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The Adventure of the Golden Pince-NezThe Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez

Looks like quite the interesting happening according to this drawing.

Sherlock and John are sitting at Baker Street one rainy evening. A man shows up and it’s none other than Stanley Hopkins. Remember him? We talked about him earlier in relation to the harpooning incident and wanting to kiss Sherlock’s hand.

Stanley walks in and asks Sherlock if he has read the news for the day. As it so happens, Sherlock has not read the news for the day. He had been reading manuscripts from the 15th century. Stanley’s reason for coming to see Sherlock is in relation to the Yoxley case.

A man has been murdered and Stanley has absolutely no idea who might have done it. The man’s name is Willoughby Smith; yes, his parents did hate him; they named him Willoughby after all.  He works for a man called professor Coram. He was found murdered in Professor Coram’s study. The murder weapon was a letter opener. Willoughby was able to say a few last words before he died of profuse blood lose. He said, “The Professor. It was she,” then he died.

The maid wasn’t in the room when this happened. Everyone rushed in. There is no clue as to who might have killed the man other than a pince-nez made of gold. Just for clarification, a pince-nez is basically a pair of eyeglasses that don’t have ear loops. You put them on your nose and hope they stay. The glasses don’t belong to anybody in the house. No unknown visitors were sighted. There aren’t really any footmarks on the path outside of the house. There isn’t really a clue as to where the murderer went.

Sherlock asks Stanley what he wants him to do about it, but he also gives Stanley this insult:

“What did you do, Hopkins, after you had made certain that you had made certain of nothing?”

Ooooh, burn!

Stanley says the passage ways are lined with coconut matting. Willoughby did not fall on his knife. He also has the glasses with him. He lets Sherlock check them out.

Sherlock says that the glasses belong to a woman who has eyes close together, a big nose, terrible vision, and she has been to the optometrist twice within the past year or so. Stanley is amazed, but would still like Sherlock to go up to Yoxley to check things out. They all decide to leave in the morning. They have a slumber party and get on the train at 6:00am. They also played spin the bottle and talked about boys, but that’s not in the story.

They arrive at Yoxley and Sherlock begins looking all around. There are a few marks on the path, but none to indicate an exit from the house. It seems that someone did enter, but maybe they didn’t leave, or they left a different way. In the study Sherlock notices that the lock of a cabinet in the room has been scratched. He asks the maid if it had been there before and she said it had not. Someone was looking for something and Willoughby just happened to get in the way. The murderer had not brought a weapon and therefore did not intend to kill Willoughby.

Sherlock then wanted to talk to the professor. The professor’s room is attached to the study via a small hallway and staircase. The murderer did not pass out of the main door by the maid, so the murderer must have passed in the professor’s room. The added fact that the professor seemed to have been eating more the past couple of days was a clue for Sherlock. Sherlock pointed at a cabinet and said the murderer was inside.

Before anyone else could bat an eye, the cabinet opened and a woman rushed out. She admitted to the murder and also said she was the wife of the professor. It turns out the professor was not English at all; he’s a Russian. He got out of Russia and got his position in England by betraying his fellows. One man is in prison and his wife also went to prison. She broke in to steal the papers that would secure the release of the other man. She didn’t plan on killing Willoughby. Before anyone could arrest her she died, she had taken poison right before bursting out of the cabinet.

The Adventure of the Golden Pince-NezObservations

I’ve already explained what a Pince-nez is, but here is a picture of Anton Chekov with a pince-nez for illustration.

There is another word I would like to explain in this story. That word is Palimpsest. Basically, a palimpsest is a manuscript that has been recycled. Maybe you had a story you wrote on some nice vellum, but then decided your paper supply was a little scarce, so you wrote over or tried to erase your earlier writing on the paper so you could write something else. You couldn’t entirely remove the traces of your earlier writing.

While it is true that you can erase graphite, and to some extent ink, from paper, you can’t ever get the paper back to the way it was. When you use paper, especially hand-made papers or thicker papers, you actually create indentations in the paper and you damage the little teeth sticking up. No matter what you do, that damage is still going to be there. You can erase the graphite all you want, you’re not getting rid of the indentations of your writing. There has been a lot of information gleaned from re-used paper.

There is something important about this story that must be mentioned. You might look it over and never know it’s significance to the events of the story. The group is speaking of the lock on the cabinet in the professor’s study. There is a scratch around it, but it couldn’t have been picked. If you read the details, our murderer has her own copy of the key that goes to the cabinet and it’s a Chubb’s key. She does not try to pick the lock. Why is that? That is because it’s a Chubb detector lock, which basically means the lock is created in such a way that when anything other than the key is inserted into it, it jams. The jam can only be cleared when the original key or a regulator key is inserted. Because of this, any owner of a Chubb detector lock would know if someone had tampered with their things. It also shows that the professor was very careful about what he had locked away.

As for the cigarettes, apparently it was the thing to smoke Egyptian cigarettes for quite some time. If you were smoking cigarettes in England during a certain time period, you were smoking Egyptian cigarettes, but there is no manufacturer named Lonides.

The Andaman islands are mentioned briefly in this story. They’re real and they’re in the Bay of Bengal. England tried at one point to colonize the islands and also have a penal colony there. It didn’t work out too well. There was a lot of death and disease. The natives weren’t too friendly either.

The word ejaculated is used once in this story and the word ejaculation is also used once in this story.

The Adventure of the Golden Pince-NezThemes

Why is it always the Russians? When we think of spies we don’t say, “Oh, it was an Australian spy.” We say it was a Russian spy. Everyone always suspects the Russians of being spies. Are you Russian? if, yes, then everyone probably thinks you’re a spy. It’s a bit discriminatory if you ask me, but then again, you have to be smart to be a spy, so maybe it’s also a back-handed compliment.

There really is such a thing as being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Willoughby didn’t do anything, but now he’s dead. The woman didn’t plan on killing him. Everybody liked the guy, but he’s dead. That just sucks. The professor doesn’t even seem to care that he’s dead. He’s like, “Oh, I think he killed himself.” He stabbed himself in the neck and then tried to name a murderer? Oh really? That makes a lot of sense.

In the end, people were just like, “Oh, what’s his face, yeah, he was a nice guy.” Poor Willoughby.

I hate that people like Willoughby are looked over. I’m sure he was a nice guy. He was probably smart, but apparently not excessively so, otherwise, more people would care about his death. He was just average Willoughby. I know everyone can’t be remembered for great accomplishments, but Willoughby seemed to have a half-existence in his life as well. People didn’t have much to say about him. They didn’t hate him, but they weren’t flocking to hang out with him either.

Make yourself memorable. Make sure there are people who would care if you were gone. Make sure there are people who hang out with you. Make sure you have connections in life. Willoughby seemed to have connections, but in reality, he didn’t. His connections were surface connections. They were like those Facebook friends you have that are just kind of there and you never talk to and you didn’t really hang out with in school. They didn’t mean anything to Willoughby. The professor didn’t even mean anything to Willoughby. Look, if someone murders you, there need to be people who know you well enough to know that you don’t have a secret lover and you didn’t murder yourself because of a break-up. We need people. We need buddies. We need people who care. You shouldn’t live in the world with only the shallowest of human connections.

Overall

If you murder someone, don’t leave your glasses behind.


 
john watson, pince-nez, professor, russian, russian people, russian spy, sherlock holmes, sir arthur conan doyle, The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez, The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez by sir arthur conan doyle, The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez sherlock holmes, willoughby
Doyle-Sir Arthur Conan, Sherlock Holmes
One-elevenbooks

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Endings by Norman ChristofEndings by Norman Christof

Wouldn’t you know that this makes my 110th book of the year?

Norman was kind enough to let me review his book and so I read it.

This books is set sometime in the future, there isn’t really any definite time. It’s the third zombie war and Colonel Chaz Sheperd is fighting in the swamps of Louisiana against zombies that just seem to keep materializing out of the rotting organic matter and muck. He sends some men off to check on the positions from other areas because he hasn’t heard anything.

When they come back, it’s bad news. It seems Washington has fallen. At this point Chaz decides to get the heck out of Dodge. What’s the point in continuing to be a war hero when the war has been lost? Chaz takes some supplies and a humvee and goes on his way. He makes his way to Atlanta where he hopes to find his ex-wife and children. When he gets there he finds some hope, but he also finds some other strange things going on.

He finds people telling him that not all the zombies acted like zombies. Some of them could act like people and they did, even infiltrating the local government infrastructure. There were airstrikes ordered on the area.

Chaz reflects on his past relationships. He loved his family, but he also loved fighting for his country. Everyone knows who he is when he tells them his name. He’s revered to the American people and they allow him rights that they would not allow others. As Chaz ventures further into the hills of the Appalachian mountains, he finds companions and more zombies, but they’re not the kind of zombies a person would expect.

He soon acquires another mission.

What I liked

I am not a zombie person. I have never seen The Walking Dead or read the books. I actually think zombies are kind of stupid, but Norman was able to give me a good reason for the creation of zombies. I don’t want to give it away because I really like it, but let’s say it’s something I’ve done a lot of research on and it’s something I think is terrible. I’m not upset that Norman used this thing as a possible contributor to the creation of zombies. I actually think it’s great.

I also really like that Norman chose to have the zombie outbreak limited to a certain area. Usually, when you read zombie stories the zombies are all over the entire world, but someone was smart enough in Norman’s world to create a quarantine. Go people of Norman’s world, you’re smarter than the people of our world today.

Norman was also smart in assuming that any virus or bacterium that could cause a person to turn into a zombie would also rightly mutate into something else. Super-zombies? Yes, diseases mutate.

I know there are other books in this series. At this point I kind of feel that Norman could make a really neat statement about the people in power and them being zombies, but we’ll see.

What I didn’t like

On purely mechanical notices–I noticed a few sentence fragments, not that I’m one to talk. This is basically the pot calling the kettle black. I also noticed that Norman relies heavily on the word “freak” in his description of the zombies. Zombies are freaks, yes, that’s true, but it seems to me the word might be a bit overused.

In a portion of the story, Chaz is somewhere north of Atlanta when he notices some seagulls. The text states that it’s strange that sea gulls would be so far inland. It’s not strange actually. Lake Lanier  is in Hall county and because of its large size it often attracts seagulls. I used to live around the area and I saw seagulls all the time.

Overall

This book isn’t bad for a zombie book.



chaz sheperd, colonel chaz shepherd, endings, Endings by Norman Christof, norman christof, zombie antidote, zombie invasion, zombies, zombies in atlanta, zombies in the south
Books Set in the South, Christof-Norman, Fiction, Post Apocalyspe, Science Fiction, Social Commentary, Undead, what if
One-elevenbooks

The Adventure of the Three StudentsThe Adventure of the Three Students

No one ever cheats in college. Isn’t that right? Well, I didn’t. If I got a C, I got a C and I got a few Cs, precalculus and world literature being two of those. I know, I totally got a C in world literature; it’s not something you would expect out of me is it? I got a D once, in precalculus, then I retook the class and got a C. It did actually bring my grade-point average up, so it was worth it, somewhat.

Sherlock and John are not at Baker Street. They’re at a college because Sherlock wants to study all about charters in the library. A man comes to visit them. His name is Mr. Soames. Mr. Soames says he needs Sherlock’s help. Sherlock says, “No, I’m too busy, scram,” but Soames sticks around and says that if Sherlock doesn’t help then the institution will be ruined. I think he was being a little over-dramatic, but whatever.

It turns out that Mr. Soames makes up the essay that students must translate for the possibility of a scholarship to his fine institution. The essay is in Greek and the students must translate it on the spot. If one of them were to have the essay beforehand, they would have a distinct advantage over the other students trying for the scholarship. There are three students who are to try. They all reside in the same building as Mr. Soames.

The proofs of the papers arrived from the printers this very day. Mr. Soames was looking over them at his desk. He left for a bit, but came back to find a key in the door lock. He went inside, but the butler wasn’t there and the papers on his desk had been rifled through. It was clear that someone had been looking at the proofs. Soames confronted his butler about it and the butler admitted having left the key in the lock and collapsed on a chair due to his indiscretion.

The only people who would benefit from the proofs were the students trying for the scholarship. Sherlock wants to check out Soames’ study. Sherlock sees where the papers were. He deduces that whoever was looking at them did so by the nearby window. He also sees they sharpened their pencil, slashed the top of the desk with something, and left behind some strange little piece of triangular clay. The pencil is a particular type of pencil. They go into Soames’ bedroom, where they find another piece of clay. There doesn’t seem to be anything else.

Sherlock tells Soames to have the exam continue as planned after he tries to speak to each of the students. In each of their rooms, he asks to borrow a pencil. One student won’t even let them in. Sherlock assures Soames that they will have their man.

John and Sherlock go out pencil shopping later in the evening. They can’t find a pencil like the one Sherlock thinks was used. It would have to be special ordered. The next morning John wakes up and Sherlock is already awake. He has three pieces of clay now. They go to see Soames.

When they get to Soames they ask to speak the butler. They tell him to tell the truth. Why not go to a closer chair when he sat down to have his nervous breakdown? He passed several along the way; he was hiding something. It all finally comes out. The butler did know one of the students and didn’t want him to get into trouble. When he noticed that the student had left his gloves he sat down on him. The butler truly had forgotten the key and a student had taken advantage of the situation.

The reason the student was able to take advantage was because he was tall. He was outside practicing on the track field, with cleats in a clay area, when he noticed that Soames was looking over something and he also noticed that he left the room. He took this opportunity to copy over the proofs. They called him in and he admitted his guilt as he had done to the butler the previous evening. He had already prepared a letter for Soames and told him he would not be sitting the exam. He was going to be a police officer instead in Rhodesia.

The Adventure of the Three StudentsObservations

For some reason, I kept imagining the butler in this story to be the butler from Scary Movie. It definitely makes for a more interesting take on the whole story, at least in my head.

Let’s move onto some history here. Rhodesia is mentioned in this story. Rhodesia is actually a country in Africa. Rhodesia was under British rule until 1965 when it declared its independence. At the point of this story Rhodesia would have still been under British rule.

This story was published in 1904. The name of Rhodesia was actually changed in 1898. Modern-day Rhodesia was officially known as Southern-Rhodesia starting in 1898, but that didn’t stop people from still calling it Rhodesia. Modern-day Zambia was considered northern Rhodesia.

So at the time, it might very well have been that this student was actually going to go to Rhodesia to become a police officer.

Also, Arthur didn’t really take the time to look up the official name of the country, but seeing as this student was a fairly normal guy and fairly normal people tend to call things by their informal names, it could be that Arthur wanted to keep it real. Southern Rhodesia/Rhodesia, what’s the difference?

Part of me wonders why Arthur relies on Greek so much. This isn’t the first time Arthur has made the Greek language a major point in one of his stories. It is true that Arthur was something of a doctor and doctors do rely on the Greek language, but doctors also heavily rely on Latin as well, but Arthur never mentions Latin. Maybe Arthur was educated in Greek at some point in his life.

The Adventure of the Three StudentsThemes

Oh, your poor cheatin’ soul.

This story makes academic cheating out to be such a big deal. Students cheat all the time. We have laws against plagiarism, but students still do it all the time. Heck, I know students Google my 1984 essays and use portions of them for their school work. Here’s the thing–the only person you’re cheating when you cheat in your education is yourself. That’s it. Yeah, the school is not going to be happy if they find out. They might kick you out. The person you plagiarized, if you did, isn’t going to be happy if they find out; they’re not all cool like I am.

In the end though, the only person you’re screwing over is you. Think about it. You pay to go to college. It’s not cheap. If you’re paying out-of-pocket, you’re dropping at least $40,000 on your college education. Specialty schools are going to run you $100K-$300K, and believe me, I know people who have over $300K in student loan debt. You pay for the opportunity to learn. Why are you going to cheat?

Oh, my exam, if I don’t pass it I fail the class. Well, maybe you should have spent less time doing beer pong and more time studying. If you fail, you fail. It’s your fault. Now, if you run into a situation where everyone in the class fails, then maybe it was your professor and not the students, but that often is not the case.

You’re paying money for these professors to challenge you and put new information in your head. If you cheat, you’re defeating the entire purpose of going to college. You might as well go to a fake ID person and have yourself a fake college diploma printed up if you’re going to do that. Then when someone arrests you for impersonating a doctor, then, you deserve that too.

This guy was cheating at his education. Maybe he was really stressed and studied a lot. Well, maybe he should have dropped track and spent more time on academics. If there is something very important in your life to the further success of yourself, you don’t devote more time to other activities. You devote more time to the important thing, you know, the thing that is going to determine how well you do in life. The thing that is eventually going to pay for your food and put a roof over your head. You devote your time to that.

I’m glad that this student saw his way to admitting his wrong-doing, but I’m disappointed that he’s dropping out of school. He could take a leave of absence and try again in a term or two. He doesn’t have to drop out and be a police officer, not that being a police officer is bad, it just doesn’t pay very well. I feel bad for this kid. He was stressed and he tried to cheat, but ultimately decided just to drop out. Sometimes you have to stick through the hard spots, Buddy. You just have to keep trudging forward. It pays off in the end.

On the other hand, college isn’t for everyone. There are people who truly are not cut out of college, and as a result, a lot of college has gotten much too easy. Just anybody shouldn’t be able to get a college degree. It’s higher education after all. It’s not for every single person out there. Our job market is currently saturated with college degrees because college has become too easy to get into and too many people are completing degrees. Not that it’s bad that they have a better education, it’s bad that we’ve tipped the balance in the wrong direction. Having a college degree used to be a special thing.

During the time of this story, a college degree was a huge deal and people were weeded out, just like the student in this story. He couldn’t hack it, so off he went. He’ll probably make a better police officer than he ever did a student of whatever he was studying. College was hard back in the day.

In the end, Sherlock wasn’t needed at all. This situation would have resolved itself.

Overall

Cheater, cheater…cheaty…cheat…cheat



butler, cheating, cheating in college, cheating on a test, cheating yourself, college education, john watson, sherlock, sherlock holmes, sir arthur conan doyle, soames, The Adventure of the Three Students, The Adventure of the Three Students by sir arthur conan doyle, The Adventure of the Three Students sherlock holmes
Doyle-Sir Arthur Conan, Sherlock Holmes
One-elevenbooks

Mary Poppins in the Park by P.L. TraversMary Poppins in the Park by       P.L. Travers

Ah, the last of the Mary Poppins books. I would say I’m sad, but I’m not.

The previous three Mary Poppins books have each been their own separate visit to Jane and Michael. This book is a collection of things that might have happened on any of the three visits. For the most part, the events of this book take place in the park across from the Banks’ household.

All of these stories take place in the park, as I mentioned above. Mary Poppins tells a story. A statue of a naked boy comes to life. A storybook comes to life. The children manage to find themselves in a tiny park that Jane created and the guy living there just happens to be the cousin to Mary Poppins. The Man in the Moon is also her uncle. Finally, everyone celebrates Mary Poppins’ birthday on Halloween because apparently her birthday is actually El día de los muertos and they want to celebrate the day before. Oh, and everyone’s shadows run away from them to go to Mary Poppins’ party in the park.

What I liked

Mary Poppins is great and all, but I’m glad these stories are over. The same sort of things happen in every book. If all of this is going to be so repetitive in nature I’m glad it’s over, but for children, it’s good. Kids like repetitive things. You all know; you’ve only seen the same movie a million times over.

I like this idea that Mary Poppins is something of an interdimensional traveler. She seems to be just at home in the real world as she is in the make-believe worlds of pictures and various books, but who is to say that our world is the real world. Maybe Jane and Michael’s world isn’t the real world and the world in one of the books is the real world, but maybe none of it’s actually real and all of them just think they’re real and Mary Poppins has one over on everyone. Think about that.

What do you think it would be like if Mary Poppins got a gritty reboot? Like she still has the magic bag and everything, but she’s also really bitchy and a hardened dimensional traveler, maybe with black hair and piercings. Yeah, I would watch that. The umbrella could also be a gun. Maybe it could be like Mary Poppins meets the Matrix and Mary can be like, “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, @#$%^,” and then she pulls out her umbrella gun.

What I didn’t like

Mary Poppins does the same type of things all the time. Let’s go into something you can’t normally go into. Let me tell you a strange story. Things come to life that normally don’t come to life. Let’s go visit my weird relative, another one, yes, I have many. That lizard wearing the top hat is my uncle’s-second-cousin’s boyfriend.

Can’t she get a life? When does Mary Poppins go out for a night on the town that doesn’t involve children? Does she even put on a mini-skirt and go clubbing? Does she ever drink martinis with friends? Do she and Bert do anything besides jump into paintings? How about a bed? A bed he painted; I don’t care.

Mary Poppins is great, but ultimately she’s very child-like herself and child-like adults get old fast. Some people say we’re all supposed to be like little children in our demeanor and actions, but seriously, dealing with an adult who has a childish attitude and a childish understanding of the world is exhausting. They may not be doing anything that’s bad or wrong, but, gosh, they’re hard to be around. You’d like Mary Poppins for a while, but then you would wonder when she ever grew up herself. There are only so many trips to the candy store you can take.

Overall

Do you think Mary Poppins wears Victoria’s Secret underwear under her prim and proper clothes? Probably not. She probably has My Little Pony underwear or something similar.



annabel, barbara, cherry tree lane, jane, john, Mary Poppins, mary poppins in the park, Mary Poppins in the Park by P.L. Travers, michael, mrs. lark, neleus, p.l. travers, park, the admiral
Books set in Europe, Children’s, Classic Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction, Travers-P.L.
One-elevenbooks

Book Haul: 25 October 2014

Book Haul: 25 October 2014Book Haul: 25 October 2014

It’s been a few weeks since I was able to find anything at the thrift shop, but I did actually find some stuff. At first, I thought I wasn’t going to find anything. The last time I went, I didn’t get anything. I looked over the books and looked over the books and finally found a few things that interested me. Sadly, I left behind French Fry Forgiveness and Why is Snot Green?. I may regret not buying those two books in the future, but I think I ended up with a good lot of books.

This group of books isn’t well-known for the most part, but I have my reasons for buying them.

What I got

Book Haul: 25 October 2014The Gourmet Paper Maker by Ellaraine Lockie

At first, I read the title of this book and I thought it was a bit weird. I don’t make my own paper, but I have made paper in the past. Upon opening this book, I found there were instructions on how to make paper from corn husks, pineapple tops, onion skins, garlic skins, and all kinds of vegetable matter that you usually throw away when you’re processing your fruits and vegetables. I like using as much of something as I can, so this book intrigued me. There is even a section on making paper out of wild mushrooms. I have plenty of those around here, but I don’t know if I would end up making a paper that caused hallucinogenic episodes when eaten, but who eats paper?

This might be a project I try one day when I have some time. It would be neat to know how to make my own paper from something I was going to throw away anyway. This book has pictures and instructions for all steps of the process. So, if you’ve been wondering how to use all those onion skins, this might be a solution to your problem.


Book Haul: 25 October 2014The Book of Someday by  Dianne Dixon

I bought this book partially because the front said, “a mesmerizing book that will keep you up at night,” but that’s not the only reason I bought it. The copy I found also says, “Uncorrected advance copy not for sale.” I actually have several advanced reader’s copies of books. I can’t really resist buying them because it’s kind of bad. It makes me feel as if I’m walking on the wild side just a bit. Oooh, it’s not for resale and I totally bought it.

The book itself is in pristine condition and still contains a letter in the front to the reader, it’s not a hand-written letter, but a letter from the publisher to the prospective reader all typed up and formatted.

This book is about three people whose lives eventually meet up. One of them is named Livvi and her life has been filled with a nightmare. There are also two other women involved in this story that connect with Livvi in some manner. I don’t know what to expect out of this book besides that. I was enticed by its advanced reader’s copy status.


Book Haul: 25 October 2014Precious and Fragile Things by Megan Hart

I bought this book because it was also an advance reader’s copy. It says, “Not for sale. Advance uncorrected proofs.” Yeah, I know, I’m so wild for buying this.

This book is about a woman named Gilly who is carjacked by a stranger. She is relieved to get away from her hectic life and soon comes to recognize that her captor is a person too.

That’s called Stockholm syndrome, sweetheart.

We’ll see if it’s good or not.



 

 

Book Haul: 25 October 2014Buffalo Woman Comes Singing by Brooke Medicine Eagle

This was the first book that caught my eye. This was the book that made me decide to buy books at all on this particular trip to the thrift shop.

I really enjoy reading books about Native American culture and traditions. Brooke is a Crow Indian. This book is part of her journey to where she is now, but it’s also about her work as a teacher of Native American ways.

The book has a lot of information about ceremonies that Brooke participates in. Many of these sound as if they’re targeted to women, which is really neat.

I’m looking forward to reading this book and learning more about Brooke’s culture and traditions.



 

Book Haul: 25 October 2014The Schooling of Claybird Catts by   Janis Owens

This book really just caught my eye. The name also sounded familiar to me.

This book is about a young boy who has lost his father. He then has to learn to depend more on other members of his family, including an uncle that shows back up after twenty years of being gone.

 

What I spent: $2.50

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The Adventure of the Six NapoleonsThe Adventure of the Six Napoleons

Look, I hate Napoleon as much as anyone else, but the guy in this story really, really seems to hate Napoleon. Look, dude, chill, nobody likes Napoleon, you don’t have to go around breaking statues of him.

You think I’m joking, I’m not. Sherlock and John are chilling with Lestrade. Sherlock asks Lestrade what’s happening and he says, “Oh, not really anything, we’ve been watching the paint dry. The only thing that is going on is some crazy guy going around smashing busts of Napoleon.” Sherlock wants to know about it. Lestrade doesn’t see why as the guy is clearly crazy, the Napoloeon smasher, not Sherlock, but he obliges.

It’s like this, three statues have been smashed recently. One right inside of a shop, but another two belonging to the same man. Nothing else was taken. No other damage was caused. Some weirdo just went into people’s homes and places of business and started smashing Napoleons. Sherlock wonders why not other Napoleon statues?

It is revealed that all three Napoleons were created by the same company. There were six in total in the area. Lestrade thinks the culprit might have some form of OCD, but that’s about all it comes to for the day. The next morning Sherlock and John are alerted. There’s been another Napoleon smashing, but this time there’s a dead guy; no, he wasn’t killed by blunt force trauma via Napoleon bust (but that would have been epic); he was killed by a knife.

There is no identity on the victim, but there is a picture of another man in his pocket. The house burglarized belongs to a reporter, who really doesn’t care that there is a dead man in his house, just as long as he gets to write the story. Sherlock suggests to the reporter that culprit is mentally disturbed, so this is what the reporter writes in his story.

Through a little research, it is determined that the man in the picture is named Beppo. He’s an Italian and he worked at a place that created statues. A plan is formulated to watch the nearest Napoleon bust. The whole gang is there and someone does come looking for the bust. They grab him, but there isn’t anything in the bust. The man is indeed Beppo. Beppo is associated with the mafia and his knife was found with blood on it. The dead man is named Peitro Venucci. Beppo is arrested.

Sherlock purchases the last remaining Napoleon bust in the area. He then cracks it open. Instead of a mess of plaster, there is a large black pearl on the inside. This is the famous black pearl of the Borgias. Somehow it had been stolen and the only place to hide it was in a plaster statue that wasn’t all the way dry yet. Beppo had been arrested and sentenced to a year in prison, but got out and went searching for one of six statues that might hold the pearl. He probably also hated Napoleon.

Lucrezia-BorgiaObservations

I checked into this black pearl thing. There is no specific famous black pearl belonging to the Borgia family, but they may have very well had some black pearls. The Borgias were a ruling family in Italy for a while. They’re up there with the Medicci family in notoriety. The Borgia family held a lot of sway for a while, but all the things they did weren’t necessarily for the betterment of the people. They have been associated with various crimes and scandals, much like the Medicci family.

The Mafia is something that is mentioned in this story. Arthur really likes secretive societies. All of the secretive societies he has mentioned thus far actually exist, the Mafia is no exception. The term mafia loosely means someone who bullies other people, from what one definition says anyway. The tradition as we know it started itself off in Sicily, but Mafia-esque groups have been around for a long time. The Mafia referred to by Arthur in this story was most likely the Sicilian Mafia, who didn’t call themselves the Mafia, they called themselves Cosa Nostra, but then again, Arthur probably wasn’t referring to a specific group because he was notoriously bad about doing research about anything that wasn’t nearby in the United Kingdom. Arthur had probably heard of the Mafia and decided it was as good a group as any to spawn bad guys in his stories and, sure, why not, they have a famous black pearl that had belonged to the Borgia family.

True story–apparently Mafia people like to retire to Arizona. My family used to lived in Arizona and they knew a few retired Mafia people.

Moving onto other things in the story, let’s talk about Hooligans. This story uses the word Hooliganism. We know what a  Hooligan is, it’s a disruptive person who causes trouble. The word may not be in our everyday vocabulary, but we’ve heard of it. The thing is, Arthur was one of the earliest writers to use the word. There had been a couple of songs and this and that going around talking about Hooligans, but people weren’t widely using the term. Some theorize that the Hooligans were a rowdy Irish family, there was a song about it, whether they were actually real or not is another thing. No matter where the word came from, it wasn’t really thought up until the 1890s, when Arthur was publishing his Sherlock stories.

Arthur uses another strange term–idée fixe. It’s a French psychological term meaning that you’re sane, for the most part, but in relation to one particular thing, you go bananas. It’s a theory that Beppo might just really, really hate busts of Napoleon and have an idée fixe concerning them, so he may not realize that he’s busting up statues of Napoleon in his spare time. For the most part idée fixe isn’t really something used in psychological diagnosis today.

I would love to tell you if the stand at Doncaster actually fell one time, but I can only do so much history research on a racetrack in England from the United States. Doncaster, does exist though. you can go there and bet on the horses.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucrezia_BorgiaThemes

If all of a sudden your statues of Napoleon are smashed to pieces mysteriously, it’s probably the Mafia, or the Spanish Inquisition, just to cover all of our bases.

This story really seems to hold more of a sensational value compared to some of the other stories Arthur wrote about Sherlock. There isn’t a moral that I really feel I can pull straight out of this story; nothing really jumps out at me and says, “Pick me! Pick me!”

On a side note, let’s talk about insanity. There have been plenty of criminal cases where the culprit is declared insane and therefore cannot go to prison. You don’t send insane people to prison, well, you used to, but that was before we became more aware of how mentally ill people worked or didn’t work. Being in a mental institution was seen as a better place for some people than prison. Let me tell you this, a mental institution probably wasn’t a very good existence; those places used to be absolutely terrible, but being electroshocked was often seen as a better alternative than being in prison with a bunch of hard criminals. There was also the possibility of being rehabilitated in a mental institution.

Beppo cannot be declared insane, even though that is what Lestrade initially thought about him. There was a motive and a method to his hatred of Napoleon busts. He knew good and well what he was doing.

How about this–don’t hide things in plaster statues. You have to bust them to get it out and that’s going to be a mess. I’ve worked with plaster before, it’s not the sturdiest or the most resilient material. Get a safe like a normal person.

I feel as if this story was really written for more of a shock factor.

Overall

Did Sherlock keep the pearl in this story? He had John put it in their safe. Doesn’t it have an owner it should be returned to? I don’t know why these people insisted on traveling with loose gemstones and pearls. They were just begging for them to be stolen.



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Doyle-Sir Arthur Conan, Sherlock Holmes
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The Adventure of Charles Augustus MilvertonThe Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton

I really had to take a break from Sherlock for a bit. You know he’s great and all, but he grates on a person after a while, but we’re back in the swing of things.

The more I read the Sherlock Holmes stories the more I am impressed with the television show Sherlock produced by the BBC. They have done an amazing job of keeping the story lines written by Arthur in the television series.

John and Sherlock are sitting at home one day, when Sherlock gets a card. It’s from Appledore towers (there’s that word again. You’re now an apple). The man who sent the card is named Charles Augustus Milverton and Sherlock tells John that thinking of Charles makes him think of a sneaky slithery satanic snake, not his exact words, but I’m paraphrasing. He says that Charles is simply the worst person there is.

What Charles does is blackmail everybody. He buys gossip. He buys secrets. He pays well, but he receives better when he threatens to release the information. So if the Duke of wherever’s daughter had an illegitimate baby with the African kitchen boy and she went to her aunt’s for a “visit”, Charles would be all over that. He would pay the servant who told lots of money and then he would threaten the Duke for even more money.

Charles gets away with everything. Some of it is a bit illegal, but his victims won’t speak up because to do so would ruin their reputations, especially when the reputations of young women are involved. Charles is nefarious because he isn’t blackmailing the innocent; he’s blackmailing the guilty, and they know they’re guilty. Everyone is guilty all around. Charles is counting on the guilty party being so ashamed that they’re willing to pay up.

It just so happens that Charles has an appointment on Baker Street. He shows up wearing a fancy coat. He’s rather unimpressive for the most part. He looks like a nerd. He looks nice enough though.

Currently Charles is endeavoring to blackmail a woman who is about to be married, her name is Lady Eva. Unlike other women Charles has blackmailed, Lady Eva has enough guts to contact Sherlock about the matter. Charles wants £7000 from Lady Eva. That was a lot of money back then and I wouldn’t have it to give Charles today. Charles says he will mail her future husband some dirty details if she doesn’t pay up. She doesn’t have that much money. Everyone knows she doesn’t have that much money, but Charles reasons that because she’s about to be married people will be more willing to give her money.

Sherlock tries to make a deal with Milverton, but he won’t budge. They all say goodnight without much fanfare. Sherlock then dresses up as someone else and disappears at all hours of the day and night.

He walks in the door one day and this is what happens:

Sherlock: John, I know you thought I was gay, but I’m engaged.

John: Congrat…wait…what?!

Sherlock: I’m engaged to Milverton’s housemaid. I bought her flowers. I went on walks with her. I told her she was beautiful. I told her that she was the only woman I had ever loved and now we’re engaged. We’re also going to break into Appledore.

John:…but Sherlock, breaking and entering is against the law.

Sherlock: I know, that’s why you’re staying here. You can’t break the law you’re a doctor. Besides it’s ok if I break into his house because he’s a bad guy and I’m doing it for a noble cause.

John: I can’t have you go by yourself Sherlock, let me go with you.

Sherlock: Do you have burglar shoes?

John: Yes, I was a burglar in The Hobbit.

Sherlock: Good, we’ll need masks.

John: I can make some out of black silk.

Sherlock: Excellent Watson, I can see you’re very good at this sort of thing, with all this black silk and such. Why do you have handcuffs in there?

Ok, so it didn’t go exactly like that, but that’s basically how it went.

Sherlock and John go up to Appledore where Sherlock uses his brand new burglar kit; he bought it on eBay. They break into the house fairly easy and find Milverton’s study, but it’s unlocked, which seems strange. They see the safe where all the papers are, but all of a sudden Milverton shows up. They think it is because he knows they’ve come, but it seems he’s waiting for someone else. They hide in the dark shadows of the room.

A veiled woman comes in the room. Milverton says she is late. They speak for a moment of what a terrible person Milverton is and how he ruined her life. It turns out her husband up and had a heart attack when Milverton sent him the terrible news he had of his wife. She says that’s never going to happen a gain. She pulls out a revolver and shoots Milverton many times.

The woman leaves, but Sherlock and John grab all of Milverton’s papers and burn them. They get out of the house, but are almost caught when going over the fence.

The next day Lestrade calls at Baker Street and asks for help in solving Milverton’s murder, but Sherlock refuses saying that he got what he deserved.

No word on Sherlock’s engagement.

The Adventure of Charles Augustus MilvertonObservations

Appledore! Appledore! Is there an iappledore?

I have already mentioned that Appledore is something of a real place. It’s a little village.

Hampstead is a place mentioned in the story. It’s real, of course. I think everyone has heard of Hampstead. I’ve never been there myself, but I hear it’s real ritzy.

The story mentions someone named Mr. Pickwick and the name was not familiar to me so I researched it. Mr. Pickwick is a Dickens’ character from the book The Pickwick Papers, which is not one book, but a collection of tales published serially by Dickens in 1836 and 1837. Most likely, Arthur had read this publication and nodded back to it in this story. Mr. Pickwick was seen as a rather nice and benevolent person. When John describes Milverton, he first describes him as having something of Mr. Pickwick in his appearance.

Like the Sherlock Holmes stories, which were also published serially, The Pickwick Papers had illustrations. I’ve been using some of the original illustrations of the Sherlock stories in each of the Sherlock posts I have made. Mr. Pickwick was obviously recognizable not only to Arthur, but to others, otherwise it would have been pointless for Arthur to draw the parallel. If nobody knew what Mr. Pickwick looked like, this would have just been empty words on Arthur’s part.

Part of me wonders if Arthur would have written in the same manner were he writing today. I added a little flair to my description of what happens in this story, but John really does make silk masks in the story and Sherlock really does say he has a talent for it. I used to think the idea that the television show Sherlock portraying John and Sherlock as possibly gay and alluding to it every so often was just a concept the TV producers came up with. Oh we’ll keep it hip for this generation, blah, blah, blah. In reality, if you read Arthur’s more antiquated text, with a modern mindset, it totally looks as if they could be gay. I’m sure men used to be more friendly with each other a hundred years ago, but when we’re reading it with our modern eye, they seem a bit too close.

The word ejaculation is used one time in this story.

The Adventure of Charles Augustus MilvertonThemes

Blackmail has always been currency. If you know something bad about somebody else and they don’t want other people knowing that bad something, then you can make some killer money telling that person you’re going to publish that bad something in the newspaper if they don’t give you money, or free Doritos, whichever you prefer. Milverton is quite a nefarious villain. He’s sort of illegal, but not entirely. You could drag him down, but you would drag yourself down as well.

That’s really the worst kind of situation. You could do something about it, but it wouldn’t profit you in the end. I believe some people would call that being between a rock and a hard place. You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t.

Getting back to blackmail, the stakes become higher the more important you are, or rather, the more famous you are. You could blackmail me, and while I wouldn’t like it, you probably wouldn’t hurt my reputation that much. You could totally publish it in the newspaper that I did the terrible thing of giving my dog Max, rest his soul, a Listerine strip when they first came out, but I’ve told people about that before and it really wouldn’t be news. Even if nobody knew that I had done that and you made it available to the public, who is going to care? I just review books and write. It’s not as if I’m Hillary Clinton.

Now, if Hillary Clinton had done the same thing I did, then there is a chance it might be plastered all over the news, and Hillary really might not want you to tells the news that she gave her dog a Listerine strip. She’s a political entity. She helps make important decisions for the United States. She’s supposed to be above reproach, to an extent. She can’t be going around giving Listerine strips to people’s dogs. Who is going to vote a woman in as president if she gives Listerine strips to dogs?

Milverton did not make his money blackmailing the maid. He made his money blackmailing royalty, public officials, and other well-known people. Basically, if Milverton were alive today, he would be going after Princess Kate, the prime minister, Obama, Hillary Clinton, and so forth, but he wouldn’t go after the Kardashians; it seems that no matter what anybody says about them everybody still thinks they’re great and fascinating.

There are people like Milverton today, we just don’t know their names. These people aren’t going to advertise that they make their living blackmailing celebrities and public figures.

In the end, Milverton got what was coming to him. I hope that woman went on a cruise to the Bahamas afterwards to celebrate. You can only blackmail people for so long before someone gets you; someone will get you; don’t think you can escape.

Overall

What happened to the fiancée, Agatha? I bet she was heart-broken when Sherlock really didn’t marry her. You know what would have been great though? If it happened that Sherlock really did marry her and led a secret family life away from John and mystery-solving. Then when Sherlock finally kicks the bucket everyone finds out that he has twenty grand-kids and a community that loves him as Mr. so-and-so.

P.S. Don’t think my spelling of fiancée is incorrect. It’s correct. If it’s a man you’re engaged to, he’s your fiancé, but if it’s a woman, she’s your fiancée, but people tend to use fiancé as the term to mean both these days. It’s a French-ish thing.



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Doyle-Sir Arthur Conan, Sherlock Holmes
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