Ngaio Marsh (pronounced “NYE-oh”) is one of my favorite mystery authors; and she’s striking because she’s so quietly different than her contemporaries from the 1930’s.  Her sleuth, Chief-Inspector Roderick Alleyn of New Scotland Yard, is a gentleman like Lord Peter Wimsey; but he’s neither as whimsical nor as damaged as Lord Peter (we gather that Alleyn had some formative experiences in the Great War that led him to leave the Foreign Office for the CID, but they don’t come into… Read more

We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here. Given intellect, says Thomas, God must also have volition: He must be able to will, to choose: We perceive, further, that God must have volition. For He understands Himself, who is perfect good, as is clear from all that has been hitherto established. But good as apprehended is necessarily loved, and love operates through the will. Consequently God must have volition. In Thomas’ anthropology, choice… Read more

‘He’s a dear little man,’ said Lady Alleyn emphatically. ‘The nicest possible little man.’ ‘Not so little nowadays. He’s very plump and wears a cloak and a sombrero like G.K.C.’ — Ngaio Marsh, Death in a White Tie I’m quoting this not so much because I like the prose particularly, but because it highlights how well known G.K. Chesterton really was in England back in the 1930’s when this was written: well enough known that Marsh could refer to him… Read more

So I’m listening to a sermon, or reading a blog post, or reading a book, and the speaker or writer or author says something like, “…the person who wrote Matthew’s Gospel,” instead of simply saying “Matthew”. Why? Or someone will say, “Of course, it’s essential to understand what was going on in Matthew’s community while the Gospel was being assembled.” Again, why? This is a pet peeve of mine: the attitude that the manner in which the sacred scriptures came… Read more

After the disappointment of Dinner at Deviant’s Palace I waited with muted anticipation for Tim Power’s next book; perhaps The Anubis Gates had been a fluke.  And then, two long years later, came On Stranger Tides, a book about pirates in the Caribbean that inspired the Monkey Island series of point-and-click adventure games as well as (much later) the fourth of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Like The Anubis Gates, On Stranger Tides riffs on actual historical figures and… Read more

We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here. Next, Thomas shows that God must be identical to His intellect.  This is a difficult point; it almost seems obviously wrong.  God also has will, and love; if He is simply His intellect, how does that leave room for the rest of Him? The problem here is that our mental model of most things is the machine.  If you think of a car, you know… Read more

Duo Gadjo is a jazz duet; I’ve mostly encountered their versions of classic French jazz tunes and songs, including “Sous Le Ciel De Paris”, which features the pair on guitar along with a properly musette-style accordion. It’s a recording that makes me happy: But, of course, part of the reason it makes me happy is that the tune reminds me of this: Professor Fate’s theme from The Great Race, one of my favorite movies, seems to be a rather drunken… Read more

The cub, as Hambledon had called Gordon Palmer, was seventeen years old, dreadfully sophisticated, and entirely ignorant of everything outside the sphere of his sophistication. — Ngaio Marsh, Vintage Murder The cub in question is an insufferable young upperclass lout out on a world tour in the mid-1930’s. It’s the unknown unknowns that get you at that age. ____ photo credit: Remington Portable via photopin (license) Read more

So a relative of mine was at the mall, and heard a father say to two very small crying children who wanted to see the Easter Bunny, Birds and reptiles lay eggs! Bunnies don’t! We don’t support the Easter Bunny, how many times can I say this! I can understand not wanting to stand in line for the Easter bunny, especially with two little ones who were probably over-tired already, so I don’t think this dad is a monster for… Read more

This week we continue our tour of Tim Powers’ works with his fifth novel, Dinner at Deviant’s Palace. Like his second novel, Epitaph in Rust, Dinner at Deviant’s Palace takes place in a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles, but a much more fully realized Los Angeles than in the earlier work. Greg Rivas is a well-known musician in this future L.A., the originator and best known performer of a style of music called “pelican gunning” (a “pelican” is a lute-like instrument). And… Read more

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