Monthly Archives: May 2010

Wordsmith.org-Learn a New Word Everyday!

 Not only writers should learn a new word a day, but everyone should, children especially.   There is this website called Wordsmith.org that will email you a new word everyday, except weekends!  This service is free and I feel that it is one of the best sites on the web.  You should go to the site and enter your email address.  Also, you may add a  friends email address as a gift. 

 This is something that I do for my instructors and they love it, and a lot of the older ones who frown on technology truly love it.  I also send it to my son’s email address. 

 When they email you the word, Word-A-Day is what it is called, you get the definition, connotation, the history, it’s usage, and a really great quote!  What better else could have to learn a new word a day, and save the time from trying to find one. 

 If you have or have not heard of Wordsmith.org, I hope that you use this really great service.  It will definitely broaden your vocabulary.

Robin Hood?

Courtesy of Universal Pictures

 Does Robin Hood deserve all the negative hype it is receiving?  I am going to answer both yes and no.  I love what the writers tried by taking real history and mixing it in with the myth.  I did see some inconsistencies, but I don’t want put these down because I don’t want to cross check them.  I  will leave that to some historian or writer who is being paid to write their criticism.  However, to tie the film in with some real history the had to mess up the Robin Hood myth as we know it. 

I was fine with this as well.  The writers did an outstanding job.  I was angry with how Clash of the Titan went, but not with this one. 

My biggest complaints, at times Robin Hood is boring.  Parts of the story seem like a copout.  Not only that, but the climax of the movie ruins the film; which goes something like this.  England unites to repel an invasion from Philip XIV of France.  Suddenly Marion runs into the battlefield and goes after the villain and about dies.  Robin see her fall into the ocean and the movie goes into one of those slow motion scenes, “Nooo!”.  Robin rushes to save her and succeeds.  He finds her alive and the make out with a thousand men slaughtering one another.  It was just yuck.  Bad taste for the scene. 

Robin Hood.  I like they direction the writers tried to go, but someone really screws the thing up.  Ridley Scott, perhaps?  Does Robin Hood deserve the negative reviews it is receiving?  Watch the film and you decide.

The Road May Be Paved, but Dear It’s All Up Hill

The Narror Path
Taken By H. D. Sharpe

    

Motivation is when your dreams put on work clothes~ Benjamin Franklin(1706-1790); Publisher, Inventor, Scientist, Politician, and Writer.     

 Dreams.  We all have them.  Maybe no one better aspired to fill all of his, like old Ben.  If you have not ever thought about this: Benjamin Franklin is the only person on American currency who never served as a president.  And he is on the largest face dollar of laymen-trade currency to say the least.  Why is that?  Because he is an example of a person who was not afraid to explore, to fulfill his dreams by working for them.  This is not an American History blog about my favorite founding father; however subjective I will afford to be about him.    

I have learned a few abstract things today from association with the physical world that I wish to share and I shall digress my day in reverse.    

In a conversation I had a few hours ago with a writer who brought up that she was tired of people feeling as though things should be given to them without putting the work into reaching their goal.  This reminding of earlier today when I took my son to Water Knob Rock on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  My little one is a scout, and working hard to finish up his Wolf Patch.  He needed to go out on a trail to finish one of the requirements, so I took him to the closest place I could think of.  The winding trail is only half mile, but its elevation starts at over 6,000 ft. and ascends 200 ft. over hot pavement and a very rocky, dried out river bed.       

About five minutes into our little hike my little guy, Noah, wanted to give up.  I told him, “If you  want something you have to work hard for it and not give up.  Nothing’s give to you.  Walk it out.”  I am prior service, Army (Hooah!), and can be a little pushy at times, but only when it’s for his own well-being.   After I said this to him, I begun to think of my own dreams; my path as a writer has been an uphill struggle.  I took the picture above as I had that very thought.  I feel that the picture above says it all about any path in life.  The path may be paved with beautiful imagery of the reward all around us, but it’s an uphill struggle with no end in sight.  Only an abstract thought of what could lie around the bend.  Around the bend could be the end, or success, or as my son learned a dried up, rocky river bed.  You just never know what the climb involves, nor if you will succeed.      

Even if one succeeds, is there a downhill?  The stroll back to the truck a half mile away was just as slippery hard.  With desire and hard work, my son saw through his dream today, finishing his last task to gain his patch.  He only stopped that one time on the path to idle in his dream before he tried to quit.       

 Yet he has another year of new tasks  on the horizon to become a WEBLOS.  A lot of people only get a taste of what they wish to do before giving in, or claim to be posers, shooting lies at the mouth as the lay down in the paths of others like snakes.      

 I stepped on top of a black snake today before I realized what the hell it was.  I knew I felt something wiggling under my feet.  It even struck at me, should see my shoe.  But, oh,  how many times have I done this on a path.  This black snake slowed me, as others have in past.  To be successful, one has to align themself with other serious people.  The writing process may be a lonely process, but the business side is full of competition.  Not only are we competitors, we are friends, associates, colleagues, and critics who help one another out on the way.  Beware of those snakes who will crawl beneath your feet and bite at your toes.  They are neither friend, nor critic.  God forbid they get their poisonous fangs in your flesh.    

 I am only a young, fledgling writer, but I work extremely hard everyday to better myself.  I have the same feeling as everyone else: fear of being rejected, fear of being misjudged, afraid of bad criticism; however, I finally realized how much I sat around and looked at the scenery a few months back when I could be submitting my work.  If you don’t put on your work clothes (and in our business that’s envelopes, stamps, ect) how do you expect to make it?  Well, you can’t.    

 I really wished that after the Revision Chapter in those college text books was a chapter called Submission, Receiving criticism, and Dealing with Rejection.   That’s only in a perfect world.      

 Bottom Line: If you give up to view the scenery, why bother?  Other than writing, there should be a commitment everyday to brush up skills and learn new ones, grey areas you have problems with, time set aside for editing/revision, and to conduct business.  Oh yeah, don’t forget to learn a brand new word.    

 

   

  

At the end of the rocky path

 

Jennifer’s Body: Theme and Myth

After watching Jennifer’s Body (finally), I must say that I am impressed.  No, not because Megan Fox is in the movie, but because I felt it does something that most horror movies does not: Jennifer’s Body went full circle with the plot.  I would give Jennifer’s Body four out of five stars, and deem it as  a cult classic that crosses genres.  Though it may be horror, it has a unique and original myth for contemporary culture.  Not only did the plot come full circle, the film explores themes that are important for a new generation of teens, creating a new myth for contemporary audiences.

I had held off watching this movie for months believing it to be just another campy teen flick.  I was right, and completely wrong.  The movie tells the story of Jennifer Check (Megan Fox).  Jennifer is your typical stereotyped high school cheerleader, which most guys don’t stand a chance, who is better than most, has looks of gold, but with one exception that breaks this stereo typical cliché, Needy.  Nerdy Needy (Amanda Seyfried) is Jennifer’s BFF, the narrator of the tale, and an unlikely heroine.

Not only is the story about Jennifer, but Jennifer becomes the antagonist.  Writer, and Producer, Diablo Cody (Juno) highlights such themes as never get into a car (in this case a van) with a stranger, let alone five strangers who are part of an indie rock band wanting to make a deal with the devil to make it “big”.  They just make take you over to Devil’s Falls and sacrifice you as a virgin to Satan, which is what happens to Jennifer.  However, the band messed up and chose a girl who is not even a “backdoor virgin”.   According to the movie when a girl is sacrificed is not a virgin, a Succubus possesses her body.  A Succubus is a female demon that eats the souls of men by the way.  However, Jennifer ends up eating the organs of other boys to keep her beautiful appearance; if not, she grows ugly and her hair falls out. 

The movie is brilliantly sexy, and focuses on the theme of teen sex by not discouraging it, but rather promotes safe sex by using Jennifer and Needy as a metaphors.   During one scene, the movie switches back in forth between Needy and her boyfriend’s first sexual encounter and Jennifer, who lures a guy to his death by leading him to believe that he will be arriving at her house to have sex.  In Needy’s encounter it is, well, not innocent, but it is thought out.  The boyfriend supplies condoms for their four-minute encounter, which he has problems putting on because they are, at least he is, a virgin.   Jennifer encounter is brief, as she uses her attractiveness to corner the young boy before brutally killing him.  Her casual, murderous encounter exposes in this cautionary example that hot girls and casual sex kills, though usually in the form of the more real demons, like hepatitis and AIDS.   

Friendship is another theme in Jennifer’s Body.  While Needy and her boyfriend are having sex, she begins to envision everything that Jennifer has done, or is doing at the time.   Any good friend knows when something is up with their BFF, or as Needy relates, her and Jennifer are “Biifs”.  Jennifer and Needy’s friendship goes back to when they are little girls.  Jennifer at times uses Needy to boost her self-esteem, yet Jennifer commits the greatest sin a girl can do to another girl by tempting Needy’s boyfriend into having sex with her, and then killing him.  Even though Jennifer has promised not to harm her, only after this does Needy realize that either Jennifer has never really been her friend, or that this is not her friend at all.  Needy finally accepts the change she has tried to avoid throughout the movie by becoming the enraged badass heroine and saves her friend from the demonic possession she that has enslaved her body.

Needy’s friendship, her love for Jennifer is perhaps the greatest theme in the movie.  She is the narrator of the story and from isolation at a psychiatric ward, she tells the story of Jennifer, but after Jennifer is slain, it becomes Needy’s story.  Needy gains some of the demon’s powers by killing it, and in an unexpected turn she redeems the murder of her friend by breaking out of the mental ward, tracking down the band, and killing them as savagely as they killed Jennifer, thus bringing the plot full circle.

Jennifer’s Body has many great themes.  Some are cliché, such beauty is only skin-deep, and looks are not everything.   The ones chosen are the themes that seemed relevant for a new generation that needs a median that deals with real teen issues.  Diablo Cody, by far, has become one of the best in the industry for writing scripts that deal with contemporary issues that this new generation can relate too.  Check out Juno and decide for yourself.  The theme of friendship that Jennifer’s Body explores, the integral idealization of the redemption of the friend, is the most prevalent and important.  Movies and mythology of the past have dealt with what Joseph Campbell termed redemption of the father.  The best example of this is in Star Wars, as Luke Skywalker must either liberate his father, Darth Vader, from the “Dark Side”, or fail, following his father’s example.   The change in the mythos that makes Jennifer’s Body different, and compelling, is for Needy to Redeem Jennifer she was doomed to fall to the dark side.

Sources

Cody, Diablo.  Jennifer’s Body.  Fox Atomic: 2009.

Campbell, Joseph.  Hero with a Thousand Faces.  Princeton University Press: 1973

What Makes a Good Writer in a 150 Words

A good writer is coherent.  The writer can arrange words on paper with unambiguous meaning and understanding without the reader need read twice.  A good writer understands what he or she writes and uses strong command of language, grammar, and mechanics to imbue the reader with emotional response.  A good writer leaves all questions answered, but will provoke within the reader a strong thought about the mysteries of life, culture, or lifestyle.  Whether the writer’s idea is attained through the median of entertainment of the short story or novel, the informative or argument essay, or the commentary journal piece, the good writer must do so with style, a voice of his or her own that says originality.  The good writer pursues life and combines experience with vivid imagination.  The good writer uses craft to articulate good writing to permeate the reader’s sentiments with ideals of life with originality and imagination.

5 Boys Sent Home For Being American

“Driven from every other corner of the earth, freedom of thought and the right of private judgment in matters of conscience direct their course to this happy country as their last asylum.”  Samuel Adams   

We, Americans, are just not one nation of people, nor did we come from one exact location.   America’s coast, valleys, and mountains are populated with imbricate multiplicity of ethnicity, culture, and religion with one common dream: to make life better.  Our founding fathers knew that we were all different.  If they hadn’t believed so, the 1st Amendment would not be one that gave Americans almost unlimited freedom of expression.  So why cannot Five American Boys wear shirts to school that on a holiday celebrated by Mexico?

Yesterday was Cinco De Mayo, translated as May the 5th, is a day in 1862 when the French were defeated near Puebla, Mexico trying to collect a war debt.  Yet on this almost 150 years ago, 4,000 Mexican soldiers thwarted France’s advance in near Puebla.  The day according to Huffingpost.com is not distinguished as the Mexican Independence Day as many think, which is September 16th, but celebrated similar to that of the American-Irish St. Patrick’s Day.                  American’s observes, and allow commencement of this holiday too, because that is who we are.  At least I thought. 

In America, I could imagine wearing red, white, and blue anytime I chose to wear these colors; I am American.  I can see anyone wanting to support the American flag on their t-shirt anytime they wanted to do so, too.  Is it a crime to be patriotic in your own country?  It’s not a crime, but it seems to be punishable Morgan Hill’s Live Oak High School in Northern California.

So by now you may have, or you may have not heard that five students from Live Oak High were expelled for the day for wearing shirts with American imagery; some wore plain simple flags, one just one the color, most wore shirt that were by Tap-Out.  Tap-Out is famous for their Mex-American line of shirts, which most of the boys sported. 

The school assistant principal came to the boys, asking them to either turn the shirt inside out, or take the shirts off, but when they refused they were sent home because some other students accused them of being racist.   These boys were accused of discriminating against Mexicans, but how?  One boy was Hispanic; the other boys were friends with him.  The boys wanted to show their American spirit on that day, and were blatantly punished for being American.  But why, I cannot understand this.   

What is the difference in what the administration has done to these boys?  Have these young American boys not been discriminated against for being American?  Shouldn’t the country come first?  I believe it should, not because I am American.  If I was Punkadorian, Punkadoria would come first.  I feel that America has faults, but we should work, as our great nation’s founding fathers done, to make it better. 

The school official felt that there was going to be a fight if something wasn’t done about this.  Well shouldn’t they have done their duty and kept a close eye on the students?  Sent home anyone who they felt would have been a threat to these students?  I am just rambling because this is just outrageous. 

But what are your feelings?  Do you feel that these Five American Boys should’ve been sent home?  Do you feel that the school’s administration should be punished?  Leave me your thoughts and comments; I would love to hear them. 

H. D. Sharpe