Those Last Four Words

Gilmore Girls was never a great show. It was a good show, and I watched every episode, but it never cracked my Top Five, maybe not even the Top Ten. I was mainly excited about the reboot because it gave the creator a chance to end the story on her own terms.

The mythology around the show states that Amy Sherman-Palladino had always known the final four words that would be spoken in the series. She’d written the arc with that ending in mind. But contract negotiations fell through, so the seventh and final season went in a different direction. We saw Rory hopping on the campaign bus to cover the Obama candidacy, which seemed like a great ending in 2007 because HOPE.

barack_obama_hope_poster

Fast forward nine years and we find Rory floundering. Vogue had a surprisingly wry take on this, and a couple of other sites have pointed out how the prodigal daughter is just too damn spoiled and pumped full of praise to really make anything of herself. I’ve always wondered why Rory’s hero was Christiane Amanpour when Rory rarely showed any interest in current events, politics, or global affairs. I secretly agreed with Headmaster Charleston when he grilled Rory about her ambitions:

Headmaster : Why do you wish to be Christiane Amanpour?

Rory : I don’t wish to be her, exactly. I just want to do what she does.

Headmaster : Which is?

Rory : Travel, see the world up close, report on what’s really going on, and to be part of something big.

Headmaster : And to be a part of something big you have to be on TV? Why not lead the police on a high speed chase, it’s a quicker way to achieve this goal.

We used to get this sort of applicant when I worked at the newspaper; the blank slate English major who just wants to be a writer. Even in publishing, you get a lot of wannabe writers. Alexis Bledel plays a similar character in 2009’s Post Grad:

Ryden: Well, I guess what I’m getting at is that books are all I know…and everything I love, and…I want this job because…well, because I can’t imagine ever doing anything else.

Interviewer: Alright. Good. Thank you for coming in.

Say that in a job interview and be prepared for the eye rolls. It’s not about what the job can do for you and your career; it’s about what you bring to the job. The fact that she gets the job at the end of the movie is just more Rory Gilmore level entitlement–that, and the fact that she’s dating Matt Saracen. (Fun fact: I’ve always though Alexis Bledel looked like Macaulay Culkin in a brown wig.)

It’s frustrating because we all see ourselves in Rory. Every bookish girl can relate to that character. It’s why there’s a Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge. The thing is, though, not everyone had rich, connected grandparents to fund prep school tuition and provide introductions at Yale. And the amount of free shit she accepts from Logan? Sweetie, there’s a word for that. Countless people have asked how the fuck she can jet back and forth to London every other week when she doesn’t have a job. We’re supposed to be entertained by the juxtaposition of Stars Hollow and the rest of Rory’s world, but it’s only worthwhile if she escapes on her own merit. Like Lorelai.

And that scene where Rory is “on the beat” to write her story about people waiting in line? Blech. Almost as bad as the doubly derivative and anti-climatic Across the Universe “With a Little Help From My Friends” scene (I guess it’s easier/cheaper to get rights to a Beatles cover) which ends in a tango club with a close-up on Logan and Rory, WHO DON’T DANCE. Compared to these two, it was huge letdown:

Maybe the whole point of the show is that Lorelai worked real hard to raise a real cool daughter and the kid turned out to be a real shit head. I know people complain about not enough flawed-but-strong female characters, and I do think Lorelai and Rory helped move us forward on that front, but the show is just annoying. Always has been. They drop storylines and never pick them up. (Who left Emily that nasty letter? My money is on one of the maids.) The only people who are intrigued by THE LAST FOUR WORDS® are the dupes who think there are going to be more episodes.

So let’s talk about those last four words. Spoiler alert, obvs.

I’d heard the term “the last four words” before, but only really started paying attention just before the Black Friday release of A Year in the Life. Somewhere I read that it was “the last four words spoken by a character,” and I assumed one character would say all four words. So I was confused and had to rewind the final scene, trying to squeeze an extra three words out of the contraction. But it turns out the final four words were actually split between mother and daughter:

Rory: Mom?

Lorelai: Yeah?

Rory: I’m pregnant.

What the absolute fuck. I’m glad I wasn’t a huge fan of the show because I might have rioted. People have noted that this ending was intended for the original show, when Rory was younger. (But what if it had been cancelled in the first season? Would Dean have knocked her up in high school? Is that why she had to have a rapid succession of boyfriends?) People think the last four words would have packed a different emotional punch if the seventh season hadn’t gone off the rails.

I’m not buying it. AS-P knew what ending she wanted and she worked backward to get us there. The entire four-episode arc of A Year in the Life is designed to get Rory back to a place where those words would hit the same way–she’s preparing to having a great life, when oh no, an unexpected pregnancy! There’s even a symmetry with the age of 32: Rory was 16 when the show started, which was the same age Lorelai was when she had her, and Lorelai was exactly twice as old as Rory at 32, and now Rory is 32 and pregnant. (Wait, I just realized no one had a birthday in the Year in the Life, not even Rory’s 4:03 AM wakeup call from Lorelai. Strange.)

Lorelai evokes the circle of life in two separate discussions with her mother. The first is during Winter when they are arguing about Richard’s funeral and Lorelai storms out the door but not before turning around and hissing “Full. Freaking. Circle.” which did not make any sense to me and I tried to find the context for that and it wouldn’t come to me so I gave up, which pretty much summarizes all of my experiences watching Gilmore Girls. The next instance makes more sense, in Fall, when Lorelai returns to her parents’ house to ask for money (can they not see how this would get tedious?) and Emily negotiates annual summer vacations and a Christmas holiday together. Because, as we all know, that’s where the show started, with Lorelai asking for money and Emily using it as a bargaining chip for Friday dinners. Nothing says independent woman like applying for a loan at the Bank of Mom and Dad.

When I sat down to watch the reboot, it had been years since I’d visited Stars Hollow (although I have since decided that Salado, Texas, is a real-life Stars Hollow). I didn’t even rewatch the original series in the days/weeks/months leading up to A Year in the Life, although I did stop halfway through to watch A Deep Fried Korean Thanksgiving because the holiday had reminded me and Melissa McCarthy really earns her paycheck in that one. (It’s like they let her off her leash and allowed her to improvise, because it’s truly funny. Not Gilmore Girls OMG-Kirk-is-so-quirky funny; legitimately funny. I’ve always thought Kirk was just someone’s school chum who’d been promised a role.)

It only took the first scene of 2016 to get me back into the groove, and Lorelai says something that made me think I knew what the last four words would be. Keep in mind, I still thought it would be one character saying a four-word sentence. But with the Year in the Life structure (Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall. All you have to do is call…) I thought it would be Lorelai asking Rory, “Do you smell snow?” Or, in light of the actual last four words, maybe Rory saying, “Mom, I smell snow.” Since the last episode was Fall, I thought Rory might finally inherit her mother’s magical ability to predict snowfall, and that would somehow signal that she had finally become a Gilmore woman. And honestly, I would have liked that ending better.

Rory’s decision to ruin/enhance/preempt her mother’s wedding day by announcing her own pregnancy is, of course, typical shit head Rory. It’s also terrible storytelling: clichéd, hackneyed, boring, what have you. Like Rory’s decision to write a book entitled (The) Gilmore Girls, this is indulgent, sophomoric, and ludicrous. All those bookish girls who related to Rory and watched the show to see where it would take them? Full. Freaking. Circle. Read a lot and study hard and let people make sacrifices for your education so you too can write a self-centered memoir. Really, it’s the only thing you were ever meant to do. It’s what scares me so much about working in education: you read a lot and study hard and make sacrifices for your education so you can turn around and tell other people to read a lot and study hard and make sacrifices for their education. Sigh. If you have a fictional universe in which to escape that cycle, why not do it? Is it because there is no escape?

I hate this. I do. I read a book once in the sixth grade where a girl goes to live in space after we destroy Earth and everyone is only allowed to bring one possession and she chooses a blank journal, then the space-colonists decide they need a bunch of blank paper for some reason (I think they’d started bartering?) and they ask the girl to use her book but they can’t because it turns out it’s no longer blank and she has filled it with the story of the space-colonists WHICH TURNS OUT TO BE THE VERY BOOK YOU’RE READING. And I thought that was so clever…when I was eleven years old.

Rory writes a memoir (at Jess’s suggestion, which is why I can never be Team Jess) about the Gilmore Girls which becomes a TV show about the Gilmore Girls which becomes a Netflix miniseries about the Gilmore Girls which is what you spent Black Friday watching. OMG! Isn’t that just so meta? No. It’s ridiculous. The idea that Rory will have a daughter named Lori (or a son named Richard Gilmore Huntzberger) and perpetuate this full freaking circle just makes me cringe.

Would I hate it as much if the last four words hadn’t been hyped as the entire reason for the series? I don’t know. But I’m really grateful I’m not pregnant.

Trés True Things in Good Girls Revolt

I think we can all agree with Patti’s reaction in Episode 10, after Jane has finally gotten on board and even evokes karma for the cause.

Good Girls Revolt isn’t the greatest show ever made, but it was entertaining enough for me to binge the whole season on Amazon this weekend. Patti is a fun, charming character, Anna Camp is on-point as the exquisite Jane, and Cindy is super annoying–I guess there always has to be one of those girls in every ensemble cast because it gives her the most room for growth (looking at you, Charlotte York MacDougal Goldenblatt).

GGR is based on a book about the true story of the women at Newsweek, so there’s not much new to cover. There were a few smaller moments, though, that seemed both fresh and relatable:

1. Patti’s fear that she won’t be any good.

“Was your first article perfect? Huh? Or did some researcher catch all of your mistakes, proof-read you, make you look brilliant. And by the way, even if my copy had been perfect, I still wouldn’t have gotten a byline.”

Remember that scene in 30 Rock when high school age Liz Lemon completely botches a field goal for the football team, raises her arms victoriously, and yells “Feminism!”? She’s a female on the football team but sucks so hard that even her parents won’t watch her play. That’s the undercurrent of fear running through the women’s movement, albeit comedically illustrated.

When Patti completely misses the social services angle on her graffiti artist story, Doug steps in, saying “You can’t just write about what you want.” Later, in episode 10, he tells her, “You screwed that up and you know it.” She shoots back, “Was your first article perfect?”

It comes up again for Jane when another reporter, although female, is hired from outside the magazine to write the women’s movement story Jane pitched to Gregory (after stealing it from Patti). I think Cindy is the one who asks how they are supposed to get writing experience when they are working at a magazine that won’t let them write.

2. Cindy’s Love Story-inspired death fantasies.

cindy

Cindy and Jane share some girl talk over drinks, and since everybody appears to be reading Erich Segal’s Love Story in the early months of 1970, it becomes a segue into talking about the deaths they have imagined.

Cindy makes clear that she doesn’t want to see Lenny or Ned die, but can’t help thinking about the freedom it would give her. It has very little to do with the persons of Lenny and Ned; it is about removing them as factors in her life. Just taking them out of the equation entirely would make her life her own. Jane has similar thoughts about her parents.

3. Wick’s stake in News of the Week.

“You know I have a lot of respect for the institution that gave me my career.”

Wick comes out of nowhere in episode 10 to warn Finn about trouble brewing at the magazine. It was a red herring in the plot structure of the show since he wasn’t trying to tell Finn about the lawsuit. Instead, he explained something that had been alluded to with the Stingray rental and story on Ralph Nader: Gregory was selling favorable coverage to the Big Three.

Wick should be happy to see Finn and News of the Week implode, but he’s looking at the bigger picture: “You know, Finn, I got 30 years at News of the Week. Now, if this magazine goes down as a useless rag that sold its soul out for ad buys, people look at me differently, as if it was going on the whole time.”

It’s the same slightly self-serving rationale that gets me to donate money to my alma mater every year: it “adds value” to the pedigree. By making sure those institutions take care of their reputations, Wick and I ensure our own.

A note about Finn Woodhouse, Editor at Large

Evan Phinnaeus Woodhouse is portrayed by Chris Diamantopoulos, who, for me, can only ever be the Trés Commas Tequila guy from Silicon Valley. But forgetting his prior roles (also finally saw him in the last season of The Office) there is something about his character that is driving me absolutely insane.

Why on earth is Finn’s title “Editor at Large“??? It makes no sense. He’s clearly Editor in Chief. His responsibilities at the magazine are way too extensive for an at-large editor. He “dusts off” his press pass to write the ‘Nam story, but his day-to-day duties are concerned with running the magazine, which is not what an editor at large does.

It sounds so bizarre when he goes on a rant about how the staff should listen to him because he is EDITOR AT LARGE FOR NEWS OF THE WEEK. Just imagine a real editor at large gliding into the newsroom and telling people how to run things. That’s not how it works. Editors at large contribute to the content of a publication; they do not decide the editorial direction or concern themselves with advertisers.

I’m wondering if the nomenclature has shifted since the 70s or if the showrunners got something wrong because it is just too weird. As an example using fairly current magazine celebrities: André Leon Talley was an editor at large for Vogue and Anna Wintour was Editor in Chief. So just imagine that dynamic to understand how weird it is for Finn to scream his title at people when that title is so obviously wrong. This is really freaking me out.

Hold up, am I the mom?

Dig, if you will, this picture…of me and my cheese plate engaged in some bliss:

cheeseplate

The photo was taken six months ago in a wine bar during a social gathering for the Local Yuppies, the creative class / talent development organization of which I was then vice president. There were about 30 people in attendance, but only two board members, and the absence of the president made me the ranking officer. Since I was under pressure to take over as president for the 2016-17 fiscal year, it was a chance to see how I would run the organization.

I had gotten to the wine bar early, ostensibly to make sure everything ran smoothly, but mostly because I was excited about my new daily planner and wanted some alone time: just me, my planner, a glass of wine, and, most importantly, some food. I was starving.

Alas, at least three other people decided to be early, so I had to start performing my duties the moment I got there. I ordered my wine and food as quickly as I could, then set about networking, a word of yuppie origin that loosely translates as “talking to people.”

I eventually found a tall chair and sat with a new attendee while sipping Pinot Grigio. My cheese plate arrived and it was huge. For $10, I got a smorgasbord. The woman delivering it to my table asked if I want honey or hummus. “Can I have both?” I asked, and she said of course. This in addition to the cheeses, bread slices, crackers, fruits, chocolate deserts, and scone. A scone. The cheese plate included an entire fucking scone.

At the same time I was managing my hunger, I was also managing Local Yuppie business, greeting people and posing for photos. I scolded a few book club members for not showing up to that contentious May meeting. At one point, I had to go to the front of the room, leaving my table companion with the suggestion to eat whatever she liked off my plate.

In my travels to the front of the bar, a distance of about 20 feet with about that many people in the vicinity, two separate individuals stopped me to ask me about the cheese plate. See, our social venues usually (but not always) provide free appetizers to pair with the drinks we are buying. However, since this social had been planned at the last minute, there would be no free nibbles that night. Upon seeing the giant plate of food at the table of the acting president, it was perfectly reasonable for some members to assume it was a shared plate.

So I shared. I told people it was my food, but there was plenty of it and they were welcome to pick off the plate. Over the course of the evening, I watched my apple slices, an entire cluster of grapes, three out of four bread slices, and one of my chocolate desserts disappear from my plate. One girl sat down in front of me and ate that entire fucking scone while telling me how awesome she was and how she would run things if she were in charge. I finally interrupted her to crumble off a corner of the scone, just so I could find out how it tasted.

It was around this time, watching my food go travelling off my plate whilst dispensing career advice and volunteer opportunities, that I had this exact epiphany:

Yes, apparently I am the mom. And my kids were hungry. So I fed them.

All this time, I’ve been wondering what the organization could do for me. In two years, I have hired only one writer through the LY network, the original reason I joined the organization. I don’t see it advancing my own career either, partly because publishing isn’t really a growth industry around here, and partly because I’m 30-something and more advanced in my career than most if not all of the LYs. Some of them are barely out of college. But it does raise questions about mentorship and paying it forward and how I can truly develop some leadership skills, instead of shrugging off the chance to take charge because I don’t like responsibility. We’re all adults here, yes, but some of us are more grown than others: when the waitress took my empty plate away, I noticed not a single person other than me had ordered food.

With service to any organization, the rewards aren’t always immediate or even visible. It’s November now, the new fiscal year, and I did wind up being president of the Local Yuppies. I’ve avoided the word “leadership” since high school, so it’s odd learning to steer a ship again. Today, I went to lunch with one of our new board members to make plans for the holiday charity season. She said she didn’t often get asked to lunch and appreciated the invitation.

Then she paid for my food.

 

 

Content with Content

[*This is a draft from a year ago. I redacted the details.]

I’m writing my first article in three years, and I’m struggling to get where I want to be. I have the basic angle the editor asked for, my own interest in the topic, and a buttload of quotes from relevant people. However, the article is not quite doing what I want it to do. I want it to be funny and fresh, not boring and overdone. I’m not covering breaking news, and I need to be able to impose my own worldview on this piece.

And lately I’ve been panicking that I have no worldview, that I don’t know where I stand on [redacted] and therefore I must be a cardboard cutout of a human being. Especially since we’re looking at starting our own chapter, I wonder what we could be doing differently, or if I’m just trying to reinvent the wheel. We had [redacted], and not enough people signed up. We don’t need to be doing more stuff; we need to do the stuff we’re doing better.

And then I’m looking at how I need to be a content writer, not just a writer, how I need to package myself and my writing. And this is all really interesting to me but now that I have a chance to put it into action I’m balking. Because I ALWAYS have this problem and I’m a terrible human being and I will never succeed at anything. This is exhausting, and it’s getting a little old.

So let’s try something new and believe in ourself/ves? Believe in elves.

The first thing I need is a title. It will probably be changed, but it’s basic that I should craft one anyway. Maybe I need an outline as well.

  1. Children
  2. [redacted]
  3. Nonprofit Organization

You’re stalling. Scared to make a call. Looking for permission, or call it research if you must.

What do people need to know?

I wrote some more last night, reading the research by the pool. I’ll put that into my document after I’ve retrieved it from the car, but I don’t think this is very good. I’m not happy with it.

What I want to say is that [redacted] are people who don’t actually use the [redacted], just want to support its continued existence. But I have to say that in a way that 1) considers that some of them will insist they actually do use the [redacted] and 2) doesn’t raise class division issues and 3) is funny.

You’re balancing:

  1. What your editor wants.
  2. What the reader wants.
  3. What you want to write.
  4. The information you have.
  5. What the subject would like to see written.
  6. What is good for the world.

People nowadays prefer listicles.

 

Beck and Hunt


The library in my town is officially named the Eula Hunt Beck Florence Public Library. While I have reservations about the SEO confusion (Eula and Florence are both traditional female names, while Hunt and Beck are verbs) the name was intended to honor “Sis” Beck, the reigning matriarch of our town’s banking dynasty. She has made many notable contributions to this whole region of Texas, and has probably done twice as much anonymously. Plus, she’s always been nice to me.

A woman came into the Eula Hunt Beck Florence Public Library today brandishing this book. It’s a well-loved 1980 custom publication of local history printed by Nortex Press in Burnet, Texas. (!) Nortex Press was part of Eakin Press, which has since been acquired by Wild Horse Media Group in Fort Worth, which is doing some interesting stuff…but once upon a time, they were publishing books in Burnet friggin’ Texas!


I can’t be the only one who looked at that cover and thought Willie Zell Ray Hunt must have been a warlock. 1768-1980?!? Dude was 212 years old! Alas, it’s just the time period researched in the book (which kind of looks like an old hymnal, no?).

Willie Zell Ray Hunt was actually a woman, and, according to her obituary, a midwife. Though not quite 212 when she died, she did live an impressive 94 years and published a book at the age of 77. She is buried in Maxdale Cemetery and was survived by two daughters, one of whom is Eula Lea “Sis” Hunt Beck.

What happens to a dream unheard?

Harlem (1951)
by Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

Lately it seems everyone I know wants to be an entrepreneur. I don’t know if it’s my age or my geographical location, but everyone is talking about their business plans.

But I have yet to see an actual business plan.

One girl told me yesterday that she wants to start a nonprofit, buy an existing business, and take on a part-time job (this is in addition to her full-time job), all while finishing grad school. Oh, and she and her husband want to start a family. He, too, is either about to change jobs or start his own business, they aren’t sure which.

I’m not saying it can’t be done… I’m just wondering how much of it is bullshit.

More than likely, most people are just voicing their unfiltered dreams. Everyone has an idea for a business that would fill a need, or a charity that would cure a cause célèbre. I am currently Founder/CEO of three separate imaginary businesses, and just picked a location for a fourth. That location is in my head, which is where most of these ideas should probably stay.

I do understand the appeal of talking things through with people, and I am well aware that collaboration is a sort of human sorcery that creates ideas stronger than the sum of their parts. And I don’t mind having discussions about a friend’s ambitions, provided my input is actually welcomed and he is not just using me as an echo chamber. These businesses are rarely presented as ideas, though. They’re presented as sort of self-validation, like the person is using these imaginary enterprises to establish their own personal brand, without having done any of the actual work.

I once listened to someone spend three years telling everyone she knew that she was starting a nonprofit. I was in a nonprofit training course at the time and tried to be of assistance. She eventually gave up on those plans when she learned that nonprofits… do… not… make… profits. Nonprofit: it does exactly what it says on the tin. She hadn’t realized she would be assigned a salary. “I want to make bank,” she told me, and we never heard about the nonprofit again. I swear this actually happened. I’m not making it up.

What I always fear is, if you do this often enough, you unintentionally market yourself in a negative fashion. You’re more likely to be seen as a person who never follows through on anything. Ideas are easy, guys. They are. What’s rare is the grit and gumption to see ideas through to fruition, and that’s really all that matters.

Another friend told me, just this morning, “I only like the start of things. I should be a venture capitalist.” And I see the temptation, I really do. I would much rather be an “idea man” or a “big picture person.” But I wind up doing a lot of legwork for idea (wo)men, and usually all it does is make me lose respect for them. I get the value of learning how to actually run things, and more often than not, the people who matter–the higher-ups, the team members, the end user–are perfectly capable of seeing who is really taking care of business.

If you’re an idea man who doesn’t have the luxury of letting someone else do the legwork for you, your dream will never even leave your head. How painful that must be, for you and everyone around you. I’m reading A Raisin in the Sun for work right now, and just happened to see on my calendar that yesterday was Lorraine Hansberry’s birthday. I saw a production of the play in London about 15 years ago, but I’ve never actually read it, and there’s this interesting side note about “the rat scene” that doesn’t exist in the original text. I found the 1961 Sidney Poitier movie last night as well, but I’ll wait until I finish reading.

I used to identify with Beneatha, but I’m a little older now (and weary) so Ruth is the one that gets my sympathy. She’s married to one of these people, the ones with the dreams deferred:

RUTH (Wearily). Honey, you never say nothing new. I listen to you every day, every night and every morning, and you never say nothing new. (Shrugging) So you would rather be Mr. Arnold than be his chauffeur. So–I would rather be living in Buckingham Palace.

The Future of Reading

I found this article about the use of color in text on Longform last night, and I wanted to share it here because it explores the e-book incunabula era we are currently living through. I’ve tried to keep up with developments, but as I’ve said before and I’ll say again, no one knows what is going to happen. You can never tell which new technology or product will truly innovate and cause a paradigm shift in the way we read. The only thing we know for sure is that change is inevitable:

Today many of us read primarily on screens–and we have for years–yet most platforms have focused on using technology to attempt to recreate text as it appears in books (or in newspapers or magazines), instead of trying to create an optimal reading experience.

-James Hamblin, The Atlantic

A key word here is “optimal.” It’s not about adding bells and whistles to a text just because you can; it’s about truly improving the experience. I am fascinated by this color gradient idea because it’s an example of someone questioning our basic assumptions and challenging the way we’ve always done things. It reminds me of the part in The Giver when Jonah notices something odd about an apple, which turns out to be the first flash of color in his black-and-white world. If something as familiar to us as color has never occurred to Jonah, it leads the reader to question: what other dimensions or qualities are out there that have never occurred to us?

Books have been with us for so long that we forget PRINT IS A TECHNOLOGY. Page numbers, line lengths, the return sweep, and black ink are all efficiencies we developed as we collectively learned to read mechanical text. It wasn’t always like this, and it won’t always be like this. We just kind of got used to it over the past 500 years. Print became the technology of knowledge, and it’s so ubiquitous we don’t even realize it.

I was looking into OpenStax, the open source textbook initiative at Rice University, and that led me to Bookshare, which helps people with print disabilities stay on course in their education (watch the video; it’s cute). But think about that term for a minute: print disabilities. Our entire cultural foundation is so grounded in print that not being able to cope with it is a disability. We basically decided 500 years ago that if your eyes or brain did not take to our tiny rows of black letters on white background, you were going to fall behind. And in a way, that’s ridiculous… but you see the same thing happening now with digital literacy.

It took 50 years for print incunabula to make the adjustment from manuscript culture and settle into the form we use today. I do wonder if the adjustment will happen quicker in the Information Age, or if our brains still need a generation to catch up to major changes. I am really excited about everything we’re going to be able to do with e-readers. As the article says:

The task now is to make digital reading better than reading in print.

This isn’t the a-ha moment for me; I’m not going to go invest all my money in Beeline because I believe so much in color gradient text. I hope it becomes more common and helps a lot of people; it’s just, for me, this isn’t the magical, feel-it-in-my-gut, transformative innovation that cuts to the very core of why I love books. But it shows that there are people out there working on it. And someday, someone is going to develop something that makes me see that, oh yes, the apple is red, and there is so much more we can do with our knowledge.

Campus Life

One of the perks of working on a college campus is that you never really have to let go of that well-rounded, renaissance man-dy, interdisciplinary ethos. You still get to do a little bit of everything:

20160429_120401
Here I am at the wine tasting fundraiser for the campus-hosted public radio and television stations. The event actually happened April 1 (my workiversary) but the photo was just published in the local society magazine. I am not named in the caption, by the way.
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This is the launch of the campus literary journal, which took place on Wednesday evening in our library. Isn’t it gorgeous? We have the best view from a library I’ve ever seen in person.
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Here I am, dying, during the 5k around campus this morning. I love the Golden Arches in the background.