Sunday, October 28, 2007
Between The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and The Sea Inside, there are many similarities and differences. The two stories are similar as they both had the main person as a quadriplegic. Moreover, both Bauby and Ramon had a sort of sarcastic sense of humor towards their conditions. Although they are similar in that way, I think the differences between the two stories are much more prevalent. An easy difference is that Ramon can talk, while Bauby cannot. This “gift” helps Ramon express his desire to die. Bauby, on the other hand, never expresses the want to die in his memoir. While the two men both express hope through imagination- Ramon with his flying and Bauby with his fond memories-, I think Bauby shows more hope towards the future as he allows himself to express his emotions more freely. I think the movie, The Sea Inside, was more powerful because it dealt with the want to die- something not discussed much in daily life. It’s hard to put myself in the position to even think about dying, let alone desiring to die. Because of the issue’s controversy, The Sea Inside had a much more powerful impact on me.
The camera movements in The Sea Inside were well thought out and added a lot to the director’s message. A first scene where I noticed that the camera shots were meaningful was the scene where Ramon first meets Julia. At first, they shot Ramon from high angle, making him seem weak and powerless. To add to this the director takes a pan of Ramon’s whole body to introduce his awful condition. As Ramon begins to talk to Julia, the camera takes an eye level close up of him to show him from Julia’s eyes. This shows that Julia can relate to his condition and his want to die. As Ramon begins discussing how moving his hand 5 inches to touch Julia’s is an impossible journey, the camera tilts down to their hands to make a high angle that shows Ramon’s weakness. Another scene where the camera movements helped the message was in the scene where Ramon dove into the sea and broke his neck (where he first became a quadriplegic). Before the viewer even knows he broke his neck, the director foreshadows that something bad is going to happen as he shows Ramon diving from a high angle- he is doomed. Those two scenes were the most prominent, in my opinion, in the director’s technique of camera movements.
Friday, October 26, 2007
*Note: I blocked most of my quotes on this essay on Microsoft Word, but when I transfered it onto my blog, the quotes were no longer blocked. I then tried to tab them, but it won't allow me to. If you would like a copy with my quotes formated correctly, please comment on my blog. Just in case, I will just bring a copy of my essay on Monday.
Happy Birthday or Whatever by Annie Choi
Although families get on each other’s nerves, they are also the people who love each other the most. Sometimes an individual is audibly arguing with their parents over a bad test score. At other times that same person can be hugging their parents tightly for a good ten minutes. In Annie Choi’s memoir, Happy Birthday or Whatever, she describes her family and tells stories of their love/hate relationship. No matter how many times Annie’s mother yells at her, Annie continually loves her to the moon and back. Accordingly, through the usage of tone, word choice, and personification, Annie Choi passes on her message to continue loving our families even though they many drive us crazy.
To begin, Annie’s tone not only shows how irritated she can get by her family, but also how she still loves them anyway. A good example of where Annie gets irritated with her mother occurs when her mother forgets Annie’s birthday, so Annie plays up the guilt factor while conversing with her mother on the phone. Unfortunately, the guilt bounces back on Annie, and she apologizes for making her mother feel terrible. After the phone call, Annie realizes this is part of her mother’s plan. Here’s her reaction about her unnecessary apology:
How the hell did she do it? She wronged me, yet I was the one who’d apologized. She sensed my weakness and moved in for the kill. She is a crafty one, my mother. I simmered. I fumed. I mashed the buttons on my phone and dialed my father’s office. Someone should apologize to me, damnit. (6)
Annie is obviously infuriated with her mother’s “evil” tactic to put the guilt on Annie. A second incidence where Annie’s tone reflected her annoyance with her family occurs after her mother rudely wakes her up at four in the morning for a day trip about which Annie was oblivious.
“I tell you we go.”
“No you didn’t.”
“Yes I do. Remember yesterday I say, ‘Anne, tomorrow we wake up early go Soraksan.’”
I thought about it for a second. No, she most definitely didn’t tell me. I think she has a lot of conversations with me in her head, in a fantasy world where she talks and I listen and nod my head silently. I would never agree to wake up early to do anything except for sleep. (164)
There is a bitter quality to Annie’s thoughts, which show the reader that she is annoyed that her mother made plans without her consent, or knowledge for that matter. Despite these irritating moments, Annie continues to love her parents. A good example of this love is exhibited in Annie’s tone as she describes her perfect holiday.
I had wanted my family to be together for the holidays, even though they make me grind my teeth into little nubs. In the end, however, we are family and we should spend time together, even if it kills us. (213)
Anne’s desire for a cooperative family shows that she truly does want to be part of a loving family. Also, it acknowledges that even the most imperfect of families come together and make peace for a few special days. In brief, through her descriptive tone, Annie shows the reader that even she, with her flooding of irritated emotions, can bring out the emotion of love for her family.
Moreover, Annie Choi’s use of words accurately describes her emotions towards her family. In her younger years, Annie’s mother always had a great fashion sense. Unfortunately, when she started playing golf more frequently, she developed a country club, plaid style. Much to Annie’s dismay, she has to go out in public with her mother, who is wearing a matching, plaid visor-polo-bermuda short ensemble. Annie couldn’t be more embarrassed.
We ate at California Pizza Kitchen and my mother babbled loudly about golf- she had just volunteered to organize the next church tournament. I hunkered in the corner of our booth, hoping the power would go out. (61)
In choosing the word “hunker”, Annie allows the reader to effortlessly picture the situation. It is easy to see a girl slinking down in her seat, her eyes ashamed of what is in front of her. Another instance in the memoir where an excellent choice of words concerning Annie’s irritation with her family occurs when her Christian mother hangs up an immensely large photograph of the pope John Paul II right by the front door.
We stood in front of the photograph, dumbfounded and oddly absorbed. The picture had a peculiar magnetism to it, like a piece of eye-torturing art or pornography. (97)
Words such as “dumbfounded”, “peculiar”, and “eye-torturing” reflect the emotions of Annie conception of the photograph at that specific moment: fascinating, yet repulsive. From then on, she questioned whether or not to even invite her friends over because she was so embarrassed of the shiny, white robe and face of John Paul II. This aggravated her because she wanted to see her friends outside of school. Throughout that whole chapter, Annie uses such words as in the quote above to illustrate her displeasure towards her mother’s obsessive collection of Christian “collector’s items” - of which Pope John Paul II was first. Not only does Annie Choi use words to show her frustration towards her family, but also she uses it to show her adoration of them. At the New Year’s party one year, Annie’s family was on a team against other relatives in a game called yut, which resembles the American game, Sorry! After a few tosses, Annie’s team was is last place. Miraculously, Annie tosses the sticks, which land all three of their remaining markers on a special place that leads them to victory. They celebrate.
“Anne, you know song-‘We are champion!’-you know? We have to sing song.”
I laughed, imagining my mother rocking out with Freddie Mercury. (237)
The phrase “rocking out” puts a fun-loving nature into Annie’s thoughts. It shows she cares enough for her mother that she can playfully tease and laugh at her, even if it’s only in her head. Also, “rocking out” gives the reader a hilarious image of a sixty-year old Korean woman dancing and singing as if she has just won the jackpot of a huge lottery. To sum up, Annie’s word choice helps her in her quest to prove one can enjoy spending time with a family that drives them insane.
Likewise, the personification Annie used in her memoir aids her in the image, and therefore the message, she is trying to portray. Once upon a third grade mishap, Annie got a B+ on her spelling test; this is simply unacceptable to her mother. So, Annie fears the thought of having to face her mother. To make matters worse, her mother clearly does not help the situation.
“Ayoo, Anne, what I tell you over and over?”
I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to answer. I looked at her ruefully and sank down into my seat, hoping that the vinyl cushion on my kitchen chair would swallow me whole. Then I could live the rest of my days lounging in the soft cotton stuffing. (29)
By declaring she wishes to be swallowed by a cushion, something if possible not yet invented, the reader can tell how she becomes ashamed and discouraged by her mother’s words. She fears her mother’s anger so much that she would degrade herself by living inside something that many sit their bottoms on everyday. Clearly, she is full of emotions towards her mother and soon may develop some anger. Another instance where Annie’s hostility towards her family is expressed in personification occurred in the aforementioned situation regarding the photograph of John Paul II; although this happened right as Annie helped her mother open the package when it first came in.
Finally I just ripped the bandages off. I gasped. I stared. And the face of Pope John Paul II stared back at me.
“OH. MY. GOD.” (93)
Imagine opening a package expecting it to be a piece of Monet artwork, and then having to be confronted by an oversized, white-robed pope. The image of the pope staring back at her is a bit frightening. With the use of prior knowledge, it is assumed that Annie is annoyed as she becomes irritated with things that frighten her such as the B+. While personification helps illustrate her angered emotions, it also, as with tone and word choice, helps illustrate happy moments with family. For instance, as a freshman in college, Annie discovered that her mother had breast cancer. Though her mother succeeded in beating it, to this day, every time Annie thinks of it, her body reacts in horror. “My stomach tightens and my fists clench and my brain struggles to shut off” (127). Human brains do not actually have the capability to shut on and off, but during rough times in life it can feel that way. Annie’s reaction is perfectly normal for any daughter of a breast cancer survivor and thus proves her love and concern for her mother’s well being. In other words, Annie’s use of personification displays her emotion in a new figurative language that relates to her emotions of both love and aggravation.
On the whole, Annie Choi passes on her message to continue loving our families however much they may annoy us through the usage of tone, word choice, and personification. While all three literary techniques reflect upon her emotions, each one focuses on a specific goal. Her tone expresses her emotions through her emotive thoughts, while her word choice gives descriptive images of her showing her emotions, and her personification shows her feelings through fictionist actions. Along with her important message, Annie teaches us to express our emotions- and shows us countless ways to do so. So, always show love for family, no matter what because one day, you will no longer have the chance.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Happy Birthday or Whatever by Annie Choi
Section 6: pages 191-239
The chapter starts out as Annie’s dad is driving her to the LAX airport in major traffic. It is very early in the morning, so Annie was extremely tired. Yet, she carried on an awkward conversation with her father; apparently, her father has extremely bad conversational skills. In the conversation, the topic of marriage comes up due to her father’s concern that Annie is getting too old (she was 28 at the time). He thinks that if she waits any longer, she will never get married. Annie explains this is a conflict with many Korean families. On top of telling her that a man will never love her, her parents also don’t believe in multiple boyfriends; therefore, she couldn’t introduce any of her boyfriends to her parents unless she was to engage them. As if this wasn’t crazy enough, this man also had to be “perfect”, Christian and Korean. These requirements tended to ruin several of Annie’s intimate relationships, for example her relationship with Aaron that lasted six years. She was afraid her family wouldn’t approve of his Jewish and American background. Annie now vows to find a man she loves with hopes of her family’s approval.
Ch. 13 It’s that time of year, and Annie’s heading home to L.A. for the holidays. But before she makes her arrangements, she calls her mother to make sure everyone will be there- the previous year she came home to an empty house. After the assurance of her mother, Annie books her flight and heads home. Upon her arrival, she discovers her brother will not be there this year. I guess everyone is really not. Although this angers her, she still goes to the big family New Years Day Bash at her aunt’s house. There she is greeted by her relatives who consistently mention the she looks so different, what with her hair being short and her body looking larger. Annie disagrees and tells them, “I’m the same.” As her father tells a confusing riddle at the dinner table, Annie goes to peel fruit with her cousin Tina. Later, the families play a game called yut. It is sort of like the American Sorry! Despite her efforts to mix up families, Annie ends up on a team with her super competitive mother. Although she has a rough start, Annie leads her team to victory in the end, all the while drinking over 4 cups of coffee. At the end of the night, Annie hugs people and says her goodbyes and heads back to the normal world.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Section 5: pages 161-190
Upon one special day of her stay in Korea in her trip in 1988, Annie is rudely awakened by her mother. Apparently, today Annie and her mother were going to Soraksan; Annie was previously unaware of this plan and has no idea where this place is. After many proposals to go back to sleep, Annie gets off the floor, throws on some pants, and takes the heavily margarined toast from her mother; and they were off. First they met up with Annie’s mother’s old friends, who were driving them there. On the 5- hour trip to Soraksan, they made a stop almost every hour, mostly for food. Annie continually comments that she cannot possibly eat more. Finally, they arrive at Soraksan, where they see a Buddhist temple and a mountain. They stay here for a total of 15 minutes and then head back home, making as many stops as on the trip up there. At the last stop, they get dinner, and then the adults decide they would like to do Karaoke. Annie doesn’t like the idea, but eventually gives into singing a line or two of a Beatles song and a few “easy” Korean songs. On the final drive home, it is finally quiet- her mother and the friend had fallen asleep.
Reaction: The concept of this chapter was very funny. I love that these Korean people constantly stopped during their road trip for food and flea market stuff in order to make the trip last longer. For me, it would make the trip a lot more fun because you wouldn’t have to stayed seated in a stuffy, crowded car all day- a thing I hate a lot. I can’t stand being cramped a not having room to stretch. Also, I really like food, especially unique, ethnic food, and I also enjoy flea markets because you can find so many interesting, one-of-a-kind items that can pump up both your lifestyle and your clothing style. However, I do see why Annie may not have liked stopping so many times because she had no idea where she was going, and she really wanted to go back to sleep. I can definitely relate to this feeling- there are many days were all I want to do is nothing and just lay in bed. I can also relate to finding out that you are going somewhere at the last minute. There have been several occasions where I think I have no plans for that night, just time to relax. But boy am I wrong. Not only am I going out to dinner and a dance show with family friends, but this has also been planned for weeks. “Oh, didn’t I tell you?” “ No, I’m sorry, I don’t believe you did.” “ Oops! I must have forgot. Well, you’re still coming, right? So-and-so is really looking forward to seeing you.” “ Well, I don’t know. Maybe.” Alexandra! I am requiring you to attend this show.” And that’s the end of that, so I can truly relate to being oblivious about my supposed plans.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Section 4: pages 129-160
In this chapter, a 15-year-old Annie decides to become a vegetarian after a friend read a book by John Robbins and discouraged Annie from eating animals because they were bad for everything and everybody. This is an action not accepted by Koreans, though. At almost every dinner at least one person tells Annie to “eat meat”; whether it’s because she “looks skinny” or she’ll “get jaundice.” Often, her mother will call her just to ask if she’s still in her vegetarian phase. Despite the attempts to get her to eat meat, Annie has remained a vegetarian for 13 years; though even she admits becoming vegetarian was mostly about rebellion.
This chapter focuses on the devil of the family, Annie’s paternal grandmother. She is feared by many, including Annie’s mother and father, and she likes nothing. One time when Annie was 8-years-old, she had to bow a special bow for her grandmother’s 70th birthday. Although she practiced, her hanbok, too long, and petticoat, too itchy, prohibited her from bowing properly. She landed smack down on her bottom. Her grandmother, displeased, did not even nod her head as she had done for Annie’s cousins who bowed before her. Annie cried for hours. To this day, Annie still despises her grandmother and upon seeing her in Korea a few years ago, Annie’s relationship with her worsened when her grandmother both threw away a cashmere sweater gift and made Annie eat fish.
QUOTE: “Sometimes I think that my mother and I are very close to finding a common ground, to finding an area of interest that we can explore together and bond over and discuss without bickering or nagging each other. But then I realize this is impossible, that if we didn’t give each other a hard time, we probably wouldn’t get along” (138). –Annie Choi in Happy Birthday or Whatever. I believe this quote is very important to the book. It first caught my attention because I saw how it really described the weird relationship of Annie and her mom and summarized it into a couple of sentences. The relationship of Annie and her mom is probably one of the main ideas, or key elements, of the story. Many of the chapters are based solely on this relationship. Although they fight and bicker for the majority of the time, one can tell that they truly love one another and just want what’s best for the other. This book describes true Korean family love, and that particular quote pinpoints that love.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Over all, I really enjoy this book. It is very well-written and includes several new vocabulary words for me to learn. Annie Choi, the author of this book, is amazing at making the reader visualize the situation and setting of the situations and conversation that occur in her life. It’s as if I, as the reader, am actually part of the story. The author is also quite talented at expressing the humor of her family and their beliefs. I often find myself laughing in my room by myself while reading this book. It is absolutely hilarious. The conversations are so engaging, yet so real. I was upset and angry when her mother got breast cancer; I was embarrassed when her mother went out to eat with her decked out in plaid galore. I truly feel the emotions being expressed by Annie in the book, and while reading it, I find myself “lost” in Annie’s world. I personally can relate to the book as I have a similar relationship with my mother. Although, we, like Annie and her mother, fight the most out of our family, we probably do get along the best, if that makes any sense. A weakness I find in this book is that it doesn’t really follow only one stories; it has multiple stories, which is kind of hard to follow because the chapters don’t really fit together. I think though at the end of the book, the last chapter, all loose ends will be tied up, and there will be a reason, or a lesson-learned, from this book rather than just being about funny situations with the Korean family; I at least hope so.
Section 3: pages 91-128
In this chapter, we learn about Annie’s mother’s massive collection of catholic “junk.” From statuettes of the Virgin Mary to a grandiose picture of Pope John Paul II, her mother collects them all, despite the embarrassment and pleads of her children, Mike and Annie, to get rid of them. Although the 1994 earthquakes destroyed many of the statuettes, Annie’s mother replaced many of them quickly. Unfortunately when the children left home for college and such, the parents decided to move into a smaller house, meaning that not all the “Christian pride” could make the move. Annie took this as an opportunity of payback for when her mother gave away her numerous stuffed animals and therefore, gave away to charity, and even threw away, the majority of the religious collectives.
Annie goes to college at the University of California at Berkeley, where for the first few weeks, her mother calls her every half an hour, literally. Soon though their conversation occur only once a week. One day in the middle of her second semester, Annie calls home in hopes of speaking with her mother, but to her surprise her father, who is never home, picks up the phone. He tells Annie that her mom has breast cancer and has had it for three months. Annie, both upset and angry that her parents didn’t tell her sooner, wants and asks to go home, but her parents want her to finish school. Though it was extremely difficult, Annie toughs it out until the end of the semester. Meanwhile, her mother suffers chemotherapy, an allergic reaction to medication, and a vehicular accident. Finally, Annie comes home, her mother surprisingly greeting her, looking strong, unlike the image that crossed Annie’s mind over the past months. Over the summer, Annie helps out her mom with basic tasks and contemplates whether or not to go back to school in the fall.
Biography of Annie Choi
Annie Choi was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley of California, just outside of Los Angeles. After completing both high school and Korean school, Annie set out to receive her B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley, and subsequently, her M.F.A. in writing from Columbia University. Throughout her adulthood, she has had numerous jobs, including being a tour guide, an elevator operator, an assistant medical photographer, a sign language teacher, and a science textbook editor. In fact, it was her boss as a textbook editor that encouraged Annie to pursue a writing career. At the moment, Annie resides in New York City.
Bibliography: Both the photo and information came from www.smallspiralnotebook.com/ and also the inside cover of her book Happy Birthday or Whatever.