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1. ‘To the Boys Who May One Day Date My Daughter’ Poem Goes Viral

How would you treat the people who may become a love interest for your children? Jesse Parent penned a cautionary spoken-word poem entitled “To the Boys Who May One Day Date My Daughter.”

The video embedded above features Parent performing his piece at the 2014 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational. The Button Poetry YouTube channel posted it earlier this month and it has since attracted more than 840,000 views.


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2. What’s the secret to high scores on video games?

By Siu-Lan Tan

When playing video games, do you play better with the sound on or off? Every gamer may have an opinion, but what has research shown?

Some studies suggest that music and sound effects enhance performance. For instance, Tafalla (2007) found that male gamers scored almost twice as many points while playing the first-person shooter game DOOM with the sound on (chilling music, weaponfire, screams, and labored breathing) compared to those playing with the sound off.

On the other hand, Yamada et al. (2001) found that people had the fastest lap times in the racing game Ridge Racer V when playing with the music off. Interestingly, 10 different music tracks were tested—and the lowest scores were earned when playing with the soundtrack built into the game (Boom Boom Satellite’s “Fogbound”).

Sometimes the results are more complex. Cassidy and MacDonald (2009) tested people playing a driving game with car sounds effects alone or with car sound effects plus different kinds of music. People playing with music that had been shown to be ‘highly arousing’ (in previous research) drove the fastest—but also made the greatest number of mistakes, such as hitting barriers or knocking over road cones!


In our own research (published 2010 and 2012), my colleagues John Baxa and Matt Spackman and I found that people playing Twilight Princess (Legend of Zelda) performed worst when playing with both music and sound effects off. This game provides the player with rich auditory cues that function as warnings, clues for access points, feedback for correct moves such as successful attacks on enemies, and more. Many of these don’t just “double” what you see on the screen.

As we progressively added more game audio, performance improved. However, surprisingly, our participants performed best when playing with background music playing on a boombox that was unrelated to the game! (This would be like playing a game with the game sound switched off—while your roommate’s music is playing in the background.)

How to boost your game play?

So how do we make sense of these findings? And do they shed light on what distinguishes the top gamers?

A closer look at the individuals in our 2010/2012 study suggested that the majority of our participants—but not all—played better with unrelated background music until they “got the hang of” the game.

We used a game that was new to everybody. As Twilight Princess is a pretty complex adventure role-playing game, the average player seemed to have to focus attention on the visual information when first navigating the game. So music and sound effects built into the game may have interfered with their concentration, as they had to “tune it out” to focus on visual cues to guide their actions at first.


However, our top players (who concluded four days of play in our Videogame Lab with the highest scores) were different. They tended to play better with the game sound on (full music and sound effects coming from both screen and Wiimote) from the very beginning.

The best players seemed to be better at paying attention to and meaningfully integrating both audio and visual cues effectively—thus benefitting from the richest warnings/clues/feedback. While the typical player strongly favored one sense, the best players were truly playing an audio-visual game from the beginning.

So…one secret to being a successful gamer may be to sharpen your attention to audio cues (in sound effects and music) within a game. Paying more attention to and integrating cues to both ear and eye may boost your game!

More than just high scores…

I’m also reminded of what a participant in our study expressed so well: “There’s more to a game than just high scores. It’s also about being transported and immersed in another world, and music and sound effects are what bring you there.”

Indeed, the lush cinematic scores take us through the emotional highs and lows of the journey of a game. Atmospheric tracks immerse us in other worlds. Rhythmic tracks serve as an engine to drive the action, the propulsion of the music making the virtual environment appear deeper and the visual array seem to whizz by faster (motion parallax).

When you have a great soundtrack, music can be the soul of a game.

Postscript: Sonic Mayhem!

Recently I had a chance to speak with composer Sonic Mayhem (Sascha Dikiciyan) when we were both interviewed on video game music by Sami Jarroush for Consequence of Sound. Sonic Mayhem is one of the most sought-after video game music composers today. He scored Quake III Arena, Tron: Evolution, Mass Effect 2 & 3, Borderlands, Space Marine, James Bond: Tomorrow Never Dies, Mortal Kombat vs DC, and a ton of other monumental games.

Click here to view the embedded video.

 Siu-Lan Tan is Associate Professor of Psychology at Kalamazoo College in Michigan, USA. She is primary editor of The Psychology of Music in Multimedia (Oxford University Press 2013), the first book consolidating the research on the role of music in film, television, video games, and computers. A version of this article also appears on Psychology Today. Siu-Lan Tan also has her own blog, What Shapes Film? Read her previous blog posts.

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Image credits: (1) Dubaj, by Danik9000, CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. (2) Dataspel, by Magnus Fröderberg/norden.org, CC-BY-2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

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3. Jack Prelutsky Recites ‘Today is a Very Boring Day’ Poem On ‘Arthur’

To celebrate National Poetry Month, we found a video featuring Jack Prelutsky’s guest appearance on the animated TV series, Arthur. The video embedded above features him delivering a performance of his poem, “Today is a Very Boring Day.”

Prelutsky, the United States’ first children’s poet laureate, has written more than eighty volumes of poetry. Back in April 2012, we sat for an interview with him and asked him for tips about reading poetry aloud; he feels that “a poem is a living organism, and no two are alike. Most poems (perhaps all poems) are read best when read aloud.” What do you think?

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4. The Defamation Act 2013: reflections and reforms

How can a society balance both the freedom of expression, including the freedom of the press, with the individual’s right to reputation? Defamation law seeks to address precisely this delicate equation. Especially in the age of the internet, where it is possible to publish immediately and anonymously, these concerns have become even more pressing and complex. The Defamation Act 2013 has introduced some of the most important changes to this area in recent times, including the defence for honest opinion, new internet-specific reforms protecting internet publishers, and attempts to curb an industry of “libel tourism” in the U.K.

Dr Matthew Collins SC introduces the Defamation Act 2013, and discusses the most important reforms and their subsequent implications.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Dr Matthew Collins SC is a barrister based in Melbourne, Australia. He is a Senior Fellow at the University of Melbourne, a door tenant at One Brick Court chambers in London, and the author of Collins On Defamation.

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5. A publisher before wartime

This year marks the centenary of the start of the First World War. This cataclysmic event in world history has been examined by many scholars with different angles over the intervening years, but the academic community hopes to gain fresh insight into the struggles of war on this anniversary. From newly digitized diaries to never-before-seen artifacts, new stories of the war are taking shape.

Oxford University Press has its own war story. With publishing dating back to the fifteenth century, the Press also felt the effects of the war: the rupture of a strong community and culture in the Jericho neighborhood of Oxford, the broken lives of the men and women of the Press who enlisted, the shadow of the Press still operating on the homefront in Oxford, and the disastrous return home — for those who did. We present the first in a series of videos with Oxford University Press Archivist Martin Maw, examining how life at the Press irrevocably changed between 1914-1919. Here he sets the stage for life in Jericho before the outbreak of war.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Martin Maw is an Archivist at Oxford University Press. The Archive Department also manages the Press Museum at OUP in Oxford. Read his previous blog posts: “Jericho: The community at the heart of Oxford University Press” and “Sir Robert Dudley, midwife of Oxford University Press.”

In the centenary of World War I, Oxford University Press has gathered together resources to offer depth, detail, perspective, and insight. There are specially commissioned contributions from historians and writers, free resources from OUP’s world-class research projects, and exclusive archival materials. Visit the First World War Centenary Hub each month for fresh updates.

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6. Bunny Pancakes Video

II Cor. 5:17
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: 
old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

 Several years ago, I created a bunny pancakes tutorial and I thought it would be fun to do a video to go with it.  Here is also the original post with step by step instructions and the video is below.

We're having a bunny tea party at our house today....should be fun! 

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7. Check out the preview for “Quest For The Ore Crystals”

Check out the new video trailer for Quest For The Ore Crystals. This will be part of a larger video as I launch the crowdfunding project for The Tall Tales of Talbot Toluca. Make sure to go to the web site and sign-up and I’ll send out an email and let you know when we’re ready!

And here’s a different kind of trailer… the kids and myself just goofing around.

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8. Fin & Bow Creates a ‘Games of Thrones’ & Disney Mash-Up Video

What would happen if some of Disney’s most famous protagonists were transported to Westeros?

The Fin & Bow production team have created a mash-up parody called “A Magical Red Wedding.” The video embedded above features a hilarious re-telling of “The Red Wedding” episode from the Game of Thrones HBO series.

Here’s more from Bustle: “In this makeover, Cinderella, Prince Charming, Ariel, and Eric step in for the Starks, and Cinderella’s evil stepmother and a slew of other murderous Disney characters including Merida, who, with her bow and arrow and red hair brings to mind Ygritte more than anything, start slitting throats while your favorite animated friends run for cover…It’s a bit gruesome for Disney, but on the flip side, it’s rather light for Westeros.”


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9. Voluntary movement shown in complete paralysis

By Sam Maddox

Scientists, using epidural stimulation over the lumbar spinal cord, have enabled four completely paralyzed men to voluntarily move their legs.

Kent Stephenson is one of the four. This stimulation experiment wasn’t supposed to work for him; he is what clinicians call an AIS A. This is a measure of disability, formally the American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale (AIS), that rates impairment from A (no motor or sensory function) to D (ability to walk). Kent, a mid-thoracic paraplegic, has what is considered a “complete” injury. Kent’s doctors told him it was a waste of time to pursue any therapy; per the dogma, A’s don’t get better. Well, the young Texan, who was hurt five years ago on a dirt bike, didn’t get the message. He likes to cite a fortune cookie he got shortly after his injury. It said, “Everything’s impossible until somebody does it.”

Kent had the stimulator implanted. A few days later they turned it on. No one expected it to do anything. Researchers were only looking for a baseline measurement to compare Kent’s function later, after several weeks of intense Locomotor Training (guided weight supported stepping on a treadmill).

Kent tells the story: “The first time they turned the stim on I felt a charge in my back. I was told to try pull my left leg back, something I had tried without success many times before. So I called it out loud, ‘left leg up.’ This time it worked! My leg pulled back toward me. I was in shock; my mom was in the room and was in tears. Words can’t describe the feeling – it was an overwhelming happiness.”

Click here to view the embedded video.

Kent was the second of the four. Rob Summers, three years ago, was the first to pioneer the concept that complete doesn’t mean what it used to; epidural stimulation could make the spinal cord more receptive to nerve signals coming from the senses or the brain. Seven months after he was implanted with a stimulator unit, he initiated voluntary movements of his legs. The other two subjects, Andrew Meas and Dustin Shillcox, also started moving within days of the implant. Summers probably could have initiated movement early on too, but the research team didn’t test for it – they had no reason to believe he could do it.

Here’s lead author of the Brain paper, Claudia Angeli, Ph.D., to explain. She is a senior researcher at the Human Locomotor Research Center at Frazier Rehab Institute, and an assistant professor at the University of Louisville’s Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center (KSCIRC).

“First, in the Lancet paper [regarding the first stimulation subject] it was just Rob, just one person. Yes, it was proof of concept, yes it went great. But now we are talking about four subjects. That’s four out of four showing functional recovery. What’s more, two of the four are categorized as AIS A – no motor or sensory function below the lesion level, with no chance for any recovery.”

The other two patients are classified AIS B: no motor function below the lesion but with some sensory function.

Left to right is Andrew Meas, Dustin Shillcox, Kent Stephenson and Rob Summers, the first four to undergo task-specific training with epidural stimulation at the Human Locomotion Research Center laboratory, Frazier Rehab Institute, as part of the University of Louisville's Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center , Louisville Kentucky.

Left to right is Andrew Meas, Dustin Shillcox, Kent Stephenson, and Rob Summers, the first four to undergo task-specific training with epidural stimulation at the Human Locomotion Research Center laboratory, Frazier Rehab Institute, as part of the University of Louisville’s Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center, Louisville Kentucky.

How does this work? The epidural stimulation supplies a continuous electrical current, at varying frequencies and intensities, to specific locations on the lower part of the spinal cord. A 16-electrode spinal cord stimulator, commonly used to treat pain, is implanted over the spinal cord at T11-L1, a location that corresponds to the complex neural networks that control movement of the hips, knees, ankles and feet.

The leg muscles are not stimulated directly. The epidural stimulation apparently awakens circuitry in the spinal cord. “In simple terms,” says Dr. Angeli, “we are raising the excitability or gain of the spinal cord. Let’s say you have an intent to move. That signal originates in the brain and gets through to the spinal cord but the cord is not aware enough or excited enough to do anything with that intent. When we add the stimulation, the spinal cord networks are made a little more aware, so when the intent comes through, the cord is able to interpret it and movement becomes voluntary.”

The theory behind spinal cord stimulation is that these spinal cord networks are smart: they can remember and they can learn. The current work builds on decades of research. Susan Harkema, Ph.D. (University of Louisville) and V. Reggie Edgerton, Ph.D. (University of California Los Angeles) have led the effort. Dr. Harkema is Principal Investigator for the epidural stimulation projects and Director of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation’s NeuroRecovery Network. Dr. Edgerton, a member of the Reeve Foundation’s International Research Consortium on Spinal Cord Injury, is a basic scientist whose work attempts to understand human locomotion and how the brain and spinal cord adapt and change in response to various interventions, including activity, training and stimulation.

Dr. Harkema says plans are in place to implant eight more patients in the next year. Four will mirror the first group, matched by age, level of injury, time since injury, etc. (Gender, by the way, is not a factor; men with spinal cord injury happen to outnumber women four to one.) Another four patients will be stimulated specifically to control heart rate and blood pressure. Dr. Harkema said one of the first four had issues with low blood pressure. When the stimulator was on, though, the pressure was raised, even without contracting any muscles. They want to assess that sort of autonomic recovery in greater detail.

The research team is aware that epidural stimulation can enhance autonomic function in paralyzed subjects; indeed, the first four subjects report improved temperature control, plus better bowel, bladder, and sexual function. Data is being collected to present that part of the stimulation story in another paper.

Does this mean anyone with a spinal cord injury with an implanted stimulator can move? Not necessarily, says Dr. Harkema. “But what I want people to know about this study is that we need to change our attitude about what a complete injury is, challenge the dogma that in AIS A patients there is no possibility of recovery. The view is that it is not a worthwhile investment to offer even intense rehabilitation to people with complete injuries. They’re not going to recover. But the message now is that there is a tremendous amount available. These individuals have potential for recoveries that will improve their health and quality of life. Now we have a fundamentally new strategy that can dramatically affect recovery of voluntary movement in those with complete paralysis, even years after injury.”

Sam Maddox reports on neuroscience research for the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. He lives in Southern California. The paper about this research, ‘Altering spinal cord excitability enables voluntary movements after chronic complete paralysis in humans‘, appears in Brain: A Journal of Neuroscience.

Brain provides researchers and clinicians with the finest original contributions in neurology. Leading studies in neurological science are balanced with practical clinical articles. Its citation rating is one of the highest for neurology journals, and it consistently publishes papers that become classics in the field.

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Image credit: Video and image both used with permission from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.

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10. Does the English Language Drive You Crazy?

Does the English language drive you crazy?

Gregory Brown and Mitchell Moffit, the co-creators of the AsapSCIENCE YouTube channel, have written a poem called “English Is Crazy!” The two collaborators posted a poetry video on their second channel, AsapTHOUGHT, featuring Moffit as the narrator.

The Huffington Post lists some of the reasons why English can cause frustration; “grammar rules can be inconsistent, spelling nonsensical and don’t get us started on plurals, pronouns and pronunciation. Tough, cough, bough and dough. Enough said.” What do you think?

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11. Samuel L. Jackson Performs ‘Boy Meets World’-Themed Slam Poetry

Just in time for National Poetry Month, Django Unchained actor Samuel L. Jackson recently appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and performed slam poetry about the 90′s American sitcom, Boy Meets World.

In the video embedded above, Jackson makes references to the Corey-Topanga love story, the Corey-Shawn bromance, and Eric’s infamous “Feeny” call.

According to Mental Floss, Fallon later asked Jackson whether or not he was a fan of Boy Meets World; Jackson admitted that it’s probable he had never even “seen one episode.”


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12. Book Trailer Premiere: The Cosmobiography of Sun Ra by Chris Raschka

Cosmobiography 272x300 Book Trailer Premiere: The Cosmobiography of Sun Ra by Chris RaschkaWell, I am pleased to announce today’s Book Trailer Premiere, particularly since it is unlike every other book trailer I’ve ever put up.  Credit that to the subject matter, really.  Chris Raschka is one of those rare author/illustrators that can get away with presenting the hard subjects, particularly when it comes to jazz legends.  Didn’t think anyone could do something with Thelonious Monk?  Wrong.  Felt like John Coltrane was bit out of a 5-year-old’s reach?  Think again.  But the subject of today’s video is more ambitious by far.  If, like myself, you were not aware of Sun Ra, prepare to be schooled thoroughly.  It’s The Cosmobiography of Sun Ra: The Sound of Joy is Enlightening and it’s hitting shelves May 13th.  Get just a sliver of a taste here:

As Kirkus called it, “Unequivocally stellar.”  Thanks to the folks at Candlewick for the premiere.

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13. Call for Digital Poetry Submissions: SEE IT! READ IT! HEAR IT!


DIGITAL POETRY is defined as poetry creatively expressed through digital manipulations of visual and/or audio renderings of text in audio, fixed image, animation/video without sound, or animation/video with sound. The goal is to explore new media literature that comes to life in digital realms beyond the simple written word and spoken recitations. Electro-acoustic text/sound music and recorded sound poetry are also forms of digital poetry.

Submissions must be received by July 1, 2014. There is no submission fee.

Poets, Composers, and Artists whose works are accepted for the BYTE Gallery digital kiosk will be showcased in the gallery for the entire fall of 2014.



1) Digital Poetry-- expressed as a stereo audio recording

2) Digital Poetry-- expressed as a still image or artwork

3) Digital Poetry-- expressed as an animation or video- without sound

4) Digital Poetry-- expressed as an animation or video- with sound



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14. Call for Submissions: I AM: TWENTY-SEVEN

I AM: TWENTY-SEVEN is a yearlong curated art project consisting of twenty-seven pieces about the age of twenty-seven. All pieces will be posted and archived on the project's site. This project is curated by Rachel Ann Brickner, writer and Managing Editor of Weave Magazine.

Deadline: JUNE 1st, 2014
(Submissions will be considered on a rolling basis every three months.)


Submit anything. Really! Anything. A story (one sentence or many pages long), video, song, comic, photo essay, painting, collage, memoir, poem, riddle, infographic, et cetera. As long as it somehow incorporates the experience of being twenty-seven (explicitly or not). You can be of any age to submit. The more diverse, the better.

Send your submissions to:

twentysevenzineATgmailDOTcom (Change AT to @ and DOT to . )

Questions and ideas for the project can be found here.

More about I AM: TWENTY-SEVEN on our website.

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15. Pirate Art Pancake Tutorial

New art pancake video up about loving you enemies :)

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16. ‘SNL’ Star Ana Gasteyer Interviews Writer Ann Brashares

Writer Ann Brashares sat down with Saturday Night Live alum Ana Gasteyer to discuss her new young adult novel, The Here and Now.

Throughout the interview, the comedic actress insists that the new book is the latest installment of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series. In the video embedded above, Brashares explains that “pants” do not play a significant role in this “forbidden romance.”


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17. David Tennant Reads ‘Sonnet 126′ by William Shakespeare

Happy National Poetry Month! To kick off this month-long celebration, we’ve dug up a video featuring Dr. Who actor David Tennant reading William Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 126.”

Tennant delivered this performance for Touch Press’ 2012 iPad app, “The Sonnets.” Additionally, Tennant recorded recitations of sonnets #12, #18, and #71 for this app. What’s your favorite Shakespearean sonnet?

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18. Rabbleboy causes trouble with The Beige Planet Podcast

In a rare moment in time, I was able to chat with the guys from The Beige Planet Podcast.

A while back, I had the opportunity to chat with Paul Pate regarding his graphic novel Detective Perez Welcome To Rust City. His tenacity and perseverance in completing the book really inspired me.

Since that time, Paul and his long time friend Alfred Laurence has started a fresh new podcast and I was lucky enough to be a guest. We talked about the trials and tribulations of being an artist, a little bit about my film making experience, creating comics and what I’m currently working on. Hopefully, you’ll have fun listening to our wacky conversation and find a little bit of inspiration for your own journey.

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19. Hamstring Strengthening Video For Runners: Keep those hammies happy!

Alright, Runners, time to tell you the brutal honesty about your hamstrings: they’re plotting against you! They’re weak, they’re tight, and they’re cranky! Okay, okay, I’m speaking in the general, so your personal hamstrings (if you’re ALREADY taking care of them properly), may not be secretly plotting away an injury for you in the future…but it’s an ongoing offense we must play.

Hamstrings rank among one of the TOP injuries, or underlying issue for an injury for runners. The reason? Partially our lifestyles with too much sitting and also because runners are just prone to tight and weak hamstrings. The solution? Be proactive!

I’ve put together a video demonstrating an exercise routine targeting those weak hamstrings (and glutes). It hinges on the bridge exercise, doing them as single leg bridges. Aim to do these three times a week after your run, it will literally take you a minute or two, so no excuses!

3 Way Single Leg Bridges
10 raises each leg
3 Different distances from glutes

Avoiding an injury that keeps you from running is an ongoing effort, being proactive in the stretching and core work is your two-pronged approach! These nice exercises are one part of the puzzle and the other is doing the stretching.

Do yourself and the rest of the world a favor and keep being proactive…an injured runner on the streets is NOT someone I’d like to cross. ;)

Fun announcement! If you follow me on Twitter you may have caught wind of #coreandcake parties that have been going on. It’s simple, do you core and you get your cake! Runners are human, we work well off of bribes. ;)

I’d like to take this party to the blog world! SOOO…I’m having a #coreandcake party NEXT Friday, March 28th and EVERYONE’S invited!! Here’s what’s going down and how you can take part:

1) I’ll be posting a core routine I’m currently loving, followed of course by talk of cake!
2) BLOGGERS: This will be a link-up sort of deal, so if you email me: cait@caitchock.com with an RSVP that you’ll also be talking core and/or cake on your blog we’ll kindly link up.
3) Social Media: If you’re tweeting, FB’ing, or Instagraming on that Friday let’s bust out that #coreandcake hashtag and give me a shout-out…cuz, let’s be honest, I can’t get enough of seeing core and cake taking over the net. :)

So this is your INVITE!! :)

1) What is one of the ways you proactively take care of your hamstrings?
2) What is one of your known weak spots as a runner that you give extra care to?
3) What’s your favorite kind of cake?
Ummm….chocolate….duh! ;)

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20. 35 years: the best of C-SPAN

By Kate Pais

The Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network, better known as C-SPAN, has been airing the day-to-day activities of the US Congress since 1979 — 35 years as of this week. Now across three different channels, C-SPAN has provided the American public easy access to politics in action, and created a new level of transparency in public life. Inspired by Tom Allen’s Dangerous Convictions: What’s Really Wrong with the U.S. Congress, let’s take a look at the most notable events C-SPAN has captured on film to be remembered and reviewed.

Jimmy Carter opposes the invasion of Afghanistan

President Carter denounces the Soviet Union and their choice to invade Afghanistan in January 1980 as a warning to others in Southwest Asia.

The start of Reaganomics

Known for his economic influence, this is Ronald Reagan’s first address to both houses in February 1981.

Bill Clinton: “I did not sleep with that woman”

Slipped into a speech on children’s education in January 1998, this clip shows President Clinton addressing allegations about his affair with Monica Lewinsky for the first time.

Al Gore’s Concession Speech

After the long and controversial count during the 2000 Presidential Election, candidate and former vice-president Al Gore concedes to George Bush on December 13, 2000.

George W. Bush addresses 9/11

President Bush speaks to a joint session of Congress on 20 September 2001 about the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon nine days prior.

Kate Pais joined Oxford University Press in April 2013 and works as an online marketing coordinator.

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21. Video Sunday: And to think . . .

And here I thought that Dr. Seuss films began with The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T and those short animated specials and ended with stuff like the CGI fests we’re seeing in theaters practically every year.  Not so!  Good old stop-animation also has had a hand in Seuss’s silver screen career.  Interestingly, this is the only film version (that I know of) of And To Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street.

And To Think I Saw it on Mulberry Street by CarlStallingEnthusiast

Fun Fact: Beatrix Potter was a fan of the book.  Thanks so much to Phil Nel for the link!

So the official trailer for The Giver movie came out.  Like so:

Two words: Ruh-roh.  Or is that one word?  Hm.  By the way, 100 points to the first person who makes a mock version of this video with the title “The Giver Tree”.  I will honestly and truly send you a cookie if you make that thing.  Scout’s honor.

So a couple weeks ago we were watching the Oscars and I was happy to find that all the nominated songs were interesting and good.  But I’ll confess to you that the one that interested me the least was the U2 song.  I’m just not a U2 girl.  Joshua Tree lovers, pelt me with your stones at will.  But wait!  Hold fast your flying rocks because I just discovered a fascinating fact.  Actually someone that I’ve now forgotten (someone at a dinner, I suspect) shared this with me very recently.  If you watch the music video for the U2 song “Ordinary Love” you will find that all the writing in it (and there’s a lot) looks a bit familiar.  Know why?  Bloody blooming Oliver Jeffers did it!  I kid you not!  Wowie-zowie.  An honest-to-goodness kidlit connection.

This man may have the most famous handwriting in the business today.

Now I’m about to go all adorable on you.  Or rather, these kindergartners are.  You may recall that a year or so ago I presented a video created by Arturo Avina and his kindergarten class from LAUSD’s Olympic Primary Center.  They had adapted Miss Nelson Is Missing and it was a great look at how you can combine digital technology, reading skills, and literature into a project.  Well, Arturo wrote me recently to let me know the sequel was out.  You betcha.  It’s Miss Nelson Is Back.  Check it out:

Says Arturo, “At first, I was skeptical about how this class would tackle it because they did not come in as high academically as last year’s class.  However, a beautiful thing happened.  When my students saw what last year’s class did, they wanted to do the same, and as a result, they stepped up to the plate and succeeded…in spades.  I am particularly proud of this class because they did not start off in third base like last year’s class.  They started off at home plate and hit a home run.The reaction to our movie has been enthusiastically positive by all who have watched it so far. At this point, several parents and teachers have contacted me to let me know that their kids absolutely LOVE it!   It is still my hope that teachers, parents, and kids are entertained by our efforts and hopefully encouraged to blend more dramatic arts into literacy activities. We also hope that this can be used a resource in the classroom.  We poured an incredible about of work and love into our project, and it is with great joy and pride that we present it to the world.”

Thank you for sharing this with us, Arturo!  You have some seriously amazing actors on your hands.  Hollywood, take note.

And since we were already talking about the Oscar nominated songs earlier, might as well play this.  It’s the fun little video all your 10-year-old daughters have already seen featuring Idina Menzel, Jimmy Fallon and The Roots.  Just cuz.

By the way, is it fair to say that Idina Menzel has spent most of her working career the idol of 12-year-old girls?  Other folks too, but to go from Rent to Wicked to Frozen . . . well, it’s impressive.


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22. Expressing ourselves about expressiveness in music

By Dorottya Fabian, Renee Timmers, and Emery Schubert

Picture the scene. You’re sitting in a box at the Royal Albert Hall, or the Vienna Musikverein. You have purchased tickets to hear Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony performed by an internationally-renowned orchestra, and they are playing it in a way that sounds wonderful. But what makes this such a powerful performance?

What is expressiveness? Let’s start by looking at these images …

Guilty_FaceSmiling Face






Do you notice what they all have in common?  They are all displaying different kinds of expression.  Just as facial expressions communicate different information to us, musicians playing the same piece will still produce slight differences. You can’t hear the musicians in these pictures, but they may both be playing the same piece in a way that is not exactly the same as the other group of musicians.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Click here to view the embedded video.

People say music is expressive. They usually say it is expressive of emotions and therein lays its power. But is this true of all music in all cultures and historical periods? Does it matter how it’s performed and how it’s experienced?

Philosophers, psychologists, and musicians have been pondering these questions for centuries. Over the last hundred years psychologists have contributed much to developing an empirically-based understanding of the mechanisms at play. The distinction between what may be “in the music” and what the performer “adds” became a fundamental assumption leading to various theories and definitions of “expressiveness in music performance.”

Ever since the pioneering work of Carl Seashore in the 1930s psychologists have been studying individual performers to find out “what it is that a performer brings to a piece of music.” So what is it that One Direction does when covering “All You Need Is Love” that makes their performance expressive? Are they more expressive than the Beatles are in this clip? Is it the song that is expressive or does it matter how it is performed?

For those educated in western classical music, Seashore’s working definition of what is expressiveness seems reasonable: You are listening to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and different orchestras and conductors make it sound more or less dramatic, uplifting, emotional, riveting. But if we pause for a moment and think of all those ever listening to this great icon of western musical culture, is it reasonable to believe that they know what is “the music”, i.e. Beethoven’s composition, and what the performers “bring to it”? What about an audience who have never experienced the piece before? How do they know what is “the music” and what is the contribution of the musician? This dilemma is even more obvious in other styles, like jazz, traditional, popular, or world music.

One, wordier definition of expressiveness in music performance is “the micro-deviations from the notated dictates of the score a performer executes while playing.” So, if the notes of a score are played literally, the piece will sound dull and inexpressive — like an old MIDI notation player, or a student playing precisely in time with a metronome. The result is a “neutral” performance, like the computer image of the face above.  But is this an acceptable definition?  What about musicians who do not use a music score – improvisers, people who play music by ear?

Recent empirical work has shown that listeners tend to be unable to say if the expressiveness they are hearing originates from the composition or the performance. Studying the experience of professional musicians highlights how differently they approach their performance. For them the score is never just notes on paper but already music imagined as sound. This imagination depends on their socio-cultural, historical position, personality, and education. They use metaphors and heuristics, short-cuts that package up accumulated knowledge and speeds up problem solving in preparation for and during performance. They rarely speak of specific emotions to be conveyed but conceive of music as “emotional,” “dramatic,” “uplifting,” or “turbulent,” for instance.

This is true of music and musicians of other artistic traditions, like classical Hindustani music. According to the dhrupad singer Uday Bhawalkar, “Music without emotion is not music at all, but we cannot name this emotion, these emotions, we cannot specify them.” The sentiments or emotions that we encounter in daily life become transformed into aesthetic experiences in theatre.

Empirical work in the area of jazz and popular music shows the importance of rhythm, vocal gestures, persona, and the role of technology to create meaning through sound effects. One fascinating finding regarding the culturally construed nature of what is “expressiveness in music performance” comes from a study of the Bedzan Pygmies. They live in very small communities with 40-60 kilometres distance between them and come together only for large festivities like weddings and funerals. When singing together in intricate polyphony, each singer varies his or her line at will while maintaining the overall identity of the song. For them “expressiveness” increased when they could detect more voices in the ensemble.

Expressiveness is an important part of music performance and perception, and although we have an intuitive understanding of what expressiveness in music means, as it turns out expressiveness in music performance seems too malleable and slippery to be defined in a singular way. So what is more important is to formulate the perspective of future research and discussion, to reorient our approach and reconstruct the object of investigation.

Dorottya Fabian, Renee Timmers, and Emery Schubert, are all researchers and lecturers in music psychology. Their book Expressiveness in Music Performance offers a variety of approaches to talk meaningfully about expressiveness and music within a cross-cultural context, providing disciplinary overviews, discussion papers and case studies to show that debates of importance across the humanities and social sciences can be conducted in a richly evidence-based manner.

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Image credits: (1) Guilty Face, by Barry Langdon-Lassagne, CC-BY-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. (2) Your Smiling Face, by Sibelle77, CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. (3) Изображение-Портреты-Михайлова Елена Владимировна, by участница Udacha, CC-BY-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. (4) Addys Mercedes Kult 02, by Schorle, CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. (5) Adam Romański 1, by Konrad Wawrzkiewicz (Shannon5), CC-BY-SA-2.5 via Wikimedia Commons. (6) One Direction Glasgow, by Fiona McKinlay, CC-BY-SA-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons. (7) The Beatles in America, by United Press International, photographer unknown, Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

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23. Toasty TV Creates ‘Games of Thrones’ & ‘House of Cards’ Mash-Up Video

What happens when you cross the Game of Thrones HBO series with the House of Cards Netflix series?

Toasty TV, a YouTube channel curated by Quiznos, has created a mash-up parody called “House of Thrones.” The hilarious video embedded above features the wicked politician Frank Underwood wrecking havoc all over the seven kingdoms of Westeros.

According to Mashable, “the video is remarkably subtle for an advertisement, using just a sly hint of product placement towards the end. Game of Thrones and House of Cards fans alike can otherwise sit back and enjoy tons of nerdy references, clever puns and a spot-on Kevin Spacey impression.” What do you think? (via Refinery29)

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24. Is our language too masculine?

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As Women’s History month comes to a close, we wanted to share an important debate that Simon Blackburn, author of Ethics: A Very Short Introduction, participated in for IAITV. Joined by Scottish feminist linguist Deborah Cameron and feminist psychologist Carol Gilligan, they look at what we can do to build a more feminist language.

Is our language inherently male? Some believe that the way we think and the words we use to describe our thoughts are masculine. Looking at our language from multiple points of views – lexically, philosophically, and historically – the debate asks if it’s possible for us to create a gender neutral language. If speech is fundamentally gendered, is there something else we can do to combat the way it is used so that it is no longer – at times – sexist?

What do you think can be done to build a more feminist language?

Simon Blackburn is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge. Until recently he was Edna J. Doury Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina, and from 1969 to 1999 a Fellow and Tutor at Pembroke College, Oxford. He is the author of Ethics: A Very Short Introduction.

The Very Short Introductions (VSI) series combines a small format with authoritative analysis and big ideas for hundreds of topic areas. Written by our expert authors, these books can change the way you think about the things that interest you and are the perfect introduction to subjects you previously knew nothing about. Grow your knowledge with OUPblog and the VSI series every Friday, subscribe to Very Short Introductions articles on the OUPblog via email or RSS, and like Very Short Introductions on Facebook.

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25. Video Sunday: Football players, grateful artists, and tambourine players galore

Time to up the bar. Years ago N.D. Wilson made what has to be the most ambitious book trailer created by an author I ever did see (it was for The Ashtown Burials and if you missed it you can watch it here and see what I mean). Now, after copious Florida research trips where he shot this footage, Wilson returns. Think the narrator on this is Morgan Freeman? Think again. It’s Wilson himself and this is a beautiful glimpse of the book. Tell me you don’t want to read it right now now now.

Boys of Blur | Official Trailer from Gorilla Poet Productions on Vimeo.

Thanks to Heather Wilson for the heads up.

In other book trailer news, Dan Santat released his picture book trailer for Beekle.  It’s sort of Santat by way of Shaun Tan.

I regret that I don’t remember where I was first alerted to this.  It’s just the cast members of the Harry Potter films talking about their favorite lines, but boy it’s fun.

In other news, I am shocked an appalled that I didn’t know about this Aaron Becker Caldecott thank you film until I was alerted to it by 100 Scope Notes.  This is brilliant!  But then, would you expect anything less?

Thanks to Travis Jonker for the link.

This next video is on the serious side of things.  There was a recent benefit at NYPL for something called an Ideas Box.  The concept is relatively simple.  Librarians Without Borders paired with UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) to create these little boxes that adapt into furniture and contain internet hook-ups, tablets, books, and more. Two videos give you a sense of what I’m talking about.  The first shows how you put them together.

The second shows their practical use:

And here’s the official explanation:

Since 2012, Libraries without Borders has partnered with UNHCR and creator Philippe Starck to create an innovate device that will deliver access to information for people emerging from humanitarian crises. Refugees have immediate pressing needs for food, shelter, health care and clothing. Once these priorities have been met, they need a way to forge social ties, rebuild an informed civil society, and develop resilience for the struggles that lay ahead. Too often, the tools needed for this vital work are lacking.  The Ideas Box fills this void, giving people who have been thrown into chaos the means to read, write, create and communicate. By providing access to the Internet, books, educational resources, theatre, and films, the Ideas Box empowers individuals and communities to begin to reconstruct what has been lost.


Finally, the off-topic video was going to be that Christopher Walken supercut of him dancing in all his films.  Unfortunately it looks like it’s been removed.  So instead, I’ll just give you a video that will lead you to waste your ENTIRE DAY.  Do you know Postmodern Jukebox?  If not, do NOT click on that link or you’ll be listening to clever recuts of popular songs all the ding dang day long.  Fitting that I show their video of 2013′s hits then:

Just sorta makes me happy.  I’m working on a theory that the tambourine players is a being from another world.


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