Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Currently Reading, the Music Challenge, a Bit of History and the Birth Day Thingee..

From the Study window.. they smell nice too
Lovely and fresh this morning. It's bright and sunny and there is still a nice cool breeze coming in the study window. Every now and then you get a waft of roses. Just lovely.

I finished my first book of July this morning. It kind of took over my reading as I got into it. Charlaine Harris has written some excellent series; a mix of fantasy and mystery. I've completed her Lily Bard books set in Shakespeare, Arkansas and her Harper Connelly series about a lady who can hear the dead and tell how they died (mystery / fantasy) and I'm still working through the Sookie Stackhouse books (maybe better known as the True Blood HBO TV series). She recently completed a trilogy set in Midnight, Texas with Midnight Crossroad the first book. Interestingly, at least two of the characters feature in her other series; Manfred Bernardo (psychic) is in some of the Harper Connelly books and Bobo Winthrop (pawnshop owner) features in at least one of the Shakespeare books. I enjoyed the first book very much, a mix of fantasy and mystery. It will soon be a TV series, end July I believe, so I at least wanted to read the first book. My review is below.

"Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris is the first book in a new trilogy. The other books are Day Shift and Night Shift. It will soon be a TV series; from what I read it will start Jul 24th.
I loved the story. There were so many neat things about it. What I especially liked was that it featured characters from other series by Harris. We are introduced to Manfred Bernardo, who has appeared in a couple of the Harper Connelly books. We meet Bobo Winthrop who appeared in one of the Lily Bard, Shakespeare series. In fact, he refers to his friend, Lily.
Besides that, the remaining characters are all interesting and all have their secrets. Will their characters become clearer in the next two books? I hope so. Fiji Cavanaugh is a witch with a crush on Bobo and her cat is interesting. Lemuel, who works evenings in Bobo's pawn shop, is a vampire. What is Olivia? How about Joe or the Rev? What about them? Yup, still lots to find out.
The story itself was interesting too. We have white nationalists stirring up trouble because of Bobo's past, his grandfather is supposed to have had a secret cache of weapons that they think Bobo now possesses and they seem desperate to find them.
There is murder, a bit of mayhem and just downright neighbourliness between the folks of Midnight, Texas. They stand by each other and help each other in times of need. The story moves along nicely, some mysteries are solved and we get to know the characters better. I enjoyed it very much and look forward to getting into the other two books. (4 stars)"

I'm starting a Kingsley Amis book next, The Anti-Death League. This is the synopsis.

"Lieutenant James Churchill had been reasonably pro-death before he made love to Catharine, and before he realised what the appalling nature of Operation Apollo was. Officially, he and his fellow officers had a seventy-five per cent chance of survival. Unofficially, he'd been told, there was none. Then someone started the Anti-Death League and there suddenly seemed a way out of the horrors to come."

The Missus's Music Challenge, Part Deux

Today I'll take a gander at Days 42 - 44.

Day 42 - A Song that you Absolutely Hate. I had a few options for this category but the one I ended up choosing was one by Paul Anka - You're Having My Baby. Since I hate it, I won't link to it because I wouldn't want anyone else to have to suffer through it either. Other selections included John Lennon - Imagine (Jo's selection), Spandau Ballet - Gold, Marvin Gaye - Sexual Healing and Shirley Ellis - The Clapping Song, etc.

Day 43 - Song from a Non-Singer. (meaning not someone you'd traditionally consider a singer). I chose Bruce Willis - Respect Yourself (I did link to this, neat video and great song.) Other options included Richard Harris - McArthur Park (Jo's choice), Lee Marvin - I Was Born under a Wandering Star (from Paint Your Wagon), Louis Armstrong - Hello Dolly (Jo's sister Sue's choice) and Noel Harrison - Windmills of your Mind (he shall always be known to me as April Dancer's partner in The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.
Day 44 - An Anorak Track. What Jo meant by this category was a song that was released as a single but never cracked the Top 40 but that you still really like. I chose The Spoons - Romantic Traffic. Jo chose Andy Brown - Another Shipwreck. Some other choices included Electribe 101 - Tell Me When the Fever Ended, Murray Head - Say it Ain't So, and Chris Gaines (AKA Garth Brooks) - Lost in You, etc.

This is a '45 rpm record.
Today's selection is a B side that you like better than the single. For those of you too young to remember, we used to be able to buy '45 rpm records and they had an A-side (the popular hit) and a throw-on B-side. More on that next entry.

Great Historical Events

Today we start with an 'unsuccessful mission'. Wonder what it is?

"Unsuccessful Mission

Lord Howe sends General Sullivan on parole with a message to Congress, requesting an interview with a committee of their members as 'private citizens,' he not having authority to recognise the American Congress, but declared that he was, with his brother, Gen. Howe, empowered to compromise the dispute between them.
Congress declined to send a committee in private capacity, but delegated Dr. Franklin, John Adams, and Edward Rutledge, to confer with Lord Howe in an official capacity.
They were received with great politeness, but Lord Howe failed to satisfy them that his authority extended farther than the power to 'grant pardons' upon submission to English rule. But the colonies were not suing for pardon, nor were they willing to relinquish their independence.
Oct. 28. - The battle of White Plains was fought.
Congress convened in Baltimore, and resolved upon prosecuting the war, redoubling their energies. Volunteers began to flock to the army from all departments of life."

Next we move into 1777....

Science of Common Things (Today's excerpt from the thoughts of Prof. L.G. Gorton)

Why are dark articles of clothing warm? Because black absorbs heat. What is the cause of wind? The temperature of different localities is unequal, consequently the air at some places is lighter than it is at others; the lighter air is forced upward by the heavier air, which, when it flows in, partakes of a circular motion which we call wind. If a great difference in temperature exists a sudden change of air takes place and forms a whirlwind, hurricane, or tornado." (Ed. Note - The Prof was absolutely wordy in that response.)

Next entry will discuss soap bubbles.. Interesting, eh? Oh, just as an additional thought, another cause of wind, especially 'ill wind' are the short, stubby fingers of the current resident of the White House and his early morning use of Twitter.... Just saying..

The Birth Day Thing 10 November 1992

US Billboard #1 Single 10 November 1992 / UK #1 Single 10 November 1992

End of the Road by Boyz to Men. This is just the 3rd time since I started this with 19 Nov 1955 that the #1 song has been the same in the US / UK. Boyz to Men are an American R&B group out of Philadelphia that have been performing since 1985. End of the Road was their first #1 single and it reached Platinum status in the US and Gold in the UK. It was written and produced by Babyface, L.A. Reid and Daryl Simmons.

New Times #1 Fiction Best Seller 10 November 1992

The Tale of the Body Thief by Anne Rice. This was the last book of Anne Rice's that I have read. I kind of got tired of the stories, maybe just the wordiness and the style of writing. Anyway, I remember enjoying this one. It was a bit different.

As I recall, the Vampire Lestat has his body taken over by a character Raglan James. Lestat believes this might be a solution to his feelings of loneliness and depression. (You'd have to read the 1st three books in the Vampire chronicles to know why he feels this way now.

It is supposed to be a temporary switch but James has no intention of switching back so the story is about Lestat's scheme to get his body back.

Pulitzer Prize Winner 1992

A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley. I'll start off by saying I have not read this. Not even sure I'd heard of it before. However besides the Pulitzer, it was also awarded National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction in 1991 and in 1997 it was made into a movie. As I read it, it's a modern retelling of the King Lear story. The film starred Michelle Pfeiffer, Jessica Lange and Jason Robards.

Nobel Prize Laureate 1992

Derek Walcott (Saint Lucia). Derek Walcott was a Saint Lucian poet and playwright. He lived from 1930 to March of this year. He was awarded the Nobel Laureate 'for a poetic oeuvre of great luminosity, sustained by a historical vision, the outcome of a multicultural commitment.'

Hugo Award Winner 1992

Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold. Now I know that I have to find a book by Bujold. This is the 2nd year in a row that she won the Hugo Award. It is another book in the Vorkosigan saga and is the seventh full novel in the series. It is a direct sequel to Bujold's first novel, Shards of Honor.

Edgar Award Winner 1992

A Dance at the Slaughterhouse by Lawrence Block. Lawrence Block is an American crime writer with 2 long-running New York-based crime series; the P.I. Matthew Scudder series and gentleman crook Bernie Rhodenbarr series. A Dance at the Slaughterhouse was the 9th book in the Scudder series. Just scrolling through his credits, Block has been prolific since his first book in 1958. I'll have to check him out.

Man Booker Prize Winner 1992

The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje / Sacred Hunger by Barry Unsworth. I have not read either of these books although I have read others by both authors. I think Anil's Ghost was my favourite Ondaatje book and I have enjoyed Morality Play by Unsworth.

Maybe the reason I've never read The English Patient, or seen the movie, for that matter, is because Elaine Bennis (Julia Louise Dreyfuss on Seinfeld) hated the movie in a Seinfeld episode. Silly reason you say!! You're probably right.

Anyway maybe someday I'll try The English Patient, but not until I finish off all of my unread books. I do have another Unsworth book on my shelf, Pascali's Island and I will be trying that someday soon.

Ondaatje was born in Sri Lanka in 1943 but immigrated to Canada in 1962. He has been awarded the Governor General's Award, the Giller, the Booker, amongst other awards during his life. The first book of his that I ever read was a collection of poems, The Collected Works of Billy the Kid. I've also read Anil's Ghost (fantastic) and In the Skin of a Lion (also excellent)

Barry Unsworth was an English writer who lived from 1930 to 2012. He specialised in historical fiction. Morality Play was an interesting story. I look forward to trying more of his works.

So there you go, pilgrims. See anything of interest to you? Enjoy the rest of your week!

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