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Within and Without

9 May

great-gatsby-posterIt comes within the first few seconds of the film.

Tobey Maguire, playing Nick Carraway, utters the first lines of The Great Gatsby. Except, they’re not the words as written by F. Scott Fitzgerald. They’re a close approximation — just without the elegance and thematic context.

That’s your first indication that Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of the Fitzgerald classic will be good, but not quite as good as its source material.

But really, how could it be? Gatsby is a book that many (but not everyone) consider the Great American Novel. One that’s been a high-school-reading staple for generations. A novel that seems damned near impossible to adapt in any sort of satisfactory fashion, despite four big-screen attempts (including a 1974 version that starred Robert Redford and Mia Farrow).

So having Nick (and Luhrmann) reset the audience’s expectations right off the bat frees us up to just watch the movie and not be disappointed later.

It’s kind of a smart move, if you think about it. Continue reading

This Blog Post Will Help You Write Better [Infographic]

24 Mar

People who can’t write well are what we in the editorial world call “job security.”

And given that more and more businesses and organizations are getting hip to the value that content can have in telling a brand’s story — and thus, attracting more customers, donations, fans, and other desired endgames — let’s just say there’s plenty of reason to feel secure in my choice of a career these days. Continue reading

2010’s Entertainment Stays with Me

31 Dec

A couple nights ago, I re-watched the series finale of Lost for the first time in about four months.

I’m happy to report that I enjoyed it as much, if not more than, I did when the episode first aired in May, and the last time I watched it back when the DVD was first released in August — and that’s not just because I’m still blown away by how great Evangeline Lilly looked in that black dress.

That’s a relief, because when the finale aired, I was lamenting the end of one of my all-time favorite TV shows.

The last episode of Lost not only lived up to the hype, but it endures and continues to be great. Continue reading

The Facebook Book

8 Sep

I finally finished reading Ben Mezrich’s The Accidental Billionaires last week. I say finally because it only took me, oh, about a year to do so. That’s not indicative of how much I enjoyed the book. Rather, it’s just that the book fell victim to my lack of reading time and my laziness about finding time to read. Actually, this summer, as I got more and more excited about seeing The Social Network, I made the time to read, and I spent a number of Sunday afternoons outside reading the book. And I’m glad I did.

You already know how much I enjoy social media, and how much I’m looking forward to seeing The Social Network, the movie that’s based on The Accidental Billionaires, so I guess it’s no surprise that I enjoyed the book as much as I did. A very quick read (all things considered), it tells the story of the founding of Facebook, and how Mark Zuckerberg single-mindedly pursued his vision of a website where people could connect with each other — in the process ostracizing not only some rich Harvard classmates, but also his best friend. Admittedly, it’s hard to read the book without seeing folks like Jesse Eisenberg and Justin Timberlake in your head, but perhaps that’s because Billionaires is more focused on story and less on character.

For example, we don’t learn much about Zuckerberg due partly to the fact that he didn’t cooperate with the book’s writing, and also because there may not be much to learn. The kid’s pretty focused on his programming for much of the book. (He seems like more of a jerk from the trailer.) On the other hand, Eduardo Saverin engenders much more sympathy, probably because he did help Mezrich and could tell the story from his (biased) point of view. Sean Parker, a public figure since the days of Napster, comes off as a fast-talking svengali — Dr. Landy to Zuckerberg’s Brian Wilson — and I can’t wait to see Timberlake play him on the big screen.

But what Accidental Billionaires lacks in character development, it makes up for in story — and what a great one it is. Billionaires is a real page-turner, one that I should have read much quicker and sooner. That said, I’m glad I did before the movie comes out. If you’re a faster reader than I am (how can you not be?), then I recommend flipping through it before October 1.

I Resolve To …

1 Jan

Like it or not, January and 2010 are both here.

Among other things, that means it’s time to stop looking back and start to look forward.

In most cases, that also means coming up with some resolutions for things to change in the new year.

Generally, I don’t make New Year’s resolutions because I’m never able to keep them.

But this year I’m going to publish my list of resolutions here, and I’m hoping that the public declaration will help me stick to them.

So with that in mind, I resolve to … Continue reading

An Entertaining Year

31 Dec

There was a lot to like this year, entertainment-wise. For example, it was inconsistent and frustrating at times, but when it was great, there were few shows I enjoyed as much as Glee. I didn’t read as many books as I have in years past, but I thought Steve Knopper’s Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age was very good. I picked the winner of American Idol as far back as February. Lily Allen, U2, Jamie Cullum, and John Mayer all released great albums. And of course, there were a bunch of impressive movies too.

As of this writing, I’ve seen 48 of the year’s releases (down from 53 a year ago), and if pressed to rank my favorites (not necessarily the best ones), here are the top 10:
1. Up in the Air
2. In the Loop
3. A Serious Man
4. Up
5. Star Trek
6. Precious
7. The Girlfriend Experience
8. Two Lovers
9. Fantastic Mr. Fox
10. Where the Wild Things Are

What were your favorite movies, albums, TV shows, books, etc.? I’d love to know.

Listen Up

23 Sep

Tuesday was one of those big multimedia purchase days that I have every so often.

The third season of 30 Rock was released on DVD, and David Gray, Mika, and Harry Connick Jr. all released new albums.

When I was at Costco, I noticed that A.J. Jacobs had a new book out, so I grabbed that, and because I hadn’t purchased it yet, I also picked up the third season of Brothers and Sisters on DVD.

A mixed bag of music for sure, and maybe not your tastes, but I always enjoy new stuff from artists I like. (The David Gray album is particularly good. I’ll let you know about the others when I hear more of them.) Continue reading