March 31, 2005

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Jerz: Am Lit II (EL 267): Short Stories

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An Inside Look

"You're Ugly, Too!" by Lorrie Moore was first published in the New Yorker in 1989 and has been published several more times since then.

You're Ugly, Too tells the story of Zo Hendricks, an unmarried history professor who lives alone in the small Midwestern town of Paris, Illinois, and teaches in the local liberal arts college; the story examines her relationships with men, her students, her sister and, in general, her life. With a sparse plot,Moore's story relies on Hendricks's character and the running gags and jokes she relentlessly throws at anyone within listening distance to sustain it.

The above quote was taken from Book Rags.

Relationships with Men:

Feels that all men wanted her to be like Heidi, however we find out about three of Zoe's relationships. The first is with a man in the munuicipal bureaucracy. They met when he fixed a parking ticket for her. The second a man that was "sweeter, lunkier, though not insensitive to certain paitings and songs." And finally the third we find out is Murray Peterson, but he liked to look at other women. These all lead into the conversation that is the most sarcastic part of the whole story and that is with Earl, a coworker of Zoe's sister. It's here that we see Zoe is really having difficulty life and that her approach is to just laugh it all off. She is very cynical.

Her Students:

The little we know is that she had had positions at two different universities and that at her current job the students don't like her very muchand she doesn't seem to really be teaching them. They are saying things like:

"Professor Hendricks seems to know the entire soundtract to "The King and I." Is this history?"

"Sometimes Professor Hendricks will take up the class's time just talking about movies she's seen."

Her Sister and Her Life:

Zoe and her sister seem to have a very good relationship. We find that they speak often and that Zoe visits with her a lot. This is why Zoe doesn't want to scare her sister with the problems that are going on in Zoe's medical life. Zoe seems to have some sort of growth inside of her that is making her become protective of her personal details and so she uses humor instead. She seems to think that humor will be the thing that will save her from being hurt. The title of her book is even "Hearing the One About: Uses of Humor in the American Presidency."

Discussion Questions:

Why do you think that Zoe has had such problems with men? What does it mean and why is it so important to the story?

What do you think about Zoe as a teacher?

Do you think that her medical condition is affecting the way that she is thinking or is this just the way that she is?

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March 30, 2005

Here we aren't

Jerz: Am Lit II (EL 267): Parker, ''Here We Are''

Dorothy Parker wrote "Here We Are" in 1931 and all I have to say is wow. It's amazing what two little words can imply. The is such amazing sexual tension in the story it's not even funny. I think that it is interesting that Parker left the names of the couple annonymus. I like the nervousness that the two are feeling about their first night together as a married couple. The husband keeps repeating in various ways that "we're on our honeymoon. Pretty soon we'll be regular old married people. I mean. I mean."

It's funny that we are reading this story right now. You see, I am the Sacristin for weddings here on campus and the first Wedding is being held this Saturday. It's kind of interesting to see how nervous people were when sex was just not talked about.

Do you guys know anyone that is getting married? Do you think that they would benefit from reading this story and why?


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Dun Dun Duuuunnnn

Jerz: Am Lit II (EL 267): O'Connor, ''Greanleaf''

If there is one story that foreshadows it is "Greenleaf" by Flannery O'Conner. I didn't really understand this story, but the one thing that I did know was that Mrs. May was going to end up dying in the end and that is what I believe happened in the end. I think what tipped it off to me would be the line in which she says "The next day she had gone to her lawyer and had had [her will changed]."

Do you think that there are other times where foreshadow played a part in this short story? Where and why?


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In Their Shoes

Jerz: Am Lit II (EL 267): Toomer, ''Blood-Burning Moon''

As I read "Blood-Burning Moon" by Jean Toomer all I could observe was the amazing imagery in the beginning of the story. The descriptions are set down in such detail that I thought I was actually in the town. I loved the use of trees in the describing of Louisa. Not to mention the way that I felt that I was Louisa when Tom was talking to her.

Here in this passage Tom is seducing Louisa:

Tom took her hand in his. Against the tough thickness of his own, hers felt soft and small. His huge body slipped down to the step beside her. The full moon sank upward into the deep purple of the cloud-bank.

As I read that passage it took my breath away. Once again the romantic side is taking over in my brain and I can't help but imagine how Louisa would have been feeling at this time.

Another section of vivid imagery is the last paragraph of the story. I had to read that section several times before it would finally sink in. What I don't understand is why a person would put people through that? How can she just stand by and watch as a mob leads her love away?


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Desperation in a Woman

Jerz: Am Lit II (EL 267): Moore, ''You're Ugly, Too''

It is strange what happens to a person when they have something wrong with their bodies. They tend to lose who they are and just focus on what is making them sick. In "You're Ugly, Too" by Lorrie Moore Zoe is just that. She has found that she possibly has something wrong with her and that is scaring the daylights out of her and is affecting the way that she is doing her job. The first section of the short story is riddled with italics that has something that one of her student's had said about her on her teacher evaluations such as "Professor Hendricks is often late for class and usually arrives with a cup of hot chocolate, which she offers the class sips of."

I know that when my dad had gotten sick right after my grandfather died he was just not himself. He changed if you will. It has been my experiance that when someone is facing something that is unknown to them (like Zoe was facing) that they put that on the top of their worry list.

Do you know anyone that is like this? If you do who? What do you think you would do if you were in Zoe's situation?

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March 3, 2005

Tiffany 1.5 Insanity 1

Update (March 7, 2005): This entry has been updated due to a previous lack of knowledge on my part

And so we come to the point where the semester splits in two. I am slowly pulling ahead on the insanity that is going on in my life right now and that is mostly due to the fact that spring break is just around the corner.

It seems that this first month flew by. I have learned that one's Outward Appearance has nothing to do with who they are as a person and that a woman's peers can be her best defense. I have found that people just need to take a break from machines or anything mechanical every now and again or they will go crazy and kill someone. I know that that though people consider themselves to be great they really actually aren't all that special after all. I have learned that kids like to live up to those that came before them and that love is not always expressed. I have also found that poetry is interpreted differently from one person to another.

It has been a very productive HALF a semester.

Some entries that I had fun doing were the entries that involved outside research. For some help understanding Henry Adams and his passage on the Great Exhibition, I googled his name and found some wonderful sites. This was important because it helped us to understand some of the mechanical things that were being discussed in previous things. Also, in order to understand where F. Scott Fitzgerald was coming from for Bernice Bobs Her Hair I included a link to one of his biographies.

Another enjoyable part to the class (and a part that I have always enjoyed) was the way I was able to interact with my classmates. I have linked to new friends, and old friends alike.

I can also honestly say that I love it when people comment. I have found out about movies through the comments left for me and even about different kinds of ink. (This one even got things started for an interesting discussion in class!) And, as I stated before, there are always two different views on one poem.

At the same time I understand that people enjoy getting comments as much as I do. I enjoy sparking discussions such as the one on John's blog. I have also shared my feelings about a certain young woman on Scott's blog, and have even shared my knowledge of mythology with Sue. Finally, I had an idea for a blog entry by visiting Moira's blog.

And last but certainly not least, it was through this blog that I was able to express how I felt after a very moving presentation.

It is here that I close on one of the busiest half semester of my life. Hopefully I will be a bit more focused in the next half of the semester.

Jerz: Am Lit II (EL 267): Portfolio 1

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March 2, 2005

State counter....

Ok...for the whole Explaination please visit Sue's blog for it.

Bold the states you've been to, underline the states you've lived in and italicize the state you're in now.......

Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Conneticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri /Montana / Nebraska/ Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregan / Pennslyvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C. /

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Journal to Nobody

As I discussed in class I believe that T.S. Elliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" was written as if it were a journal entry.

One could come to this conclusion for many reasons. It is very inconsistant. It starts off as if someone is talking to another person and then digresses into the feelings of a person just rambling to try and get things out of their head.

For instance:

And indeed there will be time/ to wonder, "Do I dare?" and, "Do I dare?"/ Time to turn back and descend the stair,/ With a blad spot in the middle of my hair.

Here we can assume that a person is trying to build up the courage to go and do something. He is giving himself a pep talk of sorts. You can always turn back if you don't want to tell this person how you feel.

I liked the references made in class that he was watching a person from a far. This only solidifies why I think it would be a journal. He could be sitting in a coffee shop watching one of the waitresses or even a female that often visits with friends to discuss poetry over tea and he is sitting trying to build up his courage to ask her if she would like to join him someday for tea.

This idea of the coffee shop also could explain the references to the repeated lines:

In the room the women come and go/ Talking of Michelangelo.

This could be him writing what he has over heard the women talking about over their tea.

As the poem progresses it is obvious that the man is losing his nerve and that he has started to day dream because he knows that he will no longer be able to walk up to the woman he wants.

Jerz: Am Lit II (EL 267): Eliot, ''The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock''

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Educating the Populus

During the Industrial Revolution many things took place. Life was changing and the people felt as if they had conquered nature and all that was within the boundaries of the world. The biggest nation that this occured in would have been England, though the rest of Europe and America were not far behind.

While everyone had discussed Henry Adams and how he recalled what happened at the Exhibition in Paris, I thought that I would give a bit of a history lesson in how exactly Adams came to be at that said exhibition.

Henry Adams came from the same line as Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams. He attended Harvard and graduated in 1858. This would mean that when he attended the Frech Expedition he was still in college. He also lived in Europe for most of his 20s. Adams, like most people of his time, could not believe the things that were being accomplished. This would also mean that he was living in Europe during the times of the French Revolution. He was experiancing things that I can only dream of.

Adams goes to the expedition with the mind set of an American historical attitude. In his autobiography The Education of Henry Adams, speaking on all that he sees he states that "the planet itself seemed less impressive, in its old-fashioned, deliberate, annual or daily revolution." He is totally blown away by all that he is seeing. In a sense he was thrown into a new world that was changing and that he was slowly changing as well. By coming to this gathering he was seeing how far behind American was and he even remember that as "a boy in Boston, the best chemist in the place had probably never heard of Venus except by wahy of scandal, or the Virgin except as idolatry."

By reading this excerpt. A person can see and believe how things changed quickly even in the couple of paragraphs that we have. We can see that a person grows by one experiance and that contributes to history.

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March 1, 2005

Young and Old

There has always been this question of who has it worse off the young or the old. I believe that there are bad aspects of both. The young are often used by those older than themselves in order for the older's advancement and the old are trapped in bodies they can no longer use.

"In the Old Age of the Soul" by Ezra Pound I couldn't help but feel sorry for the narrator. He is just an old man that doesn't want to remember the past because it pains him to do so. He compares himself to a knight who is too old to joust and has to sit on the sidelines while the young do so.

I can remember the saddened look in my grandfather's eyes when he couldn't get up and play with us like he used to. It was heartbreaking. That is what I see here. It almost makes me believe that Pound was writing about someone that he knew.

In contrast, John Crowe Ransom writes "Judith of Behulia." This is about a young girl who's beauty is so astounding that it shocks an invader to death. This is an example of someone who was used by her elders. I come by this conclusion because the poem says that "it is stated she went reluctant to that orgy."

It would really bite to have people that you trust use you in such a way. I know that the one time that I was used and I found out about it I felt like dirt. I was told that it was for the betterment of my team, but at the same time I still felt walked all over. This must be the same feeling that a slave would have. Never being able to do what they wanted because they were being used to the advancement of their owners. I know that's how I felt.


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Suffering and Yet Life

It's amazing that when people want to express something that they are feeling they do so in poetry. Some write about what they want to do to themselves to end their suffering and others write about what they have witnessed when others attempt to do something to another human being.

In Hart Crane's "To Brooklyn Bridge" it seems that a person is thinking about killing themselves by leaping from the bridge. The reader is given the image by the narrator of a person "tilting there momently, shrill shirt ballooning,/ A jest falls from the speechless caravan."

I couldn't ever imagine killing myself. I just think about my family and everyone that cares so much for me, but here once again I am appealing to that heart on my sleeve.

David Lehman's "The World Trade Center" shows the hatred among the people of New York city for the massive buildings that took over their skyline. He compares their ugliness to the majesty of the Chrysler Building and the character of the Empire State Building. He also said that when attacted the building took up new meaning for those that lived there. And it did. When the towers were attacked in 1996 they became a symbol for us about how our country could stand up to anything.

Reading this poem now makes me wonder what Lehman was thinking about when the Towers were hit and destroyed in 2001. I can remember my heart stopping as I watched the first plane and then the second hit the towers as I watched from my US History teacher's classroom and the automatic tears that slid down my face. I felt betrayed. For the people of New York to have lived through that twice must have been insanely traumatic.

And so, while people still believe that taking one's life is a way to get out of your problems I say to you it is not. I also say that for people to feel strongly when someone or something is attacked to change their outlook on things - that shows strength.


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Slap in the face

Jerz: Am Lit II (EL 267): Plath, ''Daddy''

If there was any poem that could bring out emotion in me it was "Daddy" by Sylvia Plath. It was like a slap in the face. You could tell that this person really hated someone. The imagery in this poem was amazing. Plath seemed to appeal to a person's heart more so than the mind, but you have to read it a couple times before you can pull some of the ideas from it.

To me the poem was about a person that was maybe concieved to a Jewish woman who was maybe raped by a German soldier or officer. I come by this conclusion because of the person's inconsistancy with whether he or she is or isn't saying "I think I may well be a Jew" and then later saying "I may be a bit of a Jew." I get the German referencing from the fact that she seems to hate everything that has to do with German and discribes her father as having a "neat mustache" and "Aryan eye, bright blue." These are classic symbols of a German officer.

Now let's take a look at the imagery.

And a head in the freakish Atlantic/ Where it pours bean green over blue/In the waters off the Nauset.

All I can picture here is some sort of aquatic animal, perhaps a dolphin, sticking its head out of the waves created by some ship. It suggests that the person is making a voyage from perhaps England to the US. We also get the idea that this person was taken away to a concentration camp of some kind on a train because of the references to the major camps of the time period.

I just don't know what else to say other than this poem really threw me into reality. My heart beats a little bit faster every time I read it. The words just throw you into Germany. Things like "swastika" and "Fascist". I just can not imagine what it would be like to live during this time. The fear, the hatred, the utter disgust. Even thinking about it as I type makes me want to cry. I can honestly say that this poem scared the heck out of me.


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