After struggling to come up with a name for myself over the past several days, I decided to just use my initials. My brand name is now BKS, but instead of being short for my name, it stands for Brandon’s Kickin’ Spraypaint. From now on, my artwork will be signed with BKS, and I can establish my online presence. Going forward with this project, I will set up an Etsy shop where I can sell my paintings, I will create a business email where I can take commissions, and I can gain an audience through social media. I will also continue to prepare for the art festival coming up. The painting above is the Perkiomen Valley Vikings logo that I painted. Most of the people art this art festival will be from PV, so I decided to make a painting for school spirit. To wrap up the academic portion of this project, I will put the process of starting a business and selling art into a TED talk. This TED talk will be presented to the class, and there is a research paper that goes along with it. This paper is required to include in-test citations from research, and this has me a bit concerned. There is not much material out there about spray paint art, so the research I have gathered is about starting a business. Starting a business seems to be less exciting than spray paint art, so I’m worried the academic part of this project will be dull and boring.
As a part of this purpose project, the class was tasked with proposing our project idea to the rest of the class in an elevator pitch. After the elevator pitches, we received feedback from the audience to help us refine our project idea. The class seemed to like my project idea, and a handful said they would go to the art and food truck festival to see me paint. I didn’t receive much feedback other than approval, so my idea has not been changed much. I still plan on painting at the art and food truck festival, but I am also going to be launching a business. For this business, I will create paintings to sell, and I might take commissions from customers. The issue I am currently having with this idea is I need a name for myself as a brand. My name is not unique, so I need a better name for the business/brand. This is proving to be one of the hardest things to do. Once I figure out a name I can set up an Etsy shop and launch my business. To help with this business endeavor, I am researching how to start a business, and how to sell art.
As a class, we have been tasked with finding something we are passionate about, and turning it into a purpose project. This got me thinking, “pffft. Who needs a brush?” I thought about how spray paint art is a less well known form of art, and I wanted to change that in my area. In 2017, I went to the PV Art and Food Truck Festival. This was an event where artists from all over the community showed up to sell and show off their talents. Food trucks solved the problem of starving customers and live entertainment kept the consumers busy between spending sprees in the art booths. However, I noticed a significant lack of quality spray paint art. This year, for the 2018 PV Art and Food Truck Festival, I want to show off my artwork and make a name for myself, while also making a profit, because capitalism. I had the idea to get into the festival, and put on a little performance by painting live for passing viewers. This will spread the word about spray paint art, and solidify my position as an artist. The festival takes place on June 2, 2018, which is the end of this project, so my focus for this assignment will be on preparing for the festival.
To Kill a Mockingbird is a great book. The characters are fantastic and the plot wraps up nicely in the end. This book helps further our insight into the topic of secret lives. Some questions the class asked included, do we truly know the people around us and why do people live secret lives. The novel helps to answer these questions. We don’t know the people around us. The people around us could be hiding many secrets that make them who they are. The people we see around us are just the masks they wear to hide and protect themselves from society. We live these secret lives for protection. We protect others from bearing the burden of truth, much like how Mrs. Dubose knew she was close to death, but kept it a secret. We also protect ourselves from the harshness of society, much like how Boo Radley prefers to live in solitude. People hide their true selves from society, and you cant really know them until you step into their skin and walk around. Throughout the novel, there is one character who does not live a secret life and can see straight through the masks of other people: Atticus. Atticus understands people. He understands their thoughts, beliefs, and motives. As a father, he tries to teach Jem and Scout how to understand people, and at the end of To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout steps into Boo Radley’s shoes and walks around.
The character my group focused on was Jem. During our literature circles, we talk a bit about Jem and what kind of character he is. We discussed how annoying Jem can be sometimes due to his inconsistency. One moment, Jem is a loving brother to Scout who likes to spend time with her, and the next moment, he hates her and tells her to go away. The only explanation provided is that Jem is going through a different phase of life, but this doesn’t satisfy my group. However, there is a part of the novel where Jem’s color shows. After Tom Robinson is declared guilty in court, Jem is devastated. He was confident that Atticus was going to win the court case, and his reaction shows something: Jem cares about people. Unfortunately, Jem doesn’t get the chance to show how he cares and make a difference in society. He is forced to accept the way things are.
*Note: I acknowledge the fact this this is very rough. It will be improved in the near future.
My first impressions of To Kill a Mockingbird are very positive. The plot is easy to follow, and the characters are very relatable. The main characters, Jem and Scout, are both kids, so their motives and actions are easy to understand, because the reader has most likely been in a similar position. Also, Scout can be considered a tomboy, and tomboys are usually lovable characters who are fun to read about.The plot, so far, is easy to follow, but is not predictable. The author throws in unexpected events in the plot, with unexpected outcomes, and this leaves the reader guessing what will happen next. An example of this is when Miss Maudie’s house burned down. This seemed to have come out of nowhere, and Miss Maudie’s reaction was unusual. She was happy her house burned down. These surprises make the book enjoyable to read.
One of the central themes of To Kill a Mockingbird is the secret lives we live. The story is written from Scout’s perspective, so the reader doesn’t get to see the secret lives of other
characters. Atticus even tells Scout to put herself in other people’s shoes and walk around. The biggest example of this is Boo Radley. Boo never comes out of his home, and no one in the town knows what he does inside all day. Boo Radley is a mystery to the town. However, all the characters in the book have secret lives. Mr. Avery sits on his porch every night and sneezes, but the reader doesn’t know why. Miss Maudie is happy about her house burning down, but I suspect she is just acting that way so Scout won’t worry about her. Dill lies about his father to his friends, and he goes away during the school year to live his secret life.
Secret lives is one of the topics my group discussed in our lit circle. We discussed what was actually going on in the town. We talked about who was leaving presents in the
knothole, and who put the blanket on Scout. Atticus tells Scout it was Boo Radley, but how can we be sure? We also talked about the significance of the black man Atticus is defending in court. My group made predictions, such as the town will shame Atticus and his family, and they will suffer from an economic standpoint.
For this letter essay, I read Brisingr, by Christopher Paolini. It is the third book in the fantasy series, the Inheritance Cycle. The series tells the story of Eragon, Saphira, and Roran. In the first two books, Eragon and Eldest, Eragon, a simple farm boy, who lives with his uncle, Garrow, and cousin, Roran, becomes a Dragon Rider. Dragon Riders are people who become mentally and emotionally bonded to a dragon for life. They live much longer than normal, are stronger than most, and are expert magicians. These Dragon Riders used to protect the land of Alagaёsia. However, a Rider, named Galbatorix, lost his mind, betrayed the Riders, and took control of most of Alagaёsia. His territories are called the Empire. The lands he does not control are the Beor Mountains to the south, the land of the dwarves, and the forest of Du Weldenvarden, where the elves live. Galbatorix also murders all the dragons and Riders in Alagaёsia. The Inheritance Cycle takes place a century after these events. Eragon becomes the first new Dragon Rider in a century when a he discovers a mysterious stone near his farm. This stone turns out to be a dragon egg that hatches for him, and he bonds with this dragon. He names his new partner Saphira, and sets off with her to join the Varden. The Varden is an army of humans opposed to Galbatorix’s rule.
Meanwhile, back in Eragon’s hometown, Carvahall, Galbatorix’s forces attack in hopes of using Roran against his cousin. Roran manages to fend off the soldiers, and convinces the entire village to flee and join the Varden. Eragon and Roran cross paths again when the Varden and the Empire clash on the Burning Plains, a smoldering patch of land to the south of the Empire and near Surda. The Varden barely manages to pull through, thanks to the help of dwarf reinforcements, and the events of Brisingr take place immediately after this battle.
In Brisingr, Eragon fights with his own inner demons. Eragon believes he is not good enough to help the Varden, and fighting Galbatorix is a futile effort. Eragon travels to the Beor Mountains to accelerate the dwarf process of electing a new king. Eragon is ordered to ensure the new king is supportive of the Varden. After the king is elected, Eragon
travels to Du Weldenvarden to train more under his mentor. While in the land of elves, Eragon forges a new sword for himself. He names the blade Brisingr, the word for fire. With his new sword and knowledge of how to defeat Galbatorix, Eragon must rush back to the Varden to help seize one of the Empire’s cities. The battle that takes place is what ends Eragon’s part of the story. While Eragon is traveling the land of Alagaёsia, Roran is sent on his own missions to raid nearby villages in the Empire. Roran rises through the ranks of the Varden, and even commands his own group of soldiers in the siege of Feinster, the last battle of the book.
Brisingr is an excellent book. The character development is phenomenal as each character has to struggle with their inner demons, as well as deal with the threat of Galbatorix. The plot is rich in adventure, and action that leaves the brain craving for more. This is shown in the battle of Feinster when Eragon takes on multiple soldiers himself. “Faint as a line of thread falling to the floor, Eragon heard an object flying through the air. He jerked backward and staggered as a mace or a hammer struck his shield, breaking it into pieces. Shouts erupted. A man knocked over a chair or a table and something shattered against a wall. Eragon lashed out and felt Brisingr sink into flesh and bury itself in bone.”
The story conveys themes of family. Everywhere Eragon goes, he makes friends that become like family to him. However, Eragon struggles with who his actual family is. He must discover who his parents are, and he is threatened by his own brother. Despite this, Eragon is accepted into the families of others he meets on his journey.
In English class, I was given the task of listening to a podcast, and writing a blog post about that podcast. The guest on the podcast was Josh Medcalf, and he talked about his opinions on what school should be. He thinks the current school system is flawed and does not prepare students for the real world. The current school system creates a
“bubble” around students. In that bubble, they are shielded from the world, and gain “artificial maturity,” where students think they know what the world is like, but they don’t, because they haven’t actually experienced it yet. Medcalf believes people are too accustomed to being told what to do. From a young age, students are told to sit down and shut up. Josh says school should be giving students the opportunity to go off and learn what they want to learn. School should give students the opportunity to explore the world and gain experience, but instead school just teaches students to follow directions. I agree with Medcalf to an extent. Students should be able to learn and explore they things they are passionate about. However, subjects, such as math, can’t be easily experienced in the real world, but it is needed. There still need to be classes to teach subject that, like math, can’t be easily explored in the real world.
The host of the podcast, Don Wettrick, says if students were given the opportunity to explore their passion and learn on their own, they would just choose to do nothing and
go on their phone. If I were given time to learn on my own, I would go on my phone at first. I would research what I want to learn about to figure out where to start. Then I would go out and learn on my own. I would rather be independent, than follow directions. If I wanted to follow instructions, I would join the military, where soldiers do nothing but follow orders and protocol. I would prefer to be left on my own to fail time after time again. I would take the risk , and learn from my failures. A class that would do this would intimidate me, but I would quickly get over the fear of failure, and start to have fun learning.
Josh Medcalf’s ideas of letting students learn and experience things on their own frightens me a bit. His ideas involve a large amount of failure, and I, like many other
people, am afraid of failure. I am afraid of what other people will think of my failure, but once I get past that, I am excited about Medcalf’s ideas. Having a class, or school that lets students learn on their own would provide much needed experience to prepare for the real world. Also, learning what I want to learn sounds like more fun to me that sitting in a class and being lectured about useless information. Medcalf’s and Wettrick’s ideas are revolutionary, and I agree with them. The current system does not properly prepare students for the real world, and there needs to be a change. Students need to gain experience, and explore the subjects they are passionate about. Giving students the opportunity to learn on their own would be a big improvement to the schooling system.
After reading Haroun and the Sea of Stories, my group members and I were tasked with teaching the rest of the class about the allusions in the story. We had to explain what allusions are, how they were used in Haroun and the Sea of Stories, and why they are important. Allusions are references to something famous, and my group had a hard time coming up with an idea on how to present that information. We spent the first two days of the project just thinking of what to do. Eventually, we all laid out what we were good at, and thought of an idea that utilized those talents. We settled on making stages that open like a pop-up book for different allusions. Erin is a talented artist, so she drew the characters that went on the pop-up stages, while Sarah and Andrew assembled the stages. I am mediocre at a style of art using spray paint, so I painted a background for each allusion. The four allusions we had were Star Wars, the Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan, and Alice in Wonderland. My group and I worked great together, and our project looked stunning.
This entire project was a learning process. First, my group and I had to learn about allusions and how they were used in the story. Then we learned how to use all of our talents and skills to make a presentation. We worked well together, and I am very happy with the results. The other groups then taught us about their literary lens. I learned about the importance of satire, allegories, and the monomyth. The monomyth is a basic template of a hero’s journey for a story. Satire is an important method for criticism, and allegories are an important method for connecting stories to real life problems and situations. My group taught the class about allusions and I think we did a good job, and our project was worthy of an A. Our project met the criteria, and exceeded in some places. Our project was beautiful looking, unforgettable, and unique. I feel we explained allusions very well.
Allusions, or references to famous things, are important to a story, because they bring a sense of familiarity. Allusions make a story feel more familiar, and connected. They make stories more fun, and this answers the question, “what’s the point in telling stories that aren’t even true?” It doesn’t matter if the stories are true or not. We tell stories because they are fun, amusing, and entertaining. Allusions help make stories more entertaining. Allusions make a story feel familiar, and this makes the story more fun and easier to understand. We tell stories, because it’s fun.
Spoiler Warning! (Duh)
Thoughts on the Ending
By now, you should be familiar with Haroun and the Sea of Stories, but if not, go read my other blog posts about it, or read this. My thoughts on the ending have not changed much. I still think everything was too convenient. Haroun, by the power of believing, defied physics, and suddenly turned an entire moon. He then finishes his journey by travelling through the Sea of Stories, back to Gup, when his bird breaks down. Next, his two minor friends from earlier in the book show up out of nowhere to tow Haroun back to Gup. That was the only purpose those fish served in the book. They use their fishy instincts to find Haroun when he needs help. Lastly, the final event is when Haroun’s mother comes back home to live with Rashid again. The book never explained where Haroun’s mother was, or how she came back. It was just a convenient ending.
In class, we had our final discussion on Haroun and the Sea of Stories, and it went well as always. One topic that was heavily discussed was if the events in the story were actually real. Some of my classmates thought the story could have been a dream Haroun had, while he was in a coma. I disagreed, because the lake, from the beginning of the story, that changed with mood, was real. If that was a story Rashid told, but it was real, who’s to say Kahani isn’t also real? This is a concept similar to what Haroun experienced at the end of the book. Haroun ponders the happiness in his city, because, “it isn’t real. It’s just something the Eggheads got out of a bottle. It’s all fake,” (Rushdie, 208). This brings up the question, is anything real? Is there a civilization that controls our feelings? The answer is yes, things are real. It doesn’t matter if there is or isn’t a civilization controlling us, because the happiness you feel after winning the lottery is the same happiness an all-powerful being could give you. It’s all the same; a chemical in the brain that makes you feel happy. The happiness at the end of the book was real, because the people felt it was real.
Before reading this story again, my class was asked if fictional stories are morally good lies. Haroun and the Sea of Stories answers that question. Fictional stories are not morally good lies, because, according to the book, fictional stories are not fiction; they are actual events. Many of the events on Kahani allude to other stories, making those stories real. Besides answering the question about stories, the book left me disappointed. The plot seemed very cliche. A hero from a different world finds himself in the middle of an oncoming war. He must volunteer to save the day with his magical sidekick, and animal companion/transportation. The Hero saves the day by believing he can and trying really hard. He returns home to find everything has fixed itself. This book had to potential to be a lot better. It just needed to explain things more.
Slight Spoiler Warning (Duh!)
Compared to my first impressions of Haroun and the Sea of Stories, from the last blog post, my thoughts on the story have not changed much. I still do not enjoy the book, and I think there are too many underdeveloped characters. The characters seem too convenient to the plot, and this makes the story feel incomplete. The story would be more complete if it explained how the characters are able to do what they do. For example, the story would be better if it explained how Goopy and Bagha find Haroun in the Sea of Stories at the end. Now that I know how the story ends, It is easier to pick out the characters that are just convenient to the plot. However, I am noticing more of the allusions in the story, since I am specifically looking for them.
My group and I were tasked with analyzing the allusions in Haroun and the Sea of Stories. Haroun, in chapter 7, page 113, manages to pack many allusions in one single line; “Here’s another Princess Rescue Story I’m getting mixed up in.” This line alludes to many Disney stories and fairy tales, such as Sleeping Beauty. It also references many video games, like the Mario franchise, where an Italian plumber saves a princess from a turtle-dinosaur hybrid. I found this quote interesting, because it is as if Haroun is acknowledging how cliché his own story is. Haroun travels to a distant world, gets caught up in a major crisis, volunteers to be the hero, and, by the power of believing, saves the day. This entire story is one big cliché, and this quote proves that.
What’s the Point of Telling Stories That Aren’t Even True?
In the beginning of the book, Haroun asked this question, and now he is the one who volunteered to save the Sea of Stories. The book is beginning to answer this question. The answer to the question is that we tell stories because we enjoy it. We enjoy telling stories, becasue stories are a beautiful thing, in Haroun’s words. On page 137, as Haroun volunteers to save the ocean, he says, “… now that I’ve actually come to Kahani and seen with my own eyes how beautiful the Ocean is, with its Story Streams in colors whose names I don’t even know…” The Ocean is made of stories and for Haroun to say the Ocean is made of stories is to say the stories themselves are beautiful. This is why we tell stories that aren’t true.
The class discussion went well again. Many good topics were discussed, and there weren’t too many long periods of silence. One of the interesting topics discussed was how Khattam-Shud is an allegory to Adolf Hitler. Khattam-Shud came to power in a difficult time, much like how Hitler came to power while Germany was doing poorly, and they both wanted to get rid of something that they think caused the downfall of their nations. Khattam-Shud wanted to destroy the stories because the people of Gup put Chup in eternal darkness. I thought this was interesting because it made me think about how this has become a bit of a cliché villain backstory.