Monday, December 17, 2012

Saw a wonderful quote the other day. Profoundly simple!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Song of Ice and Fire - 2 - A Clash of Kings (9/10)

The great saga rumbles on. Sansa trapped at Kings Landing. Arya fled and trying to make her way back to Winterfell through the chaos of war. Robb fighting... and winning every battle. Tyrion endearing himself to the reader in spite of being a Lannister, playing the game of thrones and proving himself more than an able politician, tactician and even leader! Bran and Rickon trying to stay alive in the face of treason. Renly murdered, thanks to the dark magic of Stannis' red lady. Daenerys lost and helpless in Qarth, with just her dragons to give her hope. And Jon, cold, miserable and witnessing events that will become increasingly important in the series, I'm sure!

Loved it!!!

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Song of Ice and Fire - 1 - A Game of Thrones (8/10)

Wonderful!

'A Song of Ice and Fire' is a world of Kings, fallible and imperfect; Knights, brave and brutal; Lords, honorable and devious; great houses and dark creatures. The main storyline of the first book, 'A Game of Thrones' is set in the land of the Seven Kingdoms ruled by the House Baratheon from King's Landing. Lord Stark of Winterfell from the North, is invited to be the new Hand of the King after the death of the previous Hand. And so it is that the honorable House Stark unwittingly, and reluctantly, gets involved in the deceits of the House Lannister, represented chiefly by the Queen Cersei. A big chunk of the main plot revolves around the righteous Starks (Lord Eddard, Lady Catelyn, the sons Robb, Bran and Rickon and the daughters Sansa and Arya) and the devious Lannisters (Lord Tywin, the sons Jaime and Tyrion and the daughter Cersei whos also the Queen of the realm). Add to this mix of forceful personalities, the direwolves of the Stark children, the wit of the dwarf Tyrion and several councillors of the Kings court, with their devious and crooked ways, and you have an extremely promising plot.

Another thread follows the illegitimate son of Lord Stark, Jon Snow. Jon is a recent recruit of the Nights Watch, which is a brotherhood that mans the Wall, an immense wall of ice that separates the forests and icy expanses of the extreme north from the Kingdom, charged with protecting the relam from the terrors beyond. In this book we get just a tiny glimpse of what these terrors might be, undead people, the 'Others' or the White-walkers. As the long summer comes to an end and the long night comes, the Stark words 'Winter is coming' will take on a whole new ominous significance and this part of the story promises to become more important and central to the plot.

Finally, we follow Daenerys Targaryen. The last of the line of the Targaryens, the Dragonlords and the Kings of the Seven Kingdoms until their overthrow by the Baratheons. The Targaryens were all butchered in the rebellion, all except Daenerys and her brother who are in exile on another continent, desperately trying to get back and reclaim the Iron Throne that is rightfully theirs. Daenerys, the mother of dragons!

So much happening and this is just the first of 7 books. The epic scope of this series is clear enough. George Martin does extremely well to narrate the story from several points of view characters, easing the reader into his wonderful, vast world, without every becoming drab, boring or overwhelming the reader with too much information.

And yet, its not just about the wonderful story. 'A Game of Thrones' is about genuinely good writing. Writing containing wit as well as wisdom. In a fantasy-action-adventure you don't expect much philosophical, profound observations; yet, not satisfied with the action and intrigue, George Martin manages to infuse this adventure with a lot more substance than one would expect. Phrases such as the following convice you that George Martin's writing is not just about the story. Every once in a while, he makes you think as well, think about life and its eternal questions.

"Can a man still be brave if he is afraid?"
"What is life worth when all the rest is gone"
"If life is worthless, what is death?"
"The things we love destroy us every time"
"The hard truths are the ones to hold tight"

A very promising start!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

You get credit for trying ;)

I love the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies. After Captains Jack Sparrow and Barbossa, my favourites are Pintel and Ragetti. They crack me up every single time. This exchange from "Dead Man's Chest" was brilliant. Ragetti is reading the Bible when pintel points out something...



Pintel : "You do know you can't read"
Ragetti : "It's the Bible, you get credit for trying"

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

I have always been fascinated by words - poems, stories, quotations, everything that transforms simple words into something much much more. The essence of art - creating something from nothing, like magic! Yesterday I came across this one and it blew me away!


Know then thyself, presume not God to scan;
The proper study of Mankind is Man.

--- Alexander Pope

Thursday, August 02, 2012

The Rise of Endymion - Dan Simmons (1/10)

Horrible, horrible writing!

The prime failure of this book is the failure to create chemistry between the characters. Mr. Simmons fails miserably every single time he tries to describe an emotional bond between his characters. It started with the first book and 'Siri's Tale'. You just didn't buy into the bond between Siri and Merin. And now the same happens for Aenea and Raul. The characters are so wooden and the feelings so clearly artificial that the characters are just not believable. And so you don't really care what happens to them. He's a complete disaster when talking about people's feelings. I'm not a writer myself but even I know that to show two people who love each other, it takes effort than describing their sex lives and having them call each other 'beloved' a million times!

Almost as annoying are the unbelievably long-winded descriptions. Pages on end are wasted on endless and completely pointless descriptions of places. At so many points you want to remind the author that this is supposed to be a story book, NOT a geography lesson. It gets to the point that you want to stop reading the book just to not waste any more of your time.

Finally there is the shaky credibility of the characters. Mr Simmons has found an easy way to change everything else that came before. Just say that the person who said those things was lying. So you have people lying all over the place - humans & machines alike . I don't like this trick because it makes all your characters lose credibility. The reader no longer knows if he can trust what anybody says.

The series should have ended with the second book. What a terrible and utter waste of space and time the last two books have been!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Endymion - Dan Simmons (6/10)

Will somebody please tell Mr Simmons that chase stories are supposed to be fun! This book is essentially a chase on a galactic scale and Mr. Simmons manages the not inconsiderable feat of making an inter-galactic chase extremely, painfully, unbelievably dull and boring!

Its 270+ years since the Time Tombs opened. The WorldWeb is no more, the farcasters do not work anymore and the fatline has gone silent. Most of the worlds of the erstwhile Hegemony are now governed by a new government, the Pax, which is controlled by the resurgent Church. Lenar Hoyt has become the Pope and the cruciform parasites have been tamed and are now offered by the church to every born-again christian offering immortality. It is in this world, dominated by this Church, that the 12-year-old Aenea steps out from the Sphinx.

The Church purportedly has a huge dislike of AIs and since Aenea is the daughter of an AI (the Keats cybrid) they are afraid of her (fearing her an agent of the TechnoCore) and so send their soldier Father Captain de Soya to capture her and bring her back to Pacem.

So, the first 90% of the story essentially is Aenea being chased across the galaxy by de Soya. She has a human, Raul Endymion (chosen by Martin Silenus, yes, he's still alive!), an android, A. Bettik (remember him from the first book?), and our old friend, the Shrike, as her protectors. The story literally takes us on a tour of the erstwhile WorldWeb. Aenea, along with Endymion, A. Bettik and the consul's Ship travels the worlds previously connected by the river Tethys as de Soya tracks her unsuccessfully, always just a step behind her. This part of the book is extremely slow and plodding.

As with 'Hyperion', 'Endymion' gets interesting right at the end. Simmons sets the stage for the final book with a series of revelations that promise a cracker of an ending to this wonderful saga. We learn that the Church that outwardly was against the creation of any AIs is infact in a Faustian pact with the TechnoCore. It was the core that gave the technology to tame the cruciforms to the Church. What we do not know is what the Core got in return! We know that the Church is about to launch a new crusade against the Ousters to obtain complete dominion over the galaxy. For this purpose they've created special soldiers. Machines capable of taking on the Shrike itself! We get a glimpse of sinister 'Peace and Justice' projects of the Church that leave entire worlds empty, worlds that refused to accept the cruciform!

Finally, we learn of "Something Else" from "Somewhere Else" that stole away the Earth before it could be destroyed by the TechnoCore, that activated the farcasters for Aenea, and that brought her to Earth for her apprenticeship to get her ready to fulfill her destiny.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

The Fall of Hyperion - Dan Simmons

Humankind created machines. The machines destroyed the Earth and scattered the humans throughout the galaxy. The relationship between man and machine changed from one of master-slave to one of peaceful co-existence. The machines created a God far into the future. This machine God found another God already in existence. OUR God. And a battle ensued...

This is the Dan Simmons that I know. Epic scope and brilliant imagination.

At the end of 'Hyperion', we left the Shrike pilgrims on the edge of the valley of the Time Tombs, descending into that mysterious place where the time tides hold sway. 'The Fall of Hyperion' continues the story adding on a whole lot of substance to the Hyperion universe. We learn about the Hegemony of man and its politics. The uneasy relationship between Man and the TechnoCore. We learn about the battle that started far in the future, and continued back in time. We witness the invasion of the Worldweb. We get to know the Ousters in much more detail. We see betrayals and deceptions. And revelations!

We learn about God, or rather, Gods! Two to be precise. The machine god and the human God. We learn that the Shrike is an agent of the machine God sent back in time to find the empathy part of the human God who didnt want to fight anymore.

Simmons does brilliantly to narrate and sustain the multiple sorylines. Rachel getting younger every day, ever-closer to her first (and last!) birthday. Moneta who pops up every once in a while in a different 'when'. Colonel Kassad who does battle with the Shrike. A good old-fashioned duel, but with advanced weapons and across the fabric of space and time with the future of all humankind at stake. The secrets of the templars. The consul who continues to play an important role - in the politics of Man as well as Ousters. And a new cybrid whos not really that new. 'The One who Come Before'. The twin to the Keats persona encountered in 'Hyperion'. The TechnoCore and the divisions therein - the stables, the volatiles and the ultimates.

And finally, Brawne Lamia! The mother of the One who Teaches!

The saga is not finished yet.

Monday, June 18, 2012

"Hyperion" by Dan Simmons

Seven pilgrims, six tales, one very bad baddie and writing that goes steadily from decent to bad! Thats Hyperion.

My first taste of Dan Simmons' writing was with Ilium. I absolutely adored it. Then I read Olympos, and although it wasn't at the same level, it didn't disappoint. And so I started Hyperion with high expectations.

The book starts off reasonably well. A group of seven pilgrims set off on a pilgrimage to the planet Hyperion to confront the murderous deity, Shrike. A politician, a templar, a scholar, a poet, a priest, a soldier and a detective make up the special (doomed?) group. The legend goes that a pilgrimage to the Shrike temple must comprise a prime number of pilgrims. Each pilgrim expresses a wish, the Shrike grants the wish of one and kills the rest. The trip is long and each pilgrim tells a tale recounting his connection with Hyperion, in the hope that knowing their stories might help in the final confrontation with the Shrike.

The first tale is reasonably gripping. But from then on, the story and the writing worsen steadily. The last story is not just the most dull and least interesting of all, but worse, it has the least flimsy premise. The tale is developed so badly that I just don't buy into the motivations of the protagonist.

Thankfully, the last few pages contain revelations that give new life to the story. The next book has a lot of scope for improvement.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Lisey's Story by Stephen King (10/10)

Reading 'Lisey's Story' was like coming home!

I'm a huge fan of Stephen King. I've read all his novels and absolutely adore his writing. Before 'Lisey's Story', when I extolled King’s writing, I used many adjectives to describe his writing - amazing, wonderful, brilliant... but never 'Great'. Its not a word I use lightly and it didn't seem right to use the word 'Great' then. Now I know why. It wasn't yet time…

I was waiting for 'Lisey's Story'.

This is the book that places King firmly among the writing greats. A book that confirms what all his previous books had promised. All the other books that he's written before gave a hint of what he was capable of, promised something spectacular to come, they brushed greatness without ever actually touching it. But with 'Lisey's Story' he has achieved greatness. A book that leaves no doubt at all that this man has reached the peak of his craft!

A deeply touching, moving, heartbreakingly beautiful gem of a book. A book where he has reached new, stunning heights of narration that I never imagined could even exist. You know a writer is at the peak of his powers when he can narrate not 1, not 2, not 3, but 5, COUNT IT!!! 5! stories concurrently. And then goes on to link them emotionally, linguistically, geographically and meteorologically; by words, actions, feelings, emotions, weather and geography. UNBELIEVABLE, and yet accomplished flawlessly by King. The final proof of his utter mastery of his craft.

(A book so good, in fact, that it surprised even its own author. In his own words, “It's like surfers and the seventh wave. You ride six waves that are O.K., and then the seventh one is really great. But with every seventh wave, you mess up the ride, so really it's only every 49th wave that's really a great, great wave, and I felt that way with Lisey. I'm not saying that it's deathless prose, or it's a classic, but I'm saying that I'm surprised I had this book in me. It's a lucky book.”)

A Stephen King book is never just about the story. Mostly because the story is extremely straightforward - an adolescent girl, a rabid dog, a haunted hotel… simple things with a touch of the supernatural. The magic is in the telling of this straightforward story. And in 'Lisey's Story' the way he conjures up a masterpiece from a simple tale of a widow coming to terms with the death of her husband is mind-blowing.

'Lisey's Story' talks in the present and in the past, through the living and through the dead, goes forwards and goes backwards, and at times recounts events through several layers of time (a memory today, calling up a memory 10 years back, which in turn calls up a memory 17 years before that…literally bending time!)

The narrative technicalities aside, what really makes this book a masterpiece is the tenderness that this so-called purveyor of horror manages to convey - constantly touching your heart, bringing a tear to your eye with his words. Love at its simplest, most powerful and most tender with an economy of words that leaves you speechless. Proving over and over that you don't need big words or complex turns of phrase to touch readers' hearts. All you need is to be honest in your writing and you can tug at the heartstrings of your readers. Writing thats so simple, and yet, so heartbreakingly tender.

At its heart this is a love story: love between a husband and wife, love between brothers going through hell together, love between sisters, and above-all love between a very sick father and his terrified sons. Different forms but always love in its purest form, infinitely tender and so intense that it threatens to explode from the pages.

I could go on and on with the superlatives. But I won't. I'll only say that I'm glad of the day I picked up my first King novel and thank King to have written such a wonderful, wonderful tale. I can say without any exaggeration whatsoever that I consider myself fortunate to have read this book.

Thank you, Mr King, for your writing! And thanks for Lisey!

Everything the same…

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Shame

What do you say about a writer who is brilliant at his work, but uses it to highlight and exaggerate the negative aspects of life? I say its a shame. Its a shame that someone with Salman Rushdie's exceptional writing skills can't employ them in constructive writing. Instead, he chooses to write about the problems in the societies he used to inhabit. This most depressing aspect of his writing is most evident in this book, titled quite aptly, Shame.

The book is an encyclopedia of everything that could be wrong in life. It seems to challenge all concepts of decency and goodness in men (& women). By the end of the book, you lose all hope in mankind. Rushdie seems to delight in pointing out everything that is wrong with the world. There is a fine line between realism and championing negativity, and Rushdie crosses it far too often in this book.

I firmly believe that art's main purpose is not to reflect reality, not to show humankind and society the way it is, but rather the way that it should be. An idealization of life. To portray the best that we can be. This is the reason I love Michelangelo's sculptures & paintings. They show man as he should be - strong, proud and flawless. That most beautiful of human creations, the Sistine Chapel, shows you the heights man can reach at his most inspired best. But I digress.

What I'm trying to say is that Rushdie's endless tirade betrays the purpose of art. Instead of showing what could be, Rushdie tells us what was, and how disguting it was. Instead of talking about what should be, he talks about everything that should never be. Its not just a reminder of the evils perpetrated by some people, but a magnification of these until you feel that its all that mankind is capable of. What purpose does it serve, I wonder? Besides reminding the smug literary-elite that eastern society is messed-up. A most disappointing & depressing book!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Shalimar the Clown

A slow, ponderous and plodding narrative!

This is a book that is ostentatiously about the transformation of a Kashmiri stage performer into a vengeful assassin, but ends up being about too many things. The plot is the scorned love of the protagonist and his Kashmiri dancer wife. An American ambassador to India, an illegitimate daughter (named India), and the consequent murder of the ambassador by Shalimar The Clown, complete the plotline. In between, while giving a remarkable insight into the Kashmiri way of life, which sadly includes the terrorist camps operating at the Kashmir border, we see how Shalimar goes from being a fun-loving, talented gymnast to becoming a brutal, inhuman killing machine.

The story has many potential winning points, but there are so many sidetracks in the narrative that its very difficult to remain invested in the actual story. The author seems confused about the purpose of this book - is it a description of the Kashmir conflict, is it scorned love, is it obsessions, is it the pitfalls of ambition, or is it communal politics? In the end, apparenty unable to decide among those choices, he decides to talk about a little bit of all the above. And so, for pages on end, the actual story is put aside while the author expounds on all manner of subjects. Not surprisingly, this leads to a very disjointed narrative.

I believe that the main purpose of a fictional book should be the telling of a story. And if, through the telling of this story, you throw light on real-life subjects, issues or philosophies, its an added plus; but the story should at all times remain the focal point of the book. This book spectacularly fails to do that. And so it is very difficult to retain interest or any kind of continuity in the narrative.

Of course, considering that the writer is actually a genius, there are inevitable flashes of brilliance, like this line : "you never know the answers to the questions of life until you are asked". But such lines are few and far apart, and ultimately unable to redeem the book.

Not one of Rushdie's better works.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Parole...


Le cose più importanti sono le più difficili da dire. Sono quelle di cui ci si vergogna, poiché le parole le immiseriscono – le parole rimpiccioliscono cose che finché erano nella vostra testa sembravano sconfinate, e le riducono a non più che a grandezza naturale quando vengono portate fuori. Ma è più che questo, vero? Le cose più importanti giacciono troppo vicine al punto dov'è sepolto il vostro cuore segreto, come segnali lasciati per ritrovare un tesoro che i vostri nemici sarebbero felicissimi di portare via. E potreste fare rivelazioni che vi costano per poi scoprire che la gente vi guarda strano, senza capire affatto quello che avete detto, senza capire perché vi sembrava tanto importante quasi da piangere mentre lo dicevate. Questa è la cosa peggiore, secondo me. Quando il segreto rimane chiuso dentro non per mancanza di uno che lo racconti ma per mancanza di un orecchio che sappia ascoltare.

--- Stephen King

Words, words, words...

The most important things are the hardest things to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them — words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear.

--- Stephen King

Friday, January 27, 2012

... alone...

The fairest words on truest lips
Pass on and surely die,
And you will stand alone, my dear,
When wintry winds draw nigh.

--- Elizabeth Siddal

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Women and their questions!!!

Question # 1: What are you thinking about?

The proper answer to this, of course, is:
"I'm sorry if I've been pensive, dear. I was just reflecting on what a warm, wonderful, thoughtful, caring, intelligent woman you are, and how lucky I am to have met you."

This response obviously bears no resemblance to the true answer, which most likely is one of the following:
a. Football
b. Golf
c. How fat you are
d. How much prettier she is than you
e. How I would spend the insurance money if you died.

Perhaps the best response to this question was offered by Al Bundy, who once told Peg, "If I wanted you to know what I was thinking, I would be talking to you!"

###########################################################################

Question # 2: Do you love me?

The proper response is:
"YES!" or, if you feel a more detailed answer is in order, "Yes, dear."

Inappropriate responses include:
a. Oh Yeah, shitloads.
b. Would it make you feel better if I said yes?
c. That depends on what you mean by love.
d. Does it matter?
e. Who, me?

###########################################################################

Question # 3: Do I look fat?

The correct answer is an emphatic:
"Of course not!"

Incorrect answers are:
a. Compared to what?
b. I wouldn't call you fat, but you're not exactly thin.
c. A little extra weight looks good on you.
d. I've seen fatter.
e. Sorry what did you say?

###########################################################################

Question # 4: Do you think she's prettier than me?

Once again, the proper response is an emphatic:
"Of course not!"

Incorrect responses include:
a. Yes, but you have a better personality
b. Not prettier, but definitely thinner
c. Not as pretty as you when you were her age
d. Define pretty ...

###########################################################################

Question # 5: What would you do if I died?

A definite no-win question.(The real answer, of course, is "Buy a Lotus and a Boat"). No matter how you answer this, be prepared for at least an hour of follow-up questions, usually along these lines:

WOMAN: Would you get married again?
MAN: Definitely not!
WOMAN: Why not - don't you like being married?
MAN: Of course I do.
WOMAN: Then why wouldn't you remarry?
MAN: Okay, I'd get married again.
WOMAN: You would? (with a hurtful look on her face)
MAN: (makes audible groan)
WOMAN: Would you sleep with her in our bed?
MAN: Where else would we sleep?
WOMAN: Would you put away my pictures, and replace them with pictures of her?
MAN: That would seem like the proper thing to do.
WOMAN: And would you let her use my golf clubs?
MAN: She can't use them; she's left-handed.
WOMAN: - - - silence - -
MAN: Shit!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Big John doesn't pay!

One fine day, a bus driver went to the bus garage, started his bus, and drove off along the route. No problems for the first few stops - a few people got on, a few got off, and things went generally well.

At the next stop, however, a big hulk of a guy got on. Six feet eight, built like a wrestler, arms hanging down to the ground. He glared at the driver and said, "Big John doesn't pay!" and sat down at the back.

Did I mention that the driver was five feet three, thin, and basically meek? Well, he was. Naturally, he didn't argue with Big John, but he wasn't happy about it.

The next day the same thing happened. Big John got on again, made a show of refusing to pay, and sat down. And the next day, and the one after that, and so forth. This grated on the bus driver, who started losing sleep over the way Big John was taking advantage of him.

Finally he could stand it no longer. He signed up for body building courses, karate, judo, and all that good stuff. By the end of the summer, he had become quite strong; what's more, he felt really good about himself.

So on the next Monday, when Big John once again got on the bus and said, "Big John doesn't pay!," the driver stood up, glared back at the passenger, and screamed, "And why not?"

With a surprised look on his face, Big John replied, "Big John has a bus pass."

Friday, January 20, 2012

Violent delights...

These violent delights have violent ends.
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder
Which, as they kiss, consume!

— William Shakespeare, "Romeo and Juliet"

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Death

Death sits in the chair across from me and watches.
Death sees, but has no eyes.
Death knows, but has no mind.

We often sit together in the night.
We play a game that's called "my life."
Death has one move left.

I have none!

--- Thanks to 'Midnite views'

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Even his demons have demons!


He falls into himself at night and buries all his pain
Underneath his silhouetted shallow broken veins.
He cries aloud without a tear, begging for the reasons
His world's a broken flame, even his demons have demons!

He'll write away what all he can but never satisfy.
He's in too deep and too far gone to ever purify.
So shed his skin once and for all, he does without a wince
And coined his world on walls in blood and hasn't cried once since.

--- Anon

Thursday, January 05, 2012

The Storm

Thunder and lightning fill my brain
With tumultuous thoughts, all the day long.
Sometimes I think it will surely explode,
Leaving me headless: I hope I'm wrong.

Come lightning, flash! Come thunder, crash!
Do your worst, that you might inspire
A river of words to flow from my pen
As sweet music flows from the lyre.

--- Margery Clute

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Funny Schoolwork

The following gems of wisdom were gleaned from test papers and essays from elementary, junior high, high school and college students...

--- Syntax is all the money collected at the church from sinners.

--- The tides are a fight between the Earth and Moon. All water tends towards the moon because there is no water in the moon and nature abhors a vacuum. I forget where the Sun joins in this fight.

--- Vacuum: A large, empty space where the pope lives.

--- Gravity was invented by Issac Walton. It is chiefly noticeable in the autumn when the apples are falling off the trees.

--- Bach was the most famous composer in the world and so was Handel. Handel was half German half Italian and half English. He was very large.

--- Writing at the same time as Shakespeare was Miguel Cervantes. He wrote Donkey Hote. The next great author was John Milton. Milton wrote Paradise Lost. Then his wife died and he wrote Paradise Regained.

--- Beethoven wrote music even though he was deaf. He was so deaf he wrote loud music. He took long walks in the forest even when everyone was calling for him. Beethoven expired in 1827 and later died for this.

--- The sun never set on the British Empire because the British Empire's in the East and the sun sets in the West.

--- The greatest writer of the Renaissance was William Shakespeare. He was born in the year 1564, supposedly on his birthday. He never made much money and is famous only because of his plays.

--- Eventually, the Romans conquered the Greeks. History calls people Romans because they never stayed in one place for very long.

--- Actually, Homer was not written by Homer but by another man of that name.

--- When you smell an odorless gas, it is probably carbon monoxide.

--- There is no Nitrogen in Ireland because it is not found in a free state.

--- Mushrooms always grow in damp places and so they look like umbrellas.