Archive for February 28th, 2011

February 28, 2011

Red Herring

cat among pigeons

red herring is a literary tactic of diverting attention away from an item of significance. For example, in mystery fiction, where the identity of a criminal is being sought, an innocent party may be purposefully cast in a guilty light by the author through the employment of false emphasis, deceptive clues, ‘loaded’ words, or other descriptive tricks of the trade. The reader’s suspicions are thus misdirected, allowing the true culprit to go (temporarily at least) undetected. A false protagonist is another example of a red herring.

In a literal sense, there is no such fish species as a ‘red herring’; rather it refers to a particularly ‘strong kipper’ (a fish that has been strongly cured and smoked making it pungent smelling and reddish in color).

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February 28, 2011

Chekhov’s Gun


uncle vanya

Chekhov’s gun is a literary technique whereby an element is introduced early in the story, but its significance does not become clear until later in the narrative. The concept is named after Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, who mentioned several variants of the concept in letters. Chekhov himself makes use of this principle in ‘Uncle Vanya,’ in which a pistol is introduced early on as a seemingly irrelevant prop and, towards the end of the play, becomes much more important as Uncle Vanya, in a rage, grabs it and tries to commit homicide.

The phrase ‘Chekhov’s gun’ is often interpreted as a method of foreshadowing, but the concept can also be interpreted as meaning ‘do not include any unnecessary elements in a story.’ Failure to observe the rule of ‘Chekhov’s gun’ may be cited by critics when discussing plot holes. The opposite of Chekhov’s gun is a ‘red herring,’ a plot device that’s designed to divert attention.

February 28, 2011

Herman’s Hermits

hermans hermits

Herman’s Hermits is an English pop band, formed in Manchester in 1963. For a brief time the group rivalled the Beatles on the charts, and was the top-selling pop act in the U.S. in 1965. The group’s manager and producer, Mickie Most (who controlled the band’s output), emphasized a simple, non-threatening and clean-cut image, although the band originally played R&B numbers. This helped Herman’s Hermits become hugely successful in the mid-1960s but hampered the band’s creativity, relegating Noone, Hopwood, Leckenby and Green’s original songs to quickly recorded B-sides and album cuts.

Their first hit was a cover of Earl Jean’s ‘I’m Into Something Good’ (written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King), which reached No. 1 in the UK Singles Chart and No. 13 in the US in 1964. They never topped the British charts again, but had two US Billboard Hot 100 No. 1’s with ‘Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter’ and ‘I’m Henry the Eighth, I Am’ (a British music hall song dating from 1911). These songs were aimed at a US fan-base, with Peter Noone exaggerating his Manchester accent; the band was not fond of either song and they were never released as singles in Britain.

February 28, 2011



red book

RTFM (‘read the fucking manual’) is a brusque way to remind others to try to help themselves in obvious ways before seeking assistance from others. Since the rise of the Web, pervasive internet connectivity, and ubiquitous search, a similar type of response has involved the idea that by asking questions that could easily be answered by even the most cursory, obvious search, the user embarrasses himself by showing that the very idea of searching before asking didn’t even occur to him.

The most common variants of this type are GIYF (‘Google is your friend’) and LMGTFY (‘let me google that for you’), both with a tone of patronizing helpfulness (with varying degrees of sarcasm).Often the responder will even insert a link into the reply that, when the user clicks it, will take them to a saved search query. The clear implication is that’you should know by now to do this yourself.’

February 28, 2011

Giant’s Causeway

Giants causeway

The Giant’s Causeway is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. It is located on the northeast coast of Northern Ireland. The tops of the columns form stepping stones that lead from the cliff foot and disappear under the sea. Most of the columns are hexagonal, although there are also some with four, five, seven and eight sides. The tallest are about 12 metres (36 ft) high, and the solidified lava in the cliffs is 28 metres thick in places.