I’ll preface by saying that I went in skeptical. I was prepared to stop watching the very instant I became bored. I was just watching one episode, just to see what all of the hullabaloo was about.
Six episodes later, I realize that I’m rather fond of Downton Abbey. I do say, it is even changing how I speak! This fantastic TV series follows an aristocratic family in Britain in the early 20th century. It follows two sides of this aristocratic family, the upstairs, the family, and the downstairs, the wait staff. It’s a generally a quiet show, with the tension coming from the characters, a family that is struggling to navigate struggles among the family, between the family and the staff, among the staff, and between everyone on the estate and the outside world.
All of this occurs as the world is shifting into a new phase, where socialist and feminist rallies are becoming more common. The show does an incredible job of making me love and hate the same people. The daughters, for instance, are all as bratty as they come, but every once in a while they’ll shine with a bit of realness that helps break them out of the childish mold.
I’m not saying that this show is a must watch, but it is gripping, portrays vivid characters, and is all set in an interesting historic time (the first episode opens on the sinking of the Titanic).
In general, public opinion looks down upon the academic world for living in something of a vacuum. At first glance, their work generally seems very stuffy and esoteric. Academic essays often exist within a conversation that is only well known by the scholars of that particular strain of thought or literature.
Picking up an academic article is a daunting task. Words will crop up that you weren’t even aware existed. Obscure references are made. Above all, the article drags on for pages and pages and pages. Following the train of thought is difficult in each paragraph, and tracing the line of thought from opening to closing paragraphs is a feat in and of itself.
For this reason I was wildly pleased to discover about a visiting writer to Butler’s campus by the name of Chuck Klosterman. He brings the acuity of academic writing to the world of pop culture. In the opening chapter of his book “Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs” he recounts the development of cold cereal from its original design as a puritanical sexual-suppressant into the sugary, cartoon-marketed product we know today.
Chuck Klosterman will be reading at the Reilly Room on Thursday, January 31st at 7:30 PM.
Watching TV of course! But not just any TV. FOREIGN TV!!! [Enter triumphant music]. Okay, maybe I’m over-playing this [Ba-dum pssh], but the truth is I’m looking for anyway to channel [Ba-dum pssh] my Italian energies. And I’m not trying to show off [Ba-dum pssh] but if I don’t listen to Italian with the remaining days I have, I’m just going to screen [Ba-dum-…]
I found a fantastic show called “Nero Wolfe.” Set in Rome in 1959, it’s a remake of a series that aired in the 70’s. Wolfe is a big shot detective from America who has returned to Rome. From what I can gather (there aren’t subtitles) he is a grand fan of cooking and orchids, a bit proud, and observant. I didn’t see that last one coming.
It’s fantastic because with TV in Italy, you don’t need to own a TV to watch it. Every state-sponsored show streams live on Rai.it much like America’s Hulu. I’ve got my finger’s crossed that I’ll be able to find it and make it work back in the states, but there’s no guarantee of that. My search for Italian will not be in vain!