Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Validation is Essential

I just administered the final for my class.

Here is the list of important things I taught my bright-eyed, college freshman:

  • Who Bob Dylan is, and that he sings a song called "Blowin in the Wind."
  • How to mime someone playing the accordion
  • That there is a movie called The King's Speech, and it is a good movie.
  • The style of punctuation in Cormac McCarthy's The Road
  • Donald Draper is beautiful 
  • How to tell an effective ghost story using rhetorical tools
  • Tweeting a thesis statement
  • I cannot spell to save my life. It's so hard having to have a blackboard without spell check
  • Branagh's Henry V's speech should give you goosebumps
  • Much depends on a red wheelbarrow
  • I hate emoticons
  • The OED website is the greatest thing ever
  • Alanis Morissette killed irony

I think my list encapsulates the most essential things any person could learn, but my class mentioned some other things that were not on the list. Here is a smattering of the less-essential things that my students say that they learned:

"I feel that through meetings with you, and the Writing Center, I was able to find a way to include my own voice in an acceptable manner into my formal papers....I liked when we learned about Cormac McCarthy and how he knows the conventional way of writing, but even so, does his own thing. I would like to mirror something like that."

"Once I understood ethos, pathos, and logos, I began to look for each of these in any piece of literature. It was as if I had a strange obsession to ensure they were all there."

"The rhetorical triangle concept has also refined my ability to 'read' and analyze claims in the world around me"

"I learned how to formulate an effective and succinct thesis statement."

"I always thought that because this person was published, then the author is completely credible and they don't have any fallacies in their writing; however, after being in this class for a whole semester, my perspective on what authors write has changed. Writers are merely people who are trying to convince others....I now understand that no matter who is making the argument, I always have to read critically and decide whether the author is credible or not for myself."

"I found that...the words that we use in our writing do not necessarily have to be the largest of with the most syllables. The way that I use my words all depends on the audience."

"This has been one of the most enlightening classes I have ever taken. I found that people are tied in with everyone else, and that if proper tools are used, then there is not telling what good, or evil, can surpass after persuading an audience. I certainly am no Mark Antony, or Teddy Roosevelt but I know what they did to make them who they are."

"I would simply write what I felt my strongest points are, and would often completely neglect pathos, which is something that I am now able to see as a big mistake."

"I still love to write poems and other types of fun literature. I think that this class has actually increased how well that I can write these stories now."

"In this class I have learned that rhetoric is a wonderful ally."

"I learned how to do find proper sources and how to read and analyze information." 

After all of the long hours of grading, planning lessons, student emails, conferencing and teaching lessons, I feel that it was worth it.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Curate 1K

 Last weekend I went with a friend to her uncle's house. Her uncle is an artist that has traveled the world and taught art at universities in the US and Germany. The whole house was covered in paintings. You took a tour of the house like it was a gallery. The design of the house didn't really matter; the paintings are what mattered. I love that. I want my house to be like that. Unfortunately, my roommate and I only own one print and we have to frame it. The past semester I have been looking at artwork to put on my walls. While IKEA is great, technology makes it so easy to find affordable, original art. For example, here is a website that I was looking at today: Curate 1K. Here are some of my favorite pieces; it was difficult to narrow it down.

While we were at this artist's house, he gave me a canvas, paint, paint brushes, and told me to paint. The last time I painted it was with craoyla. I don't think I have even painted with legitimate tools. Can I just say how difficult painting is? I never thought I could appreciate art anymore than I already do, but give someone a paint brush and they discover a new depth of appreciation for art. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Almost Famous

So a few days ago, a friend of mine emails me a link to her blog:

(Yes, click on the link).

To my surprise, I found excerpts of our personal email conversations from this past week. It's finals week, so these emails were written quickly with minimal wit, too many or not enough capitalizations, poor word choice and grammar. But that's how most people--yes, even English graduate students and university instructors--write emails to friends. Apparently I need to be more careful about my emails; you never know who will post them on their blog. While I'm embarrassed about revealing my terrible email habits (thank goodness there were no incriminating emoticons), I am flattered about the content. In fact, I am so flattered that I decided to unmask anonymous H---. Yes, blogging world, H--- is me.

Now that I have proclaimed myself, I would like to return the favor (i.e. the flattering bit, not the sharing of personal emails).

My friends E--- and R--- always talked about becoming friends with T---. R--- secretly read T's blog for after she edited T---'s paper for publication two years ago. It makes sense, T--- is smart, down to earth, funny and adorable. We always talked about becoming friends with her, but we were sure that could not compete with all the fellow graduate students that felt the same way. I kid you not, there is always a group of people around her. This may be too much of a blog love fest for you, but I feel very comfortable. I blame this public display of blogger affection on reading too much  Samuel Johnson and James Boswell; greatest bro-mance in 18th century literature. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Giving my Right Arm for Richard II...

I would give my right arm to see the Donmar Warehouse's production--opening today--of Richard II. Okay, I would give me left arm; I'm too dependent on my right arm. Here are my reasons for exchanging a life of one armedness for a night at the theatre.

Reason 1: Donmar Warehouse productions are brilliant. 

Reason 2: Eddie Redmayne is playing Richard II. 

Reason 3: It's Shakespeare. And we all know how I feel about the bard.

Reason 4: Eddie Redmayne.

Reason 5: I saw Red in Chicago a month ago, and all I could think about was seeing the original cast that performed it at the Donmar (i.e. Eddie Redmayne & Alfred Molina). Simply a brilliant play. 

Reason 6: It's provocatively kairotic. 

Reason 7: Eddie Redmayne.

So if you were shopping for the perfect Christmas present to give me, all I want for Christmas is a flight to London and a ticket to see this. 

Did I mention Eddie Redmayne is in it? 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Chicago in October

I always knew that if Chicago and I ever met, we would hit it off. It's a more intimate New York City, and I prefer smaller crowds. I was not disappointed when we finally became acquainted. Reasons why Chicago and I are meant to be:

1. Art--Between the architecture of the buildings and the painting at the Art Institute of Chicago, this city drips with art. We spent a rainy early morning and afternoon visiting their wonderful Impressionist collection and the newly renovated Modernism wing. Highlights included: Hopper's Nighthawk, simply gorgeous in-person, and American Gothic. They also had this facinating special exhibit on Soviet War Posters.

I'm the one with the blue umbrella

2. Harp--My harp instructor recommended that I visit the Lyon and Healy factory in the industrial area of Chicago. We took a the L into a non-touristy area to see how harps are made. By the end I was convinced that their harps are a steal because of the craftsmanship. Yes, they are worth even more than the current price tag--the equivalent to buying a small, new car.

3. Architecture--We took the cliche, touristy boat tour that highlights the architecture of the city. I fell in love. I'm going to admit that I'm not as well versed in architecture--blast those humanities classes for overlooking this amazing art form.

In front of the Wrigley Building

Mama in Chicago


4. Frank Lloyd Wright--We visited the Robbie House while day-tripping to the University of Chicago.  I  have this fascination with space (not the aliens and the moon kind of space), so when the tour guide explained Wright's theories of space I was having a academic orgy. New life goal: write a paper that intergrates Wright's concepts of space to literature.

5. University of Chicago--When people ask me about my dream PhD program, I tell them the University of Chicago. It's one of the top three programs in the country, and it is just gorgeous. We ventured out to my dream university, where I sat on a bench in the quad. My chances of getting into the University of Chicago are slim to none, so at least I can say I got to sit on their benches. Right? It's a lot more dignified then saying I used their bathroom.

6. Theatre--Chicago produces excellent theatre. We attended a play that I have been dying to see: Red. It is a two man play: Rothko and his assistant. Rothko, working on the Seagram Murals, espouses his philosophy of art to his assistant. I felt a certain connection to the play because I saw the Seagram Murals special exhibit at the Tate Modern in London. That was when I really fell in love with Rothko's work. Is it too nerdy to reveal that I was moved to tears during that exhibit? Too is revealed now. Anyway, the play was originally staged at the Donmar Warhouse in London, another love full of memories, and it moved to New York and received a Tony for best play.

7. Oak Park--Hemingway grew up here and Wright lived here. Talk about a star-studded neighborhood. Wright designed about two dozen houses in the area, so we walked around the block to see his work.

Hemingway said "Oak Park is a neighborhood of wide lawns and narrow minds." You would, Hemingway. Well I would live in this lovely area--narrow minds included.
My parents in front of one of the Wright's houses

Wright's Studio. Notice the lovely graphic design he created for his business. Seriously, there is no end to the man's talents and his OCD attention to detail. Requiring the Robbie kids to wear clothes that went with the house decor went a little too far. I wonder if his clothing design is as brilliant as his graphic design. Hmm...note to self: must research this.

9. Latino Market and Greek Town--We went to the weekend, Latino market; we were the only people speaking English. They sold everything from laundry detergent, batteries, and perfume. It is where the Latinos do their grocery shopping and get a bite to eat. From there, we walked to Greek Town. In a Greek restaurant there were half a dozen Greek families having children's birthday parties.

10. Taxi Drivers--Okay so this sounds like an odd reason for why Chicago and I are meant to be, but hear me out. In New York, your Taxi drivers do not like to chat with you. In Chicago, everyone is so kind...especially the Taxi drivers. My favorite Taxi driver was from Palestine. Once I told him that I lived in Jerusalem for four months, we became fast friends--we talked the entire 30 minutes. I made sure my mom gave him an exorbitant tip, and I said shukran!

11. TopShop--They have a TopShop. I think this expresses the quality of Chicago's shopping.

12. Food--The food in this city is unreal. Although I never got to go to Rick Bayless's restaurant, I did get to Art Smith's Table Fifty-Two. On the menu: Pork Belly, Fried Green Tomatoes, and Mac n' Cheese. Incredible. Mouth Watering.

Chicago, I am hoping we can meet again soon. I desperately want to be better friends. Well not that I'm desperate for friends...just desperate for your friendship. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

World's Greatest Blanket

So my mother--the same mother that had my aunt hand carry u-pick dahlias on the airplane to transport a little bit of home for me in Provo--gave me the world's greatest blanket yesterday. Here is the story: last Christmas my mother gave these blankets to all the married couples and close family friends. Since I am not married and a little more than a close friend, I did not receive a blanket. Honestly, in most cases I could care less about receiving a blanket; however, once I experienced this brilliant throw I had to have it. I even contemplated stealing it off the sofa and taking it back to school with me. My mom still has to remind me every time I visit to leave the blanket.

It may seem weird that I am obsessed with this blanket. Part of the obsession stems from my general love for all blankets. I am always cold and 
I prefer to be cold with a blanket draped around my body. But even if I did not love blankets, I would want to steal this one. You make think that it is an ordinary throw, but once you try it on you are converted; no other blanket will do when it comes to keeping you warm. One side of it is cable knit--so it has a good heavy feel to it--and the other side is this faux fur, glorious fabric.

Anyway, my mother sent me this blanket the other day without even telling me. She is possibly the world's greatest mom because she sends surprise gifts like the world's greatest blanket. Now I feel ready for the Fall and Winter weather ahead; I can face anything with the world's greatest blanket.

If you are lucky, and a hygienic person, I may just let you try it out for yourself.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Doris Day & Improving Your Latin

Today someone asked me to provide a definition of a word because I'm an English major. Do I look like a dictionary? I love how people just assume that because I'm English major they should "watch their grammar" and use me as a source for an unlimited supply of definitions . Little do they know that my grammar is possibly worse than theirs. Memo: English Language majors are the grammar Nazis, not English majors. I focus on literature and rhetoric, not grammar usage. Anyways, this person asked me for a definition of a word that his Humanities teacher used in class. I was so nervous; I hoped that it was a word I knew so I could prove my worth as an English major.

That was the word.

I responded, "I think it is Latin for Honor. I don't know if your teacher is using some word that derives from the Latin, but I believe that the etymology is at least Honor."

Super impressive, right?

Do I speak Latin? Not a chance.

How do I know this impressive bit of Latin? A Doris Day movie.

Yes, a Doris Day movie.

Here is a clip from Lover Come Back, the movie where I learned Latin - go six minutes into the

I think this proves how brilliant Doris Day movies are. I mean they combine the eye candy of Rock Hudson,

outrageous hats,

beautiful 60's clothing

and they also teach you Latin so you can impress people at dinner parties.

You just got to love these two.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Downton Abbey Series 2

Downton Abbey is brilliant. It is perhaps one of the best mini-series ever produced by BBC/Masterpiece Classic. I would know, I have watched about every mini-series that they have filmed. It's not just me who is raving about Downton Abbey; the show received six primetime Emmy awards. How could they overlook such a masterpiece (notice the pun)? The cinematography is gorgeous, the clothing and sets are lovely, the acting is wonderful, the characterizations are fantastic and the time period is so intriguing....sigh.

Yesterday was the premier of Downton Abbey in the UK. Sadly, the US does not get to see it until January 8th. I have read all the blogs and magazine articles about this upcoming season because I simply cannot wait. Some of the information was not pleasing to the ears: Mary and Matthew both are engaged to other people. It should be an interesting installment with the waves of change crashing more heavily than the first season. It will be an even more precarious balancing act between tradition and Modern disenchantment brought on by the horrors of the Great War. I get chills just thinking about it.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

U-Pick Dahlias

I left home this summer before the Dahlia season began. I didn't have the opportunity this summer to follow the "U-Pick Dahlia" sign in my neighbors yard to find a pair of scissors and arranged bouquets in a tent with a small mason jar to collect the five dollars fee for a bouquet.

My aunt just visited my mom in Seattle and came directly to Utah to see her daughter; she hand carried a bouquet of Dahlias on the flight for me. This is the best gift of the summer. My mom is the best.

Dahlias are summer's brilliantly colored, final hurrah to celebrate the closing of the season.
Again, sorry about the quality of the photos. I really need a camera.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mad for Mad Men Banana Republic Collection

I love the TV show Mad Men. The reasons for my love range from deep (e.g. characterization, historical accuracy) to shallow (e.g. Don Draper is attractive). I would be lying if I did not admit that one of the main reasons I love the show is the clothing. Subsequently, I was ecstatic to learn that Banana Republic is having Janie Bryant - Mad Men costume designer - assist in designing a line for both men and women. My excitement is on par with when Gilt had a Neal Caffrey day.

As the campaign says: shop now. you'd be mad not to.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

My Summer Soundtrack: The Rip Tide

In the summer film that is Hillary Gamblin's life, the soundtrack is a lightly strummed ukulele, the hum of an accordion and intermittent bursts of a brass band.

Zach Condon, you have done it again. Brilliant. Simply brilliant.

Each Beirut album is an innovative experiment in sound. This particular album, The Rip Tide, is phenomenal because of its mature restraint in instrumentation. It is simple and has a sunny disposition. It sounds like summer, or what summer should sound like. It even indulges my lingering feelings of summer nostalgia...Once I hear that accordion and ukulele, I feel like I'm sitting in a field of sunflowers in the old country.

Picture of sunflower fields in Hungary (i.e. Old Country).

Monday, August 1, 2011

Rainier Cherries

I love fresh fruit and the stands that sell it.

This summer when I was visiting my sister in New York, we went to Trader Joe's that had Rainier Cherries. Until then I had never considered people eating these cherries outsides of Washington. I mean, they are called Rainier cherries and I grew up in the foothills of Mt. Rainier, so it seemed like a local thing to do when I was growing up. I have been eating Rainier cherries my whole life. Correction, once I convinced myself that I could manage to spit out the seed and not choke to death, then I became a cherry eater. I have a lot of summer memories of going to local fruit stands to pick up Rainier Cherries. Let me tell you, there are no better cherries than Rainier Cherries; they are the sweetest type of cherry, larger than most, and  have a creamy texture.

After my discovery in the New York Trader Joe's, I did a little research on Rainier Cherries--I know it's super nerdy. I discovered that Rainier cherries were cultivated by a professor at Washington State University in the 1950's--hence the christening "Rainier Cherry." They are considered by most people to be the best type of cherry you can buy--no surprises there. In fact, the Japanese will pay the equivalent of five dollars for a perfect Rainier cherry.  The high price are a consequence of pampering necessary to make these cherries grow.  To begin with, they are so particular about climate that they are only grown in northern California and Washington, but they grow best when in their homeland. And it's not just the Japanese and myself that find them delicious: one third of the crop are eaten by birds. Yes, birds will eat the entire cherrie and leave the pit hanging on the stem.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Manchester United vs. Seattle Sounders

On my bucket list - along with items such as seeing Michelangelo's David - is to attend a Manchester United match at Old Trafford. While I did not see them play at Old Trafford, a few days ago I saw Manchester United play the Seattle Sounders. I had given up hope in buying a ticket; people were saying that acquiring tickets to this game was harder than Superbowl tickets. Yet, a miracle occurred as my brother Tyson bought two tickets off his friend the day of the match. Little did I know that Tyson's friend has the best tickets in Qwest stadium. I was literally thirty feet away from my idols; it was surreal.

Let me set the stage for one of the best nights of my life.

The team entered for warm ups with the captain leading the way. As a side note, my little brother Andrew finally converted to the Vidic fan club. I've always loved Vidic no nonsense style of defense, but after seeing him in person I officially have a crush on him. Goodness, the man is built. It is a well known fact that footballers are the most "fit" athletes (both denotation and British connotation apply), but Vidic is an exceptional example. Seriously, if you looked up athlete in the dictionary, his picture would be right next to it. So statuesque...

Then the team warmed up. Here is a picture of them doing what seems to be ninja warm ups, because they are soccer ninjas.

Here is the team returning from warm ups: I spy Rooney.

67052 fans made a tie died mural of green (supporters of the Sounders) and red (supporters of Man United). As I stated on my facebook: see all that red and green? Christmas has come early, and Rooney is the jolly old man that brings gifts to the kiddies: a hat trick in twenty minutes. But I'm getting ahead of myself here; I don't want to ruin the narrative I have going by giving away the ending.

Then Chihuly showed up. Random right? This narrative is getting a bit postmodern. Isn't he the epitome of a brilliant artist with his grey fro and eye patch?

Manchester United went out there and scored two goals, and we were on the end that witnessed them up close. Honestly, there is nothing more beautiful than a goal - everything must align perfectly for it to occur. Here is a picture of them celebrating after a goal.

Second half Man U showed us that the Sounders that are literally and metaphorically out of their league. They scored five goals in the half; Wayne had three of those goals. Here is one of my favorite pictures, because it has Rio, Rooney, and Vidic in it.

The final score was 0 to 7, and here is the man of the hour: Wayne Rooney. He made all of his goals seems effortless. Here is the best picture we have of him. It is not the most attractive photo; as one of my favorite youtube video says, "he's no oil painting," but his work on the pitch is art.

Thus ended one of the best nights of my life. If my narrative has failed to show the brilliance of this night, watch but this, and all is mended.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Meeting Will & Kate on P.E.I

Okay, we did not meet Will and Kate on P.E.I, but we missed their royal visit by a few days. Instead, we trekked to the hotel that they were going to stay in. We were so disappointed. If we had known about their visit to the small Provence, we would have stayed a few extra days. Can you think of a more perfect way to bump into the royal darlings? I mean, they are stranded on a small island that is not too heavily populated; perfect stalking situation. I am positive that if Kate and I met, we would be best friends. 

I mean, Kate and I would surely have met because we frequent the same classy institutions on P.E.I. For example, I am sure we would have met at the Lobster Supper: a brilliant restaurant located in a former V.F.W. hall that is popular among the local geriatrics. If we had stayed a few more days, Kate would have worn the bib next to me.