Omnium Gatherum: Trees, Television, and Texts

Jacob Akey, Crier Staff

Here on the Hilltop, we have a ginkgo tree. These trees are special because all their leaves can fall in a single day, usually after the first frost of autumn. The trees reproduce unusually, with some being male and others being female. You are unlikely to find any furniture made with ginkgo lumber because it smells like manure when green. The trees originate in China and can reportedly survive for thousands of years. Six ginkgo trees survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, being some of the only plants alive near the blast’s epicenter. Our ginkgo comes from a seed of the Hiroshima six. One Saint Anselm RA, Noah Manuel, has made a game of guessing when the ginkgo’s leaves will fall. The winner gets candy corn. 

Squid Game is the shot in the arm Netflix needs. Two years ago, the streaming giant was king of the world. The upstarts Amazon Prime and Hulu posed no threat, and viewership was strong. The COVID lockdown would bring massive viewing hours to the company, and Tiger King became a cultural lodestone. Today, the market is very different for Netflix. The Hulu/Disney+/ESPN+ bundle provides incredible value. Amazon Prime consistently puts out high-quality content and HBO Max has brought the spectacle of the big screen into the homes of millions. Also troubling, the smaller competitors like Paramount+ and Peacock hoover up content that Netflix desperately needs. The once-dominant Netflix is losing market share with no end in sight. To staunch the bleeding, the streaming service needed new buzz-worthy content, and Squid Game is it. The South Korean thriller focuses on a debt-ridden man who has failed at life. He is a gambling addict cared for by his elderly mother. This man is offered a chance at salvation: an opportunity to play children’s games for a cash reward. The catch is that if he loses, he dies. The show is well made with a solid premise and snappy pacing. Best of all, (at least from Netflix’s perspective) the show is practically made for water-cooler talk. Who is running the game? Who will survive? Every episode brings new questions, and that makes Squid Game a must-watch. 

No end in sight for dining woes. Several weeks ago, at the AVI town hall, Saint Anselm’s AVI director said that labor and food shortages would worsen before they got better. It appears that she was correct. C-Shop is closed on Sundays to give staff a break, and student complaints about quality in Davison have worsened. There seems to be no coming salvation. I have no solutions; we are stuck with what we have. The only advice I can offer is to avoid the alfredo sauce. 

Book collecting is often hereditary. It certainly is for me. My father was a Great Books major here at Saint Anselm, and his love for the printed word has, much to my mother’s horror, been passed down. She has seen her house consumed by our combined collection, and every new addition must be smuggled inside to avoid her wroth. While my father focuses on the epics that have shaped Western civilization, my interests are more esoteric. An atlas of local roads, the autobiography of a little-known but much-loved muralist, or a collection of hometown mythology is more my style. At the Geisel Library book sale this past weekend, I got the chance to add to my collection. The hidden gem I discovered was a signed first edition copy of Linda Reinberg’s In The Field: The Language of The Vietnam War. If you are interested in books, especially rare ones, I recommend The Booksellers (available on Amazon Prime). The film is a lighthearted documentary about the history of selling rare books in New York City. While the books and their prices are undoubtedly fascinating, the film’s heart is a cast of eccentric booksellers and collectors. As much as any of the books they handle, this group is a history of 20th Century NYC. If you love books, history, or the city that never sleeps, you will enjoy The Booksellers.

I stand corrected. Last issue I claimed alcohol abuse on campus was an issue that “nobody wants to talk about.” I was wrong, and campus alcohol abuse was on the front page. Good.