THE PROBLEM IN 3A(s)

Special day, special blog! It can all be summed up in three little words: Anniversary, Apology, and Announcement. 

Anniversary

On my way to buying my first Christie!

Exactly five years ago today, this little fellow began his adventures in blogging, and what a world it opened up for me. I literally found my people, and, as usually happens when you’re looking for the perfect mate, the perfect boss, the perfect friends, they all live “out of the area”: Great Britain, China, India, Copenhagen . . . So it’s not like this blogger can grab a cup of joe with another blogger and talk into the wee hours about our antipathy for Van Dine’s Rules or the exciting rediscovery of Carr’s Cabin B-12 radio scripts. (Due in November from Crippen & Landru.) Of course, my special group of mystery lovers is so simpatico that last year I made a literal trip across the waters to find them, and what a time I had! Still, one can’t do that every day, especially with a pesky pandemic swinging over one’s head. Ah well! 355 posts and 352 followers later, I am grateful to have this place where I can go to share my love of old mysteries, movies, musicals, and mime. (Actually, I hate mime. Never gonna mention it again . . .)

Apology

Unfortunately, life has taken a turn. COVID has grabbed the US by the gonads and left us badly shaken, causing this bachelor to self-isolate for over six months. My summer plans to return to England got cancelled. So did my intention of returning to work as a high school drama teacher. Now, abruptly retired, I find myself stuck at home, enjoying no benefits of that decision except the removal of job-induced stress. I take walks twice daily. On rare occasions I visit my aged parents. Once a week, I don mask, gloves, and my bubble wrap suit and brave the perilous journey to the supermarket. 

This leaves me far too much time to ponder the American political landscape. Now look – I know nobody wants me to talk about politics, but it is damn hard living with Trump and his minions looming over everything. In addition, you may be aware of the fires that have plagued California for the past month, turning the sky orange and the air acrid and unbreathable. For a week I was literally trapped inside my home, windows closed, light scarce. (It literally felt like nighttime all the time, giving one the feeling of being trapped in a particularly disturbing episode of The Twilight Zone.) 

I am well aware of my good fortune. I have a roof over my head, a certain amount of financial stability, and some people out there who care about me. It can’t be helped, however: the last six months have gotten to me. On my first day of lockdown I wrote about how much mysteries can help us get through the hard times, and now I find it almost impossible to pick up a book, much less write about one. I mean, six book reviews in six months??? What gives? And so I began an epic saga, Murder at Dungarees, and then . . . . I stopped. And while I’m grateful to those of you who have asked me for a resolution, it means sitting down and reading the damn thing again so I can remember the details I threw in here and there over ten episodes.  

So . . . let me apologize for letting this crazy world get the better of me. I would very much like to snap out of it, and the best way I can think of doing that is to set an impossible goal for myself! No, not Dungarees – not yet. But I know where it’s going, and it will return. This is something else, and I have to tell you that the challenge has become even greater now that my beloved WordPress has become the dreaded WordPress, with new “improvements” that make it almost impossible for me to format a blog page. 

Which makes it a perfect time for an . . . 

Announcement

Yes, I might have neglected posting birthday wishes to Agatha Christie on September 15, but I was occupied in great matters, namely virtual attendance at a festival in honor of her upcoming centenary. That’s right: October marks the 100thanniversary of Christie’s premiere on the printed page. We had some remarkable speakers and fun events, but my favorite parts of the four day celebration were every chance I got to “talk Christie” with equally passionate and knowledgeable fans. One of the highlights for me was a chance to talk personally about my lifelong relationship with Christie with an equally fervent fan and fellow blogger, John Harrison. I’m going to try and embed our conversation right here, but with the new “improved” WordPress torturing my life – and the fact that this is the first video I have ever uploaded to YouTube, I promise nothing. 

Back to my announcement.

What kind of centenary would this be if one of its most rabid Christie fans did nothing to celebrate. And so here is how I plan on over-extending myself. I will be posting ten – count ‘em, TEN – entries, one for each decade of the Christie centenary. The posts will start on October 1, and wouldn’t it be lovely if they finish before Halloween. Given my mindset these days, I again promise nothing. But I will give it the old college try. 

This is not meant to be a mere history, especially since there are a number of excellent biographies and dissertations about the author to suit anyone’s taste. While each entry will begin with a list of all of her publications for that period, I hope to delve here and there into the essence of Christie – bringing up my favorite and least favorite aspects of each decade’s work, seeking out the elements that fascinate me so about her and tracing their development. Who knows what will come up? These haven’t even been written yet, but I hope they will appeal to the Christie fan in all of us (and there should be some of that in everyone!)

I better get cracking! Would it be too much of an imposition to ask you to cross your fingers for me? See you on the 1st

40 thoughts on “THE PROBLEM IN 3A(s)

  1. Congratulations on five years of blogging ,Brad!! I have learned so much from you and your blog, and I wish you many more years of blogdom. I know what you mean about letting things get to you – it’s hard not to under these circumstances! I am really looking forward to your entries on Christie’s work, and I wish you well getting them together.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Margot! This is starting to remind me of the ancient joke about Moses speaking to God: “Dear Lord, I know we are your chosen people! But . . . would you mind choosing someone else for a while???”

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m definitely looking forward to your Christie anniversary posts! Such a great idea. Also can’t wait to hear your next discussion with JJ and Moira. You guys just notice a million things that have often completely eclipse me.
    Enjoyed watching the Youtube video also. Ag of the Christie cracked up me.
    I don’t know if John will see this comment, but was there a specific reason why he was in black tie? You just wondering…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Good to read that you’ve given yourself a new challenge, Brad. That, and the daily walks, will help get you to a better place. As you put it, you better get cracking!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Totally agree. To reduce my irritation and boost my state of mind, I stopped watching politics and news on TV, avoid reading about Trump and his shenanigans, avoid reading political opinion pieces, and read only selectively about US politics–mostly in ‘high-quality’ non-US publications which tend to provide a more detached perspective and style.

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  4. As far as finishing Murder at Dungarees, I think watching a couple of episodes of “The Sniffer” might spur you into action, if only because it’s so absurd and badly written. Watching it will undoubtedly move you to say to yourself, “What is this dreck? I can do many orders of magnitude better than this!” Granted, Russian popular television is probably not the best standard to which one should hold oneself, but still….

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  5. Heh, I’m actually intending to do the very same thing. Once I’ve finished my current Christie re-read, my intention is to go through what I’ve read, decade for decade, and see what themes, similarities and differences I can find – a kind of summary of what I’ve seen during this re-read.

    Damn you, Brad, for stealing my thunder! 🙂

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      1. I’d be up for it! Though I won’t be ready for a month or so… I have twelve novels left to do before I’m there.

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  6. Brad – happy fifth anniversary with the blog. I look forward to reading your authentic posts that have a balance of insight and critical thought with a touch of humor. I enjoyed your video as well.

    Times are indeed challenging and I share your views on the state of the world and my home country, America. Not everything though has to be difficult and suck all the fun out of the world. For me, reading GAD fiction, talking about it, finding others who share the interest … puts a small touch of that fun back into life. Equally, learning about a new GAD book from the 30s or 40s that I might not otherwise have ever read is the equivalent of discovering buried treasure.

    Finally deja vu … my first Christie was when I was 12 years old. I was in a store with my mother as well and there was a rack of books for sale and what did I find there … And When There None. That started a love for her work that has endured my whole life.

    Stay safe and well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Scott, thanks for the good wishes! And don’t you agree that the ATTWN scenario has probably been repeated by countless lucky little boys and girls over the past eighty years?? Imagine the collective joy of finding your very first serial killer mystery under the Christmas tree, or in a drugstore that you found by getting lost and wandering down a creepy alley, or through having it willed to you by a perverse great-aunt! The happy possibilities are endless . . .

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Dude! The sole purpose of this blog has been to promote the brilliant career of the inimitable Christie . . . Brinkley!

      Seriously, though, don’t you think my posts have helped revive Dame Agatha’s flagging sales?

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  7. Congratulations, Brad! And I sympathise with you – I am sure you are not alone in finding life difficult at the moment. Looking forward to more on Christie. I think there should be a password among us fans to indicate our devotion to the sainted Agatha. Perhaps it could be . . . teashop?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, indeed, Brad! I have just googled the Willow Tree teashop and there are several in the UK, but they don’t alas sound much like the one a certain person had in mind . . . We had better stick to the Wallace Collection. Hopefully next year . . .

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  8. Congratulations Brad – would have got there sooner but for some reason WordPress failed me and I never got the notification of this post! (Grumble, grumble, grumble)
    Really enjoyed your conversation with John and looking forward to reading your thoughts on Christie decade-by-decade. A clever idea for a project!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve been trying to snoop out the possibility that WordPress was bought out by the Trump organization. I need explanations for this travesty as much as I want vengeance! I’m glad you found me, Aidan!

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  9. Congratulations on five years of blogging. Quite a feat. I came to the party fashionably late (by four years), but have loved all your posts and being able to catch up by way of the older posts. I don’t subscribe many blogs at all — in fact, I can think of only two others. So, good luck for the next five years, and I am looking forward to your ten cumulative centenary posts. Onward!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much, Mahlon. I only hope I can maintain some level of insight over the next five years. It would be nice not to have so . . . much . . . STUFF . . . hanging over our heads on a daily basis. This was never meant to be a distraction so much as an avocation. But your kind words certainly energize me to proceed forward! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Brad, it’s great to hear from you. Vile politics has poisoned almost every aspect of life; now sports, entertainment, even my favorite cosmetic company. The best cure is to unplug from it all and give yourself some peace. Turn your phone off, medidate, eat, sleep, relax, recharge.

    Best regards to you and much love.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, God, not cosmetics, too! Will there be no end? And being the classic mystery fans we are, we want that end to include a a couple of good twists, a happy ending where justice is served and the villains get foiled, and maybe a good scone or two thrown in. I’m asking for a lot here . . .

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Great, that you are posting again. I’m really looking forward to the Agatha month and hopefully the continuation of Dungarees. 🙂 But it’s your decision when to post and you don’t need to apologize to anyone.

    Liked by 2 people

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