Monday, March 28, 2011
Well loyal readers, I sincerely hope that you’ve successfully navigated yourselves to the other side of midterms, but if you’re still feeling like you’ll never quite be done, don’t let it get you down! Even as midterms pass, the semester still chugs along with all of its obligations, and you owe yourself a moment to relax! So put down your books for just a minute. Take a moment to read a new poem. Listen to a new song. Write down some thoughts that don’t have to do with classical literature or scientific formulas. Or just take a breezy walk down to your welcoming English Majors’ Counseling Office in 3416 Boylan, where you can say hello to your devoted Boylan Blog writers and pick up some information about internships and publishing opportunities. Once you’ve revitalized your mind and body, maybe those remaining papers and readings won’t seem like such a big deal!
Before you delve into this week’s fascinating assortment of articles, I’d like to say a big thank you on behalf of all of us to everyone who performed at and attended our Open Mic last week! The success of the event depends on your talent and enthusiasm and we appreciate everyone’s involvement. Great job to all!
- Nora Curry
Image Source: http://forum.belmont.edu/bfitbu/studyfinal.jpg
Tweet All About It: Twitter Reunites Father and Daughter
With all of the war, violence, and destruction going on in the world today, sometimes it’s best to take a few moments and focus on all of the good that’s happening. Social media via Twitter took a step up after a homeless father reunited with his daughter.
Daniel Morales was given a prepaid phone as part of a project following the lives of homeless people. The project was created by an internship program called Bartle Bogle Hegarty. The interns were set on making a difference, but no one expected something quite this big to happen. Rosemary Melchior, one of the interns, confessed, “I don’t think we expected something this big. It just shows how big social media is.”
After receiving a prepaid phone, Daniel Morales posted a tweet in an attempt to find the daughter he hasn’t seen in eleven years. His tweet was posted on Wednesday. This is what it said:
“Hi thi is to let yo people know that in lookin eog my daughter her name is sarah m rivera.”
Along with the tweet he posted a picture of his daughter.
Sarah responded the next day. Morales was so excited that he promised he would do anything in his power to keep his daughter and her two children as close to him as possible.
This reunion was just one example of the success that social networks have achieved. While there will be complaints about social websites such as Facebook and Twitter, these sites should also be praised for the worldly connections they offer. Daniel and his daughter would never have been reunited were it not for a simple tweet.
News Source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41783785/ns/us_news-wonderful_world/
Image Source: http://msnbcmedia3.msn.com/j/MSNBC/Components/Video/110226/nc_twitter_110226.300w.jpg
Textual and verbal laziness has been infiltrating the English language for quite some time now. With the uprising of texting and internet use, people have been cutting words so short that now everything appears to be an abbreviation. It doesn't help that OMG and LOL have been added to the Oxford English Dictionary. WTF, OED?
It appears that the OED underscores the significance of its new legitimate acronyms when it digs through the history of OMG and LOL. For example, the use of OMG was found in a personal letter that dates back to 1917. Reportedly, LOL once meant “Little Old Lady” in the 1960s. OED also points out that those expressions are used in verbal conversation, which seems, to me, to be another attempt to justify the addition of OMG and LOL.
I must admit that I’m a little (and by a little, I mean a lot) prejudiced against text and internet slang. In my opinion, it “dumbs down” vocabulary, writing, and speaking skills when used carelessly and in excess. After texting my fourteen-year-old cousin, “Where are you?” she responded with a text which read, “Brb, im at da stor?” This is NOT coherent!
Therefore, I am boycotting the use of such abbreviations, and I’ll start by making sure my autocorrect system for Microsoft Word changes all of these words to their extended meanings. Who is with me? Fyi, I’m serious. I am not lmao right now! You don’t believe me? See you L8r then.
-- Joel Cruz
Image source: http://images.sodahead.com/polls/001612495/omg-41002649020_xlarge.jpeg
Article source: http://www.pcworld.com/article/223432/omg_lol_internet_slang_added_to_oxford_engli sh_dictionary.html
Free the Presses
Last week, the New York Times announced plans to introduce a paid subscription service for its online content. The paywall, as it is commonly known, comes in several options and begins to kick in for users that read more than 20 articles on the website per month. The first tier subscription rings up at $15 a month, and features unlimited access to NYTimes.com, as well as access to the publication’s smartphone app on Android, Blackberry, and iPhone devices. The $20 subscription plan also features unlimited web access to NYTimes.com, but instead extends use to the iPad app, Times Reader 2.0, and the (very well done) NYTimes for the Chrome Web Store. The final subscription option will cost readers $35 a month for unlimited access for all of the above online access points.
Aside from muddling prices across multiple devices, there are even more stipulations to the New York Time’s subscription plan. Articles posted through social media websites like Facebook and Twitter can be accessed without counting towards a user’s 20 article a month quota.
The paywall is set to go live in the United States today, and already there have been a number of loopholes found to get around subscription service. Before you ask, I’ll detail a few of these loopholes for you now. Since articles posted to social media sites can be accessed for free, there are several Twitter accounts, like @FreeNYT and @FreeNYTimes, dedicated to tweeting all of the Times’ online content. There are also browser extensions like NYTClean that circumvent the paywall with by installing a few lines of code into your browser. Finally, deleting the cookies on your browser will also work in resetting your article count for the month.
Behind the Associated Press, the New York Times is the most cited publication of original content in the world and while no news outlet is perfect, it is recognized for conisistently high quality journalism. If you’re reading over 20 articles every month, you probably think so too, and should consider supporting The Times if you can. But if you can’t, should economics limit your access to information? Sure, there are other free news outlets on the Internet, but should we sacrifice quality for income? I don’t think so, and if you don’t either, The Times has made it easy for you to climb that wall.
Or, you could just keep reading our News Briefs every Monday. We’re still free, for now.
Article Source: http://www.pcworld.com/article/222978/the_new_york_times_paywall_headaches_mount.html
“Contemporary Shakespeare” isn’t an oxymoron, but rather a new trend taking place in NYC. This year, there are more Shakespeare plays being performed in New York City than ever before. I recently saw “Comedy of Errors” in an all-new production at BAM. The play is set in 2011 Mexico City. The dialogue and staging remained the same. One interesting facet about the production I saw was that it was an all male cast. This added to the humor of Luciana and Adriana who are two silly characters even more so in drag. Comedy of Errors is one of Shakespeare’s earliest plays and relies on style more than substance. It’s all farce a la Three Stooges without any of the literary depth that would put it on a college syllabus. I tried reading the play beforehand and it just wasn’t the same as seeing the live production. Comedy of Errors is perfect for any newcomers to Shakespeare because it moves at a quick pace and is loaded with humor. Shakespeare has really made a comeback in the last few years and as new productions of Merchant and Julius Caesar are planned for 2012, the sky’s the limit.
In hopes of bringing into light another young and talented writer living amongst us, I am posting this poem by Victoria Lynne McCoy. Yes, we are friends and I am proud to call her my “poetry wife.” However, I am sharing her work because I find her to be one of the most necessary emerging voices writing today. Her poems are masterfully woven with images both fierce and graceful. In a world where pain and chaos appears flourish, her work succeeds in revealing beauty in destruction itself. The poem below evinces a certain pain, but not without reminding us of the existence of hope, something we so desperately lack in this age of war and carnage.
On the Day it Became Legal To Rape Your Wife
Somewhere, a couple celebrated
an anniversary, laid out a blanket
beneath a chandelier of willow tree,
pressed into each other so carefully
not even the fallen leaves broke open.
Somewhere, a woman cleared her throat
and a man who spoke only enough body
language to translate this as uncertainty
removed his vagabond hands
from her waistline. Somewhere
a father put down a bottle, picked up
his daughter, and somewhere a father who was not
yet a father decided to stay. Somewhere
a man who’d spent most of his life turning
bricks into other people’s houses
washed his calloused fingers before bathing
his brittle mother in the bathtub of the only home
he’s ever known. Someone’s son
held the door open for a sun-dressed
stranger, or steadied a ladder
because his dad finally remembered
to touch up the trim. Somewhere a baritone
voice said Marry me and the girl who trusted
the weight of those shoulders said yes.
On the day nothing happened
to the man in Afghanistan who scarred
the insides of his wife’s thighs
from all that prying, somewhere else
love was trying harder.
(first published in PANK, June 2010)
Victoria Lynne McCoy grew up along the beaches of Southern California. She received her MFA in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College, and proudly claims a BA in “The Power of Words: Creative Expression as a Catalyst for Change” from the University of Redlands, during which time she also studied in Paris. Her work has appeared in The November 3rd Club, Redlands Review, and PANK. She currently works for Four Way Books and lives happily in Brooklyn.
- Ocean Vuong
Poem source: http://www.pankmagazine.com/victoria-lynne-mccoy/
Photo source: Ocean Vuong
I often keep the books I buy for my studies, due mostly to the fact that I take reading-intensive classes, and intensive reading is really the best kind of reading. However, there are some books assigned that just will not amuse me. This is rare; I tend to admire, or strive to find, something interesting in whatever I read in and out of the classroom. Unfortunately, I could not get into Miss Julie by August Strindberg. Yet, I’ll give it my best and unbiased critique.
Miss Julie is a relatively short play written by Strindberg in 1888. It is considered a naturalistic play because it attempts to re-create the everyday in the manner of speech, actions, and topics. The main themes that Strindberg deals with in this tragic play are the battle and tension between the two genders, and between different classes. There are only three main characters, Miss Julie, Jean, and Christine, but there is also a fourth unseen character spoken about, the Count, who is Julie’s father.
The action in the play takes place in the kitchen of the Count’s manor, where Jean and Christine are servants, on the night of Midsummer Eve. Julie, having no real tasks or work to do except be the lady of the house, decides to join and revel with the servants; this is where the conflict arises. There is a sexual lusting tension between Miss Julie and Jean; both want to equally indulge in the other, but both also want to exert dominance. Miss Julie has lived a life of privilege and always gets what she wants, but once she decides to dwell in the kitchen with the servants and willingly submits herself to Jean, a dominant male character, her title becomes worthless. In the end, the shamed Julie dramatically decides to run away, and the bell rings for Jean to bring the Count his shoes, which previously had been in kitchen, serving as silent reminders of the true authority of the home.
It’s a not a bad play; in fact, it’s very well written and the monologues of some of the characters are poignant and smart. It is a short read, only thirty-six pages, so I would say just read it because it’s a classic. Why not? In my opinion, it wasn’t a life-changing play, I was irked by some of the characters’ behavior, and it’s not one of my favorites, but don’t let that influence you. With literature, I believe you should read as many pieces as possible, regardless of what the critics have said, and then decide how you feel. After all, everyone is bound to like some and dislike others.
An advertisement is incomplete without its catchy tunes and subtle persuasive messages. A couple of weeks ago I accidentally came across this advertisement and was instantly captivated by its musical component, but even more captivated by its humrous, yet important message. This is a French advertisement promoting safe sex habits. Unlike American advertisements that usually "state the facts," trying to scare individuals about the consequences of unprotected sex, this advertisement takes on a musical comedic animation that not only grabs my attention, but really gets the message across. This isn’t in adherence with the normal standards of the Currently Listening selection, but I think that listening to messages such as this one comes close, if not falls directly, into the "listening" classification.
Sex has become a big part of today's media. If it's going to be part of the media, then we should learn that sending a positive melodic message is the best way to reach its audience. The message we should send to the youth is a hopeful one, without the depressing component we usually find in drug and sex advertisements that hint at the inevitable diseases such as AIDS, herpes, chlamidya, etc. Taking a closer look and more importantly, listen, to The French advertisement we can easily see how the musical component really gives this message a nice catch. The chubby conquistador in this advertisement takes on his path to actualization. At first he has some trouble with his soft butterknife experience, yet we can hear the hope in the musical composition. As the music moves from light dissonance to a major consonance tone, the climax and ultimate resolution of the advertisement becomes simple and clear- safe sex is a turn ON! The resolution of the animation would not have the pleasurable impact on the viewer if not for the orchestra-ic background that deserves applause. Let's remember to listen, and not only see advertisements- for the background music can easily surpass as the visual foreground. Listening and hearing the message can be just as important as seeing it.
When I learned that one of my favorite shows, Community, would be paying tribute to Quentin Tarantino’s oft-referenced film Pulp Fiction (1994), I knew I would be doing myself a disservice if I were to watch the episode before viewing the film. With the knowledge that I would no longer be the person who had to pretend to understand what it meant to call in a “cleaner,” or the significance of a couple dancing the twist to “You Never Can Tell” by Chuck Berry, I mentally prepared myself for 154 minutes of some of Tarantino’s finest work.
He did not disappoint. As the king of non-linear storytelling, Tarantino weaves three main plots together in a stunning display of violence, drug-use, and swearing. In short, he creates characters committing acts that movie-watchers enjoy viewing. The appeal of Pulp Fiction is that each one of the characters has vitality and depth, which is essential to ensure that the viewer still roots for mobsters Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) and Vincent (John Travolta), failed-actress/mob-wife Mia (Uma Thurman), and boxer Butch (Bruce Willis), and even after they engage in some morally repugnant activities. Although many of the scenes and lines from the movie are considered iconic, I would not want to spoil any more of Pulp Fiction for those of you have not seen this action-packed, Oscar-winning, crime film. Just be cool and go watch it.
Here’s that twist scene I mentioned:
- Brigida Pirraglia
Do you think the scientific method can be used to develop moral laws, similar to the method's establishment of natural law? If not, what is the best forum for developing just morality?
Ed Kearns: Hmm. I think the scientific method is a great model for forming and testing theories, however, perhaps morality is more intrinsic and delicate than experimentation allows for. To me, freedom is the basic moral value, minus the freedom to take away the freedoms of others. In other words, don't rape, kill or steal. Everything else goes.
Jessica Brooke: It definitely can. But I would also add some aspects of Buddhism
Evan Mason: I think the scientific method should absolutely be applied to moral laws. It is a method where there is no room for dispute over opinion. It is factual based which allows for answers without emotion involved. Although in the case of morality, it might be somewhat difficult to apply such a method. Different people have different ethical approaches to life. I think that overall it would still be a favorable option because of the constant renovations that is so prevalent in scientific beliefs.
Erin L. Teach humans to recognize everyone and everything we meet as ourselves.
I was impressed with all the answers I received, but disheartened by the amount. It seems morality, as I suspected, is a topic far too annoying and taxing for most people to bother with. Ask a question about the Grammys, and people foam to respond. No one cares. At the very least, those that do appear informed.
Monday, March 21, 2011
Spring is here at last! This is the first Monday of the season, so make it count. By now, you should have adjusted to the time-change Daylight Savings has inflicted upon us all. To celebrate spring’s long-awaited arrival, perhaps you could pick some strawberries or clean out your cluttered desk drawers. Or appreciate springtime in the city and read this week’s set of Boylan Blog articles outside. This week, we bring you reasons to volunteer, some of poems by E. B. White, an update on the hilarious sitcom Community, and how Brooklyn College students dream. More of a listener than a reader? Fear not! Attend the Open Mic this Tuesday, March 22nd, from 12:15PM to 2:15PM in the Woody Tanger Auditorium and hear some of your classmates’ best work. It’s sure to put some spring in your step.
- Brigida Pirraglia
The Right To Be Forgotten
Amidst countless and quintessentially human pursuits to make a mark and be remembered, the European Union is fighting for quite a different ideal: “the right to be forgotten.” They are not talking, of course, about the desire to eradicate individual deeds and accomplishments from our collective memory, but rather about the need to protect individuals from the endless and potentially dangerous annals of Internet memory. The EU has confirmed this week that legislators are working on proposals for instituting acceptable privacy settings for websites, particularly targeted at huge servers like Google and Facebook. The goal is to require user permission for releasing or retaining any private information and enforce the right of individuals to have personal information permanently deleted from databases.
One of the issues at hand is perhaps inherent in the growth of the internet: websites such as Facebook make the world seem like a very small place, but with this worldwide membership comes a discrepancy between the policies of the country in which the website is based and the countries in which it is being used. The European Union is arguing that many sites with servers outside the continent, Facebook included, are not adhering to EU legislation. Additionally, Justice Commissioner Vivian Reding acknowledges that a number of the current privacy policies themselves are outdated, many of which have been in place since 1995—nine years longer than Internet giant Facebook has been in existence. Rapid advances in technology have made it difficult for legislation to keep up with the constant generation of threats to privacy.
The EU’s assertive stance on this privacy issue is certainly not an anomaly; such concerns have been prevalent in the United States as well. Though the U.S. government has demonstrated some reluctance to inhibit the progress of successful businesses and has not typically placed as much emphasis as the EU on the need for individual privacy, regulators in Europe and the United States are now trying to work together to align their policies regarding such issues. U.S. regulators tend to place a great deal of value on freedom of information, but the fact that some online databases retain personal information even when users attempt to delete their accounts certainly poses a threat to the individual. Social networking sites might seem like harmless fun, but when you pressed the button to initially activate your Facebook account, did you really think you were making an intimate lifelong commitment? Because someday you might want to forget Facebook, but Zuckerberg & Co. aren’t ready to forget you.
- Nora Curry
News Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/17/us-eu-internet-privacy-idUSTRE72G48Z20110317?pageNumber=1
Image Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/18/online-privacy-right-to-be-forgotten_n_837489.html
Former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide is expected to return to Haiti on March 18, 2011, two days before the country’s presidential election. “Lethal Weapon” star Danny Glover arrived in South Africa last Wednesday to escort the politician to his homeland.
This marked the end of Aristide’s second exile to South Africa since 2004. The former priest was primarily exiled to Venezuela in the 1990s after he became Haiti’s first democratically elected president. After he assumed power in 1994 and subsequently in 2000, he fled the country “under American pressure as rebels closed in on the capital,” according to the New York Times.
Aristide’s new government in the 1990s overthrew the 30-year dictatorship of Jean-Claude Duvalier who was exiled to France for over two decades. Recently, the former dictator returned to Haiti while the judicial system there made plans to possibly charge him with human rights violations during his years as the country’s leader.
However, Duvalier was not the only leader responsible for corrupt government. Although Aristide was a popular politician among the poor, his rule as president has been tinged with polarization. The poor regard him as their hero, and his colleagues regard him as their nemesis.
In addition to many of Haiti’s public figures, the U.S. government was not happy about Aristide’s return to Haiti. The government believed that Aristide’s return would be a harsh blow to Haiti’s political climate. With the political crisis that Haiti faced during the first round of voting in December, the U.S. has been in contact with the South African government to delay Aristide’s arrival until after the elections.
President Obama called Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s president, but was unable to plead his case. Haiti issued Aristide his diplomatic passport weeks before his departure. On Thursday, South Africa bid him and those among his entourage, including actor Danny Glover, farewell.
Aristide said that he hopes to work in education when he arrives in Haiti, but American officials are unsure of his intentions.
Former first lady, Mirlande Manigat, is also known as a mother of Haiti. She was once an antagonist of Aristide. Now, she anticipates Aristide’s arrival and his contributions to education in Haiti.
A sign hangs up near the airport, “You have your mother, now your father is coming.”
Information Source: HYPERLINK "http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/18/world/americas/18aristide.html" http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/18/world/americas/18aristide.html
Image Source: http://topuspost.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/4f3c8_aristide_new_pho.jpg
How Far We’ve Come
On March 19th, 2011, the United States, along with British and French forces, unleashed a near 110 missile assault on Moammar Gadhafi's military strong holds near Misrata and Tripoli. This was done to enforce the UN’s decree of a “no-fly” zone over Libya and to protect civilians and protesters against a dictator who explicitly indicated he would bomb his own people.
On March 19th, 2003, the United States, along with United Kingdom contingents, began the initial war assault on Iraq. This war was helmed under the guise of securing weapons of mass destruction from Suddam Hussein (that were never found) and "liberating" the Iraqi people from tyranny.
Despite all the political pitfalls that plague our country(and there’s a new scandal every day), the United States of America is not what it was eight years ago. Our responses are similar, but our reasons for military action are moving in the right direction.
Just look at the facts.
Article Source(s): http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/war-in-iraq-begins
Image Source: http://www.n24.de/media/import/dpainfoline/dpainfoline_20100428_13/jpeg-14793800DADD22DC-20100428-img_24662134originallarge-4-3-800-375-0-2923-1912.jpg
Free of race, religion, and region—and working against the greed of capitalism that plagues the American corporate world—volunteering is a culture that unites, gives wholeheartedly, and can only prosper. Whether you’re the English major who can’t stop writing your thesis or the biology major who can’t “find time” to leave the lab, I can assure you that volunteering is not only a fresh break and a helpful deed for the community, but it’ll also mean more to you than a breath of fresh air.
I recently had the opportunity to meet Patch Adams, who is far more than the Robin Williams, funny doctor role that you witnessed in the 1990s movie. As a physician, he has given his life to bringing happiness to both adults and children in the most destitute conditions and with the worst of fates. Patch Adams has made bringing smiles to other people his life.
THAT’S RIGHT! Volunteering doesn’t have to be a park clean-up (even though there are plenty of those) or going to a city soup kitchen (though that’s wonderful, too). It can be something as selfless as making someone smile! As someone who has been volunteering for almost 10 years, I can say that it is more than a hobby; it’s something I can share with virtually everyone. So go out, find what interests you, and volunteer!
At this moment, Brooklyn College is volunteering, too:
- This summer, Brooklyn College students will be going on their first trip to Honduras to volunteer at a small clinic through the Global Medical Brigades. (For more info email: email@example.com)
- For something more local, try Hands-On New York Cares Day. (Sign up at: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=514863378#!/event.php?eid=138987069502583)
- There’s even a whole division of Brooklyn College Student Affairs dedicated to community service, SERVA. (Visit them at: http://www.brooklyn.cuny.edu/pub/departments/sa/1538.htm)
- Sun Mei Liu
Image source: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_NCmxNHN6AQ0/TP0DLeKG8_I/AAAAAAAAAII/jk6tLA5c4A8/s1600/VolunteeringHands_A.jpg
The critic leaves at curtain fall
To find, in starting to review it,
He scarcely saw the play at all
For watching his reaction to it.
Commuter-one who spends his life
In riding to and from his wife
A man who shaves and takes a train
And then rides back to shave again
Growing up, I was a huge fan of E.B White’s book, Charlotte’s Web. In my later years, I happened to come across a book of his poetry and sketches by pure accident. I bought the book of poems for a dollar at Strand Bookstore then rushed home to read them. I was hoping to out find more about this intriguing author through some of his lesser known pieces. Through his poetry I found a whole other side that I did not expect from the writer of a serious children’s work. He was actually extremely funny and poignant at times as well. The two poems I selected illustrate his straight laced humor. As a poet, I enjoy his ability to present the mundane subjects of life, which we take for granted, in a new perspective. His poetry is often short and sweet, but challenges the reader to interpret common “definitions” in a new light. In the first poem, White describes the critic who is so quick to judge that he misses the very thing he’s supposed to review. In life, we are so preoccupied with expressing the moment that we actually forget to live it at the time it’s going on. The second poem is a sad commentary on the mundane routines of daily life and how we cast our days like sheep following a pattern. The commuter’s life is volleyed between riding trains and shaving. Both poems illustrate the poet’s ability to extract some nuances about daily life and how these nuances guide our actions.
Image source: http://flcenterlitarts.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/e_b_white2.jpg
Malcolm X was a misrepresented man. And unfortunately for the disinterested, or worse yet, the sensitive reader, his autobiography is inflamed with rigid racial charges until the final chapters. Indeed, even I found it grating to read about my inherent evil as a white man for several hundred pages, culminating with a dismissal of even my good intentions to act righteously: the white population is given the epithet “white devil” by Malcolm X, the leading minister of the Nation of Islam, who claimed that white skin was the product of malicious eugenics, the creation of an ancient mad-scientist intent on germinating inherently destructive human beings. While I can certainly sympathize with the cultural frustrations and accusations against the white “race,” a crusade against evil embodied by skin color has never ended positively.
As Malcolm is quick to observe, the reaction of oppressed people, who were subjected to the same logic used to guide Nation of Islam followers, is nearly impossible to disentangle from racism. When the culture that confines a group represses their sense of self-worth and universal equality, freedom appears unobtainable under the authority of, or even interacting with, that culture. But as introduced, Malcolm was very much misrepresented.
After traveling to Mecca, Malcolm was engrossed in a “color blind” culture, which compelled him to consider the American culture crippled with immorality, not whiteness. And it was upon the reorganization of his cultural interpretation that Malcolm was killed.
Malcolm’s lasting cultural image remains infused with the fury of racial antagonism. Reading his autobiography illuminates his actual intentions, but more importantly, forces the reader to consider the implicit nature of American culture: How do indoctrinated cultural goals, exemplified by the American Dream, shackle individual and community identity? When institutions undermine legitimate means of access to the forms of success made iconic by cultural ideologies, what is the best way to react in the name of justice? And do public and active expressions of blatant truth warrant assassination, especially if they peacefully reorganize power structures?
Malcolm’s story is an emblem of moral frustrations and cultural limitations. And because of that, it is most informative. I declare that all Americans should read The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and, at the very least, consider how American culture shapes the entrance and acceptance of new behavior and people into the interpretative systems of the mind.
- Oliver Lamb
The year is 1989. My mother and father are dancing at a disco in Sai Gon. Outside, rubble from the war that ended 14 years ago still litters the streets. The disco is no more than a tin shack painted bright pink. Still, it is crammed to the corners and bodies spill into the street. Whitney Houston's “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” fills the air with uptempo dance beats interlaced with the occasional falsetto. My mother and father are dancing, their bodies smooth and unscarred. They are happy, even beautiful. The bombs have stopped falling and this music, this dancing, is proof. They know nothing of what is to come, that they will never be this happy again. I want to keep them here, on this dance floor, their skin pearling with the excess of dreams, their backs and chests slick as they dance and gyrate into the night.
If only the music can pin them against that night forever. Of course, it can't. But still, I turn to this song and think of my parents when they were drunk with youth and reckless with joy.
Two years later, I would hear the same song in our run-down apartment in Hartford, Connecticut. It would be the first American song I recall hearing—my two-year-old mouth chanting “I wanna dance, I wanna dance.....with somebody. Somebody who loves me”. Clearly, Whitney Houston has a special place in my heart. So you can guess how disappointed I am to see her struggle with her drug abuse throughout the years. And alas, the beautiful soprano that guided my mother and father along their brief and wonderful youths, is gone. Here is a video compilation comparing Whitey Houston in 1994 and then in 2010. What is left is a sad symbol of fading hopes and fading lives:
So, you know when you hear everyone around you talking about some specific song or show and you have no idea what the big deal is, but you want to find out? That’s how I stumbled upon the sitcom Community. There was “buzz” so I watched the pilot when it aired, became distracted with schoolwork, heard the buzz again, and finally decided to give it a go. And I’m really glad I did.
Community, created by Dan Harmon, premiered in 2009 as a part of the line-up for NBC’s comedy night and has developed a cult following. The main story focuses on the lives of seven characters enrolled in the fictional Greendale Community College: Jeff Winger (Joel McHale), Britta Perry (Gillian Jacobs), Abed Nadir (Danny Pudi), Troy Barnes (Donald Glover), Annie Edison (Alison Brie), Shirley Bennett (Yvette Nicole Brown), and Pierce Hawthorne (Chevy Chase).
The series begins when Jeff, a recently disbarred lawyer, forms a study group for Spanish class to impress Britta and everyone else joins, not knowing his true intentions. Although Jeff’s secret is revealed in the pilot, the study group continues to meet to cope with the insane professor of the class, Señor Chang (Ken Jeong). These unlikely and strikingly different characters find themselves entwined and form a very strange, dysfunctional school-family.
Each character has quirky qualities that develop along with the show. Jeff is a slick-talking ladies man, who digs Britta, a “needlessly defiant” self-proclaimed do-gooder. Abed, a film/pop-culture encyclopedia, is the best friend of the lovable jock Troy, who is the object of affection of the smart and sweet albeit anal Annie. Shirley is a recently divorced Christian mother going back to school and Pierce is a cranky and inappropriate old man. Yet, all these characters become a family. That very human and emotional idea of family is what gives Community its heart, ultimately setting it apart from any other sitcoms out there. It is also ridiculously funny.
Community’s humor is mostly based on poking fun at television and film clichés. Some episodes that deserve honorable mention are “Modern Warfare,” which involves the whole campus engaging in a paintball war for the coveted prize of early registration, “Epidemiology,” a zombie-apocalypse Halloween episode, “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas,” a stop-motion claymation episode co-written by Dino Stamatopoulos, and the epic episode “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.” These episodes, which usually center on a specific theme, are not mere parodies. Rather, they pay homage to television and all the wonder that it brings. These episodes highlight the best parts of the pop-culture world and the nonsense that we all know and love.
Community also has a good record of special guest stars such as John Michael Higgins, Patton Oswalt, Jack Black, Betty White, Tony Hale, Drew Carey, Andy Dick, and Malcolm-Jamal Warner. However, they aren’t just guest starring; their characters work and weave their way into the story. It feels almost like they were always there, giving the show an organic and natural feel.
I could go on about how I truly believe Community is redeeming comedy television and all that good jazz, but you should really just go and watch it now that you’ve heard the buzz. This is a great time to catch up with the show since NBC announced on Thursday that they have renewed for a third season. Congrats to Community!
- Celia Vargas
Guest Editor: Brigida Pirraglia
Image Source: http://static.tvfanatic.com/images/gallery/community-promo-pic.jpg
This week Kate and Joel ask BC students: “Do you dream in black and white? If so, describe one of your dreams. If you don’t dream in black and white, describe a lucid dream you’ve had.”
Michelle: I assume I dream in color. The only time I’ve ever had a lucid dream are the few moments I’m trying to wake myself up. Whenever I wake myself up, it’s because it’s violent. I’m trying to escape murder or something similar.
Trevor: I do not dream in black and white. I am aware that I am dreaming in most of my dreams. I sometimes have weird fantasies and while I am dreaming, I think to myself, “What the hell are you dreaming?!?!”
Jennifer: I often have lucid dreams. I have dreamt of times I was getting physically injured and reassured myself it was only a dream. I have dreamt of romantic encounters and was fully conscious I was dreaming. Even when my dreams are at their most bizarre, I am aware I’m dreaming.
Vanessa: I’m most aware of my dreams that are way too wacky to be real. Any inclusion of cartoon characters/TV situations tells me that I’m dreaming. I hate free falling dreams; I try so desperately to wake up before I but the bottom, but I always wake up right after I fall?
Carole: I very rarely remember my dreams. Whatever is remembered is usually a late sleep morning dream. I know that my dreams are in color, but damned if I can tell you one of them.
Michael: When I dream, I dream in color and the only real time I know I’m dreaming is when something happens that I know isn’t real or when the music from my iPod seeps into my dreams. Yes, I sleep with my headphones in my ears.
Norman: I remember it vaguely. In my dream there were different shades of monochrome. There was a girl with a steel gun and a cowboy hat. She glared at me like a merciless bounty hunter. She raised her gun, but she couldn’t shoot. Everything was a standstill like a noir flick. She would have been the perfect candidate for Sin City 2. Fortunately, I snapped out from my sleep before a 9mm bullet [pierced] my skull
Jose: I am alone in a room. I know I must get to the other side, but I can’t mitigate the trepidation that cuts through me like a scythe. Without missing a beat I move and before I can blink I am intercepted by a large, mammoth crocodile. Its huge jaws open are dripping with vile fluid. It emits a huge growl before it clamps down taking me in its vast, cavernous mouth. Before I knew it, it pulls me in the water. I want to scream, but I am too shocked to do so . as we are leagues under the swamp water, it begins to turn its body repeatedly in some makeshift reptilian cyclone. I feel my sternum crack and buckle under the strain as the water takes on the hue of my spilled blood. Then I wake up.
Kevin: I know I was dreaming in color, but I don’t remember the dream.
Monday, March 14, 2011
There are a few things on the agenda for the coming weeks. The English Major's Open Mic is on Tuesday, March 22nd at 12pm-2pm. The sign-up sheet will be posted on the door of 3416 Boylan. It's first come, first serve so make sure to secure your slot.
But, especially for our green blooded readers out there, another important day is coming a lot sooner. Thursday is St. Patrick's Day- a day to break out every green article of clothing you own, enjoy a variety of green food and beverages, and maybe stumble upon a four leaf clover... Hey, you never know.
As for myself, I'll be pretending I'm Irish with the best of them, enjoying a green bagel and trying my hand at bagpipes. But until then, curl up with brand spanking new articles from the Boylan Blog, brought to you by your ever diligent team of Interns here at the English Major's Office!
A massive tsunami triggered by an 9.0 magnitude earthquake has devastated the northern coast of Japan. The damage is severe and the death toll is set to climb well over ten thousands. However, there is hope that many will be found and those dead will be accounted for. Just a couple of hours after the disaster, Google launched its People Finder application, originally employed during the Haiti earthquake of 2010, and most recently during the New Zealand earthquake last month.
The application works as a message board where people can upload information into the database; for example, “people can look for lost loved ones or post a note saying they are safe.” It is an easier and faster way to gather information while many other agencies are busy offering aid on site. The People Finder application is very convenient, designed to be embedded into a variety of social networking sites, allowing for more awareness.
The extent of the damage is yet to be fully analyzed, but, judging from the pictures and news coverage, it is horrendous. It is during these terrible times that anything that can ease the worry will help, and Google’s People Finder is doing just that. During the first hours of “the Japan quake Person Finder [being launched it] had logged more than 4,000 records.” With any luck, more people will be recovered; in the meantime, our hopes and sentiments go out to the people of Japan and their families.
For months, a group of volunteer hackers calling themselves “Anonymous” has been successfully wrecking havoc on corporations across the globe. Their most notable strike was on money-transfer companies including PayPal, Visa, and Mastercard. The attacks brought down the companies’ websites for hours, sometimes days at a time by flooding the site traffic with “net bots.” The move disrupted e-commerce and even froze company e-mail accounts. The group claims that the attacks were in response to Mastercard and Visa making it more difficult for people to donate to the WikiLeaks organization.
Last week, the group struck again—this time targeting the Manhattan-based music contracting company, BMI. The group announced in an open letter to BMI that for “too long have the music and cinema industries, among others, abused copyright for their own gain. Legislation serves to protect artists not the companies managing them and should never attempt to prevent the spread of creativity to the general public. We have seen BMI consistently copyright legislation and consequently have decided to take action against it to show that the people will not stand for its crimes against the public.”
So far, the group has had a leftist agenda, attacking the websites of corporate agencies, as well as the infamous Westbouro Baptist Church. Many have accused the group of terrorism. However, writer for the UK Guardian, Richard Stallman argues, “The Anonymous web protests over WikiLeaks are the internet equivalent of a mass demonstration. It’s a mistake to call them hacking (playful cleverness) or cracking (security breaking).”
At the end of Anonymous’ letter to BMI was a bold warning to other culprits: “We do not forget. We do not forgive.”
- Ocean Vuong
The National Forest Management is planning to update the rules established in 1982 regarding wildlife protection, guided by Obama’s administration. But wildlife conservatives are disappointed with the proposition. They claim the bill inadequately presents the means to protect and support American ecosystems. The Sierra Forest Legacy, a Californian nonprofit organization, expressed its outrage after noting that the most important regulation in the 1982 ruling has been left out in the new proposition: the Viability Standard. This regulation is described as follows:
Fish and wildlife habitat shall be managed to maintain viable populations of existing native and desired non-native vertebrate species in the planning area.
For planning purposes, a viable population shall be regarded as one which has the estimated numbers and distribution of reproductive individuals to insure its continued existence is well distributed in the planning area.
In order to insure that viable populations will be maintained, habitat must be provided to support, at least, a minimum number of reproductive individuals and that habitat must be well distributed so that those individuals can interact with others in the planning area.
The Sierra Forest Legacy claims that without this provision, the National Forest Management department will not be held responsible for properly maintaining National Forests, as well as other wildlife in their domain.
Other scientists illuminate the failure of the bill: while it presents all the right ideological concepts and promises, it does not actually standardize clear actions and responsibilities. Without a detailed course of action, this new plan threatens to undermine the stability of forest protection.
How do we entwine action with philosophy? It seems that at the heart of American cultural discourse is a divide between discussing ideas and discussing actions, as if the two have no relationship. A person’s moral beliefs are elevated beyond question, yet his or her actions are held accountable.
If we refuse to challenge, investigate, and incorporate the very system of interpretation for actions and morality when discussing the nature and ethics of a person’s actions, how can we ever expect to change and uproot destructive behavior? And if we don’t intend to hold an individual accountable for his or her behavior, how do we justify legal institutions and politicians who attempt to regulate the populace? Of course accountability is necessary, but how is it that applying social responsibility is such a muddled and incompetent process in America?
Religion is seen as an untouchable, personal, and sacred entity that should never be publicly discussed and criticized—allowing religion to be used as a barrier against moral scrutiny only proliferates ignorance. Living in a time where ignorance is far too overwhelming, our methods of cultural investigation need to be as active as our most fervid passions. And I’m not suggesting violent action or even ideological degradation. But if we are not constantly willing to express what we understand as truth and why, we leave the definition of truth to others.
- Oliver Lamb
“The Goji Berry: A Super Fruit and Your Natural Prescription”
Health is a highly discussed topic of the Obama administration. From the beginning of his term as president, Obama’s campaign for health reform has been debated by lawmakers and citizens throughout the country. On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act that promises to radicalize the health industry in the following years to come.
The most significant change that comes with new health reform is increased savings for prescription drugs. During the “donut hole period,” a gap in Medicare D coverage that will end in 2020, American citizens will get 50 percent discounts on brand-name generic drugs.
In an article about prescriptions drugs, Dr. Julian Whitaker says, “Millions of Americans swallow pills that are supposed to make them feel better—physically or mentally—but covertly wreak havoc with their body and brain.”
For the ancient Himalayans, the answer to the previous question would probably be, “Try the Goji berry.”
The Goji berry, the prescribed medicine for the ancient Himalayans, was a super fruit known for its healing qualities. As peoples of Chinese and Indian descent passed through Himalayan lands, the natives there shared their healing secret and the informed newcomers began to add the Goji berry to their existing herbal and medical remedies.
One legend says that the berries of a Goji vine fell into a well built near a Buddhist temple. Residents noticed that individuals who prayed there looked healthier and younger. The secret to their youth may have been a direct result of their praying, but was also indirectly caused by the goji berry, which was in the water they drank from the well.
Again, do we really need more drugs? My answer would second that of the ancient Himalayans, “Try the Goji berry," available at your nearest herbal food store.
Image Source: http://static.howstuffworks.com/gif/goji-berry-1.jpg
Background Sources: http://www.healthcare.gov/law/timeline/index.html
By Barack Obama
Under water grottos, caverns
Filled with apes
That eat figs.
Stepping on the figs
That the apes
Eat, they crunch.
The apes howl, bare
Their fangs, dance,
Tumble in the
Musty, wet pelts
Glistening in the blue.
Barack Obama, the President of the United States, is a politician, a leader, a businessman, a speaker, but who ever thought a poet? In 1981, Obama published a couple of poems in the journal Feast. The journal was a 51-page student literary journal published by the Occidental College community. Unfortunately, the journal is no longer active. Nevertheless, Obama’s poetic side should not be forgotten.
Obama’s poem was published during his undergraduate years. His imagination runs wild and his smooth language creates a new world. I am particularly struck by the word transition from “figs” to “fangs.” Eating figs to dancing fangs really adds to the artistic image he is able to paint with his words. I am immediately taken into a dark cave filled with wild ape parties. He uses few words and repetition. But a true writer need only say few words to make a great impact. And if it’s worth saying once, it’s worth saying over and over again.
It was a great surprise knowing Obama is not only a president, but a poet as well. His other work is called “Pop,” which is just as imaginative and picturesque as “Underground.”
Though I read twice as much as I sleep and have a bookshelf dedicated to works that I value above all other possessions, there are few novels to which I would apply the clichéd statement: “This book has changed my life.” Jack Kerouac’s On the Road is one of them. Thus, after I quickly devoured Kerouac’s personal canon, I turned to his selected letters and was entirely fascinated by the workings of the mind that produced such feverish literature. I recently decided to delve into the second half of the collection, which includes letters from the years between the 1957 publication of On the Road to Kerouac’s death in 1969.
Reading Kerouac’s informal writing, I’ve found the letter to be a genre and creative art form as thrilling to read as poetry or fiction. These written communications, particularly coming from the pen of someone as lively as Kerouac, have an intense vitality and beauty. The letters Kerouac sent to his literary friends reveal a good deal about his creative process, and the inclusion of some of their responses creates an exciting picture of the “Beat” circle. The act of writing letters itself fosters a spontaneous stream of thought, which actually helped Kerouac develop his now famous literary style. His letters often became highly informal drafts of ideas for his novels—wild and ardent portrayals of thoughts and events that were essential to both the form and content of his published writing.
As I read Kerouac’s vivid letters, I can’t help but be aware that like so many aspects of the current world, the art of letter writing has faded as technology has become increasingly pervasive. After all, why waste time and postage on a document that can be produced with the click of a few keys? While emails and other efficient forms of communication can substitute as transfers of information, they seem unable to encapsulate the passionate creativity of a letter—the instant of personal connection, the moment wherein the scrawling of words dislodges from the distinction between letter and poem and develops its own kind of erratic grace. It’s in everyday writing that we develop our voices. It’s in producing physical documents that we run the beautiful risk of our tears dripping onto the page and leaving their mark. It’s in the receipt of letters that we get the chance to physically react—to rip them up angrily or to put them away carefully as cherished keepsakes. If we continue to communicate through technology and shorthand, we will not only make writing less physical but also less timeless. What will the greatest writers of today leave behind for fervent admirers to pore over in rapture? An inbox of emails is somehow not the same as a 545-page volume of manic, humorous, and passionate letters.
- Nora Curry
Charters, Ann, ed. Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters, 1957-1969. New York: Penguin Putnam Inc., 1999.
The Book of Mormon is the new Broadway hit of the season! The creators of South Park and Avenue Q have produced what could very well be, in my opinion, the funniest musical of all time. The audience was hyperventilating with laughter and couldn’t get enough of the zany characters. The plot follows two young Mormon missionaries who are sent to convert the “heathens” in Uganda. This was far from farce, however, as it turns out that the show was not only hysterical but surprisingly sentimental as well. The Mormons set out to convert others but wind up changing themselves. The music was the best part and even left the merchandise shop sold out of the CD. If you enjoy the same uplifting and catchy tunes of Avenue Q then you will enjoy this music as well. The songs can easily get stuck in your head and had all the usual Broadway “pep” to them. Most of the songs were part of large production numbers. The songs were poignant and carried the plot along nicely instead of breaking it up. This musical is more cohesive than Avenue Q in that there is a fully developed plot instead of a pastiche. I highly recommend this musical for anyone with a sense of humor and especially for people who are either new to musicals or apprehensive. This is far from “My Fair Lady” and a crowd pleaser for the non-musical crowd.
Image source: http://www.applause-tickets.com/images/the-book-of-mormon.jpg