Friday, December 31, 2010

Media Mixer from 2010

2010 articles (courtesy David Brooks' The Sidney Awards):

Favorite Books Read in 2010
  • Octavia Butler, Kindred - An author who reminded me it's possible to write good novels that end in action, not despair.
  • J.M. Coetzee, The Life and Times of Michael K - Restrained, subtle, and filled with beautiful writing you have to stop and savor.
  • Jacques Derrida, Demeure - Yes, it's theory, but one of my favorite pieces so far.
  • Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything is Illuminated - A whirlwind of humor stopped in its tracks by poignant descriptions of tragedy.
  • ---. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - A quieter, rambling novel with similar poignancy.
  • Sara Gruen, Water for Elephants - Brilliant character development; also a great audio book.
  • Chaim Potok, My Name is Asher Lev - Art and faith treated sensitively, without losing character in this k├╝nstlerroman.
  • Elizabeth Strout, Olive Kitteridge - Short stories that are brief and precise circle around the main character, but in doing so give her depth and spirit.
  • Markus Zusak, The Book Thief - Alternately whimsical and heartbreaking, the author has a perfect touch for young adult tragedy.
To Read in 2011
  • Yiyun Li, Gold Boy, Emerald Girl - Loved The Vagrants, looking forward to these short stories.
  • Jonathan Safran Foer, Tree of Codes - A little skeptical about this latest book-art project, I'll have to check it out none the less.
  • Christopher Paolini - The Inheritance Cycle, book 4 - Grudgingly need to finish the series, if the book comes out this year.
  • Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken - I enjoyed Seabiscuit, so this interests me.
  • Jonathan Franzen, Freedom - Reviews caught my attention, so I'll give it a shot.
  • David Grossman, To the End of the Land - Highly ranked on Amazon, and looks worth reading.

Notable 2010 Movies

Movies in 2011
  • Contagion - The action-thriller plot doesn't sound terribly interesting, but Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, and Jude Law? Umm, yes...
  • Thor - Skeptical, but interested. He has a hammer. Kenneth Branagh directing, well (thinking Hamlet), but Anthony Hopkins and Natalie Portman have signed on.
  • The Tree of Life - Interesting premise, and I like Sean Penn. Preview looks awesome.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part II - Duh.
  • Water for Elephants - Love the book. A bit nervous about dear Robert, but I think Reese will fit the role pretty well. I'm hoping the director brings a bit more I am Legend, a bit less Britney Spears music video.
  • The Giver - Amazing book. Hoping the film can do it justice.
  • Another Year
  • I Am
  • White Material

Still Need to See...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Breaking with Breaking

The end of Christmas break always hits like a ton of bricks.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

After-Christmas Eye Strain

One word: SNOW!!!!

Eleven words: I have not watched this many movies in a long time.

White Christmas (check!)
Miracle on 34th Street
It's a Wonderful Life
A Christmas Carol (Alistair Sims)
A Christmas Carol (Patrick Stuart)
Prince Caspian
Star Wars: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi
Lord of the Rings trilogy


I'm still not sure how Star Wars qualifies as Christmassy. Perhaps the abominable snowman in Ep. 5? It's a stretch, George, it's a stretch.

Then again, I did spend part of Christmas Day reading Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book. I guess we're even.

Now tackling writer's block with Return of the King, ginger peach tea, and turkey pie. And apple cake.

This is going to require a lot of frisbee and dancing next week...

Friday, December 24, 2010

Veni, Veni Emmanuel

Hope, by Martin Gommel
Hope, by Martin Gommel
Veni, veni Emmanuel;
Captivum solve Israel,
Qui gemit in exilio,
Privatus Dei Filio.

Veni, veni, O Oriens;
Solare nos adveniens,
Noctis depelle nebulas,
Dirasque noctis tenebras.

Veni, Clavis Davidica!
Regna reclude caelica;
Fac iter tutum superum,
Et claude vias inferum.

Veni, veni Adonai!
Qui populo in Sinai,
Legem dedisti vertice,
In maiestate gloriae.

Gaude! Gaude! Emmanuel,
Nascetur pro te, Israel!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Driving Christmas...Somewhere

A few nights ago, I drove around town with a friend to look at all the Christmas lights.

Lots of elegant white lights, some half-lit reindeer, wreaths galore, get-the-party-started multicolored lights, Santa on a motorcycle, baby light-up geese beneath a light-up palm tree, and party-foul excessive neon blue lights later, I'd say it was a success.

Today, I took a drive in the country. Sometimes I forget the culture shift that happens a few miles outside of the town limits.

For example...

A store called "Gobble and Grunt."

An in-house shop called "Vestal Sock Outlet."

And my favorite, "Take Two Movies and Tanning."

The name pretty much says it all...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Media Blitz Break

Christmas break is not just about eating a lot of good food and spending time with family and friends. For me, it's also about reading all the books and watching all the movies I don't have time to read/watch during the semester.

Top of the list: How to Train Your Dragon has to be one of my new favorite animated movies. Gorgeous music by John Powell (Bourne trilogy, Shrek, I Am Sam), adorable dragons, and none-too-shabby writing.

Also watched or re-watched:

A Few Good Men

And watching or re-watching

Arsenic and Old Lace
Rachel Getting Married
Black Swan

Also reading or re-reading

Grapes of Wrath
Mrs. Dalloway
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
Our Town
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Unaccustomed Earth

And somewhere in there, I'll be celebrating Christmas and writing a thesis prospectus.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Done with 3/4 of the M.A.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Grass Two-Con: productivity starts now

Just when you thought computer filters had jumped the shark, made like a flip phone, and gone the way of the penny gumball, a new development in Internet Addiction Management proves they're still in it to win it.

Announcing the unveiling of Grass Two-Con, the revolutionary new version of Parental Controls developed uniquely for graduate students.

Fully customizable on a variety of levels, the GTC maneuvers users along a continuum of access based on school calendar, proximity of project due dates, and stress level (as measured by a new super-sensitive keyboard that records fingertip perspiration and pulse).

Websites can be unconditionally blocked, placed on a time limit, or limited to a set number of visits per hour.

Academic job outlook sites are strictly off-limits.

The lowest level of security is the Iwoc level (initial week of classes--not to be confused with ewok). Most websites are permitted, but a time limit is applied to the Facebook pages of new classmates.

The middle range places increasing restrictions on sites including but not limited to:

PhD Comics
____________ (fully customizable)

Auditory sensors can also be added to filter out babies, cute animals, or wedding photos that elicit an "awww" response in the upper register of the voice.

Discipline-specific filters may permit additional access to news media for students in communication studies and political science. English grads have the option to add a time-sensitive neon flashing pop-up instructing them to "Go Read a Book Already!" if they linger on one page for longer than 30 seconds.

At the upper end of the spectrum is the Osafsotiabohaw Level (one step away from shutting off the Internet and banging one's head against walls). In this mode, Internet access is restricted to the library's website, peer-reviewed databases, and mental health care provider sites.

All other sites are

[GTC Error Message: We're sorry. This page has been added to the proprietor's list of restricted sites. Limited access will be restored after finals week is over.]