Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Blogging Literature Just Brands My News


Have I really fallen behind the times? Or have marketers and such just figured out that blogs provide a good opportunity to get attention and activity?

I vote for the former. Still. . .The amount of job ads that I see on Craigslist for writers to produce content for these things surprises me somewhat. One place has, for the last couple days, tried to pressure me into starting one after I queried for more information. . .even though they haven't seen any writing samples I've done. I just found, today, an ad on Craigslist for a a housing blog, called YoChicago, looking for writers.

In addition, the way they don't offer compensation throws me for a small loop. I, nonetheless, will look into as an opportunity. Whether I take it or not really depends on how much time and money I can afford to use, since I'm not really in the best place for those resources.

Still. . .writing on these blogs could help me build up a writing portfolio and have some writing samples. I haven't applied to at least one or two jobs simply because I don't have writing samples. Writing for other people's or organization's blogs could help me build up some good samples.

I guess, possibly, this whole blog phenomena provides a great opportunity for writers. It gives them a stage to demonstrate their ability and skills. As negative, however, blog writing really does have a different style than other styles. These people offering writers this opportunity want to get attention from people browsing the web, so the writer needs to use keywords, loads of links (just look at how much I've increased my linking recently), styles that work with the short attention span of web users and probably some other techniques that I don't know about yet.

Fascinating phenomena. Not sure if I'll participate just yet, but I will consider it.


From MassPIRG:

After two years of negotiations involving power plant owners, utilities, energy customers and environmental groups, the Northeast states announced a plan to cut global warming pollution from power plants--the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
Unfortunately, at the last minute and due to pressure from plant owners and their allies, Gov. Mitt Romney and Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey pulled the plug on Massachusetts' participation in the program. Now, eight other Northeast states are moving forward without us. Worse, the Romney administration is also trying to weaken global warming limits for the "Filthy Five" that have been in place since 2001.


From a John Kerry e-mail update:

In the next 24 hours, it is likely that the Senate will vote on my amendment which calls for the withdrawal of American combat troops from Iraq by the end of this year. For months, you and I have been pressing for this step. We've made it clear that we needed to set deadlines in Iraq -- and with the formation of an Iraqi unity government and the killing of Al-Zarqawi, this is a moment of truth in Iraq.


The shirt I chose to wear today altered my day somewhat. I had the choice of some t-shirt from a brewery or my Shellac shirt. I chose the Shellac shirt.

Wearing this shirt, I took a ride with my fiancee to an intersection near the local Best Buy because I wanted to get a Compact Fluoroscent light bulb to compare with a regular or "daylight" bulb. Silly me, thinking I could get one at Best Buy.

That's really beside the point, though, unless you consider saving the environment and cutting down on carbon in the atmosphere as punk. I guess, in a way, going with Compact Fluoroscent light bulbs might be considered work outside some system because most homes just use regular ones, and going CFL takes a good swing some established industry. Would that make Al Gore something of a punk, too?

But I digress. . .

So wearing the Shellac shirt, I make my way home from the local Best Buy when this guy in a Cubs hat (what's help with bears and Chicago, anyway?) asks, "Is that a Shellac shirt?"

I tell him that it is, and we start a conversation about Steve Albini. Maybe I should say that I went off on a small tangent about buying the Shellac shirt when the first album came out, only have the first album, this fellow's prejudice toward liking anything Steve Albini, which really can range from a lot of things, including his bands: Big Black, Rapeman and Shellac to album's he has produced, including: Nirvana's In Utero and PJ Harvey's Rid of Me along with probably many others.

I also brought up that the book, The Time Traveler's Wife (spoilers at this link, so just read the first paragraph), mentions Big Black. Hopefully, I didn't mislead this fellow into thinking the novel isn't really a book that's too out there or something. After all, someone who, at one time, listened to Big Black brings up the book. Wouldn't you think that someone who listens to crazy music would bring up a crazy book? I guess, it has its moments of freakiness. Otherwise, though, it has more of a literary dramatic romance edge to it than an adventure or something sci-fi or erotic or out there. Nonetheless, I think everyone should read it. I finished it in a day, and it got me laughing, crying, smiling and all types of important emotions.

Or you can just wait for the movie. I wonder if it will stand up to the book. After all, we have Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston for buying the movie rights to it.


On the way, I also stopped in at the World Market. The fiancee told me that they deal in Fair Trade production. I haven't done my research on that aspect of the place, but I took a walk through and saw what looked like good products, from furniture to silver ware to to dishes to paper lamps to canned goods to potato chips. Probably better than shopping at WalMart and easier to reach than Whole Foods. Will have to see what the place has to offer.


Hear more about by going to the Chicago Public Radio Worldview MP3 episode page then select the June 12, 2006 episode.


Go to MoveOn.com to sign the important petition to save public broadcasting.


Subscribe to my news wires by sending an e-mail to the following e-mail addresses:

News to The_Lex: newstothe_lex-subscribe@topica.com

Massachusetts News to The_Lex: manewstothe_lex-subscribe@topica.com

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Has anyone else noticed the spate of companies paying for broadcast stations to not broadcast commercials? The station just doesn't broadcast commecials then every once in awhile says they don't broadcast commercials, thanks to so-and-so. Snapple did it for WFNX in Boston one weekend. Acura is currently doing it with Live365. Audi has paid TNT to do the "no commercial" thing for The Closer season 2 premiere tonight.

Has this become the new thing? Will we see more of it? I like it. It means more programs and content for the viewer.

I guess it might not be a great thing on the basis of free markets and good product, though. . .or hearing good products. But then again. . .do commercials and advertising actually help make a better product? If anything, it lets us hear about new products, but do we really need all the products out there in the first place?

It starts to sound like a much bigger issue, one in which, on principle, more commercials seems to help market capitalism, even though it annoys me.


Dug a little deeper on that writing for blogs topic and received some disappointing news.

I. Won't be taking on one of the ads I saw on the Chicago Carigslist.
A. They didn't really give me a good angle or idea they wanted addressed or presented.
B. Their blogs address a certain geographic region, but it's OK if someone from outside that region writes a blog for that region. Maybe not a big deal for someone who has the time to do tons of research about a region, doesn't need to make money or have tons of other projects they need to do.

II. Most of the other postings get made by people who want to refer you to a Google Adsense (TM) setup.
A. I'll take advantage of this one to pretty much try expanding my audience.
B. Otherwise, nothing new. . ..


If you're vegan and want something cheesy-like, I say go with Follow Your Heart Cheese Alternative (TM). So far, I've tried the American and Mozzarella. Don't like the American, but the Mozzarella tastes great!


Finished Fear of Intimacy the other day.

Started Anatomy of Criticism by Northrop Frye. After buying it a couple years ago and attempting to read it, I really couldn't get into it. Starting it again, after hearing and talking about the hero in myth and Joseph Campbell and doing all types of research about literary criticism and theory, about Classicism, Romanticism and Modernism and Wayne Booth's The Rhetoric of Fiction, Frye really has given me a good way to look at literature. Oh right, there's also Wolfgang Iser's The Act of Reading: A Theory of Aesthetic Response and Prospecting: From Reader Response to Literary.

And no, this isn't, in any way, an attempt at gloating. If anything, I'm trying for some degree of dramatic effect, even though the list I made above doesn't even start to give you an impression of all the work that I've done on my project so far. . ..

The world probably knows Frye from his extension on archetypal literary theory and myths in the Joseph Campbell. I expected to run into a lot of this talk and other complicated literary criticism jargon. Instead, Anatomy of Criticism pleasantly surprises me with its straightforward and common sense language, even if it gets laced with some of the jargon. I've only gotten maybe a third or a quarter through the book, but I've gotten a lot closer to understanding certain categories of the hero through the ages, irony, the difference between plot and theme and the differences between the relation of the signifier to the whole and also to the multiple postulations of the signified. And I can't emphasize it enough, Frye does in such an easy to understand style that I feel like going eureka after every sentence.

This book has a great effect on me. I'll admit it before anyone, but everytime I've picked up a book for my bachelor's project, I think I've found the answer to my problem then, by the end, that feeling gets dashed. I hope Anatomy of Criticism doesn't do the same to me because it really has brought me to a great high. Unlike most other books, though, I feel like I can talk about the effect this one has on me. I feel as if Frye has given me the permission to do what guides for writing literary analysis papers say to do, write about what the piece of literature means to you then come up with a good argument that backs up why it means that way to you. Frye's explanation that the signifier pretty much can refer to jsut about anything outside of the literature, as long as the reader makes that connection. Frye certainly explains the matter much much better than me, but then again, that's probably why I feel as if he has given me permission to do what I need to do.

Frye also doesn't seem to put on airs or tries to prove anything beyond what he can prove. Anatomy of Criticism doesn't have any sense of pretension about it. At least, not any kind of pretense on proving something he can't prove. In the book, Frye says that he believes literary criticism will some day find a "scientific" method that doesn't depend on the taste of the current age. He doesn't try to argue for the method or even necessarily that he knows it. The book doesn't have a linear, solid argument. Instead, Frye writes four essays to explore this idea of a "scientific" method for literary criticism by bringing up matters of literature or the bits that he believes makes up meanings in literature. . .or maybe I should say how meaning can get communicated or brought out of the book.

Wolfgang Iser tries to do something similar in his books but seems to forget the signifier, itself, instead focusing on the milieu presented and the plot. Iser seems to forget about the other aspects. Frye explains the aspects then lets the reader create meaning in their own way.

In the end, I give Northrop Frye's Anatomy of Criticism a perfect score and refer it to anyone interested, at all, in reading literature. Unfortunately, you may want to read histories of literary criticism and theory and Wayne Booth's The Rhetoric of Fiction first, just to get introduced to some terms and also some good questions that Frye can answer. Otherwise, the reason for his book may not come across so urgently. But after all that reading, I think anyone will have a very good comfortability with engaging in some criticism.


After the entry yesterday about Charlie Jade, I hope a horrible, ugly picture didn't get painted. Despite the grittiness of the show, I believe it rises to literary quality. The rape scenes in the show don't come off as indecent. I don't advocate any form of rape, but (a) there is no nudity and (b) they are imperative to the story.

Maybe the first one didn't necessarily have to happen for the plot, but it did more than just help the plot move forward. In addition to providing motivation to one character, it paints an impression of another character. It develops this other character as a psychopath, and that development is vital to the character. We need to see him as a psychopath that would rape a woman then just dump her in an alternate universe that she doesn't recognize. At first, I thought this character was a badly written stereotypical psychopath, but he becomes so much more after you get to know him. . .and without the rape in the beginning along with the other passage of events, the power of that character being more wouldn't be there.

Now. . .is it important for that "being more" be powerful and have such a huge impact? I believe that it is. Unfortunately, I don't feel that I can say why until I know that more people have seen the show.

The second rape also proves vital to another character. Without going into much detail, it contributes to the making her into who she is and isn't. Unlike the other character, who becomes something more (not because he raped someone but because what him being a rapist and other developments mean), this character actually becomes something less because of the rape. She has to reclaim herself to recover from the effect of the rape. It took something away from her, so she has to take it back. . .and, doing so, she becomes more powerful and does things to make the world a better place.

So, for her, if anything, it's a form of tragic irony. She has become isolated in one way, then the rape punctuates it even more. In many ways. . .both the things that isolated her gives her identity, but it's one of drives rather than something self made.

The first season never really resolves these characters satisfactorily, though. Yet another reason why I want that second season. . ..

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