Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Macbeth Cinematic/Thematic Essay Assignment

1. A) Lady Macbeth: “…Bear welcome in your eye, your hand, your tongue. Look like th’ innocent flower, but be the serpent under’t.” (1.5.60)
B)         Lady Macbeth is a very manipulative woman. This quote shows her ability to fool others by making them underestimate her and her power. Lady always told her husband how to act, and he always listened. Here, she convinced him to greet his guests warmly and sweetly, keeping his evil motives hidden from the outside world. Appearing innocent was important to Lady Macbeth’s plan because it would make any suspicions that pointed her out as Duncan’s murderer seem preposterous. She used her innocent image to her full advantage. Lady was able to blindside everyone by truly being the “serpent” hidden behind a false front. This selection from the play connects to the theme ‘Things aren’t always what they seem.’  Lady Macbeth is the most obvious example of this theme because she was one of the most immoral characters from early on in the play, even though the other characters had no idea that her dark side existed. The way Lady Macbeth appears compared to how she acts and thinks really shows that things are not always as they seem to be.
C)         The scene in the movie that this passage appeared in focused mainly on Lady Macbeth. She was trying to convince her husband that they will murder Duncan for the throne. This scene took place in the kitchen of Macbeth’s mansion. The lighting was low key, which flooded the room with shadows and darkness, giving off an eerie vibe. The film was at one of the high points of action, and this suspenseful lighting enhanced my mood and made the scene feel a lot more realistic.
            The director, Robert Goold, also helped Lady Macbeth be conveyed as more of an evil character by using a few close-up shots and angles at eye level. By zooming in closer to Lady Macbeth we could see the determination on the actresses face, and it made her character seem more convincing. Shooting at eye-level is the most popular because it is the most natural angle. These natural angles didn’t distract the viewers, so Lady Macbeth was all that the viewers saw and focused on. The whole scene was very engaging and gave a true feel to what kind of character Lady Macbeth is.
D)        Before even beginning the play I had background knowledge that Lady Macbeth was evil and strong-willed. However, seeing this scene where Lady Macbeth starts to expose her true personality really proved how insane she was. Hearing the words spoken by Lady’s character rather than in my classmates’ voices made a huge difference in how significant this quote really is to the play and the theme. I think Lady Macbeth’s character is portrayed perfectly in the movie. Viewing this scene furthers shows that things aren’t always what they seem, because Lady Macbeth even surprised me when she revealed her true colors.

2. A) Macbeth: “Bring me no more reports. Let them fly all! Till Burnham Wood remove to Dunsinane I cannot taint with fear. What’s the boy Malcolm? Was he not born of woman? The spirits that know all mortal consequences have pronounced me thus: “Fear not, Macbeth; no man that’s born of woman shall e’er have power upon thee.” Then fly, false thanes, and mingle with the English epicures. The mind I sway by and the heart I bear shall never sag with doubt nor shake with fear.” (5.3,1-10)
B)            Macbeth honestly believes that he has nothing to fear. He has become fully invested in the word of the witches. Their prophecies had already proven to be correct all throughout the play, so he did not even question whether or not what they said was true this time. Superstition had changed his whole way of thinking. Macbeth let the three witches inside of his head, and by letting their words control him, he was also letting their words control his fate. Macbeth seemed to brush off any doubts that he had of losing the throne because he was invested in the idea that all men are born of women; so all men are not a threat. He knows woods cannot literally move; so he thinks the idea that Burham closing in on his will literally never be possible. Macbeth’s behavior portrays the affect superstition can have on a person’s actions and way of thinking.
C)        This quote is the opening of a very important scene. In the movie, Macbeth is alone in hid dining room. As he yells, drums beat in the background. The powerful music fades away, but it helps to set the mood of the scene. Macbeth’s character doesn’t seem to have even the slightest hint of worry on his face. The director used medium shots of Macbeth as well as long shots and close ups. I think the switching of these shot lengths helps show the business in Macbeth’s head as he paces around the dining room and tries to make sense of the new prophecy he has just been told.
            Another cinematic device used that made the movie translation more realistic than the play was the use of cross-cutting. This editing technique showed us Macbeth being influenced by superstition and Macduff talking to his troops outside Burnham wood – actions that were happening simultaneously. The way the film version was able to show these shots back to back made it seem almost ironic that Macbeth was convincing himself he could not be touched because his biggest threats were already starting to contradict every word Macbeth had said.
D)             Macbeth’s downfall was ultimately his own fault. Had he not been so naive to believe superstition, I think he would have been prepared enough to fight off Macduff’s troops and maybe even keep his title as Thane. I think this quote shows how big Macbeth’s ego got in both the play and the movie, and that the movie version took my understanding of the quote and Macbeth’s character to a new, deeper level.

3. A) Lady Macbeth: “How indecisive you are! Give me the daggers… I’ll paint the faces of the servants with his blood, for they must seem guilty of the murder.” (2.2.64)
B)         Lady Macbeth speaks these words late at night after Macbeth has done the deed of stabbing the sleeping King Duncan. She sees his inability to finish the job pathetic, and she tells him to leave the rest to her. She has no mercy for the innocent guards, and only as her own well-being in mind. Lady Macbeth was blinded by power. It changed her, and the throne was all she could see. She would stop anyone who got in her way, and was too far in to turn back if she even tried. The way Lady acts shows that her goals are all she had in mind. She had no problem framing the guards and “finishing” the deed. At this point in the play Lady Macbeth is fully evil. Hiding the blood on her hands is more important to her than sparing the life of a guiltless guard. Power had fully corrupted her.
C)         This scene takes place again at Macbeth’s house. It is late and the kitchen is dark, other than the bright blood spattered along the edges of the daggers in the sink. There is no real music playing in the background, but there are background noises. These noises were very interesting to me. I could not tell if these suspicious bangs and screeches were really sounds from other places in the house, or if they were sounds that were imagined by Macbeth and Lady Macbeth because their emotions were probably all over the place and tensions were running so high. It is not clear whether or not these sounds were diegetic or non-diegetic, but even if they were just a figment of Macbeth and Lady Macbeths’ imagination and fear, they were realistic and added to the success of the scene. The scene was also shot in a two-shot frame. Lady Macbeth and Macbeth were shown side by side, which made their interaction seem as if you were watching it right in front of you.
D)        I think Lady Macbeth became very corrupted by power. She seemed to feel untouchable and guiltless in this scene. I think her guiltless attitude was temporary because she was literally in a trance by what she saw for herself in the near future: a crown. In the movie, the way Lady Macbeth talked about painting sleeping guards’ faces with blood from the end of a dagger seemed very real. I could never actually imagine a person saying something so sickening until I watched the play in movie form. The quote itself didn’t seem to change from the actual play, but hearing and seeing it in the movie enhanced its effects on me as a viewer.

4. A) Macbeth: “Blood will have blood!” (3.4.144)
B)        This quote marks Macbeth’s realization that he will be killed. He has caused bloodshed, so he knows that is what will now come to him. Macbeth had been ignorant to the fact that consequences could ever fall upon him for his actions. In this scene, after seeing the ghost of his slain friend Banquo, Macbeth comprehends that his ambitions no longer seem realistic. His “blind ambition” was carrying on in his mission to become king even though he had gotten his hands so dirty in the process. His realization showed me the first sign of weakness in Macbeth since the beginning of the play when Lady Macbeth first began to convince him to begin her evil plot. Macbeth actually seemed more human in this scene, and he finally came to terms with h is actions and maybe even felt some guilt.
C)        Before this quote was spoken, the dining room is dark and gloomy. Banquos ghost stood on the table with a glow of light behind him. Macbeth’s words and actions prior to this scene were all over the place, which seemed to confuse Lady Macbeth. This is also the scene where Lady Macbeth begins to fall apart. The shot-reverse-shot method was used both between Banquo’s ghost with Macbeth, and Lady Macbeth with Macbeth. In using this, we were able to see the way Banquo is raised above Macbeth’s character in a ring of light, almost condescendingly. It also shows the interaction between Macbeth and his wife as she continues to cry. Macbeth says “Blood will have blood” with no noise in the background or any distractions by special film techniques.
D)        I enjoyed watching this scene and knowing that Macbeth finally admitted he had done wrong. Once he started on his killing spree he did not turn back one time. The path he had left behind him had finally caught up with him, which gave me a pleased feeling. His overbearing ambition to take the place of King Duncan had caused too much destruction to the lives of others, and I think he only saw this because Banquo was once his real friend. This was the only reason Banquo’s ghost came back into his head; because he finally felt remorse for something he had done. It truly haunted Macbeth that he had killed a good man. He knew revenge was near.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Oedipus and Antigone Test

McKenzie Cooke
December 7, 2011
A block

Oedipus and Antigone Test

1.)        Fate is defined as something that unavoidably befalls a person. This means that one’s fortune or destiny is already predefined for them by someone other than themselves. Sometimes, in life, things occur that really surprise us. These events can be negative or positive, but seem to come out of the blue like they were destined to happen at that very moment. These things in life that we have no control over must happen for a reason. That reason is that they are part of our fates. Although I am a strong believer that fate comes from a higher power that ultimately maps our courses in life, I think that it is capable of being altered. Our free will can sometimes triumph our fate and change it. Our own will and decisions can change things on a dime, regardless of how set-in-stone our fates may already be. I think the choices we make in life now are continually changing what will happen for us in the future.
            If the forces of our own free wills were solely what ran our lives, every person would be completely responsible for their own future. I personally do not believe humans are the highest power of being in this world, so I attribute some of what happens in our lives to the pre-charted course of fate instead. I believe that most situations have to do with both powers of fate and free will. I think that my fate was what decided I would be born into this world. However, it was by my parents’ free wills that I was created. I also think it was the hands of fate that decided I would go to school and become educated. However, I do well in school based on my own free will because of the responsible decisions I make and work habits that I have developed. It seems to me that fate is what makes the outlines for us, and our choices are what fill in the space.
           I am spiritual, but still skeptical about how large of an influence fate has on each individual situation. I do not know how to determine whether each outcome of events in my life result more out of fate or free will. For example, I could be a girl because that was fate’s plan for me, or it could have no background meaning at all. I could be a girl just be the Punnet Square outcome of my parents’ genes. I’d also like to believe I am the person I am inside because of the way my parents brought me up, but that may not be true. Perhaps it is already decided who will be a “good” person and who will be a “bad” person before we are born. Perhaps it instead has to do with the ways we were raised and influences from our upbringings. I think I stand in the middle of believing in fate and free will.

2.)        Lying is a part of life. The weather man tells us to expect rain on days that end up being sunny, our friends tell us they like our outfits when they really hate them, and people fool us into believing things that are untrue. Mostly every day we are lied to in some way, whether intentionally or unintentionally. I do not think lying is necessarily an “OK” thing to do, but I have accepted that it is going to happen regardless of how I feel about it. I do think we should “pick our battles” when it comes to lies. We should shake the minuscule ones off ones with a smile, and save the fight for lies that are worth it.
            Growing up, I was told by my parents to never tell a lie because it is the wrong thing to do. This is almost a lie within itself, because my parents were acting like they believed in something that they really didn’t. I remember one time when I was young when my dad had scratch on his face. When I asked him what had happened, he told me a tiger had attacked him at work. I didn’t believe this because I knew my father worked at a factory and not a zoo, so I protested. He then told me a board fell on him, which was another lie, but this one I believed. I learned years after this that my dad had been in a fight, and that he lied to me so I would not be scared. Lies like these are often told to protect other people’s feelings rather than saving your own ass.
            “White lies” are different from the kind of lies that can really hurt someone. These lies are often made up to avoid being scrutinized for one’s own actions because they know they were wrong. About a year ago, a close friend of mine stopped talking to me out of the blue. This really hurt my feelings, so I confronted him because I really wanted to know the answer. He told me that it was because he was just too busy to talk as much as we used to. I naively believed this. Later I discovered that it was not because he was busy, but because he had started taking drugs. It is true that lies are sometimes acceptable, but not lies on your own selfish behalf. This was a time when the truth potentially could have set both of us free.
3.)        Sigmund Freud was a psychoanalyst who developed many theories about the stages of maturation. He developed a famous theorem bases on the famous Greek play about the legend of Kind Oedipus. This theory was developed into what is known as the Oedipus Complex. This complex states that young children desire their mother and resent their father. They resent their father to the point of desiring his death. Without proper progression out of this phase in life, Freud stated, individuals can express their feelings in abnormal or exaggerated ways.
Freud’s ideas on human sexual development hold points I both agree with and disagree with. I think Freud was a little too specific with what he stated in his studies. I don’t see the obsession with one’s mother going as far as wanting to have sexual relations with her. I also don’t think a child would plan the murder of his father simply because he was too much to compete with at home. Freud studied human behavior for many years, so to call his opinions hogwash is almost silly to me. It seems logical to me that young children are very close to their mothers because they lived and grew inside of them for nine months, and lived only off of their mother’s nutrients. I also understand that a child could be jealous of their dad because he gets in the way of their infatuation with their mother. I connect Freud’s thoughts on this jealousy to when I was little and I was envious when my siblings would receive more attention than me. I do not remember being resentful towards my father, but it does not seem like a ridiculous theory because humans are jealous of each other for various reasons even as grown-ups.
Reading Freud’s findings makes me think of watching episodes of crime shows on television like Law and Order. Most of the criminals on these shows have stories of harsh or abusive childhoods, which may have kept their brains from developing out of the early stages of life. Harsh situations may have kept their brain from progressing into what we consider “normal” ways of thinking, which could lead to a lot of confusion or stress for the individual. I agree that not growing properly into the latency period, where one learns to experience independence, could be attributed to why some of the criminals in life and on TV become murderers or rapists.

4.)             Antigone was a brave character. She was able to go against the law and stand up for what she thought was right. Antigone was a key character in the story, for her rebellion in wanting to bury her brother Polyneicies appropriately against Creon’s orders ultimately ended in her suicide, which changed many of the other characters’ lives. I think that although Antigone knew that the gods liked bodies to be buried properly, she made her final decision to defy the rules and bury him because she knew that was what he deserved. Antigone’s beliefs were so strong that went to desperate measures and even risked the death penalty to follow through with what she knew she had to do. She fully respected doing what was right.
            Rules exist everywhere. We are all forced to follow many rules on a daily basis; usually without question. As a citizen of the United States, I have to follow all of the laws created by our country such as not speeding or committing murder. Breaking these laws would result in being arrested or sent to jail. As part of the community of South Hadley, I also have to follow specific regulations from the town, such as buying and using the ridiculous Green Bag trash bags only. In school, I once again have another set of rules to obey. I must act under the codes in the handbook along with following the rules of the hallway, attendance policies, along with each teacher’s individual homework and class conduct standards. Lastly, I have rules at home and in my extra-curricular activities. Guidelines at home include doing chores, and at dance I must be on time, stretched, and prepared.
            It is almost impossible to escape from living by certain rules. It is obvious that sets of laws and regulations date all the way back to the time period of Antigone. Breaking certain criteria can result in serious consequence, but it is my choice which rules I choose to follow or not follow. I don’t have a problem bending certain rules if I know they won’t affect me too strongly. For example, if my parents tell me to put away my laundry after school, I don’t necessarily get around to it until much later at night. I know that even if my parents are angry with me for bending this rule they will not be angry with me forever. I am all right with breaking rules that I think are unjust. I don’t see the point in having only twelve allowed absences in the entire school year. I think that as a young adult I am responsible enough to know when I am sick, and what I need to get done at school. Facing a loss of credit due to being out too many times is absurd if you still have a passing grade. Rules I follow would be federal laws. I will not commit murder because I agree that we should not kill other people. Laws that are fair will better a community by following them, and laws that are unfair will worsen it because they are not just for all parts of the community. I think that fair laws are the ones most people would agree one, where unfair laws cause a great deal of controversy and difference in opinion.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Siddhartha Comes to America

McKenzie Cooke
Accelerated English 12

A block

Siddhartha Comes to America
            It was a busier day than normal at the airport, and it seemed as if people were scattered all over the place.  Some rushed through the crowds in fear of missing their flights, some searched for their luggage in baggage claim, and some just stared at signs, completely confused as to where they were supposed to be going. I walked through the airport, through all the craziness, and went to stand with the other tour guides at the pick-up station. I held a sign that said Siddhartha in large letters. This was my newest client’s first name. It was going to be his first time in America, so I wanted him to be able to locate me as easily as possible.
            A slender man looked over at me and began to approach me. He was holding a black sack that must have had his carry-on items in it, and there was blank look upon his face.  I assumed this was Siddhartha because he was reading my sign, so I greeted him and introduced myself as his tour guide. I took his bag for him and we went outside where it was quiet to discuss which parts of America Siddhartha wished to see and experience.
            “I do not know anything about America. I know no city names or landmarks,” answered Siddhartha when I asked him exactly where he wanted to go first. This answer puzzled me. Why would someone choose to visit a foreign country for no apparent reason? He must have read the confusion on my face.
This woman is very different from me. She does not understand my Samana ways, Siddhartha assumed.  “I am here on a journey to learn about myself, not about America. Can you take me to a place that I can be alone?” He asked me. I assured him I would find a great place to spend time alone and stared at my map. I smiled when I found what I was looking for and circled one of the most peaceful places I could think of in red ink: Moosehead, Maine.
            While we were in Moosehead, Siddhartha and I stayed in a small cabin in the woods that over-looked the Atlantic Ocean. We were surrounded by miles of desolate forest, and if you peered down over the cliff you would see gigantic channels of rock with waves crashing between them. The smell of sweet sap from pine trees that seemed to grow miles above us mixed with fresh air and overloaded our senses. Siddhartha would walk down to the vast, salty ocean and march into the water up to his knees, then swiftly reach down and grab a fish with a surprising calmness. He would catch one fish each day and ration it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Although I was his tour guide, Siddhartha seemed to make his own decisions on where to go and what to do.
            One day in Maine, Siddhartha and I went on a hike. A few miles in he suddenly stopped in front of a giant tree with thick, bumpy roots that spread out on every side of it. He slumped down at the base of the massive tree and closed his eyes. I sat on a large rock opposite him in silence and watched Siddhartha, astonished at how content he was with being so alone. Siddhartha had slipped into a kind of trance that deeply connected him to the world.
            I have finally benefitted from America. I am in the exact right spot on this continuous journey I am travelling on, decided Siddhartha. In that moment, he felt so serene; so deep in meditation. He reflected on being back home in India, and of a conversation he once had with his dear old friend Govinda. Siddhartha remembered trying to get Govinda to understand his lifestyle. He remembered telling Govinda that he, himself, was not going anywhere, but was on a continuous pilgrimage to find the way (93).
It is so wonderful to hear myself again. Hearing this internal voice reassures me that I am still on the way, Siddhartha cried joyously in his head. Being under this tree allowed him to connect with his true self. Oh, Atman! This is finally a time when I have felt genuine happiness. Siddhartha thought back to when he was a just a boy amongst the Brahmins, when he left home to find the Perfect One and live as a Samana, and when he left the ascetics for the pure unknown. These were the only other times he experienced pure joy. These times, and now. “Onwards, onwards, this is your path,” (83) thought Siddhartha.
When he awakened, Siddhartha seemed so full of bliss. He was finally smiling. This was the first time I had seen Siddhartha smile. That night, Siddhartha told me he wanted to now visit a place of pure excitement. He wanted to move to a new location that would match his new feelings. I decided it was time to visit the Jersey Shore.
Siddhartha kept his pleasant look the entire ride to New Jersey. This look became even more intense when the sights of Jersey took him over. There were taxis everywhere, and extremely different people than what Siddhartha was used to, which enticed him. You could hear the rush of the ocean, music in the distance from the bars that cluttered the strip, and laughter everywhere.  Siddhartha and I would walk down the boardwalk, and his head would almost spin off of his shoulders when he saw something that excited him.
That same night, Siddhartha demanded that we leave the hotel and explore the city. As he oiler his hair in the hotel mirror, he asked me if I knew of any places he could play dice at. When I did not know the answer to this question, Siddhartha got slightly disappointed. How can a tour guide not know such things, Siddhartha thought. I observed that his whole demeanor began to change. He took out some fancy black and red shoes from his bag and slipped them on, then quickly walked out of the hotel. Siddhartha then immediately entered a nearby night club, and I followed.
I felt a nervous feeling as I watched Siddhartha in the club. It certainly was a Situation. He immediately walked to the bar area where many people were standing. I could barely see Siddhartha because of the flashing rainbow lights, but it seemed as if he took to what everyone else was doing, because he ordered a drink. Siddhartha started dancing with every girl he could find, and he began to drink alcohol excessively. His eyes locked onto a dark-haired girl who was dancing out on the floor and then his mind began to race.
Who is this woman? Siddhartha asked himself.  I need her company. The woman’s beauty was astonishing and he loved the way she moved to the music. She reminded him of someone. She reminded him of Kamala. Siddhartha thought about Kamala and the way he used to desire her so strongly. He thought about how tempting Kamala was; her sweet, clever face, dark eyes, and her bright red mouth like a freshly cut fig (51).  Siddhartha approached the woman.
“Hello, I am Siddhartha. May I keep you company?” Siddhartha said politely
The girl looked at her friends and laughed, which made Siddhartha upset.
            “I would love to keep you company. I can recite you poetry, and I am a great lover. I have learned a lot over many years,” Siddhartha said to the woman again. “What is your name?”
The girl looked very uneasy and I noticed that one of her friends went to get the bouncer. He came over to Siddhartha and removed him from the club. Siddhartha had a completely confused face on that I could not completely read. I followed him out of the club, but he just sat on the curb with his head in his hands.
How must I let these feelings take me over, thought Siddhartha. He grew angry with himself for committing such sins! This place does not remind me of the India that I love. It reminds me of times in my life where I was at my lowest. I have let my desires get the best of me. They have lead me to spending my time here worthlessly, though Siddhartha as he scolded himself. He thought of the silly pleasure garden he used to own in India, and of his stupid shoes and perfumed hair. He was nauseated with himself, and had a flashback to when he wanted to rid himself of all of these habits of a completely senseless life (82). Siddhartha felt great sadness at that moment, and even though he was drunk, he shook himself back to reality.
Siddhartha stood up from the side of the street and walked over to where I was now sitting on a nearby bench waiting for him. It looked as if he was completely dead inside. He stared into my eyes and I almost felt his pain. He then begged me to bring him straight back to Moosehead, Maine.
 Being Siddhartha’s tour guide in America made me learn the same things that Siddhartha had probably learned in America. The tranquil environment in Maine suited Siddhartha a lot better than the lavish environment at the Jersey Shore did. It was very clear that the two different lifestyles Siddhartha explored affected him in different ways. Being able to stay true to himself in Maine, and find his inner voice was a positive experience for him. He was able to feel alone, but in a good way. He heard the great sound of his atman speak to him, which only happened because he was able to connect with himself on a spiritual level. Contrastingly, Jersey had a negative effect on Siddhartha. Although he had fun sight-seeing and people-watching, and even at the club when he danced and had fun, the experience as a whole made him think of how he used to let his desires keep him from having goals. He became full of death and depressing thoughts, and he lost his peaceful manner.
 Without a doubt, America had a profound effect on Siddhartha. This trip brought forth many personality changes within him.  He first arrived as a kind of student, ready to learn and discover. He then found peace within himself and knew he had to keep pushing forward in life. He ended up becoming a sinner, which led him to having a miserable night full of sins. He finally ended up realizing which of the changes he had gone through brought out the best in him. Being in Maine pushed Siddhartha forward on his journey, while being in Jersey held him back. The lifestyle he lived in peace much better suited him than the lifestyle he lived in turmoil.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Split the family; Double the fun

A) I chose this essay as one of my choices because I believe that i strongly showed my opinions on divorced families, and it tells readers many qualities about myself that I have gained only through being a child in a split home.
B) I think the essay stays on topic very well. The essay is not back and forth between negative and positive aspects, and my opinion is clear and did not change throughout the essay.
C) The essay  has many key points because I felt like there were a lot of different benefits that were important enough to write about. It seems a little all over the place.
D) Should I  lessen the amount of points I have tried to make, and organize the essay into fewer paragraphs?

Split the family; Double the fun

      Growing up I always had two Christmas celebrations, two trampolines, and I even got to go to Disney World twice. This was not because I had an odd obsession with the number two, or because I was spoiled, but because I grew up with divorced parents. I have lived in two separate houses my entire life. While some people would probably view children who have been forced to grow up in a split household as unstable or less likely to have a proper childhood, I disagree. Looking back, I loved growing up with my parents separated, and I would not change the way I was brought up at all.
      I ended up attaining more benefits than just having many material items. Although I had doubles of most things, my parents’ households were very different. My mother would almost over-care for me and my two sisters while my father had more of a “do-it-yourself” outlook.  Both of my parents’ attitudes helped mold me into being a very well-balanced individual. The way their approaches on parenting foiled each other strongly impacted many of the decisions I have made throughout my life.
      Another advantage to having divorced parents was that I learned how to be very optimistic. When I was still a child I would cry because my mom and dad weren’t together anymore. When I overcame this sadness it was because I realized that my life really wasn’t all that bad. Being positive helped me change the heartrending times into blissful times. I would reminisce about being back together as a family, and when I began to get sad, I would remind myself that instead I had two families, both of which are amazing.
      A down-fall to living in two different households was always being in the middle. My siblings and I found ourselves between every argument. It became hard not to blame ourselves for the fights between our parents because it seemed like their love for us was the only commonality they shared. With all of these struggles, I became skilled in problem-solving. I was able to talk out solutions with my family through being a mediator. Even though it sometimes seemed as if us children were the adults, the resolutions we came to were usually successful.
      All of the hardships either “side” of my family faced helped to bring my sisters and me closer together. We made important choices together, we matured together, and we were always there for each other. These things still have not changed. The bonds we have between us are strong and unbreakable, and we still look toward one another for guidance when times get tough. Having divorced parents made us closer than I believe we would have been if our parents had been together while we were growing up.
      Along with many children who were raised in homes with conditions similar to ours, we were forced to grow up very quickly. This is not something I regret, but something I am, and always will be, extremely thankful for. My experiences have influenced the way I think and act for the better, and I believe I am ready for any obstacle life may throw at me.

Dressing for Sucess

A) This was one of my essay choices because I feel like it is a topic that would make me stand out. It seems like an unusual topic, but actually helps explain my determination in reaching my dreams.
B) My essay is a reflection of a childhood memory, but I think the transition from being a child to a young adult is apparent. This is a good things because readers can see the maturing that has happened since this event actually occurred.
C) I feel that my essay does not have an ending that ties back to the beginning. I worried that I would repeat myself, but now I wonder if my ending is effective enough.
D) Are the benefits I gained from playing dress-up and having big childhood dreams obvious in my essay?              

                                       Dressing for Success

      A princess, a doctor, a ballerina, and a teacher. These are some of the things I used to pretend to be when I played dress-up at home in my basement. Anything that I wanted to be when I grew up was what I could pretend to be when I woke up! I felt like I was in my own world when I was dressed up. I would pick out each outfit carefully; laying the articles of clothing one by one onto the cream-colored rug before putting them on. I would then dress myself and parade around the house, acting as if I actually was whichever character I tried to duplicate that day. Believing I could be anything in the world was exciting to me. I never wanted to stop trying to embody the qualities that outstanding people had, and I told myself I would accomplish great things one day, too.
      “McKenzie, lunch is ready!” my mom would call down the stairs repeatedly until I finally gave in. I would slowly walk up the stairs, with my small hands perched on the railing, fully in character. Upon entering the kitchen, my mother would laugh with amusement. This was either due to my ridiculous outfit choice or because of my newly-discovered attitude for that day. We would eat our sandwiches together, and she would pretend with me. We conversed as if I really was an adult with a successful profession, which I liked. We spoke of all the jobs that baseball players, architects, and even moms need to do on a daily basis, along with all of the hard work it takes them to become good at what they do.
      Although I was still a kid on the outside, it seemed as if the clothes masked my small size. As I added more clothing, I shed more of my naïveté’s.  I realized that it was not realistic that I would have the same future as a ballerina or veterinarian only by mimicking them. I instead would put myself in their situations, planning out the steps they probably had to take in order to get to where they are in their careers. I recognized the dedication and enthusiasm that was necessary. My outlook on life when I was seven years old - that I could become whatever I wanted to become - is not much different than it is today. However, I have matured, and so have my dreams.
      All of these imaginary games weren’t played just so that I could wear cool clothes or have a fun method for passing the time away. My experiences of dressing up helped me develop my childhood dreams even further. I grew to be able to plan out and organize the steps I would have to take to get where I want to be in life, and I became strong enough to carry these steps out. Trying hard in school, having good effort in everything I do, and aiming high are all qualities I have obtained as a result of playing a silly, make-believe games. I knew who I was capable of impersonating, and I became capable of knowing who I could actually become.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Vocabulary Homework #1 (9/26/11)

McKenzie Cooke
Accel English 12
A block

Vocabulary Homework #1

1.) Agri - Agribusiness
·        Noun
·        An industry engaged in the producing operations of a farm, the manufacture and distribution of farm equipment and supplies, and the processing, storage, and distribution of farm commodities.
·        Businesses occupied in farming and the trades of agriculture.
·        Synonym – farming
·        Antonym -
·        The family specialized in agribusiness, they grew, processed, and sold their own corn products.

2.) De - Demonstrate
·        Verb
·        To illustrate or explain, especially with many examples, the value or efficiency of a product or object
·        To prove or make clear with reasoning or evidence
·        Synonym – reveal
·        Antonym – disprove
·        Billy Mayes was the face for Oxy Clean products and demonstrated their uses on television commercials.

3.) Gyr - Gyrate
·        Verb
·        To oscillate with or as with if a circular or spiral motion
·        To revolve around a point of axis
·        Synonym – rotate
·        Antonym –
·        The earth gyrates on its axis and revolves around the sun at the same time.

4.) Ply - Plywood
·        Noun
·        A material used for various building purposes, consisting usually of an odd number of veneers glued over each other, usually at right angles.
·        A type of wood that can be found in 4 by 8 foot sheets, at a number of different levels of thickness
·        Synonym – plyboard
·        Antonym –
·        Many parts of the new house were constructed from plywood, including the sub floors, walls, and roof.

5.) Therm - Thermostat
·        Noun
·        A device that functions to establish and maintain a desired temperature automatically or signals a change in temperature for a manual adjustment.
·        A mechanism that regulates a specific temperature in a room or area.
·        Synonym – thermoregulator
·        Antonym –
·        We had to turn up the thermostat in our house because of the sudden drop in temperature outside.

6.) Uni - Unite
·        Verb
·        To join, combine, or incorporate so as to form a single whole unit.
·        To cause to adhere, or to exhibit in union.
·        Synonym – join
·        Antonym – divide, separate
·        The whole student body was united in the lecture hall for an important announcement from the school principal.

1.) Alleviate
·        Verb
·        To make easier to endure
·        To lessen
·        Synonym – ease
·        Antonym – aggravate
·        The man had to have a back operation, and his doctor would prescribe him strong medicine to alleviate all of his pain.

2.) Annihilate
·        Verb
·        To destroy the collective existence or main body of; to destroy completely
·        To wipe out or cancel the effect of
·        Synonym – abolish
·        Antonym – preserve
·        The battle was a complete massacre; all members of our troop were annihilated.

3.) Discord
·        Noun
·        Lack of harmony between persons or things
·        Disagreement; difference in opinion
·        Synonym – controversy
·        Antonym – agreement
·        The two men got into a discord because there was a lot of controversy over their different views of religion.

4.) Chastise
·        Verb
·        To discipline, especially by corporal punishment.
·        To criticize severely
·        Synonym – punish
·        Antonym – comfort
·        The coach thinks that severely chastising his players for their mistakes will make them better players.

5.) Eschew
·        Noun
·        Having nothing to do with; to abandon
·        To abstain or keep away from
·        Synonym – avoid
·        Antonym – embrace
·        Her parents eschew telling her stories from their past because they are afraid that she will make the same mistakes they did.

6.) Credence
·        Noun
·        Belief as to the truth of something
·        A mental acceptance as true or real
·        Synonym – certainty
·        Antonym – distrust
·        The group of girls were not able to recognize the news as rumor, and gave credence to the gossip, spreading it around the school.

7.) Loquacious
·        Adjective
·        Characterized by excessive talk; chattering or babbling
·        Talking or tending to talk much or freely
·        Synonym – chatty
·        Antonym – quiet, on-talkative
·        The candidate was very loquacious, and his talkative personality caused him to lose the election because he always babbled off topic when giving a speech.

8.) Culpable
·        Adjective
·        Meriting condemnation of blame especially as wrong or harmful
·        Deserving blame or censure; blameworthy
·        Synonym – guilt, liable
·        Antonym – innocent
·        The driver of the stolen vehicle was culpable although there were two other people present with him when the crime took place.

9.) Panacea
·        Noun
·        A remedy for all ills or difficulties one may encounter
·        The answer or solution to all problems
·        Synonym – remedy
·        Antonym – problem
·        My grandmother seems to think that her remedy of soaking a sunburned body in concentrated tea is a panacea for burns.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Lit Circle Activity: Pages 39-88

McKenzie Cooke
Accel English 12
A block

Lit Circle Jobs 2.0 – Job #6  


1.) O’Brien’s decision to enter the war (pg 59-61)

            At the end of the chapter “On the Rainy River,” a section where Tim O’Brien flees home after being drafted into the Vietnam War, Tim makes the decision to enter the war. It is not the fact that O’Brien is going to war that I have a problem with, but it is his reasoning behind going that I oppose. I strongly disagree with why O’Brien decided to enter the war. He ended up going for all of the wrong reasons. Although O’Brien claimed to agree with parts of the war, it was clear that it seemed wrong to him overall. O’Brien thinks he is too good to fight in the war, and wanted to find an easy way out.  He ran away from home so that he can get away and figure things out, and because he resented the people of his town for expecting him to fight when they know nothing about the war itself. He ends up letting them win when he heads to Vietnam anyway.
            I think O’Brien is a coward for entering the war out of embarrassment. I do not think that one should risk their own life for the sake of quieting down their neighbors’ gossiping. O’Brien should have resisted his draft duty because he did not want to actually fight in the war. He should not have gone back on his beliefs on the behalf of others. I think that this stupid decision helps to show what kind of a person O’Brien was when he was young and innocent; submissive, cowardly, and easily influenced by other people. Soldiers are brave, and I can’t picture a man who acts this thoughtless ever living up to standards like that.

2.) Dave Jensen and Lee Strunk’s peculiar friendship (pg 65-66)

            One chapter, the two men fight over Jensen’s missing jackknife, which Strunk stole. The next, the two men befriend each other. They even set up an official document stating that each one of them would be by the others’ side to put them out of their misery if they were to be seriously wounded in the midst of becoming close. I completely agree with this reliance Jensen and Strunk had in each other. I cannot even imagine how alone a soldier feels while away at war. They are away from their families and taken out of their homes and stationed in places extremely unfamiliar. Eventually, I think a soldier could go insane due to how completely alone they feel. Finding friends and forming bonds with fellow soldiers is one of the easiest ways a soldier can stay sane while they witness all of the evils that war brings forth. Jensen and Strunk made the right choice in becoming friends because they could lean on and trust each other. Enough “enemies” already surrounded them. The two men’s friendship must have developed a great deal, for it peaked when Strunk’s leg got blown off and Jensen did not kill him. Their original silly agreement stated that Jensen had to, but he instead did what his friend asked him to do and he just let Strunk be. This shows that their relationship was a real, positive thing.

3.) A true war story is never moral (pg 68, 71)

            I don’t believe a true war story could ever be moral for war is not “moral” in itself. Tim O’Brien says that “It [a true war story] does not instruct, nor encourage virture, nor suggest models of proper human behavior, nor restrain men from doing things men have always done.” I agree with Tim O’Brien because I don’t think I have ever really felt uplifted after hearing a war story. Men and women who serve in wars are exposed to things no person should want to see. Although they are fighting for the name of their countries, they cannot help but witness the obscenities and evils war contains.
            Tim O’Brien also states “Send guys to war, they come home talking dirty,” which I agree with as well. I would expect nothing more from soldiers at war who witness negativity and ruthlessness day in and day out. As war changes them for the worst, most of their characteristics and outlooks on life that were once normal begin to transform. True war stories are always so dissipated that they become hard to believe by those who are not soldiers themselves, and who have not been subject to the utter brutality of war. Tim O’Brien’s views on the immorality of a true war story are very correct, which shows his ability to still comprehend the reality of war.

4.) Adjectives of war (p 80)

            O’Brien generalizes war as hell, mystery, terror, adventure, courage, discovery, holiness, pity, despair, longing, and love. He calls it nasty, fun, thrilling, and drudgery. He says it makes you a man, and also makes you dead. I do not agree that war can be all of these things. Some of these adjectives even seem positive. Maybe the fact that I have never experienced war leads me to my disagreement, but I could never bring myself to believing someone’s words that said war could be beautiful and harmonious at times.
            I would describe seeing a scene of “great sheets of metal-fire streaming down from gunship” as tragic, not astonishing. Even though O’Brien justifies himself by saying that while you could hate the view, but your eyes couldn’t, I still disagree with him. I cannot picture my eyes being filled with the horrors of battle, and I cannot picture seeing this battle as serene or beautiful.

5.) Proximity to death brings a corresponding proximity to life (p 81)

            Generalizing about war being similar to generalizing about peace seems like a controversial idea. After hearing Tim O’Brien compare war and peace, however, I am a believer in this concept. I have had a few minor “near-death experiences” where I have seen my life flash before my eyes, never mind having incidents like these happen to me every day. I know that after every one of them I have appreciated my life even more than I did before it. So, it is plausible to me that after a battle, one would feel tremendously alive.
            I cannot imagine surviving a combat and not being thankful for my life – and for all things living in general. O’Brien says, “You’re never more alive than when you’re almost dead.” I have never been seriously close to death, gripping to life, like majority of soldiers have at once point or another, yet I understand the way O’Brien describes the realization of what is really valuable to you at that point and what things are not. In the end, soldiers are just happy to have survived another day.