Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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After having the opportunity to listen to the famous travel writer and editor Don George, I felt privileged to not only learn about the field he works in, but also about the man himself. The immediate impression Don George gave off was one of enthusiasm and general satisfaction with his career.

The first topic Mr. George went into was his career as a travel writer.  He mentioned that he has been a travel writer for over twenty-six years, has visited over sixty countries, and has also written six hundred articles, such as “Winter Whale Watching”. In addition, he appears on television, radio, and teaches travel workshops.

Don George’s first job was as a travel writer for the San Francisco Examiner, which he maintained for seventeen years. The following year he joined the online magazine “Salon.com” and was responsible for the travel section. In 2001, George left Salon.com and joined Lonely Planet where he works as a global travel editor, spokesperson, workshop teacher, and writer. Today, he also edits two blog websites, one of which is named “Reece”.

            After talking about his personal life, Don George spoke about the essence of what travel writing really is. His first point was that it is completely non-fiction; in other words, readers expect the author to be writing truthfully and honestly about his or her experience at a particular destination. The other key element to travel writing is to “illuminate a place” (George). He elaborated by explaining that a travel writer must be able to bring a place to life for the reader. The goal of the writer is to “convey something essential by allowing the reader to feel like he or she has been there too” (George).

            The two categories of journal writing Don George discussed are service journalism and destination journalism. In service journalism, the travel writer provides a service to the reader by providing the essential information about specific places. For example, the “10 Best Dim Sum Restaurants in San Francisco” would classify as a service piece. In destination journalism, a personal travel experience is recreated for the reader, in hopes bringing a place to life.

             In regards to destination journalism, Mr. George discussed what the fundamental theme of each story is, and this term is called the “epiphany moment”. The epiphany moment is the most meaningful singular moment that touched one during their travel experience. The construction of this moment stems from questions such as, “What did I learn?” and “What was the essence or richness of my experience?” (George). Therefore, the remainder of the destination journal is story-telling. Important questions to ask oneself for this part include “What was the process in learning it?” and “What were the critical points of those steps?” or “What details must the reader know to appreciate my epiphany moment?” (George).

            The final aspect of Don George’s construction of a proper destination story is ensuring that it includes the basic three step structure: beginning, middle, and end. The beginning makes up the first two to four paragraphs and it introduces the setting; it tells the reader where you are, why you are there, and what is to come in the subsequent paragraphs. The middle takes up approximately ninety percent of the story and it is the long and windy road of what happened to you at the destination of focus. In addition, it is where important information is isolated to allow the reader to understand the main point. The end is where a travel writer wraps up the story by confirming that the reader knows the main point and where the reader is sent off back into the world feeling richer.

            Lastly, George offered information about how to be an excellent researcher prior to writing the travel article. He mentioned the significance of keeping a journal while at one’s destination and to take detailed notes. It is imperative to pay attention to the details of one’s surroundings because these details will act as building blocks for a larger anecdote.

            Overall, my time listening to Don George was one of great gratification.

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Welcome Page

Posted: January 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

This is my welcome page. Here is the journal of all my travels!

Man Push Cart, 2005

Posted: January 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

This video clip from the film, Man Push Cart, directed by Ramin Bahrani and starring Ahmad Razvi depicts how difficult life can be. In Ahmad’s situation, there is a feeling of sadness because he is in such a terrible rut. In the conversation with the old man in his car, Ahmad reveals that he has not seen his son in three months because he does not have enough money to support him. As seen in the background, the two men are in front of Toys “R” Us, and the audience discovers later in the film that Ahmad was trying to buy a toy for his son, but, once again, he could not afford it. His conditions are certainly unfortunate and it is apparent that a feeling of hopelessness has come over Ahmad. Although it is depressing to watch how gloomy his state in life is, one cannot help but to reprimand Ahmad. In the beginning of this scene, he buys a pack of cigarettes for almost seven dollars. Throughout the movie, Ahmad constantly has a cigarette in his mouth which makes one wonder: how can he be continuously spending his money on something that is not a necessity of life when it is clear he is struggling to pay for his cart and food.

One of the major themes in the movie Man Push Cart is that things do not always work out in life. Life does not always have a happy ending and no matter how hard one works, one’s fortunes may remain the same or possibly get even worse. Though there were brief signs of hope in Ahmad’s life and it appeared that things were looking up, he had a major setback when someone stole his breakfast cart. In the early parts of the film, the audience sees him pushing his cart through the streets of New York to his corner in midtown Manhattan in order to sell muffins, bagel, and coffee. It is evident that the cart is incredibly difficult to drag around, especially when he pushes it around at 3 A.M. every day in the dark. Later on, this Pakistani immigrant finds other opportunities for work such as helping a fellow Pakistani man work on his house. This man recognizes Ahmad as a rock star back home in Pakistan and begins to try to help him. He helps him financially by giving him money to buy his food cart as well as providing beer and food for him. He even introduces Ahmad to a man in the music business in order to rejuvenate his singing career. Ahmad is hired to work in a nightclub but leaves in the middle of his shift saying that he is unable to work both jobs. Again, there was hope in his future but the job did not work out for him and he continued to struggle. In addition to his work struggles, Ahmad had extreme troubles in his family life. His wife passed away one year ago and his son moved in with his grandmother. When what Ahmad went to visit his son for the first time in months, his son ignored him and showed no love to his father. No matter what Ahmad does, it seems as if things will never get better and the light at the end of the tunnel will never appear. Once more, Ahmad meets a girl named Noemi and there seems to be a relationship forming, but suddenly his fortunes turn against him and she leaves back to Spain.

 Ahmad pushing his cart

 Ahmad and Noemi

Another theme that exists in this movie is the theme of immigrant life. Not only was the main character in the film, Ahmad, an immigrant worker from Pakistan, there were many other immigrants seen in the film as well. Another man from Pakistan was featured in the film and was also working in a food van. Noemi was also an immigrant from Spain and also was working in her own cart, except she was selling magazines and cigarettes. As seen throughout the film, the life of an immigrant can be one that is especially hard. There are so much less opportunities to succeed as far as finding a job and living comfortably.

 Immigrant workers

Man on Wire, 2008

Posted: January 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

This is clip is one of the final segments in the documentary, Man on Wire, which was produced by Simon Chinn and stars Philippe Petit. The emotion from the interviewees that was portrayed in the video clip really tells the story of how special and magical this event was. The emotion that was given off in these interviews seemed to come most intensely from Philippe’s friends. Although a great deal of excitement was given off by Philippe, an even stronger feeling of fear, relief, and astonishment was given off by his friends. Jean-Louis Blondeau, for example, broke into tears when describing how he felt as he saw that his friend was secure on the wire. Annie Allix’s (Philippe’s girlfriend) emotion shined as she was describing seeing Philippe on the wire in between the Twin Towers in New York City. On the other hand, in Philippe’s case, the audience saw his emotion regarding the thrill he attained from walking on the cable. However, because he was so confident in his abilities and because he knew he was doing what he loved, Philippe was able to keep a moderate mood.

 Philippe Petit

The main theme in this British documentary film is that if one has a passion for something, nothing can get in the way of reaching that goal or obtaining what he or she loves. The audience realizes that Philippe has a passion for high-wire walking when he was describing how much he loves it. In the beginning of the film, he told a story of going to a dentist’s office and seeing a magazine that said the Twin Towers in New York City are going to be the tallest buildings in the world. After that, he repeatedly said he found his dream, which was to wire-walk from one building to the other. Another comment that proved his passion was when he described what he does as a beautiful gift he is giving to the people of New York. Unfortunately, there are various risks involved in wire-walking but Philippe did not get discouraged. His passion for this activity was definitely evident considering the fact that one minor mistake can surely end his life. One slip will cause him to fall 400 meters to his death. Not to mention, on some days there were incredibly high winds and freezing weather he had to overcome. Philippe is perfectly aware of the circumstances and knows that he is very close to death yet his desire to do what he loves allows him to pursue. Another risk he faced was losing his family and friends. To most people, family and friends always comes before personal hobbies. In Philippe’s case, however, high-wire walking was his life. He said that no matter what may happen, he is doing what he loves. In other words, if he does fall to his death, at least he is dying doing what he was born to do. Once again, Philippe’s passion for high-wire walking was displayed when the authorities stood in his way. He had to risk going to jail multiple times by sneaking into the Twin Towers illegally where security guards lurked about. In addition, there were police officers waiting for him on the Twin Tower buildings. Philippe did not give up, but rather he had fun with the policemen by taunting them.

 High-wire walking

 Getting arrested

Good Bye, Lenin!, 2003

Posted: January 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

The clip above is the climax of the film, Good Bye, Lenin, directed by Wolfgang Becker. In her condition, Christiane, played by Katrin Sass, was directed to stay in bed and avoid any form of excitement in order for her to prevent another heart attack. As was displayed in the movie, Christiane was in a coma for eight months and was not aware of the Berlin Wall coming down. Her son, Alex Kerner, played by Daniel Bruhl, and the other people whom are a part of her life were creating a false life for her to believe. Alex and his friend even created news reports to tell her that East Berlin and West Berlin were still feuding. In this scene, however, she first comes to wonder that things have changed. For example, she finds out that one of the movers is from West Berlin and she also continues to see advertisements such as the Ikea signs. The most emotional part of the scene is when she sees the Vladimir Lenin statue being taken away by a helicopter. At this point in the movie, Christiane comes to realize that the world has changed and the people around her may have been telling lies. In addition, the audience is very worried for the health of Christiane, especially when her children run to her with extreme concern.

One of the major themes in this film is the contrast between the old times and the new and the question of nostalgia or embracing the past. After their mother came out of the coma she was in for several months, her children Alex and Ariane, along with their friends, formed a false world for her. This world was based on life eight months ago, the life she missed. Alex went out and searched for Spreewald Pickles in order to satisfy her craving for these pickles. The significance of this is that this brand of pickles was not sold in any stores in East Berlin bust instead they were imported from Holland. Ever since East and West Berlin began to get along, the world slowly started to change and Christiane missed out on all of it. She continued to show her nostalgia of the past by desiring to return to the weekend cabin their family went to. The theme continued regarding embracing the past because Alex and his co-worker made Christiane’s bedroom exactly the same way it was before her coma in order to preserve her memory. However, the contrast between the old and the new was important because they did choose to tell her mother some things that she slept through. For instance, they informed her that she was a grandmother now. Ariane told her that she and her husband had a child named Paula and Alex told her that she had a new girlfriend named Lara. Finding this balance between the old and the new was a significant theme that occurred throughout the film.

  Family on the way to the weekend cabin

 The weekend cabin

 Preserving Christiane’s room

A minor theme in the movie, Good Bye, Lenin is love. The love that is highlighted the most in the film is that between Alex and Lara. They first meet on the streets during a protest against West Berlin. Alex was choking on an apple and Lara saved him from suffocating. Later on they were reunited in the hospital because Lara was a nurse for his mother. Alex and Lara started to see more and more of each other and went out on dates with each other. Over time, their love grew stronger and stronger. Another important love is that between Alex and his mother. Alex showed his love to his mother through his actions by visiting often in the hospital. He was also the one to force the issue on bringing his mother home to live with him. Another example of the love he portrayed to his mother was when he invited all of her friends to their house for her birthday. Throughout the film, Alex shows the love for his mother more than any other character.

 Alex and Lara

 Alex and Christiane

Quiz Show, 1994

Posted: January 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

This clip is one of the most important scenes in the movie, Quiz Show which was directed by Robert Redford. This scene is a classic example of one feeling an enormous amount of guilt. These “guilt scenes” are used quite often in today’s movies and shows. For Charles Van Doren, the guilt he felt was because he knew that he ultimately got the answers to the questions that the host would ask before the show from the producers so he really did not deserve the money he won. As Charles and his intellectual father Mark Van Doren were talking one-on-one, Mark said things such as, “It’s just amazing that you could make it look so easy”, referring to his success on the game show Twenty One. Mark also said that having a son is when a man is most happy. Once again, the discussion between the father and son is an example of typical conversation that appears on television today. Charles told his father that he was most happy as a child when he came home after school and had a slice of chocolate cake and a large glass of cold milk. At this time in his life, everything was simple and he did not have to deal with the problems that arose in his life after making his appearances on this game show.

The major theme in the film, Quiz Show is the lack of morals that existed with many different characters throughout the film. The primary concern in regards to one’s morality has to do with lying and cheating. The studio producers Dan Enright and Albert Freedman did not preserve the integrity of the show in order to increase the show’s ratings and earn more revenue. By watching the movie, the audience discovers that the producers would go over the questions that the host would ask on the upcoming shows with the contestants that the viewers are fond of. Enright and Freedman were essentially the catalysts of all the dishonest behavior that was happening. They would choose the contestants that give the show the highest possible ratings and would tell them that they could be superstars and win more money than they could imagine. At the same time, the network is producing more and more money by taking away the shows legitimacy. Of course the contestants are also to blame. Herbert Stempel, a resident of Queens, New York, was the main attraction on the show. After he lost his position as champion of Twenty One, Stempel admitted to an investigator named Dick Goodwin that the answers were given to him by the producers of the show. On top of that, he showed a great deal of pride that was not deserved by referring to himself as brilliant and the smartest man on the show. An instructor at Columbia University, Charles Van Doren was placed in the same situation and also cheated. He too did not demonstrate humility and showed signs of believing he deserved the money.

  Dan Enright and Albert Freedman

 Charles Van Doren

A minor theme in the movie has to do with a fear of anti-Semitism. Herbert Stempel believes that there is a Jewish conspiracy on the game Quiz Show. He strongly believes that after a Jewish person wins ten or fifteen games in a row, he or she suddenly loses to the handsome and charming non-Jew. His fear of anti-Semitism is evident in both his claims and his actions that continue throughout the movie as Stempel attempts to justify his loss to Charles Van Doren. After his rating plateaued, Stempel was ousted from the show. The producer even said, “Why would you want to be an annoying Jewish guy with a sidewall haircut.” Although this was intended to be humorous, during time the show was running, anti-Semitism was an ongoing problem. The producers then asked Herb to lose for the cause of education and found Charles’ appearance and very nature (professor) fits the role model protégé much better. As Herb says in the film, the Jew loses to the gentile. He even told this to Goodwin and Goodwin researched his theory and found it to be true. In the past, the Jewish contestants did in fact lose to the gentiles.

 Herb Stempel

 Dick Goodwin

Cinema Paradiso, 1988

Posted: January 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

This clip in the movie Cinema Paradiso directed by Giuseppe Tornatore, shows the scene in which there was an angry group of people demanding to watch the film they were playing in the town’s theatre. Cinema Paradiso was closing its theatre for the night and a cluster of people still had not watched the movie. The problem was that Cinema Paradiso was the only theatre in town and watching movies was one of the only forms of entertainment that these people had. In order to solve the problem of the frustrated townspeople, Alfredo, played by Philippe Noiret, turned the film on. In this magical scene, Alfredo rolled the film outside using a stranger’s home as the background. Not only does this scene successfully represent Salvatore Di Vita’s (played by Jacques Perrin) passion for movies, it also shows the love the people of Giancaldo, Sicily have for films as well. As soon as the film appeared on the man’s home, the Sicilian people cheered and were thrilled to watch the movie.

One of the most important themes in this movie is love. Love occurs repeatedly throughout the film in a variety of ways. The first love that the audience is able to see is the love that Salvatore (a.k.a. Toto) has for film and what goes into making a film. There are various examples when Toto shows his love for movies such as when he constantly sneaks into Alfredo’s workspace even when his mother deliberately said he was not allowed there. Despite his mother forbidding him to go to the theatre and Alfredo kicking him out multiple times, Toto’s love for movies brought him back to Cinema Paradiso. He even took the money his mother gave him to buy groceries and instead bought a ticket to a movie. Another love that developed in Salvatore’s life was the love he felt towards Alfredo and also the love Alfredo had for Toto. In the movie, the audience learns that Toto’s father is away at war and eventually died in battle. Alfredo acts as a father-figure for Toto and the connection they develop is one that is very special. At first, Alfredo believes that Toto is just an annoying pest and is always following him around as he works. However, as they spend more time together and as Alfredo sees how much Toto is in love with movies, they both form a strong love for each other. Another love revealed in the film is the love he feels for a girl named Elena. At this point in the movie, Salvatore has grown into a young man, perhaps in his late teens. During their time together, the audience sees Toto woo and win the heart of Elena. Salvatore even makes a bold decision to stand outside of Elena’s window every night until she relents. Unfortunately for the couple, Elena’s father did not approve of their relationship and her family moved away.

 Toto’s love of movies

 Alfredo and Toto

 Toto and Elena

Another theme in the movie is censorship. The town’s priest would watch the movies before they were played in Cinema Paradiso and would ring a bell at the parts he felt were inappropriate. Alfredo then had to cut that part of the movie out and skip straight to the next scene. The problem that seemed to occur over and over again was the parts in the movie when two people kiss. Every time that part in the movie was shown, the priest would throw his hand up and ring the bell. This is definitely interesting considering that many of today’s movies contain various sexual scenes and actions that are considerably more provocative then what was seen in this film. The people of the town felt that censorship took away from the movie and one man even said he had not seen two people kiss in a movie in over twenty years. These people even cheered when a movie finally showed a kissing scene.

 Priest with his bell