Monday, January 15, 2018

An Ode to New Zealand; Why That South Pacific Nation is Arguably the Most Beautiful Country on This Planet

To say “New Zealand is beautiful” is pretty much a cliché.  Before my recent three-week visit there, whenever I had mentioned my then-upcoming travel to someone here in the U.S., they had instantly remarked about NZ’s famed beauty even if they had never set foot in that land.  But I would like to posit that NZ is the most beautiful country on the planet and principally for two reasons, the second of which is likely to surprise anyone who has never been there.

First, about that nation’s natural heritage, and here my focus is on South Island (SI for short), which is where I spent most of my time. Just over 500 miles in length (two thirds that of California’s) and a width averaging a mere 100 miles, SI is endowed with an unbelievable diversity of impossibly beautiful physical features: It is crammed with every kind of geographical wonder we get to see in America’s national parks (save for the red sandstone landmarks of Arizona and Utah)–snowcaps and glaciers; gorges; mountain rivers and streams; waterfalls; rainforests; vast and deep lakes; fjords; sounds and other bodies of water teeming with marine wildlife and beckoning islets; and an infinitude of hills and valleys which are invariably dotted with sheep. [Yes, I constantly heard the strains of Bach’s “Where Sheep May Safely Graze” in the background. J] During our road trips, I was forever fighting the urge to stop every half mile to photograph the ever-changing (and yes, breathtaking!) scenery.
And now to the second reason for writing this love letter, this valentine: It’s that nation’s people! Anthropologists would do well to put New Zealanders under the microscope because they are not like the rest of us. Instead, the kiwis are a more refined “subspecies of Homo sapiens.” During my travels, there wasn’t a day when I did not pause to reflect on how unfailingly polite, courteous, and soft-spoken they all are, in striking contrast to the coarseness, the brusqueness, and the rudeness that has been pervading the rest of the planet at a galloping pace.  It’s as if all the kiwis were on a caboose that had become detached from a long train that had on board the rest of the world and which was speeding toward a future that promises to be cruder, more impolite, and more discourteous by the day.

I end this paean with a question that, by now, has probably arisen in your mind as well: How long can New Zealanders maintain their unique culture, and their unmatched, unrivaled social qualities, before they too are hopelessly infected by the curtness and crassness of the outside world?

© Copyright 2018  V. J. Singal

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Vocabulary Expansion Words: New Edition of “Words of the Month”

Have you checked out the latest edition (November/December 2017) of Words of the Month,” my free vocabulary enrichment feature? Here are the six featured words, all of which lie within the conversational vocabulary of America’s most articulate (as is the case with all of the words featured in my book, TheArticulate Professional-3rd Edition”):

1. bravura
2. vitiate
3. impetuous
4. tawdry
5. voluble
6. atavistic

Sunday, December 3, 2017

“Running Into the Spears of Opposing Opinion Absolutely Willingly”; A Political Campaign That Is “Kind of Hamlet Without the Prince!” —Use of Visual, Evocative Expression to Emphasize One’s Point

Here are some recent examples of highly effective communicators using a vivid, evocative expression while emphasizing something and thus making their assertion indelible--examples which, I hope, will inspire the rest of us into similarly imaginative analogies, especially when we are trying to break through the clutter.

  • (From the Oct. 29 edition of “Face the Nation”) While commenting on the Republican tax plan which, at the time, was still being formulated, panelist Ben Domenech of “The Federalist,” a conservative publication, saying: “Republicans are always more comfortable talking about taxes than almost any other subject. This is the one area where they’ll run into the spears of opposing opinion absolutely willingly because they think it’s their issue—they think they own it.”
  • This is with reference to last month’s gubernatorial election in Virginia. Recall that the losing candidate, Republican Ed Gillespie, ran on Donald Trump’s agenda (i.e., tough on illegal immigration, tough on crime...) but did not mention Trump’s name even once during his entire campaign. So, on the eve of that election, BBC’s Laura Trevelyan said to a guest: “The Gillespie campaign has been Trumpism without Trump. It’s kind of Hamlet without the Prince. How difficult a balancing act is that?”
© Copyright 2017  V. J. Singal

 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Electrifying 30-Second Clip Displaying Pianist Vadym Kholodenko's Technical Bravura

The concluding seconds from Prokofiev's 3rd piano concerto, as performed by Vadym Kholodenko during the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition where he won the gold medal.

 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Vocabulary Expansion Words: New Edition of “Words of the Month”

Have you checked out the latest edition (September/ October 2017) of Words of the Month,” my free vocabulary enrichment feature? Here are the six featured words, all of which lie within the conversational vocabulary of America’s most articulate (as is the case with all of the words featured in my book, TheArticulate Professional-3rd Edition”):

1. truculent
2. flaccid
3. supplicant
4. certitude
5. discomfit
6. august