Get ready this Christmas for an adaptation of James Thurber’s short story “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” Although “adaptation” might be a stretch here…
Of course, since very little actually happens in Thurber’s tale, it’s not totally surprising that a Hollywood film would stray far from the original. But it does look like the only remnants of Walter Mitty that make it into the movie are his lapses into daydreams.
It’s nice to imagine a Walter Mitty who gets his happy ending, though! What do you think?
Last month the public library of eNotes’ very own hometown, Seattle, broke the world record for the world’s longest book domino chain. Check it out!
It took twenty-seven volunteers, seven hours, and five attempts in all, but on May 31st at approximately 11pm the Seattle Public Library successfully toppled 2,131 books, domino style. The awesome number of books used allowed the library staff to get creative with the pathway, too, as books climbed ramps, scaled stairs, and at one point spilled across the floor to spell ‘READ’ in giant letters. The books truly seem to have a life of their own as they bypass scenes like a couple sharing a picnic and a woman reading on the beach. In truth, these books were actually given a second life, as all of them had been “retired and donated” to the library. Now that they’ve had their moment in the spotlight, though, all should find a new home, thanks to the library’s ingenious way of getting the books back out there for public consumption:
Books used in the record-setting event can be purchased at upcoming Friends of The Seattle Public Library book sales. Each book will have a special sticker identifying that it helped set the book domino world record, as well as the Web address so the book buyer can watch the video.
Hopefully this attention-grabbing kickoff to the Seattle Public Library’s summer reading program will have a domino effect on the popularity of reading worldwide. Kudos to the two college students who masterminded the entire event: Laura D’Asaro and Luke Greenway of Harvard University and Middlebury College.
Ah, the instant gratification of the vending machine. Always there when you desperately require a dozen eggs or a business card, and no dilly-dallying about it! Well, perhaps that’s only in Japan… Regardless, the capabilities of the vending machine have now been pushed to new levels in Toronto, where you can now find the amazing, the wondrous “Biblio-Mat.”
With the Biblio-Mat, customers of Toronto’s second-hand bookshop The Monkey’s Paw can snag an obscure, out-of-print book for just a Toonie. (That’s Canadian for $2.) The one catch may be that when you insert your 2 bucks into the machine, you have no idea what book it might divulge. Then again, that’s also half the fun; rumor has it that the Biblio-Mat, aside from being the first vending machine of its kind, also possesses psychic abilities in its book-granting powers. So if you don’t like the book you get, well, you probably have the imagination and enthusiasm of a mollusk.
Other fun things about it are the retro mint exterior, not unlike a 1950s refrigerator, accompanied by the mechanic clank upon the Biblio-Mat’s mystic delivery.
When a customer puts coins into it, the Biblio-Mat dramatically whirrs and vibrates as the machine is set in motion. The ring of an old telephone bell enhances the thrill when the customer’s mystery book is delivered with a satisfying clunk into the receptacle below.
Another fun fact: bookshop owner Stephen Fowler initially envisioned the Biblio-Mat as a metal locker with his assistant inside, delivering books upon payment. The end result is almost as good, only because nothing really beats a human hand emerging from the other side of a vending machine (though it probably would have violated several fair employment laws). Also, I secretly believe that every ATM hides behind it an elf, and every automatic door a man with a thin piece of string, but I think that’s just me…
I just love this idea and can’t wait to see what book within the psychic interiors of the Biblio-Mat awaits my next visit to Toronto. Check it out in action below!
*No assistants were subjected to confined spaces in the making of this vending machine.
The intersection of science and play.
We are taught from a young age that authority in any academic realm must be allocated to adults only–or more specifically grey haired men in tweed jackets staring down their noses at us from in front of a chalkboard or behind a cluttered desk. But when we think about the fundamentals of Science, a field that in its research requires constant questioning and experimentation, who better to contribute to its innovation than the naturally curious? In his TED talk above, neuroscientist Beau Lotto tells why children make the best scientists.
Evolution’s solution to uncertainty is play… Play is the only human endeavor where uncertainty is celebrated. When you add rules to play, you have a game. And that’s what an experiment is–a game…
Armed with these two ideas that science is a way of being and experiments are play, we asked, “Can anyone become a scientist?” And who better to ask than twenty-five 8-10 year old children? Because they’re experts in play.
With this idea in mind, Lotto turned to a primary school in Devon, England, to create a program in which children would be given the opportunity to act as scientists. He was granted no funding for this idea, as “scientists said children couldn’t make a strong contribution to science, and teachers said kids couldn’t do it.” Teachers, if you can believe it, had no faith in the capabilities of young people. Lotto went through with it anyway.
His first step in the program was to have the students ask questions. The results?
Five of the questions the students came up with were questions that were the basis of science publication in the last 5-15 years. They were asking questions that were significant to expert scientists.
This gave Lotto and his colleagues the impetus to turn the group of children into full-fledged scientists, an idea that amazingly resulted in the peer-reviewed publication of 10-year old Amy O’Toole’s science paper. She joins Lotto onstage to describe the inspiring journey from early hypothesis to academic acceptance.
I strongly suggest you watch this video, if not to be inspired by the true capabilities of children (despite the misgivings of teachers, scientists, and most adults), then to rethink how good scientific thought requires our embrace of uncertainty.