From Word Journal:
adjective • /ˈskɒmbrɔɪd/ • resembling the mackerel
I think this is going to become a new favorite insult.
"His face? Totally scombroid!"
From Word Journal:
adjective • /ˈskɒmbrɔɪd/ • resembling the mackerel
AAAAAHHHHH! DORM LIFE IS COMING BACK!
I am obsessed with this web series. The writing is great, the actors are fantastic, and I need to see what happens with these hallmates.
Although it does make me want to go back to college like crazy. Anyone need a roommate?
Obama's all about working with Democrats and Republicans, but when it comes to the Superbowl, he had to make a choice.
Steelers fans rejoice!
Drivers in Austin are warned about the usual things--construction, accidents, icy roads.
And oh yeah, zombies.
Someone hacked into the electronic road signs' computer system so it flashed phrases such as "CAUTION! ZOMBIES AHEAD!!!" and "RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!"
Personally, I think that's pretty awesome. They're not warning about a serial killer or a pile-up or dangerous road conditions. It's zombies, people. Have a little fun with it. (Until the day the dead rise up, of course.)
But not everyone thinks it's a good joke:
"'Even though this may seem amusing to a lot of people, this is really serious, and it is a crime,' said Austin Public Works spokesperson Sara Hartley. 'And you can be indicted for it, and we want to make sure our traffic on the roadways stays safe.'"
Topical and pop-ical.
Sometimes Thursday can feel like you're in prison--so close to the weekend, yet so far away. Break out with the Soggy Bottom Boys.
I love the funny George Clooney dance.
I think Disney is ready to option this story about Daisy, aka "the Dooze," beloved dog of sports writer Bill Simmons. It's one of the sweetest pet stories I've read. You might cry at your desk. I have a heart of ice and I almost lost it by the end.
The Dooze is the dog you hope to get. She's vivacious, independent, and occasionally saves the day. Forget that Marley puppy. Fall in love with the Dooze.
Also, I love how Simmons approaches it kind of like a sports article. Except here, the sport is throwing/chasing/catching a ball.
It's a tough time for the postal industry, what with these fancy new emailer machines around. They've got to figure out ways to save money. First it was raising the price of stamps every 48 hours. Now the Postmaster General is suggesting that mail delivery be reduced to five days a week, possibly cutting out Saturday or Tuesday. Postmaster General John E. Potter said:
"If current trends continue, we could experience a net loss of $6 billion or more this fiscal year."
It sounds like a reasonable solution to save money. (Although I do wonder about the post office employees and who is going to be fired/have to take a pay cut because of this.) Generally, these days people do so much with email that not a lot of people are waiting by their mailboxes on any given day. Plus, people are thinking greener, so they're not getting as many catalogs and choosing to pay bills online.
I'm still one of those people who doesn't pay bills online, so if this happens, I'll have to think more carefully about when I race to the mailbox to pay my rent.
I hate when magazine interviewers ask celebrities about their guilty pleasures, which inevitably are chocolate/tacos/shoes/something else really ordinary. Sorry guys, those aren't guilty pleasures. Those are just things normal people tend to like. Why feel guilty about enjoying that new handbag? Know what you should feel guilty about loving? The Mary-Kate and Ashley straight-to-video movies. That's just weird. Chocolate? Not so much.
But the fine people at A.V. Club have shifted the focus a little. They're looking at the things they don't like that everyone else is gaga over. The guilty displeasures, if you will:
"Maybe you never understood why critics go apeshit for The Velvet Underground and Nico. Or maybe you didn't think that No Country For Old Men was that great. Whatever it is, everyone has at least one work of art that they just don't understand the hype about. What are yours?"
Here's a tribute to a lady worth honoring.
I know there are people who are big fans of the snuggle and the slanket, but this spoof-mercial is essentially what I thought the first time I ever saw the product. And they're right, the flashlight looks stupid and pointless.
Sometimes, when you're faced with someone famous and important, you forget where you are and what you're doing. Like at the inauguration. Everyone was excited about Obama. Including Ohio drum major John Coleman, who was part of the Cleveland Firefighters Memorial Pipes & Drums band, which performed at the inauguration parade.
Apparently, during the nationally televised parade, Coleman was seen nodding toward Obama, and waving a few steps later. Not exactly protocol for marching bands, unless it's the St. Martin's Elementary School Band. Coleman says this slip was because he made eye contact with Obama:
"Contact was made with our eyes both together and he smiled and waved at the band. And just as a gesture, I nodded my head. I gave him a slight wave and went on."
Unfortunately, this eye contact has cost Coleman his position. First he was suspended for breaking with military protocol; now he's resigned altogether.
Poor Coleman. I know that wasn't the most professional moment of his life, but I probably would have freaked out a little, too. Once, when I was four, I took ballet and we had a little recital at this nursing home. When I saw my brother wave to me, I stopped mid-dance, waved, and then realized I missed a couple steps. In other words, I feel you, drum guy.
In case you haven't heard already, John Updike, Pulitzer prize-winning novelist and short story writer, passed away yesterday. He was 76 and had been battling lung cancer.
I always feel a little guilty when a major writer dies and I don't go prostrate with grief. Like Kurt Vonnegut died a couple of years ago. I'm all about the books. Shouldn't I feel something?
Of course, I would freak my brain out if JK Rowling died. She'll just have to live forever.
You know Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, that adorable couple of from the movie Once? Who got Oscars for their song "Falling Slowly?" And who put together the Swell Season?
Yeah. They're not together anymore.
"I think it was just a very natural part of what we were doing together. We had made the film. We had gone through so much with the Oscar. Of course, we fell into each other's arms. It was a very necessary part of our friendship but I think we both concluded that that wasn't what we really wanted to do. So we're not together now. We’re just really good friends."
Usually, I like to think that crazy people have their own, unique ideas. Some guy wants to dress up his dogs in Star Wars costumes, that's his own problem. But most people like their pets to be pets...right?
Wrong. And Pets Who Want to Kill Themselves is here to document this particular breed of insanity. Just a few favorites:
Come on, people. Pets aren't toys. They're not little humans. They're not your babies. They're animals. They have dignity.
Even though I find all of this really funny.
Quite possibly the best complaint letter ever, sent to Virgin Atlantic after a Mumbai-to-London passenger was unable with his meal. It starts out good and gets even better.
"Look at this Richard. Just look at it.
I imagine the same questions are racing through your brilliant mind as were racing through mine on that fateful day. What is this? Why have I been given it? What have I done to deserve this? And, which one is the starter, which one is the desert?"
A problem we've all faced, I'm sure. But wow, this guy comes out with the best metaphor for disappointment I've seen in years. I'm not even going to quote it because it's so great in context. You'll have to read it for yourselves; totally worth it.
It's one of those big fears that never goes away. Kids are having sex! All over the place! All kinds of sex! Without protection! With multiple partners! Your child will turn into Juno! Except not as funny!
But it turns out that teenagers today are actually not having as much sex as they've had in previous generations, despite recent alarm about teen sex/pregnancy being on the rise. Of course, if you're a parent I'm sure you'd rather your child didn't have sex at all, maybe until he or she turned 45. So even statistics like "47.8 percent as of 2007, according to the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, down from 54.1 percent in 1991" might not look fantastic. But even so, it goes against the recent fears about kids having more and more sex in risky situations.
That said, teens today are engaging in less "relationships" and having more casual encounters that might not lead to a full-blown relationship. Take that as you will. I think that, as long as teens are safe, that's not as much of an issue. (After all, how long do high school relationships even last?) But sometimes emotional triggers can make those encounters way more complicated--no matter how old you are.
One note I found interesting:
"The latest rise in teenage pregnancy rates is cause for concern. But it very likely reflects changing patterns in contraceptive use rather than a major change in sexual behavior. The reality is that the rate of teenage childbearing has fallen steeply since the late 1950s. The declines aren’t explained by the increasing availability of abortions: teenage abortion rates have also dropped."
Who doesn't love xkcd? It's quite simply one of the best webcomics ever. And now someone made a video for it!
I love the internet.
I love the Obamas. How adorable are they? Click through for more pictures from the first 48 hours of Obama's presidency.
The ALA awards were announced today--arguably the biggest awards in contemporary children's literature. Take a look at the winners and honor books:
2009 Newbery Winner:
The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman
2009 Newbery Honor books:
The Underneath, by Kathi Appelt
Savvy, by Ingrid Law
After Tupac and D Foster, by Jacqueline Woodson
Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom by Margarita Engle
Jellicoe Road by Marlene Marchetta
2009 Printz Honor Books:
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation Volume II: The Kingdom on the Waves by M.T. Anderson
Nation by Terry Pratchett
Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
2009 Caldecott Winner:
The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson and Beth Krommes
A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever by Marla Frazee
River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams by Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet
How I Learned Geography by Uri Shulevitz
Although I love the work of Pixar and the pre-21st century Disney stuff, I have a special place in my heart for stop-action animation (usually claymation). You know, the stuff in The Nightmare Before Christmas and the Wallace and Gromit movies. It actually takes a lot of time and effort to put together a full feature-length film using stop-action animation, so you don't get to see a lot of these films anymore, especially with all the wonders of computer animation.
But this year Coraline is taking us back to that old-school of animation. The creators are using whatever they can get their hands on to make a visually fantastic experiece:
"A quarter-million pieces of popcorn are transformed into cherry blossoms, superglue and baking soda are whipped into snow, and black fishing line becomes creepy chest hair.
In all, the crew hand-built 150 sets and 250 jointed puppets, as well as plants and toys with countless moving parts."
That's dedication to your film. I'm really excited to see how it all turns out. And since it has director Henry Selick, who did The Nightmare Before Christmas and the charming James and the Giant Peach, I'm hopeful.
From Film Experience:
"Another note regarding snubs. No cinematography mentions for either Australia or The Wrestler means the record still stands: no female DP has ever been nominated for that particular honor."
From World Journal:
noun • a nonexistent letter of the alphabet which some children think comes between ‘k’ and ‘p’
This is in Finland, but at first I was sure it would be Boston.
At least winter is lovely to look at.
I just can't get enough of this...
I made coconut biscotti recently, and brought some into the office yesterday. Definitely one of the biggest hits so far. One professor asked for the recipe, and another described them as "the best biscotti ever" with a "subtle" flavor. This recipe is amazing with coffee or tea.
Biscotti is actually a lot easier to make than you'd think. Plus it makes you'll have a treat with your afternoon coffee that doesn't cost more than your actual coffee.
I drizzled/dipped them with both white and dark chocolate. Double fisting!
The recipe is from Annie's Eats (no, not this Annie), another favorite cooking blog. Try it out! (The picture is hers.)
The Obama campaign was all about using current technology--contacting people through emails. Asking people to donate little amounts online, matching people up with similar online donors, etc. Obama loves his Blackberry and doesn't want to let go. So when the Obama team moved into the White House, they were not happy with what they found:
"Obama officials ran smack into the constraints of the federal bureaucracy yesterday, encountering a jumble of disconnected phone lines, old computer software, and security regulations forbidding outside e-mail accounts. What does that mean in 21st-century terms? No Facebook to communicate with supporters. No outside e-mail log-ins. No instant messaging."
"It is kind of like going from an Xbox to an Atari," Obama spokesman Bill Burton said of his new digs."
I actually find it kind of amazing that, even in the last eight years, "Laptops were scarce, assigned to only a few people in the West Wing." I mean, I know Obama represents a new (tech-savvy) generation taking control, but Bush entered office in 2000. Even my family had the internet by then. How did most people in the White House survive without a laptop? Did they only have one available at meetings?
Of course, I also like to imagine Bush, Cheney, and Rice sending smoke signals, calling for the Pony Express, and writing long, wordy letters. It might explain a lot of our foreign relations problems.
As former UVA students Annie and I are always quick to make a jab or two at Virginia Tech. The rivalry between the two big state schools has a long history. Unfortunately, I can't say I even know how to make a joke about this one. Not two years shy of the massive Blacksburg campus killing spree, we've had another bone chilling act of violence. A graduate student decapitated another graduate student in front of other people (in the middle of an Au Bon Pain)
Seriously. What the fuck is going on down there that kids are doing shit like this?
Who knew whale seals had such fury?
I could watch this over and over.
What's the big thing today? The Dark Knight and Wall-E got shut out of the major Academy Award categories. Not a surprise. But I'd like to look at some films that have won/been nominated that probably wouldn't stand a chance today just because they're not about serious people doing serious things.
It Happened One Night, 1934:
It's sassy. It's hysterical. It's sexy, especially when you consider it was made in 1934. (Clarke Gable takes his shirt off.) It wouldn't get nominated today. (Also nominated that year was The Thin Man, a comedy-murder-mystery with two of the coolest detectives ever, Nick and Nora Charles.)
The Adventures of Robin Hood, 1938:
Errol Flynn is a jovial, thoughtful Robin in this swashbuckling adventure. Is it particularly deep? No. Is it a lot of fun? Hell yeah. It's everything you want Robin Hood to be. (Compared to this, The Dark Knight is basically No Country For Old Men in terms of big, dark themes.)
Roman Holiday, 1953:
A beautiful princess (Audrey Hepburn) needs a day to herself and runs away in Rome. A reporter (Gregory Peck) finds her and shows her around, knowing he's got the best scoop in town. Romantic tension follows. It's one of the most charming movies ever. But apparently charming isn't good enough for an Oscar these days.
Annie Hall, 1977:
It's one of the best looks at relationships ever. It's hard to even call it a romantic comedy--it's about a relationship and it's funny, but there's nothing cutesy about it. Woody Allen and Diane Keaton nail their parts. And even though the ending is bittersweet, most viewers will agree that everyone "needs the eggs." (Also, it's the last time a comedy has won. Over thirty years ago. How fucked up is that?)
My point is that the Academy has forgotten that not all "great movies" are intense movies. Sometimes they're comedies. Sometimes they're action films. Sometimes they're romances. Sometimes they might even be animated. If we can't acknowledge different kinds of greatness, what are we acknowledging?
One of my pet peeves: celebrities who complain about being celebrities. Of course, it would be pretty annoying to go get milk at the grocery store and be followed by people shouting and snapping your picture. But remember those free designer clothes in your closet? And that multi-million dollar paycheck you got for your last film? Yeah. That's the exchange.
But some celebrities are cool with the fame. They like their fans. They're nerds, just like the rest of us. They don't do coke with Lindsay Lohan; they play Halo with Nathan Fillion. Here are a few of Hollywood's hippest celebs:
I haven't seen Veronica Mars (I know), but everyone says it's right up my alley. And even though she's technically part of the Gossip Girl cast, she eschews drama. Plus, she loves nerds:
"The bottom line is, everyone's a loser in their own right. Here's why I like geek culture: People like what they like because they like it. They're not trying to fit into any mainstream likes or dislikes. You want to dress up like a Star Wars character and go to Comic-Con? Do it, if that's what makes you happy. People might look at you as super-weird, but if that's your obsession, go for it."
I want to hang out with Nathan Fillion. He's an awesome actor--check out Firefly, Dr. Horrible, and Waitress. He likes comic books and holds Halo tournaments. He would post on fan forums, signing off as "The Cap'n." I love him singing anything on the Dr. Horrible soundtrack. I would put him in my imaginary family tree, but I crush too hard to do that.
Everyone on this list should totally be my friend. We'd have an awesome time together. No coke snorking with Lindsay,
Sometimes books are made into movies. Sometimes movies are made into novelizations. Sometimes novels in movies are made into novels.
Like the novel Jack Torrance is working on in The Shining. Everyone wants to read that.
Stephen King/Stanley Kubrick fan and New York artist Phil Buehler did. He's self-published the book he thinks Torrance put together.
You know, the one that was pages and pages of "All work and no play make Jack a dull boy."
Fortunately, he doesn't just write page after page of that. Cut and paste can do that for me. Buehler actually thought about the process of going crazy in relation to that phrase and its representation on the page, using different formatting--shapes, zigzags, spirals, etc. He even used the same formatting he'd have to if he were working on a typewriter, just like Jack. Just like any other writer, Buehler had his moments of block:
"I thought 'if he continues to get crazier, what would those pages look like?' I hit writer's block about 60 pages in, and I had to get to 80 - that went on for about a week."
I'm writing my thesis this semester. Maybe if I get stuck, I can just go this route--play around with one phrase and the formatting.
Even though I'm not going to shell out money for this project, I always like when people have fun with books. Break them apart. Put them back together. Get active. Just don't try to axe your family in the process.
Colin Meloy talks about the Decemberists' upcoming album, The Hazards of Love.
So excited! The Crane Wife, their last album, was amazing; the Decemberists just keep getting better and better.
Meloy describes Hazards as more narrative and a little darker than some of the singles they've released lately. He calls it a "folk opera." (Not in the Broadway fashion.) What other band would do that? Awesomeness.
Death via papercut? Revenge is the lemon juice?
If the Republicans had used this tiny elephant as their mascot, they might have won. (Save the baby elephants for next time, guys.)
He's so bitty!!!
Obama is a great speaker. From the campaign trail to interviews to his inaugural address, he knows how to connect with people through his words. But he doesn't come up with his speeches at the moment. In fact, he has help, just like any other politician. He has speechwriters. And at the forefront of this team is Jon Favreau.
Jon is 27.
I know. It makes me feel like a failure, too.
But it also makes me realize how the baton is really being passed in this administration. The baby boomers are on their way out of the political sphere, and a new generation is taking over. Sure, Jon is the youngest speechwriter ever in the White House, and he's done such impressive things for his age, but hopefully it's also a sign of other good things to come--that more people their twenties and thirties will be taking an active role in politics and the world at large.
When talking about Favreau's writing on the campaign trail, it mentions that he "would be up most nights until 3am, honing the next day's stump speeches in a caffeine haze of espressos and Red Bull energy drinks, taking breaks to play the video game Rock Band." I think that's what most people did writing papers in college. So maybe he's not so different.
As for the inaugural speech:
"Obama is an accomplished writer in his own right, and the process of drafting with his mind reader is collaborative. The inaugural speech has shuttled between them four or five times, following an initial hour-long meeting in which the president-elect spoke about his vision for the address, and Favreau took notes on his computer.
Favreau then went away and spent weeks on research. His team interviewed historians and speech writers, studied periods of crisis, and listened to past inaugural orations. When ready, he took up residence in Starbucks in Washington and wrote the first draft."
THE DRESSES WERE PRETTY!First there was, of course, our new FLOTUS's gown. Beautiful. Stunning. I've heard criticism of the silhouette being less than flattering for her but I think that's being too strict and assuming that the only acceptable silhouette is the one that makes her a skinny mini. The woman would look statuesque in a potato sack, but this made her look sexy yet appropriately elegant and classy. Combine that with the dress we saw this morning and this only helps to increase the Obama's Camelot-redux vibe. And the first dance for the First couple was accompanied by the second biggest diva of the day, Ms. Beyoncé. Not too shabby, B.
Here's the full text of Obama's inauguration speech.
As always, he was well-spoken, thoughtful, and asked for a call to action on the part of all Americans. We have to make better choices at every level--from the very top all the way down:
"Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task."
Politics are great. But this year, there's another big issue on everyone's minds.
What will Michelle Obama wear?
Before we get to see her ball gown, let's look at some of the first ladies of past administrations. And it's a quiz, so it has a fun game element, too. Pretend you're Tim Gunn and choose your favorites.
(History of Dress kids, I expect this one to be fairly easy for you. Make G West proud!)
Before Obama's inauguration speech, you can check out some inauguration speeches from days of yore. Okay, maybe not yore--no periwigs here--but back to McKinley, whose second term inauguration speech was the first ever recorded. (Pretty nifty!) And there are some classics, such as FDR's and Kennedy's. Take notes, compare to Obama's, be nerdy.
Maybe someday you can be as nerdy as ladyface crush Sarah Vowell.
If you're like me, you'll be watching the inauguration from your desk. (The joys of the modern workday.) Thankfully, the events will also be covered online. Check out all the options available to people who are stuck at their desks.
It's also available on Hulu. (And then afterwards, you can watch your favorite episode of Buffy and think about how she could be Secretary of Defense.)
Also, check out the schedule of events. Obama's getting sworn in at noon, but there's a ton of stuff before and after to distract you from your usual work.
Lost is coming back. This week. So freakin' excited!
Get yourself all twitterpated by checking out this interview with Michael Emerson. Yep, Ben Linus, the evil genius himself. He's been such a phenomenal character since his introduction a few seasons ago, and Emerson has brought so much to the show.
Also, Ben was never intended to be a full-time character. But what would we have done without all his mind games?
Don't worry--there aren't any spoilers in this brief interview, if you'd seen all of the show up to this point. But one question I love:
Ben is often reading or quoting authors. Do you take the time to read the books he does?
There are no accidents in the world of props on Lost—the books are carefully chosen. This season, there’s a scene where I’m reading Ulysses by James Joyce. It’s on my winter reading list.
You know what people say: "Kids today play video games, they don't read." "No one cares about books." "People don't want to pick up a book when they can watch TV." "These kids today are illiterate." "Get off my lawn!"
But apparently people are heading back to books. Specifically libraries. This article by author Ann Patchett discusses how more people are returning to reading, and how books are still relevant in our lives. She writes:
"The rumor is we'll play around with a Kindle or an I-Book for awhile but eventually give up on the whole endeavor, the logic being who would want to read a book when there are so many enticing video games to play and Web sites to surf. But I'm more of the Charlton Heston school: you'll get my paperback of "One Hundred Years of Solitude" away from me when you pry it out of my cold, dead hands."
"A movie can give you two hours of entertainment, but a book can go on for days or even weeks."
Today is Martin Luther King Day. Tomorrow Barack Obama officially becomes president. And one teacher in Portland wants to cut books from the curriculum because they use the n-word.
Which books? Oh right. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird.
It's not the first time either of these books have been changed, for various reasons. But this is what English teacher John Foley wrote a guest column for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
"The time has arrived to update the literature we use in high school classrooms...Barack Obama is president-elect of the United States, and novels that use the 'N-word' repeatedly need to go."
"With few exceptions, all the black students in my classes over the years have appeared very uncomfortable when I've discussed these matters at the beginning of the unit. And I never want to rationalize 'Huck Finn' to an angry African American mom again as long as I breathe."
"The character Tom Robinson is very noble, he said, "but again, he's uneducated, inarticulate. I was just thinking, for students here in Washington anyway, wouldn't 'Snow Falling on Cedars' be just as valuable?""
Life advice, useful info, non-useful info, sassiness, opinions. We're in your face, and we're ladies.