Saturday, September 29, 2007
I’d like to say that we realized how incredibly cheesy and stupid the movie was going to be from the very beginning, but unfortunately even after sitting through previews for movies that were unimaginative and just plain dumb, we still had hope. Finally ten minutes into the movie it hit us that the extent of the poor acting, cheesiness, and stereotypical characters was more than we could have imagined. Sydney White, Bynes’ character, wants to join her deceased mother’s sorority but unfortunately it has turned into a bunch of blond bimbos who need attitude adjustments. These prissy Phi Kappa somethings don’t like brunette working class Sydney and reject her. Shocker! Sydney has no where to stay because she vacated her dorm to stay in the sorority mansion while pledging so she goes to the Vortex house. Vortex is described as a haven for social outcasts, seven dorky guys live there and welcome Sydney into their bizarre little family. Sydney decides to run for student council president so she and her seven dorks can take the power away from Greek Row and make the university an enjoyable place for everybody. While campaigning for student council she and Rachel Witchburn, President of the sorority, exchange harsh words and Rachel tries unsuccessfully to sabotage Sydney. Rachel hates Sydney because Sydney’s new boyfriend, Something Prince, is Rachel’s ex. Sydney wins the election and everybody, even greeks, admit that they are all dorks and social outcasts.
The whole message of this movie is that being popular does not matter and that looks don’t matter because everybody is a dork on the inside. This whole idea was kind of undermined because Sydney’s new boyfriend was supposedly the hottest most popular guy in school. I personally didn’t think that Something Prince was very attractive but then again I don’t really like pretty boys. The message kind of morphed into girls who are popular and attractive are absolute witches (like Witchburn) and boys who are popular and attractive are nice and accepting. I’m not going to say that I don’t agree with this idea, because that’s exactly how things are at ECS, but I think that the movie went completely overboard in driving that point home.
For Sydney and Prince guy’s first date he took her to a church where he served food to homeless people. Oh please, like any guy would take a girl to do community service with him unless he was trying to get a little something which Prince guy, by the way, did not. In order to ask Sydney out, Prince guy had some freshmen pledges lay a single red rose at her desk one by one and then serenade her. Gag! Finally, in true fairy-tale fashion Sydney had fallen asleep in the library after studying all night before her final presidential debate, she was running late so Prince guy tried to wake her up unsuccessfully and then kissed her until she woke up. At this point in the movie my mom and I knew what to expect so I wouldn’t say we were surprised but we did shout things at the screen which seemed to anger the other people in the theater.
This movie brings up questions that have been bothering me for quite some time. First of all, who makes these horrible movies and what where they thinking? Second, How did these movies get funding and actors to play these roles? And finally, Who goes to see these movies? I’m beginning to think that because of all the dumb weak movies that have come out recently that filmmakers are seriously underestimating the intelligence of movie goers. A more scary thought is that the majority of people really are this unintelligent. Anyway, does anybody have any thoughts on why movies are so bad right now?
Even though I was sleep deprived, food deprived, sick, and looked like crap, all I could think about was that I hadn’t seen the last episode of “Friends” season 8 yet. Sam and I are systematically going through all of the “Friends” seasons and we usually watch a couple of episodes each night. Needless to say, because of our horrible week, we hadn’t really had time to watch an episode in a while and season 8 was already a couple of days late to Blockbuster. As I worked on the Textual Analysis Essay at 3 in the morning Monday night I was really worried that I wouldn’t get to watch “Friends” and when I studied for my chemistry exam late Thursday night I was experiencing these weird withdrawal pains from “Friends.” I don’t know how I got so addicted to TV, I guess its not technically TV because I don’t really like to watch current shows on TV, I only like to watch the seasons of shows when they come out on DVD. With the exception of “Gilmore Girls” which I watched faithfully every Tuesday night ever since the very first episode, I just don’t watch very much TV.
I guess my point in this blog is that I don’t think we realize how addicted we are to TV or music or whatever until we have to do without them. If someone had asked me if I loved to watch TV before this week then I would have told them that I really don’t like to watch TV, I like to read. I honestly did think that this was true until this week when instead of freaking out about not reading my book I got really messed up because I hadn’t seen “Friends.” Maybe TV has such a big impact because it engages more of our senses and we don’t have to work at understanding what is going on. Reading mainly involves your brain but TV and movies occupy our sight and hearing. Neil Postman warns about the dangers of TV in “Amusing Ourselves to Death.” I read this book and found it fascinating but I didn’t really think that it applied to me. I love to read and I read all the time, Postman mainly talks about our disregard for the written word and our replacement of literature with television. I figured that since I like to read way more than I like to watch TV then I was not vulnerable to the effects that Postman describes TV having on people. I realize now that whether we are addicted to television or not, it can have a profound impact on us.
I’ve decided to blame our high school, ECS, for our OCD problems. ECS ingrains in its students that you should do everything to the best of your abilities because that is what glorifies God and that is what will get you into a good college where you can get an excellent job and then glorify God even more. I agree that God desires my best and that in order to honor Him in all that I do I should do my school work well because at this time in my life this is what God wants me to do. I don’t think that it glorifies God to be obsessive about school work because when I’m freaking out about my work I’m not thinking that God will be dishonored by a poorly written essay. Also, I don’t think God cares at all if i get a prestigous, well-paying of job, I mean it’s not even up to me where I work because I am going to follow God’s plans for my life even if it means staying in Memphis and being a teacher or spreading His truth in Russia (by the way, I don’t want to do either of those things) , it’s up to Him to decide. Worrying about my grades seems selfish to me, I think that if I am going to do something to the best of my abilities it should be something for others because I think that would glorify God much more. Anyway, I think that ECS has it all wrong, God isn’t glorified when I’m perfect, He is glorified when I follow Him and do His will with the abilities that He has given me. I’m going to try to relax more about school and maybe I’ll be able to more clearly see God’s plan for my life.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
“Prime Directive” is Griffith’s retelling of his experiences the night before Halloween and Halloween night. Griffith is dressed as Captain Kirk from “Star Trek” but is repeatedly mistaken for an extra who dies. He and his friend go to a couple of different parties because Griffith says he doesn’t want to be home alone as his wife and things are gone. His wife had to move before him and he will soon be joining her. At the last party he goes to, Griffith poses for an Abu Ghraib-like picture with a friend dressed as Graner. The next day, Griffith is remorseful and helps his good-hearted neighbor pass out candy and terrify children.
Griffith’s description of his Halloween experiences is very dark and causes the situation to seem out of balance and confusing. From the very first paragraph of the piece we get the idea that things are not normal when Griffith tells us that the sky darkens at the “exact moment” as the street light goes out. He goes on to say that “the world seems rife with omens,” a phrase that foreshadows the symbolism yet to come. During the first party scene when Griffith is misidentified, we get the feeling that he is depressed and ready to escape his problems after he considers imitating Kirk. Griffith says that he is “not feeling up to it. No one is drunk enough for it to be funny, including me.”
This last phrase brings up an interesting theme in “Prime Directive.” In many instances in the piece, people seem to be trying to stay on the surface of serious subjects or to be numb and shut out their troublesome thoughts. As Griffith describes his empty apartment, we see that he is uncomfortable being alone in a bare apartment because his thoughts keep him from peace. He says that he has to drink a few beers to go to sleep and compares the “crammed bookcases” to the new sparse living space saying that there is “nothing to deaden the sound.” This makes me think that this emptiness leaves him no other choice but to explore uncomfortable ideas, where as normally his many distractions shield him from harsh reality and serve to “deaden the sound.” We see this same need for distraction in the party-goer dressed as Prozac. After the party lightly discusses the connections between the war in Iraq and Star Trek’s Prime Directive, Griffith says she “began to get impatient; she’s ready to move one.” Prozac wants to go to another party because when we keep moving we don’t have to stop and think. Griffith emphasizes this idea again when he decides to continue on to another party because he wants to be “away from my empty house, away from thinking.”
Even though Griffith is trying not to think, a couple paragraphs later, the absence of his sane thoughts seem to let in these abnormal ideas. While standing in line for the last party, Griffith imagines himself attacking the bouncer and attending a “Hieronymus Bosch-like party.” Griffith’s word choice here immediately evokes graphic images of the scene he is imagining simply by saying the name “Hieronymus Bosch.” It is ironic that just as Griffith is trying to be mindless, all these violent images take over. I think Griffith is showing us that when we refuse to acknowledge that incidents like Abu Ghraib are pertinent to our lives then we begin to become just as perverse and guilty as the people responsible for such heinous acts.
It seems that though Griffith is trying to escape his thoughts, the abnormality of the events has caused him to think in a different way. Griffith says he needs some “proximity to strangeness, something to take my mind off of the stuff that was waiting for me when I was alone,” but instead the “strangeness” causes him to delve deeper instead of hovering on the outside of his thoughts. A good example of the “strangeness” that causes Griffith to think is his picture with the Graner impersonator. Griffith claims to find the costume “somehow exhilarating” because it goes “beyond the point where rational people turn back.”
The idea that Griffith now find it “exhilarating” that the Graner impersonator went so far shows how much Griffith’s thinking has evolved since the beginning of the article. Originally, Griffith is trying to hide from his thoughts and now he appreciates this guy who has plunged in to the heart of the Abu Ghraib issue. This shows that what is necessary in order to effectively learn from and respect the Abu Ghraib atrocities is a correct balance between recognizing the actions and perpetrators as deplorable and seeing that same perverseness in ourselves. Griffith sees this after taking the Abu Ghraib-like picture with his friend.
Griffith mentions Abu Ghraib many times from the perspective of one who cannot understand and would never do such things but finally at the end he shows us that the tendency to take advantage of those who are weaker exists in every human in some form. He leads us to this conclusion throughout the article by first demonstrating his feelings of disgust towards Abu Ghraib from an observer’s point of view. He describes the incident as something that would “bring everybody down” but later begins to connect the exploitation of humans in Abu Ghraib to our own pop culture. He uses words like “near-naked” and “gyrating” to show us the humiliating way that the women in music videos are being exploited and then ties that in to the naked, humiliating pictures from Abu Ghraib. Slowly we begin to realize that people are being exploited in horrible ways even in America, though we don’t equate this kind of exploitation to that of Abu Ghraib because it is more voluntary and less cruel.
Griffith's emphasis on Star Trek’s Prime Directive and his depiction of himself as Captain Kirk symbolizes how in America many times we don’t even consider that we could be capable of such horrible actions. We were all raised to respect each other and to not infringe on anyone else’s rights but we should ask ourselves if that is really how others see us. As Griffith went around the night before Halloween, he was mistaken a couple of times for “one of the guys that dies” in an episode. He was mistaken for an extra that doesn’t even have an identity while all the time trying to be Captain Kirk, a protector of the Prime Directive. This shows that while we usually think of ourselves as these great human rights people, we are often not just the people who inflict pain but, the faceless people who are dehumanized like those in Abu Ghraib and the extras that die in Star Trek.
Griffith realizes how closely connected he is to the crimes committed at Abu Ghraib after taking the picture with his friend that mimics the Abu Ghraib pictures. The next morning this picture makes him realize the fine line we struggle with in order to properly react to atrocities such as Abu Ghraib. It’s hard to find the balance between condemning Graner and those like him and recognizing our disgusting similarities.
At the end of the article, Griffith demonstrates the extent of unbalancedness in our culture. He first tells us that his neighbor Mel “is a kind, loving man,” and then describes how he helps Mel pass out candy and terrify children. In Mel, we see how even the most unlikely people can still derive enjoyment from the pain and terror of weaker individuals. Griffith takes a turn as the fake looking grim reaper and is supposed to scare the kids as they come for candy. He fails to convince the kids that he isn’t real and one suggests that the other kick him to find out if he is really dead. Griffith uses this depiction of a real person acting like an object to show us how we sometimes fail to see those weaker than us as people until they react to pain, and even then we may not understand. The kid’s natural reaction in order to find out if Griffith was fake is to inflict pain.
“Prime Directive” shows us two different viewpoints that we normally would never see ourselves as. Typically we are Captain Kirk, always on top of things and doing what is right, but through the examples of Mel and the party picture we see our natural tendency to inflict pain. We also see that instead of being the inflictor of pain or the protector we can just as easily be the faceless object that is exploited. As Griffith waits to scare the trick-or-treaters, is mistaken as the dead guy, or describes the women in music videos, we see how we are so often unknowingly dehumanized in our culture. Griffith puts us in his place that night before Halloween. We feel him shift perspectives from observer to the guilty party in a dark, confusing atmosphere as he tries in vain to stay on the surface.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
First of all I want to say that I think that our campus newspaper usually has some interesting, well-written articles. My boyfriend really likes The Daily Helmsman and makes an effort to always read every article of every issue. This alone shows me that it must be good because Sam usually hates reading and I don’t think that I have seen him voluntarily read anything other than Carl Sandburg poetry or Sherlock Holmes stuff during all the time we’ve been together. Anyway, I don’t want this post to turn anyone away from our school newspaper because I don’t think that this article is a good reflection of the things that are normally printed.
Travis Griggs, the author of the Helmsman article, describes the occurrences at Jena high fairly accurately except for one huge detail. He fails to mention that the six black students attacked the white student until he was unconscious and were said to have repeatedly kicked his head after he passed out. Griggs includes quotes from a few different people that all essentially say the same thing: the white students should have been charged as well. If you knew nothing of the “Jena 6” events before reading this article, then it would probably seem like an incredible injustice to only charge the black students involved in the school violence and not the white students who fought back and provoked the black students, but knowing a little more about what actually occurred I didn’t see things this way.
Slate’s article didn’t actually describe the events that took place, but it at least included the actual crime that the six students are being charged for. The article was mainly about reporting the various opinions held about the “Jena 6’ events so it was fitting that author Michael Weiss didn’t spend much time on the basics of the incident. Weiss included a wide spectrum of views in his article ranging from those who believed more white support was needed for the “Jena 6” cause to those who think the offenders should go to jail. While I thought it was really interesting to hear all these different opinions, I wish that Weiss had revealed where he stood on the issue. Weiss’s writing was pretty neutral, he mentioned the major facts without using strong language and had quotes from people who saw the situation in different ways. If I had to say how he felt, I think he probably feels that the charges of second-degree battery and conspiracy to commit battery are a little harsh judging from the quotes he included.
Before I talk about what I think, I want to mention something from the Helmsman article. Griggs begins by describing “Jena 6” as a national controversy, and he should because there are so many different opinions about the occurrences, but he doesn’t follow up his description by actually including any ideas that contradict his own and those of others who agree with him. He of course makes the Jena authorities out as the bad guys, but never mentions why this is a national controversy. I know that this issue isn’t the whole nation against Jena, La, so why aren’t conflicting views presented in this article? I think that if Griggs wanted to express his views in this piece then he should not have tried to sound informative, and if he wanted to be informative he should have included at least two sides on the issue. Over all, this article seemed poorly written and inappropriately constructed in regards to its purpose.
I completely disagree with Griggs on this issue. I certainly don’t think that the charges against the six students should be dropped. The issue is not whether or not these students had a good reason for attacking the other student, the issue is that they violently beat him until he passed out and continued to do so after he was unconscious. These six students broke the law when they attacked the student and they should be punished for it. The fact that the white students were horribly offensive and racist toward these black students does not give them the right to resort to physical violence. The idea that the white students involved in the incident should be charged equally doesn’t make sense because they did not attack anyone to the point of unconsciousness. I do think, however, that the white students should be harshly punished by their school for the deplorable ways that they insulted the black students. If the circumstances were turned around and six white students had been provoked to attack a single black student, I would still insist that the six students be similarly charged. I don’t think race should be a factor in this issue, nor do I think that the reasons why the six students attacked the other student should matter. When someone commits a crime, they should be punished accordingly.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
I know that our assignment this week said that we needed to use two similar articles from the list of recommended sites, but after reading "The Adventures of Taser Boy" from The National Review, I was dying to hear a different side of the story. My second article came from The Independent Flordia Alligator, the UofF campus newspaper. I found it really interesting because it described the incident from a student perspective.
The word-choice in either article was fairly bland and the tone in both articles was mainly informative, however both views defend their sides in various places. The main differences I saw were in the specific way information was given and what information was given. In the National Review article, author Jack Dumphy includes an explanation of why the officers approached Meyer. Apparently a university official signaled that things were getting dangerously out of hand. In contrast, the UofF publication blamed the officers for agitating Meyer and provoking the riot. A look at the video shows us that Meyer was getting loud and angrily waving his arms around right after the mic was cut and a few seconds later the police approached him. In this situation, the National Review seems to be reporting more accurately but it is interesting to see the way that this situation appeared to the students in attendence.
Another interesting dissimilarity between the National Review and The Independent Florida Alligator is their reports of Meyer's conflict with the police. UofF went straight from "Meyer was told to comply with the officers, but continued to resist," to " 'Don't tase me, bro!' Meyer screamed as officers attempted to drag him outside . . . police then shot Meyer with a taser gun." The Alligator portrayed Meyer as a helpless victim merely resisting out of fear who is then cruelly tasered. Maybe it seemed like this to some people after hearing Meyers screams as he is tasered, but in the video, not only did Meyer "resist", he ran , flailed, hit, yelled, you get the idea. The National Review described Meyer as an attention-getter who carried on long after he was warned to calm down. Dumphy writes what we can clearly see in the video, that Meyer was acting in a threatening way to Kerry and was a potential danger to both officers and students. We see the officers point of view as their attempts to subdue Meyer only make him more volatile. He has on one handcuff, is running from them, yelling at the top of his lungs, and in a room full of people. Even though Meyer did not seem to be a threat in the video, its the officers job to ensure that everyone is safe and because Meyer was acting in a threatening manner the police had to take him down. The National Review also included that Meyer was warned several times by the police to calm down or they would taser him but Meyer, obviously, did no such thing.
The UofF paper explained that many students were planning on marching in protest the next day. Students were said to be demanding the charges of felony against Meyer to be dropped and the officers to be suspended. While I think these demands make sense if you are truly outraged at the whole event, but the students are also demanding that all taser guns be removed from campus. That really doesnt click with me, I mean taser guns are something that increases security and just because they were used on a student in this instance I dont see why they should all of a sudden be banned.
Anyway, I agree with the Dunphy. Meyer was considered to be an obnoxious jerk by many students and has videotaped a lot of his own practical jokes and stuff. I think his harangue of Kerry and violent resistance to the police were just attention-getting stunts that Meyer took way to far. Meyers yells on the video seem fake up until he is tasered and then they just sound horrible. I found this topic interesting because the differences in information made me think about the information that I accept as accurate. I'm definitely going to look for more than one source from now on because neither the National Review or The Independent Florida Gator was able to give the whole story.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
On a side note, I think that Griffith's emphasis of Star Trek’s Prime Directive and his depiction of himself as Captain Kirk kind of symbolizes how in America many times we don’t even consider that we could be capable of such horrible actions. We were all raised to respect each other and to not infringe on anyone else’s rights but we should ask ourselves if that is really how others see us. As Griffith went around the night before Halloween, he was mistaken a couple of times for the “one of the guys that dies” in an episode. He was mistaken for an extra that doesn’t even have an identity while all the time trying to be Captain Kirk, a protector of the Prime Directive. I think that this shows that while we usually think of ourselves as these great human rights people, we are often not just the people who inflict pain but, the faceless people who are dehumanized like those in Abu Ghraib and the extras that die in Star Trek.
Anyway, getting back to my main point, Griffith realizes how closely connected he is to the crimes committed at Abu Ghraib after taking a picture with a friend of his that mimics the Abu Ghraib pictures (his friend dressed up like Graner and carried around a camera and a hood). The next morning this picture makes him realize the fine line we struggle with in order to properly react to atrocities such as Abu Ghraib. It’s hard to find the balance between condemning Graner and those like him and recognizing our disgusting similarities. I think that this brings up another reoccurring theme of Griffiths, the idea that everything is unbalanced. Griffith points to this idea a few times throughout the narrative. He mentions the street light flickering in the beginning which gives us the feeling that things aren’t quite right. Griffith then adds to this feeling by describing how strange he feels in his empty apartment without his wife. We get the idea that he would normally not be doing the things that he describes in the story as he subtly ridicules the different parties and people, further insinuating that this night is strange.
Finally at the end of the article, Griffith demonstrates the extent of this unbalancedness. He first tells us that his neighbor Mel “is a kind, loving man,” and then describes how he helps Mel pass out candy and terrify children. In Mel, we see how even the most unlikely people can still derive enjoyment from the pain and terror of weaker individuals. Griffith takes a turn as the fake looking grim reaper and is supposed to scare the kids as they come for candy. He fails to convince the kids that he isn’t real and one suggests that the other kick him to find out if he is really dead. Griffith uses this depiction of a real person acting like an object to show us how we sometimes fail to see those weaker than us as people until they react to pain, and even then we may not understand. The kid’s natural reaction in order to find out if Griffith is fake is to inflict pain.
I think that “Prime Directive” shows us two different viewpoints that we normally would never see ourselves as. Typically we our Captain Kirk, always on top of things and doing what is right, but through the examples of Mel and the party picture we see our natural tendency to inflict pain. We also see that instead of being the inflictor of pain or the protector we can just as easily be the faceless object that is exploited. As Griffith waits to scare the trick-or-treaters, is mistaken as the dead guy, or describes the women in Chingy’s video, we see how we are so often unknowingly dehumanized in our culture.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Christopher Orr, author of The New Republic article, mainly raved about Mortensen’s part in the film. He is obviously a big Viggo fan because he began the article with one of Mortensen’s lines and then goes on to talk about the development of his character and his overall performance. He uses phrases like “ those cheekbones could have been cut by a jeweler” and demonstrates the importance of Mortensen’s character in every part of the movie. Orr says that though Watts is the main character, “on a gut level this is Mortensen’s movie.” Orr concludes by saying that the film is slightly lacking in meaningful tension or originality and that, while Mortensen’s performance was exceptional, the “ultragraphic violence” it contained didn’t help in the end.
In contrast, the Slate article written by Dana Stevens, focused more on the plot line and the meaning behind the violence of Eastern Promises. Stevens acknowledges that the film is enjoyable to watch but agrees with Orr that it is not an exceptional film. Steven’s approach to the article was deeper than Orr’s, she looked for what Cronenberg was trying to say in the violent scenes and over-all dark feel. Stevens explains that Cronenberg can be distinguished from others in his genre because his violence is not senseless but exhibits a healthy respect for the body. She shows her dislike of many recent violent films by describing them as having “Blam-pow jokiness.” Her deeper approach to the movie can also be seen in her idea that Cronenberg uses much of the violence in his films to show the social uses of violence. Stevens is also a Mortensen fan as we can see when she gushes about him at the end of her article. She calls his performance amazing goes on to say that you haven’t lived unless you’ve seen Viggo in the climactic fight scene where he is nude.
Over all, I think that Stevens used more descriptive language and more clearly described the movie than Orr did. Stevens paints a more detailed picture of the movie with his impressive vocabulary. By using words like naïve and idealistic to describe Watts character and saying that Mortensen looked like a Caravaggio martyr in a particular scene, Stevens made me recognize the feel of the movie and characters without actually seeing it. Orr’s review, while certainly interesting, did not measure up to Stevens in vocabulary or focus. I would have liked to hear more about the actual movie before talking about Mortensen’s part because I was kind of lost.
Without having seen the movie, and not planning to ever see it, I can’t really agree or disagree with these authors. However, I do think that I can talk about Steven’s views on violence in movies. I agree with her that much of the violence in movies is for effect and has no real meaning. I don’t like watching violent movies because they of course gross me out but also I think its kind of wrong to fill our minds with such violent images if their only purpose is to entertain us. I would have to say, though, that if Cronenberg’s work actually focuses on deeper meanings in its violence I would not be opposed to watching it, even though I know I would hate it.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
We think that our pets are so important to us because they love us unconditionally. Its very appealing to know that your dog is never going to be mad at you or that you don’t have to convince your puppy to like you. Another reason why an animal companion is so desirable is because they rely on us completely. There are so many things that we have no control over and its nice to think that we can at least control our pets or know that they see us as authority figures. Especially when you are young, the idea of a pet is enticing because you have someone to take care of and boss around while everyone else is telling you what to do all the time. In a world where so many things are changing and uncertain, our pets provide stability and something that we can dictate.
We each have specific memories of longing for and loving pets, specifically dogs. After thinking about why we feel this way, we realized that we craved the unconditional love and simplicity that dogs provide. Though we each recollect different instances that make us think about our love for our pets, we all felt the same way about why our dogs are so important to us. These stories show how much we care about our dogs, the different stages we go through in loving them, and how important they are to us.
I always dreamed of having my own dog ever since I was a little girl. I wanted a dog that would sleep in a beautiful dog house in the backyard. I imagined a small fluffy dog with long white hair that I could brush and braid and wash as often as I wanted to. My dog would be fun, hyper, and always excited to play. She would have a pink leash with a rhinestone handle and a fuzzy pink color that jingled when she walked. Most importantly, I wanted a dog that I could take care of all by myself. When I turned four and still no dog showed up I decided to take matters into my own hands. Even though I had asked for my own dog at Christmas and my birthday it didn’t seem like my parents were ever going to do anything about it. I looked around the house and realized that I had a few things that were very similar to a dog. First of all I had lots of stuffed animals that certainly looked like the dog that I envisioned but I decided that those wouldn’t really work because they couldn’t walk or fetch things very well. Then I saw some squirrels in our backyard and thought that one of them might make a very good dog but after trying to catch one I decided that they wouldn’t really work either. Finally I looked at my baby brother, Timothy, and knew that I had found my dog. Timothy crawled around like a dog and even held things like balls or sticks in his mouth just like a dog. He was a much better choice than my stuffed animals because they couldn’t play with me and he was a lot easier to catch than the squirrels so I knew that he would work perfectly. After making my decision I knew that there was a lot of work to do. I have always been kind of crafty so I set right to work making all sorts of doggy supplies. I made a leash and collar for Timothy out of his bib and a piece of ribbon (don’t worry I didn’t choke him or anything, I just tied it onto his bib not his neck.) I collected some squeaky toys from around the house to play with and then got some sticks from the backyard so we could play fetch. My final project was a dog house that I made out of a cardboard box. I set the dog house out in the backyard and put a big pillow inside so that Timothy would be very comfy. All that was left to do was to tell Timothy about the new arrangements and pitch the idea to my parents. Timothy seemed to be very happy about being my new dog and played with the toys that I had collected for him, but, needless to say, my parents were not pleased with the situation. I tried to explain that this way we could all share Timothy and that if he slept out in the backyard then maybe he wouldn’t wake us up when he cried in the middle of the night. I showed them the toys and sticks I had gathered and even the dog house I had made but they weren’t very supportive. My parents explained to me that even though Timothy acted like a dog sometimes, he was a boy and wouldn’t be able to sleep outside or crawl forever. They told me that soon I would have a walking little brother to play with instead of a dog. They were right, but I still fervently wished for a dog. I had to wait a while but, finally, when I was six I got my own dog.
I was so excited to find out I was getting a dog. I had been waiting for so long and was happy that the moment was finally there. My mom had found a breeder in Mississippi who had brand new Shih-Tsu pupppies. The kind she wanted. So that afternoon we got in the car and took a two hour drive. When we arrived at the breeder, we got to choose from a big selection of puppies. She had all kinds from white dogs with black spots to black with white to brown with white to black with brown...... get the piture?! So we started looking around and came across a pretty all black puppy with curly fur. We tried to play with her, but she just laid there. We came to the conclusion that that wasn't the dog for us. We wanted a fun, upbeat, friendly dog that we could have fun with. So we kept looking. the breeder let out a few dogs at a time and told us to try to get one to come to us. She did that and we began whistling, clapping and doing other things to get the dogs attention. Immediately we were rushed by a gorgeous tan dog with a black face and white stomach. She was so friendly and hyper we just immediately fell in love with her. She jumped all over us, nibbled on our fingers, and tried to lick our faces. She was perfect. We paid a grip for her (totally worth it!) and brought her to the car. She sat in my lab the whole way home and played with me. She was so small I was afraid I would smush her!
When we got home, we let her explore the house at her own pace. She went into of our rooms and explored everything, She decided my room was her favorite and started sleeping under my bed, even though she had a cute little dog house. We eventually decided to name her Pebbles (from the Flinstones) and said if we were to get another, we would name him BamBam. we never did. Pebbles is a handful!
My dog immediately took to us, and expressed a love that was truly unconditional. The human condition is so messed up in general; I think it's safe to say that a great deal of "love" is artificial. People often act nice only for personal gain, but dogs seem to express a very authentic love towards their owners. We fed her, played with her, picked up after her, and gave her a place she could call home, and that was it; what more does a simplistic animal need in life than the fulfillment of these very basic desires ? We tried to teach her tricks, but to no avail. She was too hyper and stubborn, or perhaps she realized somehow in her tiny dog brain that she was being degraded to some sort of object of amusement.We eventually quit trying , and no longer did we seek entertainment through the frivolous obediance of a pet. Besides, how would humans feel if they were forced to perform tricks for somebody? We let our dog do as she pleased, as long as it brought no harm to any of us. Her sweet and innocent face somehow managed to charm and delight even the most cold-hearted people. It is humorous to point out the fact that the single greatest thrill in her life was her daily stroll around the neighborhood. It shows how little it takes to satisfy a dog, and how spoiled humans are for requiring such large doses of mass media and extravagant forms of entertainment to keep themselves happy. She was an integral part of the family, and her passing away left a large hole in our hearts for many weeks. We eventually got over it though. We smiled and knew that we had given her the best life a dog could ever have.
As you can see, we each remember how important our dogs are to us because of different things, but the reason we care about them is the same. In every stage we go through with our pets, whether its wanting them, bringing them home, or simply living with them, we love them because they are always there loving and adoring us.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Even though I had asked for my own dog at Christmas and my birthday it didn’t seem like my parents were ever going to do anything about it. I looked around the house and realized that I had a few things that were very similar to a dog. First of all I had lots of stuffed animals that certainly looked like the dog that I envisioned but I decided that those wouldn’t really work because they couldn’t walk or fetch things very well. Then I saw some squirrels in our backyard and thought that one of them might make a very good dog but after trying to catch one I decided that they wouldn’t really work either. Finally I looked at my baby brother, Timothy, and knew that I had found my dog. Timothy crawled around like a dog and even held things like balls or sticks in his mouth just like a dog. He was a much better choice than my stuffed animals because they couldn’t play with me and he was a lot easier to catch than the squirrels so I knew that he would work perfectly.
After making my decision I knew that there was a lot of work to do. I have always been kind of crafty so I set right to work making all sorts of doggy supplies. I made a leash and collar for Timothy out of his bib and a piece of ribbon (don’t worry I didn’t choke him or anything, I just tied it onto his bib not his neck.) I collected some squeaky toys from around the house to play with and then got some sticks from the backyard so we could play fetch. My final project was a dog house that I made out of a cardboard box. I set the dog house out in the backyard and put a big pillow inside so that Timothy would be very comfy. All that was left to do was to tell Timothy about the new arrangements and pitch the idea to my parents.
Timothy seemed to be very happy about being my new dog and played with the toys that I had collected for him, but, needless to say, my parents were not pleased with the situation. I tried to explain that this way we could all share Timothy and that if he slept out in the backyard then maybe he wouldn’t wake us up when he cried in the middle of the night. I showed them the toys and sticks I had gathered and even the dog house I had made but they weren’t very supportive. My parents explained to me that even though Timothy acted like a dog sometimes, he was a boy and wouldn’t be able to sleep outside or crawl forever. They told me that soon I would have a walking little brother to play with instead of a dog. They were right, but I still fervently wished for a dog. I had to wait a while but, finally, when I was six I got my own dog.
Sunday, September 9, 2007
First came to visit my dog, Jasmine, when she was first born
Used to pretend my brother was my pet (build him a dog house in our yard)
Draw names for my dog as a family
Took my dog home
When I was 9 let my dog sleep on my bed
Jasmine almost got run over by a huge truck
Got an electric fence put in and Jasmine got pulled over it
Took Jasmine to obedience school
We got another dog that Jasmine was afraid of
Took Jasmine to a lake and let her swim
Giving Jasmine baths (always hard b/c she hates water)
Jasmine got lost in the snow in our yard
Jasmine got stuck in our grass that hadn’t been mowed in a while
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Most classes that we are required to take in high school and college are about an hour long or more. Now compare that time to the average person’s attention span which is between 15-20 minutes. That just seems crazy to me that so much time is being wasted in class when students are no longer able to effectively retain information. Even though our attention spans regenerate after a quick break, it doesn’t really help because they become shorter each time. I mean by the end of a class we should statistically be zoning out every couple of minutes. So with these things in mind, why are our class periods so long?
I actually had time to formulate a couple theories in between the videos “Red Asphalt” and “What’s In Your Breathalyzer Test” I think that one of the reasons that our school days in high school are so long is that parents and other people in authority are trying to keep us occupied. Maybe they think that if we spend so much time in school and then do a couple hours of homework that we’ll “stay off the streets,” or maybe they simply don’t want to feel responsible for the things that we do. Also, I think that maybe high school teachers have to work 8 hours a day so they can get benefits and, of course, enough money to live on. Tell me if you have any other ideas because there has got to be a logical reason why we have to spend an hour in class when most of the material could probably be covered in half that time. While I think that high school classes are way too long I can understand that our college classes have to be lengthy because we don’t meet every day.
So I’m pretty much supportive of the way college courses are set up but I think that high school and maybe even middle school could use some work. While I haven’t had much time to think these ideas through, I like how they sound at least right now. First of all class periods, would be shorter, probably about 30 minutes, and would mainly focus on the difficult or main points in the lesson and there would probably be some sort of assigned reading to fill in any gaps. After those class periods there would be an optional study hall type of thing where all of the teachers of various subjects would be in their class rooms to more thoroughly discuss anything they think is necessary or that the student needs help with. Also, the extra classes like Art, Drama, or Business would meet twice a week and mainly have projects due. Even if these ideas wouldn’t actually help our educational system, I still think it desperately needs some sort of makeover. We have come so far from the more classical approach to learning which involves individual attention and lessons adapted to the student’s abilities that I think the system has lost its true goal. Now, instead of offering students knowledge and broadening their points of view, schools try to occupy us, teach us discipline, and prepare us for college. I am not saying that these things are necessarily bad; I just think that they shouldn’t be such a huge goal. Anyway, after talking about all this stuff I’ve begun to see home schooling as an excellent, and maybe even superior, alternative to regular high school.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Ngugi (thats his first name I can't remember the rest of it) wrote an article about how the things that we think separate us from other people and define us can actually serve as a way to connect us to each other. He briefly touches on how Western Civilizations have a very categorical way of thinking and how educational systems instill this type of mindset in kids from the beginning of their school careers. The rest of his article talks about how to bridge the gap between cultures by beginning to look at similarities instead af differences like our categorical thinking tells us to do. While Ngugi says that our categorical thinking harms us because we cannot be as open minded and accepting of new things and different people, I think there is another way that our mental organization system can be detrimental.
If we get so caught up in trying to categorize something new or seeing unusual material through our preconcieved notions and definitions necessary to categorize things, we can entirely miss what is truly present. I think that this problem is present in many areas of our lives. For example, when we learn at a young age how, say, vegetables should idealy look or what colors make up a shadow we are actually hindering ourselves later down the road. Though it might seem easy at first to learn things in nice neat sections, when we get older we realize that things rarely ever divide up that simply. Going back to my example with the vegetables and the shadow, when we attempt to draw an actually vegetable or a shadow on the side of a person's face we end up subconsciously mixing reality with our preconcieved notions. You usually end up making vegetables perfectly shaped or mono-chromatic and fail to see the many colors that are present in a shadow. It takes a lot of practice for artists to see what is actually there instead of drawing through what they think should be there. I think this same concept can be applied to the way we view different people or new information. Instead of seeing that a person is similar to us we can sometimes only see what our categories have already told us they should be like . When I approached this reading assignment I was ready to read something boring and pointless because that is what my school reading category is like, but instead I found it interesting and maybe would have enjoyed it had I not been so prepared to dislike it.
Well, to wrap up, I think that how people think is fascinating and I'm not as angry at UNHP even though I'm still not sure what the point of the course is.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
In terms of tone, Lane has been a fan of American movies in the past but is disappointed in the more recent movie releases. He obviously considers himself a film connoisseur and has different sources to explore the root of the problem. I was impressed when he mentioned that he had taken the ideas of film students and their instructors into consideration when he formed his opinion of the short-comings of the film industry. Also, I was glad that he didn’t over-analyze the movies he used as examples because that was something he had accused film makers of doing. His approach to the subject was good, he came across informed and with thought-out opinions that he was passionate about even though they contradicted his previous opinion.
His enthusiasm for the subject comes out not only in his impressive choice of words but also in the slightly sarcastic voice he used to emphasize his point. Lane’s writing was light and humorous, punctuated by interesting anecdotes from various movies to further illustrate his outlook. Lane contradicts himself by claiming to favor American movies as a whole but writes with a pessimistic point of view concerning future US-made films. I think that while the sense of despair Lane used was certainly relevant in reference to the “bad” movies he describes in 2005, he should have switched to a more optimistic approach at the end of his article talking about future movies to support his opinion of America as a “formidable movie-making machine.”
Lane’s diction in the article was very impressive. He used topic-fitting meaningful words to explain his stance and, to be kind of cliché, painted vivid word pictures with his vocabulary. One of my favorite lines, “producers, in their lavish innocence, seem to believe that cool, like Christmas leftovers, can be reheated ad infinitum,” is a great example of both Lane’s ability to emphasize his point with appropriate words and create illustrative metaphors to further explain his views.
I don’t think the structure of this article did the points justice. While Lane’s sentences were well constructed, he jumped around between a couple of different points and examples in each of his paragraphs. Also, Lane didn’t really have a great flow to his article. He started out discussing the weakness of 2005 movies, gave some examples from movies, talked about film schools and their serious focus, incorporated some more movie examples, and then wrapped it up with some great foreign movies and a sense of despair for future American films. I think the article would have been more clear had he more obviously stated his points and wrote in a more systematic manner. While his ideas were well thought out, his writing was all over the place.