Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Not so magical...

It seems that the court trial involving Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling and Steven Jan Vander Ark, author of an encyclopedia fan site he hopes to turn into a book, is turning into quite the sob fest. The NY Times writes more on it here, but I'm just going to go straight into my own opinions on this one.

I am a big Harry Potter fan--I think the books are fantastic and as a writer, I've always had a lot of respect for J.K. Rowling, not only due to her immense imagination, but her philanthropic efforts as well. I'm having a tough time rendering a decision on this one, though, because Rowling's protection of her series strikes me as a little selfish. Her explanation for not wanting Vander Ark to go to print with his book is that she intended on publishing a similar encyclopedia and donating her proceeds to charity. I can't help but toss aside that excuse, though. It doesn't really hold water. I've seen intense Harry Potter fanatics in action (I went to get the last novel at Barnes and Noble on the night before..I know, I know) and they are a doting and loyal group. I'm sure that anything Rowling publishes will be eaten up in a second by that crew. Keeping that in mind, there is certainly room for someone like Vander Ark, another devoted fan, to put some more Potter paraphernalia out there. I mean, seriously, J.K.--do you think he's going to make that much of a fortune from it? Don't you think most people are going to prefer simply visiting his website rather than buying the book? That is, unless he plans to take it down, which I don't think is true. Regardless, my point is that this guy is just a fan who wants to reach out to other fans with a venture he's worked hard on for years. Just a few years ago, she even went as far as to publicly endorse his site. 

Bottom line:  I know Harry Potter is your brain child, J.K., but this guy and his book are harmless. Don't bring out the big guns on this one. I have a feeling it will only paint you in an unflattering light.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Who Wants to Be a Journalist

Nope, not the name of a new game show, but close. It seems like television these days is making journalism seem like the ideal field to be in and this blog by James Poniewozik at Time recognizes this new phenomenon.

I love the post that Poniewozik wrote because I, too, have been noticing recently that MTV especially seems to be hyping up journalism like no other. Not only does the network have its favorite "reality" star, Lauren Conrad, interning at Teen Vogue (though the actual work that she does is up for debate), but it also has a brand new reality series called The Paper that chronicles the race for editor-in-chief at a Florida high school.

Here's one line in particular from the piece that popped out at me:

"The lesson, I suppose, is that everyone wants to work in magazines, or newspapers, or TV news. It's just that no one wants to buy, read or watch them—except on a soap opera or a cable reality show. Journalism students, plan your careers accordingly."

For someone who is trying to plan their career accordingly, that sentence is a little daunting, but I also have to admit, incredibly insightful. The field of journalism seems like the perfect place on television, yet it is an area where the future of traditional formats is ambiguous and veterans and rookies alike are finding it hard to keep their heads above water. So, it makes me wonder--are we all writers at heart or is television hypnotizing youth into believing journalism is the "it job"?

Everybody wants to be a journalist, but how many of us actually will be?

Taking Shots at Hillary

I just came across this item on Perez Hilton that provides a video clip from this past weekend of Hillary Clinton taking a shot of Crown Royal whiskey and then chasing it with a beer. ABC News's Political Radar blog also described the incident. I don't know how I missed this one over the last couple days, so I definitely had to bring it up today.

The clip, which is about on the same entertainment level of watching Barack Obama bowl (as in amusing, but is this actually relevant?), features Clinton taking two small sips of the whiskey and then throwing back her head to finish it off. She is later seen drinking beer and apparently she followed up the beer with some pepperoni pizza. Now, why is it that people feel the need to not only record such events, but also do an actual analysis of the video itself? The clip that Perez features shows its hosts doing play by play commentary of it.

I don't feel like I really got anything out of watching it, other than the knowledge that Clinton must like whiskey enough to be able to sip on it for a few minutes. But am I consequentially thinking "more power to her"? No. I mean, if I'm going to base my feelings on a presidential hopeful on their shot-taking technique, I think I know a few people here at school who would get my vote.

This is the first presidential election that I'm allowed to vote in, which makes this essentially my first taste of what goes down on the campaign trail. So far, I have to say that the screen time that is given to the every day actions of the candidates is a little ridiculous. But, then again, I'm focusing mainly on the Democrats. Has anyone uncovered McCain's "just like us" talent or lack thereof yet? I think he needs to step up to the plate. If Barack can make foreign diplomats happy by making their bowling skills look a lot better and Hillary can keep up at the bar, McCain's going to have to throw something onto the table, too.

Below is a CNN video of Clinton's bar-side manner:

Sunday, April 13, 2008

There's no crying...scratch that, cursing, in baseball

Obviously couldn't help but read this story on Yahoo! News about a construction worker who attempted to plant a David Ortiz jersey in the new Yankee stadium in an attempt to give the team a taste of what it's like to have a curse riding against you.

Okay. Now maybe it's because I'm currently residing in Boston (I don't really think so because I do hail from NJ anyway), but I find it very funny how serious everyone interviewed in the article seemed to be taking the incident. I'm pretty sure that unless I missed that scientific breakthrough that proved it possible to "curse" something that this was just a practical joke. I know curses are taken quite seriously in baseball, but seriously, the guy planted a jersey in a construction site--not exactly punishable by law.

Or is it? I found the part of the article that spoke of possible criminal charges coming up against this man to be ridiculous. If they find a way to sue him or something because of this, I'm going to lose a little faith in our legal system.

The absolute best part though is the following selection including a quote from Yankees president, Randy Levine:

"Levine said the shirt would be cleaned up and sent to the Jimmy Fund, a charity affiliated with Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. 'Hopefully the Jimmy Fund will auction it off and we’ll take the act that was a very, very bad act and turn it into something beautiful,' he said."

Maybe, in kindergarten along with learning how to share and cut with scissors, we should also be taught that cursing (and by cursing, of course, I mean that of the magical variety) is very, very bad. Just to prevent such catastrophes.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Long Road to the Olympics

(above: banners hung from the Golden Gate Bridge preceding the torch's arrival in CA.)

According to this story from Yahoo! News, demonstrators have already begun to group together along the relay route in San Francisco that is the Olympic torch's only stop in North America. This latest protest comes soon after Hillary Clinton called on President Bush to not attend the opening ceremonies in Beijing and also as Massachusetts Democratic Congressman Michael Capuano urges for a resolution stating that Bush must boycott unless China makes efforts to end violence in Darfur.

Concerning this matter, I happen to think that Barack Obama gave a very appropriate response in a recent CBS interview. The following selection is taken from this article at CNN:

"On the one hand, I think that what's happened in Tibet; [and] China's support of the Sudanese government in Darfur, is a real problem." But, he added: "I'm hesitant to make the Olympics a site of political protest because I think it's partly about bringing the world together."

I think that Obama's statement was incredibly tactful. The next president is definitely going to have to deal with China and for a candidate to alienate them this early on as Clinton did might not be the best precedent for peaceful relations in the future.

As a side note: I realize that I keep flip-flopping with my political opinions concerning the two Democratic candidates, but I honestly can't help it. I like Obama, but then he makes cocky comments about not being at all interested in the vice presidency. So, then I start to favor Clinton and the whole Bosnia debacle occurs. I think it's fair to say that they are making it a pretty tough choice.

But, back to the issue at hand. The Olympics. I completely agree with Obama that the games are supposed to be "about bringing the world together." That's why, for once, I can relate to the decisions being made by President Bush and his hesitancy against any kind of boycotting. The problem in Darfur is a very serious issue, but I don't think boycotting the Olympics is going to truly get through to China. What it will do is break a long standing tradition that promotes a time of peace and agreement between the countries of the world.

If we want to get through to China, we must do something more substantial than not showing up for a series of sporting events. If we really mean business, I feel that there's so much more that could be done than having Bush stay at home for the opening ceremonies.

The below video captures some of the protesting in San Francisco:

Monday, April 7, 2008

Miley Cyrus continues to take over the world...

I was watching E!News with my roommates yesterday, which, you know, is informative if you you need to know who Britney Spears is eating dinner with or whether or not George Clooney knows what his "Leatherheads" costar John Krasinski's middle name is. Regardless, one of their segments ended up catching my eye for this blog post. It seems that teen (not going to use that popular "tween" word because I think it's ridiculous) phenom Miley Cyrus has her own podcast show on YouTube that she hosts with best friend (BFF in E! language), back-up dancer Mandy Jiroux.

I decided to check out the podcast today, and for someone who missed the whole "Hannah Montana" thing by about seven years, I was actually pleasantly surprised. Neither Cyrus or Jiroux is attempting to be Barbara Walters, but they chat about their lives and friendship in a cutesy, comical way that I can definitely see appealing to young girls. I can also see why Cyrus appeals to parents, as well, with her "we love Jesus!" professions and wholesome use of the word "darn". Also, while she does make silly faces and clown around, she doesn't play young and dumb, but in fact appears older than her 15 years with her deep voice and mature handling of fame.

Is Cyrus, with the help of her best friend, going to take over the world? Well, given that with a little research you can find out that Jiroux is member of a new music group called The Beach Girls (sounds...original?) I'm going to say no, but the twosome do have some serious potential to be the new idols for a generation of young girls. And with their peppy spirits and overall sunny dispositions, I'd say let 'em go for it. At least as long as their idea of fun remains "sleepovers" and they flash peace signs, not body parts, to the paparazzi.

Here's their YouTube site and below is the episode that briefly appeared on E!News in which Cyrus and Jiroux turn the tables on radio show host Ryan Seacrest:

Thursday, April 3, 2008

News Trust

Our in-class project this week with News Trust's Rory O'Connor was a group evaluation of this poorly sourced, disorganized article about the rice and wheat crisis being suffered in Asia and the Middle East. Browsing the site, though, I found a featured video today that represents the information much better and was rated 4 out of 5 stars on the site. This video, I believe, is much better than the article we analyzed in class because it presents the issue from the angle of different countries and different news networks. I also found it much easier to follow along with because the facts are presented in a much more clear format with a nicer style, rather than an article that read like a spread sheet.

As for the story itself, it's kind of embarrassing for me to realize how isolated I am in the life I live here in the United States. I didn't even know of this situation until it was presented to us during the seminar and while I hope that I would've soon learned of it through another venue anyway, I can't be entirely positive. I feel like it's so easy in America to ignore the plights of other nations that are so apart from our lives that we can't even imagine what it would be like to suffer them..far too easy.