Saturday, 15 July 2017

Just Read, the Music Challenge, Historical Events and Science and the Birth Date Thing

The sunny skies continue. Temperatures haven't gone much above the mid-20s here on the island. Chances of rain are slim until maybe Thursday. I wish the sturdy folks fighting forest fires on the mainland would get some to provide them some relief.

Just Finished Reading

The other day I finished The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This is the 8th book in my second 12 + 4 challenge for 2017. I've moved on to my next book in that challenge, another Sherlock Holmes story, The Hound of the Baskervilles and I'm enjoying very much so far. My review of The Return of Sherlock Holmes is below.

"The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was originally published in 1905. Doyle had tired of his famous sleuth before this and killed him off in 1893 in The Adventure of the Final Problem. Due to popular outcry against Holmes', he released The Hound of the Baskervilles and a number of short stories featuring Holmes. This book contains 13 excellent short stories with the first, The Empty House bringing Holmes back to Watson and it includes his explanation of how he survived the battle of Reichenbach Falls, all very interesting.
I enjoyed the collection; every story was well-crafted, tightly woven and entertaining to read. I always like Holmes' crime solutions and these stories had this excellent quality. I don't think I had a favourite, each was a tidy, entertaining story and had an interesting cast of characters. You can see why Sherlock Holmes is such a world-wide favourite sleuth. Great stuff. (4 stars)"

The Missus's Music Challenge

Last entry I incorrectly said that Your Favourite TV Theme was Day 50. As you can see it was actually Day 51. My bad. Today Days 52 - 54. So here we go.

Day 52 - Song from an Artist not from your Country. I chose a Dutch artist for my choice, one Caro Emerald and a nice jazzy number, A Night Like This. Jo chose a Norwegian number, Downtown by One 2 Many. Other choices included Al Mu Allim by Sami Yusuf, Love is Like a Butterfly by Nana Mouskouri, Ntsware by Brenda Fassie, etc. (Interesting category).

Day 53 - Song that takes you back to a very Specific Moment in your life. A difficult one for me, this, as I don't tend to relate specific music to a time in my life. But I came up with this song, as I can remember sitting in residence in university when I first heard it and it started a love affair with the music of this talented artist. The song is Them Heavy People by Kate Bush. Jo chose Takes a Little Time by Total Contrast. Other selections included Good Life by Inner City, Catch a Falling Star by Perry Como, etc.

Day 54 - Song that Reminds you of your Dad. I picked a couple for this. My Dad likes a good laugh and we always had comedy records around the house. I remember this from my childhood, Beetlebaum by Spike Jones. My Dad also likes country music a lot. I think Merle Haggard was one of his favourite country singers. I chose Okie from Muskogee for this one. This was a very popular category as well as many of the folks participating could remember specific songs. Jo picked Wichita Lineman by Glen Campbell. Her sister picked It's Impossible by Perry Como. Some other choices included Dr. Beat by Gloria Estefan, Civilization (Bongo, Bongo) by The Andrews Sisters, Chattanooga Choo Choo by Glenn Miller, etc.

Jo is taking Saturday off so we'll get back to the final 6 categories tomorrow. I can't wait.. :0).

Great Historical Events

We move to a brief visit to 1779 and then on to 1780.

"1779. Dec. - Coal first used in America by some Pennsylvania blacksmiths.
Death of Patrick Henry, aged 63.
1780. Feb. 6. - Congress calls for 35,000 men.

Notable Dark Day

1780. May 19. - Notable dark day in New England. A dense and mysterious darkness covered the land, continuing from twelve to fifteen hours, filling all hearts with wonder, and multitudes with fear and consternation - the superstitious regarding it as the 'day of doom', and the learned and scientific wholly unprepared to account for the wonderful phenomenon. The darkness at midday was so dense that people were unable to read common print, or determine the time of day by clocks or watches, and at night, although at the full of the moon, the darkness was so impenetrably thick that traveling was impracticable without lights, and a sheet of white paper was equally invisible with the blackest velvet. The atmosphere seemed charged with a thick, oily, sulphurous vapor, and streams of water were covered with a thick scum, and paper dipped in it, and  dried, appeared of a dark color, and felt as if it had been rubbed with oil."

(Ed. Note - other than supernatural reasons attributed to the dark day, scientists claim that it appears to have been caused by a great forest fire in Ontario Canada, in an area now part of Algonquin Park.)

Next entry we'll find out about Benedict Arnold.

Science of Common Things (More answers from Prof. L.G. Gorton to scientific questions)

"What is hoar frost? Frozen dew. What are clouds? When the air is cooled the moisture in it is partially condensed and thus rendered visible as clouds. What are fogs? Clouds, near the earth. Why do they disappear soon after sunrise? Because the heat of the sun expands and disperses them."

More info on clouds will be in the next entry. If I remember I may provide some photos from the book.

The Birth Date Thing 10 November 1997

US Billboard #1 Single 10 November 1997

Candle in the Wind by Elton John. This was the 2nd time that Elton John had the #1 single on the US charts on my birth day, the first being back in 1975. Candle in the Wind was originally written in 1973 in honour of Marilyn Monroe who'd died 11 years earlier. He performed this rewritten version in honour of Princess Diana and it was #1 in many countries and was recognised as the 2nd best selling single of all time, after Bing Crosby's White Christmas.

UK #1 Single 10 November 1997

Barbie Girl by Aqua. Aqua were a Danish Euro-pop group which formed in 1989. They were very successful in Denmark and Barbie Girl brought them world-wide fame. It was such a fun, upbeat, finger-snapping song. I loved it.

New York Times #1 Fiction Best Seller 10 November 1997

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier. I've never read this and, in fact, probably didn't realise that the movie of the same name came from a book. I've never seen the movie either and this seems very petty but I don't like Renée Zellwegger and the trailers for the movie turned me off. "If you call me, I will come." she says. Gad, that irritated me. lol.

Anyway, with that vent out of the way, the story tells the tale of a wounded Confederate deserter who walks for months to return to the love of his life. As I mentioned, it was also made into a movie, which also starred Nicole Kidman and Jude Law. Maybe someday I'll try the book... maybe not though.

Pulitzer Prize Winner 1997

Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer by Steven Millhauser. The novel follows the exploits of an entrepreneur in late 19th Century New York City.

Martin Dressler was Millhauser's 7th book and brought many of his older books back into print after its success.

Nobel Prize Laureate 1997

Dario Fo (Italy). Dario Fo (1926 - 2016) was a multi-talented Italian; a playwright, actor, comedian, singer, songwriter, painter, etc. He was awarded his Nobel Laureate as a writer 'who emulates the jesters of the Middle Ages in scourging authority and upholding the dignity of the downtrodden.'

Hugo Award Winner 1997

Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson. Robinson also won the Hugo Award in 1994 for Green Mars. Blue Mars is the 3rd book in his Mars series. It deals with the long results of the settlement of Mars.

Edgar Award Winner 1997

The Chatham School Affair by Thomas H. Cook. Thomas Cook, an American author born in 1947 had his first book published in 1980. The Chatham School Affair was his 15th book.

"On a summer day, a young woman alighted from a bus in the small Cape Cod village of Chatham and took up residence in a cottage on the edge of Black Pond's dark waters. She was embarking on a voyage she could not foresee - one that would bring catastrophe to her, to those she loved, and to the town of Chatham itself. Now, seven decades later, only one living soul knows the answer to the question that irrevocably shattered hearts, a town, and a way of life: What really happened on Black Pond that day?"

Man Booker Prize Winner 1997

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. The God of Small Things was the debut novel by Indian writer Arundhati Roy. It is the story of fraternal twins whose lives are destroyed by the "Love Laws" that lay down "who should be loved, and how. And how much." The book explores how the small things affect people's behaviour and their lives. Roy waited until 2017 for her next novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness.

Giller Prize Winner 1997

Barney's Version by Mordecai Richler. I haven't yet read this Richler novel but it awaits my attention on my bookshelf. Most recently I enjoyed Solomon Gursky Was Here and it rekindled my interest in Richler's work. Basically Barney's Version is an autobiography of Barney Panofsky, retelling his life in various detail.
The book was also turned into a movie in 2010, starring Paul Giamatti, Rosalind Pike, Minnie Driver, etc.

Another bit of history told, another year discussed and more music for you to check out. Have a great day and weekend!!

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