Monthly Archives: May 2009

Intellectual reading… from Facebook?

Lots of people have their own ideas on how best to find their next novel to read.  Some keep lists of books they intend to check out at a later date.  Some rate past purchases and books they’ve read on Amazon in hopes that it will refine the site’s suggestions.  Others scour book club lists or the New York Times Best Sellers.  Many use GoodReads, a social networking site whose purpose is to categorize and rate books, and share your views and recommendations with your friends.  In a similar and less Web 2.0-savvy way, others go by word of mouth of friends and family.

I use all of these tactics and then some.  But do you know what has worked best for me? Taking note of my English major Facebook friends’ tastes.

Think about it: who better to ask for book recommendations than those who willingly read 15+ books a semester for their classes (or at least picked a major that required such)?  English majors read and analyze the greatest, most worldly works in literature and in many cases take upwards of ten classes dedicated to their study.  It isn’t illogical to think the kid on your hall who wrote a 23-page paper analyzing the works of Kafka might know a thing or two about a good book.  Wouldn’t you rather navigate the overwhelming ocean of books with a seasoned oarsman as opposed to a first-time paddler?

While I don’t keep a running list of every book an English major mentions on their Facebook profile, I long ago noticed that many cited the same ones.  I figure, these people have read hundreds of books, and likely hundreds more than most of the population.  If they think something is the best, they’re probably drawing from a larger, more comprehensive sample than little ol’ me.

So what books do my English major friends’ profiles display over and over again?  Here’s a short list:

Are all English majors’ recommendations amazing?  Of course not.  But scouring profiles for suggestions has lead me to some quality reads in the past (anything Vonnegut, Prep, gods in Alabama, etc.). As a result, I decided this week to pick up Everything is Illuminated.  Though I’m only on page 15, I’m gushing about the author’s writing style already.  A quick peek at my favorite line in the book already (page 4):

“My stomach is very strong, although it presently lacks muscles. Father is a fat man, and Mother is also.”

Hilarious!  The narrator says so much about his personality and appearance in so few, but perfectly orchestrated words.  Wonderful.

Thanks English majors for keeping your Facebook profiles updated, or at least your “Favorite Books” section.  I’ve been secretly hitting y’all up for suggestions for years!

What books do you see again and again on your friends’ Facebook profiles? How do they compare to that of your English major friends? Have you used them for other suggestions, like to find a movie or new TV show to watch?

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Orange or Big Red for Paulus?

After weeks of deliberation, Duke basketball alum Greg Paulus will unveil his plans for his college football future at a press conference today at 10 a.m. EST.  He’s announced that he will definitely be playing football, but where?  Nebraska or Syracuse?

According to ESPN, Paulus is expected to choose the ‘Cuse.  It would appear that he wouldn’t be getting the starting quarterback job at either destination though, as junior Zac Lee should lead the Huskers and redshirt freshman Ryan Nassib, the Orange, this fall.

But with a 3-9 record a year ago, Syracuse can probably use all the help they can get.  And though Nebraska finished 9-4 last season, it has an inexperienced quarterback staff.  Both could certainly benefit from having a high school All-American’s arm on their team.

If ESPN’s predictions are right, it looks like Paulus’ll be headed back home to the blustery cold northeast to continue his athletics career. At least the home games would be indoors, which would be a welcome reprieve from the multiple-feet-tall snowdrifts he’d undoubtedly trudge through to get to class.  But hey, he still has 6 ½ hours to change his mind.

UPDATE: It’s confirmed. Paulus is heading home to play for the Orange.

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Tastes of summer

Summer’s here… or at least in some parts of the country.  It’s time to hit the beach, grab your longboard, suntan lotion, towel and flip flops.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but as someone who drinks maybe two or three sodas a month, it’s also time for more soda consumption.

Well this year you can pack your cooler with your usual suspects: Orange Crush, Fresca, Dr. Pepper, Cheerwine (O.K., maybe that last one’s just me and other enthusiasts from the Tar Heel State), or you can pack a few Cokes and really get into the summer spirit.

But how’s Coke any more summery than the next soda?

Coming on the heels of Tropicana’s recent packaging redesign fiasco, Coca-Cola decided to try its own (brief) repackaging effort just in time for the sunny season.  The brand has unveiled five limited edition beachy designs:  sunglasses, surfboards, grill, American flag and beach ball.  Here’s the collection:

summer coke cansPicture source:  The Dieline

And a closeup of my favorite can:

sunglasses coke canSource:  The Dieline

So how does Coke’s redesign fare compared to the infamous Tropicana one?  Pretty well in my opinion.  The iconic Coca-Cola script font and signature red color are intact, so there should be no brand confusion.  The new Coke (no pun intended) cans should be easily recognized on store shelves.  Simple and visually stimulating, the designs are clean, with uncomplicated lines and forms.  I feel transported to summer just looking at the sunglasses and beach ball.  And despite being a nice change of pace, the cans aren’t an unrealistic departure from Coke’s default design.

The cans should be on shelves by Memorial Day weekend.  They will have a staggered release with a new design hitting shelves every few weeks, continuing through Labor Day.

What do you think of the cans?  Which is your favorite?

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Hoops-la in Durham

Though the basketballers in Carolina blue won the 2009 NCAA crown, it appears their royal blue foes are getting all the off-season attention.

A few weeks ago, the big news was that Stephen Curry’s little brother, Seth, was transferring from Liberty to Duke. The younger Curry averaged 20.3 points per game for the Flames, pacing freshman throughout the country.

But somehow creating more intrigue, graduating Duke point guard Greg Paulus is examining his future, in football. After starting in his first three years for the Blue Devils, the senior saw more action as a role player this season.  The Blue Devils, a No. 2 seed in this year’s NCAA tournament, fell in the Sweet 16 to eventual Final Four contender, No. 3 Villanova.

Prior to his Duke career, Paulus was heavily recruited to play both college basketball and football.  As the four-year starting quarterback for Christian Brothers Academy in Syracuse, N.Y., Paulus led his team to a 42-3 record and a state title.  He also passed for 11,763 yards and 152 touchdowns — no small feat for any athlete, let alone one that can start for 3.5 years for Duke’s not-too-shabby hoops squad.

Paulus’ name splashed all over the media outlets a few weeks ago, when he worked out with the Green Bay Packers and followed it up with a trip to Ann Arbor to discuss his possible future with Coach Rich Rodriguez and the Michigan Wolverines.  He even was interviewed on ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption in a segment called “Five Good Minutes”:

After all the initial excitement, Paulus is no longer in the headlines, but still appears to be shopping around for a college football opportunity.  Where has he expressed interest in playing lately?  Nebraska and his hometown Syracuse.

A source says he’s 95 percent sure Paulus will join the Orange’s roster for next season.  If that’s the case, Paulus would enroll in a master’s program in communications at Syracuse’s highly touted S.I. Newhouse School of Communications while competing for the Orange.  When he toured Nebraska’s campus in Lincoln last week, Paulus looked at the broadcast journalism master’s program there as well.  (For the record, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s communications programs aren’t too shabby either.)

So how will Paulus suit up in the coming months?  In maize and blue?  As a Cornhusker?  Will he bask again in hometown glory, this time in orange?  Or will he continue his basketball career overseas?  And perhaps more importantly, when will we know?

The double-sport threat will receive his bachelor’s in political science from Duke on May 10.  His high school coach, Joe Casamento, believes Paulus will finalize his decision within the next two weeks.

‘Til then, let the speculation continue!

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