Natalie's Journal

Journal 1.1

Adopting Ethnic Children

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Maybe Angelina and Brad started a fad. White people would rather adopt ethnic children from overseas than adopt the average American orphan. There are thousands of ethnic children in the United States who need homes, yet white people seem to find it more self gratifying to travel across the globe to third world countries like Cambodia and Ethiopia to adopt than venturing into orphanages in America that are filled with poverty stricken children from ethnic backgrounds.

Maybe third world orphans possess a special luster, one that makes the American ethnic orphan look dull in comparison. Maybe white people find some sense of superiority in discussing how far they traveled to adopt their child. In all fairness, we do treat those who do adopt from overseas as if they achieved some great accomplishment. Look at how the media reacted when Angelina adopted Maddox, their first ethnic child…this news circulated in tabloids for weeks! I guess Brangelina loved the approval so much that they decided to adopt internationally again…and again. White people loved this!! It was like they discovered a way to help orphaned ethnic children without acknowledging the fact that plenty of them exist in the United States. They couldn't wait to get on board with this latest craze.

Whether it's a social statement or an actual desire to change the world, white people love trying to make a difference (in every country but their own) one adopted ethnic child at a time.

Journal 2.1

Entertainment vs. Atrocity

The world of entertainment never ceases to amaze me. Sunday I had the privilege of witnessing the VMA's (Video Music Awards), and it, by far, was one of the most entertaining spectacles I've seen in a while. It was filled with clever (and not so clever) humor, unbelievable dance performances (Beyonce), unusual perfomances (Lady GaGa), and outrageous outbursts (Kanye). Of course, there was the usual presentation of various awards, but besides the celebrities who win them, who cares?

The most memorable events of the evening were the the performance of Lady Gaga and the dramatic outburst by Kanye West. While watching Lady GaGa's performance I couldn't help but ask myself, "Why are we encouraging this sort of chaotic, ridiculous behavior?" After a performance like that, I have no desire to ever see Lady GaGa in concert, it was really quite disturbing…that and her numerous wardrobe changes throughout the evening, which all happened to be utterly horrific.

I don't think anyone will ever forget Kanye West's reaction to Taylor Swift's victory over Beyonce in the category of Best Female Video. Everyone has an opinion, but honestly, Kanye, no one cared to hear yours, especially in the middle of Taylor's speech! Way to ruin the last piece of the somewhat respectable image you HAD! Who knows, Kanye's fans may forgive him…if he's lucky.

The behavior of celebrities like Kanye and Lady GaGa makes me wonder whether or not we are allowing the entertainment world to evolve into a daring universe or an atrocious cosmos. We as fans support or despise what they do. Sure we can say that artists llike Lady Gaga are just expressing themselves, but does this expression need to be placed in the public eye? Are we supposed to accept Kanye's rude behavior and lack of respect for his fellow artists as typical behavior for celebrities? True enough, the VMA's was definitely entertaining, but one question still remains: Are celebrities crossing the line between entertainment and chaos?

Journal 3.1

The Garden of Forking Paths

This article was a little hard to follow at first. I was almost positive I would hate it, especially after i realized that the pages were front and back. It was better than I expected it to be. The descriptions were very vivid, and I could almost see some of the scenes playing out in my head. I'm not really clear on what the first part of the passage has to do with the rest of it. The first part of the article that confused me was a sentence near the bottom of the first page. The narrator reads, "If only my mouth, before a bullet shattered it, could cry out that secret name so it could be heard in Germany…My human voice was very weak." Here, I am not certain of his precise location. Then the narrator decides to abandon his position as a spy. Why does he leave? What was so terrible about the plan he was to carry out? Why does he go to Ashgrove instead of the location he's suppose to go to?

When Yu Tsun, the narrator, finally arrives at Ashgrove, the article slowly begins to make sense. As he continues his way down the path, he begins to remember scenes of his childhood. Madden recollects certain objects in the house of Stephen Albert, the consul that greets him, as he arrives. While Tsun and Albert talk, Tsun realizes that the novel that the "heterogeneous project" that his ancester Ts'ui Pen had completed was one in the same: the single novel that no one understood (a book and a labyrinth).

I did, however, like the symbolism of the book written by the speaker's ancestor. I was not expecting it to be a combination of two projects, one of which symbolizes a maze. The last part of the article was surprising. Why did Tsun suddenly kill Albert? I'm assuming that this was part of the plan he was to fulfill. But why did Captain Madden arrest him? How has Tsun "won out abominably"? I remain slightly confused by the last paragraph.

Journal 4.1

The Lion King

This childhood favorite (still one of my favorites) of mine tells the typical story of the triumph of the protagonist over the antagonist. Like many Disney movies, The Lion King contains several of Propp's narratemes. The first narrateme present is absentation; in this case, Simba, the hero, goes missing after he runs away because he feels responsible for the death of his father, Mufasa. The next two narratemes present in the Lion King are trickery and complicity, which ocur simultaneously. Scar, Simba's uncle, uses Simba in provoking the death of Mufasa by tricking him into playing in the gorge, forcing Mufasa to save him and lose his life. The final narrateme present in the introduction of The Lion King is interdiction, in which the hero receives some kind of warning; in this case, Scar warns Simba to leave Pride Rock and never return unless he wants to be blamed for the death of his father.

Another narrateme present in The Lion King is departure. Simba leaves Pride Rock not only because he was warned to do so, but also to find himself and mature. Along the way he learns the meaning of friendship as he is taken in by Timon and Pumba. Towards the end of the movie, Simba returns to Pride Rock to recover what is rightfully his: the title of King. He and Scar battle in the narrateme referred to as the "struggle". Simba defeats Scar and assumes his position as King. The struggle in this movie is the final narrateme.

Journal 5.2

Blue Velvet

This website is very powerful. I love the way that it examines the various aspects of the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe as well as the circumstances that contributed to the amount of devastation. I really liked how the site related the issues the city of New Orleans faced before the catastrophe. For example, zoning areas of the city based on social status. They referred to this as "redlining", in which case red areas were the most "undesirable" places to live. From reading this site, I am now aware that some people see the destruction of Hurricane Katrina as a cleansing of the city. By subjecting the poverty-stricken black population to living in slums, the lower ninth ward, government and private banks prety much encouraged a lifestyle of vandalism, poverty, and crime. And after creating this problem, their solution was to block these unfortunate individuals off from the rest of the city and keep them from spreading their lifestyle the more affluent blue areas. Even after Katrina, after forcing people in the lower ninth ward to fend for themselves, the ones who survived were bussed to cities in other states, so they would not infiltrate the "affluent" areas of New Orleans. The fact that the government was okay with this is a little disturbing. The question I have is this: How can government officials create slum areas, induce poverty on a majority of the less fortunate inhabitants of their own city, watch hundreds and hundreds of them die due to a natural disaster, refer to the survivors as first looters, then refugees, relocate them to cities across the nation, and be completely ok with this? Does this deserve a pat on the back? No. But with the situation of having to rebuild half a city, this seems to be the least of their worries.

Journal 6.1

Pattern Recognition (1-41)

In Pattern Recognition, I like the way Gibson characterizes Cayce. He vividly describes her careful personality and the drab way that she dresses. He spends a lot of pages describing her wardrobe. After reading these descriptions, the reader is able to form his own opinion of Cayce, maybe this was Gibson's initial intention. Cayce's character is strange. She has a job as a fashion consultant, where she is suppose to predict trends. I think it is quite ironic that despite her job obligations, she seems to be completely anti-fashion. She prefers to be as nondescript as possible and even goes so far as to remove all logos from her clothing. Her job also requires her to interact with other people, but she always seems afraid to talk to anyone. It makes me wonder if she suffered a traumatic experience and is therefore guarded towards everyone else. She doesn't seem to enjoy interacting with others unless it's online. It doesn't come across as timidness, but simply as a preference to be left alone with her own thoughts. Damien seems to be the one person Cayce actually likes, but he has not yet made an appearance in the novel. He is only mentioned in Cayce's eyes. I wonder if Damien's presence makes Cayce less tense and brings out a more personable side of her. I anticipate finding out why Cayce is the peculiar, guarded individual that she seems to be.

Journal 7.2

Pattern Recognition (125-166)

I like how this section moves the novel forward. It shows how Cayce seems to give into what Bigend wants to use her for. In a way, Bigend figures out what peaks Cayce's interest and is able to play off of them to ge ther to search for the source of the footage. This section also illustrates the financial freedom of Blue Ant. They fund everything that Cayce needs or wants. Cayce becomes aware of this and then begins to use it for frivilous things like haircuts. I like how Cayce reacts to the contrast between her new haircut and her current CPU. She feels that it is an inadequate match so she goes to an expensive store and buys a "classier" outfit, courtesy of Blue Ant. However, she still maticulously removes all logos from the expensive clothing, except from the Luggage Label hip-bag. I'm curious to know why the story about Cayce's dad was inserted in this section. It gives a pretty detailed description, so it must be of some importance. I thought it was very strange when Cayce is attacked after meeting with Taki. It makes me wonder if they were the same people who were in Damien's apartment. This incident takes the novel to a different type of plot. It seems more like a sci-fi adventure now.

Journal 8.2

Pattern Recognition (208-248)

I found it interesting that Cayce's suspicions about Dorotea are true, and that it was she who had Cayce attacked in Tokyo. What is even more interesting is Bigend's reaction to Dorotea's actions. I did not expect him to hire her in an attempt to get her to stop toying with Cayce. I wonder if this is his actual intention. He could possibly be involved with Dorotea in some way and since Dorotea got caught, he could be trying to cover his own trail by throwing everyone off and hiring her. Or maybe Bigend is involved with the Russians who hired Dorotea in the first place. Whatever the true reason may be, I find it hard to fathom that Bigend's actual explanation for hiring Dorotea is that he feels she will remain loyal to her career. Two other weird happenings are two emails Cayce receives, the first from Ivy, who is inquiring about information supplied to her by Mama Anarchia. Anarchia knows, by some miracle or snooping, that Cayce was in Tokyo. This seems to be another one of those weird scenarios where some random character in this book knows some random piece of information about Cayce. Anarchia could be connected with the Russians as well. The second email is from Margot, a friend of Cayce's who is lookng after her apartment while Cayce is away. Apparently, someone other than Margot has been in Cayce's apartment and snooped around her things. My best guess is that it was someone working for the same group of Russians. They could have been looking for some information into Cayce's past on behalf of Dorotea, and Margot may just be getting around to telling Cayce about it. I also wonder what Boone's interest in Cayce is. The fact that he is constantly checking in her makes me wonder if the interest in romantic. Maybe Gibson adds this aspect to give the reader a false sense of a romantic involvment between them.

Journal 9.2

Pattern Recognition (289-328)

Being that I am almost done with this book, I have reached the conclusion that I should not be surprised by any odd events or scenarios that may happen. I also get the feeling that events in this novel are not as complex as I tyr to make them at first. For example, I was expecting the maker of the footage to be a geeky, middle-aged man who lives alone and the footage is a small part of some great masterplan. I was way off. The reality that the source of the footage is a fragile young woman who is inventing a story set in another world gives the footage a different meaning. Now, I see the footage as her realm of peace and comfort, because this is what she, Nora, loves to do. Knowing the personal circumstances of Nora's life is verification that the feeling Cayce got while watching the footage, before meeting Bigend, is probably similar to the way Nora feels when she is creating it…peace. Maybe it is because they share a connection in the loss of their fathers, but it seems that Cayce relates deeply to Stella and Nora. Their identity is not kept a secret because they wish it to be, but because it must be for their survival. Cayce understands this. The first part of this section gives me a different view of the book. For this brief moment, it doesn't seem to be a sci-fi adventure, but more of a symbollic represenation of how people relate to each other's cirucmstances.

Of course, when Dorotea appears in Russia, the book resumes it's normal tone. I was not surprised to learn that she is Mama Anarchia, I suspected this after Cayce finds out that Mama Anarchia contacted Ivy inquiring of her whereabouts. I am curious to find out what information she knows about the dissappearance of Cayce's father. She seems to be involved in every other bad thing that happens to Cayce so I suspect that she is connected to this as well.

Journal 10.1

Photopia

This is one of the weirdest games I have ever played. Actually, I played the game twice, because the first time it took so long I just quit. I thought I could finish it in twenty minutes tops. I was completely off. It took me an hour with a break in between and the solution (I only used it twice) to finish this game. I spent fifteen minutes outside of the ship trying to remember which direction I came from and which direction I needed to go to get out. I thought the story line was interesting, and I liked how I could never tell what scenario was next. I did not like the forest part, because I kept using the wrong verbs and the wolf was just useless. I'm not really sure how all of the scenes related to each other, if they did at all. I'm guessing it was all a part of the bedtime story she was telling Alley. Overall, I thought it was a very interesting game, though I wouldn't necessarily call it fun. I probably won't ever play it again, because it probably won't have the same effect since I know what's going to happen.

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