April 2008 Archives

Research or a Human Being?

| | Comments (2)

"Susie: She's DNR!  (She grabs him.)

Jason: (He pushes her away.)  She's Research!

Susie:  She's NO CODE!" (Edson 82).

This play had a pretty intense ending.  It was somewhat difficult for me to read.  Let's just say I know from personal experience that medical staff do not always pay attention to whether a patient is DNR or not.

It really makes you wonder about how people are truly treated in hospitals.

I am not trying to criticize all hospital employees; my own mother works at a hospital.  But there are just some people who should not have gone into their profession. 

There is really a conflict of morals here.

Hooray For Free Verse!

| | Comments (0)

"Free verse (from the French 'vers libre'), also called open form verse, is distinguished from traditional versification in that its rhythms are not organized into the regularity of meter; most free verse also lacks rhyme" (Hamilton 239).

All I can say is...HOORAY!  "I'm free to do what I want...any old time..."  Now I'm sure that the Rolling Stones did not have free verse in mind when they wrote that song but I felt that it was appropriate.  :)

Hamilton says "lacks rhyme" like it's a bad thing.  Read my previous entry on what to use in place of rhyme.  "Not organized into the regularity of meter"?  Not a problem!  That is what enjambment is for (they used to call me the Queen of Enjambment in my Creative Writing class).

Now, a lot of people argue that anybody could be a poet by writing free verse and that it takes actual skill to write contrained poems.  I agree that it takes A LOT of skill to write sonnets, sestinas, haikus, etc.  However, I disagree that anybody could be a poet by writing free verse.  You cannot just write anything down and call it poetry.  You have to give meaning to the words in other ways besides meter and rhyme.  That can be difficult too!  You have to be very particular about your word choice and you have to find another means to make your poem flow.  I sometimes think that they do not give free verse poets enough credit.  Just because they are free of the confines of structured poetry does not mean that they do not pay attention to what they write.  I consider myself primarily a free verse poet and I go through drafts and drafts before I even let other people read my poems. 

So, today we are paying special tribute to the underestimated free verse poets. 

For those about to free verse, we salute you!

Why Rhyme When You Can Use Assonance and Consonance?

| | Comments (0)

"Assonance (ASS-oh-nantz, from the Latin word for 'to sound in response to') is the repetition of identical or similar vowel sounds in nearby words or stressed syllables" (Hamilton 220).

"Consonance (CAHN-soh-nantz, from the Latin word for 'to sound together') is the repetition of consonant sounds in two or more successive words or stressed syllables that contain different vowel sounds" (Hamilton 219).

Hmm.  The etymology of those words actually makes sense now.  But anyways...

I prefer using assonance and consonance in my poems as opposed to rhyming.  I will admit it, I sound like an idiot when I rhyme.  The words have no meaning and I always come across a hard word like orange.  What can you rhyme with orange?  That's why it is better to leave rhyming to Dr. Seuss and Shakespeare.

I will use an excerpt from one of my own poems entitled "Rock & Roll".  (I'm always afraid to put the whole thing on here for fear of some lazy students copying and pasting it onto their homework assignments and turning it into their Creative Writing teacher for credit.  Paranoia or stinginess?  A little of both I think...)

"Damn my frustration
As I stumble over sound
The true poet thinks aloud
Of beaded curtains
Sequined dresses..."

The words "sound" and "aloud" are examples of assonance in that they both contain the "ou" sound.  The words do not technically rhyme but the assonance helps the poem flow more smoothly.


The End of Ender's Game

| | Comments (0)

"Real.  Not a game.  Ender's mind was too tired to cope with it all.  They weren't just points of light in the air, they were real ships that he had fought with and real ships he had destroyed.  And a real world that he had blasted into oblivion" (Card 297).   

When I read this paragraph, I really felt what Ender was going through.  The realization was just as real to me as it was to him.  I felt like I was Ender.  Props to Card for conveying Ender's emotion so well. 

I cannot say that I was not upset at the ending of this book.  I felt so bad for Ender.  All I wanted was for him to feel what it was like to just be a child.  But that was not his destiny.  This was the death of Ender's soul right here.  He may have won the battle against the buggers but he lost his life.  He was still alive physically but any hope that there was of him being emotionally stable was shattered.  Though at the end of the novel, things seem to get better for him, he realistically will never be able to bounce back from this.  They ruined him.

The Apple Falls Not Far From The Tree...Or Does It?

| | Comments (0)

"Is it some law of human nature that you inevitably become whatever your first commander was?  I can quit right now, if that's so" (Card 166).

I would like to remark on two things before I get to the actual subject of my blog entry. 

1)  Card does not use first person often in this book.  This is one of the few examples where we actually hear Ender's thoughts in the "I" form.  It almost seems as if he (Ender) is speaking to the minds of the teachers and administration of the school.

2)  It is always strange when Ender makes comments about human beings.  He seems to refer to them as a completely different species, but one in which he longs to be a part of.  His comment on the relation of human nature to the nature of the students at the school is quite ironic.

Ender seems to be afraid of the apple falls not far from the tree theory.  But in reality, I think that theory is a bunch of bull.  If we all took after our parents, we would all be exactly the same.  We are all related somehow.  To think that nobody ever breaks the chain is stupid.  There is always someone who strays from the pattern.  That person, in this case, is Ender.  He already claimed that he wanted to be nothing like the commanders before him.  Even though he used their same tactics to command respect and discipline, he really was nothing like them.  He actually felt compassion for his soldiers (even though they did not realize it) and he was probably the most human out of all the commanders there were.  In some respects, we do take after the people we learn from (whether they be our parents or our teachers) but we are still individuals.  

 We will depart to the homepage in T minus 7 seconds (even sooner if you have a good internet connection).

"Ender nodded.  It was a lie, of course, that it wouldn't hurt a bit.  But since adults always said it when it was going to hurt, he could count on that statement as an accurate prediction of the future.  Sometimes lies were more dependable than the truth" (Card 2).

I really loved this paragraph, especially the last line.  It was just so...I don't know, for lack of a better word: true.  I have known people who were chronic liars and it was almost guaranteed that every word that came out of their mouths was a lie.  But even at that, they always gave themselves away because I knew that all I had to do was take the opposite of whatever they said to get the truth: 

"I did not mean to break your sidewalk chalk; it was an accident."  No, it was not an accident; you were mad because I stole your Pink Power Ranger.

"I did not eat all your Reeses Peanut Butter Eggs from your Easter basket."  Well then, there must be little gnomes running around stealing my candy because yesterday I had three and now I have none.

"The doctor will be with you in just a moment."  No, I will actually be stuck in this stuffy waiting room for three hours reading last year's magazines that were ripped to shreds by bored children.

And liars think that they are so sneaky!  Well they practically give themselves away after you catch them in the act the first time.

Let it be known that Ender spoke one of the most profound quotes that I have ever read; so profound in fact that I just might put it on my Facebook.  :-)

This will not take you back to the course website.


"If you are like most students writing a short paper, you will stare at the computer screen for a while until you come up with a title. Then you will pick your way through your topic, offering an extremely broad introduction (see Glittering Generalities, below). You might also type in a few long quotations that you like. After writing fluff for a page or two, you will eventually hit on a fairly good idea.  You will pursue it for a paragraph or two, perhaps throwing in another quotation (Short Research Papers, Avoid Distractions, Stay On Topic)."

I am so guilty of this.  Not the Glittering Generalities part but the getting off topic part.  Almost every paper I have ever gotten back has said something about my lack of focus.  I do exactly what is described in that passage: I come up with a great title (which I make my thesis), I start writing a whole bunch of fluff, then I touch on a great idea (which has really nothing to do with my current thesis) and I write about it for a few paragraphs and then I conclude my paper and never go back to fix my title or thesis to match my new brilliant idea.

Talk about ridiculous.  Sometimes I just wish I had that brilliant idea in the first place so I would not feel like I wasted three pages on a thesis that was completely worthless.  I have found that one of the best solutions for my problem (though it does not work for everyone) is to use freewriting as a form of prewriting.  Some people use charts, (I usually make lists) but when I freewrite, I get a whole bunch of ideas out all at once (and some really great sentences too).  I then choose my brilliant idea from that freewrite and continue from there.  Brilliant ideas do not always jump out at me from my prewriting lists.  Sometimes it is better to just start writing informally to get an idea for a formal paper.

This title has nothing to do with the link it is attached to.

The following is taken from: http://www.urbandictionary.com.

"touch base- to make contact; to cover all the possibilities. Comes from baseball where the runners need to touch the base to make a run legal. Mostly used by asshat salesmen and contractors when they want to talk to you over the phone to see if you're interested in something they have for sale, usually around dinner time."

This can basically be heard in any office situation as well.  The boss will call an employee who is away on business just to "touch base".

"a bustle in your hedgerow- 'A bustle in your hedgerow,' the enigmatic line in Led Zep's 'Stairway To Heaven' classic, has mystified music mavens for decades. Hopefully, the following will sprinkle a scintilla of elucidation and edification upon this cryptic conundrum.

A hedgerow is a hedge that surrounds many estates in Britain.

Bustle, or noise or activity, used in this sense, means a disturbance close to home. Something's happening in your world!

It's just a spring clean for the May Queen.

Spring cleaning is an old domestic ritual cleaning meant to do away with the troubles of the past year and prepare for the coming year, and often includes disposing of old, useless things that have been lying around.

The May Queen was a maiden chosen by a village to represent the hopes and potential for the coming year. She was a symbol of beauty, spring and new beginnings.

So here, as an analogy, the lyric refers to getting rid of old and outdated systems in order to allow progress to occur."

Well, the best reference for this term is in the song "Stairway to Heaven" itself.  :-)

I had to use two definitions for this one:


Pittsburghese for 'you guys.' OR

Short for 'you ones'; could also be used in place of:
you guys
you all

Yinz goin' to da Stillers game?"

The only place you're ever really going to hear yinz is in Pittsburgh and its surrounding areas.  I'm guilty of using it myself.  :-)

Yinz better get goin back to the homepage n'at.

"Anapestic (an-uh-PES-tick; the noun is anapest: AN-uh-pest), two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed one; for example:

And the eyes / of the sleep / ers waxed dead / ly and chill,

And their hearts / but once heaved, / and fore /ver grew still!

           --George Gordon, Lord Byron, 'The Destruction of Sennacherib'" (Hamilton 200).

"Tetrameter (te-TRAM-eh-ter), four feet:

She walks / in beau / ty, like / the night

Of cloud / less climes / and star / ry skies

          --George Gordon, Lord Byron, "She Walks in Beauty" (Hamilton 201).

I found this kind of meter to be quite interesting and while I was trying to find a poem that was a good example of this (other than those that were given in the book), I found out that Dr. Seuss was famous for using Anapestic Tetrameter.  Also, "The Night Before Christmas" by Clement Moore is said to be written in anapestic tetrameter.

I would like to eventually try and write a poem in anapestic tetrameter but we'll see how that goes.  :-)

Now go back to the homepage and read my peers' blogs.

Based On True Events (In Ten-Beat Lines Of Verse)

| | Comments (0)

After charging my mp3 player today, I turned it on, only to see that a message had come across the screen: Rebuilding Library.  In the 3 years that I had owned my Dell DJ, I had never seen such a message.  Once it was finished, I went into my library only to find that it had deleted 1000 songs.  1000 SONGS!  I am still very distressed about it.  I hope that you can feel my pain through these 10 lines of verse (the iambic pentameter's a little off, but I tried):

Rebuilding still rebuilding still rebuild

wait WHAT is THIS what have you done no NOT

construction but destruction gone all gone

one thousand songs all gone all gone.

You THIEF you THIEF please stop that THIEF for he

has stolen music all my music STOP

him STOP that traitor who takes music not

just music but my soul that lives and thrives

in all those songs all gone all gone just gone.

This is the worst robbery of my soul.

Based On True Events (In Ten-Beat Lines Of Verse)

| | Comments (2)

After charging my mp3 player today, I turned it on, only to see that a message had come across the screen: Rebuilding Library.  In the 3 years that I had owned my Dell DJ, I had never seen such a message.  Once it was finished, I went into my library only to find that it had deleted 1000 songs.  1000 SONGS!  I am still very distressed about it.  I hope that you can feel my pain through these 10 lines of verse (the iambic pentameter's a little off, but I tried):

Rebuilding still rebuilding still rebuild

wait WHAT is THIS what have you done no NOT

construction but destruction gone all gone

one thousand songs all gone all gone.

You THIEF you THIEF please stop that THIEF for he

has stolen music all my music STOP

him STOP that traitor who takes music not

just music but my soul that lives and thrives

in all those songs all gone all gone just gone.

This is the worst robbery of my soul.

The Tone of the Belly

| | Comments (3)

"Tone designates the attitude that a literary speaker expresses toward his or her subject matter and audience" (Hamilton 156).

"Belly Song" by Etheridge Knight is a great example of how an author's diction affects the tone of the text.

The separations indicated by the / symbol force the reader to pause.  It guides the reader as to how to read the poem and it really does start to sound like a song once it is read aloud.  I strongly recommend you read that poem (just click on "Belly Song" above) and try to say each line aloud to see if you can hear/feel/see its tone.

You Can't Always Argue With The Text

| | Comments (1)

My name is Lauren Miller and I am a freshman at Seton Hill University.  This is my second blogging portfolio for EL150: Introduction to Literary Study.  In my first blogging portfolio, I mentioned that I was learning the essential skill of arguing.  But something odd happened in the last few months...I felt that I could not always argue a point about some of the texts that we were reading.  For example, when we read Essential Literary Terms by Sharon Hamilton, I did not have much to say.  It was more of an informational text and I blogged about new terms that I had learned.  I hope that I am not moving backwards by not arguing a point in every blog entry.  I just feel that it is not possible with every text.  So, in some of the following blog entries, you may find more of my opinion than anything.  But I reassure you, there are some in which I argue my point.






"Like the exclamation mark, however, italics should be used sparingly for the purposes of emphasis--partly because they are a confession of stylistic failure, and partly because readers glancing at a page of type might unconsciously  clock the italicised bit before starting their proper work of beginning in the top left-hand corner" (Truss 147). 

I have to say that I am guilty of this.  I use italics way too much.  I just really like to use them because I think that they add character to a sentence; it is almost as if you can read it the way the writer meant for it to be read.  But it seems that nowadays italics aren't as acceptable as they used to be.  In formal papers, the only time I use italics is when I am citing a source on my works cited page.  But as a creative writer, I go crazy with it.  Probably too crazy, haha.

But hey, it beats just using it for MLA documentation, right?

You know you want to go back to the course website.

¿Question Mark? ¡Exclamation Point!

| | Comments (0)

"The Spanish Academy, however, in 1754 ratified the rather marvellous and flamboyant idea of complementing terminal question marks and exaclamation marks with upside-down versions at the beginnings, thus:

¡Lord, love a duck!

¿Doesn't Spanish look different from everything else now we've done this?" (Truss 142-143)

You had to know that I was going to choose this quote.  :-)  I personally think that this way of punctuating is quite useful.  Think about it.  When someone is speaking, we place the quotation marks at the beginning and end of the sentence so that the reader knows where the dialogue begins and ends.  That is basically the same function of the inverted question mark and exclamation point.  Here's an example of where the inverted question mark might be useful in English:

The movie starts at 8:00 pm, right?

The first part is a full sentence "The movie starts at 8:00 pm" and the second part is the actual question "right?".  But wouldn't it be easier if you knew where the actual question started?

The movie starts at 8:00 pm, ¿right?

This will probably never catch on in the English language, but I find it quite useful in Spanish.  :-)

¿Do you want to go back to the course website?  ¡Click here!

Last Words

| | Comments (0)

"I have been told that the dying words of one famous 20th-century writer were, 'I should have used fewer semicolons"--and although I have spent months fruitlessly trying to track down the chap responsible, I believe it none the less" (Truss 127).

 First of all, I hope my last words are a little bit more in-depth than that.  Second of all, are semicolons such a bad thing?  As I mentioned in my last entry, semicolons save me from overenthusiastic commas.  I could never see the English language without them.  So many of my essays would be lacking without semicolons.  Granted, I'm not a stickler for punctuation, but if the semicolon was endangered, I would probably be upset.

I have nothing more to say; however, I'm sure that my classmates do.

"Commas, if you don't whistle at them to calm down, are unstoppably enthusiastic at this job" (Truss 79).

I generally encounter two problems in my writing:

1.)  I write a sentence with too many commas in it.

2.)  I write a lengthy sentence with no commas in it whatsoever.

It is getting to the point now where I like to write commas after the word "and" in inappropriate situations.  For example:  I like coffee and, I like ice cream.  To me there is just a natural pause there, but grammatically, I guess "and" is what indicates the pause.

I found a solution to my problem; I discovered the semicolon (how strange that this sentence ended up using one), which I will expand upon in my next entry. 

You, should, probably, click, here.

"There was a comical moment in the fifth year when our English teacher demanded, 'But you have had lessons in grammar?' and we all looked shifty, as if the fault were ours.  We had been taught Latin, French and German grammar; but English grammar was something we felt we were expected to infer from our reading..." (Truss 14-15)

I have had a few experiences similar to this.  Grammar was not something that we focused on in English class.  When I reached AP English my senior year, we had to take a sample AP English test.  Let's just say I did not score very well on it (don't worry; I didn't bother to take the actual test). 

But what's crazy is that I completely understand Spanish grammar; it makes perfect sense to me. 

When you learn another language, the teacher HAS to focus on the grammatical aspect of it; there's no getting around it.  It is an essential part of learning a foreign language.  But when you are taking an English class and English is your native language, well, they just expect you to know what you're doing.  Let me pose you this question: Who taught you your native language?  Let me ask you another: How good were they at grammar?  Chances are, you did not grow up learning perfect English nor do you speak it now.  It was only this year that I realized that my Pittsburghese (granted, I'm not from the city specifically, but the language affects the surrounding areas, trust me) had gotten the best of me.

For years I had thought that there was nothing wrong with the phrase:  "My car needs washed."  Or even "The cat needs brushed."  And "The walls need painted."  That sounded perfectly normal to me.

Let's translate these phrases into Spanish (hang in there, I swear this is relevant to my point). 

1.)  "El coche necesita estar lavado."

2.)  "El gato necesita estar cepillado."

3.)  "Las paredes necesitan estar pintadas."

Wait a second...estar is repeated in all three of these sentences.  Estar means "to be".  Where the hell did "to be" come from?  And why didn't I use it in my English sentences?!

It was at this point that I realized that my Spanish grammar was probably better than my English grammar.  Why had I picked up on that particular piece of grammar in Spanish and not in English?  The difference was that I was taught grammar in Spanish class; I picked up on English grammar from listening to the people around me.

Is it fair?  Not really.  I would like to open my mouth and sound like an educated human being.  But nobody ever told me otherwise; I had to figure it out myself.

This link needs clicked.

Emotional English

| | Comments (0)

"Once the poor stepchild of grammar (is that comma OK here?), punctuation will emerge as the Cinderella of the English language" (Truss xi).

I completely agree with that statement.  Society is reaching the point where it is deeming punctuation unneccessary.  How many of you have ever received a punctuated text message?  Well, unless you have received one from me, chances are that you have not gotten very many.

But it has to stop sometime.  We are going to reach a point where we are all so confused by the lack of punctuation in our writing that we will not be able to communicate with each other.  For example: I sometimes find it very hard to chat with people on the internet because I cannot always understand what they are feeling (due to the lack of punctuation).  Here's a sample conversation:

Laurenlikespunctuation17: Hey, Joe.  How are you?

Joehatesgrammar12:  go jump off a cliff

Now, Joe may be a very sarcastic guy and is just trying to be funny, to which I might reply, "lol".  Or, Joe might just be having a bad day and is taking it out on me, to which I might ask, "What's wrong, Joe?"  Or, worst case scenario, Joe hates my guts and is quite literal in his remark, at which point I would sign off and remove Joe from my buddy list.

The problem is that I don't know.

Had he used an exclamation point ("'Go jump off a cliff!"), I might have taken Joe a little bit more seriously.  But alas, I am utterly confused by Joe's comment, so I might just say, "Whatever, Joe.  Your lack of punctuation baffles me."

In the end, punctuation will save us all.  It is not just an indicator of when to stop and pause; it evokes emotion. 

All I know is that Cinderella better get here soon.

Powered by Movable Type