Thursday, November 30, 2006

Week Nine: Right/Write About Now

Exposing Ourselves in South Park by Tessa Sproule:
I have always been taught to avoid the use of clichés like they were the plague but Sproule spends clichés like a millionaire. Her subject is relevant and her observations hit the nail right on the head but her use of clichés throws off the wealth of knowledge that I have acquired in my years of studying English. “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater” and “take no prisoners” are two of the most common adages used in conversational speech. I thought we were not supposed to use jargons or slang in professional writing but Sproule lets them loose like a bull in a China shop. There is no motive for me to let the cat out of the bag over her use of overused phrases. She pushes the envelope by stating that criticism of entertainment is wrong and the real world should be the subject of scrutiny. In a rant, Jello Biafra states that those that want to protect us from vehicles of entertainment such as pornography or heavy metal music are trying to withhold from us our right to information. This could be what a controversy around a cartoon like South Park might be about but I didn’t think that there was much of a buzz about this or Team America World Police. Remember the words of Ghandi, which are almost becoming a cliché, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win”. There is a massive concern about the influence governments and businesses have on the F.C.C. and C.R.T.C., many people fear that their main purpose is to censor information from the public. Maybe we should start complaining about those that complain and practice our freedom of speech, just watch what you say.

Pushing the Envelope by Steven Austad: That was a bit of a rant on that last piece, so I’ll keep this one short. Pushing the Envelope is an in depth review of adventure traveling. My only exposure to travel writing is Jon Krakuaer and his books Into Thin Air and Into the Wild. I found his writing to be pretentious but there must be a large degree of egotism in adventure writing. The whole genre exists on being one-up on the last guy and it makes for interesting stories. This piece was factual and maintained my interest as I read.

Nirvana Is A Click Away
by Christopher John Farley: Spoiler Alert! This piece is not about Buddhism but exposure of independent musicians on the internet. This is a strong argument for file sharing because it makes the lesser heard music readily available for little or no cost. Talib Kweli, a musician who has publicly come out against file sharing also has a relationship with Jimmy Iovine, who was mentioned in Farley’s essay. Kweli was signed to Rawkus records until Interscope Records bought them. Due to Jimmy Iovine buying out his label Kweli dropped them and started his own production company. Talib Kweli is an artist that you can play for your grandma, one such song of his with Black Star is called For Women that was adapted from the Nina Simone song, but few listeners have been exposed to works because of political opinions that are not compatible with the large record industries. The next Nirvana is out there but so is a lack of interest in intelligent music, too bad for us.

Explorations: Paper Sky: This Exploration was saved on Word, where I write my blog because blogger's word processor sucks, and I lost track of where it goes so wiht out further ado.
This site is an animation based website with a short cartoon as the entrance. The cartoon is a interesting concept, being created completely out of brown paper, but pales in comparison to some of the free animation sites on the net. One would think that there would be more animation on the site but after the intro the site consists of links. The idea of a list of free cartoon sites is great but none of these links can contain as much free entertainment as, on which there is endless amounts of independent video and cartoons. I can see the relevance as we are so busy working on our serious essays to lighten the subject matter up. Thanks!

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Week Eight: Love Me or Leave Me Alone

Water Incorporated by Maude Barlow: An informative yet depressing essay about the threat to the world’s water supply. We recently covered this topic in our geography class and it was also the subject of one of the Canadian Voices lectures. Looking at this piece as a persuasive essay, Barlow lays out the facts and creates her argument from the evidence. The lesson that I took from this piece is to remain neutral and put the strongest argument forward, and let it speak for its self.
Future Schlock by Niel Postman: This is the best essay so far. Postman’s cynical satire is so stereotypically American it is like a cartoon of its self. He points out the obvious deterioration of entertainment quality and reflects on the increase of half-minded programming. The end he is trying to reach is valid but he never mentioned the fact that people want to turn their brains off when they tune in to television. It is a method of relaxation but Postman brings forth the idea that it is wrong to zone out and be programmed by network television. A point that I have heard is that what is on television is called programming for a reason and we should have realized that long ago. Postman also makes mention of The Great Dictator, where the “Look up, Hanna!” speech is from, contrasting the difference between it and The Producers. Mel Brookes and Charlie Chapin both use comedy as a way to lighten controversial topics, these films are in my opinion the best works from these actors and I have yet to see either film on television. This topic is easy to pick on, we are entertained by novelty and to point it out is a cheap shot. It seems like pointing out the obvious is a way for people to feel better than others and makes them appear sophisticated.
Pornography by Margret Atwood: Margret Atwood brings forth her opinion on pornography after visiting the Film Censor’s office. Her talent as a realistic author works well with this essay. “What happens when a boy educated on porn meets a girl brought up on Harlequin romances?(MR,112)”, this passage is reminiscent of another Atwood piece called Happy Endings but the kicker for this passage is truly original, “The clash of expectations can be heard around the block”. For a persuasive essay Atwood leaves her opinion out of it and does what Barlow did and left what she thinks out of forming her issue. This was a great piece and the only beef I have is with what is said in the last paragraph. Atwood thinks that life would be perfect “if everyone [was] in love all the time” and this idea is unrealistic. Love is like any other emotion that comes and goes as it pleases. Love has nothing to do with sex.
Explorations: Wow, how do I get on that list? I sure these people know what the word on the street is. I find it funny how North Americans have abandoned the idea of a local community for online ones. This site doesn’t appear to be anything but a secondary search engine. This may prove to be handy if one is looking for a certain review but I believe in forming an opinion myself. There is so much payola in media that it is impossible to tell if the view or review is genuine. Do your own homework of the criterion of film and you can make an educated evaluation or informed recommendation.
Classmate Comments:

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Week Seven/Eight: A Clock With No Hands

Filling the Open Mind in the Information Age by Wiley Miller, It is nice to have a break from the literature with a comic and not one that is as watered-down as the For Better or Worse caption, previously in the readings, by Lynn Johnston. This piece is relevant to my next essay in which I am focusing on newspaper conglomeration in Canada and how it effects the information we receive. In the comic, a couple is trying to buy a newspaper but they don't want one that will upset them or their ideals. My room-mate and I sometimes watch channels like CNN and comment on how what they discuss is more of opinion than news. To use the example of the Glen Beck show, the host, Beck, goes on rants that some may consider to be racist or fear-mongering but yet he remains one of the largest rating generators for the station. This not only proves that bad news sells but that there is a market for selling controversy, to those that want their news and opinion handed to them instead of digging for the truth themselves. This is an phenomenon that seems to be spreading and the outcome is frightening, especially when the government has a finger in the business of broadcasting. Throughout history we have been warned about what happens when governments control the information of the public. I. F. Stone
put it simply when he said "governments lie", and if they control the media then dissidents will be a thing of the past. This comic is great and reminds me of something out of the New Yorker, and to have someone pointing out critical issues like this with humor is better than being defeatist or complacent.
"I'm Not Racist But..." by Neil Bissoondath: The reason I chose to write about this piece is because the other two to chose from were harder to read than a clock with no hands. This was the second shortest piece but one of the others was a cartoon strip. To make it sound better, Bissoondath's essay was the most blunt. Racism can be found in anything, I use a HBO comedy special as an example, but as Bissoondath points out it is often unnoticed as it is done and done more than we believe. The sensitivity of the issue makes it difficult to bring up, humor allows us to laugh about how touchy it is, and there is a line that is too easily crossed. Ignorance does not improve the situation either. Many people see comedians pushing the boundaries and think that they too can do it, making them seem like racists when their intentions are purely to get a laugh. It is my belief that we should stop looking at the problem in such a small scale and start making fun of humans as a whole. An example, why did the human cross the ocean? To troll the sea bottom and kill all the large fish. Take it all on or nothing, don't be specific. This piece finished with two lines and it was enough of a reiteration to show the message, be aware not afraid that racism is out there.
Classmate Comments: shopaholic1818: I have heard that people are anti-Atwood and I can kind of understand but she is one of the biggest female writers out there. Is it hatred or jealousy? So many people overuse the word hate without backing up why they hate. I am nottrying to pick on you, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but maybe say why you dislike her not just that you hate her.

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Week Six/Seven: Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Your Grievance

Our Daughters, Ourselves by Stevie Cameron: This piece may not be about to my gender but it is for my gender. Sexism is a bitch, sorry, bad joke but I couldn't resist the pun; in all seriousness, the Montreal Politechnique massacre was a gruesome event and Cameron's use of it as an example grabs at the heartstrings of anyone that knows of what happened that day. My mother is a nurse and was going to school at University of Manitoba when that man shot those women. She told me about that day and what it did to all of the nurses and women at her university. This is an extreme example of sexism but by using it in the essay Cameron's point becomes ultimately serious and breaks the issue down to the brass tax. The essay is gloomy but we should not forget about issues like this, to quote Daniel Johnston "don't let the sun go down on your grievance", or to use a cliche the squeaky wheel gets the grease. What I am trying to get at is that by not forgetting the events of the past we are less likely to repeat them, and that is Cameron's motive for writing so graphically, which opened my eyes about this issue.

Don't You Think It's Time To Start Thinking? by Northrop Frye: While I read this piece on the bus I asked the fellow sitting next to me if he knew of Northrop Frye. He turned out to be a geography teacher at UVIC that had gone to University of Toronto, where Northrop Frye was a professor. He told me that all the student dreaded getting Frye as a teacher, because he was so adamant about being articulate. In the essay, Frye uses Prime Minister Trudeau as an example of articulation and how refreshing it to hear him speak in the political realm. Most politians are too aggressive or defensive to respond coherently so when someone brings lucidity it forces those emotional persons to remain focused. Frye is well ahead of his time with this piece, writing it before there was all of the technological advances of the last decade. Also, the point he makes about practicing thinking is more than just controlling whether one says something stupid but using the right words to express one's thoughts. This idea is a Buddhist principle, part of the eight fold path to living correctly. To use this in academia is refreshing but also ancient in the history of Buddhism and genius to incorporate into Western lifestyle.

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Week Five/Six: See Positivity

My Body Is My Own Business by Naheed Mustafa: Mustafa's piece is an expression of the tribulations women, in this case Muslim women, go through growing up and living in the western world. Recently I wrote an essay, for philosophy class, on Canada's military presence in Afghanistan, my perspective was like that of Mustafa and reading her paper reinforced my perspective. My view on Canada's army being in Afghanistan, briefly, is that we as Westerners are as guilty of mistreating and disrespecting women as fundamentalist Muslims are. We should not comment on another society's practices when we are not perfect ourselves. Women in Western society are taught from birth that they are nothing but baby factories that have to have a body like Barbie. This generates eating disorders and insecurities, Mustafa mentioned she was a borderline bulimic before she adopted a hijab, which gave her the security of a unknown identity but brought hear fear of the religion she represents. This is an interesting topic but negative and seemingly insecure, even though she has overcome her physical insecurities, she focuses on the negative aspect of the stigma of her religion. The human mind can be a prison if one believes themselves to be seen a certain way, they can get trap themselves in negative self perception, turning them into a self fulfilling prophecy. It's hard to break out of the ego's constraints but if one can then nothing anyone thinks of them matters because it's only what they think not what really matters. I think that Mustafa has a valid point but is creating negativity towards herself, perhaps because of insecurities impressed upon her growing up, but not seeing the negative and focusing on the positive would improve her point of equality, more so than being contentious.

The Case For Curling Up With a Book
by Carol Shields: Carol Shields' enforces of the necessity of involvement in literature and less in the mindless entertainment that we are programmed with through mass media. This is a important point and one that I agree strongly with. Whether it be television or the internet, we are subjected to more information now than ever and we need to learn to be selective about how we get our information. Reading takes silence and concentration, things that are being stripped away from us by the abundance of entertainment. It has been a thought of mine that television creates attention deficit disorder, people can't concentrate because they are programmed into needing a commercial break every ten minutes or less. This may not be factual but it is an observation that I have witnessed and Shields writes passionately about. Great works of literature are being lost in technological transitions, an example of this is that VHS movies are not being transferred to DVD because they are not what is considered a "hit". This seems to be an Orwellian conspiracy but its true, the availability of non-mainstream litereature is becoming less appearant, just go to your local Movie Gallery or Blockbuster and try and find a winner of the Pomme d'Ore, or go to Chapters and try to find any works by Bukowski or Camus. The presence of independent works is as important as reading them, the best works are those that are the hardest to find, and a harder thing to do is find time to read them. Carol Shields brings forth an important issue, one which those in acedemia should pay closer attention to.
Explorations: Znet:
This website is interesting but not very useful as most of the info you must pay to obtain. It's a shame because many of the videos caught my interest, especially the video called War Without End. There is never a shortage of issues to comment on and people will complain about the day of the week. What a wise man once said can be related to these types of websites, "you gotta take care of you and your's", meaning that one can only affect so much around you so act accordingly.
Classmate Comments: nirwin : It was interesting to read what a woman thought of the Sheild's piece because it was geared towards the opposite sex as myself. Nirwin seemed to share the same opinion as this essay, back off, my body is my own damn business. I don't think that having too much homework is an emotion, what would be wrong with saying overwhelmed instead?

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Week 10: New Zoo Review

Practice review:
Bama: Air Conditioning System For Rubber Boots,
While shopping for a pair of new work boots I discovered the Bama insert and was instantly taken aback. All those years of wearing plastic shopping bags on my feet, trying to keep my feet dry as I landscaped were over, and dry warm feet were on the horizon. Finding work boots that don't leak or rip and fall apart is a chore. I have given up bothering, searching and spending. Ever since it has been either soaking wet sneakers and uncomfortable gumboots that leave blisters. This product not only promises dry but warm and comfortable feet. Do they work? Because I sure do.
When the salesman said the his wife wears then as slippers and can stand in a puddle with out getting her feet wet, I was sold. To stand the test of time is another story. The first day I wore them inside my sneakers, the grass was wet but there was no leakage and all day my feet were roastie-toastie. The next day of work was one of the worst days I have ever seen, rain so thick the ducks were running for cover, I stuck it out with the Bamas but had soggy socks by halfway through the day. This is not to say that the Bamas did not do their job but that I should have put my gumboots on. That was a bad move, I dried the foot pajamas out and tried them inside my gumboots. The outcome was incredible, not only did they warm my feet but they kept them dry and sweat free.
Overall, the Bama kept my feet comfortable in minimal amounts of wetness. While wearing sneakers or running shoes these slippers will not keep water out but put them inside of a classic gumboot and they provide stability that no standard gumboot offers. I would recomend this product because it provides a service that makes your day that much better, warm feet can make all the difference in whether or not you have a good day.

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Week Four or Five: Ketchup on Toast

A Walk on The Wild Side by Alice Munro: This piece was great, except for the point Munro made about how she prefers Ontario's landscape over British Columbia's. People do enjoy Ontario but the Canadian Shield has turned from escarpments into a borderline toxic waste dump, and Munro touches on this point. It is a matter of preference but preferring the GTA over the West Coast is a bit distorted. Personally, I prefer tall trees and mountains to Lego land suburbia or the urban sprawl from Alberta to Ontario. Munro's essay shares the same disdain, she is perturbed by the lack of green space and public property available for recreation in Ontario. The reality of this matter is that profit will always be chosen over public opinion, an example of this is how developers bulldozed the community gardens in South-Central Los Angeles so they could put condos on the plot. Munro's plea should be aimed at the government to legislate green space, instead of preaching to the choir of citizens who have already realized this occurrence. Overall, this message should be said as much as possible and for someone like Munro to publish her views brings needed light to our quality of life, or lack thereof.

Letter to the A.S.P.C.A.
by E.B. White: Satire of the cynical style, White's letter has the best sarcasm I have read in an essay, his topic of responding to an attack on this tired old dog is genius. He makes the arguement against him moot, by pointing out how trivial the scandal they are harassing him about is. That is often the best way to end an arguement, simply by exposing the attacker as a bully with too much opinion and not enough brains. Charlotte's Web was one of the best books I read growing up and now I use The Elements of Style whenever I write, White has a legacy that is widespread but I wouldn't have realized it unless I read the intro to the essay.
Cool, if I am looking for something else to complain about I know were to go. Just kidding, I am really not one to complain. After my analysis of the oil sands essay and doing research on global warming I became really depressed about how what I do myself doesn’t make any difference. What I have come to realize is that until the government creates legislation to curb emissions the problem won’t be solved, so all I can do is focus on finding someone to vote for that will make it come true. I wish I could give these guys money but I’m living off loans so that doesn’t make sense. Thanks to these guys for trying to spread awareness.
Classmate Comments: frogger954: While surfing through I noticed a thank you for peer-editing addressed to me, always a nice surprise. A Well maintained and organized LiveJournal site, I should have transferred over to that service when I had the chance. Keep up the good work, we are almost there!

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Week Four: Waiting For Atonement

Growing up Native by Carol Geddes is similar to the last two pieces, it is a past account on growing up and dealing with the situation that life has placed you in. From a First Nations perspective, life has been a series of misgivings, Geddes illustrates how since the Second World War her people, the Tlingit Nation, have been disturbed by racism, isolation and the development of the Northern Territories. As Coetzee did in his piece, Scenes From Provincial Life , Geddes used what life was like growing up in harsher times to make a relevant message for the future. Not to be sympathetic but to be understanding and reiterate the message that positive experience can come from negative ones. In Geddes case, she receives her degree but not after going through displacement, physical abuse, and racism. How she succeeded through all the hard years exemplifies how there is hope in struggle, and how you don't wait for atonement you earn it.

What a Certain Visionary Once Said
by Tomson Highway is a piece of First Nation literature that shows how effecient one can be with words. It briefly creates imagery and the moral sneaks upon you at the end. For playwriting class we read Dry Lips Outta Move to Kapuskasing, another of Highway's works, it was in the same intrinsic style as this essay, which I find to be the most beneficial style of fiction. Pieces that are farfetched have merit in a whimsical sense but Highway's way of iterating familiar territory makes the reader involved through experience. The moral of this essay, or what a certain visionary said, is to live and leave enough for the next person to enjoy. This message is obvious but overlooked, especially in our Western society with how wasteful and spoiled we can act when we are unknowing or uncaring.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Week Four: UNB

After reading My Old Newcastle by David Adams Richards, I asked one of the people that I work with, that is from New Brunswick, if he could name one author from N.B. He went to university of New Brunswick, and received an Arts Degree, but he could not name any authors from NB. This is a great example of Canadian celebrities being overlooked and under represented, but I would bet dollars to doughnuts that if I asked anyone from P.E.I. if they know of any authors from the maritimes the would jump to L.M. Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables. David Richards piece talks about this situation of how New Brunswick is over-looked in our country. He provides his experience growing up in the maritimes and a comparison of what maritime life changed into within his lifetime. Richards doesn't disagree with what has happened since N.B. has become industrialized but he portrays how it was much more poetically than what it has become. Even in my short lifetime I have noticed changes to my community and society, development of our quality of life has left a few things out. We will never participate in the same innocent acts as Richards and I did growing up, but that might not be a bad thing. Maybe this futuristic lifestyle we have all adopted will give authors like Richards a chance to be better exposed.

Explorations: How to write with Style by Kurt Vonnegut:
Vonnegut is one of my favorite authors and the writer of some my favorite books, the advice he gave in this paper won’t pass me by. His books, like Breakfast of Champions and Slapstick, contain a style that is recognizable just from flipping through the pages. The realism he writes with makes each story personal to the reader, using profanity and comedy to create dark satire is an example of an individual style.
Classmate Comments:
policecat: Well organized blog and probably the best I’ve seen so far. You really are coving the explorations and the readings, keep it up.
Imagine2006: Another Livejournal, I’m starting to see a pattern, but no explorations. The blog outline should have been clearer about that but I guess it is up to us to read the outline. Decent observations around the readings.

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Week Three: Good Morning, Sunshine

This week's reading, Scenes from Provincial Life by J.M. Coetzee, was a three part story about his life in South Africa. He broke it into three different parts to exaggerate his situation within his family and scholastic experience. The most shocking part of this piece was in the second portion in which he describes the boys in his class getting beaten by their teachers. He writes about his friends getting the strap and the disgrace they went through. This was like a scene in Charles Bukowski's book Ham on Rye, where he gets beat by his father because he didn't cut the grass in the correct pattern. Coetzee and Bukowski write about their abuse in terms that those growing up now who aren't subject to beatings can try to comprehend. Most cannot relate to the punishment these folks underwent but the situation is widespread, whether it is in South Africa, America, or Canada in residential schools. This story could have been written anywhere at the time and the reason we find it so shocking now is that abuse isn't evident but in the past it was a regular practice. This story wasn't just about the abuse in the school but of the relation between the protagonist and his family, focusing on their communication and lack their of. This was a excellent illustration of the idioms of family structure and the role a young man plays in shaping his destiny. Bukowski and Coetzee used their tribulations as inspiration, showing that making it through a difficult situation can be beneficial and that one appreciates the light that much more after being in the dark.
Explorations: Tips for Persuasive Writing:
I’ve tattooed these fourteen steps onto my arm permanently. They are extremely helpful with this difficult essay. I preferred this list because it is straight forward and good as a quick reference. This persuasive essay is going to be fun to write by the looks of it. I have chosen to write mine from the perspective of an old curmudgeon, complaining about the skateboard park in Esquimalt. I find it easier to write from the perspective of an argument that I don’t actually believe, I am a skateboarder so I don’t want the park destroyed but I can see both sides of the argument and make the side I don’t believe in have holes in it.
Classmate Comments: Ashley250: I like your title, “Spreading Chinese Culture Everywhere”, makes me want to think of an interesting subtitle for my page. There are no explorations on this page but maybe they will show up.
dstrawberry: This blog makes me feel like I am all caught up with my entries. Sorry to hear that you have to work three jobs but you have to do what you have to do!

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Through the wire

On Saturday my roommate, Rusto, was t-boned doing a u-turn in his van. The van is a write off and he is lucky to be alive. He is a professional cab driver and he screwed up, anyone can. Be careful driving in the rain. I've been calling him Kanye West but he doesn't get it.

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Part of Week Two: For No One

What is style? by Mavis Gallant was a great little read. It's true, I finally have something positive to say on here. This piece was short, sweet and pretty inspiring. On someone's blog from class, that I can't find now, they wrote that this piece made them want to write a book. I agree, Mavis Gallant made some points about reading one's own work and differenciating types of style that are right on. Using a "true voice" is what writing is all about. I think Thompson Highway said to only write from what you know. MF DOOM, a rap artist, said "[b]y candle light/my hand will write/ these rhymes 'til I'm burnt out/ mostly from experience/ shit that I learned about/ topics or views, generally concerned about". It's all saying the same message. Keep it real. Gallant stated that you can't be a prolific writer unless you have read widely(21), and I agree with that, but I find it easy to bite someone else's idiosyncrasies unknowingly. reading different authors is a great way to learn new styles but one can get too caught up in reading that they never write anything substantial. On the other hand, what would our lives be like without Tom Robbins or Albert Camus. That is just to name a few. Without pocket books we would have nothing to do while we wait for the laundry or lie on the beach. I'll wrap it up with the imagery of a beach and a book.

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