Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving 2014

The time has come to observe one of the most cherished holidays in American culture: Thanksgiving! Of course, we see much more promotion for Halloween and afterward, a massive amount of promotion for Christmas, but Thanksgiving is often passed over. Perhaps, food holidays do not usually pick up the recognition, for the chain department stores (Target, Kohl's, Walmart, etc.) are paying much more attention to Black Friday, which has inappropriately started to interfere with Thanksgiving. Nevertheless, we should pay attention to a holiday that has started to represent something much different from its original intent, but either way comes forth with the right reasoning.

Thanksgiving was originally a feast between the pilgrims and tribes regarding their agreement to leave as a united people and share the land. Unfortunately, the relationship between the colonists that came to America and the tribes that lived here thousand of years beforehand did not live up to their first Thanksgiving. What did come out of this, however, was that Thanksgiving became a holiday where a family takes part in a feast of what is usually turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy, pumpkin pie for dessert, and anything else one may think of. The pieces of the meal can be switched out for what ever one may want to fill in. For instance, one can eat ham instead of turkey, corn over mashed potatoes, cheesecake instead of pumpkin pie, and the list goes on. I am more of a lasagna person myself!

I am thankful for having a great family and the ability to be surrounded by a great group of friends and acquaintances. One should be able to enjoy this opportunity just as much as the other person, which makes me even more thankful for not having to work on Thanksgiving. The place I work at closes Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter every year, for they feel that employees should be able to spend this time with family and friends. Unfortunately, big name department stores have begun to find reason to open up at some point on Thanksgiving Day, because they are concerned with Black Friday being their biggest day of the year. The most outrageous decision comes from Kmart, which will open at 6 AM on Thanksgiving Day and remain open for FORTY-TWO STRAIGHT HOURS! Why? To me, it comes off as desperation, for Kmart has not been relevant since the days they had Rosie O'Donnell and Martha Stewart as either endorsements or important pieces to their business. I cannot think of a Kmart that is in good condition at the moment we speak. To me, if you want to open at 5 AM on Black Friday, that is no issue. It's not the most pleasant idea, but no issue. To make people work on Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter at such a high multitude is a sin. Of course, there may be people (mainly Christmas and Easter) that do not celebrate such holidays, but those that do should be able to take off, just as someone who is Jewish should have the right to have their holidays (Hanukkah and Passover) without it counting against them. I will not post hours to the places opened on Thanksgiving, because I discourage people from shopping on Thanksgiving. I will just say that you can Google it.

All of that aside, I want to wish all of my readers a very happy Thanksgiving! I am thankful to have such a good group of readers as well as plenty of goals I have been able to reach and start building toward. Tomorrow will be a day filled with eating with loved ones, leisurely reading, football, and just putting this day aside to be thankful for all of the blessings that have been showered upon me. Have a wonderful day!

Oh, as for what I will be reading, I may look into Thomas JeffersonL The Art of Power by Jon Meacham. I started reading it for a paper I did in my British Colonies & American Revolution class and now I want to read it for my own desire and desire to consume some more historical knowledge on one of America's finest men who I can thankfully deem one of America's architects.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Literary Gladiators: Episode 14- "Oranges" by Gary Soto

"Oranges" was indeed a memorable episode to tape. It was inspired by our Young Adult Literature's desire for oranges that she brought up during one of the classes. Since we wanted to bring this kind of excitement to Literary Gladiators, we decided to have an episode that covered a work that had to do with oranges. Jim, who serves as the assistant producer and suggests plenty of works of discussion, brought up that if we bring Prof. Hannah onto the show, we should do "Oranges" by Gary Soto. It was quite a delight to have somewhat of a mini-Young Adult Literature reunion, for this was the only time Jim, Charlie, and I were in the same classroom at the same time. Prior to beginning Literary Gladiators, I was in two classes with Jim and two with Charlie, both of which inspired me to go forward with this show, but this was a testament of the amount of structured time we spent together in class for a period of time.

The attention, however, should be placed on this poem. Gary Soto is a remarkable poet who reminisces about his first date and how modest it turned out being. We also get a view of contrasting culture and how what we take for granted is not necessarily within everyone's reach. This episode will provide you with an intriguing discussion about "Oranges," a remarkable poem and a remarkable fruit, too!

I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Literary Gladiators: Episode 13- "Civil Disobedience" by Henry David Thoreau

Transcendentalism proved to be a recurring theme in both my high school and college American literature classes. Henry David Thoreau is someone that was bound to spark interest from whomever crossed his path. The fact that he chronicled his adventures of living in the woods (in Walden) and would be willing to go to jail for refusing to pay a tax (in "Civil Disobedience") demonstrates that his mode of thinking is not the most ordinary, but at the same time is one of the most influential. This made the discussion on "Civil Disobedience" one of the most intriguing among them all.

Jim, Brianna, Charlie, and I discuss the different elements of this work and make the necessary connections of this work to today's society.

Here is Episode 13:

Literary Gladiators: Episode 12- Halloween: The Work That Sparks A Fearful Reaction

What made the Halloween episode so special was that we got to go over some of the works that either scared us or made us the most uneasy. Much of my fiction writing comes from the horror and speculative background, so the material was right up my alley. In this episode, Larry, Breanna, Charlie, and I have a fascinating discussion all about works that properly fit this particular genre. In addition, Charlie and I come up with effortless costumes of Harry Potter and Dr. Bordelon, respectively. Perhaps once we have a Halloween episode planned out a bit better in advance, we will put a bit more effort on the costumes. There is always the planned third season taping in January and fourth season (if we go forward with it) taping next summer.

Here is what we did for Halloween:

Literary Gladiators: Episode 11- "Maus" by Art Spiegelman

For the first time, we stray into the territory of discussing graphic texts, which was a topic many of individuals brought up when it came to what we should discuss on the show. The work of Alan Moore (especially Watchmen) is in demand. This episode, we discuss Maus, which is a remarkable work about Spiegelman's interview with his dad about his experiences during the Holocaust. The creative twist is that instead of using people, Spiegelman uses cats and mice to represent the Germans and Jews, respectively. He also uses other animals to represent the other nationalities.

This is also the first time we had an instructor on the program as a rotating guest. Joining Jim, Charlie, and I is Dr. David Bordelon, who is an American literature instructor at our college. Along with American literature, Dr. Bordelon has a fascination with the graphic text, thus making his appearance in this episode all the better.

Here is the 11th episode of the series, which is Ari (the editor)'s favorite:

Literary Gladiators: Episode 10- The Nobel Prize in Literature

The topic of Nobel Prize winners is always an intriguing one, which is why we had to make an episode dedicated to such a glorious event. It is the prize for peace that usually sparks the most attention, especially as of late, with the controversy behind Al Gore winning the prize in 2007 for a presentation on global warming over Irena Sendler, who was a Polish nurse and social worker that rescued children during the Holocaust. Sendler was up for nomination, lost, and died seven months later. The most recent recipients were Malala Yousakzai, who advocated for a girl's right to education in Pakistan and Kailash Satyarthi, who fought for children's rights and against child labor in India. Nevertheless, the Nobel Prize in Literature is still a remarkable accomplishment for anyone that contributes to literature across the world. Even British Prime Minister Winston Churchill won this prize in 1953 for his chronicling of historical and biographical events.

French author Patrick Modiano won the Nobel Prize in Literature this year. While he was not a name that popped up immediately, like Japanese author Haruki Murakami, his win was well deserved.

In this episode of Literary Gladiators, Jim, Courtney, Charlie, and I discuss our favorite laureates of the Nobel Prize in Literature, writers we felt should have won, writers we feel should win in the future, along with so much more.

Here is the tenth episode of the series:

Literary Gladiators: Episode 9- "Bartleby the Scrivener" by Herman Melville

I truly apologize for the delays regarding the lack of posts within the last few months as well as the delay in posting new episodes of Literary Gladiators onto this blog. I have been backed up with massive amounts of college work and "work" work to the point that my spare time was spent looking over and uploading new episodes of this web show. We have finally made it to the continuation of Charlie's birthday, which was created as a result to a malfunction involving the camera. Those things happen sometimes and you have to respond in some particular form. My answer was this zany, but special episode of the series.

I must say that this was one of my favorites. Not only were the jokes amusing, but Larry and Breanna were excellent guests of choice to join Charlie and I. Jim and Laney were absent, due to prior engagements. I was also pleased with the direction to which this discussion went. The same author behind Moby Dick remains a discussion point with his short story, "Bartleby the Scrivener."

Here it is. Sit back, enjoy, and find out whether or not Charlie gets his cupcake!