Session #2
: Chapters 6 - 10
On page 71, JoMary_Celeste_as_Amazon_in_1861.jpghn mentions that people have disappeared off ships, like the Marie

The Mary Celeste (sometimes incorrectly referred to as Marie Celeste) was a brigantine merchant ship famously discovered in December 1872 in the Atlantic Ocean unmanned and apparently abandoned, despite the fact that the weather was fine and her crew had been experienced and able seamen. The Mary Celeste was in perfect condition and still under full sail heading towards the Straits of Gibraltar. The ship had been at sea for a month and had over six months of food and water on board. Her cargo was virtually untouched and the personal belongings of passengers and crew were still in place, including valuables. The crew was never seen or heard from again, and what happened to them is often cited as the greatest maritime mystery of all time. The fate of her crew has been the subject of much speculation. Theories range from alcoholic fumes to underwater earthquakes and waterspouts, along with paranormal accounts such as aliens, sea monsters and the Bermuda Triangle. The Mary Celeste is often described as the archetypal ghost ship in the sense that she was discovered derelict without any apparent explanation.

He also mentions the Bermuda Triangle --
The Bermuda Triangle, also known as the Devil's Triangle, is a region in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean in which a number of aircraft and surface vessels are alleged to have mysteriously disappeared and cannot be explained as human error, piracy, equipment failure, or natural disasters. Popular culture has attributed some of these disappearances to the paranormal, a suspension of the laws of physics, or activity by extraterrestrial beings.
A substantial body of documentation reveals, however, that a significant portion of the allegedly mysterious incidents have been inaccurately reported or embellished by later authors, and numerous official agencies have stated that the number and nature of disappearances in the region is similar to any other area of ocean

On page 72, John asks Phillipa if she has ever read, Sherlock Holmes. --

Sherlock_Holmes_Portrait_Paget.jpgSherlock Holmes is a fictional character of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries who first appeared in publication in 1887. He is the creation of British author and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. A brilliant London-based "consulting detective", Holmes is famous for his intellectual prowess and is renowned for his skillful use of astute observation, deductive reasoning (though in reality, he uses deductive reasoning) and forensic skills to solve difficult cases.

By the way, we will be reading a Sherlock Holmes mystery, later this year.

On page 73: "...Nimrod was perhaps a little more frightening that they had remembered, as if he really belonged on an English stage playing some oratorical tyrant king in a play by William Shakespeare.
shakespeare.jpgWilliam Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564 – died 23 April 1616) was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's preeminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon". His surviving works, including some collaborations, consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. Among his works: Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth, Midsummer Night's Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, Romeo and Juliet....

Nimrod and Groanin pick up the children from Heathrow Airport in London in a Rolls-Royce.
2010 Phantom Base Sedan $380,000...I'm not sure what type of Rolls Groanin drives.

Nimrod does not live too far from Kensington Gardens. Click here to go there.

Kensington_Palace_from_across_Long_Water.jpg Kensington Gardens, once the private gardens of Kensington Palace, is one of the Royal Parks of London, lying immediately to the west of Hyde Park. Most of it is in the City of Westminster, but a small section to the west is in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The park covers an area of 111 hectares (275 acres). The open spaces of Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, Green Park and St. James's Park together form an almost continuous "green lung" in the heart of London between Kensington and Westminster


On page 79 Nimrod says, "Never trust a child who enjoys being a child.."
Statue of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.

Page 82: King Solomon's Mines or Moans?

Solomon.jpgThe book was first published in September 1885 amid considerable fanfare, with billboards and posters around London announcing "The Most Amazing Book Ever Written". It became an immediate best seller. By the late 19th century, explorers were uncovering ancient civilizations around the world, such as Egypt's Valley of the Kings, and the empire of Assyria. Africa remained largely unexplored and King Solomon's Mines, the first novel of African adventure published in English, captured the public's imagination.
The "King Solomon" of the book's title is the Biblical king renowned both for his wisdom and for his wealth. A number of sites have been identified as the location of the mines of Solomon, including the workings at the Timna valley near Eilat, and many "fictional" locations. Later research has shown that the site at Timna was not in use during the 10th century BC. King Solomon" of the book's title is the Biblical king renowned both for his wisdom and for his wealth. A number of sites have been identified as the location of the mines of Solomon, including the workings at the Timna valley near Eilat, and many "fictional" locations. Later research has shown that the site at Timna was not in use during the 10th century BC.

Arabic Manuscript of The Thousand and One Nights dating back to the 1300s
From the BBC Miniseries

On page 83, Nimrod asks the children to read Arabian Nights: Tales from a Thousand and One Arabian Nights

One Thousand and One Nights (Arabic: كتاب ألف ليلة وليلة‎ Kitāb 'alf layla wa-layla; Persian: هزار و یک شب Hezār-o yek šab) is a collection of Middle Eastern and South Asian stories and folk tales compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age. It is often known in English as the Arabian Nights, from the first English language edition (1706), which rendered the title as The Arabian Nights' Entertainment.[1]
The original concept is most likely derived from an ancient Sassanid Persian prototype that relied partly on Indian elements,[2] but the work as we have it was collected over many centuries by various authors, translators and scholars across the Middle East and North Africa. The tales themselves trace their roots back to ancient and medieval Arabic, Persian, Indian, Egyptian and Mesopotamian folklore and literature. In particular, many tales were originally folk stories from the Caliphate era, while others, especially the frame story, are most probably drawn from the Pahlavi Persian work Hazār Afsān (Persian: هزار افسان, lit. Thousand Tales). Though the oldest Arabic manuscript dates from the 14th century, scholarship generally dates the collection's genesis to around the 9th century.
Queen Scheherazade tells her stories to King Shahryār.
What is common throughout all the editions of the Nights is the initial frame story of the ruler Shahryar (from Persian: شهريار, meaning "king" or "sovereign") and his wife Scheherazade (from Persian: شهرزاده, meaning "townswoman") and the framing device incorporated throughout the tales themselves. The stories proceed from this original tale; some are framed within other tales, while others begin and end of their own accord. Some editions contain only a few hundred nights, while others include 1,001 or more.
Some of the best-known stories of The Nights, particularly "Aladdin's Wonderful Lamp", "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves" and "The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor", while almost certainly genuine Middle-Eastern folk tales, were not part of The Nights in Arabic versions, but were interpolated into the collection by its early European translators.

Story summaries....

"Aladdin Saluted Her with Joy", Arabian Nights, the illustration by Virginia Frances Sterret, 1928, shows the Chinese-esque setting of the original tale.
Aladdin Synopsis:
The original story of Aladdin is a Middle-Eastern folk tale. It concerns an impoverished young ne'er-do-well named Aladdin, in a Chinese city, who is recruited by a sorcerer from the Maghreb (who passes himself off as the brother of Aladdin's late father) to retrieve a wonderful oil lamp from a booby-trapped magic cave. After the sorcerer attempts to double-cross him, Aladdin finds himself trapped in the cave. Fortunately, Aladdin retains a magic ring lent to him by the sorcerer. When he rubs his hands in despair, he inadvertently rubs the ring, and a djinni appears, who takes him home to his mother. Aladdin is still carrying the lamp, and when his mother tries to clean it, a second, far more powerful djinni appears, who is bound to do the bidding of the person holding the lamp. With the aid of the djinni of the lamp, Aladdin becomes rich and powerful and marries princess Badroulbadour, the Emperor's daughter. The djinni builds Aladdin a wonderful palace - far more magnificent than that of the Emperor himself.
The sorcerer returns and is able to get his hands on the lamp by tricking Aladdin's wife, who is unaware of the lamp's importance, by offering to exchange "new lamps for old". He orders the djinni of the lamp to take the palace to his home in the Maghreb. Fortunately, Aladdin retains the magic ring and is able to summon the lesser djinni. Although the djinni of the ring cannot directly undo any of the magic of the djinni of the lamp, he is able to transport Aladdin to Maghreb, and help him recover his wife and the lamp and defeat the sorcerer.

Synopis of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves

Ali Baba probably lived in a village near the forests of Northern Iran. He and his elder brother Kassim were the sons of a wealthy merchant. After the death of their father, the greedy Kassim outcasts Ali Baba from their father's inheritance and business.
The young Ali Baba works collecting and cutting firewood (a valuable commodity) in the forest, and one day he happens to overhear a group of forty thieves visiting their treasure store in the forest. The treasure is in a cave, the mouth of which is sealed by magic. It opens on the words "Open, Simsim" (commonly written as "Open Sesame" in English), and seals itself on the words "Close, Sesame" ("Close Sesame"). When the thieves are gone, Ali Baba enters the cave himself, and takes some of the treasure home.
Ali Baba borrows his sister-in-law's scales to weigh this new wealth of gold coins. Unbeknown to Ali, his brother's wife has put a blob of wax in the scales to find out what Ali is using them for, as it is known that Ali was too impoverished to need a scale for use. To her shock, she finds a gold coin sticking to the scales and tells her husband, Ali Baba's rich and greedy brother, Kassim. Ali Baba tells Kassim about the cave. Kassim goes to the cave to take more of the treasure, but in his greed and excitement over the treasures forgets the magic words to get back out of the cave. The thieves find him there, and kill him. When his brother does not come back, Ali Baba goes to the cave to look for him, and finds the body, cut into many pieces and displayed just inside the entrance of the cave to discourage any similar attempts in the future. Ali Baba brings the body home and, with the help of Morgiana, a clever slave-girl in Kassim's household, Ali finds an old tailor known as Baba Mustafa whom he pays, blindfolds, and leads to Kassim's house. There, overnight, the tailor stitches Kassim back together, so that no one will be suspicious. Ali and his family are able to give Kassim a proper burial without anyone asking awkward questions.
The thieves, finding the body gone, realize that yet another person must know their secret, and set out to track him down. One of the thieves goes down to the town and asks around. He discovers that a tailor was seen leaving a house in the early morning, and guesses that the house must belong to the thieves' victim. The thief finds the tailor Mustafa and asks him to lead the way to the house. The tailor is blindfolded again, and in this state he is able to find the house. The thief marks the door with a symbol. The plan is for the other thieves to come back that night and kill everyone in the house. However, the thief has been seen by Morgiana and she, loyal to her master, foils his plan by marking all the houses in the neighbourhood with a similar marking. When the 40 thieves return that night, they cannot identify the correct house and the head thief kills the lesser thief. The next day, the thieves try again, only this time, a chunk is chipped out of the stone step at Ali Baba's front door. Again Morgiana foils the plan by making similar chips in all the other doorsteps. The second thief is killed for his stupidity as well. At last, the head thief goes and looks for himself. This time, he memorizes every detail he can of the exterior of Ali Baba's house.
The chief of the thieves pretends to be an oil merchant in need of Ali Baba's hospitality, bringing with him mules loaded with thirty-eight oil jars, one filled with oil, the other thirty-seven hiding the other remaining thieves. Once Ali Baba is asleep, the thieves plan to kill him. Again, Morgiana discovers and foils the plan, killing the thirty-seven thieves in their oil jars by pouring boiling oil on them. When their leader comes to rouse his men, he discovers that they are dead, and escapes.
To exact revenge, after some time the thief establishes himself as a merchant, befriends Ali Baba's son (who is now in charge of the late Kassim's business), and is invited to dinner at Ali Baba's house. The thief is recognized by Morgiana, who performs a dance with a dagger for the diners and plunges it into the heart of the thief when he is off his guard. Ali Baba is at first angry with Morgiana, but when he finds out the thief tried to kill him, he gives Morgiana her freedom and marries her to his son. Thus, the story ends happily for everyone except the forty thieves and Kassim.
Alternative ending: And so Ali Baba fell in love with Morgiana, and hence frees her and marries her.

The disappearance of the Barstools is covered by the BBC newscaster on page 85 --
BBC_svg.pngThe British Broadcasting Corporation, usually referred to by its abbreviation as the "BBC",[1] is the longest established and largest broadcaster in the world. The BBC is funded by an annual television licence fee, which is charged to all United Kingdom households using equipment capable of recording and/or receiving live television broadcasts [3]; the level of the fee is set by the UK Government under a multi-year agreement with the Corporation. It operates under a Royal Charter issued by the British Crown.

Naja HajeNaja.jpg
(on page 119)
The Egyptian cobra may grow to 5'-8'(1.5-2m) in length and specimens as long as 8' have been seen in some areas. The most recognizable characteristics of an Egyptian cobra are its head and hood. The head is large and depressed with a broad snout. The cobra's eyes are large with a round pupil. Its neck may range from 15-18 cm wide. The color is variable, but most specimens are some shade of brown, often with lighter or darker mottling, and often a "tear-drop" mark below the eye. Specimens from northwestern Africa (Morocco, Western Sahara) are almost entirely black.

The average venom quantity typically reaches 175 to 200 mg in a single bite. It has the third most toxic venom of any cobra, after the Philippine Cobra (Naja philippinensis) and the Cape Cobra. However, the Egyptian cobra is considered to be much deadlier than the Philippine Cobra or Cape cobra because it is much larger, more aggressive, and can inject more venom in a single bite. It has neurotoxic venom which affects the nervous system, stopping the nerve signals from being transmitted to the muscles and at later stages stopping those transmitted to the heart and lungs as well, causing death due to complete respiratory failure

: Rakshasas suffers from Agoraphobia (from Greek aγορά, "marketplace"; and φόβος/φοβία, -phobia) is an anxiety disorder, often precipitated by the fear of having a panic attack in a setting from which there is no easy means of escape. As a result, sufferers of agoraphobia avoid public and/or unfamiliar places, especially large, open, spaces such as shopping malls or airports where there are few 'places to hide'. In severe cases, the sufferer may become confined to his or her home, experiencing difficulty traveling from this "safe place." In Mr. Rakshasas' case, he prefers to stay in his bottle most of the time.

Garden_City.jpgGarden City: (In Cairo, Egypt) Uncle Nimrod lives in Garden City.
The elite neighborhood was almost free of royal residents save for Princess Fatma Fazil who died in 1933. Her mansion eventually became a family daira (estate office) and later a worker's employment union before being replaced by an apartment building. Every so often, her relation Princess Iffet Hassan would lease a Garden City house, bringing along a large retinue and truckloads of priceless furniture and paintings. .
But if royalty was practically absent from Garden City, Cairo's fashionable neighborhood boasted a multi-denominational coterie of pashas, many of whom had a hand in shaping Egypt's artistic, finance, commercial, military and political destiny for almost half a century. By virtue of their collective clout, Garden City had become--between the two World Wars-- Egypt's main center of power.

horse.jpgThe children take a ride in a horse drawn "ghari" through Garden City