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!

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