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Film Aficionado: David Sessoms

Courtesy of David Sessoms
Courtesy of David Sessoms

When David Sessoms was growing up in Marion, Virginia, his mom would take him and his siblings to movies almost every weekend. Since then, he’s formed an encyclopedic knowledge about all genres of film. Now as an Amazon intern on the Instant Video team, he has continued to pursue his interest in movies.

Courtesy of David Sessoms
Courtesy of David Sessoms

“It’s actually one of my dream jobs as far as the content,” Sessoms said. “I get to distribute a lot of movies to a lot of people and help them enjoy the things I love.”

As well as preparing him for his internship, Sessoms said watching films has also opened him up to different perspectives. When he moved to the East Coast to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology for mechanical engineering (he later switched to computer science), it was a big change from the South, where there wasn’t as much diversity.

“Movies are good in that sense,” he said. “It opens you up to the world in a way.”

Watching movies also influenced Sessom’s college decision: Ironman, aka Tony Stark, is a “graduate” from MIT. He graduated summa cum laude, “which is not possible at MIT – just wanted to point that out — so that movie is a lie,” Sessom laughed.

While “Ironman” may have its factual issues, Sessoms still loves the Marvel film and its ties to MIT.

“If you watch the scene when he goes to the dinner with Pepper Potts, you can see he has the same Brass Rat on that I’m wearing now, so I thought that was the coolest thing ever,” he said.

So, what movies does Sessoms recommend? Look no further than below:

Best visuals: “Avatar” – “It’s one of the only 3-D movies I’ve seen where I didn’t get nauseous.”

Favorite suspenseful film: “Butterfly Effect” – “Throughout the entire film, you’re wondering what’s happening. And then at the end, you start to piece it all together, and it goes a little bit backwards.”

All-time favorite: “Fallen” – “He turned a very nice song, ‘Time is On my Side’ (by the The Rolling Stones), into a super creepy thing throughout the entire movie.”

Movies to not see: “Transformers 4” – “Do not see ‘Transformers 4.’ It was the worst movie I’ve ever seen. The explosions were cool, but there were too many, and they were just dumb.”

New releases to see: “Under the Skin” – “Ninety percent of people won’t like it, but for the 10 percent that do, it will like rack your mind for a week and a half. You won’t be able to think of anything else. I was part of that 10 percent that liked it.”

Favorite comedies: “40-Year-Old Virgin,” “Knocked Up,” “Superbad” – “Anything with Judd Apatow.”

Favorite chick flick: “Hitch” – “The entire movie, Hitch is saying, ‘Go you 90, she goes 10’ (for the first kiss). If you’re watching it with a girl, you guys have been trained the entire movie to where I go 90, she goes 10. So at the end of the date, you just try it out and see if it works. It’s one of my favorite date movies — but don’t watch a movie on the first date.”

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Aspiring Old Norse Translator: Kelsey Jonsson

Courtesy of Kelsey Jonsson
Courtesy of Kelsey Jonsson

Kelsey Jonsson was born and raised in Marietta, Georgia, a northwest suburb of Atlanta. She began her college career at Kennesaw State University majoring in English, but soon learned it wasn’t her language of choice. Instead, she was drawn to a language familiar to her family and the Seattle area: Icelandic.

Kelsey with some of her family members
Kelsey with her family

“My dad’s entire family – they’re all from Iceland, they all speak Icelandic,” Jonsson said. “When I was a small child, I wanted nothing more than to learn Icelandic so I could converse with my family members and it would be our own secret lingo.”

She researched schools that had strong Scandinavian studies programs and came across University of Washington. To get in-state residency, she moved to Washington with her grandmother in May 2013. Living in Seattle further confirmed her belief that she wanted to study Icelandic texts for a living.

“I was in Ballard – I went looking for a job – and I ended up sitting Bergen Place, where they have all the Scandinavian flags represented,” she said. “I was sitting there reading the Icelandic sagas, and I was like, you know, why don’t I get paid for this? This is something I’m doing for fun. This isn’t something people necessarily do for fun.”

So, what exactly is an Old Norse translator? Jonsson compares it to being an archeologist. She said it involves a lot of preparation and seeking out texts on your own. “You’re working with people who are looking for different things to give them an insight into a certain period of time,” she said.

Two of Kelsey's favorite books is "The Sagas of Icelanders" and "Comic Sagas and Tales from Iceland."
Two of Kelsey’s favorite books is “The Sagas of Icelanders” and “Comic Sagas and Tales from Iceland.”

Jonsson said that as a translator, she would not only work with texts, but also with everyday items like helmets and jewelry that have words inscribed in them. Within the Viking Age, Jonsson wants to focus on the topic of women’s rights.

“Divorce was a lot easier to get,” she said. “You could divorce your husband, you could work, you could farm.”

Jonsson hopes to become fluent in Icelandic by the time she finishes college. “I have tons and tons of people to practice with, so that will make things a tiny bit easier,” she laughed.