Archives for the month of: March, 2013
Call the Midwife is a refreshing BBC series available on Netflix streaming. (It will soon be broadcast on PBS.) Call the Midwife is a gritty, realistic, and nuanced period drama set in London’s East End circa 1958. It stars Jessica Raine, Miranda Hart, and Jenny Agutter. (I’ve been watching Ms. Agutter’s career since The Railway Children and Logan’s Run). It’s also narrated by the glorious Vanessa Redgrave.

I love the music soundtrack and the attention to 1950s detail. Period dramas like the overrated and implausible Downton Abbey have made me weary of this type of series. Luckily, I took a chance on Call the Midwife. It’s funny, poignant, and at times, sentimental in the very best way. It also reminds us of how the UK’s National Health Service improved the lives of people by making health care a national right and not a privilege.  
Advertisements
Call the Midwife is a refreshing BBC series available on Netflix streaming. (It will soon be broadcast on PBS.) Call the Midwife is a gritty, realistic, and nuanced period drama set in London’s East End circa 1958. It stars Jessica Raine, Miranda Hart, and Jenny Agutter. (I’ve been watching Ms. Agutter’s career since The Railway Children and Logan’s Run). It’s also narrated by the glorious Vanessa Redgrave.

I love the music soundtrack and the attention to 1950s detail. Period dramas like the overrated and implausible Downton Abbey have made me weary of this type of series. Luckily, I took a chance on Call the Midwife. It’s funny, poignant, and at times, sentimental in the very best way. It also reminds us of how the UK’s National Health Service improved the lives of people by making health care a national right and not a privilege.  

The second book toward my goal of reading all of Agatha Christie’s works in publication order is The Secret Adversary (1922). The Secret Adversary is set immediately after World War I, and it’s the first time we see Tommy Beresford and Tuppence Cowley–Christie’s intrepid detective duo. 


Christie wrote four full-novels and a collection of short stories featuring Tommy and Tuppence; and for my money, the Tommy and Tuppence stories are the most winsome and lighthearted of her works. Christie’s other Tommy and Tuppence books are N or M? (1941), By the Pricking of My Thumbs (1968), and Postern of Fate (1973).

Unlike Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, Tommy and Tuppence age in real time. They’re not static characters. We see them as twenty-somethings in The Secret Adversary, and by the time they reappear in Postern of Fate, they’re in their late seventies. As they age, we see the problems associated with married life and the difficulties of growing old. Tommy and Tuppence are portrayed as real people, with faults and weaknesses.

Tuppence is particularly poignant, and, in some respects, a tragic figure that reflects 20th century female conformity. In The Secret Adversaryshe’s a young independent woman. She’s intelligent, headstrong, and enthusiastic. The very ideal of the modern woman. Yet, as we will see in Postern of Fate, Tuppence “evolves” into a very different person.    

The Secret Adversary is a good mystery, but certainly not one of Christie’s better works. The plot is contrived and the dialogue dated. There’s nothing particularly noteworthy about the book. In fact, The Secret Adversary would have easily been forgotten if not for Christie’s later fame. There are, however, some wonderful quotes in the book:

“Youth is a failing only too easily outgrown.”

“Marriage is called all sorts of things, a haven, and a refuge, and a crowning glory, and a state of bondage, and lots more.” (She certainly got that right!)

 “Never tell all you know—not even to the person you know best.”

Rating: C+

The second book toward my goal of reading all of Agatha Christie’s works in publication order is The Secret Adversary (1922). The Secret Adversary is set immediately after World War I, and it’s the first time we see Tommy Beresford and Tuppence Cowley–Christie’s intrepid detective duo. 


Christie wrote four full-novels and a collection of short stories featuring Tommy and Tuppence; and for my money, the Tommy and Tuppence stories are the most winsome and lighthearted of her works. Christie’s other Tommy and Tuppence books are N or M? (1941), By the Pricking of My Thumbs (1968), and Postern of Fate (1973).

Unlike Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, Tommy and Tuppence age in real time. They’re not static characters. We see them as twenty-somethings in The Secret Adversary, and by the time they reappear in Postern of Fate, they’re in their late seventies. As they age, we see the problems associated with married life and the difficulties of growing old. Tommy and Tuppence are portrayed as real people, with faults and weaknesses.

Tuppence is particularly poignant, and, in some respects, a tragic figure that reflects 20th century female conformity. In The Secret Adversaryshe’s a young independent woman. She’s intelligent, headstrong, and enthusiastic. The very ideal of the modern woman. Yet, as we will see in Postern of Fate, Tuppence “evolves” into a very different person.    

The Secret Adversary is a good mystery, but certainly not one of Christie’s better works. The plot is contrived and the dialogue dated. There’s nothing particularly noteworthy about the book. In fact, The Secret Adversary would have easily been forgotten if not for Christie’s later fame. There are, however, some wonderful quotes in the book:

“Youth is a failing only too easily outgrown.”

“Marriage is called all sorts of things, a haven, and a refuge, and a crowning glory, and a state of bondage, and lots more.” (She certainly got that right!)

 “Never tell all you know—not even to the person you know best.”

Rating: C+

After yesterday’s storm, I took a walk around the neighborhood and discovered this snowman. Spring has arrived, and this guy might be the very last snowman of the season.

After yesterday’s storm, I took a walk around the neighborhood and discovered this snowman. Spring has arrived, and this guy might be the very last snowman of the season.

Spring is Just Around the Corner

Portland had more than 100 inches of snow this season. That’s a rare event for Portland, but one hundred inches didn’t come close to the record of 141.5 inches set in 1970-71. Now, it’s time to dig out the car. Ugh!

BTW:  Happy First Day of Spring!

Spring is Just Around the Corner

Portland had more than 100 inches of snow this season. That’s a rare event for Portland, but one hundred inches didn’t come close to the record of 141.5 inches set in 1970-71. Now, it’s time to dig out the car. Ugh!

BTW:  Happy First Day of Spring!

I was beginning to think it was spring, but this morning, another winter storm hit. Even though spring is just a few days off, it still feels like winter. It’s days like these that I long for the warm California sun. 

The election of the new Pope has many people hoping that Pope Francis will bring about reform in the Catholic Church. That’s possible, but the Catholic Church, like religion itself, has one fundamental problem. It’s built on supernatural beliefs and myths. Religion isn’t based on science or empirical evidence. It’s based on faith. Religion attempts to explain the world and the meaning of life through stories. It provides solace by offering a “life after death,” and affirms that good will triumph over evil. Not bad ideas. Religious stories make for fun reading, but as a guide to morality or as an explanation for the world is absurdity.

As an atheist, I view the world as fundamentally physical and knowable. Reality is what we can perceive with the senses, and detect with scientific instruments, or predicted with models, such as black holes. Science is better than religion at explaining the way the natural world works, and it’s not saddled with intolerance and bigotry.

The fact there’s a new Pope makes little difference to me, but for some people, it’s a big deal, and that’s sad.