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ENTERTAINMENT

Sting alludes to troubled waters through brilliant acoustic experiment

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Original article by Senior journalist Lakshmi Govindrajan Javeri 

Sting’s music has been a constant presence for a good part of my life. Be it his songwriting or his vocals, his clever instrumentation or just the themes that draw him, many of his works have featured prominently in the soundtrack of my own life. It’s not to say that every little thing he does is magic, because, you know, he has also written some gold standard tripe. Nevertheless, the fact that he’s been an English teacher and his lyrics are often beautifully layered for an English Literature student like me, has meant that analysing his work is second nature to me.

Obviously then, his new album The Bridge was something I eagerly looked forward to. His 15th so far and the first in over five years that is in the rock realm, it was slated for release on the same day Adele aka Goddess of Heartbreak’s album 30 was released. It was also the day Sir Rod Stewart released an album, but we shall not digress. In the last decade alone, Sting has drawn inspiration from his childhood in The Last Ship (2013), reimagined his solo classics in My Songs (2019), collaborated with Shaggy in 44/876 (2019). His 2016 album 57th& 9th was his last unadulterated rock album that wasn’t carrying the weight of an overarching theme.

Up against the social media frenzy over Adele’s divorce album where a breakup has been analysed with the excruciating details, and close on the heels of Taylor’s Swifties losing their minds yet again over a scarf, Sting’s straight up rock album The Bridge released almost silently in comparison.

Barring the usual interviews in the media, social media discussions and TikTok collabs, Sting has let his music do much of the talking. Given that he isn’t hitting out at exes and writing about things as salacious, this pop-rock seducer-songwriter septuagenarian’s pandemic album is the still water that runs deep.

Water, in fact, is a recurring metaphor in the album that is titled The Bridge, a proverbial link over tough times, over relationships, a connector between disparate ideas and a solution Sting seeks to all that ails the world today. Cleverly and frequently cheesily, water appears and reappears either literally or otherwise to help us tide through the simple and mega complicated themes that make Sting anxious.

A quick listen of any album is unfair to the effort put in and The Bridge doesn’t make a good case for itself either initially. Conversational Sting with sparse melodic timelessness that usually mark his collaborations with Dominic Miller has meant that the album can easily be dismissed as an easy-but-predictable listen.

But Sting has a way of wooing you slowly and he shows no urgency in convincing you to stay. So being quick to judge the album as a collection of B-sides from his blockbuster collections will deprive you of a carefully thought-out string of songs that ebbs and flows at a pace of its own volition. It has a strong pop-rock vibe that defined his The Police and early solo years, but some of its best songs have Celtic and jazz influences. Typically Sting one would imagine.

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Sting alludes to troubled waters through brilliant acoustic experiment

Opening with ‘Rushing Water’, Sting lays bare his apprehensions through the swelling of a river. ‘If It’s Love’ is easy on the ears, almost casual in the way it treats itself. The ‘Book of Numbers’ starts decisively and resonates with Dominic Miller’s sway on the proceedings. He even returns with haunting, almost stalker-feels writing like in ‘Loving You’, a song so conversational that the backing instruments are a faint part of the experience. But this very starkness works to his advantage when he so painfully sings, “We made vows inside the church to forgive each other’s sins, but there are things I have to endure, like the smell of another man’s skin. If that’s not loving you, I don’t know what is.” Sigh… these millennial writers have so much to learn from this British legend’s understated song-writing. That itself is refreshing from the House of Sting given that he has had a tendency to complicate sounds and cultures in the noughties.

Three songs in, Sting has unshackled further with the contrition of the water metaphor waning, going instead into deeper themes within our consciousness. ‘For Her Love’ is so reminiscent of Sting’s ‘Fragile’ and ‘Shape of My Heart’, with unmistakable hints of ‘Fields of Gold’. It’s the Sting we collectively fell in love with, the affirmation of a life-long love affair with his works. The violins and accordions contribute to the moody song with Celtic hues, ‘The Hills on the Border’. Dominic Miller’s subtlety shines in ‘The Bells of St. Thomas’ where Sting’s song-writing is at its most vivid glory, harking back to some of his lyrical classics like ‘Shape of My Heart’. The title track and Captain Bateman benefit tremendously from their folk settings while ‘Waters of Tyne’s’ acoustic experience is sheer brilliance.

Whenever Sting does an instrumental track it’s just as rich as his lyrical ones where intense chords and tones create a dramatic sonic world that we irresistibly put on loop. Think ‘St. Agnes’ and the ‘Burning Train’ from one of Sting’s best albums, Soul Cages. If the album that’s set in the ship-building milieu of his childhood home was one of his most ground-breaking works, then this water-filled outing’s most prolific piece comes in the form of ‘Captain Bateman’s Basement’, a song that is absolutely nothing like its almost-namesake. The jazz-dipped sensual track feels like we’re in the head of a musician who is tinkering around during soundcheck. Unbridled and uninhibited, it is Sting at his most primal, bass in hand, indistinguishable humming and a bloody good song.

The more you listen to The Bridge, the more the album grows on you, and the more you realise that as much there is water splashed all over the discography, the album is really about reaching out to people, to circumstances, to the divine. In an album full of troubled waters, we’re actually joining Sting on a quest to build bridges.

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ENTERTAINMENT

Kipchoge Breaks Own Marathon World Record

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Double Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge has broken his own men’s marathon world record at Sunday’s race in Berlin.

The 37-year-old Kenyan crossed the line in a time of two hours, one minute and nine seconds, to beat by 30 seconds his previous best, set four years ago in the German capital city.

He had previously taken one minute 20 seconds off compatriot Dennis Kimetto’s 2014 record of 2:02.57 in Berlin.

Kipchoge had played down his chances of a world record in the build up.

“I am happy with my preparation and I think I was so fast because of the teamwork. Everything is down to teamwork,” he said.

“What motivates me is my family and I want to inspire young people. Sport unites people and that is what motivates me.”

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On an overcast day in Berlin, Kipchoge, who has now won 15 of his 17 career marathons, ran the first half of the 26.2-mile race in 59 minutes, 51 seconds, prompting thoughts that he may become the first runner to break the two-hour mark in an official race

He has run a marathon in under two hours, in Vienna in 2019. However, that was not recognised as the official world record because it was not in open competition and he used a team of rotating pacemakers.

When asked whether he would attempt a sub-two hour run in Berlin next year, Kipchoge replied: “Let us plan for another day.

“I will celebrate this record and have to realise what happens. Just roll and see what happens.”

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AFRICA

AICC: Egyptian Grandmasters Dominate Tourney

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With just two rounds left to play, top Nigerian chess players have dropped out in the ranking at the on-going African Individual Chess Championship holding at the Orchid Hotel in Lekki, Lagos.

Although Nigerian players showed shade of genius in the battle field as the tournament reached its climax on Sunday night, the Egyptian who are higher rated players dominate play with Adly Ahmed (African number 2) and Woman Grandmaster Wafa Shahenda leading the pack of other players in both Open and Women sections.

Both have consolidated their lead in the competition, as every win counts to games 4 and 5.

WGM Wafa trounced her Angolan opponent, Woman International Master Esperanca Caxita, in a Sicilian opening with black mostly dominating the game right from the middle play.

The Egyptian WGM is all but a massive one point ahead of the pack leading into the final rounds starting this morning.

While the Egyptian masters are dominating play, credit also goes to some Nigerians raising their heads to be countedNigeria Youth Games product, Onoja Iyefu Joy continues to show resilience and determination to earn her first chess title and create a record while at it.

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She had on Saturday continued her fine run of form by scoring an entire point against Paulo Jemima to register the second position on the ranking table with 9 points. A win in the 7th round will help Joy secure a Woman International Master Title.

WIM (elect) Ofowino Toritsemuwa bettered her AICC Tunisia 2019 record, and she is bound to create a new one as she takes on WGM Wafa in the seventh round.

Toritsemuwa currently shares second place with her compatriot, Iyefu Onoja, both holding 4.5 points, hence making the 7th game point as crucial for the player.

In the Open section, 20-year-old Eyetonghan Denyefa Callistus is pulling his weight. He scored an outstanding 4.5 points after six games, but it is not about the score, somewhat the opponents; defeating 1 GM, 2 IMs, and three draws against two IMs and FM, the youngster will get his chance at GM Adly in the seventh round.

With a half point behind the tournament leader, African Number 1–GM AminBassem landed his second consecutive win after the drawn game with compatriot GM Ahmed Adly, demonstrating he still stands a chance to catch up and maybe win the tournament.

Bassem faces IM David Silva of Angola in the seventh round, who had to offer a draw to his opponent in the sixth round due to health issues. We hope he’s gotten his strength back for this crucial game.

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The tournament ends tomorrow with Maltina and Gulder are among the top sponsor of the event.

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ENTERTAINMENT

Good Smartphone Manners to Learn

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The use of smartphones has become quite ubiquitous with everyday life. We cannot even remember what the times pre-mobile looked like. Our everyday reality is tightly intertwined with mobile phones. Smartphones are very handy and important. They have also provided immense opportunities for business, connectivity to loved ones and access to information with just a few clicks. However, with this great potential comes a downside. Improper usage of smartphones permeates the very space and world we live in today.

Lets understand some of these etiquettes that may not be respectful and healthy uses of the smartphone.

General mobile phone manners.

There are specific etiquette points that one should keep in mind for certain social situations, such as introducing yourself, not interrupting, and saying please and thank you. However, there are also more generalized rules that should be followed in regard to cell phone use. Here are some universal cell phone etiquette tips to keep in mind:

  • Although it may be tempting, avoid texting during face-to-face conversations;
  • Avoid taking pictures or making videos of everything, everywhere without proper authorization because there are moments they pass across as disrespectful;
  • Avoid accepting calls when you are in the middle of a face-to-face conversation;
  • Avoid watching movies, flicks etc. on your phone without headphones on in a bus or somewhere with other people as no one else is interested in watching it with you;
  • Avoid discussing personal topics in an area where others may hear you as it makes you appear uncouth and uncultured;
  • Avoid using inappropriate pictures for a person’s contact photo;
  • Be aware of the delay between when you speak and when the other person hears it;
  • Be mindful about what you tag people in on social media;
  • Don’t light up your screen in a dark theater or environment where people rely on the dark ambience;
  • Don’t talk/text and drive;
  • Use your Call Filter app for suspicious calls, but avoid using it for friends and family;
  • End the continuing game of phone tag after 4 attempts of reaching out to an individual;
  • Keep a distance of at least 10 feet from the nearest person when talking on your phone;
  • Put your phone on silent mode in theaters, restaurants, plays, performances, and any other group setting where a ring tone may be bothersome;
  • Refrain from blaming the other person if there is a dropped call;
  • Speak in a soft tone when taking calls in public;
  • Try not to look things up (“fact check”) during a conversation, unless you are asked to.

good cell phone manners

Manners for cell phones on dates.

Dating, in general, can be stressful. Individuals may feel the need to impress their date and present themselves well, especially during the early stages of the relationship. Some may partake in phubbing, which is when an individual begins to pay less attention to someone who is talking and more attention to their phone instead — this may be because of nerves, boredom, or out of habit. While it may not be necessary to completely disregard using your phone at any time while on a date, it is important that you be mindful of how you do so. Here are a few tips for proper date night phone etiquette:

  • Ask your date if they would be bothered by you taking pictures of the food, scenery, etc.;
  • Don’t continuously show them things you’ve found on your phone. One or two items may be alright, however, refrain from showing them your entire social media feed, even if you find the content funny;
  • If able to, you should both put your phones away in your bag or pocket;
  • Let your date know ahead of time if you’re expecting an important phone call at any point during your time together;
  • Refrain from nervously going onto your phone;
  • Set your phone on silent.

Manners for cell phones at work.

Prior to following any workplace cell phone etiquette advice, one should first review their specific workplace’s phone policy — this policy should take precedence over any outside advice that is given. Generally speaking, some businesses are becoming more accepting of phones in offices, being more aware that it is possible to maintain workplace productivity in an era of smartphones — as “convenience is a crucial aspect that all organizations and firms look to obtain for their employees. Smartphones provide the ability for employees and clients to communicate and contact one another quickly and efficiently.”

If you are a part of a business that allows you to use your phones, it is important to follow proper cell phone workplace etiquette to help reduce the chances of you getting these privileges taken away.

  • Be aware of your ringtone. If you work at a business that requires you to answer your cell phone often you may want to download a ringtone that sounds professional (no high pitches, isn’t too loud, no obnoxious sounds, no profanity, etc);
  • Don’t look at your phone during meetings;
  • Don’t place your phone on your lap;
  • Focus on the person that should have your attention i.e. customer, client, coworker, boss, etc;
  • Keep your personal calls private;
  • Keep your phone out of sight;
  • Don’t engage in arguments over the phone while at work;
  • Silence your device.

good cell phone manners

Manners for cell phones at professional gatherings.

Just as with informal gatherings such as dates and some workplaces, there are cell phone etiquette tips to keep in mind for professional gatherings such as conferences, training sessions, seminars, product launches, and more:

  • Don’t take photos unless you’re allowed to;
  • Don’t use your phone as a way to avoid social interactions;
  • Focus on face-to-face networking;
  • Keep your phone on silent;
  • Verbally excuse yourself for important calls when necessary;
  • When you do take photos, turn off your flash as a courtesy to others around you.

When to not use your cell phone.

In some scenarios, it is unacceptable to use your mobile phone entirely, despite taking the above etiquette tips into consideration. The following list outlines different situations when you’ll want to avoid your phone altogether:

  • At movie theaters and other large gatherings of any kind;
  • Attending church;
  • While giving birth (Yes, you heard right. Fast becoming a thing);
  • During a job interview;
  • Funerals;
  • When someone is talking to you;
  • While driving;
  • While you’re eating a meal;
  • While you’re studying.

How often you use your cell phone is entirely up to you. However, when doing so, keep in mind that there is a time and place for it. By following the above cell phone etiquette guidelines, you can ensure you’re not being disrespectful or breaking any rules and are mindful of those around you.

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BOOKS

List of Names for Groups of Animals

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List of Names for Groups of Animals are an interesting discovery for anyone looking to take their  grasp of English  a notch higher. Collective names for groups of animals are said to date back to medieval times, which may explain why some of these names can be strange, surprising or downright funny to us, such as an unkindness of ravens. In the spirit of the fanciful language used by our ancestors, more modern terms for animal groups can have a fun twist, like a crash of rhinoceroses.
List of Names for Groups of Animals

Whether it is a group of mammals, birds or even insects, there is a unique collective noun to identify the specific group, although some of these names are rarely used. Most people are likely to use the general term flock for a group of eagles, rather than the proper term convocation. Still, it’s good to know the correct collective noun, even if it’s just to wow your friends.

Collective Names for Animals

We’ve gathered together a list of 60 groups of animals and their collective nouns – some animal groups can have more than one collective noun – that you may or may not have heard of. Whenever animals gather in groups, they are formally called:

  • Apes: a shrewdness
  • Badgers: a cete
  • Bats: a colony, cloud or camp
  • Bears: a sloth or sleuth
  • Bees: a swarm
  • Buffalo: a gang or obstinacy
  • Camels: a caravan
  • Cats: a clowder or glaring; Kittens: a litter or kindle; Wild cats: a destruction
  • Cobras: a quiver
  • Crocodiles: a bask
  • Crows: a murder
  • Dogs: a pack; Puppies: a litter
  • Donkeys: a drove
  • Eagles: a convocation
  • Elephants: a parade
  • Elk: a gang or a herd
  • Falcons: a cast
  • Ferrets: a business
  • Fish: a school
  • Flamingos: a stand
  • Foxes: a skulk or leash
  • Frogs: an army
  • Geese: a gaggle
  • Giraffes: a tower
  • Gorillas: a band
  • Hippopotami: a bloat
  • Hyenas: a cackle
  • Jaguars: a shadow
  • Jellyfish: a smack
  • Kangaroos: a troop or mob
  • Lemurs: a conspiracy
  • Leopards: a leap
  • Lions: a pride
  • Moles: a labor
  • Monkeys: a barrel or troop
  • Mules: a pack
  • Otters: a family
  • Oxen: a team or yoke
  • Owls: a parliament
  • Parrots: a pandemonium
  • Pigs: a drift or drove (younger pigs), or a sounder or team (older pigs)
  • Porcupines: a prickle
  • Rabbits: a herd
  • Rats: a colony
  • Ravens: an unkindness
  • Rhinoceroses: a crash
  • Shark: a shiver
  • Skunk: a stench
  • Snakes: a nest
  • Squirrels: a dray or scurry
  • Stingrays: a fever
  • Swans: a bevy or game (if in flight: a wedge)
  • Tigers: an ambush or streak
  • Toads: a knot
  • Turkeys: a gang or rafter
  • Turtles: a bale or nest
  • Weasels: a colony, gang or pack
  • Whales: a pod, school, or gam
  • Wolves: a pack
  • Zebras: a zeal

To expand your vocabulary even more, YourDictionary can help you learn some animal names in Spanish.

Animal Names Can Highlight Traits

Not only is it fun to say certain names for groups of animals, but it is interesting as well. The collective names given to groups of animals can be as unique as the animals themselves and highlight certain traits of that group. Remember that, and when you think of a group of skunks the word stench should immediately come to mind.

Our list is by no means exhaustive, so please share more collective nouns for groups of animals in the comments below.

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