Officially a Master of Science!

Edinburgh Expeditions

This Wednesday, I graduated from the University of Edinburgh. I’m now officially a Master of Science in Design and Digital Media, which means that I’m now signing everything with ‘MSc’ at the end of my name.

The ceremony took place inside McEwan Hall, one of the ancient buildings that forms part of the University’s main campus.

I looked like a wizard, dressed entirely in black, with a black robe. The only splash of colour was a green and white hood–I guess I’m a Slytherin? Pity, I always thought that I was a Ravenclaw (though my Gryffindor sister will say that the Slytherin is probably more accurate).

Anyways, Edinburgh has a really cool tradition. We get hit on the head with a cap made out of John Knox’s trousers and including a bit that has gone to space. It really beats the traditional handshake, and I think speeds things up a bit. Mum, being a medical professional, was concerned about spreading head lice.

It was a lovely day, a lovely ceremony, and a good opportunity to see my friends once again.


Book Challenge: Bricks, Melville, Shamelessness

What's On the Bookshelf?

Day 16: Longest book you’ve read

I’m actually not sure what the longest book I’ve read is. Its either one of the Robert Jordan Wheel of Time books (I’ve only read the first three or four) or Victor Hugo’s epic Les Miserables.

I read an unabridged translation of Les Miserables back in December/January. It took me six days (that’s a LOT of reading). I started a reread (different unabridged translation) back in May. I’m still reading it on and off, but as you can see, I’ve read a lot this year.

Let me just say, this book weighs a ton. When I bought my paperback copy, the cashier asked if I wanted a truck to bring it home in. I replied that mortar would be all I needed–I was going to use it as the cornerstone to my house.
Day 17: Shortest book you’ve read

A children’s book, probably. I’m sure I read some 24 pagers in my childhood, but I can’t recall any of them. So, shortest adult book that I’ve read? Herman Melville’s Billy Budd. I hated every minute of it, and was extremely happy it was only 90 pages long.
Day 18: Book you’re most embarrassed to say you like

I have no shame whatsoever in books I read. Roald Dahl’s children’s books? Love them. Harry Potter? My generation, baby. Tolkien? Lewis? Lloyd Alexander? No shame.

I take great pride in making the librarians look shiftily at the books I check out. The more atypical, the better. Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Les Miserables, Band of Brothers? I relish in the shocked expressions. Clearly I look like the sort of girl who would be reading scores of chick lit and other, more typical young woman sorts.

Harry Potter and the Disappointing End

General Geekiness

Here there be spoilers.

I wanted so badly to love Deathly Hallows, Part II. I really did. My friends all proclaimed their love for the movie, have seen it multiple times, and assured me that I, too, would love the movie.

I didn’t.

Yes, there were portions of the film that I really enjoyed–the Pensieve sequence being one, Helena Bonham Carter as Hermione Polyjuiced to be Bellatrix, and the visual effects (the dragon in Bellatrix’s Gringott’s vault, Voldemort turning to ash) but I felt the film was lacking.

Firstly, there was no true beginning. It just sort of started. I recognize that it was the second part of a book. But the structure was missing. As such, I felt it was very anti-climatic.

Within its structural issues, I felt that there was little sense of character. The Golden Trio, Neville, Snape, yes, but everyone else felt like cameos and nothing more than that. I was waiting for Trewlaney’s moment of awesome, when she chucks crystal balls at Death Eaters. Nonexistant. Fred’s death failed to have any emotional impact on me. Hagrid was…weak. Boring. He didn’t seem phased with Harry’s “death.”

Secondly, its too damn long. I love battle scenes as much as the next girl, but seriously. These are too long. I don’t want to watch a two hour battle scene. Its part of the reason why I don’t like The Two Towers all that much. Honestly, though, not enough happens to make it a compelling battle scene. There is no story to it, only fighting. The quest for the final horcruxes feels almost secondary, it detracts from the fighting, which has taken precedence.

Finally, it was unnecessary. I can hear people screaming, “what? why? we need to know how it ends!” Well, as a film, it was unnecessary. Deathly Hallows Part I could have been forty-five minutes longer, cut down on the ‘and we’re walking’ portions of the movie, and the final battle could easily have been included. Edited, of course. I gladly would have sat through a three hour Deathly Hallows, so long as it was well paced and engaging. The thing that hurts the most is that it could have been a fabulous single movie, the pieces are all there, but two mediocre halves do not a good movie make.

Potter, Potter Everywhere…

Nerds Have More Fun

Well, as the entire world knows, Part 1 of the Seventh Harry Potter movie was released over two weeks ago.

Here’s one Potter fan who hasn’t seen it.


Well, its a pretty simple reason. I was in New York City opening weekend, and like hell am I going to see a movie when I’m being a tourist. That, and Thanksgiving was way too short. Not enough hours to accomplish what I needed to.

So Potter slipped by the wayside. It’s been over two weeks since it was released…

Now, I love movies. I could watch them and discuss them and digest them til the cows came home (and probably after). I enjoy going to the movies.  But I can’t see spending $11 to be entertained for a couple of hours. I’d rather go out with friends, or even stay in with friends.

And at this point, pretty much everyone on the face of the planet has seen it who wants to. I don’t like going to the movies alone (because I am a movie commentator. Feel free to chuck popcorn at me. I need to make comments).

So…eh. I might. I might not. I’m kind of Pottered out. ABC Family is having yet ANOTHER Harry Potter weekend. Harry’s all over the city on posters and such. Too much Potter.

I really want to see HP7 part 1 because of the Three Brothers portion. I’ve heard its amazing.

AW Blog Chain: Guilty as Charged

General Geekiness

Claire Crossdale and Fresh Hell are tough acts to follow, with delightfully diverse guilty pleasure (I’m guilty of a few of theirs as well). After much contemplation (and many “guilty” pleasures later) I determined the one that, while I’m not particularly embarrassed to enjoy, this is suitably ridiculous:

I love typeface.  It isn’t a simple “oh, that font is pretty.” It borders on obsession (much like footnotes).

My love of typeface isn’t one like an adoration of a band, author or actor. I’m terrible at remember what specific typefaces look like (even the all obvious Helvetica. Put that next to a similar sans serif and I won’t be able to tell which is which). But there’s a certain beauty to typeface. Words sometimes just look right in High Tower Text (my current header’s font) or the ever-present Helvetica.

Typeface, of course, adds to the flavor of the book, whether we recognize it or not. Patrick O’Brian books are printed with a close set, old-timey serif. It feels right, meshes with our understanding of the subject matter so perfectly that it becomes second nature. The reader expects that typeface, they know the feel of the words and almost what to expect because of it. Again, the story just wouldn’t have the same flow if printed in a sleek font like Helvetica.

Harry Potter is set in Adobe Garamond, which the little blurb at the back of the books informs us is “a typeface based on the sixteenth century type designs of Claude Garamond, redrawn by Robert Slimbach in 1989.” The font has a whimsical but stately quality to it, one that fits with the feel of the book.

And then, we have the book I’m currently reading, With Wings Like Eagles. It’s an engaging, well-written book, but the typeface is just so darned interesting that I get distracted. Even while reading about how pilots managed to escape from burning cockpits, I find I need to reread the paragraphs because I get hung up on the letter “A” (both upper and lower cases) when I catch a glimpse of it out of the corner of my eye. There are two main problems: a) I actually really enjoy reading this book and b) the publisher wasn’t as nice as Scholastic and didn’t include any information about the typeface.

Up next:
Fokker Aeroplanbau
capes and corsets

For the Love of Harry

Nerds Have More Fun

I remember the day my mom bought Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I was in fourth grade and Harry Potter-mania had yet to hit. “I found this in the clearance section of Marshall’s,” my mom said. “It sounds pretty interesting.”

We devoured the first book and scaled the bookshelves at a now-defunct bookstore to get Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets the day it was released.

Fast forward ten years.

Harry Potter is now, of course, incredibly popular and profitable, with movies, books (and controversy surrounding the books), and a new exhibition of artifacts from the movie, which I saw at the Museum of Science Boston.

It was awesome.

I’m a movie junkie (as well as a Harry Potter fan), so I considered it my duty to go to the exhibit. I’ve enjoyed previous movie exhibits at the MoS (there was an awesome Lord of the Rings one, and an okay Star Wars one). Though I still think that the LotR one was the best, I thoroughly enjoyed the HP one. There were costumes and props from the movies with fun activities throughout (like harvesting Mandrakes and throwing Quaffles into hoops).

As a GD junkie, one of my favorite parts of the exhibit was looking at the textbooks. It was really quite cool, seeing the different covers up close. I wanted to flip through the books, but that would never happen, given that they were encased in glass and arrest is not on my to-do-list.

I also really liked looking at the wands. We never really get a good look at them on screen, just flashes of them here and there. Being able to study Voldemort’s, Dumbledore’s and McGonagall’s wands was quite cool. Each has character hidden until you get a really close look at them.

The various portions of the exhibit were set up like different parts of Hogwarts. There was the Gryffindor Common Room (and dormitories), Potions and Defense Against the Dark Arts classrooms, the Great Hall, the Quidditch pitch, Hagrid’s Hut and the Forbidden Forest. The details were extraordinary.

All said, I had a great time, and decided to reread Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, only to realize halfway through that the parts I really wanted to read were in The Half-Blood Prince. Oops.

The exhibit is one that I recommend when it comes to a city near you (I imagine that a stop in NYC will occur).

I also was sorted into, of all houses, Ravenclaw. Or Slytherin. The Sorting Hat was a little confused. 😀