So, unfortunately, the theme of The Mayor of Casterbridge seems to be that people can’t change. The book is fun to read, though, because there are a lot of secrets revealed dramatically through the interactions of the characters. And because literature uses long sentences with awesome words in them in a way that other stuff I read does not.
See below for quotes from the book, links to other Hardy books, and more on when and why I read this one.
Remember how I failed to identify the botanical object in the Cold Storage Logo as an apple?
Yeah. Well, here’s another object I misidentified.
I more or less assumed it was a postmodern take on the aerodynamic bicycle helmet. Look at this actual bicycle helmet and tell me you don’t see the resemblance.
But no, that giant sculpture by the escalator is a nutmeg seed. Nutmeg. And apparently the red stuff is called mace.
Who knew? I mean, in my experience, nutmeg usually looks like this:
Well, maybe people who grew up in this part of the world would be more likely to recognize nutmeg than I would, since the spice islands of Indonesia are not too far from here. If not, the fact that nutmeg trees are local at least explains this particular art installation at Orchard Road.
I walked down Orchard Road and took photos when I got to a bit of sidewalk that featured matching repeating pairs of these seven tropical fruits.
Did you think that first one was a durian because of the texture and because durians are so famous in Singapore? That bean shape seems wrong for a durian, though, as do the attached leaves. I’m betting it’s actually a mango.
The pineapple has leaves on both ends, even though canonical representations only have leaves at the top, but let’s assume this is realistic. In fact, some pineapples are reddish on the outside like the paper ones people hang up during Chinese New Year!
I have eaten all of these, though I may never have peeled a rambutan myself. (I like to think of rambutans as velcro fruit.) They are internally similar to lychees and longans, which I also like.
I think the mangosteens are the strangest of these seven.
It was beautiful and moderately entertaining, but Kung Fu Panda 3 wasn’t great. I think the scenery and stylization was the strongest aspect of the project.
The premise is that an evil former friend of the old turtle character is stealing the life force of all China’s kung fu masters, both living and dead. Po the panda, as the famous Dragon Warrior, is the only one who can stop him. However, first he must figure out the answer to the surprisingly difficult question, Who am I?
The other two Death Race movies had satisfying plots. This movie had what could have been a satisfying plot, but somehow it fell short. It just wasn’t really particularly clear what was happening or why, so it was hard to care about the characters and events. Moreover, the dialog was amazingly boring. Take away the drama, and it’s just cars and blood and death. Yuck.
The premise is that the moneymaking prison death race management company gets forcibly bought out by a first class jerk, who tells star driver Frankenstein that he in fact cannot win his freedom from prison by winning a fifth race as promised and that instead he is obliged to travel the world to compete and lose to attract fans across the globe.
I had never seen Accepted until yesterday, but even without seeing it, I knew how it was going to go. It’s basically Camp Nowhere (1994) with older kids. And yet, it’s not: it’s a critique of traditional higher education in America. And it’s got Justin “I’m a Mac” Long in it, who’s in Herbie: Fully Loaded (2005) as well as Live Free or Die Hard (2007), which I didn’t like.
The premise is that a guy who didn’t get into college rents an abandoned mental hospital and invents a college, which then attracts other ‘rejects’ by means of its all-too-functional fake website. South Harmon Institute of Technology (SHIT) turns out to be the best thing that happened to any of them: they’re finally ‘accepted’.
The two key words—‘shit’, with its endless potential for humor, and ‘accepted’, which conveys a wistful longing for belonging—together perfectly encapsulate the movie’s spirit. The producers are Tom Shadyac and Michael Bostick, those responsible for the enjoyable Jim Carrey comedies Liar Liar (1997) and Bruce Almighty (2003).
The word ‘alight’ didn’t used to really be part of my vocabulary, probably because in the US we had a car and we drove ourselves everywhere we couldn’t walk or fly. In Singapore we use buses, trains and taxis to get around. So now I hear automated announcements that say something like:
The next stop is XXX interchange. Passengers traveling to YYY, please alight at the next station.
Please allow passengers to alight before boarding.
That’s all very well and good. I have nothing against the verb ‘alight’. I don’t think there’s necessarily a better word to use, if you want an expression more formal than ‘get off (or out of) the vehicle’.
No, what amuses me is when ‘alight’ is used transitively to mean ‘drop someone off’. Or when someone means ‘drop you off’ and only says ‘drop you’.
May I alight you here?
May I drop you here?
I don’t think it’s just taxi drivers who use ‘drop’ to mean ‘drop off’, though. I think non-Singaporean native English speakers say that too, don’t we?
This is language evolution in progress. Why shouldn’t any verb be able to take an object? Why shouldn’t we just kill off—I mean, um, kill—all those pesky phrasal verbs? Maybe this is the future.
Below are two dozen photos of a weekend trip to Bangkok. We stayed in Chinatown, tolerated the inevitable traffic, ate good Chinese and Thai food, visited the Suan Pakkad Palace Museum and window-shopped.