Wednesday, August 30, 2017


By Patrick McGinley

Roarty doesn't like the young man who has recently come to work for him at his pub. It all started when Roarty found out that the man seduced his teen daughter.
One night, after hours, Roarty comes into the bar with a heavy encyclopedia in his hands and sees his enemy bent over, unseeing. On an impulse, he smacks him in the head with the book and kills him instantly. The only blood spilled are a few drops from where the man's head bangs against a barrel.
What to do with the body? He decides to bury him in the local bog. He waits until very late at night and packs up a few of the man's belongings (the man lived in a room at the pub as does Roarty) and hauls him and the pack out to the peat bog and buries him.
He is quite pleased with himself until he gets a note in the mail demanding money.  The blackmailer, or bogmailer as he (or she) likes to call himself (or herself), has dug up the body and the pack and is threatening to tell the police unless Roarty buys his silence.
But who in this small Irish village is the bogmailer? Roarty reviews his friends and customers and finally decides it is the English fellow, Potter, who recently moved to the village.  He begins to plot against Potter, without really being sure that Potter is the bogmailer. Which is a bit of a shame because he really likes Potter.

This was pretty interesting during the first half of the story, but then I started getting bored with it and just wanted it to be done. Also, the book is touted as being hilarious & bawdy. I didn't find it to be so. Another strike against it is the enormous amount of unfamiliar words, including untranslated foreign phrases. I made a list:

  • Do shláinte, a chailleach! - a toast meaning, your health, woman.
  • Sláinte na bhfear agus go ndoiridh tú bean roimh oiche. Google translates this as, "men's health and keep you a woman before night." Yeah.
  • elvers - an eel
  • coulter - part of a plow? (not sure about this one)
  • lough - loch (a lake or a narrow arm of the sea)
  • syrinx - voice organ in birds, part of the larynx
  • terminus a quo - the earliest possible date for something.
  • slane - spade for cutting turf or peat
  • suggilation - post-mortem bruise
  • wethers - castrated ram
  • selvage - a zone of altered rock at the edge of a rock mass
  • yeld ewes - ewe that is not pregnant? Not sure about this one.
  • louping-ill - a tick-borne viral disease
  • grass tetany - livestock disease caused by lack of minerals in the diet
  • reactor cattle - cattle that have tested positive for disease? Not sure about this one.
  • ruamheirg - rusty colored water
  • cál leannógach - loud voices? Not sure about this one.
  • replevy - to take possession of goods under a replevin order
  • replevin - legally speaking, a procedure whereby seized goods may be restored to their owner
  • dulse - edible seaweed
  • anthelmintic - medicine used to expel worms
  • sloke - edible algae
  • sloc earraigh - algae that grows in the springtime? Not sure.
  • gillie - a man or boy who attends someone on a hunting or fishing expedition
  • rhotacism - is the inability to pronounce or difficulty in pronouncing the sound r
  • barytes - a mineral consisting of barium sulfate
  • orificium urethrae - where urine exits the urethra? Not sure.
  • poteen - alcohol made illicitly, typically from potatoes
  • trampcocks - piles of hay? Not sure.
  • bumf - useless or tedious printed information or documents, junk mail
  • sheepshairn - sheep dung? Not sure.
  • popply - bubbly, rippling, or choppy water
  • airt - compass point, quarter, direction
  • duibhean - a bird, cormorant
  • exiguity - leanness, meagerness, meagreness, poorness, scantiness, scantness 
  • Jansenist - Catholic theological movement, primarily in France, that emphasized original sin, human depravity, the necessity of divine grace, and predestination
  • sacerdotal - relating to priests or the priesthood; priestly
  • Chindits - special operations units of the British and Indian armies, which saw action in 1943–1944, during the Burma Campaign of World War II
  • Lollardism -  pre-Protestant religious movement critical of the Catholic Church
  • Rerum Novarum - encyclical issued by Pope Leo XIII on 15 May 1891, "revolutionary change"
  • De Senectute - "On Old Age" an essay by Cicero in 44 BC on aging and death
  • mensuration - the measuring of geometric magnitudes, lengths, areas, and volumes
  • numinous - having a strong religious or spiritual quality; indicating or suggesting the presence of a divinity
  • gliobach - Didn't find this one. Here is the sentence: "Good lord, have noticed that gliobach of sea fowl?" From the context, it would seem to be flock, but I couldn't verify that.
  • Gadus pollachius - Atlantic cod? Not sure.
  • heresiarch -  founder of a heresy or the leader of a heretical sect? They are talking about fish, I don't understand this one at all: "I had not thought of Gadus pollachius as a British heresiarch."
  • pelagic - fish that inhabit the upper layers of the open sea
  • pelagian - person who believes in the theological doctrine of Pelagius (These last four are some kind of erudite pun: Gadus pollachius, heresiarch, pelagic & pelagian. It's beyond me, though.)
  • cunt splice - a kind of knot in a rope
  • futtock plate - A plate (usually metal) attached horizontally near the top of the lower mast of a square rigged ship in order to secure the topmast
  • hypostasis - the accumulation of fluid or blood in the lower parts of the body or organs under the influence of gravity, as occurs in cases of poor circulation or after death
  • penumbra - partially shaded outer region of the shadow cast by an opaque object
  • litterateurs - person who is interested in and knowledgeable about literature
  • shebeen - an illegal bar or club where alcohol is sold without a license
  • gleety - mucous discharge? Not sure.
  • Die Davidsbündlertänze -  a group of eighteen pieces for piano composed in 1837 by Robert Schumann
  • deoch a' dorais - convivial night-cap, the last drink before departing
  • Hibernicis ipsis Hibernior - more Irish than the Irish themselves
  • Fünf Stücke im Volkston - "Five Pieces in the Popular Style" music composed by Robert Schumann in 1849
  • furcula - wishbone of a bird (Why couldn't the author just say wishbone?!)
  • climacteric - critical period or event
  • gauger - an exciseman who inspects dutiable bulk goods? Not sure.
  • spancelled - rope with which to hobble an animal, especially a horse or cow
  • blue till - till is material deposited directly by glacial ice and showing no stratification. As to blue till, I couldn't find it.
  • ombrogenous - a type of bog
  • soligenous - a bog  that receives water from rain and slope run-off
  • jackeens - mildly pejorative term for someone from Dublin, Ireland; a contemptuous designation for a self-assertive worthless fellow
  • scideens - couldn't find this one. Here is the passage: "'He didn't even call them potatoes. He called them...' 'Scideens.'"
  • innominate - not named or classified
  • terribilità - awesomeness or emotional intensity of conception and execution in an artist or work of art, originally as a quality attributed to Michelangelo by his contemporaries
  • coenobites - member of a monastic community
  • sodality - confraternity or association, especially a Roman Catholic religious guild or brotherhood
  • Timor et tremor - fear and trembling? Not sure.
  • timor mortis conturbat me - "fear of death disturbs me"
  • taurine - relating to, or resembling a bull
  • shanachie - teller of old tales or legends
  • odium theologicum - "theological hatred" —  the name originally given to the often intense anger and hatred generated by disputes over theology. It has also been adopted to describe non-theological disputes of a rancorous nature.
  • antinomies - contradiction between two beliefs or conclusions that are in themselves reasonable; a paradox
  • tow -  waste fiber left after processing the flax plant to spin linen, it may also sometimes refer to the waste from hemp and jute
  • cotta - surplice, a loose white linen vestment varying from hip-length to calf-length, worn over a cassock by clergy, acolytes, and choristers at Christian church services
  • outshot - a lean-to
  • wooden tester - a wood bed canopy? Not sure.
  • phimosis - congenital narrowing of the opening of the foreskin so that it cannot be retracted
  • soil pipe - sewage or waste water pipe
  • Benthamite - utilitarian philosophy of Jeremy Bentham, holding that pleasure is the only good and that the greatest happiness for the greatest number should be the ultimate goal of humans
  • jouking - a sudden, elusive movement, to dodge or duck
  • tolle lege - "take and read"? Not sure.
  • gal fiútair - couldn't find this one. Here is the passage: "'You only get it when the wind is north-east. Crubog calls it a gal fiútair. He says it's coal from Derry.'" I assume it means some kind of chemical odor.
  • jugged hare - a whole hare, cut into pieces, marinated and cooked with red wine and juniper berries in a tall jug that stands in a pan of water
  • palimpsest - something reused or altered but still bearing visible traces of its earlier form
No guarantee that any of these are correct. And all these unfamiliar words and foreign phrases just added to the chore of reading this not very interesting novel.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Cosmic Rape

By Theodore Sturgeon

The hive mind. Draws its power from enormous numbers of members within the hive. But what happens when the hive mind meets up with what it has never encountered before in all its existence: the solitary intelligent minds of the human race?

Told in a series of vignettes of the lives of ordinary people, just going about their normal activities. Then in an instant, it all changes as people find themselves thinking, not as individuals, but as one united organism. Guess what, hive mind: a new sheriff is in town. And its name is Humanity.

This is just a weird story. The united humans attack and destroy the invading machines of the hive mind. Then they join the hive mind willingly, which apparently gives humanity ascendancy over the hive.
The first human taken over by the hive mind, a drunken bum, never gets to enjoy the rewards of the hive and spends the rest of his life in solitary misery and loneliness, supposedly because that is what he truly desires. Weird.

The Mist

By Stephen King

Summertime on the lake and a bad thunderstorm knocks down trees and power lines. Waking up to a changed world is bad enough, but what is that strange mist coming in across the lake? Doesn't look like any normal mist, so white and menacing. Never mind, the wife needs some odds and ends at the grocery, so head into town with the kid to the store. Question is, will you be able to get back home? Because the mist has arrived and it is full of terrors.

A gripping, scary story that illustrates the fragile grasp people may have on sanity and civility in a midst of a terrible crisis.

Camelot in Orbit

By Arthur H. Landis

Something is rotten on the world of Fregis (aka Camelot) and Kyrie Fern has been sent by the Galactic Foundation to straighten things out before the whole planet is destroyed. Kyrie Fern is an adjuster-manipulator who job is to restore balance. Passing as one of the native peoples and going by the alias of Harl Lenti, he is just the guy who has the ability to take on the hidden evil threatening to engulf the whole world.
Landing among the northern people, Harl gains the reputation of a hero and is thought to be the Collin, a mythic figure come to life to protect the north. As the evil from beyond slips its influence into the minds of many of the important lords of the north, the Collin is sent forth by the king to gather an army and, along with the king's daughter, confront the Kaleen, the Dark One, who trying to rule the whole world. Harl will use his superior technology, his understanding of human nature and his skill at warcraft to bring down a threat that could expand beyond the bounds of one planetary system. He will be helped in this by the strange and deceptive pug boo, Hooli. Disguised as a placid little creature similar to a koala bear, Hooli has ways and means beyond that of Harl and beyond that of even the Galactic Foundation.  But are Hooli's goals in line with those of Harl? Whatever they are, Hooli isn't going to make it clear anytime soon.

This was an enjoyable adventure story, with interesting people on an attractive alien world. I wish that the dottles, a six-legged riding animal, really existed. They sound amazing.

Me Talk Pretty One Day

By David Sedaris

A collection of David's stories of his childhood and into his adulthood, poking gentle fun at himself and his family, for the main part.

An enjoyable and amusing read, if taken with a grain of salt.

For a review, see

Zoo Vet

By David Taylor

David Taylor always knew he wanted to be a wild animal veterinarian. When he started out as a vet, there weren't many vets who specialized in treating wild animals. Most vets considered it to be a side job to their main practice of treating farm animals & pets. But after being in a regular veterinary practice, Taylor took the bold step of focusing solely on wild animals, mostly to be found in zoos. He took an especial interest in marine mammals, notably whales & dolphins.
Even though his greatest interest was in whales and dolphins, he still treated a wide variety of other creatures from snakes to great apes to camels, hippos and any other creature that became ill or injured in a zoo. He even treated humans on occasion!
He had an amazing career that took him on adventures all over the world, seeing, treating and learning about a great variety of creatures.

This was a very enjoyable book as the author takes us along on his adventures among the animals of the world.
However, there is one story where he claims he was driven around a city in France by a chimpanzee on a motorcycle. He claims the chimp obeyed all the traffic laws and maneuvered through city congestion without a hitch. I tried looking it up online and couldn't find anything about such a remarkable animal, which casts doubt on the story. The author pulling the reader's leg? Maybe.