Rhetorical Questions: 12 March 2011

Victoria Green asks:

Can we have Shappi Khorsandi’s brother in his pants in every issue?

It would be possible for the Weekend to create a special slot for pictures of people in their underpants, an equivalent of the Sun’s Page 3 girl; but it doesn’t fit with the general tenor of the magazine, and it’s an unlikely direction for the editorial team to take. Unfortunately for Victoria, even if they do branch out to regular pants pics, they’re more likely to vary the pants-wearer from issue to issue (as The Sun does) than to stick resolutely to Khorsandi’s brother.

Jill Harrison asks:

“The other day a friend said, ‘Jimmy looks like he’s got Aids but forgot to tell his face.’” Nice friends Jimmy Carr has. Oh, silly me, it was a joke. Was it? Better ask Frankie Boyle or Jim Davidson. Or someone with Aids perhaps.

It was indeed a joke. Jill’s confusion may be a result of the erroneous assumption that a joke must be funny. Certainly most jokes are intended to be funny, but actual funniness is by no means universal to the form – just as not all meals, for example, are delicious.

Geoff Wicks asks:

Why is it always actors who have the earliest memories (Q&A)? I have often wondered who would be the first to remember being in the womb. Gillian Anderson (5 March) came very near to saying so. What next? Remembering being a sperm going for a swim?

Before answering Geoff’s question, we thought we’d better check whether his observation was correct. We went through every Q&A published in the past year, and noted down the age of every earliest memory given, wherever this could be ascertained – either because it was stated directly, or because it could be deduced. (For example, David Miliband’s earliest memory was of the birth of his brother, and therefore his age at the time was readily calculable). In cases where the age was given as, for example, “2 or 3” or “not yet 3”, we went with 2.5.

We found that the earliest memories of the interviewed actors came at ages 1, 3, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4 and 7 (with a mean of  3.5).
The earliest memories of musicians came at ages 1, 2, 3.5, 4 and 4 (mean 2.9).
The earliest memories of television presenters came at ages 2.5, 2.5 and 3 (mean: 2.67).
The earliest memories of editors and writers came at ages 2 and 2 (mean: 2).
And the earliest memories of politicians came at ages 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 4 and 5 (mean: 3).

The evidence is clear. Actors do not in fact consistently claim to have earlier first memories than non-actors; and in fact the mean age of earliest memory is higher among the interviewed actors than among any other group. Even Gillian Anderson’s memory aged 1 is not unprecedented.

In answer to Geoff’s questions, then, we can’t say whether anyone will claim to remember being a sperm – but we can say that if someone does, it is not particularly likely to be an actor.

Sara Hayward asks:

I had only to glance at the photograph for Clare Price and Struan Robertson’s Blind Date (5 March) to know that the scores would be high and that they’d meet again. How? They looked like each other, and great matches often do.

Thanks to Sara for answering her own rhetorical question with such clarity.

Valerie Farnell asks:

Scallops are going down (The Measure, 5 March)? Never!

There’s no need to fret! The Measure often declares that things are going “up” or “down”, but it’s not the result of peer-reviewed research or even an exhaustive survey – indeed, often it seems to be little more than whim. Take a look, for example, at this Measure from October 2008: going up we have tedddy bears, and going down we have macaroons and Emma Watson. With the hindsight granted us by our viewpoint in 2011, we know that haters of teddy bears, like admirers of macaroons or Watson, had nothing to fear.

Alistair Ross:

Dear God, if they’re all female, they’re not old enough; if they’re all old, they’re not black enough; if they’re all black, they’re not gay enough (Readers’ Letters). Will you lot ever stop whingeing?

Their Questions Answered has been answering Readers’ Letters since August 2010, and we therefore feel particularly well qualified to answer this question. The answer is no.

Victoria Green asks:
Can we have Shappi Khorsandi’s brother in his pants in every issue? 

It would be possible for the Weekend to create a special slot for pictures of people in their underpants, an equivalent of the Sun’s Page 3 girl; but it doesn’t fit with the general tenor of the magazine, and it’s an unlikely direction for the editorial team to take. Unfortunately for Victoria, even if they do, they’re more likely (like the Sun) to vary the pants-wearer from issue to issue, rather than sticking resolutely to Khorsandi’s brother.

Jill Harrison asks:
“The other day a friend said, ‘Jimmy looks like he’s got Aids but forgot to tell his face.’” Nice friends Jimmy Carr has. Oh, silly me, it was a joke. Was it? Better ask Frankie Boyle or Jim Davidson. Or someone with Aids perhaps.

It was indeed a joke. Jill’s confusion arises from her apparent assumption that a joke must be funny. Certainly most jokes are intended to be funny, but it’s by no means a necessity – just as not all meals, for example, are delicious.

Geoff Wicks asks:
Why is it always actors who have the earlist memories (Q&A)? I have often wondered who would be the first to remember being in the womb. Gillian Anderson (5 March) came very near to saying so. What next? Remembering being a sperm going for a swim?

actor 1, 3, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4, 7   mean: 3.5
musician 1, 2, 3.5, 4, 4,    mean: 2.9
tv presenter 2.5, 2.5, 3   mean: 2.67
editor/writer 2, 2 mean: 2
Politician: 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5   mean: 3

Before answering Geoff’s question, we thought we’d better check whether his observation was correct, so we went through the last year’s worth of Q&As and noted down the age of every earliest memory, where this could be ascertained, either because it was directly stated or could be deduced (for example, David Miliband’s earliest memory was of the birth of his brother, and therefore his age at the time was readily calculable). In cases where “2 or 3” or “not yet 2” were stated, we went with 2.5.

We found that the earliest memories of the interviewed ACTORS came at ages 1, 3, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4 and 7 (mean: 3.5).
The earliest memories of MUSICIANS came at ages 1, 2, 3.5, 4 and 4 (mean 2.9).
The earliest memories of TV PRESENTERS came at ages 2.5, 2.5 and 3 (mean: 2.67).
The earliest memories of EDITORS AND WRITERS came at ages 2 and 2 (mean: 2).
And the earliest memories of POLITICIANS came at ages 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 4 and 5 (mean: 3).

The evidence is clear: actors do not in fact consistently claim to have earlier first memories than non-actors; and in fact the mean age of earliest memory is higher among the interviewed actors than among any other group. Even Gillian Anderson’s memory aged 1 is not unprecedented.

In answer to the question, then, we can’t say whether anyone will claim to remember being a sperm (though obviously it is physiologically impossible for this to be the case, whereas it is at least possible to remember something that happened to you aged 1). If they do, however, it is not particularly likely to be an actor.

Sara Hayward asks:
I had only to glance at the photograph for Clare Price and Struan Robertson’s Blind Date (5 March) to know that the scores would be high and that they’d meet again. How? They looked like each other, and great matches often do.

Thanks to Sara for answering her own rhetorical question with such clarity.

Valerie Farnell asks:
Scallops are going down (The Measure, 5 March)? Never!

There’s no need to fret! The Measure often declares that things are going “up” or “down”, but it’s not the result of an exhaustive survey – indeed, often it seems to be little more than whim.

Alistair Ross:
Dear God, if they’re all female, they’re not old enough; if they’re all old, they’re not black enough; if they’re all black, they’re not gay enough (Readers’ Letters). Will you lot ever stop whingeing?

We have been answering Readers’ Letters since [date] 2010, and therefore feel uniquely qualified to answer this question. The answer is no.

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Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

The post A Plague of Giants appeared first on Elitist Book Reviews.

The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

The post The Art Of Gary Choo appeared first on Halcyon Realms – Art Book Reviews – Anime, Manga, Film, Photography.

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