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Monday, 31 July 2017

«The Grapes of Wrath» - Infographic & Plot Summary


The Grapes of Wrath takes place during the late 1930s and follows the journey of the Joad family as they travel from Oklahoma through Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona to California. The novel opens in Oklahoma, where farmers like the Joad family are facing severe conditions. The land is gradually eroding, leading to fierce dust storms. Tom Joad, the novel's protagonist, has just been released from prison. As he walks toward his house, he meets a former preacher named Jim Casy. Casy likes to talk about ideas, which amuses and annoys Tom.
Tom and Casy reach Tom's home only to find it abandoned. Tom learns that while he was away in prison, big landowners began driving tenant farmers from their land because of disappointing crop yields. Muley Graves, an old neighbor, tells Tom that the other members of the Joad family were pushed off their land and are now staying at Uncle John's place. Tom and Casy arrive at Uncle John's farm and greet the core members of the Joad family: Ma and Pa, Tom's parents; Noah and Al, Tom's brothers; and Grampa and Granma, Tom's grandparents.
Tom learns that many tenant farmers in Oklahoma are selling their belongings and traveling west to California, where there is rumored to be plenty of work. His family tells him that they are preparing to join this migration. Soon, several more family members arrive to greet Tom: Uncle John; Tom's younger sister, Ruthie; his younger brother, Winfield; his older sister, Rose of Sharon; and her husband, Connie. Rose of Sharon is pregnant. Casy asks if he can come with the Joads to California. The Joads welcome him, and they all load the truck. The Joads find it difficult to leave but feel that they must.
The Joads join numerous other migrants who are traveling down Highway 66 to California. At one point, the Joads stop their truck and meet a couple named Ivy and Sairy Wilson, who are repairing a car. Grampa is very sick and soon dies. The Wilsons help to bury him. The Joads and Wilsons decide to travel together to California. At an eatery on Highway 66, a waitress and cook show empathy for a migrant family, selling them food for a low price.
The Wilsons' car breaks down. Tom suggests a plan to fix the car, but it requires that the Joad family separate. Ma forcefully resists this plan, thereby taking a leadership role in the family. Tom implements a different plan to fix the car that keeps the family together.
The Joads and Wilsons arrive in California and are met with hostility from a policeman. Noah decides to stay by a river, leaving the family no choice but to go on without him. Sairy Wilson gets sick, causing the Wilsons to also stay behind. Ma worries about the family breaking up. Tom takes charge of the preparations for the trip across the desert. As the Joads cross the desert, Granma dies.
The Joads bury Granma. At this point, they realize they are among thousands of migrants flocking to California in search of work and housing, only to find that both are scarce. They soon arrive at a "Hooverville," a makeshift migrant camp, and are stunned by the squalor there. Not expecting such hardships, Connie abandons the Joad family, including his wife. It is now clear to the family that the number of migrant workers in California far exceeds the number of available jobs. Tom also realizes that the local landowners are glad for this, as it allows them to keep wages low and prices high. A contractor tries to hire workers from the camp without stating the pay. Angry about this, the workers, including Tom and Casey, attack the contractor. Casy takes the rap. Tom leaves the Hooverville with his family. As they depart, they see a mob raid the camp.
The Joads arrive at a government camp, where the migrants are allowed to govern themselves. Police are not allowed in the camp without a warrant. The Joads find the camp is well maintained. At a dance, however, men hired by the police start a fight with the migrants so that the police will have a reason to raid the camp. Tom and other migrant workers use nonviolent means keep the peace.
To keep prices high, the big landowners destroy some of their crops instead of letting hungry migrants eat them. This waste and cruelty causes a "crop" to develop in the souls of the migrants—the grapes of wrath. Ma tells the Joad men they have to leave the government camp to find work.
The Joads get work picking peaches at a ranch. A day's wage is barely enough to buy dinner. Tom sneaks out of the ranch and meets with people who are picketing the ranch. He finds that Casy is leading them. Casy tells Tom about the importance of all people working together to fight oppression. The police raid the protesters' camp, and Casy is killed. Tom kills the policeman who killed Casy and is injured himself. He sneaks back into the Joads' shack in the ranch. A posse starts to search for Tom. Ma decides that the family has to leave the ranch, hiding Tom in the back of the truck.
The Joads get work picking cotton, and Tom hides out in the willows to allow his injuries to heal. Ruthie tells some kids about Tom killing two men and hiding out. Ma brings food to Tom and tells him he has to leave. While hiding, Tom has realized the meaning of Casy's ideas. He realizes that people working together to fight oppression are stronger. Tom says good-bye to Ma. A rainstorm hits the cotton farm, including the nearby camp where the Joads are living. Rose of Sharon gives birth to a stillborn infant. The camp floods, forcing the Joads to evacuate. They go to a barn for shelter and meet a boy and his starving father. Rose of Sharon breastfeeds the starving man, thereby symbolically forming a community that extends beyond family. By helping each other in dire circumstances, people find a way to survive.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Imagine - by Pentatonix | video and lyrics


Imagine there's no heaven

It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...



Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...



You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one



Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...



You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one


Saturday, 29 July 2017

Idiom: Black Sheep

Definition: Somebody disreputable, especially within a family

Example: Despite being a vicar, Roger was always considered to be the black sheep of the family. And all because he had stolen a chocolate bar when he was five.

Origin:

Black sheep‘, unsurprisingly, comes from the appearance of black sheep within flocks. Black wool is a recessive genetic trait and their appearance within white breeds is rare. Generations past, this colouring was interpreted many ways. To a few, it was a good omen, but to the majority, it was seen as bad. Some even considered black sheep to be touched by the devil. Whatever the superstition, the wool was considered less valuable as it could not be dyed, and so a black sheep was less desirable than a white one.
Some sources also say that a poorly translated bible in 1525 didn’t help matters, speaking negatively of ‘blacke shepe amonge the lambes‘. By the way, its not poorly spelled as well. English is an ever evolving language, and that was the correct way of spelling in 1525.
There seems to be no connection between the idiom and the popular nursery rhyme ‘Baa baa Black Sheep’, and there are no racial slurs to be read into it either.
This phrase is one of the most widely adopted in languages across Europe from Spain to Denmark to Bulgaria, and almost everywhere inbetween.


Friday, 28 July 2017

«Oliver Twist» - Infographic & Plot Summary

Oliver Twist begins with the birth of a baby boy in a workhouse in a town some 70 miles outside London in the 1820s. The boy's mother dies, leaving her son to be raised by the parish. Named Oliver Twist by the parish beadle, a minor official who helps oversee the orphanage, the boy grows up ragged and undernourished at a baby farm, a place where a fee is paid for the ongoing care of babies and children. At age nine he returns to the workhouse, where he picks oakum, unraveling strands from old ropes to earn his keep. One day after Oliver dares to ask for more gruel, the astonished workhouse board decides to find him an apprenticeship.
Oliver is apprenticed to the local undertaker, who trains him to be a professional mourner at children's funerals. This promotion earns Oliver the ill will of the undertaker's older apprentice, Noah Claypole. One day Noah picks a fight with Oliver and ends up getting knocked down. Noah tells the workhouse board that Oliver tried to kill him, the serving girl, and the undertaker's wife, and claims Oliver threatened to kill the undertaker. Oliver decides to leave town before he falls back into the board's clutches.
Seven days later Oliver reaches London, where he meets Jack Dawkins. Jack introduces Oliver to Fagin, an old man who provides room and board to boys in return for their work. At first Oliver believes the boys make handkerchiefs and pocketbooks and thinks Fagin must be a very generous man to help them. But two of the boys take Oliver out one day, and he is shocked to see them pick a gentleman's pocket. They run off, leaving Oliver to take the blame.
Oliver goes before a magistrate, but a witness exonerates him. During the trial Oliver passes out from fever. The pickpocketing victim, Mr. Brownlow, takes Oliver home with him, where he notices the boy resembles a portrait of a woman hanging in his house. Oliver is happy and grateful to Mr. Brownlow and his housekeeper, Mrs. Bedwin. Oliver recovers, only to be sent on an errand, recaptured, and returned to Fagin.
Egged on by a mysterious associate named Monks, Fagin concocts a plan to draw Oliver into a life of crime, and his plan seems to be going well. Unbeknownst to Fagin, though, Oliver longs to return to Mr. Brownlow and Mrs. Bedwin. It looks as if his hopes will be dashed when Bill Sikes takes Oliver to help out with a burglary. He needs a very small boy to fit through a tiny window and open the front door. Just after Oliver enters the house, the inhabitants wake up and discover him, and Oliver is shot. Sikes carries him away, but he is forced to leave the boy unconscious in a ditch.
When Oliver comes to, he makes his way to the very house where he was shot. There, Mrs. Maylie—the owner of the house—and her niece, Rose, nurse him back to health with the help of the local doctor, Mr. Losberne. The boy tells them his life's story, and all three dedicate themselves to helping him.
The Maylies take Oliver to live in their country cottage, where he grows strong and healthy. Rose, however, takes ill. Oliver goes to post a letter to Mr. Losberne asking for his help and, while on this errand, bumps into a stranger. Later Oliver sees Fagin and the stranger outside his window.
Monks meets with Mr. Bumble and his wife, who is the workhouse matron. She shows Monks a locket that was stolen from Oliver's mother's corpse. Monks buys the locket and throws it in the river. In the meantime Fagin has acquired a new member for his gang: Noah Claypole. Noah earns his keep by stealing from children and spying for Fagin.
Rose, Mrs. Maylie, Oliver, and Mr. Losberne are in London when Nancy comes to Rose's hotel room and tells her that she overheard Fagin talking with Monks and that Monks called Oliver his brother. Rose takes Oliver to see Mr. Brownlow and tells the old gentleman what she learned from Nancy. Rose and Mr. Brownlow later meet Nancy near London Bridge, where they ask her to turn in Fagin's gang. She refuses. The meeting is overheard by Noah Claypole, who reports back to Fagin.
Fagin tells Bill Sikes that Nancy has ratted out the gang, and Bill goes into a fury and kills her. He then goes on the run, and, in trying to escape from pursuers, falls from a roof with a noose around his neck and hangs himself. Based on evidence from Noah Claypole, Fagin is arrested, tried as an accomplice to murder, and sentenced to hang.
Mr. Brownlow captures Monks, gets him to disclose all his machinations against Oliver, and has him sign a confession. It turns out that Oliver's mother was the great love of Monks's father, who was Mr. Brownlow's close friend. Monks's father had hoped to marry Oliver's mother, but he took ill and died before he could do so. He had written a will leaving most of his money to Oliver, but Monks's mother made sure it was never found. Oliver finally receives his inheritance, Mr. Brownlow adopts him, and Oliver and his friends all end up living happily in a country village.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Idiom: A Month of Sundays

Definition: A very, very long time.

Example: Surveying the damage after the party, Martin realised it would take a month of Sundays to get it all cleared up, especially that stuffed moose head stuck in the toilet.

Origin:

To dig deeper into the origin of this idiom, we need to define its meaning mathematically. A Month of Sundays is not just a very, very long time. It the calendar period it would take to rack up 30 or 31 Sundays, namely 30 or 31 weeks.
The phrase first appears in print in 1759, during a time when the Sabbath was observed much more closely then than it is today. Not only was it a day of rest as it is still considered to be in Christian societies now, it was strictly enforced. You were not meant to work, you were required to attend church, give thanks, and not allowed to indulge in any pleasures. Puritanical societies considered music, drinking, feasting, dancing, and almost any other activity out of bounds on the Sabbath.
The portrait of Whistler’s mother, painted a hundred years later, probably sums up Sundays under those conditions. Dress in black. Frown. Sit quietly and stare at the wall. Make sure you are sitting in a normal chair, not a rocker. Rocking on a Sunday would be too much like fun.
Sundays would be very boring indeed. A month of Sundays would be interminably long.
Co-incidentally, those 30 weeks are about the same length as a typical pregnancy. 


Monday, 24 July 2017

Idiom: see red

Definition: To be overcome with anger

Example: The scratches down the side of his prized Corvette made Nigel see red. Ironically, that was the same colour of the paint that was damaged.

Origin:

It is widely thought that to see red comes from the ‘sport’ of bull fighting, specifically the waving of the red cape to enrage the bull. Despite this connection, it actually isn’t the colour of the cape that attracts the bull. Why? Because bulls are colourblind. It’s the movement of the cape that actually gets their attention. There is another phrase ‘like a red rag to a bull’ which seems to back up this theory as it has a very similar meaning.
A second theory says it may come from an American phrase ‘to see things red‘ which has fallen out of fashion. This refers to the colour that infuses the cheeks during rage, as your blood pressure soars, sometimes referred to as the ‘red mist’.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Idiom: big cheese

Definition: The most important person/ the boss.

Example: Sir Bigglesworth-Smythe was a big cheese in the world of moustache grooming products, having created the world’s best-selling tash wax.

Origin:

Big cheese has undergone a series of changes over the centuries. Originally, just a simple ‘the cheese’ meant something top notch. Even the word ‘cheesy’, which now represents something tacky and embarrassing, once meant something of quality.
In the early 20th century, big cheese stood for wealth or fame. It wasn’t until 1922 that its current usage came into being.
Where did this ridiculous phrase come from in the first place?
Some attribute it to literal big cheeses created as showpieces in those same years of the 20th century.
A truly monstrous cheese was created in the 1799 by dairy farmers from Cheshire, Massachussets and sent to President Thomas Jefferson as a gift. It weighed 1250 pounds, was four feet in diameter, and had to be carried in a wagon. Legend has it that it was still being served five years later. That’s a lot of cheese. Iddy’s not sure if this particular fromage gave birth to the idiom, but it’s a great anecdote nevertheless.
Some sources claim it derives from a Persian/Urdu word ‘chiz’, which means ‘thing’. It was probably absorbed into the UK English language by returning soldiers in the Victorian age and Indian emigrants in later decades. In this way, the phrase is a corruption of ‘big chiz’ or ‘big thing’.
Interestingly, big cheese can be used with respect (though quite informally), or in a sarcastic way. If somebody calls you a big cheese, listen carefully to their tone!

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Idiom: hot potato

Definition: Something controversial that nobody wants to deal with.

Example: The topic of Mal’s new hairpiece was something of a hot potato at the party.

Origin:

The inference is that a hot potato is too hot to handle. It is derived from drop like a hot potato, meaning to abandon something as quickly as possible. Coined in the mid-nineteenth century, the full phrase has fallen somewhat out of fashion in recent decades, leaving us with just the overheated tuber at its heart.
It also lends its name to a party game where participants pass an object as quickly as they can. 

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Jane Austen, who died 200 years ago, has been enjoying an impressively vigorous afterlife.

«Great writers, living or dead, such as Austen, get reinterpreted in ways beyond their control. » Sherlock Holmes

A love of Jane Austen is a habit the world just can’t seem to kick.
Today marks the 200th anniversary of famed author (and hopeless romantic) Jane Austen’s death. The author continues to bring England’s Regency period to life (and romanticize it) to her countless fans. In a sign of her legacy’s tremendous influence, the Bank of England debuted a 10 pound note with her face on it this week.
But to call Austen lovers simply “fans” is underselling their devotion. Fanatics, perhaps, is more accurate. They join clubs for Austen lovers in droves — the Jane Austen Society of North America has over 5,000 members and hosts an annual conference. (That’s just one — there’s societies everywhere from New Zealand to Brazil.) They make pilgrimages to the house she grew up in and the places she spent her life (the city of Bath, in particular, is a hot spot, with its Jane Austen museum) as well as the various homes used in screen adaptations of her books.
There’s enough demand for Austen-inspired film and television that there’s been at least 26 film, television and theater adaptations of Pride & Prejudice alone since 1938, and several others of each of her remaining five novels (and even a few of her novella, Lady Susan, which Austen herself never submitted for publication.) Works of Austen fan fiction, too, aren’t banished to the corners of the internet where only the most obsessive of readers can find them. Instead, these Austen-inspired authors nab book deals of their own.

It’s not just that Austen’s books have remained a presence. Texts far older and far less widely-read remain a part of English class curriculums, on book store shelves. But people aren’t shelling out thousands of dollars to go on Henry James-themed tours of England, or gathering at yearly conferences to discuss the works of Fyodor Dostoyevsky. And even beloved literary figures like Charlotte Brontë’s Heathcliff fail to inspire the same sort of worldwide adoration that Fitzwilliam Darcy does.
Austen inspires something bigger in her devotees (a club to which, I admit, I count myself.) And the question, really, is why? Why have Austen’s books become more than sheer novels, but cornerstones of culture and objects of obsession for thousands, if not millions of readers? The answer differs for each Austen lover, to be sure, but it’s all grounded in relatability.
While the customs and expectations of Regency era is so firmly a part of her stories, they’re practically a character of their own. There’s something about Austen’s stories — not unlike another famed Brit, William Shakespeare, a comparison that academics have been making since 1821 — that makes them applicable to any time period or scenario. In fact, her heroines, often quick-witted and bright, sometimes seem more at home in the modern era, a time when expectations for women are broader.
Case in point: It’s not hard to imagine the matchmaking, scheming Emma as a spoiled teenager in Beverly Hills in the mid-’90s (as she was in Clueless), or Elizabeth Bennet as an Indian girl bucking her family’s traditional conventions (in Bride & Prejudice). Though there are a few elements that feel dated today, like the Dashwood sisters’ desperation after the death of their father (now, of course, they could just get jobs instead of relying on the generosity of distant family members) but the foundation of each story remains relevant.
“The characters are just universal,” literature student and Austen obsessive Siobhan O’Brien told Australia’s ABC. “You can recognize them in the people around you.”
There’s no denying that women love Austen’s work the most dearly. And O’Brien’s quote explains that, too: They see themselves in them. Her heroines aren’t the most wealthy or the most attractive characters in the book. But still, they find love with kind men who deserve them — even if they may not seem it at first. A marriage like Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy‘s is what you should aspire to, in the world of Austen, one that is based on love (but has practical benefits) versus one like Charlotte Lucas’ to Mr. Collins, a union formed out of desperation. Austen reminds people that the former is possible.
Of course, her plots wouldn’t matter much if it weren’t for the sharpness of Austen’s writing, which still sparkles today as it did 200 years ago. And like her plots, her words ring as true today as they did then. “There are people, who the more you do for them, the less they will do for themselves,” she wrote in Emma. Or “life seems but a quick procession of busy nothings,” from Mansfield Park.
But even with all this, Austen’s continued popularity is somewhat astounding when you consider how close her books came to extinction. Her first book, Sense and Sensibility, was published in 1811, and she died in 1817. And though she enjoyed success while she lived, it wasn’t really long enough to make her a household name in those immediate years. By 1820, her publisher destroyed the copies of her final two books, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, both of which had not yet sold. Twelve years went by without any Austen work in print. Though they were put back into circulation (for good) in 1833, it was her nephew James Austen’s 1870 book, A Memoir of the Life of Jane Austen, that truly put her on the map.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that with every new generation of readers comes a new crop of Austenites. And though times change, fads fade and customs adapt, there will always be something about Austen’s characters that speaks to people, and keeps them hopefully for their own happy ending — and their own Mr. Darcy.
http://people.com/books/jane-austen-legacy-death-anniversary/

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Idiom: the apple of my eye

Definition: Somebody you cherish, a favourite person.

Example: My kids are normally the apple of my eye, but after their behaviour on the car journey, I may have to reassess that.

Origin:

In olde English, the pupils of the eye were referred to as ‘apples’ as they were thought to be spherical like a piece of fruit such as an apple.
Shakespeare used the phrase in A Midsummers Night Dream (c1590), describing a character having been struck by Cupid’s arrow in ‘the apple of his eye’. The King James Bible of 1611 also uses the phrase. The Hebrew translation of the same passage uses the phrase ‘little man of the eye’. This refers to your reflection in somebody else’s pupils. You have to look really really close and invade their personal space to do this. A liitle bit of advice: don’t do it to a stranger.
Going deeper down the rabbit hole of word origins, the word ‘pupil’ is derived from the Latin ‘pupilla’ or ‘little doll’. This also refers to that reflection. And that is why students are also pupils, being little people.
So, what has this have to do with someone you cherish? Simply, they are somebody you keep close. Close enough to be little reflections in your eye.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Idiom: on the ball

Definition: To be alert, quick to react, or clever.

Example: Luckily, Smithy was on the ball, and noticed that he had spelled his boss, Mr. Fort’s name wrong on the email, and corrected it before sending it. It’s amazing how a misplaced ‘a’ can do so much damage.

Origin:

A common explanation for on the ball gives it a naval connection like so many other phrases. We’ll visit some of the others at a later date. This particular one claims that it is related to the time-ball atop the Royal Greenwich Observatory in London, which in turn overlooks the Royal Naval College on the banks of the Thames. Ships moored riverside could set their timepieces by it as it dropped at the strike of one. Their clocks would be set to the second, or ‘on the ball’. Sounds great, but apparently untrue.
It is simply a shortening of the sporting advice “Keep your eye on the ball”. Bet you heard that phrase more than once during your childhood.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Idiom: Having your leg pulled

Definition: Being deceived in a humorous way.

Example: Larry realised his friends had been pulling his leg, but only after he turned up to the party as the only person in fancy dress. Doubly unfortunate was his choice of a French maid’s outfit.

 Origin:

There are two widely discounted theories to why you might have your leg pulled, rather than another part of your anatomy.
  • In Victorian London, street thieves would tackle their victims by their legs, or trip them up with strings or wires. Once down, they were easy targets. Iddy thinks this is a little bit vague and not clearly related to its current usage.
  • Still in good olde London, executions at Tyburn were often carried out via hanging by suspension. This grisly method did not employ a long drop which would normally break the victim’s neck. Instead, it left them dangling on the rope until they died of strangulation. It is said that relatives of the soon to be departed hired men to grab them by the legs and pull down with all their might in hopes of speeding up the process, and reducing the suffering. This, Iddy says, seems to be even more unrelated to its usage than the first explanation. He also adds that there seems to be a desire to connect all unknown origins to the ghastliest stories possible.
The idiom does, in fact, seem to originate from 19th century America, not London at all. It had a different meaning in its earlier inception, that of asking for something, usually money. If somebody was pulling your leg, they were probably hitting you up for a short-term loan.
Not to be outdone, the British have added an extension to the base idiom. “Pull the other one. It has bells on.”

Monday, 10 July 2017

Idiom: over the moon

Definition: To be overjoyed.

Example: When Beryl heard that her ex-husband had fallen down the stairs, she was over the moon.

Origin:

Used more commonly in the UK, ‘over the moon’ is most likely to have been lifted from “Hey Diddle Diddle”. You know the one. That nursery rhyme where that cow famously jumped over the moon. First seen in print in 1760, the rhyme was probably common in popular culture for a century or more prior to this. In fact, the phrase ‘I shall jump over the moon for joy!” appears in another book “The Coquet” in 1718.
The phrase really gained popularity in the 1970’s as a common exclamation during football commentary. This use was further boosted by the satirical magazine Private Eye, which published outlandish quotes from the footballing world, cementing it in everyday speech.