So, with my Master’s Thesis handed in and (hopefully) being reviewed as we speak…I’ve suddenly realized that I’m leaving for Thailand really REALLY soon! In fact, I’ll be boarding a plane bound for Hong Kong a week from tomorrow to eventually land in Bangkok on the afternoon (local time) of Friday, May 6.

Thanks to a handy Barnes & Noble deal on Frommer’s Guides last month, I’ve been able to do a lot of intense subway pondering on the subject of Thailand recently. On top of that, a friend of a good friend sent me an AWESOMELY detailed email with a list of his favorite things to do from when he lived in Thailand and last week New York magazine very helpfully ran a travel feature on Bangkok (Thanks guys!!) So I’m starting to feel like I have some sense of the lay of the land. We’ll get several days off in Bangkok and a weekend off to travel in between our volunteering activities, so suggestions and advice will still be gratefully accepted from those in the know!

Aside from the pre-travel research (the part I like best, of course, because I am a gigantic nerd), I’ve at least started to make some headway in the practical/planning/packing department. Sort of.

My vaccinations, with one exception, are all finished (Take that Japanese Encephalitis!!) and the FBI, for better or   worse, has decided that I am not a dangerous criminal or even a particularly  suspect individual (Fools!! No, I’m just kidding….FBI if you are reading this I’m JUST KIDDING, there is nothing to be concerned about, I swear), so all that stuff is squared away.

This week I need to focus on packing (eep!) and on trying to get as much stuff as is humanly possible done for the arts non-profit where I work before I go. ‘Cause you know what’s worse than a control-freak, worry wort, busy body Director of Education? A control-freak, worry wort, busy body Director of Education leaving the country 2 days before a weekend of performances and with just a month to go before a MAJOR round of auditions! I’m sure that all of the staff and students involved are just LOVING this new and improved level of crazy!   

Besides that I am just trying desperately to wrap things up at work (yes, Informa folk, if you are reading this I WILL remember to pay you before I leave….well, I’ll try anyway) and then trying to picture what an inbox with two and a half weeks of unread mail looks like. Crap!


So I am back in blogging-land today, and hopefully for at least the next couple months, for some very exciting reasons.

First of all, after an amazing year-and-a-half our little baby Re/Visionist blog is all grown up and getting passed along to its new owners. In May the current editors (myself included) will have finally attained mastery (or at least managed Master’s Degrees) and will be moving on to exciting new projects…like jobs…and loan repayment! The new crop of graduate student editors is absolutely fabulous and will definitely bring a whole new burst of energy, enthusiasm and good-old-fashioned smarts to the blog. While I will be sad to leave the regular editorial staff of Re/V it will hopefully free me up to do some more personal blogging which is important because…

I am officially one month away from my big Thailand adventure! 

As part of our Corporate Social Responsibility initiative Informa Business Information, the company I work for, is sending volunteers to work in communities around the world. I am really fortunate to have been chosen for the company’s first trip to Thailand! From our volunteering website: 

There are various childcare centres which provide a safe place for those children with poor working parents. With monthly wages as low as £50 for an adult working on a farm this is an essential resource. Moreover, in many cases parents move to the cities to find work leaving grandparents to bring up the children. The use of the centres is a very welcome break to these people and therefore provides an essential service to the local community and you will soon feel that you are part of the community.

There can be up to 50 pre-school children (up to 4 years old) at one time at the centres so the volunteers help is vital to ensure that the children are well looked after. Volunteers will help the local staff look after the children during the day organising games, activities, teaching lessons and preparing food. Volunteers can also get involved with renovation and repair work at the centres which may include painting walls or renovating kitchens.

While phone and internet may be a little spotty where we’re staying, I’ll hopefully be able to get online periodically to post updates and pictures from my trip! In the meantime I’ll be able to rant incessently about planning and packing, and doesn’t that sound like fun?!

The city that launched a thousand entirely non-sensical and uncalled-for song lyrics. Nome.

It is t-minus 36 hours until a chapter of my master’s thesis is due and we’ve entered the dangerous, rewriting-lyrics-to-songs phase of the process.

For those of you who haven’t written a master’s thesis (or, more to the point, for those of you who aren’t LUNATICS) I’ll explain.

It starts out innocently enough. Punchy from hours staring at a computer and days without wearing real pants, I casually change the lyrics to a song I’m writing about:

Tell the folks in Nome, what you’re doing Roger

I’m finding one sled dog.

My roommate laughs nervously. Not only isn’t it funny but it doesn’t actually make much sense… or rhyme with anything really. But at least I’ve stopped talking to myself and gotten off the couch.

Little does she know it’s only the beginning.

Two hours later it happens again, this time at least it’s topical. Putting my sweatshirt on to go get my wash from the laundry I serenade her by inventing not one, not two but three unique choruses of Laundromat Races:

Laundromat Races sing this song

Do da do da

Walk to the Laundromat two blocks long

Oh the do da day…

The situation here is grave.

Now, it’s not like this is the first time this has happened. A fateful, undercaffeinated walk in the park several years ago led my last roommate to not only learn all the words to my stirring epic, I Hate My Internet Boyfriend, but also left the tune inexplicably lodged in her brain for weeks afterward; an original melody is hard to shake.

Still, if history tells us anything (and hopefully it tell us something otherwise I have even less of a clue about why I’m getting this master’s degree) it’s that this recent rash of stupid song lyrics is a bad scene. And a sign of much worse things to come…

Photo courtesy of - They'll thank me when my scholarship restores them to their rightful place of glory in the halls of academia...probably.

# 5 – Otherwise horrible tasks suddenly seem strangely appealing to you: “Gosh, when WAS the last time I washed the outside of our windows?”… “Man, I’m excited to get a jump on my taxes!”…”Did someone say the drain needs to be snaked?!?”

#4 – News and information that would normally not appeal to you suddenly becomes vitally important: “Wow, that was a really interesting Jezebel post on things the movies don’t tell you about pregnancy. I’d better go read all 500 of this hilarious foulmouthed baby bloggers’ old posts, even though I am not now (nor do I really have any intention in the next decade of being) pregnant!”

#3 – You start bargaining with yourself the way you might if you had to reason with a toddler…“Alright, let’s make a deal. If you can sit still and write three more sentences to finish this paragraph…” … only the rewards are really, really crappy…“…then you can get up and use the bathroom.”

#2 – You fantasize about funnier, more entertaining research topics and waste time by researching and outlining them more effectively than you’ve prepared for the one you are actually writing…“Is it too late to change my topic to – “LOLCats: The Historical and Social Implications of Cheezburgers”?!”

#1 – It seems like a good idea to start blogging.

So, in case there is anyone left in North America that I haven’t already mentioned this to – I think EVERYONE should go see Where the Wild Things Are immediately!! It is, in my opinion, a stunning and powerful piece of art.

There was a beautiful review by Manohla Dargis in the Times that is totally worth reading. And (in the interest of pretending to be fair and balanced) a healthy dose of skepticism care of  the WSJ Blog’s Review Roundup.

But what I think is particularly interesting (from my educationally-enforced-media-analysis perspective) is this bit from the Entertainment Weekly review (my emphasis added):

From Maurice Sendak’s beloved picture book about a rambunctious little boy named Max and the kingdom of untamed creatures who adopt him as their like-minded king, filmmaker Spike Jonze has made a movie that is true to Sendak’s unique sensibilities and simultaneously true to Jonze’s own colorful instincts for anarchy. This is, to quote the 1963 children’s classic, ”the most wild thing of all.” It’s also personal movie-
making, with corporate backing, at its best.

A New York Times piece earlier this month considered the possibility of an M&A deal between Comcast and General Electric for majority control of NBC Universal. The piece suggests that the deal would not only give Comcast a huge share of the cable market, in addition to control of its first broadcast network, it would also result in Comcast gaining “an important foothold in another area it has been trying to break into: digital media” when it acquires control of the NBC Universal owned website Hulu. The piece quotes analyst Craig Moffett who says, “I suspect what Comcast is looking for is some measure of control over the future of distribution”.

Interestingly, though, several of the contributors to the article have a different view of what the future may look like. Analyst Frederick W. Moran criticizes the strategy, saying that this vertical integration approach, giving Comcast control over production of content and distribution, “seems like a strategic plan of yesterday”. And during an appearance on Charlie Rose this week, writer Andrew Rose Sorkin suggested that GE’s willingness to make the deal may signal a shift in their future outlook as well. Sorkin characterized the move as GE saying “maybe we don’t want to be in the TV business anymore”. Obviously the issue isn’t quite that cut and dry, GE would still have 49% control of NBC Universal following a deal with Comcast, but Moran and Sorkin’s analyses raise some interesting questions. How would Comcast’s acquisition of media property currently held by Vivendi effect the balance of the big five? And does GE’s willingness to cede majority control of NBC Universal, which has underperfomed significantly in 2009, really signal a shift in TV’s importance in the portfolios of the top media companies?

…in more than 140 characters.

Ever the diligent student, I’ve decided to do my homework in the blog-o-sphere. The real keys to success in grad school are a strong knowledge of your field and an intimate relationship with your alcoholic beverage of choice  (see below).  Below is the first of many posts inspired by my fields of study.

How did Twitter start you ask? Well apparently: “It all started with a “stupid” idea and a message about pinot noir.” I’ve always suspected that the road to genius is paved with booze! Check out the original WSJ blog post for more on the origins of Twitter and a potential IPO in their future.

Falling right in line with a recent class discussion, of Yochai Bekler’s The Wealth of Networks, the Times ran a story this weekend about user generated Twitter features. The article introduces the new features but also gives a nice history of user influence on the site: “Twitter’s smart enough, or lucky enough, to say, ‘Gee, let’s not try to compete with our users in designing this stuff, let’s outsource design to them,’ ” said Eric von Hippel, head of the innovation and entrepreneurship group at the Sloan School of Management at M.I.T. and author of the book “Democratizing Innovation.”

Still not atwitter? (sorry!) Check out this Harvard Business blog post about the viability (or at least existence) of Twitter’s business model.