Archive for the 'meme' Category


Vampire hedgehogs!

Apparently, they are quite a menace!



“Double rainbow all the way!”

First, watch this:


Now, watch this:


Double rainbow ATW. Awesomesauce.

(Nathan Fillion is insane, by the way.)


A bit more about Facebook

A recent Facebook meme (and the one that prompted the article I mentioned before) is the “25 Random Things” meme. It’s almost exactly the same as the “100 Things About Me” meme that a lot of bloggers have done except, well, the lists have twenty-five items instead of one hundred.

Apparently the Bard was an early participant in this meme. Yup, Shakespeare had compiled his own list of “Five and Twenty Random Things Abovt Me.

And here’s a depiction—a frighteningly on-the-nose one, I might add—of what some Facebook interactions might look like if they took place in a face-to-face real life:



Who, meme?

I’ve been seeing this meme all over blogland over the past several weeks. Now that I’ve been officially tagged by my friend Gina, I guess it’s time for me to do it myself.

1. What was I doing ten years ago?

In July 1998 I was writing my M.A. thesis and preparing for my doctoral prelims* (the qualifying exams that officially launched me into ABD-land) in sociocultural anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Needless to say, this involved a not-insignificant amount of freaking out on my part. Writing the thesis was all right, but trying to anticipate what four different committee members might want to grill me on during the oral defense part of my prelims, well, that was nerve-wracking.

2. What are five things (not in any particular order) on my to-do list for today?

Brush Sylvia’s teeth.
Brush my teeth.
Write up packing lists for our upcoming vacation.
Pick up our CSA box.
Eat some chocolate.

3. What snacks do I enjoy?

Is it just me, or does anyone else think this question is a bit out of place among the others?

That said, I’m quite fond of those honey-sesame sticks they sell in the natural-food/hippie stores. Chocolate is a winner, too, as are Terra Chips.

4. What would I do if I were a billionaire?

First the selfish stuff:
—Plan for my family’s financial well-being.
—Help out my friends.
—Hire a personal trainer.
—Buy a modest house in Oregon or Vermont. Move there. Live in that house part of the year and travel the other part of the year.
—Build an in-house darkroom for black-and-white film processing.

And now the altruistic stuff:
—Donate a buttload of money to Doctors without Borders.
—Donate money to local charities.
—Volunteer more (now that spending time earning money isn’t an issue).

5. Where have I lived?

Taipei, Taiwan
Grand Forks, North Dakota
Eglin AFB, Florida
Fairview Heights, Illinois
Swansea, Illinois
Springfield, Missouri
Ependes (in the canton of Fribourg), Switzerland
Urbana, Illinois
Eugene, Oregon
Coos Bay, Oregon
Lansdowne, Pennsylvania
Exton, Pennsylvania


* If you’re curious, my exams were on the following subjects: anthropology and the environment, sense of place (Yi-Fu Tuan, baby!), class theory, and life history and narrative.



Today’s Booking through Thursday (and yes, the Marsha suggested therein is me!):

Suggested by Marsha:

Buy a Friend a Book Week is October 1-7 (as well as the first weeks of January, April, and July). During this week, you’re encouraged to buy a friend a book for no good reason. Not for their birthday, not because it’s a holiday, not to cheer them up–just because it’s a book.

What book would you choose to give to a friend and why?

There are three books that I’ve given to people with some regularity. One is The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. I’ve read this one in the original French and in English, and I’m pleased to say that this lovely tale about innocence and imagination and love translates remarkably well.

Another is The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster. From the first sentence (“There was once a boy named Milo who didn’t know what to do with himself–not just sometimes, but always”) to the end, it’s filled with clever wordplay, memorable characters, imagination, and humor. I love this book.

Unlike the first two choices, the third is one that most people don’t know, I think, and therefore one that I’m most likely to give these days. (In fact, it’s in the prize package for the blog-birthday contest I’m running right now. My own responses are here, if you’re curious.) It’s The Man Who Planted Trees, by Jean Giono, the tale (some say it’s true, though Giono says it’s not–the public’s insistence that it must be true is, I think, testament to how eagerly people want to believe in something good) of a man in Provence, France, who pretty much singlehandedly reforested the region by planting acorns every day during the first half of the twentieth century.

I love this book because of its optimism about how much good a single person can do and because of its encouragement to fill one’s life with meaning. I also love this book because, well, I love trees. They’re central to my doctoral research (on the so-called timber wars of the U.S. Pacific Northwest), so I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about them intellectually and professionally. And I’m reminded of them every day in my personal life: my husband (also a tree lover) and I named our daughter Sylvia.


Comfort food

Today’s Booking through Thursday:

Okay . . . picture this (really) worst-case scenario: It’s cold and raining, your boyfriend/girlfriend has just dumped you, you’ve just been fired, the pile of unpaid bills is sky-high, your beloved pet has recently died, and you think you’re coming down with a cold. All you want to do (other than hiding under the covers) is to curl up with a good book, something warm and comforting that will make you feel better.

What do you read?

(Funny that this turns up on Booking through Thursday just days after I posted about my blog-birthday contest, which has a similar “what would you pick when you can choose only a few things?” theme.)

For comfort reading, I would probably turn to The Fellowship of the Ring trilogy, which I’ve read a gazillion times. It’s a black-and-white world with no moral ambiguity. The good guys get to be heroes, and the bad guys get their just desserts. It’s a feel-good, happy ending. Well, until you get to the part where Frodo is miserable and still in pain years after the ring is destroyed. Maybe I’d just stop with the scourging of the Shire.

This reading would, of course, be accompanied by my favorite nonliterary comfort food: instant macaroni-and-cheese (yes, with the packet of cheese powder)–eaten straight out of the pot. (Because I know I’m going to eat all of it anyway, so why dirty up another dish that needs to be cleaned, right?)


Just Wild About Harry

Today’s Booking through Thursday:

1. Okay, love him or loathe him, you’d have to live under a rock not to know that J.K. Rowling’s final Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, comes out on Saturday. Are you going to read it?
2. If so, right away? Or just, you know, eventually, when you get around to it? Are you attending any of the midnight parties?
3. If you’re not going to read it, why not?
4. And, for the record… what do you think? Will Harry survive the series? What are you most looking forward to?

1. Nope.

2. I’ll be staying far, far away from the midnight-party venues.

3. I think Rowling’s work is unoriginal, poorly written (after the first book, I’m pretty sure the publisher just stopped hiring editors to trim/clean her text), filled with plot devices and cliches, and generally overrated. Yes, there are some charming moments in the books, and some very clever images. But the fantasy genre has been done a lot better by tons of other people. And I hardly think Harry is a role model: pretty much everything he goes through is stuff that happens to him–he is utterly passive. Is that heroic? Hardly. When he’s really in a bind, he’s usually saved by a deus ex machina, not by his own (active) devices.

4. Will Harry survive? I honestly have no idea, since I haven’t read anything after The Goblet of Fire. (Talk about a needlessly convoluted plot. Voldemort comes up with an elaborate plan to get Harry to touch the tournament cup so Harry will be transported to Voldemort-land? Give me a break. Voldemort could have made a chocolate mint into a portkey and left it on Harry’s pillow. “Hello there, what’s this?” BAM! Harry is in Voldemort-land. Scholastic should pay me to write this stuff…)

And what am I most looking forward to? The end of Harry-mania. It’s nice to see people get so excited about a book, but the ubiquitous marketing and product tie-ins—which, when the first book came out, Rowling swore she would never do (that promise lasted all of fifteen seconds)–have transformed whatever literary merit these books have into just another crass commercial venture.



Today’s Booking through Thursday:

1. In your opinion, what is the best translation of a book to a movie?
2. The worst?
3. Had you read the book before seeing the movie, and did that make a difference? (Personally, all other things being equal, I usually prefer whichever I was introduced to first.)

Peter Jackson did an amazing job bringing the Lord of the Rings trilogy to the big screen. Making three films instead of cramming everything into one was a stroke of genius on his part and allowed him to tell the tale properly. Having read those books, oh, a gazillion times in my life, I was very worried about what the result would be. I followed the online forums for bits of news, and when the official website was launched–with a first look at the main characters–I was very pleased by the look of the film still in production.

I understand that, even with the space afforded by three extra-long movies, some trimming needed to be done. Tom Bombadil? His songs and rhymes are lovely, but they really don’t do anything to move the plot along. Replacing Glorfindel at the ford with Arwen? Um…well…I should ‘fess up and state that I generally did not like how much Arwen was in the films. I guess this was an attempt to take advantage of a famous actor in the film and perhaps to add a prominent female role (in the books, Arwen doesn’t do much except sit around and make a banner for Aragorn). That said, I’ve no doubt that Eowyn could kick Arwen’s ass any day.

There were a few more changes I didn’t like (such as not having Frodo rest his head in Sam’s lap when they’re in Mordor–rumor has it that this was changed out of fear that homophobic American audiences would be too skeeved), but for the most part I think Jackson got it right. His attention to detail was amazing. I loved all the little things he included (but didn’t necessarily explain, due to lack of time) as little “nods” to people who know the books well. When the great hall in Moria filled the theater screen, my first thought was, “Yes! That’s exactly how I imagined it!”

As for worst adaptations…well…The Scarlet Letter with Demi “What-the-Hell-Were-They-Thinking-When-They-Cast-Her?” Moore is up there. I’m sure there are more bad adaptations out there, but I’m having a hard time thinking of any. Maybe they were so bad that I’ve just repressed the memory.

There are two upcoming book-to-screen adaptions that I am both anticipating and dreading. One is The Golden Compass, which comes out in December. I read Pullman’s trilogy several years ago and was utterly amazed by it. Early in the production of the film, the director announced that he was excising religion from the movie (those of you who’ve read the books are probably saying “Are you serious?” to yourselves right now). I think it’s back in, though I’m not sure–I’ll have to see. The trailers look stunning, and Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman are perfectly cast for their roles. Let’s hope the final cut does the book justice.

The other upcoming film I’m worried about is Stardust, which is based on Neil Gaiman’s novel of the same name and comes out next month. Again, another amazing, fantastic tale (though this one–certainly not shallow mind-candy–does not have the heavy-hitting philosophical content of Pullman’s work). Gaiman wrote on his blog a while ago that he was pleased with what he’d seen so far, so that gives me hope. (Here is Gaiman reading the first chapter of the book, if you’re interested.)


Great ___ Novel

Today’s Booking through Thursday:

What, in your opinion, is the (mythical) Great American Novel? At least to date. A “classic,” or a current one–either would be fine. Mark Twain? J.D. Salinger? F. Scott Fitzgerald? Stephen King? Laura Ingalls Wilder?

It doesn’t have to be your favorite book, mind you. “Citizen Kane” may be the “best” film, and I concede its merits, but it’s not my favorite. You don’t have to love something to know that it’s good.

Now, I know that not all of you are American–but you can play, too! What I want from you is to know what you consider to the best novel of YOUR country. It might be someone the rest of us haven’t heard of and, frankly, I think we’d all like to get some new authors to read.

In fact, while we’re at it–I’m curious about the geographical make-up of this meme. So, while you’re leaving your link to your post, tell us where in the world you are! (For the record, I’m in New Jersey, USA.)

The great American (I’m in Pennsylvania, USA) novel, eh? I think there are about a gazillion of them. A few that I think especially merit mention are:

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon. Love, war, friendship, class issues, the fantastic–this novel has them all and deftly explores not only what it is to be American but also what it is to be alive. When I finished this book I was genuinely sad–not because of the content of the ending, but because of the ending itself. I cared so much about the characters that I wanted to see what their futures held.

Empire Falls, by Richard Russo. More great characters, and a seemingly small-town story that is epic in its treatment of the issues and questions we all deal with.



Today’s Booking through Thursday:

What’s the most desperate thing you’ve read because it was the only available reading material?

If it was longer than a cereal box or an advertisement, did it turn out to be worth your while?

I have read a lot of cereal boxes in my life. Way too many. And yogurt cups and juice bottles and candy-bar wrappers…

The most desperate thing I’ve ever read is the safety manual in the pocket of an airline seat. Normally, this is considered mind-numbingly dull literature. But I’m one of those people who gets nervous on flights. To me a patch of turbulence is a sure sign that death is imminent–or at least a very good possibility. I look out the window, notice a bolt on one of the wing flaps, and start wondering what will happen if it comes loose. So the one time I read the safety manual (with all the vague illustrations of water landings and inflatable emergency slides and tentacled breathing apparatus dangling from the ceiling) I did not particularly enjoy that flight.

Needless to say, when traveling now I am always sure to bring reading material with me. And backup reading material, in case I finish the first batch.

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