By Ryan

-The top albums lists for 2010 are starting to appear; he are Paste’s and NPR’s.

-Wolf Parade has announced an “indefinite hiatus.”

-A new band called Mister Heavenly features the lead singers of Man Man and Islands, along with instrumental support from Modest Mouse’s Joe Plummer and…Micheal Cera on bass.

-While speculation has long been rampant that NBC would try a three-hour comedy block on Thursdays, it now appears that 30 Rock will move to 10:30 in the shift.

-Finally, check out this Muppet art.

By Eric

I hate hard news. I hate it hard. Harsh, but to me there is nothing worse than reporting the news.

This is where I backtrack momentarily, because I am not trying to demean reporters in any way. It takes skill. I know this. I’ve tried it. However, I also know that it absolutely isn’t for me. I thought it was, once upon a time, but I was a freshman in college and drunk 44% of that time.

No, what I have learned through my various meandering thoughts and equally meandering writing ventures, is that I have no interest in journalism—or reporting, at least.

My point here isn’t to rant about myself – as far as you know – but rather to state that it is often easier to figure out what you don’t want to do than what you do want to do. (Which sounds more obvious than it is.)

When I first decided I want to write, I was hell-bent on being a sportswriter. Lock it down, I’m covering sports. I joined the paper freshman year in college as a sports reporter. I did the standard things a sportswriter does: cover events, interview athletes, write game recaps. It was exactly what I thought I wanted to do.

Except I hated it. A lot.

At the time, I didn’t really think of year-and-half I spent hating being a sports reporter as something that would become defining for me in any way, but it turns out that it was. It showed me that something I was so sure I wanted to do was something I didn’t want at all.

People get so wrapped up in trying to make the job they think they want work, that they don’t explore whether or not that job is what they really want. Even if you spend a couple of years doing something you thought you would love, only to realize it isn’t why you really want, is that really a bad thing?

It’s a lot better to change your plans and be happy, than convince yourself you are happy if you really aren’t.

By Anna

It takes a lot of patience and a lot of guts to follow (and watch) two boys from middle school age to college. If nothing else, that’s what makes Hoop Dreams a great film—persistent and patient filmmaking.

But Steve James’1994 Hoop Dreams is great for more than filmmaking. It’s got a little of a devil-may-care feel as it runs at 171 minutes with little mood-manipulating music. The documentary is raw and gets the audience into these boys’ lives so much that the viewer knows them.

Hoop Dreams follows William Gates and Arthur Agee for almost six years as they attempt to fulfill their dreams of playing in the NBA. As the young boys try to make it into a high school (and then college) with a good basketball program in Chicago, everything gets in their way: hormones, parents, drugs, school, injuries, and death.

Gates

Gates has a natural ability and can dunk the ball at 14. At St. Joseph’s High School he had a kid, injured his knee, and took the ACT four times to finally get the 18 he needed to attend Marquette University. His brother, Curtis, went to college on a basketball scholarship, but was “uncoachable” and ended up dropping out. He wants a better life for his brother. Almost 10 years after the film’s release, Curtis was murdered.

Agee

Agee worked at Pizza Hut for $3.35 an hour. He was recruited by predominately white St. Joseph High School, but couldn’t afford it after his sophomore year, so he attended public school (though St. Joe’s is still after him, but not for his skills this time, for his $1,300 in tuition he owes). Before his junior year, his dad left home and appears on and off screen and in his life until he was murdered in 2004.

Both attended St. Joe’s and hated academics. But they don’t talk about each other and, as far as we know, hardly knew each other. Gates started on Varsity as a freshman and Agee started on the freshman team.

Though Gates was the more naturally talented, Agee is the one to go onto the University of Illinois and succeed (even after having two kids of his own in junior college). Gates will finish at Marquette and become a real estate agent.

Spike Lee, Bobby Knight and Mike Krzyzeski all make appearances in the film (at the Nike Camp Gates attended), but nothing about the documentarian’s interviews with them or shots of them are glorified. They are not the story. Basketball isn’t even the story.

The story is found in the playground in inner city Chicago and in Agee’s mother’s words about wanting the best for her son no matter what she has to sacrifice (including having no electricity or water part of the time). And it’s compelling in the fact that after six years the filmmakers had a story, where they couldn’t be sure they would find one.

Like good art, Hoop Dreams has so much to offer that after every viewing the audience will walk away with more than they got the previous time.

By Nicolle

Last Friday night, my best friend and I received a phone call from one of our college roommates. “I’m engaged!” she screamed into the phone. “It’s going to be an October 2011 wedding!”

That phone call came on the heels of a discussion with another friend about the state of her relationship, and how engagement might be in her future as well. Their different relationship stories got me thinking: As much as we’d like to put our relationships in neat little boxes, complete with an instruction manual and timeline, things are rarely that black and white.

Another friend of mine is dating a guy who I’m sure she’ll end up with. They’ve been dating for almost four years – but there’s no engagement in sight.

Another friend is dating a guy she’s been with since last winter. I’m pretty certain they’ll be engaged within a few months.

Yet another friend dated a guy for two years, broke up with him for two years and is now engaged to him.

And those are just my friends.

Clearly there is no formula, which just about anyone will tell you if prompted. The difference is whether or not we actually believe our relationships don’t have to fit into someone else’s idea of perfect timing.

I can’t see myself ever being ready to make a declaration of lifelong commitment after dating someone for less than a year, so my confusion and (sometimes) jealousy of friends who have it figured out sooner often overrides my inward excitement about others’ relationships. Why is it that some people “just know” right away, while others take years to decide – and sometimes they still don’t know?

My conclusion is simple. There is no conclusion. There is no one reason why it seems easier for some people to figure their relationships out than others. Sometimes I’d like to sit in my ivory tower and declare that I’m much smarter, more mature and more realistic than those who, in my eyes, dive into a proposal and wedding planning before they’re actually ready. But the truth is that I can’t see into anyone’s relationship but my own – and most of the time, I don’t even have that figured out.

While I think there are definite red flags that everyone should look for in their relationships and in their friends’ relationships (i.e. a really short dating time, the inability to answer legitimate questions about the relationship without getting defensive, etc.), the most important thing to remember is that we can’t know what’s going on in others’ heads or hearts. At the end of the day, whether I agree with my friends’ relationships or engagements or not, the decision isn’t up to me. And I’m not the one who has to live with the consequences, good or bad.

Compiled by Ryan

The links:

-Arcade Fire have just released their Spike Jonze-directed music video for “The Suburbs.”

-Pavement will appear on an upcoming episode of Ace of Cakes.

-The creator of the Feed the Animals sample site has done the same for Girl Talk’s new album, All Day.

Several indie labels have left eMusic.

Jenna Fischer talks about her upcoming film A Little Help, which features original music from Jakob Dylan; you can also watch a trailer at that link.

-Alexander Payne is no stranger to adaptations, but his next project may take on a graphic novel.