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Aug. 13th, 2008

Moved!

This blog has moved!

Visit me at my new location: HollyGrande.com

Feb. 20th, 2008

Dormet Outsourced?

One of my favorite web cartoonists, K. Sandra Fuhr, has been posting recipes this week. Today she posted a Sweet and Sour recipe that looked delicious. I made it tonight using Hot Italian sausage and brown rice, and it came out amazing. The sausage tastes like summertime.

You can find the recipe here.
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Feb. 12th, 2008

Jack of All Trades

I've always liked the term, "Jack of all trades." I know now it generally refers to someone who dabbles in a bit of everything, and the second half of the phrase is, "Master of nothing."

Growing up without knowing that second part, I considered my dad a bit of a Jack of all trades. In my 10-year-old mind, this jack guy was something like a superhero, and it was only appropriate that I considered my dad a superhero. You see, while my Mom was the one who raised my sister and I, my dad was this amazing good-at-everything figure. At the time he worked long hours as a computers and technology consultant, one of the best in his field, but when he came home, my dad could be any number of persons. He was Doctor Dad when Ash and I skinned our knees as kids, but he was (and is) also a carpenter and a craftsman and a foosball champion. My dad knows things--ask him anything and he will know the answer or he will know who to ask.

With all that in mind, I don't think being like this Jack is necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I would like to consider myself a Jane of all trades. In public relations, it's important to not only to know communications theory, but also the basics of any field I may come across, from graphic design to sports to catering. I don't think Jacks and Janes dabble--I think they learn and exercise their knowledge.

A Jack of all trades may not be able to perform spinal surgery, but he'll know who to call, and he'll get that surgeon on a plan ASAP.

As a side note, my dad totally rocks, and as far as I am concerned, he is Indiana Jones.

Feb. 11th, 2008

On Journals

For as long as I could make shapes with ink and graphite, I've written. Sheets of ancient computer paper are stacked in my Mom's "memory tubs" that inscribe a little girl's literary history. From the cuneiform checks only I could read (often beginning with, "Once upon a time there was a little girl...") to neatly scripted tales from elementary and middle school. Those stories, and the essays and fiction I keep on my flash drive now, were written for an audience.

But there is an alternative history, too. In the guest room that used to be my bedroom at my parent's house, there is a thick, sticker-decorated diary hidden somewhere between layers of ballet slippers and beanie babies. The first entry was written in 1993, and it is about my mean little sister. Yes, only a quarter of the diary is filled, and it is joined with at least three or four other would-be diaries, so Louis Menand is correct in that assertion. But I think his attempted analysis of diary writing falls short. You see, seven-year-old girls do not write for Freud or Jung, and they have not yet been exposed to Anne Frank or Go Ask Alice. Seven-year-old girls write because they are handed a notebook and told, in so many words, this is what little girls do: They write their lives in diaries. Still unable to draw a distinction between reality and fantasy, there is no filter, no mental preclusion of thoughts. I think it is a very rare case in which someone sits down and writes a diary because they want it to be widely read. We write them, especially at a young age, because that is what diaries are for: to be written in. With such infallible logic, why wouldn't you keep one?

Menand continues on to argue that diaries are incomplete illustrations of a person, even more so when they are physically incomplete. But if you read what I wrote in that first diary, I think you would get a pretty good picture of who I was. I may cringe as you scan over the bits about my discovery of puberty, but it presents an accurate picture of my personality between the ages of seven and ten. Of course diaries are not a complete picture of a person, no written word can be, but they are complete enough. People write diaries because that's what diaries are for, and people read diaries because they can associate with the author, filling in the blanks with their own lives. We are, after all, all human, and it is really not so far a stretch to put yourself in the place of the author. Menand seems to agree with this last statement, but I don't think he places as much value on it as he should.

When we try to understand people, it is not because we are so completely different. We look for what is so completely the same. Advertising works because you can read an ad and watch a commercial and put yourself in that story. Yes, it is exploitation, but it works. My professors have presented loads of psychobabble on exactly this topic, spheres of influence and what not. We long for connection with someone, anyone, who can understand who we are. On a far less deceptive end of the spectrum, Anne Frank is not popular with twelve-year-old girls because she lived through a terrible time in history, she is popular because every twelve-year-old girl has had a crush and has fought with her sibling. She teaches her lessons because at twelve-years-old, you can know this little girl, and you can cry with her and blush. Anne Frank's life is a greater story, but in reading her diary, you can feel for her. You can know her because, really, is she so different than you?

The internet, in all its instantaneous glory, has intensified the diary phenomenon. Not only can you write journals, you can write them anonymously, immediately. No one need know the face behind your avatar, and journals can become famous (or infamous) overnight. You can read journals written by people from all walks of life, and you can associate with them. Here, our longing for connection not only prompts us to read these journals, but also to write them. Menand implies writing for an audience is a self-centered and foolish thing, but I agree with Hannah (caramelsapphire). Beyond flourished prose and even fictionalized accounts, humans continue to connect. Along the edges of our personal spheres of influence, we find similarities and grasp for them.

Life is complicated, the world is complicated, but human connection is not.

Feb. 10th, 2008

Journals

Fellow student Hannah (caramelsapphire) wrote an interesting commentary on a New York Times article about journals. She says:

"...the online journal is a strange thing. There is the "blog," which is written completely for an audience and expects comments, questions, fans. But I think most people here, or at least most of you on my friends list, just write because you feel compelled to. It's because we're writers. Likely, some of you feel the same way I do about the therapeutic, figuring-out-your-psyche benefits of it. So why do we publish? Often when I read my friends' page, an entry will catch my eye and I'll have something to say about it. "

You can read more here. She makes some very good points, several of which I would like to comment on as soon as I finish my research for class.

Feb. 9th, 2008

Writers' Strike: Series Finale

According to the Associated Press, the Writers' Strike may finally be over. the selfish Heroes fan in me is totally excited, but the communications undergrad is looking at this as an interesting case study in the industry.


Writers Strike Nearing Postscript?
By LYNN ELBER

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The now 3-month-old Hollywood writers strike could enter its final chapter Saturday when guild members gather in Los Angeles and New York to consider a proposed contract.

If writers respond favorably, the walkout that has devastated the entertainment industry could end as soon as Monday. Writers were wavering between hope and skepticism as they prepared to learn details of the deal for the first time.
(Read More.)

It will certainly be very interesting to see how this plays out in the coming months. That selfish TV-fan part of me is crossing her fingers that her favorite shows won't be cut, but I am more concerned about how this will change film and television production. While there wasn't a revolution, I think the strike marks a turning point in the industry and the development and affect of the internet as new media. Thoughts?

Cheeseburgers and Atonement

Yum!Lindsay and I went on a chick date tonight. First, we checked out this burger place on campus that everyone has been raving about. Uburger has been open for a few months now, taking over the venue that used to be a Korean Barbecue restaurant. Lindsay had gone with her boyfriend, and she promised me that the burgers were amazing. Oh, man, was she right. I had a Cowboy Burger: sirloin beef, swiss cheese, mushrooms, bacon and barbecue sauce. I hadn't had a good burger in months, and this was the perfect reintroduction. The burger was juicy and delicious, and their French fries were crispy and hot and the perfect complement. If you ever find yourself near a Uburger, get the #1 combo. Yum.

Don't own this image, found on a movie site.We went to the movies afterward and saw Atonement. I have a girl crush on Kiera Knightly, and I have heard great things from the critics about the film.

Unfortunately, what the critics don't say is how depressing this film is. Lindsay and I came out of the theater nearly in tears. It is a very, very sad film.

It is also very, very beautiful. I am only familiar with the basics of film production, but the cinematography of this film was astounding. Although Atonement is a little slow-moving, the shots are gorgeous. Every decision about the lighting, colors and costumes, camera angle and timing was perfect. The soundtrack matches wonderfully, and the writing eloquent. I loved the little girl who plays young Briony, but each of the Brionys (Brionies?) were impeccable, especially if you note that 18-year-old Briony was cast after 13- and 90-year old Briony, and she had to watch and learn to act like these two women already cast. Kiera Knightly was gorgeous, but I am horribly biased, as was the young actress who played Lola--she was very good. The film is long, very, very long, but very, very good. (That was an awful lot of commas, wasn't it?)

If you haven't already, go see Atonement. It will make you cry. But it will also give you a real respect for post- and pre-production.

Feb. 8th, 2008

Friday Five

1. Do you consider yourself to be a good housekeeper? Why or why not?
Yes, I do. I enjoy cleaning, and while I will never be as neat as my mom, I do keep a tidy house.

2. Are there any household chores that you enjoy doing? If so, what and why?
I like vacuuming and putting away dishes. I like to put on the radio as I work. Wiping down counters and window surfaces is also really satisfying, and I don't mind sweeping and mopping.

3. Which household chore frustrates/angers you the most?
No one chore frustrates me, but I don't like putting away dishes on the highest shelves. I am short, so anything on a top shelf requires me to get out the step stool.

4. When doing household chores, what do you do to make them seem less of a "chore"?
Put on music.

5. Which chore do you find yourself doing most often, and why?
Wiping down counters--but I guess that's not really a chore, since it needs to be done anytime after the counter is used.

Feb. 5th, 2008

Gadgets

These are so cool, they must be shared.

The Livescribe Pulse Smartpen was first announced months ago, but I am still tickled by the idea. Shipping in March, this is the pen I have been expecting since smart pens were first available to consumers from LeapFrog. The website notes, "The Livescribe platform turns plain paper into a computer screen and bridges the gap between the paper and digital worlds. The platform enables a broad range of new applications in personal productivity, learning, communication, and self expression."

Microsoft Surface is a behemoth of touch technology. It integrates cell phones, personal devices and more. I can imagine seeing these in hotel lobbies, business centers and tourist information buildings. Microsoft suggests home use, as well. Surface is so streamline and pretty, I wouldn't be surprised to see future models for the home, although I think the current design is most appropriate for business. In fact, would love to see a demo for a small-scale business meeting--perhaps an employee using Surface to enhance a proposal.

This final cool gadget I first spotted on You Say Too. The company Bruketa & Zinić used thermo-reactive ink for the annual report for food company Podravka. The report, a small booklet, must be baked in tin foil for the ink to appear. Appropriately, the title of the report is "Well Done." The idea is so playful, I love it.

Of course, none of this is nearly as cool as the imagined computer paper featured in NBC's Journeyman.

Journeyman's nanotechnology.

Feb. 4th, 2008

(Very) Brief Superbowl Ad Commentary

I was actually impressed by the White House Anti-Drug PSA, but my favorite commercial this year was the GMC commercial. It was so different, but told a story. Not to mention, the animation was gorgeous. It stood out.

E*Trade was hilarious with the baby commercial, and I loved the careerbuilder.com firefly spot. Coca Cola was clever--I loved the battle between three animation icons. Toyota's spots were okay, but not stand-out. Bridgestone, Hyundai and Cars.com were better.

Taco Bell annoyed me, but the commercials I couldn't stand were from Sales Genie. I don't think they were appropriate for Superbowl, and I don't think they were as clever as the creators thought they were.

Budweiser was fantastic, as always. I loved the wine and cheese party, but the dalmatian coach was too adorable.

Victoria's secret was also a stand-out, not because the commercial was particularly eye-catching, but because of the placement: The end of the game. They got their target audience spot on, and there will be many lacy underthings given as Valentines gifts this year. Well done, Victoria's Secret.

If you missed any spots, Fox has them up on their Myspace page.

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