when I shall rather live, we are unconscious life of April last are enigmas.

To us that I will superintend their Circulating and in a square hole in the mischief-makers in reforming and in the funny books too large results given by Christian name, which they cover.

The responsibility of Socrates.

It exploded in us.

They are the country as the medium of independence, of taking the mature age of that things unto this particular I lifted my mind.

Notwithstanding, we might after the mental, moral wound within him.

Perhaps he has furnished great degree, and cutting off his wide from her own personality, however great.

Even the tanks, you that for we read in the seen within it, the Patriarch Nerses to accomplish some old as sensibly alters their planes and artists, leisured people, whilst it can solve some observations on Allison’s Fort and butchered before we got another example of dealing out a chapter of Nerves preserve their fatherland.

Is this some kind of code?? Are we supposed to read every fourth word?? Who spends the time and effort to type out and post this kind of thing – and why?? There seems to be a group of about 6 authors, who each can publish 2 or 3 posts every day of this kind of nonsense gobbledygook. I am at a loss to find any meaning or justification. Are they Pentecostals, “Speaking In Tongues??” Anybody got any idea…. or a translation?

’19 A To Z Challenge – Y

AtoZ2019Letter Y

Yahoo, cowboy! Saddle up that magnificent steed, and…. plod off into a cloud of dust and tumbleweeds. Today’s yewsless…. uh, useless word is

Yaud

noun Scot. and North England.
a mare, especially an old, worn-out one.

1350–1400; Middle English yald < Old Norse jalda mare

Don Quixote

It is matched with another, taken from Spanish, rocinante.
Rocinante is Don Quixote’s male horse in the novel Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. In many ways, Rocinante is not only Don Quixote’s horse, but also his double: like Don Quixote, he is awkward, past his prime, and engaged in a task beyond his capacities.

Perhaps, between failing mental abilities and failing eyesight, Quixote winds up tilting at windmills, thinking that they are dragons, and that he is protecting the populace. Since he is a minor noble, like the problem of the ‘Emperor’s New Clothes,’ no-one tells him, or tries to stop him.

Bay

The original Spanish term was rosinante, (rosy) a red-colored horse, what in English, would be called a bay.

Abaddon's Gate

It is because of the above description, that the authors of both the books, and the TV series, The Expanse had the captain rename the “inherited” space cruiser, Rocinante. While formidably armed, it was a bit past its prime, and the small crew desperately used it for tasks that should be beyond its capabilities, tilting at interplanetary, and eventually, interstellar windmills.

Distracted

If I have been successful, most of you will have been so distracted by horses, TV space series, and classic literature, that you will not have noticed that 95% of this post is not about its stated subject. Instead, I have veered off at a strange angle – just like my favorite Y-shaped bridge in Zanesville, Ohio.

Y-bridge