Home vs. the Theater

   Here is a Would You Rather question: if given the choice between watching the movies of your choice, would you rather be alone in a theater or alone in your home?  Either way, it costs the same.  No matter which option you choose, you are alone.  Which one is it for you?  Would you choose option one or two?  I have a hard time knowing what I would choose. Continue reading “Home vs. the Theater”


Birth of a Nation: The First Movie Blockbuster

   Why was Birth of a Nation such a fantastic hit in its day and even continues to be?  Perhaps it has to do with the fact that it is a little over three hours long, it is about the civil war and the Reconstruction, and, finally, it has specific characters who draw our attention.  It has to do with characters who fall in love but are separated because of the war, a family waiting for the war to end and their worry of a loved one potentially dying to come to a stop, three sons finding friends, love, during a war, but also having to deal with problems put in their way, and enslaved blacks wanting to be free.  This is only a little bit of why this movie is still amazing to watch.

   Birth of a Nation was the first silent black-and-white American three-hour-long movie.  It was published in the year 1915.  Directed by D. W. Griffith and based on the novel by Thomas Dixon’s work — The ClansmanBirth of a Nation is about a family or two who live in the times of the Civil War.  These families are the Camerons and the Stonemans.  One family resides in the South, another in the North.  Therefore, when separation and war hit, these families are then fighting against each other.  Several months or so before the war, the two families come together.  Not only is there friendship between the sons of the families, but love begins in both sides of the family throughout the movie.  A Cameron son and a Stoneman daughter parallel a Stoneman son and a Cameron daughter.  However, love shows up in the movie in several different ways, not just between friends and loved-ones who are separated by North and South.  There is the love of a mother for her three sons during the war.  Also, the love of her daughters as well, as she and her husband try to protect them during a raid.  There is the love of the Stoneman and his daughter and the Cameron sisters with their brothers.  We sit on the edge of seats to see what will be the turnout of this.  What will happen?  Will the brothers live?  Will the families reunite?  Who will be there?  The questions go on and on but they keeps us watching the movie.  D. W. Griffith knew what he was doing.

   Throughout the movie, we are locked in.  Even today.  Although, it is a silent movie, the dialogue of some scenes are shown on the screen, making the movie a little more understandable.  There is the part of love and family and friendship.  There is the thing about the blacks.  A character who plays black goes down into the South and tries to free the slaves.  This is after the fact of the war.  Lincoln is murdered, Lynch, the black from the North, tries to free those blacks still loyal to their old owners.

   The Birth of a Nation is definitely worth your time to watch it.  To see America’s first major blockbuster is a must do.  Scene after scene, I assure you, you will be glued.  The movie gives us that feeling of what it must have been like during the Civil War and after.  You will not regret watching the movie.  It may take a while to watch, but I think there will be some scenes that will stick with you for a long time.

P.S.  I do have to add:  While Birth of a Nation was a good movie, with its amazing actors, I do have to say that with the KKK in the second half, it made it less enjoyable.  But that was how it was back then.

Bierce, London, or O. Henry?

   With his work, To Build a Fire, would Jack London be my choice over two other authors?  With Devil’s Dictionary, would I prefer Ambrose Bierce over London and one other?  Are William Sydney Porter’s, also known as O. Henry, works such as The Gift of the Magi, The Cop and the Anthem, and The Last Leaf, more enjoyable than Bierce’s or London’s?  Which of three authors did I enjoy the most this week?

   To Build a Fire was about a man who lived in a very very very cold climate.  It was way below zero outside, and yet, he decided he needed to have dinner with a group of boys.  He ventured out and began to freeze.  Along with a dog, the man began to slowly freeze to death.  Eventually the man wanted to kill the dog to make him warm, however that is not how the story would end.

   I did not enjoy this story as much as I thought I would.  Having no idea about it, I thought, To Build a Fire, would be about cavemen or someone who just happened to make a fire.  Not this sad story.  I still enjoyed it slightly, but it is not my cup of tea, honestly.  That leaves two contestants.

   Ambrose Bierce and The Devil’s Dictionary is just enjoyable, funny, and cynical.  However, he is just funny if you do not know him and what his work is actually about.  Bierce was a pessimist.  He looked at the negative and stuck with it.  He did not believe man could reform for good.  He was a Darwinist.  Meaning, he believed that man did not have a reason for his existence.  That we are all here because we are a mistake.  (Another time…maybe).  However, when reading his work, I put that aside and tried to enjoy all of his funny definitions.  I did.  I laughed.  And a few of the definitions will stick.  However, I also could see his cynical side with some the definitions.

   The Devil’s Dictionary is a dictionary of certain words.  Bierce took regular words, but changed their meaning to something more comical or negative.  However it is still funny to read.  But not my choice to read in my free time.  Though perhaps one day, I will.

   That leaves Porter/O. Henry.  He has a lot of short stories.  Perhaps his most famous one, The Gift of the Magi, is my favorite.  He took his stories seriously, making them believable and enjoyable.  With some funny endings and in betweens, Henry makes his stories lovable and read worldwide.   He was more positive with his stories than Bierce and London.  He focused on love over pride among many others, but this is why I enjoyed his works more than the other two authors.

When Describing Other Characters in Your Story

   With the details of the main character’s appearance, looks, personality, family, etc. done and written well enough to convey what you, the author, wishes, is it important to describe the other characters the same?  Should you?  Should you not?  Is it really important?  Does it matter?  The answer: it is all up to you.

   Now, some of your readers may skim over that description of a less important character.  Then, there are some of us readers who like to know exactly what everyone looks like in the story.  This makes it easy for us to picture the scene in our mind’s eye a little better.  However, there are those of us who like to let our imagination run free in a story.  Whether it be what area, place, building, etc., the characters may be at, or just simply what we believe the characters would look like.  Then again, it really depends on the writer.  It is all up to him and/or her.

   Here is what I believe: don’t just describe the main character, unless the character is unimportant and does not have a huge part in the story.  If you do not agree with that, at least give the less important characters a tiny bit of description.  Again, this helps different sorts of readers.  This helps readers get their imagination running, or others a little bit of what they want to help them make the picture.  Very unimportant characters, however, do not need a description.

   This is what I try to goal when storywriting: describe the main character, get the audience to have something in common with said main character, etc.  However, if there is a crush my character likes, I would describe the crush’s looks.  If there is a bully because he/she looks absolutely stunning and picks on the less ugly, I would add some of her/his looks when talking about him/her.  I do not have to go full out, telling their measurements, etc.  Give the protagonist(s) the main and biggest spotlight, and don’t be afraid to give a little to other characters.

   What I am really trying to get out with this is the following:  describe what YOUR character looks like, and if you picture any other characters that have to do with the main character’s story specifically, add that.  That is pretty much it.  It is all up to you in the end.  I just advise you, if you picture a scene, character, etc. in extreme detail, add that into the story.  It is your imagination, your book, your story, your characters, etc.  Make it yours.

Things Seen and Unseen: Income Tax

   Considering things that are seen and also things that are not seen to income taxing, we find that we are being held back.  Unless you agree completely with the government or, in other words, our other more less-caring parents, then this may be good for you.  However, it still could also have a downside: you do not know what your hard earned money that was earned by you is being spent on.

  First, let us discuss about the things seen and what we know happens.  You work hard.  You earn money at a rather specific rate each hour, whether that be minimum wage, a salary, or tips.  You see that you work and are given money.  However, you are not given all of the money that you rightfully earned for yourself, as you wished.  There is the income tax.  A part of of your money is stolen from you.  Yes, stolen.  You have no choice on keeping it or giving it.  It is stolen from you.  Your money.

  So far, we know where our money is going: part of it to the government, part of it to us.  That money that you have, you know what it will be spent on usually.  You own it and you can do with it what you want.  Give it to a homeless person, buy some gas, pay your bills, etc.  You see that.  But what you do not see is what that homeless person spends that money you gave him on.  Likewise, you do not see what the government does with your hard earned money you are forced to give them.

  Some believe that their income tax is spent well, as long as it is enriching and helping the nation grow, right?  What if it is not?  This is the thing unseen by our eyes.  Your money that you worked very hard for could be given to a family on welfare.  That family could be using that money to go to a theme park.  Not to provide for themselves.  Meanwhile, you keep working your hardest, trying to save up for maybe a day at the theme parks, and yet the person who is supposed to be using your money, the income tax, for food, and some other necessity is going to that very same theme park.  This is a thing not seen.

 Now, not everyone’s income tax goes to a family who is on welfare.  There are some families that do use your money to keep themselves alive.  But do we need to be forced to give money to the government to provide welfare to people like this?  No.  We can give the money ourselves.  It is our money, we worked for it, we should be able to decide where we want our money to go.  I think the government needs to stop with this parent tax.


Broken Window Fallacy


   Did you ever wonder what it meant?  With that knowledge finally revealed to you, is it right?  Does it work?  Does it enrichen the economy after it is put to use?  Well, that should be pretty obvious, as it is called a fallacy.

   However, it makes sense for a while until you really take it, break it down, and think about it.  The Broken Window Fallacy is all about what is unseen when we spend money.  It seems that when we go to war, suffer losses, (whether that be a loved one, a city destroyed in ruins, etc.) we find more people willing to spend their hard earned money to help their country thrive again.  This boosts the economy and allows us to rebuild those losses.

   The example for the Broken Window theory is like that of a war.  A person throws a brick through a window.  The owner of the broken window then has to pay for the repair unless he wants bugs and cold/hot weather coming into his house for the night or the next several days and nights.  He goes to the window repair store and pays for it.  He goes home with less money in his pocket and a new window.

   Some people then go on to say that this is a good thing.  Money was given to the window repairman, who would then go on to buy something.  The money would continue to go on through a cycle, passing from one person to another.  This boosts the economy, they said.  However, I took it a step further and remembered this wonderful thing that we all love and enjoy.  And, that, my friends, is the wonderful thing of taxes.

   Just think about it.  Through the continuous cycle of the money going from hand to hand, the government gets more money and the amount of money given sinks lower and lower.  Meanwhile, the government is getting the taxes.  Therefore, in the long run, the economy does not really boost.  The government does.  And who really knows what the government does with our tax money.


More of Mark Twain?

   Would I read more of Mark Twain’s literary works?  With their sense of humor, enjoyable descriptions, funny exaggerations, etc.  would I wish to continue reading some of his works?  I hope it is obvious, by now, of which my answer would be.

   It is, of course, yes.  As we know already, I love reading.  Reading is amazing.  One of favorite and probably my best pastime.  I also love comedy.  And reading it, gives me a chance to use my imagination and make it even more hilarious.  Thus, this is what I did with Twain’s stories I read this week.

   Having previously read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, I knew a bit of Twain’s writing style.  However, being older and understanding a bit more of literary works, I found Mark Twain’s Sketches New and Old a bit more funny and enjoyable.  I was laughing after every page.

   My favorite sketch was of Twain himself.  At age thirteen, he was told he was in charge of a newspaper for a day.  He changed everything — adding humor.  It is an enjoyable story.  He continues on with such humor and makes all of his works enjoyable.

   However, being introduced to Hal Holbrook’s Mark Twain Tonight! I found myself enjoying his, Twain’s, stories more.  It almost seems as if Twain’s works were to be read to an audience, instead of read by a reader.  However, I will take either way.  As long as I read/listen more of Mark Twain, I know I will be entertained.