Category Archives: what’s on your bedside table

The Monday Book – Wind, Sand and Stars

Jack gets to write today’s book review –

Wind, Sand and Stars – Antoine de Saint-Exupery


Some years ago Wendy and I watched a movie called ‘Wings of Courage’ at the IMax theatre in Chattanooga. It told the story of a pioneering mail flight across the Andes from Chile to Argentina that went badly wrong. The pilot was called Guillaumet and he crashed in the mountains and had to walk over many days through the snow to reach safety. What I didn’t know was that the story was based on a chapter in this book.

As an enthusiast for anything to do with early aviation, I was delighted when Wendy handed me the book from some (pre-quarantine) thrift store outing. She thought I’d find the book interesting and she wasn’t wrong. Saint-Exupery’s writing is wonderful and the translation by Lewis Galantiere does it full justice. The author describes his own experiences as one of the early aviators opening up mail routes around the world – particularly in North Arica and South America. His descriptions of the perils of flying at low altitude and before the days of navigational equipment are amazing and nail-biting.

As I finished the chapter about Guillaumet’s experience in the Andes we watched ‘Wings of Courage’ again on line and it proved very true to Saint-Exupery’s telling of the story. When I came to the final chapter, I was once again blown away as the author described crash landing in the Sahara. He was trying for a record flight between Paris and Saigon and got lost as he was heading for a stopover at the Nile. He plowed into a hill top destroying the plane, but miraculously escaping injury along with his engineer. They struggled for days finding a way to rescue with very little food or water, almost exactly replicating the earlier Andes story, but with sand instead of snow.

The book, however, isn’t all about flying. There’s a good deal of philosophizing about the meaning of life, the relationship between people and peoples, and the futility of war.

I think the only thing that might bother anyone reading the book might be the authors views on the effect of technology on humanity. He appears to view all technological advance as completely benign but I suppose we have to allow for when the book was written.

‘Wind, Sand and Stars’ finishes with the author visiting Spain during the civil war and ruminating on the way a community can be so easily and sadly divided.

Many people know Saint-Exupery best as the author of the children’s classic The Little Prince. He flew a reconnaissance mission over the Mediterranean in 1944 from which he never returned.


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The Monday Movie(s)

Sharknado-2-riding-sharkI feel bad doing Monday books because it’s hard to get some books these days and I don’t want someone trying to go out. We will go back to them when the libraries reopen, or if the book can be guaranteed online.

Meanwhile, time for a true confession; post-apocalyptic movies are my secret guilty pleasure. When I despair over the state of the world, or my place in it, I watch actors try to battle off giant invaders, figure out how to make engines from rusty nails, etc. It’s fun. Because it isn’t real life.

Now that our lives are a little weirder than normal, and online games have become quite the rage, how many disaster movies can you find in our present situation? Here’s a list to get you started; play along in comments.

Perfect Sense – losing taste and smell as the most evident symptom that something is going wrong

World War Z – US government response is to manufacture and push fake cures as national health, ignoring actual problem

How it Ends – no one can pin down how it started but sure would like to find someone to blame

A Quiet Place – people send up flares to communicate they’re still here – we have Facebook

Containment – the slow erosion of social norms due to hoarding inside a cordon sanitaire – a phrase everybody just LOVES to keep saying

Outbreak – media hyping already tense situations to make it even more fun!!

Zoo – some asshole reports a tiger has COVID and gets a whole bunch of pets killed with his irresponsible conflating of cat coronaviruses (they are COMMON) and human coronaviruses (we don’t catch them from each other)

I Am Legend – the cure is worse than the illness

Left Behind- I got nothing on this one; anyone?

Shawn of the Dead – yes, people can be that stupid in real life. Been on Facebook?

Rollover – the world economy goes belly up but the really pretty people survive (Jane Fonda and Kris Kristofferson, namely)

28 Days Later – I literally had a colleague (his name was not Jim, though) backpacking in New Zealand who walked back into civilization intending to catch his plane on to India and … say what now?

Think of this as one of those picture puzzles online. How many movies can you spot in the way we live now? :]








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Filed under humor, Life reflections, post-apocalypse fiction, Uncategorized, Wendy Welch, what's on your bedside table, writing