MARCH 2022

TAULT, an agency for Ukrainian writing, is calling on translators to help them.

Ukrainian Film Academy Calls for Boycott of Russian Cinema After Invasion

Anonymous: the hacker collective that has declared cyberwar on Russia

Pat Robertson Insists Putin ‘Compelled by God’ to Invade Ukraine and Kick Off ‘End Times’ [no – that’s not an early April Fool…]

Words of the Month

curse (n.) Late Old English curs “a prayer that evil or harm befall one; consignment of a person to an evil fate,” of uncertain origin. No similar word exists in Germanic, Romance, or Celtic. Middle English Compendium says probably from Latin cursus “course” (see course (n.)) in the Christian sense “set of daily liturgical prayers” extended to “set of imprecations” as in the sentence of the great curse, “the formula read in churches four times a year, setting forth the various offenses which entailed automatic excommunication of the offender; also, the excommunication so imposed.”  Connection with cross is unlikely. Another suggested source is Old French curuz “anger.”

Meaning “the evil which has been invoked upon one, that which causes severe trouble” is from early 14th C. Curses as a histrionic exclamation (“curses upon him/her/it”) is by 1680s. The curse in 19th C. was the sentence imposed upon Adam and Eve in Genesis iii.16-19. The slang sense “menstruation” is from 1930. Curse of Scotland, the 9 of diamonds in cards, is attested from 1791, but the signification is obscure.

curse (v.) Middle English cursen, from Old English cursian, “to wish evil to; to excommunicate,” from the source of curse (n.). Intransitive meaning “swear profanely, use blasphemous or profane language” is from early 13th C. (compare swear (v.)). The sense of “blight with malignant evils” is from 1590s. Related: Cursed; cursing. (etymonline)

Mystery artist’s sculptures from classic Scottish books raise £50,000

Books overboard! Supply chain headaches leave publishing all at sea

Serious Stuff

Longtime ‘Reading Rainbow’ host LeVar Burton urges kids to read banned books: ‘That’s where the good stuff is’

CEO of Penguin Random House donates $500,000 to fight book bans

I’m offended my book isn’t considered offensive enough to be banned too

Comic book store owner to ship ‘Maus’ free to anyone who asks in Tenn. district where it’s banned

A professor has offered to teach Maus to all students affected by its ban.

Book Bans Are Targeting the History of Oppression

QAnon Pastor Holds Book Burning at His Church

Neo-Nazis just marched on a community library in Providence.

This great wave of American book-banning is not slowing down

Most Americans don’t agree with book bans.

Wentzville School Board reverses its decision on banned book

Cancel culture is real but it’s not the ‘woke mob’ you should worry about

ACLU sues Missouri School District for Permanent Removal of Eight Books

Erik Prince Helped Raise Money for Conservative Spy VentureNew details reveal the ambitions of an operation intended to infiltrate opponents of Donald Trump, including moderate Republicans as well as progressives and Democrats.

Now We Know Their Names

The Crypto Backlash Is Booming

DOJ arrests couple in connection with $4.5 billion cryptocurrency hack

They Were Convicted of Scamming $18 Million in Covid Relief Loans. Now, the FBI Can’t Find Them

A Hacker Group Has Been Framing People for Crimes They Didn’t Commit

Gaslight: How a harrowing Ingrid Bergman film inspired the psychology buzzword

The Fascinating—and Harrowing—Tale of the First Japanese American to Publish a Book of Fiction

Credit Suisse leak unmasks criminals, fraudsters and corrupt politicians

Mellon Foundation Awards $1.5M Grant to Document Indigenous Enslavement

Three men plead guilty to planning U.S. power grid attack, driven by white supremacy

Thieves in the Night: A Vast Burglary Ring From Chile Has Been Targeting Wealthy U.S. Households

Local Stuff

Left Behind: Some Portland teachers embrace proven approach to teaching reading, but most stick with methods that haven’t worked

Seattle Woman’s Worry over Mom’s Missing Wordle Update Leads to Police Finding Her Held Hostage

FBI ups reward to $20000 in 2002 Washington state killing

Seattle’s newest bookstore is the culmination of a mother’s dream and daughter’s passion

Odd Stuff

Decoding Dickens’s Secret Notes to Himself, One Symbol at a Time

On the 1863 novel that predicted the Internet, cars, skyscrapers, and electronic dance music.

Vintage Vinyl LP of ‘Girl From Ipanema’ Leads Police to a ‘Most Wanted’ Fugitive

Various People Are Fighting Over John McAfee’s Body, Which Is Stuck in a Spanish Morgue

A Las Vegas bartender was robbed at gunpoint. His bosses made him pay back the stolen money, a lawsuit says.

How G. Gordon Liddy Bungled Watergate With an Office-Supply Request

An Amelia Earhart Mystery Solved (Not That Mystery)

Detecting Jane: A Possible Cause of Jane Austen’s Early Death

Stormy Daniels Sues Ex-Literary Agent Over Money Avenatti Stole

Love note to Jacobite rebel embroidered in human hair to go on show

A woman in danger contacted the wrong police force — over 3,000 miles away. Luckily, they still helped her

Record Store Day is harming, not helping, independent music shops like mine

Man Finds 170 Bottles of Luxury Japanese Whiskey Stolen, Replaced With Fizzy Water

Scientists reveal how Venus fly trap plants snap shut

How a Few Salty Brits Pioneered the Art of the Weaponized Index

Morbid coin-operated mortuary automaton circa 1900

Nonsense, Puns, and Dirty Limericks: A Serious Look at Poetic Wordplay

“Dental Plumper” Jaw Prosthetic Worn by Marlon Brando in ‘The Godfather’ (1972)

Words of the Month

jynx (n.)”wryneck,” 1640s, from Modern Latin jynx (plural jynges), from Latin iynx (see jinx – see below!). As “a charm or spell,” 1690s. (etymonline)

SPECTRE

Jeff Bezos’ superyacht will see historic bridge dismantled

Thousands of Dutch vow to pelt Jeff Bezos’ superyacht with rotten eggs

After backlash, Jeff Bezos suggests naming library auditorium for Toni Morrison

A group of bipartisan lawmakers is grilling Amazon for its continued sale of a chemical compound used in suicides

U.S. Lawmakers Question Amazon Over Sale of Chemical Compound Used in Suicide

Black Lives Matter Kicked Off Amazon Charity Platform

New Amazon headquarters sparks feud among Indigenous South Africans

Words of the Month

jinx (n.) From 1911, American English, originally baseball slang; perhaps ultimately from jyng “a charm, a spell” (17th C.), originally “wryneck” (also jynx), a bird used in witchcraft and divination, from Latin iynx “wryneck,” from Greek iynx. Jynx was used in English as “a charm or spell” from 1690s.

“Most mysterious of all is the psychics of baseball is the “jinx”, that peculiar “hoodoo” which affects, at times, a man, at other times a whole team. Let a man begin to think that there is a “jinx” about and he is done for the time being.” Technical World Magazine, 1911

The verb is 1912 in American English, from the noun. Related: Jinxed; jinxing. (etymonline)

Awards

MWA Confers First Neely Grants

Long Island University Announces 73rd Annual George Polk Awards In Journalism

Bard Graduate Center Welcomes Submissions for Horowitz Book Prize

WORLD BOOK DAY ~ MARCH 3, 2022

Book Stuff

Major collection of James Joyce documents and books donated to university

You Can Now Explore Marcel Duchamp’s Personal Papers Online

Rediscovering a Lost Dystopia and Its Prescient Author

Some Fundamental Principles for Writing Great Sex

‘A certain pleasant darkness’: what makes a good fictional sex scene?

In ‘Anonymous Sex,’ No Strings — and No Bylines

What Pornographic Literature Shows Us About Human Nature

Sara Gran Considers The Art of Suspense

How much lost medieval literature is there? A wildlife-tracking method may have the answer.

Louise Welsh: ‘It was like driving with the lights off’

Time To Curl Up with a “Quozy” – A Queer Cozy Mystery

Leonard Cohen’s Unpublished Fiction Will Be Collected in New Book ‘A Ballet of Lepers’

American Literature is a History of the Nation’s Libraries

The Bleak, Propulsive Noir of Simenon’s Romans Durs

How a Book is Made ~ Ink, Paper, and a 200,00-Pound Printer

David Lagercrantz on His New International Thriller Inspired by Sherlock Holmes

Lisa Gardner, the Thriller Writer Who Loves Historical Romance

Why Berlin Is the Mecca of Espionage Fiction: A Conversation with Joseph Kanon and Paul Vidich

‘A symbol of new beginning’: Mosul’s university library reopens

Other Forms of Entertainment

Your literary guide to the 2022 Oscar nominations.

With ‘Death on the Nile,’ Kenneth Branagh humanizes Hercule Poirot

On the Coen Brothers’ Bitter, Brokenhearted Noir, Miller’s Crossing

Trevanian: An Appreciation for the Godfather of the Mountain Thriller

How did Mission: Impossible 7 become one of the most expensive films ever?

B-More or B-Less: Meditations on The Wire and Baltimore

The Ordinary, the Sublime, and The Taking of Pelham One Two Three

The Outfit review – Mark Rylance’s mob tailor makes the cut

Can The Thin Man Serve as a Gateway to Cozy Mysteries?

The Real Story Behind David Fincher’s ‘Zodiac’

The Irresistible Rebellious Irreverence at the Heart of Noir

Hey, Kenneth Branagh, Leave Miss Marple Alone!

The Ipcress File: The rebel spy who is the anti-James Bond

The lit mag of the moment, founded by two women in their 20s, isn’t afraid to say what’s on its mind

Nothing Can Stay Hidden Forever: The True Crime Legacy of Lost Highway

‘The Crown’’s jewels stolen in Yorkshire raid on TV show’s vehicles

Steven Spielberg Developing Film Based on Steve McQueen’s Frank Bullitt (HUH?!?!?)

Is Adaptation a Feminine Act? On the Women Writers Who Worked on Alfred Hitchcock Presents

March 15th is the 50th Anniversary of The Godfather’s premiere

Francis Ford Coppola’s Favorite Godfather Scene Is One You Can’t Refuse

Restoring ‘The Godfather’ to Its Original (Still Dark) Glory

Museum Shows

Three mystery exhibitions, Toronto Public Library

“Cowboys, Detectives, and Daredevils” pulp exhibition in New Britain, CT

Words of the Month

hex (v.) From 1830, American English, from Pennsylvania German hexe “to practice witchcraft,” from German hexen “to hex,” related to Hexe “witch,” from Middle High German hecse, hexse, from Old High German hagazussa (see hag). Noun meaning “magic spell” is first recorded 1909; earlier it meant “a witch” (1856). Compare Middle English hexte “the devil” (mid-13th C.), perhaps originally “sorcerer,” probably from Old English haehtis. (etymonline)

RIP

Feb. 4: Jason Epstein, Editor and Publishing Innovator, Is Dead at 93

Feb. 4: Judd Bernard, Producer on the Neo-Noir Classic ‘Point Blank,’ Dies at 94

Feb. 13: Ivan Reitman, ‘Animal House’ Producer and ‘Ghostbusters’ Director, Dies at 75

Feb. 15: Peter Earnest, CIA veteran who helped launch International Spy Museum, dies at 88

Feb. 16: P.J. O’Rourke, satirist and conservative commentator, dies at 74

Feb. 24: Monique Hanotte, Belgian resistance member who rescued 135 downed Allied airmen in World War II, dies at 101

Feb. 24: Sally Kellerman, Hot Lips Houlihan in ‘M*A*S*H,’ Dies at 84

Feb. 28: David Boggs, Co-Inventor of Ethernet, Dies at 71

Links of Interest

Feb. 1: Scam the bereaved, defraud the dead: the shocking crimes of America’s greatest psychic conman

Feb. 1: Hanslope Park: The True Home of Britain’s Spy Gadgets

Feb. 2: The Knife Twist – The Sheridan brothers have been waiting years for a clue to their parents’ brutal deaths. Last week, they got one.

Feb. 2: Australian Grave Robbers are Stealing Human Remains

Feb. 4: Scandal on a Wealthy Island: A Priest, a Murder and a Mystery

Feb. 5: ‘Darkness Enveloped My Soul’: The Final Confessions of the Torso Killer

Feb. 8: Kurt Schwitters’ unknown portrait sitter identified as wartime German spy

Feb. 10: Man Says QAnon Told Him His Wife Was a CIA Sex Trafficker. He Killed Her.

Feb 10: A Brief History of Strychnine, the Poison of Choice for Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Scores More—But Why?

Feb. 13: Mexican Cartel ‘Cannibal Schools’ Force Recruits to Eat Human Flesh

Feb 13: A ‘Sopranos’ Expert Analyzes Chevy’s Meadow and AJ Super Bowl Commercial

Feb. 14: Inside a Massive Human Smuggling Ring Led by US Marines

Feb. 15: Hollywood actor who bilked investors in $650 million scheme gets 20 years in prison

Feb. 16: Florida Woman Accused of Using $15K of Pandemic Loan to Hire Hitman

Feb. 16: Florida Police Distributed a Link to Pay Traffic Fines That Was Actually a Link to a MAGA Store

Feb 19: Who Is Behind QAnon? Linguistic Detectives Find Fingerprints

Feb. 20: Convicted fraudster Bernie Madoff’s sister, husband found dead

Feb. 20: Hacker Uses Phishing Attack to Steal $1.7 Million in NFTs From OpenSea Users

Feb. 21: ‘Frasier’-Inspired Killer Covered up Milkshake Murder of Her Rich Boyfriend with Fake Suicide

Feb. 22: Getting By in Prison With Nothing But Books

Feb. 25: Cops Crack a 40-Year-Old Murder—but Who Killed the Killer?

Feb. 27: Wine crime is soaring but a new generation of tech savvy detectives is on the case

Feb. 27: How Criminal Profiling Foiled a Serial-Killing Boy Scout

Feb. 28: Edgar Allan Poe’s pocket watch among donations to museum

Feb. 28: Unsolved Murder Could Shed New Light on Gardner Museum Art Heist

Feb. 28: A ticket stub from Jackie Robinson’s majors debut sells for a record-breaking $480K

Words of the Month

whammy (n.) Often double whammy, “hex, evil eye,” 1932, of unknown origin, popularized 1941 in Al Capp’s comic strip “Li’l Abner,” where it was the specialty of Evil-Eye Fleegle. (etymonline)

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

Vivien Chien – Hot And Sour Suspects

In this installment of A Noodle Shop Mystery finds Lana Lee trying speed dating….to bring new customers to her family’s noodle house. It also brings in a familiar face Rina Su, a fellow Asia Village shop owner. Sick of being single, Rina attends and finds a match. But of course, when potential love is involved – drama soon follows – and before the next day dawns, Rina’s date is discovered dead, and she’s the prime suspect!

Lana, not one to watch her friend twist, immediately leaps into action….the only thing is Rina makes it perfectly clear she doesn’t want Lana’s help. Undeterred, Lana presses on, and the only problem is – every piece of evidence she finds makes Rina look guiltier.

Again I need to reiterate how much I enjoy this series! 

One of the things I love reading the most is how Lana navigates the relationships in her life. Her aplomb when dealing with the people around her is amazing, and while Lana doesn’t always get it right, she tries, and with the crazy cast around her – that’s all you can ask for!

Another feature of this series I think Chien cleverly uses is the Ho-Lee Noodle House. The family-owned restaurant Lana manages is a wonderful backdrop for this series. I will also reiterate that Chien does a great job of keeping Noodle House a device that keeps the story moving without completely taking over. So while this book does have a food theme, it doesn’t feel like it as Chien does a beautiful job making sure the mystery and characters shine first and foremost.

In any case, if you like lighter mysteries, I highly recommend the Noodle Shop Mysteries. And while you could start with Hot And Sour Suspects – I highly suggest you start with the first in the series Death By Dumpling so that you can get a better handle on the relationships at play in this series.

JB

See my review of the BRILLIANT new thriller from Mike Lawson

Watergate’s Central Mystery: Why Did Nixon’s Team Order the Break-In in the First Place? [I’m reading this book now and it is fabulous. If Putin would stop taking the world to hell, I’d get more of it read…]

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