8/30/13

Is The Lonely Island the New Schoolhouse Rock?

The first time I saw computers used in the classroom was about fifth grade - about 1992.  Today, 21 years later, my nieces have their own electronics, and they're not even in kindergarten yet.  (How times change!)  But back in 1992, for maybe a half-hour to an hour a day, my class would jump on computers for some cutting-edge learning fun.  It was all about getting to the next level on Super Munchers and keeping your party alive through malaria epidemics in Oregon Trail.

Even before computers got big, David McCall recognized the importance of learning through fun, and his idea to help his son learn math through familiar rock songs led to the 70's & 80's phenomenon of Schoolhouse Rock!.  If you're not familiar with the series, it combines simple lyrics with catchy songs and cute animation to teach kids (and anybody, really) about basic subjects like math, science, history, and grammar.  For those of us who can't get enough, there's the Schoolhouse Rock! Rocks album from 1996 featuring bands from Moby to Biz Markie doing covers of the classic songs.  (Moby's wailing guitar on the verb song makes it my favorite.)



So what does all of this have to do with The Lonely Island?  Whether you're an English nerd or a pop culture fanatic or just need some Friday fun, check out this hilarious (and informative - just wait til the end) video on proper semicolon usage.  Fair warning: probably not for kids.  Second warning: once you've seen it, you'll never want to misuse a semicolon again.

8/9/13

JK Rowling's Alias Outsells Other Bestselling Authors

Have you been following the news surrounding JK Rowling and her latest book?  Here's one of numerous articles about it if you haven't heard.  In short, Rowling tried to go anonymous under the pen name Robert Galbraith and write a mystery/crime novel called The Cuckoo's Calling.  Galbraith's true identity was leaked, and two big things happened.  The book's modest but successful sales blew up to bestseller status.  Rowling also lost the opportunity to remain anonymous, something she was obviously enjoying before her cover was blown.

The Cuckoo's Calling is still at #1 on the bestseller list.  Here's the list if you want to see it.  Look at who Galbraith is beating out as a "debut author" thanks to Rowling's huge following!  Dan Brown, Danielle Steel, Khaled Husseini, James Patterson, and Neil Gaiman.

I haven't read the book myself, but the Amazon page lets you peek inside, so I looked at the opening paragraph.  (I always check out the opening and/or last paragraph of a book if I can.  They're the trickiest parts sometimes to get right, and I love to see how other authors bookend their stories.)  The writing is certainly deft and experienced, which is why so many readers and critics alike were anticipating a big-named author behind the name Robert Galbraith.

Thoughts?  Opinions?  If you read the book, did you like it?  The use of a pen name is such a tricky thing, that's a whole topic in and of itself.