Categories
Uncategorized

Old essays and Beatles

There is a report on the Guardian that one of Paul McCartney’s old essays was found. In itself, this is just something a hardcore McCartney fan would bid on at eBay. When historians examine the handwriting, compare the B’s in his essay to the B’s in the band’s drum skin, and release the news to the media, the whole world notices and begins examining handwriting a little more carefully.

Categories
Uncategorized

English pronunciation

WordPress refused to publish my original post through the dashboard, I’m choosing between two of showering, dishes, and writing a post for the day, and I’m not feeling well today. In lieu of a real post, I challenge you to read this poem aloud. If your throat gets sore, reading it aloud in your head is an acceptable substitute, but you must finish the poem. It’s harder than you think. When you’re finished, bask in the complexity of the English language, which was the topic of my original post.

Categories
Uncategorized

Banned Books Week

This week is Banned Books Week in the US. I look over the list of frequently challenged books every year just to count how many of them I’ve read. While the answer is never as high as I’d like (I’m ashamed to say that I have read none of the ten most frequently challenged books of 2008), the lists are nevertheless interesting for the variety and the shock value. Seeing some of my childhood favorites on the list and remembering no major shock nor failed attempts from adults to “wait until you’re older” is a surprise every year.

This year the list of banned and challenged classics interests me. At least 42 of the Radcliffe Publishing Course’s 100 best novels of the 20th century have been challenged or banned. If these are in a particular order, then there appears to be a correlation between rank and challenge. If there were a way to obtain the number of challenges a given book has obtained, then one could see if there does exist a positive correlation. For now, though, all we can say is that it is possible.

My book of the week is The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, which didn’t make the top ten list of frequently challenged books until 2008, five years after its 2003 release. I don’t know if it was challenged before 2008, but my guess is that the release of the movie gave the book more attention. A review will come after finishing.

If you’re having problems deciding what frequently challenged book you should read this week, let Hunch, a decision-making website, decide for you with this handy questionnaire. My top three were Brave New World, Animal Farm, and To Kill a Mockingbird, all of which are already favorites.

Categories
Uncategorized

Review: The Big Bang Theory

I don’t watch TV. I don’t refuse to watch TV; in fact, some things, such as the National Spelling Bee finals, are television-only experiences unless you’re lucky enough to go to Washington, DC for the competition, a feat I never did achieve. I just don’t feel the need to let TV and my lack of recording devices control my schedule. The lack of television in my life is a well-known fact among my friends and acquaintances, for when they tell me about TV shows that they watch, I’m usually clueless except for what little I manage to glean from various fan communities.

Despite my lack of commitment to television, people still recommend programs for me to watch. First it was Numb3rs, an understandable choice because of my mathematical background. This recommendation came in droves. After watching half an episode online over a shaky connection, I gave up, resolving to try again when the opportunity presented itself.

Then my brother, who can’t do anything without the TV as background noise, recommended The Big Bang Theory, a show about two genius physicists, their nerdy friends, and their non-geek neighbor. “You’d like it,” he told me. “It’s about a bunch of nerds, and they’re all socially awkward, and there are a bunch of nerd jokes.” At first I wanted to say “So that’s how you see me?” I kept my mouth shut. He persisted. I reminded him of my lack of TV.

The recommendations continued to come, and they gave the same reasons as my brother (though concentrating more on the nerdy side than on the socially awkward side). This week I no longer had an excuse: I let slip to members of my alma mater’s physics club heard that I had never seen the show, and the club was hosting a marathon. Would I like to come? The game was up now.

Everyone was right, even Little Brother. I laughed straight through the twelve episodes we watched. The jokes were perfectly timed; the characters were well-developed, real, and quirky; and best of all, no one was kidding about the jokes being geeky. I wanted to strangle Sheldon from across the screen at least once an episode, but it was in a loving way. The only negative I found about the show was the laugh track. I found myself laughing in all the right spots and even in spots where the laugh track didn’t laugh. If a viewer doesn’t get the joke, they’ll likely wonder why it was so funny to start with or just write off the joke as dumb.

The verdict: I may be biased because I am a self-proclaimed geek. If you are too, give this show a try. You won’t be disappointed. The continuity-obsessed freak in me just needs to finish all the other episodes first.