Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

onward and upward

A hundred years ago people thought that by now we’d have rocket shoes, flying cars, and freezers that told you when your meat went bad. While none of those things have actually come to fruition, we do have loads of other awesome things that people driving in horses and buggies never would have been able to imagine. I’m all for invention and innovation. But there is one supposed inevitability that I will find very difficult to accept. Digital books. We’re already half way there. What with the iPod/iPad and their e-book explosion, thousands of dollars have already been spent on pixels where they would have been spent on paper and ink. I understand that it’s more convenient, often cheaper, and it consolidates accessories, but I’m not convinced that it’s worth it. There is no computer program that can recreate the smell of a brand new book (or a fifty year old one), no computer graphic that can duplicate the satisfaction of turning a page, no replacement for a shelf full of beloved paper backs. I can’t imagine a day where home libraries are a thing of the past, replaced by a paper thin piece of technology housed on the kitchen counter. Say what you will about convenience, I’ll take the feel of a stiff new book in my hands any day. Kindle may steal the hearts of readers around the world, but as for me, I’m going to dream of a future with hover boards, vacations to the moon, and shelves full of paper backs.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

in brief...

The shortest correspondence in recorded history was between Victor Hugo and his publisher, Hurst & Blackett. In 1862 Hugo was on vacation when his novel Les Miserables was published. Inquiring as to the success of his book, Hugo sent a telegraph to his publisher consisting of, “?” to which they replied, “!” Who knew a man of such verbosity (his novel is over 1200 pages) was capable of expressing so much with so little.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

saw it coming

I watch a lot of movies. I read about movies. I study movies. You would think I wouldn’t be so easily taken in by their formulaic, predictable plots. I have often been surprised when, while watching a movie for the first time, my sister leans over to me twenty minutes into it and whispers the oh-so-obvious “reveal” that will take the next hour and a half to unfold. Admittedly, often these movie endings are anything but formulaic, but there are, nevertheless, so many people like my sister, who see it coming all along. But not me. I’m always shocked. I had no idea he was dead the whole time! How could I have predicted it was his twin all along? Wait, seriously? They’re the ghosts? You meet no end of people who will eagerly tell you the moment, twenty-two minutes in, when they figured out that the entire 19th-century community was walled inside a present day forest. But we don’t watch movies to discover the secret, to learn how the hero will eventually come out on top, or how the seemingly impossible scenario will resolve itself; we watch movies for the experience. For the magical experience of living in another life, in another world for 120 minutes or so. Even if you figured out that he had multiple personality disorder in the first half of the movie, it’s still a great movie! Because of the story, the feeling, the characters, the colors. And that’s why I think I’m taken in every time. I believe so faithfully in the colorful world the director presents to me. Yes, the narrator told us it wasn’t a love story in the beginning. He basically told us she was going to lead him on and break his heart in true heartless girl fashion. But at the end, I was outraged and hurt right along with the antagonist. I knew it was coming, but I had just spent the last hour and a half feeling his feelings until I was as shocked as he was at the end. Every time I give myself over so fully to the fictional world, that every new revelation is had by me right along with the characters in the film. But, whether you knew the son was dressed up in his dead mother’s clothes the whole time or not, it’s the experience that matters. And that’s why we watch movies over and over again. The ending doesn’t change and all the actions leading up to the ending are always the same. But that doesn’t make it any less magical.

Seriously though, was there anyone who honestly predicted Luke Skywalker’s parentage??*

*Besides my dad. Who says he had already written that story. George Lucas just had the budget to make it into a million dollar movie before he could. Some people have all the luck. And all the cash.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Dear Texas

It’s hot. And humid. Remember when the AC broke in the house? I hated you a little bit that night. But you wooed me back with your amazing Mexican food and enormous pizza. Why can’t you grow normal grass? It’s so deceiving in its delicious green-ness. But then I come closer and see that it’s just a bunch of weedy, prickly tufts covering the hard ground and home to thousands of tiny fire ants and lots of frightening little spiders. Everything is bigger here, and maybe also louder. In every tree or bush there is a chainsaw bug (or five?) sawing away at something. I have never heard such loud insects. (By the way, apparently they’re called cicadas, not chainsaw bugs. Although I think it’s a much more apt name.) I love your rain. Especially when I’m inside and I hear it pounding on the roof. It comes down so hard only for a few minutes, then it’s gone. But my favorite thing about you is your sky. You have the most beautiful sunsets. And clouds! If I could paint, I would paint your clouds. I feel like I could do it. Maybe because they already look painted on the sky up there. Except for that they move so unusually fast. You’re at your most beautiful, Texas, at about 6pm and a little overcast. When there are breaks in the massive dark clouds and the sun breaks through just the tiniest bit, shooting sunrays down. That’s when I think about how glad I am to be here.

Monday, August 2, 2010

identity crisis

In 1962 one man had a brilliant, albeit short-lived, idea. Martin K. Speckter decided that there needed to be the option for a combination exclamation point and question mark—an exclarotive, an exclamaquest. This advertisement man thought the surprised rhetorical question “Who wouldn’t love these prices?!” could look way cooler. Thus, the interrobang was born. And promptly died. Interrogatio being Latin for “a rhetorical question,” and “bang” the printer’s slang for exclamation point. Throughout the ‘60s and early ‘70s, the interrobang key was included in many typewriters. Like the new kid at school, the interrobang had a brief period of popularity in the ‘60s, even appearing in some dictionaries. However, this really awesome punctuation mark was never officially accepted into the Punctuation Club. Although it is no longer used, it can still be found in MicrosoftWord in several fonts, including Calibri. In fact, open up a Word document right now, type in ALT 8253, and you’ll have a rare glimpse of the punctuation mark that didn’t impress.