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Monday, 21 August 2017

Writing Prompts

What is...
  • What is something you dislike about yourself?
  • What is something you do well?
  • What is your favourite room in your home and why?
  • What is a good neighbour?
  • What is the worst thing parents can do to their children?
  • What is your favourite time of day?
  • What is your idea of a dull evening?
  • What is the best way to treat meddlesome people?
  • What is something you are optimistic about?
  • What is something you are pessimistic about?
  • What is your most indispensable possession and why?
  • What is the meaning of "He laughs best who laughs last"?
  • What is your favourite song and why?
  • What is the best birthday present you ever received?
  • What is the best birthday present you could receive?
  • What is something that makes you feel sad?
  • What is your favourite book and why?
  • What is something that really bugs you?
  • What is something that really makes you angry?
  • What is the best advice you ever received?
  • What is your favourite holiday? What makes this holiday special?
  • What is your favourite day of the week?
  • What is your favourite month? Why?
What if...
  • What would happen if you could fly whenever you wanted? When would you use this ability?
  • What would happen if there were no television? Why would this be good? bad?
  • What would happen if everyone lived in space? What type of houses would they live in? What type of clothing would they wear? What type of food would they eat? How would they travel?
  • What if cows gave root beer instead of milk?
  • What if all the streets were rivers? What would be different?
  • What would happen if people never co-operated? Why do you think it is important to co-operate?
  • What would happen if it really did rain cats and dogs?
  • What would happen if animals could talk? What are some of the questions you would like to ask animals?
  • What would happen if you could become invisible whenever you wanted to? What are some of the things you could do that you cannot do now?
  • What would happen if everyone wore the same clothes?
  • What would happen if you threw a piece of trash on the ground? What if everyone did?
  • What if you could walk up walls and across ceilings?
  • What would happen if you loved your neighbour as yourself? What if everyone did?
  • What would happen if you grew taller than trees? How would this change your life?
  • What would happen if children ruled the world?
  • What would happen if there were no cars, buses, trains, boats, or planes? How would this change your life?
  • What if everyone lived under water? Where would people live? What games would children play? What would school be like?
  • What would happen if you found gold in your backyard?
  • What would you do if a bully bothered you on your way home?
  • What would you do if you did very poorly of a test?
  • What would you do if a friend borrows things from you but never returns them?
  • What would you do if You were the teacher and everyone forgot his homework?
  • What would you do if you were in the middle of the lake and your boat began to leak?
  • What would you do if Your friend had a broken leg? How would you cheer him up?
  • What would you do if you saw little bugs in your salad?
  • What would you do if you woke up in another country and no one could understand you?
  • What would you do if you ordered an ice cream cone and you forgot to bring money?
  • What would you do if someone got in front of you when you were in line at the movies?
  • What would you do if your jelly sandwich fell upside down on the floor?
  • What would you do if only one hot dog is left and neither you nor your friend have had one?
  • What would you do if two of your best friends went to the movies without inviting you?
  • What would you do if the surprise party was for you but you weren't surprised?
  • What would you do if you got a present you didn't like?
  • What would you do if you were at home and your homework was at school?
  • What would you do if you dropped the cookie jar and it broke?
  • What would you do if you were invited to two parties on the same day?
  • What would you do if you promised to feed your pet and you didn't?
  • What would you do if someone said you did something wrong and you didn't?
  • What would you do if your new shoes felt fine in the store but now they are hurting?
  • What would you do if someone told you a joke that you don't think is funny?
  • What would you do if an hour before the party you remember you don't have a gift?
  • What would you do if a friend comes to your house and his/her mom doesn't know he's/she's there?
  • What would you do if you had four math problems marked wrong that were right?
  • What would you do if you found in the street?
  • What would you do if you found a magic wand?
  • What would you do if you wanted to be friends with someone who spoke no English?
  • What would you say if someone told you it was all right to steal from a large department store?
  • What would you do if you saw a friend cheating--report it, confront the friend, nothing--and why?
  • If you could have been someone in history, who would you have been?
  • If you could only take 3 people with you on a trip around the world, who would you take and why?
  • If you could give any gift in the world, what would you give and to whom?
  • If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
  • If you received any sum of money as a gift, what would you do with it?
  • If you could do whatever you wanted to right now, what would you do?
  • If you were principal of this school, what would you do?
  • If you were a mouse in your house in the evening, what would you see your family doing?
  • If you were five years older you would...
  • If you were lost in the woods and it got dark, what would you do?
  • If it were your job to decide what shows can be on t.v., how would you choose?
  • If there were no rules, what do you think would happen?
  • If you owned a store, what would you do to discourage people from stealing from you?
  • If you could participate in an Olympic event, which one would you choose and why?
  • If you could break the Guiness Book of Records it would be for?
  • If you had to describe yourself as a colour, which would you choose?
  • If your friend told you of a secret plan to run away from home, what would you do and why?
What do you think...
  • What do you think of 3D movies?
  • What do you think someone your age can do to help reduce the amount of pollution in our environment?
  • What do you think the world needs now?
  • What do you think your friends say to each other when you're not around?
  • What do you think about the amount of violence on T.V.?
  • What do you think about people polluting the environment?
  • What do you think about having set rules for people to follow?
  • What do you think about people who are inconsiderate of others?
  • What do you think should be done to keep people who are under the influence of alcohol off the road?
  • What do you think the world will be like when you are a grown up?
  • What do you think about ghosts?
  • What do you think of someone who has bad manners?
  • What do you think about people who take advantage of others?
  • What do you think about when you can't fall asleep?
  • What do you think courage means?
  • What do you think makes a good friend?
  • What do you think makes a happy family?
  • What pollutants do you think do the most damage and why?
  • What things do you think are beautiful?
  • What do you think about students having to wear school uniforms?
What...misc.
  • What do you like most about yourself?
  • What do you like to do in your free time?
  • What kind of animal would you like to be and why?
  • What kind of trophy would you like to win?
  • What TV or movie star would you like to invite to your birthday party?
  • What does "Clothes make the person" mean to you?
  • What does "Have your cake and eat it too" mean to you?
  • What does "The early bird gets the worm" mean to you?
  • What do we mean when we say, "The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence"?
  • What does "You can't take it with you" mean?
  • What do we mean when we say, "You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar"?
  • What do we mean when we say, "Hitch your wagon to a star"?
  • What does "still waters run deep" mean to you?
  • What does "There are two sides to every coin" mean to you?
  • What does Canada mean to you?
  • What are you afraid of? Why?
  • What are junk foods?
  • What are some nutritious foods that you like?
  • What are some rules you have to follow at home?
  • What are some examples of prejudice?
  • What is more important to you, appearance or personality?
  • What is most important to you in a friend--loyalty, generosity, honesty--why?
  • What is something that makes you melancholy?
  • What makes your best friend your best friend?
  • What makes you feel safe?
  • What makes you laugh?
  • What would you invent to make life better?
  • What would you do to entertain your family without spending any money?
  • What effects does watching violence have on people?
  • What effects do cigarette and alcohol advertising have on young people?
  • What kind of t.v. commercial would you like to make? Describe it.
  • What kind of pet would you most like to have--monkey, snake, goat--why?
  • What kind of program do you enjoy most on TV--detective shows, comedies, game shows--and why?
  • What advice would you give a new student?
  • What advice would you give to someone who stole something but now feels guilty?
  • What things are better than going to school? Why?
  • What talents do you have?
  • What three words would describe you right now?
  • What four things are most important in your life?
  • What colour makes you think of happiness?
  • What has been the most fun activity at school so far?
  • What quality do you like about yourself--creativity, personality, appearance--why?
  • What eccentric behaviour in a friend disturbs you the most?
  • What parts of nature do you like best?
  • What do you do for exercise?
  • What is the most ludicrous outfit you can think of?
  • What is the funniest dinner you've ever had with your family?
How...
  • How do you feel when it's your birthday? Why?
  • How do you feel on the first day of winter? Why?
  • How would you feel if you were going to be on a show? Why?
  • How do you feel when you do something wrong?
  • How do you feel when you do something that is very good?
  • How do you feel when you play a trick on someone?
  • How would you feel if a new child moved into your neighbourhood?
  • How do you think the new child would feel?
  • How do you feel when you have had a fight with your best friend?
  • How do you think your friend felt?
  • How do you feel when you are in bed with the lights out?
  • How do you feel when you want something very badly and you cannot have it? Why is this so important to have?
  • How do you feel on a warm sunny day?
  • How do you feel when you stay with a babysitter?
  • How do you feel when you're leaving home on vacation?
  • How do you feel when you sleep at someone's house?
  • How do you feel during a thunderstorm?
  • How do you feel on the first day of school?
  • How do you feel when your parents are upset with you? Why do they become upset with you?
  • How do you feel on Thanksgiving? What are you thankful for?
  • How do feel on (any holiday)?
  • How do you feel when something scares you? What do you do when this happens?
  • How would you feel if someone told you that you were his or her best friend?
  • How do you feel about your appearance?
  • How would you change the world to make it better?
  • How do you think eating junk food affects you?
  • How do you have the most fun--alone, with a large group, with a few friends--and why?
  • Explain how to play your favorite game.
  • How would you describe your house to someone who has never visited there before?
I wish...
  • I wish I had a million... Then I would...
  • I wish I had one... because
  • I wish I could be like.... This person is special because....
  • I wish to be a ________ when I grow up. Then I will....
  • I wish there were a law that said..... This would be a good law because....
  • I wish I could forget the time I ..... because....
  • I wish trees could..... because....
  • I wish I could see...... because.....
  • I wish I could learn..... because.....
  • I wish I didn't have to eat...... I don't like this food because.....
  • I wish everyone would learn to ..... Then everyone would.....
  • I wish I never......
  • I wish I had one more chance to..... Then I would.....
  • I wish there was an electric......
  • I wish I had enough money to......
  • I wish everyone loved......
  • I wish all children would......
  • I wish everyone had.....
  • I wish I could touch......
  • I wish animals could...... If they could, then.....
  • I wish I looked like.... because......
  • I wish there were no more.....
  • I wish I didn't have to.....
  • I wish I could go to.....
  • I wish there really was..... If there really was, then.....
  • I wish I could hear......
  • I wish I could give......
  • If all my wishes came true, I would......
When...
  • When you are angry, how do you look?
  • When are you happiest?
  • When have you felt lonely?
  • When do you feel proud?
  • When was the last time you cried and why?
  • When a friend was in an embarrassing situation, what did you do?
  • When it might hurt their feelings, how do you feel about telling your friends the truth?
  • When might it be bad to be honest?
  • When someone picks on someone else, how do you feel? What do you do?
  • Once, when you were very frightened, what happened?
  • Once, when you were embarrassed, what happened?
  • Once, when your feelings were hurt, what happened?
  • Describe a time when you felt vengeful.
  • When you have a problem who do you talk to? Why?
Which...
  • Which quality best describes your life--exciting, organised, dull--and why?
  • Which quality do you dislike most about yourself--laziness, selfishness, childishness--and why?
  • Which place would you most like to visit--Africa, China, Alaska--why?
  • Which holiday has the most meaning for you-Canada Day, Thanksgiving, Valentines Day--and why?
  • Which is least important to you--money, power, fame--and why?
  • Which is most important to you--being popular, accomplishing things, being organised--and why?
  • Which is your favourite Star Wars character (or other movie/book/t.v. show, etc.)? Why?
Why...
  • Why is it important to be honest?
  • Why is important to have good manners?
  • Why do you think adults smoke/drink?
  • Why is exercise important to someone your age?
  • Why do you think some people encourage others to smoke/drink?
  • Why do you think the rules you must follow are good or bad?
  • Why would it be good to be honest?
  • Why have men and women usually only done certain types of work?
  • Why should or shouldn't a man stay home to care for the house and children while his wife goes to work?
  • Why do you think some people take advantage of others?
  • Why do you think prejudice exists in the world?
  • Why would we say that someone is "passing the buck"?
  • Why would a Prime Minister have a sign on his desk which read, "The buck stops here"?
  • Why do you think tact is an important quality?
  • Why is it not wise to squander your money?
  • Explain why we say, "dead as a door nail".
  • Think of your favourite toy. Why do you like it best?
  • Think of the best teacher you ever had. Why were they a good teacher?
Misc...
  • Do you think there is too much fighting on t.v. Why or why not?
  • Do you think it is necessary to have alcohol at a party in order to have a good time?
  • Does it bother you to be around someone who has bad manners?
  • Should there be a dress code in places such as school, restaurants, and places of business? Why or why not?
  • Should animals be used for medical research?
  • Should the Canadian Government financially support Olympic teams?
  • Should people be prohibited from smoking in certain places?
  • Families are important because...
  • Would you like to be famous? Why or why not? What would you like to be famous for?
  • Who or what has had a strong influence in your life?
  • Where would you prefer to be right now--mountains, desert, beach--and why?
  • Should you have to do chores around the house? Why or why not?
  • Should you be required to wear a bike helmet? Why or why not?
  • Should skateboards be allowed on sidewalks?
  • Where do you think we should go on our class fieldtrip this year? Why?
  • Should you have to take tests in school?
  • Should cellphones be allowed in school?
  • Can television (or videogames) influence your behaviour? How?
  • Should schools be year-round?
  • Should junk food be banned from schools?
  • Should students be required to learn a second language?

Thursday, 17 August 2017

«Disconnect» - Film Review & Official Trailer

"I'm living with a family of fake people."
So says a text message sent by Ben Boyd, a moody, introspective, Radiohead-loving adolescent who's more at home in his head, in his music and online than he is with his own family.
Ironically, the person Ben thinks he's communicating with, a young woman named Jessica who's friended him on his social media page and taken a liking to music Ben's posted, really is fake. "She" is actually two bullies who are preying upon the unsuspecting Ben the way hungry lions go after vulnerable wildebeest calves. By the time he realizes Jessica isn't Jessica, Ben has been baited into sending a naked picture of himself, a picture that soon goes viral … and prompts the horrified youngster to hang himself.
That's just the first of four seriously cautionary tales in Disconnect, a movie about how Internet-enabled relationships promise more intimacy than they deliver, even as digital connections unwittingly undermine our most important real-world relationships.
Disconnect's second story revolves around an alienated husband and wife. Derek and Cindy are struggling with the loss of their one-year-old baby and their inability to get pregnant again. Derek has shut down emotionally, retreating into his work (which requires lots of travel) and into online gambling. Meanwhile, Cindy is desperate to talk, and she finds a compassionate ear in a widower who goes by the username "fearandloathing" in a grief-and-loss Internet chat room.
But when Derek and Cindy become the victims of identity theft, online security specialist Mike Dixon tracks down fearandloathing and discovers that Cindy's confidant—real name Stephen Schumacher—is actually a savvy thief milking her for information. When Derek asks Mike what he'd do in their situation, the latter replies, "I'd strangle the son of a b‑‑ch." Thus, Derek and Cindy perilously seek to turn the tables on the thief.
Mike, however, has problems of his own. A widower, he's doing the best he can to raise his adolescent son. But even though he's adept at sorting through other people's online missteps, he's not so good at it with his own flesh and blood. His son, Jason, is one of Ben Boyd's bullies—yet another blow to the father and son's already troubled relationship.
Finally, putting an exclamation point on 21st-century society's damaged ideas about intimacy is Kyle, a formerly homeless 17-year-old who now lives in a house with other teens doing sex webcam work under the watchful eye of their digital pimp. It's a story that ambitious reporter Nina Dunham wants to tell. But when she convinces Kyle to talk—anonymously, of course—it ends up on the national news and invites the attention of the FBI. If Nina wants to keep her job, high-powered lawyer Rich Boyd—Ben's father—tells her she's going to have to turn Kyle and his outfit in.
Disconnect invites viewers to wrestle with the suggestion that many people in the Internet age are more likely to seek emotional (and sexual) intimacy with complete strangers online than they are with the people they're closest to. The results, the film further suggests, can be devastating.
Ben is an artsy, quiet, misunderstood kid who's not only an outcast at school, but an outsider in his own home. When he tries to commit suicide, his action serves as a catalyst for the family to take a hard look at what they value and how they're living. Dad spends hours going through Ben's pictures and music, really getting to know his son and lamenting the fact that he didn't do so earlier. Sis mourns the fact that she did nothing to protect her brother from those who taunted him. And the family comes together in a way that they never have before.
Rich also reaches out to "Jessica," who at this point is being personified via texts by Jason. Jason feels guilty about a prank that got out of hand, and begins an odd relationship with the older man—one in which Rich acts as a kind of accidental surrogate father. It's clear that Jason's relationship with his own father, Mike Dixon, is damaged, and Rich's willingness to reach out and "talk" proves strangely cathartic for both … until, that is, Rich learns the truth about Jason's role in his son's suicide attempt. Still, this odd relationship once again illustrates the film's main point about how easy—and dangerous—it is for complete strangers to fill important emotional roles in one another's lives online.
Meanwhile, Derek and Cindy's quest to track down Schumacher is fraught with peril. But as they go forward, the couple begins to talk again. And in the end it turns out that Schumacher is also a victim of identity theft, a fact that ultimately stays Derek and Cindy from perhaps assaulting the man. He's "just another victim," Mike tells them, reinforcing the movie's theme that the Internet claims many such victims.
As for Nina and Kyle's relationship, it's a muddy one, to say the least. At some level, Nina genuinely wants Kyle to get out of his "career" doing sex work on webcams. On another level, though, Kyle (brutally) helps Nina see that she was just using him to get a story that would burnish her career. Kyle accuses her of being even more exploitative than the job he's in, an accusation that clearly rocks Nina.
Thanks to social media and the Internet, we're digitally connected to more people than ever before. But as many social commentators have noted as of late, the word digital may make all the difference between those connections being a great thing or a devastating thing. Instead of real, life-giving connections with others, many people get conned by counterfeit intimacy—virtual relationships that ultimately serve as a shallow substitute for the genuine article. Or worse.
Disconnect locates the scabs of online wounds and then digs underneath them, relentlessly picking at this painful reality.
It's brutal to see the end result of a young boy's longing for love and affirmation get turned so horrifically against him, an outcome that leaves him dangling at the end of rope.
It's brutal to hear a 17-year-old argue that performing sex acts in front of strangers is a fulfilling vocation for him—not to mention seeing the other young men and women deceived by this lie.
It's brutal to see a veteran reporter come to the realization that she herself is willing to exploit someone if it means furthering her career.
It's brutal to see parents and husbands and wives learn, too late in some cases, how badly they've failed one another.
It's brutal to watch Disconnect, an unflinching movie—and unflinchingly graphic at times—that paints a dark portrait of the even darker side of our technological age.


Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Write the colours


Click on the picture and... have fun!

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Sunday, 13 August 2017

«Paradise Lost» - Infographic & Plot Summary


In the tradition of ancient Greek epics, John Milton begins his poem by calling on the guidance of a heavenly muse to help tell his tale, stating that his goal is to justify the ways of God to man. He begins his story in medias res (in the middle of things). God has cast Satan and his rebel army of fallen angels out of Heaven, and they are floating on a fiery lake in Hell. These angels become devils and form a council to debate how to overthrow God. Through his second-in-command, Satan convinces them that the best target is man, God's newest creation. Satan volunteers to fly to the world full of God's new creatures. His daughter, Sin, and their incestuous son, Death, help him escape from Hell. The personifications of Chaos and Night also help pave the way for Satan to enter the new world, because they have no particular allegiance to God.
God, in his omniscience, already knows that Satan will succeed in tempting and corrupting mankind. He announces that man will be punished for his disobedience, because he created humans to be strong enough to withstand temptation. He claims that his new creations will be punished by death unless someone in Heaven is willing to die on their behalf. Only God's Son volunteers.
Satan lands in the new world and sneaks into the Garden of Eden disguised as a cherub. Once inside the garden, he spies God's new creations, Adam and Eve, and is deeply envious of their innocence and happiness. Though he has a moment of doubt and almost feels love for the humans, he resolves to continue with his plan to corrupt them. It is the only revenge he can get against God. He overhears Adam and Eve discussing how God forbade them from eating fruit from the Tree of Knowledge and decides that he will trick them into disobeying God by eating the fruit.
Uriel, the angel guarding Paradise, realizes that the cherub is Satan in disguise and sends for the archangel Gabriel to find the intruder. Gabriel confronts him, and Satan reveals himself and prepares for battle. God then sends Satan a warning: a pair of Golden Scales in the sky that demonstrates how pointless it is to fight. Satan flees, recognizing that God does have the ultimate power and advantage.
Satan whispers an upsetting dream about eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge in Eve's ear while she is sleeping. God decides that although he cannot control their actions, he must warn Adam and Eve about Satan. He sends his archangel Raphael to discuss with Adam the idea that they have the free will to make their own choices and to warn them about the temptation they will face and its consequences.
Raphael also tells Adam the story of Satan's rebellion in Heaven—which began when Satan, then a high-ranking angel, became envious of the Son, who would become King of Heaven. Satan then convinced other angels to rebel against God and forms an army. Yet all angels are immortal—while they can be wounded, they can't be killed. The battle that Raphael describes to Adam seems pointless, especially because the all-powerful God can call an end to the war whenever he likes. He does so on the third day, telling his Son to banish the rebel angels to Hell.
After Raphael finishes telling Adam the story, Satan returns to the Garden of Eden, taking on the disguise of a serpent. He finds Eve alone and speaks to her. Eve is curious about how he came to be able to speak, and he tells her that he learned by eating fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. He tells her that if she eats the fruit she can become a goddess and gain knowledge as well. After hesitating, she eats the fruit and then offers it to Adam. Though he realizes that she has disobeyed God's orders, he eats the fruit so they will share the same fate.
God then sends the Son to the Garden of Eden, where he condemns Eve and all future women to experience pain when they give birth. He also condemns Adam to have to labor to grow his food and tells Eve she must submit to Adam. Satan is gleeful that he has accomplished his plan, and his children, Sin and Death, build a bridge between Hell and Earth. Though Satan arrives triumphantly in Hell, believing he has outsmarted God, God punishes Satan by turning him and the other devils into serpents, doomed to eternally hunger for fruit that turns to ashes when they bite into it.
God next orders angels to make the new world more hostile to mirror Adam and Eve's fall. The angels create storms and turn creatures against each other to create discord and suffering. Adam and Eve begin fighting and blame each other for the punishment they are enduring. Ultimately they decide to repent to God, swearing to be obedient. God agrees to be merciful, allowing them and their offspring into Heaven in the afterlife if they are obedient to him.
God sends the archangel Michael to show Adam what his and Eve's future will look like: their sons will murder each other, tyrants will rule, and biblical floods will wipe out most people. Yet he offers them hope in addition to depicting the suffering that future humans will endure: he shows Adam a rainbow meant to reflect God's mercy and biblical characters such as Noah, Enoch, and Jesus—men who will redeem humanity through their selfless acts. Adam and Eve finally leave Paradise, accepting their fate.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Queen Victoria’s appetites

From ‘fancy breads’ and smoked haddock to whisky and mulled wine, Queen Victoria displayed a healthy enjoyment of food and drink throughout her life. Food historian Professor Rebecca Earle explores the five-foot monarch’s hearty appetites…

Queen Victoria was certainly an enthusiastic eater. “Her little majesty”, as one observer called the five-foot monarch, had a hearty appetite, and displayed a healthy enjoyment of food from her earliest years. According to historian Cecil Woodham Smith, this worried Victoria’s relatives, who urged her to take more exercise and slow down. They fretted that the teenaged princess “eats a little too much, and almost always a little too fast”. 
As a child, Victoria was subjected to a rigorous regime of controlled eating – dinner might consist of bread and milk. As a result, the young Victoria vowed to eat mutton every day when she grew up – and she certainly showed no intention of depriving herself once she reached adulthood. 

An engraving of the young princess Victoria, who “displayed a healthy enjoyment of food from her earliest years”, says Rebecca Earle. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

 

Mealtimes with the queen

Once queen, Victoria’s breakfast usually included porridge, fish, eggs on toast, ‘fancy breads’, and in later years, finnan haddies, a form of smoked haddock. Of course, she did not necessarily eat everything on offer, but felt it was important to have a choice. 
Dinners might entail soup, fish, cold boiled chicken or roast beef, dessert and fruits, perhaps some of the pineapples grown specially for the royal household. She was also a fan of seasonal eating: “She never permits her own table or that of her household to be served with anything that is out of season,” it was noted in The Private Life of the Queen by a Member of the Royal Household, an anonymous account published in 1901. “Her Majesty confesses to a great weakness for potatoes, which are cooked for her in every conceivable way,” the same observer reported.
The queen particularly enjoyed sweet foods – her wedding to Albert in 1840 offered a taste of things to come. The mammoth bride cake (a slice of which was recently sold at auction for £1,500) weighed nearly 300lb and measured three yards across. Meanwhile, satirical ballads at the time suggested that the German Albert was equally attracted to “England’s fat queen and England’s fatter purse”.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's wedding cake, which weighed nearly 300lb and was three yards across. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Mulled wine, ice creams, cakes, and pastries of all sorts were an enduring pleasure. According to the anonymous account from 1901, she had a great appetite for: “chocolate sponges, plain sponges, wafers of two or three different shapes, langues de chat, biscuits and drop cakes of all kinds, tablets, petit fours, princess and rice cakes, pralines, almond sweets, and a large variety of mixed sweets.” “Her Majesty”, it added, “is very fond of all kinds of pies, and a cranberry tart with cream is one of her favourite dishes”. 
In contrast, Victoria’s children were fed on the plain roasts and broths that she viewed as appropriate for the nursery. She also selected the meals of her grandchildren, using a violet pencil to annotate the day’s proposed menu.
Alongside tea, which “has ever ranked high in the royal favour”, the queen was also a lover of whisky, particularly in later years, when her tastes were influenced by John Brown, her Scottish ghillie and close confidante. A small distillery near Balmoral produced a version specially for her, which she took with soda water. Her taste for the spirit however predated her relationship with Brown. For instance, on a visit to Scotland in 1842 the queen enjoyed a glass of Atholl brose (a mixture of whisky and honey) served out of a glass said to have belonged to Niel Gow, the legendary Scottish fiddler.

Queen Victoria taking tea with her relatives. Tea “has ever ranked high in the royal favour”, says Rebecca Earle. (Getty Images)

 

The ‘dangers’ of a hearty appetite

Over the years, all this food and drink took its toll. “She is more like a barrel than anything else”, observed one doctor in the 1840s, who predicted that if the queen carried on eating she would become enormously corpulent. She soon abandoned her corset and was described as “very large, ruddy and fat”. By the 1880s, when she was in her sixties, Victoria’s body mass index was over 32, which would qualify her as obese by today’s standards. When advised to reduce her intake, she simply ate patented diet foods on top of her existing programme.
Victoria’s enthusiastic eating did not conform to the dietary advice typically dispensed to women at the time. Good table manners demanded sedate and measured eating and discouraged visible surrender to gustatory delight. The female digestive system was moreover said to require soft, dainty and bland foods. William Alcott’s A Young Woman’s Book of Health (1855) recommended avoiding “high-seasoned and exciting foods… as if they were rank poison”. 
One reason for this was that too hearty an enjoyment of food suggested a dangerously enthusiastic attitude towards other bodily pleasures. After all, as the doctor and social reformer Mary Ward-Allen warned, an unnatural appetite for spicy, exciting food was the inevitable result of the equally unnatural practice of masturbation. A bird-like appetite, accompanied by a disregard for food, demonstrated a woman’s moral state, at the same time as enabling her to maintain a slim and dainty physique. 
Queen Victoria herself, on the other hand, also enjoyed a tumble between the sheets. Things got off to a good start with her marriage to Prince Albert on 10 February 1840. “We did not sleep much”, she noted in her diary a few days later, describing their first nights together. According to historian Paula Bartley, the royal couple possessed a fine collection of erotic art, and Victoria responded with dismay when advised by her doctor to forgo sexual activity so as to prevent further pregnancies. She regarded her nine pregnancies as a tiresome impediment to married life.

Queen Victoria at her jubilee service in 1887. (Getty Images)

It has been suggested that the cultural roots of anorexia nervosa lie in the Victorian era’s denigration of eating as inherently unfeminine and dangerously sexual. Medical accounts from the 1890s began to describe cases of teenagers who stopped eating “on account of her mother talking to her about being so fat”, or because of a “fear of being seen as a bit heavy”. By not eating, young women distanced themselves from the taint of sexuality, and demonstrated their proper, genteel, and moral status. Deprived of other avenues for self-expression, young women could at least decline to eat; refusing food provided these women with a voice. As the historian Joan Jacobs Brumberg has argued, “young women searching for an idiom in which to say things about themselves focused on food and the body”.
If appetite was a voice, then Victoria was speaking loudly when she relished roast beef and whisky. Her uniquely powerful position allowed her to ignore some of the social constraints imposed on other young women, and make her own choices about her diet and her body.
Today, over 60 per cent of the UK population is classified as overweight, and sexual pleasure is considered something to celebrate. These may not be the ‘Victorian values’ that the Conservative Party urged us to adopt in 2006, but Victoria herself might endorse both aspects of contemporary British society, at least when applied to her own life. Certainly, sex and eating were activities dear to ‘her little majesty’.
Professor Rebecca Earle is a food historian and professor of history at the University of Warwick and the author of The Body of the Conquistador: Food, Race and the Colonial Experience in Spanish America (CUP 2012)

Thursday, 10 August 2017

100 Prompts for Writing About Yourself

How do you get back into writing again? How do you beat writer’s block? Writing about yourself can be a great place to start.
Some of these writing prompts might lead to great blog posts, and other ideas might be more suited for your personal journal. You may not be able to relate to all of them, but I tried to make them pretty general! These creative writing exercises can also help you develop the characters in your short story, novel, or screenplay — just imagine your character answering them instead of you.


  1. Describe one of your earliest childhood memories.
  2. Write about what you see as one of your best qualities.
  3. Do you have the same religious beliefs that you had as a child? If so, why? If not, how and why did they change?
  1. Write about the benefits of being an only child—or the advantages of having siblings.
  2. Write about how a person can tell if they’re really in love. If you don’t know, write about how you don’t know.
  3. Are you shy about your body, such as when you change clothes in a locker room? Or are you comfortable with it? Why?
  4. Describe your favorite spot in your home, and why you like it.
  5. Write about one of the most admirable classmates or coworkers you’ve ever had.
  6. Write about one of the worst classmates or coworkers you’ve ever had.
  7. Tell your story about the time you succeeded at something because you just. Didn’t. Give. Up.
  8. Write about how you’re a typical resident of your city or town… or about how you’re different from most people there.
  9. Write about how you fit the stereotype of people from your country… or about how you don’t fit it at all.
  10. Describe your favorite toy or game when you were five years old.
  11. Write about one of your most useful talents.
  12. What superstitions do you believe in or follow? Do you do certain things to avoid bad luck, or make wishes in certain ways?
  13. Write about a death in your family.
  14. Write about a birth in your family.
  15. Tell your story about how you made a friend in the past five years or so. How did you meet them? What do you like about them?
  16. Tell your story about your first best friend as a child. How did you meet them? How did you play together?
  17. Describe a physical feature of yours that you really like.
  18. Is your home usually neat, or usually messy? Why is that? Do you think it matters? Why or why not?
  19. Describe a part of your job or everyday work that you love.
  20. Describe a part of your job or everyday work that you loathe.
  21. Tell your story about how you won something, like a contest, a game, or a raffle.
  22. Do you think your hometown is a good place to live? Why or why not?
  23. Do you fit your astrological sign? Why or why not?
  24. Write about when you think it’s morally acceptable to lie. If your answer is “never,” write about why you think that.
  25. Write about a trait you inherited or picked up from a parent.
  26. Write about a way in which you are very different from a parent.
  27. Discuss one of the most important qualities you think people should look for in a romantic partner.
  28. Discuss a quality that you think is overrated when choosing a romantic partner.
  29. Write about a kind of exercise or physical activity you enjoy.
  30. Describe the contents of a desk drawer or junk drawer in your home, and write about the thoughts or memories that the objects in there inspire.
  31. Write about what you wish people knew about your job, profession, or calling in life.
  32. Write about a habit or addiction that you’ve been struggling with for years.
  33. Write about an external situation that you’ve been struggling with for years.
  34. Discuss something you love about the people in your country.
  35. Discuss something you wish you could change about the people in your country.
  36. What was something you misunderstood as a child? It could be the definition of a word, or something about adult life.
  37. Describe the benefits of being an introvert or an extrovert (whichever one you are.)
  38. Describe the challenges of being an introvert or an extrovert (whichever one you are.)
  39. Tell your story about the time you spoke up for something you believed in. How did it feel? Were there any consequences?
  40. If you don’t have children – do you or did you want them? Why or why not?
  41. If you have children – what is one thing that surprised you about being a parent?
  42. Tell your story about when a friend (or a group of them) made your day.
  43. Tell your story about when a friend (or a group of them) broke your heart.
  44. Describe an experience at a doctor’s office, dentist’s office, or hospital.
  45. Describe your dream home in detail.
  46. Tell your story about how a teacher, coach, or boss supported or inspired you.
  47. Tell your story about how a teacher, coach, or boss was so awful, they didn’t deserve to have their job.
  48. Write about something you did in the past year that made you proud.
  49. Do you live in the city you grew up in? Why or why not?
  50. Tell your story about a trip or a visit you enjoyed when you were little.
  51. In what ways do you fit the stereotypes of your gender, and in what ways do you differ from the stereotypes?
  52. Discuss whether you think people should share their religious beliefs openly, or whether they should keep it private.
  53. Discuss why you do or don’t consider pets to be family members.
  54. Describe what you think would be a perfect romantic date.
  55. Write about a type or style of clothing that you feel uncomfortable wearing, or that you simply dislike.
  56. Describe your personal style in clothing and whether it’s changed over the years.
  57. Write about the worst house or apartment you’ve ever lived in.
  58. Tell your story about a time when, rightly or wrongly, you got in trouble at school or at work.
  59. Do you always vote in elections? Why or why not?
  60. Do you think people make snap judgments about you based on your appearance? Are they accurate or not?
  61. What’s something that people don’t learn about your personality unless they get to know you very well?
  62. Write about something that terrified you as a child.
  63. Write about a particular phobia or fear you have now. If you’re not scared of anything, write about that!
  64. Write about something you believe that isn’t a particularly popular belief.
  65. What’s something you wanted badly as a child? Did you get it? If so, was it everything you hoped? If not, did it matter?
  66. When you’re feeling sad or down, what are ways that you make yourself feel better?
  67. What is something that makes you almost irrationally angry?
  68. Write about an object you own that has religious, spiritual, or symbolic significance to you.
  69. If you were a billionaire, what gifts would you give to your immediate family?
  70. Do you consider yourself hopeful or cynical about romance? Why?
  71. Write a note apologizing to a part of your body for insulting it in the past.
  72. Write a note thanking a part of your body for doing such a good job.
  73. Tell your story about when you had a delightful guest in your home.
  74. Tell your story about when you had an unwelcome visitor in your home.
  75. Describe the time you were a guest in an unusual home.
  76. What was the strangest course or class you ever took?
  77. Write about a time when you tried your best – and it didn’t pan out. How did you get over it?
  78. Write about a small thing you accomplished this week.
  79. Write about the ways that your hometown has changed over the years.
  80. Write about a way your country is changing for the better.
  81. Describe someone who bullied you as a child. Why do you think they did it?
  82. Do you believe that things happen for a reason, or do they just happen randomly? Why do you think this?
  83. Do you believe that you have a lot of control over your destiny or future? Why or why not?
  84. Write down a funny story that your family likes to tell again and again.
  85. What do you consider to be “deal breakers” in a marriage or romantic relationship?
  86. Tell your story about a time you got injured or you were in an accident.
  87. Write about some of the things you do at home when you’re completely alone.
  88. Tell your story about how you learned a new skill.
  89. Describe the way you get to school or to work every day.
  90. Propose a frivolous or ridiculous law that you would like to implement, and explain your reasoning.
  91. Write about something you did (or didn’t do) that you’re proud of from a moral or religious standpoint.
  92. Tell your story about having a great time at a party.
  93. Tell your story about a party you wish you had never attended or hosted.
  94. Write about a tattoo you have and its significance, a tattoo you would like to get… or why you would never, ever get a tattoo.
  95. Tell a story that has to do with your hair, or the lack of it.
  96. Write about a feud or rift in your family.
  97. If you had a whole day free of responsibilities or chores, how would you spend it?


Wednesday, 9 August 2017

«Medea» - Infographic & Plot Summary

Medea is set in the ancient Greek city-state of Corinth. Jason, the heroic son of King Aeson of Iolcus, has left his wife, Medea, and married the princess of Corinth. As the play begins, the Nurse, Medea's slave, gives a monologue summarizing events that took place before the play began. Jason had been given the task of capturing the Golden Fleece by the king, Pelias, who took the throne of Iolcus away from Jason's father. The Golden Fleece, a ram's gold skin, is defended by a dragon in Colchis, a region on the Black Sea. With a group of men called the Argonauts, Jason sailed to Colchis in the Argo and enlisted the help of Medea, the king's daughter, to carry out the task. Medea, who has magical powers, fell passionately in love with Jason. She not only helped him, betraying her own family, but married him. She then conspired to murder Pelias through trickery, which forced the couple into exile in Corinth. They have two sons, but Jason wants more wealth and so has left Medea for his new bride, the daughter of King Creon of Corinth.
Medea is mad with rage at being dishonored and abandoned. The Nurse hears her crying to the gods from within her house and worries about what Medea will do in her dangerous state of mind. The Chorus—a group of Corinthian women who are Medea's friends and serve as the voice of Greek society in the play—arrives onstage, and the Nurse fetches Medea to speak to the women. Medea, however, will not be consoled. A divorced woman has no respect, she tells them; she has no city, no protection, and no relatives to help her.
King Creon arrives to order Medea and the children into exile, because he fears Medea will harm his daughter, given her experience in "evil ways." After Medea begs to remain for one day, the king grants her wish—foolishly, for Medea begins plotting the murder of his daughter. Jason appears to say that Medea deserves her exile for slandering the royal house. When Medea reminds him of all the crimes she committed to help him and of their children, Jason belittles her help. He claims he did more for her than she for him and says he's marrying the princess to give his children financial security. Medea refuses his offer of help, saying,"Gifts from a worthless man are without value."
When Aegeus, the king of Athens, comes to ask Medea for some advice, Medea asks him to take her in, and he agrees. After he exits Medea reveals to the Chorus her plan to send the children to the princess with a poisoned robe and tiara, then kill the children. She feels she has no other choice with "no father, no home, no refuge." Soon a messenger from Creon's house comes to say the princess and king are both dead; in trying to lift his dead daughter, the king became entangled in the poisoned robe and died. Medea next enters the house to kill the children, and the audience hears their cries for help.
Jason arrives to the news that the boys are dead. As Medea rises above the house in a winged chariot, the bodies of the children inside, she taunts Jason: she has finally moved his heart. She flies off to "Hera's sacred lands/in Acraia" to bury her children and then go to Athens. The Chorus comments, "What we don't expect/some god finds a way/to make it happen."