DISCLAIMER: This article was originally posted on Odyssey.
Although this part of coursework does not appear to be worth looking into, the effects that your PowerPoint presentation can have on the rest of the class can impact how they respond to you. When you turn you slides into works of art, you tell them that you take what you are presenting on very seriously. My PowerPoint presentation that I have used as an example is not the best one, but it does help to show how I create my presentations.
At this point, as a graduate student, I find it a pet peeve when someone introduces their presentation as “This is about…” and then they click the next slide. I think that even the beginning slide should have some personality as much as any other slide, especially if it introduces the presentation.
For some courses, putting all of your citations at the end of the presentation is formally written as one of the requirements. However, I take a different approach by including one of each citation in a slide in where it is most relevant. I do this because I want to actually show the source and not for a split second.
Since a lot of academic papers employ this technique when writing in a title and sub-title, I have always tried imitating that, by taking a line or phrase from within the text and making it into the title in order to show just how relevant that line or phrase would be to the presentation and paper (and show evidence that I actually read the text).
Though you would want a background that is colorfully and tonally consistent. So you would need to either have or create a photo that is dark but also has dark colors, so that if you use light font, the text is entirely recognizable. You do not want font that is hard to see, so in any case, if you either use light font for a dark picture or dark font for a light image, you would need to use the Shadow option to make the font readable.
Trying to create that abstract background image really is not difficult if you have an iPhone. I have recently become addicted to the creative apps like Mirror Lab, which I used to create the image in my presentation about an assignment used in Digital Pedagogy. In order for the presentation to be about the internet, I decided to use a photo that best fit the description of sounds. The background image should be as thematic as possible.
As for what types of text should appear in the slides, I would prefer very simple phrases. I would prefer not pasting all of your notes on you slides, especially if you professor does not want that to be the case. By doing this, you are basically telling your audience that you are going to let the PowerPoint Presentation orate the speech for you.
In a slide, I merely used a picture of the U.S./Mexico border wall while positioning it next to the complex analyses into its construction. Instead of writing all of what students in the New Media Pedagogy would do in this assignment–which would be to look into the complications that can occur if the border wall was actually built–rather I simply wrote in the simple sentences of what they are.
As for videos, for some reason, I cannot be able to actually use the video option when I link to a YouTube video. So instead, whenever I try to use a video that I would only use for a few seconds, I just highlight any words that most relate to the video and hyperlink the URL of the video there.
As for how I have started presenting my work, I have tried to push the boundaries a little and see how much I can evoke. When I was making my presentation about New Media Pedagogy, one of my fellow students remarked how the image represented people having conversations, which was definitely close to what the theme of the image was. However, I simply stated “It is not hard to make a photo like this.” But the art-making of a PowerPoint presentation does not just have to include the photo, rather the more integrated organizations within each slide that breaks the presentation stereotypes.
DISCLAIMER: This article was originally posted on Odyssey.
In one of my classes, we have to rearrange the desks into a semi-circle, which is characteristic of many other classes with a small size. Often, the students do it in a rushed, makeshift way, making a decent-enough semi-circle. For this one day, I decided to do it myself. I managed to get in the classroom and started rearranging the standard rows-and-columns on the far end of the room into the arrangement similar to the one in the headline photo.
As soon as the first students walked in, they were amazed and called the semi-circle “symmetrical” and “beautiful.” Even the professor noted how good the semi-circle looked.
I had always known that my art skills would influence my life outside of drawing, but what shocked me was that other students noticed as well. One of my peers asked if I draw, and I simply answered that I used to draw a lot. What is interesting about that question was that the need to look at one part of an entire design was exactly what I had to do as part of the Digital Animation & 3D Design major that I was pursuing when I was first entering my college education.
Perhaps another way this type of “beautiful” arrangement can be attributed to art is the need to create order out of asymmetry. Although the desks themselves are not actual art, what makes these objects artful is the use of space. What really matters when it comes to the rest of the classroom and the desks is the relationship between them. Since the desks are materials specifically put into this space, it would make sense that the desks’ positions would influence the classroom. In my case, I decided to make the room itself feel more organized while also saving the time needed by the rest of the class to arrange the desks in their positions. Since the object-positions are a semi-circle formation at the far end of the classroom near the windows, it would have been best to push back as many desks as needed in order to form this fully realized semi-circle.
Since that day, I continued to arrive as early as possible in order to rearrange the desks into this semicircle.
What I want readers to take away is that if they used to be art majors (or any other major related to that field), they should not take their techniques for granted, since the time spent in that major is not wasted.
DISCLAIMER: This article was originally posted on Odyssey.
For this list, I have focused on music from the 1970’s to the 1990’s. I don’t just judge how mood-killing a song is by looking at the lyrics, but by the sound of the music as well. As someone who grew up listening to the oldies radio stations in my parents’ truck, I can definitely recall some songs that at least made me frown and at most forced me to hold back tears.
This is the song that screams the 80’s era (or more appropriately, bawls and cries the 80’s era). The lyrics describe the narrator’s fear of his relationship ending becoming true with the lyric:
“I don’t want to know the price I’m gonna pay for dreaming.”
The vocals and the keyboard can be obnoxiously over-the-top, which does ruin the depressing nature of the song ad absurdum.
This post-grunge rock band is known for the religious language in their songs (including this one), however this song can be interpreted through both a religious and a secular perspective. But there is also a lot of legal language as well, with words like “court,” “appeal,” “sentence,” “prison,” etc. This signifies being trapped by a force beyond the narrator’s control. Religiously, it is about the narrator answering for his sins; secularly it is about the narrator feeling insignificant in a corrupt world with the lyric:
“We’re all held captive out from the sun, a sun that shines on only some. We are meek and are only one.”
The slow, hard-rock guitar riffs invite the listener as though he is making his way into a seedy bar. It fits the unwelcoming theme of this song.
The song mainly deals with separation. Originally Bono wrote this about his wife, but then shifted the focus of the song to the Polish Solidarity Movement when Poland was part of the USSR. Either way, the mournful piano accompanies Bono’s lyrics of distress at the rest of the world, which is encapsulated with the lyric:
“So we’re told this is the golden age. And gold is the reason for the wars we waged.”
The guitar wails in the middle of the song.
What definitely makes the song saddening is not just the homeless man, but the people who wonder about him. We spend so much time wondering why that man is in the corner, more so than realizing that we can do without asking so many questions with the lyric:
“But like a monkey on your back you need it, but do you love it enough to leave it?”
The narrator bemoans the loss of a relationship; especially since he is aware that he was responsible for it with the lyrics:
“You came and you gave without taking, but I sent you away.”
The entire song, accompanied by the mellow piano, is a plea for this Mandy to return knowing that it is meaningless.
The concept of the song is about a boy who has to take care of his family’s farm after his father passed away. Lyrically, this song reminds the listener that he/she is mortal and susceptible to life’s unexpected troubles with the line:
“At the age of 13, I thought I was carrying the weight of the whole world on my shoulders.”
What also makes this song depressing is that even as the narrator’s life gets better, he continues to remember his father’s last, haunting words, which work as the main stanza of the song. The back-up vocals and the violins heighten the emotional intensity in this song.
Image Attribution: Photo by Daniel von Appen on Unsplash
DISCLAIMER: This article was originally posted on Odyssey.
There are two people in my community who wrote about why they write. After writing for “Millennials of New Jersey” for a month, I would like to share my own reasons. Here is what motivates me, as well as how I want to apply my aspirations to my writing.
Concurrently with writing, I also enjoy the thrill of taking unorganized matter and reshaping them into my own arrangement. Along with writing, I reshape jumbled paragraphs, (often separating sentences and putting them in paragraphs with a similar subject,) and materialize them into a cohesive essay or short story. There is also thrill in making transitioning sentences at the beginning and ending of a paragraph, which comes with organization.
I also keep in mind word choice, especially since it was instilled in me by my English Composition instructor at Brookdale to avoid colloquial phrases and generalities. Although such techniques can be familiarized with anyone reading, it would not be acceptable of me to write such words in both academic and creative situations. This has allowed me to expand my vocabulary and see which ones applied to any specific context. I have found that such restrictions can be liberating, as paradoxical as it seems. In the case of the words, “Why I Chose To Write,” I apply that phrase to writing in general as opposed to writing just for “Odyssey.” While the other writer has brought up her reasons rooted in childhood, I try to talk about all times of my life.
Trying to figure out what to write, in terms of a narrowed research topic, involves reading articles on what I hope to write about. As I read the parts that interest me, suddenly the topic and its supporting points I want to write about become more apparent. As a former History major, I developed this method of expanding those parts into an essay. If I’m looking for a specific word in a book, I look for it in the index and see how many pages it appears in.
Like coming up with a topic for research essays, I find inspiration whenever I read literature, watch a film, listen to music, or recall personal experience. The adventures and dramas are usually played out in my imagination without a cohesive story. It is only when I bring the fingertip to the keyboard or the pen to paper that I scribe the story and the characters. When I was little, it was video games that inspired my fiction. I can remember writing stories of Harry Potter-inspired characters within a setting modeled after Banjo-Kazooie and Super Mario 64. It was not the plots of those two games that I paid attention to, but the mechanism of jumping through paintings, into a treasure chest, through a pipe, and inside a sunken ship into entire worlds which fascinated me.
While I do have the superfluous reasons for writing, I also have my more material reasons as well. I want to receive renown and prosperity. I was introduced to “The Odyssey Online” through a fellow student at Monmouth University, who used to be a Content Creator; as well as another student, who has written her articles about commemorating Carrie Fisher and managing anxiety. This reason also led me to eventually join “Millennials of New Jersey” as a Content Creator.
Although I was taught that Wikipedia is an unreliable source and should not be used as formal citation, I found that it can be a gateway to more reliable forms of information, primarily in the External Links sections. I am also grateful to have the privilege of attending Monmouth University where not only do I have access to the databases, but also the physically bound library books in the well-known Murray & Leona Guggenheim Library.
I also intend to write blogs; with one for general aesthetics (film, literature, music) and the other for science (linguistics). I do not want to hawk them on this article, but I hope that they can be a foot in the door for some opportunity. I can remember attending an English major conference when I was at Brookdale Community College and one of the panels had to do with journalism and how starting a blog is one way of getting into that field.
When I am writing a research article, such as the ones on the Gullah and Powhatan languages, I lose myself in the research and end up having a 2900-worded nerdgasm. This only happens when I am passionate about the subject I am writing about. One of my passions is endangered languages. One reason is because of the fascinating phenomenon of people shaping their identities around a world of information in the face of imperialism and capitalism, whether it would be indigenous or creole; even going so far as to name in their own language either their children or themselves. Another reason comes from personal empathy. As someone who struggled with social problems growing up and continues to struggle, I can understand people trying to reclaim their means of communication when I have spent my whole life reclaiming my own.
My writing also helped me live through hurtful moments in my life. Even today, I continue to struggle with the amorphous afflictions of melancholy, worthlessness, misery, and paranoia that have made my foresight into the future bleaker. My writing styles, settings, characters, and word choice enabled me to see such beauty in such ugliness. In that way, I make these problems work for me, not against me. Whenever I am tasked with a terrible experience, I always examine it and come to an almost-sociopathic conclusion “How can this benefit my writing?”
My problems becoming my benefits is another paradox. I can only describe such an idea in Aldous Huxley’s Those Barren Leaves. After remembering her deceased cousin in the middle of a dinner, Miss Thriplow was described as:
“…proud to be able to suffer so much; she encouraged her suffering…Mingled with her grief there was a certain sense of satisfaction. After all, this had happened quite by itself, of its own accord, and spontaneously. She had always told people that she was sensitive, had a deep and quivering heart. This was a proof. Nobody knew how much she suffered, underneath. How could people guess what lay behind her gaiety?…Her laughter, her little railleries were the mask that hid from the outside world what was in her soul; they were her armour against a probing and wounding curiosity.”
She then wants to write a short story with the experience as inspiration. It’s also on the part of a great author to instill the reader with empathy. Becoming a writer has been a dream since childhood. I want to be an old famous author rummaging through packages in the mail and finding all of my written work bound into volumes upon volumes.
By writing, I am following the footsteps of the authors who inspired me: Joseph Conrad, Frank Herbert, Aldous Huxley, George R. R. Martin, and Ayn Rand; as well as the authors who inspired them, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jack Vance, H. P. Lovecraft, H. G. Wells, etc.; as well as the authors who inspired those inspirations; and on and on. Not only am I inspired by these authors’ characters, settings, and themes, but also their writing style, whether it would be Fitzgerald’s one-liner dialogue or Martin’s wittiness.
My protagonists are my Charons. For a price, we travel with them down the River Styx and into the bleak, dreary underworld. To paraphrase George R. R. Martin, he said in interviews that:
He made it a point to me that human morality is very complex. That quote and reading the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series was what inspired me to write my point-of-view characters with Martinian greyness.
I am also following his advice on becoming a writer. I have yet to get a short story published in a literary magazine. Even though the short story that I wrote, edited, did research for, and revised for a month is yet to be accepted by any one magazine, I still pursue it. Either I would find a niche market for hard fantasy or I change my story to make it more speculative. That is also what makes short story writing fascinating; for it allows me to adapt to whatever market I end up in and forces me to either go beyond my imagination or compensate for lack of it. If I want to submit to a magazine that is based on the Weird Western genre, then I’ll push the limits of how I originally conceived the Wild West and immerse myself in the research in order to provide believability.
When I was a boy, I always imagined Heaven as having my own little cloud-estate where I would write quadrillions of pages. If my profession involves writing, I am already in Heaven. But even if the prospect is not present, I still have that urge to continue writing.
Since the phasing out of film noir and the mainstreaming of color television of the late 50’s, it can be said that it left cinema, but there have been lots of films that have replicated the characteristics that tie noir films together, which they are unofficially classified as “neo-noir.” The problem that occurs with a film being classified as a film genre is that it is French for “black film,” which has to do with the format of the films being made at the time.
Even Billy Wilder, the director of the well-known film noir “Double Indemnity,” never classified his films as film noir.
To provide historical context, films noir have been taking advantage of the limitations imposed upon the directors and producers, either due to a low budget or because of the Hayes Code. Finding more creative freedom within restrictions, or “the cracks in the system” as director Martin Scorcese described, may sound paradoxical, but this allowed the creation of subtleties and unique cinematographic techniques, such as the extensive use of shadows, that can draw the viewer in.
Film critic Paul Schrader, although arguing that film noir was not a genre, did state that its important quality was its tone and mood. An example of this type of subtlety is from the film “Detour” during the part when Tom Neal begins to lose his mind, and the scene represents this deteriorating state with the camera zooming in- and out-of-focus.
Noir can also seep into other genres, such as science fiction, with an example being “Blade Runner,” starring Harrison Ford. But the film genre that film noir most closely related to was the gangster film genre.
A way that film noir can be specified is when their characterization typically involves anti-heroes plagued with paranoia and insecurity. This is what makes the corrupt lawyer Joe Morse in Abraham Polonsky’s “Force of Evil” become more entrenched in the gambling racket, and even acknowledging that he might go to jail for his actions and always thinks the police are coming for him when he tells Doris:
“Don’t be afraid. You don’t know what it is to have real fear in you. You don’t know what it is to wake up in the morning, go to sleep at night, eat your lunch, and read the papers and hear the horns blowing in the streets and the horns blowing in the clubs. And all the time, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, whatever you see, and WHEREVER YOU ARE, you’re afraid in your heart. Is that what life is?”
A major theme that defines film noir as a separate genre comes from Martin Scorcese when commenting on the plot of “Force of Evil”:
“It’s not just the individual who’s corrupted, but the entire system.”
It is a film genre that finds its roots in the disillusioned view of the world in post-World War II America. Since there were pulp writers like Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Jack Cain whose works were adapted into this new genre, there were also directors who migrated from Germany, such as Otto Preminger, Fritz Lang, and Billy Wilder, who were direct witnesses of tyranny and systemic brutality that became major themes in their work.
The controversy in pinpointing a film as “film noir” lies when not all of the films include the typical tropes found within them. Although some of the more well-known films noir like Billy Wilders’ “Double Indemnity” have a femme fatale, there is also “Scarlet Street” where it is the man who manipulates his woman to manipulate another man. Not every protagonist has to be the detective, which is a common stereotype of film noir. Although there is no definite location for any film noir setting, the films usually take place in a big city, like New York City or Los Angeles.
I would say that it can be a quasi-genre. If there were to be any neologism, that would be the best one I can accurately pinpoint. I know there are film scholars who say that film noir is a feeling. Well, there’s obviously something deeper than some favorable mixture of cells in the brain. It’s clear that film noir does more than just stimulate introspection at the dark side of humanity.
DISCLAIMER: This article was originally posted on Odyssey.
A key component of world-building is not just what types of fantasy creatures should be included, but how to find the connections between them, the environment, humans, religion, and geopolitical entities such as kingdoms, empires, city-states, and tribes. Creatures such as dragons, griffins, and mammoths can change warfare, migrations, human survival, and the very ecology itself.
The Targaryen dynasty especially proved this point, by escaping the destruction of Valyria and settling in Westeros. Though they did more than setting up their own little nation on Dragonstone Island, rather they conquered the entire continent of Westeros and subjugated entire kingdoms, all through the use of dragons as instruments of war. This can only be possible in regions like pre-Targaryen Westeros when there was no presence of dragons or any other form of the animal capable of fighting against such creatures because it would mean that there would be no defense against conquest by the dragon-riding invaders.
A foreign invading group would bring disasters foreign to the native population. This parallels the use of guns and diseases brought by Europeans when conquering the rest of the world. In the case of the Americas, the indigenous population was not immune from smallpox until the Europeans brought it, which indirectly decimated them.
If foreign agents like diseases can cause this type of damage to entire populations in the real world, then foreign creatures, such as dragons, can prove to be apocalyptically destructive in the fantasy world. A notable example of a dragon that fits that description is Smaug from “The Hobbit” who conquers an entire castle of dwarves and converts it into a lair surrounded by a hoard of gold. This is when fantasy creatures cannot be tamed and become a destructive force.
When these creatures are tamed, they retain a symbiotic relationship with their human captors that transcend use as weapons. In the case of Victor Milan’s “Dinosaur Knights,” (which is a fantasy novel that replaces dragons with dinosaurs) the hides of dinosaurs are made into protective armor, which would make sense considering how dinosaurs are also used as instruments of war and the only rough surface that can protect the owner from a war-hadrosaur’s bite is the skin of a dinosaur who’s skin is already adapted enough to withstand bites and scratches.
The uses for attack and defense would ensure that there is a cycle of dependency between humans and dragons. Of course, the use of dragons would go beyond being used in warfare. If these types of creatures have the ability to be domesticated and rode by humans, fly at great distances, and breathe fire, then the possibilities of traveling the world would be quite literally boundless. This is especially true when Jaenara Balaerys, a Ghiscari dragon-rider, explored all of Sothoryos, one of the continents of the “Song of Ice and Fire” series.
Can you imagine that level of exploration becoming more commonplace as more creatures are introduced? This would be where readers would find a more clandestine and complex system of warfare which consists of entire theaters of war consisting of dragons. While there would be ground warfare with armies of cavalry and phalanxes, there would also concurrently be dragon-riders from above.
Even though fantasy creatures do not exist in real life, it can be argued that the very image of them was enough to change human interaction with nature, by inspiring superstitions, mythologies, and sigils on coats-of-arms. The inspirations for dragons also existed within the real-world, specifically by theories that dragon myths came from ancient observations of dinosaur fossils, which lead to the speculations of a race of dragons (and what leads Milan to include dinosaurs in his fantasy series).
Of course, this opens up Pandora’s box, but all of the world’s evils do not pop out, but the creatures from every mythology around the world. Not to be too political, but a lot of the most popular fantasy works consist of mythological creatures from European interpretations, such as dragons, dwarves, elves, etc. If European dragons can exist in a fictional world, who is to say that Chinese dragons cannot also exist in this world? If multiple mythologies can exist in one cosmopolitan mythopoeia than the possibilities would be endless when it comes to migration patterns and cross-breeding.
What if dragons become an invasive species, by outcompeting all the other animal life and out-consuming all of their prey and plant life? If one were to apply eco-literary theory to dragons in mythology, it can be argued that they would be catastrophic to humans and the environment. Perhaps the human civilizations would focus less on their own squabbles and more towards that scaly threat to their crops and livestock.
However destructive dragons are to everything living and nonliving, it is definitely obvious that these creatures define the animalistic power within fantasy. Dragons do more than provide the fantasy label, rather they dramatically reshape the connection humans have to the biosphere in their world. The existence of dragons plunges the reader into a world of epic uncertainty, leaving behind the doldrums of daily life and into the world where humans and creatures that represent the former’s power can exist.