Category Archives: Fantasy

Literary Bust

As I was reading this morning (Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith [aka JK Rowlings]), the narrator casually mentions watching a show about art and the camera pans the room, to include a bust of Beethoven.  There is a smidge of discussion about how the protagonist looks a bit like Beethoven and then the story moves on.

But as the story continued, I was distracted by the thought of the Beethoven bust. Hadn’t a bust of Beethoven just been a book I finished last week?  And wasn’t there a bust of Beethoven in a book I read a couple of months ago.  Time to backtrack in my reading history.

There was indeed a bust of Beethoven in Transcription by Kate Atkinson.  It was included in a description of a room and then later was used by a Nazi sympathizer to try to escape from the MI5 agents who had uncovered her treachery.

The previous literary bust turned out to be Baudelaire, not Beethoven, in The Alice Network by Kate Quinn.  In that book, the Nazi (yeah, I know you ‘ve all heard me say I’m sick of WWII books, but apparently not that sick) uses a bust of Baudelaire to break the fingers of the young spy.  Gruesome.

I have no idea what this means to the larger world, that busts of Beethoven and Baudelaire have shown up repeatedly in my reading the last few months, but it’s fascinating to me.

Pick a bust for your living room… any composer, artist, writer or super hero. Living or dead.  Who is it?

Redeeming Science

I swear more than I like; as a child I fully succumbed to my father’s theory that people who swore just didn’t have good enough imaginations to choose better words.  But I am, in the heat of the moment, a potty mouth.  I’ve always kind of wished that I were a sailor; as I understand that sailors and longshoremen are the best swearers . Then maybe I’d have a bigger swearing vocabulary and wouldn’t need to feel my father’s disapproval from the great beyond.

So lo and behold, I see online today (SciShow) that it turns out that swearing can confer stress release, pain amelioration and increased social bonding.  This backs up a Mythbusters episode I saw a few years back in which they tested pain response (iced water) in volunteers who either had to stay silent or could swear to their heart’s content.  The swearers were able to hold their hands in the iced water longer and recorded a less intense level of pain.

Apparently the social bonding is based on the perception that you are more open/forthright if you swear, as opposed to “holding something back” by not swearing occasionally.  There is apparently science to back this up along with the stress relief aspect of swearing as well.

I don’t know if having this knowledge will make me swear more or if I will always hear my father’s voice in the back of my head.

What bad habit would you have that you’d like to be redeemed by science?

Hero Cult?

In this world of super heroes and avengers, it seems as if everyone needs to get on the band wagon. I see in the news that an actor has been named for a re-make of “He-Man”.  I didn’t realize there had even been an original movie, although I do remember the original tv cartoon series.

Apparently the first movie was a flop (or as they say in Hollywood “a commercial failure”) which leads me to wonder why anyone feels the need to try again. But then I see that the latest Avengers movie completed Sherman-tanked its way over box office records last weekend, so who am I to say that people don’t want more super hero movies.

I guess in a anxiety-filled world, imagining that there are super beings who can control a little more of their destiny is somehow comforting?

Tell me about the worst film you’ve ever seen. (Or worst book you’ve ever read.)

The Cruelest Month

In an email this week, Renee said to me “April is the cruelest month”. I disagree (because, of course February is the cruelest month) but it made me think about assigning human characteristics to the months.  Or days (Monday’s child is full of grace….).  Or anything non-human.

I tend to appreciate this – I supposed because it’s a version of metaphor and I love metaphor. Here is one of my favorite passages in which the non-living becomes living (from Betty MacDonald’s The Egg and I)”

“Town” was the local Saturday Mecca. A barren old maid of a place, aged and weathered by all the prevailing winds and shunned by prosperity. Years ago the Town with her rich dot of timber and her beautiful harbor was voted Miss Pacific Northwest of 1892 and became betrothed to a large railroad. Her happy founders immediately got busy and whipped up a trousseau of three-and four-story brick buildings, a huge and elaborate red stone courthouse, and sites and plans for enough industries to start her on a brilliant career.

Meanwhile all her inhabitants were industriously tatting themselves up large, befurbelowed Victorian houses in honor of the approaching wedding. Unfortunately almost on the eve of the ceremony the Town in one of her frequent fits of temper lashed her harbor to a froth, tossed a passing freighter up onto her main thorofare and planted seeds of doubt in the mind of her fiancé. Further investigation revealed that, in addition to her treacherous temper, she was raked by winds day and night, year in and year out, and had little available water. In the ensuing panic of 1893, her railroad lover dropped her like a hot potato and within a year or so was paying serious court to several more promising coast towns.

Poor little Town never recovered from the blow. She pulled down her blinds, pulled up her welcome mat and gave herself over to sorrow. Her main street became a dreary thing of empty buildings, pocked by falling bricks and tenanted only by rats and the wind. Her downtown street ends, instead of flourishing waterfront industries, gave birth to exquisite little swamps which changed from chartreuse to crimson to hazy purple with the seasons. Her hills, shorn of their youthful timber in preparation for a thriving residential district, lost their bloom and grew a covering of short crunchy grass which was always dry and always yellow—lemon in spring, golden in summer and fall. She wore her massive courthouse like an enormous brooch on a delicate bosom and the faded and peeling wedding houses grew clumsy and heavy with shrubbery and disappointment.

I also love commercials that depict non-human objects as having personalities. I really liked the Jimmy Dean sun commercials:

Did you ever name your stuffed animals as a child?

All in a Row

Photo Credit: Sadiq Nafee on Unsplash

I just finished the latest installment of Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series. I adore this series, so much so that I am often frustrated while I wait for Louise Penny to write the next one.  In fact, I didn’t rush out to read The Kingdom of the Blind when it was published because I knew I would have a wait for the next one.

At the library over my lunch hour, I found books on CDs by Preston and Douglas; they have four separate character series, but none of the ones that are next on my list were on the library shelf. I’ve read online that you can probably read Preston and Douglas out of order, but I can’t bring myself to do that. Gotta do them in order!

So now I have the next P&D on request from the library and came away from the CD shelves with some other items – a comedy memoir and a young adult fiction that has magic and dragons. Hopefully those will keep be going in the car until my next series arrives!

What’s your favorite series? Do you like to read them in order?

Fantasy Island

Off the shores of Palermo, Sicily, an aristocratic Italian family has put up their private island for sale. It’s called Isola delle Femmine (Island of Women).  It’s uninhabited and is part of a marine park that is protected and used as an elite scuba and snorkeling area.  It can be yours for just $1.1 million.

What will you do with the island once it’s yours?

My Groupie

When I was in the market for a new car four years ago, I delegated the research to YA. She recognizes car makes and models; she knows all our friends’ and neighbors’ cars.  She is definitely a car person.   I gave her my requirements (hybrid, 4-door, red) and off she went.  Her research came in the form of a chart with the five cars that she had identified as possibilities.  One was axed due to being the wrong color and two were eliminated by their price.

We went and test drove the Toyota Prius and the Honda Insight. I’d never heard of an Insight before but since I’m definitely NOT a car person, I didn’t think too much about.  I love my Insight but it became clear pretty quickly that I wasn’t the only one who had never heard of an Insight.  Nobody had ever heard of it.  In four years nobody has ever recognized my car, even car people.

So imagine my surprise today, when a guy coming out of the gym as I was getting out of my car, stopped and said “how do you like your Insight?” He had purchased his Insight in November.  We had a nice talk about the mileage (great), the cost of filling up (teeny) and the blue/green light that tells you whether you are using gas or electricity (mesmerizing).  As I went into the gym and he headed to his Insight I thought “this must be what it feels like to be a car person”?  Then when I came out of the gym I’d forgotten where I parked.  Oh well.

We all have our special areas of interest. Do you have comrades in arms?