My Thoughts On”How to Solve a Murder”

It was a pleasure to read “How to Solve a Murder” by The Guardian. It is easy to navigate, but it is also not dull. The cross platform format definitely enhances the story because it illustrates the different steps of solving a case. The story is first introduced with a real voice recording, which creates a mysterious impression that just leaves readers at the edge of their seats. Adding on, every step are in separate tabs. Going on different pages creates a sense of adventure, rather than just scrolling down a page alone.  I find that really fascinating because there are so many visuals that are captivating and not too gruesome. I like the fact that a lot of the pictures on each page are illustrations because I would have been terrified to see a blood scene in real photos. Furthermore, I did not find the format distracting at all. I was actually more engaged into the story because the content is so interesting and easy to read. It is educational, yet entertaining.The language is not complex and because it is based on true events, it makes the story more suspenseful.  This is one of my favourite stories of this course because of the simplicity of the layout and the language. It is indeed simple, but it is also eye catching and not distracting at the same time. As a digital story, this work is a great result of a combination of branded content and storytelling. It educates people about the work of policemen, but also advertises the Amazon’s TV show, Bosch (Guardian, The. “How to Solve a Murder).

Citation: “How to solve a murder.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, Web. 26 Mar. 2017.

How to Solve a Murder

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“The Black Box” By Jennifer Egan

A Review of a Unique Literary Piece

Jennifer Egan is famous for her notable novels. “The Invisible Circus”, which was published in 1995 (Leggett, “The Invisible Circus by Jennifer Egan”), became a movie starring Cameron Diaz in 2001. Also, her most recent novel, published in 2010, “A Visit from A Goon Squad”, has received the Pulitzer Prize in 2011 (“Jennifer Egan”). Aside from all of Egan’s essentially successful novels, there is one particular story where she has incorporated a whole new format of literature. She has completely disregarded the traditional literary structure and created her own Twitter Fiction story called “The Black Box”.  

“The Black Box” is a story that revolves around the narrator, who is an American volunteer spy. Her duties include obtaining important data from a terrorist, even if it means risking her life. The usage of technology hints that the story takes place in the future. She uses advanced materials, such as a hidden microphone and a microchip, which are crucial to her mission. In addition to her gadgets, the narrator has the most effective weapon of all, herself (Egan. “Jennifer Egan’s Black Box”).

This patriotic spy uses herself as an advantage against terrorists. She strategically uses a combination of seduction and innocence. “The Black Box” shows how women are portrayed as objects who are valued according to their appearance. Women in the story compete against each other to become a man’s ‘beauty’ using their looks (Egan. “Jennifer Egan’s Black Box”). I strongly believe that this story evidently compares the expected role of a woman to the reality of a woman’s dominance.   

I have confidence that this story deeply connects to the modern culture and the changing views of women. Because of stereotypes, women are perceived as innocent, weak, and most importantly, inferior to men. However, the narrator illustrates heroism throughout the story by using society’s portrayal of women to complete her mission. Apparently, the essential ‘ingredients’ for a woman to create a successful impression to males are “giggles; bare legs; shyness” (Egan. “Jennifer Egan’s Black Box”). With that being said, I also find it offensive because in order to save a country, a woman must sexualize herself to manipulate and gain the enemy’s trust.  I admire how the story is about a woman who is willing to sacrifice her life to save her country, but I dislike how she did so. A woman can be a hero without having to sexualize herself. I have respect for the narrator because her job is really difficult and completely voluntary. However, a woman should not feel the need to sexualize herself just to complete a mission. Overall, it is important to me how this story can strengthen the confidence of women of all ages by showing that they can be heroic figures as well. Nevertheless, women of all ages should also know that they do not need to sexualize themselves, in order to become a hero.

“The Black Box” has been written in a unique format that is rarely used by novelists. In my opinion, if the story was written as a novel rather than a set of tweets, it would not have made the same, powerful impact. I found it interesting how each part of the story was written relatively similar to a quote. Most of the tweets were broad, so it was easier for the audience to relate to the story, portion by portion. Although it was difficult for me to adapt to the format at first, I thought it was a brilliant way for readers to interact with the story. The story was written in a “you” narration, which I felt that I was being placed in the narrator’s shoes.  Also, people have the option to engage with the most relatable tweets. They can either ‘like’ it, re-tweet it, or even comment on it! I would definitely recommend this empowering story to a teenage girl or an adult who may be more familiarized with Twitter. To me, this story is a five-star read.

REFERENCES

CBC Books. “Jennifer Egan’s Black Box.” Storify, CBC Books, 2012, https://storify.com/cbcbooks/jennifer-egan-s-black-box. Accessed 05 Feb. 2017.

“Jennifer Egan.” Jennifer Egan, http://jenniferegan.com/photosbio/. Accessed 05 Feb. 2017.

Leggett, Robin. “The Invisible Circus by Jennifer Egan.” The Book Bag, http://www.thebookbag.co.uk/reviews/index.php?title=The_Invisible_Circus_by_Jennifer_Egan. Accessed 05 Feb. 2017.

 

 

“For You I Will” VS. “Siwash Rock”

As I read the short story written by E. Pauline Johnson (which is based on the oral stories by Chief Joe Capilano), it reminded me of the song, “For You I will” by Monica.

The song is about someone being capable of doing anything and everything they can for the person they love. Similarly, the father in the legend did not let anyone stand in his way of becoming the best father he could be. No matter the consequences or the challenges that came, the father was willing to risk everything so his child would a chance to have a clean and healthy life (Johnson, P. “The Siwash Rock”).

Capture
Citation: Monica. “For You I Will.” Space Jam, 1996.

The chorus alone can be read as a message from the father to his expected child. The song symbolizes the beginning of his unconditional love. He was so determined to be completely cleansed that nothing was going to stop him, even the men of the Sagalie Tyee.  When the Sagalie Tyee told the man to move out of their way, he refused to listen. Even when began to threaten him to transform him into a fish, tree, or stone, he still did not care. He wanted the perfect life for his child, and he was willing to face every challenge in order to succeed (Johnson, P., “The Siwash Rock”). The song suggests that sacrifice is worth the hard work for the people you love. Therefore, I believe that the song reflects the story perfectly.

Citation:  Johnson, E. Pauline. “LEGENDS of VANCOUVER.” Legends of Vancouver. Web. 26 Mar. 2017.

Siwash Rock

For You I Will by Monica

Prying into “Pry”

Pry is a touchscreen fiction created by Tender Claws. This interactive fiction is uniquely shown in a first-person perspective. What is interesting about this app is that the reader is literally placed in the protagonist, James,’ eyes. Unlike usual stories, this touchscreen app enables the audience to actually experience a character’s thoughts and feelings. It is difficult to relate to a veteran’s experience after a war. However, with a usage of various elements, such as the text appearing and the touch motions, the audience can see what James feels and thinks after the Gulf War.

The usage of rapidly flashing texts and images were super annoying and frustrating. I tried to make sense of what was being said, but the flashes gave me a headache. I believe that this is what Tender Claws was trying to portray. The pain of the flashing text and images that I was experiencing reflects the same confusion and frustration that James feels.

Although the interaction of the app gets readers to engage with the story in a unique way, I feel that the interaction distracts the reader from what is happening. At times, I was more focused on ways different touch motions were being used, rather than observing the relationship between the interactivity and the story. I did not realize what those functions were actually doing until I finished watching the playthrough.

Overall, it was a clever experience to see a story in the protagonist’s perspective. This app illustrates a unique way to literally pry into a character’s story.

Citation: Cannizzaro, Danny and Samantha Gorman. “Pry.” Tender Claws, 2014. Web. 25 Mar. 2017.

Pry Playthrough

“Lamb to the Slaughter” Podcast

LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER PODCAST

In all honesty, I never thought I would create a podcast, so creating one was definitely new to me. I felt that it was important to make this because after reading the story, “Lamb to the Slaughter” by  Roald Dahl, over and over again in my head, I noticed that the voices of the characters and narration were slightly different each time. That is when I decided that I needed to create a podcast for this story.

I chose to read the part when Mary Maloney killed her husband because that part of the story was so interesting for me. She was so kind and loving in the beginning of the story. I would not have guessed that she would have killed him. It was a crucial part of the story because of the quick plot twist and character change. She was so calm and quick to grasp that huge incident.

After hours of recording, there was not one recording that sounded exactly the same as another. My narration was different each time. Through this podcast, I learned that each character in the story has their own personality, including the narrator. I found that the narrator was quite humourous, especially during the part when they said, “She might just as well have hit him with a steel club” (Dahl, “Lamb to the Slaughter”). As I read through Patrick Maloney’s line, “…And I know it’s kind of a bad time to be telling you, but there simply wasn’t any other way. Of course, I’ll give you money and see you’re looked after” (Dahl, “Lamb to the Slaughter”) the first time, he sounded very concerned. On my last recording, I realized that Patrick seemed distant and careless throughout the story. A caring voice would not have made sense after his cold actions toward his wife in the beginning of the story. Creating this podcast helped me study the characters in depth and make more sense of the story. Thinking, “why does this character react like this?” or”how does the character feel at this moment?” helped me create this podcast with more of an understanding in a fun, creative way!

Citation: Dahl, Roald. “LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER-A Story.” Harper’s Magazine Sep 01 1953: 39. ProQuest. Web. 18 Feb. 2017 .

“Lamb to the Slaughter” by Roald Dahl

“Your [Playlist] and Mine”

This is a playlist full of songs inspired by the short story, “Your Place and Mine” written by Nicci French.

Playlist for “Your Place and Mine”

These songs are placed in an order based on Terry’s feelings throughout the story.

The song “Realize” by Colbie Caillat is about a girl wanting the boy she likes, to realize how perfect they would be together. The lyrics of the chorus, and the slow, soothing tempo shows the calm side of Terry at beginning of the story.  On the first day of the blog, Terry  was explaining how she excited she was whenever she saw him. The joy inside of her whenever she saw him glancing at her. She has waited weeks for the moment that he would ask her out (French.”Nicci French: Your Place and Mine”). The story of the song and Terry’s love life at this time were alike.

The second song, “Bubbly” by Colbie Caillat, portrays the relaxed, giddy feeling that Terry felt after she and Laurence spent the night together. The lyrics and the melody is so calm, and it just fit well with the setting; the morning after an amazing night. Terry felt that everything was so perfect. It seemed that she found her place of peace with Laurence, which matched the vibe of the song.

The third song, “I Can Hear the Bells”, symbolizes Terry’s quick realization that she was in love with Laurence. This relationship between Laurence and Terry began to appear as an obsession. Terry could relate to this song because after a few dates, she has already bought Laurence a gift; not just any gift; his and hers mugs (French.”Nicci French: Your Place and Mine”). It was too soon and she was already thinking way ahead into the future. It is really similar to the song about how this crush quickly became an obsession and the thoughts of getting married.

The fourth song, “Just Give Me a Reason” by Pink, symbolizes how Terry believed that she could save her relationship with Laurence. Her efforts and desperation to make it work, matches the meaning of the song. The song resembles the story because in the chorus, the lyrics say, “we’re not broken, just bent, and we can learn to love again.” It was just a powerful line of the song. With that one line, it summarized the thoughts of Terry during that time.

Finally, The last song, “Blank Space” by Taylor Swift, summarizes Terry throughout the story exceptionally well. The lyrics matched perfectly. The song portrays a crazy, obsessive girlfriend, which I strongly truly believe suits Terry’s character. In the beginning of the story, Terry seemed like the sweet type of girlfriend. The chorus starts with, “So it’s gonna be forever, or it’s gonna go down in flames”, and it seems very accurate in relation to Terry’s relationships. Both her relationships with Rob and Laurence ended up in flames. It seemed that they broke up with her for similar reasons; she was moving too fast in the relationship (French.”Nicci French: Your Place and Mine”). The result of her break ups showed that she is indeed the crazy, obsessive girlfriend.

taylor-swift-blank-space-video
A psycho song for a psycho story!
Citation: Taylor Swift – Blank Space. 10 Nov. 2014. YouTube. Web. 18 Feb. 2017.

Out of all these songs, I personally think that “Blank Space” best represents the story because the song gives a psychological thriller vibe. The melody sounds a bit mysterious and kind of scary, which is absolutely perfect for the story. In the story, Terry seemed very obsessed with all her lovers, like Taylor Swift was in the music video. The plot is really intriguing, especially the few parts when flashbacks of Rob occurred. The song was a perfect reflection of the story overall!

Citation: French, Nicci. “Nicci French – Your Place and Mine.” We Tell Stories, 2008. Web. 18 Feb. 2017.

“Your Place and Mine”

My Interpretation of “The Black Box”

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SOURCES OF THE IMAGES: Images found on Google images

I was ecstatic to create a mood board for the Twitter fiction story, “The Black Box” by Jennifer Egan because there were so many different elements of the story that stood out to me, that may not be significant to anybody else.

At the beginning of the story, I first thought “is this woman a prostitute?!” as she was explaining her intimacy with her new designated mate while thinking of her husband, a Kenyan man. However, I was confused about why she constantly reminded herself that she is not get getting paid, that volunteering was a form of patriotism. The text “patriotism” overlapping a picture of a woman in bed with another man and a picture of American flags symbolized that constant reminder to herself. It did not occur to me until the end that the narrator was a spy, so it was also a reminder to myself while I was reading the story. Therefore, the text “patriotism” was a key word that lead me to connect the two pictures together. The narrator was using her seductive advantage as a woman, to serve her country.

Moving on to the text, “beauties”. Becoming an alpha beauty is crucial because in order to complete the mission, the narrator had to gain her designated mate’s trust. I have used several pictures to portray the seductive side of women, which was often the weakness of men in the story. According to the narrator, there are crucial ingredients to a “successful projection” (Egan. “Black Box”). A shy girl with her head down and her hair partially covering her face and her wide smile, indicated innocence. Additionally, another picture with a woman showing her bare legs, was also mentioned as a necessary ingredient.  A girl in a nice white summer dress is “widely viewed as attractive” (Egan. “Black Box”).  These are necessary to become a designated mate’s beauty.

The word “imagine” on top of two pictures of a couple embracing each other and a tomato harvest referred to two of a few things that the narrator said to imagine, while she was wounded. It was interesting that she said to not reflect earlier in the story because “too much reflection is pointless”(Egan. “Black Box”) because after each mission, one cannot be the same. I have used a small picture of a woman looking at her reflection to demonstrate that thought. Although these were small parts of the story, I found that it had more of a deeper meaning to me; to sometimes imagine about what could happen, rather than reflecting, or over thinking on things that cannot change or things that constantly and uncontrollably change.

I personally loved the story and the way that it was originally formatted because I loved how most of the tweets were so broad and it can be related to anything, like quotes. Although reading it as a story was sort of frustrating, each tweet had its own personal meaning to me and I enjoyed that!

Citation: Egan, Jennifer. “Black Box.” The New Yorker. The New Yorker, 26 May 2016. Web. 29 Jan. 2017.

Reconstructed version of “The Black Box”

Twitter version of “The Black Box”