Sunday, 27 November 2016

Not So Shiny

I heard today that Ron Glass, who played Shepherd Book in Firefly, has just died, aged 71. I liked the character from the moment Kaylee told him he was coming aboard.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Trowelblazers - Blanche Williams

Here's another archaeologist who concentrated on Ancient Greece.

Blanche Williams studied archaeology, as well as Greek, Latin and art, at Smith University, where she became a friend of another trowelblazer, Harriet Boyd. After graduation, she taught Latin, Greek and English at her aunt's school in Providence, Rhode Island, and conducted tours of Europe with students.
In 1898, she visited Greece and Italy with Harriet Boyd and Mary Waring, and in 1900, she visited Crete, where she discovered a Bronze Age beehive tomb at Hierapetra. She presented her findings at a meeting of the Philadelphia Archaeological Institute, and so impressed them that they funded her 1901 and 1903 excavations.
In 1901, she worked with Harriet Boyd (a more experienced archaeologist) at Avgo, where she drew the maps of the site and the finds. Later they moved to Gournia, where they discovered an ancient Minoan complex. At its height, the dig employed 110 diggers, under the supervision of Harriet Boyd, who went on to dig the site over several seasons.
In 1904, Blanche got married, to Emile Francis Williams, an oriental rug importer from Boston. She wrote essays about Minoan archaeology, and contributed to a book about the Isthmus of Heiropetra in 1908, but did no more field work.
She died in 1936.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Closing Channel D

Robert Vaughn has just died, aged 83 - another childhood hero gone. Here he is in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as suave spy Napoleon Solo.
He was also the last remaining member of the Magnificent Seven.

Remembrance Day

A picture from the Somme 100 commemoration, when re-enactors in First World War uniform appeared in London railway stations.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Voting for Susan

Apparently, when you vote in the US you get a sticker which says "I Voted".
Some people have been going to the grave of Susan B Anthony to put their stickers on her gravestone.
So who was Susan B Anthony?
I've been looking her up, and she was pretty awesome.
Born into a Quaker family in 1820, she campaigned against slavery, in favour of Temperance, and for equal rights for women and African Americans. She worked with Elizabeth Cady Stanton to campaign for women's right to vote.
In 1872, she was arrested for voting in the presidential election in her home town of Rochester, New York. She refused to pay the fine.
A celebrity in her later life, thanks to her tireless campaigning, she was invited to spend her 80th birthday at the White House with President McKinley. She died at the age of 86, in 1906, and is buried at Rochester, having seen many changes for the better in the position of women during her life.
In 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment, giving women the right to vote, was ratified - and was widely known as the Susan B Anthony Amendment. Since then, her face has been on postage stamps and a dollar coin.
But she never saw a woman running for President, which leads me to this extract from the Wikipedia page:

"In 2016, Lovely Warren, the mayor of Rochester, put a red, white and blue sign next to Anthony's grave the day after Hillary Clinton obtained the nomination at the Democratic National Convention; the sign stated, "Dear Susan B., we thought you might like to know that for the first time in history, a woman is running for president representing a major party. 144 years ago, your illegal vote got you arrested. It took another 48 years for women to finally gain the right to vote. Thank you for paving the way."[203] The city of Rochester put pictures of the message on Twitter and requested that residents go to Anthony's grave to sign it.[203]"

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Season One of The Librarians

Beware! Here Be Spoilers!

I enjoyed The Librarians so much that I've ordered Season Two and the three films that came before the series. This is just the sort of light hearted, witty, fun TV that I like!
Two or three episodes into the series, I remembered why the name Christian Kane sounded so familiar. He's the actor who plays Jacob Stone, the oil rigger/art history expert - and he used to be Lindsey MacDonald, the evil lawyer who worked for Wolfram and Hart in Angel! This time, he's firmly on the side of the angels (though I did wonder if he was going to suffer from "evil hand issues").
It took me a while to work out what sort of accent John Kim (playing Ezekiel Jones) was using - but eventually someone mentioned that he's supposed to be Australian....

So, our intrepid heroes and heroines are sent on several missions, usually by the Clippings Book, which collects information about magical happenings around the world, but once by a phone call from Mother Christmas (or "Gretchen" as Jenkins called her) for a delightful Christmas episode in which Santa is seen in several different manifestations, including Odin, and we learn that Colonel Baird's first name (which she hates) is Eve, because she was born on Christmas Eve.
There are also dragons, a haunted house, a labyrinth with a Minotaur (in Boston), and all the cast have the opportunity to do different things - as Ezekiel learns what it's like to be Santa, for instance (he doesn't like it), or Cassandra becomes Prince Charming in a town (named Bremen) where fairy tales are coming true.
We also learn, through the series, that Jenkins is something more than he initially appears (a knowledgeable recluse who just wants to be left alone to do his research) - especially when Morgan le Fay recognises him. That was in the episode about the high school science fair, which had a guest star (Bex Taylor-Klaus) who I recognised as the street kid in Arrow who idolises Black Canary. This time she was playing a brilliant science nerd (with an appalling mother and a Goth boyfriend).
Flynn Carson turns up occasionally through the series, as the original Librarian who is searching for a way to retrieve the Library from the Void - and the very last episode ties together all the previous episodes in one long arc, very neatly indeed. It seemed that each quest was random and self-contained, but they brought together everything they needed to magically restore the Library by the end. Of course, Dulaque and the Serpent Brotherhood are also in the background, also wanting to get their hands on the Library.
It's fairly obvious who Dulaque used to be - there's an Arthurian strand running through the series, and Morgan le Fay turns up half way through - and the reveal of Jenkins as the only Knight of the Round Table who could best Lancelot was glorious!

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Women Warriors - Molly Rose, ATA Pilot

My Young Man shared an obituary from the Telegraph with me - of Molly Rose, who has just died aged 95.
She joined the ATA during the Second World War. Women were not allowed to be fighter pilots, but they were needed to deliver planes to airfields as part of the Air Transport Auxiliary. For much of her service - she joined up in 1942 - she was based at Hamble near Southampton, in an all-female unit.
She delivered 273 Spitfires to airfields, and many other types of aircraft including Wellington bombers, Beaufighters and Mosquitos. Later in the War she flew Tempests and Typhoons, which were higher powered Spitfire variants. Sometimes the ATA pilots flew four different types of aircraft in a single day. They flew without radio, and often to airfields which were camouflaged and difficult to find. In all, she flew 486 aircraft of 38 different types - and after the War, she never flew again. She spent the rest of her working life as a magistrate.
She married Bernard Rose, who was a Captain in the 4th City of London Yeomanry during the War, in 1939. After the War he became a Lecturer in Music at Queen's College Oxford. They had three sons. They met while she was an apprentice engineer in the family business - her father was David Marshall of Marshall Aviation in Cambridge - and she learned to fly on a Tiger Moth belonging to her brother, gaining her flying licence at the age of 17.