This and That from Here and There

Career of EvilJK Rowling, writing as Robert Galbraith, has just released Career of Evil, her third Cormoran Strike novel. She discusses it and other projects she’s involved in during a short but wide-ranging interview with Simon Mayo on BBC Radio 2. She’s definitely not out of ideas. In fact, she says, “I sometimes worry I’ll die before I’ve written them all out.”

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The latest James Bond film, Spectre, is just out in the U. S. In honor of the film’s release Word & Film has compiled a list of the ten best James Bond films ever prior to Spectre.

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Oprah Winfrey’s best of 2015 list is out, and guess what’s on it? The Amazon Echo that I recently wrote about. Be sure to check out all of the items on her list here and treat yourself to a few of them for the holidays (but don’t send me the bill).

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NPR’s History Dept. features an interesting article about five little-known women writers from 19th century America. The comments at the end of the article are also interesting. The article includes internet links to some of the books that are mentioned. All of those sites are worth exploring.

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I recently created my very own movie music radio station on Pandora. That’s right, and I was able to refine the type of music I hear by using the “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” icons to tell Pandora exactly the type of music I enjoyed the most (and the least). Pandora is not the only on-line music service that tailors its selections to its listeners tastes, but it’s the only one that utilizes the Music Genome Project (MGP) database to customize playlists. The MGP claim that, like the human body which is made up of genes that determine our body’s characteristics, each piece of music has upward of 450 distinct characteristics that make every composition unique. As I gave the “thumbs up” to more and more selections, the database was able to determine which musical aspects were common to them, and which ones were not present. Then it found additional selections that had the characteristics that were important to me.

I find it hard to believe that you can classify music as precisely as the MGP and Pandora claim, but I must admit that the music I listen to now on my personal radio station does, in fact, reflect my preferences in most cases. For your information, I prefer “symphonic” movie music such as that of John Williams, Max Steiner, and Erich Wolfgang Korngold. Pandora occasionally throws in a light classical piece like the overture from Rossini’s opera William Tell, or a selection from Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, but that’s perfectly fine with me because it blends in well with the movie music that Pandora chooses.

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The Golden CompassPhilip Pullman’s somewhat controversial His Dark Materials trilogy was supposed to be filmed, but only the first of the three books, The Golden Compass, made it to the big screen. Now BBC 1 is planning to film all three books for British television. New Line, which produced The Golden Compass, will be one of the producers of the television series.

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A Baltimore City Circuit Court judge has ruled that post-conviction hearings in the murder case of Hae Min Lee will be reopened to determine if new evidence will have a bearing on the conviction and life sentence of Adnan Syed who was convicted of the murder in 2000 and sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years. You may remember my post concerning the excellent radio program Serial that discussed the case and its many facets in great detail.

If you enjoyed Serial you might also enjoy the podcast Undisclosed: The State Vs. Adnan Syed which delves further into the murder of Lee and the conviction of Syed.

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The Collins English Dictionary in Great Britain has already chosen the top 10 new words of 2015, and has crowned one the new word of the year. The winner is the verb “binge-watch” which is defined as “to watch a large number of television programmes (especially all the shows from one series) in succession.”

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And just for the fun of it, see how many words you can unscramble in this BuzzFeed word game

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