Friday, August 29, 2014

Mysteries & Music - Gladys Mitchell

For many years I was a devoted fan of the “Mystery!” series on PBS. The majority of the episodes were based on Brit period books.  

The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries were based on books by Gladys Mitchell. She started writing them in the late ‘20s and continued on into the ‘80s. A couple were published posthumously after she died in 1983.

I had never heard of her or her books until I watched the episodes shown on PBS. Unfortunately, only a handful of episodes were shown here in the US. The series ran for 2 seasons in the UK, and it’s very difficult to get them on DVD for an affordable price. Diana Rigg played the part of Mrs. Bradley and was superb.

I was so taken with this series that I started looking for books by Ms. Mitchell. Very hard to find, since they were mostly all out of print. I have found some on Barnes & Noble, but again, they’re a bit pricey. I did find 3 in a used bookstore, and enjoyed them immensely. I still keep an eagle eye out whenever I’m near a used bookstore, and hope to add to my collection.

Another thing I loved about “Mystery!” was the music. Most of the individual series had wonderful theme music. The theme for the Mrs. Bradley Mysteries was the cute ‘20s song, “You’re the Cream in my Coffee” by Henderson, DeSylva and Brown. There are many different versions of this on youtube, but here’s a good one:

Take a listen, sit back and dream of a different time.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Book Report August 2014

The Affinity Bridge (2008) by George Mann

This is the first book in a great little Steampunk series about the team of Newbury and Hobbes. As agents of Queen Victoria, they solve the mysteries that confound the Empire. A fine romp.
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The Barsoom Project (1998) by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes

The second book in the Dream Park series. And I’m happy to say this book was just as good and as much fun as the first book. This concerns corporate shenanigans and sabotage, and takes place in the newest adventure, a “Fat Ripper Special” for those who want to lose weight or have an eating disorder. Tons of fun.
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Did You Say Chicks?! (1998) Edited by Esther Friesner

This is actually the second book in a series about female warriors. The first book is Chicks in Chain-mail. I have it somewhere in the house, but couldn’t find it, so I read this one. Fun, mostly lighthearted tales of the gals who can hold their own in a man’s world. With the right armor and weaponry, of course. I recognized most of the names of the authors as some of my fav sci-fi/fantasy writers.
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The Great Time Machine Hoax (1964) by Keith Laumer

This was a goofy, early sci-fi story about a man who inherits a complex computer that turns out to be a time machine. He then gets himself and his two companions lost in various time periods. The story was fine, and I enjoyed the different time periods he ended up in, but still felt there was something lacking to make this book a permanent part of my library.
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Doctor To The Stars (1964) by Murray Leinster

REALLY enjoyed these early sci-fi stories about a man in the Interstellar Medical Service. He would travel to various planets to do spot checks on the health and welfare of the population. Very strong main character that I wouldn’t mind reading more about. I will have to look for more of Leinster’s books. This one stays in my library.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Status Report

This blog prompt came from Jen O’Neill.

This is a mild rant, as I’ve been guilty of this one myself. I try not to leave enigmatic postings on Facebook for my status, as that type of thing drive me nuts. I understand wanting to get something off your chest, and not wanting to give out personal details. But sometimes the postings seem absolutely provocative and beg for someone to ask the poster what they meant or what’s going on. The only exception is if someone asks for prayer without being specific. That one I honor. I pray, but don’t ask questions. Sometimes the poster will explain later, sometimes not. That’s OK.

The ones that irk me are usually short bursts with no explanation and go something like this:

OMG!!!!!!!! (I usually reply to this one with something funny)

Well, THAT didn’t go well… (What? Are you OK? Are the kids OK? Depending on who is posting this it can really ring alarm bells)

Back to the ER again! (same response as above, depending on the poster)

I should just shoot myself now and get it over with. (You’d be doing us all a favor…)

What’s with all the pancakes?????????? (OK, I totally made that one up)

Why? Why? Why? (I don’t care, care, care)

NO MORE DRAMA!!!!!!!!! (I find ones like this highly ironic and amusing)

I know sometimes these posts are in fun, and you can usually tell when they are by a smiley face or something. And I will usually reply in kind.

Sometimes a person will really go on a rampage and flame someone without naming names, saying “You know who you are!!!!!!” The more exclamation points, the more serious it is. If someone tends to use a lot of profanity on a regular basis, they don’t usually stay on my friend list very long.

All in all, though, I enjoy reading what people have to say. I enjoy the little community I’m in on Facebook. There’s good folks here. And they don’t know that sometimes I’m reading their words sitting here in my jammies….

Thursday, August 7, 2014

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

I spent two weeks in Fresno, and I think there were only 3 days when it wasn’t too hot to go outside with Lia.  Otherwise, we were inside with the fans blowing directly on me. And this time, I was especially sure to drink lots and lots of water. I had my insulated glass filled with ice water at all times. I think that made a huge difference. But any time with Lia is a good time. She is my heart’s joy.

The last time I did a 2 week stint was 3 summers ago when my niece was out here from Indiana. She is Lia’s godmother and wanted to spend some time getting to know her better. That was great, because when my energy started to flag, I could go lay down while Ellen took over. This year, I was on my own. I have to admit by Saturday of the first week, I was really starting to run out of steam. And yes, I broke my pinky toe that day as well. I was glad that it happened AFTER Sarah did my toenails, so even though the toe was really ugly, the nails were freshly polished and fabulous. By Monday though, I was getting my second wind and was able to carry on. I got the occasional nap on the couch with the dogs, too.

I always start my visits with great plans on crafts and activities to do with Lia. I see these wonderful things on Pinterest or Facebook and think “What fun to do with Lia!” And I always forget what high energy Lia has and how she does NOT want to sit still for very long for any kind of involved craft. I did introduce her to mandalas a couple years ago and she does enjoy doing those, strictly on paper with crayons or markers. Anything more involved will just have to wait.

One thing I was SO pleased to do this time was introduce her to that wonderful book “Roxaboxen” by Alice McLerran, illustrated by Barbara Cooney. I had gotten this book a few years ago, but apparently no one had ever read it to Lia. So I got to do that. I love this book so much, and the illustrations are wonderful. It really celebrates the way children have the power to imagine anything, something I think we sadly lose when we grow up. I highly recommend this book for young and old alike. If the terrain had been a bit different, I would’ve helped Lia make her own city of Roxaboxen, but as it was, we were limited to crayon and paper. So we drew our own cities. This would be so much fun to do with a sand table and the various components necessary.

Otherwise, the days were spent in reading, playing with Monster High dolls, watching Power Puff Girls cartoons, lots of coloring and a little bit of swimming when we were at the apartment. All in all a pretty good “vacation” that definitely left no time to be bored.

One huge benefit for me personally was that by the end of those two weeks, I was going up and down those stairs at the house and the apartment LIKE A BOSS!! With Lia, being a couch potato is NOT an option!

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Benefits of Cat Company While Drinking Wine

This was a topic suggested by Carolyn Carsey. She didn’t specify whether I was the one doing the drinking, or the cat. So I approached it from both avenues.

If you feel like having a little drinky-poo or two or three, and you have your cat by your side, it’s OK. Cats don’t really judge. In fact, the cat might even prefer it, because then you might have forgotten that you already fed him, and will feed him again. Or give him treats for each shot you take. Cats like treats. Also, drinking relaxes you, and you become all soft and squishy and a cat can settle more comfortably onto you. About the only time the cat would become upset is if you fell on him. Cats do not like to be fallen upon. So if you want to drink with your cat nearby, go ahead. Just play it safe and feed him first. Then if you end up feeding him again, so what? He will be happy. It’s hard to feed a cat when you can’t even focus on the bag or one of those tiny little cans. And they HATE it when you just toss him the can without opening it! Even if it has a pull-tab, they STILL can’t open it themselves! Remember that.

Now, if it’s the cat who is doing the drinking, you have a problem, my friend. Occasional drinks, OK. But once they’ve crossed the line, it’s almost impossible to get a cat to go to AA. The will not admit they have a problem, and the whole “acknowledging a higher power” thing will NEVER work. Cats will never admit there is a higher power than themselves. After all, they were once worshiped in Egypt and they’ve never let go of that thought. So it’s better to stick with cat treats for the cat, while you take care of the alcohol consumption.

Everybody wins.