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Happy birthday, Sherlock

According to the National Archives, today is Sherlock Holmeseses birthday. The birthday of the character? The birthday of the creation of the character? I dunno. They don’t say. They do say

Scotland Yard used to receive many letters from individuals hoping to make contact. Allegedly a secretary was later employed to respond, explaining he was no longer detecting and had left London to enjoy a rural retirement in Sussex.

Hey, we could be fictional neighbors!

p.s. ever since I told WordPress I use a British keyboard, it changes my Z’s to S’s and puts all those gay extra U’s in stuff.

May 21, 2019 — 7:50 pm
Comments: 12

Lambs, you say?

Artist: Ed Harrington.

If you’ve never read Silence of the Lambs, you should. It’s the only book my stepmother ever recommended to me, so I felt obliged to read it (I don’t read much fiction, and I really hate fictional murder stories).

I actually stood up out of my reading chair at one point, when the plotline took an unexpected turn. You know the place.

Hated the movie.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

March 22, 2019 — 9:16 pm
Comments: 6

Racist Atticus Finch was first Atticus Finch

atticusfinch

Welp, Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman went on sale today, and lefty hearts exploded all over the world. Here, if you needed some cheering up, some quotes from the article I just linked:

The New York Times said the revelation could “reshape Ms Lee’s legacy” and made for “disturbing reading”.

Writing for The Guardian, Mark Lawson said: “If the text now published had been the one released in 1960, it would almost certainly not have achieved the same greatness. This is not so much due to literary inferiority, but because Go Set a Watchman is a much less likeable and school-teachable book.

The Independent’s Arifa Akbar said: “We will never be able to read Mockingbird in the same way again, and never see Atticus in the same light again.

(By the way, LOL at the name Arifa Akbar. You reckon when they call out her table in a restaurant, everybody hits the deck?).

This is because Watchman’s Atticus Finch is a racist who once belonged to the Klan (“when it was respectable, like the Masons”) and says things like, “Do you want your children going to a school that’s been dragged down to accommodate Negro children?”

Oh, the book is still anti-racist — it takes place twenty years after Mockingbird and the whole point is that a grownup, sophisticated Scout winces at the n-word — but Atticus Finch was a beloved icon, now unceremoniously de-pedestalled.

Tee hee.

Even better, it turns out Watchman was actually the first draft of Mockingbird. Lee’s literary agent read it and thought it would work better if she extracted the flashbacks and made them into their own book. So racist Atticus was there all along, the first and original Atticus.

Tee hee hee.

If any of you actually read it, would you let me know if it’s well written? Because she never published again, there was a persistent rumor that Truman Capote, her lifelong friend (and the model for Dill) was the actual author.

July 14, 2015 — 9:06 pm
Comments: 16

Remembering Ric Locke

So, do you? Remember Ric Locke?

He was a blogger and occasional commenter here who self-published an entertaining scifi book called Temporary Duty.

It sold well enough that he spent his last days arguing with the IRS. Yes, sadly, that rat bastard cancer got him in the Summer of 2012.

Welp, I got an email earlier this week from a dude called Yuris Daudish, who read Ric’s book and thought it deserved a public fandom. He put out the call for anybody who might have had dealings with Ric who could share anecdotes or insights into the man or the book. Or might want to join the discussion forum. I promised to go through what emails we traded back in the day to see if anything interesting turns up — and to spread the word to any reader here who might have had some interaction.

The fan site is http://temporaryduty.org. Contact Yuris at master@temporaryduty.org or through his site. Or here in the comments, if you like.

I can’t help thinking how pleased Ric would’ve been. Good weekend, all!

March 13, 2015 — 9:05 pm
Comments: 28

A very Mapp and Lucia Summer

In the chicken thread below, we got talking about Mapp and Lucia — the books, not the chickens — and it dawns on me, I’m not sure I’ve ever posted about Mapp and Lucia the books. Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

Mapp and Lucia describes a series of six (or more, depending if you count short stories) novels about two middle aged, middle class English ladies in the Twenties. They wage deadly warfare on one another by way of gossip, dinner parties and musical evenings. If you have a taste for bitchy catfights, you’ll love these books (if not, they’ll probably bore you silly).

The author, E.F. Benson, wrote shit tons of books, but Mapp and Lucia are his greatest hits. They’re set in Tilling, which is explicitly modeled on the town of Rye. So closely modeled that a cottage industry sprung up leading people on walking tours of Rye, pointing out landmarks from the books. Benson lived in Rye and was its mayor for a while; his house is at the center of the Mapp and Lucia cycle.

Fun fact: Benson’s father, Edward White Benson, was Archbishop of Canterbury. He had six children and they were all homosexual. I read that somewhere, but Wikipedia says two of them died young, so I’m not sure how gay they had time to be.

Mapp and Lucia has been dramatized many times, most notably in the Eighties in a series starring Geraldine McEwan and Prunella Scales (remember her, Fawlty Towers?).

Welp, the BBC was in town for six weeks this Summer filming a new version, due to be released at Christmas. We live close enough to have turned up to watch the filming a few times. (Rye is used pretty often in film, because it’s gorgeous. Monuments Men was filmed locally last year, f’rexample).

This being the modern BBC, I’m sure they’ll eff it up, but I absolutely can’t fault their sense of set and costume. They took over Market Street and transformed it into the Market Street from the books (it’s mostly residential now, but it was the main shopping street in Benson’s day). It was fascinating to watch the prop people at work; the attention to detail was fantastic. They graveled the road so the markings wouldn’t show and put detailed false fronts on many of the buildings. One day to put it up, a week to film, a day to take it down, like they’d never been.

The picture shows a row of fake plastic pig carcasses hanging from the Town Hall. Guys kept spraying them down so they were shiny wet. I really, really wanted one.

They hired locals for extras and rented several houses for interiors. I felt for those extras when they bundled them up to film the Christmas scenes on a hot July night, fake snow and all.

We’re great M&L fans, if that’s not perfectly fucking obvious by now. I’ll let you know how the BBC manages to ruin these great stories with cheap politics.

October 8, 2014 — 6:53 pm
Comments: 17

I don’t know, I’ve never kippled

We’re determined to make the most of Summer this year. We didn’t get many days out last Summer, and this year we’ve been extremely lucky with the weather. So it was off to Bateman’s yesterday — Kipling’s last home.

There’s something sad about the house. And positively non-Euclidean — it’s somehow much smaller on the inside than the outside. But still, a good day out, and Uncle B found a much quicker route to get there, so we’ll probably go more often. Have to squeeze every entertainment penny out of the effing expensive National Trust membership.

They cleverly left copies of his books about, with “available to purchase in the gift shop” written inside the covers. So I tucked into Puck of Pook’s Hill while Uncle B wandered about on his own. I think that’s my favorite Kipling, but the man was hella prolific, and I got to wondering how many of his I haven’t read.

That’s when I discovered Delphi Classics. They’re an eBook publisher that specializes in “Complete Works of…” editions of out-of-copyright classic authors. Nicely formatted for a couple of bucks. Buy them through Amazon or right from the publisher.

I don’t know about you, but I’m crazy about owning an author’s complete works. Even in the days when that meant that nice mister Dickens took up five feet of shelf space. There’s something deeply satisfactory about having them all together in one clean set, not a hodge-podge of mongrel editions with half a dozen books left out. I have a feeling I’ll be visiting Delphi again.

They all come as one big Kindle file, but they have a table of contents, so that’s okay. I’m going chronologically by publication date, starting with the novels. I read The Light that Failed all afternoon, and I’m still at 1% of the collected works. See you in the Fall.

Oh, yeah — Dead Pool tomorrow! 6pm WBT! I’m going to set it up right now, so I *can’t* forget this time.

July 31, 2014 — 10:20 pm
Comments: 17

Stupid Kindle tricks

Did you know you could email stuff to your Kindle? I learned this recently. I know, I know…moving stuff to the Kindle the regular way is as easy as finding…that goddamned…has anybody seen my Kindle cable?? Forget it.

Go to Amazon>>my account>>manage my Kindle>>settings and it’ll give you an email address for every device you have registered as a Kindle. I have four: my original Kindle, which shat the bed, Uncle B’s Kindle, which I stole when mine shat the bed, a Kindle account for my deskop PC and another for my Android tablet. Each has a separate address. Email stuff to that address, turn on your wifi, and it shoots your text down Whispernet, easy-peasy.

While I’m here — I think I probably mentioned this before — let me recommend Longreads to you. It’s an aggregator of longform journalism — something I can’t bear to read on my PC, but I really have gotten into for Kindle. Don’t ask me the difference, there just is one, okay?

You do NOT have to pay to subscribe. Sign up for the weekly mailing list. When the newsletter comes, press the “read now” button. In the window that opens, choose get them as a Readlist. Next window, choose Send to Kindle (there are other options, like iPhone and Dropbox, if you’d rather). Then give it your Kindle email address and away you go.

I know that sounds like ass-ache, but it isn’t really, and it downloads half a dozen long articles to your dingus in an easy-to-navigate menu’d package.

Ordinarily, I’d ask you to be a good nettizen and give them some money for this service, but a) I think $3 a month is a lot to ask and b) particularly when they don’t actually write any of it, they just collect it. Which I think is a bit cheeky.

And c) Dude. This is long form journalism. Modern journalism at its snootiest. It’s usually good, well-researched stuff, and worth a read, but holy shit is it ever chock full of lefty bullshit. You really have to turn your crap-o-meter on high to make it through. And maybe skip a few of the worst ones.

Good weekend, everyone!

July 11, 2014 — 10:59 pm
Comments: 17

Oh my dog

“Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intervention in Ukraine is not a sign of Russian strength…” said U.S. President Barack Obama, standing in an elementary school classroom on this colorful alphabet rug. Seriously. This happened. (Thanks to MikeW for the link in the comments). Doesn’t he have people to scope out these locations in advance?

Not that the press conference went out this way — the shot was framed in the standard talking-head-plus-flags format. Still, this day and age, they didn’t think other photos would leak to the internets?

Anyway, that’s the image I should have been riffing on tonight. Instead, I did something I haven’t done in years — got a book in the mail this morning and read it all in one go. Blew most of my day and had to sprint at the end.

What? Oh. It was Thomasina. Which Disney made into The Three Lives of Thomasina in the Sixties. I never saw the movie but, knowing Disney, I can pretty much guarantee the book was darker and weirder.

Also by this author: Jennie, a book I read many years ago and loved. And, um, Poseidon Adventure.

March 6, 2014 — 12:13 am
Comments: 18

Weekend public domain book thread…?

So, here’s a British classic that was new to me: Jock of the Bushveld. Dog adventure story, like Call of the Wild or White Fang. But in Africa. And nonfiction.

Wow. Very entertain. Much enjoy.

The links above go to Project Gutenberg. I don’t know when they started this, but they now offer Kindle editions, cleanly formatted, often with illustrations. Man, that opens up a whole lotta excellent free content for the ol’ reading device. And the holidays coming up (or as I think of Christmas, the Time of Reading).

So, anything in the out-of-copyright bin you’d recommend?

Here, I’ll go. In the fine old tradition of ghost stories for Christmas, how about some M.R. James? Or Algernon Blackwood?

The neighbor who recommended Jock of the Bushveld also loaned me a couple of nice old illustrated hardbacks by Ernest Thompson Seton, another adventurer and naturalist and sometime illustrator of the era (and early patron of the Boy Scouts). He — my neighbor — eagerly told me, “I have two thousand books in my library.”

Ah. Good. Ummmm…good weekend, all!

December 14, 2013 — 12:44 am
Comments: 54

be sure to leave a saucer of milk

This little feller is from the town museum in Pevensey, the one we visited last week. I’m assuming they’re assuming this is was Rowling’s inspiration for Dobby the House Elf.

I confess, I didn’t finish Harry Potter — books or movies. I found them a little hard going, to be honest. Like most fantasy books, they borrow heavily from all the books that came before. Which is fine, except I’ve been reading the genre since I was a wee slip of a weasel, which gives newer entries a real aw, geez, not this shit again sort of ambiance.

Anyway, it’s the weekend. Um, open thread…?

September 6, 2013 — 11:10 pm
Comments: 33