Saturday, 27 May 2017

The Missus' Music Challenge, the History and Science Excerpts and the Birth Day Thing

Well, the sunshine continues and is supposed to for a few more days. It's been a bit more enjoyable to watch the Blue Jays; they've been improving. Time will tell if they can continue to improve. *fingers crossed*

In Jo's Facebook Music Challenge, we've had two more subjects. It's been fun as it's a nice variety of people providing their song choices and it makes for a wide variety of music. Even my older brother, who isn't on 'the Facebook' has been keeping up with my BLog inputs and emailing me suggestions for the different categories.

We've now gone through Day 5 and Day 6 on the list. Day 5 was Songs that need to be Played Loud. My suggestion was an old rock song by Led Zeppelin, The Immigrant Song. I remember hearing it first in Germany when my Dad was stationed there. If I'm not mistaken, it was when we moved to Lahr and for a time lived on the economy. I think my neighbour's son, Bernd Popp, had the album. It was a great song. Some other inputs to this category included my wife's, of course, Freddie Mercury & Montserrat Caballé with Barcelona, mu sis-in-law, Sue, with Rainbow and I Surrender, and my brother with The Hollies and Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress. Some others were Iron Maiden and Powerslave, Nickelback and This is How you Remind Me, Derek and the Dominoes and Layla, etc. Some excellent songs and a nice variety.

Day 6 was Songs that Make You Want to Dance. I picked one that we used to play at our university parties, a great polka song, The Beatles and Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da. These were some of the others; Pixie Lott and All About Tonight (the missus), Shakira and Hips Don't Lie, Chris Rea and Let's Dance, Evelyn 'Champagne' King and Shame (Sis-in-law Sue), etc. Check the songs out. They are all great. Just go to You Tube.

Tonight's category is a bit similar to Day 5, although I bet the songs will be surprising. The category for Day 7 is A Song to Drive to. I've got a few in mind, not sure what I'll end up with. The missus is in the other room checking out songs for all the upcoming categories. It's nice when something makes you think of music or books or things that make you feel good.

Great Historical Events

Todays' excerpt continues with the action at the Battle of Lexington.

"1775. The colonists had 50 killed and 28 wounded and missing. There were never more than 400 of the Americans engaged at one time, and no discipline was observed among them.
The Congress of Massachusetts calls upon the N.E. colonies for an army of 30,000 men. Massachusetts pledging 13,600 of the number.
May. - Gen. Gage is reinforced from Great Britain by a large body of soldiers under Gens. Howe, Burgoyne, and Clinton.
May 10. - Ticonderoga and Crown Point were taken by Ethan Allen, aided by Col. Benedict Arnold and Col. Seth Warner.
Col. Benedict Arnold captured a British sloop of war, and gained command of Lake Champlain.
June 15. - George Washington was appointed commander-in-chief of the American army."

Next excerpt will continue with the American Revolution and the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Science of Common Things (as provided by Prof. L.G. Gorton)

"Is an escape of illuminating gas dangerous to life? It is dangerous to breathe, and is very liable to explode if a light is taken near it. How can we detect an escape of gas? By our sense of smell. What are the other sources of hydro-carbon in our dwellings? The decomposing animal and vegetable substance of drains and water closets. Great care should be taken to secure effective drainage, and in keeping the drain pipes in order."

Next we find out about heat and sources of heat. :)

The Birth Day Thing 10 November 1983

Billboard US #1 Single 10 November 1983

Islands in the Stream by Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton. While I do like both singers; I saw Kenny Rogers in concert once and he put on an excellent show, this isn't one of my favourite songs. I don't mean it's not good, as it is, just not really my taste. Now, having said this, and having not heard it for many, many years, I'll probably love it. The song was written for the Gibbs brothers, originally for Marvin Gaye in an R&B style, only to be changed later for Mr. Rogers and Ms. Parton. It gave them both their second Pop #1 hit single.

UK #1 Single 10 November 1983

Uptown Girl by Billy Joel. Of the two songs, I much prefer this one. The song was written by Joel, produced by Phil Ramone and was the 2nd single from his A Single Man album. A Single Man was Joel's 9th studio album.

New York Times #1 Fiction Best Seller 10 November 1983

Poland by James Michener. In my 1982 entry, I mentioned that I was getting bored by Michener hogging the Best Seller list on my birthday. Now I'm downright pissed off!!! (OK, just kidding, but really! Sheesh!)
Can you guess what the story might possibly be about, without looking it up? Can you? Can you????
takes a deep breath...
The story tells of the trials and tribulations of three Polish families over an 8 century time-frame, ending in the present. ONLY THE TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS??? OK, calm down, calmez-vous... Whew.
I think I need to move on to the next subject. :)

Pulitzer Prize Winner 1983

The Color Purple by Alice Walker. I have to admit that I've never read the book or seen the movie and I know it is one that I should make the time for. Maybe I was just in a bad mood when it came out and the spelling of 'colour' irritated me. Now I am just kidding.
The book is a classic and was turned into an excellent movie by Stephen Spielberg, receiving 11 Oscar nominations, including Best Movie, Best Actress in a Leading role and two for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.
It tells the struggles of a black woman's struggles to find her identity after abuse by her father and others over a period of 4 decades.

Nobel Prize Laureate 1983

William Golding (UK). William Golding was born Newquay, Cornwall, England in 1911and died in 1993. He is probably best known (at least by me) for his book, Lord of the Flies, one I've read two or three time and whose movie adaptations I've also seen. He was a novelist, playwright and poet. I previously mentioned that he also won the Man Booker Prize for the first book in his sea trilogy, Rites of Passage. He was awarded the Nobel Laureate 'for his novels, which with the perspicuity of realistic narrative art and the diversity and universality of myth, illuminate the human condition in the world of today.'

Hugo Award Winner 1983

Foundation's Edge by Isaac Asimov. The Foundation and Empire trilogy by Isaac Asimov was long a favourite of mine. It started a long love affair with his Science Fiction writing; the Robot books and The Fantastic Voyage.
Now having said that Foundation's Edge was a book in the Foundation and Empire trilogy, I read that, in fact, he added other books, including Foundations Edge (the 4th book) to this series. I don't know that I read any more than the original three, which came out originally in the '50s. I recommend trying them if you are just getting into SciFi as they are all excellent books. His Robot novels might even be better. The foundation books are based on fictional mathematician Hari Seldon's psychohistory, which foresees the fall of the Galactic Empire and the battle between the rebel Foundation and the Empire.

Edgar Award Winner 1983

Billingsgate Shoal by Rick Boyer. This is a new book and author for me. Rick Boyer is an American writer best known for his crime novels featuring Charlie 'Doc' Adams, a dental surgeon from New England. Billingsgate Shoal is the first book in this series, the last of which was published in 1998.
'First, a fishing trawler runs aground on the Massachusetts shore. Then a young scuba diver sent to investigate the wreck is found dead in the water. Doc Adams, a friend of the dead diver, sets out through the stormy seas and blood-flecked sands of Cape Cod to plumb a murder he should have prevented. There he uncovers a hidden treasure in illegal arms and is nearly killed in the process. Doc lets the world think he's dead, the better to hunt for the killers of his friend. But if he makes a single mistake, he'll be clam chowder.'

Man Booker Prize Winner 1983

Life and Times of Michael K by J.M. Coetzee. While I've heard of South African writer, Coetzee and have seen his books, I haven't read any yet. Besides the Booker Prize, he has also been awarded the Nobel Prize, but more on that at a later date. He moved to Australia in 2002 and now resides there.
The Life and Times of Michael K was his fourth novel. The novel tells the story of Michael K, a man who makes a journey from Cape Town to his mother's rural birthplace during an imaginary civil war during the Apartheid period.

There you go for another day. Now it's time to take the hounds out for a walk and then read a bit more of my Nevil Shute novel, Most Secret. Excellent book, as all of the Shute novels I've read, have been. Have a great Sunday!

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Music, Book Buying and the Birth Day Thing

Jo and Fiona's final trip to Victoria before Fiona flew home
Before I get into the normal subject matter, I just want to mention this puzzling item. Every time I log into my BLog, I start off by checking my stats. Basically, I want to see if anyone is actually taking a look at it. (Yes, I'm that vain.. :)) Normally, if I've been posting fairly regularly, there are 30 or so visitors; mostly from the US and Canada. Once a month or so, however, the visits spike amazingly (for me anyway), to 400 or 500 a day. And the odd thing is that the people visiting are from Russia. Or at the very least, their URLs, I guess, are from there. I do find it kind of strange, especially with all this palaver going on in the US these days.

No, Fiona didn't fly back to England on this plane. At least I don't think so.
Anyway, just one of those curious things. Like I have anything interesting to say to Russia.. lol. As I was downloading the photos of my latest book purchases from Jo's camera this morning, I noticed there were also some photos of their trip to Victoria. Jo booked a night in Victoria to show Fiona a bit of the city before she flew back to England the next morning; from Victoria to Vancouver to catch her connecting flight. Jo stayed at our normal hotel and as usual, took a few pics from the balcony of Victoria Harbour. The first is a look at the Empress Hotel, an old CN hotel. The other of the float planes that fly back and forth to Vancouver each day; a constant stream of them arriving and departing.

The view from the study this morning
It's been lovely and sunny this past week; fairly windy the last couple of days. But everything is blooming and flowers are all over the place. You can see the nice view from my study window this morning. The yard on that side needs some work. When we had a couple of the fir trees topped off last fall, the guys pretty well destroyed that yard, dropping huge stumps from the top and leaving holes all over the place. I have to get some top soil and level it out and reseed. Too bad I'm so lazy, eh?

OK, on to my normal subjects. I'm going to forego the Great Historical Events and the Science of Common Things portions and instead update on some recent book purchasing. The howls of dismay are deafening. Don't worry, I'll get back to it next time. ;0)

30 Day Music Challenge

First, an update on the Music Challenge that missus started on You Tube a couple of days ago. We've now done Days 2 - 4 of the Challenge and once again interesting choices made by everybody participating.

Day 2 was A Song with a number in the Title.

I had a couple in mind and ended up picking Blondie's One Way or Another. Jo picked Vanessa Carlton's A Thousand Miles, excellent choice. Some of the others were; Ringo Starr - You're Sixteen, Noah and the Whale - 5 Year's Time, Blur - Song 2, Nena - 99 Luftballoons, The Four Seasons - December 1963, etc.

Day 3 was A Song that reminds you of Summertime.

I picked one that I used to play when I was a DJ back in Cold Lake Alberta. It always makes me think of summer; Martha and the Muffins and Echo Beach. It's always been a favourite. Once again there were so many other excellent, varies suggestions; Level 42 - Freedom Someday, Texas - Summer Son, The Beatles - Here Comes the Sun, Don Henley - Boys of Summer, The Sundays - Summertime, etc.

Day 4 is being done today; kind of a difficult one for me. The category is A Song that reminds you of somebody you'd rather forget about. I haven't been in all that many relationships in my life and I also don't tend to identify people with particular songs. But I did come up with one idea and, without going into any specifics why, I provided Metallica's Enter Sandman. Jo added Mariah Carey - Always Be My Baby. Some of the others so far today have been; Daniel Lanois - Rocky World, Soft Cell - Tainted Love, Aerosmith - I Don't Want to Miss a Thing, Tears for Fears - Start of a Breakdown and Devil - You Make Me Sick.

It's been interesting to see how many people have been having fun with this. And lots of neat songs that I've never heard before. Day 5 will be A Song That Needs to be Played Loud. Ooh, so many possibilities.

Recent Book Purchases

I traded in a few books the other day and while I was at the store also picked up a few more books. Jo and I went downtown yesterday and I checked out another store while she was wandering around and picked up three more. Here are the books I bought.

1. Mo Hayder - Hanging Hill. I have read two of Hayder's thrillers so far; Birdman and The Treatment and enjoyed them both. They are the first two books in the Jack Caffery mystery series. I liked The Treatment more, but I think that's often the case; as a writer gets their feet on the ground and get more familiar with their main characters and writing styles, they become more comfortable and fluid with their stories. Hanging Hill is a standalone and it sounds interesting. The synopsis is below.

"When Sally's daughter gets into trouble, she has to find cash - lots of it - and fast. With no one to help her, she is forced into a criminal world of extreme pornography and illegal drugs, a world in which teenage girls can go missing.
Meanwhile, Sally's sister, Zoe, a detective with the British police, has her own set of problems. Confident and hard-working, no one would guess that she hides a crippling secret that dates back twenty years and that, if exposed, would destroy her.
Two sisters intent on survival find themselves in situations they never expected to face. Then one does something so horrible and desperate that there's no way back..."

2. Ann Cleeves - Harbour Street. This is one of Cleeves' Vera stories. I've read a couple so far and enjoyed, just as I've enjoyed the TV series based on the books. I've also read some of her Shetland books, enjoyed them too.

I remember the TV version of this particular story. It'll be interesting to see the similarities and differences between the two. This is the synopsis.

"In Newcastle, Detective Joe Ashworth and his daughter Jessie travel home on the busy Metro. The train is stopped unexpectedly, and Jessie sees that one woman doesn't leave with the other passengers: Margaret Krukowski has been fatally stabbed.
No one saw the murder take place. How could this be, when the train was packed? Searching for a lead, DI Vera Stanhope heads to the quiet Northumberland town of Mardle to investigate. She can feel in her bones that the local residents know more than they are letting on: a killer is among the.
Just days later, a second woman is murdered. Retracing the victim's final steps, Vera finds herself searching deep into the hidden past of this seemingly innocent neighbourhood, led by clues that keep revolving around one street: why are the residents of Harbour Street so reluctant to speak?"

3. Simon Brett - Blood at the Bookies. I do like Simon Brett's mysteries. I've read on of his Charles Paris stories so far and the first 3 of the Fethering mysteries, of which Blood at the Bookies belongs. I have yet to try his Mrs. Pargeter series, just trying to find the first book, really.

The stories could be classified as cozies, I guess. But there are nice differences between each series, more humour in the Charles Paris books. But, so far, both series I've tried have been very entertaining.

"Jude has never been averse to a bit of a flutter. Her friend Carole, on the other hand, thinks that the local betting shop is a den of iniquity. But when Jude stumbles upon the body of Polish immigrant Tadeusz Jankowski, the amateur lady detectives race to find his killer.
The odds aren't looking good. No one seems to know anything about mysterious Tadeusz. As they question the local residents, Carole fins an unexpected friend in an inveterate gambler, and Jude finds herself in potentially more trouble than she can handle with a lecherous and charming drama professor.
In this race there can only be one winner, but with no leads and several suspects in the running, will our lady detectives be pipped at the post by a cold and calculating killer?"

4. Georges Simenon - Maigret Hesitates / Maigret Takes the Waters. I've been slowly collecting and reading this classic series. I've enjoyed the stories very much; the writing style, French Inspector Maigret's investigating style and the stories. It's a long series so it'll keep me busy for a few years yet. This book contains two of the Maigret stories.

"Maigret Hesitates - Paris in Spring and Maigret's mood, as sunny as the weather, is overshadowed by the arrival of an anonymous letter telling of an impending murder. The letter is traced to the cold, embittered household of a prominent Paris lawyer where Maigret soon uncovers the writer's identity. But in spite of this knowledge and the vigilance of his men, the Inspector is unable to prevent the horrifying tragedy.
Maigret Takes the Waters - Far from the bustle of Paris, Madame Maigret is amazed at her husband's placid acceptance of the dull but curative routine of Vichy. Until, that is, the death of Helene Lange by strangulation. Maigret, at first reluctantly involved, soon makes some extraordinary discoveries. Not only about the apparently harmless victim, but also about her sister. And a man who, like Maigret, is ostensibly in Vichy to take the cure."

5. China Miéville - Embassytown. I've so far read one of Miéville's unique fantasy novels, Perdido Street Station. It really grabbed my attention and I found it difficult to put down. I hope the other books I've managed to find will continue in that vein.

"Embassytown: a city of contradictions on the outskirts of the universe.
Avice is an immerse, a traveller on the immer, the sea of space and time below the everyday, now returned to her birth planet. Here on Arieka, Humans are not the only intelligent life, and Avice has a rare bond with the natives, the enigmatic Hosts - who cannot lie.
Only a tiny cadre of unique human Ambassadors can speak Language, and connect the two communities. But an unimaginable new arrival has come to Embassytown. And when this Ambassador speaks, everything changes.
Catastrophe looms. Avice knows the only hope is for her to speak directly to the alien Hosts.
And that is impossible."

6. Donna Leon - Drawing Conclusions. Leon's Inspector Brunetti series ranks up there as one of my favourite series. The books are a pleasure to read. I love the setting; Venice. I enjoy all of the characters, from the Inspector to his police investigators, to the beautiful, enigmatic secretary, Signora Elletra and on to his wonderful family, lead by his wife, Paola. The food is tempting; there is great joy thinking about the dinners the family enjoys or those quick meals (can you have a quick meal in Venice?) Brunetti grabs at the local restaurants and bars. Everything about the stories, including the politics, the interesting crimes and Brunetti's thoughts and values, make them entertaining, enjoyable reads.

"In Drawing Conclusions, the twentieth novel in Donna Leon's brilliant Brunetti series, young Signora Giusti arrives home after a holiday and senses that all is not right in the apartment below. When she investigates, she find her neighbour, an elderly widow, lying lifeless on the floor. The autopsy shows that Signora Altavilla's death was due to a heart attack - a verdict which her son seems to hear with a great deal of relief. Brunetti, however, is convinced that things are not as straight-forward as they appear."

7. Joan D. Vinge - The Snow Queen. Vinge is a new author for me. I noted the book down when it appeared on my list of Hugo Winners that I've been going through as part of my Birth Day Thing posts. I saw it at one of my local used book stores yesterday so I thought I would give the book a try.

"The Winter colonists have ruled Tiamat for 150 years, slaughtering the gentle sea mers in trade for off-world wealth. But soon the gate to the galactic Hegemony will close, Tiamat will be isolated, and the 150-year reign of the Summer primitives will begin. Unless...
Arienhod, the ageless, corrupt Snow Queen, can commit a genocidal crime - and destroy destiny... unless Sparks Dawntreader, the Snow Queen's companion, can survive sea and city, palace and slums - and find destiny... unless Hegemony Commander Jerusha Palathion, the Snow Queen's victim, can find one ally on Tiamat - and change destiny...
And unless Moon Summer, a young mystic, can break down a conspiracy that spans space - and control destiny. Because Moon is the Snow Queen's lost weapon. The Snow Queen's lost rival. The Snow Queen's lost nemesis. The Snow Queen's lost soul. Moon is the Snow Queen's clone."

The Birth Day Thing 10 November 1982

US Billboard #1 Single 10 November 1982

Up Where We Belong by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes. This was the theme song from An Officer and a Gentleman. I didn't realize that one of the songs writers was Canadian Buffy Ste. Marie. Great song and great movie.

UK #1 Single 10 November 1982

Do You Really Want to Hurt Me by Culture Club. Boy George and Culture Club formed in 1981. At the time they weren't one of my favourite groups. I think that I got tired of hearing Karma Chameleon and Do You Really Want to Hurt Me. More recently, I've begun to appreciate their songs as I've listened to others of their efforts. They were obviously popular and successful, having sold over 50 millions records world wide. Do You Really Want to Hurt Me was a collaborative writing effort.

New York Times #1 Fiction Best Seller 10 November 1982

Space by James Michener. I'm almost getting bored with all of the books by Michener that seem to have been #1 on my birthdays. This is the 5th since 1955 and trust me, it won't be the last.

The book is a fictionalised account of the US Space program with emphasis on the manned space program.

Pulitzer Prize Winner 1982

Rabbit is Rich by John Updike. This was the 3rd book in a 4-part series by Updike, including Rabbit, Run, Rabbit Redux and finishing with Rabbit at Rest. This third book continues to explore the life of Harry 'Rabbit' Angstrom. It's not a series I've ever explored, but maybe someday.

Nobel Prize Laureate 1982

Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Colombia). Gabriel Garcia Marquez was a Colombian novelist, short story writer and screen writer who lived from 1927 - 2014. He was awarded his Nobel Prize 'for his novels and short stories, in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent's life and conflicts.'

Hugo Award Winner 1982

Down Below Station by CJ Cherryh. CJ Cherryh is another SciFi author that I haven't explored. I've picked up quite a few of her books but because I've got so many books on the go, I tended to put them back.

CJ Cherryh has written over 60 novels and short story collections. Down Below Station forms one of the novels of her Alliance-Union series. It is the first book in the Company Wars.

Edgar Award Winner 1982

Peregrine by William Bayer. One of the things I've enjoyed most about this Birth Day thing is the songs I've been unfamiliar with and the number of authors that I've been unfamiliar with and who I'm looking forward to checking out.

William Bayer is one of those new authors. Bayer is an American novelist who has written over 20 novels. He wrote a series featuring NY Police Lieutenant, Frank Janek, which became a series of 7 CBS TV movies starring Richard Crenna as Frank Janek.

Peregrine was the first of his Janek novels. It tells the story of a falconer who brings terror to the citizens of New York with a series of murders caused by his falcons. Sounds interesting.

Man Booker Prize Winner 1982

Schindler's List by Thomas Kenneally. This is one of those books you should read at least once. In fact, once might be enough. It's that powerful.

I probably don't have to describe it as it's also been made into a fantastic movie by Stephen Spielberg. It tells the story of August Schindler, a Nazi party member, who risks his life to help save over 1,200 Jews from Nazi concentration camps throughout World War II.

Amazing story and excellent book and movie.

Next post moving on to 1983. :) Have a great day. I'm off to donate some of my old blood.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Music and the Normal Stuff

Wow! It's another beautiful sunny day here in the valley. Dare I say it's almost too warm? No, I guess not. It's just lovely.

My wife, Jo, posted a fun 30 day challenge on You Tube yesterday. For Day 1, you had to pick a song with a colour in the title. There were many excellent picks so far -

- Into the Blue by Kylie Minogue (a favourite song of the missus);
- Yellow Submarine by The Beatles;
- Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell;
- Blue Monday by New Order;
- Mr. Blue Sky by ELO (one of my favourite groups back in my university days);
- Golden Brown by The Stranglers (by my sis-in-law Susan; it had also been one on my list); and,
- Pink Sunshine by Fuzzbox (my selection). I had some others on my possible list, but I won't mention them in case somebody else wanted to post them on Jo's thread.

Day Two will be Songs with a Number in the Title. I have a couple in mind.

I had a good reading morning when I got up today. The next book I think I'll be finishing is S is for Silence by Sue Grafton. I'm enjoying all of the books I'm reading, finding them all page turners. I'm getting to the crux of this latest Kinsey Milhone mystery and I'm at the point where I have to get to the resolution.

The alphabet series has been very enjoyable. Some books are obviously better than others but I haven't yet been disappointed. And I'm finding 'S' is one of the better mysteries. Tonight or tomorrow and I'll see how it all gets sorted out.

Great Historical Events

Today's excerpt starts in April of 1775 with the Battle of Lexington.

"Battle of Lexington

April 19. - Battle of Lexington was fought. This was the beginning of open hostilities. The British, with 800 soldiers under Lieut.-Col. Smith, marched from Boston on the night of the 18th to destroy the stores of the colonists of Concord.
The people were warned of their intentions, and at 5 o'clock in the morning a small company of militia met at Lexington to resist them. Major Pitcairn, a British officer, rode up to them, ordering them to disperse, discharging his pistol at them, and ordering his soldiers to fire at the 'rebels'.
The militia dispersed, but the British soldiers continued to fire upon them, and they returned the fire; a few Americans were killed.
The royal forces marched to Concord, destroyed the stores, and spiked the guns, throwing 500 pounds of balls into the wells. John Butterick, Major of a minute regiment, approached the British with a company, when they fired, killing Capt. Isaac Davis.
A skirmish ensued, and the British began a hasty retreat toward Boston. But the people, aroused by this bold act of the British, had assembled in arms, and pursued them, attacking them from every direction.
The British were reinforced at Lexington y a detachment of 900 soldiers under Lord Piercy. Having two pieces of cannon, the colonists were kept at a great distance, but they kept up a continual, but irregular fire, which did great execution.
The British reached Bunker's hill at nightfall, and the next morning crossed Charlestown Ferry and returned to Boston, with a loss of 93 men killed and taken prisoners, and 185 wounded."

It's interesting to read history from that much closer to the events, even though, having just wrote that, I note that the book I'm using was published in 1883. Still......

Science of Common Things

Continuing to excerpt the remarks of Prof. L.G. Gorton,

"What is hydrogen? It is an elementary gaseous body, the lightest known substance; when united with oxygen it forms water. Will it support life? It will not. (Ed. Note. simple and straight-forward.) Will it support combustion? It will not. Will it burn? When pure it will burn with a steady bluish light, but if mixed with air it will explode when brought in contact with fire. What is the gas used to illuminate the streets? Hydro-carbon, or a compound of hydrogen and carbon; the hydrogen unites with the oxygen of the air, forming water, the carbon becomes heated to a glow, and thus gives the light."

What's next on Gorton's list of scientific facts? Check next time. :0)

The Birth Day Thing 10 November 1981

US Billboard #1 Single 10 November 1981

Private Eyes  by Hall & Oates. Great song by a great rock duo. American singers Daryl Hall and John Oates formed in 1970 and continue to perform together. They have sold an estimated 40 million records worldwide, making them the 3rd most successful pop/ rock duo of all-time. They have six #1's on Billboard's Top 100. Private Eyes was their 3rd. The tune was written by Warren Pash and Janna Allen, sister of Hall's long-time girlfriend, Sara Allen (subject of the song Sara Smiles.). Hall wrote the lyrics with Sara. The song has been used as the theme song of a CTV detective show that Jo and I enjoyed last year and which starts its second season shortly.

UK #1 Single 10 November 1981

It's My Party by Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin. Barbara Gaskin was lead vocalist of British folk pop band, Spirogyra and in 1981 formed a duo with Dave Stewart. Stewart played with progressive rock bands Uriel, Egg, Hatfield of the North, etc. It's My Party was Stewart and Gaskin's only number 1 but they reached the charts with Busy Doing Nothing and The Locomotion. It's My Party was their cover version of the Lesley Gore hit from 1963. I've never heard this version before. I like it!

New York Times #1 Fiction Best Seller 10 November 1981

The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving. Hotel New Hampshire was Irving's fifth novel, published 3 years after The World According to Garp. The novel was also turned into a movie in 1984, starring Rob Lowe and Jodie Foster.

I have never read the novel but have seen the movie. I did read The World According to Garp and found it a powerful, strange and emotional book. I don't know if I never read another book by Irving because of the effect that Garp had on me, but I've had his Prayer for Owen Meany on my shelf at various time but always end up getting rid of the book without reading it.

The Hotel New Hampshire tells the story of the Berrys, a quirky New Hampshire and their five children. I think the word quirky can be used to describe all of Irving's books. Someday I may read it but I will really have to be in the mood to give it a try.

Pulitzer Prize Winner 1981

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. When I first saw the title I thought it might be a non-fiction account of the current US Administration. But, of course, it was written in 1981. ;0)

This book was published 11 years after John Kennedy Toole's suicide. Thanks to the efforts of writer Walker Percy (who contributed the foreword, and Toole's mother, the book became a cult classic. The book tells the story of Ignatius Reilly who has a number of adventures in New Orleans' French Quarter.

John Kennedy Toole lived from 1937 - 1969. He also wrote The Neon Bible which was published in 1989. He suffered from paranoia and depression, partly due to the lack of success with his novels.

Nobel Prize Laureate 1981

Elias Canetti (United Kingdom). Canetti was born in Bulgaria in 1905 and later became a British citizen. He died in 1994. He was a modernist novelist, playwright and non-fiction writer. He won his Nobel Prize 'for writings marked by a broad outlook, a wealth of ideas and artistic power.'

Hugo Award Winner 1981

The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge. The book is based on the Hans Christian Anderson novel of the same name. It takes place on the oceanic planet of Tiamat, a planet which circles a black hole, enabling worm hole travel and connecting Tiamat with the rest of the civilised galaxy, the Hegemony.

Joan Vinge is an American science fiction writer, born in 1948. She is especially noted for her Snow Queen cycle, a collection of 4 books. In 2011, she wrote the novelisation of Cowboys and Aliens, an entertaining movie starring Daniel Craig and Olivia Wilde.

I haven't read any of her works, but I'll try to check out the Snow Queen cycle.

Edgar Award Winner 1981

Whip Hand by Dick Francis. Whip Hand is the second book in Francis' private investigator, Sid Halley series. The first was Odds Against written in 1965. There were three other books in this series; Come to Grief, Under Orders and Refusal (written by his son, Felix Francis).

Whip Hand was one of only two books to win both the Golden Dagger award and the Edgar award for best novel, the other being, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, by John le Carré.

Sid Halley is an ex-jockey who lost his left hand due to a racing accident and a subsequent beating by thugs. He is asked by Rosemary Caspar, a trainer's wife, to look into problems at her husband's stable.

I do have to try Francis' books.

Man Booker Prize 1981

Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie. This is Rushdie's second noel and tells the story of India's transition from British colonialism to Indian independence and the partition of British India. I have never read, but may some day.

Rushdie was placed under a fatwa for his 4th novel, The Satanic Verses. He was born in Bombay in 1947.

So there you go. Enjoy your week!

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Fantasy Footie and the Normal Stuff

Well, the English Premiership finished today with Hull, Middlesbrough and Sunderland being relegated to the Championship. So far Newcastle and Brighton (YAY!!) are guaranteed to be going up to the Premiership. Reading and Sheffield Wednesday will have a playoff game to see which of them goes up as well. It'll be great to see Brighton playing in the highest league next season. For the past ten years I've been playing Fantasy Footie on line. This season there were 4,503,345 people also participating in the league. It wasn't my best year as I finished in 745,760 place with 1,972 place. My best season was in 2010/11 where I had 2,054 points and finished in 32,936 place. Having said that, I don't think there half as many participants as this year. So we've got a few months now and then the new season will start and I get to pick all over. Will I pick a Brighton player? Time will tell.

Great Historical Events

Today's excerpt starts in 1774.

"First Continental Congress.

Sept. 14. - Representatives from twelve colonies met in Philadelphia as a Continental Congress, to enact measures for the regulation of order, and for the protection of the people.
They prepared an address to the King, declaring their loyalty, but demanding redress for their grievances.
All the colonies, except New York, heartily concurred in the proceedings of the Continental Congress.
Great Britain prohibited all the colonies, except New York, Delaware, and North Carolina, from fishing upon the coast of New Foundland, and from trading with the West Indies.
These colonies spurned the favor, designed only to arouse a spirit of jealousy and disunion among the other colonies, and submitted to the restriction, much to their pecuniary disadvantage.
Parliament passed an act to provide for the government of the province of Quebec.
1775. April 14. - First Society for the Abolition of Slavery was formed in Philadelphia, with Benjamin Franklin as President."

Next excerpt will commence with the Battle of Lexington... It's getting interesting. Strange that I hated history in high school, eh?

Science of Common Things

So, what's up for today? Let's see what Prof. L.G. Gorton has to tell us.

"Why does blowing a fire make it burn brighter? Because with each current of air it receives a fresh supply of oxygen. What is nitrogen? It is an elementary gaseous body, and the second electro-negative element known. It is found in the air, and in nearly all vegetable and animal tissue. What is the use of nitrogen in the atmosphere? The nitrogen is used simply to dilute or weaken the oxygen, and is not changed by respiration. Why will a candle when placed under a closed vessel soon be extinguished? Because the oxygen has been consumed, and the nitrogen will neither burn nor support combustion."

Who needs Bill Nye, the Science guy.. ;0)

The Birth Day Thing 10 November 1980

I was 25 on this birthday. And for the 2nd time since 1955, the #1 US and UK singles were the same... *sigh*... and not one of my favourite songs by any mean.

US Billboard and UK #1 Singles 10 November 1980

Woman in Love by Barbra Streisand. Do I have to listen?? The missus might like this song. Having said that, my opinion doesn't really matter. Ms. Streisand definitely has a successful career, with 40+ albums and over 145 million records sold worldwide. She had 5 #1's in the US, 4 in Canada and 1 in the UK. Woman in Love was written by Barry and Robin Gibb.

New York Times #1 Fiction Best Seller 10 November 1980

The Covenant by James Michener. This is the 3rd time since 1955 that Michener has had the #1 book on the 10th of November. (Hint. There will be a couple of more times).

The Covenant traces the interactions between the various populations of South Africa from prehistoric times to the 1970s. The populations are broken into five groupings; Bantu (native black tribes), Coloured (the intermingling of the whites and the indigenous populations, including slaves brought to South Africa from Angola, Indonesia, India, etc.), British, Afrikaner and Indian / Chinese and other foreign workers.

Pulitzer Prize Winner 1980

The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer. This book tells the story of the event's related to the execution of Gary Gilmore. Gilmore was the first person executed in the US since the re-nstatement of the death penalty in 1976.

A film adaptation of the book featured Tommy Lee Jones in the title role, a role for which he won an Emmy.

Norman Mailer lived from 1923 - 2007. He was a novelist, essayist and journalist. He was also known for The Naked and the Dead. Along with others, such as Truman Capote, he was noted as an innovator in creative non-fiction.

Nobel Prize Laureate 1980

Czeslaw Milosz (Poland). Czeslaw Milosz, a Polish prose writer, poet, diplomat and translator, lived from 1911 - 2004. His Nobel Prize was 'who with uncompromising clear-sightedness voices man's exposed condition in a world of severe conflicts'.

Hugo Award Winner 1980

The Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C. Clarke. The Fountains of Paradise was English science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke's 13th novel.

It is set in the 22nd Century and describes the construction of a space elevator. The elevator would connect with a space station, rising 36,000 kilometres and be used to ship payloads to space.

This was the 2nd time that Clarke won the Hugo Award since 1955.

Edgar Award Winner 1980

The Rheingold Route by Arthur Maling. Arthur Maling was an American writer of crime and thriller novels. I'm not familiar with his work. Besides standalone novels he also wrote the Brock Potter series.

I can't find much about the book. You'll have to check it out yourself.

Man Booker Prize 1980

Rite of Passage by William Golding. The only book I've read by Golding has been Lord of the Flies, a book I've read 3 or 4 times. Rites of Passage became the first book in his sea trilogy, To The Ends of the Earth. The other books were; Close Quarters and Fire Down Below.

The three novels are set on a British ship transporting migrants to Australia in the early 19th Century. The books were turned into a Masterpiece mini-series, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and airing in 2006.

So there you go, another year has passed. Enjoy what remains of your weekend and if you are celebrating any holiday on Monday, have a great day!!

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Currently Reading and the Normal Items

It's been a slow month reading-wise. I've only finished 4 books so far. But this morning, I finished two and I'm about half way through my third and a bit less on my 4th book. These are the books I finished this morning -

1. A Wreath for Rivera by Ngaio Marsh. I've read 10 of Ngaio Marsh's Chief Inspector Alleyn mysteries the past few years. They are always enjoyable and good classic cop stories. A Wreath for Rivera is the 15th book in the series. I jumped ahead a bit with this one but it was because of a reading challenge in which I am taking part. There were some ongoing personal items mentioned, but it didn't affect the enjoyment of the story. If you like the classics; Christie, Sayers, etc. you should also try Marsh. My review is below.

"  I enjoy the Chief Inspector Alleyn mysteries very much. The series, by Ngaio Marsh is right there with other classic mystery series; like those by Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers and Elizabeth Daly, amongst others. I've read 7 or 8 of the Alleyn books and they get better with each new story. A Wreath for Rivera, also published under the title 'Swing Brother Swing' is the 15th Alleyn story. I'm reading it out of sequence as I've followed them in order for the most part, but it doesn't take away any of the enjoyment by reading this one now.
There are some details of Alleyn's private life with Agatha Troy that seem to have progressed but they don't play major parts in the story. We have here the story of the family of the Marquis of Pastern and Baggott, a strange and eccentric individual, heading to watch him play in a jazz band; one of his new whims. There is a murder that takes place; one which Alleyn actually witnesses as he and Troy are also at the club.
The murder investigation, lead by Alleyn and his resolute and steady team; his right-hand man, Detective Inspector Fox and the others, is a methodical process and enjoyable to follow. Alleyn is the main character but Ngaio Marsh also provides a voice to Carlisle 'Lisle' Wayne, Lord Pastern's niece, who I liked very much.
It's a quirky story; the dialogue between Alleyn and Fox is excellent. They are obviously well-used to each other and have an excellent rapport. Lord Pastern is definitely eccentric and his family also have unique characteristics. The mystery is interesting, but at times, not as important as the development of the story, the investigation and the interactions between the characters. The ending was ultimately satisfying and I liked how it was resolved. As always, I enjoy this series very much and look forward to my next one. (3.5 stars)"

2. The Deerslayer by James Fenimore Cooper. I've had another of Cooper's books on my shelf for a few years, that being The Last of the Mohicans. I found this book at a recent Rotary Club Book Fair. When I researched (googled) Cooper, I discovered that even though he wrote this book last, it was in fact the first book in the Natty Bumpo series of five books. So when I decided to read one for my Classics (pre-1900) challenge, I picked this one off the shelf. My review follows.

"The Deerslayer by James Fenimore Cooper was the last book in the series that Cooper wrote, but chronologically, it is the first book of the Natty Bumpo series of five books. It introduces us to the Deerslayer, also known as Hawkeye.
The Deerslayer and his acquaintance, Hurry Harry, another frontiersman travel to Glimmerglass Lake to meet his friend, a Delaware Indian named Chingachgook, and help him save his love, Hist, from a band of Huron Indians.  He as well meets a family, Tom Hutter and his two daughters, Judith and Hetty, who live on the lake in a floating house.
Various adventures take place during the course of this novel, Hurry and Tom are taken prisoner by the Huron when they invade the camp for the purpose of getting scalps (a bounty has been offered by the English authorities; the Huron being an ally of the French in Canada). Deerslayer must work to try and get them back and also try to help free Hist. Deerslayer is later taken prisoner by the Huron and from their the story progresses to a somewhat satisfying ending.
I enjoyed the story overall; one that I've never considered reading before. It does portray the early struggles of the English trying to conquer and settle the North American continent, even if just from the limited area in New York that this story follows. I liked the characters for the most part; Hurry and Tom Hutter are after money and whether trapping or acquiring Indian scalps, they don't really care. We also find out more of Hutter's past as the story progresses.
Judith is described as a beautiful woman, who Hurry, amongst many others (such as soldiers from forts and villages some distance from the lake) all want. She is smart and headstrong and falls for the Deerslayer when they meet. Hetty is described as a young woman who does not possess her full wits, although she often seems to be the most rational person of the group. She misses her mother, who is buried in the lake and is very religious.
Natty Bumpo is a frontiersman with a strong moral code, but also at times, seemed to me to be a bit of a dumbass; when it comes to dealing with women, especially. It is for that reason that I found the story somewhat frustrating and the ending not totally satisfying. All in all, though, it was an interesting story. I did find it easy to put down for a day or two, but as I got into the story more and more, I found myself spending more time with it and then not putting down until I discovered how it would end.
Lots of talking and moralising, but still relatively easy to read and enough action to keep the story moving along. (3.5 stars)"

Currently Reading

Besides the other two books I'm working on; S is for Silence by Sue Grafton and Silence of the Grave by Arnaldur Indridason, I will be starting these stories -

1. Most Secret by Nevil Shute. Nevil Shute is one of my favourite authors. He has written some of my favourite books; On the Beach, Pied Piper, Far Country, etc. This book was written 1942 and was his 11th work. This is the synopsis.

"Not even his smash best sellers, On the Beach and No Highway, can surpass the drama and narrative suspense which Nevil Shute poured into Most Secret. One of the most exciting novels ever written, it is the story of four men who carry out a private and terrible mission of vengeance in the dark days of the Second World War.

2. Sliver by Ira Levin. I read Levin's Rosemary's Baby last year and enjoyed very much. This was also turned into a movie and I want to compare.

"Thirteen hundred Madison Avenue, an elegant 'Sliver' building, soars high and narrow over Manhattan's smart upper east side. Kay Norris, a successful single woman, moves on to the twentieth floor of the building, high on hopes of a fresh start and the glorious Indian summer outside. But she doesn't know that someone is listening to her. Someone is watching her."

Great Historical Events

Today's excerpt starts at Dec. 16, 1773.

"Destruction of Tea in Boston Harbour

Dec. 16. - The citizens of Boston throw a cargo of tea into the ocean, which was sent by Great Britain in open disregard and violation of the act of the colonies against receiving any merchandise subject to tariff.
1774. Shakers founded by Ann Lee, an English woman. (Ed. Note. The Shakers were officially called the United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing. They were initially known as 'Shaking Quakers' because of their ecstatic behaviour during services.)
General Gage arrived in Boston harbor as commander of the royal forces of North America.
June 6. - Boston harbor was blockaded by the English, and all commerce interdicted.
The members of the Massachusetts Assembly resolve themselves into a Provincial Congress.
The Colonies all unite in approving the spirit of resentment shown by Massachusetts against the oppressive taxation of Great Britain.
Gen. Gage was reinforced by two regiments of soldiers.
1774. The colonies proceed to enlist and drill a portion of the citizens as minutemen, and appoint committees of safety and supplies.
Massachusetts calls for 12,000 men to be equipped for service.
Great Britain prohibits the exportation of military stores, upon which the people of Rhode Island seized 40 pieces of cannon from the public battery, and proceed to arm the inhabitants."

Well, well, interesting stuff. The First Continental Congress will follow next!

Science of Common Things.

The next excerpt from facts provided by Prof. L.G. Gorton.

"What is an element? An element is a body composed of but one kind of atoms. What is a compound? A compound is a body composed of two or more kinds of atoms. What is combustion? It is the rapid union of elements in forming compounds. Why does exercise make one feel warmer? Because muscular tissue is torn down, consequently more carbon is given off to unite with the oxygen, thus producing heat."

Well, there you go. Nothing wrong with a bit of science to start your day, eh?

The Birth Day Thing 10 November 1979

US Billboard #1 Single 10 November 1979

Heartache Tonight by The Eagles. The Eagles formed in Los Angeles in 1971 with founding members Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner. They had 5 number one singles and six number one albums. Heartache Tonight was the first single from The Long Run and was written by Henley, Frey, J.D. Souther and Bob Seger.

UK #1 Single 10 November 1979.

One Day at a Time by Lena Martell.  I have never heard of Lena Martell, I don't believe. She is a Scottish singer and this was her sole #1 song.

New York #1 Fiction Best Seller 10 November 1979

Jailbird by Kurt Vonnegut. I have read at least one of Vonnegut's books, Slaughterhouse Five, which I enjoyed. But I've kind of avoided his other works. I know I purchased a few at one time or another, but they seemed to disappear from my book shelves. At the moment, I've got Deadeye Dick, which was written in 1982.

Jailbird is classified as Vonnegut's 'Watergate' novel. It tells the story of Walter F. Starbuck, released from prison after a small role in the Watergate Scandal.

Pulitzer Prize Winner 1979

The Stories of John Cheevers by John Cheevers. Cheevers is another of those writers I've never read. This book is a collection of short stories, one of which was turned into a movie starring Burt Lancaster. That story was The Swimmer, which I saw a couple of years ago and found it kind of interesting. Will this make me read any of Cheevers' books? *shrug*

Cheever was an American writer who lived from 1912 - 1982. He wrote novels and short stories and was called the 'Chekhov of the Suburbs.'

Nobel Prize Laureate 1979

Odysseus Elytis (Greece). Odysseus Elytis who lived from 1911 - 1996 was considered one of the major exponents of Modern Romanticism in Greece and the world. He was awarded the Nobel Prize 'for his poetry, which, against the background of Greek tradition, depicts with sensuous strength and intellectual clear-sightedness modern man's struggle for freedom and creativeness'.

Hugo Award Winner 1979

Dreamsnake by Vonda N. McIntyre. Here we go, another new writer for me. Vonda McIntyre is an American writer who was born in 1948. She has written novels and short stories, including a number of Star Trek and Star Wars related pieces.

Dreamsnake is a post-apocalyptic novel telling the story of a healer on the quest to replace her Dreamsnake, a snake whose venom produces hallucinations in people.

Edgar Award Winner 1979

Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett. This was an excellent, tense novel and also an excellent movie starring Donald Sutherland. Follett is a Welsh author born in 1949, who has written thrillers and historical novels, such as The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End, amongst many others.

The Eye of the Needle was Follett's first successful, best selling effort. It tells the story 'die Nadel', a German spy working in England whose preferred method of killing is using a stiletto.

Excellent story. I highly recommend if you like wartime thrillers.

Man Booker Prize 1979

Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald. Penelope Fitzgerald was an English writer from Lincoln who lived from 1916 - 2000. Offshore tells the story of her time spent on the river boats on the Thames. The story is about Nenna, whose husband takes a job overseas and she ends up living on a houseboat on the Thames.

There you go. Next time we move on to the '80s, when I hit the grand old age of 25...
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