Friday, February 28, 2014

On The Road With Lynda has many courses about using your new skills in the real world. These are all taught by professionals in field - like professional photographer and author Ben Long. One of Lynda's newest courses is Travel Photography: Geologging and Journaling on the Road. Ben Long gives you tips on journaling while you are traveling - including shooting to document your trip, importing GPS data, workflow and tagging. has some other great courses in this series, all produced out in the real world. Travel Photography: Desert Road Trip, Travel Photography: Seaside Road Trip, and Shooting on the Road from Gear to Workflow.

As a current AU student, faculty or staff, you have access to all of's tutorials and resources. First, go to and log in with your AU credentials. Enjoy.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

What you won't see at the Oscars this Sunday

We love the Oscars, but we admit that they're imperfect. With the ceremony only three days away, it's time to be a little critical. The Academy frequently overlooks specific types of films that, in retrospect, we often consider to be some of the greatest.

Comedies, for the most part, are rarely nominated and win even less frequently. There are countless articles belaboring this point, but we'll let this summary from The Atlantic do the talking. With the exception of the occasional quirky dramedy, comedy films almost never receive nods for the top awards. Of the nine films nominated for Best Picture this year, only American Hustle and The Wolf of Wall Street could be considered comedies – and that's pushing the definition. While we would never expect something like The Hangover to go home with Oscar gold, classic comedies including Blazing Saddles, Airplane!, and This is Spinal Tap have all left the Oscars without any recognition. This is arguably the Academy Awards' greatest repeated oversight.

Relatedly, the Academy also has a habit of overlooking films about youth. This year's acting snub for Greta Gerwig in Frances Ha is part of a long tradition of ignoring coming-of-age stories. Outside of perhaps The Graduate and American Graffiti, it is difficult to find a single film about young people that the Academy loved; now-legendary director John Hughes was never once nominated for his filmography that includes The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and Truffaut's groundbreaking The 400 Blows was not nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film award. Considering how often the Academy tips its hat to out-of-the-way gems like Nebraska, the repeated omission of youth stories is conspicuous.

These are perhaps another indication that the Oscars are never a good indicator of long-term acclaim. Or maybe it's just easy to be bitter that Mel Brooks only won a single Academy Award.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Who was Oscar? The story of Emilio Fernández

Once again, as the Academy Awards are less than a week away, Oscar fever is reaching a frenzy. This time, we turn our attention to the statuettes themselves. Who was Oscar? Why is he naked and holding a sword?

Pop culture radio website Studio 360 recently unearthed the story of the man on which the award is based. His name was Emilio Fernández, and he was a notable Mexican actor whose tumultuous life led him from rebellion during the Mexican Revolution to directing the Cannes-winning María Candelaria. His close work with film star Delores del Río put him in contact with Cedric Gibbons, the artist who designed the Oscar. Fernández modeled for the award, and after the design was sculpted by George Stanley, Fernández's contribution was largely forgotten.

This doesn't explain the name Oscar or the sword-wielding nudity, but it is a fascinating story that's well worth a listen. We look forward to watching the Fernándezes this Sunday!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Harold Ramis: The defining comic voice of the 80s

Harold Ramis unexpectedly and heartbreakingly died this morning at age 69. Though best known as the awkward and orderly Dr. Egon Spengler in Ghostbusters, Harold Ramis is one of the unheralded contributors to some of the most successful and acclaimed comedies of the 1980s.

As a writer and director, Harold Ramis played a critical role in the production of Stripes, Meatballs, National Lampoon's Vacation, Ghostbusters, Caddyshack, Groundhog Day, and Animal House. His films essentially invented the slob-vs.-snob genre, a comedy staple throughout the decade and beyond. Even through the the 90s and 2000s, Harold Ramis helmed famous comedies including Analyse This, The Ice Harvest, and even highly acclaimed episodes of the American version of The Office.

Harold Ramis's death is more than just a sad note for Ghostbusters fans. It marks the loss of one of the pioneering voices of comedy in modern film. In commemoration of Harold Ramis's career, we encourage you to check out his greatest films from the library.

Groundhog Day – HU DVD 2325
National Lampoon's Animal House – HU DVD 4913
Caddyshack – HU DVD 5038
Analyze This / Analyze That – HU DVD 8019
The Ice Harvest – HU DVD 8509
Ghostbusters – HU DVD 8591
Bedazzled – HU DVD 8692

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Jason Bateman fan? See Bad Words early this Thursday!

Is February already ending? That was fast. We still have about six days left until March, so there's plenty of time for exciting events before we close the book on the second month of the year.

This week, we have advance passes to see Bad Words, the directorial debut of Arrested Development star Jason Bateman. In this very R-rated comedy, Bateman plays a school dropout to takes advantage of a loophole to participate in a middle school spelling. Fittingly, the event it sponsored by Urban Dictionary, everyone's favorite web dictionary of words that we probably should not repeat here.

The screening goes down this Thursday, February 27th, at 7:30pm at the AMC Loews 14 in Georgetown. As with all advance screenings, passes are not guarantees for screening; you are advised to show up early to ensure that you get a seat. Come to Media Services to get your pass!

(This screening had been previously scheduled for two weeks ago but was delayed because of the snow. If you picked up a pass then and did not attend, you have another chance!)

UPDATE: To clarify, passes are only being handed out in-person at the Media Services desk in the AU Library. We're unfortunately unable to offer digital passes for this event.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Today's Tom Sawyer Is Learning Online

This is one of the more unusual selections from Learn sound engineering through a backstage look at the most recent Rush tour. Live Sound Engineering Techniques: On Tour with Rush with Brent Carpenter. I have to believe that there are few audio tasks more challenging than putting on a concert tour with the monsters of prog rock. has dozens of training courses like this, taught by professionals in the field.

As a current AU student, faculty or staff, you have access to all of's tutorials and resources. First, go to and log in with your AU credentials. Enjoy.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

We'd like to thank the Academy for this infographic

The Oscars are almost upon us, and with only a little over one week to go (!), the floodgates have opened on Oscar trivia. Every year we find a new batch of unusual award-related studies, like last year's breakdown of trailer lengths.

This year, Slate has analyzed twelve years of actors' and actresses' Academy Awards acceptance speeches and determined who gets thanked the most. Industry organizations, companies, and agents received the most praise, though most nominees immediately thanked the Academy upon receiving their statue. A decent number of winners thanked their role's namesake, but only one (Javier Bardem) thanked a specific country. It's a fun breakdown to see who appears most in the Oscar spotlight.

And yes, as the article title mentions, Meryl Streep has been thanked more times than all religious entities. This is what happens when you get nominated every year.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Worried about a snowy Valentine's Day? Browser our Romance Pinterest!

If you're paying attention to the local news, you are no doubt aware that a big snowstorm is bearing down on DC, comparable to the last one that hit us. We've been burned too many times in the last year to expect this storm to have too significant of an impact, but there's a chance that you might have a reason to stay in and drink hot chocolate this weekend.

Friday is also Valentine's Day. You might be left in the cold without anything for your mandatory romantic movie marathon. Take no chances!

For those looking for romance, we've assembled a Pinterest page of our best romantic films. Anyone wanting a good movie for this weekend might pursue the obvious choices – Pride and Prejudice, 500 Days of Summer, etc. – but our list contains over 190 films that might strike your interest and spark up the evening. Please be advised that this list also contains non-comedic films about romance: you are advised to read a description for each movie beforehand so you don't watch Blue Valentine expecting something quirky and zany.

Be sure to come by and pick up a few romantic movies for the weekend just in case you won't get a chance later.

For everyone else, the remake of RoboCop opens tonight.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Celebrate 50 years of The Beatles with a video retrospective

Sunday marked the 50th anniversary of The Beatles's appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. It was a landmark moment in pop culture and arguably the start of The Beatles's legacy as one of the biggest musical acts in history. It would be silly to repeat their accomplishments here, but suffice to say, The Beatles had a large impact on global culture.

Though perhaps best known for their music, The Beatles achieved fame on the screen as well. Apart from the four feature films, The Beatles appeared repeatedly in televised performances and inspired documentaries, parodies, and dramatizations. We have a surprisingly large collection of Beatles films and video collections at the AU Library, including a lengthy retrospective of behind-the-scenes footage. It's all highly worth watching if you can't get enough of the recent Beatles commemorations.

The U.S. vs. John Lennon - HU DVD 3078
The Hours and Times - HU DVD 4360
The Beatles Anthology - HU DVD 4386
A Hard Day's Night - HU DVD 5740
Magical Mystery Tour - HU DVD 6663
John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band - HU DVD 6725
Backbeat - HU DVD 6733
The Ed Sullivan Show Featuring The Beatles and Various Other Artists - HU DVD 7339
Help! - HU DVD 8594
Yellow Submarine - HU DVD 8983
The Rutles - HU DVD 10187
George Harrison: Living in the Material World - HU DVD 11076

Monday, February 10, 2014

New Acquisitions - February 2014

It's been a while, hasn't it? After a relaxing winter break, we're back in at full steam with a bounty of great DVDs.

Looking for something critically acclaimed? Fruitvale Station, Behind the Candelabra, and Breaking Bad will itch that scratch. Mindless entertainment? Pacific Rim and Man of Steel. Need some AU pride? History professor Peter Kuznick's Oliver Stone-directed miniseries The Untold History of the United States is now available. Something off the beaten path? We have a documentary about the history and culture of the falafel. Really!

It's all at the AU Library. Read on for a full list...

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Movie real estate does not come cheap, even in Lego form

The Lego Movie, hitting theaters this week, is no doubt the result of an elaborate product placement or marketing deal. Still, Legos are very fun, and we can't help but be excited whenever we have a chance to play with them. As someone who has been to a Lego retail store and played with the Back to the Future set, I can personally attest that few things are more fun than combining movies with Lego.

We tip our hat to real estate blog Movoto for having some fun with this idea. Using a handy algorithm and the work of some enthusiastic fans, Movoto estimated how many Legos it would take to build famous movie homes, including everything from the Beetlejuice house to Superman's Fortress of Solitude. Surprisingly, some buildings such as the palace from Aladdin and Howl's titular moving castle would cost more when made from Lego. But for the most part, Lego is a much cheaper way to build than brick and metal: you'd save almost $100 million building Hogwarts that way.

For the record, it would take 286,756,745 Lego bricks to build the American University Library. That's $28,675,675 of Legos!

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

See a future without books TODAY at library film screening

As a part of the library that frequently deals with streaming video, we understand hesitations about the transition to from physical to digital media. This is a concern that isn't just limited to films; the rise of tablets and e-readers has led libraries to also reconsider the acquisition of expensive and bulky books when their digital alternatives are available. This opens a whole mess of sticky issues, including preservation, digital rights management, and the like.

Today, we're tackling this challenge head on. The AU Library will be holding a screening for Out of Print, a documentary about the pros and cons of the transition away from hardcopies. Notable figures in the publishing world weigh in, including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Fahrenheit 451 author Ray Bradbury. The filmmaker, Vivienne Roumani, will be in attendance and will hold a Q&A afterwards. This is a very exciting event that we're proud to sponsor.

The screening begins at 3pm in the Butler Board Room (sixth floor of the Butler Pavilion). No RSVP is required, and the event is free. We hope to see you there!

Monday, February 03, 2014

Become a Super Manager. Lynda will mentor you.

Many people know has hundreds of training videos for you to master the latest software. What is sometimes overlooked is that it is just as valuable a resource for sharpening your business skills. For example, Management Fundamentals with Britt Andreatta is a two hour course which covers all the essentials of good management - hiring, coaching, motivating and delegating. has dozens of training courses like this, taught by professionals in the field. 

As a current AU student, faculty or staff, you have access to all of's tutorials and resources. First, go to and log in with your AU credentials. It may be the first step on your remarkable business career.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Alternative programming: Football under scrutiny

February 2nd is upon us, and we're only 8 hours away from Super Bowl XLVIII kickoff. We're as excited as anyone, especially given the exciting match-up this year. That said, there is a dark side to the professional football as well. The continued threat of brain damage has plagued the NFL for years, and with recent strings of suicide and memory loss among former players, it is a more pertinent issue than ever.

As counter-programming to the Super Bowl, we strongly suggest watching League of Denial, a new Frontline documentary about the NFL's continued struggle with concussions and head trauma. The documentary made an enormous and controversial impact when it was released last October, in part because of its depiction of the NFL's repeated denials and evasions over the issue. It's becoming harder and harder to talk about the state football without touching on this issue; this documentary is perhaps the best gateway into that discussion.

Of course, it's possible to enjoy the Super Bowl at the same time. We'll be watching both.

League of Denial – HU DVD 6721