Want to be a book character?
"Author Dennis Lehane is offering an unusual reward for the person who finds his family's beloved missing beagle," Associated Press reports. "Lehane says he'll name a character in his next book after whoever finds Tessa, who disappeared from the family's home in Brookline, Mass., this week. He says on his Facebook page that Tessa jumped a fence at his home, and even though she has been micro-chipped, she was not wearing her tags." Lehane is the author of books including Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone and Shutter Island.
A horse-sized hangover
"A horse that somehow wandered up to the second storey of a hayloft in Placerville, Calif., was rescued this week by firefighters and members of the UC Davis Veterinarian Medical Response team," reports the Los Angeles Times. "The crafty four-year-old horse, named Crikey, made his way up the stairs to a hayloft on Monday afternoon. Julia Swain's granddaughter found him upstairs, munching happily on hay. Most of the day, Crikey's owner says, was spent devising a way to rescue the horse. Executing the rescue took only 35 to 40 minutes. Rescuers sedated him, then hoisted him through the barn door. 'Within 10 minutes he was awake again, but feeling like he'd been to a really bad Christmas party,' Swain said."
Defending the family name
"A Swedish woman is threatening legal action against translators of the movie The Hobbit because one of the dwarfs has a name that sounds a bit like her own," says The Sunday Times of London. "Yvonne Ekenskjold, 68, is furious that the leader of the dwarfs in the Peter Jackson film is named Thorin Oakenshield, which becomes Torin Ekenskolde when translated into Swedish. 'It's like a slap in the face. I actually feel violated,' Ekenskjold said. The Swedish Film Institute, which produces the subtitles, rejected her claim, saying: 'She's suggesting that we have used a Swedish noble name in our translation. It's not a noble family name any more, though.'"
A publisher's paradise
In Iceland, National Public Radio says, "the best Christmas gift is a book – and it has been that way for decades. Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other country in the world. … But what's really unusual is the timing: Historically, a majority of books in Iceland are sold from late September to early November. It's a national tradition and it has a name: Jolabokaflod, or the 'Christmas Book Flood.' 'The culture of giving books as presents is very deeply rooted in how families perceive Christmas as a holiday,' says Kristjan B. Jonasson, president of the Iceland Publishers Association. 'Normally, we give the presents on the night of the 24th and people spend the night reading. In many ways, it's the backbone of the publishing sector here in Iceland.'"
A supercomet for 2013?
"Doomsayers disappointed by 2012's non-apocalypse will get a sop in 2013 in the form of a rare supercomet," reports the New Scientist. "Once widely seen as a portent of doom, comets are seldom as spectacular as the new arrival, known as C/2012 S1 (ISON), may be. At its peak, it may outshine the moon, even by day. First spotted in September, ISON is rushing toward the sun from the outer solar system. Its closest approach to the sun will be in November, when Timothy Spahr of the Minor Planet Center at Harvard University expects it to put on as good a show as Hale-Bopp did in 1997."
Thought du jour
"What is the test of good manners? Being able to bear patiently with bad ones."
Solomon ibn Gabirol, Spanish-born Hebrew philosopher (1021-58)