Sunday, May 20, 2012

Life Is Good Sometimes...

OK, here I was -- last week I guess -- reading Robert L. Mack's Wonderful And Surprising History Of Sweeney Todd, ISBN 978-0826497918, Continuum Press, 2007.  It was utterly absorbing and appeared to prove beyond the shadow of a dount that Sweeney Todd, to my astonishment, was JUST AN URBAN LEGEND.  You know, like the Choking Doberman or the Rat In The Pepsi Bottle?  He proved his point using a variety of well-researched sources, including The Newgate Calendar, old horror stories from France and Italy, and seemingly every opera, serialized shudder-story from the London newspapers and even street maps of London.  I was especially delighted by the detour into the history of the British meat pie. 

I have to say, I was a bit crushed to learn that there was no Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

OK, so I had already ordered another book on the same subject by Peter Haining, called simply Sweeney Todd -- ISBN 978-1861055873, Robson Books, 2002.  It arrived right after I finished Mack's book.  I plunged right in.  Mack had quoted Haining in several places and appeared to respect his work, so I hoped to get more dirt on this incredibly long-running, tenacious story. 

...and WHAT DID I SEE? 

Well, sir and madam, Haining spent 186 pages drawing on The Newgate Calendar, the London newspapers, streets maps of the city, old horrostories from France and Germany, and the entertainment industry that sprang up like mushrooms on the corpse of this story, ALL TO PROVE CONCLUSIVELY THAT SWEENEY TODD REALLY EXISTED.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Quote Of The Day

Someone on a message board I frequent just asked about another member's favorite author, "the one you cannot live without."  Her answer involved a guy I'd never heard of, but she said this about him:  "HE HAS GREAT INCITE."

We should all have an author like THAT to turn to when the doldrums set in.

Let Confusion Reign! Or Do I Mean "Rain"?

"A recent survey of some 2,000 young adults suggested that a staggering number of Britons were deeply confused about some of the most important events and personalities in their country's history.  Half of those surveyed were convinced beyond question that King Arthur was undoubtedly a real -- and not possibly a mythical or semi-legendary -- figure.  Conversely, as many as one in ten thought Hitler had NOT, in fact, been a 'real' person, whereas one in 20 adults confirmed that the comic-book character 'Conan the Barbarian' had been a genuine figure in history; almost half the respondents were willing to extend the same privilege to Robin Hood, to say nothing of his band of merry men."

-- Robert L. Mack, in The Wonderful and Surprising History of Sweeney Todd, copyright 2007, Continuum Books