This year I have been blessed with that rarest of seasonal gifts, ample down-time. After the adrenaline rush of last-minute holiday shopping, lineups at the liquor store and the jostling of sharp elbows at the grocery store turkey-freezer, I have had few reasons to leave the house and brave the snows of winter. And, I have an astonishing 10 days off my work commitments.
This has two major benefits: first, I had hoped it would allow me to do something about the long list of half-finished Newsvine articles in my queue, and second, it enables me to catch up on my reading.
For whatever reasons (tryptophan comes to mind), the first benefit has not, as yet, materialized. I may get an article or two published prior to the close of the holiday season, but it hasn't happened yet. And that's OK, since neither I nor Calvin Tang's profit-sharing bonus seem to be suffering overly much from my delinquency.
As for the second benefit, though, I have been joyously plowing through my reading list.
Somehow, despite the fact that I use a virtual fireplace DVD and possess no functional chimney, that red-clad, white bearded burglar broke into my house and left presents under the tree, consisting in my own case of a number of poorly gift-wrapped books. Here's what the old codger left me:
It is Allegro's contention that "Jesus Christ was the personification of a fertility cult based on the use of the psychedelic mushroom amanita muscaria". A far-out proposition indeed, man....and it would be easily dismissed, were it not for the fact that Allegro is a highly respected lecturer in Old Testament and Intra-Testamental Studies, as well as being appointed the first British representative to the editing team for the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Freeman spends much time documenting the political context in which Caesar operated. What I have found most satisfying about this biography so far is the degree to which it validates the historical accuracy of the HBO series Rome, as well as the number of similarities I have detected between the Roman political process and the myriad influences at work in the U.S. Fantastically enlightening!
The Sixth Winter, by Douglas Orgill and John Gribben
A novelistic precursor to Roland Emmerich's The Day After Tomorrow, The Sixth Winter was written in the late 1970s, and deals with the catastrophically rapid onset of a new Ice Age. Leaving aside for the moment the more politically charged debate related to climate change, this book was not only entertaining, it was thought-provoking. In particular, I was struck by the fact that sudden global climate-change disaster was already a topic sufficiently front of mind for a popular novel to be published in 1979. As someone who has written numerous times here on Newsvine about post-apocalyptic topics, I would place The Sixth Winter in company with Piers Anthony's Rings of Ice insofar as being ahead of the climate change curve as a setting for a sci-fi novel is concerned.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (aka, The Mothership) is one of those love 'em or hate 'em institutions. You are either intrigued by Randy Bachman's rock'n'roll drinking stories on Vinyl Tap and bemused by C. David Johnson's transformation from mediocre TV actor to top-notch radio commentator, or you are outraged at taxpayer dollars funding the second act of the career of a bunch of has-been Canuck 'personalities'. Because I fall into the former category, I was overjoyed to receive this rather exhaustive look at the first 75 years of Canada's public broadcaster. Sadly, I have yet to put much of a dent in this tome, perhaps because another Xmas gift I received was The Trailer Park Boys Xmas Special - Dope and Liquor Edition DVD, and I'm now on my third viewing. Robb Wells is a monster talent!
How about you, Newsvine? Did a break and enter occur on December 25th at your place? And if so, did the burglar leave you any literary lumps of coal?