Sunday, November 23, 2014

"Forward, Fifty-Fourth, Forward!"

In class Wednesday and Thursday we watched the 1989 film Glory starring Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes, and Morgan Freeman.  Though it was very gory at some parts and overall quite sad, it was a fantastic movie with really prime actors, focusing on the development of the first all African-American regiment in the Union Army and their final battle against the Confederates at Fort Wagner in 1863.  Broderick was marvelous in his role as Colonel Robert Gould Shaw of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, and I think he did a good job of portraying the character accurately.
Glory, starring Matthew Broderick

However, our discussion after the movie was quite interesting.  The character of Frederick Douglass was shown a couple times in the film as a quiet, seemingly broody character.  I was curious about why he was shown in some scenes, and it turns out that two of Douglass' sons were fighting in that exact infantry in the Civil War.  But what made this information interesting was the fact that his two boys were not obvious characters in the movie.  The script writers chose not to develop characters based on Douglass' sons, instead making Douglass himself appear in a couple scenes.  I think this is because Douglass was such a prominent character in the fight for emancipation.  He was an extremely well-known figure of the 1800s and I believe the producers of Glory added him in merely because he was so well-known.  If the script writers of the film had created characters based on Douglass' sons, I feel like the boys would have had a lesser impact on the meaning of the film as a whole, which is why I believe they chose to put Douglass himself in.

Nevertheless, the movie was really good and I hope to see more like it in the future!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Will Philae Survive?

Photo of Philae (bottom left) on the surface of Comet 67P
A couple days ago as I was driving home from piano, I was listening to the radio and happened to hear that the Philae lander had successfully landed on Comet 67P.  As a person who thinks space is fascinating, the news was like finding out Christmas was coming a month early.  I was so excited!  To think, a spacecraft the size of "...a washing machine...[had] come to rest on the surface of a comet hurtling through space."  How incredible is that?  The European Space Agency, or ESA, began its mission ten years ago until it all culminated last Thursday when Philae landed on the comet.  The Rosetta probe launched Philae into the path of the comet in the hopes that it would land on the comet's surface.  However, the landing "...was far from perfect. In fact, the lander bounced TWICE before setting down in the shadows beside a cliff -- blocking light from Philae's rechargeable solar panels."  After the landing, Philae was still in working condition and "...drilled into the surface, mining precious data about the four-and-a-half billion-year-old comet." But since the harrowing double bounce of the lander on Comet 67P's surface, the ship has lost contact with ESA due to depleted battery reserves.  Since it landed in an area of the comet that doesn't have any sunlight, Philae's solar panels cannot recharge, possibly forcing ESA to abandon its mission.  I really hope it does not come to that and that the lander can recharge its batteries soon, because the photographs it already sent back are amazing!  I'm hoping the mission can continue on safely so we can learn more about our fantastic universe and what else is in it.

Do you think there is still hope for the Philae lander?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

How "Weird Al" Is Going To Save Our Grammar

Over the summer, "Weird Al" released a new parody - but this was no "White and Nerdy."  Instead, the singer-songwriter decided to cover the song "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke and make it a song about grammar entitled "Word Crimes."  I can honestly say that this has got to be one of my favorite songs!  It's not just a hilariously written rant to try and improve the public's grammar - the song is educational as well.  Take this phrase, for example: "I hate these word crimes / Like I could care less / That means you do care! / At least a little..."  I really like that Yankovic is addressing these issues, however silly he has to be in the process.  It's pretty hard to keep my mouth shut when I see different grammatical errors in everyday life, from on the internet to on various essays I read in school.  One simply cannot say "I could care less" in place of "I couldn't care less," or spell "espresso" with an "x".  So I'm very glad a song like this came along, because it is educational as well as catchy.  Hopefully the lyrics to Yankovic's song will get stuck in enough heads to help people edit their common grammatical mistakes, whether it be in essays or news articles or even blog posts.

What do you think about Yankovic's song?  Do you think it is an effective way to clean up our grammar?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Veterans Day

On Sunday I attended a fantastic concert given by the Northshore Concert Band at Northwestern.  They featured the man who sings the national anthem at Blackhawks Games, Jim Cornelison, who sang many patriotic songs for Veterans Day (Tuesday, November 11).  I absolutely adored his tenor vocal range!  He sang with so much passion for our nation.  The many veterans in the audience were recognized when the band played a patriotic medley.  It was composed of different melodies of the United States Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force, and was played beautifully!

When I was looking through the program, I noticed that "Veterans Day" currently does not have an apostrophe between the n and s of "veterans."  I found this intriguing, so I researched it further.  According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, it "...does not include an apostrophe...because it is not a day that 'belongs' to veterans, it is a day for honoring all veterans."  I think this is a very interesting idea they've presented to the public.  I like that they've changed the name of the day, and I think it makes a lot of sense.

What are your opinions on this change?  Do you think the change was necessary?