26 November 2008


Thanksgiving is tomorrow, so in the spirit of the holiday, I'm going to go ahead and do a short list of stuff I'm thankful for.

1: The Internet- Of course! Who could've guessed we'd have this much access to information about anything and everything? Sure the internet allows us to remain connected to our family and friends and all that, but the true genius of the internet is stuff like puppy webcams (You gotta click that, for serious). That and being able to watch any Michael Jackson video whenever you want.

2: Dinosaurs- Just because.

3: The Great Gatsby- Seriously, I think more of my outlook has been shaped by this book than I could have imagined. Every time I see these great big, old New England houses here, I'm reminded of the references and characterizations of new/old money in the novel. Plus, it has that amazing ability to envelope you within it, that quality that all really good writing has to provide that comfort of simply knowing the next word, phrase, sentence, and so on will be perfectly placed. (Joyce's "The Dead" also does this, probably more so).

4: Civil War week!- Yep. This Saturday is the Civil War game between University of Oregon and Oregon State University. Even when I went to OSU, I wasn't that into the Civil War rivalry, but then some middle-aged lady with UO flags on her car gave me the finger on I-5 after seeing my OSU hat. Since then I've been pretty into it, yep. Not to mention, OSU wins and the Beavers go to the Rose Bowl! GO BEAVS!

5: Them people that love me- Of course. This is a no brainer. But my parents fly into Boston today, and Rachel and I will be cooking for them, cause they're awesome parents. Rachel is the awesomest girl in the history of everything. All my friends and family, believe it or not, I love you all.

24 November 2008

LIFE photo archive

In an attempt to make me totally unproductive, Google has made the LIFE photo archive available via Google's image search. Go to this page to search the archives. Pretty much every picture there is amazing. I've spent a good portion of my morning browsing through the photos, but this is one of the most fantastic pictures I've found so far.

The photo's caption reads: Jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald performing at "Mr. Kelly's" nightclub w. audience dimly visible in bkgrd. I found it while looking for pictures of F. Scott Fitzgerald, of which I found many. I'm sure it's only one of many that will eventually find it's way onto this site.

22 November 2008

Cover of the Week!

My plan to do a weekly Friday post on the best covers from my librarianizing failed this week because there was a serious lack in well-designed magazines and books to come across my desk. Sad. So in an attempt to keep this thing going, I'll just point out some cool new hardcover books.

These purty things are designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith for Penguin books. More info on the awesome Book Design Review blog, and more pictures on Penguin's flickr site.

19 November 2008

Everything's Amazing, Nobody's Happy.

Mostly the barrage of videos is a result of my discovering Fark.com's video links.

Of course a comedian can provide some perspective.


Rachel and I have recently been watching a few episodes of Animaniacs. Yeah! I remembered their song with 50 states and capitals and the one with the nations of the world. However, I didn't remember this until I came across it today after a bit of boredom induced internetting. I love these silly educational songs, but the end of this song was a bit surprising to me.

Very educational!

18 November 2008

Stand by Me!

Because sometimes you just need a little pick me up, right?

from www.playingforchange.com

16 November 2008

Writing Sucks. Nike Too. Sorta.

I should be reading and writing for class right now, but somehow my short-short story class has managed to suck out the pleasure of writing. Wah wah wah.

On an entirely different note. I can't stand Nike. Part of it has to do with the amazing prices Nike charges for just about everything. Another part of it is Nike's desire to make EVERYTHING ugly (for example, their college basketball Unis, which they've dubbed "System of Dress"). However, Nike still does a few things that bring me small pleasure. One of those wonderful things is continuing to make University of Oregon look ridiculous.

This is UO's latest uniform combination, and yes, those are wings. I'll admit, I kinda like the black helmets, but really, wings? At least it looks like one of those guys liked them.

The other thing I like? This commercial.

Woo! That's good storytelling.

14 November 2008

Cover of the Week! New Yorker!

I've written before about my love for good cover design, so I have to admit I have been very pleased by this week's cover of The New Yorker. With every other magazine plastering giant photos of Mr.Obama's face on their covers, I appreciate the more minimalist approach here. That's just a solid piece of artwork with more than a touch of timelessness, an homage to the past while celebrating the hope for the future. The image and effect is haunting in a good way, and I haven't been able to get it out of my head. Also, The New Yorker has made the full issue available online HERE! I especially recommend James Wood's close reading of Obama's victory speech, in which he says Nov. 4 was "a very good night for the English language."

On a different note, I like this idea of a "Cover of the Week." Maybe I'll make this a recurring Friday thing, finding the best book or magazine covers I come across during my week of librarianerizing.

09 November 2008

Thoughts on the Election

I said I would write more once the election passed, so here I go. I can't, however, let the election pass without saying anything about it. I voted for Barack Obama, so needless to say I was very pleased with the results. What I didn't expect was such a personal, emotional response. Maybe I didn't want to think forward to what an Obama victory would mean as a way of shielding myself from the possibility of a letdown. Obviously that didn't happen.

I watched the election results at home with Rachel. A friend of mine had mentioned the possibility of an election party, and for awhile I thought that could be fun, but in the end I was more than happy to be at home with Rachel. The emotional response of watching normally composed pundits transition into giddy, rosy-goggled rhetoric, the tears of Jesse Jackson, and the concession speech/return of the real John McCain who I wish had shown up at the beginning of the campaign run, it seemed that with these and all the other images and words of election night, and the crescendo of Obama's victory speech, made me and everyone else feel their emotions more acutely. After thinking about the multiple meanings behind Obama's election (I say thinking because I'd be lying if I said I have fully realized or understood what this all means), I was sure that I wanted to be nowhere else than with her.

Tears have been everywhere following the election. They showed up in the giant Grant Park victory party, on the TV screens, in living rooms, on the trains to work. As I said, I can't begin to explain what this all really means, but I can say that Obama's election has forced me to imagine a different world. While there may not be any tangible change yet - George Bush is still president, our economy still sucks, plus a never-ending list - there has been an emotional shift. Possibility is a reality. Yes, children will probably believe they can become anything they want. Yes, people working off student loans (like myself) might fully understand what they are working for.

I look forward to a Barack Obama presidency not with rosy-eyes or believing that he'll fix the whole world. I do however, believe he will be a good president and a great role model. What we have in him is a man who doesn't conform to stereotypes. A wonderful role model as a father, husband, and person. My complaint about the talking heads' discussions of Obama is that they too often jumped to the importance of electing a black man while neglecting to note that America elected a man that just happens to be black. For all the people for whom the issues trumped Obama's race, there are all the other people for whom Obama's race never entered the discussion.

I look forward to a Barack Obama presidency because to me, he has proven his ability to be a leader through his writing, his thinking, and his understanding of the law. During the debates with Hillary Clinton and John McCain, his willingness to say "That's the right answer" to Clinton and "John is absolutely correct" illustrates a simple, seemingly overlooked fact: that he was listening. Speaking of why his skill as a writer/orator are important, Michael Chabon said it best:

Ultimately words were all we had; that writing and oratory, argument and persuasion, were the root of democracy; that words can kill, or save us; something along those lines. "You can only say what you can first imagine," as I heard Tobias Wolff (the short-story master, not the Obama campaign adviser) explain to a group of people at an Obama fund-raiser. It was a mark of Obama's fitness to lead, to me at least, that he possessed sufficient natural reserves of imagination to kick oratorical ass.

I believe in him simply because of his speech, "A More Perfect Union," regarding Jeremiah Wright and racism in America. I have listened to this speech over and over for the past few days or weeks, and it is impressive in so many ways. For everyone who says he's all style and no substance, I suggest listening to the speech again and notice the style is the substance. Unlike most politicians, he took that opportunity to raise the dialogue about racism in the country, asking people to recognize truths they may have been reluctant to face. He didn't force you to do anything, he asked you, the same thing he's been doing throughout his run and in his victory speech. It also showed his status as a constitutional scholar. He understands the law, its changes, and its legal and social ramifications. Listen to the speech here.

Lastly, and maybe most importantly, I believe in him because of of the campaign infrastructure he built. His campaign resembles a more modern, glorified version of the grassroots NAACP structure, a structure that relied on people getting involved, being selfless, and caring about a greater good. This carried Barack Obama to victory the same way it carried the civil rights movement. This is important because it gave power to the people, and now he must serve the people because, should he fuck up, the people have the power to tear him down as quickly as they built him up.

All of this hope for a new future of possibility is unfortunately tainted by the fact that three states voted to ban gay-marriage, and another state passed a law banning unmarried couples from adopting children under the knowledge that same-sex couple cannot marry. That's right, in 2008, on the same day a country elected a black man, some of those same people voted to revoke rights from a group of people.