Beginnings: Sylvia Whitman and Shakespeare and Company

This short film on Sylvia Whitman, owner of the iconic bookstore Shakespeare and Company, is part of a larger series titled “Beginnings,” a project by Chiara Clemente exploring the “early inspirations” of various artists. I came across it a few days back on the New Yorker’s Book Bench site and thought I would share. It’s a wonderful little film. Just the thought of sleeping amongst all of those books as a child…

Enjoy!

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The Most Astounding Fact

Late last night, I received a link to this video from one of my former students, and as my daughter and I have been spending a great deal of time looking at the heavens through our telescope lately, it seemed perfectly appropriate and too good not to pass along.

In this short clip Neil deGrasse Tyson answers the question, “What is the most astounding fact that you can share with us about the Universe?” His answer reminds us that we a part of this magnificent and incredible universe… all of us. It’s the same message that Sagan had when he said that “we are star-stuff,” or when said that “we are a way for the cosmos to know itself. We are creatures of the cosmos and always hunger to know our origins, to understand our connection with the universe.”

When I look up at the night sky, and I know that, yes, we are part of this Universe, we are in this Universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts is that the Universe is in us. When I reflect on that fact, I look up – many people feel small, ’cause they’re small and the Universe is big, but I feel big because my atoms came from those stars.

So as Jack Horkheimer used to say “keep looking up!” And when you do, feel big.

Ricky Gervais on Noah’s Ark

I woke up this morning convinced it was Friday. Needless to say, the realization it was only Wednesday threatened to undo the little bit of sanity that I’ve been holding onto this week, and that was quickly exacerbated by the first new story I came across on my Facebook feed “Asteroid 2011 AG5 My Pose Threat to Earth in 2040.” A long week and threat of annihilation from above? And all of this before coffee? So in an attempt to “rebalance” before facing today (and the rest of the week), I turned to a little comedy.

Here’s a clip from Ricky Gervais’ “Science” show, where he tackles the inconsistencies in Noah’s Ark. It’s very funny stuff (and I typically don’t like stand-up).  I’ve decided to pass it along, in case you, too read about the asteroid or woke up this morning thinking it was Friday.

Enjoy!

Old Photographs

I recently wrote, as part of the Thirty Day Book Challenge, a post about Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, the young-adult novel by Ransom Riggs. It came recommended by my students, and as I wrote in the entry for that day’s challenge (favorite Y/A novel), I really enjoyed the book. My favorite part, however, was not necessarily the narrative, although it was certainly enjoyable. The best part of the book, for me at least, were all the old photographs.

My great-grandmother's engagement photo, taken sometime in the mid-1920s.

I have always loved looking at old photos, especially of people who I don’t know, and thinking of all the possible back-stories that could have led to the moment the photograph was taken. I was lucky enough to grow up in a house with four generations living under the same roof, and when I was young I would spend countless hours lost in my great-grandmother’s photo albums, creating different stories each time I leafed through those pages. There was a certain attractive combination of mystery and nostalgia (even for something I never knew) when I looked at old photographs, that exerted an almost gravitational force. I would really lose myself in my great-grandmother’s old photo albums,  being unconsciously careful not to tear the brittle, black pages, but entirely consumed by all those unknown histories. Now, as I take photos documenting my own family’s life, I often wonder if many years from now someone will be sifting through them, creating their own narratives for us, inventing our pasts, and wondering whatever became of us.

Last night, as I was laying in bed and catching up on some reading, I came across this on LibriCritic; a video created and narrated by Ransom Riggs about his passion for old photographs.

Enjoy!

Stephen Fry Discusses the Joys of Swearing

“Things not being necessary are what makes life interesting…” Absolutely right.

Thank you Madison at  Always Question Authority, for posting this. It was too good to not pass along.

I normally try to stay away from politics here, but this is one issue that really has angry lately, and this morning I came across this post that captures my sentiments just perfectly.

Motley News, Photos and Fun

That is IT! I have HAD it up to my pre-menopausal eyeballs! Ladies, and men who support women and see us as your equals, it is time to get MAD! Or get even MADDER! Time to be vocal, time to stand up for our rights!!! I am going to rant, and I mean rant hard! This may end up being a babble-fest, but damn it, I’ve got to get this off my chest. Or should I say breasts, as I am a woman and freakin’ damn proud of it!

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Ian McEwan Interviewed by Richard Dawkins

Earlier today, I wrote about Ian McEwan’s book Atonement in my “Day 4” post of the Thirty Day Book Challenge. In an attempt to shake off the melancholy that writing that post had inevitably brought on, I went through my archives of saved videos for this one, an interview of McEwan by Dawkins. McEwan is keenly intelligent and deeply insightful as to human nature, characteristics which surely contribute to his wonderful writing, but which also show so beautifully in this interview. When you have a few minutes to spare, sit and watch, you will be glad you did.

Enjoy!