I recently read an old New Yorker article, concerning what life would be like if most people stopped reading. I have aspirations of making writing become a career path in some respect, or at least continue on with it personally if I have an audience. I read constantly, in all forms and formats, and often wish that I made even more time to read than I currently do, or could go through more books quicker. I feel guilty if I pick up my 3DS or the television remote in lieu of a book, or if I open Twitter on my iPad instead of iBooks.

Still, I am aware that I read more than the average individual. I keep a large backlog of fiction and nonfiction books by my desk to work through, often working on several at a time depending on my mood. I have several novels on my iPad that I’m working on, and if I get bored of that for a bit, I pull up the newspaper, Flipboard for its articles, or the invaluable Instapaper app (seriously, if you ever read anything online and have a compatible device, buy this app). According to studies quoted in that article, and from my personal observations, the purchase of books has declined, as has their consumption, and reading comprehension in general is moving in a downward trend. The author foresees a return of reading for pleasure or personal information to a niche group, this time not due to a higher rank or elite status, but due to general disinterest and apathy.

Is this a bad thing? As someone who enjoys reading myself, and who would like to find paying customers for things that I write, which would become increasingly difficult with a smaller customer base, I cringe at the thought. Still, different strokes and all, so I can’t take this personally. I just wonder if there will be other side effects that we can’t envision now, or how people will change in general without the more consistent use of the internal conversations that books provide. Watching a movie or television show, even based on a book, is not the same as living that story in your own head, mapping your experiences onto it and letting it shape you as you are shaping it to yourself. Creative thinking results in many of our greatest achievements, and I worry: will a decline in literacy correlate to a decline in creativity?

‘The Tree of Life’ is a slow burn. It is a film for the patient, and for their patience, they are rewarded.

The film had been on my radar for about a year, and life, as well as only the single art theater in town playing it for a limited run, kept me from seeing it until now. I’ve never particularly paid attention to Terrence Malick before, and did not go into this movie with the history of his work that many critics have. I did watch ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ again recently, and I think that it helped to prime me for the visuals in the film. Indeed, Douglas Trumbull returned to do visual effects for this film, as well as Peter and Chris Parks, who had previously worked on ‘The Fountain’, one of my favorite films that is also concerned with a different tree of life. Their work and Malick’s eye for a great shot made Every scene a bit of eye candy, whether Jessica Chastain tending to her children, or a volcanic eruption on early Earth.

‘Tree’ is about the universe, all encompassing. Beginning with the news of a son’s deaths, the movie jumps back through the creation of the Earth and life on the planet, including the rise of dinosaurs and their fall to a meteor strike. We are then returned to one of the other sons re-visitation of childhood, in Waco, Texas in the 1950’s. There is love and beauty on behalf of his mother, raising him and two other brothers with a tender hand. There is hardness also, from the firm embraces of his father, a stiffly paternal Brad Pitt. He is conflicted both at home and at work. He loves his sons but cannot express it in the same way as his wife. During a scene where he is teaching his sons to fight you can feel the tension, the play punching bordering on real fighting. His struggles in reconciling his love of music with his need to earn a living for his family fuel his inner turmoil, which most of us can attest to being stressors in our dealings with others in our own lives. A good portion of this pain resonated with me personally, which I imagine is what many of the positive reviewers of the film felt as well.

Tree of Life Poster

I’m not going to say that I fully felt Malick’s entire vision. I do agree with some of the detractors that there is a bit of pretension in the movie, and not enough of the substance is stated outright” I gathered it to be about the contention and duality of the different ways of being, whether tender or firm. When young Jack confides that he feels that he has become more his father than mother, it puts his scenes as an adult making a living as an architect into perspective, as memories of his childhood flood him while at work. Sean Penn, as an adult Jack, had far too little screen time, and I was yearning to feel more of how his childhood shaped him as a person. While ostensibly being about the formation and destruction of the planet, the film is really his story, and one that was entirely human.

Emotional, overwrought, beautiful and melancholy; ‘The Tree of Life’ is one of those films that can have tremendous impact on an individual, but if they do not feel it, then it can falloff and fall flat.

Recently, WordPress.com (the paid and web hosted version of the WordPress software) added further Typekit integration into their service. That’s all good if you are a member of Typekit and use WordPress.com, but if you are hunting for custom themes, you don’t have that at your disposal. What you do have, however, is the power of @font-face for your custom theme CSS, and you can style accordingly.

How does it work?

Activating @font-face is pretty simple. You have to have your custom font saved online somewhere that you can reference it, and have to include it in your style sheet for your theme. The code would work as follows:

@font-face {
  font-family: "Helvetica";
  src: url(http://www.example.com/fonts/helvetica.ttf)
           format("truetype");
}
p { font-family: "Helvetica", sans-serif }

The above code names a font with an identifier, in this case, “Helvetica”, and tells the style sheet where to find the font, the url changing based on where you have your font uploaded. The format will become important later on in the tutorial. Unfortunately, as is often the case, not all browsers are created equally, and truetype fonts are not recognized as imports in all browsers. Thankfully however, Google once again comes to the rescue, and has just released a new method for importing fonts in, and even better, you don’t have to host them yourself!

The Google Web Fonts API currently has about 180 fonts that are royalty free for you to insert into your website wherever you choose. They have made it simple to sample text, get link, import, and javascript code, and show how to add the font into your stylesheet. Now there’s more reason than ever to give your website a unique look with a less boring font than Arial or Times New Roman!