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One year more. It's going fast. Am I taking advantage of every opportunity? You betcha.

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Archive: December 2012

The Blizzard

Christmas came and went as quickly as it always does, and what were we left with? A blizzard, it would seem. Now I am left with a whole lot of free time, and not a lot to do. Sleeping gets old.

So far this morning I’ve read about the history of wine (becoming an effete is no small feat, and requires training…plus the book was a gift to me dad, and since he can’t get to it yet, I thought I’d review the book first). I also watched “La Strada,” a heart-wrenching movie from Federico Fellino that left me yearning for those “good ol’ days” when movies were made with intellect and heart. And only one car blew up, which would be way below the average of today’s movies.

If you’re wondering what to do during this time of the year, read my article here, that gives the youth of today a new way to get into the spirit of winter break without partaking in old-timey traditions. Who even knows how to roast chestnuts on an open fire? Doesn’t that sound dangerous?

Winter Break: 2012 Edition

We all experience it. After the initial joy of returning home to family and good food and old friends, boredom sets in. How can a young adult push off this ennui? Here are a few modern day tips that don’t involve figgy pudding or chestnuts on an open fire.

My parents' idea of a fun-filled evening. Aren't they adorable?

1) Instagram Nature Walk: It’s snowing, or just snowed, and it’s beautiful outside. You know who would really appreciate this? All of your friends on facebook and twitter! Take your iPhone with you on a walk, and after a few hours of editing (would this snow look more hip in sepia or black-and-white?) the world will rejoice at your artistry.

2) Spotify Playlist: Music is the best way to make any dull activity exciting. Washing all of the dishes from Christmas dinner? Throw on some good tunes and it’s a party! Spotify lets you select the classics (Greensleeves never gets old) or some new favorites prized for their novelty (Straight No Chaser’s “Twelve Days of Christmas” would be my pick).

3) Post-Christmas Shopping: Since most people receive some sort of gift card as a present, that means they have to run that errand to find the gift their “loved one” wasn’t able to pick out (She likes shoes, I think. Or clothes. Groceries? Here’s a Target gift card!) Just be careful on the roads, they’re slick.

Winter Break

Falling off of the cliff of productivity, I find myself on the first week of break with little to do that is pressing. However, there is a host of things that must get done, if I take the time to look ahead. How do I plan on balancing all of this? And by “this” I mean the desire to do things and also to not do things.

First, I plan on finding that I-don’t-really-want-to-do-things Andrew and throw his metaphorical self out the metaphorical window. Then I will get down to work. But that still leaves the question of what exactly must be done. It can be divided into two sections: that or school and that not for school.

For school, I must work on my honors thesis project. This will involve committing hours and hours of time to writing. I also plan on finishing “The Handmaid’s Tale,” a riveting novel by the esteemed Margaret Atwood who visited Butler earlier this year. After I read that I will probably go back to writing. And follow that up with more writing.

And then there’s the issue of applying for post-graduate programs. I have applied to a program to teach English in Japan. There are similar programs in Spain and South Korea. So why not? I don’t have anything holding me back (except family, friends, and the comforts of the familiar)…so I’m just gonna go for it!

The Hobbit: An Expected Pleasure

I’ll preface this review by saying that I am a long time fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s work, from when I was a small tyke trudging through his LOTR books and hardly comprehending a word of it. Therefore, my review is horrendously biased, but I will do everything in my power to give credence to both the strong and weak sections of the movie.

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Critique: Lets start with the *SPOILER ALERT* white orc. This character doesn’t exist in the original novel, but he is understandable addition to drive a single novel into a movie trilogy. Turns out viewers like bad guys. Whoddathunkit. The problem lies in his animation. While in “The Two Towers” the orc leaders were horrific in all of their humanness and makeup, the change to a CGI bad guy turns the movie more into a clip from World of Warcraft than it does a rendition of a Tolkien classic.

Commendation: Glad I got that out of the way. Now onto the good parts. I can honestly say that this is the first novel to have more content than the book. Let me repeat: MORE content. We see a bit more development of the dwarves, what it must like to be of a people without a place in the world to rest. While the movie didn’t end at that important of a point in the book, the writers managed to turn it into a pleasing emotional catharsis where Bilbo is accepted as a member of this homeless gang. Tears may have been shed.

I give this movie 3 out of 3 hobbits standing on each others shoulders. In other words, 1 out of 1 Butler basketball player. In other words, go see it!

People Tall and Short

It was late last week when Butler played IU for one of the greatest upsets of my time here at Butler for our basketball program. I haven’t been this excited for basketball since our Final Four runs two and three years ago. Few except the most stalwart and stubborn fans really expected the win. The best part of the game? Honestly hard to pick. Was it when Stigall kept going for threes? Or when three of our players fouled out in overtime? Or when Barlow took his sweet time getting the game-changing two points?

No, obviously the best part was every moment that I avoided a heart attack. I’ll say that I personally am surprised to have survived the whole ordeal. How did I manage it? I’ll just go ahead and give you the secret. It wasn’t through fortitude or patience or belief in the Butler program. I was looking forward to a viewing of “The Hobbit” after the game, and knew that I couldn’t waste time dying when so much more fun was to be had.

I saw the movie, which I review here, and then went to eat at Pei Wei, a first time experience for me. It was very interesting. Think Panda Express meets A Mongolian grill, all in the setting of a PF Chang’s. YouTube Preview Image

I Won!

I didn’t even think it possible. But I did what so many people fail to do on a daily basis. I accomplished a goal I’ve been gunning for for four years. I won a raffle.

It was at flip the script, a finals week tradition at Butler University where the faculty cooks breakfast food for hardworking students at nine at night. We come we devour, and we stay only because we know there’s a raffle. And here’s how it happened.

I couldn’t hear what names were being called up. “I’m going up there guys. Who’s with me?” No one responded, all averted their eyes. What friends. I went up there alone, friendless in a cold, unforgiving world. And then President Danko drew out a piece of paper. Wait a minute, I thought, that looks bent exactly like I bent my slip. “Andrew Erlandson!” He called out. It was fate. And here’s what I have to show for it.

A Flag! Or an elaborate bib. I haven't decided which yet.

Finished, FINALly

And there we have it. I’m…done. I didn’t ever think it would actually go this far, you know. I’m not saying that I didn’t see the end as a possibility, I just didn’t see it as an eminent reality. But is that really my fault?

I’ve lived for years under the assumption that school is what we’re supposed to do and that’s what we’re going to do until we’ve done it. Who ever saw the “done it” as a thing of the past? I wasn’t aware that they were serious when they said it. I thought we would just find some other way to keep going, so that although its usefulness has outlived its course, we could still stick with what’s comfortable.

And so as I finished my penultimate finals with the submission of a paper on Dante, I turn to Youtube for solace, and find that they have exactly what I’m looking for.

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Almost there!

I’ve arrived at my final assignment of the semester! It’s a paper written for the my independent study on The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri. Sounds fun right?

I officially just reached my five page mark, meaning that I am (more or less) half way there. To give myself that extra little boost, I’m posting this crowd-pleasing anthem of Queen.

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We can do it! A bond has formed between everyone on campus. People are complaining together (which makes it easier?…), sharing videos on facebook to enhance every moment of every study break (examples here and here), and we motivate each other so that when someone comes back from a final and wants nothing more than to take a nap, we stop them, and bring them out to study some more.

Fix College: The Real Problem is the Student

Disclaimer: All opinions in this post are those of the author, and in no way represent the opinions of Butler University.

In my last article, I examined two sides of the debate caused by this article. Those are the two sides, each of which may have some reason for being unhappy in how they were treated and how they were represented in an online publication. Here I will walk you though my personal opinion on the issue.

It’s unreasonable to ask someone to cast off who they are, whether it be your gender, race, nationality, or sexual orientation. These are the lens through which we experience the world, and are an intrinsic part of our being.

However, claiming that “I don’t think I could ever write from a black woman’s point of view because I’ve never been a black woman” is an eloquent way of saying that all people are incapable of attempting to empathize with each other. Creative Writing majors such as myself are never told “You have to write from your point of view in regards to race, gender, nationality, and sexual orientation.” Writing from the perspective of another person is naturally more difficult, but is possible with research, reflection, and an effort in understanding others.

The most disturbing part of the article is the student’s reaction to the class. Today, the journalism industry is going through incredible hardship in adapting to a new landscape of digital publishing and failing newspapers. This is an industry in need of adaptable, creative individuals. This student, in facing a challenging situation in class, decided to quit rather than stick with it and try and understand it. I only wonder what will happen when he joins the workforce in such a tumultuous time. Perhaps he would benefit from a few more classes in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Fixing College?

Disclaimer: All opinions in this post are those of the author, and in no way represent the opinions of Butler University.

Recently an article was published on the website The College Fix attacking a professor in the Political Science department of Butler. It’s been the talk of the town among students and professors. This blog post is committed to understanding and critiquing each side of the polemic situation.

The Student’s Side:

I’ve been in the class where the white male’s are attacked relentlessly on all sides. It isn’t fun, and in my (obviously unbiased) opinion is misguided at times. Of course it comes from a good place of protecting the female and minority racial portions of our society from centuries of a societal inequality that is ingrained in all of us to some extent. However, when the protecting turns into attack, it becomes an eye-for-an-eye situation that leaves no one satisfied or more understanding for it. If the student perceived this was the atmosphere of the class, he was right in being upset.

The Professor’s Side:

Judging by the discrepancies in the article’s title and the actual words used in the syllabus, the situation is being blown out of proportion. The article pronounces to the virtual heavens that students are “told to disavow ‘American-ness, maleness, whiteness, heterosexuality.’” “Disavow” was a well chosen verb that paints the picture of a demanding view point imposed upon the students and is meant to incite anger in readers. The actual quote asks the students “to write and speak in a way that does not assume American-ness, maleness, whiteness, heterosexuality, middle-class status, etc. to be the norm.” Nothing is an attack in this statement, and rather reasonable for a political science class.

See my analysis of the situation HERE.