On the Matter of SPECTRE
Words of the Month
Snow-Bones: They’re the lines of snow or ice left at the sides of roads after the rest of the snow has melted. Which will probably be around June.
Other Forms of Entertainment
Words of the Month
Piblokto: a condition among the Inuit that is characterized by attacks of disturbed behavior (as screaming and crying) and that occurs chiefly in winter
No one is entirely certain what causes piblokto (and some scholars in recent decades have expressed doubts that it actually exists at all), but what is fairly certain is that it sounds like a nasty way to spend the winter. Imagine if you had not only to perform through your normal routine of shoveling the walk outside your house and navigating the many additional layers of clothing that winter necessitates, but in addition had to do all this while in a state of hysteria.
“When an Eskimo is attacked with piblokto indoors, nobody pays much attention, unless the sufferer should reach for a knife or attempt to injure some one.” Robert Edwin Peary, The North Pole, 1910
A picture of Robert Edwin Peary in his, “North Pole Costume“
Links of Interest
November 29: The ‘Robin Hood’ policemen who stole from the Nazis
December 4: Video: Arecibo Observatory Telescope Collapses
December 4: Why We See Rainbows
December 7: Ikea scraps traditional catalogue after 70 years
December 7: The day a Picasso statue vanished in Toronto
December 9: David Lew: Artist sues Los Angeles museum after work thrown out
December 11: Future-proofing Highgate Cemetery for climate change
December 14: To Unlock Sublime Flavor, Cook Like A Scientist
December 14: Toledo Zoo Discovers Tasmanian Devils That Glow
December 15: Pup took van for a spin, police say
December 17: Italians Read More During the Pandemic
December 18: Thieves steal 2,400 cases of whisky from trailer
December 19: Police in hunt for twice-lost rare whale skull
December 20: Meet Beave, The Internet’s Most Famous Beaver
December 20: 24 Inventions by Women You Might Not Be Aware Of
December 21: Viking hoard secrets ‘unwrapped’ by £1m research
December 22: Hawaii Reboots Depression-Era Conservation Corps
December 26: Russian historian jailed for dismembering partner
December 27: Model Train Company Makes Comeback In Quarantine
Words of the Month
Northern Nanny: A cold storm of hail and wind from the north in England. Many northern nannies hit the UK in the 17th and 18th century, during a period known as the Little Ice Age. This led to the Thames freezing over on several occasions, and when the ice was thick enough, as in 1620, giant carnivals called ‘frost fairs’ were held on the river.
-Thanks to Collins Language Lover Blog for this term!
December 3: Mad Max star Hugh Keays-Byrne dies aged 73
December 11: Thomas ‘Tiny’ Lister Jr.
What We’ve Been Up To
Agatha Christie News:
It’s no secret that I love a well-written pastiche, and in Leonard Goldberg’s The Art of Deception, you’ve got just that – a well-executed pastiche….sorta.
The sorta is on account of the fact these mysteries are based upon the canon of Sherlock Holmes. However, the man himself is absent, as he passed away many years before these tales – leaving behind Dr. Watson, Ms. Hudson, his methods….and a daughter.
Who is just as bright, clever, and quick-witted as her father.
But here’s what I love about this series, Goldberg blends the familiar features of the original text into his new narrative with such a deft hand you’re able to recognize them for what they are, but they don’t feel crammed in. Even better? He doesn’t splice them in very often. Just enough to give flavor, but not so much he dilutes the current mystery Sherlock’s daughter, Dr. Watson, and his son are investigating.
Speaking of which, the case under investigation in The Art of Deception…
A madman, for reasons unknown, is stalking and slashing Renaissance paintings – exclusively of women. When the madman decides terrorizing galleries in the West End isn’t enough and breaks into the home of man fifth in line for the throne…well, Lestrade calls on Sherlock’s daughter, Dr. Watson, and Dr. Watson for help.
The Art of Deception is a great book. One I, unfortunately, managed to polish off in two days. (I am absolutely terrible at putting a book down when I’m enjoying it. In fact, I would’ve finished it off faster, but work, sleep, and packing got in the way!)
If you’re looking for a solid, fun and fast mystery with a Sherlockian in feel, I’d recommend you read The Art of Deception!
(BTW, you don’t need to read them in order to understand what’s happening in this book – Goldberg does an effortless job of catching the reader up.)
Some of you might have been put off by the fact that a good part of Emily St. John Mandel’s novel, Station Eleven, was presented as a dystopian novel, and I suspect in these days, knowing that the world collapses in this instance is because of what is known as the “Georgia Flu” won’t help. But Station Eleven is much, much more than that, and if you ask anyone else who’s read it, they’ll agree.
Also, don’t be off-put when I tell you that it delves into the realm of Literature, because that sounds pretentious, and Emily St. John Mandel has managed to avoid pretentiousness by telling a fast-paced action story. The fact that it has solid literary worth is cleverly disguised.
Although I grant you, you’ll get more out of it if you’re familiar with Shakespeare’s King Lear. And Shakespeare in general, come to that.
Briefly, we begin on the eve of the Georgia Flu hitting the world (and this time the virus comes out of Russia instead of China, so see, that’s already one difference between fiction and reality. Aren’t you relieved?), with the collapse of legendary actor Arthur Leander onstage while he’s performing King Lear. The flu hits and within days, civilization as we know it is a thing of the past.
Station Eleven bounces back and forth between Arthur’s past and the future where one of the survivors of that fateful performance is now part of a traveling troupe of musicians and actors navigating the dangers of a new world littered with remnants and memories of the old one. And there are dangers aplenty, make no mistake.
Part of the deceptive charm of Station Eleven is that Emily St. John Mandel sucks you completely into her world, and you don’t see the power of her writing because it’s so beautifully understated. I finished it feeling like I’d been thumped over the head with a hammer that was lovingly encased in gorgeous velvet.
Oh, I know, I’m not making a lot of sense, which is why Station Eleven is a Trust Me book. Despite the dystopia and the flu, which I know sounds pretty awful to a lot of people right now, this is a book that should be on everyone’s TBR list, and honestly, I think it should be added to college level reading lists because Emily St. John Mandel’s weaving of stories is brilliant.
And it’s a page-turner too, with fabulous and complex people. And a dog. Trust me.
In response to the year we’re leaving, and in hopes for the year we’re entering, I’ll leave it to this line from a great series we watched in November, “The Queen’s Gambit” ~ MY TRANQUILITY NEEDS TO BE REFURBISHED
BUY SMALL ~ SUPPORT SMALL