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Friday, October 2, 2020

Longfellow's October From The Poet's Calendar

I had shared a poem by Wadsworth in June, JulyAugust, and September, and most of them really enjoyed reading of this beautiful poem of the month. These poems are from The Poet's Calendar by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The Poet's Calendar is a compilation of Longfellow's set of twelve beautiful poems, each song describing and narrating the essence of each of the twelve months of the calendar year. So, here you have Longfellow's October:

My ornaments are fruits; my garments leaves, 
Woven like cloth of gold, and crimson dyed; 
I do not boast the harvesting of sheaves, 
O'er orchards and o'er vineyards I preside. 
Though on the frigid Scorpion I ride, 
The dreamy air is full, and overflows 
With tender memories of the summer-tide, 
And mingled voices of the doves and crows.

October is a month of transition- with tender memories of the summer tide. And, soon we would see the onset of winter, and the beauty that it brings. If you want to read all the set of twelve songs, you can read it here: https://bit.ly/2YrS66R

Have a happy October!

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Ukridge on #WodehouseSeries

By now, I have introduced you to Jeeves and Wooster, Mr. Mulliner, Lord Emsworth with the Empress of Blandings in the Blandings Castle, and the characters from the school stories of Wodehouse. Finally, we meet Ukridge.

Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge is a very special character from Wodehouse. Before we continue- Ukridge is pronouced this way: U like it rhymes with zoo and kridge like rhymes with fridge- Yoo-krij. He is one of the most handsomest characters of Wodehouse with exceptional good looks, and he stands out in the crowd with his yellow machintosh, grey pants, a towering height over six feet, and a clearly loud voice.  

But, what sort of a chap is he?
“Ukridge was the sort of man who asks you to dinner, borrows money from you to pay the bill, and winds up the evening by embroiling you in a fight with a cabman.” - Ukridge

Most of the stories of Ukridge are narrated by Ukridge's friend Corcoran, fondly called Corky. Ukridge is a striking young man often involved plots and schemes to get rich quick. The lengths that he would go to make some money are short of nothing but infinite, except of course to actually work and earn. The hilariously comedic short stories of Ukridge leave you in a fit of laughter as you watch his desperate, comic ways to cash in some capital!

Ukridge is actually Wodehouse's longest-running character although he was only featured in the novel Love Among the Chickens and in ten short-stories in the omnibus Ukridge. I think Ukridge is also one of the most entertaining character ever of Wodehouse, though he is not as famous as Jeeves or Mulliner. 

I love Ukridge for the interesting specimen that he is- a seemingly rude fellow to those who are not familiar with his weirdly informal air, a man whose persona is so gripping and charming that people give out credit- only to never get it back again, a man who is all about thinking on how to make money in all ways except the right ones! He is a riot of a character- who'll storm in to the pages and make you laugh, and leave you giggling at his get-quick-money schemes.

You love him, and you are exasperated by him. He seems too charming to ignore, and too difficult to understand. He is one beauty of a character that Wodehouse has ever created. 

The best part about the Ukridge stories is that they are short, and give you a full spectacle of a comic tale in less than half an hour. It's the kind of reading that you can do after a busy day, and get back your cheer again!

I say, why don't you try one story today? 

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

A Jump In Joy

A jump, maybe a skip, 
slowly set in the motion.
But careful, don't you trip,
we don't want any commotion.

A sway and some slide,
and a big, carefree whirl.
But, beware as you glide-
the floor's slippery where you twirl.

But, what brings you such joy?
End of chores for the day?
Or a feeling that we enjoy
on a day without dismay?

No matter what, hold on to that song, 
and the jump, and the whirl-
for it, some days, you'll long
then you'll have some saved, my girl!

Through that careful, clever way
there'll be enough bundles of joy,
to be dancing through dismay,
the troughs, and all who annoy!

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

The 10 Most Viewed Posts In The last 6 Months

Here's a list of posts that were most viewed in the last six months! With some of them it was not really a surprise that they had so many views, but some others did catch me by sweet surprise! If you haven't checked out one of these posts, do check them out!

1. Three Men In A Boat : I have to mention this here- This post is also my all time highest viewed post with 19.9K views, and 50 comments, all thanks to Class IX CBSE non-detailed reading prescribed as this novel. I have the funniest relationship with the readers of this review- with more than half of them thanking me for saving them for their "Hitler" teachers! I wrote this review way back in 2011, and the review is as childish, simple, and sweet as I was back then! But, till today- it's my most viewed most on any given time frame!

2. Parthiban Kanavu : This book is a beauty. I love Kalki. And, I am so grateful for the translation by Dr. M. S.Venkatraman for bringing us this classic in a language we can comfortably read!

3. Normative, Positive, Others: In The Analysis Of Law : I was a little surprised by this one, because it was slightly more academic in contrast to the majority of art/literary based posts, or the fun posts, that I usually write! Also, it set me to thinking if I should write more of these small, concise academic posts. What do you think?

4. The Room On The Roof and The Vagrants In The Valley : Not surprised, this has also consistently been a top-viewed post on the blog since many years now.

5. Iah: A Musical Feature : I am so very, very happy this featured among the most-viewed posts in the last six months. I am really happy that a feature on my musician-friend met a wide audience!

6. Murder In Beltour : This story-series that I wrote has been so well-supported, well-received by all. So many people took out the time to comment and text me on what they liked. I am elated.

7. Gripped In Doubt : This short story that I wrote also received a lot of attention, and people came forward to tell me how much they enjoyed it. This post making a cut in the most-viewed definitely has put a smile on my face. 

8. From Doon With Death : One of my favorite reads this year!

9. Tanmay: A Poetic Feature : Another young, talented poet-friend I featured! I can only say, thank you readers for supporting all of us!

10. A Quick Reminder: When Did You Last Review Your Privacy Settings? : When was it? If it was way too far back in the past that you don't even remember- go check now!

Is there a post of mine that you enjoyed specifically? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, September 28, 2020

Blandings Castle on #WodehouseSeries

After exploring Jeeves, Mr. Mulliner, and Wodehouse's school stories, we're in for some family drama this week as I introduce you to Lord Emsworth and the Empress of Blandings. Do you want your brain to spin in a web of far-fetched relations and a big, royal family? Go for any book in the Blandings Castle series. 

Lord Emsworth is the master of Blandings Castle, and his most treasured being on Earth is the Empress of Blandings- a huge Blackshire sow who is known for winning in most categories of the "Fat Pigs" competition in the local agricultural show. Second to the pig, what Lord Emsworth adores happens to be the Castle (his home), his garden, and his pumpkins. And, absorbed entirely by his love for the pig and his pumpkins, Lord Emsworth lives a laid back, relaxed life oblivious to the highly dramatic events that take place in the castle. 

Who creates the drama? Well, there is no dearth of that- with Lord Emsworth's ten sisters, a brother, a daughter, two sons, the infinite in-laws, their nieces and nephews- all of them waiting to stir trouble and politics in the Blandings Castle as they come and go to visit old Lord Emsworth. 

Apart from the pig, his pumpkins, and the trouble-brewing host of relatives, the Castle is also home for the innumerable staff and servants to live that royal life, some of whom we get to know over several books. Sebastian Beach is the able butler without whom the Castle activities wouldn't last a day. And, as if these people weren't dramatic enough in themselves, the Blandings Castle also regularly hosted several other Lords and Dukes of the other neighbourhoods!

From 1915 till his death in 1977- Wodehouse held on to this all-time-favourite series of Blandings Castle, with his last book, Sunset at Blandings, being incomplete. In that period, Blandings Castle had 11 novels and 9 short shorties written on it by this classic author. 
"Sunshine, calling to all right-thinking men to come out and revel in its heartening warmth, poured in at the windows of the great library of Blandings Castle." - Summer Lightning

I have read Summer Lightning, Heavy Weather, Pigs Have Wings, Service With A Smile, and most of the short stories. I love Lord Emsworth, his dramatic family, and the treasured Empress of Blandings. Emsworth is the kind of old man who can charm you till no end with his stroll in the sunshine and his relaxed persona. If you need humour, or drama, or both- this series is your one-stop destination for all of it!

So, why don't you make some cool lemonade, settle down in a nice spot of warm sunshine, and pick Pigs Have Wings to a couple of hours of unputdownable entertainment?

Sunday, September 27, 2020

10 Most Favourite Authors (All-Time)

Picking favourite books is very difficult. No reader must be subjected to it. The "favourites" list keeps growing as we read more and more. And, this is not just for books- but also for their authors! But, there are some all-time favourites that we all have. Especially, the ones we have read extensively because we just love the tales they spin out for us! So, here's a list of my top 10- in no particular ranking/order. 

It's not a fair list, and it doesn't have some of the authors whose books might make it to my top 10. But, these ten have given me a wonderful world of fiction that I have consistently loved and looked forward to! Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl are unbeatable when it comes to their way with children and adults, alike! Once you read Kalki's Ponniyin Selvan, Parthiban Kanavu, Sivagamiyin Sabadham- the historical saga leaves you yearning for more! 

Who are your favourite authors- the ones whose book you could give on any given day and trust completely to be entertained? Let me know in the comments!

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Kidnap Poem by Nikki Giovanni

Authors, poets, artists- they have their own way of seeing the world. They can bring out the most mundane observations of daily chores to vibrant life, or can transport you to new, unknown worlds that bring you joy beyond measure- all through the sway of their words. They can get your feet back on the ground, or send you shooting into the stars. They can send you to the mountains or the sea, or sometimes both. They can make you laugh in delight, or weep in distress. They can make you fall utterly in love with the world they create for you. And, have you wondered how it would be when you get kidnapped by a poet? Read this beautiful 'Kidnap Poem' by Nikki Giovanni, to know how it is to be kidnapped by one!

ever been kidnapped
by a poet
if i were a poet
i’d kidnap you
put you in my phrases and meter
you to jones beach
or maybe coney island
or maybe just to my house
lyric you in lilacs
dash you in the rain
blend into the beach
to complement my see
play the lyre for you
ode you with my love song
anything to win you
wrap you in red Black green
show you off to mama
yeah if i were a poet 
i’d kidnap you

I loved this one since I read it a couple of days ago! Every story, every novel, every poem we read actually does send us to a whole new world, and that is the best part about reading books and poems! Hope you enjoyed it, too! Let me know in the comments!

Friday, September 25, 2020

My First Cake

Today I tried baking a cake for the first time. It came out looking decent, though not very clean and sharp. I didn't bother to cut off or level the top portion- so that's on me. When I checked out some recipes, it seemed like: huh, not that tough, really. But, I think baking is something that definitely comes only by practice. Here's how I made the cake:

What you need:
Dry ingredients: maida/flour, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, Oreo biscuits
Wet ingredients: unsalted butter, milk, thick curd, cooking oil, vanilla essence

How to make:

1. Take 2 cups of maida, 1 cup of powdered sugar, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 cup of cocoa powder- sift them together and mix well. 
2. Take unsalted butter at room temperature, 1 cup of milk, 1 cup of thick curd, 2 tsp cooking oil, 1 tsp vanilla essence- whisk all the wet ingredients well and make sure there are no lumps. 
3. Slowly add the dry ingredients in the wet ingredients and whisk them till smooth batter consistency is reached. There should be no lumps. Add pieces of Oreo biscuit and gently fold it into the batter.
4. Take the pressure cooker, add some salt to the base. Keep a stand, and pre-heat the cooker for 15 minutes on medium flame. You should not put the weight on the cooker. Do not forget to remove it.
5. Meanwhile, coat the cake tray with cooking oil, line it with butter paper. Pour the batter, and tap the tray gently to make it even.
6. Bake for 40 minutes on low flame, and let the cake cool down completely. 

Your cake is basically ready!

How I made the frosting:

1. I made chocolate ganache by melting Dairy Milk chocolate, adding cocoa powder and milk to it until it reached a creamy consistency. I used this on the top of my cake. 
2. I took some Oreos, removed the cream, and powdered the biscuits. The cream can be whisked with cooking oil and some fresh cream milk to get a nice white frosting, which I used for the side of the cake.
3. I stuck some Oreo powder to the sides. 
4. I topped the chocolate ganache with gems!

My cake has turned out looking decent, and I am actually yet to taste it! This is the first time I am ever baking anything. The cake is far from anything perfect. Baking is after all an art that is mastered over time. But, by how it looks- it's not that bad for a first try! Also, with all the Oreos, I am wondering if it is going to be a little too sweet. I'll let you know soon, stay tuned!