All posts by trolston01

These Loves Fly Just High Enough

            Both of the titles on this week’s reading list really piqued my interest. I have the pleasure of saying that I own and have owned every video game system minus two – Colleco Vision and Commodore 64.  I consider myself a gamer.  I love the story aspect of a good game.  I am a mission-based person.  Icarus Needs and With Those We Love Alive placed me on a mission.  I do not have access to Android so that limited my experience with Icarus Needs, however, the video gave me a great sense for the experience.  The experience With Those We Love Alive was straight forward, the controls were a breeze to use and the story kept me going – to a point.

            Icarus Needs instantly sparked images of the famous story of Icarus and his escape gone bad. Icarus in the famous tale wanted to return to the people he loved, unfortunately, he flew a bit too close to the sun.  I easily reminisced over the pixelated graphics In Icarus.  “The only thing missing is the ability to fly,” I thought.  The images brought back fond memories of the Atari and how important it was in my life.  As a child, video games were a way for me to connect the stories and ideas I had in my head to the real world.  Video games allowed me to play out my fantasies on the screen.  So when I play a new video game, I tend to try to get into the character’s head.  The protagonist in Icarus is on a mission to save his lady love from the evil King of Squirrels.  Love this image.  (I thought right away about a bag of cats.) King of Squirrels is already giving off a crazy vide.  The craziness gets off to an abrupt start when the protagonist encounters another entity in the game who describes himself as a door and the player must find the key.  OK, I’ve run into plenty of people (actual and virtual) who were not only bigger than a door, they were bigger than a house.  Whether or not racism would come into play never ever once crossed my mind.  The video shows the player retreating from the encounter asking him or herself, “He’s a door?  Doesn’t look like a door?  Is that racist?”  I would have never expected the story to take that kind of turn.  Both the image representing the player and the image representing the person being described as a door were both the same color.  They both had the same look.  I was a bit confused.  Then I retraced my steps and recognized that the setting is within a dream realm.  Good.  Racism is a nightmare. At least in this instance I can chose a righteous path.

            With Those We Love Alive is incredibly similar to my own chosen presentation title, The Hunt For The Gay Planet.  With Those We Love Alive, players read a selection and then make a choice as to which direction to travel.  In one instance you are in the palace.  In another instance you are out exploring the world.  What loved the most was that the player can go out in the woods and meditate.  The software actually instructs the player to breath and relax.  I had so much fun with the story and trying to see if I could change outcomes by selecting rotating paths.  Alas, I could not and that would be my only point of contention.  While open enough to explore the world in With Those…, has player pushed down a path.  Platforms such as these were designed to head off in a million different directions so that the fun of developing the story would never end. 

Back in the 1970s a game called Zork came out.  It is the framework for all games like this.  In Zork, players start off with the simple idea that they are standing in the woods a bit west of an old house.  From here it is anyone’s guess.  After entering the home, the only forced part of Zork, the world below the forest is wide open.  Both of these titles offer that experience to a degree.  I enjoyed the time jumping back into the past when I would play games like these to all hours of the night.  After I got the story to unlock – it was all about the high score.  While a high score isn’t the main accomplishment here, knowledge is. I like to think about how others think and these titles helped me to continue my mission toward understanding.         

Decisions in Motions Leaving Pieces of Herself.

Elit Class Blog 10 7 HW

After experiencing both pieces, I found myself looking for a common thread between the two.  After looking and searching for a while I realized that the common thread between the two pieces, “Motions” and “Pieces of Herself,” is all about looking and the consequences that come with the decisions made during the search.

Many of us spend a fair amount of time looking into what we are and who we are as individuals.  As a result, many of us become, “Slaves to forms.”  That is a decision.  We become slaves to ideas that might help us identify the person we are looking for that supposedly resides within. Again, another decision.

I once spent nine months straight doing nothing but looking for a job and studying Tae Kwon Do.  Two decisions – one forced upon me and the other by my own choice.  Both taught me a great deal.  The lesson I share with all of my students, that I learned in Tae Kwon Do is, “Most Obvious…Hardest To See.”  My three friends and I qualified to enter Olympic competitions back then in 1998.  We trained very hard.  Fighting for our country was a very cool thought.  During one training session, I thought I was going to be the first and only student to ever score a point against the Master (SahBahNim in Korean).  If it had been anyone else from off the street or from the class, I’m certain I would have put my hand right through that person’s head.  That’s how sure I had to be in order to get those points.  Another costly decision.  The points never happened.  Next thing I know I’m lying flat on my back, looking at the ceiling wondering how this happened.  The master looks down at me with a huge smile and says, “Most obvious, hardest to see. HAHA” He stepped over my carcass and doled out the usual beating to my other teammates.

The protagonist, if you will, in each piece, is searching for something.  Perhaps what they were looking for was obvious all along.  Perhaps not.  Motions reveals that sometimes people go looking in the scariest of places. That is usually a bad decision.  I’ve seen some pretty scary places in this world and I know that if you chose to even dip your toes into those places they will drag you to some murky depths where a person will have to “cut open the body of language,” just to survive.

The main focus in Pieces of Herself was here was a person choosing to look introspectively from a perspective of the world around her.  This person does not have to get on a train, as we experience in Motions.  The train sounds were a cool reminder of my childhood.  I can also tell you that the train tracks in my old neighborhood were also a location of despair.  The main character in Pieces doesn’t go to those dark places.

Both of these pieces also gave me the sense of people accepting and dealing with the consequences of one too many false promises.  The idea in Motions, that the main character was promised the moon and the stars and ended up in hell.  While in Pieces of Herself, the main character is perhaps looking for herself because some promise of a normal life was dashed away or diverted in some way.  All victims have one thing in common:  All victims make one bad decision.

Victims also make some very powerful choices as well.  “In the kitchen, looking for the right ingredients,” and “in the office where she fought to keep them all.”  Those are two very powerful quotes from Pieces of Herself.  The metaphors show the longing and searching for answers based on the choices made.  Can you find pieces of oneself in the kitchen?  I would guess that depends on the choices a person made during their life that would determine whether or not looking in the kitchen would be the right choice.  Another powerful choice would be to go to a public place, like the office, where one works, to suddenly and actively begin to look inward.  People who work in corporate cube farms are way too nosey not to take notice when someone is going through a stressful time or unveiling a new part of themselves to the world.  “In the living room imagining she was someone else,” was yet another quote that helped me with my line of thinking.  The main character wants to be something else, but isn’t sure of what that is.  The poor victims defined in Motions wanted to unveil something new as well.  Only it wasn’t exactly what those poor souls were looking for.

The journey inward is about as steep as any mountain climb.  The journey inward is filled with many pitfalls and slippery slopes.  The first thing the journey requires is the choice to begin.  The invitation to make the choice comes in many offers, shapes and sizes.  Good choices only come around once.  Poor decisions like to keep coming around.  I bet the people who developed Motions could tell you that.     

Ask Me for the Moon, while I look into the Window.

“Window” by Katharine Norman

“Ask Me for the Moon” by John Zuern

As I began this assignment with great curiosity, I couldn’t help but notice from the Editorial Statements on each how vital the code and programming were to the presentation of the pieces.  “Window,” by Katharine Norman showcased how it appeared that the user could manipulate rain drops on the window that invited more words, phrases and ideas to take flight on the screen.  The interface for “Ask Me…,” had me feeling very much like a tourist, coming and going through the author’s mind.

The other idea from the Editorial Statements on each that caught my idea was the use of ambient sound.  I am deaf in one ear.  If I’m not focusing, background or ambient noise can be my worst nightmare.  However, the flip side to it is that ambient noise really helps me relax and hide within my brain.  I was really excited to see how both authors were going to treat that and each did not disappoint.

Norman used the phrase, “Traffic as a form of silence.” I grew up in New York.  My grandparent’s home was right near the Long Island railroad crossings for our town.  The sound of that train is what put us all to sleep.  When we would all go on vacation as a family, no one could sleep because the hotel was just too quiet.  We needed the traffic and the train as a form of silence.  Norman had sounds from a near-by airport.  I can relate to that one.  She also had the sounds of early morning birds.  The train scares the birds off the lines.  When the train leaves, the birds all sing and cry out for their new spot on the lines.

Zuern had some heavy breathing sounds in his presentation that activated using the interface.  However, while sound was not present in its audio form, sound was decisively present in the language Zuern used. Onomatopoeia is an amazingly effective rhetorical element to interject sound into writing.  This is evident when the author uses the written idea of leaving and revisiting.  We all know what that sounds like.  Norman takes onomatopoeia a step further when she is describing the making of bread; with all of the slapping and pounding going on.

Poetry has always been something I have found difficult to teach.  Poetry is such and open world of language.  In college many years ago, I had a professor who encouraged us to interpret poetry freely, yet on exams we had better feel exactly as he did, or it would cost us our grade.  Unfortunately, that was the case for me.  The only D I ever received because I failed to see things one way personally and forced to feel another for academic reward.  My morals aren’t for sale.

So I have always stressed about poetry.  Zuern had a line from Ask me that went, “…deployment of images and metaphors.”  I used some pretty powerful images and metaphors two years ago, and I’m still fighting in court just how powerful those images and metaphors were. 

The other lines from Zuern that I really liked was his lines about “castles in the sand,” and “spent muscle.”  While I fear teaching poetry, I do have a soft spot for it.  I have the word INVICTUS tattooed on my back.  The words from that poem outline my life. Henley wrote INVICTUS to inspire – to give hope.  Zuern’s poem gives that same hope by exposing the truth that real castles are built on solid foundations.  Not the glitz and glamour of the hotels and skyscrapers that line the Hawaiian beach.   I have seen those who make their castle out of sand – it never works out.  I have shared years of spent muscle making that evident.

Norman has some pretty great lines that impacted me.  The entire writing process has to be about can the author get the reader to relate to the words on the page.  “Spoon against the bowl,” to me that speaks about how empty your soul can be and the desire to want to fill it.  “Taking the long way around.”  I understand a desire to do that to.  No man or woman can escape the inevitable.  However, every man, woman and child can take their time getting there.

Norman’s other thought about a, “window between here and there.”  I would like to know, whose “here” are we speaking of.  I would also be inclined to wonder whose “there” are we glimpsing into.  My belief is that Norman wants the reader to reflect upon that very notion.  Is it a window, or a mirror?  That would be the question I would ask of both pieces.  Zuern has me reflecting on my perceptions as a tourist while Norman has me reflecting introspectively – to which many feel like a tourist.  I think that sums it up:  We are all tourists amongst each other and within ourselves.  We can either ask for the moon or peek in a window.  It’s all in the experience one looks for. 

Bots Never Fear, Trope is Here.

E Lit Blog: Bots and Trope

I love everything that is weird and funny and takes people out of their comfort zone.  I hate heights, yet I love roller coasters.  I was never more afraid and exhilarated when I went snorkeling over a World War 2 wreck along the coast of Aruba.  My fear of heights was on the reverse.  I was above this thing that’s so deep and why wasn’t I falling.  However, the schools of brightly colored fish of all shapes and sizes swimming by undeterred by the fat guy splashing around in a near-panic at the surface allowed me moments of joy amidst my fears of drowning.  That’s pretty much the way I feel about Twitter and a host of other online content.  “Bots,” Kevin’s selection offers me the weird comedic vibe that I crave.  “Trope” offers me the scary.  “Trope” has plenty of weird to go around as well.  However, the dark screen has me looking into unknown depths. Aruba part deux. 

“Bot’s,” by Rob Dubbin pulls much of its content from the Twitter-verse.  I’m already flailing in the ocean at the mere mention of Twitter.  I can’t even blame my generation for my lack of knowledge in using Twitter. “Bots” was a great way to explore that world without drowning in it.

The home page of the site allows readers to pop in and out of the various bots presented.  Bots are, to be brief, bits of software that collect and create words and phrases from Twitter and other online sources.  Sometimes the words and phrases generated make sense.  Sometimes what is created makes no sense at all.  That is the draw for me. 

I particularly enjoyed the bot, PENTAMETRON.  I love Shakespeare.  I’m not obsessed by the man, but I do enjoy reading his works.  Collateral damage of being an English teacher for nearly 20 years.  This particular bot was created by a sound artist.  Having known a few Audio Recording specialists in my life through vocational teaching, one can already assume, the young man is, “Looking for a Beat.”   Upon diving into the bot, the viewer finds this to be true.   PENTAMETRON searches the Twitter-verse and collects any and all tweets that happen to be written in Iambic Pentameter.  “Romeo and Juliet” was written in Iambic Pentameter, as was most of Willy Shakes most memorable pieces.  I must say I enjoyed swimming around in this one…when it worked. I also think this bot would be a wonder to use in a ninth grade English class to help in teaching Shakespeare’s plays and other works.

REAL HUMAN PRAISE was my next favorite selection from “Bots”. Rob Dubbin, according to his bio, is a writer and content generator for the likes of Rotten Tomatoes and The Colbert Report.   This one stood out because of how it dealt with he idea of swapping names and situations between journalists and actual events. The idea of Fake News was presented on the home page.  I found the approach comical and filled with satire.  However, if some of the random one liners found its way to an uneducated public then perhaps some misbegotten deeds could be misbegotten.  Sharks come in many shapes and sizes.  Some swim and some write for news programs.  Sharks scare me, because you never know where one is going to come from.  Learned that in Aruba.  Trope had me feeling the same way.

“Trope” starts off with some really cool sounds.  I like to watch people tap dance.  The sounds at the beginning reminded me of that.  Or like water bubbles popping.  Then, like a shark, the first narrator comes out of the pitch-black screen and says some pretty shocking things that deal with sexuality and masculinity.

The walking sounds between segments help keeps things flowing along.  While I could not figure out how to get the visuals working, the eight minutes or so of audio that played reminded me a great deal of Pink Floyd’s The Wall.  Both the album and the video from the 1980s tell a story about someone dealing with a particularly difficult time in their life.  The main, most noticeable narrator in “Trope” mentions not going to the dentist until after the apocalypse.  The main character in Pink Floyd’s The Wall choses to forego any type of medical care after tough love has failed him.

The main narrator in “Trope” then goes on to say that when her teeth fall out she intends to send them to someone – minus the invoice of course.  There is a scene in The Wall where the main character for some reason, shaves off his nipples.  I got the same kind of creepy vibe.

The varying of music also reminded me of The Wall.  During the playing of that album (just dated myself), Pink Floyd uses a variety of music genres to enhance the dark or light tones that are presented as the tale flows along. Heavier rock style songs showed anger and frustration.  Soothing songs reflected times when the main character was relaxed … or sedated.  “Trope,” by Sarah Waterson, Elena Knox, and Cristyn Davies employ that same technique.  I loved the rendition of Muskrat Love.  I loved all of the 80s music that just came swimming in.  The whispering was used to drop thoughts and ideas much the way the voice tracks in The Wall helped listeners feeling what the main character was going through in his mind. 

For someone who is afraid of heights, yet not afraid to put himself in those types of positions, I’m glad that some of my initial experiences with Electronic Literature began here. As I failed to mention earlier, in Aruba, I learned that as long as I had the right people with me and the right equipment on, there was no way I was going to drown.  “Bots” and “Trope” helped me to swim a little better into waters I have no idea about.  The mix and twist of fear and humor are just what this land lover needed to get me swimming with a bit more confidence.   

E-Lit Queer Skins

All reading should inspire emotion. This piece of work does just that from the very beginning. The family album feel; the telling of the individual vignettes that accompany each photo bring to life the memories this family has for their fallen family member. HIV and AIDS remain serious topics. I myself have lost friends to the disease and this tale brought up many of those memories. However, I don’t believe the emotion this story was meant to convey was sadness. I believe HOPE was the intention. Something we could also use about now.

E-Lit High Muck a Muck…

I have always been a fan of ninja, the samurai and anything that has to do with feudal Japan. Although the story is about the immigration to America from China the entire adventure had a very feudal feel. Some of the text when in motion was difficult to read, but it did convey the sense of leaves blowing in the wind on their way to an unknown destination. I loved the music and how it accentuated the adventure.

Why do I write?

I write because it has been something I have always done. When I was a kid I bounced around between houses staying with my dad, or over at my grandparent’s house. Writing was the one thing I could bring with me no matter where I was. I still carry around little notebooks to write ideas down in. Writing helped me escape to a world that was of my choosing – not the one that was forced upon me.

And while I have been published in the past, I truly believe that Grad School will help me step up my game. Grad School will give me that glimpse into writing for the 21st century that I may not have seen or may have missed. A wise man in my life once said, “Most obvious is hardest to see.”

E-lit Titles for Presentation

My first choice has to be, “Hunt for the Gay Planet.” The Star Wars vibe it gave off caught me right away. Under further investigation, I found this not so much has a ‘hunt’ for a planet, but rather the ‘hunt’ for reflection within. Very Yoda. “Gay, many meanings this word has.” So, from what meaning will you play? Find it in Volume 3.

“The Dark Tower” is my second choice for presentation. The creepy vibe of exploring a dark cavern to hunt down and interpret Generative Fiction that’s floating like a swarm of bugs, or dashing away into the nooks and crannies of the destruction that lurks beneath the tower itself. This too can be found in Volume 3.

As far as the dates for my presentation, I have yet to decide. Stay tuned…

It’s Who Know Who…

Just wait until next time when we talk about the meaning of life … according to Monty Python.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry Don’t worry Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.