Linkage Love: The Internet is for Entertainment!

By Kathryn Magura

Over the years, I have found a number of sites on the great interwebs that have either kept me informed or entertained (or both). Today I thought I’d share some of my favorites with you:

  1. Feedly: When I heard Google Reader was going away, I went into a sort of panic as to how on earth I’d keep all the sites I follow tracked. Thankfully, Feedly seems to be doing the trick. What’s nice is that they use cloud technology, so you can pick up where you leave off on mobile devices, laptops, and tablets.
  2. Buzzfeed: I’m sure you’ve seen some the various posts on Facebook like, “20 reasons you know you’re an 80s kid” or “best of goat duets with artists.” All those posts come from the brilliant minds over at Buzzfeed. I frequently get lost in the nostalgic trap that is one of those lists. Be careful going down that rabbit hole though, because you’re guaranteed to lose a few hours!
  3. Greatist: Looking for ways to improve your health, fitness, or happiness? Want to find a healthy and creative recipe? Then I recommend signing up for a free account at Greatist.
  4. Bonus Link: Leave it to Reddit to have a page devoted to all things sloths. 🙂

Those are just a few sites that keep me occupied on the internet. What are some of your favorites?


Linkage Love: The Internet is for Entertainment!

Blog Prompt Monday: The Unexpected Self

By Kathryn Magura

Hello everyone! You may have noticed I’ve been gone for awhile. If not, that’s cool. Between conferences and vacations (I was in Hawaii if you have not heard), February was a busy month. I’m excited to help kick off a new month of excellent blog posts! Today’s prompt is:

What do you do that is different than what people expect of you based on preconcieved notions/stereotypes?

I love questions like this, because I think we too frequently judge each other by how we appear. I know that when I meet someone and they are not who I expected them to be, I am usually humbled by how I so easily judged them and glad to learn I was wrong about them. Not all book covers accurately depict the content inside!

So what would you be surprised to learn about me? Well, my love/snobbery of music is well known, but how many people know the depth of my musical tastes? People tend to be surprised when they look at my iTunes library and see the variety of music that I like. So what usually surprises them?

Well, I can think of two things:

  1. For some reason, I don’t appear to be a musical theater fan. I have no idea why this is, but people seem to be genuinely surprised to see so much music from musicals in my library. Clearly none of these people have heard my rendition of, “The Wizard and I” from Wicked in the car. Some other favorites include: The Book of Mormon, Rent, Hairspray, Jersey Boys, Newsies (been a fan since the Disney movie), and Spring Awakening.
  2. Led Zeppelin is one of my favorite bands. Why is this surprising? I think people see me as more innocent in regards to music. Sure, the Beatles are my favorite band, that makes sense. But Led Zeppelin is a little heavier and controversial. While we’re at it, I love Pink Floyd. I promise the don’t have to be a stoner to appreciate the layers that Pink Floyd builds into each song.

So that’s me, now it’s your turn. What surprises people about you?

Blog Prompt Monday: The Unexpected Self

Downton Abbey vs. Walking Dead, #dontmakemechoose

by Jess Faulk


Sunday night. Housework done. Snow shoveling done. Weekend winding down.  Should be a relaxing time for most.  And yet, it brings with it a very difficult question that would stress out any reasonable human being, what do I watch on TV tonight? Downton Abbey or The Walking Dead!?!

Lucky for me, thanks to the invention of TIVO, I know my answer to that question – both!  Although it did make me wonder, how many others are in the same boat as me, psyched to watch these two radically different shows?  I am sure it is not a coincidence that they have placed these two wonderful shows opposite each other, on the assumption that they won’t attract the same demographic.

It is possible I am an outlier, having full appreciation for the romance, drama, and history of Downton and equally loving the gore and intensity of the post-apocalyptic world of Walking Dead.  However, I have a hunch that I am far from being alone in this mixed genre affection, and that my fellow blog readers are among those who can appreciate a wide range of interests.

I still vividly remember listing to NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me’s bluff the listener game in February 2009.  They shared three stories about classic works of literature being “improved.”  The stories were all equally unbelievable as usual.  But when I heard the story of blending zombies and Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice, I listened intently hoping that that story was true.  The question of whether Mr. Darcy will capture Ms. Bennet’s heart, or whether that heart would be eaten by the Zombie hordes is just too exciting for it not to be true!  As we now know, it was true, and Seth Grahame-Smith published the awesome mash-up, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  I felt like it was written just for me.

As a female geek I am (almost) used to being questioned when I express an interest in stereotypically different interests.  Growing up, I liked playing video games and also liked playing dress up.  I liked watching the Terminator and liked watching Titanic.  These days, I like reading tech blogs and also like reading romance novels.  And as I’ve made obvious, I love Downton Abbey and also love The Walking Dead.  I have found excitement in these “contradictions” and I hope that future generations of young women feel comfortable exploring whatever interests they want to without judgment.  Talking about it, normalizing it, and celebrating a variety of interests with both little boys and little girls is important. Who knows, maybe when our kids grow up, they won’t have to choose between two of the greatest shows on TV because the networks will schedule shows based on a new demographic that loves both!

Blog Prompt: What hobbies are you into that other people feel are contradictory?

Photo Mashup: by Brian Huntington on
un LA Times article on the similarities between Downton Abbey and The Walking Dead

Downton Abbey vs. Walking Dead, #dontmakemechoose

Linkage Love: Nerdy T-Shirt

by Kathryn Magura

Seems like everyone loves a good nerdy t-shirt (or as I call them, nerdshirts). Whether it’s a retro t-shirt that makes you reminisce about favorite pop culture memories from the past, or you just like the style, there are a number of websites that have new nerdshirts posted each day for the more pop-culture minded people. For today’s linkage love, I thought I’d share some of my favorite sites for nerdshirts. Please feel free to add your own recommendations to the comments.

  1. Think Geek – One of my favorite nerdy sites in general is Think Geek. Therefore, it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that some of my favorite nerdshirts have come from this site. A personal favorite I received is this gem from the Big Bang Theory.
  2. Teefury – Teefury posts a new shirt every 24 hours, and I find that I’m very proud of myself when I understand the reference for the day. Chances are if the shirt has some reference to Star Wars, the Muppets, the Goonies, or the Beatles, I’m probably going to get it.
  3. Shirt Woot – Some of you may be familiar with the daily deals posted at, but did you know they did the same thing with t-shirts? These shirts are usually amusing, and reasonably priced. My personal issue with their nerdshirts is that they tend to be shorter, which makes them look a little awkward on some of us with longer torsos.
  4. Ript Apparel – One of my newer favorite nerdshirt sites is Ript Apparel. I find that the quality of material in the shirts is the best here, an some of the inside nerd jokes are harder for the average nerd to understand. In my opinion, you get more nerd cred if you buy from Ript Apparel.
  5. Tee Magnet – In case you don’t have time to keep up with all the changing nerdshirt deals every day, I recommend checking Tee Magnet once a day. Tee Magnet aggregates the daily deals of many of the popular nerdshirts each day, and even tells you when the next shirt for that particular site will be posted.

Enjoy, and happy shopping!

Linkage Love: Nerdy T-Shirt

Linkage Love: Beyonce, Technology and Connection

by Anitra Cottledge

Remember this YouTube critique of Beyonce’s “Run the World (Girls)” song/video from last year?

Whether you agree with the YouTube critique or not, whether you like the song or not, whether you think Beyonce is awesome, a feminist, an iconic entertainer, all of the above or none of the above — you have to admit she does know how to work technology to engage her fans and to share (carefully chosen) pieces of herself and her life.

A few examples:

• When Beyonce debuted her Tumblr site earlier this year, everyone was all aflutter. The Tumblr site features personal Beyonce photos through the years. Beyonce shared this message with her fans, “I Am: This is my life, today, over the years – through my eyes. My family, my travels, my love. This is where I share with you, This will continue to grow as I do. Love, Beyonce.”

• Queen B used her website to post a very touching letter to FLOTUS Michelle Obama about the ways in which FLOTUS has inspired her. The kicker? FLOTUS personally responding to the letter via Twitter.

• Beyonce’s hubby Jay-Z posted the first pictures of their daughter, Blue Ivy, on his website.

• Back on the Tumblr site, she posts two video previews of her first post-baby show, Revel. P.S. FLOTUS and her daughters were in attendance at the show.

• And just as an added bonus, Melissa Harris-Perry mentioned on her show this weekend that she would love to have both FLOTUS and Beyonce come spend some time with her in #nerdland. (I, for one, think that would be a really interesting conversation.)

Again, I think the moments that are shared by Beyonce — or any other celebrity or public figure, for that matter — are carefully planned. After all, Beyonce is notoriously protective of her privacy, and I think that makes sense.

The real question for fans is: do the ways in which Beyonce and her team utilize technology promote a sense of connection or intimacy in her fans? And from a practical standpoint, as those of us in student affairs look for innovative ways to use technology to connect with students, staff and faculty, are there lessons to be learned from pop culture and stars like Beyonce?

Linkage Love: Beyonce, Technology and Connection

Katniss vs. Bella: Female Empowerment in YA Fiction

by Anitra Cottledge

So the intrawebz are all aflutter with chatter about the film version of The Hunger Games. I’ll be going to see it, because it’s my pop culture duty to keep my finger on the zeitgeist. Or at least that’s what I tell myself when I’m sitting in the movies behind tween girls (and their moms) who just can’t contain their oohs and aahs when Robert Pattinson enters the frame. I’ve read The Hunger Games trilogy, just like I read the Twilight Saga, and my feelings about both series are fairly similar: in a nutshell, they didn’t need to be series. Both authors could have wrapped up those stories much sooner, and with a much lower word count.


That aside, I’m particularly interested in the comparisons that have arisen between the two heroines, Bella Swan and Katniss Everdeen. I’m going to return to that in a second.

What I find fascinating about both of these series is the sheer amount of writing and cultural critique that’s been generated about them. You, dear reader, already know how I feel about Twilight by now (where is Buffy when you need her?), and maybe you’ve read about its abstinence porn narrative. I’m totally squicked out by the wistful conversations I hear after a Twilight movie, and I’ve had numerous conversations with colleagues about why folks are so swoony over a book about a stalker who looks like he just got home from a rave.

I’ve been equally fascinated by the writing about The Hunger Games: the casting debate, particularly in regards to race, and recent discussion about similarities between The Hunger Games and Japanese movie “Battle Royale.” In short, the books and the movies have become so much more than books and movies. They’ve become locations of cultural symbolism and messaging.

Back to the discussion about Bella vs. Katniss. There seems to be this need to pit the two heroines against one another and to ask people to decide who’s stronger and more empowered.

“Bella Swan is clumsy and largely helpless, a rescue object for Edward and Jacob, the werewolf who vies with the vampire for her affections; Katniss is a tough and competent woodswoman and sharpshooter. Bella is willing to give up everything — her family, friends, previous life, even her humanity — to dote on her beloved Edward for eternity; Katniss sacrifices herself for her mother and sister. Bella is one long, quivering bowstring of frustrated lust (at least until the fourth book in Meyer’s series); Katniss, about the same age, is unstirred by adolescent hormones, despite the two cute, sweet guys who proclaim their love for her.”

Yes, it’s really great that Katniss Everdeen can “incidentally shoot a man’s eye out through his windpipe” (which is indeed a handy skill), whereas Bella seems to pout a lot, but I don’t actually find either of them all that empowering in the end.

But (SPOILERS AHEAD) in the last book of the Hunger Games, we find Katniss taking up a more Bella-like existence with Peeta. (I think I was rooting for her to end up with neither Gale nor Peeta.) All that windpipe puncturing, and we’re left with a very traditional “let’s get married and settle down situation” (although not necessarily a HEA). In that respect, does it make a difference that Katniss spent most of the series running and fighting for her life? Maybe. Maybe not. It just would have been refreshing to have a different narrative: Katniss, as opposed to Gale, in a more prominent leadership role at the end of the book.

This, of course, is an oversimplification of each character, and of the conversations surrounding both books. If I consider the overall picture, both books and both characters are good food for thought, particularly in regards to what they may communicate in terms of female empowerment, gender roles, as well as class and sexual politics. In the meantime, I’ll just search for alternatives to both Katniss and Bella. They’ve got to exist, right?

Katniss vs. Bella: Female Empowerment in YA Fiction