Entry #10 Review - "This Eminem May Melt Your Ears”

This Eminem May Melt Your Ears
By: Mike Ross

“This Eminem May Melt Your Ears” by Mike Ross is an interesting review done in 2001 on Marshall Mather’s new CD at the time. It is evident that Ross feels very strongly about this CD, and more specifically, its artist Eminem. Ross is very forward in passing on his judgment regarding Eminem’s music. Right from the beginning the reader can tell that Ross is against the “trash-talking rapper.”

Ross very descriptively describes Eminem’s music as “shocking, violent, sexist, vulgar, [and] outrageous.” He goes on to describe Eminem’s moods as anything from “manic anger” to “homicidal insanity.” This description made for a very interesting and entertaining read. I found Ross’s suggestion that Eminem “ought to make slasher movies” to be an insightful idea, as I agree with Ross that Eminem needs to find a more acceptable use for his “twisted imagination.” Ross also uses a few examples in the review, which adds depth and support for his insinuations of Eminem’s music. However, I can appreciate that Ross did not include certain examples of Eminem’s music that Ross states are a “string of matricidal abuse far too vulgar to print.” I know from personal experience that this is no understatement about Eminem’s music.

I am slightly embarrassed to say that when I was younger I was a fan of Eminem’s music. My friends and I would sing/rap along with the music, thinking that we were oh so cool. I look back now and ask myself, what was I thinking? I also ask, why my parents would allow me to listen to that type of music, if you can even call it music! I even used to own the movie “8 Mile,” which Eminem stars in. However, he is still famous and obviously still loved by many fans, as he is set to release 2 new albums this year.

I have always had a love for music. I grew up in a very musical household and began to play the piano at the age of 7. I took lessons for 8 years and to this day I still love to sit and just let my fingers roam over the keys. I have also played other instruments over the years, such as the flute and ukulele. To this day, I enjoy listening to almost all genres of music, but can you really call albums such as “The Marshall Mathers LP” and “The Slim Shady LP” music? This is undoubtedly a controversial topic, as some people would argue that Eminem is a talented rapper and others, including myself, believe the exact opposite.

I agree with Ross that Eminem “better delve into more interesting subject matter if he’s going to grow as an artist.” In comparison to last week’s review reading called “Exposing Ourselves in South Park,” I found this to be a more direct and argumentative review. Last week I was tempted to watch the identified South Park Movie just so that I could make my own opinions, but this week I already had strong opinions on the topic of Eminem, and the review has a very different effect on me. This time I do not have any desire to test the quality of the item under discussion!

Entry #9 - Review - "Exposing Ourselves in South Park”

Exposing Ourselves in South Park
By: Tessa Sproule

"Exposing Ourselves in South Park” by Tessa Sproule is an interesting review on the animated South Park television show as well as the South Park movie called “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut.” In Sproule’s review, she does an excellent job of passing on her judgment regarding the quality of South Park’s “crude animation, obnoxious characters, [and] the lower-than-low punch lines.” However, depending on who her intended audience was, I wonder if they would have agreed with her and followed her suggestions regarding seeing the movie? After all, she did begin the review by saying how much she hated the South Park television show.

She expresses her views about South Park in a very direct way, using descriptive words and phrases. I found that phrases like “flat-faced kids” and “potty-mouthed cartoon characters” enticed the reader and made me chuckle. She goes on to tell the reader about the premise and quality of the movie. She describes the humor as “sidesplitting satire” and says that “their dark wit sure packs a punch.”  She uses a variety of literary techniques, including analogies like “a Satan character that draws more sympathy than John Milton in Paradise Lost.” Reviews are designed to be forward regarding the author’s opinions and Sproule has done a good job of doing just that.

Sproule then goes on to discuss what she thinks is the moral of the movie, which is that “violence in society is not the result of violence on screen or in pop music, rather it’s the symptom of a deeper decay.” Whether or not this is the actual moral of the movie, she does a good job of attacking the issue and once again proclaiming her opinion, this time stating that “violence in the media is more of an easy escape than to actually talk to our kids and uncover what sort of anger they’re feeling.” This was obviously an important issue when the review was written 10 years ago. Although not as prominent, sadly this issue is still around today and there has been little progress to address it. There are still cases where people blame their rage and anger on video games and try to excuse their action by saying that the game made them do it. It may be true that movies and video games have desensitized many of us regarding violence, anger and brutality, but that is no excuse for murder. Along the same lines, our desensitization to sexual images and words is no excuse for sexual harassment or rape.

Overall, I liked Sproule’s review. I found it entertaining and witty. I agree with her on some remarks, including when she says that “no political, religious or ethnic group is safe” with the producers of South Park. The topics may be crude and obnoxious, but at least it is not attacking just one group of people. After reading this review I may choose to see the South Park movie, just to see if I agree with what Sproule has said. I find that for me, reviews entice me to see for myself the quality of the item under discussion, regardless of whether or not I agree with the reviewer or not.

Entry #8 Critical Analysis - "Time to Think About Torture”

Time to Think About Torture
By: Jonathan Alter

“Time to Think About Torture” by Jonathan Alter is a well written critical analysis about whether the US government should reconsider their ban on torture. His essay discusses the types of torture and the pros and cons of each. He examines the different ideas about the types of torture, including psychological torture, truth serum, and deportation. His writing, being a result of the aftermath of the September 11 attack, is very powerful and full of passion. I don’t know whether I agree or not, but thanks to Alter, I am keeping an open mind to the idea.

I do agree with Alter that something should be in place to “jump-start stalled investigations,” especially for cases such as 9-11, which he states as the “greatest crime in American history.” Things changed significantly after the 9-11 attacks. The passing of the anti-terrorism bill proved this. “This bill makes it easier to wiretap, easier to detain immigrants who won’t talk, and easier to follow money though the international laundering process.” I agree with Alter that fortunately this bill did “stop short of threatening basic rights like free speech, which is essential in wartime to hold the government accountable.”

Many other countries still use various types of torture, including many things that we would consider unethical and unlawful. I found it very interesting when Alter said that judges and lawyers “prefer looking the other way to giving even mild torture techniques.” They believe in the idea of “out of sight, out of mind.” I would originally say that they are lacking morals, or are behaving unethically, but when I reconsider, I think that unfortunately this is true for most of society. We all know “bad” things are occurring, but unless we are subject to them or a witness to them, we like to pretend that they are not happening. For instance I know, as do many others, that kidnapping can take place anywhere, including my own neighborhood, but unless I see it or am a part of it, I turn a blind eye to it.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Alter’s essay. I found his use of examples to be interesting and they were effective in arguing his point. His examples included different types of torture, such as the Israelis’ interrogation technique called “shaking,” as well as supporters of the topic, such as Dershowitz who says that he is “not in favour of torture, but if you’re going to have it, it should damn well have court approval.”

I personally was most moved by his last paragraph. After arguing his point, it was like he came back to reality and tried to reason with the reader. He acknowledged that even though we cannot legalize physical torture, “we need to keep an open mind about certain measures to fight terrorism.” I completely agree with this statement and will try to do so in the future.

Entry #7 Persuasion - "I’m Not Racist But…"

I’m Not Racist But…
By: Neil Bissoondath

"I’m Not Racist But…" by Neil Bissoondath is a very controversial persuasive essay. When I read the first sentence of Bissoondath’s essay that says “racism is as Canadian as maple syrup”, my blood began to boil. But as I continued to read, I realized that Bissoondath was making a fair point that racism is just as engrained in all societies including the American, French and Chinese. I personally like to think of Canada as a very accepting multicultural country; however I know that this is not completely true, but I still like to believe that we are more accepting than other countries. Racism has a very negative connotation attached to it, yet it seems to be prevalent in every society.

Bissoondath is right that many of us, when in “the heat of altercation, we seize, as terms of abuse, on whatever is most obvious about the person.” Unfortunately, due to the commonality of this occurrence, many women have somewhat accepted being called a “female dog or an intimate part of her anatomy.” It is extremely unfortunate that when Bissoondath uses the previous phases most of society can relate to them without even being told what the actual terms are. This proves that these phrases are all too common. However, I am proud to say that I have never heard an Italian called “a wop” or a French-Canadian called “a frog.” I am quite happy that I have never been subjective to these terms as I already hear too many of the other terms mentioned by Bissoondath.

I agree with Bissoondath that much of the racism that occurs in today’s society is thankfully just “ignorance or stupidity or insensitivity” and not “pure racial hatred – such as the Nazis held for Jews, or the Ku Klux Klan for blacks.” This is no excuse for racism and it does not make it acceptable, but it is refreshing to know that majority of society is just lacking experience. I know my grandparents use what we consider racist terms all the time, but it is just because they know nothing else. However, I remember at one time thinking that my grandparents were the most racist people I knew, but I have since learned otherwise. When they grew up these terms were acceptable and were used frequently by everyone. I have come to accept this about my grandparents, as change is just not what 90-years-olds do, and I try hard not to take offence when I hear them say “nigger” or paki,” as I know that they do not mean to assault people of those races, they just don’t know any other way to refer to them.

The phrase “I am not racist but…” seems to be growing in popularity in society. People seem to believe that this excuses their racist behavior. Fortunately, Bissoondath is right that majority of people who use this phrase are not being racist, they are just simply stereotyping. In all reality, stereotyping is no better than being racist, but as a society we seem to be more comfortable with stereotypes. I liked Bissoondath’s statement that “multiculturalism as we know it indulges in stereotype, depends on it for a dash of colour and the flash of dance.” As a multicultural society we create generalized impressions of certain types of people according to what we see and hear about them.

Bissoondath wrote an interesting essay on racism, with parts that I agree with and parts that I find offensive. I too think that some people try too hard not to be racist and in doing so actually encourage racism. The example mentioned by Bissoondath being the “Miss Black Canada Beauty Contest,” as there is no “Miss White Canada Beauty Contest.” Bissoondath used examples such as these throughout the essay, which created an interesting read.

Entry #6 Persuasion - "Don’t You Think It Is Time To Start Thinking"

Don’t You Think It Is Time To Start Thinking
By: Northrop Frye

What an interesting analysis of the word “thinking.” Taking a look at my own life I am just as guilty of abusing the word as the rest of society. Frye has taken an interesting approach to this analysis. He criticized our society when he says that we have very little interest in literacy. It is true that “we are taught to read so that we can obey the traffic signs and to cipher, so that we can make out our income tax,” but I do not agree that these are the only reasons. I believe that especially in North America, a growing portion of our society is educated and has a genuine interest in literacy.

I agree with Frye when he says that, many people believe that “reading and writing are elementary skills that [are] mastered in childhood.” As a society we seem to have a preconceived notion that everyone should know how to read and write, and that these are skills that should just come naturally. Many people do believe that they “can think, that [they] have ideas, and if [they are] just given the opportunity to express them [they] will be alright.” Unfortunately, Frye is right is saying that this is not true! There is a significant portion of the population that does not have the ability to read and write, which is something that students like myself take for granted.

As a society we seem to be confused about what our mind is actually doing. We so often claim to be thinking when as Frye says we are really “worrying, remembering, [or] daydreaming.” We either don’t want to acknowledge the specific task our brain is doing or have become so accustom to just claiming that we are “thinking” we have forgotten what thinking actually entails. As children we were always told to think before we did anything, including speaking and writing. In school we are told to think about a question before answering it. We have always been told to think, but has anyone ever explained that thinking really entails? According to Frye, “the operation of thinking is the practice of articulating ideas until they are in the right words.” Frye seems to be of the opinion that phrases like “it is on the tip of my tongue” cannot exist because he believes that ‘there is no such thing as an inarticulate idea waiting to have the right words wrapped around it.” Frye believes that there are very few people who have the power to articulate well, and that majority of us “say as little as possible and use only stereotype phrases” in order to blend into our surroundings.

“Don’t You Think It Is Time To Start Thinking” by Northrop Frye is generally a well written essay. The vocabulary used is obviously designed to appeal to those with a higher level of articulation, which is small portion of the population according to his essay. It was however appropriate vocabulary considering the topic of the essay and his audience. His writing was succinct and yet interesting with his use of similes, such as when comparing the existence of ideas to knowing “whether you are pregnant or just have gas.” Overall I enjoyed reading this essay, but Frye was not able to fully persuade me in to agreeing with him.

Entry #5 - Persuasion - "Our Daughters, Ourselves"

Our Daughters, Ourselves
By: Stevie Cameron

I may not be a parent, but as a daughter I was moved by “Our Daughters, Ourselves” by Stevie Cameron. I think that as an only child, and especially a girl, my parents were very overprotective of me growing up. I was never unsupervised; I was not even allowed to walk alone for ten minutes in the middle of the afternoon to go home from school until I was thirteen. I was born just before the indicated “Montreal Massacre” and I believe that even though it was miles away, this probably had a strong impact on how my parents and many of my friends parents chose to raise their children.

Unfortunately for parents, the world continues to become a more dangerous place. You can no longer let you child, or children, run free, or even just play in their own back yard. In the past, parents took for granted that their children were safe playing in front of their house and they trusted the general public. However, now children must be supervised at all times, and parents expect other parents to do the same thing when they are watching their children. Parents choose to up root themselves and their children just to move to what they believe is a safer neighborhood. However, even the safest neighborhoods are not free of danger. In today’s society, many parents believe that you can never be too safe!

One thing that Canadians can be thankful for is that hand guns are illegal. Unfortunately for American parents, they not only have the same fears of danger for their children that we have, but they also have to worry about guns on their playgrounds, in their schools, and even in their own backyards. That’s not to say that there are no guns in Canada, just fewer of them. But unfortunately they still appear, as they did in the case indicated by Cameron of the “Montreal Massacre.” Most Canadians believe that guns are meant to protect them, as the they are only suppose to be used by the police and other persons who are suppose to protect us, individually and as a Country. But for most Americans, guns represent unsolicited murder and violence.

Another issue that Cameron addressed in this persuasive essay was the idea that even though we tell our “bright, shinning girls that they can be anything” they want to be; it is not always a reality. Cameron is right when she says that we don’t tell our children how hard it might be for them. I too believe that we are optimistic and generally believe that most parents think that “by the time [our children are] older, it will be easier for them than it was for us.” Fortunately, the world is slowly becoming a more equal place for men and women, and our parents were generally right. However, even in today’s society I still notice some inequalities. I still ask myself, as Cameron did many years ago when she wrote this essay “Why does football matter more than gymnastics?” I believe that I live in a more equal world than my parents did, and have high hopes that it will be even better for my children.

Entry #4 - "The Case for Curling up With a Book"

The Case for Curling up With a Book
By: Carol Shields

What an interesting perspective on society’s beliefs about reading! Throughout the essay I constantly found myself agreeing with Shields. It is sad, but true that “people no longer know how to curl up with a book.” People in today’s society try to fit reading in between work, family, and life. Our lives are so hectic that the idea of actually curing up with a book seems impossible. I loved Shield’s statement that if we need to read, we do so by “snacking on paperbacks while waiting for the bus.” What a powerful statement! I know I find myself snacking on books all the time, as I don’t have the time to sit and really get into a book, so I read a few pages here and there when a have a moment. For me personally, it may not be waiting for the bus, but I could undoubtedly relate this statement to my own life.

As a student I constantly find myself “hunching over [my] books with a yellow underliner in hand.” As textbooks have taken over my reading collection, I rarely read a book just to read. As a child I used to love reading, I would read any book I could get my hands on. Night after night I would read under the covers with a flashlight, as I just couldn’t get enough. Now, I find myself reading text books before I go to bed and falling asleep in the process. For me, the idea of curing up with a book that I want to read seems idealistic and only possible in my dreams. However, our society seems to have found a new way to read. With the amount of information available at our fingertips, more and more often we “sit before a screen and interact.” Can this really be considered as a good way to read? I tend to disagree with the idea that when reading this way, that we are “interacting.” I don’t feel connected to what I am reading unless I can wrap my fingers around it.

Unfortunately, it seems as though our society looks down upon those who are able to find “a block of uninterrupted time” which would be perfect for reading. I believe that Shields is right, that our society pities “the women alone at the movies [and] the poor man sitting by himself at the restaurant table.” When I consider this statement I begin to envy those people. I truly wish I had the time to “curl up with a novel” in my arm chair on a Sunday afternoon. I hope that one day I will, and that I can look back on these years and realize what I was missing out on.

Shield’s writing is extraordinary work! She undoubtedly has the ability to use words and phrases that capture the reader’s attention. I found her writing to be of a persuasive nature, in that I now wish to crack open a great book and curl up and read for hours. I found her perspective to be intriguing and found myself questioning my own reading abilities and truly wondering if I have the ability to again take control of my own reading as I did when I was a child.

Entry #3 - Personal Writing - "What a Certain Visionary Once Said"

What a Certain Visionary Once Said
By: Tomson Highway

I really enjoyed reading "What a Certain Visionary Once Said" by Tomson Highway. The description and detail that he used made for a delightful reading. His essay was short and to the point, but not too short that I felt he had left anything out. His descriptions were thorough and truly helped paint a clear picture in my mind of what he was seeing, sensing, and feeling.

Highway’s descriptions truly capture the magnificence of the outdoors. He helps the reader envision it as the breathtaking work of art that it really is. I wanted to be in the story, experiencing everything from the islands with “golden-sand beaches” to the winter snow that you can eat “without fear.” Every description I read made me wish I was outside enjoying the brilliant outdoors and all of its beauty. He took the reader through all the seasons providing equally enhancing descriptions of all of them. He may have only been describing Winnipeg and north, but I feel that he truly captured the beauty of the entire Canadian landscape. He made me question why I would want to live anywhere else but Canada!

My favorite part of the entire essay was his quote at the end that said “we have not inherited this land, we have merely borrowed it from our children.” What a powerful statement! I strongly believe that this is true. I believe that we are all just guests here on this earth. If everyone cared enough to cleanup after themselves and produce less of a carbon footprint, then just maybe we would all be a little better off. If everyone thought this way, not only would there be less pollution, but then there would no question as to whether the world will be around as we know it for the next 1000 years!

I have always loved the outdoors. As a child I would spend hours outside either on my grandparent’s farm or playing in the trees in my backyard making forts with the neighborhood kids. Every Sunday my parents and I would go for a walk, hike, or bike ride. I don’t think there is trail in Victoria that we didn’t explore. Growing up I realized that I truly loved outdoor actives. I cherished the times I was able to go rollerblading, play tennis, go swimming at the lake, or play beach volleyball. I find that everything about being outside makes me feel refreshed and rejuvenated. There is a certain serenity that I get from being outside. The smells, the sounds, and the scenery are absolutely amazing. For these reasons I could not image living my life without embracing the outdoors.

I believe that this essay is an example of personal writing at its finest. It is writing like this that inspires me to write about something I love and feel passionate about. You can tell that Highway puts his heart and soul into his writing. He not only describes his deep love for the wilderness, he shows it. This kind of writing involves being open and honest with yourself, and writing from the heart.

Entry #2 - Personal Writing - "My Old Newcastle"

My Old Newcastle
By: David Adams Richards


“My old Newcastle” by David Adams Richards is a great depiction of what it would have been like growing up in a very small town. So small that no outsiders knew they “went to wars or had a flag or even a great passion for life.” I found Richard’s portrayal of his childhood memories so enchanting that it made me wish I had grown up in a small town like old Newcastle.

To help the reader gain a better understand of the atmosphere of his “old” home town, Richard uses techniques that force the reader to actually sense, envision, and smell Newcastle exactly as he remembers it. His use of figurative language and imagery is evident throughout his essay. These techniques were designed to appeal to any reader’s senses, and for me it definitely worked. I could not only picture the movie theatre, but really image myself there when he says “the smell of worn seats and heat and chip bags.” Richard also uses alliterations, such as “hats and heavy boots” to capture the reader’s attention. He brings the reader into his writing and helps them to embrace his writing by making it full of colour and depth. Richard also writes in a way that flows, it has rhyme and reason, which made me want to read more.

“My old Newcastle” is about remembering the past and all the good times we had as children. Even though I didn’t grow up in a small town, I still have my own memories of how things used to be. I remember playing with all the neighborhood kids out on the road without a care in world, and all of us pilling into my parents car, without seatbelts, and going to get ice cream. It was a simpler time in my life, just as Richard portrays “old Newcastle” in this essay. However, at the end of his essay, Richard acknowledges that the changes are “neither bad nor good,” just different than what it was before. I completely agree with this statement, as I believe that remembering the past is only good for recalling good memories and not for dwelling on failures. I pride myself on embracing change as I move forward in life, as I believe that without change, life would become stagnant.

Personal writing for me can be daunting, as I feel I am exposing my life for all to see. I feel that Richard has done an amazing job of not only telling his story, but really involving the reader. In the future, I would enjoy reading more of his work.

Entry #1 - Situating Yourself as a Writer - "How to Mark a Book"

How to Mark a Book
By: Mortimer Adler

I found Adler’s essay “How to Mark a Book” to have an incredibly interesting perspective on book ownership. I had personally never considered the difference between owning a book and really “absorbing” a book. Adler presented an interesting concept that full ownership of a book only comes after “you have made it a part of yourself.”

Adler’s presentation of this persuasive essay was well thought out. His approach to writing entices even the average reader. He uses powerful statements and reinforces them with effective illustrations. For example, at one point he compares book ownership with buying a beefsteak, which he considers is not “owned” until it is consumed. His use of descriptive language is evident throughout his essay. This draws the reader in and reinforces his point of how important it is not to just skim through a book, but to actually absorb it. He is absolutely right. To read a book “rich in ideas and beauty,” you must be an active reader, and not just “let your eyes glide across the lines.” With every point that he makes, he provides a well illustrated example to further persuade his reader. His writing style is so enthralling; it makes me want to read his essay over again just to make sure I didn’t miss anything important the first time.

Adler’s essay defies the modern conception that “marking up a book is an act of mutilation.” He seems to be relatively effective at persuading, as I have now altered my opinion of book ownership. His writing is effective in that he comes across in a way that makes you think he is actually trying to help you become a better reader. He not only provides tips, but also full explanations as to why they would work. To further persuade his readers, he even provides an alternative of using scrap paper for those who do not want mark their precious books, or who don’t think there is enough room “to write between the lines.” I found his writing innovative, which compelled me to not only read his essay, but to actually start “marking” up his essay as I read.

In further examining my own reading, I realized that I do already mark my books when I read, if text books count. To actively read my text books, which I believe are books “rich in ideas,” I am constantly highlighting, underlining, and staring in the margin. I completely agree with Adler that this helps absorb to the ideas of the book. I believe that this technique has truly helped me in the past and would highly recommend it to others.