Monday, January 25, 2010

Self Reflection

I believe this assignment was a good opportunity to express our creative side and see what other people might think of it. It helped me improve my skills in the English language in a variety of ways mainly due to the various content I had to prepare. The assignment also helped me revise my organizational skills and showed me that some things simply cannot and should not be left for the last possible moment. Another important aspect was of course the chance to communicate with students from across the ocean and see what they are doing. The constructive criticism which we received was very helpful and aided me to grow as a writer. The constructive criticism I gave, on the other hand, taught me what to look for in a good piece of literary work and what to expect from one. It was interesting to see how students from another part of the world think and write and express themselves and in the end see we are all human. A difficulty this task helped me overcome was the infamous writers block because of the many suggestions and ideas about creative writing itself. A truly unusual assignment, this blog activity was a personal success.

Othello and Desdemona: A Love of Adventure

A truly remarkable work, Othello by Shakespeare illustrates many different themes among which is the one of love. Othello and Desdemona both show strong feelings for each other but it is curios to find out how such two different people fell that way towards each other.
The origin of the mutual affection is revealed in Act I Scene 3; it is here that Othello gives the reason why Desdemona fell in love with him. In the high-society setting of Desdemona’s surroundings she finds Othello’s tales of far lands and strange people most enchanting and different from her everyday life. The lines “But still the house affairs would draw her thence, /Which ever as she could with haste dispatch” demonstrate Desdemona’s desire to hear more of Othello’s stories about his past. The whole passage is crucial to understanding both characters as it reveals much about their psyche as well as why they behave as they do. Othello has had a hard life having met “cannibals that each other eat” and men with heads beneath their shoulders. Shakespeare demonstrates her desire to know of Othello’s past through the clever use of the adjective “almost implying her selfishness in listening to his account:
She’d come again, and with a greedy ear
Devour up my discourse; which I was observing (Act I Sc. 3 ln148-149)
The use of “devour” emphasizes this same characteristic and illustrates Desdemona’s increasing affection for Othello. The passage reveals Othello’s past and gives insight to many of his character’s traits such as easy jealousy and easy loss of trust. For somebody who has had a hard life such as him it is natural to come to judge and be manipulated easily. In addition, Othello himself had been little exposed to the high-class manipulations of people such as Iago. It is a war of a different kind.
Desdemona strongly hints that she has feelings for Othello and she wants to make certain he knows it:
She wished I had not heard it, yet she wished
That heaven had made her such a man. She thanked me,
And bade me, if I had a friend that loved her,
I should but teach him how to tell my story,
And that would woo her. (Act I Sc. 3 ln 161-165)
In the end of the passage it is clearly stated that Desdemona loves Othello for the dangers he has passed since he is so different from everyone else.
Othello’s theme of love is truly a complex one. Intertwined in the fates of so many and so different personas it shapes the faiths of all characters in the play. Desdemona’s love leads eventually to her death, and Othello’s partial insecurity opens a door to jealousy and rage. Both character’s traits and past experiences foreshadow the bloody future that is to come.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Surf Day

It was cold and dark. The rain was pouring down as though the sky had it heart broken and wanted to relieve the pain as quickly as possible. The winds were fierce and the trees were bending almost to the ground. We had our surfboards and sails ready. It was seven in the morning. Time to surf.
It had been six weeks with no wind at all. Well, not without any wind but it was not satisfactory to try and learn something new with the same draft that people use when they first begin to windsurf. There were no waves as well and we thought this is one summer we will not be surfing. We started to think of alternative ways to keep ourselves amused but when you’re at the beach all day every day for three months you get bored pretty soon. There were a couple of moments when we thought that waves might come or that the calm and gentle breeze would turn into a roaring and powerful driving force but we were wrong. We checked website forecasts every day and several times they had promised wonderful conditions for surfing. Usually, they were rarely wrong but this time they were every single day they said we had a chance. Then one day, when we had lost all hope we saw I; a thin line far into the water signifying a vast change in the wind. We could not believe our eyes. Could this really be? Have wind and waves finally found us? The line quickly began to move towards the beach and we could see it as a border separating the clear crystal waters near the sand and those that were uneasy and ready to rise in the deep. Clouds accompanied the wind line and the whole scene was as though taken out of a movie. Everything was calm and then the deep breath before the plunge had passed and now the storm was here. It was not that strong yet and we knew it would not be until the next day. So we packed up and went home for a good night sleep and a day of surfing.
Seven in the morning. Time to surf. The storm had now grown to tremendous proportions and we barely see where the beach was. This would not stop us to go and do what we must. The waves reached a height of about five meters and when we first saw them we were really afraid. But we soon remembered the long days of doing nothing, the countless hours of waiting for this very moment, and the endless times we would regret it if we did not take this chance. We took a deep breath and went into the watery abyss. And the rest is history…

The Count of Monte Cristo: One of the Golden Pieces of Literature

Among the greatest literary pieces of art The Count of Monte Cristo is definitely a high place holder. Duma’s astonishing book produces one of the strongest effects in literary history. The complex situations, the ever-evolving characters, and the moral choices they all have to make are just some of the reasons why this amazing novel can be considered ingenious.
The book tells the tale of Edmond Dantes, a man who lives a happy and modest life and wishes nothing more but the woman of his dreams who shares the same feelings for him. Fate, however, intervenes and different interests clash and Dantes ends up in one of the most horrifying prisons of his time. He is accused of being a traitor in the time after Napoleon is taken down and thus sentences for life in jail. The truth is three people work against him because of their own agenda: one wants his girl, the other to protect his own political aspirations and the third is simply jealous. Dantes transforms into the count of Monte Cristo as he exacts his revenge against those who have wronged him. The plot becomes twisted and exceptionally complex and the reader needs to pay attention or risks getting lost. The numerous uses of metaphors, epithets, alliteration, and other figures of speech help the reader see the side of each character from several points of view. Every detail is important and the characters go through a remarkably sophisticated development and bring in credibility.
The novel does not and with the happiest of endings as a lot of innocent people get hurt and many others do not get the reward they deserve. However, this brings realism and integrity into the novel as only Dantes is happy in the end. The book is simply amazing and for anybody who considers him or herself a fan of literary pieces of work this is simply a must.

Avatar: The Perfect Step into the Future

James Cameron is known in the filming industry for his work on Titanic, The Terminator series, and of course Avatar. The last one is his latest production which took over five years to make. Not film, but make. This is due to the fact that it is about 60% CGI and 40% acting. There have been numerous attempts throughout cinematic history to effectively incorporate visual effects in every scene in a movie. Avatar takes that to a whole new level with the scenes themselves being entirely computer generated to unbelievable photorealistic effects. The plot itself is creative although it takes several themes and ideas from other movies and literary works but manages to cover them in an imaginative and innovative way. With that said, will the reader enjoy it? Let’s see.
The story takes place on a far moon in a distant space sector where an Earth corporation has a major operation to harvest vital material for building machines and the industry as a whole. This however, comes in conflict with the natives which are much more primitive than humans but much more in tune with their planet. The main character is entrusted with the task to get closer to the natives with the help of an “Avatar” – a hybrid of human DNA and the natives controlled by the protagonist with his mind. The planet itself is full of dangerous animals and plants which seem to want to do nothing else but eat people. The effects are stunning and the viewer has the feeling he or she is transported to the very planet of the action. The protagonist eventually discovers it would be wrong to destroy the natural habitat of the indigenous people for resources.
The film also places certain ethical points for consideration. What do we truly call home? Do we hurt others to make profit if we would not be punished? How far does the human conscience spread? The movie does not give the answers but leaves the viewer to find them out on his or her own. However, there are some negative sides as well. Many of the characters seem shallow and unwilling to change even in the slightest. Some seem more ruthless then they should and others too forgiving. There are a few plot points that take away from the realism but then again, a movie cannot be without them. In general Avatar is a great movie in terms of motifs, themes, and social and ethical problems as well as entertaining for those who want to enjoy a picture without having to worry about complex problems.

2012: A Movie About Disasters or a "Disaster" Movie

Roland Emmerich is mostly known for creating so-called “disaster movies” or films that show either a near-apocalyptic world scenario or another major catastrophe that strikes humanity. Emmerich himself has stated he likes the idea of disaster movies because they put ordinary people in extraordinary situations and reveal their character. The logic behind such an idea might be true but Emmerich’s movies often show little to no character development whatsoever. The most recent and highly anticipated movie is of course 2012. So does this movie do a good job of depicting a fairly accurate doomsday plot? The answer is…there is no one answer.
The movie opens in the year 2009 when a scientists discovers that an ancient Mayan prophecy about the end of the world might actually have some credibility to it as apparently the Sun has begun emitting deadlier particles which will result in the destabilization of the Earth’s mantle and crust respectively. Disregarding the scientific fallacies behind this discovery the average viewer could consider this a fairly plausible exposition for the rest of the film. The plot goes on to reveal how the leaders of the world begin a massive plan to evacuate as many people as they can. Both useful ones and such that have enough money to pay for a way out are selected. The story continues to show the protagonist who takes his kids camping to Yellowstone National Park where he meets an apparently crazy radio host who keeps talking about the end of the world and how the government is hiding it all. Naturally, few believe him but that changes relatively soon as doomsday is indeed close at hand. As the world around them begins to fall apart the main characters flee to China where the government of every major nation has built a ship to float on the upcoming tidal waves. As the catastrophe escalates the viewer becomes a witness to dazzling visual effects and suspense. Indeed, the scope and depth of the devastation is shown in a perfect manner and the destruction reaches epic proportions at its pinnacle. With that said, the character development and realization remains low as they seem to take the news rather well for average people. Of course, there are numerous subplots of betrayal, affairs, and twists which seem to ultimately arrive to a happy ending.
Yes, a lot of people die, and yes the movie is praised mainly for its visual effects rather than thorough story and scientifically based facts but it still is pleasant entertainment for the whole family.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Perfect Powder Day

Snow. Cold. Slopes. These would be the perfect words to describe the winter vacation. As I woke up early in the morning all I could think about was the mountain waiting for me, begging me to visit and see the ski conditions for myself. The day before was a horrible one: people pushing, shouting, arguing, and getting more and more impatient with the ever growing queues. But today was going to be different. Of course I am talking about Bansko and the glorious days of the winter break of 2009-2010. The thing that made this day so special was that it was the first of the New Year. And because it was the 1st there were not going to be any people on the slopes as they were all going to sleep in, tired from last night.
By far the most difficult thing you can do after New Year’s Eve is to try to get up from bed. However, I had to do it as I had promised I would go skiing that day and it was the only chance we had to have the mountain all to ourselves. So I stumbled across the dark room, knocking half the furniture down and tried to find my jacket and ski boots. It was an incredible adventure for another story. Finally when I managed to pull myself together I met up with my friends and due to the fact that the gondola was going to open later today we drove all the way up to the tracks. We waited a little longer and the lifts opened for business. It was incredible. I have been going to that resort for all my life and I had never seen it empty. It was as though the slopes were trimmed and taken care of just for us. As a whole there were maybe fifteen people for the during the morning hours. We were able to enjoy perfect conditions, undisturbed, untroubled and uncontrolled. It had been snowing for the past two days so there was some new snow for us to explore. The feeling of being the first to go through the so-called powder is one of a kind. It is truly unbelievable and it makes skiing and snowboarding the more worthwhile.
By the end of the day we were exhausted since we didn’t get any sleep last night and had been skiing the whole day. It was the most incredible day of the entire vacation and one the best days of my life so far. We turned in pretty early for a goodnight sleep and to recharge our batteries for the next day which was going to be a little less magical but reminding us of this one nevertheless.