The old-skool mechanical whirring that’s beginning to fill your ears is the sound of the quantum engines of our in-house time machine kicking into gear to hurl you backwards over the last 100 years of literature.
That’s literature, as opposed to books. Yeah right. Whatever.
One cover from each of the decades over the last century is yours for the viewing, along with three possible answers. Your job is to pick which title belongs to which cover. Answers at the bottom.
Good luck.You got this. Some of them at least!
THE VANISHING HALF by Brit Bennett
THE MIRROR AND THE LIGHT by Hilary Mantel
ClOUD CUCKOO LAND by Anthony Doerr
FREEDOM by Jonathan Franzen
THE GOLDFINCH by Donna Tartt
AMERICANAH by Chimamanda Adichie
CLOUD ATLAS by David Mitchell
THE LOVELY BONES by Alice Sebold
LIFE OF PI by Yann Martel
HOLES by Louis Sachar
JURASSIC PARK by Michael Crichton
THE POISONWOOD BIBLE by Barbara Kingsolver
THE BFG by Roald Dahl
THE POLAR EXPRESS by Chris Van Allsburg
WE’RE GOING ON A BEAR HUNT by Michael Rosen
THE LORAX by Dr. Seuss
THE LIVING END by Stanley Elkin
WATERSHIP DOWN by Richard Adams
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Dune by Frank Herbert
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
BREAKFAST AT TIFFANYS by Truman Capote
FAHRENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury
ON THE BEACH by Nevil Shute
NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR by George Orwell
A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN by Betty Smith
THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER by Carson McCullers
THE GRAPES OF WRATH by John Steinbeck
BRAVE NEW WORLD by Aldous Huxley
MARY POPPINS by P.L. Travers
THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald
WINNIE THE POOH by A.A. Milne
THE MYSTERIOUS AFFAIR AT STYLES by Agatha Christie
And for those of us who didn’t do so well, can I guess what you’re now thinking?
History is a story with the most interesting characters and plotlines ever brought to mind.
History satisfies that desire to ‘know’. History is neat, packaged and explained. People like that.
History delivers insights and thrills in a narrative with tentwentythirtyforty a hundred times the sting of mere fiction because you know it actually happened. Most of it anyway.
While looking back with hindsight and making sense of things from afar, history is a chance for the average mortal to gain the wisdom of a god.
Current events are super interesting as well, I’ll grant you that. But history is like the prequels – that in a number of ways, are actually better than the original.
So – ready to travel back in time? There won’t be any swirling lights or tunnels. No Tardis’s or DeLoreans. What there will be is photos. Really, really interesting photos. Come see…
A five year old Peruvian girl named Lina Medina gave birth to a 6 pound (2.7kg) baby boy she named Gerado (after the doctor who delivered him) becoming the youngest mother in the world.
The identity of the father was never revealed, though her own father was taken into custody on suspicions he might have caused the pregnancy. He was later released as there was a lack of evidence.
Baby Geraldo grew up healthy, although he passed away aged 40 from bone marrow disease. Lina herself is now aged 88.
Charles Schultz, the creator of the original ‘Peanuts’ comic strip, thought it was important his youthful characters were brought to life by actual child voices.
And while we’re at it, may as well throw in the adult voice behind ‘Snoopy’ as well…
Harley Davidson created a mobile booking cage back in the 1920’s. Officers were able to detain and imprison unlawful citizens and then shuttle them around as they went. The motorcycle was called the ‘Black Maria’. What the prisoner and police officer conversed about en-route is anyone’s guess.
Future ‘Queen of Crime’ novelist Agatha Christie(1890 – 1976) served as a nurse during WWI. She is pictured here in Torquay, England.
What the? No bones about it, this is next level eerie. Haven’t seen anything around like this today. Kind of glad I haven’t.
Long before audiobooks, digital libraries or streaming services there were mobile libraries. This one is pictured in London. For the pricely sum of 2 cents a week, you could rent a book from one of these book back shelves. Chiropractors were rumored to take a particular interest in the business.
Alice Elizabeth Doherty was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota U.S.A in 1887. She lived until the age of 46 with the rare condition known as hypertrichosis lanuginosa. Alice was exhibited by her parents as a sideshow attraction from as early as the age of two.
We now use alarm clocks and mobile phones to get us up in the morning, but people needed to be on time for work before these devices were created. “Knocker-Uppers” walked about with long sticks, knocking on bedroom windows to ensure their company’s worker’s got out of bed on time.
They received a few extra pennies if they remained at the window, persistently knocking until they were sure the person was up and ready to start their day.
The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake left a visible gap all along the San Andreas Fault line, which apparently can still be seen today.
If you think your job is boring, check this out. Back in the 1920’s a new service was started to keep people up to date with the times. Time operators had to announce the time every 15 seconds. Later, recordings took over and the service was… timed out.
Frank Lentini was born in Italy in 1889 with three legs and four feet. The genetic rarity is known as being born with a parasitic twin. This is when twins begin to develop during a pregnancy but do not separate. Frank joined Ringling Brothers Circus as a sideshow entertainer. Everyone has to earn a living.
It looks like a bike a superhero might ride. Ok, maybe not the color but definitely everything else – art deco style curves included. Fast forward 77 years and ‘Back to the Future’ style, you get this –
If any of this may have whet your appetite to take a leisurely cruise aboard the SS Nostalgia, hosted by your Captain Arthur Fonzarelli, then I guess you’d better click HERE.
Goldfish. Budgies. Guinea pigs. Even had a goose named ‘Waddles’ for a while.
Recently, the stars aligned so perfectly their luminous night sky memo could barely be ignored. It was time to bring new life into the realm. Not just any life but one born in a fur tuxedo and full of velvety mischief. Cute on a whole new level, in other words. And with hedgehog paws to boot!
This… ladies and gentlemen… is ‘Teddy’.
I’ll admit I’ve partaken of the odd bit of tut-tutting in the past, aimed at bloggers who go on – all Facebook–like – about their pets. Possibly you know the type I mean.
These well-intentioned, overly-smitten urban campers insist on regularly treating their readers to out-of-focus, ho-hum couch ‘n kitchen shots of their adored truffles – with the requisite accompanying ‘hilarious’ tales – with all the gushing enthusiasm of a tabloid journalist spilling forth the latest thread-bare Kadashians scoop.
Did somebody say ‘gushing’ ? Yes they did.
So what’s my excuse?
Well, there’s two, actually. First is, this is a once-off. Really. You won’t hear about ‘Teddy’ again. Not for some time at least. Possibly not until Disney make a sequel to its 2008 canine movie BOLT. And who knows when, if ever, that’ll be. (Ok, I could have said a sequel to TURNER & HOOCH but would anyone besides myself and Tom Hanks know what I was talking about?)
Second, this is no ordinary dog. No ordinary puppy. This is TEDDY. The one and only. (Ok, he may have come from a litter of 13 but like a little doggy snowflake, there’s still just the one ‘Teddy’. Right?)
If you knew of the circumstances that were behind the decision to welcome him into our home – as a few people do – you’d understand – in a ‘circle of life’ kind of way, why he’s so special. That’s a story for another day.
OPERATION PUPPY HUNT kicked off, like 9 out of 10 things seem to these days, with a Google search. Many Google searches, in fact. We wanted a child-friendly breed of dog that didn’t shed hair. Cavoodlestick both those applicant boxes.
Next it was off to a number of pet shops. We eventually linked up with a private reputable breeder – a friend of a friend. It was a long drive from our house and when we eventually returned home empty handed one weekend after somehow getting lost (GPS didn’t count on multi road closures encircling the residence we were aiming for) we wondered if the whole thing wasn’t meant to be.
Encouraged not to give up by some very supportive folk at my work place, we tried again a fortnight later. This time we landed smack bang in the middle of puppy heaven. The one we would eventually name ‘Teddy’ was definitely the shy guy of the litter. But we liked that.
Driving home with him squirreled away in his back seat basinet reminded me so much of the day, twelve years ago, we brought home our daughter from hospital. On both those occasions my driving assumed an extra edge of precaution – several, actually – like I was an armored car security guard delivering a kings-ransom payroll.
In the car on the journey home we tossed around names. A lot of names. And not just in English. Maybe not quite to the hilarity of this scene from BEETHOVEN(1992) but for certain more fulfilling than the usual game of road-trip ‘I spy’.
Boiling that overblown brainstorming session down to just four names, we were left to family-vote on – ‘FLAPJACK’ – (I kid you not) – the Top Gun 2 inspired ‘MAVERICK’ – slightly posh and butler-ish sounding ‘BENTLY’ and of course what turned out to be the eventual pageant winner – ‘TEDDY’.
A friend asked me if we’d named the newest addition to our family after NRL footballer James ‘Teddy’ Tedesco. I replied, “Actually, I was thinking a little more presidential.“
Life has got that much more cuddly and interesting now thanks to the Ted factor. With a 5 star heart-tugging (not to mention emotionally manipulative) head-tilt and a tail that spins like a Cessna Skyhawk’s propeller, joy is ours for the taking.
I can’t start my day now without my two scoops of Teddy. As a matter of fact, he insists on it.
But there’s work involved. To say I and everyone else in my household are on a learning curve re puppy behavior would be playing understating love ladders with the truth.
So I’m doing what I usually do when I want to learn about a topic. I read. HERE – HERE – HERE – HERE and by golly, even HERE. And as is fairly well known around these parts, I’m not above including the odd cartoon as a source of wisdom either…
Sometimes going old skool helps too –
Oh, with all this chatter, I almost forgot to show you this…
Yep, that’s him! You might say ‘ol Teddy is coming on in leaps and bounds. Below is him again, in the slightly more artsy ‘reflective surfaces’ French Cinema version –
And since this site likes to think of itself as having at least some vague links to all things literary, here’s a curated list, for no other reason than it looks kind of attractively ‘shop-like’ when placed together, of some great doggy novels and non-fiction –
Thought we’d finished? Can’t do that without these two musical ‘Teddy’ dedications.
The first one, below, has been placed at the end of this post since I’m pretty sure had it gone at the beginning, a sizeable portion of the readership of this blog would have pulled up stumps and ceased reading in protest. Something I usually like to avoid, if possible.
For a smidgen of context. bear in mind SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK has made no secret of it’s life-long like of the band KISS. Their September Brisbane concert is marked on the calendar in yellow highlighter. Teddy, this song, which oddly I regularly have belting out at the gym at 5am, is for you.
For everyone else… I simply ask you to draw on all your reserves of stamina and will-power to endure this slab of 80’s-fashion-emblazed buffoonary up to (and, and for the very brave, including) the first chorus. That kicks in around the 45 second mark. Make it to there and you’re welcome to hit the kill switch for all you’re worth anytime after.
And the second? No need for caution or disclosures this time ’round. Betting you’re gonna puppy love it…
That P.S was from Teddy. This P.S. is from me. Happy Days are here again. Check it out HERE.