Saturday, February 09, 2008
1. The act of frustrating, or the state, or an instance of being frustrated
2. A thing that frustrates
3. The feeling of annoyance when one's actions are criticised or hindered
4. Anger not directed at anything or anyone in particular
Thursday, February 07, 2008
A postage meter is an electro-mechanical device for producing evidence of postage. The postage meter was introduced in the US by Arthur Pitney, who in 1920 went into business with partner Walter Bowes in order to produce the machines. This is the company that advertises its wears in today's feature.
Exactly how all of this leads the fellow below to wish that he could murder his colleague, I am not sure. Answers on a postcard please.
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Still trying to catch up, today's reviews concern a trilogy from Melvyn Bragg. I'm not certain, but there is a fair hint of autobiographical detail within.
The story for the most part concerns that of a man returning to his wife and son after serving in Burma during WWII. No doubt like many of his generation, the central character feels suffocated by life in small town Wigton (in Cumbria, just out of Carlisle). For mine, Bragg effectively captures the inner turmoil and unrest that must have troubled men like Sam Richardson. Those who didn't serve have a tendency to ask too many painful questions (and would not doubt not really want to hear the answers), and the vivid memories rob Sam of sleep. The shift back to the daily grind of work and home is mundane and demeaning, and the difficulties of rebuilding life with his wife and young son (who he barely knows), is fraught with unease, misapprehension, and an inevitable (but silent) frustration.
Without giving too much away, the book is a thoughtful, sensitive, and sympathetic to the ache and difficulties of relationships under repair. In the creation of the central character, Bragg writes with tremendous delicacy yet significant force about the desire and futile effort to return to a past that time and the war has ensured can never happen. Surprisingly unsentimental (almost gloomy in parts), it is however a magnificent mediation on the key themes of love, responsibility, obligation, pain and healing. The book offers a tremendous insight to those of us who had grandparents who must have experienced similar trials and experiences, and a great work of fiction. Recommended most highly.
The second of the trilogy, it continues the tale of seemingly insignificant lives that encompasses the broader issues of faith, courage, endurance and aspiration. There is a shift in focus from the first book, away from Sam to his wife and son, with Bragg entering into the hearts and minds of his characters, exploring their milieu. For mine, it lacks the poignancy of the first book, perhaps as the pacing of the narrative is far more irregular than The Soldier's Return, this is perhaps understandable as the central focus becomes Joe (Sam's son) and his reflections upon his parents and their relationship. Yet it remains a warm and engaging book, telling a familiar take in a sympathetic, leisurely and believable manner. Very much recommended, essential if you have read the first.
The third in the series, and for mine the weakest. For the main, this is due to the narrative shifting to the adolescent struggles of young Joe, which (understandably) lack the complexity or depth to those of his father's post-war readjustment. However, it does explore the difficult choices faced by the immediate post-war generation's adjustment to a brave new world of opportunities and challenges, which differ markedly from their parents. In this, Crossing the Lines offers a measured examination of post-war English life, but it does have the tendency to feel a little uneven, and perhaps lacks the complexity in characterisation that so marked the first two novels. Recommended, even more so if you have read the first two.
Despite my preference for the first text, I very much hope that Bragg continues the series. They are all very good reads, and would recommend anyone even slightly interested to check them out. As Molly would say, do yourself a favour...
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
You just have to admire the sheer brazenness of this ad. There's no doubt in my mind that – by this point – Philip Morris as an organisation would be aware of the link between smoking and cancer, respiratory diseases, diseases of the cardiovascular system and no doubt many other potential problems, the ad itself suggests it ("far less irritation to the smoker's nose and throat").
So in the face of that (assumed) knowledge, to actually run with a 'safety first' line when you're essentially selling a long and unpleasant death? BRAVO Philip Morris, bravo...
Monday, February 04, 2008
This was published on the Reuters website, but I've done a cut and paste because the layout is just dreadful, but the content amused me. They've collected a bunch of the most idiotic answers to quiz questions over the years, taken from a range of shows as diverse as regional radio, to "Who Wants To be a Millionaire?" and "University Challenge".
Here are their leading contenders:
Q: What was Gandhi's first name?
A: Goosey Goosey.
Q: What happened in Dallas on November 22, 1963?
A: I don't know, I wasn't watching it then
Q: Which American actor is married to Nicole Kidman?
A: Forrest Gump
Q: In which country is Mount Everest?
A: Er, it's not in Scotland is it?
Q: Name a film starring Bob Hoskins that is also the name of a famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci
A: Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Q: In which European city was the first opera house opened in 1637?
Q: How long did the Six-Day War between Egypt and Israel last?
A: (after long pause) Fourteen days
Q: Where did the D-Day landings take place?
A: (after pause) Pearl Harbour?
Q: What is the currency in India
Q: Johnny Weissmuller died on this day. Which jungle-swinging character clad only in a loin cloth did he play?
I can let Ramadan slide I think, but Johnny Weissmuller as Jesus I will take to my grave.
Here is a link to a very interesting article by Soumya Bhattacharya – deputy editor of the Hindustan Times – on notions of colour and race in India. It is a fascinating read to someone with little personal experience in the subcontinent, and I'm sure will cause a stir back home. I am not surprised by some of the comments of the readers, and as usual, one can find almost equal parts hope and dismay (alright, maybe a bit more dismay).
Wikipedia informs me that the National Swine Registry notes that this is the third "most recorded breed" of pigs in the United States, no small part due to this magnificent advertisement.
See this specimen's muscular rump, and shapely legs. You can almost taste the flavour! Elegantly grazing in a pristine field, this pig is not for muck and bother. Why would you not invest in a dozen or so of these fabulous beasts?
Sunday, February 03, 2008
What is the point? Two keepers? Voges was 'on standby', why not play him? He can bowl a bit and is more than handy with the bat. Why wouldn't you reward someone who has done well in the Gillette/McDonald's/FAI/Mercantile Mutual/ING/Ford Ranger cup? What did David Hussey do wrong in the 20/20? Cameron White? Any of these can bat at a pace and contribute with the ball. But you go with a second wicketkeeper? It just seems plain stupid. I can see it if you're on an overseas tour with a limited squad, but at home you'd rather a makeshift guy in the field than someone like Hussey, who is making runs hand over fist at domestic level?
It just seems stupid.
My favorite is probably that from 1926. Simple, oblique and clean.
The 1930 ad is novel, and does feature Tasmania (and many representations of Australia do not), but a clash of colours and disproportionate stumps make it look quite ugly.
The ad from 1934 I do like. Yes, the kangaroo looks very ropey, but to redeem matters the ball has a marvellously cheeky grin. The human hands on the animals slightly disturb me, you wouldn't want to look too long at this poster while tripping. The aggressive posture of the Australian, and defensive response of the Lion suggests that some degree of sledging is going on. So not much may have changed!