Book Review #24

I just read the most sumptuous book.  It was as rich and satisfying as a slab of red velvet cake.

The book: The Boat of a Million Years

The author: Poul Anderson

The review: There are only seven story plots.  All of the millions of novels are just variations and combinations on those themes.  This one is a reworking of the movie Highlander, which was released 2 years before this was published in 1989.  I got a cheap 2004 Kindle re-release, while I was COVID-isolating.  The immortals can be killed.  It’s just that they heal quickly and totally.  They survive and recover from, wounds that would slay a normal person.

It’s ‘like’ a time-travel novel, but the travel is all from past, to the future.  Perhaps once per century, a person is born who does not age and die.  Unlike the Off With Her Head movie story, this book is about survival.  The author wants to show that, while these people are different from the rabble in one way, they are quite the same in others, and different from each other.

It is not at all like several other ‘ray-guns and space-ships’ books of this author’s that I have.  He treads lightly, but shows the historical foolishness of religions, when viewed over hundreds, or thousands of years

The most common, though not universal, drive is to find others of their kind.  A Turkish trader in post-Roman Britain spends parts of several decades finding an immortal Norse warrior.  When he finally locates him, he offers him partnership in a safe venture and way of life that will guarantee them both great wealth and political power.  The Viking turns him down, and walks away.  Several years later, he hears that the berserker died in an epic battle.

It takes over a century for a Mesopotamian ship-fleet owner to locate another male.  When he does, the outgoing extrovert is dismayed to find a reclusive milquetoast who is content to follow, and allow someone else to make decisions and take care of him.

Some of the men make the obvious search for females of their kind, for wives/companions, and to find if two immortals would produce immortal offspring.  They don’t.  After several more centuries, the pair locate an immortal woman in Rome.  Pointing out the gender inequality, she has advanced from prostitute, to madam, to courtesan, where she creates great wealth through pillow-talk investments.

Even before computers, birth certificates or accurate census forms, it was not a good idea to remain in one location with one name, for more than a couple of decades, lest the superstitious populace grow suspicious.  The trader suggests that they move back to Nineveh, or Tyre, and sells off his ships and cargoes, converting them to a more easily transported chest, full of gold and jewels.  Her history made her distrust all men, so she betrays them.  The two men escape with their lives, but lose the fortune which takes the one a century to recoup.

This is a psychological and sociological account.  With no ‘action’ to spur the plot, there is no urgency to rush this deep and lengthy book along.  The author has the time and opportunity to compose it like a story from the Golden Age of Literature, of a hundred or two-hundred years ago.  It is rich, luxurious, and full-bodied.

The construction was intriguing and complex, occasionally non-linear.  The history and geography were informative, well-researched, and wide-ranging.  The words were substantive, and often archaic.  There was hardly a page where I wasn’t poking the Kindle screen for a definition.  Words and phrases like, limned, bedizened courtesan, uxorious, an austere magus, lineaments, indolent insolence and caparisoned, peered from almost every page.  For a word-nerd like me, it was Nirvana.

Reading this book was like wearing a silk shirt and walking barefoot across a Persian carpet, while eating a filet mignon.  It was rewarding and satisfying on several simultaneous levels.  I was delighted with the social and personal insights that the mere-mortal author provided.

Looking At More One-Liners

A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall….
….Police are looking into it

I would tell you a COVID joke….
….But it would take you two weeks to get it.

If you jumped off a bridge in Paris….
….You’d be in Seine

No matter how much you push the envelope….
….It will still be stationery

The fattest knight at King Arthur’s table was Sir Cumference….
….He got that way from too much pi

Two silkworms had a race….
….They both ended up in a tie

When the cannibals ate the missionary….
….They got a taste of religion

Einstein developed a theory about space….
….And it was about time, too

I saw a dwarf climbing down a prison wall….
….I thought, that’s a little condescending.

I went into a book store, and asked if they had anything on turtles….
….”Hardback?”

I like to have my cake, and eat it too….
….I’d also like to have your cake and eat it too.

An Optimist laughs to forget….
….A Pessimist forgets to laugh.

I am a mental tourist….
….My mind wanders.

The closest to perfect a person ever comes….
….Is when they fill out a job application.

Statistics say that 1 out of 3 people in a relationship are unfaithful….
….I need to figure out if that’s my wife or my girlfriend.

A store clerk fought off an armed robber with a pricing gun….
….Police are looking for a man with a price on his head.

I know the voices in my head aren’t real….
….But sometimes they have great ideas.

My girlfriend said she got a tattoo of a chameleon….
….I don’t see it

I haven’t lost all my marbles….
….But there’s definitely a hole in the bag.

How many general-relativity theoreticists does it take to change a light bulb?….
….Two.  One to hold the bulb and one to rotate space.

Why can’t you take electricity to social outings?….
….Because it doesn’t know how to conduct itself.

What did the male magnet say to the female magnet?….
….Seeing you from the back, I thought you were repulsive. But seeing you from the front, I find you rather attractive.

What did one uranium-238 nucleus say to the other?….
….Gotta split.

I was gonna go on a diet….
….But I’ve got too much on my plate right now.

The technical name for a coffee at work….
….is, Break Fluid.

 

No Sleep For The Wicked

Bed

“How do you sleep at night, knowing people don’t like you?”
“With no underwear, in case they want to kiss my ass.”

I always sleep with a knife under my pillow. You never know when someone will break in and give you a cake.

The worst thing about adulthood?? I used to pull all-nighters. Now I can barely pull all-dayers.

People in sleeping bags are the soft tacos of the bear world.

Any job is a dream job…. if you fall asleep during staff meetings.

There are many theories about why humans even need to sleep. I’m pretty sure it’s to charge our phones.

I accidentally fell asleep while smoking an E-cigarette. When I woke up, my whole house was on the internet.

Until I started experiencing insomnia, I didn’t realize that it was possible to be this furious at each of my pillows, individually.

Start every day with a positive thought, like, “I’ll be able to go back to bed in 16 or 17 short hours.”

If teleportation ever becomes a real thing, I’m gonna use it to zap myself into a different time zone, and get an extra three hours of sleep each day.

ME: I’m tired from all that CrossFit this morning.
MY CO-WORKER: It’s pronounced ‘croissant,’ and you ate four of them.

All my childhood punishments have become my life goals:
Eating vegetables, having a nap, staying home, going to bed early.

Why do seagulls fly over the sea?
‘Cause if they flew over the bay, they’d be bagels.

***

A man applied for a job as an insurance salesman. Where the form asked for ‘Prior Experience,’ he put down Lifeguard – that was it, nothing else.

“We are looking for someone who can not only sell insurance, but sell himself.” said the interviewer. “How does being a lifeguard pertain to selling yourself?”

The man replied, “I couldn’t swim.”

***

Marriage is like a public toilet.
Those on the outside want in.
Those on the inside want out.

I have to stop saying, “How stupid can you be?”
I think some people are taking it as a challenge.

Seamus tells Connor that he’s thinking of buying a Labrador dog.
“Don’t be daft, man! Have you noticed how many of their owners go blind?”

Insanity does not run in my family. It strolls though, taking its time, getting to know everybody.

 

Flash Fiction #205

Memory

PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz

I’VE GOT A GREAT MEMORY: IT’S JUST REALLY SHORT

Now what was I going downstairs for?? I’d better go back up to the kitchen to find out.

Why am I in the kitchen? I was supposed to be going downstairs for…. something….

Senior citizens’ memories are not necessarily faulty, often just overfull – recollection upon recollection – experience after experience.

Science fiction offers us a future when we might upload our consciousness to a computer. Might be a good idea. Occasionally run a de-frag – do a sort and delete. I don’t need to remember that Bobby peed himself in First Grade. Where is that cake mix we bought the other day?

Black Forest Cake

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

friday-fictioneers-badge-web

Happy Birthday 75

Birthday Cake 75

Click below to hear

Swedish chef happy birthday

Happy Birthday to me
Happy Birthday to me
Happy Birthdayyy dear Archon
Happy Birthday to me!

Happy or not, at my age, I’ll take any birthday that I can get. I almost can’t believe it. I’ve been hanging around this planet, making a pest of myself for ¾ of a century. I’ve seen Century 21 Real Estate become a reality. A 75th birthday is something special to be celebrated. Not everyone gets to do it. I don’t plan to repeat the feat, although a recent study proved that people born later in the year have a better chance of living to be 100.

I felt that an extra, out-of-normal-sequence post was justified. All contributions gratefully accepted. Cash and checks (cheques) would be nice, but I will happily settle for visits, views, likes and comments.

Dad & Danny
Early August 1960, Detroit (Ferndale) MI
I am the handsome one on the left, not quite 6.
The sulky one on the right is my 3-year-old brother.
I’ve come a long way, Baby.

For those who may not have seen it, HERE is a further explanation of how I got here.

Tombstone 2

SPEAK TO ME ONLY WITH THINE EYES….

FOR THY FINGERS HAVE F**KED THINGS UP

Grammar Nazi

PROS

He got married at the boarder, then they realized he was a smuggler. – The Washington Post knows no borders.

Niagara Falls freezes in teeth-shattering temps – My teeth are chattering at this usage.  Same headline lists an ‘artic’ blast

BC gas stations insist on swimming against the tied – British Columbians should know what tide is.  Toronto captioners think it’s just for laundry.

He just gorged them out. – Gorged means filled up.  Gouged means emptied out.

Get a sculpsured bod. – or get the always-popular dictionary, and learn to spell sculptured.

Wither goes democracy? – Upscale usage will wither if you don’t look up whither.

Two viles of drugs were found – Well, it is pretty vile stuff, in a vial (phial), or not.

Kim Kardashian wore a bust-bearing dress – I know those puppies look like they need a hand-truck to haul them around, and the sight of the photo could confuse a male captioner, but the dress was bust-baring.

***

Amateurs

Violin boes rehaired – This guy gets a special category.  He’s not a professional writer, but he advertises as a ‘Professional violin builder, seller and repairer’, who should know about bows.

Lovely, fully-detached home, near Kawanas Park – this less-than-literate real estate agent apparently is not a member of the Kiwanis service club.

Michelangelo’s Sixteenth Chapel – from Canada’s ‘Good Christian’ wunderkind, Justin Beaver Bieber

***

Please use tongue when choosing donuts – because the tongs are already in use.

April Ham Lincoln – I guess the name Abraham isn’t popular in elementary schools anymore.  But he was joined by John Afghan Eddy, and Martin Lou, the King

Two ballards were struck by a forklift – Relax, the ex-owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs is fine.  It was two bollards which were struck.

That door is closed.  Se la vi. – He lives in Utah, where they don’t speak any French.  C’est la vie.

This were “Dances With Wolves” was filmed – This is where paying attention in English class would have helped.

find a place to hold up in tonight – The police frown on holdups.  Find a safe, warm hole, and hole up.

Hubby once through an entire angle food cake – although she did come back to correct to threw, but not the angel.

What do you get when you cross a blonde with a postal worker?
A fluesy with an Uzi.
The jokester is obviously not a floozy.

Like in a freakin’ fairy tell – I have to tell you that the word should be tale.

The judge gave him a slap on the risk – At the risk of sounding pedantic, it’s wrist.

Whats the deferents between soft point and hardball ammo?  Are exploding bullets called dumb dumbs? – The difference is that only redneck gun-nuts who ask questions like this, are called dumb dumbs.

 

You Didn’t Really Mean That

Dictionary

Words and phrases that don’t mean what you think they do

The truth about fireflies

Starting with the insects: Fireflies are not flies but flying beetles with luminous tails, and glow-worms are closely related to them, being the larvae of four different kinds of luminescent beetles (but flightless ones).

Serious sea creatures

Misnomers abound in the ocean too: starfish aren’t fish at all; they’re echinoderms, boneless creatures with a hard outer shell, like sea urchins and sand dollars. And jellyfish aren’t fish either; they’re cnidarians—the perfect otherworldly name for these gelatinous alien forms with drifting tentacles. On the other hand, electric eels apparently really are fish—they’re close relatives of boring old varieties like carp and catfish.

Guinea pigs

I can’t possibly name all the misnamed animals further up the food chain. But here are a few favorites: Neither flying foxes nor flying squirrels fly; they hop and glide instead. Guinea pigs are neither pigs nor from Guinea; they’re rodents that originated in the Andes where they’re considered a delicacy (yep, they’re food in Peru). The cuddly koala bear, symbol of Australia is not only not a bear, it’s a marsupial. Mountain goats are actually antelopes. But sometimes scientists do change their minds about this stuff: until recently the giant panda was considered a relative of the raccoon, but now researchers have placed it back in the bear family.

Faux chocolate

In the man-made category, white chocolate isn’t chocolate at all; it’s mainly flavored cocoa butter and cream. But head cheese has nothing to do with milk products; it’s made of chopped pork or beef scraps in an aspic jelly.

In the international food hall

Then there’s the question of where foods are from. French fries are probably from 17th century Belgium. Recipes for French toast is first recorded in the Middle Ages, well before there was a France, and the French themselves call it ‘pain perdu’ or lost bread—probably because it’s a good way to use up those stale scraps which would otherwise be lost. Jerusalem artichokes are neither artichokes nor from Jerusalem. They proliferate everywhere from Canada to Florida, but nowhere near the Middle East. Some say the name is derived from ‘girasole,’ or sunflower in Italian. German chocolate cake is reportedly from 19th century America, invented by a man with the last name German. And Danish pastries are actually Austrian in origin.

Giving credit where it’s not due

Pythagoras was by no means the first to come up with the theorem that allows us to solve for the sides of a right triangle: the Babylonians, ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Indians all recorded their own versions of it hundreds of years before him. Chinese checkers are neither checkers nor from China; they were invented in Germany in the late 19th century. Authentic Panama hats are made in Ecuador but were first marketed and sold in Panama. And Arabic numerals were first used in India.

Hitting the right note

Musical misnomers form their own small special category: Both the French horn and the English horn are really variants of the German horn. The name Jews harp is a corruption of ‘jaws harp,’ since the instrument is gripped between the teeth while being played. Violin strings are known as catgut but they’re really made from the intestines of sheep.

Islands in the stream

America has no monopoly on misleading names. For example, London’s Isle of Dogs isn’t really an island; it’s a spit of land jutting out into the Thames and surrounded by water on three sides. The Canary Islands do have lots of canaries but they also once had a lot of wild dogs, so the name is actually a corruption of canis, meaning dog in Latin.

A question of numbers

The Thousand Days’ War in Colombia was 1,130 days long. The Hundred Years’ War between England and France went on for 116 years. And there are 1,864 islands in the Thousand Islands archipelago along the U.S.-Canadian border. But the Thirty Years’ War in central Europe really did only last 30 years.

Close but no cigar

Lastly, I just can’t leave out our favorite misnomer: however hard you may howl when you hit it, your funny bone is the ulnar nerve, not a bone.

Hit Me With Your Best Shot

Birthday Cake

As threatened promised last week, this is my birthday-blog roast-post. What have you got to say about it?

71 years ago today, I burst upon the scene in a small Ontario town, and I haven’t stopped talking since. Today, I promise to keep it down to just my Elvis impression – Thenk yoo! Thenk yoo vurry much! This is your day to make any and all comments, suggestions, and (humorous) insults.

Do I feel lucky, punk?? Well, do I? Go ahead – make my day!

I hope I enjoy this as much as you.

Lay on MacDuff,
and cursed be he
who first cries,
Enough!

Welcome, and thank you to all my visitors!

 

ARCHON

Rocky Birthday

 

newfoundland-map

<- (See Ted?  Over there!)

 

The rocky birthday isn’t mine. That will occur on the weekend, and you’ll be able to hear about it without even turning your computers on.  With all my abilities, I couldn’t organize an orgasm in a bordello, but, I kinda, sorta, wanna organize a Happy Birthday party for a blog-buddy of mine.

I would like everybody who visits this site, today, Sept. 17th, or even over the next couple of days, to click on http://sightsnbytes.wordpress.com/ and wish my friend Ted a happy birthday.  He may need some cheering up, because today he turns 51, and joins me on the wrong side of the half century mark.  I wouldn’t mind if you mentioned this post.

The rocky reference isn’t just about birthday numbers. Ted lives on Newfoundland, our easternmost province.  It juts out into the cold North Atlantic, like Canada’s ass hanging over the edge of a bed.  Its residents lovingly refer to it as “The Rock.”  Fortunately, Ted lives on the western coast area, where you’re slightly less likely to find an iceberg in your back yard bay.

Like many of us, Ted has worked at a variety of jobs, to support himself, and now, a new wife, and a stepson he cherishes, and seems to be making a great father to. He’s worked at jobs he liked, but didn’t pay great, and he’s worked at jobs he was overqualified for, didn’t like, and which didn’t pay great.  He recently published a post about them, and about going back to university as a mature student to better himself.

He’s finally obtained a job he likes and which allows him to support the wife and young’un in the style they all deserve. Things are simpler and slower on The Rock.  Used to life in urban areas where you can walk to work, he’s now dismayed at the prospect of a 45 minute commute.

His retraining was in Information Technology, I T.  He has graciously helped me, and others, with problems here on WordPress.  The pictures like the map at the top, which I now sprinkle throughout my posts, are there because he told the wife and me how. He explained it to the wife, and, a year later, she finally got it through to me.

Ted and his Rock are a little removed from the usual hustle and bustle of “civilization.” The well-written posts on his site are bucolic, and often about life at a slower pace.  They limn the fascinating life and times – the friends, and family, and neighbors – of a most interesting writer.

I suggest you visit, and sign up for a rewarding ride. Don’t forget to wish him a Happy Birthday!  I won’t.

Happy Birthday, from the old fart, ARCHON

Birthday Cake(I didn’t know which you liked more, so I got you a chocolate one.)

Oops

Mommy & Uncle Paul

 ‘Hello?’

‘Hi, honey. This is Daddy. Is Mommy near the phone?’

‘No, Daddy. She’s upstairs in the bedroom with Uncle Paul.’

After a brief pause, Daddy says, ‘But honey, you haven’t got an Uncle Paul.’

‘Oh, yes I do, and he’s upstairs in the room with Mommy, right now.’

Brief Pause.

‘Uh, okay then, this is what I want you to do. Put the phone down on the table, run upstairs, knock on the bedroom door and shout to Mommy that Daddy’s car just pulled into the driveway.’

‘Okay, Daddy, just a minute.’

A few minutes later the little girl comes back to the phone.

‘I did it, Daddy.’

‘And what happened, honey?’

‘Well, Mommy got all scared, jumped out of bed with no clothes on and ran around screaming. Then, she tripped over the rug, hit her head on the dresser and now she isn’t moving at all!’

‘Oh, my God!!! What about your Uncle Paul?’
‘He jumped out of the bed with no clothes on, too. He was all scared and he jumped out of the back window and into the swimming pool. But I guess he didn’t know that you took out the water last week to clean it. He hit the bottom of the pool and I think he’s dead.’
Long Pause
Longer Pause
Even Longer Pause
Then Daddy says, ‘Swimming pool? …………
Is this 486-5731?’
No, I think you have the wrong number …

*

Kids’ Logic

6-year-old Jimmy, a precocious kid, always told everyone he wanted to be a doctor when he grew up.
One day as Jimmy was running through his house playing, he ran into the corner of a table and hurt his eye.
Being a little kid, Jimmy cried for a while but also kept saying, “Oh no, now I can never be a doctor when I grow up.”

Jimmy’s mom trying to reassure him told Jimmy that he could still be a doctor but Jimmy kept insisting that he couldn’t.

Finally she asked, “Why can’t you be a doctor, Jimmy?”

Holding one hand over his injured eye, Jimmy said, “Because now I will have to be a pirate!”

***

The doctor explained to Jenkins that he had a serious ailment for which an operation was absolutely imperative.
The patient turned pale and asked, “Isn’t it very dangerous? “
“Yes,” the doctor replied. “Five out of six who undergo this operation die, but as for you, you have nothing to worry about. “
“Why not?” eagerly inquired the patient.
“Well, you’re sure to recover, because my last five patients died,” the doctor reassured him.

***

Two men were sitting at the Club, and one said, Say, how is that gorgeous secretary of yours?  Oh, I had to fire her.  Fire her!  How come??  Well, it all started a week ago last Thursday, on my 49th birthday.  I was never so depressed.  What has that got to do with it??  Well, I came down for breakfast, and my wife never even mentioned my birthday.  A few minutes later, the kids came downstairs, and I was sure they would wish me a Happy Birthday, but not one word.

As I say, I was most depressed, but when I arrived at the office, my secretary greeted me with a big Happy Birthday, and I was glad that someone had remembered.  At noon, she suggested that it was a beautiful day, and that she would like to take me to lunch at a nice intimate little place in the country.

Well, it was nice, and we enjoyed our lunch and a couple of martinis.  On the way back to the office, she said it was much too nice a day to go back to work, and suggested that we go to her apartment, where she would get me another martini.

That also appealed to me, and after a drink and a cigarette, she asked to be excused so that she could go into the bedroom and change into something more comfortable.  A few minutes later, the bedroom door opened, and out came my secretary, my wife and two kids with a birthday cake, singing Happy Birthday, and there I sat, wearing nothing but my socks.

OOPS!