Monday, June 9, 2014

Between the Lines: Lorna Doone

On this raw and rainy June Monday, I woke up wondering who would be a good interview subject this week. As I gazed out my window at the rain coming down, I was reminded of England. That's when inspiration struck and, as Phineas so aptly put it, "Ferb, I know what we're going to do today."

Here then without any further delay is an interview--all the way from 17th century England--with Lorna Doone.

Greg:  Hello Ms. Doone. Thanks for having us here to meet you. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and where you're from?

Lorna:  Oh aye. M' name's Lorna Doone and I'm from Exmoor in Devon and Somerset. 'Tis a beautiful bit of God's own country is Exmoor, but it can be hard and cruel. The folk that live there are the same way.

Greg:  So I've been led to understand. From what I've heard, you've had quite a time lately. Please tell us a little bit about it if you can. 

Lorna:  Oh it's been the devil's own time, i can tell ye. I hardly know where t' begin. I grew up as part of the Doone clan. M' folk've run up on some hard times of late, but once we were quite well respected. My part in the Doone tale begins with the murder of a farmer by the name of Ridd. He were killed by members of m' clan. Now his son, John, vowed revenge upon all the Doones.

Now, I knew nothing of this. The good Lord saw fit that I should meet and fall in love with John Ridd and he with me, each knowing nothing of the other's past nor lineage. 

Greg:  Wow. I expect John would be mighty surprised when he found out who you were.

Lorna:  No doubt he would, but there was more. You see, not only was I a Doone, but I was the granddaughter of the lord of the Doone clan, Sir Ensor Doone.

Greg:  Oh boy. That definitely would not sit well with John.

Lorna:  Aye. And that's not all. I was pledged to wed his successor, Carver Doone. Of course this was against my will as I did not love the swine, but what choice does a girl in 17th century England have? None of course.

Greg:  So what happened?

Lorna:  Well sir, when Sir Ensor died, John helped me escape to his farm, which upset Carver no end. He attacked the farm. I cursed the fates that they had caused me to be born a Doone in the first place.

It was during my time in the Ridd household that someone noticed my necklace, which had been given to me by my mother, God rest her. That is very important as it comes into the story later. Anyhow, it turns out that the necklace belonged to Lady Dugal, owner of one of the biggest fortunes in England. She had been attacked and murdered by outlaws. Only her daughter escaped, but she was never found.

Greg:  Let me guess. You were the daughter, right?

Lorna:  My you are quick. Yes, i was the daughter. I was the heiress to a great fortune, but the law dictated that I must go to London as a ward off the King. John and I can never be married as he is just a lowly farmer. Then there was this revolution and everything was turned topsy-turvy. 

John has been taken prisoner, accused of a crime he did not commit. He is taken to London where we are reunited. He saves the life of the patriarch of the Dugals, Earl Brandir, and is pardoned. The King gives us his permission to marry.

Greg:  Well, there you are. What a happy ending.

Lorna:  Oh, but I'm not finished.

Greg:  Oh, aren't you?

Lorna:  No. John leads an attack on the Doones and almost all their men are killed. Carver escapes, vowing revenge. John and I wed, but during the ceremony Carver turns up and shoots me. John runs after him and they fight. Carver winds up at the bottom of a bog. Luckily, I survive, although it is rather dodgy for a time.

Greg:  Well I must say that is a heck of a story, thats for sharing it with us. It would make a smashing book. You might want to write it all down.

Lorna:  Do you really think so? John's mother has a ripping biscuit recipe, I thought maybe we could open a bakery and market them. He has such a sweet tooth, my John.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Did You Know...Robert Louis Stevenson

Today's Did You Know features some fun facts about Treasure Island and its author, Robert Louis Stevenson.

Did You Know...
  • There have been a total of 25 Treasure Island movies released since 1912 in a wide range of languages?
  • Stevenson's stepson, writer Samuel Lloyd Osbourne (1868–1947), painted a map of an imaginary island which inspired Treasure Island?
  • The book originally was attributed to Captain George North? It wasn't until five years later, when The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was published that he began usinng his real name.
  • There is a real Treasure Island? It's in San Francisco Bay – not far from Alcatraz – and used to be a military base.
  • It was serialized in Young Folks magazine from 1881-1882, before being released as a book in 1883?
  • Captain Flint's ship was called the Walrus?
  • Treasure Island was the starting point for many of our notions of pirating? For instance, pirates using treasure maps--with X marking the spot, seamen with parrots on their shoulders, the idea of the black spot, pirates and tropical islands, etc.
  • Stevenson fell in love with a married American from San Francisco called Fanny Vandegrift Osbourne, when they met in France in 1876? They were married in 1880 after she divorced.
  • At birth, he was registered as Robert Lewis Balfour Stevenson, but he never used the name Balfour? He also changed Lewis to Louis.
  • His father and grandfather, Thomas and Robert Stevenson, were both engineers and were called the Lighthouse Stevensons? Between them they built most of the lighthouses in Scotland.
  • The Samoans of Upolu called Stevenson Tusitala, which in the local language means Storyteller?
What little known facts do you know about Robert Louis Stevenson or Treasure Island?

Monday, June 2, 2014

Between the Lines: Puss in Boots

As someone who shares his house with four cats, I can tell you from personal experience that they can be quite lazy. The majority of their time is spent lazing around trying to get as much sleep as possible. I can also tell you that they can be quite devoted to their human family. They share the beds at night with my son and daughter. This is especially true if either Christian or Abby are sick.

This week, I have the pleasure of speaking to a cat that showed his love and devotion to his "master" in unprecedented fashion. Here is an interview with Puss in Boots.

Greg:  Hello there Puss, or should I call you Boots?

Boots:  Well, there's a question I haven't been asked before. Do you know, I rather like Boots. Yes, you may call me Boots.

Greg:  Sounds like a plan. So Boots, tell us a little about how you met your master, the Marquis of Carabas.

Boots:  To be perfectly candid, he's not really a marquis--at least not until he met me. Actually he was just the third son of an ordinary miller.

Greg:  But if that's true, then how did he rise to his present station--a marquis engaged to the king's daughter?

Boots:  Ah yes, I do understand your confusion. You see, when the miller died he left various portions of his estate (such as it was) to his three sons. His first born received the mill, his second son received some mules. The youngest was gifted with--me.

Greg:  You? That's it, only a cat?

Boots:  Only a cat? You sound just like the third son. That was his reaction precisely. He, like you and just about everyone else did not realize the value of his inheritance. 

Greg:  I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be rude. But after all, what good is a cat compared to a mill, or even donkeys.

Boots:  Well for one thing, I can talk and if that is not remarkable in and of itself, then I don't know what is. Beyond that, though, I have a certain degree of cunning and brilliance if I dare say. I had a plan to help raise my master's standing in the world and, by association, my own.

Greg:  Hmmm, and what was that?

Boots:  I took a sack, trapped a rabbit and brought it to the king as a gift from my master who I called the Marquis of Carabas. He was most appreciative as you can imagine. I told him my master would supply him with game regularly. This got out paw in the door, figuratively speaking of course.

Greg:  Of course. So, you supplied game for the king's table regularly after that, eh? I can see how that would make your master very popular with the king. What was the marquis doing all that time.

Boots:  Who?

Greg:  Your master.

Boots:  Oh, him. Playing with bits of string or something I expect. I've nothing against him, mind you. He's a nice lad and all, but terribly ambitious you see. If I had left it to him to improve our lot, I'd be waiting still.

Greg:  I understand. You were just trying to take the bull by the horns and run with it.

Boots:  In a manner of speaking. Anyway, it worked. The king was so pleased with the gifts of food that he decided his daughter should wed my master. That was good new. However, when he said he wanted to pay a call on the marquis I thought all was lost. I mean, where could we entertain the king and his daughter--our hut?

Greg:  I could see that it might be a bit awkward.

Boots:  You see correctly. I had to devised a plan quickly. It was a warm day, so I suggested to my master that he might want to go swimming. There was a pond near the highway that the king's carriage was sure to pass by. 

While my master was swimming, I hid his raggedy clothes and flagged down the carriage as it approached. I told the king that my master had been robbed while he was swimming and had no clothes. The king provided some of his own royal raiment and asked him to ride in the carriage with himself and his daughter.

In the meantime, I went ahead and told all the farmers along the route to tell the king if he should ask that their land belonged to the Marquis of Carabas.

Greg:  How did you get them to agree to that?

Boots:  What else? I threatened them. The farmers did not worry me. I was more concerned that my master would inadvertently say something to give the game away. I needn't have worried. My master and the princess were so besotted with each other that they did nothing but gaze into each other's eyes. It was love at first sight.

My second problem was much more real. For several months I had had my eye on a certain castle that was the home of a fearsome ogre. I now decided it would make the perfect estate for the Marquis of Carabas. The problem was what to do about the ogre.

Greg:  Yes, that would be a problem, wouldn't it?

Boots:  Well, cats are nothing if not resourceful. This ogre had a certain amount of magic about himself. He could turn himself into any animal he wanted. To top it off, he was a bit of a show-off. I asked him if he could turn himself into a cat. He took it upon himself to turn into a lion--nearly frightened me out of my skin.

I admitted that it was impressive to be able to turn oneself into something so large, but that I doubted he could turn into something so small as a mouse. Well, the old fool was determined to prove he could do it. Without thinking, he turned himself into a rather foul tasting rodent. I held my breath, gobbled him up, and my master had a wonderful castle.

Greg:  And I suppose everyone lived happily ever after.

Boots:  Oh my  yes. My master and the princess are due to wed this weekend and I have anything I could possibly want to eat. I have to admit it's not all peaches and cream though. Ever since eating the ogre, I simply cannot abide mice. Pity.