What a Lark! What a Plunge!

For there she was

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A Former Drug Dealer Gives A Great Defense Of The Liberal Arts

Long live the Liberal Arts!

This is a truly inspiring story of an incredibly valuable and promising public program that provides inmates the opportunity to earn a degree while incarcerated, but that’s not all it is. This is also a spirited defense of the Liberal Arts and I think it’s one that needs to be heard far and wide.

Donnell Hughes certainly had far more to overcome in earning his Liberal Arts degree than I did, but what he and I share is a profound appreciation for the important role that studying the Liberal Arts played in helping us to become well-rounded, engaged, and analytical thinkers. There are few things more valuable than pushing yourself out of your intellectual comfort zone and I for one am not at all surprised to hear that Donnell credits facing the challenges of studying the Liberal Arts with helping him to succeed both academically and personally.

Here’s hoping programs like this will continue to get the public funding they need and will serve as catalysts to reinvigorating America’s commitment to the Liberal Arts.

Filed under liberal arts NPR bard prison initiative

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In constantly complaining that reviewers are either too nice or too mean, we’ve lost sight of the most important aspect of literary criticism: the books themselves.
from Jason Diamond’s “What Do We Even Want from Book Reviews Anymore?” for Flavorwire

Filed under Book Reviews

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What it means to be an expat on Thanksgiving

Today marks the 6th year in a row that I’ve had the good fortune to celebrate Thanksgiving in the UK. From a 20+ potluck feast to feed voracious grad students with a turkey affectionately dubbed Henrietta, to the best British family embracing the tradition even more eagerly than I ever could have anticipated, my Thanksgivings have been marked with all of the greatest aspects of the holiday.

I was thinking yesterday evening as I started to watch my favorite Friends Thanksgiving episode (the one where Rachel attempts a traditional English trifle) about what exactly it is that distinguishes a Thanksgiving celebration outside of the US from a traditional US-based one. Holidays of all types have become so intertwined with consumerism; The John Lewis Christmas advert, the Butterball hotline, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, to name but a few. So, to have the opportunity to celebrate the holiday and everything that it stands for (gratitude, kindness, family, great food) without any of the commercial noise, makes expat Thanksgivings truly special.

So, I’ll be thinking fondly of all of the football, parades, and turkey-themed pop culture going on back home (I love the parade as much as the next Yank, believe me) as I celebrate with the bunch of Brits who have kindly acquiesced to observe the cultural tradition I’m most proud of with me. But, I do hope that everyone is able to take a moment out from the over-stimulating holiday hype and remember that this is an occasion marked by the act of giving thanks for what you have and, so long as your celebration incorporates a bit of that spirit, I have no doubt that your Thanksgiving will be equally as special as mine.

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Filed under Thanksgiving Britain consumerism gratitude turkey family holidays holiday spirit

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If only I’d been in Toronto…

It pretty much looks like 2014 is going to be an amazing year for movies. The TIFF line-up, which I only just delved into this past week, looks phenomenal. I’ve plucked out my top 5 most-anticipated features and included the appetite whetting trailers below.

In no particular order:

#1: August: Osage County

This play is incredible and if the movie is even half as good, we’re in for a treat. Meryl looks to be 100% on form and my only concern is Ewan McGregor’s accent (he can’t do American, why in the name of all that is holy would you ask him to do Oklahoman?), but I’m willing to put that aside.

#2: Dallas Buyers Club

I’m definitely on the side of those morally opposed to the extreme weight loss lengths that Leto and McConaughey went to for this movie, but putting that judgy-judgement aside, this looks like it’s going to be a fantastic film. I’m not entirely convinced by the Jennifer Garner casting decision, but the boys’ Oscar-batey performances and the inspirational true-story outweigh that skepticism, so I’m on board.

#3: Enough Said

I wasn’t actually a Sopranos fan, but this, the last project form the late James Gandolfini, looks genuine, funny and heart-warming, all things I tend to favor in my pop culture, over murder and mafias. Not to mention the fact that Julia Louis Dreyfus is an undeniable treat and I couldn’t be happier that she’s having a comedic career renaissance.

#4: Don Jon

I was wary of this directorial debut from JGL initially, but this totally adorable trailer has sold me, not just on the movie, but on the idea that anything this hipster savant puts his signature on can’t help but be charming and delightful.

#5: Gravity

This one’s a bit of a cop-out because I really wanted to put Love Punch or The Right Kind of Wrong, but neither of them have trailers. I am still excited for this space-based, 3D star-splosion, it just wouldn’t necessarily have made the cut had the other two been legitimate contenders.

Bring on a winter/spring of over-salted popcorn, overpriced tickets, pick-and-mix sweets and far too many previews!

Filed under movies TIFF Gravity Don Jon Enough Said August: Osage County Dallas Buyers Club top 5 list cinema film festival

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DIY isn’t for sissies

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Inspired by the directive from a MoH to come up with a gift idea for a dear friend of mine that would ‘help her to be a good wife’ (barf), we created the above wearable homage. Because, nothing says fealty like Ron Swanson. Not to mention the fact that Nick Offerman’s totally on her list.

So, following the incredibly detailed and simple step-by-step guide on the Just Another Day in Paradise blog (using this striking image), we tackled this little feat of do-it-yourself craftmanship and ended up with two (count ‘em two) pretty freaking fantastic Ron Swanson fan shirts.

Needless to say, this little project made for one very happy hen:

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Filed under Arts and Crafts Ron Swanson T-Shirt Do It Yourself DIY Parks and Recreation Bachelorette Party Gift Ideas Hen Weekend Gift

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Electric Lady

I’ve been waiting for this album to drop for what feels like forever, so the fact that Guardian is streaming it in full a week before its release makes this just the best day.

So, in celebration, I’m popping the music videos for both of the singles off the new album up here:

With a bonus throwback to tightrope, because that songs is a magnificent earworm:

Enjoy!

Filed under Janelle Monae Electric Lady Guardian Album Preview Q.U.E.E.N. Dance Apocalyptic Tightrope UK streaming

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Buy this book

Seriously.

a) It’s by one of the most brilliant people I know

b) It’s written from the perspective of one of the dishiest/most devilish characters in English literary history

c) It’s been glowingly reviewed in Publisher’s Weekly, excerpted on We Love This Book, and can be found on the shelves of any bookshop worth its salt

d) It’s a delightfully fun and whimsical read

If that’s not enough to convince you, then you must be utterly mad.

Filed under good books great books books worth reading books worth buying mr darcy pride and prejudice my friends are the shit

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Have just created an incredibly awesome collection of stripped back versions of some of the moment’s greatest songs from the freshest talent. Just had to share.

Thanks to the folks at the Mahogany Sessions, Black Cab Sessions and Watch Listen Tell for making these little gems.

Filed under music acoustic live music watch listen tell black cab sessions the mahogany sessions two door cinema club laura marling feist bon iver noah and the whale bastille dry the river the staves death cab for cutie fleet foxes lucy rose ben howard OK Go Stornoway

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Women the stars of Superbowl XLVII

From Jhud and Alicia’s patriotic refrains to Beyoncé’s undeniably awesome halftime show - complete with Destiny’s Child mini-reunion - the women of entertainment were out in force at this year’s superbowl.

In honor of Queen B’s triumphant spectacular and the lasting aura of female empowerment it left in its wake, I’ve been listening to this on repeat all day:

Beyonce greatest hits by Sara on Grooveshark

Then, there was my personal favorite female cameo of the Superbowl which, as an expat, I was begrudgingly only made aware of the day after, which is this little gem from funny lady Amy Poehler:

All in all, the hyper-masculine, homoerotic gladiator fest that is American Football was finally made its best self by these fabulous contributions from some of the world’s greatest women.

Filed under superbowl superbowl XLVII Amy Poehler beyonce Destiny's Child jennifer hudson alicia keys women music humor