Posts from November 2007
Two coffins of the way through The Three Coffins(aka The Hollow Man) the author, John Dickson Carr, breaks into the narrative through the words of his serial detective Dr Gideon Fell. Fell responds to a question:
“Because … we’re in a detective story, and we don’t fool the reader by pretending we’re not. Let’s not invent elaborate excuses to drag in a discussion of detective stories.”
He then let’s the reader know what counts as contravening his/her rights regarding the possibilities in solving a locked-room mystery:
“the low … trick of having a secret passage … so puts a story beyond the pale that a self-respecting author scarcely needs even to mention that there is no such thing. We don’t need to discuss minor variations of this outrage: the panel which is only large enough to admit a hand; or the plugged hole in the ceiling through which a knife is dropped, the plug replaced undetectably, and the floor of the attic above sprayed with dust so that no one seems to have walked there.”
Then proposes a taxonomy of locked-room solutions. First where there was no murderer in the room:
1. It is not murder, but a series of coincidences ending in an accident which looks like murder. eg a crack on the head from a piece of furniture. “the most popular object is an iron fender”
2. It is murder, but the victim is impelled to kill himself. Gas, poison, induced hysteria.
3. It is murder, by a mechanical device. Mechanical trap, concealed guns, hidden poisoned needles, “Even” says Fell ” a glove is electrified”. Er, ok.
Quick eyeball – saw in my own shop Fruit Tella Choc Filled. Ugh I thought. Who wants the tasty fruit flavoured chew with a completely unwarranted burst of what is almost certainly some sort of chocolate flavoured glucose syrup centre? No-one, that’s who. And indeed our rack is kind of full. But then a closer examination of the product showed that these Fruit Tella’s are caramel flavoured.
Pedestrians in Wetminster, sorry, Westminster, who need to make a branch may text the word “toilet” to 80097 and get directions to the nearest public convenience for 25p.
The Register reports that the system was designed by a student named Gail Knight and is dubbed Sat Lav. It uses the phone masts closest to the desperate SMSer’s mobile phone to triangulate her approximate location.
The system is run by Westminster Council, so its emissions are less than gratifying if one attempts to get directions outside the council’s boundaries. A text from Holborn, for instance, provoked suggestions to walk to Leicester Square, Covent Garden or the Strand, missing out the public toilets at Lincoln’s Inn Fields.
No word yet if texting “lavatory” returns more upmarket results.
there is plenty more to say about this useful particle of lollardry but to kick things off
i. sarah seemed to saying the word BUMPKIN derived from a comical mispronunciation of the word LOCAL — which is awesome ambitious as mispronunciations go! (she was talking abt YOKEL obv but didn’t quite say so)
ii. like all other excellent words, bumpkin derives from the DUTCH = “boomken” meaning a
Following on from last night’s volleyballpop discussion on Lollards, I thought I’d do a quick post as a follow up with some links to the other songs I mentioned! Doing the theme tune to volleyball championships seems to be quite lucrative. I mentioned that the first NewS single was used as the theme to the 2003 World Volleyball Championships (although for convoluted reasons this wasn’t considered the band’s official ‘debut’!): ladies and gentlemen I present NewS NIPPON! Really, nothing, ever, could beat the awesomeness of this song which I loved for years before I even sought out the video which features dancing in space, Yamapi in shorts. They also appear to have borrowed some of Kylie’s spare C&A spacesuits – remember when Kylie went into space? Yeah! I could go on (seriously <3 <3) BUT there’s MORE to this volleyball lark!
Because – as it turns out, in 2005, ANOTHER NewS single was used as a volleyball theme, this time to the ladies volleyball championship!
For those of you baffled by my less than entirely clear descriptions on tonight’s Lollards Of Pop, here are some handy links to some of the map projections mentioned in the programme:
Toby Keith is The Angry American. Arno Peters is a
lyingmisleading swine (and German), the size of Brazil, the world in the shape of a heart. The sound of rattling pots and pans “Dude, this is Resonance”. Tanya targets the murderer Richard Marx. Sporting National Anthems. The amazing Hey Say Jump’s World Volleyball Championship Theme. The role of bumpkins, poachers and yokels. The midweek number one – congratulations to Swell Maps.
For the past few months I’ve been reading The Hobbit aloud to my wife – it’s relaxing for both of us and good practise for future readings to a probably more restless audience. I think it’s the first time I’ve read the book since I was seven or eight – I’d remembered the outline but not the details. Here’s some stuff I thought about it:
The seeds of the detective fiction genre were planted with Poe’s 1841 publication of The Murders in the Rue Morgue, but it was The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (1868) that introduced many of the now classic features of the genre – viz – a country house robbery, a celebrated investigator, bungling local constabulary, false suspects, the ‘locked room’ problem, the ‘least likely’ suspect solution. By the 1920/ 1930s the genre was firmly established, and enjoying a golden age, seeing stories published by the ‘Queens of Crime’ – Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh and Margery Allingham, who introduced us to detectives such as Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, Lord Peter Wimsey, Chief Inspector Alleyn, Albert Campion (and less well known – Sayers’ other amateur detective – the wine salesman Montague Egg). The golden age helped cement the various characteristics (clichés even) that modern audiences feel are indicative of the genre.
In 1929 the crime writing priest* Ronald Knox wrote his Ten Commandments for detective fiction:
1. The criminal must be mentioned in the early part of the story, but must not be anyone whose thoughts the reader has been allowed to follow.
2. All supernatural or preternatural agencies are ruled out as a matter of course.
3. Not more than one secret room or passage is allowable.
4. No hitherto undiscovered poisons may be used, nor any appliance which will need a long scientific explanation at the end.
5. No Chinaman must figure in the story.