Image of the Week

Interior of a cave hut at Taylor’s Mistake, Christchurch, used by young men on weekend summer trips [1910]

Interior of a cave hut at Taylor's Mistake, Christchurch, used by young men on weekend summer trips


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Book glut

Too much reading can also have this effect
Too much reading can also have this effect

It’s either a famine or a flood, innit?  At the moment I am verily drowning in highly readable books.  Worse than the fact that I have too much good, good reading to get done is the guilt.  Oh, the terrible, terrible guilt.  Every day I see Carrie Fisher’s latest, probably incredibly witty volume sitting there on the bookshelf dying to be picked up and read and every day I have to say “No Carrie.  Not today.  I’m not done with Remy yet”. 

The Remy in question would be one Remy Stern who has written a rather good book about a rather annoying thing, namely infomercials.  Everyone is familiar with the patter, the “how much would you expect to pay…” lines of cheese, the wondrous demonstrations of magic bullets and ab-flexes and miracle make-up, so you probably think you know infomercials pretty well.  So did I.  You don’t.

In But wait…there’s more! tighten your abs, make millions, and learn how the $100 billion infomercial industry sood us everything but the kitchen sink (phew, long title!) Stern fills us in on the history of how infomercials came to be (starting with boardwalk sales pitches in Atlantic City) and the tactics and psychology at work to get you to “Call now!”.  Why is it always “four easy payments of $19.99”? Why is that 30 day money-back guarantee such a good selling point? And why are there always so many “free” bonus extras with your toaster oven? All this and many other strategies are at work in the land of late night direct marketing. 

It’s a terrifically interesting book that I’m really enjoying (I do like to know exactly in what manner I’m being manipulated) but it is keeping me from Fool by Christopher Moore which I am sort of saving because he’s one of my favourite authors, not to mention Sex with the queen : nine hundred years of vile kings, virile lovers, and passionate politics which I think you’ll agree, sounds pretty titillating (and educational, of course).

And then of course, there’s the book that I “lost” and then had to pay for but found and which I still haven’t read (yes, it happens to librarians too, though it really shouldn’t).  So much book gluttony and guilt! How will I get all these read?  How do you manage with all those attractive books vying for your attention?

True Colours – wandering through the spectrum

It’s a rainbow out there! from  Cut Copy – In Ghost colours – one of the most delicious bands in the wave of new 80s influenced synthy electronic music (and like much of the best new dance music, it comes from Aussie). Sparkling stuff with a soupcon of New Order …

to Kevin Mccloud’s colour now:
 … Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud has taken all the hard work out of home decorating by researching, selecting and combining over 120 particular colours into 70 tried-and-tested palettes that are guaranteed to transform your home.

then on to Mauve – how one man invented a colour that changed the world

In 1856 18-year-old English chemist William Perkin accidentally discovered a way to mass-produce colour. Simon Garfield explains how the experimental mishap that produced an odd shade of purple revolutionised fashion …

to the inimitable Diana Vreeland who proclaimed ‘Shocking pink is the navy blue of India’, and then to The Shocking Pinks – a band featuring local muso Nick Harte & crew (they played at CHARTFEST last month).

… and finally we reach Shades of grey by Jasper Fforde:

Imagine a black and white world where colour is a commodity … Eddie Russett lives in a world where fortune, career and ultimate destiny are rigidly dictated by the colours you can see, with Violet at the top, and Red at the bottom. Below the Colours are the Grey underclass who can only see tones of black and white. It is also a world of rules and regulations – a place of merits and demerits, prefects, bullies, snitches, sports days and over-boiled cabbage. Eddie is pretty happy – he thinks he can see over 70% Red, so will be able to marry up-spectrum. But then he meets Jane, a Grey: alluring, exciting – and dangerous …