Thursday, May 25

Andrew Osenga: The Morning

I've ordered my copy of The Morning. Have you?

Wednesday, May 17

Mother's Day

My dear friends Paula and Tuan welcomed their little (or not so little, at 8 lb., 11 oz.) man-child John Atticus yesterday afternoon. He's a handsome fellow, and all the family are doing well. I made some banana bread for the occasion. Everyone give the new parents your congratulations and read this essay on babies by G.K. Chesterton.

Thursday, May 11

Jane Eyre is everywhere!

Did you know that no fewer than eighteen movie versions of Jane Eyre have been produced? According to IMDB, the first five were silent. A 1934 version saw Jane as a platinum blond, and in 1944 Joan Fontain and Orson Welles took on the roles of Jane and Mr. Rochester. Not much information is available about the 50's and 60's versions, but in 1970, George C. Scott played Rochester. This was followed by a BBC production in 1973.

Now, rumors abound on the discussion boards at Pemberley that this was the best version of all. However, no one seems to have actually seen it. It seems pretty sketchy to me to pin all our hopes on a BBC video from the 70's, but it has recently become available on DVD for the first time. So we shall see.

I have seen the 3 most recent versions: Franco Zeffirelli directed Charlotte Gainsbourg and William Hurt in 1996, and A&E produced a version the next year. Last night after the storm (there's nothing like ominous weather for a Bronte story) we watched the BBC's 1983 production. At first I thought "Oh, no. Four hours of atrocious sound quality and lighting design from The Young and The Restless." But Timothy Dalton and Zelah Clarke both delivered fine performances, and Jane Eyre is such an amazing story that I got caught up in it. At 4 hours, much of the dialogue is kept from the book, which makes me happy. Only occasionally did we say things like (as Jane and St. John walk by a stream), "Oh, no! We're not going to be able to hear them over the waterfall!"

Now I want to read the book again, and I'm looking forward to the new BBC adaptation currently in production. This one features Georgie Henley (Lucy in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe) as young Jane. The press release mentions "the visionary John Eshton." Just who that is, I'm sure I don't know.

Out of 18 adaptations, none seems to have arisen as the accepted definitive version. All the ones I've seen have different strengths and weaknesses. Do you have a favorite? Can there be too much Jane Eyre? The senior boys who teased me when I read the novel for fun in 11th grade would say so. But they were idiots.

Tuesday, May 9

I'm my own grandpa

Time for another New Music Tuesday! Asthmatic Kitty announced a while back that it would release the unused material from Sufjan Stevens's Illinois as The Avalanche: Outtakes and Extras from the Illinois Album! 4 of the tracks have since been leaked on the internet, and can be found various places (one is here).

I tracked them down after I saw unfamiliar track names on Sufjan's page. allows users to download a plugin that records music data from most media players. It catalogues everything and builds a music profile based on your listening habits. Neighbors are generated based on shared musical taste. This is a good system for finding new artists recommendations tailored to your past listening history. I started an account ages ago, didn't use it for a while, and had problems with data submission. Since I'd never liked my username (pseudonym27), I just decided to start over with a new account. It took about 400 tracks to generate neighbors, and I wondered if my old account would show up when they were created. Sure enough, pseudonym27 is HarrietVane's top neighbor. Too bad the only person with my musical taste is me.

So if you have an internet connection and listen to music on your computer, consider giving a try.

Friday, May 5

No, no. Do not be a hero.

Apple has released a new series of ads: Why you'll love a Mac. Watch them here. Some of them are a little stupid, but "Viruses" and "Restarting" made me laugh. Does anyone else think the actors look somewhat like a young Bill Gates and much younger Steve Jobs?

Thursday, May 4

I have no illusions about my looks. I think my face is funny.

On May 4, 1929 Audrey Hepburn was born as Audrey Kathleen Hepburn-Ruston in Brussels, Belgium. As a child during World War II, she assisted the resistance by conducting dance benefit concerts and carrying messages. Although she dreamed of being a dancer, discouragement from teachers directed her to pursue acting. She won an Academy Award for her first starring performance in Roman Holiday and went on to make such films as Sabrina, My Fair Lady, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. After retiring from acting, she became an ambassador for the United Nations Children’s Fund and died in 1993. She would have been 77 today. I am celebrating our shared birthday by practicing good posture, smiling graciously, speaking 6 languages, and cracking eggs with one hand. Or trying to, anyway.

Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?

In a recent survey by National Geographic, 48% of people between the ages of 18-24 surveyed couldn't locate the state of Mississippi on a map. One third of those surveyed couldn't identify Louisiana. Days after reading this, I'm still shocked. Even being smacked by a hurricane hasn't made the rest of the country aware of the South. The article goes on to outline plans to improve education in geography, but I'm not sure that's going to help. In my church's after school tutoring program I've been working with a 6th grader. One day we took a break from the times tables and played with a puzzle map of the United States. It had the different regions in colored blocks, and I thought it would be too easy for someone her age, but she had some trouble with it. I guess I shouldn't be, but I was surprised at how much she didn't know, and even more at how little she cared. As we moved on to labeling a blank map of the U.S., I uncomfortably realized how many states I was unsure of. I get confused in the Midwest, where everything is rectangular, and in the Northeast, where everything is so small and close together.

Although better education is necessary, the root of this problem of ignorance is that we just don't care. Most of us don't see the need to learn about things that (we think) don't concern us. Even as a I sat down to write this post, I had a hard time thinking of anything except myself, which brings to mind questions about the nature of blogs. It's easy to see how the worst become little shrines to self, the same way we tend to skip right to the supplication part of praying and forget the adoration, confession and thanksgiving. Ben and Caleb have been mulling over this some, and it's something I'm still thinking about. Meanwhile, I try not to begin posts with "Today I..."