Words of the Month
dame (n.): c. 1200, “a mother,” also “a woman of rank or high social position; superior of a convent,” and an address for a woman of rank or position, used respectfully to other ladies, from Old French dame “lady, mistress, wife,” from Late Latin domna, from Latin domina “lady, mistress of the house,” from Latin domus “house” (from PIE root *dem– “house, household”). From early 14th C. as “a woman” in general, particularly a mature or married woman or the mistress of a household. Used in Middle English with personifications (Study, Avarice, Fortune, Richesse, Nature, Misericordie). In later use the legal title for the wife of a knight or baronet.
Slang sense of “woman” in the broadest sense, without regard to rank or anything else, is attested by 1902 in American English.
We got sunlight on the sand, We got moonlight on the sea
We got mangoes and bananas, You can pick right off the tree
We got volleyball and ping-pong, And lots of dandy games
What ain’t we got? We ain’t got dames!
Richard Rodgers, “There Is Nothin’ Like a Dame,” 1949 (etymonline)
It’s a tricky thing to suss out who is awarded what each year when Buckingham Palace releases The Gazette. For those of us who don’t follow it, the initials attached to the various awards are as confusing as the bureaus outta DC. OBE? GBE? DBE?
We bring this up after the news that Ian Rankin is now SIR Ian Rankin. We could remember Dame Agatha and Dame Phyllis, and Sir Arthur, but who else? This sent us off on a quest for answers – and then we ran into the three-letter question.
To be given Sir or Dame, one must be a subject of the Queen. Hitchcock was born in England, as was Bob Hope, and Sidney Poitier was born in Jamaica, so they all were knighted. Spielberg is an honorary knight, as was Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Dames and Sirs are, or have been, awarded GBE, KBE, or DBE. If you want to know what the difference is, well do your own investigation. It’s pretty simple.
Sir Ian joins a healthy list of authors: Antonia Fraser, Hilary Mantel, Salmon Rushdie, Kingsley Amis, William Golding, Iris Murdoch, PG Wodehouse, JRR Tolkein, and Jorge Louis Borges, to name some in no particular order. Not many mystery or crime writers that we found right off.
A healthy list of writers declined the “honors”: CS Lewis, Roald Dahl, Aldus Huxley, Robert Graves, JB Priestly, Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene, and Rudyard Kipling.
There are names that aren’t on any list. For instance AA Milne… Anyway –
Congratulations to Sir Ian, a great writer and a nice guy!
Words of the Month
knight (n.) Old English cniht “boy, youth; servant, attendant,” a word common to the nearby Germanic languages (Old Frisian kniucht, Dutch knecht, Middle High German kneht “boy, youth, lad,” German Knecht “servant, bondman, vassal”), of unknown origin. For pronunciation, see kn–. The plural in Middle English sometimes was knighten.
Meaning “military follower of a king or other superior” is from c. 1100. It began to be used in a specific military sense in the Hundred Years War, and gradually rose in importance until it became a rank in the nobility from 16th C. Hence in modern British use, a social privilege or honorary dignity conferred by a sovereign as a reward, without regard for birth or deeds at arms. In 17thc.-19thc. a common jocularism was to call a craftsman or tradesman a knight of the and name some object associated with his work; e.g. knight of the brush for “painter.” Knight in shining armor in the figurative sense is from 1917, from the man who rescues the damsel in distress in romantic dramas (perhaps especially “Lohengrin”). For knight-errant, see errant.
The horse-headed chess piece so called from mid-15thc. Knights of Columbus, society of Catholic men, founded 1882 in New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.; Knights of Labor, trade union association, founded in Philadelphia, 1869; Knights of Pythias, secret order, founded in Washington, 1864. (etymonline)
For your Summer plans –
Words of the Month
excrescence (n.): early 15c., “action of growing out,” from Latin excrescentia (plural) “abnormal growths,” from excrescentem (nominative excrescens), present participle of excrescere “grow out, grow up,” from ex “out” (see ex-) + crescere “to grow” (from PIE root *ker- (2) “to grow”). Meaning “that which grows out abnormally” (on a living thing) is from 1570s (excrescency in this sense is 1540s). (etymonline)
Words of the Month
peep (v.1): “to glance, look from a state of concealment” (especially through or as through a small or narrow opening), mid-15th C., pepen, perhaps an alteration of Middle English piken (see peek (v.)). Hence, “to come partially into view, begin to appear” (1530s). Peeping Tom “a curious prying fellow” [Grose] is from 1796. (etymonline)
Words of the Month
vote (n): mid-15th C., “formal expression of one’s wish or choice with regard to a proposal, candidate, etc.,” from Latin votum “a vow, wish, promise to a god, solemn pledge, dedication,” noun use of neuter of votus, past participle of vovere “to promise, dedicate” (see vow (n.)). Meaning “totality of voters of a certain class or type” is from 1888.
Here are the guest editors for the Best American Series 2022. (see the choice for mystery and suspense!)
The best independent bookstores in the US [see 1 and 6]
Author Events (in person)
July 6: Jess Walter signs The Angel of Rome and Other Stories, Powell’s 7pm
July 7: Daniel Nieh signs Take No Names, Powell’s, 7pm
Words of the Month
sufferage (n): late 14th C., “intercessory prayers or pleas on behalf of another,” from Old French sofrage “plea, intercession” (13th C.) and directly from Medieval Latin suffragium, from Latin suffragium “support, ballot, vote; right of voting; a voting tablet,” from suffragari “lend support, vote for someone,” conjectured to be a compound of sub “under” (see sub-) + fragor “crash, din, shouts (as of approval),” related to frangere “to break” (from PIE root *bhreg– “to break”). On another theory (Watkins, etc.) the second element is frangere itself and the notion is “use a broken piece of tile as a ballot” (compare ostracism).
The meaning “a vote for or against anything” is from 1530s. The meaning “political right to vote” in English is first found in the U.S. Constitution, 1787. (etymonline)
Other Forms of Entertainment
>‘The Wire’ at 20: ‘This Show Will Live Forever’: David Simon and Edward Burns
>‘Reality Never Gives You the Perfect Narrative’. In ‘We Own This City’, David Simon and George Pelecanos argue police corruption has never been worse.
10 Conspiracy Thrillers for the Truly Paranoid (movies, that is…)
America’s very own 00-FELON! Disastrous tale of CIA agent who was hired to write James Bond-style novels in a bid to revive agency’s terrible reputation – but ended up a sensational flop before being ARRESTED for involvement in Watergate
Words of the Month
Links of Interest
Words of the Month
boggle (v.): From the 1590s, “to start with fright (as a startled horse does), shy, take alarm,” from Middle English bugge “specter” (among other things, supposed to scare horses at night); see bug (n.); also compare bogey (n.1), boggart. The meaning ” hesitate, stop as if afraid to proceed in fear of unforeseen difficulties” is from 1630s; that of “confound, cause to hesitate” is from 1640s. As a noun from 1650s. Related: Boggled; boggling; boggler (from c. 1600 as “one who hesitates”). (etymonline)
What We’ve Been Up To
Aunt Dimity & the Enchanted Cottage — Nancy Atherton
Once again, residents are plunging gleefully into Finch’s semi-regular ritual called the Moving-Van Vigil. Never heard of the tradition? Well, it’s where Finch villagers stake out a newly rented cottage and try to deduce who the newcomer is by the possessions as they’re moved from van to house….or what they can extrapolate from the labels on the cardboard boxes.
When the movers finish hauling their last box, the villagers disperse and chew over their tentative conclusions for three full days, thereby giving their new neighbor breathing space to get the cottage in some semblance of order. Then they descend en masse, casserole dishes in hand, to welcome the latest addition to Finch’s thriving village life.
Violators of this rule are given the hairy eyeball, publicly snubbed, and met with stony silence.
Lori and Tommy are willing to face the consequences when they witness Mr. Windle (the latest unwitting participant of this nosey tradition) in a moment of extreme melancholy, whereupon the two start worrying that the newest addition to Finch means to do himself harm….
Aunt Dimity & the Enchanted Cottage is an excellent addition to the series! It shows Finch and its penchant for nosiness at its very best. Demonstrating how a community bands together to ensure one of its’ own stays safe and remember those who earlier inhabitants failed.
I would recommend The Enchanted Cottage to anyone who loves this series and/or to anyone who needs a lovely light mystery to escape the never-ending bad news cycle.
Now, all that being said — there is one essential detail to keep in mind….Do Not Read the synopsis on the front fly-leaf.
Whoever wrote it did this book and the Residents of Finch a great disservice. First, this anonymous person in the publishing house made it sound as if the villagers completely dismissed Mr. Windle for rebuffing their advances of friendship. Now, anyone who knows anything about Finch KNOWS this would never happen. Especially if they think someone needs help.
Second, this unknown synopsis writer gives away a major plot point in the mystery. I mean…who does that? Albeit when you read the summary, you wouldn’t know, but the moment you start the book? It doesn’t take long to figure out that this faceless writer both told the truth about the mystery and misled you simultaneously.
If you can, take my word that Aunt Dimity & the Enchanted Cottage is a well-written, captivating entry in this murderless mystery series and is well worth your reading time.
Stories need to be told.
“Stories were different, though: they came alive in the telling. Without a human voice to read them aloud, or a pair of wide eyes following them by flashlight beneath a blanket, they had no real existence in our world. They were like seeds in the beak of a bird, waiting to fall to earth, or the notes of a song laid out on a sheet, yearning for an instrument to bring their music into being. They lay dormant, hoping for a chance to emerge. Once someone started to read them, they could begin to change. They would take root in the imagination, and transform the reader. Stories wanted to be read, David’s mother would whisper. They needed it. It was the reason they forced themselves from their world into ours. They wanted us to give them life.“
John Connolly wrote that in the first few pages of his amazing book, THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS, back in 2006. It was true then, and it’s true now.
If you haven’t read THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS, first of all, you’re missing out on a classic fairy tale, not one that’s been Disney-fied but the truly grim ones, the real ones. Mind you, there’s laugh-out-loud moments to be found, but this is a dark tale for children and adults.
David, mentioned above, loves the old fairy tales, and found refuge in them when his mother died and his father remarried. World War II was breaking over London, and David goes to live in the country with his father and their new family. Isolated and lonely, David turns to books. But when a downed German plane crashes in the garden where David is exploring, a hole in the garden wall is the only potentially safe place David can go.
Except what’s on the other side of the wall isn’t the neighboring yard. It’s a world filled with all the stories he’s been reading, and unless he is very resourceful and quick, David could be stuck there. Forever.
I’ve told you about this book before, and it bears reinforcing my determination that you should read it, but that’s not the only reason I’m telling you to pick it up.
Here’s what John Connolly said in a recent newsletter:
For some time I’ve been working on a sequel to THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS. I never really thought I’d write a sequel to that book, although I have returned to the universe of it with some short stories over the years. Nevertheless, I’ve had recourse to re-read the original over the last decade or so: first to give it a gentle polish for the 10th anniversary edition, and then, during lockdown, in order to write a film script based on it. (The script provided a way forward, I think, as well as indicating that there was too much material in the book for a two-hour film. The film company is now looking at it in terms of a possible television series, which would provide more scope for expansion, but I’ve done my bit as far as scripts for it are concerned.)
The polish for the anniversary edition, completed in 2016, probably provided the initial impetus, while the screenplay concretized some ideas I’d had. The result is that THE LAND OF LOST THINGS will be published in the autumn of either 2023 or 2024, but most likely the former. There’s some work to be done on it yet in terms of revision, but it’s coming into focus.
YAY! A film/series and a sequel? It doesn’t get better than that!
After watching the series “The Lincoln Lawyer”, I decided to go back to Michael Connelly’s series with Mickey Haller, Harry Bosch’s half-brother. I’d stopped reading that series after the second book in the series, The Brass Verdict, which is what the TV covered. 3rd was The Reversal – which features Bosch as working with Haller. The next in the series was temporarily out of print, so I spent the month catching up with Bosch, and the newest member of that universe, Renee Ballard: The Late Show, Dark Sacred Night, Night Fire, and the Dark Hours. What the hell – if you’re gonna do it, just go overboard! Ballard and Bocsh make a great team. Each of their joint books contain at least one cold case that takes takes up most of the book, and sprinkled in are Ballard’s Late Show cases that work like mini-short stories. It’s a fascinating way to craft a novel. Won’t be another Bosch and Ballard until early November, so not it is back to Haller and the fifth in that series, The Gods of Guilt.
Finally, a personal plea: if you’re not happy with the way the country is going, the way every American’s right to privacy has been eagerly stripped away by the minority, you must resolve to vote in EVERY election. Yes, presidential elections are crucial, but so are all the local and state elections. Don’t like gerrymandering? Vote! Don’t like what the schoolboard is doing? VOTE! Don’t like what your state legislators are doing, or the governor? VOTE! If you’re registered but don’t vote, you’ve helped those who removed your – our – rights. If you’re not registered – register and vote in every election. Because, as you can see, it matters… Protesting is good, showing numbers and raising voices is good. “A few weeks before his death in 1895, Douglass was asked what advice he would give to a young black American. ‘Agitate! Agitate! Agitate!’ the old man answered.”
Remember – Black MEN in America were theoretically given the right to vote in 1870 but that was not enforced – again, theoretically – until the 1964 Civil Rights Act. That now seems to be under threat in many forums. WOMEN in America were not allowed to vote until the 19th Amendment was passed in 1920! So, if you listen to Constitutional Originalists who want the things to return to what the Constitution said when it was written… ‘Agitate! Agitate! Agitate!’ and VOTE!
BUY SMALL ~ SUPPORT SMALL