Monday, June 2, 2014

Dear Blog Reader,
Over the course of the year, as you may know, part of my curriculum involving many of my classwork assignments has been for this blog. Making various blog posts, commenting on fellow classmates blogs, the works. Being completely honest, I myself haven't kept up on every post and assignment given, but I enjoyed every bit I worked on. There were a few complications involving different writing styles I wasn't really accustomed too, but it made me a better writer in the process. Of course there was always the occasional battle with writers block, but everybody has that showdown at some point in their life. You’ve just got to fight on, hog tie it into submission, and try to continue on with your work until it gets loose again. The point I'm so painfully trying to get across, is that despite some of the more tougher assignments, it's always worth it when you finally get everything posted and finished. There's nothing quite like when you finally finish something and get it posted. That great feeling of being done with something--I mean...accomplishment...Yeah.

Now normally, with an assignment like this I'd try to keep things formal, but with a lot of the nonsense and goofiness in, well, most of my posts, it wouldn't really seem to fit the theme. And come on, the last thing I want is for the most important post of this year to be the black sheep of the bunch. That'd just be unfair. In actuality, I just want this post to still be entertaining enough for people to read the whole thing. However, I am going to try and keep it all to a minimum. That being said, I'm now going to continue on with the actual purpose of this post. To regale you with tales of my findings! Translation: I'm going over my growth as a writer and my experience from this year.

Throughout the year, there have been a variety of different assignments to post on the blog. As stated above, some were more challenging than others. By working through these difficulties, and grasping a firmer understanding of the concepts of each individual post, I was able to gain a new perspective with my writing. The deal with these posts is that they all have to pertain to the subject of the blog. In other words, since my blog is about book reviews, whatever I post must be about, or relating to books, book reviews, writing, short stories, etc, etc. This can pose some issues when you don’t really have a clear idea of how to approach your subject.

As an example of something I found difficult, take the SSR assignments. SSR Stands for Self Selected Response. Basically you have to find an article or video, or something that pertains to your subject, and respond to it. Present your views and opinions what you have chosen to respond to. Now, it seems simple enough to just go find something on your subject and give a response, but considering my subject is basically writing itself, that just lets me run with a blank slate. I don’t know how easy that is for other people, but I don’t like to run with blank slates. There’s way too many options, and I’m a very indecisive person. At lunch I tend to stand in front of the fridges in stores, staring at all of the drinks, trying to narrow it down and pick something. This can go on for over ten minutes sometimes because I don’t know exactly what I want and start to over think, and go over every option. Now Imagine that kind of indecisiveness with the bottomless pit  known as the internet...I never even know where to start!

This may explain why if you look over my blog, there’s only one SSR. I could never really narrow it down enough to pick something, however, this specific SSR is my pattern recognition SSR. Meaning we had to respond to some sort of pattern involving our subjects. At first, I didn’t know what that meant. But then my teacher gave an example of something I could use. The sorting system on I barely had to think about it before realizing: Okay, I can do this. I’m familiar with it, I get what I’m supposed to do now, and I can give a detailed response. And that’s exactly what I did. I wrote a lengthy SSR, and when I was done, I felt accomplished with myself for finally completing one, and once I had actually wrote one, knew better what they were supposed to be like.

Another issue I had was with actual book reviews. Yeah, I know. Way to pick a topic, right? Well, in the beginning of the year I wasn’t thinking about that, I was just trying to come up with something I could work with, that I’d enjoy doing. So book reviews came to mind because I love reading. When the time came to do an actual book review I started having flashbacks of fourth grade, the last time I actually had to write book reviews. Every month we had to pick a book from a different genre, make some sort of art piece that has to do with the novel, and write a book review. I just remember basically writing a summary and my opinion, turning it in, and getting D’s because they weren’t actual book reviews. Though I still liked that teacher, I can’t remember if I just never actually asked how to write book reviews, or if she just didn’t explain it well enough for me to understand.

Either way, when the time came to write a book review for the blog, I was stumped. I think I ended up staring at the computer screen for half the class before just winging it and doing what I could. The next week when I had to write another my teacher commented that I needed to write a complete review...with no specific examples of what I had left out. I had a few options at that point. I could ask the teacher for help, and admit that I had chosen a topic I wasn't completely sure how to do, or do something else and try to figure it out on my own again. I did something else. I turned to the internet and searched how to write a book review. Surprisingly, it wasn't an easy search, and I had to haphazardly string together a “correct” book review with several different instructions. It still wasn't that great, and I still didn't have a firm grasp of how to write them, but it was passable.

Then I lucked out. The whole class had to write book reviews and post them. My teacher went over the basic how-to’s and showed us a few examples of good, and bad ones written by students. For once I did the smart thing to do. I took notes, grabbed and read a book from the library, compared with my notes, and wrote a decent book review. It was short and sweet, had all of the important information, gave a brief summary without spoilers, and gave my opinion. At last I have a clear view on how to write a book review.

Over the year there were other assignments I enjoyed. The humor blog was fun, I just got to goof off and find humor relating to books, and a few cheesy jokes. There were guest blogs where we got to have someone else from a different blog come write about our respective subjects. The passion blogs were difficult, yet fun to work with once the ball starts rolling. We even got to write a few creative blogs, where I quite enjoyed writing a short story, and once again came face to face with the fact that I am not a poet. (Suprise, suprise.)  Couldn’t be done. I basically had to try my best with rhyming and hope it made sense. Another problem I’ve had with this blog is keeping my posts brief. I don’t know why, but I just can’t keep them short and simple.

Having this blog also opened my eyes a little wider to computer usage. Before this I wasn't very good with making links, I learned a few tricks to make sure certain websites are credible, and I didn't even know embedding was a thing. Unfortunately due to camera issues, I haven’t been able to post any vlogs, but I still retained how to embed videos none the less. Added to the additional knowledge of writing stated throughout this post, I’d say taking this Modes of Writing class was worth while.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Passion for accuracy!

Hello~! In this post I'm am going to talk about a very important and terrible subject. Inaccurate movies. Now, anyone who reads knows that the books are always better than the movies. But it still doesn't make this any less of a crime, when a movie either sucks, or just plain doesn't follow anything in the book. What do movie writers think they mean by doing things "by the book,"? Its an outrage! Now, bad affects or bad actors I can forgive, but a completely different plot structure? Characters who look, and act nothing like how they are portrayed in their book(s)? Where will the slaughter end?!

I enjoy movies that follow the true story. Even movies based on true events. If a movie isn't historically accurate that's all I can focus on instead of the main story. It just takes away the glory of a movie, knowing that it's all a lie. The blow isn't as bad when I've already seen the movie, before reading the book, but still... It always takes away. I can even forgive, or overlook small changes, or alterations of events that never happened. But when that small change leaves out a small, yet crucial, detail, it creates holes in the story.

Imagine story holes worked like this: For every story hole, or part in the movie that said hole affects, or should affect but doesn't, part of the movie gets blurred out. You're sitting in a theater watching the premier, when all of a sudden it looks as though someone is burning holes in the projectors film roll. Every time something is affected either a new hole opens up, or an old hole gets bigger. If you haven't read the book, these holes are easy to ignore, but if you have, It's really hard to watch the movie, and it's like you've suddenly come down with a severe case of OCD. Most people out there might be thinking, "Okay only so many people can have OCD right? Just get over it," But, think about it. It's opening night. Probably 90% of the people watching that movie are crazed fans, having major OCD issues, and are internally in an uproar.

Doesn't sound very good does it? There are two types of fans out there. Fans who become angry when a movie misrepresents a great book, and crazy fan girls who only became fans of the books after watching the movies. Some are people, and some you can't really talk to. You don't really want to tick off either, so can't we just fix both problems by keeping the movies accurate, with out getting an overdose on, "Hollywood Magic,"? Guys...Let's stop the murder of good stories.

~Let the Mayhem Begin

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

SSR: Pattern recognition on Amazon (Not thee Amazon)

We've all seen on Amazon, after clicking an item, near the bottom of the page are suggestions for something else Amazon thinks you may be interested in purchasing. The little recommendation area generally consists of other things people have bought in relation to the item you're looking at. An example might be if you were looking at a table, what would probably appear in the recommendations are matching chairs. Not just because they were made to go along with that table, but because that's what most people who bought the table also bought with it. Hence this magical little recommendation area being named the "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought" Section.

Now stop, because if right now you're thinking: "What is this person talking about?! I've never been to the Amazon, but I'm pretty sure there's nowhere to shop around there!" Then you are currently thinking of the Amazon River, and not the online website on which people shop. I realize this little bit was probably unnecessary, but it's my way of recognizing that not everyone has, does, or will use Amazon. So...yeah.

But enough of tables, and tourists, because we're really here to discuss the recommendation system for books. Aha! I got you! You probably didn't think I was going to get to that! But I did. Unfortunately for examples I'm going to have to mention mainstream books (Or current bestsellers). Believe me it's not that I want to, but I feel that I won't be able to get the point across if I choose books not everyone has read. It's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.

The main system of book recommendations on Amazon is pretty much the system mentioned above of, whatever item your looking at, it'll show you what other people who bought that book have also bought. Usually other books by that author, other books in the series if it's a part of one, similar books, similar themes, just similar in general, books of or around the same genre, and if the book is mainstream, then other mainstream books a lot of people bought. You see where I'm going? For example, the first five recommendations for The Hunger Games include: Catching fire (Twice), Mockingjay (Twice), and Divergent. If you keep scrolling through the rest of the recommendations you'll see a few other well known books, a few classics, The Hunger Games movies, and merchandise. Now do you get why I had to use a mainstream book? Odds are if I used a not well know book, a lot of people out there wouldn't be able to see the connections a lot of the recommendations had to the book of subject.

My response is that it's a pretty good system. If I'm looking at a book series I like, it either gives me a good idea of something else I might like, or give me a quick link to another book in the series. But, like most "bullet proof" systems, it's not absolute. Sometimes items recommended seem to be completely unrelated and as random as finding a shopping mall by the Amazon river. Sometimes it's only slightly related, and sometimes you don't know where it came from. While looking at The Hunger Games recommendations, one of the first five items was a stack of note books with one of the generic Amazon pictures used, though the next time I looked at the same link it wasn't there anymore. A different time I was looking at a bored game for kids and one of the first items was...well? An adult item. My first reaction was somewhere between laughing and exasperation as to why that would be there in the first place.

I don't know if those, just happened to be what most people bought along with what I was looking at, or if it's just a minor site glitch, but you get the point, not everything in the recommendations is useful, or necessarily what you're looking for. Odds are most people don't even glance at the recommendations bar, let alone look through more than the first five. I usually don't, but now you know. As with most things, it has it's up's and it's down's.

Here's a link to go to Amazon. But not thee Amazon.

~Let the mayhem begin.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Book reveiw for Howl's Moving Castle

Imagine wizards, witches, talking fires, and magic castles. That's exactly what you'll get in this novel, but probably not in the way most people would expect. The story to say the least is "enchanting" No pun intended. It's a good book to read on a sunny day, you'll find yourself wrapped up in the quest but not overly so. The actions and reactions of most throughout the book are plausible and realistic, unlike a lot of heroic books you might read today. You'll be surprised at what a homey story that takes place given the circumstances of the conflict. Personally, the end is a little anticlimactic, though given the pace of the book, it's a fitting end.

Published in 1986 Howl's Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones, is a fictional fantasy book that takes place in a strange second dimension. Follow Sophie, in her struggles to break a curse set upon her by the Wicked Witch of the Waste. Seeking help from the great wizard Howl, dealing with his antics and strange ways soon becomes more of a hindrance than the awful curse itself. I recommend this book to anyone who likes a good novel. I give Howl's Moving Castle three out of five Bookmarks.

Link for Amazon

~Let the mayhem begin.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Just a poem

Once I bought a book.
I had got it from a crook.
I took a good look...

Then the cops showed up,
Arrested when I said 'sup?
Need bail. Need Backup.

The book was stolen,
And now I can't go bowlin'
'cuz my eye's swollen

I realize this doesn't make that much sense, but I'm not a Poet. I know that. See I didn't even go for the obvious rhyme. Nope. It's just not in me. Yeah...

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Humor Blog

The assignment I've been dealt this week is a humor blog. Basically, since this blog is about book reviews I have to go over types of humor in books, crack a few jokes, and be overall silly. 'Shouldn't be too hard...I hope. Now most people have read the standard book that somewhere through the story something funny happened. Maybe, someone fell over or into something, maybe they said something wrong and it came out funny, or maybe there's just a quirky character that says and does things every other page that's outrageous. Now, if you've never read a book where anything funny ever happened, then you've either never read a book, or rarely read books. Now if that's the case then...first, what are you doing on this blog? If you're just looking for something to read that's cool I guess, but...Never mind, off topic. The point is, most people have read a book with something funny in it.
Now, if you're reading books, that don't seem to make any sense, random stunt after random stunt keeps happening, or a paragraph ends with "and then the dragon just puked everywhere. Unfortunately for every one it was all boiling magma, so the smell was awful. I told him not to eat the guy from that taco truck. Oh, well... I feel bad for the janitor that has to clean that mess up." Then your probably reading a parody. Which can be awesome depending on what you think is funny. If you like stupid random stuff that doesn't make any sense like I do, then you'll love parodies. And if you love stupid random stuff that is making fun of another book and pointing out everything that author found dumb about that book, then you'll love parodies. Several months ago before we read Hamlet, my English teacher asked us to write what we know about it, even if we didn't know really anything. And I didn't... So this was what I wrote about for roughly seven minutes:

"Well when I hear Hamlet, I think of the offspring of a ham. So, if a regular ham comes from a full grown pig, a hamlet comes from baby piglets. Example: I was at the grocery store stocking up on food and alcoholic beverages for a mighty Valhallan feast in the veterans hall, when I spotted the best  ham the store had to offer. I was about to call for a fork lift to get it in my cart when...I spotted its hamlets. It wasn't right to separate a ham from its hamlets. So we ate them all. The night was glorious."

Yeah...So that's what my imagination is like. If you think that was strange you should read my Beethoven's Moonlight sonata story, but maybe another time. Now granted, If you read stories like this, that doesn't mean they are parodies, there could be books or stories like this out there that aren't, bu the only ones I've read or heard of being sort of like this are. Of course there are also joke books, within which you'd probably find the comedy styles like this:

Q: What do you call a fake noodle? A: An Impasta 

Q: What do you call a man with no body and just a nose? A: Nobody nose. 

Q: What do you call a laughing motorcycle? A: A Yamahahaha 
But of course, I'm supposed to be doing jokes about books, not just  whats in them. So heres a few more knee slappers:

  Q. What did one book say to another?

A. I just wanted to see if we are on the same page. 

TEACHER: tell the class what book you read and what you thought about it?

PUPIL: It was the phone book. I did not understand it, it had too many characters. 

TEACHER: What book did you read?

PUPIL: It was Black Beauty.

TEACHER: What was it about?

PUPIL: About 120 pages 

And my personal favorite Book joke I found, Little Johnny goes to the library. 

Little Johnny asked and received help from a librarian on how to use the card catalog. In a little while, he approached the librarian again, wanting to know how to spell tequila.

T-e-q-u-i-l-a, spelled the librarian, and Little Johnny thanked her and went back to his search.

A short time later he came to the desk, looking quite distraught. I just can't find it. he said.

What book are you looking for? the librarian asked.

Replied Little Johnny, Tequila Mockingbird. 

Alriiiiiiiiiight! Now, hopefully at some point you thought something in this post was funny in some way. If so, then I feel accomplished. If not then...uh, lets just not get into it. Anyways, for those of you who like these forms of humor, I recommend parodies and joke books for future reading. If You dont think anything was for you, then have a good day, I guess. Some of these jokes I already knew, and some I got from a few websites, and here they are:

Sorry about the trippy color contrast, I'm not sure how to fix it.
~Let the mayhem begin.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Interdisciplinary Post

Assignment for the week is to "link" my blog subject to a different class subject I have. But the class I have this blog for is English... so the question arises. How does one link books to a subject other than English? Simple. Is story telling not an art? Are there not several forms? No two pieces are identical? Why not compare the various forms to art. Think about it. Don't paintings tell a story? And vice versa, While reading a book or listening to one, Don't they paint pictures? The answer is yes, though that opinion may just come down to who's being asked if your not a fan of either. 

Some of you may think I'm comparing apples to oranges, but I'm really not. You have to be imaginative in some way or another to either make art or publish a book. Putting that aside for now, lets compare genres. Non-fiction means something real. It wasn't made up. Generally with the term 'non-fiction' is associated with writing, but is it strictly only for writing? In the art world, it could be referred to as a still life. A depiction of something real. Stereo-typically for an example, most would think of a painting of some type. If your still not sure what one is, think of a painting of a bowl of fruit, or an existing landscape. When trying to paint one as close to real as possible your painting a still life. Something that exists, or 'is real'. 

Other genres could be fiction, fantasy, etc. These could all be linked to any type of art! Realistic fiction could be linked to a piece of art depicting something realistic, though not necessarily some thing that exists. Something straight out of someones imagination. It looks as though it could exist somewhere, but probably doesn't. Unrealistic fiction, like fantasy for an example, could be related to abstract or surreal art. Not a chance it could really happen or exist, but people like it. It sparks peoples imagination. 

Still don't believe writing and art can coexist? Well then continue reading, because they cross over with each other all the time. For those of you who are aware art and writing are linked can stop reading any time, I guess. Examples of cross overs include but are not limited to: Comics, Manga, Graphic novels, any picture book or book with pictures, and yes, any book with a cover of some kind. That's right, if a book has any type of cover or color or anything its has been artistically approved. Even if a cover has nothing but the title and authors name, someone had to direct the color scheme and placement of said title and name of author. Someone was bound to think it looked good enough to publish. The saying "don't judge a book by its cover" wasn't created for no reason. Generally if a book cover looks good, it sparks your interest enough for you to pick it up and examine it. Thank the cover. Lastly there are so many different types of are constructed from words and books and pages with words on them its stifling. There is probably an uncounted amount of different art pieces and book covers out around the world. And I'm not one to get cheese saying that, but the meaning is literal. Its literally everywhere. Google it. I dare you.

~Let the mayhem begin.