Saturday, September 25, 2004

Foreign Affairs

My Sassy Girl



With the release of the original "Star Wars" trilogy on DVD for the first time, I have been in a movie watchin' mood. Nothing beats microwave popcorn and a good flick. Often times my friends don't understand why I will jet out to view the weekend matinee by myself. A lot of people believe that going alone means you're lonely and desperate and have no social life. They think that movies are only for taking their dates to. More often than not they like going out in big noisy group socializing sessions. However, one of my biggest pet peeves is talkative movie watchers, and so typically, my enjoyment of the film consists of my ability to attend the cinema with as few people as possible. I personally prefer to concentrate on the story and what is going on up on the screen without distraction. I guess I am a hard core movie viewer that way. However, don't misunderstand me because I do like going in big noisy group sessions, but only when I've already seen the film.

Another big pet peeve of mine is when people won't go to a foreign film because as one of my friends once stated, "I don't like having to read my movies", or "Reading the movie is too hard"... these people obviously have trouble reading. All I can say is that's part of the enjoyment of experiencing a film from outisde our culture. It is a minor one that goes away when your reading speed picks up, and if it still bothers you then I can only recommend hooked on phonics.

For me, foreign films often contain a fresh perspective on classical themes. Lots of myth and legends become interesting again when the retelling of it has an outside perspective. Especially with Asian cinema. Also, a lot of the times, I am acquainted with entirely new stories and concepts. Watching films from other cultures also broadens my understanding of those various cultures and their traditions. Even fiction films have a multitude of information to learn from the movie going experience. Simply to see other countries, hearing new languages, and learning about things that don't fit into my own cultures frame of thought is refreshing and rewarding. People, who can't enjoy a movie because it has subtitles and have to "read" the screen obviously don't care about expanding their own culteral mind. Instead of perceiving it as a challenge and an enhancing experience, they shrug is off as, "But I don't like reading my movies". Bleh, thank you for your contribution to humanity. Next time I'll take you to see a good book.

"My Sassy Girl” or the original Korean title of "Yeopgijeogin geunyeo" is my all time favorite romantic comedy. For a romantic comedy it runs over two hours, and that may be long compared to American romance and funny films, but it keeps your attention and emotions going the entire ride. "My Sassy Girl" is like no other film I have ever seen. The first time I watched it I laughed, I cried, I laughed some more. I really connected with the characters, and the jokes were beyond funny, even in the context of my own culture. It plays from the univesality of romance we so commonly understand.

Sadly enough, great foreign films such as this get bought up by Hollywood, and instead of releasing them state-side, they make remakes of the film with American casts. I can't stress the danger of this, because when you do an "Americanized" version of these wonderful films... you loose everything culturaly significant about the original. Movies such as, "Shall We Dansu" and "Infernal Affair" are both being remade by Hollywood starring A-list actors, as is "My Sassy Girl". The problem arises then, that will Hollywood be able to make a better film than the original? Most likely not.

"My Sassy Girl" is about two couples coming together by a string of odd circumstances. The charm of the characters is so overwhelmingly fascinating that it keeps your attention the entire way through the movie, and the drama and humor has you laughing from beginning to end. Even if you don't know about Korean, or Asian customs, the movie is full of running gags, and strong personalities directed with perscision that lead to all out hilarity. I roared my head off when I first watched this film, and I didn't understand but half of what was going on. Now that I bought it, I can't get enough of it. I understand it fully, and I get a better enjoyment out of it now than when I first viewed it. This is an extremely rare quality in films these days.

If you are looking for a great comedy, or a romantic comedy, or a fun experience with our South Korean friends, find yourself a copy of "My Sassy Girl". It may be difficult to find, but its well worth it. I ordered my copy from the L.A. based http://www.aznfilms.com/ and also www.yesasia.com You can find most any Asian film on DVD to buy at these websites.

(This film does not exist in the U.S. My DVD is a Region 2 import. It is in its original language with English Subtitles)

You can read more about "My Sassy Girl" at the Internet Movie Database,
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0293715/

For those of you who are wondering about my own personal top favorite films... they are (subject to change):

1. HARVEY

2. MY SASSY GIRL

3. Shimotsuma Monogatari

4. The Matrix (trilogy)

5. Spirited Away

6. STAR WARS (trilogy)

7. Life Aquatic

8. I Heart Huckabees

9. You've Got Mail

10. Lord of the Ring (trilogy)


(Runners up: Phantom of the Opera, Moulin Rouge, Face/Off, House of Flying Dagers, Kung Fu Hustle, Snatch, Meet Joe Black, Georgeous, The Fifth Element, Indiana Jones (trilogy), Braveheart)

Other foreign films worth checking out include:
Hero, Spirited Away, Kung Fu Hustle, Iron Monkey, Ringu (The Ring), Infernal Affair, Bayside Shakedown (I/II), Trick, Battle Royale, Onmiyoji (I/II), The Returner, Run Lola Run, House of Flying Dagers, Monsoon Wedding.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Central Park N.Y.C


I've walked by this so many times. Each time I visit New York city I inadvertantly pass by here, perhaps it's a subconscious dilema. My friend Michelle insists on always giving the Mad Hatter a hug as we go by. I think she believes if she hugs him enough he will become less mad somehow. However, the moral of the story is: Don't put all of your eggs into one basket.

SUBLIME Ramblings (Engl 300)

According to "A Handbook to Litterature" Harmon/Holman (p. 501), the definition of Sublime is:

Sublime = Characterized by nobility and grandeur, impressive, exalted, raised about ordinary human qualitites---these were asserted to be the essential qualitites of great art in the treatise On the Sublime by Longinus (A.D. 50). Longinus regarded the sublime as a thing of spirit, a spark leaping from writer to reader, rather than a product of technique. He lists five sources of the sublime, the first two of which---great thoughts and noble feelings---are gifts of nature, and the last three of which----lofty figures of speech, diction, and arrangement----are products of art.

The Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary (Delux Edition 2001) defines Subline as:

Sublime: 1. elevated or lofty in thought, language, etc.
2. ipressing the mind with a sense of grandeur or power; inspiring awe, veneration, etc.
3. supreme or outstanding
4. complete; absolute; utter
--the greatest or supreme degree.

Another definition brought up in class discusion ---Ecstasy.

Also, according to the Webster's Encyclopedic Dictionary...

Ecstasy 1. rapturious delight.
2. an overpowering emotion or exaltation; a state of sudden, intense, feeling.
3. the frenzy of poetic inspiration.
4. mental transport or rapture from the contemplation of divine things.

Bliss and Delight are all effects from the sublime exstacy of an experience that causes us to become overpowered by the feelings and effect of such an experience, that we are temporarily altered to a higher (different) state of mind/being. Quite easily, you could say that if you experience such a thing or event, that you are out of your mind.

Am I Dreaming?



NEO: You ever have the feeling that you're not sure if you're awake or still dreaming?

CHOI: All the time. It's called mescaline and it is the only way to fly.


I believe there are two types of people in regards to sublime. There are those who seek the sublime for enlightenment, and then there are those who seek the sublime for the sheer feeling of ecstasy, albeit an artificial euphoric feeling. You have the "real" and then you have the "unreal". True enlightenment comes when you go beyond the sublime and manage to maintain yourself on that transcended level, whereas there are others who fool themselves by taking drugs or what may so that they can simply have the sensation for a little while, when truly, their minds have not fully awaken, but have an organic craving for the sensation of the sublime.

The above quote from the movie the "Matrix" made me think of that.

I suppose then, the trick is becoming comfortable with the realization and distinction between the two realms of the real and nonreal. Just like Neo, how can you tell when you are dreaming? How do you know if you are in the real world, or if you took the blue pill, and are indeed just living according to the illusion? Enlightenment I suppose is one way in breaking from the phobia of not knowing, and this gives you eyes and the sight to see the truth. Salvation would be then to conquer both realms so that you can exist simultaneously in all realms/realities/unrealities, and be free in mind and spirit. Thus becoming vast and containing multitudes, just like Professor Sexson. Also, it probably means you are dead, and either are in Heaven or Elysium.

Top 100 Books Lists According to THEY

Top 100 Greatest Book Lists

Larry McCaffery
http://www.literarycritic.com/mccaffery.html

The Franklin Library
http://www.literarycritic.com/franklinlibrary.htm

Harold Bloom “The Western Canon”
http://www.literarycritic.com/bloom.htm

New York Public Library
http://www.literarycritic.com/nypl.htm

Random House

Non-fiction
http://www.randomhouse.com/modernlibrary/100bestnonfiction.html

Fiction
http://www.randomhouse.com/modernlibrary/100rivallist.html

Planet Cartoonist
http://www.planetcartoonist.com/editorial/state_harvey_top100.shtml

Erica Jong
http://www.ericajong.com/nation9812.htm

Musical Canon
http://wcpe.org/top100.shtml

Guardian Limited
http://books.guardian.co.uk/news/articles/0,6109,711520,00.html

100 Best books for Children at TeachersFirst.com
http://www.teachersfirst.com/100books.htm

Collegeboard.com
http://www.collegeboard.com/article/0,3868,2-8-0-23628,00.html

Top Books for Children
http://www.sde.state.id.us/DinnerandaBook/teacherlist.html

And last but not the least...

The BIG Bookmark
http://www.montana.edu/top100books/


Monday, September 20, 2004

Painfully Grussome (Eng. 300)

Dr. Sexson offered the question, "What have you seen in art that is painful, gruesome, and disturbing to see/behold, yet you can't take your eyes off it?"

The answer is simple: Monica Bellucci.

Monica Bellucci



Now that I have your curiosity, as you all are puzzled as to why I chose this Italian actress, someone so beautiful to the eyes, and also considered one of the finest models ever to grace a magazine cover... and you wonder why she is so painful for me? What goes on in this woven mind is a mystery, but I will divulge.

I first saw Monica Bellucci in the award winning film "Malena". It was a charming film about this Italian woman who was so beautiful that the entire town became obsessed with her. Through the eyes of a teenage boy coming to terms with his pubescent fantasies of Malena (Bellucci), a fully bloomed and busting woman, having sex with him. As he follows her around town, through the child’s eyes we see the good and dark sides of this small Italian community, but when Malena is accused of being a whore, the village women gang up, surround, and mutilate Malena. The jealous women filled with the rage of gossip -stone, beat, scalp, cut the breast off, gorge the face of, and break Malena's body until she is a crippled pile of rotting flesh. Seen as a hideous beast, the mayor gives Malena a one way train ticket out of town, to rid his community of this horendous disgrace. The sad thing is, Malena was innocent and but unrivalled beauty was her only sin.

That was the good film of Monica Bellucci's, at least the one I could stomach. Even as it showed the mutilation in horrific detail, I was still drawn to witness the act, because I couldn't take my eyes off of her beauty, and be saddened by the loss of it. The next time I would see Bellucci would be as the character PERSEPHONE in the "Matrix Reloaded". She was dark and powerful, and I longed to see more of her, in a way you could say I was 'drawn to the dark side'. So I went out and rented the entire Monica Bellucci Collection, and I will forever regret it.

Within the collection was the most cruel and gruesome film I have ever seen. It was such a horrible film that I vomited twice after seeing it. It made me so sick to my stomach that I felt ill, and the feeling lingered the next day as images from the film would randomly flash through my mind. Purging the movie "Irreversible" from my mind was not easy task. However, I watched it through and through because I wanted to know the outcome of Monica Bellucci's character. She was violently raped in this movie, and the rest of the film made "Malena" look like a walk in the park.

Sure, she has other films just as bizarre, if not more so. In the French film "Brotherhood of the Wolf" she plays a mystical whore, and has more sinful sex. Returning to the Italian film "Ultimo capodanno, L' (1998) .... Giulia" ... aka Humanity's Last New Year's Eve, well... I really don't know what it was about but Monica Bellucci gets naked. Yet again, and yet again I am entranced. Even though I occasionally feel guilty, there is part of me that just can't turn my eyes away. Perhaps I will someday be vexed for my sinful stares, but if only I could be but a tree. Goddesses are cruel that way.

Recently she made a movie called "Tears of the Sun", co-starring Bruce Willis, or is it the other way around? Anyway, the subject matter was so heart-breaking, that you can't help but feel helplessly lost at the end of the movie.

And if Monica Bellucci's trade mark of "baring it all" on screen wasn't enough, the best casting choice I have ever witnessed was by Director Mel Gibson, when he cast her as the whore, Mary Magdalene in his movie "The Passion of Christ".

It seems no matter how hard I try, Monica Bellucci draws me into her dark artwork as an actress, and her beauty as a woman. And the woman seriously terrifies me, but I can't stop looking at her.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Citical Theory (ENG 300) I'm a Cry Baby Question

Dr. Sexson asked us, "What is the text, piece of work, that tugged at your heart strings and made you weep?"

Well, before you all indulge with delight at my more sensitive sensabilities, and mock me like a crazy horde of cry-baby haters, I thought I should share something with you all.

Dr. Sexson made me do it! It's all his fault!

Now that that is out of the way, I feel more enthused to tell you all about my sniffling coughles, and my blinkedy tears. So what exactly is that most wonderous work that was able to bring me to overwhelming emotions of sadness?



JEWEL
Once again, her music haunts my soul. Perhaps it's her soulful voice and mezmorizing melodies, but nothing really matters... her music shakes me, and touches even uplifts my spirit. I guess you could call it a soul tickle, but the beauty of this artificer criples my senses, retarding my reality, and reinventing my notion of what truth and beauty is. Specifically her songs Hands, Absence of Fear, Deep Water, Break Me, Cleveland, Innocence Maintained, and Face of Love are the songs which can get me to drop a tear. Plop plop a rainy mess of manhood I am!

Just your friendly reminder: It's all Dr. Sexson's fault! He made me do it.

As for litterature, what book of words conglomerated into a sadness for me? One text in which brought your's truly to tears would be "Great Expectations", by Charles Dickens. I don't really recall why It sadened me so much. Maybe is was because I related to Pip at the time, a lonely fellow trying to be better than what he came from and kinder too, but all the world seems to go against him and tries to corrupt him. Even Estella was a sad character. She was the percisioned instrument in breaking hearts, and no matter how this innocent boy tried to show his love, she would warp and twist it into sorrow, like an automatic machine. In the end, I knew that they did love each other, but it was a bitter-sweat love, and niether of them could live with the after taste. Really, it was a tragic tale and I couldn't help but pitty these characters.

When it comes to movies, there is one film that touches me beyond all others. I think I may have watched it a sum of 12 times, and considering it is over 3 hours long, that's a lot of wasted hours. But it really puts in perspective the romantism of life, and the importance of simply living, and having had the experience. It always seems to fill me with a curiosity and respect for living and reminds me to take the time and notice the world around me, and learn to love people better. It is the film Meet Joe Black. It takes you on a journey, and follows one man's story, and it ends with a triumphant explosion of emotion and fireworks. Suprisingly the film is about death, but it reminds you of the beauty of life and it leaves you with an impression so powerful, that you gulp back your emotions, not knowing quite why the movie touched you so deeply. But regardless, the emotions overcame me, and I cried... like a big sissy. Yeah, chick flick... boy, what am I... a wuss? Anyway, my roomate says that the video game Final Fantasy VII made him cry. In case you were all curious about that, but probably not. Just thought I'd share.

Braveheart was another film that made me cry. Perseverance in the face of tyranny, someone who stood up for what's right, against all odds. His lasting message... it was a story worth shedding at least one tear for. And don't think me a loser with no life when you find out that I've watched Braveheart entirely through a total of 27 times. Speaking of wasted hours, did I mention I am an avid movie buff and have no life? Anyway, I wore out my initial VHS tape so that the 2 video set was ruined. The first tape snapped, and the second one was so thinly stretched that no amount of cracking could bring back the picture quality. Eventually I re-purchase Braveheart in glorious digital DVD clarity!

"Every man dies, not every man really lives."
--William Wallace

Now you know the rest of the story.

It can't be Helped, Haroun and my Proposition (ENG 304)



Recently I have given a lot of thought about the MSU top 100 book list. When I re-examine it, I really don't understand why Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White is on there. Sure, it is a nice children's story, and we all love talking pigs, but Animal Farm had talking pigs too. My all time favorite children's book, The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame has very charming talking animals too (it's number 67 on the list). Charlotte's Web has charming animals, and a spider which can write, but in my opinion it just lacks that mythic quality that makes a lasting impression on us. Maybe I've become jaded as an adult, and dulled to the wonder of talking animals and the effect it has on the child's imagination. I don't know. It's just that Charlotte's Web is kind of boring. Nothing happens in it. A lonely pig meets a witty spider, they spell a few words together, go to a county fair, and that's basically it.

The story doesn't have the power to keep you coming back for more. Once the story ends, well, you smile and put it on the shelf. I haven't picked up my copy of Charlotte's Web in years. This doesn't mean I will never read it again. I'll probably read it to my daughter, but I have no inclination to pick it up again myself. It's a good children's story, but is it worthy of the top 100? As a piece of literature it is no more sophisticated than anything which has come before or after it. Again, it's not a bad story, but it's not a great story either. It's quaint. In the sea of stories, I don't believe it can stand out when contrasted against Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie.

I understand, like most children's literature that story follows a basic archetype. You can trace back any story to a more rough and previous template, and as Dr. Sexson believes, every new form of that original template or archetype is a signature. In other word’s the signature being a newer version, or a retooled telling of the original archetype. So in a sense, there are no new stories, just old ones. We can only retell something, because just as Iff told Haroun, "Nothing comes from nothing, Thieflet; no story comes from nowhere; new stories are born from old---it is the new combinations that make them new".

In Salman Rushdie's children's book, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, the protagonist Haroun (a small child whisked away on a magical adventure) seeks a way in which to return story to his father Rashid, the greatest story teller ever known, who has lost his ability to conjure his famous stories. In Haroun and the Sea of Stories, there is exactly that... a giant sea of stories floating on an invisible moon called Kahani, which traveling at light speed. On this moon's ocean various 'story streams' mingle and mix. A conglomerate of old stories combine with other stories and form new stories, new and old combine and form other new stories. The process of story mixing is endless, and that is the magic of Kahani's ocean of stories. Salman Rushdie is obviously aware of the underlying usage of archetype and signature type stories. Even his own book Haroun and the Sea of Stories borrows from other archetypes, including the Wizard of Oz (a book most personal to the author), and Alice in Wonderland. Yet, he borrows more from The Never Ending Story than any other text.

Even the main threat in Haroun and the Sea of Stories is the same dark void that plagued Atreyu in The Never Ending Story. Also, Haroun must fly on the backs of magical creatures (as did Atreyu fly on the back of Falkor --A magical white dragon); in a race against time to prevent the world he knows from ceasing to exist. Along the way he faces obstacles, in The Never Ending Story Atreyu must overcome "the swamp of sadness", as Haroun too must overcome the "Dull Lake" and all its glumfish and mists of sadness. Eventhough this looks almost like brash plagerism, I believe that Rushdie is making a poignent point. All we truly have are architypes, and so we draw from these original stories to tell varient signature versions of the same old ones.

The villainous threat in Haroun and the Sea of Stories is known only as Khattam-Shud, which means an end, emptiness, nothing left. In The Never Ending story the villain was known only as "The Nothingness", and it ate up the world turning everything into a vast wasteland of empty dark space, filled with nothing. Both heroes must journey out across magical new lands to find answers to the greatest fear, and gain comfort in realizing that the story is within themselves, and that all they have to do is remember. Rushdie, like other's before him, recognize the importance of "story", and wishes to bring awareness to his readers of the vastness of pulling from the architype. That the potency of the story lies within ancient original or base architype, and that all too often the "new" becomes poluted with realism and trivial gossip devices that don't lend to plot or depth. Rushdie reasures us that by pulling from the architypes we will get a more fulfilling experience.

As Rushdie himself takes familiar archetypes and weaves new tales, not so unlike is 'sea of stories' on Kahani moon number two, after reading Haroun and the Sea of Stories we are left with an experience which somehow has touched and altered us.

Haroun and the Sea of Stories is a tribute to every story ever told and I believe that, unlike Charlotte's Web, there is more imagination and meaning in Haroun. It comes down to the simple matter that, if I had the choice to read my child Charlotte's Web or Haroun and the Sea of Stories, there would be no contest. I would hands down choose Haroun. In my humble opinion, Haroun and the Sea of Stories should replace Charlotte's Web on MSU's top 100 list, if not for it's homage to litterature, for its simply outstanding genius of storytelling and imagination. One that we can come back to again and again, using it as a touchstone, and feel comforted by the power and potency of the original architype by means of this dazzling signature piece.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

ONE PIECE (collected volume #33)


This is my all time favorite piece of art and litterature. All I can say is it is an epic fairy tail spanning longer than the Illiad by over 8 times. That's a lot of dead trees folks!

What happens when you take Brad Pit and team him up with the likes of Pinochio, the Legendary Zoro, A mysterious Cowgirl Shaman, A princess in disguise, a Bruce Lee wanna' be, and one of Santa's Reindeer? Then you finalize the group by puting them under the command of Reed Richards love child gone wrong, a Hero with what appears to be down syndrome...in the setting of mythical pirate times; enter the imaginative oddity called: ONE PIECE. Maybe some of you have heard of it. It is probably the most famous ANIME and MANGA among teens in Japan now adays, and its name is One Piece, the manga created by master story teller/weaver Eiichiro Oda.

This Manga done by Eiichiro Oda is Dragon Ball Z meets Alice in Wonderland meets the X-Men once upon a time, somewhere over the rain-bow, and it's anything but Kanas. What I mean to say is, it is so strangly unoriginal that it becomes entirely original; in the artistic sense. Oda borrows from every fable, fairytale, and myth imaginable. Whether it be eastern or western myth, Oda plays with the Asian concepts and readings of classical western stories and combines so much conglomerated stuff into one epic adventure that you sometimes fell overwhelmed. But just sometimes. Sure enough, the story is the same old duke it out in Street Fighter/Goku with a bad hair day/Ultimate kung-fu style, but it is told in a quirky and often offbeat way. Sometimes the humor is dark, and other times just too bizarre, and the emotions of the stories are vast, ranging from soulful Operatic feeling to punk rock in your face attitude; but I will say that it is one of the most entertaining and consecutively enjoyable Manga series I have ever read. I bought the entire 33 collected issues to date, and will continue to buy the ongoing. I also bought both feature films on DVD.

Oda Sensei's art is anything but traditional. His characters don't look anime but have a mix between Tim Burton sketches and Alice and Wonderland drawings. They're is this morbid yet wonderful energy in the art that dazzles you with the strangeness of its own design, that you can't help but fall in love with it. Originally I avoided One Piece at all costs. Just like a Pokemon plague, I was refusing to get sucked into the consumer market just because it is some popular trend. But I caved in, and now I am peniless and in love. Extremely dynamic and action packed, constantly laugh out loud funny, with odd situations, strange occurances, and even stranger characters that would give Lewis Carol a run for his originallity... enter the bizarre world of One Piece. Oda aspires to create new re-tellings of classical and traditional tales, and sometimes his Asian perspectice throws me off, but regardless, he has created something entriley new from things all borrowed, and it has struck a chord with audiences all around the world. Now if you don't mind me, I'm going to go watch One Piece anime on TV and read my One Piece manga at the same time.

Small trivia fact: The issue of One Piece shown above, sold over 4 million copies in it's first week of release in Japan. That outsells every major publication in the U.S. combined, for that same month. Japanese love their comics!

Desert Island Question: Critical Theory (ENG 300)

More Questions from ENG 300.

Professor Sexson asks:

Q: What is the "Canon"?

Well, according to "A Handbook to Lieterature" eight edition (p.77), by Harmon and Holman, the Canon is: In a figurative sense, a standard of judgment; a criterion. Canon is applied to the authorized or accepted list of books belonging in the Christian Bible by virtue of having been declared to be divinely inspired.

Canon is also the name of a Camera!




More recently, the idea of general literary canon is interpreted as a work made by society that becomes central, and thus reducing others to trivial status outside the canon. Such as something less traditional, or at least something less traditionally accepted. Yet once the work reaches its canonical state, there is no going back, mainly due to society not accepting change. Once societies belief is bonded to the concept of the work, then change would ultimately be painful for everyone involved, thus something which is canonized may never go back to a previous state or be altered any further. The canon then becomes a reflection of the society and mind of that work.

I believe, that the canon is just a tool to catorgorize something that society deams as something with "mainstream acceptance with a bit of history". In the case of film and cinema, George Lucas' film triology STAR WARS is the golden standard in the movie world, much as the Bible is in the religious world. This doesn't mean that it won't change, or that others can't be added to the canon, but for the immediate needs and beliefs of society now, the canon is thusly determined.

This is how I understand it.

Q: What is the most important thing in the world?

My first reaction would be to say "ME, of course!". This entirely makes sense since I am the one who exists. Without the "me" or the "self" there could be no stories, nor could there be someone to listen to the stories told by "me". Without the "me", there would be no question, and no answer to this riddle. However, I know all fully well, that I am indeed NOT the most important thing in the world. The most important thing in the world would be called the "GIFT" or "Touchstone". It is the gift, perhaps of life, or perhaps of all things given unto man by God. Something greater than the "me", whether it be intelligent design or almighty beings, has given us the "GIFT" of so many things. The gift of song, the gift of life, the gift of companionship, the gift of hearing, the gift of emotions that can enjoy such splendid delight of music, and allow our spirits to soar high in the skys along with the beautiful winged ones. This is perhaps, the answer, to that question what is important.

However, if I was asked a slightly different question, "What is important to you?", then my answer would be both simple and meaningful. SAYAKA, the fulfillment of love which embodies my heart, mind, and soul. Sayaka is the most important thing in the world to me, and because she is also my greatest friend -we are able to share the "GIFT" together.

Q: Why is the poem "Keywest" so important as a text?

Because it is something more than it is. It is a work of art that reminds us of simplistic beauty, the beauty and love of creation. The creation by the artist, and the creation of the known Universe, and all of the wonders within, which fill us with awe and send us gleefully into a spiritual whirl of emotions. For the Known universe has one complete love and that is the greatest poet.

Q: If you were stranded on a desert island, a qudrillion miles away from home, what one thing would you bring with you?

If I was a learned man, my answer would be a book. Which book? The Odyssey. I chose this title of all others, because it is a story about a journey. It is also a love story, and an epic ballad that would comfort my own weary soul, and console me to deeper understanding of exactly why Posiedon has doomed me to a deserted island, alone. However, because I pride wisdom above knowledge itself (and I do believe one can exist without the other), I would definately bring bug spray.


Off Bug Spray, for killing those pesky little critters when you're stranded on a desert island.


On the other-hand, I could bring along my lovely Sayaka for company. We could share our "stories" with one another, and swat the bugs off of each other's backs. If I could have one thing on my island of solitude, Sayaka is whom I'd bring. Where as I would have eaten the book long ago, Sayaka and I would take turns fishing, so that the other may rest. Really, this is the most logical answer, albeit unpoetic. Well, in a certain since it is unpoetic, but in another -since when has love been unpoetic? Also, I despise loathsome bordom and lonliness, so Sayaka would keep me sane, at the very least. Or else, we both could go insane, wear coconuts and grass skirts, and paint our faces like wild savages then dance ourselves silly under the brilliant tropical sun. I would also do funny things with a bananna, and make a dolphin laugh. Oh what crazy fun! Hoo-hoo-haHa-heheheeeee!


Tuesday, September 07, 2004

My Fiance

My fiance, Sayaka. Isn't she beautiful?

Sunday, September 05, 2004


My Art (Markers)

Manga and Anime Terms/Definitions

I thought it would be good to give you a list of the most basic terms so you can sound intelligent when talking about Manga. I have written it in Romanji which means English type for the Japanese sounding word. Think phonetically!

Manga In Japanese this can mean comic or drawing. It is best known for its innovative panel work and dynamic style of drawing showing full movement and unique angles. Note: Manga consists of 3/4 of the total published material sold in Japan. Three million people a day read Manga in Japan, and are not shy at all to sit next to you on the train and read their favorite Manga. Oddly enough, Italy has the largest importation of Japanese Manga of any other country. The average Japanese Mangaka finishes 12 pages a week, whereas the typical American comic book artist only finishes 8 pages per week.

Mangaka (MANGA-KA)
These are artists themselves. Manga unlike most American comics are done entirely by one individual. Massume Shirow (Ghost in the Shell) has been known to use up to 80 drawing tools to finish one page!

ANIME is the Japanese term for Animation. Most Anime is animated in the Manga style of drawing, making it extremely dynamic and fun to watch.

OVA or OAV this stands for Original Video Animation. The term specifically stems from Animation released directly to video without appearing in film or television first, but now has become more generalized to define short series Anime.

Kodomo Manga Kodomo is the Japanese word for Child. Kodomo Manga means children's manga. These comics tend to be simple and comical.

Shonun Manga This manga is targeted specifically towards the male gender. If lots of blood, violence, minor nudity, and just a whole lotta' ass kicking is your thing, then Shonun Manga is for you.

Shojo Manga As you probably guessed, this is manga for the female audience. Angst filled love stories, girly looking pretty boys, and some emotional tension come oozing out of this style manga. Shojo Manga is just as popular ad Shonun manga though, so don't think because it's girly it can't sell.

Doujinshi This is where Japan differs drastically from the American way of things. Doujinshi is fan art done on the professional level and sold. This means that in Japan you could take your favorite comics property do a whole bunch of pin-up art and even stories and sell it legally. Some of these artists are better than the creators themselves, and are top notch when compared to any. Doujinshi has taken off in popularity considerably in Japan in the past 3 years.

Hentai Manga For us perverts out there, Hentai is manga with erotic or pornographic content. Censorship in Japan is very lenient and allows a lot more than any other country. Creamy Angel and Alice First are two examples of hardcore Manga with pornographic content. The art is just as good in these series as any other, but you have to weed through the sea of copy cats and wannabees just like anything else. Sex sells in Japan.

Tachyomi If you hang out in Manga stores regularly you will find that most people don't buy their manga. They just stand in the store and read it until they are finished or have had their fill of it. These consumer renegades are known as Tachyomi, and they have been known on occasion to buy stuff.

Otaku is probably the most over used and misused term. Basically Otaku has been applied to die-hard Manga/Anime fans. The ones who eat, live, and breathe Manga; however, it really is slang for you "freak". In the bluntest terms it means you are a loser and have no life, just like me.

Those are the basic terms to get you going. Here are some more for you who are interested in the world of Manga and Japanese pop-culture.

Minasan (mina-san) If you watch Sailor Moon, you will have heard this. Mina means everyone, san being the polite modifier as in Mr. or Ms. It's often used at the top of the lungs to get everyone's attention or to show support such as "All for one and one for All!"

Kawaii This means Cute! Often it is said wrong, and misinterpreted as Kowai which means scary. Yet Ka-Wa-ii (like Hawaii) is the best compliment you can give to a sexy Japanese girl... in fact I remember this one time that I...um...heh....ah never mind!

Baka This simply means "idiot". You can use it in reference to things stupid, idiotic, dumb, or retarded. It is the most common insult, but remember Japanese are about being polite, so use it as a last resort or with close friends.

Bishonen This is a pretty guy, who often has female characteristics such as a pretty face and long hair. Alan Shazar on Escaflowne is a good example of a pretty boy.

Ecchi (Aye-chi) This is another word for Hentai. Hentai is actually the Korean term for porn, Ecchi being the Japanese term. It literally translates as "naughty".

Fan Service This is more of an Anime term, but can sometimes be applied for Manga. Fan service is the same as T&A shots. Artists will often add bouncing breasts, ass shots, or close ups (typically of the female anatomy) just to have more fun animating. Fans tend to enjoy this a lot, and it has become a common place. Some of my favorite fan service is in Cowboy Bebop in an episode called "Stray Dog Strut". There is a scene where Spike goes to a pet shot, as he is leaving the villain enters and causes a ruckus. All the animals’ escaper from their cages. In the closet sized store, Giraffes, Camels, Horses, tigers, geese, dogs, among with many other animals amazingly escape the local pet store. Fan service doesn't always have to be about boobies.

Fan Sub Because I'm on Animation terms now, Fan Sub is Anime that is subtitled by fans. Often better than studio subs, sometimes not so much. The University of Puget Sound Seattle, WA has one of the most Amazing Anime clubs, and they do great fan subs. Also, Manga will have fan translations often found floating on the Internet.

Chibi Also known as HD (Hyper Deformed) Chibi are those squashed down, chubby kid-like, overly cute Anime looking characters that portray the real deal. Note: Chibi is a derogatory term equivalent to our midget. So only use it when speaking about the drawings.

Mecha or Mech Most of us all know that this is the slang for mechanical in reference to robots. Often mechs are large and in charge, and they like to kick a lot of ass. Note: Gundam Wing.

Japanimation This is a Lazy-Anglo-White-American term for Anime. Most new comers to Anime will use it, and that is excusable, but I can't tolerate veteran Anime watchers using it. Call it a Pika-Pet-Peeve if you will. I don't like the stereo-type of it; I mean Japan isn't the only place that does animation! And america-mation just sounds dumb.

Pika This is a Japanese onomatopoeia. It literally is a "sparkle" or small "flash". Often Pika is used to describe lighting or static electricity. For those of you who know Pokemon, Pikachu is one of the Pokemon and Ash's best friend. Pikachu is a small electrical mouse creature that can only communicate by saying is name in cute and various ways. Just like me.

Pokemon Is the runaway cult hit cartoon series created by Nintendo based of their equally as popular video game franchise! That was a mouth full. Anyway, Pokemon set a new standard in marketing blitzkrieg. Yet you'll find mostly only little kids interested in it, and among them one very pathetic guy. Wonder why I can't get a date? Oh, that's right... my fiance would kill me!

Well, that's about all I can think of for now. Hopefully I helped enlighten the masses about Japanese culture.

"Klaatu barada nikto"

"What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist."
---Salman Rushdie

"Now more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature...If the next centennial does not find us a great nation... it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces."
--James Abram Garfield
"A Century of Congress," Atlantic, July 1877.


"How do I know what I think until I see what I say?"
--E.M. Forester

Bender- Guys! You'll never believe what happened. First, I was God... then I met God!

Fry- We climbed a mountain and locked up some monks!
Futurama
(Episode 20: Godfellas)

Fry- It’s just like the story of the grasshopper and the octopus. All year the long the grasshopper kept burying acorns for winter. While the octopus mooched off his girlfriend and watched TV. Then the winter came, the grasshopper died. The octopus ate all of his acorns and also he got a racecar! Is any of this getting through to you?

[Praying heavenward]
Homer Simpson- I'm not normally a religious man, but if you're up there, save me Superman!

Homer's Laywer- You sir, are a moron!

Homer Simpson- I am not a Mormon! I'm from Earth!

"It's not just about putting on the red suit and getting all the super-powers. It's also about helping people!"
--Eric Mathews (As Santa in the mall) BOY MEETS WORLD

"I will set down a tale. . . it may be history, it may only be a legend, a
tradition. It may have happened, it may not have happened. But it could
have happened."
--Mark Twain

"Maturity does not mean to become a captive of conceptualization. It is the realization of what lies in our innermost selves."
--Bruce Lee

"In order to grow a salad you must first find an egg."
--Tristan Vick

"I was at church Easter Sunday, and the minister was talking about the mystery of faith, and how easy it is to doubt what you can't prove, and how none of us saw the miracle at the Lord's tomb that day, all we had to do was to believe in it hard enough, and it would be true. And that's what faith was. He said that we can't be weak, that we can't dismiss the miracle, that we have to be strong enough to make mysteries real."
--Maddie, Millennium

"Everybody was a baby once, Arthur. Oh, sure, maybe not today, or even yesterday. But once! Babies, chum: tiny, dimpled, fleshy mirrors of our us-ness, that we parents hurl into the future, like leathery footballs of hope! And you've got to get a good spiral on that baby, or evil will make an interception!"
--The TICK

"It seems as though the adversary was aware, at a very early period of my life, that I was destined to prove a disturber and an annoyer of his kingdom; else why should the powers of darkness combine against me?"
--Joseph Smith

"It's an odd thing, Mr. Ireton. Every man who wages war believes God is on his side. I'll warrant God should often wonder who is on his."
--Oliver Cromwell (Cromwell, 1970.)

"If you judge people, you have no time to love them."
--Mother Theresa

"Nothing is real if you don't believe in who you are."
--Rocky Balboa

Josie McCoy- If I could go back in time I'd take back everything I said!

Melody Valentine- If I could go back in time, I'd meet Snoopy.
From Josie and the Pussycats (2001)

Homer Simpson- You sunk my scrabble ship!

Lisa Simpson- This game makes no sense!

Homer- Tell that to the good men that just lost their lives!

"Sticking feathers up your butt does not make you a chicken."
--Tyler Durden (Fight Club)

Cry in the Dojo, and laugh on the battlefield.
--Ancient Samurai Proverb

"When they discover the center of the universe, a lot of people will be disappointed to discover they are not it."
--Bernard Bailey

"I firmly believe that I don't believe in half of what I say, and if anyone else does then I can always deny having said it."
--Tristan Vick

"When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge."
-- Albert Einstein

Miyazaki's Corner

WARNING: Includes Japanese terminology and wordplay. See my Manga definitions post to find out more on these foriegn words.

Scroll down for the reviews on my favorite Miyazaki Hayao's animated works. Otherwise, read on to find out why I am such a nerd.

I first jumped onboard the ANIME, or rather "Otaku" wagon by being introduced to Vampire Hunter D, and Akira. Later on I found out about Macross Plus, another great jumping on point, especially if you don't have the patience for longer OVA's like Lain or Neon Genesis Evangelion, which both have prominent religious themes which dive dive deep into religious theoglogy. When I was able to pick my own shows I chose to get the blues funk, and watch the uber-realism of Cowboy Bebop. A jazz space opera, that entertwines the realism of everyday living with a complex plot of human relations. Any person studying human behavior will find this cartoon errie in it's realistic portrail of people within the frame of American pop-culture. Then I caught the electronic fever, and watched avidly the Ghost In the Shell: Stand Alone complex series, half convinced at the end that my own computer was capable of gaining a soul. In any case, what was it that brought out this geeky/nerdy side of me? My love of animation and art of course! So, it would be a sin not to mention the greatest Animated films of all time.

Even though it was my older friends that introduced me to Anime, it was my first Japanese girlfriend that got me introduced to Miyazaki films. Although late in the game, I'm glad she forced me to watch the classics from her childhood, and I can assure you, it is anything but Disney. For those of you who care to culture youselves a little more, I'm going to do a short review on each studio Ghibli film I've seen, no spoilers of course, and you can email me if you want to know more. (Ghibli is the name of Hayao Miyazaki's animation studio in Tokyo.)


Tenku Shiro no Lapyuta (Castle in the Sky)
Along with Kiki, and Spirited Away, Lapyuta is one of my favorite Hayao Miyazaki films. (I can't really decide which one I love most.) People often complain about Lapyuta's animation, but we're all used to the glossy crap that passes as Anime today. This film came out in 1985, and I don't know of any Disney film from that era that can compete. It still seems fresh by today’s standards, albeit dated by animation style. However, like most Miyazaki films it is driven by a vast imagination with no end in sight, and the stories play with common themes that adults and children can recognize. The English Dub on this one sucks (in my opinion), which is sad, so I highly recommend watching the subtitled version. If you have the DVD then you get both versions of the language track! Also, the mythos itself is loosly based off of the same mythical floating island as in Gulliver’s Travels. The music in Lapyuta if by far my favorite out of all Miyazaki films, well perhaps with the exception of Spirited Away.


Mononoke Hime (Princess Mononoke)
This is my least favorite Miyazaki film. However, the animation is first rate and I love the cultural aspect of utilizing the Ainu culture (a minority of Natives in Japan similar to our Native Americans in America). The movies new age message is neat, but has been said better in other Miyazaki films. The English dub is halfway decent, so you can enjoy it either way.

Kurenai no Buta (Porco Rosso The Crimson Pig)
This is by far the funniest Miyazaki film. It's about a WWII fighting ace pilot who gets turned into a pig by a curse when he fails to rescue his buddies. It follows similar themes to the timeless fairy tale of Beauty and the Beast , but it has a much more powerful message of love and acceptance. Also Miyazaki's love of flying machines comes through more in this film than in another. This one isn't out in the U.S. yet, but Ghiblie has released a remastered two disc version in Japan, along with all of Miyazaki's other films. If you speak Japanese, or really enjoy Miyazaki films, then do what I do and import them! www.aznfilms.com is a good website to import Asain movies from. Also you can probably find pirated versions on VHS (bad quality) here in North America, but don't tell anyone I told you.

Tonari no Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro)
This was the first Miyazaki film I'd ever seen. I originally watched it in Japanese without subtitles, and was struck in awe. It's extremely kids friendly, and has the first appearance of the famous dust/coal mites. I'd say Kiki's Delivery Service is more kid friendly, and would be the best jumping on point for Family and younger viewers, but Totoro's charm keeps you coming back for more.

Majo no Takkyubin (Kiki's Delivery Service)
This is one I watch at Least once a week. There is so much charm and magic in this movie that you fall in love with the characters right away. I always forget they're not real people, but that's part of the amazing quality of Miyazaki's movies, the fantasy becomes reallity. Kiki starts her journey to womanhood, and thus, goes on a journey to find herself. Along with her black cat Jiji, Kiki embarks on a journey to a far away town. Once there, she starts to try and find work so her and Jiji can eat. Soon she meets people who help her, or don't, but everyone lending to the valuable lessons of growing up. The English dub is my favorite of all of the Miyazaki films released to date. This is also the most kid friendly of Miyazaki's films.

Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (Spirited Away)
UPDATE: Spirited Away is the WINNER of the 2003 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. Strangely enough, it won in the catagory of an American film, because Disney decided to release it in the states under their Banner. Another ploy in their attempt to take the spotlight of the Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli names. This was only the choice after the first attempt to hide the Mononoke release through the sister company of Miramax. Back in the late 80's, Disney bought the distribution rights for Ghibli films being released in the U.S. They quickly canned all of the titles, and shuffled the competion under the rug, so to speak. However, in 2000, John Lasseter of PIXAR entertainment (a personal friend of Miyazaki Hayao) convince Disney to release the most well known Ghibli films. Now with the acceptance and aproval of the American audiences, and also the Academy Awards, Disney's plot backfired. Because Spirited Away won the OSCAR, Disney is now going to release more of Miyazaki's films stateside, against the statement of one of their press junkets stating that Spirited Away would be the last.

I still don't understand how Disney went so far as to change the meaning from The Adventure of Sen and Chihiro to Spirited Away, but it was a good move on their behalf. Miyazaki's mysticism in this film may often times be misunderstood by Western audiences. Of all his movies this is the most culturally motivated and is filled with Japanese historical, cultural, and religious references that American audiences just don't get. The three rumbly tumbly heads in this film all represtnt Japan's three most famous unifiers, generals who were all beheaded by the Shogunate for their radical beliefs on how to unify Japan. Also the ghosts aren't supernatural in the supernatural sense, they represent Japanese ancestry in a more spiritual manner, as the society places high respect on ancestral worship and ceremony even today. It's called Shintoism. If you don't understand Kanji (the Chinese symbols the Japanese use in writing) then the significance of Chihiro's name being changed to Sen is also lost. However, this all aside, it is the finest made animated movie ever. Just preview it first before showing it to young kids, there are some scary moments!

Kaze no tani no Naushika (Nausicaa Valley of the Winds)
This is the Anime based of the Manga that put Miyazaki Hayao on the map and shot him to super-stardom as a comic book artist. There is a version floating around in the U.S. called Wind Warriors, but 20 minutes were cut out and the film was chopped up worse than Escaflowne on FOX Network. (If you're familiar with Escaflowne, also an amazing fantasy OVA, the DVD release is in its entirety and has the best English translation and voice acting. Cowboy Bebop would be next for dub quality.) Nausicaa gets the new age message across really well, and at the same time manages to tell a unique story about insects, a princess, and the future.

Heisei Tanuki gassen Pompoko (Pompoko the Raccoon War)
This is Directed by Isao Takahata who is Miyazaki's long time friend and partner. It's about Magical raccoons (Tanuki) fighting the urbanization of rural Japan. The best environmental message I've ever seen in a film. It's just as charming as any other studio Ghibli film, and is produced by Miyazaki, but the enviromental isn't overbearing the fun plot of these mistiveous racoons, fighting to save their forest. Sadly, however, this film has many cultural things that may not allow an American release. Moreover, the utilization of the Racoon scrotum attack may all but be banned from our more sensative viewing needs. At the very least I hope Disney will release this movie unedited with a PG-13 rating.

Hotaru no Haka (Grave of the Fireflies)
This is another Isao Takahata film. Roger Ebert considers it among the top 5 war films of all time. It's partly autobiographic, as it shows the aftermath of WW2 war torn Japan. Such instances of the fire bombings of Tokyo, and the impoverished state of the countryside come through brilliantly in this animation. It is probably the most historically accurate and sad movie you'll see. Be sure to have a box of tissues with you. Also, there is an interview on the remastered DVD (you can get in the U.S.) with Isao Takahata that is wonderful as he recalls his most heart wrenching experiences in the aftermath of the war. That interview had me balling. But I'm a big sissy anyway.

These titles only cover the first half of his work. I was lucky enough to see many of his other feature films while I was in Japan. You can find and buy any of Miyazaki Hayo's films on Region 2 DVD. Just make sure you have a Region FREE (Universal) DVD player before you import.

For more on the complete works of Hayao Miyazaki, check out the Internet Movie Database at:
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0594503/

Look for his next big blockbuster this Christmas in Japan:
Hauru no ugoku shiro (The Walking Castle)

Thursday, September 02, 2004

The Answer to that which Hamlet seeks

"To be, or not to be? That is the question"

Shakespeare's Hamlet, deep philosophizer of life asked this. I have his answer.

After I met my fiance Sayaka, and we had fallen truly, madly, deeply in love... she altered my life forever with just a simple four words. In a romantic embrace she held me tight, and whispered in my ear, "Thank you for being".

It was the most overwhealming experience of love I have ever beheld or recieved. I couldn't have expected the profoundness of what she had just said to touch me so deeply, and knowing that she is Japanese and not classically trained in Shakespear or western litterature of any type, I thought it trully amazing what she uttered. She not only said the most beautiful words I have ever heard, but she answered Hamlet's question to his own personal dilemma. And she did it in a lot less words.

We live for each other, and it is she who completes me. As if we were split down the back, or from the rib, we belong as one. Thank you for "being" then was the answer to the to be or not to be ponderance. I am here for her, and it gives my "being" that much more meaning.

Thank you Sayaka, thank you for such loving words from your tender lips, and thank you for loving me so fully. I will always treasure you for "being" too.

Critical Theory (English 300)

Let's get down to the answers. In response to the questions and topics from Critical Theory. (English 300), taught by Dr. Sexson.

Q: What was your "blanky" text? The text that gives you most comfort.

Well, originally it would be the "Goldbug" of the golden book series and anything else that Richard Scarry wrote. Since I grew up to become an English lit. major and an artist, I would say that Richard Scarry's picture books really shaped the way my mind visualized. Along with his books I read "The Berenstain Bears" books by Stan and Jan Berenstain, and of course one of my favorite authors, Dr. Seuss. I still haven't been able to purge "One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish" from my memory banks, nor countless others. Now a days I think that the books: "Lorax", "The Sneetches and Other Stories", "Oh the Places You'll Go!", and "The Cat in the Hat" are all vital for young children.

Later on I started playing LEGOS, and ultimately would get comforted by the fact that I could create my own arts, spaceships, underwater vehicles, and my own worlds. It was comforting, having the power to create, and being the creator. Even if, sometimes, the LEGO people's little yellow clamp hands, or bulb heads didn't fit right. Still fun stuff! Now adays you have Harry Potter and Spiderman LEGOS. And secretly, I sometimes buy a package of STAR WARS LEGOS, but don't tell anyone.

Q: What was the first work you encountered that changed your perception and the way that you look at the world?

As a matter of fact there are many works that have changed the way I think or view things, but looking back, I can't single out any most important piece of work. Rather, it was a combination of many different pieces of work over a span of time that has affected me. Of these things, the ones that I place most value on are:


Jewel

JEWEL
The Songs and poetic lyrics sung by JEWEL. Her music always fills me with a sense of spiritual faith and conviction that I oddly don't get from listening to Christian music. Jewel knows how to use the imagery of song, and she understands the power of word. This intelligence paired with her talent to utilize and control different forms of sound allow her to jump through musical genres. This playfulness is reflected in her songs, and I get a sense that this artist isn't restricted by her medium, but is free. The power and control over her voice lends her the ability to sing convincingly to my spirit and reaches me on a much deeper level. Whether it is country, pop, spiritual, or opera, she has sung it all. And to think that she is a classically trained yodeler. Jewel's music reminded me of how important my faith is, and turned me back towards God. This ultimately changed my life, and made my faith even greater than it already was.

"We are God's hands, we are God's eyes, we are reflections of God. We are Reflections of HIM." From the song titled HANDS, by JEWEL.

Harvey

HARVEY
Then there is the movie that has influenced me. It so happens to be my all time favorite film and it also happens to be an Academy Award winning film, and a Pulitzer Prize winning play. It's "HARVEY" by Mary Chase. The 1950's movie is what strongly changed my perspective of the world, rather than the play. Even thought the play is good, the movie was the perfection of the story of HARVEY. Even the original stage actors reprised their rolls in the film. James Stewart, notably one of America's greatest actors, plays Elwood P. Dowd. A wealthy man plagued by somewhat of a Cassandra complex, as nobody believes him when he introduces them to his invisible 8ft tall talking rabbit named Harvey. In fact, Elwood who is consider part of high society begins to become shunned, but the humor isn't in the mischievous antics of the imaginary bunny, but rather in the reaction to Elwood and Harvey by the unique cast of characters. Most notably that of Elwood's sister Vita Louise, who is downright distraught by the fact that her brother may possibly be insane.

This movie made me overwhelmed with a sense of pleasantness and warm hearted fun. I started emulating the persona of Elwood P. Dowd in high school, when I finally gave up trying to fit in and find a click, I decided that I would just become as pleasant as Elwood P. Dowd, and accept everyone for who they are, and then introduce them to my imaginairy pet dragon. Just kidding, about the dragon part that is. This movie really made me realize that even eccentric people could gain acceptance, and everyone could fit in as long as you opened your hearts to them.

"I'd just helped Ed Hickey into a taxi. Ed had been mixing his drinks, and I felt he needed conveying. I started to walk down the street when I heard a voice saying: 'Good evening, Mr. Dowd'. I turned, and there was this big white rabbit leaning against a lamp-post. Well, I thought nothing of that! Because when you've lived in a town as long as I've lived in this one, you get used to the fact that everybody knows your name. "
---Elwood P. Dowd (James Stewart)

And finally, but not lastly. You heard me -is the HOLY BIBLE. It has shaped my mind from the day I was born. In fact, biblical traditions and concepts are so interwoven in our culture, that I wasn't fully aware of how much so until I went abroad and lived in Japan for a year. Gaining another cultures perspective, and looking back at my own opened my eyes to a lot of things. It was a reflection that allowed me to see the worl differently. So in essence, it was the JOURNEY that also changed the way I looked at life. Even though it is not a text, it was my own personal Odyssey. Also, I met my fiance in Japan. So my life has really been that of a fairy tail really. The prince ventures off across the sea, to an unkown land. Where I fall in love with a native princess (a type of forbiden love), but overcome all odds and live happily ever after. However, the end is really just the beginning. The moral of the story is that the journey doesn't ever truly end.

Children's and Young Adult Lit.

Let's get down to the answers. In response to the questions and topics from Children's Lit. (English 304), taught by Dr. Sexson.

Q: What is your favorite Children's story? The one which you begged your parents to read again and again.

Well, whether or not I begged my mom is an entirely different matter, but I do remember her reading to my younger brother and me often. Of the texts that somehow linger in my mind, and have stayed alive all these years, the first of the stories that shaped and molded the mind I am today, would be the fantastic stories of "The Chronicles of Narnia", by C.S. Lewis, and also "A Wrinkle in Time", by Madeline L'Engle.

This probably explains why I love Star Trek so much. Well, science fiction in general is a love of mine. After I read "War of the Worlds" by H.G. Wells, I was taken back to that time when I was sitting next to my brother on my moms bed, and we were listening to the Wrinkle in Time stories. I can recall an erie feeling, that something apocalyptic was about to happen. Needless to say, my mom tucked me in tight, and too afraid to sleep I held my eyes wide open staring at the popcorn textured ceiling forming pictures with my imagination, at least until I past out with exhaustion or until my imagination lead me into slumbering silent dreams. I had many nightmares those several weeks that my mom read us those texts, but it was worth it. ...I think.

The Seed

Childhood sometimes seems like a magical time. A time when we were free and only limited by the vastness of an overactive imagination. A time of youthfulness, vigor, fearlessness, exploration, and a time when the brain would be in overdrive creating fabled worlds with Aliens on mars and you could bring along your pet stuffed tigers too.

But how did I "live" these exciting daily adventures of my youth? Well, My G.I. Joes didn't fight Godzilla next to He-Man (who also happens to be the Master of the Universe) for no reason. NO, like any other explanation for the action, there was a cause. Cause and effect, see? Yes, the seed was planted by a greater force and presence than the one I already knew. While I was pre-occupied with those intergalactic robots called Transformers, conquering the greatest of sand castles that my child-like hands could sculpt from the depth of my imagination, I was fully unaware that something had taken place, that there was a growth in my mind. It was that which came from mother, the seed she planted, the story. From that initial spark from a greater imagination than mine, mom read me stories before bed each night, and with this fuel I was able to go beyond the outer limits of reality and back again. From that initial spark, an overwhelming flame of curiosity consumed my imagination, and I was left to create the answers that brought sense to the Universe. At least the best a five year old could do, when explaining the reasons of the Universe to himself. The G.I. Joes stormed the sandy walls of my backyard empire, and confronted the evil Skelator, only to be outnumbered and undermanned. But not to fear, those gallant robot vehicles that could become humanlike, the Transformers, came from the heavens down to Earth and liberated man...and the little plastic men rejoiced. Yet the celebration of great victory was cut short, by non-other-than the greatest threat of all. The radioactive, eighteen story tall monster lizard with radioactive breath, known as Godzilla. This thunder dragon breathed chaos into the recently brought harmony. Darn that Godzilla!

It may have been only that of a child's overactive imagination, yet for this child, that war really did happen, it was a reality. In those twenty minutes, wondrous things occurred, I lived within the moment and was part of the story, but it didn't end there. Well, actually it did, because I had to go inside for lunch. However, what was unbeknownst to me was the fact that my own mother constantly formed and fed my imagination every night before bedtime. And then in my dreams my stories would become reality. And so powerful was this influence, it has stayed with me to this day. Probably another reason for my becoming English major. So someday when my mom scolds me for not getting a real job, I can remind her, it’s your fault for reading to me! Thanks mom.

And now years later, my professor asks me to return to that mind of a child.