Cruz's Success

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There is an interesting feature on Penelope Cruz by Ingrid Sischy in the latest issue of Vanity Fair.  The story focuses on Cruz because of her two upcoming films, Pedro Almodovar's Broken Embraces and Rob Marshall's Nine.

The feature compares Cruz to the likes of Marlene Dietrichs and Sophia Loren.  Cruz not only remains a star in her native country of Spain but has managed to reach an elusive level of Hollywood stardom.  Her success on many levels is a triumph for other aspiring Spanish performers. 

Sischy declares Cruz as having reached the pinnacle of her career, after a series of letdowns.  She praises not only Cruz's success, but also her character with a charming anecdote at the beginning.

This feature is a profile of the actress Penelope Cruz, because it looks at her life and career in addition to who she is as a person. 

The structure of this profile follows the predictable pattern of starting in the present and then flashing back to the beginning of her career.  In a typical rags-to-riches story, Sischy describes Cruz's journey to becoming the remarkable success she is today.

I was taken aback by Sischy's commentary in some places.  In addressing Cruz's physical appearance, she bluntly states the actress isn't "cookie-cutter pretty" and "even has a bit of a schnoz."  

There's Something About Sarah


Lisa Belkin makes a statement with her feature on the public's fascination with Sarah Palin in the latest issue of The New York Times Magazine.  Belkin explains why women dislike Palin the most.

Contrary to what one would expect, women are the least supportive of Palin's political career.  They feel that Palin is in fact a step backward in the feminist movement because she doesn't have much to offer beyond looks. 

This feature is more of a trend story than a profile.  Although the subject is Sarah Palin, the story examines a trend surrouding Palin rather than looking exclusively at her.  The trend is that women were unsure of their feelings toward Palin at first, but quickly dismissed her as an embodiment of everything they fight against. 

A clever metaphor assimilating life to high school casts Palin as the popular, head cheerleader and "today's educated, ambitious women" as the student council presidents and debate team members.  I liked this style of writing because it offers a visual explanation of the phenomenon Belkin is drawing our attention toward. 

What I didn't like about this feature was how dramatic it is.  Belkin puts so much energy in portraying Palin as this monster, or woman everyone "loves to hate." 

Another aspect of this feature I didn't like was that is was slightly confusing.  Belkin seemed to contradict herself in emphasizing how unpopular Palin is among women yet she likens her to the popular "head cheerleader."

The Real Guide Michelin

There is an interesting feature by John Colapinto in the latest issue of The New Yorker.  The story exposes the truth behind the famous Michelin hotel-and-restaurant guide, including the elusive careers of its anonymous inspectors. 

            Colapinto has lunch with one of the guide's New York-based inspectors, Maxime, in order to better understand a rather misunderstood guide.  Originally created in France at the turn of the last century, the restaurant guide was not received too warmly upon its arrival in the United States in 2005.

            Skeptics of the guide question its methods of having anonymous inspectors who are not allowed to reveal their occupation to anyone.  Others feel the Guide Michelin plays favorites when handing out the coveted "stars." 

            I would classify this feature as a consumer guide to a consumer guide.  Colapinto tells readers the history behind the guide and presents opinions of supporters and skeptics.  Armed with this information, the audience has the power to decide what is and isn't useful about the Michelin guide.

            While most of the information presented is intriguing, the piece is excessive in length.  The author includes too much background information. 

            I liked the structure of the feature.  Colapinto does a nice job juxtaposing the past and the present, with excerpts from his lunch with Maxime and blocks of background information.  

The New York Times reported Tuesday that President Barack Obama plans to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan as part of a plan to end the war there. 

            Members of the Democratic party are not all in support of this military proposal, including White House Budget Director Peter R. Orszag. 

            The White House said Obama is to present his decision on the number of troops to be sent in a national address Tuesday. 

            Obama and his advisors have also devised benchmarks for the Afghan government to meet, in order to ensure progress. 

            The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Obama's address will give a tentative time frame for ending the war. 

            Obama will be addressing NATO allies as well, emphasizing their role in achieving the goals he presents.  

Alaskan schools shut down due to a dwindling rural population

The New York Times reported Wednesday that several schools in rural Alaska are closing down due to a decreasing rural population and a minimum enrollment requirement imposed by the State Legislature. 

Schools identified as having fewer than 10 students enrolled "face severe funding cuts," according to a State Legislature decision made in 1998. 

Some supporters of the higher enrollment requirement say the closing of these rural schools is inevitable.  "Schools may close, but the fact of the matter is, we're in the education business," said Gary Wilken, a former Republican state senator from Fairbanks.

Reluctance to provide funding for schools, like the Nikolski School in the Aleutian Islands, stems from standardized test scores indicating poor performance among rural and native students. 

Others view the closing of these native schools as a loss of culture and tradition.  A school being shut down is the "death of the community," according to Georgianna Lincoln, a former Democratic state senator.

Schools employ any methods available, such as advertising on Craigslist, to evade the annual statewide student counting period.  

The Star Tribune reported Wednesday that the Northstar commuter-rail line will be making some changes including an extra trip Sunday after the Vikings game and earlier departure times.

            The Vikings-Bears game at the Metrodome Sunday afternoon is the reason for an extra departure time on Sunday. 

Starting Monday, trains from downtown Minneapolis will depart five minutes earlier than the times listed on the original schedule, according to transportation officials. 

The change was made in an effort to better serve customers who were feeling rushed.  "The extra five minutes will give customers a reliable connection to their homebound trains," said Adam Harrington, assistant director of route and system planning.

The Minnesota Daily reported Nov. 15 that Metrotransit's Northstar rail line serves the north metropolitan area including Anoka, Big Lake, Coon Rapids/Riverdale, Elk River, and Target Field.  

Recent Comments

  • kleb0013: Stephanie, I wrote a blog on this feature as well. read more
  • kleb0013: Stephanie, I wrote a blog on this feature as well. read more
  • radda014: I really loved the features I looked at from Vanity read more

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