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GG's Blog

My random nattering about all things geek, including family, friends and what I find to be fantastic and fun!

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The Obelisk and The Englishman

Posted on May 11, 2015 at 2:10 PM Comments comments (0)

To me, Egyptology was always the exotic highlight of the late Victorian and early 20th century. I had no idea that it's popularity in England started so much earlier, in the Regency period. And while I've heard about William Bankes, I had no clue that he was a big part of Egyptology's earliest discoveries and documentation.



Luckily, Prometheus Books has published this very detailed account of his life and works written by Professor Dorothy U. Seyler - The Obelisk and The Englishman.


The book chronicles Bankes family life to a small degree, but it's his adventures in Egypt and Syria that are related in great detail by the author. The details include extensive research that provides his travelling companions, his exotic dress, his bouts of illness, and even his exploits and mischiefs getting into areas and ruins where Europeans were not welcomed.


There are many photos and images of his drawings and plans, as well as those made by a crew of artists he took on a second expedition. These really show the reader how incredibly dedicated he was to capturing the history and splendor of the ancient pyramids, temples, statues, and ruins he came across.


Not only does the Professor's research about Bankes read like an adventure novel, but it also reads like a history of GLBT rights, or really the extreme lack thereof, in the Regency period. Bankes' preferences were thought to be criminal during his lifetime. Professor Seyler talks a lot about his very private life and his very close friendship with Lord Byron. I got the impression that Byron, and the dangers that Bankes' lifestyle brought, were a great influence toward his desire to travel far away from England.


He spent very little time in England. Whenever he lived there he felt unwelcome and uncomfortable. He was constantly having to hide his true nature and always under threat of discovery. Even after 7 years exploring and being away from his family, he spent much of his time back in England working on his distant estate in Wales and planning some way to launch a new expedition. Sadly, this great explorer spent the last part of his life in exile from England and his family.


The only issue I had with Professor's Seyler's account was that occcasionally she would be describing a new temple or ruin that Bankes was investigating and she would divert into a discussion, in great detail, about the temple's history, pharaohs of the time, etc., etc. While it was interesting, it broke the flow of her narrative about Bankes.


All in all, this is not only a great account of William Bankes' life, but there is also a lot of information about others involved in exploration and digs in Egypt during the Regency period. There is also some fantastic details about contemporary big names such as the Duke of Wellington, Lord Byron, Keats and more.


If you are at all curious about Egyptology, GLBT during the Regency period, or simply about one of the greatest pioneers of the period, this is a perfect book for you.


You can get it from amazon.ca and any bookstore near you.


All the best, your GG

Happy Octopus Day

Posted on May 10, 2015 at 6:30 AM Comments comments (0)

It's that special day of the year when mother's around the world sit back and soak in the love, and perhaps a little coffee with Bailey's. It's the one day we can all sleep in and not do a single, blessed thing.


Except when your youngest has to work at 5:00 a.m. When she gets up and starts getting ready, I can't sleep again until I know her dad has dropped her off for the day. So of course I'm lying in bed dozing when this person zips into our dark room, throws something at the end of the bed, whispers "happy mother's day" and runs out. I can see some hulking thing in the dark and there's no way I'm going to ignore it and go to sleep, so I turn on the the light, and find this...


Yes, that is how mellow our chihuahua Carmen is. She didn't move.


I laughed and laughed. My youngest knows me so well. The octopus is one of my absolute favourite creatures in the whole world. I was also thrilled that she spent her hard earned money on something so huge and wonderful for her dear old mom (it's a little dusty in here).


I look forward to what her sister has in store for me today, but I can wait, she's still sleeping.


Octavia says "Happy Mother's Day" to all the wonderful moms out there!


All the best, your GG

The Great Madcap

Posted on May 8, 2015 at 5:00 PM Comments comments (0)

You still have time to enjoy some fantastic Latin American films right here in Ottawa. And if you like old classics, then you're going to love The Great Madcap. This film from 1949 is a classic comedy from the 'Golden Age' of Mexican cinema.



When a rich man let's his life get out of control, his family is convinced that in order to help him get better they need to make him think he's lost all the family's money. But not all the family is on board with this plan. They have been mooching off his wealth themselves. Things get really funny when he finds out he's been tricked and the tables are turned


At the beginning of The Great Madcap I really didn't like Ramira or his family. They are all greedy and self-centred, and care only about how much money they can spend. Ramira is also a great lush. He drinks away all his troubles and ignores his business and his one loyal employee, Alfonso who tries to help him. 


As the movie progresses you start to learn the sad tragedy that lead to Ramira's downfall. You also find that his family do love him, they are just people who have taken advantage of their situation. When his other brother, a famous doctor, arrives and finds the state he's in, he brings the family together to help, and they are more than willing to go along to make him better.


I quite enjoyed watching his mooch of a brother and his hypochondriac sister-in-law adjust to being poor, and his daughter's romance with the down to earth electrician/inventor. I also enjoyed the costumes and cars of the period. The costumes run from the traditional to high end fashion. I only wish it had been made in colour. It would have been gorgeous in Technicolour .


The film is definitely a little social commentary, a little romance, and a lot about family. It's a sweet comedy and the ending is classic perfection.


You can see it at the Carleton University River Building Theatre tomorrow evening at 9:00 pm. You can buy tickets online or at the door.


All the best, your GG

Mr. Kaplan

Posted on May 7, 2015 at 7:05 AM Comments comments (0)

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned Ottawa's own Latin American Film Festival. The Festival has been showing fabulous films for the past week and will end this weekend. One film that will be shown this evening is the bitter sweet and funny Mr. Kaplan from Uruguay.



Mr. Kaplan is 76 years old. He is eccentric and feels like he hasn't accomplished anything with his life. When his family decides it's time for him to stop driving and gets an ex-cop named Wilson to drive him where he wants to go it just makes him feel even more worthless.


Wilson too is feeling the same but for very different reasons. He is a good man who's had his family, and really his whole life, taken from him when he covers for his corrupt brother-in-law.


When Mr. Kaplan's granddaughter mentions an odd german running a beach cafe nearby, he and Wilson suddenly have purpose and they hatch a crazy plan to bring this "Nazi" to justice. Of course for these two, nothing seems to go right and it's one blunder after another.


I watched this film with my girls and we all fell in love with it. There were many comments to the characters on the screen. We all hated Wilson's brother-in-law. The girls loved Kaplan's granddaughter. There was also the comment from my oldest, "Wilson, you can do it man". That's how involved we got.


It is a very sweet and sad film. It's a wonderful story of endings, beginnings, and finding purpose in life at any age. It's also a lovely story of taking back the life you want. We all enjoyed Mr. Kaplan very much.


It's playing this evening at 7:00 pm at the River Building Theatre at Carleton University. You can get tickets online or at the door. I highly recommend it.


All the best, your GG

Hexed

Posted on April 30, 2015 at 7:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Michael Alan Nelson is a well known comic book writer and novelist. His notable work includes the comics 28 Days Later and Supergirl. He is best known, however, for his comic book series Hexed. Lucky for fans and new readers alike, Pyr Books and Mr. Nelson are releasing the first novel based on the Hexed comics next week on May 5th!



Luci Jenifer Inacio das Neves, Lucifer for short, isn't your typical teenage girl. She's a thief who survives by stealing bad things from bad people in the magical and mystical underworld hidden within our own. So when a policeman's daughter, Gina, is kidnapped by something he can't explain, Lucifer is the only one who has a chance at getting his daughter back.

 

With the unsolicited help of Gina's boyfriend David, Lucifer's investigation leads to the terrifying truth of Gina's kidnapping. She was taken to an otherworldly dimension known as the Shade by a really nasty creature - one of the Seven Sisters of Witchdown. Against all odds, Lucifer must use every magical tool hidden in her trick bag to bring Gina back before the Sisters sacrifice her for their own dark ends. But the closer Lucifer gets to Gina, the closer she and David get. Lucifer must risk her life by confronting demons, witches, and the cruel demigoddess controlling her destiny - all to save the one girl who stands in the way of Lucifer's first love.


Not having read the comic book series, although now I really want to, this is a great introduction to the Hexed universe and the characters. Lucifer is a fantastic kick ass young woman with smarts, cunning, and the best survival skills I've ever encountered. The demigoddess who has hexed her, The Harlot, is The Keeper of Secrets, all secrets, of all time. While she's quite mad, and her temper is terrifying, I adore her style at handling patronizing jerks and unruly situations. I also enjoy her dry as the Sahara sense of humour. I don't want to give too much away for readers who are new to the Hexed universe, but you'll love the interactions between Lucifer and The Harlot, and appreciate it even more when you find out their connection.


I quite enjoyed the whole story, but there is one aspect that I'm conflicted about. On the one hand I felt like the whole falling in love part was pandering to the young adult audience. On the other, however, it made some sense in this first novel to show how truly dark and lonely Lucifer's life is, and how very young she really is. I found that if I looked at the descriptions of her infatuation with David and he with Lucifer in that train of thought, I could stomach lines like "David looked at her with his half-smile that Lucifer found so incredibly irresistable", and others much worse.


Even with the saccharine sections, I really enjoyed Hexed. I would love to see more books in this series, and I'd love this as a movie too. Lucifer really reminds me of Buffy. Joss Whedon would have to direct the movie to make it perfect. I think this is a great book for anyone interested in the dark side of magic, and a female character who can take care of herself ... and everyone else around her too.


As of May 5th, you can get your own copy at amazon.ca and local bookstores.


All the best, your GG


Evensong

Posted on April 28, 2015 at 10:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Local author Krista Walsh has taken the true fact that a writer gets very involved in their story, and she has turned it into every writer's inner fantasy in Evensong, book one of the Meratis Trilogy.



The story revolves around author Jeff Powell. He's finishing up the last novel in a long and successful book series. He is at the point where he is done with this storyline and these characters and he's ready to move on to something new. He has been writing this book as a grand finale, with huge disasters for the characters to deal with, and some endings even he's not comfortable with, but he wants to give the fans their money's worth.


Jeff finally decides he needs a break and passes out on his bed, but when he wakes up he is terrified to find that he's in his own novel. For quite a while he thinks he's dreaming or going mad. He can't comprehend that he has been summoned into the world of his imagination by a spell he didn't write. Jeff also has a hard time with the fact that his characters don't particularly like how he's been messing with their lives. The craziest part of all is that their lives go far beyond what he's written in his series.


I love the idea of a story truly having a life of its own. I like that there are people in this place that the author didn't write or knew about at all.  I really like that the main character doesn't love the guy the author wrote she should, and that his great enchantress is a sweet woman with a loving husband and a number of kids. It very much brings to mind the old saying "don't judge a book by its cover". I also like the conversations he has with his characters theorizing how much influence he has with their lives, or not.


I also enjoy Jeff's slow realization that what is happening to him is real, especially when he gets a taste of being back home before the spell fails miserably. And thank you Krista Walsh for NOT making Jeff's time in his story all bunnies and fun. He has a really rough and nasty time of it. I don't think any authors I know would fantasize those parts of the story.


The only thing I didn't appreciate about this novel was that the big baddie Raul didn't get enough face time. He is talked up until he shows up, then the reader gets only a small taste of how nasty he is. Afterward, he is vaguely mentioned and is far from the real action until the very end. Of course, this is only the first book in the trilogy, so there's hope for more Raul in the continuation.


You can get your own copy of Evensong, and the rest of the trilogy as well, at amazon.ca and barnesandnoble.com or look for the author at various events around Ottawa.


All the best, your GG

Local Living History

Posted on April 24, 2015 at 10:35 AM Comments comments (2)

My husband Pat and I were looking for something new, something we could do together now that our girls are older and doing more on their own or with friends. I love the history of every day people and Pat loves military history, so living history, aka re-enacting the War of 1812 was a perfect fit. Over the past few months we have been preparing ourselves to travel far and wide to attend events with our regiment the XIX Light Dragoons and other friends located in the Montreal and Niagara regions.


During our research we found, to our great and happy surprise, that there are also groups right here in the Ottawa region. Most often these groups are military in nature, but there is even a group for those who portray civilians. I was quite pleased to find out that a lady involved in this group that I spoke to at length last fall (I even took photos of her kitchen and cooking area) is based right here in Ottawa.


We also found out about a local regiment - the 100th Regiment of Foot - and this past week we had the opportunity to spend some time and get to know them better. After attending a practice with them, where we finally got to try on our entire outfits (Pat's jacket, hat and accessories are part of the 100th Regiment attire) we joined the Regiment on Sunday for our local Pipefest parade with many pipe bands and dancers celebrating Tartan Day and helping the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation.


                  



(photo by the 100th Regiment)


Not only were the 100th Regiment involved, but as you can see from the different coloured jackets, there was also Dan Williams of the XIX Light Dragoons, and Jim Mullin of the Glengarry Light Infantry Fencibles. After the parade, we wandered down to the Bytown Museum, and while the soldiers were working on drills, I got to take wonderful photos of them.


This is my favourite.

Take out the car and bicycle and you could step back in time.


Later in the week, I was able to help out at the 100th Regiment's table at the annual Ottawa Regional Heritage Fair held at the War Museum.


With me is William Sinka, one of the head organizers of the Regiment.


The Heritage Fair was wonderful. It's been going on for the past 13 years, and I'd never heard of it (why is this event not advertised more widely). There are two parts to the Fair. This was for the younger grades. The kids were fantastic and their displays were amazing. Two of my favourites involved our time period (War of 1812).


This young lady did some serious research and even made her own bonnet.


These young men were talking about medicine and surgery during that period.

They demonstrated a hand amputation. It was brilliant!


I hope both of these displays won something. If their parents, family or friends see this, please do let me know. (Update: I've been informed that both won awards. Congratulations!)


This past week was a great introduction into our local Ottawa history, those involved in living history, and the fun of being a part of it. If you want to get involved with our local living history the 100th Regiment is looking for recruits, and so is the Glengarry Light Infantry Fencibles.


And by the way...did you know that Nepean was founded in 1792. I had no clue it was that old. I love learning new things.


All the best, your GG


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