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Posts Tagged ‘television’

24. “Bossypants,” Tina Fey

August 10, 2011 Leave a comment

I read this book in a few hours, which is something I have not been able to do for a while. Somewhere in the middle, I fell asleep and had a dream wherein Tina Fey was instructing me on how to get a dozen doughnuts and keep them all to myself. (The recommended technique was to transport said doughnuts by car to a second location that also sells doughnuts. And then to eat the doughnuts in your car. Turns out Tina Fey can’t drive. Otherwise, I think it is suitably Liz Lemonish.

Page count: 276
Page total: 7,196

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3. “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist-Fight in Heaven,” Sherman Alexie

November 19, 2010 Leave a comment

I had all sorts of quotes here, but they got erased, and I am annoyed.

Page count: 240
Page total: 989

39. “Inventory: Obsessively specific pop-culture lists,” the AV Club

June 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Sometimes my friend ryan and I accidentally write books. And then we accidentally put someone else’s name on the cover. And on the royalty checks! We should stop doing this.

Page count: 232 (I counted it as 150, as there are a lot of drawings, and I didn’t really read every word. What, having written it.)
Page total: 9,717
LOC call number: E 169.12.I49 2009

33. “The Tipping Point,” Malcolm Gladwell

June 4, 2010 1 comment

I found this a much more satisfying read than Freakanomics because it deals with how a multitude of small things come together to create one big effect. Gladwell concludes, for example, that one of the major reasons that crime dropped so drastically in New York in the 1990s isn’t that “unfit” mothers had aborted a lot of fetuses 15-18 years earlier, but that a number of small things that police forces, particularly transit police, were doing began to accrue.

Gladwell also looks at children’s educational television and discusses the differences between “Sesame Street” and “Blues Clues,” and there’s nothing I love quite like I love seeing educational theories in praxis on brightly-colored animals.

Gladwells’s very easy to read. One of my professors last semester went to grad school with him and became a fact-checker for him when he was at “The New Yorker.” Every now and then he’d call, read her a sentence and ask “can we use ‘deconstruct’ like that?” and she’d say yes or no and get fifty bucks.

This is my fondest ambition. (That and finding out how airplanes stay up.)

Also, Vikky, isn’t this totally Mary:

Connectors are the people who “link us up with the world … people with a special gift for bringing the world together.”[6] They are “a handful of people with a truly extraordinary knack [… for] making friends and acquaintances”. [7] He characterizes these individuals as having social networks of over one hundred people. To illustrate, Gladwell cites the following examples: the midnight ride of Paul Revere, Milgram’s experiments in the small world problem, the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” trivia game, Dallas businessman Roger Horchow, and Chicagoan Lois Weisberg, a person who understands the concept of the weak tie. Gladwell attributes the social success of Connectors to “their ability to span many different worlds [… as] a function of something intrinsic to their personality, some combination of curiosity, self-confidence, sociability, and energy.”[8]

Page count: 272
Page total: 8,125
Call number: HM1033 .G53 2000

18. “The Wisdom of Big Bird,” Caroll Spinney

March 24, 2010 1 comment

I expected this book to be closer to what the title implies: cheesy bits of wisdom wrung from Sesame Street quotes. Instead, it was a thoughtful little memoir about Spinney’s puppetry career and life on the Street.

I thought the bit about Jim Hansen’s funeral was particularly touching. Spinney counted Hansen as one of his heroes even before being asked to join Sesame Street and became friends with him during his tenure. Hansen was renowned for his incredibly elaborate parties and apparently Hansen had said years before that at his funeral that people should wear bright colors and tell happy stories. His celebration (to use Spinney’s term, which is great) was open to the public and thousands of people came for it. People sang “It’s not Easy Being Green.”

I have always felt that my family does funerals right. Though I’ve fortunately been to only a few of them, we usually eat a lot and tell a lot of stories, which I like. When I was quite young, I went with my mom and her best friend, Bev, to the mall because Bev needed to buy a new dress for a funeral. I remember her talking about how cruel and ridiculous it is to make people who are grieving go out to buy new clothes, a chore that sucks under the best of circumstances. She declared that when she died, she wanted everyone to come in jeans, which always made sense to me. You go as the person you lost knew you. You go as the person they loved.

(Also, Bev decided to simply tuck in the tags on her dress and return it after the service, because she wasn’t dropping money on a black dress she wouldn’t wear again. Which is so Bev.)

So I was already predisposed to like Hansen when Spinney quoted from a letter Hansen had left one of his sons: “Be good to each other. Love and forgive everybody.” Which seems just like something Vonnegut would write to his son, and seems fitting advice from the most famous puppeteer in the world, a man who used that craft to teach children the alphabet and compassion.

Spinney says that he was struck with the importance of teaching children to be compassionate when he was walking home from the studio one night and passed a man standing in the snow, shuffling his feet on the corner of the curb. He initially brushed past the man, thinking he was homeless or drunk or dangerous, but when he glanced back, he saw it was an old man. He asked if the man was okay and the man responded that he was scared to step off the curb because it was icy and he might fall. (I’ll give your heart a minute to break.) Spinney walked the man home and the following day went to the producer about his idea for using Big Bird to teach children to be compassionate, which is obviously a tall order. Spinney resolved to simply be compassionate as Big Bird and make sure the Bird’s heart was always in the right place. Which has surely worked.

It seems also that Spinney is responsible (at least in part) for making the muppets into child-like characters. Originally, Big Bird was a “hillbilly” or “yokel” character, but when Spinney got a script about Big Bird wanting to be able to go into a daycare with the human children, Spinney realized that that action doesn’t make sense unless Big Bird is another kid.

While my favorite Sesame Street character is and always will be Oscar the Grouch (also played by Spinney), I have a special place in my heart for Big Bird. When I was little, my sister and I had a ViewMaster of “Follow that Bird,” and for some reason, Big Bird makes me feel close to her.

Pages: 154

Page total: 4,238

11. “The Deep End of South Park,” Leslie Stratyner and James R. Keller

January 25, 2010 2 comments

So, I love South Park. There, I said it. I think it is so funny. I defy you to watch “The List” and not giggle when they say “sparkles!” It is one of those shows that you put on and turn your brain off.

But I can at least feel a little better about myself now that I have read this collection of super-smart essays about it. (See that right there? That’s what we in academia call a “transition.”) I gotta be real with you about something, though. I still do not understand the damn point of theory. I just want to say smart things myself and I am cool with talking about smart things other people said and giving credit for where my ideas come from, but when people want me to talk about Foucault like he has all the answers, that’s when I start getting annoyed. So when people ask me to use a theory, I’ll use it, but I always sort of just feel like I am jumping through hoops. And then I get mad about being a pretty little lion of their circus of cannonized, institutionalized power.

This post got off topic real fast there, but it was kind of in the back of my head the whole time I was reading.

That and that I love when academics get to use fart jokes in their titles. Because you KNOW they love when they get to.

Page count: 192
Page total: 2,539

4. “Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Book,” Deirdre Dolan

December 13, 2009 1 comment

I freaking love “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” This is summaries of each of the episodes of the first five seasons, interviews with Larry David and several people involved with “Curb.” My favorite parts were where they showed David’s original outline (there is no script for the show, just an outline of the information that needs to come across in a particular scene), and then the transcript of the scene that comes from it.

David sort of seems like a monster, though. But I really identify with him?

Page count: 207
Page total: 735