Monday, 17 July 2017

Just Finished, the Music Challenge, some Great Historical Events and the Birth Date Thing

First, of course, the daily West Coast weather update. Sun is still shining brightly, although we did get a few light (and I do mean light) sprinkles yesterday. There is a nice fresh breeze whispering in the den window at the moment. Very nice indeed.

Yesterday, Jo and I treated ourselves to a late breakfast out at Atlas, one of our favourite restaurants in the Valley. They did not disappoint; it was excellent. We just had the Classic, scrambled eggs, bacon for Jo (perfectly crispy as she likes it) and chipotle sausages for me, with yummy fried potatoes, toasted focaccia and slices of fruit to cleanse the palate at the end. It was great. Then we went to Home Depot and bought some new hanging baskets to replace the ones by the front door and also a nice rose tree; the flowers smelled great.

Just Finished

The Hounds of the Baskervilles was an excellent, entertaining quick read; another of the books in my 2nd 12 + 4 challenge (the 10th). It's probably my favourite of the Sherlock Holmes books so far. My review is below.

"The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle is one of those classic mysteries that should be on everybody's 'must-read' list. It's been made into many TV and movies, all of which have kept the story alive and fresh.
I don't know that I've read it previously; it's one of those books that I think I probably have, but maybe it's just that I've seen one or two of the adaptations. However, with all of that preamble, I'm pleased to say that I have now read and enjoyed immensely.
The story is familiar to so many people that I won't go into it in detail. Suffice it to say a family legend draws Holmes and Watson to the Dartmoor moors to try and help the heir to a family estate, one that might have been cursed by a supernatural hound. They work diligently to keep the heir alive as they try to solve the murder of the previous heir.
The nice thing about this particular Holmes' mystery is that the focus is Watson for a nice change. Holmes sends Watson ahead with Henry Baskerville, both to keep him safe and to investigate the neighbours and to try and find out more about the death / murder of Sir Charles Baskerville, Henry's uncle. Holmes stays behind to work on other cases.
It's a different way of telling a Holmes mystery, relying on Watson's correspondence to Holmes and also Watson's diary entries. But don't let that mean that there isn't lots of action because for a Holmes' mystery, there is a fair bit and the story moves along nicely and tensely. It's an interesting mystery with nice twists and turns and the ending is exciting and satisfying. One of the best Holmes' mysteries I've read so far. (5 stars)"

Currently Reading

The next book in my 12 + 4 Challenge is a Horatio Hornblower adventure, The Commodore by C.S. Forester. More excitement and adventure from one of England's most popular sailors.

"Fresh from his triumphs in Flying Colours, Hornblower leads a powerful squadron into northern waters in a desperate mission to hamper the onslaughts of Napoleon's armies. 'Fog and ice and snow in the Baltic; the Russian navy and the Swedish navy and the French privateers; the Baltic trade and the Russian alliance and the attitude of Prussia; high politics and vital commerce; during the next few months the fate of Europe, the history of the world, would be balanced on a knife edge, and the responsibility would be his."

The Missus's Music Challenge

Today's entry will cover only Day 55, the First Single you ever Bought.

The first 45's that I purchased were in Lahr, Germany when my Dad was stationed there. I used to buy them in a German department store in the town center; Kaufhaus Kraus (I think that is the spelling). It's center left in the picture to the right. Anyway, the song I chose was one of the first I bought, I'm sure, Ode to Joy by Miguel Rios. This would have been in 1970 or so. Click on the title if you want to hear the song.

Jo picked Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. Other choices included Let 'Em In by Wings, Needles and Pins by The Searchers, Sugar Sugar by The Archies, Downtown by Petulia Clark, etc. One of the nice things about the challenge is the fond memories they bring back along with great music.
Today's category is a Song by your Singing Crush. Another interesting one that you'll find some of the results in my next entry. (I do have to give you something to look forward to, don't I.)

Great Historical Events

Today's excerpt will discuss the treason of Benedict Arnold.

"1780. Treason of Arnold.
Sept. 23. - Treason of Benedict Arnold, and arrest of Major André.
Maj.-General Benedict Arnold was an officer of high rank and had been greatly admired for his bravery and uncomplaining fortitude and endurance during the first years of the war. He had been promoted from the office of Captain to that of Maj.-General, but, being of a proud and haughty nature, and exceedingly ambitious, his envy at seeing others rank above him, laid the foundation of his treachery and treason, which finally culminated in the betrayal of his country to its enemies. He had been stationed in Philadelphia while unfitted for service from wounds received in a battle near Stillwater, and while there his reckless extravagance caused his censure by Congress, and a trial by court-martial and reprimand from the Commander-in-chief of the army, which was approved by Congress. This disgrace was more than his proud, imperative nature could brook, and he immediately began plotting to betray his country. His correspondence with the British commander, Sir Henry Clinton, was conducted through Maj. André, an officer, of great distinction and merit, in the British army. He was captured upon his return from an interview with Arnold, within the American lines, by three privates, John Paulding, David Williams and Isaac Van Wert, who searched his person an discovered the treasonable documents in his boots. Arnold learned of the capture of André, and succeeded in making his escape but a short time before the arrival of Gen. Washington, who had appointed to breakfast with him."

(Ed. Notes - I'm surprised that the current resident of the White House hasn't mentioned this possible link between Sir Henry Clinton and his adversary during the 2016 presidential campaign. It's right up his alley. Anyway, I dissemble. Fascinating story which will continue with the next entry, dealing with the hanging of Maj. André)

Science of Common Things (From Prof. L.G. Gorton)

I'll be providing you with a couple of visual aids in today's excerpt about clouds.

What are the different kinds of clouds? The principal are the cirrus or 'cat's-tail', the cumulus or 'ball of cotton', the stratus or 'white sheet', and the nimbus or 'rain-clouds'. 

What produces the various shapes of clouds? The state of the atmosphere, the electrical condition of the clouds, and the winds.

What do cirrus clouds foretell? When they are high, thin and light, fair weather; when they form fleecy lines across the sky, light rains or a gale of wind.

What do cumulus cloud foretell? Fine weather when they are well defined and advance with the wind. Rain, when they are thin and dull and float in a direction opposite the surface wind. A thunder storm, when they increase in size and become dull and gray at sunset.

Next entry, there'll be more visual aids and I'll excerpt the good professor's explanation of stratus and nimbus clouds.

The Birth Date Thing 10 November 1998

US Billboard #1 Single 10 November 1998

The First Night by Monica. Monica is an American R&B singer from Georgia. She began her career in 1995 when her first album went multi-platinum. The First Night was the 2nd single from her The Boy is Mine album and the second #1. The song is built around a sample of Diana Ross's Love Hangover.

UK #1 Single 10 November 1998

Believe by Cher. Gypsys, Tramps and Thieves was the first of Cher's songs to be at #1 on my birthday. That was back in 1971. Here she is again, 17 years later, with her 3rd UK #1. Believe is the title track from her 22nd album. Now that's staying power.

New York Times #1 Fiction Best Seller 10 November 1998

The Path of Daggers by Robert Jordan. The Path of Daggers is the 8th book in American fantasy writer Jordan's Wheel of Time series. The series was originally planned as a six book series but has expanded to 14 books. Jordan died after completion of his 12th novel in the series but had prepared copious notes so another author could continue.

Pulitzer Prize Winner 1998

American Pastoral by Philip Roth. American Pastoral tells the story of Seymour 'Swede' Lvov, a successful Jewish-American businessman an high school basketball star from New Jersey. Roth is also known for Goodbye Columbus and Portnoy's Complaint, amongst many other books.

American Pastoral was adapted for film in 2016, starring Ewan McGregor, Jennifer Connelly and Dakota Fanning.

Nobel Prize Laureate 1998

José Saramago (Portugal). Saramago was a Portuguese writer who lived from 1922 - 2010. I have actually read one of his books, Blindness, an interesting novel. Saramago was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature as an author 'who with parables sustained by imagination, compassion and irony continually enables us once again to apprehend an elusory reality'.

Hugo Award Winner 1998

Forever Peace by Joe Haldeman. Forever Peace is a 'thematic' sequel to The Forever War. The pictured book contains the three books in the series; The Forever War, Forever Free and Forever Peace. Forever Peace is not a direct sequel and takes place on a different future of Earth closer to present day. I just bought this book in 2017 and am looking forward to trying it.

Edgar Award Winner 1998

Cimarron Rose by James Lee Burke. Cimarron Rose is the 1st Billy Bob Holland book by James Lee Burke. Burke won the Edgar Award for Black Cherry Blues in 1990. There are currently 4 books in the Holland series.

"Texas attorney and former Texas Ranger Billy Bob Holland has many secrets in his dark past. Among them is Vernon Smothers' son Lucas, a teenaged boy about whom only Vernon and Billy Bob know the truth. Lucas is really Billy Bob's illegitimate son, and when Lucas is arrested for murder, Billy Bob knows that he has no choice but to confront the past and serve as the boy's criminal attorney. During Lucas's trial, Billy Bob realizes that he will have to bring injury upon Lucas as well as himself in order to save his son. And as a result, Billy Bob creates enemies that are far more dangerous than any he had faced as a Texas Ranger.  "

Man Booker Prize Winner 1998

Amsterdam by Ian McEwan. Amsterdam was English writer Ian McEwan's 7th novel. It is the story of a euthanasia pact between two friends, a composer and newspaper editor, whose relationship spins into disaster.

Giller Prize Winner 1998

The Love of a Good Woman by Alice Munro. The Love of a Good Woman is a collection of eight short stories by Munro dealing with the themes of love, secrets, betrayal and the stuff of ordinary lives.

Well, there you go. Another entry for you to peruse and maybe get some ideas for a good read or just some general information. Enjoy!

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