Response #6 and Exercise #6

Literary journalism is a form of creative nonfiction that combines factual reporting with narrative technique – personal interiority, descriptive details, plot designs, subjectivity–not traditionally associated with traditional journalism. It comes out of the new journalism movement of the 60’s and 70’s, where, rather than the writer being “invisible” and just reporting the facts, the writer might embed themselves in the story, through voice, or actually taking part in the activities reported on. Hunter S. Thompson, Truman Capote and Joan Didion were some  of the writers who came out of that movement.

To get started, read one of the two essays below. The links here are from their original sources,  Spin  magazine and  The New Yorker.

Jonathan Ames

The first  is by Jonathan Ames, and recounts his attendance at Gothic Fest:  https://www.spin.com/2015/10/gothicfest-2005-feature-jonathan-ames/

 

 

Goth Fest

 

Roxane Gay

The next essay is by Roxane Gay. It’s about competitive scrabble. Riveting, right? But check it out:

Download (PDF, 4.82MB)

 

 

 

 

In your post below:

  1. Respond: Let us know first which essay you chose. Then, comment on how effective you think the writer is at making us interested in a topic that we might not be otherwise? In what ways do these authors include themselves in the story? Does their role make it more interesting? Why?
  2. Exercise. This exercise is to get you thinking about your Essay #3. First of all, find a local event that you would like to attend. I often suggest students find something outside of their own comfort zone, something they wouldn’t normally go to, as is the case with Jonathan Ames. But it’s perfectly fine to report on something you’re already deeply involved in, as is the case with Roxane Gay. Then, write at least a paragraph about what  you expect the experience to be like. It will be interesting to then compare this to the actual event you attend.

You can put both of these in the same post, but make sure you label them – or even just a skip a line between them–to help me distinguish.

Due by Thursday, March 5 by 5:00 PM

Have a great Spring Break!!

16 Comments for “Response #6 and Exercise #6”

Isabelle Jacobson

says:

Response 6:
The essay I chose to read was To Scratch, Claw, or Grope Clumsily or Frantically by Roxane Gay. I think the essay was very effective at making me interested in the topic. The author gave the narrator a unique personality and voice and described very specific details that allowed me to feel as though I were experiencing it. Although I know plenty about the game being described, I feel like it is described well enough that someone who did not know would understand it. I have not, however, experienced a Scrabble tournament, and I feel like that was explained well so that I understood what it entailed. I thought the interactions were made clear, the competitive spirit was accurately portrayed, and the footnotes added humor to it and helped further round out the narrator’s personality.
The way the author inserts themselves into the actual story and the footnotes is really nice. From their point of view, I understand how they feel, what they do, what other people are doing, and what the game means to them. I think the author’s role in this helps the story a lot, and I’ll keep this in mind for future assignments. I need to remember that how I insert myself into a piece as an author impacts the story and its point significantly.

Exercise 6:
The event I’d like to attend is a Nanook’s hockey game. I’ve done an assignment like this before and while the event I went to then was fun, it was fairly organized and not chaotic or super energetic. This time, I want my event to be in a more chaotic setting. I’m not sure how I’ll write about it, but I’d like to either focus on a particular player, how a couple of players interact, what it’s like for the players not playing, or focusing on a particular group in the bleachers and how they act. I don’t want to write about the game or how it’s played or the overall feel of it or generalize the people in the stands. I want to observe human interaction in the least invasive way possible. However, if it seems like that is too invasive, I might focus on a particular team and how they work together. I’m not sure what to expect, but I think UAF has been doing pretty well in hockey so I imagine our fans are going to be pretty excited and in good spirits. I haven’t been to a game in years. I’m sure there will be some altercations, physical and verbal, teammates will be especially supportive of one another, and I’m sure there will be some heads knocked into the barriers. Additionally, I’m sure there will be hockey-obsessed families there and people I know and children straying from their parents to hang out with friends (which I know because I used to be that child getting caramel apples with friends rather than watching the game, but I also remember being an obsessed hockey fan with a strong friendship with the Nanooks’ mascot).

Isabelle Jacobson

says:

I’ve changed my event for the third essay. Last semester, for a similar assignment, the event I wanted to go to was a local classic rock/folk band’s concert but they typically played at bars and being under 21 I could not go to any of their gigs. However, they got a gig at Ivory Jack’s awhile ago that I could go to and I went and it’s definitely something I would never normally go to and have never been to before. I just wanted to post an update so that my essay topic would make sense!

Jennifer Karulski

says:

I chose to read about the GothFest because it is completely out of my experience. I did find it interesting. I liked the author’s way of focusing on individual attendees instead of looking at it as a mob or crowd.
Ames could have gone into the event ‘in disguise’ in a Goth outfit, just to fit in, but he chose to go in street clothes. I fund that interesting. I would think people would be more open to speaking to someone who was like them. In that way, he couldn’t not include himself in the story. Everyone he talked to knew exactly who they were dealing with. Was he getting an objective reporting? It’s hard to say. He did comment, and the sentiment was shared by the father of the young Goth girl, that those people were more open and accepting of them than the affluent people in his WASP neighborhood.
I also read the Scrabble essay. I like to play Scrabble, but I didn’t particularly enjoy the essay. I play the game for fun only, and the tournament aspect of it was offputting to me. It made it seem like no fun. I did think the author was funny, and it was all her experience, so she was certainly included. I found the footnotes distracting and disruptive to the flow of the piece. I stopped reading them halfway through.

The event I am going to attend is a Chinese Lantern festival that is happening all month at the Tucson Zoo. I am drawn to it because it seems so foreign for this location. It’s more likely that cultural events lean toward Hispanic or Native American here, so I’m interested to see what an Asian inspired event will be like. I wonder what type of people will attend, and how ‘authentic’ it will be. I was born in San Francisco and raised in Northern California, so I have some experience with Asian culture and celebrations. I’m very curious to see what Tucson’s version is like.

Aubri stogsdill

says:

Response 6

I decided to read, To Scratch, Claw, or Grope Clumsily or Frantically. I think that the author did an incredible job of making scrabble tournaments sound interesting and engaging. I think a big part of how she made this work was with how she consistently used humor. She is fully aware of how geeky this hobby of hers is, and she doesn’t spare those amusing geeky details. Also, I felt like her character development helped to make the piece really interesting. As I read, I was able to create pictures in my mind of what sort of people the other characters in the story were. Something else that I really enjoyed about this essay was the author’s use of footnotes. Often times, these footnotes were not necessary, but totally hilarious and helped to make the author more likeable and even relatable. I felt that the authors writing was rather simple. Much of what she said was stated just as I would think it. The structure of the essay was also very effective. The author gives us detailed context, backstory, and side stories. By not simply telling the story from start to finish, I wanted to keep reading. She really pulled me in and kept me interested in what I would be reading next.

Exercise 6

The event that I’ve decided to write about is a concert by the band Colony House. I heard about the band through a group at church. Honestly, I don’t really like their music that much, but I decided to go because I feel like it would be a good opportunity to build relationships with other young adults. Honestly, I have no clue what to expect. The concert is at a bar downtown. We are all going to carpool. These people are basically still strangers to me, so that aspect of the concert might be awkward as I am not best at small talk. I think the concert might be long and I may have to be somewhat dishonest about my admiration of this bad– for the brownie points. I think it will be loud, a little rowdy, and possibly sweaty. Hopefully, there will be flashy lights and a bouncer at the door. I don’t expect this concert to be the worst use of $28, but I certainly don’t expect it to be the best use of $28.

Logan McGinnis

says:

I read the essay by Roxanne Gay, and have to say I loved every minute of it. She begins her story, giving us her location and somewhat as to why she’s there. She informs us that she’s taking part in a competition but doesn’t come right out and tell us what it is exactly she’s competing at. I like the use of this technique and think she implements it well. She uses the intro, building up the tension; giving us scores, ranks, and even the weather only for her to finish it out, revealing that the competition is in fact, scrabble. I personally think that if she were to try and take herself out of the story and just give us the descriptions of the competition, the story would fall flat. Her being there is what makes the story. You get a personal insight to not only the competition but to her experience. I love her sense of humor, which plays off the silly idea of a competition playing scrabble. Yet, by the end I found I was in fact rooting for her and hoping she’d take her nemesis to the cleaners.

An event I’d like to take part in would be diving with sharks. I haven’t a clue as to why, given I can’t dive or even swim. Yet, sharks have fascinated me for as long as I can remember. I was the only kid when asked what my favorite movie was, didn’t jump on the Disney bandwagon but would proudly boast in my love for Steven Spielberg’s Jaws. Of course, my parents got questioning looks but I didn’t care. Don’t get me wrong, I’d be terrified and probably shaking in my wet suit but also simply stunned. Sharks are so often blamed and framed as blood thirsty monsters, but I know that the media has shamefully wronged them. These legendary creatures have roamed the earth for longer than humans have existed. To come up close and personal with one, would be truly amazing and an experience of a lifetime.

Erika Goddard

says:

Response:
I decided to look into Middle-American Gothic: SPIN’s 2006 Feature by Jonathan Ames. I thought it did a good job at explaining his overall experience at the event, especially with his initial thoughts that makes being an outsider more realistic, as well as relatable. I also like the way he describes some of the people that he meets, like how Mark had large, vulnerable eyes rather than just stating what color they, while also going into details about these individuals that makes them even more realistic. It was also interesting to learn about the different types of gothic that is represented and as well as get into a look into the lives these people have. I also like that while the author has a few thoughts about some of the individuals, he’s still considering that he could be very wrong in his assumptions and is still willing to go outside his comfort zone so he can learn more about these people and understand them better per individual.
The way the author wrote the conversations and details made the article feel real, like I could be there, seeing all the different people and having these conversations with them, despite being more of an outsider looking in. The fest itself reminded me of one of my cousins, whom is into the gothic culture, and can easily imagine her among the crowd, enjoying the music and the company of everyone there.
Event:
The event I’d like to attend is a Paint Nite. While I am an artist and working toward a degree in art, I tend to stick to pencil and charcoal medium as that is my comfort zone and only ever really use other materials like ink and paint when it’s part of an assignment. When it comes to paint, I’m fairly good at it and at least understand the general method as well as color and design, but otherwise I don’t explore it often. As for attending events, I don’t tend a lot of them, if any, as I prefer to mostly stay at home like a hermit. So, tending this event will not only help me improve with my skills as an artist, but also hopefully help with my social skills.
I expect there to be mostly woman attending with varying levels of skills and whom are all just happy-go-lucky folks that just want to have a good time. From what I’ve seen so far looking at this event, they usually take place at a restruant like Banks’ Ale House, so I can imagine that there will be quite a bit of chatter, so I do have some concerns as to how I’ll even be able to hear the instructor of there is too much background noise. Overall, this shouldn’t be too “eventful”, but I think it’ll be a good starting point for me to branch out a bit more.

Diana Ramstad

says:

Response #6
I read both essay’s and chose to write about the Roxanne Gay story. I really loved her descriptions of getting involved in Scrabble and the feeling of highs and lows at tournaments. “You have to understand I was lonely in a new town, where I knew no one”. This is a great sentence and had me hooked as I can relate to that feeling. I am Alaskan, but from a different part of Alaska then Fairbanks. I knew no one personally and have now forged friendships. So, I related to this, I am about to move from a dry cabin to a Studio apartment and must redecorate and so I can relate to this. The point is Roxanne makes the story relatable about how she gets involved with Scrabble in the first place.
The writer takes us through a Journey of Scrabble and how she was naive about what a Scrabble club and even a Scrabble tournament was going to be like. This is a fascinating way of learning as she plunges in to the interesting, intense world of Scrabble. I had no idea that Scrabble tournaments were as intense as described in this story. I found the footnotes just as interesting and found myself wanting to participate in at least one Scrabble tournament, so I could learn what it is like to have my own experiences in this. The descriptive scene where Roxanne describes stubbornly playing the same word twice in the same game is relatable. The gloating she feels on the other hand when she beats a player who she describes as her nemesis is realistic and relatable. The whole story flows well and I am gripped by this feeling of understanding her point of view and wanting to know more as this story unfolds.

Excersize#6
The folk school in Fairbanks is offering something that would take me a bit out of my comfort zone. On March 14th Saturday between 1:pm and 4:pm which is my birthday, they are offering a DIY Packraft-open shop. This would be way outside my comfort zone as I have never made one before and it would kind of scare me to do this. I do love the water and being on the water, but the idea of making a packraft for some reason challenges me. I would be the “I am thinking about building my own packraft and want to know what this is all about” Category. I would be interested to hear stories of packrafts and what it takes to build one and learn more about this.
I expect for me to feel welcomed, but a bit out of my element. I wont be able to participate in any stories about packrafts, because I have never created one or used one like this. But I expect that by listening and learning and showing enthusiasm, I could learn a lot. I expect that many people their will be very interested in this subject and will want to encourage me to create a packraft simply because that is their reason for coming to this event. I would also be interested from a writers point of view to learn more about why people who are at the event love their packrafts and the stories and adventures that happen when creating and using a packraft.
https://folk.school/

Ana Hinkle

says:

Reading Response 6: I selected the Scrabble essay. I loved this piece! Roxane Gay did an excellent job explaining the world of competitive Scrabble playing and intertwining information about herself into the story. I really connected with the voice of this essay. Gay’s stories about Scrabble tournaments and her personal interjections about her life left me feeling, “I want her as a friend!” Her sense of humor added to these feelings as I laughed out loud throughout the essay. I also found myself thinking, “Who can I share this essay with?” As I wanted someone else to feel the same connections that I did while reading this essay. Gay made the topic interesting because she wrote about Scrabble from a ‘cool, funny, friend’ perspective, not from the smart, pretentious, smarter-than-thou perspective. I did find the use of numbers and footnotes to be hard to get into at first. I appreciate that Gay wanted to share herself with the reader but found it difficult to jump to the footnote mid-sentence and I would have to reread the sentence. However, I had an ‘a-ha’ moment while reading the essay when I realized Scrabble tiles have a numeric value assigned to each one in the lower left corner. The footnotes reminded me of Scrabble tiles! I don’t know if this was happenstance or intentional. To me, it was a connection.

Writing Exercise 6: This weekend I will be attending my daughter’s high school basketball game against Galena. High school basketball is big in Valdez. I mean BIG! The whole community shows up every Friday and Saturday night to cheer on the Buccaneer basketball teams. Boys basketball being more popular than girls. On par with the national trend. Unfortunately, small town Alaska basketball is no different. The parking lot will be full and cars will line the street outside the high school for those who did not arrive early enough to secure a coveted space in the lot. You arrive early enough and turn into the parking lot, eyes scanning, hoping for an open space. The one-way traffic ensuring what you spot is yours as those who follow will be behind you. When you spot an open space, you get excited, you feel lucky, today is your day! This is small town Alaska basketball.
I’m always amazed who attends the games. There will be former players in attendance who played last year, or 10 years ago, or even 30 years ago. In fact, I’m sure I will see someone who played Buccaneer basketball from each decade the past 40 years — 2010s, 2000s, 1990s, 1980s, 1970s, make that 50 years. This is small town Alaska basketball.
The girls’ game will be a blow out. Galena will crush us. The clock will run continuously if one team is ahead by 40 points or more. I expect this will happen. Galena is 8-0 in our conference and 19-1 overall. Their leading scorer is averaging 25 points per game.

Erik Grazulis

says:

In Ames’ piece, he introduces the reader to Gothicfest from the position of an outsider who doesn’t feel at place in the setting. This seems like a good choice, because most readers are unlikely to be well versed in the goth scene, even if they have a passing familiarity with it.
Ames keeps the reader interested by considering their expectations. During his interview with Mark and Michelle, he asks “What do your families think about you being goths?”. This is a good question because it asks about a dynamic that people are familiar with. Most people can relate to the experience of having trouble with family accepting a particular aspect of their identity. The question plays off of the reader’s expectations too. The gothic child with the disapproving parent is a trope that most are familiar with. When Michelle’s experience deviates from the trope, it subverts the readers expectations. When Mark’s relationship with his father follows expectations, the reader can feel like their preconceived notions are confirmed, and connect to the piece through empathy with Mark.
Ames’ choice to directly insert himself into the piece keeps the reader from feeling alienated as they read about a foreign subculture. If Ames had been a goth himself, and the piece were written by a goth, for goths, then it would probably be full of jargon and inside reference that would be off-putting to a general audience. Because the reader is likely to feel like an outsider at Gothicfest, they feel at home inside the head of an outsider. Ames’ outsider status welcomes the reader into his perspective, and guides them through an alien experience.

Part 2:

I’m interested in writing about the 47th Annual Festival of Native Arts. I don’t think I’ve ever been to an arts festival, but I expect it to have a program of performances and interactive workshops. There will probably be food too. I really hope that there is.
I’m curious as to the kind of people who will attend the event. Will they be majorly Alaska Native, or will it be a more diverse crowd? The same goes for the performers.
I don’t expect the Festival to be very interactive. From what I have seen of Alaska Native performances previously, they involve special objects and clothing that seem valuable and maybe fragile.
I expect most people to attend because they know someone who is performing or also attending. Alaska is a big place, so I’m sure that a large part of the value that people get from attending this event is to reconnect with friends and associates that they rarely get to see otherwise.

Aubri stogsdill

says:

Response 6

I decided to read, To Scratch, Claw, or Grope Clumsily or Frantically. I think that the author did an incredible job of making scrabble tournaments sound interesting and engaging. I think a big part of how she made this work was with how she consistently used humor. She is fully aware of how geeky this hobby of hers is, and she doesn’t spare those amusing geeky details. Also, I felt like her character development helped to make the piece really interesting. As I read, I was able to create pictures in my mind of what sort of people the other characters in the story were. Something else that I really enjoyed about this essay was the author’s use of footnotes. Often times, these footnotes were not necessary, but totally hilarious and helped to make the author more likeable and even relatable. I felt that the authors writing was rather simple. Much of what she said was stated just as I would think it. The structure of the essay was also very effective. The author gives us detailed context, backstory, and side stories. By not simply telling the story from start to finish, I wanted to keep reading. She really pulled me in and kept me interested in what I would be reading next.

Exercise 6

The event that I’ve decided to write about is a concert by the band Colony House. I heard about the band through a group at church. Honestly, I don’t really like their music that much, but I decided to go because I feel like it would be a good opportunity to build relationships with other young adults. Honestly, I have no clue what to expect. The concert is at a bar downtown. We are all going to carpool. These people are basically still strangers to me, so that aspect of the concert might be awkward as I am not best at small talk. I think the concert might be long and I may have to be somewhat dishonest about my admiration of this bad– for the brownie points. I think it will be loud, a little roughly, and possibly sweaty. Hopefully, there will be flashy lights and a bouncer at the door. I don’t expect this concert to be the worst use of $28, but I certainly don’t expect it to be the best use of $28.

Lucie Anderson

says:

Response #6-
I chose the essay about Gothfest because I have never read about an event like that before. What I liked the most about it was that the author established right away who he was and what he was expecting going into it. What surprised me is that he found pretty much what he expected to find. Although he seems to have an open mind and ask a variety of people about the festival, he does not leave having learned a whole lot- aside from needing to read Noam Chomsky immediately. However, I still liked knowing the person behind the article. Rather than having to pick through a piece and try to find assumed biases it was nice to hear upfront from the person giving us our perspective. It was also fun having a unique voice. This made it more enjoyable to read.

Exercise #6-
Let me preface this by saying I am not the type of person who goes bowling for fun. I have never once suggested bowling as a way to pass the time. However, there is an event coming up with Chi Alpha where people can go bowling together and I have been roped into going. Here is how I imagine it will go: I won’t actually pick up a bowling ball the whole time. My friends will give me crap for it, but not successfully. I will probably wander around and talk to different people for the duration of a couple games, try to leave, get distracted, stay a while longer, and then leave when everyone else is tired of bowling. If I do pick up a bowling ball, I will probably play off how bad I am at it by saying I don’t care.

Stef

says:

I chose Ames’ report about the Gothic fest since this is something I know very little about. I really enjoyed his personal reflections and could relate well to him feeling out of place in such an environment. I also enjoyed reading about his interactions with some of the attendees, which made the event very relatable and less stereotypical. The interviews were a great addition as they allowed for a change of voice. It’s so interesting to hear the perspectives of these younger adults and their motivations of being part of this scene. I didn’t think that some of the comments about the women he interacted with (or not, in case of the invitation to dance) were absolutely necessary. While they provided great insight into the internal dialogues of the author, it didn’t add much to the event description. I would have also liked to hear more background information, which I think he could have easily weaved into the description of his personal experience. Overall I really like this format, as it acknowledges (and asks for) the writer’s perspective and biases, and it draws in the reader.

Puppies are fun — and not just ‘puppy-puppies’, but all kinds and ages of doggos. (Aren’t they all puppies at heart?) An event that lines up about 1200 puppies on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage seems like the perfect way to spend a Saturday morning! On March 7th is the ceremonial start of the Iditarod, and all of the race’s mushers will ride their dog teams on an 11 mile trail through Anchorage, where spectators can watch and cheer on their favorite teams. On Saturday afternoon, all these dogs are being stuffed back into their trucks and shuttled to Willow, about 2hours north of Anchorage, to get ready for the ‘real deal’, the actual start of the 1000 mile race to Nome. Winter has been kind to our snow-loving furry friends, and the trails should have plenty of white, fluffy stuff covering them. In the past years, snow conditions along the route have been questionable at best and non-existent at worst, and at times the race had to be re-routed to start in Fairbanks. But this year all looks well! I care little about the competitiveness of the race, the crowds gathering around its heroes, or the commercialization of the event. I also don’t care for increased chances of contracted the flu or the infamous Coronavirus in crowded places. I have attended the ceremonial start of the Iditarod in the past, and while the social aspects and the crows are definitely outside my comfort zone, I do enjoy watching the dog teams and their handlers starting off their adventures. I except there to be crowds of visitors lined up along 4th Avenue, cheering, clapping, and photographing. I expect a cacophony of doggy barking — imagine your worst nightmare of your neighbor’s dog with its 1199 friends left outside for too long! And for the remainder of the race I expect to hear the regular updates on standings, new race strategies, and controversial and sad news about one or two dogs being mistreated, getting sick or lost, or even dying. I expect to get upset about it and to complain to my friends about the negative side-effects of any event so highly commercialized. I also expect there to be some dramatic turn-of-events among the frontrunners. Will someone get lost again and loose first place? Will there be some tragic family event causing a top musher to drop out of the race? Will a musher fall asleep and fall off their sled, just to have their dogs arrive at the next checkpoint before them? I look forward to the race’s unofficial start next weekend, and to the reports about the official race. And I hope that all of our furry friends and their humans make it to Nome and back home safely.

Liz

says:

Roxane Gay’s Scrabble essay is hilarious, which is why it works even though it’s a piece about a niche board game community that by all rights should interest about seven people in the world. She consistently calls out how many valid Scrabble words can be made from the words she uses to write the essay, which is a stroke of genius, although it shouldn’t come as a surprise from a writer as gifted as she is. She also uses witty asides, whether in footnote form or in the body of the essay, to interest us in the subject. Gay’s self-deprecating humor works well here. She is writing about how she’s in over her head, so the self-deprecation is a nice counterpoint to her moments of smugness throughout. I also notice that her footnotes are generous–she uses them to teach us the fundamentals, whether of the game itself or the world of competitive Scrabbling. This makes me as a reader feel included on her wild ride. Another smart move is that she starts off early on telling us how many people in her life made fun of her when she started playing in tournaments; in fact, she’s rolling her eyes and laughing herself the first time she plays in Marty and Daiva’s basement. This is a smart way of getting us all on the same page. It’s as if she’s saying, “I know, it’s so stupid, right?” But then because we’re all laughing, we don’t notice that we too have suddenly started to care–we don’t want her to lose either. I think Gay is a terrific writer and her point of view is specifically her own. This essay is no exception.

***

Sometime between 1990 (when I finished elementary school) and 2018 (when my daughter started pre-K), Theodore Geisel went from children’s book author to national hero. More commonly known by his nom de plume, Dr. Seuss, Geisel is the author of such books as Green Eggs and Ham, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Lorax, and perhaps most famously, The Cat in the Hat. If you don’t have a grammar-school aged child, you may not know that Dr. Seuss Day is celebrated like a major holiday. Here are some questions my daughter asked in the lead up:

“Are there presents on Dr. Seuss Day?”
“Is Dr. Seuss Day more important than Christmas?”
“Shouldn’t we have no school on Dr. Seuss Day?”
“Is the day after Dr. Seuss Day a holiday too? How about the next day?”
“Is Dr. Seuss a saint?”

To paraphrase John Lennon: my six-year-old thinks Dr. Seuss is bigger than Jesus.

Here’s the thing: I like Dr. Seuss books. I think they’re silly and fun. They make me laugh. But a friend recently pointed out that of ALL the amazing children’s book writers, why is it that only Seuss has his own holiday? Perhaps she soured me on it, or perhaps I’ve spent too much time at parties in my daughter’s classroom, because now, an hour and a half til go time, I’m semi-dreading it. I’ll have to compliment everyone’s wacky outfits and hair, referee whatever Seuss-themed games are planned, and (horror of horrors) serve green eggs and ham. Current mood: The Grinch.

Jacob Parker

says:

Response: From the two essays, I chose to read Johnathan Ames’s recounting of his attendance at Gothic Fest. To be perfectly honest, I decided with this one because reading about competitive scrabble didn’t seem appealing to me. I’m also a little biased because I use to attend, somewhat, similar kinds of concerts and smaller shows; though maybe not as quite gothic. Still, I had a pretty good idea what to expect from Johnathan’s experience. I think what works well with this essay is the general format. Having a timeline of events that occur in chronological order really makes the reader feel like they are right along with the experience every step of the way. There was also a lot of dialogue that felt engaging. However I have to say, in my opinion this essay wasn’t the greatest. I didn’t find a purpose for this essay other than the author recalling a pretty standard event. Nothing surprised me with this story, it was a typical concert / show. I get the feeling the author expected to meet a group of strange people doing bizarre things and seemed to make a point about the normality of the people he spoke with. Johnathan may not of expected a Noam Chomsky fan in attendance, but I would expect there to be more Noam Chomsky fans within that sort of crowd than any other. I was also mildly disturbed when Johnathan tells us he’s a dirty old man after feeling pleasure from giving a young lady a neck massage. Perhaps I should keep in mind this essay is from 2006 when there might have been a more extreme public perception of the gothic scene, but I just don’t see the need for such a normal essay about a normal event. I will grant you that the author does a good job putting himself into the story and writing it in a way that you would expect more from a novel then a new article.

Exercise: The event a plan on attending in the Annual Festival of Native Arts. This will could be considered as outside my comfort zone as I really like staying to myself and really not going anywhere at all if possible. But I suppose this does seem interesting. My moms side of the family are all native, Ojibwe – Minnesota, and my grandpa use to travel around schools showing off the culture with dances, clothing, tools, models, and other things he made in the old way. I imagine this event will be somewhat similar, except of course it will be all about Alaskan Native Culture. I expect a lot of dances and art with bright cultural colors. I also expect to learn a great deal of information about Alaskan Native culture in general.

Katherine Keith

says:

I selected Gothic Fest by Jonathan Ames. J. Ames did an amazing job carrying forward the description of Gothic Fest. Using the ongoing timeline throughout the essay helped move it forward when otherwise the reader might get lost in interviews. The format of a literary essay, adding his personal perspective into the news article, provided a unique dynamic. He could interpret the interviews with humor or seriousness. He can stay outside of the event, describing events, or become the event as in, “I feel like a dirty old man, and then I remember, I am a dirty old man.” Because of this, the style was more like a memoir essay than travel article.

Finding a location is a bit challenging for me, given that there are no local events for me to consider. That being said, I will be traveling to Disney World for a few days over spring break with family. I believe I can use an experience from that place for this essay. Disney world definitely qualifies as far as being outside of my comfort zone. I expect this experience to be overwhelming and unnerving, given the high number of people and the current state of affairs. A juxtaposition will probably exist between that and the plastic, unrealistic, and commercial pretense of Disney World.

Hunter

says:

I chose to read Roxanne Gay’s essay–I’ve been trying to read more of her while taking this course, so this was the perfect set up. I was super intrigued from the beginning, which is impressive because it is about Scrabble. Don’t get me wrong, Scrabble can be fun–but it can also be infuriating. No matter how dynamic the feelings of the game, it is a very stationary game, much like chess. Roxanne Gay does a great job of elevating the action in this essay. At times, the Scrabble game can feel just as physical as a game of tennis–the back and forth and the adrenaline. Roxanne’s position in this story is what drives this. We as the readers are so easily brought into this group-think of emotions with her because she, herself, is in the competitive spot. She uses words like “cocky” and says things like “IN YOUR FACE,” in order to make us as the reader believe this is just as competitive as what we would traditionally consider a sport. She also is immediately friendly with us. The second footnote makes a joke about someone with the last name Butts. With something as astute and formal as Scrabble, this is helpful to keep us interested. There is also some self-deprecating humor (such as the French Je suis désoleé on page 36). She invites us into the melodrama she creates for what she would call a “sport.” I’m not sure if it was her intention, but now I really want to play Scrabble.

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