Saturday, 30 March 2013

By and Large....

I was suprised to find out the saing by and large was a nautical one


On the whole; generally speaking; all things considered.


Many phrases are wrongly ascribed a nautical origin just because they sound like mariner's lingo. This one really is and, like many such nautical phrases, it originated in the days of sail.
To get a sense of the original meaning of the phrase we need to understand the nautical terms 'by' and 'large'. 'Large' is easier, so we'll start there. When the wind is blowing from some compass point behind a ship's direction of travel then it is said to be 'large'. Sailors have used this term for centuries; for example, this piece from Richard Hakluyt's The Principall Navigations, Voiages, and Discoveries of the English Nation, 1591:
"When the wind came larger we waied anchor and set saile."
When the wind is in that favourable large direction the largest square sails may be set and the ship is able to travel in whatever downwind direction the captain sees fit.
'By' is a rather more difficult concept for landlubbers like me. In simplified terms it means 'in the general direction of'. Sailors would say to be 'by the wind' is to face into the wind or within six compass points of it.
The earliest known reference to 'by and large' in print is from Samuel Sturmy, in The Mariners Magazine, 1669:
"Thus you see the ship handled in fair weather and foul, by and learge."
by and largeTo sail 'by and large' required the ability to sail not only as earlier square-rigged ships could do, i.e. downwind, but also against the wind. At first sight, and for many non-sailors I'm sure second and third sight too, it seems impossible that a sailing ship could progress against the wind. They can though. The physics behind this is better left to others. Suffice it to say that it involves the use of triangular sails which act like aeroplane wings and provide a force which drags the ship sideways against the wind. By the use of this and by careful angling of the rudder the ship can make progress towards the wind.
The 19th century windjammers like Cutty Sark were able to maintain progress 'by and large' even in bad wind conditions by the use of many such aerodynamic triangular sails and large crews of able seamen.
Sourced from The Phrase Finder

Thursday, 28 March 2013

A Powerful Read

Night by Elie Wiesel

Even though this book is a short read it packs so much into its pages. This memoir follows a teenager’s journey into the hell of the Nazi concentration camps. The day to day fight to live and to ensure he stays with his father right to the end. This book is heartbreaking as this young man question how his god can allow this level of suffering. Any type of humanity is stripped from those who are reduced to human cattle but yet the power of living another day drives them on. I have read numerous books on the holocaust and this one is right up there as one of the best. We do not read these books for enjoyment but to remember and honour those who perished in these man made hells. We cannot afford to forget and allow such evil to raise its head again in such a terrible way.

I thank the author for his bravery to relive this nightmare and pain and to share with us his story and by doing so the story of so many lost to evil.

5 Star

About the Author

Eliezer Wiesel is a Romania-born American novelist, political activist, and Holocaust survivor of Hungarian Jewish descent. He is the author of over 40 books, the best known of which is Night, a memoir that describes his experiences during the Holocaust and his imprisonment in several concentration camps.

Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. The Norwegian Nobel Committee called him a "messenger to mankind," noting that through his struggle to come to terms with "his own personal experience of total humiliation and of the utter contempt for humanity shown in Hitler's death camps," as well as his "practical work in the cause of peace," Wiesel has delivered a powerful message "of peace, atonement and human dignity" to humanity.

On November 30, 2006 Wiesel received an honorary knighthood in London, England in recognition of his work toward raising Holocaust education in the United Kingdom.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Open The Door If You Dare

14 by Peter Clines

A great thriller with a nice supernatural twist, this book delivers one hell of a story. A building with some very strange quirks, which some of the residents decide to get to the bottom of. An apartment that never gets over 69F and another one that no one ever lives in for long, are just a couple of the quirks. This book is what I call a slow burner the story draws you in and like the main characters in the book keeps you wanting to know more about the building. The last part of the story explodes into an action packed struggle to save the world, where all the questions are answered. If you give this book a go you will not be disappointed.

4 Stars

About The Author
Peter Clines is the author of the genre-blending -14- and the Ex-Heroes series.

He grew up in the Stephen King fallout zone of Maine and--inspired by comic books, Star Wars, and Saturday morning cartoons--started writing at the age of eight with his first epic novel, Lizard Men From The Center of The Earth(unreleased).

He made his first writing sale at age seventeen to a local newspaper, and at the age of nineteen he completed his quadruple-PhD studies in English literature, archaeology, quantum physics, and interpretive dance. In 2008, while surfing Hawaii's Keauwaula Beach, he thought up a viable way to maintain cold fusion that would also solve world hunger, but forgot about it when he ran into actress Yvonne Strahvorski back on the beach and she offered to buy him a drink. He was the inspiration for both the epic poem Beowulf and the motion picture Raiders of the Lost Ark, and is single-handedly responsible for repelling the Martian Invasion of 1938 that occurred in Grovers Mills, New Jersey. Eleven sonnets he wrote to impress a girl in high school were all later found and attributed to Shakespeare.

He is the writer of countless film articles, several short stories, The Junkie Quatrain, the rarely-read The Eerie Adventures of the Lycanthrope Robinson Crusoe, the poorly-named website Writer on Writing , and an as-yet-undiscovered Dead Sea Scroll.

He currently lives and writes somewhere in southern California.

There is compelling evidence that he is, in fact, the Lindbergh baby

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

BAM!!!! A Shining Example Of What The Indie Author Revolution Is About

Wasteland By Keith Crews

One highly entertaining and engaging read. The book starts off with the main character dead and what a great place to start. The former Mafia hit man finds himself in a bar in the afterlife and partaking in a drinking game like no other, three drinks, three questions and the promise of redemption. This part of the book acts as a great platform for the reader to explores the hit man's past and the choices that lead him to the bar. I found myself engrossed in his story only to be pulled back to the bar just like the hit man and then dunked right back into the action. All in all a great story and concept extremely well executed. This book is a great example of what the indie author revolution has to offer.

5 Stars

About the Author

I was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada in 1967. I have been writing for more than a decade and I would be the first to admit that, like my writing, I am a work in progress. Personally I have found that the best way to learn the craft is to read the work of other writers.

I am a machinist by trade. During the 1990s I lived in Calgary, Alberta, where I manufactured parts for the evil oil industry. From there, I moved to Guelph, Ontario, where I made parts for both the automotive and print industry before ultimately returning home to Halifax, where I currently manufacture parts for the aerospace industry.

Exploring Canada was a great learning experience as well as an excellent opportunity to meet a wide range of people. During my “wandering years” – as I've come to call them – I never once lost sight of what I really wanted to do with my life, and that is to write popular fiction. I continually practice and hone my literary skills in an effort to score the one big break that would cement my career as a professional writer. Suffice it to say, I am still waiting on that lucky break. Until then I will keep on doing what I love doing—writing!

Perhaps over the course of the next dozen novels or so, I will write that one great treasure. Until then I ask that you join me as together we search for that one great piece of art.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

25 Years on and still a great read

Swang Song by Robert McCammon

This book can still hold its head high after 25 years. The story is frightening and as fresh as the day the author put pen to paper. This book is an epic read weighing in at 956 pages but the story flies along and takes you on one hell of a roller-coaster ride.

The story is set in a world devastated by a nuclear war were the survivors struggle in this new environment. A cast of characters slowly gravitate towards each other for the explosive conclusion. This book mixes the post-apocalyptic theme with a supernatural battle between good and evil, where the true soul of people come to the surface. Great character development draws you into this tale and keeps you there unto the last sentence. A magic ring of melted glass and metal and a man who can change his appearance at will are the link to them all. I can see why this book tops so many reading lists.

4 Stars

About the Author

Robert R. McCammon was a full-time horror writer for many years. After taking a hiatus for his family, he returned to writing with an interest in historical fiction.

He has over four million copies of his books in print and has often featured on the New York Times bestseller list.

A new contemporary novel, The Five, was published in May 2011 by Subterranean Press.

The Hunter from the Woods, a collection of novellas and stories featuring Michael Gallatin, the main character from The Wolf's Hour, was published as a limited edition in December 2011 by Subterranean Press. A trade hardcover edition was published in November 2012.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

A Top Notch Cautionary Tale

Jakarta Pandemic by Steven Konkoly

This book was a very engaging read that had me wanting to read just one more chapter time and time again. The story takes a look at what happens when society as we know it starts to break down due to a killer flu that is rampaging its way across the globe. This is done through the main character, his family and the neighbourhood they live in. The thing that I found scary about this book is that it is based on a realistic scenario. The tension in this book had me wanting to shout at the main character in the book on numerous occasions. Are you prepared and ready to survive  a pandemic and to do what is necessary to keep your family safe? All in all a very well-crafted story that I would not read if you’re a hypochondriac.

5 Stars

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

My Darkest Confession

Well I might as well come out and share my dark secret with you all and this one has nothing to do with books. The reason it is so dark, is because Mrs Lazy Book Reviewer makes me keep it in the wardrobe. So what is it I hear you ask, what disturbed fetish this man have that is best kept in the wardrobe. I am a Metal fan I love my music turned to 11 and head banging to I am sick. The wife she does not like the metal at all. This is the reason why I am forced into the wardrobe to worship and listen to the gods of metal. Let me tell you it gets mighty crowded in there when I bring in my Marshall amp stack and my Kerry King B.C Rich Ghost Draco guitar to jam along with.

The good wife does not want to hear or watch me listening to the music of the gods. She calls it a whole bunch of noise with someone shouting lyrics over the top. Lies I say but what more can I expect from a music heathen (no my wife does not read my blog). Metal is the modern day classic music. With musician extremely proficient and technical master of their instruments as well as music theory. I mean just listen to the way they dance around scales, their mastery of difficult rhythm patterns and the way each instrument entwines into a living beast.

You can take your Justin Beiber, One Direction and Usher and (contents removed due to vulgarity)!!!!! Give me old school Dio, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer, Megadeth, Slip Knot and Judas Priest. Bring me the new warriors such as Disturbed, Stone Sour, System of the Down, Trivium, Five Finger Death Punch and Parkway Drive. Join me in raising your fist and giving thanks to the god’s of metal. As Tenacious D sings “no one can kill the metal”, so with this in mind it is off to the wardrobe I go.
Below are some the tracks getting a workout on my Ipod at the moment. Turn up the volume until it hurts and enjoy

And last but not least a great Aussie metal Band 

Saturday, 9 March 2013

A Truly Masterful Piece of Military Historical Writing

Jackboot by John Laffin

As relevant today as it was when first published in 1965. This book takes a look at the German soldier and the German army through out history. The author has a great writing stroy that makes this book a joy to read. The book paints of vivid picture of both soliders and officers from the Prussian armies through to the end of World War II. In my opinion this is an important book as it takes us through a journey with many stops along the way. It looks at the very nature of war and what war means and does to those who fight it. He does this with out glorifying it but in a subjective and informative manner. Also he gives us a true sense of of the much maligned German Soldier and debunks the image left by Hitler's thugs.

5 Stars and 2 Big Thumbs Up

Friday, 8 March 2013

A Snapshot Of Hell On Earth

Dresden: A Survivors Story by Victor Gregg
I am so glad I stumbled onto this Kindle single. This book in just 36 pages packs one hell of a punch and gives us a snapshot into hell on earth. I would like to thank the author for re-living what must be horrifying memories to make sure that we don't forget what total war is about. Told through his eyes as a POW in Dresden during one of the most devastating bombings of World War II this book horrifies and touches your heart. How many stories like this have we lost to history.

5 Stars

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Cold Enough To Freeze....

Cold enough to freeze the balls of a brass monkey is one of my favourite sayings. I thought I knew the origin of this colourful saying but it looks like I might be wrong.


Very cold weather conditions. Also known by the derivative phrase - brass monkey weather.


Some references say that the brass triangles that supported stacks of iron cannon-balls on sailing ships were called monkeys and that in cold weather the metal contracted, causing the balls to fall off. The derivation of this phrase is difficult enough to determine without such tosh, so let's get that oft-repeated story out of the way first:

Cartoons of pirate ships always come complete with the usual icons - parrots, peg legs and pyramids of cannon-balls. That's artistic license rather than historical fact. The Royal Navy records that, on their ships at least, cannon-balls were stored in planks with circular holes cut into them - not stacked in pyramids. These planks were known as 'shot garlands', not monkeys, and they date back to at least 1769, when they were first referred to in print.

On dry land, the obvious way to store cannon-balls seems to be by stacking them. On board ship it's a different matter. A little geometry shows that a pyramid of balls will topple over if the base is tilted by more than 30 degrees. This tilting, not to mention any sudden jolting, would have been commonplace on sailing ships. It just isn't plausible that cannon-balls were stacked this way.

For those wanting a bit more detail, here's the science bit. The coefficient of expansion of brass is 0.000019; that of iron is 0.000012. If the base of the stack were one metre long, the drop in temperature needed to make the 'monkey' shrink relative to the balls by just one millimetre, would be around 100 degrees Celsius. Such a small shrinkage wouldn't have had the slightest effect. In any case, in weather like that, the sailors would probably have better things to think about than coining new phrases.

Another explanation that is given for this phrase is that it originated with the three wise monkeys. The original of these was a set of carved wooden monkeys in the Sacred Stable at Nikko in Japan. In 1896, Robert Hope introduced their meaning to the West in his The Temples & Shrines of Nikko:

"One group represents three monkeys, one closing its eyes with its hands, this is called Mi-zaru = 'don't see any wrong'; another one closing its ears with its hands, called Kika-zaru = 'don't hear any wrong'; the other one closing its mouth with its hands, called Iwa-zaru = 'don't talk any wrong'."

If you've heard the phrase 'hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil' you are probably familiar with the brass version of these monkey figures, which have used as paperweights since at least the early 20th century. Their introduction to English-speaking countries, and knowledge of the three wise monkeys, come too late for the figures to have been the direct source of this phrase.

Now, back to the real origin of 'cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey'. Anyone looking for the origin of this is likely to be put off the scent by the 'balls' in the phrase. Of course, the way we now understand the phrase is that it is cold enough to freeze one's testicles off (ladies, don't feel left out, there is the alternative 'as cold as a witch's tit in a brass bra'). Once we realize that the phrase is seen in print many times in various forms well before any variant that mentions balls, it becomes clear that trying to explain which balls were being referred to is something of a fool's errand. There may have been some journalistic coyness about using the current version of the phrase - it is, after all, commonly understood to refer to testicles. That's view is backed up by the fact that there are almost no citations of the balls variant in any US newspaper, even up until the present day. There's no evidence to prove that that variant existed in the 19th century. 'Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey' appears to have originated in the USA in the first part of the 20th century and is clearly based of earlier variants. The earliest citation of that precise phrase that I can find is from as late as 1978 in the autobiography of Mary Oppen, Meaning a life:

The first taxi man George encountered in Brooklyn said, "It is cold fit to freeze the balls off a brass monkey."

There were earlier balls version - Bluestones' The Private World of Cully Powers, 1960 has: "Man, I'm so hungry I could eat the balls off a brass monkey". There's little doubt that the phrase was circulating almost the general public before WWII - some years before it appears in print.

In Arthur Mizener's biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald The Far Side of Paradise, he includes part of a letter written by Fitzgerald's wife Zelda in 1921:

"This damned place is 18 below zero and I go around thanking God that, anatomically and proverbially speaking, I am safe from the awful fate of the monkey."

The risqué nature of Zelda's life and writing style suggests that she wasn't referring to the monkey's nose, tail or ears.

Later, but still before WWII, Eric Partridge, in A Dictionary of Catchphrases, repeats this report:

Shortly before WW2, The Crazy Gang at the Palladium played a sketch wearing fur coats, hats, gloves etc. When the brass balls fell from a pawnbroker's sign, one of them exclaimed, "Blimey, I didn't know it was that cold!"

At this point it is probably worth looking at those early citations of the phrase. Interestingly, many early versions refer to heat rather than cold and the first known version of the phrase mentions neither balls nor cold. That is found in Herman Melville's novel Omoo, 1847:

It was so excessively hot in this still, brooding valley, shut out from the Trades, and only open toward the leeward side of the island, that labor in the sun was out of the question. To use a hyperbolical phrase of Shorty's, "It was 'ot enough to melt the nose h'off a brass monkey."

Other printed mentions of brass monkey that followed a little later in the 19th century are:

Charles Augustus Abbey, in Before the Mast in the Clippers, 1857: "It would freeze the tail off of a brass monkey."

John Esten Cooke's The Wearing of the Gray, 1865: 'His measure of cold was, "Cold enough to freeze the brass ears on a tin monkey."'

An article in the Illinois newspaper The Decatur Republican, 1868: "...every idiotic copperhead editor in the country, who hasn't got as much brains as a brass monkey..."

There are many other hot/cold variants of the phrase in print from the 19th century:

- less bashful than... (1867)
- scald the throat of... (1870)
- talk the leg off... (1872)
- as cheeky as... (1873)
- burn the ears off... (1876)
- had touched the heart of... (1878)
- singe the hair on... (1879)

All of these combine to suggest that the brass monkey in question wasn't a particular beast or object but merely a synonym for a generalized inanimate object. If that's so then, what was a brass monkey? It may be a reference to the three wise monkeys that pre-dates the 1896 citation above - although that would seem unlikely given the gap in the dates.

The young boys who helped with the loading of cannons on naval ships were called powder monkeys. Other seafaring monkey business relates to ancient forms of cannon called a brass monkeys, or drakes, or dogs. These were recorded in an inventory published in 1650 - The articles of the rendition of Edenburgh-Castle to the Lord Generall Cromwel:

"Short Brasse Munkeys alias Dogs."

Brass drakes/monkeys were referred to in J. Heath's Flagellum, 1663: "Twenty-eight Brass Drakes called Monkeys" and in The Taking of St. Esprit in Harlech, 1627: "Two drakes upon the half deck, being brass, of sacker bore".

There's also a nautical reference from 1822 for the monkey tail which appears in the earliest known version of the phrase. This was a lever that was used to aim a cannon.

It might sound like the work of CANOE (the Committee to Ascribe a Naval Origin to Everything) but, given these citations and the large percentage of references to brass monkeys in nautical contexts, it seems likely that the inanimate object in question was in fact a naval cannon. The 'balls' are a recent appendage.

Sourced from Phrase Finder

A Fantastic Piece of History

Red Orchestra by Anne Nelson

A wonderfully researched book that brings to life on its pages the people that resisted the Nazi's from the inside. These people risked everything to expose the evils of the Nazi party; the moral and ethical dilemmas they faced are laid bare on the pages. It gives a view of life in Berlin and the paranoiac and fear that ruled it. A book full of political intrigue and chances lost it draws you in to the story and does not let you go until the end. A fascinating book on a little told part of history.

4.5 Stars

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Sayings and Their Origins

Another great interest of mine is finding out were everyday phrases come from. I can bore the pants of people at social gathering reeling off the history of numerous sayings. So I thought hey why not do the same on my blog.

For the first one I am going to look at the saying "Who let the cat out of the bag". So sit back switch off an be prepared to have you mind invaded by useless information.

There are two commonly heard suggested origins of this phrase. One relates to the fraud of substituting a cat for a piglet at markets. If you let the cat out of the bag you disclosed the trick - and avoided buying a pig in a poke (bag). This form of trickery is long alluded to in the language and 'pigs in a poke' are recorded as early as 1530.
Cat o' nine tails
The other theory is that the 'cat' referred to is the cat o' nine tails, which was used to flog ill-disciplined sailors. Again, this has sufficient historical record to be at least possible. The cat o' nine tails was widely used and was referred to in print many years prior to the first use of 'let the cat out of the bag'. The 'nine tails' part of the name derives from the three strands of cord that the rope lashes were made from. Each of the cords were in turn made from three strands of string. When unbraided a piece of rope separated into nine strings. The 'cat' part no doubt alluded to the scratches that the knotted ends of the lash made on the victim's back, like those from a cat's claws.
Of the two explanations, the 'pig in a poke' derivation is the more plausible, although thier is no direct documentary evidence to link 'letting the cat out of the bag' to the selling of livestock. Versions of the phrase exist in both Dutch - 'Een kat in de zak kopen' and in German - 'Die Katze im Sack kaufen'. These both translate loosely as 'to buy a cat in a bag', i.e. to buy false goods.
The cat o' nine tails story is dubious at best. It is reported that the lashes were sometimes stored in bags, but the suggested nautical punishment origin fails at the critical point, in that it doesn't match the 'disclose a secret' meaning of the phrase.
The first known use of the phrase in print that I have found is in a 1760 edition of The London Magazine:
"We could have wished that the author... had not let the cat out of the bag."
There are several other literary references to the phrase in the 1760s and 1770s, most of which place it in quotations marks - a sure sign of it being not commonly understood and consequently, newly coined.
Cats feature very often in English proverbs:
A cat may look at a king - 1546
All cats are grey in the dark - 1596
Curiosity killed the cat - 1921
There are more ways of killing a cat than choking it with cream - 1855
When the cat is away, the mice will play - 1607
This routine appearance of cats in the language is no doubt a consequence of them being widely kept as mousers and pets in domestic houses. As to 'who let the cats out?', we can't be certain; but it probably wasn't a sailor.
Sourced from  The Phrase Finder

A Classic Read

Goering by Roger Manvell and Heinrich Fraenkel

After all these years this book is still one of the best books on Goering. A look into the world of the Third Reich and one of its most iconic figures Toga's and all.
The life and times of Goering’s are bough to life upon the pages and gave me a better understanding of Goering. How this at times childlike and delusional man worked his way into the history books and into a position of such power makes for an intriguing read. For any lover of history this is a must read.

4 Stars