Saturday, May 30, 2009
Next Week's Ten Word Challenge will be: swashbuckler, heads-up, dry martini, recovery, jungle gym, whiskers, bathing suit, spade, circular reasoning, abrasive
The Mini Challenge: butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, stagnation, chart, star crossed lovers, apricot brandy
The hooded man hurried through the alleys of the old city, moving steadily as the dark of evening descended. He ducked suddenly through a doorway and entered a room filled with everything but the kitchen sink, all of it the detritus of past civilizations. “Angelo!” he called. “I’m back.” A door in the back, almost indistinguishable in the hazy darkness, opened. A tall giant of a man emerged. He made an odd picture. He was wearing a long red gown, was heavily bearded, and his shoulders served as perches for two crows, one on each side. “Were you noticed?” Angelo asked. “I’m afraid so. It’s my fault for being so close to the site,” the hooded man answered. “Where was your common sense?” Angelo inquired, an eyebrow perched high like a look-out. “I know -- I’m sorry. Those old ruins are the love of my life,” said the hooded man.
“No one followed me,” he continued.” I made sure of that. I came the long way.” “Well,
Angelo conceded, “it doesn’t matter now. How much time do you think we have?” The hooded man considered, and answered, “Red, Blue and Silver were all there, but they have much further to go to report and receive instruction. So, I think perhaps 3 hours?”
“Alright, you’ll have to find a different look for when you return. You can wear one of those uniforms.” Angelo gestured to a rack of dusty uniforms representing many countries. All of them were discards from colonial powers who had once occupied their country. “Those aren’t even current!” the hooded man objected. “Just combine enough pieces to look smart, and act like you’re in charge. These idiots are so full of pre-colonial patriotism, they won’t be able to tell whether you’re a military official or a meals on wheels provider,” Angelo rejoined. “Now tell me about the parasites at the dig. Have they figured out what the figure is?”
The hooded man moved over to the uniforms. As he started rummaging through them, he talked back over his shoulder to the giant. “I don’t think so. That lead excavator was practically salivating at the sculpture. They’ve left guards on it for the night.”
Angelo directed, “then find a uniform and you can go back tonight. Sound official and convince them they must show you that the find is still intact. Make lots of noise about foreigners trying to steal our cultural treasures.” The hooded man turned toward him. “I don’t have any identification or credentials to get closer to the site!” he exclaimed. “Bah!” cried Angelo. “Those cretins won’t be able to tell that from just looking at you. Flash a library card and they’ll let you in!” He handed the hooded man a small pen. “This has a camera in it. Use it to take photos of the sculpture. We must be the first to have them. I’ll alert the crew to begin formulation. Time is of the essence.”
The hooded man sighed, and put the pen in his pocket. “Angelo,” he began to ask, “must I wear the hood? I would like some other name in this story than the hooded man!” “Well,” the big man began. “I don’t think you should wear the hood with a uniform. Okay. You can take it off.” The hooded man smiled in relief. “That was getting quite old!”
The next morning at dawn Dr. Hill began his morning walk to the site. As he passed the shopkeepers, he greeted them. Many of them responded with a smirk. Dr. Hill wasn’t quite sure what was being conveyed by those looks. He decided to cut through the market to grab a newspaper, certain that the smirks meant some foreigner had done something grievous again. As he entered the market square he looked around him in astonishment. All over the market place replicas of the sculpture from the site were on sale! “How could this have happened?” he wondered aloud. “Could it be connected with the hooded man that I saw watching us yesterday?” One of the vendors took pity on him. “No, Dr. Hill. Not the hooded man. Perhaps the man with the unusual uniform though.”
Friday, May 29, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
If you know what Towel Day is, and in fact, just recently celebrated it (or considered doing so), you'll probably know what Douglas C. Adams book is on Amazon this week at the Friends of Reston Regional Library site. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a classic science fiction book full of humor and whimsy. You probably have a copy, but what about someone graduating from high school in a couple of weeks? Doesn't that person need something whimsical to take to college? This copy is a leather bound deluxe edition, in excellent condition, for $60.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
World War II: OSS Tragedy in Slovakia by Jim Downs (2002): This description of the contents of this book is from Amazon.com. Our copy is as unread, and is $40.
Identifying drug trafficking as an examplar of the Gray Area Phenomena--the impact of non-state players and organizations on a post-colonial, multi-tribal world--the author brings a currency to his work using Open Source Intelligence as the vehicle by which the drug trafficking world may be assessed and analyzed. Sharing the Secrets offers an "Intelligence" for the new world disorder that enables decision-makers to recognize and define the new threats and suggests how realistic policy and strategy might be evaluated and re-cast. This work will be of particular interest to policy-makers, law enforcement and Intelligence professionals, and scholars as it "opens the book to the right page" and provides for the first time the stubborn facts that they may have been neglecting in the war on drugs. Sharing the Secrets is a body of descriptive, proscriptive, and prescriptive material that will enable serious public discusion to begin on national drug policy and strategy.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Monday - Wed (all branches) 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.
The new schedule follows:
The Board of Trustees has also approved the following fines and established new fees; the new fees and fines will go into effect beginning July 1:
- The daily charge for overdue materials will be 30 cents for both adult and children's materials
- A charge of $1 will be assessed to customers who do not have their library cards with them but would like to check out materials, place holds or conduct other transactions, but
- A guest pass will be required ($2) for visitors, non library card holders or those who do not have their library cards with them to use the public computers
Friday, May 22, 2009
This is the second week of a "Saturday Puzzle" for the Friends blog. For the foreseeble future (subject to pre-emption by FRRL business) the blogger will post a word challenge for our devotees. Let us know what you think!
It is bittersweet to watch my son grow into a man. I know it is God’s grand design to take him from snuggly, giggly little towhead to an adult who can think ahead and plan his future. I miss the snuggly, giggly one though. I sigh because in the modern temple of commerce it seems he is doomed to seeking a profession that will provide sufficient means for him to provide for a family as well as pay for the economic missteps of his ancestors. As his shoulders broaden, his voice deepens and his gait lengthens, I search for the mischievous grin that lurks under the surface, hoping to see humor retained as one of his great gifts to others. My husband and I try to guide him gently in his choices, fully realizing that this is his own sojourn. We can offer him the benefit of our experiences, but he will encounter his own headaches, and will develop his own aspirin. Will he discover a better way of doing things—one that changes lives for the better? Will he slice the sky like a knife in the jet fighter he aspires to? I pray that he will know the joy of fatherhood and that God graces him with a supportive, loving, wife and many children (okay, that part is for me). He jumps on his bike to head to school, his lanky frame draped over the mechanical transportation, his helmet firmly in place. To be a mother is to be left. Each day’s parting is a sweet sorrow as he comes home from school a little bit more of ‘out there’ and a little bit less of ‘in here.’ Ah well, we’ve come a long way from when he wanted to grow up to be a puppy.
Dr. Hill, the eminent archaeologist, was musing about the bad fortune he’d had this time out. One stupid accident after another, weather that seemed to anticipate when he needed the opposite of what it was going to provide, and so far, nothing to show for the thousands of dollars invested by his university and private venture capitalists. Working in a career field plagued with Indiana Jones wanna-be’s, and surrounded by superstitious field workers, Hill was beginning to feel twitchy himself. A hooded man had shown up each day at sunrise, watched them all day, and disappeared each evening with the sunset. The scientist thought the man might be an albino, protecting his skin and eyes. The hooded man never spoke, just watched. It was creepy. “Dr. Hill! Come to see!” he heard a call. Stepping over the small moat created by the spring rains, Hill approached the trench with curiosity. His Indian assistant was almost quivering with the excitement of the find. “Sir, we believe the piece is still intact, and sir, it is marble!” Arjen said. Hill got down on his knees in front of the curiously shaped piece. It was the size of his wife’s bichon friese dog and probably more intelligent, even if it was made of marble. The item hung, half exposed, from the side of the trench. It was bulbous in some areas, sheared flat as if cut by a laser in others, and covered with symbols that were unlike anything he’d seen in his thirty years digging. Hill ran his hand over one of the shapes and murmured, “Now what’s that supposed to mean?” He turned to Arjen, “when did you discover it?” “At about 7 p.m. yesterday evening,” the young man replied. He went on, “Complying with sound first principles, and your explicit orders, we left it in situ, with a guard on it all night until you could return to see it this morning.” Hill smiled, “Very good. As you know, the key thing is to preserve the site!” Now let’s get something up to protect our work from prying eyes..er…the weather.” The workers scrambled to get a curtain rigged as Hill continued to examine the artifact. Nearby, the hooded man melted into the onlookers, and disappeared.
Under the surface, Angelina seethed with emotion. She knew that the design was ostentatious. Actually, outrageous was the better description. The grand design of the edifice lent itself to the worst of what outsiders believed Hollywood to represent. The client had insisted on a moat around the property, a subterranean passage (which in actuality was just a trench lined with bright fuchsia curtains), and ended at a massive entrance door adorned with carvings that were faintly reminiscent of Indian pictographs but without any apparent meaning. Worse, the client insisted on the doorkeeper position being occupied by his albino half-brother. They looked enough alike that visitors did a double take, believing they were seeing the negative print of the owner of this temple to decadence. As Angelina prepared for the final installation of a particularly hideous water fountain in the atrium, it was difficult remember that the key thing in the design had been to please the client, not make the designer heave. “If only,” Angelina began, “if only I had been able to prevail on sound first principles, we might not be in THIS position!” “What’s that supposed to mean?” asked her assistant. Angelina, not noticing that the client was hovering anxiously in the shadows, answered foolishly, ‘in design, less is often more. We want people to come here and be blessed with a feeling of serenity, not feel doomed to an aspirin-inducing experience!” A shriek and dramatic collapse alerted Angelina to the fact that once again, her mouth had run away with her good sense and she had articulated an unkindness. As everyone rushed around to tend the client, Angelina began to pack her gear to leave. She knew that she’d never get another normal design commission again, and now because of her mouth, she’d probably never get any abnormal ones either!
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Monday, May 18, 2009
A Book Review
The setting of the story, Venice, is seen through the eyes of a resident rather than a tourist or researcher. This makes it gritty and real. Except for the opera house, the story largely avoids the tourist attractions, churches and art. Instead, it focuses on regular people and how their lives intersect with Brunetti as he pursues his quarry. I will be forever grateful to the author for introducing me to a wonderful new word in her description of Venice at night. Who would ever guess that a gondola could be numinous? (Look it up!)
This is an older book, first published in hardback in 1992, and paperback in 2002 by Perennial Dark Alley, an imprint of HarperCollins. This copy was acquired at the Spring 09 Semi-Annual Used Book Sale for $2. With a great mystery, a great character and an absolutely brilliant resolution, Death at La Fenice was well worth the price.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
The words for this week's ten word challenge are: Green goddess, shampoo, filibuster, please and thank you, Operation Marigold, throw pillows, up the creek without a paddle, spandex, ubiquitous, wedding ring.
Mini Challenge: Skittles, lamb chops, stingray, chagrin, clever devil
It all started one day when a young Senate page named Phyllis ordered a salad with Green Goddess dressing. “Why not?” she thought. “Back in Dayton I would have never tried something new like this!” A sparkle deep in the romaine caught her eye. Stealthily digging deeper, she was surprised to see a foreign object nestled in the bowl. Understanding the deeper meaning, she glanced around the restaurant, hoping that her actions were unnoticed. She muttered to herself, “my mother always taught me to say please and thank you, but I doubt she envisioned this scenario!” What to do? Leaning back into the throw pillows on the banquette seating, Phyllis pondered the implication. That late night operation Marigold had involved her in, the one with the chef and the banjo player at the National Zoo, was creating complications. Realizing that items such as the one she had found in her salad are not ubiquitous in Washington, D.C. for young women, she pondered keeping it a secret. If she was caught by the sender, it would take her on a path from single Senate page to life in the suburbs. But if she kept it and hocked it, she’d have a nice bit of cash to get her kayak back on the Potomac. She would no longer be up the creek without a paddle. Motioning to the spandex-clad, big-haired waitress, Phyllis momentarily gagged on the wave of herbal shampoo that ran before the waitress like a bow wave. “Yes ma’am? Did you want something?” the girl asked. Phyllis managed to choke out the words, “I’d like to change my order to a Filibuster Burger.” The waitress started to clear the salad. “No!” Phyllis stopped her. “I still want the salad; I just want something more to go with it! And please apologize to the chef for me!” As soon as the waitress went through the doors to the kitchen to put the additional order in, Phyllis threw a $20 on the table, scooped the wedding ring out of the bowl, thrust it deep into her pocket, and headed for the boathouse.
Skittles wasn’t really a bad stingray as stingrays go. He just liked to scare people. They were the ones who had given him the stupid name. They even posted it over the tank at the National Aquarium where he lived. “Skittles the Stingray” it said. All the other stingrays, and even some of the sharks, liked to tease him about it. “So what color are you today?” they’d ask. Or, “what flavor would you be if I bit you on the tail?” they’d taunt. He had just suffered a vicious bout of teasing from them and was thinking about it as he circled the tank. To be honest, he was dwelling on it, nursing it into a little burn of anger, letting the anger fuel his swimming speed. As he swam under the overhead walkway he saw a small child leaning over the tank. Rolling in toward the child, Skittles winked. The little boy smiled delightedly. He pulled on the hand of the adult with him, but she was too busy working an electronic device to pay attention. The boy leaned farther. Skittles looped around and sailed by a second time, winking twice this time. The little boy pulled free of the adult and clapped his hands as his eyes tried to follow the stingray’s path. His fat little arms looked like luscious lamb chops to the clever devil. The third time around Skittles increased his speed and used the bow wave from a passing shark to increase his upward thrust. As he broke the surface, ready to whip the boy with his tail, the adult suddenly looked up, and much to Skittles’ chagrin, grabbed the boy back from the edge. As Skittles sailed through the air and landed with a belly flop back in the tank, he let out a blue sour raspberry, which caused all the fish in the tank to break out in hysterical fish laughter. The Aquarium had to shut down temporarily as the humans investigated the massive bubbling in the tank. As the little boy looked back, he saw a rainbow of taste briefly suspended over the tank…and marveled.
The boys outdoor club members assembled for the beginning of Operation Marigold. “Listen up!” the leader cried. “You need to assemble back here in exactly 8 hours with all the items on the scavenger hunt list. If someone helps you, be sure to say please and thank you! None of these items are ubiquitous so you’ll have to be clever devils to get them all. If you fail, the entire group is up the creek without a paddle!” One boy raised his hand, “Sir, when will we have lunch and what will we eat?” The leader roared, “Skittles! You’ll eat Skittles! And if you’re lucky, we’ll have lamb chops for dinner!” Much to the boy’s chagrin the leader added, “and thank you, Simon, for focusing on your belly!” Another boy timidly raised his hand. “Sir, what’s the prize for winning Operation Marigold?” “That’s classified, Filibuster!” answered the leader. (That boy’s parents had conceived him during a prolonged stall of action in the Senate when they both worked on the Hill). “Finally, there is a significant penalty for coming back early! Do not be here before 1800 hours! Now get going!” the leader yelled as he climbed into his Corvette Stingray. He carefully removed his wedding ring and adjusted his spandex shorts. The boys wouldn’t be back for eight hours. Plenty of time to shower and shampoo, go to his tent, fluff the throw pillows, and await the Green Goddess, Marigold herself.
This is fun -- try it!