What a Quiz!

Quiz winnerNicola here. This weekend we took part in our local village charity quiz, fifteen teams trying to answer questions on everything from the names of Disney princesses to Olympic swimming champions. Amazingly, we won – as a team we knew a lot of obscure, random general knowledge! – plus we raised some money and enjoyed an evening out with friends and neighbours. It was all very good humoured, unlike some of the quizzes I've been involved with where professional teams got very irate if they didn't win!

I’ve always liked the word “quiz.” It's got a fun feel to it, and, being a writer, I've often wondered where the word originated from. I remember it featuring in Georgette Heyer, but as a description of a person rather than an activity. So I set out to find out more.

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Dutch Treat

The GeographerAndrea here, I recently saw a very entertaining article in the New York Times on a reality show—not something that would usually catch my fancy. But in this case it was about art, and an artist who fascinates me, so I took a closer read.

 In celebration of a mega-blockbuster exhibit currently on view at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam (alas, currently sold out, but more slots may become available) Dutch TV decided to create a challenge for both amateur and professional artists to “reinvent” some of the lost works of the famous painter. The judges are Vermeer experts the Rijksmuseum and the Mauritshuis, in The Hague. The results are absolutely delightful—you can view them here on the station’s website. Isn’t it fun to see such creativity in bloom?

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The Smart TV vs the Luddite—Things Did Not Go Well

Tech 1Andrea here, channeling my inner Grinch today. Along with shopping for family and friends this holiday season, I decided to give myself a present—a new smart TV! My current TVs are, umm, not very smart. And after yesterday, I’ve decided neither am!
 
A very nice team from the Geek Squad at Best Buy showed up—because I wasn't so dumb as to think I might be able to set it up and program it myself, even though I’m fairly good at figuring certain tech things. They bring in the humongous box and eye the current TV in my living room and ask if I want them to haul it away. I explain that no, would they be kind enough to carry it upstairs to the bedroom, where an even older TV is the one that should be recycled. They smile cheerfully and say “No problem!”
 
Up we go. They regard the older TV. “”Wow, says one of them. “I used to sell TVs, and like that’s one of the first flat screens ever made. It’s from 2004, right?”
 
“Yup,” I reply.
 
They chuckle and switch the sets (and bless them, they program the remote as I upgraded my cable boxes in preparation for their visit.) "Okay, all done."

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Ask A Wench – The Best Love Story You’ve Read

Anne and Wentworth1Nicola here, introducing this month’s Ask A Wench which has a Valentine romance theme. When I first asked the Wenches: “What is the best love story you’ve ever read, seen (or written!) and what is it that makes it so good?” there were groans all round and complaints along the lines of “How do you expect us to choose just one?”

Yes, it is a problem narrowing the field down but somehow we’ve managed it and here are our thoughts. And you’d better start thinking about your own favourites too, because at the end of the blog we’ll be putting you on the spot for your recommendations!

Anne here, finding it impossible to choose my "best love story or movie" or even a most romantic scene, because the power of a scene so often depends on context. Instead I am choosing a most romantic letter — the one written by Capt. Wentworth in Jane Austen's Persuasion. It's wonderfully romantic, especially as it's written by a stern-seeming buttoned-down Naval officer.

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From Page to Screen

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Photo by Gage Skidmore

Christina here. Authors are often asked if we’d like our books made into film or a TV series. (Anne discussed this in one of her posts here). Silly question – of course we would! We can spend hours imagining exactly which actor we’d like to play our heroes (Chris Hemsworth usually for me, in case you were wondering) or actresses for the leading lady role. But personally, I’d rather see some of my favourite books by other authors being turned into movies. There are so many that would make absolutely wonderful viewing!

It's rare though that when it happens, it is done right. And by right, I mean that the film actually turns out to be as amazing as the story it’s based on. I am always very reluctant to watch adaptations because I’m invariably disappointed. The producer and/or screen writer often leave out details I consider crucial, or they invent some new sub-plot – or even major plot point – that wasn’t in the book to begin with. I find that infuriating because it’s not what I want to see!

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