Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Curiouser Than Usual Book Club - First Session

And here we are at last, our first ever book club meeting. I'm glad you could make it. Pull up a chair, move that Xing Dynasty vase over and get comfortable while I light the fireplace. There, much better. Now let's start sharing our thoughts on the first of our literary pieces The Great Gatsby.

How did you like it? What are your initial reactions to it? What do you think it's about? We want to know your notions about the book and why you think Fitzgerald used the characters and symbols he did.

Here's your chance to have your say. So comment on this post and let's discuss what you thought about it. Use the discussion questions I posted earlier to start you off. I'm very interested in what you concluded about the story and the meanings you've derived from it.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Gatsby in the Sun

This was a little bit of my afternoon. Enjoy yours.

Member List

As the book club is growing the foundation members have moved their chairs over for a new row of seats, the Exclusive Ancillary Members. These are members that are added from now on. The first of these is warmly welcomed. The Curiouser Than Usual Book Club Member List is currently as follows:

Foundation Members

Tina B.
Luke S.
Jessica R.
Rachel F.
Nathan V.
Roddy R.
Rhiannon O.

Exclusive Ancillary Members

Emily P.
Sophie C.

Attn: Curiouser Than Usual Book Club Members

Here are some discussion questions for you to look at while you're finishing off The Great Gatsby. Have a look, ponder them, maybe even answer some of them on your own. We'll use them as a discussion starting point when we all have our say about the book from next Wednesday onwards.

1. What is the American Dream? How does Gatsby represent this dream? Does the novel praise or condemn Gatsby's dream? Has the American Dream changed since Gatsby's time?

2. Think about the two worlds of the Midwest and the East of America, as Fitzgerald describes them, and what they represent for Nick and for Gatsby.

3. What is Nick Carraway's role in the novel? Consider Nick's father's advice in chapter one: "Whenever you feel like criticising anyone, just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had." What is meant by this? Does telling the story from Nick's perspective make the story more believable?

4. What is the meaning of the title? In what ways was Gatsby great?

5. Discuss Fitzgerald's use of symbols, such as the eyes of Dr. T. J. Ecklebur, the green light on Daisy's clock, and the valley of ashes.

6. Why did Nick become involved with Jordan, and why did he break off their relationship?

Use these questions to get your analytical brain whirring and get ready to have your say soon. Don't worry if you're not finished the novel, you can always finish it off in your own time. Just read at your own pace. So long.

Mind the rug on your way out of the library, it curls up and is a terrible liability.

Shade My Drink

It just occurred to me the other day as I sat looking at the glass jar shaped like a sitting bear full of cocktail umbrellas by my bed that cocktail umbrellas are completely and utterly pointless. like, really have no purpose at all. Other than of course making your drink a little shady and perhaps even a little bit fancy. But that's it. Who invented them? Why did someone, at some point in history, think an umbrella would be a nice addition to their beverage? It got me searching for answers, and I'll share them with you here.

The cocktail umbrella, it is thought, was first introduced to North America via Hawaii and other Polynesian isles through Trader Vic's, an apparently notorious little speakeasy down in San Francisco. And from here it spread into the ladies area in mens-clubs and bars, and eventually beyond the gender restraints and into full-blown society.

More interestingly, it does have a purpose. To shade your drink. I at first didn't think of this as a purpose at all. But now imagine yourself as an ice cube floating in a Long Island Ice Tea sitting on a pool tray by a deck chair in the sun. Now imagine a small paper umbrella in between you and the sun. See how much longer you last, cooling the drink? So it does have both an exotic past and a flamboyant future. Keep it alive, grab a packet at your local convenience store, and poke one in every drink.

Astral Plane

I bought a t-shirt the other day that fits loose, yet is a good shape for the leaner gentleman. It was made by The Astral Plane, which is a fashion company, "For the dedicated followers of fashion" we are told via the label. I just checked out their current season of stock and it's mighty fine. Here's a sneak peak, and be sure to check out their site here. They've even got a blog. I like them more for that.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

James Meets Oscar

The other night I popped in to my regular hairdressers and was rudely refused a cut due to being fully booked. How rude. So I then waltzed around the shopping mall looking for a suitable place to have a hair cut done instead of the original location. And did I find one or what! I stumbled across OscarOscar, a fresh, modern take on a salon full of lisping and spraying and snipping and good music.

I was immediately catered for, summoned to my comfortable chair, given a green tea and spring water to sip, had a back and neck massage before a full shampoo/condition and further massage, before actually starting the hair cut.

My hairdresser was incredibly good at his profession and tamed the wildebeest sitting upon my head and turned it into a James Dean quiff. I was more than happy. Plus all of their products and solutions are 100% organic. Nice effort OscarOscar. Pop in for your next cut (check out stores here), you'll feel amazing. And more like James Dean, which is always a plus.