Archive for September 2011
I cannot believe they thought this response was appropriate. By now I’m sure you’ve all heard of the Gasp Jeans Debacle. Just in case you haven’t here is the link to the article, it has links to the original email and their response. Summarising the whole event though would make it easier for you. A lady went shopping with her bridesmaids into Gasp Jeans, she received inappropriate treatment from the salesperson, complained to the company and received an email in reply. Here is her email and here is their reply. They’ll all open in new windows so you won’t lose your place here.
There are just so many things wrong with their response that I can’t talk about all of them in one post and I’m not going to come back another time and finish off. First of all they haven’t apologised for this behaviour and in the business world that’s just wrong and damaging, then there are so many grammatical errors I don’t even want to think about counting them, there are missing commas, ‘whom’ is used inappropriately in at least three occasions and the whole tone of the email is just so wrong – it’s really the only word I can find to use as I’ve used inappropriate far too many times already.
I actually liked the first paragraph, until I read the rest of the email. By itself the first paragraph is really good and gives a positive impression, it makes me feel as if they’ve got a well balanced view of the situation. Unfortunately, the rest of the email tells me they’re just ignoring the customer and listening to their salesperson.
Lessons I’ve learned being in business is that you should always apologise, never leave the customer feeling upset with you and your business as this could backfire. A disgruntled customer will tell 100 people whereas a happy customer will tell 10, never leave your customer disgruntled. In this social media happy world it’s business suicide to do what they’ve done. Instead of apologising they’ve got on their high horse and told the customer she’s not worthy of buying their clothes. They’ve assumed she’s a salesperson working in a chain store when her email doesn’t say that at all, she could be the lowest salesperson (unlikely with 12 years experience) or the owner of her own retail chain, they just had no idea and assumed. A rule in life, never assume as you make an ass out of you and me.
The second paragraph is the first mistake. They’ve put it in a very negative manner, the lesson here is always write it in a positive way. Instead of telling the lady they ‘do not appeal’ it should read ‘are selected for the elite’, it’s not much better as that’s also very exclusionist but it is definitely an improvement and might have the effect of making the reader feel more included. The phrase ‘this by default’ is missing a couple of commas.
Let’s have a little look at a phrase in the third paragraph. ’on the basis to ensure that’ is something I’m a little puzzled by, it makes no sense. I’d be thinking of leaving out ‘on the basis’, that might help but that whole paragraph is very clunky.
In the fourth paragraph they have ‘whom’ three times, none of which are correct. Assuming they wanted to word that sentence so poorly then ‘who’ should have been used in all three occasions. I’ll stay on that sentence for a few moments, it has such potential for failure. There should be commas both before and after the phrase ‘whom served you’. I find myself asking why is this guy working in retail? If he has a ‘sixth sense for fashion’ then he shouldn’t be in the frontline with fashion, he shouldn’t be working in a retail store, he should be helping to select the next fashion lines. At this point I’m going to interject, I’ve had a quick glance at their clothes and while they’re quite nice and stylish I would not have thought they were fashionable but I suppose it depends on what you like. ‘too good at what he does’ another phrase in this sentence that irritates me, why is he working in a shop if he’s too good at what he does? The phrase ‘do not tolerate having their time wasted’ is a phrase I agree with but it’s so arrogant to put it in a letter supposedly dealing with a complaint never tell the customer you don’t tolerate having your time wasted unless it’s actually been wasted. If you’ve spent weeks working on something for a customer only to be told they’ve decided not to buy it then you would have grounds to use that phrase but to use it in this situation is just arrogant.
How did he know she wasn’t going to buy anything before she ‘even left your house’. That is just not possible unless he has a time machine or a crystal ball. This is one angry person who hasn’t stopped to think about the ramifications of their email or wording. They are just trying to make a point overdoing it in the process and making themselves look even more foolish than before. You don’t know who is coming into your shop or what they do, how much they earn or so many other questions.
I can’t help wondering who actually wrote this email. I have two thoughts, maybe it was the salesman himself or a work experience person. On the other hand I won’t denigrate work experience people by thinking that. I’ve had enough, reading that email so many times just hurts. There are so many things wrong with it I wish I could just take a red pen to it but there’d be nothing left of the text.
This book was referred to me by my DD, for some reason she knows I’m studying Hamlet this year, it might have something to do with the reams of notes I’ve been reading, but I’m not sure. She told me one of the characters was called Hamlet, yes, I had to read it…
Thursday Next is a Literary Detective, she irons out problems in the literary world…the book world…the problems within the books themselves caused by the characters getting up themselves, wanting to move books or mountains. Hamlet is a sideplot in this book and wants to change people’s perception of him, while doing so he watches many different versions of Hamlet and discusses them. What’s really happening is that fictional Yorrick Kaine has come out of his exceedingly minor book and is trying to take over the world with the help of one of Thursday’s uncle’s inventions and it’s up to Thursday to save the day.
I found this book too hard to take. The reading itself is fairly easy but it was just so complicated and there were so many references to particular books. It was as if Fforde was at a party and trying to impress so many people with all his name dropping. If you like that sort of thing you’ll enjoy it but I didn’t. I plowed on through it as I wanted to see what he’d made of Hamlet and found he’d towed the party line. Fforde has made Hamlet’s character full of angst and worry, and procrastination which seems to be what everyone else feels about Hamlet. Some people think Hamlet is stalling for political reasons and it would have been interesting to see Fforde put all of that in, I would also have been interested to read Fforde’s own ideas on Hamlet as opposed to what the majority think of him. Yes, there were some of his thoughts there but nothing terribly exciting. Thursday Next brings Hamlet into the real world with her and he is introduced to Emma, they have a badly hidden affair which is broken up when Emma is sent back to Admiral Bismarck to be in her own book.
You can buy this book here if you’re quick as I only have one copy.
Mma Precious Ramotswe finds herself alone in the world with enough money to be able to please herself and do what she wants and she wants to open a detective agency. She moves to the big city, Gaborone, rents an old post office and builds a community around her. She is a warm-hearted lady with a body to match and is proud of her size, describing herself as a lady with a traditional build. By the end of the first feature-length episode she has solved several cases and has received a proposal of marriage. It is based on the book of the same name, No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith.
Just like everyone else I’ve spoken to I absolutely adored the books. They breathed the Botswana I’d like to know. They were colourful and just oozed beauty. Jill Scott plays Mma Ramotswe in the series and does a very nice job, she has just the right amount of everything. The other actors also do a wonderful job. I haven’t checked, but one face I noticed that seemed familiar was in a crowd shot and it looked like the gentleman who played the lead in The Gods Must Be Crazy, I don’t want to check and see I was wrong and I don’t want to check and see they haven’t credited actors without lines, basically I just want to think I’m right.
The funeral scene was the most beautiful funeral I’ve ever seen. The singing was just lovely and I felt it would have helped the grieving process. If that’s the way they do funerals out there then I think we could learn from them. They couldn’t have done anything about the scenery, it was so beautifully fabulous.
The only thing I noticed that was wrong is that in the TV series Mma Ramotswe addresses Mr Matekoni as Mr Matekoni and in the book she’s always much more formal and calls him Mr J.L.B. Matekoni. It’s a little thing and I can’t wait until next week, we’ve only got 60 minutes for the second and subsequent episodes, I’m sure it’s not going to be long enough. I totally recommend you tune in next Sunday night at 8:30pm to Aunty ABC and watch the magic unfold.
When I was young I read Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak and I was petrified. I had occasion to reread it again a few years ago and nothing had changed. It’s quite popular and I’m the only one I know of who doesn’t like it.
By this time I knew a lot more about Sendak and knew he had a Holocaust background, I wondered how much of that experience coloured his book. He’s published a new book and feels children’s books of today are too safe, I’d like to know how he knows that considering he doesn’t keep abreast of the genre. You can read the article in The Guardian. One of the commenters asks the same question so I’m not alone in that thought.
I know some of the older children’s books are anything but safe, R. L. Stine, for instance specialises in scaring children. I follow Stine on Twitter and he’s quite interesting.
If I knew more about child psychology I could pontificate about it at great length, actually, I could do that anyway but without having any great knowledge! I won’t bore you with it, though. I have wondered about Enid Blyton’s works for quite some time. Many of her books all come out right in the end and there’s little danger for the children despite it looking as if there might be at some point, what does that actually teach them?
We do need some books about real life stuff, I’ve seen forum threads talking about books for children about operations, new babies, death or illness to help them understand the ramifications. Why don’t the parents just talk to the kids themselves? We’re not all-knowing and we’re not always able to dumb the topic down to child level so it helps to have a book or three for the child to read. The illustrations are good for the children to look at without a parent and remind themselves of what’s happening and you can learn a lot from a good illustration that can’t be said in words.
This has nothing to do with books, I’ve just decided to embarrass someone. I might ring her later and tell her off, then again I might not. In the light of the morning it doesn’t seem quite so bad but I’ll still write about it for your edification and amusement.
We had a meeting at the op shop yesterday and I was delegated to make a phone call which I decided to do immediately as I had plenty of time before my class. While on the phone our illustrious president comes back in, does some stuff and walks out again locking the door. I saw and heard and I thought she’d seen me. When I’d finished I walked to the door and discovered one of the locks doesn’t have a lock or a handle on the inside…and you guessed it, she’d locked both locks. I did try to ring her so I could yell at her but she wasn’t home yet so I had to ring someone close by and ask him to be a knight errant. Thank goodness he came around very quickly and I still made my class on time.
What I find really interesting is how writing about something can give a different slant on things. In between writing the first and second paragraphs here I thought about the safety angle and how if someone was accidentally locked in just like I was and a fire started then they’d have absolutely no hope. So, I made my phone call and left a message on her machine, I will be talking with her about the safety angle despite it not being a common occurrence.
You knew a rant would be forthcoming, I’m sure. It’s a computer that comes without a manual and I’m struggling with some parts of it. It was such a great day on Monday, really good for drying, so I decided to take the blankets down to the laundromat and get them all done at once.
I took my iPad with me and my notes for an article I’m writing for The Bookshop Blog so I could type them up and make them into slightly more of an article and less of a scribble. It was painful, very painful. I’m a touch typist, not only that I can compose minutes at a meeting only occasionally asking people to slow down or stop while I catch up. I don’t look at the keyboard as a true touch typist and can hold a conversation while copy typing, fixing up typos as I go. I have many skills but I really need a physical keyboard, the onscreen keyboard was driving me to distraction. I might consider buying a USB or Bluetooth keyboard but then it gets rather bulky.
I managed to type all my notes, albeit with lots of backtracking and swear words, and lots of ‘that predictive text was right, why couldn’t I have seen it fractionally earlier and saved myself some typing?’ accompanied by some swear words. Actually, I lied twice there, I don’t swear that much, you know I’m upset when you actually hear swear words from me.
Now comes the big task, transferring the file from my iPad to my computer so I can check it over and send it off for checking and discussion. I’m struggling with this task. I’ve tried a couple of different methods and the one that should work won’t. Logically I should be able to email it across and I can’t, it just won’t let me. I can’t figure out how to put in email addresses and if I could, well, it won’t let me access my email account to send it. Actually, the app I’ve installed should let me email directly if I could only put in an email address to send it to. This is why it needs a manual. If only it came with a manual rather than that tiny little bit of cardboard I would have had something to refer to, something to peruse and swear at for not having the information needed.
I will scribble a different update on the iPad in due course, I’ve got lots of lovely apps on it and I need help with sourcing other useful ones.
For those people interested in such things, yes, I got all the blankets and the doona washed and dried on Monday. Then it rained on Tuesday and we had to dry the towels inside. Such is life.
Definitely, poor Yorick, it’s a fairly well known line from Hamlet and often misquoted. This doesn’t mean I’m reviewing Hamlet, far from it. I am going to make quick mention of the storyline and then talk a little about the numerous essays and creative responses that I’ve had to read as part of my studies.
One of the problems I have with Hamlet is that it’s supposedly set in Denmark but it has English values and thoughts in it. I know this is because Shakespeare was not widely travelled and didn’t know a great deal about other countries. He was widely educated about legends and used them in his stories, but he very loosely based them in Denmark or Verona or wherever while overlaying English society into the play. That worries me.
Hamlet’s father dies and his mother marries his uncle within a couple of months. Not too good you reckon? I quite agree, Hamlet’s father was the king of Denmark and although it was an elected position, if Hamlet had been in Denmark at the time then there’s a fair chance he’d have been elected. Fat chance he has now, then to add insult to injury a ghost appears claiming to be his father and tells Hamlet he was really murdered by his brother. Awesome work, now he just has to unmask his uncle, Claudius, then kill him and then take over the crown. Doesn’t happen, he manages to unmask Claudius just at the very end and kill him but everyone else dies too and he recommends Fortinbras, the nephew of the king of Norway, take over the throne with his dying breath. There you go, how’s that for spoilers?
The play is a very complex one, I’ve simplified it substantially and put in some of the interpretation I feel necessary to make sense of the whole thing. Freud would most likely have words to say about the whole ‘mother issue’ Hamlet seems to have and so many other people have had their say. The overwhelming thread that comes through all these pieces of writing is that they’re looking from the point of view of their training. Freud…no, I’ve already mentioned Freud. Asimov wrote a very sensible piece which detailed the entire play complete with history attached and with the political ramifications fully intact making it really easy to put the play in context.
A 19th Century piece of prose by someone called Fox was very nice. We were told to be aware of when it was written and how that would colour the thinking. I bore that in mind and just enjoyed the turn of phrase. Ann Blake gave us an essay on Hamlet’s state of mind. Sue Tweg wrote A Dream of Passion which brings in Shakespeare’s contemporary, Ben Jonson, and also Mona Lisa. Jan Fox discusses the many soliloquies by Hamlet in Now I am alone…, it’s not terribly long considering Hamlet has so many soliloquies. In Graeme Henry’s essay, The poison of deep grief he talks about how ingrained into society Hamlet is.
Hamlet: Dying as an Art by Fintan O’Toole is a lovely article on the character of Hamlet and why he’s never going to do what he needs to do. I have one page full of paragraphs from different people including: Coleridge (1818), A. C. Bradley (1904), T. S. Eliot (1919) and G. Wilson Knight (1930).
Blood and Madness by Bob Carr
Hamlet from Shakespeare’s Language by Frank Kermode
Essays and Soliloquies from A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare by James Shapiro
Hamlet Returns from What Happens in “Hamlet” by John Dover Wilson
Hamlet from The Romantics on Shakespeare Wars by Ron Rosenbaum
Cross Cultural Reflections on Mortality: Hamlet and Chuang Tzu by F. Gonzalez Crussi
Word-games and Hamlet by David Crystal
An interesting essay by Carolyn Heilbrun gives a different view of Hamlet’s mother. Most people look on her as being ineffective and brainless, Heilbrun details how astute she feels Gertude really was and why. Edith Sitwell wrote a few ‘notes’ on Hamlet, she felt she was unworthy to write on this topic and so only wrote a few notes.
I really enjoyed some of these. Clive James wrote a poem called Angels over Elsinore which I found rather interesting as it’s been written in fairly modern language but you can see the style of Shakespeare and he’s referenced Hamlet a number of times using some of Shakespeare’s phrases.
The one I enjoyed the most was written by Margaret Attwood, called Gertrude Talks Back it’s written from Gertrude’s point of view and basically tells Hamlet to stop agonising over what to do and to go away. Awesome stuff!
I also enjoyed John Updike’s take on Hamlet with Gertrude and Claudius. A very nice little story from Gertrude and Claudius’ point of view giving us a great deal of probable background into their relationship before Hamlet senior’s death. Most enjoyable.
The one I didn’t enjoy was not given to me as homework but recommended by my eldest. Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde is the fourth book in the Thursday Next series, it was interesting to read how he took the popular line with Hamlet’s character. I’ll scribble a few more words about this another time.
Other creative responses included are:
Wife to Horatio by Jennifer Strauss
An Island Cemetery by W. H. Auden
Hamlet in the movies
Having read over 200 pages about Hamlet I feel I would be forgiven for not having read the play as there’s enough in all of that to detail the play in it’s entirety. I have not cheated, I have read the play and also watched the entire three hour film by the Royal Shakespeare Company with David Tennant in the lead role and also watched a good deal of the four hour film by Kenneth Brannagh with himself in the lead role. I like different things from the films, Tennant was good but I preferred Derek Jacobi in the role of Claudius. I’ll just digress briefly, it’s interesting how Derek Jacobi has played two different people by the name of Claudius, he’s done both of them very nicely.
We were shown one scene from a Russian version by Grigori Kozintsev produced in 1964. I would very much like to see more of it as it had the atmosphere that matched how I viewed the play. Hamlet has been produced so many different times including the one in 1948 with Sir Laurence Olivier, Sir John Gielgud produced the play on stage in 1964.
With 1,000+ words this article could only ever be a summary and I’ve really only skimmed the surface of the essays and creative responses I’ve read. Hamlet is so complex and so widely studied I suggest it’s impossible to do more than summarise a handful of them in such a short post. I have tried to at least list the names of the article and the author.
I picked up this book second hand knowing the controversy behind it, knowing Helen Demidenko is really Helen Darville and knowing she had tried to pass this book off as family history rather than a fictionalised account of interviews with Ukrainian witnesses. I’ll take the description from the back of the book:
The Hand that Signed the Paper tells the story of Vitaly, a Ukrainian peasant, who endures the destruction of his village and family by Stalin’s communism. He welcomes the Nazi invasion in 1941 and willingly enlists in the SS Death Squads to take a horrifying revenge against those he perceives to be his persecutors.
The story is horrific and I feel partly tries to absolve certain people from their actions. I’m not here to comment on whether this is good or bad as I’m not unbiased, I am very fortunate as almost all of my family were living in Melbourne since before WWII but this doesn’t make me unbiased. I’m going to try and comment on the book and the writing.
Some of the writing is very good, I often look at a phrase or a paragraph and note how nicely it is written. I did find there was a lot left out, a lot that I was interested in or felt would have added to the story but was just omitted. I agree it’s a big story and challenging to get it all into only 157 pages. I found it challenging to recall which person was speaking as they all seemed to have the same way of speaking and there wasn’t much difference between when one finished and another started. The only time it was clear cut was when they changed hemispheres and all of a sudden the niece/daughter in Australia was speaking, it was easier to note the difference as there were references to the Australian landscape.
There was a lot missing and a lot I didn’t find believable. Back in June I reviewed a memoir written by a Lithuanian now living in Melbourne and I found myself comparing the two books. I also found myself comparing it with the books written by Arnold Zable, Café Scheherazade – Arnold Zable and Jewels and Ashes. I did try to be careful with my comparisons, Liubinas is not a professional writer, Darville/Demidenko is a journalist and Zable is an accomplished author who has run many writing workshops. Out of the three Zable was obviously the best crafted, Liubinas was very touching and as it was an honest memoir was easily believable, Darville, while well written just didn’t have that air of honesty.
One of the problems the first chapter brings to light is the way war criminals can move countries and settle into a new life. Melbourne is home to a great many Holocaust survivors, I believe there are more here than anywhere else, and among those survivors there must be some whose war record is dubious. One of the issues this book shows us is what to do with these war criminals. They are now old men and women, in so many regular crimes in Australia there is a statute of limitations where if it’s been too long since the crime was committed then the person can’t be prosecuted, has it been too long since the Holocaust and should those old men and women not be prosecuted? I don’t have the answer to that and I’m not going to express an opinion, just stating it’s brought to light by this book. Again, I’m biased so I’m only trying to comment on the book. It’s an interesting discussion and one that should be discussed on a different type of blog by someone else.
Could I even recommend it? That seriously depends on the reader. If you identify with the Jews in the Holocaust then I suggest you don’t as you’ll be really upset as it details atrocities and how people tried very hard to ignore them while profiting from them. If you are able to stay unbiased and treat it as historical fiction you’ll probably get a lot out of it. I won’t say you’ll enjoy it as enjoyment is not something you get from books like this.
My dilemma now is what to do with the book. I don’t want to keep it on my shelf, it’s been hard enough having it here so long. I don’t fancy selling it as it makes me uncomfortable. Should I just return it to the op shop? Maybe that’s what I’ll do.
Writing is a way of communicating ideas, since the advent of the printing press it’s become a very effective method and, without actually having any statistics, the most effective method of all communication methods we have. I know very few people who don’t read and those who claim they don’t read do read something even if it’s just messages on the phone, the newspaper, a trashy magazine or something more meaty.
Writing can be a solitary occupation. It’s so easy to sit on your computer, do all your research and then write, but when do you network with your peers? It’s entirely possible to spend the whole week sitting in front of the computer just writing. I do exaggerate but not by much. I do actually get out and do shopping, messages and volunteer at the op shop, but that’s not networking and seeing other bloggers in the flesh, talking about the pitfalls and learning about to hone my skills.
As with all industries you need to encourage and train people, one way is EWF Digital Writers in Brisbane on the 15th October. There are many other ways, but this one is good as it brings a large number of different people together on the one day to study and learn about writing, it brings them together to network and makes them feel less alone. Classes are great, they’re all over the place, but I’m not talking about them today. This Festival is just one method of learning about writing, honing your skills and networking. The EWF solves both problems, helps you hone your skills and gives you networking possibilities.
The Festival this year focuses on taking your writing online, in order to make this possible they need money and have turned to crowdfunding for help. If you can spare a few dollars why not make a pledge of support. You might have noticed a little widget above this article, I’ve already made my pledge.