It’s time I talk about one of my favorite authors, F. Scott Fitzgerald. Most of America knows him because they thought seeing Great Gatsby in theaters would make them seem like they actually knew something, when in reality they probably had no idea what was going on because they didn’t read the book (and it’s a short book, so read it). All the books I have read by F. Scott Fitzgerald have been beyond superb, they are one of the only books I’ve managed to get lost in and want to dissect more. The ones I still have yet to read are The Beautiful and the Damned and The Last Tycoon, but I heard that the latter was unfinished. Fitzgerald’s books are timeless, especially considering the era in which they take place, the roaring 20s. This was a time of changing morals, the feud between modernism and fundamentalism, and just full-on rebellion. Flappers were testing morality and set traditional standards with their loose ways in dress and lifestyle. Men and flappers alike spent their time in speakeasies, drinking prohibited liquor and doing heaven knows what. This is exactly what Fitzgerald writes about, the changing form of society and the people shaping it, as well as the dillusionment of American life. Fitzgerald was part of a group of literary figures at the time called ‘The Lost Generation’, writers who talked about their disenchantment with society and the Jazz Age. He also used personal experiences like his relationship with his wife, Zelda, who can be seen paralleled in Tender is the Night. What I especially love about Fitzgerald is his way of writing. He writes simply, in a complex way. The sentences in general are easy to understand but put into context with the paragraph and then with the book overall, it can be easy to skim over important parts by thinking they are simple. F. Scott Fitzgerald shows the romantic, rebellious, and somewhat regretful side of American society during the roaring 20s. He is hands-down one of my favorite authors and his books are ones that I really cherish and plan to reread again someday.
We have all been taught to believe since childhood that in 1492, a man got on his boat, traveled across the ocean, and ended up in America. Every year on the second Monday of October, we take time to remember the efforts and discoveries of this man and the fact that we wouldn’t be where we are today if he hadn’t killed all the natives and begun the colonization of the Americas. Oh, you thought that was going to end pleasantly? Columbus is a moron. You can lie to your kids about Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy but do not lead them to believe that a man who went to the Bahamas FIVE TIMES thinking it was India discovered the New World. Last year in AP world history, I was enlightened. I learned all about Columbus’s voyage and the havoc it later caused (for example, we wouldn’t have Jersey Shore or Teen Mom 2 if it weren’t for Columbus). I have a few things I would like to say about Columbus: first off, you can’t “discover” a place when people are already living there. The Taíno Indians living in the Bahamas (not America) welcomed Columbus and his men, the hospitable thing to do when someone visits your home, but Columbus wasn’t really interested in niceties. He was mainly looking for a passage to the Asian trading markets. You see, Columbus thought that the Pacific Ocean was much much smaller than it actually is, and that the distance between Asia and Spain was just a short boat ride away. He completely didn’t take into consideration that TWO WHOLE FREAKING CONTINENTS could be in the way of his riches. However, he wasn’t the only stupid one because the royals of Spain funded his expedition. Anyway, after the natives were so kind and generous, Columbus wanted nothing but their gold. He was ravenous for it. You can learn more about the whole story of Columbus and details about the chaos he caused at http://theoatmeal.com/comics/columbus_day. He ended up causing many deaths from killings and new diseases that the natives had never been susceptible to. Really the only thing we should remember Columbus by is that we now have Haiti and the Dominican Republic, but we also have a whole lot less native Americans then we did in the 15th century. So when you tell your kids about the “discovery” of America, tell them that people were definitely already there and whatever lies schools are feeding to them about Columbus are false. Heck, tell them the pilgrims on the Mayflower found it or make something up. Just don’t tell them about that murdering moron from Spain did that. Oh and by the way, on the next Columbus Day, wish everyone a happy Bartoleme Day.
Recently for a project, I read Blue Zones by Dan Buettner that discusses how to live longer. Everyone wants to live life to the fullest, and to do that you have to live for a very long time, or so some think. The author traveled to some pretty remote regions of the globe to find centenarians, or people that were 100 years of age or older. The four places discussed were Okinawa, Japan, Sardinia, Italy, Nicoya, Costa Rica, and Loma Linda, California. These places have a high concentration of centenarians and Buettner set off to discover the secrets to these people’s longevity and to see how they’ve managed to stay alive so long. Overall, he discovered nine basic things in life that help you live long: 1.) Move a little everyday, get your muscles working 2.) Find your purpose 3.) Find a routine that helps you distress 4.) Stop eating when you’re 80% full 5.) Eat lots of veggies 6.) Drink wine in moderation 7.) Belong and believe in a faith 8.) Keep your family close 9.) Establish a group of close friends who encourage good habits and lifestyles. These nine things were all found to be a part of centenarians lives around the world, recurring habits that they all practice in their own way. More information about Blue Zones can be found at their website http://www.bluezones.com/ which has tips on how to make your life more like on of a centenarian along with quizzes and checklists that you can do for further life improvement. One thing I didn’t really like about the book was the author’s style of writing. To me, the book should’ve been presented as research, but the way the author wrote made it sound like he was trying too hard to write something like a memoir. Other than that, the book was interesting, especially knowing there are a small number of people who have had the privilege to live for so long.
Talking about banned books to any bibliophile can get them fuming quickly. The idea that superiors can create an opinion themselves about a book and ban it for everyone else is a little ridiculous. One argument some people propose when it comes to challenged books (books that are on death row) is if the people who want to ban the books have read them at all. The American Library Association has a whole website dedicated to banned books with lists of books that have been challenged or banned and ways that people who love these books can fight against them. For example, I am a classic novel lover so I hit up the list of challenged classic books. The list had 46 books on it, and out of all these books I have read or want to read 31 books. This goes to show that not only am I reading these books, but so are other people, no matter what the content of the book. Books can be banned for sexual content, drug usage, or for language. In defense, most of these themes that are considered banned are relevant to everyday life. I can vouch that not a day goes by where I hear at school something about sex, drugs, or language (or all three, unfortunately). For example, Looking for Alaska by John Green was up to being banned for it’s depiction of sex, even though it is a book about curious teenagers. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain has been banned in schools across America for its repeated use of the ‘n-word’. I can realize that some parents don’t want their children to read this but they need to understand that that was the language used at the time, it is a part of American culture. Some blogs I have seen on WordPress blog on Banned Books Week, seven days where banned books are challenged for being challenged or they post about books that have been banned yet still contain wonderful things waiting to be read. Banned books are a controversial topic and I think that no books should be banned because every book has something special in it, no matter it’s content.
Have you ever been accused of something you didn’t do? Whether it be stealing cookies that were meant to be eaten after supper, or a murder that you didn’t commit, some day or another we will all be accused of something. And who knows, it may be true! In The Crucible, over ninety people are accused of witchcraft by a few young girls who just want to have a little fun, but don’t realize what their actions have caused. Yesterday, I talked about how this play reminds me of autumn and the eerie time around fall that I get. But this play also shows me how twisted some humans can be. When prominent men in society believe in the lies and pretendings of little girls, that’s when you know you’ve messed up. In the latter part of The Crucible, especially the third act, the whole plot line is of the trial where the judge brings up the accused and the accusers and lets them tell their side of the story. An interesting part would be the end of act three when Abigail says she sees a yellow bird up in the rafters, intent on attacking her. Coincidently, she is the only one who can see said bird. The court is dismissed as is act three. In the beginning of act four, we come to find out that Abigail and Mercy Lewis are missing, thought to be on a ship, taking her uncle’s money with her. We also learned earlier that Elizabeth Proctor is pregnant, which saved her from being hung. Her husband John, was accused by the girls, sort of as a payback for him telling the court about the affair he had with Abigail, of witchcraft and is sentenced to hang the next morning. Giles Corey, another one of the accused, has been pressed to death by big rocks. Early that morning, three people, including Proctor, are led to the gallows to be hanged.
The play is just astounding. What one accusation can lead to and the troubles it can cause is so good for us to learn about, even outside of the Salem Witch trials and just in general. If you read this book and learn one thing from it, let it be to not accuse someone until you have provable facts and do it in a polite and orderly manner. Don’t follow the examples of those young girls, who were childish and irresponsible, and cause harm and sadness to people who don’t deserve it. On a lighter note, I have the newest version of the movie adaptation in my queue on Netflix and I cannot wait to watch it! Happy reading everyone.
Picture from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Crucible
Fall is here again, and that means in October, television channels will start playing scary movies and people will pick up novels that tend to chill the spine. Halloween has always intrigued me because I love scary movies and I just enjoy that eerie vibe that is always around during this time of the year. The Crucible by Arthur Miller is a play that is historical based on the Salem Witch trials in 1692. Being a history buff, this story catches my attention and I have always been interested in this part of American history where everyone was superstitious and so quick to accuse another. Starting American History this year and going over the pilgrims and the Salem Witch trials in particular, just gives me that vague feeling of autumn and the things that come with the season.
The meaning of the word “crucible” normally is associated with metallurgy and the type of vessel made. Another meaning is “a severe, searching test or trial”. This is where we get the title of The Crucible because many people were tried for witchcraft but fewer people were hanged. In this play, the first scene starts out by the reader learning about the events that have previously gone on prior to the accusations of witchcraft. A young girl, the niece of Reverend Parris, Abigail Williams and her cousin Betty Parris, and some servant girls, Mercy Lewis and Mary Warren, have been involved in or seen some sort of witchcraft taking place with the family maid, Tituba. We learn later on in act one that Betty and the girls were dancing and there was some kind of charm going on that we perceive as being asked upon Tituba by Abigail. Abigail is a sly young girl, who is very cunning and overall not very nice or well-liked. While she is only seventeen, she tries to seduce John Proctor, a married man, and we later learn she has had an affair with him. In the beginning of act one, Betty Parris is in a coma, not thought to ever wake up. The Reverend goes down to his congregation in the parlor of his house to tell them what has happened, with everyone thinking the whole situation is one of witchcraft. They question Tituba asking if she summoned the Devil and Abigail and Betty admit that they saw many women of the town with the Devil. The accusations and later, deaths, of nineteen men and women come from two little girls.
I think this whole event in history is just fascinating because it was a time when America was still in the stages of foundation and people were getting used to a new life in new settlements. Most of the accusations, historically, were made by poorer girls of society on the wealthy. They took out their anger on them, causing deaths and sadness to the families of the victims. What also surprises me is that the people of Salem, Massachusetts were so quick to judge people from the lies of little children. To me, they should have had the common sense to determine what these girls were saying was a lie, like the boy who cried wolf. However entrancing this story is, it’s always good to remember that it’s not actually a story: it is historical fiction based on something that really happened, which can be shocking and astounding. Learning about history, especially when it comes to the history of your country, can be beneficial when it comes to not making the same mistakes that the people of the past did before us.