Carissa Liberty Altizer: October 2009 Archives

Read it out loud

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Keats used some very beautiful metaphors in this poem.  Of course it is always a bit frustrating to pause and read the footnotes, but after I had read it the first time, I read it out loud.  I don't do this very often because it's not too often that I find myself alone and comfortable enough to relish in the language without feeling strange by reading it out loud.  I felt like I was able to fully appreciate the rhythm (and I'm still trying to fully understand how to write in iambic pentameter for Brit Lit, so that helped too). 

I Sigh My Lack of Brain...

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"I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time's waste"

Who doesn't?  I'm only twenty and I'm already thinking about the things I should have done or should be doing.  I sigh my lack of brain for dating my high school boyfriend for two years.  I sought to make lots of money my senior year so I didn't participate in all of the graduation parties and farewells.  I'm in college now, and when I think about my old woes I wonder if how I'm behaving now will create new woes.  Should I make more time to spend with friends?  Should I bare down on myself harder to find more resume builders?

Now, I understand that Shakespeare's poem is about friendship.  He feels sad in the beginning, misses his deceased or possibly long-lost friendship, then he thinks on better times and remembers that it is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.

(Check out Karyssa's blog for "tis better to have loved and lost...".  Karyssa actually knew the author of that saying and I added a link to his bibliography.Absence Makes the Heart ... Sad.)

But sometimes, it's nice to take apart a poem and see how particular lines can relate to your own life hundreds of years later.  Ever try it?

Lost in a Library and Looking for a Topic

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I feel like one of the most difficult parts of a research paper is coming up with a specific topic to research.  It's almost like trying to title a poem before you've written it.  I found pages 259-259 helpful because they suggest different ways to approach the assignment.  I tend to be more interested in the reason why an author wrote something (leaning more towards number 4&5) rather than studying one particular author in detail (suggestion 1, 2, and 3).  I never realized this about myself until I read it in Roberts.  I think this will help steer me in the right direction when writing my own paper this week!

Extra Almonds and a Big Hug

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As I read through the class responses to "Miss Brill" I found myself defending her every time somebody said that she didn't really have a life, or that her life is too routine and simplistic.  Josie's blog was about how unrealistic the story ending seemed, and I attempted to defended  how realistic the ending could be.

Very Fictional Fiction

When I read "Miss Brill," I felt like I understood exactly where she was coming from and why she behaved the way she did.  I think she is simply a lonely older woman who is trying to cope with her age and her lack of relationships.  She isn't a recluse, she certainly made efforts to go out into public and she is still a teacher, which means she is very much a part of society.  She has a second job to fill up spare time and distract herself from her anxiety.  I think the fantastical way she observes people seems like a creative way to pass the time.  I'm guilty of people-watching and thinking about what type of animal they remind me of.  I used to play that game at work all the time.  How else was I supposed to waste time as a hostess?

I'm also anxious about growing old.  It's so common to see elderly people who have lost contact with their families, have few to no friends, or never had children to depend on in their old age.  Miss Brill's character almost reminded me of myself if I never marry, have children, or build lasting relationships.  I don't want to be the sad old English teacher who students make fun of because I don't dress appropriately for my age.  Nobody wants to be that person, but there seem to be so many of them.  

At the end of the story I wanted to buy Miss Brill the entire cake with extra almonds and give her a big hug.   

The Value of a Dollar

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"Pragmatic?  Cheap!! It causes him physical pain to part with even a nickle (131 panel 4)!"

I understand that the "cheap Jewish man" stereotype has been around far before the Holocaust. The Merchant of Venice's Shylock is the perfect example.  However, I think Vladek may have different reasons for his financial insecurity. 

Throughout Maus, it becomes apparent that one of the only reasons why he survived was because of his previous wealth.  Of course resourcefulness, youth, hard work, and luck all played a major role...but the fact that he needed to pay off friends to house Anja and himself certainly affected his trust in humanity.  Not only did the world go crazy around him - even friends and family were expected to pay for their kindness.  The readers first impression of Vladek shows his distrust in friends.  "Friends?  Your friends?  If you lock them together in a room with no food for a week...then you could see what it is, friends (6 panel 2-3)."

Time and time again, Vladek was turned away by friends and family that he had known for years.  When Mrs. Motonowa took Anja and Vladek into her home, it was clear from the beginning that she wasn't risking her life out of the goodness of her heart.  Vledek paid dearly and one day when he paid her a few cents short she wasn't able to find any bread for thier meal that day - even though she was always able to find bread.

Every single valuable pocession he owned became even more precious because it may be just the thing that bought him his life.  A gold watch, a diamond ring...these items weren't just financially valuable anymore - they were a chance for survival - a bribe for life when the goodness of humanity failed.  The people who were persecuted during the Holocaust fought a war without rules of conduct.  There were no "sides" and they had no real weapons to fight back.  For many, the rules became every man for himself. 

Vledek lost his trust in people and in his old age he still acts out his mistrust in actions that his son and modern readers find difficult to understand.  He saved old wire he found in the trash because it could be made useful, he scimps on every penny because he thinks that people only want his money.  A person just can't know how they would respond after experiencing a rejection from a friend who knows that you will die if they don't help you because you can't pay.  How would the value of a dollar change for you?  It is clear that Vledek loves his son and wants him to be finacially secure after he dies.  He makes this clear when he takes him to the bank vault and makes him a key.  He also clearly respected his father-in-law and felt indebted to him for lending and giving him so much money in his youth. 

Vledek has placed his mistrust and fear in humanity into his finances because it is easier to understand and control.  His real anger and fear is something much deeper...something much scarier that hopefully modern readers will never experience. 

Class Comments    

Artistic Differences Between Maus and Prisoner on the Hell Planet

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I have to be honest with everyone - this is one of the first comic books I have ever read.  I've never been into Spiderman or Batman and anime has never been my cup of tea.  When I was much younger I read an Archie comic book once.  I always thought that comic books were supposed to be funny or political.  I guess that's a stereotype now since manga and anime (are they the same thing?) are so popular.  I didn't know what to think of Maus.  It was like a foreign book sitting on the shelf, but I'm really glad that it was an assigned reading.  I feel like a more open-minded person towards the entire genre now.  At first glance, I was even insulted that a cartoon artist would use the Holocaust as material because it's such a serious, painful topic. 

 I had a hard time understanding why Spiegelman used so many exclamation points during Prisoner on the Hell Planet.  I don't think they were necessary or appropriate.  I'm glad that the rest of the book has a different illustration style and tone, because I had a difficult time feeling sympathy for the main character in this comic.  The illustrations made me feel like the artist wasn't taking the tragedy of the situation seriously enough.  Of course everyone was sad - but they seemed like zombies, not like a husband and son mourning over the loss of a family member.  The title even seemed inappropriate.  I feel like "[I'm a] Prisoner on the Hell Planet" is something a preteen would scream at his parents when they won't let him borrow the car.  Maybe someone who has read more comic books than me can explain to me why I feel this way?  I don't know why the two comics are so different...I can't put my finger on why I like the other better.  Any suggestions?  

Roberts Ch 8: The Siamese Tail

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(I read that we were supposed to do this entry in the outline but I didn't know where to post it!)

The Siamese Tail

There once was a snobby cat, a pedigree,

And a most demanding feline.

In all the world there was none

So versed in shrieks and howls,

And many was the meal he would refuse,

Only moist chicken and tuna, lest his owner he would abuse.

He would demand daily belly rubs, thrice a day

And insisted on deep spinal massages,

He had sleek fur, blue eyes, and a belly quite the size.

His owners called him a Siamese, but he knew he was a tiger in disguise!

I wrote this poem for question 4, letter c.  I focused on the image of the Siamese cat's snobbery.  I hope readers will be able to feel the soft pedigree fur, smell the canned tuna fish, and hear his shrieks and howls.  I also wrote adjectives to show what he looked like.

Portfolio Two: http://... (I promise you can read the titles now!)

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Carissa Liberty Altizer

Dr. Jerz

Writing About Literature, EL 237

October 14, 2009


Portfolio 2: 

 I feel like I'm starting to understand blogging a bit better now.  When I first started, I had no idea how to begin but now I've even mastered putting titles in place of urls.  I think the presentation of Portfolio Two versus Portfolio One is much cleaner and easier to read because of the titles.  I'm starting to feel more comfortable with this program, and that is a big step since this is the first project I have ever worked on outside of Microsoft Office.  I think blogging had the largest impact on me when our class was reading The Quick and the Dead.  Classmate responses and posting my own questions truly helped me to understand and appreciate the book better.  


1. Coverage: I wrote a response for every article, poem, and work of literature that we have read thus far.

What Would William Think? -A look at Shakespeare and feminism

Quit Your Books and Grab Your Hippi Skirts!- Fun take on Wordsworth "The Tables Turned" by comparing it to the average college student's perspective 

Feeling Like a Fool...-What is a foolscap?

Sign Up to be a Lawyer - You'll Make More Money-English, making an argument, and the easy path towards making a lot more money...

Truly Alone Or A Few Feet From Home?-How far from civilization was Robert Frost?  A look into his loneliness. 

The Monkey On Your Back Has Climbed Into Your Brain-Examining Ray's character

The Missing Parent Problem Increases-Do any of William's characters have responsible parents?

Matriarch -Williams quote about the matriarchal elephant hits home

Review Of True Grit by Ron Carlson- My opinion of a book review on Close Range, a book of short stories where Brokeback Mountain was originally found before the movie was made and the book was sold on it's own.

Roberts Ch. 8: The Siamese Tail - Ch 8, Question 4, letter C exercise.  I wrote a poem about my grandparents snobby cat that included imagery and senses.  

2. Depth: These are what I believe to be my best blogging samples.

What Would William Think?

Quit Your Books and Grab Your Hippi Skirts!

The Monkey On Your Back Has Climbed Into Your Brain

The Missing Parent Problem Increases

3. Discussion: These articles have sparked comments or discussions from my peers.  They range from four to one comment.

Quit Your Books and Grab Your Hippi Skirts!

Sign Up to be a Lawyer - You'll Make More Money

The Missing Parent Problem Increases


Truly Alone Or A Few Feet From Home?

The Monkey On Your Back Has Climbed Into Your Brain

4. Interaction: These articles are examples of blogs where I either disagreed with the opinions of my fellow classmates or added a meaningful comment to their blog discussion.







5. Xenoblogging:

I joined in on Josie's blog by responding to Diana's exclamation about the language in Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet).  I recommended a book on Shakespeare's bawdy.  I later followed up on the conversation and suggested that bloggers check out Dave's sight because it it had similar content.

The Comment Informative: BLAST THAT TRUMPET ANGEL - By Brooke Kuehn

I made a few book suggestions to Brooke that may make her Shakespeare/Chaucer experiences a little more enjoyable. 

The Comment Primo: NO, YOU'RE IT - By David Wilbanks

I was the first to start a conversation with David and then I followed up later.

The Comment Primo: CAN SOMEBODY FILL ME IN? BY Karyssa Blair 

I thought that Karyssa's insight about the owl/Corvus connection was really insightful. Our blog sparked conversation in class before the book made an obvious connection between Corvus' name and the owl.

The Comment Gracious:Jessica's blog inspired me to write a blog about Ray because she blogged about every character but him.  I felt like Ray was left out and needed some attention.  CHARACTERS REALLY MAKE THE STORY- Jessica Krehlick 

The Monkey on Your Back Has Climbed Into Your Brain

6. Wildcard: Quit Your Books and Grab Your Hippi Skirts!  I chose this blog as my wildcard because it generated conversation by relating Wordsworth "The Tables Turned" to the life of the average college student.  I snagged classmates attention by using an interesting, rhyming title, and I my peers were able to easily relate to the topic.  I didn't go extremely in depth, but I did examine specific references and lines within the poem.  

7. Timely: I'm still having some difficulty getting my entries blogged in a timely manner, but the majority are all in before class begins.

 Review Of True Grit by Ron Carlson

I wrote Feeling Like a Fool... after class because I was still confused about foolscaps.

Several of my blogs began classroom conversations.

What Would William Think?

Truly Alone Or A Few Feet From Home?

The Monkey On Your Back Has Climbed Into Your Brain

The Missing Parent Problem Increases


Class Comments

Review of True Grit by Ron Carlson

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I hand a very difficult time finding a book review for Brokeback Mountain because the story was originally found in a collection of short stories titled Close Range, and because the novella was recently made into a movie.  Instead, I reviewed True Grit by Ron Carlson.  His review covers several short stories in Annie Proulex's collection, including Brokeback Mountain.  The book review was different from others that I have read because it summarizes several short tales instead of just one tale.  The plot summaries were short and sweet, but Carlson was able to describe Proulx's writing style clearly.  Carlson's western phrases like "staked her claim"and  "folks" were a nice touch that make the reader want to dive into the old west genre.  He doesn't give any endings away, and the summaries tease just enough to make the reader want to buy the book immediately.  You get the impression that the stories won't end well, but you still want to read them anyway.  


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"Matriarchs held the memory of the family, years and years in that small but heavily convoluted brain.  The bulls were just all flesh and bluster; it was the succession of mothers and daughters who led the herd.  The oldest cows knew time's history.  They remembered Africa, the breadth of it, and were the sources of imparted knowledge.  Once the guns erased them, the ones who remained could know only less, always less" (123-124).

After our class discussion about the importance of mothers, this quote seemed to fall heavily upon the page.  I guess it makes me like the kids in Dr. Jerz class who seemed to feel more sympathy for the chained dog than for the dead children.  The only thing I can picture is the unwritten scene where Stumpp raises his gun, knowing full well exactly what he is doing to the family of elephants before he kills the mother-his cruelty compares to Corvus' awful neighbor who killed her dog.  Elephants are extremely intelligent animals, capable of mourning just like humans.  Williams found the perfect metaphor.  Africa's desert can easily be compared to Arizona's landscape, the family of elephants is much like every family in the book who is coping with death and/or isolation in one way or the other.  When the mother is gone, the young ones are left wondering the desert alone.   

Missing Parent Problem Increases

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I feel like every single character in this book has grown up or is living a life without loving, responsible parents.  The only exception to the rule is Alice.  Her grandparents seem very sweet.  They may not be the most observant, but from what we know, they are mature caregivers.  The class picked this up on Friday when we discussed the fact that all three girls are motherless, but now that we have been introduced to more characters, the missing parent problem increases. 

 Even if the parents are present, they don't seem to honestly love or understand their children.  Ray's parents disowned him, King's father feels like his two year old is judging him, Emily's mother doesn't even recognize her own daughter when she wakes up in the morning, and Carter never knows what his daughter is doing.  Every single character in this book is so isolated from the world around them that there doesn't even seem to be a natural bond between child and parent evident in any of these situations. 

I know that this behavior happens all of the time, and it almost seems more common to find broken homes than traditional families; however, it seems unnatural that none of these kids are able to look up to a responsible, caring adult.  I understand that Williams is making a point, but I feel like I have always been constantly surrounded by people who I can call if I need.  I am lucky to have two parents who love me, but even if I didn't, teachers, relatives, co-workers, and friend's parents can easily make an impact in a child's life.  Maybe Williams is choosing not to write about any of these relationships to make the characters personal relationships match the desert setting.  I guess it makes me lucky, but I have a very hard time imagining that a person can be so truly alone.  


Class Comments 



The Monkey On Your Back Has Climbed Into Your Brain

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The old saying 'you have a monkey on your back' has been taken to a whole new level in The Quick and the Dead.  Ray's character fascinates me.  We know that a terrible accident happened to him when he was a child.  I'm unsure whether the accident occurred at birth or during childhood; I don't believe it was clarified.  We do know that he was in rehab when he was eight for a stroke.  How many small children have strokes?  What causes a stroke in a person so young? 

Ray feels extreme guilt because a disturbed therapist told him that a lab monkey was killed to improve his condition, and now he thinks that a small monkey inhabits his brain and makes him miserable.  It causes him headaches and it doesn't want to be his friend.    

The town where he grew up in Washington State was polluted (60).  The text seems to allude that the cause of his mother's three miscarriages was from pollution.  His illness could have been caused by pollution as well.  The connection would make sense and I can see how he and Alice may eventually bond over this...?  

I feel like Ray's background story is filled with loneliness and despair.  He has no friends, something obviously happened to his family or between he and his family.  His facial deformity is constantly causing him to doubt himself, and he is lacking a few necessary social skills.  The fact that he is always on the move, always running with no apparent short or long term goals in mind make me think that he is trying to escape his past. 

Ray is a strange character whose spontaneity and survival skills are admirable.  I hope that more of his story is revealed, and by the end of the book he finds a place for himself.  However, I don't think that a happy, wrapped-up ending is exactly the angle Williams is writing towards.    

I just want to give a shout-out to Jessica Krehlik because her blog inspired my page about Ray. Check it out!