Page After Page by Kathleen White

I love reading! I love becoming engrossed in story lines, connecting to characters, and staying up as late as it takes until I finish a chapter or, more likely, the book. When I’m asked my hobbies I always list reading as one of them, and it’s true I used to be an avid reader! But now I feel like a sham, a phony, a faux bibliophile! I no longer turn page after page of a good book or dog-ear corners for me to excitedly return to later. No, unfortunately now the only books I read are required. I don’t mind reading for English class, in fact I usually enjoy the selections, but I miss reading at my own pace and reading a novel of my own choosing.  
I feel even more guilty about not reading, because I do watch Netflix. Why don’t I just read instead of watch TV? But the two things are not interchangeable. Netflix is what I watch to de-stress when I come right home from school, while reading is what I do before I fall asleep at night. But these days I’m doing homework until my brain shuts down from exhaustion, there’s no time to read! My prime reading time has been invaded by homework, studying, and college apps! 
Not reading just adds to my stress load! I’m afraid my vocabulary is becoming stagnate or worse, digressing! I’m afraid that I’m becoming less intellectual and that my writing will suffer! I want nothing more than to pick up a good book and start reading again (it’s like riding a bike!), but there’s not enough time in the day! High school has ripped me from a world of quiet reading time, but hopefully I can return there soon.

A Love Letter to the Oxford Comma by Anabel McGuan

I am deeply, passionately, and unconditionally devoted to the Oxford comma. It’s such an underrated grammatical detail! The Oxford comma provides clarity and certainty that is otherwise impossible. I enjoyed a stint in the Shakerite, first as a Spotlight reporter, and then as a copy editor. During this time, I was forced to give up the Oxford comma. It was physically painful for me as a copy editor to go through stories and remove my beloved Oxford comma. My love for the Oxford comma never waned, however, and I continued secret rendezvous with it in my other classes, sneaking it into history and English papers alike. Though unnecessary for grammatical correctness, sentences feel wrong to me without it. I love the Oxford comma now, in the past, and forever.

“A… a S’mores Pop Tart! Yes! That’s obviously the best kind of Pop Tart!” Satisfied with my result, I scroll from “What Pop Tart Matches Your Zodiac Sign” to “Which One of Zayn Malik’s Tattoos Are You”. It doesn’t matter that I barely know anything about Zayn Malik, let alone his body art, I answer the questions quickly in a frenzied thirst for the moment of gratification: I’m the boom box tattoo that I didn’t know existed. But technicalities are unimportant for the few seconds of reward I get, eyes drinking up the short blurb under my results, written to flatter me. As the words that have been displayed to hundreds of thousands of people flash on to my screen, a smile crosses my face. For these few moments, the vaguest compliments allow me to identify good qualities in myself. Mass production feels so personal when it’s stroking my ego. I scroll to the next quiz.
       I am hardly alone among my generation in a fervent search for external validation. While we might take BuzzFeed quizzes just to pass the time, run a photo blog just to keep a record, or only stay on Facebook for new pictures of our baby cousins, there will always be a reminder that you are catering to an audience.I’m not writing to condemn social media; that’s not a new idea and at this point it is frankly overdone, if not bland and crotchety. Those who do choose to ridicule the ‘iGeneration’ often focus on the idea of self-obsession: young people truly believing that others are interested in what they think, do, and eat for breakfast. In reality, the critics are overlooking the most obvious truth. Far from self-obsession, we have grown up needing other people’s permission to admire ourselves. We are not allowed to independently step up and say – “I look wonderful today” – “I’m really smart” – “I’m good at this specific thing” – because at a certain point, we became ashamed of our capacity for self-love, terrified that it would slip into the narcissism that is apparently so typical of our ‘iGeneration’. But – if you just post that selfie, that test score, that new piece – among other people you can find an outpouring of love. People giving you the compliment you are not allowed to give yourself. We sift through other people’s words, hoping to find proof that they can see the good in us – whether or not we can already see it in ourselves.
      It’s not surprising that we’re scared of self-love. It’s the golden age of advertising, a billion dollars is spent a year to ensure we know that you are less cool, less beautiful, less interesting, less worthwhile, Less Than – that is until you buy this new product. We’re growing up in a stuffed-to-the-gills job market where rampant capitalism has quickly turned towards social Darwinism. What can you do, create, complete – it doesn’t matter. Better to ask yourself if that will make you money. Consider your creative value as a dollar figure. We’ve spent our lifetimes watching movies about the beautiful, sad, young protagonist, who cannot see the good in themselves – and that’s the only reason one other person can see the good in them. Their romantic love interest considers everything they do poetry, looks deep into their eyes, and tells them they’re in love – oh how they wish their love could see their own value. And so we wait – we wait to buy that new product, to take a money-making job, to snag a romantic partner who can love you the way you are not allowed to love yourself. But in the meantime, we can take online quizzes. We can post selfies. We can wait for those around us to pitch in to our self-esteem.

“Which Disney Channel Show Are You?”

No Storyline…Too Many Allusions…Charles Dickens…Oh My by: Louis Schwartz

Charles Dickens…what can I say…I’m just bored by him. Let’s use some examples from school: Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities. Great Expectations is a story about a boy who meets a creepy, old guy in a cemetery. That creepy, old guy becomes the boy’s benefactor. There’s an old lady who serves no purpose whatsoever, except that she had a granddaughter that was a snobby, little brat that was the boy’s love interest. The granddaughter doesn’t even end up marrying him even though he drops everything in his life in order to go back for the girl. What is the purpose of the storyline here? I mean come on there’s no point writing a drawn out story about a boy who has a love interest, gets money for a creepy, old guy in the cemetery, and whose name is Pip of all names! Great Expectations does balance the amount of literary analyses but doesn’t have the story line to match. I could ramble on and on about Great Expectations forever, but let’s move on to A Tale of Two Cities. The storyline in A Tale of Two Cities is much better than that of Great Expectations, but still, how many literary analyses can a man write in just one book?! The storyline includes Lucy trying to save her soon-to-be husband from his impending death. She doesn’t save him but her “secret admirer” Sydney Carton does. SYMBOLISM, that is all this book is. Lucy is the Light, Carton is the person who makes a sacrifice for the one he loves (how cliche is that?), Madame Defarge is the darkness, and then there’s Darnay who is freed by a case of mistaken identity. There are so many allusions in A Tale of Two Cities that when you think you’re done with them, they come back a page later. A Tale of Two Cities, in contrast to Great Expectations, has a storyline but too many literary analyses for the length of the story all together. All in all, Charles Dickens can create a storyline and a fair amount of allusions but can’t combine them into one cohesive novel.

Fall in Love with a Good Book!

Leaves are changing colors, the air is crisper, homework is being piled on students…yep it’s finally fall. The seasons have changed and you’re getting back into the groove of things. A chill is starting to settle into your bones as the temperature drops. Last year’s sweaters are beginning to see the light of day as stores start to stock hot cocoa. Even if you’re wishing for the return of carefree summer days or for the year to speed ahead to winter break, there is still something undeniably cozy about fall.

What’s not to love about the crunch of red and golden leaves underneath your feet, the wind whistling through trees, and the eerie coziness of the shortening days. 
This autumnal coziness makes it a perfect time to grab a book and hunker down! 
The cold weather is ideal for cuddling up with a book and a cup of tea or hot chocolate to pass the time til summer rolls around again. As we become set in our patterns and burdened with stress, delving into a fictional world is a great way to escape our problems.
Occasionally when I’m feeling stressed I pick up a book and just get lost. Reading is one of the best activities for a cozy fall day, so stop what you’re doing and pick up a book! So if you are reading this blog it’s your lucky day because whether you are stressed or just need an escape, I have a list of books perfect for this fall season! 
Since fall is a time of remembrance try reading some classics or childhood favorites. Or you can read something entirely new! Here I have compiled a list of some of my favorite fall reads!
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Nancy Drew Mysteries by Carolyn Keene
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Enjoy your reading! Or if reading isn’t your thing, pick up a pen and start to write. Relieve your stress by releasing it onto paper!

By: Maria White

How to Write a College Essay (Step 1: Don’t) by Charlie Espy

College essays. When I started, they were the worst thing I could possibly imagine. My junior year English teacher started the process with a packet of papers that was so thick that it could have been used to commit a violent crime. We had the distinct pleasure of writing one college essay per quarter, and right off the bat I thought I had an amazing idea. Except I hit one small bump: I am incapable of talking about myself. I wrote my first one about my struggles in my rowing career; losing our biggest race and then learning how to work hard. I got that essay back with the comment that it was a cliché and anyone could write it. There goes my grand idea of a good idea. From there I struggled to revise my essay until it was just passable enough to get a good grade. And then came the next ones. When I look back on my first three college essays, I remark that they are total garbage. Nothing about them gives the reader a good impression of who I am. But then I had an amazing idea. What if I could write about myself without actually writing about myself? One of the sample essays we discussed in class was about a prospective student’s book shelf. It talked all about the books, and how each shelf represented a different period of their life. I thought that that was brilliant, I can’t talk about myself at all, but I can talk about my surroundings. My last and best college essay was the only one that actually shows the reader who I am. In my essay, I talk about my desk, what all of the stuff on it is, and how that all shows who I am. I had cracked the college essay enigma. I managed to talk about myself without actually talking about myself. That essay I wrote fourth quarter of junior year is the essay that I am now going to use to try to get into college. But I still have one little problem. I have 4 beautiful paragraphs all about myself, but no conclusion. I can’t think of a good conclusion for the life of me. My application is due on November 15th, and I haven’t finished the most important part of it. And here I am at the end of my blog post and I don’t have a conclusion for this either. So I’m just going to end it with this: my next post will be the conclusion of this one and I’ll tell you all about the conclusion of my college essay. 

By: Charlie Espy 

Yes, I am a Guy and Yes, My Favorite Movie is a Chick Flick by Dylan Freeman

Once upon a time there was a 6th grade boy who temporarily  had no internet access and nothing good to watch on TV. The bored 6th grade boy decided that he was going to watch a movie to kill his boredom. He quickly realized that he had already watched all the movies in his personal library and in that moment had no interest in watching them again. The boy started to think and in no time came up with the idea to look through his mom’s movies for something, as you can see he was very desperate. The boy found his mom’s movies and unfortunately noticed that the collection was full of nothing but chick flicks. The boy finally settled on a movie simply because his boredom had become extremely unbearable. The boy popped in the movie and began to watch it, he was immediately overwhelmed with emotion. The boy quickly realized that the little girly chick flick, full of mushiness and loves stories, actually had a deep underlying message that the whole world should know. If you haven’t already guessed, this boy is me. Yes I, Dylan Freeman, a male, am coming out and saying that my favorite movie is a Chick Flick. My favorite movie is The Holiday, starring Kate Winslet (Titanic), Cameron Diaz (Shrek), Jude Law (Contagion) and so many other phenomenal actors. The movie is about two women on opposite ends of the earth who are having men issues during the holidays (Christmas). These two women put their homes up on a home swap website just to get away for a little bit. The women find each other on the site and swap homes and cars. To make a long story short, the women both find love on the opposite sides of the earth. Both couples become friends and they all  live happily ever after. Now, you’re probably thinking “What’s so special about this movie?” But it truly is a great movie. The movie talks a lot about discovering new things about yourself and shows the importance of allowing yourself to be open and free of eternal bondage. The women in the movie both have in common the fact that they both are stuck on men that continue to do them wrong. Throughout the movie the women are getting over these men, stepping out of their depression, and allowing the joy back into their lives. The reason that this movie touches me so much is because it taught me that one door always opens when another one closes, but only when you break free of your internal bondage and allow yourself to move on from your disappointment. I also love the movie simply because of all the traveling in the movie and the movie’s score. The point of this blog post is to hopefully get rid of the idea of chick flicks and to encourage the men and boys of our world to go watch these “Chick Flicks” and find the deeper message in them all.

I’m Sorry but George Orwell is Great by Kathleen White

In the last blog you read why one of my fellow interns absolutely despises Orwell, and I’m not here to say that his feelings towards Orwell are wrong….But there’s so much to appreciate and love about Orwell!
George Orwell is a great writer and one of my favorite works by him is his essay “Politics and the English Language”. Orwell spends the essay describing the degradation of the English language and creates a set of rules that a writer should not break:
  • Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  • Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  • If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  • Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  • Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  • Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright.
As both a writer and a reader I love these rules because Orwell places an emphasis on the simplicity of description. Orwell did not write this essay to sound pretentious, he wrote these rules and his critique of the seemingly new version of the English language because he loves the aesthetic of the written word and can’t stand to see it be destroyed.
Most of Orwell’s works are essays and memoirs. And the beauty of Orwell’s memoirs are that they’re written in such a way that the reader forgets that what they’re reading is not a piece of fiction. In one of Orwell’s most famous memoirs, “Shooting an Elephant”, Orwell describes a particular experience he had with a rampaging elephant. In the last blog post my fellow intern criticizes Orwell for not capitalizing on the symbolism of the elephant. But since the work is a memoir perhaps the elephant was simply just an elephant? Maybe Orwell did write it so that the elephant’s imagery can represent either the British or the Burmese or maybe he didn’t? Orwell doesn’t make his memoir overtly complex; Orwell lets the reader do what they will with the elephant.
The author of the last post believes that Orwell spews negativity and it is true that at one point Orwell “wanted to write enormous naturalistic novels with unhappy endings” (Orwell’s “Why I Write”). Yet there’s a reason behind some of Orwell’s negativity, there’s a reason why his works are somber. In “Why I Write” (My favorite Orwell essay!) Orwell discusses his motives for writing and finally settles upon two motives: writing for the aesthetic pleasure of it (as discussed above) and, more importantly, writing to expose truths.
Orwell writes because “there is some lie that [he] want[s] to expose, some fact to which [he] want[s] to draw attention” (“Why I Write”). With that in mind readers can read Orwell’s work and ask themselves what truth Orwell is trying to expose. If Orwell is being negative is that his personal stance or is a reflection or point he’s trying to make about the world or situation around him?

You can love him OR hate him, but he writes pretty WELL!

Why I Despise George Orwell by Gus Mahoney

I have a confession. I tried; I really tried, to love his books. A dystopian society? Marvelous. A book of personal essays from one of the most famous writers of the 20th century? What could be wrong?
EVERYTHING. I despise George Orwell with a burning passion. Let me start this by saying, he is brilliant. He truly is. His writing is masterful and evokes thought and emotion.  For me, that emotion is extreme hate. In life, there is nothing I hate more than some lonely kid spewing their negativity onto the world. Now, that may sound cynical or rude, but it is true! Negativity in any form is just unproductive, especially with him.
For example, in his essay Shooting an Elephant, Orwell tells the story of when he was a police officer in Burma and he has to catch an elephant that has escaped and is wreaking havoc in  the town. As he is searching the town, he gains a following of natives so that by the point he finds the peaceful elephant eating grass, he has almost 2,000 “yellow faces” (another reason to hate him) encouraging him to kill the elephant. Basically, he shoots the elephant and has this whole revelation about how people in power have no freedom, and that imperialism sucks, and all that jazz. Orwell’s writing is brilliant in this piece. The way he structures and styles his words is beautiful. The content? Not so much. Orwell has SO much opportunity to elaborate on the beautiful symbolism of the elephant, but instead he spends the rest of the piece with selfish self-deprecation. As Foster (our junior year boo thang) says, an author doesn’t necessarily have to know the meaning behind their work. Orwell very well may have not truly understood the beautiful symbolism behind the elephant, but instead wrote this piece just to get people to feel bad for him! His narcissism, egotism, and pessimism is the reason I cannot stand this blubbering ninnie.
Orwell constantly writes about how society cuts down the human spirit, but in reality he’s the one cutting down my human spirit. That is all.