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April 30, 2006

Sonnet



Youth

The icy chill of winter slowly fades
On Primavera’s lilac-perfumed breath
Through fields of bright chrysanthemums she wades
Her gentle touch brings life to bitter death.

The Earth beneath her beckons Spring’s embrace
Then hugs the balmy river bend and smiles
The cherry blossoms wink at Queen Anne’s lace
As youth drifts infinitely on for miles.

And children scamper through the budding fields
Of endless bright blue chrysanthemum bliss
Where laughter echoes, growing up yields
To grass-stain’d knees and dandelion kiss.

Their tiny bodies roll about the bend
So unaware their youth will someday end.

Posted by AmandaNichols at 05:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Media Fasting Reflection

Amanda Nichols
Dr. Jerz
EL150 Intro. To Literary Study
3 May 2006

The Sound of Settling

Unlocking my dorm in Brownlee Hall for the thousandth time this year, I step inside, pausing in the doorway to gaze at the unkempt single room. It is during times like these, as my first and last year at Seton Hill University comes to a bittersweet ending, that I cherish something so routine. I smile at the floor littered with boxes, papers, and food that should have been thrown away weeks ago. Plopping myself on my unmade bed, I look at the pictures of my friends, old and new, peeling with time off the concrete wall. “Media Fasting Week,” I suddenly remember, has ended today, and I am surprised at myself for not being excited to fill the room with white noise.

I think back on the week I forced myself to be cut off from things I enjoy: television before bedtime, iPod while running at the gym, and lots of loud music blaring from my laptop speakers. Not only has it been a much quieter week, but I have felt myself change as well. Without the constant music filling my room I felt more relaxed. All this time I thought I could write better with background noise; however, this week has taught me that I actually get my work done more quickly and efficiently without rowdy music disturbing me. I found I was never really interrupted (besides the occasional friend knocking to chat, which I really don’t mind) from my work because I did not have to constantly change the song to fit my mood in iTunes.

In addition, I feel I slept much better. Sure, I missed the comical voices of Drew Carey, Colin Mochrie, Wayne Brady, and Ryan Stiles singing me to sleep at night, but I definitely slept more soundly. Without having to constantly peek over the covers to see what was happening on Whose Line Is It Anyway? I fell asleep sooner and woke up less tired. Surprisingly, I managed to avoid all television. Well, almost. There was one exception, which certainly made me wonder about Seton Hill University. One night at dinner at the very beginning of the “TV Turn Off Week” they have been promoting, “Mean Girls” was loudly airing on a screen near the soup stand. No, I did not watch it, but it certainly gave my friends and I a good laugh.

I knew not listening to my beloved iPod was going to be extremely hard because the precious pink gadget literally goes everywhere with me. Hidden in a drawer to reduce temptation for a full seven days was definitely torturous; however, I only found it difficult for the first three days or so. As the week went on, I began to adjust not having the headphones in my ears on my way to and from classes. Instead, I tried to always find someone to walk with, and when I couldn’t, I used that time to think about all the assignments I have due in the upcoming days before finals.

Walking to and from classes was one thing, but running without music was more difficult and harder to adjust to. My daily trips to the McKenna Center have always included my iPod and the first four days were difficult. The time went by more slowly and it actually seemed quite tortuous. Then, a brilliant idea occurred to me: Run outside with friends. Yes, I know, it was an amazing discovery. So, by the end of the week I found someone to run with. The beautiful weather motivated me and running with friends made it go by much faster. Twin Lakes Park has a beautiful three mile trail and I enjoyed saving a part of my day for that.

Ironically, I think I became quite accustomed to running without music, getting homework done without background noise, and sleeping to nothing but the crickets outside just in time for “Media Fasting Week” to be over. As the days wind down, I cherish time spent with the Brownlee Buddies (as we call ourselves) over Drew Carey or blaring music any day. “Media Fasting Week” has probably affected me more personally than others, and more so than I thought it ever would. The experience of simply turning off the iPod and turning up socializing has made me realize how much media can easily take over our lives, even to someone like me who really isn’t that addicted. This has taught me to run outside when it’s nice out and limit my Whose Line nights to few and far between. So when the Comcast guy comes tomorrow to collect the overpriced cable I’ve been paying for all semester, I will gladly hand it over to him.

Posted by AmandaNichols at 04:05 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 26, 2006

Blogging Portfolio 2

I'm not going to lie, I despised blogging in my early days during the fall semester. As I look back on my first year of college, however, I am so glad I had the opportunity to do this. I think blogging a day before the assignment is due to be read helps class discussion tremendously. The following links are to various entries I have compiled in EL150 since February 2006.


Coverage/Timeliness
Eats, Shoots, & Leaves 1
Do apostophres have feelings, too?!

Eats, Shoots, & Leaves 2
I didn't know there was so much history behind commas and punctuation!

Eats, Shoots, & Leaves 3
The Comma Family Tree - Semicolons!

Bowers Article
Antony & Cleo are more competitors than lovers.

Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time 1
The Father of the Year Award goes to...Christopher's patient father.

Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time 2
Christopher's uniqueness is very evident in this last half of the novel.

Resurrection Blues 1
The prologue really captured my interest here...

Resurrection Blues 2
...This play just keeps getting better! Charley's "disappearing act" really made me wonder...

Resurrection Blues 3
The ending confusd me a bit, but the conversations between Henri & Stanley kept me reading!

Foster (21 & 25)
Although much of the information is obvious, it is important not to be looked over without consideration.

Cutting a Dash -
I usually laugh at what Truss is saying, and always learn something new!

Diamond Age
Eeek! This was definitely a challenging book!

Hayles, "Is Utopia Obsolete?"
Hayles presents a very informative article that really helped me with understanding Diamond Age better.

Edson, "Wit" 1
Vivian's strong character is evident early on in the play.

Edson, "Wit" 2
As the play continues, however, Vivian's helplessness and lonlieness really show.

Depth
Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time 1
Media Fasting Reflection
Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time 2


Xenoblogging
Comment to Erin
Comment to Mike
Comment to Elyse & Erin
Comment to Elyse
Comment to Erin & Mike
Comment to Andy
Comment to Andy
Comment to Andy
Comment to Mike
Comment to Kevin


Wildcard
Media Fasting Reflection
Sonnet

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April 23, 2006

Resurrection Blues 3

Resurrection Blues 3 -- Jerz: Intro to Literary Study (EL150)

Egh, I'm a little bit disappointed about the conclusion of the play. Maybe I'm just not getting it or looking deep enough into it, but the ending really confused me. I guess I was expecting this bigger, grander ending. I think this is the point in the play where I would have liked to seen it acted out so I could maybe understand what was going on a little better.

On page 101, I really liked Stanley's speech about them televising and advertising the town the crucifixtion happened at.

STANLEY: Tour buses bumper to bumper across the Andes to get to see his bloody drawers? Buy a souvenir fingernail, T-shirts, or one of his balls? It's a whole tax base thing, Jeanie, y'know?...

HENRI: We are living in hell.

Haha, I'm not going to lie, that last line made me laugh out loud. I could easily visualize that conversation between Stanley and Henri. I definitely agree with Henri because it's actually true that people would probably come from all around the world wanting crazy theme parks and souvenirs and expect to be entertained, so I guess those people of the town have a reason why they would want to be "picked for the crucifixtion".

Did anyone else have the same reaction about the ending of this play?

Posted by AmandaNichols at 08:19 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Resurrection Blues 2

Miller, Resurrection Blues 2 -- Jerz: Intro to Literary Study (EL150)

I wasn't sure where to blog up to on this third day of Resurrection Blues, so the following contains events from the beginning of Act 3 until Act 5.

This play just keeps getting better and better.

I really enjoyed the end of Act 3 when Feliz is about to imprision Stanley and all of a sudden the Ralph man appears and then disappears in such a short amount of time. I definitely got really confused at this point because I guess I assumed this guy was just a bug fake; however, him disappearing like that was pretty abnormal and strange. I liked Stanley's last line in that scene after Felix presses him why the man came back:

I don't know!...Maybe to get your mind off me? I mean...it's possible, right? - for a friend?

I think Stanley is a clever guy. His last line really adds line and flavor to his character.

The end of Act 4 really captivated my interest, too. When Henri started explaining to Skip about Ralph not existing, I, too started wondering about this crazy guy. Does he really exist? Could "the whole story of the Jews in Egypt have simply been a poem?" I'm not saying I believe that some of history was just made up, but that's something I've never really thought about and it definitely caught my interest.

This last scene sparked my interest a lot to see what happens at the end of the play.

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April 18, 2006

Hayles, "Is Utopia Obsolete?"

Hayles, ''Is Utopia Obsolete?'' (Online) -- Jerz: Intro to Literary Study (EL150)

I really thought Hayles's article was informative and well-researched and really goes right along with Stephenson's Diamond Age. I like how she talked about how they have all this technology, but it can only go so far. Just like in "The Machine Stops", emotions, compassion, and feelings, no matter what, will evenutally have to come into play, interfereing with the modern day technology.


"Nell can use the matter compiler to fill her room with mattresses for the stuffed toys that are her constant companions, but it does not prevent her mother from bringing home boyfriends who do everything from molest the little girl to torture her with cigarette burns."

This theme of protecting children, like innocent and vulnerable Nell, focuses on preserving their innocence. These Victiorian Age children Hayles talks about are similar to the children of the Diamond Age, whom were raised and then become immediate adults.


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April 11, 2006

Diamond Age 1

Stephenson, Diamond Age 1 (rescheduled from 14 Apr) -- Jerz: Intro to Literary Study (EL150)

Well I'm sorry to say I'm not exactly getting into this book, but I hope it gets better. I guess it's just the genre. I like reading about futuristic things, but something this long tends to really be difficult for me to pay attention to.

When I first started reading this I did not know what to expect. I thought maybe it was going to be similar to Forster's "The Machine Stops", but I learned early on that the main character was in fact attracted to women and cared about what they thought of him, so I knew it couldn't have been so advanced that all means of love and attraction were gone.

There's a lot of description in this book and I like that. Stephenson does a great job describing the surrounding area and the different machines, such as the watering things that "were strong enough to withstand typhoons but flexible enough to rustle in a breeze." I definitely liked the idea of credit cards inside your body so all you'd have to do was say what you want. Wow, that would cause such chaotic debt...at least for me anyway! And I definitely need those "infinitesmal fabricules" in my clothes because I am probably the sloppiest person in the world.

Well, I don't really know what else to say about this. I'm eager to hear what everyone else thinks in the class and what exactly they got out of it because I'm struggling.

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April 09, 2006

Cutting a Dash

Truss 4 & 5 -- Jerz: Intro to Literary Study (EL150)

Once again, Truss introduces this chapter with more of her humor about some twisted version of A Christmas Carol involving different life-size punction marks. Haha, this made me laugh and caught my attention making me want to read on.

Ths chapter seemed a bit more dry than her others we've read, but I still enjoyed reading what she had to say.

On page 137, I laughed out loud when I read this:

"...and I can attest there is only one thing more mortifying than having an exclamation mark removed by an editor: an exclamation mark added in."

Haha. I think that is so true. I guess I related to it because someday I'm going to be sending things to and editor, and would be pretty embarrassed if that ever happened to me.

Also, on page 141, I learned something new about indirect quotations in the example Truss gave:

"What was the point of all this sudden interest in Brussels, he wondered."

Deciding whether or not to include a question mark there has always puzzled me, and although I've always done it the way Truss says is correct, I hadn't known for sure until I read this.

On page 154 Truss points out that "when only a fragment of speech is being quoted, put punctuation outside the inverted commas." I had no idea this is what we're supposed to do. Now that I think about it, I think I've always just included the punctuation inside the quotations.

Random question: Did anyone get the joke about Americans at the bottom of 155?

On page 162, I liked the example Truss gave about Oliver Wendell Holmes: "One has to dismount from an idea and get into the saddle again, at every parentheses." I think that is so true and such a good way of explaining when to use parenthesis and when not to.

I think Truss had a lot of good examples in here that made me learn new things and understand old ones better.

Posted by AmandaNichols at 09:19 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Cutting a Dash --

Discuss Readings -- Jerz: Intro to Literary Study (EL150)

Once again, Truss introduces this chapter with more of her humor about some twisted version of A Christmas Carol involving different life-size punction marks. Haha, this made me laugh and caught my attention making me want to read on.

Ths chapter seemed a bit more dry than her others we've read, but I still enjoyed reading what she had to say.

On page 137, I laughed out loud when I read this:

"...and I can attest there is only one thing more mortifying than having an exclamation mark removed by an editor: an exclamation mark added in."

Haha. I think that is so true. I guess I related to it because someday I'm going to be sending things to and editor, and would be pretty embarrassed if that ever happened to me.

Also, on page 141, I learned something new about indirect quotations in the example Truss gave:

"What was the point of all this sudden interest in Brussels, he wondered."

Deciding whether or not to include a question mark there has always puzzled me, and although I've always done it the way Truss says is correct, I hadn't known for sure until I read this.

On page 154 Truss points out that "when only a fragment of speech is being quoted, put punctuation outside the inverted commas." I had no idea this is what we're supposed to do. Now that I think about it, I think I've always just included the punctuation inside the quotations.

Random question: Did anyone get the joke about Americans at the bottom of 155?

On page 162, I liked the example Truss gave about Oliver Wendell Holmes: "One has to dismount from an idea and get into the saddle again, at every parentheses." I think that is so true and such a good way of explaining when to use parenthesis and when not to.

I think Truss had a lot of good examples in here that made me learn new things and understand old ones better.

Posted by AmandaNichols at 02:41 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 08, 2006

Foster (21 & 25)

Foster (selections) -- Jerz: Intro to Literary Study (EL150)

Chapter 21:
Marked for Greatness

"So, if a writer brings up a physical problem or handicap or deficiency, he probably means something by it."

I think a lot of the information in this book is so obvious, yet none of us really pick up on it. Characters who have some sort of handicap are supposed to have that because the author will almost assuredly pick back up on it later on and we realize why it is significant. I liked the examples Foster gave: Beauty and the Beast, Oedipus, Harry Potter, Grendal, Quasimodo, etc. Authors certainly wouldn't just say a character has some sort of deformity and then never tell or show us why it is significant and effects the plot in some way. That would be so confusing. I know characters who have deformities are deformed for a reason, but now that Foster really pointed it out, I think i will definitely look for physical descriptions like that in future things I read.


Chapter 25:
Don't Read with Your Eyes

When I first read the title of this, I was really confused. I think this chapter is so true because it is so easy to automatically think about yourself in different situations; however, you have to think about where the other person is coming from. So it is with literature. Reading things like the Illiad and Moby Dick are so easy to sterotype actions going on in the story and automatically compare them with our modern lives today. I guess when reading old works of literature, I should be more careful about thinking about what was going on during the time it was written and what life was like back then, and not now.

Once again, I think this is such an obvious thing: not reading with your eyes, but we fail to pick up on it.

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April 07, 2006

Resurrection Blues 1

Miller, Resurrection Blues 1 -- Jerz: Intro to Literary Study (EL150)

After reading the first half of Resurrection Blues, I definitely thought this book was going to be a lot different, but I really really enjoyed it. I liked both Henri & Felix's character and thought because they seem to be so opposite the play is going to be interesting. I also liked the comedy in the play. There definitely were times when I laughed out loud. They take an extremely immoral thing - shooting commercials while someone claiming to be the son of God is dying on a cross in Italy - and put a lot of humor into it. I especially liked these lines:


Sarah. They gave him wine, you know- the Romans...
Skip. Well a little wine, but he can't look stoned. I mean we've got several million born-agains watching . Actually, I was thinking asperin...or Tylenol if he's allergic

I know it's horrible to laugh, but I just can't help it. I can't imagine what I'd do if I was supposed to film my commercial while someone is dying.

I think my favorite part of this first half of the play is the prologue. I absolutely loved Jeanine's second paragraph on the first page of the prologue, which begins with "Going out the window was a very interesting experience" and ends with "Or at least his eye, an eye seeing everything so exactly." I love how she describes everything" Passing the second floor I saw a cloud over my head the shape of a grand piano. I could almost taste that cloud."; the random Eskimo icecream bar that left choclate stains in the sidewalk, her trip to Coney Island one Sunday while attending Barnard and when she rode the loop-the-loop she "felt transparent". I love when authors describe scenes and I think Arthur Miller did a great job with this one.

I didn't really care for Death of a Salesman, and I think I'm really going to enjoy this play. I'm eager to see what happens in the second half.

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April 05, 2006

Haddon, second half

Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time 2 -- Jerz: Intro to Literary Study (EL150)

I once saw a TV show where an adult male who was married with kids was in a car accident and the type of brain damage he received from the crash disabled him to feel emotion. I just remember his wife crying on this Discovery Channel show about how he wanted to leave his family because he felt nothing for them and thought he was being a burden, but she wouldn't let him. And I always think about that couple and try to imagine what it would be like to lose someone in that way. I think it would definitely be worse than death. The man reminds me a lot of Christopher. He is so logical in the last half of the book it's insane. There are so much different equations and formulas it's crazy. On page 136, Christopher makes the fear equation, which I thought was absoultey insane. This is a perfect example of just how differently Christopher handles his emotions. When leaving for college away from home, I was scared to death, but certainly didn't map out what kind of fears I might have in an equation.

Also, I enjoyed how Christopher began his chapters. Most begin with some intriguing random sentence that makes the reader want to read on. In Chapter 181. he starts out with "I see everything." I can't believe how observant he is. "...and there were three little circles of Blu-Tack stain on the wall down the left-hand side of the poster." WOW. Who notices that kind of stuff?

I think it's that silly kind of stuff that Christopher notices that maybe replaces his emotion. He busies himself with things like a poster instead of thinking about what is happening in his life. I also liked chapter 199 about religion. I remember when I read this book for the first time I wondered if he was going to talk about religion because I thought that definitely would be interesting, and then I finally came across it. I was not surprised by Christopher's feelings about religion of God because someone as logical as him would obviously side with the scientic explanation.

I thought one of the saddest parts of the book was in Chapter 229 when Christopher describes "one of [his] favorite dreams," which was merely of him being the only one left on Earth. It really made me wonder how someone's perfect world would be living in complete solitude. Then again, Christopher did not want love or affection like I would, he wanted "no one to talk to me or touch me or ask me a question"....."and then the dream is finished and I am happy." I just thought that whole chapter was so sad. I liked the way Haddon describes the ways and how Christopher measures with a metal rule the sky and the sea knowing the earth is round. It's so weird to me that living alone is something that would make Christopher truly happy.

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April 02, 2006

Haddon, first half

Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time 1 -- Jerz: Intro to Literary Study (EL150)

I'm glad this was assigned again because I don't think I would have found time to read it a second time. I aboslutely loved this book last summer when us freshman were assigned it, and started and finished it during a plane ride to San Diego.

I think what makes me so interested in this book is that I've never read anything like it before. Also, I love how it is in Christopher's point of view, which puts the reader right in his place and knows exactly how he's feeling, which is obviously very diffiuclt to understand if we were an outward viewer. I admire Haddon for being able to write such a novel, partly because I have a difficult time writing about something I've never expereinced myself. Because of Christopher's constant switching of ideas throughought the chapters, the book really kept me interested. I never knew what he was going to say next.


I said, "But it wasn't an accident."
And father said, "Chirstopher, please."

I really give a lot of credit to Christopher's father. I can't even imagine having to care for a child like that, and really don't think I could do it. The fact that they never hug would kill me, but I admire his father for being able to do so.

Also, I love Christopher's pet rat, Toby, in the book. I don't really know why, ha. I just think it's such a random animal. Why couldn't he have a dog, cat, or something else semi-normal (my apologies to all you rat owners out there)? I think it's neat how much Christopher cares about Toby. Sometimes I wondered if he loved that rat more than he loved his own father.

I hope everyone is enjoying reading this!

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