pitch perfect hits it out of the park

Pitch Perfect Original Theatrical Soundtrack CoverI’ve never sung in a collegiate a cappella group, and have no idea what it’s really like. That being said, I do have years of choral group experience to draw on for comparison. But, do you need any of that to enjoy the movie Pitch Perfect? No. Just a good sense of humor and an appreciation for modern pop music.

In case you haven’t heard of it, and I’m not surprised if you haven’t, there’s a new movie out called Pitch Perfect. It’s about college a cappella, the first year college experience, and taking risks.

It’s also fiction, so don’t take it too seriously. The boy gets the girl. The troubled youth defeats her inner demons. The underdog wins. Typical movie with a happy ending.

The real thrills came from the music. It was fun! Simply fun! Like the performances we saw on the three years of NBC’s The Sing-Off, there’s nothing quite like watching/hearing a group of singers using only their mouths and voices to perform creative arrangements of pop songs.

Simply put, I enjoyed Pitch Perfect. It was funny without being gross, and touching without being melodramatic. Go see it. It’ll be worth the ticket price.

friggatriskaidekaphobiarelatusphobia

n. a strong aversion to endless news reporting about friggatriskaidekaphobia on Friday the 13th.

First, some definitions:

triskaidekaphobia n. fear or a phobia concerning the number 13. [source]

friggatriskaidekaphobia n. morbid, irrational fear of Friday the 13th. [source]

friggatriskaidekaphobiarelatusphobia n. a strong aversion to endless news reporting about friggatriskaidekaphobia on Friday the 13th. [source]

Yes, I made up that one.

From CBS to the Huffington Post to National Geographic, it seems that everyone in the news reporting world must drag out the same old tired stories about people that have an irrational fear of the number 13 and how Friday the 13th is an even more fearful day than Friday the 7th or Tuesday the 13th. Personally, I wish they’d just shut up about it already.

Friday the 13th is going to occur anywhere from once to three times a year. It’s frequent enough that it’s no longer news, so stop pretending that it is. Tell me something important that’s happening in the world today, rather than wasting my time and yours.

Article first published as Friggatriskaidekaphobiarelatusphobia, Or “Not Another Friday the 13th Story!” on Blogcritics.

reviews on blogcritics: december

Things I reviewed in December.

December was a busy month for me, which left me little time to do much reviewing. I had hoped to get quite a bit done over the holidays, but instead I relaxed with friends and family. I think it was worth it, but it means working a bit harder in January.

A Princeton Christmas: For The Children Of Africa, Vol. 1 & 2

If you’ve heard a country version of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” one too many times this season, or if any other rendition of “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” performed by your grade school child/sibling/cousin/whatever will push you over the edge, then I suggest you pick up either or both volumes of A Princeton Christmas: For The Children Of Africa. With the selections of classic and classical Christmas songs performed by musicians who care more about the music than about cashing in on the season, these are Christmas albums worth owning.

Smart Blonde: Dolly Parton by Stephen Miller

In addition to the fairly comprehensive 60-year overview of Parton’s life, the book contains a selective discography, source notes, a bibliography, and an index – all useful tools for researchers. I particularly enjoyed looking at the 16 pages of plates of photographs of Parton at various points in her life. Unfortunately, only the most dedicated fans are likely to read the book from cover to cover.

LITA 2008: Hi-Fi-Sci-Fi-Library: Technology, Convergence, Content, Community, Ubiquity and Library Futures

Presenter: Michael Porter, WebJunction

Hi-fi is usually associated with audio equipment, but fidelity is very much related to our work: interoperability, compatibility, quality of the document, etc.

When you distill what libraries are and what they do, it comes down to content and community, and this is what libraries will still be in the future. Star Trek’s LCARS stands for Library Computer Access and Retrieval System — even those folks thought that the “library” would be that integrated into everything in the future.

The line between hardware and software is blurring now, particularly with software that can emulate hardware. Costs for technology are decreasing, computing power is increasing, and battery life is getting longer. There are newer and better methods of creating content, and competition for content provision is getting fierce. And, you can find community all over the Internet.

The Google Android phone is actually just software that is open source and can be used by any wireless phone manufacturer, and can be hacked by any coders who want to enhance the functionality. The Bug is hardware that comes in components that can be hooked together to created whatever you need, like a digital camera or portable computer.

Audio test for the video section – Rickroll!

The Time Machine: Computer interface in the library is represented as a human hologram. Also, the reference interview was… a bit rude. Books were represented as being behind preserved glass, and the students carried hand-held pads to download content.

Star Trek IV: Human-computer interaction in the Star Trek future uses voice recognition, but in 1985, that wasn’t possible.

Star Trek IV: Spock is working with three monitors, each presenting different problems. He uses a mixture of voice and tactile inputs to respond.

Futurama: 1000 years in the future, we will still have books and the Dewey Decimal System.

I, Robot: “ban the Internet to keep the libraries open”

Futurama: Will be able to get physical things from the Internet. We already have printers that can print in 3-D!

How William Shatner Changed the World: TNG wanted us to get the notion that we should not be afraid of technology.

Minority Report: Manipulates computer visuals using hi-tech gloves.

How William Shatner Changed the World: Modern-day physicist uses his knowledge to examine the realistic possibilities of Star Trek.

Zardoz: Ring that projects data.

Futurama: Librarians hold the keys to power, but it doesn’t always appear that way.

#17

It has been nearly a month since I last finished a book for pleasure, although I am slowly reading my way through a couple others, and I read and reviewed a book for The Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship (which may or may not be published — I won’t know until the issue is printed ’cause that’s how my editor rolls). Last night, I was feeling bored of my usual procrastination tools, so I decided to do a bit of fluff reading. It had to be short, though, because it was already past midnight, and I needed to get a little sleep eventually.

My selection came from among the stack of old Star Trek books on my to-be-read shelves. These are always good for a light read and stories that (usually) wrap up on the last page. This one was nearly what I wanted. The Starship Trap by Mel Gilden was your typical Trek story, but his characterizations weren’t particularly compelling. Mainly told from Kirk’s perspective, there were several rabbit holes that seemed to go nowhere, in addition to some of Kirk’s behavior being slightly out of character.

The hard science fiction aspect of the Aleph plot device was, at least, interesting. Much more so than the villain’s fixation on 19th and 20th century European and American classic literature or one of the minor character’s obsession with the American Old West. C’mon, Gilden — your ethno-centric roots are showing! For all the aliens and cultures on Star Trek, there is a disproportionate number of stories with references to American or European modern (to the reader) history.

karaoke regulars

Lately I’ve been going to karaoke periodically at the Downtown Capital Ale House. The bar isn’t very smokey, and they have an excellent selection of beers. Aside from the amenities, the karaoke generally features people who can really sing and/or people who are great entertainers, regardless of their musical ability. One of the good singers and entertainers is Pete, who usually follows up an operatic piece with this:

Sorry it’s so short — I just got a new camera and didn’t have anything more than the tiny 32MH MMC for storage. It has since been replaced by a 4GB SDHC and I promise to get a full recording next time.

shhh, kitty! (#12 & #13)

In which I reference reviews of a memoir by a librarian and a book of cat excuses.

I finally finished reading Scott Douglas’ Quiet, Please: Dispatches from a Public Librarian this week, and right after that, Everyday Cat Excuses: Why I Can’t Do What You Want by Molly Brandenburg arrived in the mail. I’ve found that Saturday morning is the best time for me to write, so yesterday I worked on writing the reviews of both, which have now been published on Blogcritics.

Quiet, Please:

I am a university librarian at a small private school, but I still felt the sting of his between the lines reprimand. Librarians sometimes need a wake-up call to remind ourselves of what it is that we are supposed to be doing — providing information and resources to all of our users. So often we place roadblocks to prevent that from happening, and many examples of that are in Douglas’ book. As he shows, these roadblocks mainly stem from a rigid adherence to rules versus considerate compassion and an understanding of the user’s needs.

Everyday Cat Excuses:

The cartoons are simple line drawings of stylized cats in minimalist locations. The captions are in block print, and occasionally there are thought balloons for the cats. It is a cartoonist representation of deadpan humor, and it works well, considering the subject.

#3

I picked up the graphic novel Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Space Between because I’m a fan of the series and because my favorite character, Tasha Yar, is on the cover. (Side note: For Christmas, some good friends of mine gave me a signed photo of Denise Crosby as Tasha Yar. It’s addressed to me and is probably the most thoughtful and unique gift I received this holiday season.) Also, I remembered reading something on Wil Wheaton’s blog about a script he wrote for Star Trek: The Manga, which is totally different, but when I was wandering Barnes & Noble, it seemed like a good idea to pick up this book.

This is a completely different animal from the Japanese manga, and is published by IDW. It’s a collection of good stories and beautiful drawings, but the finale that would tie everything together seems contrived and inconclusive. Will there be a follow-up? I don’t see any indication of that, which is disappointing.

#15

Maker by Michael Jan Friedman

The main story arc of the mini-series has been completed, and most everything has come to a satisfactory conclusion. Unsurprisingly, Friedman takes the events of The Valiant and ties them into this book. He still displays a penchant for old Trek episodes, but for the most part keeps his ideas and creations relatively fresh. Even so, I can’t help but think that the baddie ends up being the oil slick that will eventually kill Tasha Yar. Oh, yeah, SPOILER ALERT: Picard keeps his rank and command, despite the efforts of Admiral McAteer.

I am now officially burnt out on Star Trek books for the time being. They’re like brain candy, and after a while, the craving is sated and it’s time to move on to something different. On the other hand, I’m much closer to my reading goal for the year, if one is concerned with numbers like that. Nine books in ten days is the fastest rate I’ve read since summer breaks when I was in college. It’s also probably a sign that I need to do something about my social life.

#13

Oblivion by Michael Jan Friedman

I promise this blog won’t turn into a “which Star Trek book did Anna read today” blog. I swear! I mean it!

Okay, so, yeah. Another book in Friedman’s Stargazer series. This one is much more memorable and interesting that the last one, so I’m happy about that. It also provided another example of the paradoxes of time travel. In this case, it was that the first time Picard meets Guinan is also the second time she has met Picard. Don’t try to think too hard on that one or you’ll hurt yourself.

One thing I’ve noticed with this series is that like television episodes, the each book focuses on different characters from among the crew, and the focus shifts from book to book. For example, the Asmunds play a large role in the last book, Three, but they are only mentioned and not see or heard from in this one. The nice thing about this is that Friedman has been given the opportunity to develop a large set of characters that are mainly of his own creation, and he’s been able to further their development over time (and a series of books). I think that is when authors get to have fun in the Star Trek universe.