Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night

Jerome K. Jerome: Three Men in a Boat and Three Men on the Bummel (Penguin Books; 1999; ISBN 0-140-43750-9; historical photograph for cover).

Three Men in a Boat: This book has been in the background for much of my life. I'm moderately sure of seeing a copy in the house of my maternal grandparents. It is referenced several times in Robert A. Heinlein's YA novel Have Space Suit, Will Travel. I even came across a filmed version of it starring the likes of Tim Curry, Michael Palin and Stephen Moore (anybody know why this is not currently available in the US?). I even had several eBook versions, from the early days of Project Gutenberg to the more recent versions listed below.

But, for some reason, I never read the dang thing.

I spotted the omnibus edition from Penguin and picked it up (despite having both books in electronic format, you see both can co-exist!). Since this is another summer without vacation (long story, several long stories, actually), I have taken a couple of weekend camping trips with The Young Lady. I brought this along on the first. We were caught in traffic, caught in a downpour, got to the site in the middle of the night, rain continued to pour, the tent gave me trouble getting set up, the rainfly blew off in the middle of the night and soaked our sleeping bags before I could get a spare tarp set up...

While we were drying out the next morning, I started reading the book and started roaring in laughter. And continued throughout the book.

J. (Jerome K. Jerome), George, Harris (to say nothing of the dog, Montmorency) decide to get back to nature and travel up in a small boat on the river Thames, camping out on the banks or in the boat, living the rough and rustic life. Hilarity ensues in a series of set pieces: how to pack, how to row, what happens when you set up a tent at night or in the rain (heh), what happens when yo forget a vital piece of equipment (should I mention that this camping trip had a side trip where I went and bought another camping I had forgotten to pack our camping stove?).

Good stuff for anybody who has ever camped. Good stuff even if you haven't. On to the second book!

Free eBook of Three Men in a Boat here. Free eBook of Three Men on the Bummel here. Penguin Classics edition (with many lovely notes). eBook version of the Penguin Classics edition (also with many lovely notes).

FTC Disclaimer: This paper book was purchased. The eBook is 100% free electrons.

Addendum: If only this version that appeared on television was once again available!

Friday, July 23, 2010

That Darned Dog

Take a look at that picture. See that dog draped across me? That would be Miss Mocha (a.k.a. New Dog Mark 4.0), a rescue Doberman/Labrador mix.

Sigh. What to do with her?

Don't know what happened when I went out to take The Young Lady to camp, but when I returned I found five book shelves (double thick) emptied, magazines everywhere, notebooks (some partly used) scattered and lots of damage. Dustjackets shredded, books chewed, some completely destroyed. A new meaning to "you are in the dog house". I put her outside as I am mad enough to raise hands, and that is something I try to avoid with a dog that is already "scarred" from her previous owner.

Most expensive replacement (found so far on web) of the most damaged—$250.00. Least expensive replacement of those most damaged—$75.00 A very damn expensive trip to take the kid to summer camp. Mocha, you better stay out of my way today.

Her only saving throw so far is that the Ted Sturgeon short story collections she destroyed appear to be being reprinted in September, so although they won't be the prime condition FIRST EDITIONS anymore, at least I can replace these for a "reasonable" amount of money (ten volumes, sigh).

Something must have set her off, because it was a departure like any other this morning, nothing different. Sigh, this dog has cost me about five times her "donation cost" in books.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Frederick Paul Kiesche, Jr.

November 6, 1935 to January 24, 2010

Then Almitra spoke, saying, We would ask now of Death.
And he said:
You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of life.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heat wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.

In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

("The Prophet", Kahlil Gibran)