Monday, December 16, 2013

Reflection, Like a Mirror

Reflection, Like a Mirror
At the beginning of this course entitled Multigenre Literacy in a Global Context, I was unsure what that entailed. What I've learned it to mean is the way we communicate globally and literately is through effective uses of technology. It is not only important to be able to use technology effectively, but also to be able to teach others how to use it. I knew how to use computers, the internet, and presentation software prior and didn't think this class had much to offer, but I discovered that using technology and teaching it are two very different things.
Beginning the poetry section by analyzing a favorite song is a wonderful way to introduce poetry to the claimed non-fan. I, being a huge fan of poetry, enjoy music and lyrics for this reason. I’ve heard a quote one time that a short story author is a failed poet- and a novelist is a failed short story author. I am fascinated by the ability that poets have to fit so much meaning into so few words. Attempting to write parodies of songs like Weird Al does allowed me to appreciate the talent and ability it takes to accomplish such a task. I kind of shocked myself when writing my own poetry; by no means do I think my poems were spectacular, but I have written poetry before, and it usually ends up cheesy and sappy.  These ended up slightly philosophical and perplexing.
hadn't learned about mythology since freshman year of high school and never anything about Norse or Asian or African mythologies. I had only ever studied Greek and Roman, and even those were very brief. Because of my lack of experience with myths and mythology, I wished we were able to spend more time with these different mythologies. As an English major, I think my knowledge of mythological gods and heroes is lacking.
I was impressed with our class’s ability to present new educationally-effective technologies for the classroom. I still use Pandexio daily and think it is a huge tool for anyone reading digital material and taking notes, synthesizing, and/or collaborating. I was impressed with all the features of Google docs and Google+ as I have used them before, but never collaboratively. Working as a group used to be such a pain, going out of our ways to meet up. Now, all these different services offer live collaboration tools online.
Ending the course with Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation was the icing on the cake for me. Language is the most effective form of communication that we have, giving words themselves power, but in the movie, language is a barrier. Much of what is said in the movie is either in Japanese or mumbled and inaudible to the audience. The acting, then, comes from facial expressions, reactions, and mannerisms. In a movie about lack and emptiness, Lost in Translation communicates most effectively through a lack of dialogue.
I am in a fantasy hockey league with a group of my friends from all over the country and since enrolled in this class, I have written weekly recaps for the season. After writing frequently to this blog and others, I feel confident and excited to continue posting to a public forum. Granted, these weekly sports writings mostly consist of player stats and name-calling, but my words are out there for the world to see, and my friends have even claimed to look forward to what I will say each week. Before this class, I had no intention of regularly posting things online, and this blog may not stay alive, but somewhere soon, another will be born. 

Lost in Translation: Communication beyond Words

Lost in Translation: Communication beyond Words
          Feelings of alienation and loneliness bring two unlikely characters together in Sofia Coppola’s film Lost in Translation. Bob, played by Bill Murray, and Charlotte, played by Scarlett Johansson, meet while visiting Tokyo. Both characters feel lost and detached from their alien environment and their lives. As the title suggests, language and communication bring about issues and conflicts in the film. Much of what is said during the movie is either not in English or mumbled and inaudible to the audience. The title itself translates in Spanish, Chinese, and Hebrew as “Lost in Tokyo.” In Portuguese, it translates as “Love Is a Strange Place.” In Polish, it translates as “In Between Worlds” (“Lost in Translation Trivia”). These differences in titles alter one’s interpretation of the movie and show how even the title is lost in translation, illustrating one of the many difficulties of language. While communication is a conflict and barrier throughout, the movie communicates through a lack of dialogue. 
         Skeptical of her life’s path, Charlotte is bored, restless, and unable to communicate her problems, fears, and insecurities. Charlotte explains simply why she is in Tokyo, “My husband’s a photographer, so he’s here working. I wasn't doing anything, so I came along” (Lost in Translation). Her ability to leave everything behind and travel halfway across the world shows her free-willed nature, but Charlotte hints at her sense of lack of purpose. When asked what she does, she replies that she is unsure. This feeling of being lost and without direction is a common theme throughout the film. Charlotte laughs at her attempts to listen to a self-help CD, she cannot fully understand the art of Ikebana, and she goes to a Buddhist temple but has no cathartic experience. Crying, she calls her friend Lauren who offers no help. On the phone, Charlotte vents many of her problems and frustrations, including “I don’t know who I married” (Lost in Translation). Lauren asks Charlotte if she can hold on a second and when Lauren returns, she says, “I’m sorry, what were you saying?” proving she wasn't paying attention. Charlotte cannot even communicate with her best friend, but she hides her dis-ease well. The scene after her crying on the phone is one of her putting on makeup and redecorating the hotel room. When her husband leaves for a few days, she fakes a smile until he leaves the room then immediately returns to a face of melancholy.
          Bob experiences the majority of the language barriers and conflicts in the film. He is a famous actor and the entire reason he’s in Tokyo is to do an advertisement for Suntory whiskey. He is not proud of the fact that he is doing the commercial and does not tell many people it is the reason for his visit. He is filming a commercial for a product he does not drink or even like, but he is getting paid two million dollars to do it. Bob does not seem to be effective to their target market, but because he is famous, they want him anyway. Many communication conflicts arise between Bob, who speaks only English, the director, who speaks only Japanese, and the translator, who speaks very little of either. With the audience also unable to understand the director’s Japanese, Bill Murray acts with facial expressions and mannerisms. Later, a masseuse goes up to Bob’s room and demands him to “Lip my stockings!” (Lost in Translation). Bob has no idea what she is saying, causing the scene to be both confusing and humorous. In the gym of the hotel, Bob almost gets seriously injured on the elliptical machine because he cannot read the buttons. Conflicts with this language barrier get absurdly funny when at the hospital, Bob tells the nurse, “Will you put that back in the garage for me?” who obviously has no clue what was said, just like Bob and Charlotte don’t know what he said (Lost in Translation). The difficulty communicating continues with his relationship with his wife. Communication between Bob and his wife consists of memos and faxes. She sends him a Fed-Ex with dark red carpet swatches asking him which one he likes best, including that she likes the burgundy one. He sighs to himself that they are all burgundy. When they do talk on the phone, the audience only hears mumbles from the wife except the barely audible “goodbye, Bob” before he gets to say “I love you” (Lost in Translation). Like her husband and Lauren to Charlotte, Bob’s wife only fuels his feelings of estrangement and loneliness. In the opening scene of the movie, Bob is seen in a taxi, perplexed, alone, and blinded by the Tokyo lights. This scene is juxtaposed with a scene later in the movie when Charlotte contently watches Bob sleep in the backseat of a taxi. This juxtaposition shows the transformation of character from alienation and detachment to contentment and completeness.
          In the final scene of the movie, inaudible to the audience, Bob says something into Charlotte’s ear before they both smile, kiss, and part. Something was said, but the audience will never know what it was. In a movie about communication and interpretation, this is the perfect ending. Bob says exactly what he needs to say and it is exactly what Charlotte needs to hear. This scene shows their progression and ability to return to their lives. Earlier in the film, Bob tells Charlotte, “The more you know who you are and what you want, the less you let things upset you” (Lost in Translation). Both characters are upset in the beginning of the film because they don’t know who they are or who they want to be, but by the end, they find contentment and satisfaction.

Works Cited
Lost in Translation. Dir. Sofia Coppola. Perf. Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson. DVD. Focus
Features, 2003.
"Lost in Translation Trivia." IMDb. 16 Dec. 2013

Monday, November 25, 2013

Labor vs. Capital

David Harvey explains that in 1980, the "Capitalist class discovers it can make money by investing in asset values rather than in production. Investments in stock market, property markets, and oil futures. New markets are created so that capitalists can make even more money by purchasing derivatives of insurances of derivatives of assets and so on" (Harvey). Randy Martin furthers this point when he writes, "No longer divided between labor and capital, society's central cleavage would be played out along the lines of risk- the prospect of a return in excess of expectation. Those capable of embracing it, investors all, would be the managers, if not the masters of their own lives" (Martin).

This poses a serious problem in today's generation of children, including my own. The most successful people are those who don't put forth very much physical effort. They are rewarded for sitting back and using their brains or wits. Children learn that people who work difficult, physically laboring jobs are paid less than people who make money from investments and capitalism. While using your brain and being creative should indeed be rewarded, what children learn from this is that they should be rewarded for not putting forth any effort.

Monday, November 18, 2013


Pandexio's slogan is "Read once, remember forever."

Pandexio is a brand new software that allows you to snip important sections of text and attach notes to those snips. They are then able to be indexed, searched, and shared.

Each day, we are flooded with information- too much to comprehend at one time. Only about 2% of what we read is important to us. Remembering that important 2% is the key to success. Pandexio creates your own personal index where you can quickly find the 2% you need. It works for many different types of workers- consultants, researchers, analysts, inventors, entrepreneurs, technical sales, thought-leaders, IT professionals, journalists, and of course students.

Students' environment is more competitive than ever before. Current note-taking lacks organization. Notes are located in multiple locations: textbook, notebook, yellow stickies, electronic notepad. This style of note-taking allows no way to search through notes you've taken. Sharing also becomes difficult.

Pandexio offers a centralized workspace. No more loose pages and messy handwriting. Notes cannot become detached from source text. Pandexio creates virtual index cards from notes you've taken. Pandexio removes the unnecessary time taken moving back and forth between text and notes and also allows for high quality of notes. Syntheses and conclusions happen much sooner. Pandexio is a wonderful learning tool. I believe it will become very popular in universities.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Thor's Duel and Random Things

This week, I'd like to share a couple of cool pictures regarding Thor's duel with Hrungnir.
This one shows Odin's eight-legged steed (spider).
This shows Thor's size compared to the giant Hrungnir. It also shows the clay human the giants created from the heart of a mare.

I'd also like to revisit the poetry section and share a haiku:
His name is Yoda.
He comes when called; he knows
naught about Star Wars.

I'd also like to remind everyone of what primogeniture means: the first-born son inherits the family's wealth and possessions. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Some Original Poems

A Happy Poem                                                                                  (free-verse)

Sometimes, The Journey is not what it seems.
The path is clear but
beware the smoofas;
they hide under the bed.

The dial tone asks
too many questions.
Can I drink my way
to Heaven?

A man a plan a canal Panama.
A plan.

The shortest distance
between two points is a line.
How thick
should I draw the line?
What color
should it be? Should I
use a ruler?

What happens                                                                        My favorite color
when a clock runs                                                                   is green. blue. red. green.
out of batteries?
No, this is
a happy poem.                                                                        No more questions.
                                                                                               Time for answers.

My mother knows                                                                   In music lies
the answers.                                                                            the answer.
“Keep your head up.”                                                              Keep nodding your head.
“They’re jealous.”                                                                    Never stop smiling.
“Be a leader.”                                                                          Your insides define you.
                                                                                               We only have what we remember.
                                                                                               Surround yourself with love.

That Man Behind the Curtain                                                 (free-verse)

Pay no attention
to the words in this poem,
for you cannot even
call it one.
Attempting to find
symbols or hidden meanings will prove
to be a hindrance.
This poem is blunt and
There shall be no debate
over its interpretation;
everything is right here,
flowing from my pen
to the page which started blank.

I liked my topic within "That Man Behind the Curtain" and wanted to go further and formalize it a bit. I wanted to turn it into a Shakespearean sonnet to both make fun of the sonnet tradition (troubadour love), and to create a love song to the sonnet and art itself. I hate to post a work-in-progress, but I'm stuck. I'm missing 2 lines from my final quatrain and also the closing couplet. Here is what I have; I would love criticism and feedback.

Sonnet I
Pay no attention to these words you read.
This po'm can hardly be defined as such.
If finding symbols is your desperate need,
I'm sorry that I have no artist's touch;
I bear no seer's sight nor bard's true tongue,
Inspired not by nature's 'ternal grace.
Alas, I cannot leave my song unsung.
Unclothe the body then expose her face.
Straightforward is this poem-- simple, too.
It means exactly what it says right here.....

Monday, September 30, 2013

Poetry and Weird Al

     Alliteration, assonance, similes, and metaphors are no strangers to poetry and literature. Alliteration, the repetitive use of the same consonant sound, can be used to force words to sound sharp, pointed, or abrupt. Examples: cute kitten, slippery slide, plastic people, good God. Assonance, the repetitive use of the same vowel sound, can be used to sound airy, fluffy, light, or feminine. All rhymes are a type of assonance. Examples: shout loudly, fast pass, hot shot, home phone.
     Metaphors and similes are used to compare two unlike things in hope of finding similarities. A simile is a comparison using "like" or "as" while a metaphor compares two things by calling one the other. Example: "Life is like a box of chocolates." On the surface, a box of chocolates and life don't seem to have much in common, but when Forest Gump explains, "You never know what you're gonna' get," the simile makes sense. Metaphor example: Life is a gray grain of sand on the world's most beautiful shore.
     Weird Al has an incredible talent of rewriting songs to sound almost identical to their originals. This ability is difficult! Replacing words, phrases, and verses with similar ones that mock rhythm and syllables can be a daunting task. Weird Al, however, does such a good job that I do not know the real lyrics to "American Pie" anymore. Pathetically attempting to parody N*Sync's "Tearin' Up My Heart," I came up with the following:
"You're tearing up my couch 
and my shoes.
Why can't you use the scratch post 
I bought for you.
And no matter how many toys I leave around the house
You make me so mad at you."