No Re-Joyce Here

Every few months or year, you meet someone so unwilling to share their essence, you come away with a task, an exoskeleton to crack, some fleshy part to find and poke at. But that’s usually a misguided assumption; often, people who seem cloaked in steel aren’t hiding. Rather, they’re being painfully honest about who they are, and who they are is pricklier than a fire blanket after emergency use. 

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Readin', Writin', and Morality?

This fall, nearly 50 million American children began school at a public institution. For the past few months, they've been going to class for seven or eight hours a day, five days a week. They listen to short lectures from their teachers and work on practice problems. The math builds upon itself over the years and the readings become denser with each ascending grade, all according to a pre-planned curriculum. But in between lesson plans and test preparation, an even more important type of learning is taking place: Social learning.

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A New Year in . . . Earshot

The draw toward New Year's resolutions seem to be written in our DNA. The desire to better ourselves feels as innate as the code for the colors in our eyes. I am no different: I see flaws in myself and hope to remedy them. I feel time pass and hope that I progress alongside it. In the past, I've set goals that related to my body, like a strict diet or exercise regimen, or to professional goals, like having my work published in a magazine. This year, however, I plan to work on my hearing. 

By that I mean, my 2015 new year's resolution is to be a better listener.  

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A Year in Review

In January, I cried because I made my mother cry. I was in Portland in to see Mike Birbiglia, my favorite comedian, preform. I promised I'd call her when we got back to the hotel, but I didn't. I went to bed and awoke to the maid, who had been called my panicked parent, knocking on the door saying there was a call for me at the front desk. When I got ahold of her, I could hear the panic in her voice, and though it didn't diminish the excitement of the weekend, the memory of Mike retweeting me will always be intertwined with my small failure as a daughter. 

My whole year was like this: Wonderful experiences, moments of pure joy, tempered by growing pains and true sadness. 

I have been fortunate enough to sit back and reflect at the end of each year of my life thus far and say, with conviction and contentment, that it was better than the last. This year was no different. I may have cried more in 2014 than any other, but I also laughed more and worked harder than ever before.

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Sony's Skeletons

The so-called Guardians of the Peace recently orchestrated a stunning cyberattack on Sony Pictures, the industry powerhouse that brought us "Men in Black" and "21 Jump Street" and, if the emails obtained in this lightning raid are to believed, a future franchise combining the class and aliens of the first film with the drugs and sass of the latter. 

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Renewing My Vows: A Commitment to Words

Lately I worry not about writer's block, but about thinker's block. Feeler's block, even. The things I want to write about -- whether personal, like my grandfather's death, or of national significance, like Ferguson -- seem unreachable. I cannot access the thoughts, the emotions, necessary to grapple with these issues. I feel numb. 

It might be that I've been otherwise preoccupied, what with school and work. It might be that I've set too high a standard for myself, an expectation that all my thoughts and feelings be, at the very least, marginally novel. Or maybe I don't have enough zinc or copper or some other essential micronutrient in my diet lately. I honestly don't know. 

What I do know is that I do not feel good. Not writing, not thinking, not feeling is not for me. Numbness should never last for more than a minute, it should be an indicator of a brilliant winter's freeze, or the sudden loss of the intense sensations experienced by an otherwise active limb. It should not be a state of being. It is not a state for living. 

Tomorrow, I will begin to grapple with life and death, liberty and equality. I will submerge myself in iciest waters and the most searing fires for that is where you write, and where you grow. 

Couchsurfing, Revisted

Strangers are not to be feared, but befriended. 

At least that’s what the organizer of the annual Couch Fest Films festival told me. 

Instead of herding audiences into traditional theater spaces, Couch Fest invites viewers to sit back and relax in a stranger’s living room, houseboat, or even tricked-out van.

Craig Downing, founder of the festival, developed the idea shortly after arriving in Seattle from Austin, Texas, when he realized he missed a certain kind of community vibe he’d left behind in Texas. 

“I’m raising my hand to get the high-five and getting metaphorically left hanging,” Downing said. With Couch Fest he “could get people to open their goddamn doors for each other.” 

To read more, click HERE

Theater Review: 'The Picture of Dorian Gray,' dir. Rachel Perlot

I once read that the best student films are in black and white. The muted tones drown out the visual noise and the inevitable mistakes that often accompany a first-time or small-scale production. 

The UW’s Undergraduate Theater Society (UTS) isn’t making movies, but it applies this principle anyway. Its productions are in a black box theater. They are intimate, sparse, and emphasize the performances, not the minor details. 

The latest production from UTS, “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” makes the most of its space, performing theater-in-the-round. Actors enter from four directions and move in a way that ensures each seat a different view. This is the play’s greatest strength, but also its clearest liability. 

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Album review: 'Four,' One Direction

One Direction’s last album, “Midnight Memories,” was just plain fun. No matter how much hate you harbor for boy bands generally, or 1D in particular, each track got under your skin and set your foot tapping, even against your will. 

But their new album, “Four,” which leaked on Tumblr weeks ago but officially dropped yesterday, has none of its predecessors’ infectious qualities. 

The lyrics are weak and the overall vibe is one of contractual obligation, not creativity or musical passion. 

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A Magpie's View of Death

My mom's father died last Wednesday, November 5, at 11:23 a.m. from complications related to his multiple myeloma. I've wanted to write about it since before it even happened, but I've had trouble collecting my thoughts. While I do intend one day to write about my relationship with my grandfather, for now I've assembled a digital representation of the thoughts that have been pinging around in my brain this past week and a half.

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