Review of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope, by Ian Doescher, and my first chance to talk about Shakespeare

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This is the kind of thing for which I’ve been waiting a long time but just never realized the fact until I saw it on a bookstore shelf about a week ago.

See, I used to be a drastically different person back in high school. As a little kid, I was painfully shy, and I had about two friends at any given time. Around middle school, I came out of my shell a little too much and actually got myself involved with lots of acting sorts of things. I was never very good at it, but it was what my friends were doing, and I have to admit it was pretty fun. It was especially fun when I got my first big break playing Oberon in our production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream my sophomore year–a production commonly considered among the best if not the best show my high school ever put on. I didn’t know much about Shakespeare before then, but this left a good taste in my mouth and an appetite for a lot more. More

Review of Elysium, and a bit about obviousness in narrative agenda

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One of the first movie reviews I ever wrote for The Argus was of District 9, which was probably a pretty nice one to get started on. It was a well-made and thoughtful movie with a unique story behind its creation giving me tons of material with which to fill a 500-word space, including an attention-grabbing warning that it was probably the most brutally violent movie I’d ever seen. Now director and screenwriter Niell Blomkamp has a second thoughtful and intense sci-fi action movie for me to review, Elysium. And, again, I had no problem thinking of lots of things to say even as the movie was making me cringe with disgust or freeze with tension. More

On reviews and making things worth reviewing

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Fiction narratives have been my passion for most of my life, and that’s exactly what made me accidentally become a journalist in school.

When I came to Illinois Wesleyan University as a freshman, I learned that the university newspaper, The Argus, gives people money to write movie reviews, and that was all I ever needed to hear. One year later, with about ten or so pieces featuring my name in the byline, I was offered a position as Managing Editor. A year after that, I was Editor-in-Chief.

Writing reviews has since been a thing of the past for me. While I was Chief, my Managing Editor and I had to keep the paper’s news section floating by desperately scrounging the 2000-student campus for anything to write about, and, since then, I’ve only had my long-term magazine internship/assistantship working with the editorial team on researching and proofreading and fact-checking.

Now I’m finally coming back to reviews. Soon I’ll have my very first book review published on the Yes! Magazine website, and I also plan to take on a couple of reviews here for some respite after all that abstracted theory and analysis. But before getting into that, I think it’s worth talking about review writing itself and the methods I have used and plan to use. More

Coming to terms with Reader Response theory

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At my university, the English department offers a terrifying trial-by-fire for foolish English majors who suffer the arrogant delusion of thinking they know what they’re talking about. Literary Theories is the kind of experience after which you will no longer fear death, and it was a class I thought I could handle. And I suppose I did handle it, getting out with a B and managing to write the first of my two essays that Professor Chapman would give an A through my three classes with him, but I got my face kicked every day trying to keep up with all of that lit theories stuff.

We read one piece of fiction, James Joyce’s short story “The Dead,” and then spent four months reading essays on every variety of literary theory we could fit in the class. Things like feminist, Marxist, psychoanalytical, and liberal humanist theory were old-hat, but we (I) hit some pretty debilitating snags with postmodern theory, and never ask me to explain what deconstructionist theory is even supposed to be. But the one I struggled with in the best sort of way, as in I could actually understand it and thus grapple with it, was reader response theory. More

Children’s literature and prescription/description

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At the moment, I’m living in a house on Bainbridge Island, Washington thanks to the magazine for whom I’m interning. And in one of the house’s bookshelves, there’s a copy of Martin the Warrior from the Redwall series.

The first night I got to this house six months ago, none of my housemates were home, so I kinda looked around with nothing better to do. When I found Martin the Warrior, that gave me plenty.

Brian Jacques (actually pronounced “Jakes”; he wasn’t the type for pretentious French crap) and his Redwall series is probably the chief reason behind why I was an English lit major and am as in love with stories as I am. More

Bittersweet endings

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I, and most people who are into literature and stories and things, really like sad stories, and I’ve never been totally sure why this is.

I, and most of the people I know, consider myself to be a generally positive, optimistic person. I like to believe in the best in people and situations, and I live my life in opposition to pointless drama. But, for some reason, I appreciate it more than anything when a story really gets me going with some profound sorrows. The same goes for the rest of the world too, I guess, since pretty much every great, timeless novel I can think of has a sad ending. Maybe not Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King? No, even that’s kinda sad. See? Great literature is not a place you go to cheer yourself up.

Here’s a couple possible explanations: More

Why Spec Ops: The Line is the most important video game ever made

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If you want to know why I’m not a very good English major, it’s because I’m distracted by all kinds of narratives other than the ones in books. I know I’ve got millions of books to read, but I’ve also got a million movies to see and video games to play. And right now I have a specific game to rant about, because nothing pisses me off like people misunderstanding Spec Ops: The Line.

I have to cut some slack for the reviewers who have gotten on my nerves with this, though—The Line is easy to misunderstand without, first, being a specific kind of gamer, and, second, being willing to think about The Line beyond it’s own contextI don’t imagine that’s an easy place to be when you’re trying to evaluate a game in a review, but it’s where you need to be for this one. More

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