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September 2011 (131 posts)
One woman mourns the end of soap operas (specifically All My Children), using all the qualities that we love about soap opera—melodrama and unrequited love.
"How many things could I have? I'm black, then lesbian. I can't be the poster child for everything." Comedian Wanda Sykes goes public with her breast cancer story—and advises to have yourself checked.
A 200-year-old overdue apology for a Native American tribe's stolen canoe.
Napping like the Greeks and seven other health tips from around the globe.
The Life Lifter: 62-year-old Diane Nyad will retry swimming from Florida to Cuba, and jumps back in the water tonight!
As a little kid, my official babysitter in the afternoon was Sesame Street, and, like many in my generation, I remember watching the nice, curly-haired lady (Linda) try to teach all of us at home sign language. That, shamefully, is where my understanding of deaf culture begins and ends.
Today, however, is the last day of Deaf Awareness week, during which Encyclopedia Britannica blog has published a fascinating summary on the etiquette of deaf culture. For example, one rule: "Although your mother always told you not to stare, in Deaf culture staring is necessary. Breaking eye-contact while a person is signing to you is incredibly rude because it shows a lack of interest...It is the equivalent of plugging your ears."
For more unexpected dos and don'ts, check out the full article. Or brush up on your sign language with this vintage 1970s clip featuring Big Bird and Linda, who not only writes a letter to her mother (instead of texting) and buys a hat for five dollars (instead of $40) but also gently reminds us what it's like to live without speaking out loud or having others understand your language—a little unnecessarily difficult but, like most things, doable if you refuse if you refuse to give up.
One mother's moving story about raising her deaf daughter
A classic, don't-miss novel with a deaf hero
If your dream Friday night involves curling up on the sofa with a DVD of The Birds, you're sure to enjoy Hitch, this short, gorgeously animated "recipe book" deconstructing the ingredients that make Alfred Hitchcock's movies so great. But you don't have to love the master of suspense to appreciate the idea behind the video: in any given work of art, "there is no secret ingredient, it's the right combination of various techniques." Whether that means meting out "cooking time" to allow "flavors to develop" or finding the perfect "cold (preferably blonde) dish" to serve alongside something hot, the elements needed for a compelling story are available to everyone. And mixing them together? Well that's a skill anyone can master with proper practice. (Via Brainpickings)
Tell us: What are the key ingredients in your favorite movie?
7 ways to spark your creativity
How to tell your story
What makes a good writer?
Every Thing On It, a lovely new book of 137 never-before-seen poems and drawings by Shel Silverstein. To celebrate its release, we're giving thanks for the 1973 animated adaptation of The Giving Tree narrated by Shel himself, as well as sharing some well-deserved gratitude for:
The youngest woman (er...girl) winning the LPGA tour at age 16.
The discovery of the artist who left these mysterious, fantastical paper sculptures all around Edinburgh, Scotland.
More than a half a century before Whip It, the women’s roller derby team of 1948.
Because he wasn't sexy enough playing rugged, wry Dr. House, Hugh Laurie's release of a blues album.
Google Books reuniting a WWII vet with the Jewish family that protected him.
What has internet access, wheels, and a parking spot by the church? LA's cool new plan to fight STDs.
"He would give all his heart to you before he gave any to himself." In the wake of a bullied teenager's suicide, here's how you can help other kids.
Twenty-nine years ago, a man named Scott Fahlman introduced an invention that changed the world. The smiley emoticon.
Fahlman had noticed "lengthy diatribes" on message boards from people taking offense at misunderstood posts, so he proposed the use of a smiley— :-) —to indicate a joke or sarcasm, and the smiley's fraternal twin— :-( —to indicate something to be taken seriously. MSNBC has a fascimile of the (very funny) original smiley-introducing exchange in context.
As we now all know, Fahlman's innovation spawned a whole complex universe of emoticons (how does my mother-in-law know how to text me a heart? It really looks like a heart!). Fahlman's smiley has probably clarified millions of the uninflected jokes that boing around the Internet every day. But what I love most about this is the "of course!" of it all, how Fahlman created something so brilliantly simple that it seems inevitable, as if it must never have been invented at all. Which is what makes it such a smart innovation. There must be a word for that phenomenon. Or perhaps an emoticon.
Other brilliantly simple innovations:
A simple idea, inspired by her kids' shoes, turned this mom into a millionaire.
The evolution of an everyday object.
I'm a sucker for artifacts--yellowed yearbooks that end up in thrift stores, family photos sold at stoop sales, letters meant for someone else long ago. I once found an abandoned bag of sticker-covered notebooks from an aspiring model/yoga instructor on a Manhattan street and was beside myself with excitement, though I had that weird (and slightly guilty) feeling of having some responsibility to do something with them. Not that I ever did. So it was with a particular shiver that I discovered Paul Lukas' new "Permanent Record" series for Slate.
In 1996 when Lukas found 400 report cards from the Manhattan Trade School for Girls he didn't know quite what to do with them. The cards are reproduced on the site--fascinating documents that include photos of the students and their teachers' notes on everything from the girls' performance in school to their appearance and personal habits. (For example: "Walks around as if she were dying—absolutely pepless.") He writes, "It all reads like the storyboard for a movie or a play—the rough outline of a young woman's life, from her mid-teens through early adulthood, with the later chapters still to be written."
Recently Lukas started tracking down the ladies on the cards, contacting their families to see what became of them. The results of this sleuthing are being recorded on Slate and on Lukas's blog Permanent Record. There's something highly addictive about browsing through the annotated cards and photos, and reading about Lukas's encounters with the children of these women is strangely, deeply moving. These milliners and seamstresses probably never would have imagined that the mundane details of their lives--stunning attendance records, spotty job histories--would be so fascinating to us, here, today.
Maybe it's because we leave so much evidence of ourselves all over the place. Our career trajectories, families, even our teeniest likes and dislikes are plastered all over the internet. In such a world, there's something wonderful about the thought of being hard to find—and painstakingly tracked down.
Read more about finding treasures from the past:
Found: a 53-year-old love letter.
Peek inside Oprah's journals (she said it's okay).
Should you keep private letters and journals around?
Walker told the Associated Press that her reason to go digital was due to "a sense, lacking often in publishing, of connectedness with the author, of all of us being in this adventure together, wanting it to be the best."
For those of you who need a Walker fix immediately, check out this GalleyCat video of Walker talking about her life's work or just go hug all your old tear-stained paperback versions—and read them one last, wonderful time (cry, sniffle).