Wednesday, April 30, 2008

for each character write a brief paragraph explaining what impact this fictional chracter has had on our culture. Why is this character so fascinating? Important? Misunderstood? Understood?

1. Hannibal the cannibal, he has forever defined serial killers in American Culture. In other works, killers are portrayed as savage, clueless brutes who just kill whenever they can ( see the hills have eyes). Hannibal breaks that mold. You know just watching that he is far more inteligent and capable than the people who surround him.

2. Just like Hannibal defined serial killers, Darth Vader forever changed the bad guy. Famous movies no longer have one sided- easy to identify villains; complex, intriguing people now claim that role. Just look at "No country for Old men" Do you honestly think you can analyze Anton Chigurr? Vader perfected the mold of letting the audience know just a little, but not enough.

3. Who's important?
I don't think anyone embodies the american spirit and individuality like Patton from the movie of the same name. His rough hewn spirit and demand for success is just as American as Huck Finn. As the movie ages, it loses popularity; but it's importance is still prevalent, even today.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


1: People read stories to their children for many different purposes. First and foremost is to encourage reading and language skills. However, stories can also pass along valuable social lessons. For example, cinderella teaches kids to be kind, but also that they can attain their dreams. This is all a part of socialization.

2: Once language and cognitive skills have been learned, some choose to continue to read. This is mainly for pure enjoyment. Most people at this level read novels and other stories, sometimes in magazines. Others read to attain further language skills, but there are other opportunies thta come from reading. One might read the book Freakonomics to learn more about economic principles and such. Also, those reading at this level continue to be exposed to culture and therefore continue the process of socializaton.

3: All mordern cultural issues become part of literature, whether they become mainstream or not. America is a highly literate society, and some choose to read. Most people who read often do not simply go to the bookstore and browse for something that interests them, instead they will go to a friend or other source (NYT) and see what others are reading. Books can serve as a medium (satire maybe) to express an idea, or to point out a fault of society. Great works such as Huck Finn and Catch-22 are excellent examples of this. In Catch-22, Yossarian is doing everything in his power to survive the war, he is the only person in his camp who proclaims "everyone is trying to kill me" his fellow soldiers think he's crazy, but the reader knows it's true.

4: I remember a few of my childhood stories vividly. My favorite growing up was the mouse detective. I suppose the drama was what attracted me. I literally watched this movie dozens of times. Orally, there isn't much that stands out. The first book I really took a liking to was the first Harry Potter, I remember thinking how sad it was that he had to live in a little closet.

5: 1. Engaging language. Nothing is worse than a book with "he went to the garage, then out." A book needs to attract the reader and keep him interested. Catch-22 is also a great example of engaging language.
2. Unique characters. Having unique individuals gives a book a personal side. For example, I've read Mario Puzo's the sicilian, but only remember one or two people from it. Whereas I remember almost every character from the Harry Potter books.
3. Social Commentary. Any good work of art needs to have some relevance to modern society. Picasso's Guernica or Twain's Huck Finn both have relevant messages and relevance to modern society.
4. Humor. A story doesn't need to be all dark and serious, truly memorable works will have some light-hearted sides to them. Catch 22's "HEY! I'm the only MP man here!" is one that sticks out in my mind.
5. Plot. While it doesn't have to be as clear as A hates B so A has to defeat B. Any good novel should have a direction, with rare exception.
6. Exposition. One common theme to all great stories is an exceptional exposition. The main characters are introduced in a unique way that is memorable and unforgettable. The Sopranos did an excellent job of this. For example Christopher beating up the HMO guy.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Ski Racing technique

There are generally two schools to technique in slalom, we'll call them the Austrian and the American. I'll break these two down and highlight the differences, along with examples.

Austrian: This is the old school, the biggest thing to remember is that it accentuates forward hips and ankle pressure. Performed perfectly it would be: Hips forward (over the bindings) ankles flexed, shoulders rounded forward with minimal angles. Angles refer to how close to parallel your legs come with the ground during a turn. The biggest thing are the hips. This form works because you gain leverage over the ski, and therefore you are able to put more pressure on the ski, bending it and building more energy, which equals more speed. The best example of this kind of skier is Mario Matt, you can see this kind of technique here:

American: It gets a little more interesting here, American skiing has evolved since Bode Miller first busted on to the scene. This technique features the hips far behind the legs, almost as if you're sitting in a chair. It also features maximum angles with rounded shoulders and most importantly huge ankle flexion. This technique works because it puts more pressure on the back end of the ski, so the front skims the snow, almost like a motor-boat. you can see it here: Other notable skiers who use this technique are Jens Byggmark, Ted Ligety and Jimmy Cochran. You absolutely cannot succeed skiing like this unless you are extremely quick, as the lack of pressure gives you less control. There is no doubt that if implemented correctly, this technique is fast, however the athletes who use it also experience a high DNF rate.

Another interesting strategy has emerged in Byggmark and Ligety's skiing. These guys will literally plant their fist on the ground and pivot around it. The main reason is to build even greater angles, and therefore exert more pressure on the ski.

Finally, Bode Miller has a unique piece to his form. He reaches for the gate when he approaces and rotates his hips with his hand, building pressure even more.

So there you have it, a breakdown of the two different "schools" of technique in Alpine Ski Racing.

Friday, March 7, 2008

first mrs. B post

2. I suppose I'd like to style my writing similar to what I enjoy reading. I love novels, especially fiction, stories just interest me more than accounts. Some of my favorite books are the Da vinci code, the killer angels and others I can't even think of right now. I also like information books, Freakonomics is a favorite, although I have a harder time staying interested, they're very informative, and funny too, I think of the darwin awards for that one. I don't really ever write outside of school, I prefer to read.

3. It was like heaven, I got off the van and the first thing I noticed were the multitude of beautiful, almost unreal buildings covering everything except for the mountain. There were posters hanging from the lampposts which read "Welcome to Beaver Creek." This was by far the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen, the mountain was huge and even more so from the chairlift, which went at least 30 mph. That was something that fascinated me, the architecture and overrall theme was one of mixed stone and ski lodge, yet well integrated with technology. I rode up the chairlift with my friend Petey, and the first thing we decided to do was to go down Birds of Prey. This was no ordinary double black diamond, this was the race hill. Not just any race hill, The world championship Downhill was held here. It's largely considered the second most dangerous race hill in the world. After all, Bode Miller hit 90 mph on it just a few weeks earlier. When we got off the chairlift, we had to ski down a short run and over a catwalk to get there. From the moment I started off, I noticed that gravity seemed to be stronger, going fast was just a matter of being on skis, it required nothing else. While we were traversing the catwalk, I spotted a big sign that read "Welcome to Birds Of Prey, home of the 1999 World Alpine Championships." Just a few strides away was a huge ice sculpture of an eagle. The hill was still scarred from the downhill, there were blue lines everywhere that marked the track, and the v-netting was still coating the side. When we started off, for the first time in years I had a hard time controlling my speed, I was even a little intimidated. It took us about 5 minutes to get to the bottom, An eternity compared to the 2 minutes it takes a world cup downhiller, but then again, we were on skis half that length.


Monday, February 25, 2008

Toward the Future

1.I found it fairly difficult to write the play, things got easier once I started typing though, I guess when you can physically put your ideas down things start to flow faster. It was also difficult to add the themes and plot lines effectively, along with bringing my characters out as I had hoped. I was particularly frustrated with the lack of action you could put in, things would have been easier in Novel Form. However Dialogue was certainly easier. I would be interested in writing a screenplay, although I'm sure writing a story that long would be difficult.

2. I guess I would give advice based on what I've experienced. Whenver someone asks my opinion or advice, I generally go off of what I know, not what I interpret in others. The most important thing I would have to say to anyone is this: Find something you love and stick with it. I think it was Twain who said "there is only time in life for one great passion" and I agree. Besides that you love this activity or whatever it is, there are other practical reasons for following this. Whenver you can become an "expert" in something you're giving yourself an advantage. Like no matter what happens for the rest of my life, (unless I get hurt I suppose) I'll be a great skier. I could instruct or get a job in the industry if need be.

3. The key to any literary or art-work gaining immortality is this: It must be popular among educators. Anything can become a pop-culture phenomenon, but eventually it will pass. The only way it will last forever is if it is taught to each subsequent generation. Many great novels are mandatory reading in High School or College. Works like Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Homer and more fit this mold. Other works could be remembered for something they changed in society. Uncle Tom's Cabin is a good example of this, A lot of people remember it, but no one reads it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Thinker... wtv

1. To be good at anything you need to observe others. In ski racing I always take time out to watch the top racers, emulation is a key to success. This same principle applies to writing, to be good at creating your own works, you must study those of others who are already good at it. They say that great minds think alike, this applies to everything else. Great athletes all work hard and study those with success, as do writers, politicians, generals and others. And once you've achieved some success, then you innovate to earn your own place at the top.

2. If anything really concerns me it's the way our economy is going. The gap between rich and poor grows every year. As Americans we all have a certain standard of living, and as time goes on that standard becomes less and less possible to attain. I attribute this to high taxes and inflation, people only bring home about 60-70% of their income. As Bill Clinton said "It's the Economy Stupid". --- I dont wan't to have to go through life paying high taxes and struggling to make a decent living, just because I didn't make it in to the top 10%.

3. The show Seinfeld has always inspired me to look at life with a grain of salt. Don't always be so serious, but also look at things objectively, almost as an outsider. This POV has helped me see the world (I think) a little differently than others, or maybe growing up with liberal parents in a conservative city. This show has also helped me to see humorous things in every day life. You know, the girlfriend who chomps a lot of gum, the sports fan who paints his face...

Theme and all that

1. Theme isn't really all that important to me when I write. I like to just concentrate on the characters and try to bring out their personalities. The best works don't always have a developed theme. For example, the Great Gatsby doesn't have all that much of a theme, in fact, I thought it was pretty boring. On the other hand, Red Dragon has a very developed theme, horror. Books that are fun to read generally have developed themes and moods. the so-called "great works" don't always fit that.

2. I'd probably try and fit some suspense in. As a writer I get concerned over wether or not my readers are interested. The best way to keep people in their seats is to make your work suspenseful, it draws people in. My aim as a writer is to entertain, you can't entertain if you're not interesting.

3. Conflict to me generally revolves around two characters, the pro and antagonist. Both strive to accomplish conflicting goals. In particular, I like conflicts revolving around a certain goal that are clear. For example in Red Dragon there is a clear conflict between three characters.