Aug 29, 2011

Book 7, 8, 9, and 9 1/2

How do I let time from blogging slip away like this? Is it because the blog craze is dwindling in favor of tweeting, google+, facebook statusing, mass emails, life in general? I digress. I've read/listened to 3 books and one play and wanted to review them all in one post, as I have little to say about each and thought if I combine the reviews it should add up to once decent sized post, and become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.

Book 7- Tipping Point
by Malcolm Gladwell

Several individuals have been getting after me to read the Pop-Economics instant classing Tipping Point. (At least that's what I thought. Turns out they were recommending Outliers. Oh well. **spoiler alert** I read that too.) It was read by the author and fairly interesting for a boring subject. Basically he just gave examples of how little things can make a big difference, from medical epidemics to social epidemics. I wasn't too sold on Gladwell's point of view, it didn't change my mind on anything but it was still interesting and I wasn't worse off for reading it. 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Book 8- Dress your Family in Corduroy and Denim
by David Sedaris

I loved When you Are Engulfed in Flames so much I wanted to read something else by David Sedaris, and by read I of course mean listen to. For those of you unfamiliar with Sedaris, he writes mostly autobiographical/memoir-ish writing, with a nearly unhealthy dose of hilarity. Unfortunately, apart from 2 or 3 stories (the standout being "6 to 8 Black Men" about other culture's holidays, and specifically the Dutch Santa Claus and his 'helpers') I was not impressed. It was crasser than the first but more unforgivably, it was less funny. I should probably listen to it again, as I realize I may have given it more to live up to as I loved the first book of his I read, this one was good, but comparatively not as good. Still, 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Book 9- Outliers
by Malcolm Gladwell

Sure it makes sense to group the books by the same author together, but this is the order I read them. Outliers is about 2-3 times longer than Tipping Point, and about 2-3 times better. Well, no, not exactly, but I can't resist a comparison like that. The first half or so of the book was enjoyable, riveting and interesting. The second half got boring, tedious and made me regret enjoying the first half as much. If you're interested in Malcolm Gladwell's opinions on what makes people succeed, read this book. To me his opinion's boiled down to talent, practice and luck/timing. 5 stars for the first half, 2 stars for the second, averaging out to 3.5 stars total. If you're interested in learning more about less recognized things that make people succeed, read this book.

Book 9 1/2

The Importance of Being Earnest
by Oscar Wilde

I call it 9 1/2 because one, it is a play, not a book and 2, it is less than 2 hours long. Still, if you haven't read, seen or listened to this play, you owe it to yourself, your teachers and the English language to do so. Most people, myself included, call it the wittiest play ever written. It is Wilde's masterpiece, and being one of the few authors I have read everything he's ever written, I agree. In the words of Algernon, it is perfectly phrased and quite as true as any observation in civilized life should be." For those of you unfamiliar with it, I will provide a brief synopsis and then comment on the presentation I listened to, not the play itself. It involves Jack who lives in the country but goes by the name of Ernest in the city so he can live a life of pleasure but still maintain respectability to those who know him as Jack, and his friend Algernon (I didn't name him) who pretends to have a sick friend named Bunbury to visit in the country for a similar reason. Jack proposed to Gwendolyn, who accepts him largely because she thinks his name is Ernest. When discussing the engagement with Gwendolyn's mother Lady Bracknell, Jack is found out to have questionable parentage and so is forbidden to marry her. Algernon learns both of Jack's double life and his 'excessively pretty ward' Cecily, and goes to Jack's home in the country masquerading as Jack's wicked brother Ernest. Algernon instantly falls in love with Cecily who is already in love with him, again because she's always wanted to marry someone named Ernest. There is confusion and comedy aplenty in this "Trivial play for Serious people." It is my favorite play of all time, and I can't say enough good things about it, so I won't try. This version had a full cast and I would rate it a B. I enjoyed most of the actors with the exception of Algernon who has the best lines in the play after Lady Bracknell and must have thought "breathy" was an emotion, and the only emotion Algernon could express. A minor quibble was everyone calling Cecily "Sicily" which grew annoying quickly, but Jack and Gwendolyn were satisfactory if not enjoyable and Lady Bracknell was superb (doing her best to channel Edith Evans who played Lady Bracknell in the 1952 film).
One other note, though I am an admirer of Rupert Everett and have a 'man-crush' on Colin Firth, I would recommend refraining from seeing the 2002 film of the play and rent the 1952 version as it is better in every respect. Particularly Lady Bracknell. Apparently no one told poor Dame Judi Dench it was a comedy, as she performed Lady Bracknell the same way she portrays 'M' in the James Bond movies. Now that I think about it, that's the only way I've ever seen her portray anyone...
Here I go, get Austin to talk about Oscar Wilde and you can't shut him up! Ok, the play gets of course 6 out of 5 stars and the performance listened to gets 4 out of 5 because I really only had 2 problems with it, bad Algernon brings it down a star, the pronunciation of Cecily, while annoying doesn't affect the grade.

For the remainder of the year I am endeavoring to read the Lord of the Rings in its entirety which I have not done in over a decade. Thanks as always for reading.

Fall Semester-2011 Edition

So I will be starting fall semester today, my second to last fall semester if everything goes according to plan...

I figured now would be a good a time as any to write about what classes I'm taking. Mondays and Wednesdays I'll be taking:
20th Century Art History (my last Art History class ever),
Color Theory (I'm excited even though the subject sounds boring, it's taught by one of my favorite teachers), and
Interactive Design II (Not sure what we'll be learning here, Javascript, Ruby, or just more HTML & CSS. Either way, probably class I'm looking most forward to.

Tuesdays and Thursdays I just have one class, Typography & Layout II, taught by neither of the teachers I took Typography & Layout I from, so we'll see. Other than that, I have Art Lectures on Thursday nights again, it's only an hour a week and the less said about that the better.

For those of you curious or in case you forgot, I'm expecting/praying to graduate at the end of next fall semester, or December 2012. Since I've been in and out of college since the end of 2000 (with a mission and taking time off and part time for several years) It will be a blessed time indeed when I am finally a college graduate. I'm beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, even if it's just a dim pinprick at this point in time, it's there. Hallelujah, it's there.

Now I've got about 5 more posts I want to do, a job interview (within the company) to prepare for, my wife to murder, and Gilder to frame for it. (wait, scratch the second to last one.)

Aug 11, 2011

3D Design Part 3: Thinking Outside the Box

My final project was to use found objects and make something out of them. About 90% of the class made robots out of VCRs, old cassette players, wooden bowls, aluminum cans, etc. I had the idea of having a large hand made entirely of toys coming out of a toy chest. Either because it's 2011 or everyone already bought them, I couldn't find any toy chests even though I shopped at 3 DIs and 1 Savers. What I did find however were toys and lots of them. However, even at $25 a piece they can add up, so I recruited my dear uncle Jim and cousins Andre and Ivan to loan me some of their toys. By some, I mean about 2-300. The finished product wasn't quite what I had envisioned, apparently a little bit of wire has a hard time holding up so many toys, but it turned out pretty cool, several other students actually took pictures of it and the teacher told me if I did a series of these I would be able to get into Grad school. Not what I want, but it was very flattering and warmed my little black heart. Made it fun to dream for a minute. Now I'm going to have to dismantle the thing, I'm going to take it over to my uncle's and see if they'll help me take it apart, as they wanted to see it completed.

looking up at the hand.

yes, that's Appa at the top.

3D Design Part 2: Before and After

Since I took a picture of this rock before I carved it I wanted to show it both before and after. Besides the fact that it broke several times, I'm mostly happy with the way it turned out, the rock underneath turned out to be a beautiful color.

The teacher said the finished work looked like Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster. I think it looks like a polished piece of pink poo. In a good way. What do you think?

3D Design Part 1: A skull, a pear, and a thing

Here are my first 3 assignments, The wire sculpture, the matte board fruit and the non-representational rock. Enjoy.

I don't love any one of these, besides the rock I thought them a colossal waste of time but it was a required course and I got to visit with friends and learn from a true artist, the teacher and the amazing Derek Hegsted was in my class. Check his site out, he's incredible.

Aug 10, 2011

Hey, Remember me?

It's seems most of my posts over the last few months have been "I haven't blogged in forever, I need to catch up!" Not that I haven't wanted to, it's just hard to get started and there's always something else I should be doing. Since this is the first time this summer block I have homework due the next day and I'm procrastinating, why not blog? Also, having the excuse of not blogging for over a month is a good way to begin I guess, cuz that's what I've been doing. I haven't blogged in over a month. What shall I talk about?

My summer semester is over tomorrow. I've taken some pictures of the assignments I did, will try to post them tomorrow. To let you know what you're looking forward to, the class is 3D Design and no, it's not design with computers, that would be useful, and we can't have that. Our first assignment was wire sculpture, meaning make like a skeleton or contour out of... wire. To say it was more fun that it sounds would be an overstatement, but it wasn't my least favorite assignment, probably second least. I did a skull and at the urging of one of my friends in class used 1 continuous wire for the whole thing. My second assignment was my least favorite, we were supposed to take an organic object like a piece of fruit or vegetable and make an abstraction of it using matte board, basically a geometric fruit. I did a pear and hated every second of it. Ok, not every second of it, I was quite glad when it was done. My second to last project and second favorite was carving a non-representational (looks like nothing) shape out of Alabaster. It was fun to actually use rock carving tools and see it take shape. Mine ended looking like a cross between the lock ness monster, a shiny piece of poop and a twisted part of the male anatomy that isn't always polite to mention in polite circles. (the penis) The final project and the one I have been looking forward to all semester was a found object assignment. Unlike the original found objects like Duchamp's fountain, (which were more 'readymade' but whatever) we had to make something with our found objects. Originally I had planned to make a large hand made out of toys coming out of a toy chest. Since I couldn't find a toy chest, I decided to use an old TV. I've spent more hours on this one than probably the rest combined, and although it's not quite what I had hoped for, it still looks pretty cool. I'll show pictures soon.

Morgan's still behind in his speech but he's always improving, so it could be worse. I couldn't love him any more and he couldn't be cuter, but I'm often sad I can't give him the attention he needs or deserves, as some days I am so exhausted I literally can't move. Hopefully he'll understand that one day and forgive me for at least some things in the way I raised him. He can now say his name "Mowgaine!" but it often sounds like "My name!" and he still speaks about 60% in sign, but as I said, he's always improving and even though he doesn't talk a ton, he gets his point across most of the time and already has quite a developed sense of humor. *tear* I'm so proud.

I'm still listening to books on CD, currently listening to Outliers. The first half was extremely interesting and informative even if I didn't buy everything; so far the second half has been boring to the point of making me afraid of crashing the car, (either because he's boring me to sleep or to break the monotony) and doesn't seem to have any useful information other than Korean people don't make good airline pilots. I'm up for any suggestions on what to read/listen to next if you wanna make some recommendations.

Work is good, we're in our new building and apart from the air conditioning treating us like we're polar bears, it's a good change. I've made peace with the fact that I won't get promoted because of my ever changing school schedule and am trying to teach myself Javascript, which is already much more successful than trying to learn Python.

I'm excited for next week, we'll be spending it in Lake Arrowhead, CA (namesake of the second worst bottled water I've tasted, looking at you, Sparkletts.) with my grandparents and some extended family. It will be our first vacation with Morgan, and other than the 10 hour drive there, it should be awesome. If anyone wants to water our dead plants or feed our invisible dog let us know. We're debating buying a portable DVD player for Morgan to watch while we're in the car for 5+ hours at a time. (By debating, I mean I'm somewhat against it and Tracie's buying it.) My gripe is one of my favorite parts of going on road trips growing up was time with family, singing silly songs, playing road games, etc. While it's hard to do with a delayed speaking 2 year old, I'm afraid it will get us in the habit of watching movies in the car rather than interacting. Thoughts, anyone? Bueller?

We've bought Biggest Loser Challenge for the Wii and in my opinion it's the best workout program we've bought. (We've bought a lot.) We started 2 weeks ago and I've lost 4 pounds so far. It's a cool game, it measures how good you're doing in the exercises and tailors the next day to improve what you were not excelling in the day before. It has hundreds of different exercises and is always different, all good things. The only downside I can think of is the computer generated avatars of the people from the show are creepy/nightmare fuel at best. But hey, you can just tell yourself that devil-faced-Jillian or Bob the Blob will skulk into your room late at night and eat your spleen if you have that piece of chocolate cheesecake.

Other than that life is fairly good, no complaints other than the normal ones, can't believe I'm still in college, can't believe my leg still hurts, blah blah blah. Overall I'm happy and healthy and losing weight! How's your summer going?