Cosmopolitan Canopy

March 6, 2012

I traveled into Philly using the Regional Rail. I walked to the train station in Glenside and stopped at Dunkin Donuts to grab an iced coffee to wake myself up a little more. The day had been gloomy before I woke up, or so I was told, but by the time I was starting the day, it was gorgeous. The sun was shining and there was hardly a cloud in the sky. Waiting for the train to come, everyone was standing in their own little groups by themselves. Once on the train, no one conversed with other people. The most interaction with others was when we had to pay for our fare. People kept to themselves, listened to music, or talked with those they were traveling with.

Walking into Reading Terminal Market you are immediately surrounded by the different aromas of the many types of foods and goods. The hustle and bustle of people is enough to overwhelm anyone as well. I got there a little bit after noontime and it was plenty crowded. Trying to find a place to sit was a nightmare. Luckily, I happened to catch a table when a couple was leaving. It was the perfect spot to sit in the middle of everything and people watch. It’s obvious that Reading Terminal Market is the perfect example of a melting pot. Between the different types of vendors and the people that shop there, it’s easy to see a very diverse group of people.

It was said in the article by Elijah Anderson “people are encouraged to treat others with a certain level of civility or at least simply to behave themselves” (Anderson 15). I found this to be true while at Reading Terminal Market. People smiled at others while leaving a table for waiting groups of people. While sitting, if conversation was made with those around them, it was amiable. People were very willing to talk if they were approached. Those who started conversations were probably more outgoing people who were used to talking to others.

I found that a lot of locals would come to the market for lunch or to pick up certain products and food. The workers looked forward to seeing familiar faces. Many people return to Reading Terminal Market. They come back to the places they thought were the best. Many people attend the Flower Show in the city and each year they tell the workers at their favorite places that they’ll be back the next year. It was easy to spot the tourists because they were looking all over the place and stopped to take pictures. They were also a little more cautious of their belongings because they were weary in the new setting. The locals would get in and get what they wanted. If they lingered it was to people watch or to eat their lunch before going back to work or going home.

It was interesting to see that the part of the market that had a piano player was more joyful and light than other sections of it. It was easy to spot people bobbing along to the music or swaying to the beat. Everyone seemed just a little bit happier. When a little girl clapped for the player, he stood up and bowed. It was also interesting to note that no matter what age people were, they were all treated with respect. It’s hard to find that everyone. Many babies, teens and elderly are not treated the same way as adults/young adults.

I, along with Anderson, found that many ethnically different people were working together quite well. The shops were run by many different ethnicities, Italians, Hispanics, African Americans, Amish, Greeks and Asians. There was a mix of workers in between, too. Especially at this one ice cream shop I noticed that there were young adults who were of many races working well together. In many ways, I noticed that skin color was hardly a factor while walking and shopping in the market.

I went to the market with one of my friends. He stayed with me during most of the time I was working on the assignment. He allowed me to see a different perspective. Because he is much more outgoing than I am, he also provided me with different opportunities. In the beginning, we were just sitting adnd people watching when a guy who worked at one of the meat stalls sat down for his break. I don’t remember how it happened but he started talking to us. He told us many random things about his life like about his weigh loss attempts. He was very open and forthcoming with information about his personal life. Not only did he, a Hispanic, make racial comments to my Ugandan friend and myself but he was comfortable with it as well. He even talked about how he got his 17 year-old roommate drunk one night then preceded to draw inappropriate things on his body when he wouldn’t wake up in the morning. It was a very interesting encounter to say the least. Goes to show how comfortable people can be in certain settings like this Cosmopolitan Canopy.

Later when we were getting crepes for lunch, I didn’t think we would have another encounter because the only two seats at the counter were down at the end, not really near anyone. To my delight, this was not the case. An African American musician came over to the end of the counter by my friend to count his money. He spilled quarters onto the counter and started counting. The men who worked at the delicious crepe place were Greek. I’m not sure how it started but the flute player started speaking Greek to them. They were surprised to say the least, laughed and started speaking back. At one point it was clear they were talking about us and we could only try to piece together what they were saying. We think that the men who worked there were saying that the musician was encroaching on our space while we were eating. The musician replied, in English, “Nah, he’s a cool Black guy.” Later when we were leaving, the workers apologized to us for him. We told them he was no bother to us and that it wasn’t a big deal but we appreciated their apology.

In conclusion, I found Anderson’s theories to be true. Many people forgo the racial boundaries that society has set forth when at places such as the Reading Terminal Market. Many people are more social than what you would see on the street. There is an inherent trust but at the same time, a slight distrust. The shopkeepers are still weary of shoplifting however they are more amiable and social when you need to ask a question or simply when you are checking out with your purchases. People are interesting and strangely not always predictable creatures. They seem to always be surprising me. I believe this was a good way to find out a little more about human nature when you place people in that sort of environment. I learned a lot about how other people act and how I act as well.

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Eng 101: Literature Autobiography

October 5, 2011

Reading was always important to me growing up. Nothing could entertain me more than the places I could escape to in a book. Before there were portable DVD players, I entertained myself in the car with books. I was never the child to have the fancy cars with a video monitor in the backseat to watch movies. I was limited on my TV time at home as well. So I did the next best thing to entertain myself, I read. Constantly. Once a book had me hooked, I was goner. I wouldn’t pay attention to my parents if they tried to talk to me when I was reading my book. I was always fascinated with the places that reading could take me. I could be in a whole new world in less than 3 sentences. Reading has shaped me in to the writer I am today. Reading is the reason I like writing for myself so much. It takes me somewhere else just like a book. I know what writing can do. Writing has power.

I started writing because it was what I had to do. Writing was a school assignment and nothing more. As I grew up, I was given blank journals as gifts for various holidays. At first, I didn’t use them. Over time, I began to see journals as an escape from emotional outbursts. Writing became the only way I could vent and be emotional without any consequences. My entries were harsh and loud. My anger would seep out of me, though my pen and in my words. If I was sad, tears would land on the ink, forever holding my sadness in the pages. I would pour my feelings into my journal. It allowed me to express my anger and sadness in a way that was therapeutic. My journals were mostly filled when I was I was in junior high. It was a time when I was coming in to my own. I wanted to be rebellious and express my angry with my parents when I felt something was unfair. I knew that wouldn’t be the smartest move so I tried to keep most things to myself. My journal helped keep me sane.

Then came the time when writing made me feel like I could do anything. I was always enthralled with reading because of the new things I was able to experience and the characters that I was able to meet. I was overjoyed when I realized I could create places like that in my writing. That I could mold and shape characters to who I wanted them to be was an exciting prospect. I could live vicariously through my characters. If something happened during the day that I wasn’t happy with, I could create a scenario that changed the way it happened. It didn’t do anything but make me feel better. I was able to create situations purely from my imagination or I could recreate scenes that I had witnessed or seen in the media. I am all-powerful with my words. Now, instead of taking my frustrations out in my journal, I can creatively write my feelings.

I was a member of the drama club in high school. During my junior year, we got a new drama director for the spring musical. She came in and turned our traditions upside down. She did one thing that I really liked, though. She gave everyone a character sheet that we all had to fill out. We were able to use our imaginations in filling out our characters. We had to give our characters a personality and a history even if we were in the ensemble. We had to play a specific part. Even if we were not named in the playbill, we knew our parts had names. This character sheet got me interested in creative writing again. I had gotten away from writing for myself since school was starting to take over my life. But now, I was completely fascinated with making a name for my part and giving her a story. Based on that sheet, I began to write short stories. I had so much fun coming up with a ton of different types of characters. It was a nice distraction for me from my responsibilities. Character development became very important to me. Personality was key. And it was all because of theater.

I find myself writing about a lot of different things that happen in my life. I will write a story about how I want certain events to play out. My hopes and dreams for the future get turned into prose. It is so much easier for me to write about life and ideas than to write analytically. Writing for school just seemed like such a chore. I felt confined to the box that students have been placed. I remember being so creative with my writing during middle school. Once I changed schools to the junior high of the private high school I would attend, my writing changed. It became more formal and less me. I began to write how I thought my teachers wanted me to write. I did not have a voice. I did not sound original. I wanted to sound smart by using words I would not think to use in normal conversation. I think another part of it was that I did not want to stand out. I wanted my writing to blend in like I wanted to blend in. I was in a new place and I was extremely shy. I did not want to risk getting picked on to read what I wrote in front of the class. Soon, it just became a habit to write in a way that was not me.

As I continued through school, I would care less and less about my writing assignments for my English classes. I would not start writing until the 11th hour. My writing would be sloppy and unfocused. I did not care how I was writing, just that I was completing the assignment. My writing did not grow or change and I did not learn from it. I had no creativity in my writing. I was just trying to answer the question. When I was given an assignment, I would just try to write the answer and fill in the rest with fluff to “support” what I had stated. I put no effort in my writing.

Writing in high school was the bane of my existence. I would use shortcuts in my writing to make it seem like I was writing more than I actually was. These tricks to writing were common knowledge in my school and most teachers wouldn’t even notice or care that we were using them. We would highlight every period and change the font to size 14. When that was not enough to lengthen our paper, we would make the spaces between the lines slightly bigger than double-spaced. If we were really short on material we would add another line of space in between each paragraph. I am not good at writing anything analytical because I honestly do not know how. That did not keep me from trying though. No matter how much I wrote, I never quite got it. My teachers assumed we knew how to write in a certain way without it ever been taught to us. That is why those tricks would come in handy. Every paper I wrote for AP English Literature, I was faking it. I wish I put more effort in to my writing because then maybe I would know what I am doing. I did not have to try to get a decent grade. Sure, I never excelled but getting by was good enough.

I know what I need to do to my papers to make them my own. It’s the courage to get there that takes time. I wish that I learned how to write in my own voice when I was in high school, my learning experience would have been a lot better. Although, it is better late than never to find the courage it takes to stand out. It took me until my first semester of college to start to break out of Engfish. I had to blog two times a week for my Ethnicity and Immigration class. This assignment got me to write in my own words since we just had to comment on something we heard, watched, or discussed in class. We were being real. Honesty is a big part of writing in your voice. Sharing an opinion because it truly is your opinion takes a lot more guts than writing what the teacher wants you to spit back at them. For my world religion class, I just had to write a paper a week on the chapter we read that week from our textbooks. It could be summary or just expanding on a certain idea or controversy mentioned in the text. I branched out from Engfish during that class because I was mostly writing my opinions. I became less afraid to say what I thought because my ideas spawned conversations. More often than not, I would be one of the students picked to read a certain passage aloud in front of the class. I worked hard to make sure that I did not sound dumb in my writing because I knew there was a good chance that I would have to stand up in front of my peers and read my writing. Public speaking is something that terrifies me and if I had to read something awful, I would be mortified. This class single-handedly forced me to become a better writer. I had to do the opposite of what I did during high school. I guess it was better late than never that I learned to write in my own style.

I hope I do not lose what I have learned about writing. I do not want to go back to being fake and superficial. I hate the way that kind of writing comes across and I would be embarrassed for myself if I started writing like that again. Writing takes time and hard work. Nothing can be perfect on a first draft. It is truly a process that needs to be taken seriously because you cannot just get it right the first time. Deep down, I knew that in high school because that is what I did when I was writing for myself. I should have taken the time to be proud of my work that I handed in. Since I did not, I thought that my grades truly reflected the writer that I was, subpar. Too bad I did not realize I was cheating myself out of confidence when I did not take everything I wrote seriously. Now that I know that, I can be aware of what I write and how I write it.

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Wikipedia Entry for The Other Dream Team

In my Writing & Communications class, we were required to do a literature review in order to fill in information about a wiki stub.  I choose The Other Dream Team, which is a documentary about Lithuanian National Basketball Team and their journey to the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. If you’ve never seen it, or haven’t heard of Lithuanian, I urge you to watch the documentary (it’s on Netflix).  I warn you, though, it’s a tear-jerker and a good underdog story.

==Synopsis==

The film not only looks at the journey the team takes to get to the Olympics but also the historical events that opened up some of the opportunities. The fall of the USSR allowed Lithuania to declare its independence and enter the Olympics as a free country. Winning the bronze gave more satisfaction to them than winning gold for Russia because they were finally winning a metal for their country and they beat their oppressors.  They were able to give their country an identity when no one knew who they were <ref> Cousineau, Phil. The Olympic Odyssey: Rekindling the True Spirit of the Great Games. Quest Books, 2003. </ref>.

==Background History==

===The Director===

Marius A. Markevičius is a Lithuanian- American director. He was motivated to direct this documentary because of his Lithuanian heritage. His parents moved to the States during World War II. The fact that Markevičius did not live in Lithuania was actually beneficial to him when he approached Marciulionis with his idea for the documentary. He helped to bring a fresh perspective It took him over three years to make this film. During filming, he initially had the players speak in English for the interviews. But because of the emotional nature of the topic, speaking in their native tongue was easier [2]

===The Players===

These basketball players, notably Arvydas Sabonis and Sarunas, were forced to play for Russia in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. There were four starters from Lithuania who were on the Russian team. Arvydas Sabonis was actually the first of these players to be drafted onto an American team but because of the strict rules of the Iron Curtain, he could not leave. Not only that but Americans did not like that he was a “Russian” player. They didn’t understand the distinction nor really know what the Soviet Union was comprised of. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, these players became a symbol of hope and of the Lithuanian spirit. They were the symbol for a nation that couldn’t be squashed under Soviet rule and domination. When the Soviet Union dissolved, Lithuania had an opportunity to go to the Olympics on their own merit for the 1992 games.

===Journey to the Olympics===

Low on funds, the Lithuanian team did not know how they were going to make it to the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. Because of an article written in a local newspaper, the Grateful Dead was moved by the team’s plight and funded their trip to the Olympics <ref>“‘The Other Dream Team’: How The Grateful Dead Sent Lithuanian Basketball to the Olympics.” DangerousMinds. Accessed January 22, 2014. http://dangerousminds.net/comments/the_other_dream_team_how_the_grateful_dead_sent_lithuanian_basketball. </ref&gt;.  The biggest significance of this was that skeleton tie-dye shirts were made in the colors of the Lithuania’s flag. The skeletons pictured on the shirt were playing basketball. These skirts became part of the team’s warm-up clothes and they wore them everywhere. The team was wearing their warm-up tie dye uniforms to accept their bronze medals.

===Identity===

[[Lithuania]] is a country of three million people on the Baltic Sea that shares a border with Poland. The Lithuanian language is very important culturally. During Soviet Occupation before WWII, the language was forbidden. No books, no papers, etc were allowed to be written in Lithuanian and all the citizens had to learn to speak Russian. During and after WWII, however, these rules were lightened a little bit but all official documents had to still be in Russian Those four starters for the Russian Olympic team did not feel pride. Many people could not tell that they were not actually Russian.

==Aftermath==

Not only does the documentary look at the events leading up to the 1992 Olympics, it also shows an up & coming Lithuanian player before the NBA draft in 2011. This shows the result of what the Lithuanians before him fought for.

==Reception==

It was an official selection for the [[Sundance Film Festival]] and entered in the U.S. Documentary Competition in 2012. It received 88% for both Critic and Audience Rating on [[Rotten Tomatoes]]. It had a limited theatrical release starting September 28th 2012 <ref>http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_other_dream_team_2012/</ref&gt;.

===Awards===

It did not win any awards at the Sundance Film Festival. It was also nominated for a PGA award for Best Documentary in 2013.

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Mansfield Park Character Study

March 24, 2014

If it is said that Fanny Price from Mansfield Park is Cinderella, the roles of the supporting characters are going to be argued. While there are stepmothers and stepsisters evident in the story, the role of Prince Charming can be given to several different characters. The same can be said for the role of the Fairy Godmother. There is no clear cut way to define the supporting characters but the fact that we can discuss their roles only proves that Mansfield Park can be discussed as a Cinderella text. Fanny Price, unlike Cinderella, has two Prince Charming figures: Henry Crawford, a neighbor of Mansfield Park and Edmund Bertram, her cousin. Fanny has multiple Fairy Godmother figures that help her along the way instead of one who gets her to a ball like Cinderella. These differences are what set her apart from Cinderella but her low status and good nature are what resemble her Cinderella counterpart.

In Charles Perrault’s Cinderella he states, “The stepmother gave her the meanest work in the house to do; she had to scour the dishes, tables, etc., and to scrub the floors and clean out the bedrooms” (1). While this is not entirely what Fanny Price has to do for her aunts, Mrs. Norris and Lady Bertram, it is pretty close. There are other servants in the household but Fanny is purposefully given tasks so she has a lower position than her cousins, Maria and Julia Bertram. She is also always reminded that her station is lower than that of her cousins.  Mary Crawford, a new neighbor of Mansfield Park staying with the Grants along with her brother Henry, has a discussion with Edmund about whether or not Fanny is out in society or not. “Pray, is she out, or is she not?- I am puzzled. –She dined at the parsonage, with the rest of you, which seemed like being out; and yet she says so little, that I can hardly suppose she is’. Edmund, to whom this was chiefly addressed, replied, ‘I believe I know what you mean- but I will not undertake to answer the question. My cousin is grown up. She has the age and sense of a woman, but the outs and not outs are beyond me” (Austen, 36). Mary eventually decided that Fanny was still not out in society yet. This is chiefly because she has a lower position than that of her cousins who are around the same age of her. This creates confusion about Fanny’s eligibility in society. Cinderella, however, does not have this problem. She is considered a servant in her house according to Perrault, and the only way she attends the ball, which is the equivalent of Fanny being out in society, is by her Fairy Godmother transforming her. Fanny Price’s transformation is more natural according to Janice C. Simpson, who says, “Fanny’s transformation is not ‘magical’ like that of Cinderella, in that it happens over time and is attributed to natural causes: improvement of health due to exercise and good home in the eyes of Sir Thomas and Edmund, or the fact of there no longer being more beautiful cousins around with whom to compare her in Mary Crawford’s more cynical view” (3). Along with the natural transformation, there is no one character that plays the role of her Fairy Godmother; instead, there are multiple people that help her along the way.

In Perrault’s Cinderella tale and the Brothers Grimm tale, Cinderella marries Prince Charming and gets whisked away from her family and station. However, as Norma Rowen points out, “ … Fanny marries back into the family. The essence of the Cinderella story on the other hand, surely lies in her going beyond her family and moving from the neglect of a parent to a husband’s love. It is the daughter’s journey outward.   Fanny, however, burrows further inward” (34). Fanny and Cinderella both triumph over their stepsister figures but in vastly different ways. Rowen also states, “Sir Thomas now finds that Fanny is ‘indeed the daughter that he wanted’ (Mansfield Park 355). By the end of the novel, Fanny/Cinderella has triumphed over the ugly sisters by ousting them from the family circle and taking their places” (34). Fanny still has a different ending than in the Cinderella tales. In the Brothers Grimm tale, the two stepsisters get their eyes pecked out by birds. In Perrault’s tale, both of the stepsisters get married off to noblemen.

If we look at Henry Crawford as Prince Charming, we can see how he fits the role but also how he challenges it. When he first arrives, both Maria and Julia are vying for his attention. Fanny has no interest in him even when he begins to set his sights on her. Though, Henry’s intentions are not entirely true because he only begins to court her because she is a challenge and Maria and Julia are no longer around. His courtship is to no avail. Henry proposes and Fanny remains steadfast with the idea of Edmund as her Prince Charming. The problem with Edmund as the Prince Charming figure is that as Rowen states, “He doesn’t love Fanny” (33). Yes, there is the sisterly love and idea that his eyes were opened after Mary’s transgressions but he spends the entire novel fawning over the idea of Mary, which is something that Cinderella’s Prince Charming would have never done. Edmund and Fanny do not have some magical romance dancing at a ball together. For Fanny, Edmund is someone who she has always looked up to and admired. Until Mary’s spell over Edmund was broken, he treated Fanny as nothing more than a sister. Cinderella, however, was never second choice. In this way, the two women are very different. While Cinderella is valued for her beauty, Fanny is valued for her good nature and easy temperament.

Fanny Price fits the idea of a Cinderella character in the more modern world of Mansfield Park as a well-rounded character as opposed to the flatness of Cinderella in her various tales. While Fanny’s life and family members are more complicated, it is still clear to see how they relate to the Cinderella tale. By looking at the more simple tales such as Perrault’s and the Brothers Grimm it is easier to make comparisons between the characters because there are less complicated elements of magic involved.

Works Cited

Austen, Jane. Mansfield Park: A Norton Critical Edition. Ed. Claudia L. Johnson. New York: W.W. Norton, 1998. Print.

“Brothers Grimm Cinderella.” The Classic Fairy Tales: A Norton Critical Edition. Ed. Maria Tatar. New York: Norton, 1999. 117-22. Print.

Perrault, Charles. “Cinderella, or The Glass Slipper”

Simpson, Janice C. “Fanny Price as Cinderella: Folk and Fairy-tale in Mansfield Park.”Persuasions 9 (1987): 25-30. Jane Austen Society of North America. Sept. 2008. Web. 15 Mar. 2014.<http://www.jasna.org/persuasions/printed/number9/simpson.htm&gt;

Rowen, Norma. “Reinscribing Cinderella: Jane Austen and the Fairy Tale.” Functions of the Fantastic: Selected Essays from the Thirteenth International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts. Ed. Joseph L. Sanders. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1995. 29-36. Print.

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Who Is Prince Charming?

April 28, 2014

What defines a man as a “Prince Charming” character? In the Cinderella tales, Prince Charming is her one true love. In Charles Perrault’s tale, he describes a young man only known as “The King’s Son”, there is no mention of the illustrious Prince Charming. Yet we are led to believe that he is the original “Prince Charming” we know so well today. There are many texts that fit the Cinderella format; one of which is Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. In the novel, the main character, Jane, has two men vying for her affections, Mr. Rochester and St. John. But it can be said without a doubt that Jane’s Prince Charming is Mr. Rochester.

Charles Perrault wrote about the King’s Son falling in love with Cinderella but there is not much describing Cinderella’s feelings for him. However, since Jane Eyre is written from Jane Eyre’s perspective, we are constantly in her thoughts and it is Mr. Rochester’s words we have to trust instead of his mind. Prince Charming’s admiration and love for Cinderella was described as such, “They said, further, that he had done nothing but look at her all the time, and that most certainly he was very much in love with the beautiful owner of the glass slipper…What they said was true; for a few days after the King’s son caused it to be proclaimed, by sound of trumpet, that he would marry her whose foot this slipper would exactly fit” (Perrault 5). Prince Charming is easy to read. However, Mr. Rochester’s feelings for Jane, his Cinderella, are not stated until much later and even then, we cannot truly know what he is thinking. We do not know much about what Cinderella thinks besides that Perrault states, “The King’s son was always by her side, and his pretty speeches to her never ceased. These by no means annoyed the young lady. Indeed, she quite forgot her godmother’s order to her, so that she heard the clock begin to strike twelve when she thought it could be no more than eleven” (Perrault 5). As Cinderella gets wrapped up in dancing with Prince Charming, Jane gets wrapped up in thoughts of Mr. Rochester. When Jane thinks about Mr. Rochester, even in the beginning, she recognizes her happiness will be diminished if he leaves the house and wonders if he would. She states in her thoughts, “Mrs. Fairfax said he seldom stayed here for more than a fortnight at a time, and he has now been resident eight weeks. If he does go, change will be doleful. Suppose he should be absent spring, summer, and autumn: how joyless sunshine and fine days will seem” (Bronte 126). This is one of many lines that make Jane’s affection for Mr. Rochester apparent. It is easy to understand her attraction since we can read her thoughts.

The tale of Cinderella and Jane Eyre are more similar than we are led to believe at first. Stoneman writes that, “Jane Eyre, for all its originality, is essentially a courtship novel in which the hero and heroine, meeting as strangers, undergo a process of discovery. The fascination of falling in love requires distance and mystery and then the precious revelation to the beloved of one’s cherished secrets and memories” (Stoneman 114). This quote could easily be applied to Cinderella. Cinderella hides the secret of being a commoner in some tales, and in others, she is still in disguise. Not much is told of the prince, but he very well could have a sordid history of his own. Because of this strong connection between the two novels, it is clear to see how Mr. Rochester is Jane’s Prince Charming if we are looking through a Cinderella lens.

Mr. Rochester has an unhappy marriage to a madwoman, though we do not find this out until after he tried to marry Jane. He has searched far and wide for a woman who would make him happy. Mr. Rochester’s search for a wife is akin to Prince Charming’s search for a princess. Mr. Rochester wants to be married for love instead of business, like his father wanted. His search for love, for finding the perfect woman, is like Prince Charming’s search for the woman that fits the glass slipper. By his account, he was entranced by Jane from the first time he met her. Mr. Rochester says when trying to convince Jane to stay at Thornfield, “I was at once content and stimulated with what I saw: I liked what I had seen, and wished to see more…I permitted myself the delight in being kind to you; kindness stirred emotions soon: your face became soft in expression, your tone gentle; I liked my name pronounced by your lips in a grateful, happy accent” (Bronte 268). By meeting Jane, Mr. Rochester had finally found a woman that was his match. He found his Cinderella, though; he had his secrets to take care of first. This is unlike Price Charming, who after searching for true love, found Cinderella on the first try. In a way, this paints Mr. Rochester as a more relatable character because he has been disappointed by love twice already while Price Charming clearly resides in a fairy tale. Mr. Rochester proves that someone can find their true love even after their heartbreaks while Prince Charming and Cinderella hold a more unrealistic standard of love at first sight.

Not everyone sees Mr. Rochester as a Prince Charming figure. Instead, he is also looked at as a false Christ figure. According to Pearson, “ Mr. Rochester is figured as the coming saviour who Jane believes will rescue her from loneliness, tribulation and fearful perplexity…Jane’s desire for Rochester’s return as her master, but also as the object of her intense passions, subtly indicated her substitution of Mr. Rochester for Christ as her hope for personal and even spiritual fulfillment” (Pearson 302). Jane certainly did become enraptured with Mr. Rochester. She needed guidance and acceptance and it is clear to see the reasons why he could be a Christ figure. Mr. Rochester is older and worldlier than Jane so he can also be seen as a teacher, which agrees with the Christ figure analogy. He also has complete say about what goes on at Thornfield and keeps his staff on their toes since it’s always unclear on when he will coming and going. This means the people at Thornfield must always be prepared for him like how Christ would expect people to be on their best behavior even when he is not around. While it’s true that Mr. Rochester is Jane’s master, since he is paying her to do a job, there are moments in the novel that make it clear that Jane is more attracted to him as someone with whom she can speak on equal grounds. She wants to be accepted and has finally found at home at Thornfield which has a lot to do with her love for Mr. Rochester. She felt strange about having no money and wedding Mr. Rochester because it would make her beneath him. Jane also did not like being doted on to the point where she felt like a doll without choice. Jane states,

“It would, indeed, be a relief, I thought, if I had ever so small an independency… I will write to Madeira the moment I get home, and tell my uncle John I am going to be married, and to whom: if I had but a prospect of one day bringing Mr. Rochester an accession of fortune, I could better endure to be kept by him now. And somewhat relieved by this idea (which I failed not to execute that day), I ventured once more to meet my master’s and lover’s eye: which most pertinaciously sought mine, though I averted both face and gaze” (Bronte 229).

Having nothing and marrying Mr. Rochester makes her a true Cinderella character. However, she eventually finds out about her inheritance and ultimately, she came into fortune on her own through her family and inheritance instead of marrying into riches like Cinderella.  At the end of the novel, Jane, has evolved from the Cinderella character but Mr. Rochester is still her prince.

It is more attractive to see Mr. Rochester as a prince charming figure. Though, he does not always live up to expectations of a charming man. Jane says this of Mr. Rochester, “Violent as he had seemed in his despair, he, in truth, loved me far too well and too tenderly to constitute himself my tyrant” (Bronte). Even Jane acknowledges that Mr. Rochester is not always going to be charming but his love for her trumps that.

Over all, because of the love that Mr. Rochester has for Jane, he is her Prince Charming. Like Prince Charming let Cinderella go when she ran away from the ball at midnight, Mr. Rochester let Jane go after she ran away. Mr. Rochester didn’t forget her and Jane knew to go back to him. Though he didn’t go searching for her, they still had a happy ending as equals in a loving partnership. Jane got the family she never had in newfound cousins, the Rivers, and her husband, Mr. Rochester and their son. And they lived happily ever after.

Works Cited

Brontë, Charlotte. Jane Eyre

Stoneman, Patsy. “Rochester And Heathcliff As Romantic Heroes.” Bronte Studies 36.1 (2011): 111-118. Academic Search Premier. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.

Perrault, Charles. Cinderella, or The Glass Slipper

Pearson, Sara L. “‘The Coming Man': Revelations Of Male Character In Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.” Bronte Studies 37.4 (2012): 299-305. Academic Search Premier. Web. 19 Apr. 2014.

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Writing as Art

September 12, 2011

My writing process is like a work of art. It starts out as blobs and blocks of color, only the outline of what it could be. Then over time, my writing turns in to what it needs to be, the completed work of art. There are times when the art gets painted over because the colors clashed or an object wasn’t the right shape. Pages can be deleted. Sentences can be obliterated. Phrases can be placed in different paragraphs. Words can be added or substituted. Nothing is concrete. A painting can still be painted over years after it is completed. It can be restored to be better than its original condition. A paper can be changed months or years after it was handed in. It does not matter that it will not get a different grade or that it cannot be looked at with the same eyes. What matters is only that I can see how I have improved in my writing ability.

I write in parts. Like artists who block out parts of their painting, I block out my writing. Instead of writing in a linear fashion to let one part flow into the next, I jump around from paragraph to paragraph writing down my ideas before filling in the details. The flesh of my writing comes together slowly because each paragraph is merely an idea. In the beginning stages, my writing looks like the outlines of a drawing on a canvas. As an artist slowly adds in color, I slowly add in words.

Sometimes you have to let the paint dry before you can cover it with another color or they will mix together and give you something you did not want. Like paintings, my writing requires that it be left alone before I can alter it. Like a piece of artwork, I have to step back from my writing for a while before I can look at it again. The more you look at something, the more you might like it. However, you could also find faults the more you search for them. When editing, I need to give myself space from my writing before I can look at it objectively. I need an escape from it before I can make it perfect. After taking a step back, I can look at it with new eyes, ones that are not sick of looking at the same words that were just being written.

As paint splatters messily on a canvas, my words come out jumbled. If I look deep enough, I can figure out what I was truly trying to say. I have to work through the disorganized mess of colors to find shapes. Shapes that will turn into something concrete after the addition of more color and texture. A painting starts out as chaos and you can’t really see where it will end up. My writing is all over the place before I can refine it during the editing process. I tend to repeat myself, not because I am using Engfish but because I find different ways to state the same point and I cannot chose which to use.

A finished piece of art is framed. My writing is confined to the frame I place it in. I don’t know how to break the bonds of the frame. My writing always turns out to be formulized and proper even when I want it to be raw and real. My goal is to try to step outside of my frame, to write in a way in that is true to my personality.

While writing an essay, I discovered that not only is my writing like a piece of art in progress, but it is also like the white rabbit who holds a timepiece saying, “I’m late.” This is true because when I write, I procrastinate. I draw out my entire writing process to make it last the entire day when in actuality, it does not take nearly that long. My procrastination allows me to get other things done during the entire process of writing a paper. I can finish a novel, clean my room or even do some math homework while my mind thinks about ideas for my writing. In the end, it gets done on time and I’m really not as late as I think I will be even though the deadline looms when I’m not writing.

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The Veronicas Mars Phenomenon Meets On-Demand Culture

The Veronica Mars fandom, named marshmallows, has a lot to be happy about right now.  Last year, the Kickstarter was launched asking fans to donate money to a campaign entitled, The Veronica Mars Movie Project.   For those who don’t know, Kickstarter is a crowd-funding website where fans can donate money to projects they want to support.  Once the project meets their goal, credit cards will be charged for the amount backers wanted to donate.  If the project fails to meet their goal, fans never get charged for their donation.  The Veronica Mars Movie Project met their goal in eleven hours.  By the end of the 30-day campaign, the project raised $5,702, 153 and had 91,585 backers. Those who donated money got exclusive access and backer emails all through out the casting process, production, and post-production.  Even now, Rob Thomas, the creator of the show, is still sending out those emails.  The fan-made and fan-serving movie was released to select theaters across the country on March 14, 2014.  Unfortunately, a lot of backers did not have a theater close to them that was playing Veronica Mars.   Therefore, as promised, those who donated a certain amount of money to the campaign were sent the codes to download the movie on the day it was released in theatres.   Not only could backers see the movie the day it was released from the convenience of their own homes, but the entire public could, too; it was released on iTunes and Amazon the same day.  Though, dedicated marshmallows still made the trek to theaters to see the movie on the big screen even though they had access to it from their own homes.

Rob Thomas then released the first ever Veronica Mars book on March 25th.  This was written with Lauren Graham and titled, The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line.  What’s even better is that Kristen Bell, the actress who plays Veronica, narrates the audio book.  Not only did he release one book, he announced that there would be another one released this year.  This fandom is clamoring for EVEN MORE.  They want a second movie. They want a rebooted TV series on Netflix.  They want it now.  And it this age of media, anything is possible.

I am a proud Marshmallow and backer of the Kickstarter campaign.  I was one of those dedicated fans who went to see the movie in theaters and even brought a friend who had never seen the show before who then became a marshmallow, too even though I had the code to the digital download.   I fell in love with Neptune, CA and the cast of characters when I was 15 years old.  I found Veronica at a time in my life when I needed someone to show me what a strong female character was.  At the time, Gilmore Girls was in its last season and Veronica Mars had the time slot right after it.  I was so sad to see Rory and Lorelei go, they were a huge part of my growing up, as well.  Looking back, I think they started my addiction to coffee. One night after an episode of Gilmore Girls had ended, I decided to leave the TV on the WB.  To my surprise, I was introduced to a spunky blonde with a feisty attitude who solved crimes.  I had no idea what was going on nor how many episodes of the show I had missed but I was hooked.  From that day on, I thought Veronica and I would be good friends.   I would wait until they would rerun an episode and I would try to piece together what I had missed.  For Christmas that year, I got the first two seasons of Veronica Mars on DVD.  My mom and I binge watched them because we wanted to catch up before the new episodes premiered in January.  And so began my addiction to binge watching shows; I did it before it was cool.

How can you spot a binge watcher?  While binge-watchers are much like the coach potato, they are much more determined; binge-watchers have a goal.  They will most likely be curled up with a laptop or sitting in front of the tv with a blanket and other provisions nearby.  If they’re watching Netflix, they let the show they’re watching roll right into the next episode or if they found their shows by other means, they most likely have made sure the next few episodes have been buffered so as to not waste time between episodes. Trust me, I know.  Victor Luckerson wrote an article titled “Netflix Says You Shouldn’t Feel Guilty About Binge-Watching” on Time.com, which stated, “According to the survey of 3,000 adults, 61 percent of those who stream TV binge-watch regularly.  Seventy-three percent of those surveyed say they have positive feelings about the practice.”   By showcasing binge watching as normal, it becomes a mainstream activity.  But what are the implications?

As defined by Goldsmith, to binge is to rapidly consume a large amount of substance in a short amount of time.  While this definition is mostly heard in relation to food and alcohol, binge-watching TV also has some of the same symptoms.   A professor at Siena College, Raj Devasagayam wrote “Media Bingeing: A Qualitative Study of Psychological Influences”.  He mentioned that an overexposure to these visual stimuli creates an emotional dependency on viewing a certain or multiple television shows.  He states,  “Viewers feel dependent on the stimuli to feel whole throughout their daily lives. As is evident with constant cravings to view a following episode, people become fully addicted to the happenings of a show” (Devasagayam 1).  Because of feeling emotional connected, fan culture has gotten a little out of hand.  By fans binge watching shows, it makes it easier to feel like the characters are a part of their lives.   This makes fans overly attached and emotional to fictional characters.   This psychological impact makes fans a little more disconnected from reality and other people.  It also impacts the ways fans would treat Kickstarter projects since this is way that would make them feel more connected to the characters.  I wanted to support the Kickstarter because I believed that Veronica deserved more to her story.  Part of me missed her, too.  Though I could rewatch the old seasons, it’s so great to have the new material of the movie and the book to talk about and analyze.

The original binge consuming, in terms of media, started with books.  I know this from experience.  When I get into a good book, I can’t put it down.  I haven’t been able to read for fun all semester but as soon as thesis was over, I picked up my newest paperback, admittedly, The Thousand Dollar Tan Line, and read over 100 pages in less than two hours.  I was hooked.  Readers are always comparing how long, or short rather, it took to read something.  I remember in junior high, it was a type of contest among my friends to brag to each other how short of a time it took to read the last Harry Potter book.  Now, instead of comparing books, it’s all about how fast you can get through a show that you just got hooked on.   If you’re not caught up to real-time of the show, spoilers can be so easy to find everyone online, mostly by accident.  This creates an urgency to catch up because now it becomes a necessity to find out what happens before someone unknowingly spoils it for you.   Films and television provide an escape.  While books do the same, sometimes it’s easier to turn off your brain every once in a while.  By binge watching TV shows, people become immersed in a different world.   Being able to binge-watch a television show creates a more cohesive experience.  Waiting to watch an episode week by week isn’t too bad but the problem lies when the show doesn’t air every week because of a short hiatus’s or other events that are scheduled during that show’s normal time frame.

Many people have predicted that streaming video is going to take over the way we watch movies and television.  Specifically, Hilderbrand states, “According to Bocco, streaming rather than actual DVD releases is probably the future for home video” ( 28).   He’s not the only one to say so, however.   When I started using Netflix, they only had the service of mailing out DVDs. While that was great, I remember sometimes feeling like I had to watch the movie that came in the mail even though I may not have been in the mood for that genre at the time.  My mom didn’t want to waste the movie rental but wanted to watch it just so we could mail it back and get the next one.   We subscribed to the service for three DVDs at a time, but even that was somewhat of a power struggle of which movies we’ve rent.    As Hilderbrand reiterates, “Netflix has been the leader in redefining the role of streaming in home video… This shift has paid off, with Netflix’s revenues nearly doubling since it started streaming videos in 2007.  In part, again, this is about lowered cost for delivering content.  Netflix spends ninety cents for each disc it mails but only five cents for each video it streams” (Hilderbrand 28).   The other reason that showcases the power of streaming is stated by Chuck Tryon.  He explains in his article, “Redbox vs. Red Envelope” that,  “Due to the cheap rentals offered by Redbox and the inexpensive access to streaming video promoted by Netflix, the expected cost of watching a movie has begun to shift, especially for movies that may be viewed only once or twice and for viewers who may not be drawn to consume DVD special features or collecting physical DVDs” (39).  This shift in the way we watch movies, has created a shift in the way distribution will be handled.

Distribution for indie films has been increasingly difficult for the past few years because major distributors have shutdown or merged with other companies.  According to Lucas Hilderbrand, it’s becoming easier to distribute indie films, especially, using Video On Demand and other video streaming services.  In his article, The Art of Distribution, he states that VOD (Video on Demand) “has also altered the hierarchies and timelines for theatrical and home video release.  For the major studios, VOD windows are now typically synched with DVD releases” (28).

Veronica Mars alum, Chris Lowell, started his own campaign on Kickstarter, too.  Interestingly enough, he had a different approach than Zach Braff, who created a Kickstarter for his film Wish I Was Here, and Melissa Joan Hart, who created one for her movie, Darci’s Walk of Shame, which ended up being cancelled.  Instead of asking for money to fund the movie so he would have to answer to his backers, he asked for money to distribute an already made movie titled, Beside Still Waters.  This finished movie had already been to festivals, too.  It had awards to make backing the project more enticing and a trailer to get you hooked.  Lowell doesn’t have to worry about making a movie that will please the people that gave him money and support.   This is the way I see the future of Kickstarter movies going.   Veronica Mars fans are by no means one of a kind.  There are other cancelled TV shows that I’m sure would have enough diehard fans to get a movie backed.  But this Veronica Mars movie was very much made for the fans.   There were jokes and illusions back to the original series and many wonderful cameos were made.

Not only are more celebrities going to go to Kickstarter to make movies, but the entirety of on demand culture is slowing changing.  Netflix is proving that true already, too.  Fans can barely wait a week for their shows to come back with new episodes.  Netflix has created a double-edged sword.   By releasing Netflix Original Shows in one day, they created more of a binge culture with fans.  Fans can now watch an entire brand-new season in one sitting.  The catch is that they have to wait a year to get another fix.  Netflix has three original shows that debuted in 2013: Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, and Hemlock Grove.   The first two became instant hits, though, all three did renewed for a second season.   Season 2 of House of Cards premiered on Feb 14, 2014, Orange is the New Black will be released on June 6th, and Hemlock Grove will be released on July 13th.  Arrested Development made a new season available exclusively on Netflix last year.  This gives hope to many cancelled TV shows. For April Fools Day, someone started a rumor that Firefly was coming back as a Netflix show.   Not only was this false, but because of the culture that Netflix has created, it gave the Browncoats hope!  These shows made available exclusively on Netflix have created a cult following.  The ability to see the entire season whenever it’s convenient creates that need in other shows.   While Netflix has made a huge amount of television shows and movies available to stream, most people get annoyed when something they want to see isn’t available.  As pointed out by Hilderbrand, he has to remind most of his friends that Netflix does send out DVDs with more titles available.   However, most people do not pay for their Netflix service to include DVDs or they’re so caught up in wanting to see it now, they don’t want to wait for them to arrive in the mail.

The Tribeca Film Festival releases certain movies for online viewing during the duration of the festival.  Not only that, but some films that are shown during the festival are available to rent or stream on Amazon or iTunes such as Bachelor Weekend and Beneath the Harvest Sky.  Joss Whedon went one step further.  He wrote the script to In Your Eyes.  On the same day it was released at the festival, he released it to rent on inyoureyesmovie.com and Vimeo On Demand for five dollars.  In this way, he was helping his fans that wouldn’t able get to New York to see it when it premiered.  More and more movies are being distributed this way besides Veronica Mars.   Some films, such as They Came Together, are being distributed in theaters and on demand on the same day, as well.  This film is being released on June 27, 2014 in both of those locations.   “The shift from expensive theatrical releases to multiplatform digital delivery opens up new and increasingly accessible ways for audiences to see art, documentary, and independent cinema.  Such viewing less and less often takes place on film in a cinema.  By changing the release patterns and delivery technologies, more films might find audiences, but the revenues for specific hits may be consistently lower” (Hilderbrand28).  By changing when and how we can watch films, we are creating easier access to entertainment.  In this way, we are adding the binge-watching phenomenon on needing to watch things now.

Fan culture is becoming more and more involved. Fans are starting to take control of the way television is being produced. “Early evidence suggest that the most valuable consumers are what the industry calls ‘loyals,’ or what we call fans.  Loyals are more apt to watch series faithfully, more apt to pay attention to advertising, and more apt to buy products” (Jenkins 63). Loyals are rewarded by participating in the culture around a television that lies predominately online because they get a chance to have a say in what happens on the show.  Recently, the TV show Hawaii Five-O, asked fans to vote on different scenarios that would be used to build an episode of the show.  From those elements, the show writers created an episode that the fans had decided on.  This kind of fan engagement puts the control even further into the fans hands.   The power dynamic is changing. Writers are now creating shows and movies that cater to what the fans want.   But what does this mean for the quality of television if fans have the power? Is narrative television going to become more like reality TV where fans get to cast their vote for who gets to stay on the show?  If writers are concerned about the fans more instead of the writing, does the quality fall short of expectations?  Will fans be frustrated by where the show is going even though they asked for it?  Jenkins says, “The promise of participation helps build fan investment, but it may also lead to misunderstandings and disappointments as viewers feel that their votes have not been counted” (Jenkins 64).  In the case of Kickstarter, if fans have invested their money into a project, and they don’t like it or aren’t satisfied, why would they risk their money on it again?  It is also a risk for the producers because if the fans are disappointed, there is no chance for a repeat of this kind of donation of funds for that particular project and maybe for other ones like it.  The risk isn’t as intense with television shows like Hawaii Five-O that aren’t being fan funded, however, they could decline in their ratings. But how far is too far with catering to fans?

This is where Chris Lowell had the right idea in his Kickstarter campaign. He knew he had a specific story to tell and he created it before he asked for money.  He is giving in to fan culture by the rewards he is providing but he isn’t held accountable to them to create a certain product.   This is an important distinction in the age of on demand and binge watching.  Lowell is setting the right example.  We need to be aware of the culture Netflix and other streaming sites have created.  Fans are getting what they want more easily now, especially with fan culture becoming more involved.  We have to be careful of where this intersects with the writing and integrity of a show or a movie.  No one is going to like everything, that’s just life.  If producers and writers are going to cater more towards fans than where they feel a story should go, is that good storytelling?  Sometimes we have to set boundaries. Not every TV episode is going to be written like a Goosebumps book.  Fans have to accept that.

 

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