Hold the Adjectives

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Being descriptive and colorful in writing has always been one of my main objectives.  However, I am not very good at it, but after reading the passage, "Hold the Adjectives" in chapter one of "The Associated Press Guide to Newswriting," I discovered that I did not have to be so descriptive.  According to Mark Twain, an adjective is more effective when it is far away from other adjectives.  This is interesting.  I figured journalists used adjectives to their advantage when describing the scene of a traumatic, fatal, bone-chilling car accident in the middle of a thousand, traumatized bystanders.  Well, I guess less is actually more.

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September 2009

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Do You Really Have to Leave Love Behind?

Inevitably, youth of the body must die, but your mind can be youthful.  Shakespeare seems to believe that your mind cannot go on once your body gets old.  You can love someone, but when you die you have to leave the love for that person behind.  Is that true?  Do the fires of love also have to burn out with the fire of your youth?  Do youth and love go hand in hand?  Not only does Shakespeare compare youth to love, he also compares it to the changing of the seasons and the singing of the birds.  It seems as though he is trying to say that he loves, that special someone, but his life has changed.  Therefore, he can no longer love that special someone anymore.  However, is he talking about himself or is he referring to relationships in general?  Now that the divorce rate is about 50 percent, it seems that this applies to everyday society.  Is it possible to love someone forever, or am I going to change my mind in the next 20 years or so?  Shakespeare seems to have no hope for love. 

Let's Drink, and Then Cut Off Someone's Head

Although the short story, "The Three Strangers," has a completely different story line from the movie "The Strangers," there are many similarities.  Like the story, the movie is based on three strangers that come to a house that is described as "lonely."  The house is pictured to be away from society, or safety for that matter.  Unlike the story, the movie has a large amount of blood, gore, and suspense.  However, the story has the same sense of fear.

Once the guests in the house realized that one of the strangers is actually an executioner, they became very anxious and frightened.  I would have been more frightened of the fact that he had been given more alcohol than all the people at the party rather than his occupation.  His "job" would be slightly stressful.  What normal person kills people for a living?  Mixing alcohol with an execution just doesn't seem too ethical or safe for that matter.  However, this makes the story more horrific.  The portrayal of a deranged executioner made the story more interesting. Also, to top off this already eccentric story, the man that was supposed to be executed shared the alcohol with the executioner.  I mean this story was written in 1888, but come on shouldn't the executioner have some sort of notion as to what the man he will be killing looks like.  Well, it made for a good story, but it was slightly frustrating.

Keep Your Opinion to Yourself

Using someone else's opinion to tell a story could be difficult if you didn't support that opinion.  It must be hard for reporters to remain outside of the story. 

As a future teacher, I must also keep my opinions to myself.  A teacher is supposed to remain impartial in most class discussions.  Teachers are not supposed to discuss their political or religious affiliation with their students.  Similar to reporters, teachers are not allowed stating their opinion publicly about certain subjects.  Reporters cannot tell society that they think, "the football team sucks."  It would be appropriate for a member of society to say that to a reporter, but the reporter must not state their feelings on the subject.

Reporting can serve as practice for teaching.

Generalize?

We need to make a generalization to write a paper? Woah Toto, we're not in high school anymore.  In high school I was taught that it was forbidden to make a generalization within a paper.  Roberts says that, "Because the close-reading essay is concerned with details, you might have a problem developing a thematic structure.  You can overcome this difficulty if you begin to work with either a generalization about the passage or a thesis based on the relationship of the passage to the work," (55).  Therefore, according to Roberts, it is correct to make a generalization about the passage prior to writing a close reading. 

Is it then correct to make a generalization when you are not writing a close reading?  For example, a research paper?  If I made a generalization throughout a research paper that I was writing, I feel that it would be very wrong.  However, say this generalization was based on factual information, would it be correct then?  I really could not tell you, but I think I will stick to a typical thesis in all the reasearch papers that I am sure I will be writing sooner or later. 

Focus on the Story

Narrators can be unreliable?  Prior to reading Chapter 4 in "Writing about Literature," I did not really think about a narrator being unreliable.  Don't you always trust the person telling the story?  I mean I wouldn't trust someone if they told me they could fly, but when reading a book I never thought I was being lied to.  When you are given an opportunity to see into someone's mind, figuratively, I would assume that their thoughts would not be lying to you. 

Whenever I read now I may take a second to think about what I am actually being told, and who's point of view I am being shown.  It actually might be interesting to read a story in third person and find out that the narrator has been telling it completely wrong from the beginning.  Does anyone have any suggestions of a book like this?

Hold the Adjectives

Being descriptive and colorful in writing has always been one of my main objectives.  However, I am not very good at it, but after reading the passage, "Hold the Adjectives" in chapter one of "The Associated Press Guide to Newswriting," I discovered that I did not have to be so descriptive.  According to Mark Twain, an adjective is more effective when it is far away from other adjectives.  This is interesting.  I figured journalists used adjectives to their advantage when describing the scene of a traumatic, fatal, bone-chilling car accident in the middle of a thousand, traumatized bystanders.  Well, I guess less is actually more.

Journalists have values?

I enjoy the description of a journalist in the passage titled "The Language of Journalism."  There are very few times in which I have actually heard a positive reference to a journalist.  Now, I have been informed that they have their own language as well.  Journalism is not my major, but I find it interesting that there is a set of rules for being a journalist.  After reading these rules, I absolutely agree that this is how it should be, but is this how it always is.  "The language of journalism should be concrete and specific," is this true of all major news stories.  Recently the class just discussed how news stories were not always trustworthy.  "The language of journalism is active," news is always supposed to be up to date, but I have seen "Breaking News," that happened hours before the show was aired.  These are just a few examples of how journalism may imply that it has a proper "language," but it does not always follow it.

Oh the Trickery

When first reading An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce, I figured this would be another one of those depressing stories.  Well, it actually was, but the mood was happy through the middle. Bierce used extremely descriptive language that kept me involved throughout the story.  What bothered me a little was the changing of perspectives and settings.  One minute I was reading through the narrators' eyes, then I was seeing through Peyton Farquhar.  I actually thought that I was being told about two different people.  Now I am not implying that this is bad and that I did not enjoy it, it just made it a little more difficult.  However, it helped me slightly because I was forced to go back and read it again. 

I enjoyed this story so much becuase it is not typical.  In the middle when the readers are being told of his "escape," I figured it was going to be another happy ending.  Then, alas, his neck is broken and he is dead.  The end.  It may not have been a happy ending, but I sure enjoyed it.

To Explicate or Not to Explicate, That is the Question

Billy Collins' poem, "Introduction to Poetry," describes how a poem is torn apart to extract the true meaning.  I remember when I was first asked to explicate a poem.  Why does it matter what a poem truly means?  The poet obviously intended readers to interpret the poem, but if they really wanted us to know what it means, then they would have told us in the first place.  Explicating can be fun because I can make up my own interpretation, but I wonder does it offend some poets when we get the interpretation wrong.  Is Collins really saying that all poems are torn apart or is he saying something else in "Introduction to Poetry?"  For all I know he could actually be talking about lab mice that are being tortured through scientific experiments.

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