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July 16, 2007

Reaction to "Nickel and DImed"

As I read the introduction of "Nickel and Dimed" I was thinking to myself, "Yeah, I've heard this before." There have been several examples of writers and fair wage advocates doing "experiments" like this, and the verdict is always that it is much harder to survive on minimum wage than they imagined. I have to give the author of this piece a lot of credit for the way she conveyed her experiences in written form. Instead of concentrating on the details of her finances (and she freely admits how she "cheated" by giving herself an optimal head start), she actually focuses on the various people she meets through her experiences and how it felt to begin to become one of them. Throughout the introduction she explains how she prepared herself to go without many luxuries and to work in boring, thankless jobs. What she obviously didn't prepare herself for was the emotional toll that working so hard just to maybe break even would take. This is best illustrated through the final episode at the diner when she finally quits and walks out. Even though I wanted to fault her for quiting and ending her venture prematurely, the truth is she really could leave any time she wanted and upon leaving didn't feel elated or releaved but just the sense of failure and disappointment in herself, showing that somewhere along the way she actually began to function at the level of those whose world she wanted to observe as an outsider.

July 10, 2007

Reaction to "Smells Like Teen Spirit"

Reading "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was interesting for a few reasons. I agreed with the author's argument that the song was successful because it gave a voice to the inarticulable emotions many of its audience were experiencing. I can easily see how the screaming and mumbled lyrics and agressive instrumentation express the frustration and angst of young adults. The worst (or possibly best if it was intentional, but I don't think so) part of the essay, however, was the style of writing. In reading it there seemed to be a quote or citation in every other sentence. It completely ruined the flow of the paper and made it harder to read. What's more, most of the quoted material did little to further the argument the author was trying to make. Most of it was 'yeah, duh' information, opinion, or quotes of one or two words which provided little extra information to make up for the interruption in the flow of the paper. The author would have been better off to just come up with his own words to get the idea across. In some cases I even wonder if the citing was necessary. Surely the source author doesn't have a complete monopoly on that one word. At any rate, after the discussion of the Batman piece, I could see how this paper sort of mumbled through the details even though the message is perfectly clear is a parallel to the song being so inarticulate that it expresses the emotions very clearly. But, I think more likely it was just an inexperienced writer.

Reaction to "Smells Like Teen Spirit"

Reading "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was interesting for a few reasons. I agreed with the author's argument that the song was successful because it gave a voice to the inarticulable emotions many of its audience were experiencing. I can easily see how the screaming and mumbled lyrics and agressive instrumentation express the frustration and angst of young adults. The worst (or possibly best if it was intentional, but I don't think so) part of the essay, however, was the style of writing. In reading it there seemed to be a quote or citation in every other sentence. It completely ruined the flow of the paper and made it harder to read. What's more, most of the quoted material did little to further the argument the author was trying to make. Most of it was 'yeah, duh' information, opinion, or quotes of one or two words which provided little extra information to make up for the interruption in the flow of the paper. The author would have been better off to just come up with his own words to get the idea across. In some cases I even wonder if the citing was necessary. Surely the source author doesn't have a complete monopoly on that one word. At any rate, after the discussion of the Batman piece, I could see how this paper sort of mumbled through the details even though the message is perfectly clear is a parallel to the song being so inarticulate that it expresses the emotions very clearly. But, I think more likely it was just an inexperienced writer.