“A Jury of Her Peers,” by “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”

Yesterday, I assigned the short story, “A Jury of Her Peers,” by Susan Glaspell to my English 101 class to read. So, in an experiment, I told them before the discussion day to “Google” it, because in college, that’s not cheating- it’s called research.

Today, I did what I asked them to do, and found some very interesting results. The first two results were predictable enough: A Jury of Her Peers — Full Text and A Jury of Her Peers – Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia. The third though was a bit of a find and no mistake. I wonder just how closely the Alfred Hitchcock Presents adaptation of the story follows the original one-act play called “Trifles” that Susan Glaspell wrote the year before the short story version was published. First the news articles, then the play, then the short story- all by Susan Glaspell. And now, “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” “A Jury of Her Peers”:

(Don’t mind the first two minuates. The story is there. Bad editing.)

“Daddy, Why Can’t We Build an Airplane in the Garage?”

Day 339: “Daddy, Why Can’t We Build an Airplane in the Garage?”

I remember asking my father how to build a car. I remember thinking that the answer was utterly boring, confusing, and that if they managed to build a Matchbox Car at that factory, they would be lucky. But that was back in 1980-something. I do remember that a few days later, we went to the public library in Danville, Indiana, and found a nice glossy book, the sort that hold down houses during tornados, and the process became a lot clearer. Today, I basically did the same thing, with YouTube instead.

We watched a couple different ones, but this one got that household endorsement because of the industrial painting sequence at the end. Such is life with a practicing painter and sculptor in the house, and a six-year old enthusiast for everything.

Boeing Flight-Manufacturing” on YouTube:

After watching this, our eldest finally conceded that our garage really was not big enough to build a plane in. Of course, he started in on how we just needed a bigger garage. Continue reading ““Daddy, Why Can’t We Build an Airplane in the Garage?””

“Strata,” by Terry Pratchett

Strata,” by Terry Pratchett

“Strata,” by Terry Pratchett: Text provided by Transworld Publishers, a division of the Random House Group Limited, and the audiobook version provided by ISIS Publishing Ltd., read by Stephen Briggs.

Reader’s Note: Just because the Review is a “no plot spoiler,” does not mean that all the links are of the same mind. Wikipedia links to the books themselves, or characters in the book, are notorious for being plot spoilers. Be warned!

Stephen Briggs and Terry Pratchett have been working very closely for several years, particularly since the onset of Pratchett’s Alzheimer’s disease. Stephen Briggs has helped in the physical production of the last few manuscripts produced by Pratchett, particularly in typing the manuscripts as Pratchett has continued to lose the effective use of his hands. Briggs has also produced on his own account The Streets of Ankh-Morpork in 1993, as well as The Discworld Mapp, A Tourist Guide to Lancre and Death’s Domain. Briggs has also written The Discworld Companion, published in 1995, and updated in 1998 and 2003.

Most particularly, Stephen Briggs has recorded, or rerecorded, virtually every published book that Terry Pratchett has published, starting with The Carpet People in 1971, and most recently at the time of this blogging Dodger in late 2012. This is mildly unfortunate as I find other readers to have a wider range of distinctive voices for character differentiation. But that is not to say, or even imply, the Stephen Briggs is a bad reader- far from it. For what Briggs may lack in variety, he more then makes up for with a complete understanding of the characters, and the world in which they operate. And Brigg’s voice is clear, relatively accent free, and one that will not bore the listener. Having listened to several volunteer recordings from sources such as Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic, LibriVox.org, and BooksShouldBeFree.com, I can assure you, that last point is more important than you might think. While I might prefer one reader to another, my view is that Stephen Briggs’ the rendering is good, solid, and well worth the investment. I doubt that most listeners will be disappointed.

Strata, by Terry Pratchett, published in 1981, is billed as a comedic science fiction novel, although I find it to be a hybrid of straight science fiction, and satire. While the novel pulls together major themes of science fiction dominating from the 1950s through the 1970s, Pratchett also weaves in elements of classical fiction such as One Thousand and One Nights (Arabic: كتاب ألف ليلة وليلة‎), Midlevel Christian history, Celtic and Arthurian Legend, and the meaning of the creation of man “…in His own image” (Genesis 1:27), without directly referencing any of the above in great detail. Those familiar with these subjects though will recognize them when they appear, and I doubt that a lack of familiarity with the same subjects will hinder the enjoyment. Pratchett writes to entertain first, with literary merit taking a distant back seat. So while Pratchett may be Guilty of Literature, he is certainly not above telling a fart joke, especially if it is also implicitly bawdy.

The novel opens with a very telling quote:

“I met a mine foreman who has a piece of coal with a 1909 gold sovereign embedded in it. I saw an ammonite, apparently squashed in the fossil footprint of a sandal.
There is a room in the basement of the Natural History Museum which they keep locked. Among other oddities in there are the tyrannosaurus with a wristwatch and the Neanderthal skull with gold fillings in three teeth.
What are you going to do about it?”
–Dr. Carl Untermond, “The Overcrowded Eden.”

If you stop to pounder this quote, which I must admit, I never did until I started to write this review, or more precisely, until a few seconds prior to composing this sentence, you will find a key to the entire mystery of this story. As Paul Griner once asked his creative writing students; “Did any of you bother to look at the quote? Whenever an author takes the time to quote another author, even a fictitious author, it’s important- even if it turns out later to be misdirection.” I would also mention that Terry Pratchett loves puns, and is extraordinarily good at constructing them.

Continue reading ““Strata,” by Terry Pratchett”