Saturday, February 1, 2020

A Bad Book and a New(ish) Watch

So we have Brexited. Dear God, what a long, arduous journey that has been. And it isn't over, no matter how much Boris promises a bright future of "national renewal." I tend to agree more with Emmanuel Macron, who said it's an "alarm signal" for Europe, after a campaign based on "lies, exaggerations and cheques that were promised but will never come.”

And we have coronavirus, too -- two cases now in the UK.

May we live in interesting times.

Someone in the comments yesterday said they were dying to know the identity of the dashing young man with exceptional teeth who we couldn't identify on Quiz Night. I believe it was a youthful Matthew Lawrence -- who, admittedly, I probably should have known, since he was a star in the '90s. But I never watched his show, "Boy Meets World."

I've started another Newbery book, and it's awful so far. It's called "The Dark Frigate," and it's one of the earliest winners -- a pirate story that is unfortunately written in English as it might have been spoken in the 17th Century. Lots of "thous" and "quoths" and "thereupons." Here's a line spoken by someone who's supposed to be Scottish: "Who the de'il gaed yonder on sic like e'en and at sic like hoddin' gait?"

I don't know about you, but I have NO IDEA what that's supposed to say.

"The Dark Frigate" also has a subtitle -- and it's 66 words long!

Here's what people have to say about the book on Goodreads:

-- "This one is a reminder that all Newberys are not good."
-- "I doubt any kid ever enjoyed this."
-- "This book took me forever to read. Every time I tried to read, I would quickly fall asleep."

To be fair, however, it has a 3.4-star rating (out of five), and some people are quite enthusiastic about it. So I'm continuing to slog. I'm on page 39, of 246. I suspect it won the Newbery partly because the promising young author, Charles Boardman Hawes, died of a sudden illness shortly before its publication in 1923. A sympathy prize, in other words, kind of like Elizabeth Taylor winning the Oscar for "Butterfield 8."

Remember that watch I found in the back garden? Check it out! I took it to a watch repair shop yesterday evening, and the guy unscrewed the back cover and put in a new battery, and voila -- a functioning watch! The battery and a new band cost £15, which seemed very reasonable to me.

I have no idea what I'm going to do with it, because I don't wear a watch and I'm not sure I want to wear a watch, but I think it's cool that I was able to revive it after it lay in the dirt for at least six years! Casio should use this in a commercial.

(Top photo: Free samples in Covent Garden, a few weeks ago.)


  1. I have no idea what that line from the book means either. You are a determined soul for continuing to read that book. Amazing that the watch you found still works and looks good to.

  2. Casio's giving Timex a run for the money : Remember their ad campaign? "Timex keeps on ticking" Shown after any number of watch torture scenarios.
    Interesting how so few wear watches anymore. They're actually way more convenient than hauling your phone out of your pocket.

  3. That book reminds me of trying to read Middlemarch. I could hardly stay awake. Or Ulysses; same. So many sing their praises ... so there must be something worth sticking it out for. Right? But so many books, too little time, so by the wayside they go for now. -Kate

  4. Here's a suggestion- I don't know if you're rating these books you're reading but you could have a category for Books I Could Not Finish Because Life Is Too Short.
    I had a feeling that watch would be fine with a new battery in it. It's rather handsome but the shirt you're wearing is the VERY BEST! Perhaps you should start wearing a watch. It could add a bit of whimsical sartorial dignity to your appearance.
    Or perhaps not.

  5. my guess is "who the devil gazed(?) yonder..." and that's as far as I can get.

    not to surprised the watch worked. I've never worn a watch, not even back before cell phones. I was very skinny and they didn't make watch bands small enough to fit snug around my wrist and I didn't like it dangling like a bracelet. besides, everyone else wore a watch so if I wanted to know what time it was I just had to ask someone. now, of course, I have a multipurpose device I carry around which tells me the time.

  6. The book does not sound readable in the way an enjoyable read should sound. I like Ms Moon's idea for a category for unreadable books.
    If a watch could happy that one on your wrist certainly is. A new battery is like a pacemaker for that Casio, tick tick tick.

  7. You've made me go and have a look at Newberry's in my local library.

  8. I'm curious to know if the samples the young lady is handing out came from the shop with the slogan "Eat like an Egyptian" and, if so, what were they?

  9. I cannot interpret that line from the book either. I avoid books like that. I read for enjoyment, not to be confused. I'm curious about those samples too. Did you at least try one? You have a super day, hugs, Edna B.

  10. Oh Steve that is a good looking watch my friend. If you choose not to wear it perhaps you could keep it on your night stand for in the middle of the night to grab instead of having the blue light from your phone wake you up for hours haha.. JK. At least I am kidding for you but for me it would be ideal. That blue light really does affect me. I have it set on night but my phone is cranky and doesn't always do as I command.

    I am soooooooo sorry that your slogging your way thru that horrid book. I do love Mary Moon's advice on Books I could not finish because life is too short. The one your trying to read would be the first one on that list hee hee.

    While you are all dealing with Brexit we are looking at the acquittal of Donald Trump. I fear that this acquittal is opening doors for things to just get worse instead of better. To me this trial was rigged from the start but I didn't waste any of my time watching it. The daily news headlines told me everything I needed to know or not know.

    I am really confused about Brexit. Not sure how it works, but it is scary non the less not really knowing what to expect.

    I am hoping for the best with the Coronavirus. That is scary as well. Have a wonderful day. Hugs to you and Olga.

  11. My earlier comment has disappeared and I blame those dastardly Russians!

  12. I have a hard time giving up on books - especially if they have at least sort of a plot. I want to know what happens! Admittedly if it’s not good there’s a lot of grousing & cursing.

    I want to know what the samples were too!

  13. It says who the Devil gave him those eyes and that way of walking.
    Translation by Jessica in Scotland your welcome.

  14. I've missed you. I'm trying to catch up. I thought about you all day yesterday as I listened to the Brexit shit. Sigh.

  15. Even more intriguing than the watch is the shirt! Presumably it was a short - it could have been a pajama top. With the birds on it.

  16. That seems expensive to me for the watch repairs, especially if you aren't going to wear it - hah! Wouldn't it be great to find someone who could really use a new watch and otherwise couldn't afford one?

    When I can't sustain interest in a book, off it goes. Life's Too Short. And even for books I finish because I want to know the ending but they were a disappointment, they don't get put on my reading list. The ultimate insult! lol

  17. I think you should wear that watch for at least one month and let us in on comments you are sure to receive about it. I'd make a big production of raising your arm to look at it and see how folks react. I bet half the kids at school have never even seen one. Someday someone will holler "INCOMING AT TEN OCLOCK!"and those kids will have no idea where to look.

  18. Sharon: Well, if I'm going to say I read all the Newberys, I really have to have READ them. At least, that's what I'm thinking now. Ask again after another 40 pages!

    Marty: Oh, yeah! "Takes a licking and keeps on ticking!"

    Padre: Especially when there's lots of it.

    Kate: I liked "MIddlemarch," but I've never tried to read James Joyce. Way too impenetrable for my taste.

    Ms Moon: I wore it yesterday when I walked the dog and I didn't look at it once! And YES, I love that idea for a book category. It may come to that.

    Ellen: I was surprised. Even though it's water resistant, six years of weather is a lot to take.

    Robin: I get satisfaction out of getting it to work again, even if I'm ambivalent about wearing it!

    Red: Good! Some of them are very childish, but some are pretty sophisticated and until now I've enjoyed them all.

    Catalyst: Yes, they came from that restaurant, but I haven't a clue what they are. I didn't try one!

    Edna: I didn't! I was mostly struck by the shadow of the samples on the pillar behind the girl.

    Beth: I think I might keep it on my desk at work. (If I don't start wearing it!)

    YP: I confess, it was me. I don't often censor comments but your original one just seemed way too mean-spirited toward Egyptians -- even though I know you meant it to be funny.

    Bug: Me too! It's very rare for me to quit a book. I usually suffer through.

    Jessica: Thank you! I'm glad to know in Scotland it's readable! Maybe the rest of the book fares better up your way, too. :)

    Elizabeth: Ugh. Brexit. I'm still here in blogland every day! Hope things are looking up in your world!

    David: Yes, it's a shirt! It's a Paul Smith shirt that Dave got me for my birthday. Universally a hit at work, too.

    Jenny-O: I think I'll try to wear it occasionally and see how it goes.

    Penelope: Actually, some kids wear a watch, but I think it's more a status thing than a functional timepiece. When they want the time they still look at their phones!

  19. So how DO Egyptians eat? (See the restaurant door). I must say that I am pissed off that you removed that comment but it is your blog and you are allowed to censor harmless comments even when that censorship might risk losing losing long time supporters.

  20. I wonder if that is real Scots? I just read an article in the new "Economist" about whether Scots is a language or a dialect...

    Have you read Russel Hoban's "Riddley Walker"? All in a dialect of English that will be spoken hundreds of years after the coming apocalypse (made up, naturally)---surprisingly easy going, once you get into it, I thought. (A friend found it unreadable though.)
    I love that it's by the same guy who wrote "Bread and Jam for Frances".

  21. P.S. That must have been some comment you removed, as you have allowed other mean and racist comments to stand!

  22. I've never read "Riddley Walker" (or even heard of it, to be honest). Sounds interesting, though!

    Have I allowed other problematic comments to stand? Yikes -- I'm not sure I meant to! (Although it's true I can count on one hand the number of comments I've deleted -- probably on just a few fingers.)

  23. That watch tells a sweet story, more about you than about the history of how it came to be abandoned in your back garden.