HE111--Rhetoric and Introduction to Literature
Fall Semester, 2013



The Hudson Book of Fiction (Fiction)
The Seagull Reader (Reader)


The Importance of Being Earnest

A Streetcar Named Desire


The Longman Handbook

P   O   S   T   I   N   G   S
  Assignment #1 (click)

2.  Sample paper for Assignment #1 (click)

3.  Sample Student Papers from Past on Assignment #1(click)

4.  To be verb exercise (click)

5.  “Issues” from paper #1 (click)

6.  Sample successful papers on Assignment #1 (click)

7.  Assignment #2 (click)

8.  Sample Successful Papers on Assignment #2 ( )

9.  Successful student papers on Assignment #3 (click)
10.  Assignment #3 (click)

11. Sample successful student papers on Assignment #3 click
12. "To be" exercise (click)

13. Assignment #4 (click)

14. Sample Successful student papers on Assignment #4 click

15. Assignment #5 (click)







Aug 19

Introduction to Course

Diagnostic writing


Aug 21

Reader: Orwell, 242

Description with purpose; discuss Paper#1 (click)


Aug 23

Reader: Berube, 53; Dawkins & Coyne, 69

Detail; concrete vs. abstract

WK 2

Aug 26

Reader: Pollit, 253; Jefferson, 146; Stanton, 290

Taking a position


Aug 28

Reader: Brady, 57; Ehrenreich, 103

Thinking out of the box

Paper #1 Due

Aug 30 


In-class editing (click)

WK 3

Sep  3

Reader: Harris, 124

Defining terms; sentences faults, wordiness

Sep  4

Reader: Hayakawa, 129;

Assign Paper #2 (click); definition, cont.


Sep  6



WK 4

Sep  9

Reader: Gould, 112; Applebaum, 35

Defining with a purpose; using examples 

Sep 11


In-class work on Paper #2


Sep 13

Reader: Hightower, 132

Living by sayings? Guthrie (click) (click)

WK 5

Sep 16

Reader: Rority, 276; Will, 377

Breaking through code words

Sep 18

Reader: Staples, 295

Hoodies outside the hood

 Paper #2 Due

Sep 20


In-class editing (click); Assign Paper #3

WK 6 

Sep 23

Bring "ads" to class

Analyze "ads"

Sep 25

Reader: Malcolm X, 224

Prison and education; classification of slaves (click)


Sep 27

Reader: Swift, 297

Satire; character for a purpose

WK 7

Sep 30

Othello, Act 1

Drama?  Opening exposition of themes and means

Oct   2

Othello, Act 2

Character—how to determine it; meaning of names (click)


Oct   4

Othello, Acts 3 & 4

Men and women and war

WK 8

Oct   7

Othello, Act 5

Does anyone understand himself/herself?

Oct   9

Othello, cont. discussion

Themes and major patterns; “tragedy”?

Oct 11

Discuss drafts of Paper # 3

Review and Work on Paper #3

WK 9

Oct 14

NO CLASS—Columbus Day

Epiphany, imagery, setting

Oct 16

Open; more Othello review/in-class writing click

Close reading of passages

 Paper #3 Due

Oct 18

Fiction:  “A&P,” 211

Elements of fiction


Oct 21

Fiction:  “The Cask of Amontillado,” 11

Telling as characterization, again; discuss papers

Oct 23


Pronoun quiz (click)


Oct 25

Fiction:  “The Bride . . . ,” 29

Tone, setting, and descriptive patterns


Oct 28

Fiction:  Araby,” 58;  “The Storm,” 38

Epiphany; Passion, feminism, setting, tone


Oct 30

Fiction:  “The Rocking Horse Winner,” 137

Romance; oedipal issues?

Nov  1

Fiction:  “A Rose for Emily,” 160

A tribute to cultural disorientation?


Nov  4

Fiction:  “Hills Like White Elephants”

As close as it gets to drama


Nov  6


Bring Drafts of Paper #4

Paper #4 Due to Nov 12

Nov  8

The Importance of Being Earnest, first half

Characters and conflicts and comedy


Nov 11

NO CLASS—Veteran’s Day



Nov 13

No-class—Compensatory Time for Masqueraders Attendance



Nov 15

The Importance, finish

Basics of Comedy, cont.


Nov 18

The Importance, review

Think comedy


Nov 20

The Importance

What Masqueraders do with the play???


Nov 22

A Streetcar Named Desire, first half

Opening conflicts?; Blanche’s song (click); Van Gogh’s “Billiard Parlor Night” (click)


Nov 25

A Streetcar, complete

Names?  Lighting and perception


Nov 27

A Streetcar

Comedy or tragedy?


Nov 29

NO CLASS--Thanksgiving

Tragedy?  Dramatic representation of time


Dec   2

A Streetcar , review

Does anyone learn anything?

 Paper #5 Due

Dec   4


Return Papers; Instructor Evaluations




Notes on Assignments, Routines, and Goals

1.  Goals, Grading Standards, Statement on Plagiarism.  See Guidelines for HE111 and 112 .

2.  Assignments and Grading.



Approximate % of Final Grade

Five out-of-class papers (including drafts when required)


In-class writing, quizzes (many unannounced), and intangibles


3.  Course Policies.

a) You must do all papers and announced in-class work in order to pass the course.

b) Do not assume that I will be reasonable about late papers; in fact, expect wildly arbitrary and inconsistent behavior from me if you choose to hand in an essay late.

c) You can rewrite--not superficially revise--two essays.  The re-write is due two class periods before the next paper is due. The grade for the rewritten essay will replace that of the original, provided that it is a better grade.   However, I encourage you to re-write before you hand in your essays.  To that end, I'm always happy to help you along with your drafts before you turn in a final version.  Stop by my office or get in touch with me via e-mail.

4.  Class Meetings. Discussion of assigned readings and other projects, punctuated occasionally by short, informal lectures.  A good deal of in-class writing, especially work on producing coherent paragraphs.

5.  Office Hours.  In Sampson 205, MWF 3rd period, second half of 5th; and T 9-11:15 & 2:30-3:45.  I read my e-mail frequently, so you won't have any trouble getting hold of me.  My office phone is 36204.




HE111-112 Information and Guidelines for Students

I.  Course Description.

In Rhetoric and Introduction to Literature (HE111-112), literature is the springboard for teaching composition.  In the two courses, you study the principles of composition and apply them in written responses to your readings.  This combination of composition and literature provides you with experience in performing diverse writing tasks and challenges you to understand and appreciate the ways in which literature expresses human and cultural values.

During the first semester, instructors assign frequent writing tasks designed to help you master content, organization, diction, style, and mechanics.  They also introduce you to the principles of writing critically about the short story and drama.  In the second semester, instructors require more sophisticated essays in which you write about poetry and the novel, and they will introduce you to using the library's resources, documenting material correctly, and quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing accurately.

II.  Objectives.

1.  To improve your ability to read critically and sensitively various kinds of literature.

2.  To develop your confidence and style as a writer so that you can:

        a.  turn a general topic into a purposeful thesis;

        b.  shape your composition so that it has a beginning, middle, and end and so that its organization and content serve
        its audience and purpose;

        c.  write fully developed and coherent paragraphs employing such methods of development as summary, narration,
        description, comparison/contrast, classification, analysis, and persuasion;

        d.  edit your sentences so that they vary one from the other, so that they depend mainly on the active voice and
        avoid wordiness, and so that they are grammatically correct; and

        e.  use the resources of the library to research a topic and document the results.

2.  To improve your ability to read critically and sensitively various kinds of literature.

3.  To enhance your understanding and appreciation of cultural values and basic human issues through the study of literature.

III. Evaluation of Written Work.

Your instructors will evaluate your writing to help you to achieve the objectives described above, reading your essays carefully, commenting on both their strengths and weaknesses, and expecting you to use those comments to improve your subsequent writing.

Part of the evaluating role of the instructor is to assign a grade to your work.  Although not all instructors assign grades to every paper, the Academy requires instructors to report grades about every six weeks, and you should be aware of the following guidelines.

1.  Criteria for Grading Writing Assignments:

  A:  The A essay shows originality of thought in stating and developing a controlling idea or thesis.  It employs the
        most suitable kind and amount of evidence, and this evidence, at every stage of the essay, has a clear purpose.
        In addition, the excellent essay is characterized by careful and effective organization of sentences and paragraphs
        and by careful and effective choice of words and phrases.

  B:  The B essay has many of the traits of the A essay, but is usually lacking in one or two areas such as completeness
        of development or clarity of focus in its controlling idea.  The prose in a B essay can be flawless and clear or a bit
        careless, but its general lack of mechanical errors and its "readability" reveal some successful editing and proofreading.

  C:  The C essay has a central idea and a basic plan of organization, though that organization breaks down at certain
        stages and is often not the plan best suited for the controlling idea.  The C essay lacks development either because it
        does not provide sufficient evidence to support its generalizations or because it lists evidence without providing an a
        assessment of that evidence. Though it usually needs improvement in mechanics and wording, the C paper can be
        almost entirely free of mechanical errors.  Whereas the B essay can be quite impressive in an area or two, the C
        essay usually lacks an outstanding feature, though it might have outstanding potential.

        D.  The D essay shows little understanding of the topic; it usually lacks a controlling idea, and if it states an idea,
        the body of the essay does little to support that idea.  The D essay often has a random order; its paragraphs unfold
        without a plan; and its sentences, though usually understandable, show little evidence of being revised and therefore
        suffer from wordiness and a distracting number of mechanical errors.

        F.  The F essay is unsatisfactory.  It fails to state and develop a main idea, often because it does not respond to the
        assignment.  In addition, several of the major mechanical errors listed below occur repeatedly throughout the paper.
        English instructors agree that frequent occurrences of these errors characterize substandard writing:

                    (1)  sentence fragments (click here)
                    (2)  comma splices or run-on sentences (click here)
                    (3)  dangling or misplaced modifiers (click here)
                    (4)  faulty agreement:  subject-verb or pronoun-antecedent (click here  click here and click here)
                    (5)  faulty use of tenses (click here)
                    (6)  substandard idioms or expressions
                    (7)  excessive misspellings of common words

2.  Literacy and a Passing Grade:  Instructors will not automatically assign a failing grade to the paper in which some of the seven faults repeatedly occur, especially when the paper has strength in its content or ideas.  However, if you habitually commit several of these mechanical errors in your essay and do not make definite progress toward avoiding them by the end of the term, your instructor is likely to judge your semester's work as unsatisfactory.  You would do well, then, to study all your handbook has to say about these writing faults so as to avoid them in your writing.  Good ideas deserve good presentation.

IV.  Avoiding Plagiarism.

At the U.S. Naval Academy, the least severe consequence of detected plagiarism is a failing mark on the paper containing the violation.  Since plagiarism is a combination of lying, cheating, and stealing and as such constitutes a violation of the honor concept (see USNAINST 1610.3f), plagiarism could result in your dismissal from the Academy.  The moral:  do not sacrifice your personal integrity and professional potential in such high risk activity.  You would be wise to read the sections on plagiarism and documentation in your handbook, where you'll find the correct way to handle writing and ideas that are not your own.







Assignment for Paper #1.  For a sample essay on this topic (click).  Here’s a collection of past student essays on this topic (click).

Prompt:  write about something (an actual thing) that matters to you. In the broadest sense, the purpose of the paper is for you to use the explanation of what matters as an introduction of yourself to the others in the class.  And of course most specifically it is for you to convince us that what you say matters really does matter to you.

Due: 30 August

Length:  about 3 pages, doubled-spaced

Format:  12 point font, 1 inch margins, no title page (put title at top of first page)

Audience:  instructor and classmates

Expectations:  1) preference for the concrete over the general in your diction; 2)purposefulness in the description and explanation so that you convince us why this "thing" really matters to you; 3) control of agreement and consistency in point of view ("person") of pronouns (click here click here); 4) control of agreement of subject and verbs (click here); and 5) an interesting and also "controlling" opening paragraph.




















Paper Assignment #3—HE111

Instructionsanalyze carefully the workings of an advertisement from a magazine.  Discuss the way in which its parts—the wording of its captions and its illustrations, for instance, even its dependence on cultural assumptions about such matters as power, sexuality, gender—develop a certain appeal directed at a certain audience.  In making its appeal the advertisement will probably forgo careful, correct reasoning:  it will fail to define its terms; it will "beg the question"; it will flatter its audience; and it will commit some of the other "logical fallacies" mentioned in your writing handboook.  Be alert for those illogical techniques.  Also be alert for hidden ideological assumptions, such as the ones about progress and female attractiveness that the sample essays click uncover.

Your paper will have a narrow thesis identifying the "ad's" appeal and naming the "ad's" major methods of making that appeal.  The body of the paper will explain those methods.

Sample successful student essays from the recent past (click)

Due date:   16 October

Length:  about 3 pages

Audience: your classmates and I, who—because you will attach the "ad" to your paper-- will be looking at the "ad" as you explain how it works.  Importantly, this means you do not need to describe the "ad" as if the audience has not seen it.

Other: make up an interesting, appropriate title.

Expectations: Consult Assignment #1 (click here) to recall those elements (for pronouns click here and click here); for subject verb agreement click here) that you have been working on so far this term.  In this paper also concentrate on 1) limiting the use of the "to be" verb and the passive voice (click here); 2) writing fully developed paragraphs that have a clear idea and organization and occur within the paper in the best, most logical, and most persuasive sequence;  3) concluding your paper in a way that doesn't just restate the thesis (that's way too mechanical!); 4) eliminating misplaced and dangling modifiers (click here for a discussion of this grammatical problem); and 5) employing the comma (click here), semi-colon (click here), and colon (click here) with some finesse.


























Prompt for In-class Paragraph on Othello



Write a unified and coherent paragraph in which you thoroughly explain your “take” on one of the following alternatives:


a)  Imagine that one of the actors from the Brady production of Othello attends our class.  What question would you like to ask her/him based on your understanding of a particular scene or of a character?  Explain why you want to ask that question given your experience of reading and viewing the play.


b) Explain how the meaning of one of the character’s names makes great sense in terms of the play—its action, its theme, its conflicts, and its patterns of details.  Click here for a reminder of the meaning of the characters’ names.
























































































                                                                                                                        Sample Successful Past Student Papers on Assignment #3



                                             A Magnificent “Winston” Sunrise 
                                                                                        Anders Holmstrom

      Fun, relaxation, beauty, social fulfillment: who would expect such qualities from a cigarette?  Yet this Winston ad (click) effortlessly portrays happiness as a direct result of smoking.  The ad uses suggestive captions, alluring colors, implied enjoyment as well as sex appeal to target their audience.  Everything seems natural and carefree in the scene.  However, contradiction lies within the very heart of the ad’s message.  The overall theme proposes an escape from the everyday routine, but simultaneously encourages frequent and regular use of their product. 

     The message that the ad tries to get across sticks out at the first glance.  In easy, relaxed italic print, the brand of the cigarettes stretches from one side of the page to the other: “Winston.”  The letters themselves are laid-back and inviting.  They blend into the sunrise with warm colors as if to say they play an everyday role in the natural world.  Already, one can tell that the ad targets unhappy, stressed out people, who may just “want a break.”  Above, a straightforward statement compliments the center-print: “Leave the Bull Behind.”  It drives the same point home by insulting our regular lives, and unsubtly orders us to enjoy ourselves outside of the normal structure of society.  The “bull” represents anything that is tiring or boring. Cigarettes can apparently propel users forward to new exciting places.  Again, depressed or discontent people may see this as an answer to their problems.  This cannot apply to those who are happy and content with their current lifestyle.  I find it funny that an ad tries to force the reader into a state of happiness.  It aims to influence the buyer yet concurrently trick him into believing that he makes his own decisions. 

     I must not overlook the captions on the bottom of the page, though Winston would probably prefer that I did.  The warning and unsafe labels in the black area should send a message to most buyers that danger and health risks follow as a result of smoking.  I do not understand how anyone could take an ad seriously with such messages. However, Winston places faith in the uncaring or easily mislead customer.  Above these captions, two simple words aim to ease the minds of any who may be concerned: “Group Therapy.”  Each word adds its own message. “Group” encourages the feeling of fun as a result of social interaction.  I have never heard of adults getting together to have a cigarette smoking party, so I can only guess that it means reputation will increase by smoking.  This does not follow the overall theme of getting away from society.  People either smoke as a necessity from chemical addiction, or to boost their appearance around others.  The latter has to do with a sense of belonging; the word group implies this. “Therapy” sits next to “group” so that technically it only refers to social interaction.  However, it takes on a more important meaning of personal health.  Therapy sounds very soothing and gives the cigarettes an almost medicinal appeal.  It attempts to cancel out the very negative captions down below.  In addition, people continue to use therapy for a long time even if not necessary.   The words push people to buy Winston not just once, but over and over again for extra benefit. 

     Just like the captions, the sunrise suggests that everything gets better when Winstons are involved.  The ad fills the page from top to bottom which catches the reader’s attention when they flip through the pages of their magazine.  The colors of the ad paint a picture of a fantasy or dreamlike getaway.  The ad uses the concept of a new morning rather than the close of the day to suggest that plenty of fun lies ahead.  A red or purple glow around the sun with a darker foreground, signifying sunset, would diminish the exciting attraction it ries to get across.  Instead, the clean, rich blue waters fade off into a clear horizon and the climbing sun.  Water of this nature always represents natural purity, a characteristic that Winston tries to latch on to.  The sun already fills the sky with bright light (despite the time of day), and highlights a few scatterings of clouds in front off a deep blue sky. These clouds in the distance could represent problems that the smokers leave behind, but to me they appear like smoke. People often view cigarette smoke as “cool” or artistic.  Subliminally this might stick in a person’s mind and cause them to further relate smoking to beauty. 

     The greatest potential influence that the ad possesses lies within the posture and attitude of the “smoking” models.  Each one has a perfect, youthful body and a relaxed pose.  A shared laugh spreads across the page and onto each face.  They want the customer to believe that Winstons bring out the most fun and the sexiest crowd.  The idea remains clear: cigarettes are the source of pure enjoyment.   One would then naturally want to join this group of people.  The ad balances scantily clad female and male figures having fun throughout the picture to show interaction between the sexes. Some people may take this to mean that they gain sexual appeal when they smoke and therefore would attract hotter people. 

      The cigarettes in their hands barely appear in front of the background for a good reason.  The creators of the ad want people to see happiness first and leave the smoking as an abstract thought.  The physical act of smoking can seem unglamorous and forced, but power lies in the simple acceptance of cigarettes as a “good time.”  These characters have such a natural appearance that it again contradicts the message of escape.  The scene clearly depicts a vacation, but they appear to smoke on a regular basis. 

     Overall, the ad uses multiple angles of attack to try to put away the traditional negative feelings associated with smoking.  The false impressions that it conveys target an unsettled crowd.  People who are not happy with their lives might view the ad as an answer to their search.  However, everything appears so perfect that it becomes difficult to believe.  Most people would view the scene as unrealistic or false advertising. The best day of someone’s life can only occur once.  This ad would imply otherwise; that Winstons will never fail to bring out the best in people.  

                              Weight Loss Advertisements: Why So Many Saviors? 
                                                                                                  Brian McKinney 
     Low carbohydrate, high protein, high fiber, grapefruit, South Beach, Slim Fast, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Dr. Atkins—the list of high-profile diets infinitely continues, meeting the demands of a society that craves the newest techniques to become slim and healthy.  Why is the weight loss market so expansive?  Statisticians on the evening news claim that the majority of Americans “suffer” from obesity, and an even greater number of people dislike their physical appearance and body weight.   
     Advertisers heavily play on this dissatisfaction.  To sell the product effectively, the advertiser sets a tangible standard.  Next, the advertiser reveals a means, the product, to obtain the standard; finally, the advertiser offers the consumers a promise that seems logical on the surface: “Social success and satisfaction occur when you look like this model, overpower some internal hunger, or enjoy a guiltless indulgence.” Following this marketing tactic, the Kashi GO LEAN Crunch® advertisement in Elle magazine promises to save the consumer from the tempting “monster” of hunger by ultimately making him or her irrationally believe the prophetic weight loss cliché that, although a dozen previous diets have failed, this product will surely bring the results for which the consumer has sought.  
     In convincing the audience of Kashi’s necessity, however, the advertisement incorporates multiple ideas that contradict each other.  For example, the temptation arises from a small package of “mini donuts” and incarnates itself in the form of a giant green monster holding the delicious package inside the vending machine.  But everyone knows that monsters do not exist.  This giant green monster seems more like something out of a child’s nightmare than a formidable dieter’s foe, and with the smirk on his face, he holds the pack of donuts like a used car salesman standing by his overpriced, pre-owned vehicle.  The temptation, therefore, appears massive, but at the same time, almost insignificantly comical, and if one can simply laugh at the enemy, the enemy can surely be overcome by a simple means. 
     That means is through Kashi’s new cereal, but in order to compel the reader to purchase the product, the reader must first see a need for the product.  This leads to a second, commonly used technique among advertisers.  Kashi wants the reader to feel incompetently powerful—both a victim and victor of the same enemy.  Beginning with the phrase, “Tell junk food to pick on somebody else,” Kashi eventually leads consumers to the conclusion that they need protection from “hunger all morning long.”  Phrases such as, “Temptation is strong. Now you’re stronger,” reiterate this feeling of the reader’s feebleness, a feebleness that Kashi cereal can transform into victory.   
     This aura of a transforming cereal generates the “miracle product” mentality.  GO LEAN is “getting you safely from breakfast to lunch.”  Kashi portrays its product like a savior, a necessity to the consumer’s success in fighting off the evil of hunger.  A question, however, logically arises, “Why is this product so divine and is the enemy realistically expressed?” Most people would never question the validity of hunger, a basic human quality that lets people know they need nourishment.  Kashi might have correctly attacked overindulgence, but that would have accused the consumers, making them feel guilty.  Hunger is natural; overindulgence is choice. 
     Because Kashi blurs the line between natural desire and excess, Kashi also wants consumers to feel powerless to change by themselves.  The question of willpower never arises; indulgence in morning cravings seems instinctive, and the cereal grants the consumer the ability to stop the unquenchable appetite—an easily believable lie.  As long as consumers feel like victims of overeating, they will continue to buy anything that protects them from gaining weight.   Kashi is, undoubtedly, a healthy cereal with high levels of protein and fiber, as the ad claims, but the ad wants the consumer to believe illogically that slimness solely rests on eating healthy cereal.  The ad wants readers to hook into the idea that Kashi can solve the problem (weight loss), which has been unsolvable before Kashi. The advertiser knows that dieters rarely try only one diet and maintain a low body weight; by identifying with the audience’s feeling of I’ve tried this before and it didn’t work and then overcoming that anxiety, Kashi effectively assumes the role of savior. Whether the consumer buys into this idea is a matter of the individual’s objectivity—does he or she instantly follow fad diets or understand that permanent weight loss comes only after a determined effort to change one’s eating styles? 
     Along with psychological appeals, Kashi’s advertisement incorporates seemingly insignificant visual cues that focus the readers’ attention and that exploit weight-loss stereotypes.  Besides the giant green monster stuck inside the vending machine, the room reeks of dullness, and underneath the picture of the everyday workplace, Kashi places its add in a bright yellow banner, attracting the eye first to the unusual monster and then to the banner at the bottom.  The woman inside the picture possesses a slim figure that most women would desire, not the figure of someone who struggles with weight loss, and the fact that the ad displays a woman acknowledges that, stereotypically, the majority of consumers of weight loss products are women.  Standing next to the vending machine with a single pack of donuts and a monster is a soda machine that contains diet soda, yet another possible “subliminal” message to readers. 
     Like Kashi, the goal of any advertiser is to create a self-proclaimed need inside readers for the product.  Kashi sends an overall message to readers that its product will answer their need for weight loss.  The fact that some of those messages may contradict one another remains irrelevant as long as Kashi can attract the attention and desire of the consumer.  The means do not need to be logical, but merely appeal to the psyche of the individual, for human nature dictates that feelings and desires often override the logic that checks impulsiveness.




Get Down to to Business
                                           Julian Scott

     An advertisement’s first and foremost goal is to convince an audience to buy a product.  In undertaking such an endeavor, an “ad” will usually either explicitly or implicitly project an image of a flawless and amazing, yet still realistic and attainable, commodity upon the consumers.  It would seem that the Microsoft Corporation has ignored this norm in advertisement with its own magazine ad for business management software (click).  At first glance the ad seems to be a candid picture of an average American working man with a few headlines at his feet advertising the software product.  Granted, business management software is not something easily marketed to a wide audience (unlike clothes or electronics) and Microsoft is an extremely wealthy company (a company who has programmed its own software to capitalize “Microsoft” automatically as I type this paper), but they still have to try to sell this software to someone.  Examining the ad from a more analytical perspective reveals Microsoft’s primary goal – to offer possible consumers the prospect of a managerial tool that will literally work hard for the hard working.  “Down to business” is the advertisement’s true message and it pushes this message not only through explicit visual and literary techniques, but through implicit ones as well - much like what the aforementioned “normal ad” does.

     The healthily overweight, bald, conservatively dressed male displayed prominently in the advertisement is not the average poster boy for any product (aside from Viagra), so it would seem odd to make him the center of attention.  However, the idea of a hardworking, nothing but business attitude is clearly present.  The man is not looking at the camera, almost as if he is unaware (or unaffected by) its presence.  Combine this with the detail of the motion of his arms not being “cleaned up” with digital technology and the whole image of this man expresses the idea that his work remains much too important to stop for anything.  The picture is also taken from a ground-up perspective which not only makes the man appear larger than life, but also displays the vastness of the warehouse and the amount of work that is to be done.  The overall image portrayed is of how this ordinary man, now transformed into a hero of sorts, will go about all of this work that waits to be done methodically and efficiently with his sleeves rolled up and a confident look on his face – the exact same way in which Microsoft’s product will work for your business.  In many ways, it would appear that the seemingly randomly chosen picture is actually an embodiment of the slogan printed at the top left of the page – “Your potential.  Our Passion.”  It could even be said that, because of the slogan’s placement, it is not simply a printed slogan but a caption describing what is going on in the photograph.

     The picture clearly makes up the bulk of the advertisement and obviously captures any reader’s attention first.  If the photograph does succeed in catching the attention of the possible customers, their eyes will eventually move to the blue field in an attempt to find out more about the product that is being sold.  What the possible consumer finds here is not the usual, vague wording and phrasing found in most advertisements but short and concise statements about the function and reliability of Microsoft’s new software.  Words that convey power and intuitiveness such as “dynamic”, “master” and “people-ready” express the same idea of hardworking and efficient productivity that the photograph conveys.  The language itself also promises this high performance to the readers.   It may be different in construction from language usually found in advertisements, but it serves the same purpose.  The quick and concise statements seem down to business and absent of any fluff but they still do exactly what linguistic devices in most advertisements do: they project an image of a flawless but seemingly realistic and easily attainable commodity.

     Microsoft’s ad offers potential customers the prospect of a product that is work oriented and disassociated from phony advertising mantras and the usual over exaggeration and misrepresentation of the actual product being offered.  Upon first glance their ad looks to be so free of these marketing notions that one could even call it pathetic, especially when compared to other ads in the same magazine.  But underneath the façade of this earnest image lie the exact same devices that marketers use to reel in consumers.  The only difference here is that ad is geared to a narrower audience and takes a different approach in appealing to potential customers.  Also, it can not be that easy to use because it is made by Microsoft, the makers of Windows XP, so one knows that they are “fluffing” it in some way. 

                      J. R. Moffit

     Venturing through my monthly sports sanctuary, ESPN the Magazine, this week, I stumbled upon an advertisement that had me at “POLO” (click). For all intents and purpose, please put aside the fact that I have already been an avid and dedicated, even religious, user of this product for four years. Also, put aside the well known fact that this product, as seen in my past, successful experiences, gets all the ladies. As I was saying, I happened to discover a Ralph Lauren Polo “Blue” cologne “ad.” But this was no ordinary copy/paste, black and white, “This is what we’re selling to you,” advertisement. The Polo Blue “ad” efficiently promoted its product through its ability to involve the observer with a fragrant sample, its use of shades of blue to keep the product name memorable, and its text’s simple diction and phrasing to make it feel like a “must-have” product.

     “This smells like beach! It’s so good!” my classmate, Chelsea, exclaimed as I had her indulge herself in the Polo advertisement. The interactive qualities of this ad allow its reader to truly associate past experiences and memories with the product, creating an unseen bond between the two. For Chelsea, the scent reminded her of a good day at the beach. This is understood, because if her memories of beaches were bad, she would have said, “This smells like beach! It’s so terrible!” This bond between product and memory, Polo corporate big timers hope, sells the product. As you, the promising client, turn to the ad, right away you notice the flap on the front page, which for most, sparks the initial influence. Readers comment to themselves that this is “no ordinary” ad. It will take three senses to fully understand the ad: sight, touch, and smell. And so, you, the engaged reader, unfold the crease and lower your face into the advertisement. As the page engulfs your nose, the smell engulfs your nostrils, and the urge to acquire the product engulfs your heart. The interactive ability of the ad makes the reader involved, therefore increasing the chance for future sales. Giving the time to engage in an ad means giving the time, consciously or subconsciously, to think about buying the object of the ad. As a result, Polo’s efforts to add sense-stimulating features to the ad create a more prosperous product.

     Blue, the mythical color representing water, a symbol of life in almost every culture in history ranging from the Nile-dependent Egyptians to the John-baptized Christians to the Siddhartha-cleansing Buddhists, absolutely overwhelms this advertisement. Multiple variations of blue are present throughout this ad, making product name recognition much easer. As you observe the ad and comment in your head, “wow, look at all the blue,” and then try to remember the product’s name next time you have weekend liberty, you’ll remember, “something blue, oh yeah, Blue!” Memorable azure objects include the water, the towel, the shading the Polo emblem on the models shirt, the sky, and even the writing. Along with the cerulean ad, the product itself, as depicted in the ad, is a deep, smooth, borderline navy blue. It is easy, then, to associate the color, blue, with the product and its name. Also, as previously suggested, once you have overcome the physical sense of blue in the ad, the mythological aspects associated with the color blue make it an unforgettable product. In naming the aroma “Blue,” the sellers also suggest that the product has some life-giving, cleansing or healing qualities. It’s almost as if, if you spray this scent on you, you will be healed, cleansed and transformed into a new man; you may regain your purity (as the very white shirt on the model proposes). This aspect, coincidentally, also makes the cologne attractive. The vendors, as examined, undoubtedly had an intention in making the advertisement adherently blue, and naming the product as such.

     The cologne ad has its affective imagery and its industrious tangibility, but an additional aspect that works for it, is its simple, striking word choice. “The New Classic for Men,” is its “catch phrase,” implying that this product is stylish, tasteful cologne, and if you wear it, you too embody such traits. Also as you curiously open the fragrance flap, your nose touches a hidden, little poem in the crease of the page. Pulling your head back, you will read, “The freedom of the big, blue sky, the energy of the open waters, an invigorating blast of fresh air, Polo Ralph Lauren Blue.” It is plain enough to see the message urged by this poem: this product allows you freedom and re-energizing. This diction hints that you may be totally free and, as mentioned earlier, revitalized by using this cologne. You will be liberated. (It also comes off as very personal, one-on-one; freedom, rejuvenation are very individual terms).  It additionally falls back onto the significance of Blue, as “Blue” is written everywhere on the ad. Much of the phrasing, as plain and uncomplicated as it is, really invests into the readers senses, making the product seem like a necessity. Thus, three methods make a simple toilet water smell, seem like nectar obtainable only to the gods.

     Ralph Lauren’s advertising crew truly did a spectacular job in putting together this advertisement. Its effortless wording describes preferable, accessible characteristics, if bought and worn; characteristics that would put the reader among the finest. Also, the application of blue and its literal and figurative presence help make the cologne even more eye-catching and remarkable. The added sample scent flap rounds it off with a fraction of interaction in the ad that forces the reader to consider purchasing the product, or at least engraves some distinct remembrance of the product in the reader’s mind. These techniques, alone, would make for a successful advertisement, but molding them collectively makes for a masterpiece that envelops every feature that the salesperson desires the purchaser to identify regarding the product. Polo Ralph Lauren Blue: it’s invigorating, refined, liberating, unforgettable, and, well, blue. 

The Flagship of the New Hyundai Fleet
                                                                    Scott Terry

     Since its introduction into the United States, the Korean Hyundai Motor Company has struggled with image. Seen as nothing more than a bargain car company, Hyundai found its niche as a first car for high school/college kids, rather than as a competitor against Japanese makes such as Honda and Toyota. Thus, its new line of advertisements attempts to do more than just sell you a car; it attempts to redefine its brand image (click). Through its use of mottos, choice of words, background, and presentation of the car itself, Hyundai makes a noticeable effort to say this is more than just a new car; it’s a new brand.

     Plagued by the reputation that Hyundai just makes cheap little foreign cars, unsuitable for the professional world, this advertisement encourages the new car shopper to “Rethink Everything.” Essentially, you are supposed to rethink what you think of Hyundai. They are pleading with you just to take another look, suggesting that the brand is not what it used to be. The other motto, “Drive your way,” also plays nicely into this theme of brand redefinition. Buying a Hyundai should no longer be viewed as giving in to your practical side and buying a car you do not want just because it is a good deal. Buying a Hyundai is doing exactly what you want, doing things your way. Unlike your colleagues at work, you have not fallen into the over-priced trap of Lexus and Infiniti. You are unique, enjoying a car with many of the same features at half the price.

     The features that the advertisers choose to highlight in the caption are also a significant element of the advertisement. Safety does not usually come to mind when thinking of a Hyundai. In fact, for some, the opposite comes to mind, shoddily built, dinky, unreliable. By highlighting safety features, Hyundai is not only laying to rest a poor brand image it is also thrusting itself into the family car market. Also, you can rest assured that it is reliable because it comes with America’s Best Warranty.

     The caption is also significant for what it leaves out. No longer does Hyundai waste its print on features such as a CD player, air conditioning, or power windows and locks. Hyundai wants you to begin looking at it on the same parallel as other more popular brands, and Hyundai knows that cars are now expected to have those features. In other words, having those features does not set you apart. It just brings you up to par, so there is no reason to draw attention to them in a magazine article. Along similar lines, Hyundai does not list a price, suggesting that price is no longer the predominant reason to buy a Hyundai. The advertisers hope that you’ll still think of a good deal when you see the Hyundai label, but they no longer want that to be the only thing you think of.

     Now that the text of the advertisement has been analyzed, let’s take a closer look at the actual image. The setting the car is pictured in is basically a visual image of the “rethink everything” motto. The older looking city off in the distance and the stormy sky is perhaps a subtle acknowledgement of where Hyundai has been. However, its new car is now surrounded by nothing but modernity. In fact, with one of the modern buildings taking the place of “H” in “Rethink Everything,” and the Sonata protruding directly from the building, the ad suggests that the new Sonata and the Hyundai brand it represents is in perfect harmony with this modern setting. Furthermore, the car is on top of a building, which usually does not happen. One might say you either have to rethink everything or drive your way to get a car on top of a building. However, cars, somehow elevated in the sky, seem to be a reoccurring theme in many car advertisements, suggesting that the buyer of the car will in some way be above and beyond his peers.

      When looking at the car itself, one of the most noticeable items is the choice of color. It seems as if grey is a somewhat bland color, not allowing the car to stand out from the background. But given Hyundai’s attempt at a new image this might be exactly what the ad intended. After all, aren’t most of those Lexus and Infiniti your friends drive to work either black or grey? Hyundai realizes that it does not sell sports cars. It is also attempting to expand beyond the “first car” market. Therefore, a professional looking grey was an ideal choice, placing it right in line with the modern streamline world, yet somehow above its competitors. Furthermore, the gleam on the car’s grille and the shadow to its left leave little doubt that the car is pointed towards the sun, just as the advertisers would like you to think the Hyundai brand is headed upwards. 

     All of these elements combine to make for an appealing advertisement. The modern buildings are used as the eye catching element, and the car is cool and modern by association. Despite all these textual and visual components designed to make you look twice at purchasing a Hyundai, the best selling element of the ad is the car itself. Modern buildings and catchy mottos wouldn’t be enough had Hyundai not actually delivered. However, the Sonata in the picture truly does look professional and modern compared to the Sonata’s of the past. Other brand emblems such as the “T” of Toyota or the intertwined circles of Audi would not look entirely out of place on its grille. That being said, this ad does a good job of advancing the Hyundai brand image through the promotion of its flagship automobile, the Sonata. 

Romance for Only the Special
                                  Amanda Lau

     In an age dominated largely by materialism, advertisers seek to utilize the fundamental human desire of being accepted, or more specifically appearing attractive.  Thus to rake in sales, they use glamorous and seductive models in advertisements, hoping to pressure the common person into desiring to be like these seemingly consummate individuals.  Ralph Lauren is no exception judging from the advertisement for the company’s “Romance” fragrance for women (click).  All in all, the merchants behind the advertisement seek to attract customers through sensual, visual influence as well as crafty rhetoric. 

      In the most blatant manner, the advertisement is strategically designed to visually attract female customers through idolization.  In doing so, a gorgeous female model is selected to induce insecurity in the common woman, making her feel that she too must match this level of beauty if she is to entice a virile man as the female model in the add does.  In turn, Ralph Lauren’s fragrance is implicitly depicted as the cure to this insecurity.  While the advertisement, without  question, objectifies women, it does so in a subtle and classy manner as opposed to other ads that display nearly naked women in provocative positions, openly insinuating sex.  The poses that the models assume suggest an innocent, romantic relationship.  Furthermore, the choice of black and white coloring further adds to the overall sophisticated feeling of the ad, conveyed by the models. 

     Undoubtedly, the use of beautiful women to advertise products is effective, proven by continual usage dating back to the beginning of advertising.  However, one cannot ignore the ideological assumptions made the Ralph Lauren ad as well as others of the same nature.  In essence, they draw false conclusions, implying that all women can be made to look attractive.  Unfortunately, this statement is far from true though many are blinded from the reality owing to inspiration provided by these crafty advertisements.  Furthermore, in selecting a beautiful model, Ralph Lauren creates an assumption about the standard for male and female beauty.  While the couple in the ad may seem perfect to some, others may be complete “turned off” by them.

      The visual implications in the ad do well alone to advertise the product, but the language, however sparing it may be, serves to tie the add together, making it a powerful device of persuasion.  By labeling the product as “the women’s” fragrance, Ralph Lauren conveys the feeling that this perfume is what defines femininity, thus convincing women that this perfume is what they need to define their sexuality.  Moreover, the strategic use of the word “the” as opposed to “a” implies that this fragrance is the one and only, creating the two-extremes fallacy.  Consequently, those so infatuated by the advertisement will falsely develop the idea that no other feminine fragrances exist while there are in fact millions of others on the market.  Moreover, the name “romance” suggests the idea that Ralph Lauren is trying to associate with the fragrance.  While fragrances are meant to give off a sweet and pleasant sense, the name “romance” of this particular fragrance implies that it has more than the normal capabilities. 

     In essence, the visual effects and the language together combine to commit the logical fallacy of wishful thinking.  The picture of the couple targets women who want a romantic relationship and by dubbing the fragrance with the name “romance,” and advertising it with a couple engaged in a seemingly romantic relationship, Ralph Lauren seeks to manipulate these women into believing that “romance” will aid them in attaining such a romantic relationship.  Thus women who are desperate enough will be influenced by this add and convinced that buying “romance” will help her attract a significant other.  This wishful thinking leads to the commitment of yet another logical fallacy, false cause and effect.  By juxtaposing the perfume and the picture of the two models in a romantic relationship, the ad suggests that one leads to the other.  However, common sense reveals that a romantic relationship will not come from nowhere if one buys simply buys and uses the perfume.

     All in all, Ralph Lauren employs visual sensation as well as stealthy language to sell its fragrance “romance”.  In doing so, it makes ideological assumptions and commits several logical fallacies as do most ads of the same natures.  When it comes down to it, this ad is just like any ad as its sole purpose is to sell and promote that you are in fact getting something out of the ordinary.  According to this Ralph Lauren, purchasing the fragrance “Romance” will indeed bring you romance as it did the female model in the ad. 


If You Spray It, Off They Come
                                                 Jonathan Ross

      Most of us can truthfully say that our earliest social interaction with the opposite sex, other than family members, took place on the playgrounds and in the classrooms of our first school.  From these early beginnings, we learn that sexuality is a game in which there are winners and there are losers.  Experience teaches us that winners seek out every advantage possible to make them selves stand out from their competition and thus seem more attractive to the target.  The Tag body spray advertisement exploits men’s psychological craving to be masters of their own fate, by offering them a fool proof advantage in a game of cards over their female adversary (click).  The act of gambling ensures an uncontrollable outcome, yet the ad offers men the assurance of victory.   Its use of witty language, its allusion to the loose morals often displayed in Las Vegas, and its employment of humor in the form of the “invinci-card” all appeal to men’s inner vanities.

     One question that the reader immediately asks themselves upon viewing the advertisement, how did three beautiful women end up in one man’s apartment playing strip blackjack with him?  The ad’s lack of context explaining the presence of the women allows the reader to infer for himself (since the ad is obviously directed towards males) the reasoning behind the females being there.  The creators of the ad employ a brilliant strategy here, because it leaves the reader with only one plausible explanation for the females’ presence; that only the tag body spray could have convinced the women to join him in his apartment.  The makers of the ad know that their male audience will accept the advertisement because they know that deep down every man wishes that sexuality were that simple. 

     The advertisement’s setting and seating arrangement play directly into Tag Body Spray’s psychological ploy designed to attract male readers.  The lone male in the ad sits with his back to the reader, allowing only the back of his head to be viewed.  This placement allows the figure to represent every man in his own imagination.  The three women are pooled from different cultures in order to cater to a wider variety of male tastes in women.  The apartment looks sparsely decorated specifically so that it will not seem to represent a single consumer group, thus turning other groups of males away.  The walls remain neutral with a brown-beige color.  The stereo system in the background represents the only other piece of furniture in the room besides the table and couches. 

     The idea that men have a psychological need to seek out risk in everyday life in order to remain content with their surroundings has become a prolific stereotype in today’s media.    The act of playing strip blackjack in itself carries a certain amount of risk; however, this ad doesn’t just bring you a cheap game in the back of some smoke- filled card room. No!  It brings the fun and excitement of Las Vegas, the center of American decadence and loose morals, into the comfort of your own living room.  The red warning label jumps out at the reader like the flashing letters on a Vegas billboard.  The bright colors of the women’s shirts glow with the radiance of the neon lights on the Vegas strip.  The ad once again lays the blame for these developments at Tag Body Spray’s feet by claiming that the new wild card scent contains “3.5 ounces of Vegas in a can.”

     The ad’s witty language intentionally appeals to the wise-ass group of young males that it advertises to.  The ad’s warning label sarcastically advises men that using Tag Body Spray will place them in danger of seeing beautiful women take their clothes off.  The ad even uses the moniker “Consider Yourself Warned” as its slogan.  The advertisement employs the general assumption that young males are devious to create humor with the addition of the invinci-card.  Obviously, the use of the card will never stand in an actual game of twenty-one.  Instead, the card acts as a symbol.  Its presence assures the reader that the makers of Tag Body Spray think on the same mischievous level that they do.   More importantly, the card acts as a symbol of control.

     Men will always seek the power to control their own fate or destiny.  The Tag Body Spray advertisement claims to provide this control, by offering a scent that is literally irresistible to the female sex.  If the advertisement does nothing else, it certainly flatters its male audience by leading them to believe that they possess intelligence greater than that of their female adversaries.  Man is the hunter, the advertisement claims, and women are the hunted.  The ad doesn’t sell sex, entertainment, or even a hygiene product.  The advertisement sells power, and power is perhaps the most desirable of all human vices.

     There are several questions that remain unanswered by the ad.  For instance, what does the new “wild card” scent actually smell like?  It could smell like fruit, clean laundry, a French whorehouse, or just like the old Tag with only a new label added.  The label isn’t any help either, with only a poker chip displayed on it.  A second question is raised by the presence of an alcoholic drink in the foreground.  Alcohol would certainly lower a person’s inhibitions much more quickly than any fragrance.  Why even buy tag body spray in this case?  The advertisement makes no attempt to explain any of this.

     Every day people convince themselves that half-truths are actually whole truths in order to make them selves feel more happy, secure, and confident.  The Tag Body Spray ad delivers to the reader a half-truth.  Wearing the new “wild man” scent effects not so much the females who come in contact with it but the men who wear it.  Wearing the scent provides men with the attractive qualities of confidence and security, two traits much more powerful than any fragrance.  Deep down most men know this; however, they continue to see the product as the wonder drug the advertisement describes not because they know that it is truth but because they want to. 

                                                                   Alexander McIntosh

     The advertisement caught my eye in the most obvious way (click). Perhaps I’m far too manly, and I just can’t help that. I saw this image and knew that one day I would have this woman. Now, that initial reaction doesn’t really perturb me. I mean, after all, the image seems designed to present a woman that men want and women want to be. That, at least, correlates with my understanding of the whole “sex sells” issue. However, this Prada perfume advertisement seems to take this method in a twisted way. The advertisement presents itself in a classy and refined manner. This is unique because it does so by depicting an apparently scandalous character. Further, Prada even goes so far as to entice the viewer with socioeconomic distinction.

      I first noticed the apparent refinement of the photo. This is accentuated most blatantly by the choice of black and white background. The black and white image reminds us of older movies and photographs, and thus older times. The black and white makes the image less lively. Everything feels slowed down and thus more delicate. In this way, the black and white image has its unique beauty. You devote less attention to color correlation. As a result you focus more keenly on the other aspects of the photo: the contours and shapes, the contrasts and shadows. For some reason these tendencies correlate to a cognitive thought and, traditionally, get connected to some less superficial view of things. Because of all this you feel the image has a deeper, more refined, even statuesque, persona about it.

     Yet, in spite of how classical the image appears, the picture remains peculiar because of the immediate clash among the conduct, poise, and environment of this woman. This woman wears what appears to be a bathing suit with a silk robe over it. Now, I won’t pretend to know all that much about clothing (I guess that explains why I didn’t choose a clothing advertisement); I will, however, claim to know enough about woman to know this: if a woman steps outside in an outfit like that, she probably has an agenda. Obviously she sprays herself with the perfume while sitting in the back of a car. Cars are driving beside her and behind her with their lights on, indicating a night setting. Now, as far as I am concerned, perfume serves two purposes: to instigate a good smell or to cover up another scent. So, from what I can see, we have a beautiful young woman, riding in a car to (or from) some ambiguous location, in the middle of the night, wearing almost nothing, with her hair down, and she decides either to cover up a smell, or smell good for some person(s). Right away, I can’t help but feel her agenda has something to do with sex. 

     I find it most interesting how these two main aspects – the classic composition and the apparent sexual nature of this model and her situation – don’t clash or contradict each other, as they most likely should. Instead, it seems they somehow form a nice harmony, and complement each other to make the image exotic and beautiful. But what strikes me the most is that I don’t think that would be possible without all the glamorous possessions in it. She has laying beside her an alligator skin purse. It might not necessarily be alligator, but it certainly resembles some sort of reptile. I won’t pretend to know all that much about purses, but I doubt reptiles come cheap. Her robe looks soft and smooth, with a little shine to it, most likely silk. She sits in the back of a clean car, where the chrome shines in spite of the lack of light. On top of that, she sits in the back, almost as if someone is chauffeuring her in a limousine. The woman herself almost looks like an object. She has such grace to the way she sits, holds the perfume bottle, tilts her head back; even the way her robe lays half on, drooping over her shoulder looks graceful. If in contrast she was slightly overweight, had frizzy hair, too much makeup, bruised up legs, wearing old Wal-Mart brand underwear beneath a torn bathrobe she stole from the Holiday Inn, using a plastic bag as a purse, and all while sitting in the back of a beaten up, dirty taxi, I doubt the image of her ambiguous sexual encounter would entice anyone to purchase Prada perfumes. Instead, it seems that the apparent wealth of this woman, the fact that her surrounding are all sleek and graceful, makes the adjacent sexual innuendoes look just as sleek and graceful. It almost struts out to say: money plus sex equals sexy, Prada implies sexy, therefore Prada implies wealth and sex. 

     It almost enforces superior command on the viewer. This woman appears so sexy, has such beauty to her, and seems so successful. Yet, in the end (or beginning) of the night, she puts on her Prada perfumes, just to give her that little edge. It shines an illusion that Prada exhibits success on a magnitude of levels. This almost enslaves the viewer to need these perfumes in order to achieve a high status of wealth and sex appeal. The average woman cannot look at this image and say she fits the persona of this model; the average woman could never appear so glamorous in such a sketchy situation. That plagues a fear, that this woman contains some certain superiority. Just when this feeling sets in, and the viewer lowers her eyes in defeat… what sits there at the bottom of the page? What gives this woman her edge, her superiority? Oh! It’s Prada Perfumes!

“Fresh since 1822”
                               Caleb McKinnon

     The cowboy is an American icon.  A rugged and lonesome individual, he is limited only to the simple pleasures that he can carry in his saddlebags.  Thus, inevitably, his tin can of Copenhagen© becomes an inseparable symbol of comfort in his life (click).  It serves as a reminder of the pleasures that he has been forced to surrender for the sake of his occupation.  Yet, through Copenhagen©, he can taste a glimpse of the goodness of the pleasures of home.  Of course, the appeal of this ad only reaches to a select group of males who admire the lasting nature of the cowboy illustrated through the use of black and white coloring.  By depicting a deeper, intimate connection between the cowboy and his smokeless tobacco the Copenhagen© Tobacco Company communicates that they truly appreciate what the cowboy represents, masculinity.

     This ad has an emotional appeal because of its comparison between a cowboy and Copenhagen©.  There is an allusion of a personal relationship between the cowboy and his smokeless tobacco as he deftly scores the paper of the can with a screwdriver.  It becomes a ritual.  The action communicates the idea that the Copenhagen© is a part of his identity.  The classic representation of the “original” cowboy – a thickly mustached man with dusty sweat stained hat, bandana, faded denim jacket, protruding belt buckle, and worn leather slacks – suggests a man that has been deprived of a warm bed and hot meal but is satisfied with a substitute.  The mission of the cowboy is to sacrifice his comforts for a greater good resulting in his weathered persona, and ultimate masculinity, because he humbly and quietly finds satisfaction without inconveniencing others.  He is self-sufficient.  Thus the ad invokes the audience to believe that using Copenhagen© defines him as a “true” cowboy because the smokeless tobacco is “The Original” and means he is a real man.

     More subtly, the slogan, “Fresh since 1822,” stamped in bold print atop every can of Copenhagen© conjures the fallacious belief that “older is better.”  Indeed, there is an appeal to history because the smokeless tobacco brand has existed for over one-hundred and fifty years.  The tobacco becomes a direct connection to the past.  And, by partaking in the same tobacco it ensures the surviving sentiment of the true cowboy.  Moreover, the age instills a great trust in the audience because cowboys have always used Copenhagen©.  Members of the audience value the enduring nature of the man who won the west and through this tobacco they can take part in this heritage because they now embody the same image – faded clothing with a can of Copenhagen© in hand.  Ultimately, the ad aims to build trust in the consumer by indicating that Copenhagen© smokeless tobacco has survived the test of time just as the cowboy.  The tobacco reaches distinction as authentic because the legacy of the cowboy has invariably trusted the brand. 

     Specifically the quote, “Born and Bred from The Original” is another idea intrinsic to the cowboy.  The success of a cowboy rests on the quality of his cattle or good stock.  The advertisement introduces the new Copenhagen© Long Cut with allusion to the relationship between a cowboy and good breeding.  The company certainly knows that a cowboy gives long thought and special consideration to siring the best stock of cattle.  Copenhagen© successfully makes this connection because they realize the admiration of their audience towards the real ranchman and cowboy.  The deliberate use of language communicates that the new cut of tobacco is a result of careful thought and preparation that does not compromise the qualities of the premium original tobacco that they have produced from the beginning.

     Finally, the lack of color and concealment of the cowboy’s face leaves a lasting impression.  The choice of a black and white picture suggests a timeless nature of the cowboy because it accentuates the lack of modern conveniences.  It depicts the fact that the cowboy is the same now as he was one hundred years ago convincing the reader that the quality of Copenhagen© tobacco has never been anything but premium.  Further, the inability to see the entire face of the cowboy points to the focal point of the picture, the can of Copenhagen© long cut.  The anonymity of the cowboy easily allows the audience to envision their own perception of a cowboy so that they believe that the true identification of a cowboy is his can of Copenhagen©. 

















































Assignment #2

Due: 20 September

In this assignment you can choose between two approaches, both analytical.  Here they are:

a)  Examine carefully the reliability of a commonly used saying.  For example, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it"; "let a sleeping dog lie"; "a rolling stone gathers no moss"; still waters run deep"; "the early bird gets the worm"; "better lucky than good"; and so on.  Put the saying to the test; that is, examine whether or not it really holds up under scrutiny as reliable advice or description of the way things are.  What are the saying's limits?  Have you heard it used and, if so, by whom?  Describe situations/people--actual or hypothetical--that demonstrate the reliability and/or the limits of the saying.  What assumptions about people lie behind it?  These and more questions ought to "get you cooking" on this option, if you're so inclined to pursue it.  Don't limit yourself to the examples mentioned above; there are plenty more where they came from.  Click here and click here in order to go to sites listing a wagon-load of them. 

b)  Use definition and comparison and contrast for the purpose of making a distinction that you think is important and would be interesting to your audience.  For instance, you could explore the difference between a "flamer" and task-master in the hall in order to define a successful leader.   You could explain the difference between or compare a scapegoat and a "screen" in order to define for us more clearly what a "screen" is.  Obviously there are many other aspects of the Bancroft-Academy life that could use good analysis via definition and comparison/contrast.  You might want to persuade someone that golfers are not athletes by defining the difference between a game and a sport.  To prove some point about the decline of popular taste in American (or the opposite) you could explore the difference between a football crowd and one at a baseball game.  Let these stand, please, as suggestions.  You can think of other distinctions and or comparisons that are worth making in order to prove a point.  And that's the important thing about this approach:  that you employ comparison and contrast and definition only to serve a purpose you have, a point that you want to get your audience to see and agree with.

Sample Student Papers: click

Instructor’s generated sample paper, “The Cult of the Role Model” (click)

Audience: classmates and instructor

Length:3-4 pages


Consult Assignment #1 (click here) to recall elements already introduced.  For pronouns click here and click here; for subject-verb agreement click here .  In this paper also concentrate on 1) limiting the use of the "to be" verb and the passive voice (click here ); 2) writing fully developed paragraphs that have a clear idea and organization and occur within the paper in the best, most logical, and most persuasive sequence;  3) concluding your paper in a way that doesn't just restate the thesis (that's way too mechanical!); 4) eliminating misplaced and dangling modifiers (click here for a discussion of this grammatical problem); and 5) employing the comma (click here), semi-colon (click here), and colon (click here) with some finesse.































































































































To be or not to be--An Exercise on Identifying Weak Verbs


Steps to take with any paper, late in the drafting process:


1.  Circle all occurrences of to be verbs, except those in quotes.


to be








's, 're (in    contractions)


2.  Count all to be verbs you have circled.


3.  Count your sentences, excluding quotations.


4.  Divide the number of to be verbs by the number of sentences. 40% and below suggests that you have probably taken the time actually to think about and choose the verbs in your sentences.  You have avoided the following structures:

                          the passive voice
                          the "it is . . . . that" 
                          the "There is" 
                          noun formations--"he is supportive of me" (as opposed 
                          to "he supports me")
































































Prompts for Paper #4

(Due: 8 Nov)


Directions:  Write a 2-3 page essay on an element in one of the short stories we have read.  I list the “elements” below and label them with a,b,c, etc.  Each letter indicates a separate element.  The point of this paper is for you to explain how a part of the story contributes to the whole, to the main theme of the work and to its methods. 


Here’s a sample of this kind of thing, a paper on The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky” (click); and two others on “Miss Brill” click and “A Clean Well-Lighted Place” click.


 “The Cask of Amonillado


a. p. 11, opening paragraph

b. p. 14, middle paragraph, beginning, “At the most . . . ”

c. p. 16, last paragraph

d. imagery of clothing

e. puns

f. some pattern in the narrator’s way of telling the story


 “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky”


a. p. 29 opening paragraph

b. p. 31, paragraph beginning, “Of course, people . . . ”

c. p. 34-35, opening paragraph of Chap III

d. Jack’s bride

e. some aspect of the narrator’s voice, his “peculiar way of describing things”

f. clothing imagery


“The Storm”


a. p. 38, last paragraph of section 1

b. p. 40, middle paragraph, beginning “They did not . . .”

c. Function of father and son, and perhaps other background characters?




a. p. 59, paragraph beginning, “Her image . . . ”

b. p. 60, paragraph beginning, “When I came home . . . ”

c. imagery of darkness and light

d. females




a. pp. 215-16, next-to-last paragraph of story

b. p. 216, last paragraph

c. setting

d. traits dominating Sammy’s way of telling the story


“The Rocking Horse Winner”


a. p. 137, the opening paragraph

b. the rocking horse



Losing the Comfort Zone in Yellow Sky

            One of the larger motifs in Crane’s “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky” is the disorientation that comes with dislocation or change of circumstances.  In basic terms the motif consists of a confident character—or even a dog in one case—feeling weak and ineffectual because he finds himself “out of his water,” so to speak.  Implicitly the pattern underscores the story’s larger thematic concern with a cultural shift in the old West.

            The story’s climax, in fact, portrays this disorientation most emphatically when Jack tells Scratchy Wilson that he, Jack, “aint got a gun because [he’s] just come from San Anton’ with [his] wife.”  Scratchy, the confident, gun-toting tyrant of Yellow Sky is shocked. The narrator says that he suddenly acts “like a creature allowed a glimpse of another world”; and in explaining why Scratchy unexpectedly gives up his advantage over his long-time nemesis and walks away, the narrator writes, “in the presence of this foreign condition [Scratchy] was a simple child of the earlier plains.”  The terms “another world” and “foreign condition” emphasize the culture shock, almost, that Scratchy faces.  And the description of Scratchy’s morose acquiescence to Potter’s news as resembling that of “a simple child of the earlier plains” also emphasizes this powerfully disorienting effect of the intrusion of another culture into his world.

            Surprising as it is, this ending nevertheless grows out of a series of such events.  In fact each of the story’s four labeled sections displays a case of such disorientation as if to prepare us for this last, most emphatic example of it.  That’s essentially what the, at first, peculiar description of Potter, his wife, and the porter and waiters is all about in the first section.  The man we discover later to be a confidant sheriff seems out of place, confused even, in the lavish Pullman, not to mention in “his new black clothes.”  His wife acts just as uncomfortable in her blue cashmere dress.  The narrator’s description of the porters and the waiters’ amusement at the uncomfortable couple only accentuates this sense of dislocation.  The train, ultimately, is “the environment of their new estate,” a description that emphasizes the connection between the new situation and the discomfort they feel.  The prospective discomfort of the town over Potter’s marriage also becomes a focus of this first section, as the narrator describes Potter’s growing uneasiness over not having, it seems, asked the town for its blessing. He imagines that his return, in other words, will cause the same sort of feeling among the townsfolk as he and his wife have in the Pullman car.

            In the next two sections the drummer and the dog serve as the loci of this motif.  At home in the saloon where he can chatter and tell stories, the drummer becomes progressively less and less confident as the others outline the possible risks of Scratchy’s rampage through the town.  The drummer transforms from the glib, secure story-teller to the tentative, fretful outsider, all because of a sudden change in situation.  Though it appears in some ways almost unnecessary, this scene in the saloon clearly emphasizes the way in which dislocation and an attendant loss of confidence and comfort can occur.  Almost comic relief, the scene with the dog in the next section, in fact, repeats this motif.  The dog, comfortably “dozing in front of his master’s door,” must relocate without delay when Scratchy first yells and then shoots at him. 

            As the title of the story strongly implies, relocation and insertion of something new into a comfortable setting is an important theme.  Even the brief, unmemorable description of the street in section II contributes to this pattern: the “vivid grass plots” “amid the sands that burned near them in a blazing sun . . . caused doubt in the mind” (32). The story, to put it simply, deals with changes, changes of various sorts, ranging from a dog repositioning itself, a sheriff entering into a new “estate,” as the narrator puts it, to an old time western cowboy/gang member, Scratchy Wilson, finally losing his own sense of security and comfort.  He becomes the outsider with the introduction of a new domesticity into Yellow Sky.  And symbolically his loss represents the loss of that world to the one that comes from the east, in a fancy Pullman car.













































Sample paper on "street-walking in "A Clean Well-Lighted Place"

Your aim is to analyze how a part of a story contributes to the whole--contributes to its meaning and to patterns that generate that meaning.  Notice in this paper that I have color-coded its three part structure so as to illustrate two things:  1) the way in which the controlling idea dictates its organization (the colors of the parts of the controlling idea match the colors of the corresponding parts in the body of the paper) and 2) the way in which it is organized according to an idea, not according to a need to retell the story.
The Meaning of Street Walking in "A Clean Well-Lighted Place" (click)

     The passage on the opening page of "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" describing "a girl and a soldier" walking by the cafe calls attention to itself precisely because it seems so out of place.  So rare a description as this in Hemingway's bare short story must occur for a reason.  And that "reason" has three facets:  the description highlights the differences between the old and young waiter, it helps to set off the isolation represented by the old man, and finally it offers a possible alternative of meaningfulness in a story seemingly about the absence of meaning in life.

     First of all, the description provides an early opportunity for Hemingway to establish the important difference between the old waiter and the young one.  The old waiter expresses concern that the soldier with the girl will get picked up by the guard if he's caught out this late at night (262).  The young one, in contrast, simply says:  "What does it matter if he gets what he's after?" (262). The one senses consequences, dangers, forces larger than the individual and his needs--in this case the military authority.  The other expresses self-interest and disregard for dangers.  More importantly his comment assumes that the soldier has a clear want, a clear desire ("if he gets what he's after").  While the older waiter's comment suggests a world view assuming risk and forces that are hostile, with prevention of this risk being its meaningful "action," the other's comments ignore risk and frame action as a seeking and obtaining, not mere avoidance.  This sort of difference emerges time and again as the conversation between the two unfolds:  the old waiter wants to know about why the old man attempted suicide (262, 263), who found him and cut him down and why (263), and even why the young waiter doesn't wonder if he might discover another man in bed with his wife when he arrives at home before his usual time (264).  The young man does not care about why's and how's:  he merely wants the old man out of the bar so that he can "accomplish his mission," as it were.  He senses no risks, only irritations, only delays between desire and satisfaction.  This difference between the two waiters, a difference set up in part by their reactions to the soldier and lady friend, helps to establish the story's representation of a lack of meaning:  on the one hand, the old waiter sees life as merely a process of risk aversion, without any more meaning than neatness and friendly light; on the other hand, the young man does not care about any question of meaning.  One, in other words, seems to have sought meaning without finding it; the other simply disregards any search for meaning.

     In addition, the description of the soldier and girl walking through the street highlights the old man's solitude.  As it works in this way, the passage actually emphasizes the two bartenders' companionship rather than their contrasting outlooks.  In the same short paragraph that describes the soldier and girl, Hemingway describes the bartenders in this way:  "They sat together at a table that was close against the wall near the door of the cafe and looked at the terrace where the tables were all empty except where the old man sat in the shadow of the leaves of the tree that moved slightly in the wind" (262).   However different their world views, the one's pessimistic and fretful, the other's optimistic and confident, they at least have each other's company, while the old man sits outside alone.  The description of the soldier and girl, immediately following this passage, reinforces the old man's loneliness:  they too are a pair, like the bartenders; the old man is merely a loner.  If seen just in terms of this purpose, the detail about the soldier and woman walking by the cafe would almost be overkill:  detailing that the bartenders "sat together" and that the "tables were all empty except . . ." is enough.

     However, the passage has another, though perhaps less apparent purpose:  in simple terms it suggests that love is built into the story as a possible alternative to its prevailing theme of meaninglessness.  This possibility emerges as a result of simply looking for a context for this passage, a link to other details in the story.  Such linkage might, after all, be purposeful rather than random.  One linkage depends on women, women implied at least by the narrative and dialogue.  In addition to the girl with the soldier, four women emerge faintly from the story's texture:  the young waiter's wife waiting for him at home in bed (263); the wife the old man once had (263); the old man's niece who interrupted his attempted suicide (263); and finally the Virgin Mary (264), alluded to through the "Hail nothing full of nothing . . . (265).  Apart from the niece, a mere care taker, these other three women represent meaningful companions.  The old waiter's emptiness, in fact, seems at least coincidental with his lack of a wife or female companion.  As "bone headed as he is," the young waiter does have a purpose in his life because of his wife, because of their implied mutual dependence.  And when the young waiter carelessly says of the 80 year old man, "A wife would be no good to him now" (263), the old waiter in fact reinforces the importance of a heterosexual companion by replying, "You can't tell.  He might be better with a wife" (263).  A wife, this comment implies, can offer more relief from darkness, can mean more, than just "a clean well-lighted place."  The passage describing the girl and soldier, she hurrying beside him, has to be understood in light of these other references to the value of loving companionship.

    Clearly the story does not romanticize heterosexual love, does not make it an obvious alternative to life without meaning.  In fact, as I have pointed out, the young waiter himself lacks the sensitivity to see such meaning in love, as is illustrated by his view of the soldier as sexual predator.  Even the image of the virgin mother Mary, western civilization's perfect mother-wife, takes a cynical form in the old waiter's musings:  "Mother Mary full of Grace" has become "nothing full of nothing (265); and that cynical view is reinforced when the next image to emerge after the old waiter's musing is the purely mechanical "shining steam pressure coffee machine" (265) in the bodega. This mechanistic view of the world has replaced that of spirit finding incarnational meaning within woman.  Still, with all these suggestions of negativity, the image of the girl and soldier represents a feint alternative to the prevalent meaninglessness put forth by the older waiter, but not so clearly by the story itself.  After all, that waiter is just a character created by Hemingway, one subject to our critical view.  And one qualification to his prevalent pessimism is the image of the knightly soldier with his "lady," a traditional symbol of fulfillment in western culture that is not entirely annihilated by notion that life is nada.




























                                                     “Miss Brill” as Sentence

      I like to see Miss Brill in Mansfield’s story (click) as a sentence, particularly a compound or complex one, a sentence, at any rate, that has either a clause or phrase strongly qualifying its main idea.  Taking this personification further, I think she's a compound and/or complex sentence seeking to become a direct one.  As it turns out this claim is less an analogy than it first seems because Mansfield's style in executing this "third person limited" narration documents this search almost in terms of sentence structure, or at least in terms of the way in which Miss Brill's thoughts are patterned.  In simple terms Miss Brill begins the story as a compound or complex sentence; starts to become a direct one; and transforms, unfortunately, back into a compound or complex one at the end of the story.  These shifts in syntax document her effort to make herself a meaningful element in a world with which she is so out of step. 

     The connection between pattern of thought and character, between Miss Brill and a sentence, emerges in the very first sentence of the story:  "Although it was so brilliantly fine . . . Miss Brill was glad that she had decided on her fur" (17, emphasis added).  And the pattern continues throughout the first paragraph, six of whose 14 sentences take on this compound or complex pattern.  The second sentence depends on a "but" to demonstrate a similar rationalization about the absurdity of wearing the fur on a warm, pleasant day:  ". . . but when you opened your mouth there was a faint chill . . ." (17, emphasis added).  In the paragraph's seventh sentence the qualification, which again hinges on "but," involves Miss Brill's excitement about seeing the fur's little eyes "snap at her again":  ". . . But the nose, which was of some black composition, wasn't at all firm" (17).  And that qualification leads to another in the following sentence:  "Never mind--a little dab of sealing wax when the time came . . ." (17). The last two sentences of this sort in the opening paragraph demonstrate, as the editor points out in the margin, Miss Brill's suppression of "negative impressions" (17).  The first one of these describing a tingling sensation in her hand pivots on a "but":  "but that came from walking . . . " (17).  In the next and final sentence, when she feels "something light and sad," the very next words qualify that feeling:  "no, not sad, exactly" (17). 

     I linger over this pattern in the opening paragraph for two reasons:  first, its frequency signals its importance; and second it lays out the basic tendency in Miss Brill's character, which amounts to a tension between her ability to glimpse her own timidity, eccentricity, and even despair on the one hand and her desire for confidence, relevancy, and even happiness on the other hand.  That first paragraph displays the internal tension that she has to work through just to get out the door on Sundays. 

     Interestingly enough, once she begins to make some separation from her lodging, her "cupboard" or "box," the frequency of these qualifying, almost contradicting sentences or thought patterns subsides.  In all the rest of the story up to the final paragraph, they appear just 12 times, and six of those occur in other people's conversations or in descriptions of others' actions.  In the conversation between the English couple, for instance, the wife knows she needs glasses, "but" it was no good getting them "because they would break" (18, emphasis added).  Twice more the pattern occurs between the boy and girl who end up hurting Miss Brill:  the boy's desire for a kiss or some more ardent display of affection is the issue--his "But why" and her "not yet" shows this pattern of qualification and/or contradiction.  Generally though, the long middle of the story is dominated by direct rather than compound and/or complex sentences. 

     The reason for this change from the opening paragraph is that Miss Brill's optimism and positive spirit prevails during this section.  For example, when Miss Brill hears the little "flutey" bit from the band, she "was sure it would be repeated. It was; she lifted her head and smiled" (18).  Instead of a qualification and/or contradiction, we see reinforcement of her initial feeling.  This tendency is interrupted only occasionally as with the "but" in the paragraph in which Miss Brill looks at the old people who seem to have come from "cupboards" (19).  Perhaps this interruption, along with the revealing description of the kind of confining enclosure from which Miss Brill also comes, amounts to Mansfield's way of marking a spot where Miss Brill's buoyancy depends on her failure to see herself reflected in these old people.  The description of the British woman's contrariness about getting glasses occurs for the same reason: it reflects Miss Brill herself, though Miss Brill does not register that reflection.  At any rate, the general grammatical energy in this middle section is that of "and" rather than "but," a compiling of simple, direct grammatical units and observations rather than a series of observations stunted by hesitation.  This dominating stylistic tendency reflects Miss Brill's growing confidence, particularly as she engages in the long reverie about her essential role in the community at the park, which in her view represents a grand theatrical performance held every Sunday.  As a part of the play she is an actress, she imagines, on whom all the others depend (20).  No qualifications stunt this compilation of direct sentences. 

     The climax of this view--and the end of the dominance of direct sentences and the return to qualifying and contradicting structures--occurs just as the "hero and heroine" show up (21).  Actually the rude couple who insult Miss Brill and send her back into her own cupboard, this hero and heroine, as I have already mentioned, converse in terms of a contradictory structure:  he wants "it," and she says no.  Importantly, their conversation has the grammatical shape of the compound and/or complex sentence, and it has that shape precisely because of Miss Brill.  Her very existence, rather than representing an integral role in some grand, community drama, creates distance between young lovers, delays fulfillment, gets in the way of life:  "'But why? Because of that stupid old thing at the end there?' asked the boy. 'Why does she come here at all--who wants her? Why doesn't she keep her silly old mug at home?'"  Miss Brill, both literally and figuratively, gets in the way of the direct sentence, in this case expressions of love, and of all the vitality, confidence, and youthfulness it represents. 

     Appropriately if sadly, then, the story ends with two paragraphs whose expression returns to the qualification and contradiction of the first paragraph, but with a vengeance!  Usually, we learn, Miss Brill gets her almond cake on the way home from the park, "But" (21) on this day she passes by the bakery and returns directly to her "little dark room--her room like a cupboard" (21-22).  The most important "but" in the entire story, however, occurs in the final sentence, after the description of how she "quickly, without looking" (22) returns the fur to the box from which she had taken it at the beginning of the story:  "But when she put the lid on she thought she heard something crying" (22, emphasis added).  The dynamic here repeats that of the first paragraph, only the stakes are higher.  In a sort of denial of all the hurt the fur now represents, she shuts it way.  However, even when she shuts it up in the box, she can't suppress the "but" within her character, the inability to shut out the despair, the vulnerability, and the sense that she's marginal to all that goes on in the world, the world of direct sentences and clear desires.  The crying is the ultimate qualifying phrase in the (death) sentence of her life. 









































































































































































The Vessel that Matters

      Just a glance is all it takes. Then I get that wonderful feeling of ease and promise.  In my office that means a look over the top of my monitor at the framed three by five photo of my green Old Town canoe.  In the picture it sits atop my dilapidated Toyota pick-up against a cloudless blue sky.  The picture was snapped from down the hill a bit, below the truck, so the canoe, along with the truck of course, stands above the eye, almost in a place of eminence.  At home, that feeling of ease and promise comes after I simply gaze out back to where the canoe sits about three feet above the ground on its rack, beneath the hollies, next to the shed, bow pointed my way.  In as literal way as you possibly can take the cliché, that canoe means the world to me.

     Don't be alarmed.  It's no secret to those who love me.  My wife and daughters, in fact, took that picture of the canoe on the truck, framed it, and gave it to me for Christmas some years back.  A simple gesture, but the kind that counts, the kind that matters.  They know better than anyone what the canoe means to me.  I can remember, in fact, the day they took the picture, though I never saw them snap it.  I was busy shoring up a rock planter on the front lawn.  Having gone fishing the day before, I left the canoe on the truck as I often do--there's just something about leaving it there that I like, the picture of readiness, perhaps, or maybe just the way the canoe lies across the ladder racks of the shell on the back of the truck and overhangs the windshield, seemingly out of balance in relation to the truck as it hangs three feet beyond the tail-gait, but perfectly symmetrical upon the racks themselves.  Maybe I just like the prompt it gives me to day dream about the previous day of fishing.  At any rate, as I was lazily stacking stones on that gorgeous fall day, I repeated aloud to whomever emerged from the house something like this:  "Isn't that just a beautiful sight?  There's nothing around as pretty as that canoe on the truck."  Partly I was just tweaking my daughters and wife:  having to drive the truck--even the thought of driving it--is for them the same as having to inhabit a spot in Dante's hell.  Partly, too, I was making fun of myself--nerdy, uncool, tasteless, even perhaps pitable in this undue pride in ownership of something so humble and, yes, "embarrassing."  And more than partly I meant it all.  I certainly made an impression because with about the same mixture of sincerity and fun-making that I displayed, they snapped that picture to which I so often turn for relief.  So you see, there's no need to worry about my misplaced devotion to a canoe:  my loved ones are complicit in promoting that devotion.

     Keep it simple--that's my motto.  Reduce the number of moving parts: it works for a golf swing, it works for longevity in an car, it certainly can be said of a canoe.  All I need is a paddle.  No trailer, no faulty wheel bearings to sweat over, no anxiety about hauling something that might start slithering on its own in the wind or around a curve.  The canoe requires little care--a couple of bungee cords and two tie down ropes and I'm off.  I can move it into the tightest, shallowest spots; and guide it over rocks and ledges and even now and then class III rapids.  No exhaust; no gas spills; no wakes; little noise.  All that simply means so much to me.  I've never wanted to "make an impact" on the world, make an "impression," as they say.  It seems that those aims speak of a kind of violence to the surroundings and even to others; that's never "floated my boat," if you will forgive the pun.  I like "cohabitation, "getting along with others and the world; certainly the canoe does this.  Sure, there are limitations.  I can't speed out into the Chesapeake Bay at 40 miles an hour, spill some reeking chum into the water, and snag a few rock fish with a heavy duty rod, geared reel and 50lb test line.  I can't achieve that kind of dominance, that mastery of my environment.  But I can slip along quite quietly with the world, catching a rising trout or small mouth bass lying beneath a tree or over-hanging bank, then feeling its deft runs and earnest tugs, and finally returning it to the current.  That's intrusive enough for me. 

      Perhaps I appreciate this simplicity of the canoe--and the simplicity and even escape it represents for me when I look out the back window or over the top of my monitor--because I also am so often intimidated by the complexity of our lives: obligations, things to do (so many things to do!), egos to nurse, gadgets to repair, desires to control, and dreams to forget.  The canoe gets me away from all this.  As I push off from the shore and settle into the seat, I'm safe.  The canoe is another skin, another barrier, inside even another one, the bank of the pond or river.  I've got space.  I've got only concrete, physical things to worry about--the canoe's drift, the push of the wind, the level of my back cast, the right fly to tie on, all that stuff that obliterates the other sorts of cares that can "fry the mind."  Nobody can get at me while I'm on the water. And all the time I think, thanks to Frank Sinatra, "I'm doing it my way."

     I always feel special, even original and individual in doing this, even though on reflecting, I know I'm nothing more than just another expression of the American Dream, that desire to "light out for the territory," as Twain puts it at the end of his book about Huck Finn.  I think I'm getting away in my way, but ultimately I'm just expressing the same desire that the guy does who "hauls ass" in his power boat.  Modest as it is, then, that canoe is my American Dream, my own form of self-deception, I suppose.  If you've read Great Gatsby, you'll know what I mean: it's that green beacon, that mistaken promise of a return to Edenic simplicity and fulfillment at the end of Daisy's peer. It's the world to me.













































Past Sample Student Papers on Assignment #1


 Building Blocks of the Past

                                           Andrew Faulk

They are not prevalent in my mind as I walk from class to class, or talk to my brother over the phone; in fact I rarely think of them at all. For all intents and purposes they phased out of my life, yet when asked what possession matters most to me I can only help but reminisce humorously-and a little wistfully-about my LEGOS.

            It feels as though LEGOS were with me since the dawn of time. I remember the very first time I moved, because that was when I received my first LEGO set. I was three years old, living in Lafayette, Louisiana and my family decided to move from our home in Turtle Creek to a house in Amber Street. I remember my dad handing down to me a small box with the picture of a burly red-bearded pirate on a makeshift raft fending of a shark using a curved, silver sword on the high seas. He opened the box, careful not to destroy the picture, and upended it releasing one small, hole-speckled see-through bag filled with LEGOS. The box also contained a manual of directions, which was ridiculous because the entire set totaled around eight pieces. My dad made a pointed effort to use every step in the manual until he assembled the raft, pirate and shark just like the picture on the box. This instilled in me an abnormal enthusiasm for following instructions to the letter. My dad left me to my devices and continued the move.  I remained on an ocean of white carpet for untold hours battling the solitude of the open sea and sharks with my pirate. I was completely comfortable with my isolation, preferring my inner thoughts and dialogues to any other endeavor.   

            I became fascinated by the artwork on the box. Most of my imagined settings came from variations of the picture: I became intimately aware of the rise and fall of the waves, the splash of the lunging shark held at bay by the parrying thrust of the pirate, and eventually, the little white pricing marked three dollars and fifty cents on the top right hand corner of the box. I knew what that meant. It meant that every penny I earned brought me closer to my next set. By the age of seven I became the original Wendy’s commercial client; but instead of pricing everything in relation to how many Jr. Bacon Cheeseburgers I could by, I priced things in relation to their worth in LEGOS. I learned the value of hard work, savings, and patients through the value of my next LEGO set.

            Amber Street was not in the best of neighborhoods so my Mom elected to home school my brother Jeremy and me rather than send us to the nearby dilapidated public school.  My fervent attitude towards LEGOS was infectious: my brother, my only classmate and constant companion caught the obsession. I could never bring myself to destroy any set made by my meticulous adherence to instruction because I doubted my creative ability to better a model. My brother was the complete opposite. He would build each set according to the rules, and then quickly destroy them to create something new. I used to sit and watch as he made stealth airplanes out of all black pieces, or buildings with secret compartments and rooms, sometimes giving him pointers on how to improve his creation, but never creating my own. LEGOS instilled in me the desire for conformity although their slogan was centered on creation, imagination.

            I moved to San Antonio with my family at the age of seven. I started taking my LEGOS to the Vineyard, our new family church, and playing in the back because it was too close to the move to make any friends, and the services were always too incomprehensible to understand. I had my new Ice-Breakers LEGO set, an air plane featuring bright, see-through orange skis for landing gear, a detachable radar system for communication, and a pilot touting a frost resistant suit with a white and orange helmet doubling as a communications device. My mission was to explore the uninhabitable ice planet Hoth. On the desolate planet Hoth, in the back tables of the Vineyard, I met my best friend Bradley Venable. Their was no formal introduction; he just sat down on the table with me, sporting his Ice-Breaker tank with six white wheels and a three man crew with exploration computers and equipment--a fifteen dollar set which outranked my seven dollar and fifty cent one. We had a silent agreement that the planet must be explored, and while we had different opinions on the missions or on what needed to be found, we had an alibi:  our LEGOS. I dislike talking on the phone, preferring the simplistic and honest form of actions to words; that day I met someone who spoke to me in my preferred language.

            When I turned twelve my Mom decided to stop home schooling us and look to a career of professional teaching. At the age of thirty six she went to college at Trinity University to get her Masters and enrolled my brother and me in public school. I suddenly found myself immersed in a completely new world. Instead of one classmate I had many; instead of the solitude of an afternoon playing Star Wars galactic battle with my brother and the newest LEGO set I could afford, I found myself hanging out with friends at school and doing homework at night. My brother and I remained close, but I no longer had time to play LEGOS. I felt lost…lost in a world without ice planets, pirate ships and space shuttles. However, I knew how to follow directions and create the perfect set, and I knew that in order to succeed in my new environment I had to follow a new set of rules. LEGOS faded from my life, but vestiges of their importance remain; forever the building blocks of my childhood.         


The Racing Shell

                              Scott Keelan

Six of the fastest boats in the nation, all lined up side by side, sat in anticipation of the start. Months of practice and conditioning lead up to that very moment, the last few seconds of silent anxiety before the starting gun. Every individual was in a reflective state of meditation with sweaty palms, a pounding heart, and heaving chests. The referee made the final announcements, raised the flag and…sounded the gun.  Instantly, six crews exploded off the starting dock, only the coxswains and the sound of the oars rushing through the placid water broke the silence. Most evident was the precise fluidity and highly developed coordination of each crew as it sliced through the course and advanced towards the finish line. Only the most dedicated and emotionally determined crew would take the gold.

            When a crew has reached perfect harmony, carving through the water like a hot knife cutting through butter, it has truly achieved nirvana. Such a feat cannot be accomplished without the racing shell, which serves as a medium between the rower and the water. The clichés of other sports: teamwork, perseverance, and dedication are born within the shell’s hull. However, the racing shell serves as a representation and delineation of the rower that powers the boat. The analysis of the bond between a rower and his boat offers the observer multiple characteristics of the rower’s personality and identity. I believe that many of my personal qualities are evident through the racing shell.

            One of the first lessons learned by a novice rower is that when in the boat, when in the sanctity of the racing shell, all rowers are expected to keep silent. The only people talking while out on the water are the coach and the coxswain. This fundamental rule is established in order to maintain the highest level of concentration and to reduce the number of distractions. Personally, I embrace this restriction. Perhaps one of my most evident characteristics is that I am introverted and reticent. Also, I am often identified as reserved and taciturn. My participation in crew and the time that I have spent sitting in the shell has highlighted these characteristics. When in the boat, not only are the rowers not allowed to talk, but the boat is more efficient when silent communication is exercised. Although the rowers may not be able to communicate verbally, their physical actions inside the racing shell express a significant amount of information about each individual’s personality. I often avoid verbal confrontation and through my actions of observed silence, my emotions are evident in either my intensity or lack there of. It is true that through the racing shell, the rower’s actions speak louder than his words.

            I often remind myself of an inspirational quote: “The more sweat in training, the less blood in battle.” I thoroughly agree with this statement and believe that the harder a crew practices on the water, the faster it races. Furthermore, a properly maintained racing shell is crucial in both practice and competition. Just as the technique for the stroke is complex, the intricacies and details of the racing shell can be overwhelming. I take pride in thoroughly inspecting the boat and ensuring that its hardware is properly set to optimize efficiency. I think such actions not only exhibit my attention to detail, but also my structured lifestyle. Before every race, I feel somewhat obligated, as well as take pride in, performing a comprehensive inspection on every nut and bolt throughout the boat. I make sure that all the shoes are tied down, all the tracks are greased, and all the rigging is set to the proper calibration. This may seem slightly obsessive compulsive, but any overlooked detail could perchance malfunction in the middle of a race and sacrifice precious time and speed. It is through my inspection of the racing shell that I believe many of my personal characteristics of attention to detail and an organized lifestyle are revealed.

            Each one of the eight seats throughout the racing shell has a personality of its own. For example, the bowman, located at the very back of boat, is generally one of the best followers of the group with his ability to stay in cadence at a distance. Furthermore, the stroke seat of the racing shell, the seat at the top of the boat, traditionally is considered the leader of the boat. The stroke seat is responsible for maintaining a consistent intensity and setting the overall tempo of the boat. During a race, the stroke seat must maintain his composure under pressure because his actions are magnified as they pass down the boat. Personally, stroke seat is my favorite position in the racing shell. I enjoy the responsibility that comes with the territory and the thrill of the trust the other seven men place in my hands. I wouldn’t say that my preference to stroke seat necessarily classifies me as a control freak; however I do prefer having authority and influence over certain situations. Not only do I believe my position in stroke seat reflects my need for continuity, I feel is also implies my preference to lead by principle.

            Finally, I believe my sheer involvement in crew, simply my commitment to the racing shell, expresses a significant amount about my personality. Crew is not a very high contact sport and the time spent in the racing shell does not include much physical contact. Unlike other sports, there is no tackling, blocking, or boxing-out. I don’t feel that it is necessary to physically overpower the opponent through direct contact. While in the racing shell, I can establish dominance from a distance. I can maintain my gentle and temperate attitude and still come out victorious.

            Since my involvement in rowing, the sport has nearly consumed my life. It is a huge time commitment and the majority of that time is spent rowing in the racing shell. Many of my personal characteristics are evident through my relationship with the boat. My observation and embrace of silence not only reflects my introverted attitude, it also conveys my reticent and reserved personality. My devotion and borderline religious dedication to the maintenance of the boat expresses my attention to detail and my organized and structured qualities. My position in the racing shell, specifically stroke seat, correlates to my preference towards management and responsibility over the situation at hand. Also, the limited amount of physical contact while in the racing shell reflects my temperance and placid attitude. I relish my time spent in the racing shell and enjoy rowing day after day. My participation in crew has been one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences through which I have grown not only physically, but individually as well.



Better to Be Re(a)d

                                           David Watland

           “Beat Army, Sir!” I shout at a volume only one who has completed plebe summer can match as I chop the seemingly endless staircase to 8-2. Finally, at the top, I square a corner and make a dash for the safety of my room.

“Sir, good afternoon, Mr. Johnson, Sir” 

“Shine your shoes better, Watland

 I don’t look back. Finally I reach the spartan surroundings of the room I now call home. My eyes drift to the dust-free bookshelf. On it sits in glory my small collection of reading material, organized tall to small, left to right, as per regulation. Somewhere in the middle, flush to the edge of the shelf, sits a book of medium height and somewhat abnormal width labeled , Holy Bible. I ponder for a second how many people consider the Bible among their most meaningful possessions, and for good reason. This Bible is meaningful to me for another reason though. Inside the blue cover there are two columns of text, one in English, the other in Chinese. Somehow this is what that Bible represents: I associate with two cultures but don’t really belong fully to either.

            My mind drifts back to the day I received the book. The air in late spring had the consistency of some sort of canned soup, at least in Chengdu, China. Anytime someone would step out from the refuge of the AC the unlucky soul would be immediately drenched in sweat. Street peddlers would pull up their shirts to air out their protruding bellies. Apparently in China it is more modest to show off only your navel and surrounding flab than just to take your shirt off. It was on one of these days I was playing pick-up basketball in the park with my so called crew. There with me was Brownrygg from South Africa; Ryan, the self-proclaimed gangster from Washington State; and Hunter a guy roughly my age who claims to be from Georgia but has spent 14 of his 17 years in China.

            We were walking out of the park when we noticed a group of Chinese girls pointing and giggling. As a general rule the only thing Chinese girls like more than a Korean pop-star is a tall, handsome American. Gentlemen that we were we had no choice but to invite them out to dinner. In Chengdu dinner means hotpot, a traditional meal that consists of vegetables, tofu, rice noodles, and assorted animal parts boiled together in one big bowl placed in the center of the table. The rule of thumb when eating hotpot is that if there isn’t sweat pouring off your forehead, it’s time to add more hot peppers. After completing our meal, I wished my friends and the ladies “zai jian”, walked out the door, and signaled to a taxi to take me home.

            I walked through my guarded gate into the palm-lined avenues of my apartment complex. Upon opening the door I remembered that this was the night my Dad returned home from Singapore. He walked into the living room and sat down next to me on the oriental sofa. After the perfunctory chatter he handed me the book. My father is in his late 40’s and has receding, graying hair. For the past 3 years he has been working with a NGO in China to help make people’s lives better. There are few people I respect more. He told me “You can bring this with you to the Naval Academy, and wherever you go you can remember China and home.”

            I look at the characters and it brings that life flashing back to me, the life of carefree independence living overseas. It also brings intense emotions of loss, for the culture I loved but no longer live in, for the diversity of the international community that I just took for granted but now desperately crave.

            I then turn to the English column. I read the ancient words “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” These are the words I have grown up with all my life. This is the culture of my birth but there is no joy in reading it. Traditional and clichéd it seems. The Chinese side is fresh and new, an adventure in linguistics, trying to figure out how the Chinese perceive and write the words of truth contained in the book.

            Down the center runs a red ribbon bookmark. The color red stands for happiness in China: brides wear red wedding dresses. Back in the United States red stands for blood and communism. Which interpretation of the color is right? To me both make sense, but I rather prefer the Chinese version. This ribbon demonstrates how I like to look at different perspectives without initially labeling one right or wrong. My point of view contrasts sharply with Navy’s rigid view of right and wrong on just about everything. When I read the commandant’s standing orders and came to the fifth one, always do the right thing, I wonder what is the right thing? Is it whatever you tell me is right? Whatever the military tells me is right? Whatever America tells me is right? To me it seems only difference of perspectives. In some countries it is a great sin NOT to let your relatives cheat off your homework. In my class at school all the Koreans cheated off each other and they thought it was the right thing to do. I am reminded by that red ribbon to remain open-minded and not live my life within a box of closed prejudices and opinions.

            I start to read the characters again. So many words I knew once I have forgotten over plebe summer and the ensuing weeks. Am I losing that part of my heritage, am I becoming a normal American again? As I close this book, this gift from my father, I think to myself, “I, like this Bible have two cultures influencing my life, and I am wary about labeling one better than the other. Perhaps I don’t know exactly who I am or where I am going, but for now that’s OK”. I don my cover, open my hatch, and scamper off to my next class. 


Getting Stuck on the Stuka

                                                               Andrew Szoch


            One of my most prized possessions is something that originally wasn’t even mine.  It was an old piece of junk, something I found hidden away in a box full of plastic pieces.  I took it out, and with the help of its original owner, made the JU 87 WW2 German Stuka model airplane my first rebuilding project. 

My father built the dive-bomber a the same early age of 13.  When I found the box full of all his old projects, it was interesting that the first plane I picked up and worked on was this one aircraft.  As it turned out, that this had also been the first plane my dad built, and his personal favorite.  When I went to ask him about it and if I could play around with fixing his model, he was excited in remembering his old days and some of the favorite machines he had built.  I ended up getting a great deal – not only could I fix the plane, but he would help me with it as well as some others.  Just like my dad (now and then), the excitement to start fixing the plane started building up inside me like a jet firing up before takeoff.  But, as usual, my dad put a damperon that for a bit.  In order to fix the plane, we needed to find all the correct parts and know where they go.  Luckily, the plane was in good enough shape that it wasn’t missing too much, and the pieces were still in the box.  I searched frantically until I found them, and hurried to my dad to find out what to do next.  We needed glue.  We had no model glue.  We also didn’t have some paints we needed, so yet again, I had to wait a painful few hours until we went to the store, got the supplies, and came home ready to get started.  Lunch time (more waiting).  Finally, we had everything we needed: glue, parts, the plane, full stomachs, and 2 energetic kids.   

To get started, we first needed to paint over all the old, faded spots.  According to my dad, that also meant covering the parts that still looked fine so that they wouldn’t look different, and there would only be one shade where there is meant to only be one shade.  He showed me how to shake the paint, brush the paint on, use thinner to correct mistakes, even the paint out, thinner to correct mistakes, find the shade we needed, open the paint, use thinner to clean the floor, set the parts out to dry, and use thinner and soap to clean our hands.  By this time, we had used so much thinner we were both having a great time because we were so high on the fumes.  Unfortunately, this fun had to wait again while the paint dried and we got a snack.

After snacking and looking through some of the other cool models (which included some tanks, Navy battleships, army trucks, American cars, and a beer keg flatbed truck), the aircraft was ready to be reassembled.  We took out the toxic glue (because toxic dries faster than non-toxic), and found some of the main pieces to put back on.  My father showed me how to put each piece on and how to support it so that it dries in the correct position.  To put all the pieces on in one night would have been impossible, so we did as much as we could before dinner.  After dinner, we did a few more, and went to bed.  Before we even glued on the first piece, I should mention my father was teaching me how to do it properly.  He knew that we would not finish the plane, and made sure I would be able to do it on my own while he was at work.  I later finished it the next day using his training as my guidelines.  He was ecstatic at the outcome.  We took the plane to my room and, using fishing wire, hung it from the ceiling at an angle that made it look like it was flying down for a drop on a ship.

This fond experience between me and my father, brought together by the simple model airplane, is one of the first I have of a greatly improved relationship with my father.  I gained a respect for him.  He took his whole day off just to spend it with me.  It wasn’t even about the plane for him; it was about making me happy and teaching me to love something he so loved as a child as well.  He seems to follow the old proverb “Light a man a fire, and he’s warm for a night.  Light a man on fire, and he’s warm for the rest of his life.”  He lit me on fire with a great enjoyment of building models.  He lit me on fire with a love of spending time with him and wanting to learn from him as much as I possibly could.  He lit me on fire with an appreciation of what fathers are for their children and gave me the role model of what I want to be like as a father.  On top of the newly discovered love for building models and the closer relationship with my father, the airplane reveals much more about me.  It shows my ability to fix old things, and my joy in doing so.  It shows my diligence and hard work starting with that one long day of fixing that model Stuka.  It shows my perfectionism, because we did not leave anything untouched that I thought to be unacceptable (the plane now looks better than new quite literally).  I learned patience, because model building is not at all something to hurry.  And finally, it shows my acceptance and enthusiasm at trying new things as well as taking help from others.  I could have easily just turned away at any point in the process of rebuilding the plane, but I decided to stick with it, even when I had to wait like the restless child I was to do the next thing.  This Stuka represents for me all the hard work I have given in my life, all the new things I have had to learn and take on, and a wonderful relationship with my father that I know many people don’t have even as adults.

















































Wordiness, Redundancies, and Stilted Expressions


1) I look at my board and I see the story of what is my life.


2) The thrill of dropping into a massive wave is pretty indescribable.  The feeling of dropping to the bottom and getting pulled into the heart of the wave is like nothing else in the world.  The exhilaration felt while standing up on my surfboard while crossing the face is the greatest thing in the world and I would like to share that exhilaration with others.


3) My parents were able to think of a present this creative to get for me, combining the two together.


4) With that being said, that experience is what enabled me to win the medal that I hoist at the top of my shelf.  This event provided me with the basis of work ethic that would become influential farther along in the pursuit of the medallion and demonstrated to me the lesson that nothing good comes easy. 


5) My father and I were forced against our free will to accomplish the miserable task of going to storage and sorting out the junk and valuables in storage for our move to Toronto.


6) Every silver glint of light emanating from my tag reflects these virtuous teachings that were ingrained in me by hours of hard work alongside my father. 


7) Unfortunately my pubescent years took a toll on my relationship with my father.  But despite those years of being a teen and arguing any words of wisdom with ignorance and naivety, I still remember him.  I still remember him standing there in the blistering heat unceasingly working while my brother and I threw oranges at each other.


8)  This strong stance against his own kind resulted in St. Thomas More being accused of high treason and later being beheaded as a punishment. 


9)  A good deal of why it is so important to me is also because it reminds me of the blessing of my family that I have grown closer to everyday.


10)  Birds have always been subjects that I try to catch in my photos. 


11) It was a two story home surrounded by acres of green luscious grass and tall evergreen trees. 


12) When I opened the box containing this fine tool, my first reaction was amazement at the visual aspect of seeing the train jump out of the watch face into my vision. 


13) These shoes are the ones I wear to practice every day. They were worn through all the tough days and all the easy days.  They are the shoes I wear in every wrestling match.  They have been worn for every victory and every defeat.  These shoes were a part of me for everything I went through.  These shoes are important because they have been through all the challenges I have had on the mat.  They went through all the hard work I went through. These shoes spent hundreds of hours on the mat with me, practicing with me, helping me to become a better wrestler. 



Dangling and misplaced modifiers


1) Thus after having just moved to Las Vegas, the surprising sensation of having the moisture drawn out of my pores was by far more exciting than simply sweating.


2) Growing up, people always called me names like “mighty mite” and “shorty.”


3) Being the underdog, it was the perfect environment for an upset victory.


4) Having wanted to be in the Navy basically my whole life and always wearing a cross around my neck, my parents were able to think of something to get me.


5) Physically light yet heavy with meaning and significance, I came across one of the most important things in my life not even a month ago. 


6) Having just recently come into my possession, the significance has yet to reach it full potential . . .


7) As her only granddaughter, my grandmother would treat me like her princess. 


8) At the age of six, my parents suggested that I learn the piano. 


9) As a high school senior, there was nothing greater than the end of the school day.


10) Unsure of her relationship with it, it has never since then been a reminder of my grandmother. 


11)  Having been a very spirited student and athlete of Decatur High School, my running shoes always had to be as close to navy blue as possible.
















































Sample Successful Papers on Assignment #1from Fall, AY2014


Patrick Leech

The Polo Player


            As a child, I always smelled it before I saw him.  Excitement and happiness surged through my body.  All of a sudden, BAM! My father emerged from his room.  Shoes shined, midnight blue suit tailored by veteran Italian hands, and black (yet slightly graying hair) parted from left to right—Tony Leech was ready to go out. Though dad did possess (with a little help from his 13-year old daughter) the impeccable ability to dress to kill, the centerpiece of the “going out outfit” was his signature “Polo Green” cologne.  This cologne is now advertised by the producers as having “a deeply evocative fragrance that carefully balances moderate woodsy elements with notes such as basil, making it just right for a variety of casual events.”  With all due respect to Mr. Ralph Lauren and the Polo Company as a whole, I would like to kindly remark that “Polo Green” simply smells like my father.   

But what about the vessel that held this odd, mystical liquid—surly it has to be as aesthetically pleasing to the eyes as the contents it contained were to the nose?  The body of the container stands about seven inches tall.  A deep emerald green colors the translucent glass.  Etched in the center of the container rides the signature “Ralph Lauren Polo Player” with his right arm cocked backwards, anticipating the point that he will score.  This bright golden image matches the coloring of the crown resting on the king of cologne’s head.  A gilded top so shiny (even the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps would be impressed) covers the opening of the container—ensuring that none of the precious liquid would unintentionally escape.  The ensemble as a whole gives a very 1920’s “East Egg” feeling.  Neither extravagant nor gaudy, I maintain the belief that “classy” is the only appropriate word that accurately describes this container.

Of course, I never actually WORE the cologne.  To do so would be sacrilegious.  Grownups wear cologne.  Fancy people going to fancy events wear cologne.  Not only that, but this was POLO GREEN!  Surly only exceptional people who do exceptional things are allowed to wear it—specifically why my father did.  I was not an adult—and certainly not great.  I was a six year old boy who couldn’t even remember where he had last left his baseball mitt.  Still, no rules existed against smelling it.  Having the odd telepathic power that every parent possesses, my father gained knowledge of my affinity for his cologne.  Whenever I turned a double play for the Fox Chapel “Yankees” or got an “A” on my impossibly difficult 3rd grade math test, dad would let me hold (and yes, sometimes even spray) it. 

Immediately after my dad died, I pocketed the cologne.  What a petty thing that seemed.  My father just died, and yet, there is nothing more important than to grab a half filled bottle of cologne.  Forget about the sentimental items—the picture of the family at the zoo, the old haircutting kit that gave me numerous, almost good, Sunday afternoon haircuts.  When I held the bottle and smelled the fragrance, certain consolatory memories flooded my mind and occupied my thoughts.    

Every time I hold this object, I am reminded of a specific instance that exemplifies the man my father was. I am transported to the downtown riverside trail on a cool starry Friday night.  The Pittsburgh Pirates just lost to the Colorado Rockies, 3-1.  Walking back from the game, my father, brother, sister, and I were admiring the city lights that reflected perfectly against the still Allegheny River.  Suddenly a man came up to my father.

“You’re Tony Leech! Right?” The man exclaimed in an excited voice.

“Yes I am.” My father responded a little confused.

The man nearly shouted “You were the one who helped my brother get his job!  He’s doing really well now! Thank you!  Thank you so much!  It changed everything!” 

With the classic Tony Leech half smile, my father responded.  “I’m happy that I could help.”

The man was thanking my father for the help that he and his mentally handicapped brother had recently received.  Dad was the chair of an organization that supports, cares for, and serves people with disabilities.  It was obvious that this man and his brother had benefited from the use of my Dad’s organization.  Dad always put these responsibilities as a top priority.  Amazingly though, he never thought he was doing anything out of the ordinary.  The time and effort he put into this non-profit organization was self-expected.  As soon as the man left, my father sighed.

 “I feel bad for him.  He thought that I was someone important.”  He said.

When I hold this bottle and smell its contents, I remember the type of man my father was.  I remember the morals for which he stood.  I remember the lessons he ingrained in me.  I remember him as a dad and as a husband.  No, this is not just an object.  Cologne alone does not reside inside this bottle.  The contents inside this green and gold container are memories, are instructions, are lessons.  They are schematics of how to be a dedicated father and a humble person.  The cologne represents everything for which dad stood and lived.

When I hold this bottle and spray the fragrance…I remember someone important. 


Reilly Klein

A Family Brand


Rough around the edges, smooth on the inside, but forever scarred in the middle. A little cherry tree cut into 120 pieces and burned by the same brand. To me, my little piece means everything. To others it means different things, but above all it means a connection and the bond of a family. It is a round piece of the trunk of a cherry tree branded with the letters CV. CV also known as Camp Varsity is the summer camp I have attended for the last decade as a camper and counselor. The life of the tree was cut short never to blossom again, yet so much has continued to blossom through its presence. 

My family and friends know that this is no ordinary medallion of wood. This little disk, no bigger than 3 inches in diameter, truly means the world to me. It sits high and mighty on the bookshelf as you walk into the first part of my room. It catches your eye the second you walk in the door, just sitting there in all its glory. To the naïve and uninformed mind it may appear to be just a cool piece of wood I found, but they are sorely mistaken. This cool little piece of wood was given to me, as well as about 120 other people, on a hot and humid August night in 2008.  All of us packed into The Lodge, the central meeting place and mess hall of Camp Varsity, for the end of summer banquet. The night culminated with us showing our appreciation to the couple who run camp, but before we could do that they presented each of us with a gift. They had to chop down a cherry tree growing on the far side of the lake, but they didn’t want to let the wood go to waste. Instead they had the trunk cut into 120 small disks and branded with the letters CV. That night they gave us each our piece of Camp Varsity, something I did not appreciate at the time.

Excited, yet nervous and apprehensive as well as a little chubby, that’s how I showed up to camp for my first week ten years ago. I had no clue what to expect, my brother had gone the year before and it was all he talked about for the last year, now it was my turn. Signed in, got my t-shirt, threw my bags in the truck and up the hill to the cabins we went. This was the start to my camp career; one that I wish never had to end. Eight years later as a counselor in training I was able to watch as kids six to even ten years my younger made the trek up the gravel path to the cabins with the same wide eyed stare I had ten years before.  “Good Morning, what cabin are you in? Oh you’re gonna love it here” is how I’d greet each one then I’d carry their bags to their cabin. This was their entrance into the family that was and is Camp Varsity.

My career as a camper was a lot like my piece of the cherry tree, rough at times with the occasional breaks and blemishes. As I sit in bed listening to music, watching TV or just day dreaming I often catch myself looking over to the bookshelf. As I inspect it from afar, it looks perfect. It’s clean cut, no malfunction of the chain saw when they cut my piece. Though as you inch closer this façade of perfection created by distance slowly starts to fade. You begin to notice the little imperfections with the wood. Places where the teeth of the saw may have come in at a rough angle, or where pieces of bark are stripped. Or how the person applying the glowing hot brand did not apply pressure evenly and as a result the top of the C is the darkest and deepest burn into the wood. I wasn’t always the model camper. During my tenure in the youngest boys cabin I earned my fair share of lectures and punishments. I may have been a little too physical or aggressive at times and I was exploring the wonderful world of four letter words that shouldn’t be uttered by ten year olds. Then like my piece of the tree, pieces were broken in different places.

My third year as a camper started great, or at least the walk up the hill started great. Then as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end, and boy did they. As I walked up the little path to my cabin carrying my 24 count case of deer park water bottles I took a little tumble. Unable to regain my balance I stuck my arms out in front of me to break my fall, unfortunately my fall wasn’t the only thing that was broken. Before I had even gotten up I cried out “Dad I just broke my arm.” Three hours later sitting in the emergency room the doctor walked out with my x-ray that clearly showed I had snapped my forearm, my first of many breaks during my camp career. In the next three years at camp I broke six bones and had one concussion, so just like my piece of the tree I had my share of breaks and blemishes. Through all these injuries I kept coming back, I definitely couldn’t tell you at the time why I was truly so enamored with the place, but I can now.

As a counselor, the parents of 120 random kids put their trust in you to take care of their children for the weeks they are at camp. You spend 24 hours a day with these kids for a week or even longer for some of them. Each week you create a connection with the kids in your cabin and the ones who aren’t in your cabin. You learn all about them, what they like, where they are from, and who they are. Each year this connection, the bond between you and your fellow campers and counselors is strengthened. To me this bond and connection was especially true on April 29th 2011. That day I went to Georgetown Hospital with my parents before my lacrosse game that evening. I went to the third floor in the pediatric oncology wing and stopped at the door that had the name Nick Franca on the nameplate. I knocked and waited, waited until his mom came around the corner and opened the door for me to go inside. Nick was a kid I met in my third year of camp; he was my brother’s age and had quickly become one of my brother’s best friends. He was the older kid I looked up to and loved being around because he was so cool and treated me like I was his little brother too. Now he was lying in a bed in a coma, fighting a cancer that had ravaged his body for the past six years and would claim his life a day later. The twenty minutes I spent in that room was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but it epitomizes the cherry tree.

The cherry tree is simply a tangible example of the connection between the members of the camp family. Each time I look at my piece, I don’t think of it as a piece of wood. I think of Nick, I think of my first cabin, Rebel Yell, I think of the friends that I will have for the rest of my life. Camp Varsity was not something I simply did as a kid; it is a part of who I am. I grew up on Garr Mountain; it helped shape who I am today just as the saw shaped my slice of the tree. When I look across my room and see CV, I’m no longer in my room. Dorothy said it best in the Wizard of Oz, because “there’s no place like home”, and my home is at camp. As I look at my piece, I am sitting on the dock at camp looking out across the lake as the sun begins to dip behind the mountains, there’s no place I’d rather be; and my slice of the tree takes me there.


Anastasia White

Broken In Or Worn Out?

At first glance, my old and obnoxiously colored purple and yellow running shoes may not seem like they could have changed a person’s life.  In fact, they appear to be shoes that should have been thrown away ages ago. With their frayed shoe laces, soles so worn down that they are perfectly smooth, and holes where my toes now protrude out they give the impression that they are nothing more than a piece of trash.  I refuse to buy a new pair not because I don’t want to spend another eighty dollars, but because they have brought me from very humble beginnings as a freshman in high school to the person I am today.  They represent an element of my life that has formed and continues to form my work ethic and personality.

All of the miles run and workouts completed in those shoes have transformed me into not only an avid runner, but also a hard worker in other aspects of my life as well.  When I first joined the track team as a timid freshman, my talent was modest, at most.  I struggled to keep up with everyone else in even the simplest workouts.  Neither my coaches nor I could have imagined my potential or how much I would improve.  I would have never guessed that I would grow to love running as much as I do.  Now, it is my go-to activity when I am bored and don’t know what to do with myself.  As physically and mentally demanding as running is, it takes an immeasurable amount of perseverance and determination to stay focused on winning a cross country championship meet or reaching my goal of a 2:20 in the 800 meter run.  This becomes especially difficult as the season drags on and my legs grow weary after training day in and day out, when the weather is so bitter cold that all I want to do is drink hot cocoa inside.  However, all I have to do is look down at the bright purple shoes on my feet to remember the competitive spirit that drives me.  They display the countless hours of work I have already completed, which would be wasted if I gave up now.  This same sense of determination has spread to other goals I have strived to accomplish, such as maintaining my grades in school.  Studying for calculus tests with a never-ending stream of practice problems seems like running a marathon to me.  It takes everything I have to stay focused and resist taking a study break to eat, check Facebook, and maybe even watch TV for a couple hours.  I have to think about how my goals are not attainable if I don’t put in the work.  I would not have gotten accepted to the Naval Academy if I had not spent those long, torturous nights studying my least favorite subjects.  The “running mentality” of consistent hard work and dedication is also useful when applied to other aspects of life.

Along with the sense of accomplishment and confidence I feel when I strut around in my shoes, there has also been pain and disappointments.  In the literal sense, I now feel searing pains in my shins as a result of my stubborn refusal to retire the old shoes.  Time after time Mr. Weber, my coach, has implored me to buy a new pair.  He even offered to drive me to the store!  In response, I always tell him, “Maybe next weekend!”  However, the epitome of disappointments was at a large invitational meet in cross country senior year.  I had spent all summer training for this race and I got increasingly excited as the race approached.  When I heard the blast of the gun, I took off and got myself into a great position.  All was well until the last half mile, when I started to feel dizzy and fatigued.  I made it until 20 yards before the finish line and collapsed from heat exhaustion.  I couldn’t believe I spent all that time training and sweating in the hot summer sun to not even finish the race.  I have had many other heartbreaking races, but this comes with the territory of running.  Any number of conditions can cause you not to run as you would like: a windy day, a leg cramp, or dehydration.  These situations have taught me to adapt when things don’t turn out how I expected them – to get up, dust myself off, and instead of dwelling on the unchangeable past, to look forward at how I can improve myself for the future.  Even though I know this is a reasonable way to think, sometimes a part of me still becomes upset when things don’t go my way.  

These shoes are worth almost nothing in monetary value.  They are certainly not an attractive thing to wear.  Yet, my running shoes remain one of the most valuable items in my possession.  They represent a journey that has gotten me to where I am today.  They represent my accomplishments and, perhaps more importantly, my failures.  I slowly discovered my passion for running, racing, and competing in those shoes.  They have essentially become a part of me.  They have been everywhere I have been – in countless port-o-potties at track meets, to every high school class that I struggled through, to the hospital after passing out during a race, and to plebe summer.  I cannot imagine how my life would have turned out had I not put on my purple shoes and stepped out on the track at my first practice.  I know for certain that would not have become a varsity cross country runner at the United States Naval Academy.

Joe Guthman

Uniform Protected

“Good morning, Devil Dog!” The crisp bark of my initial greeting was followed by a booming reply that reverberated off the tall, gloomy buildings surrounding me as I smartly strode to work. Usually, Marines would refrain from addressing each other in such a manner, as one would not want to appear too motivated, or “moto”, but today was different. I was dressed neatly in my perfectly pressed green pants and tan shirt of the “Service Charlie’s”, or “chucks” as Marines call them. The individual who rendered the salutation was the same rank as me, and to a casual passerby, we could have been exact replicas of each other. We were “dressed to the t,” everything about our uniforms and the way we were holding ourselves screamed self-confidence. We did not want to admit it, but we were proud. Proud of what we wearing, of what we had accomplished, and proud of the brotherhood that we were a part of.

That pride of the uniform we wore was instilled in boot camp in stifling Parris Island, SC. I arrived there scared senseless, full of apprehension and doubt, and a little excited. That excitement quickly dissolved into pure terror when I was first introduced to my drill instructors. My platoon of recruits had just been herded into our new home for the next three months. We were huddled in the front section of an enormous room with thirty-five metal bunk beds (or racks) on either side. In front of the beds were our footlockers. These were essentially blue painted wooden splinters that were barely held together by a few rusty screws and hinges. Forward and to the left of where we were sitting was the bathroom (head). There was no personal space in this area. The urinals and toilets had no stalls or doors to them and the shower area had a few spigots in the center of a grimily tiled washroom. 

It was a foreboding place; however, we were not focused on our surroundings at the moment. In the front right of the expansive dormitory was the drill instructors’ “hut.” There was a window where, if the blinds were not closed tight and shut, we could peer in and see where our DI’s lived. During the three months while we were with them, we would never see our drill instructors eat, sleep, use the bathroom, yawn, smile, or exhibit any other normal human behavior.

Right when we were wondering if we had been dropped off at the right place, the door of the forbidden room slammed open and four DI’s marched out in perfect step. Every movement was crisp and faultless. Their uniforms looked like they had been sewn on their muscular bodies and their belt buckles and shoes were as shiny as diamonds in the sun. I knew right then and there why I had come. I wanted to be a part of something great; yes, I wanted to take part in conflicts around the world in war-torn countries and be the hero and so on. But, another part of me, the most boyish and immature part of me, wanted to look as good as those drill instructors when they walked through that door for the first time.

Fast forward thirteen weeks and one of the proudest days of my life was when the day for graduation finally came. It was then that “the few, the proud” were finally permitted to wear the uniform for which we had worked so hard those grueling three months.

The pride that was instilled in me with respect to my uniform has transferred over to so many parts of my life. I became more respectful to my parents when I saw them, even correcting my younger siblings when they were impertinent or rude towards them. It changed the way I acted toward my older brothers and made me respect them as Navy and Air Force officers, not just older brothers. It changed my attitude towards attention to detail and gave me patience with the minutia.

Wearing that uniform- earning that uniform- changed me for the better. My USMC uniform is my prize possession. It embodies all that have strived for in my life; to be part of something great and look great doing it. Without the lessons I learned through my uniform, I would not be the person I am today. I wore it to check in to the Naval Academy and kept it safe with me throughout plebe summer.  I still have it to remind me where I came from and how much it has changed me.

Aiden Lang

There’s Something ‘bout a Truck


            I love my country.  I love the freedom and the liberty to go out and accomplish any task, to succeed in any goal.  Whether it is working in the bustling city or on a quiet farm in the heartland of America, you will find the equivalent of the modern day work horse.  The pick-up truck.  The country song called “Theres Something ‘bout a Truck” will tell you how my life revolves around my truck.  And let me tell you, despite all the country jokes about owning one, there really is something about a truck and the experiences it brings.

            My truck itself is nothing special; it’s an old 1995 Chevrolet Silverado K2500 that worth less than the repairs it needs and gas bills it guzzles down.  The popular slogan by Chevrolet says that “Chevy runs deep”, but to me, it is more than just a slogan, it is a heritage; passed on from my grandfather, to my father, and finally to me, it has traveled its fair share of miles, amassing (at my last count) a total of 167,326 miles.  Between the three of us, it has powered up the steep and rolling hills of the Sierra Nevada’s, hauling the trailer for our hunting trips; run at a steady pace across the great plains of the Midwest; navigated the traffic-jammed streets of New York City; forced its way into parking slots much too small for a full-sized pickup truck; and slid through a mud pit or two on a late Friday night after the football game on the way to a bonfire.  The memories of my life are interconnected with my truck; everywhere I go, my truck goes, it was during these travels and at these destinations that my truck earns its worth as the most valuable object in my life. 

            Although many of my friends find it unattractive, my truck’s most distinct feature is a big camper shell that covers the bed of the truck.  But even I’ll admit it; a big white shell over an already big truck tends to look cumbersome at best.  However, it’s practical advantages have saved me so many times:  during the summer, it served as a tent, shading us from the hot northern Californian sun; during the fall, it served as a windbreaker, and we would park the truck in front of the bonfire to keep the wind away; and during the winter, it served as a shelter, keeping my girlfriend and I warm on a cold winter night; and during the spring, the football teammates who ridiculed the camper shell last summer would all jump into the back to escape the rain before practice (At best, we managed to fit four people in the cab and six people in the camper shell.)  Of course, it also served as a great deal more for me, as a storage closet, because the back of my truck would often contain a whole wardrobe for my brother and I, and as a snack bar—with ice chests filled with “drank” and food on the side—just to name a few useful additions.  Currently, only one addition remains in my constant quest for improvement; a broken lamp in the camper shell that I have never figured out how to fix permanently.

            Dependability.  The Chevy 350, the 5.7-liter, 300 horsepower small block engine found underneath the hood is known to be one of the most dependable mechanical devices ever made.  Long lasting power with consistent performance defines the Chevy 350; just as I’ve been defined by my coaches as one of the steadiest people to follow.  Its unfailing constitution was proved when I blew two head gaskets by overheating the engine.  To summarize a long, unfortunate story, of how that came to be, I will simply say that it was an important learning experience for both my mechanical aptitude and my wallet.  Yet, despite the perceived damage to the engine block, when the gaskets had finally been replaced, the engine performed as if it had never been broken.  The moral of the story is, like my truck, I have learned to never quit; and our attitude can be matched to these motivating lyrics, “Full throttle, wide open, you get tired and you don’t show it, dig a little deeper when you think you can’t dig no more…It’s the only way I know.”

            Many of the things that have helped define me over the years have been made possible through my truck.  You wouldn’t say that having a truck makes you a helpful person—and you’d be right—but having a truck makes a helpful person a whole lot better at helping others.  From giving my friends rides back home to pulling random strangers out of the mud, my truck has allowed me to develop myself morally by giving me not the opportunity, but the ability to do the right thing.  For example, I always carried a pair of tow ropes in the camper shell, but even after storing them there for several months, I had never had to use them, until a rainy night driving home late from school.  I was taking the back roads home, and through the rain, I noticed a pair of bright emergency lights blinking out in a field—it turns out that an old ford pickup truck had gotten stuck out in the soggy bean fields and needed to be pulled out of the sinking mud pit.  I had never pulled someone out before, but it was a characteristic move of me to go and help the person in need, and without that towing package on my truck, who knows how long that farmer and his truck could’ve been stuck out in the middle of nowhere. 

            In some ways, you can say that my truck is a vessel, (my mother believes it sounds like a boat, and the ”whom-whom-whom-whom-whom” of the exhaust does sound similar) that does not just carry me to where I need to go, but also carries the memories of my past.  Everything from the extended cab of the truck to the ridiculously useful camper shell, to the beat of country music coming from the stereo during the laboring task of stacking hay in the open field, to the memories of my buddies tailgating before giving everything we had during the Friday night football game and then rolling up to the bonfire out past the levy, define me and where I come from.  My truck carried me before I was born, before I learned how to drive.  It taught me how to work through a long day in the hot summer sun and how to enjoy a night out with my friends.  It’s where I had my first kiss, and learned how to love.  More than anything, my truck has helped me grow into the man I am today.

Jake Hastings


            There are more than a few movies regarding high school. It is depicted as the highlight of life, the good times. For many people, sadly, their lives peak in high school. They graduate and start the long slide into irrelevance. However, life has not condemned us to that fate. We plebes may look back fondly at our memories of the past few years, but the shock of our complete lifestyle change more than accounts for that. High school is still important to us, not because of the time we spent in it, but how we used our time to prepare. In that frame of mind, I can say that high school matters to me. Now, gathering dust in my old room, all that time and effort is condensed into one object. Full of pins and school pride, my letter jacket means far more to me than just the leather and wool of its construction.      

            Two sports, academic achievement, leadership: all a snapshot of four years well spent. But why does it matter? High school is a time of change, for both the individual, and his interactions with his classmates. New groups form, and slowly people’s places seem to cement. Flesh bags of wasted potential make up one group. People who if they only applied themselves could be going places, but who now work some low paying job or not at all. They still live with their parents, still cling on desperately to when sliding through life made them the cool kids. There are the druggies, who start with marijuana, and get lost in the illusions that it and harder drugs bring. They destroy their minds as was the case for one of my classmates who noticeably lost intelligence as he progressed through high school, alienating his friends and parents. He was high more often than he was sober. On the other end of the spectrum, the people with dedication gravitate towards one another. Some are part of the group because they try so hard, study so much, that they have academic success. Others are gifted with the intelligence that makes it all seem to come easy, even though they still put forth effort. It is this group that nearly every Midshipman was part of in high school. Thus, high school is important because of how it guides people into  their first adult choice in life.

            I chose my letter jacket because it clearly displays that I was one of the highly motivated people. Its big GM is practically full, but more than that, it serves as a reminder of the times when I noticed that I was different from so many of my peers. Everyone here at the academy noticed the same thing; they could put forth the extra effort to succeed; they could receive hours and hours of homework due the next day, and get it done; because, they found a little more drive within themselves that others did not. These highlighted traits, which so many others lacked, set the 1200 members of the class of 2017 apart from their high school peers.

            High school was the start of great things, but it is finished. The letter jacket represents this. It states that I was a member of the class of 2013, and the time for that class has clearly run its course. We had our fun and went our separate ways. The only things that we take with us from that time are our habits, our personality, ourselves. The clear end serves as a reminder to the clean slate of where we are now. No one here cares if you were the stud athlete in high school, the valedictorian, the popular kid, or the nerd, since many of us here were those. The Navy expects high levels of academic and physical performance from its Midshipman. The ability to lead, to stay dedicated to something are common factors that unite us now. They no longer set us apart. The clean slate applies to everything, especially the parts of our identity that were forced upon us.

All the labels that we accumulated over time, which my letter jacket represents for me, now exist only as memories. Even the people I knew, who I was barely able to contact for two months, and even now have little time for communication, are beginning to fade. Personally, they have become memories for me. We can still talk, but their topics are either old news or how they are finally starting their own college experience, which is so different from mine that I can’t relate. Far more important than them, the old friends, are the men and women at my side. The people who pushed me when I got weak, who picked me up when I grew tired of the difficulty of Plebe Summer. They are the people that matter now. They will help me with academics, with physical evolutions, with all the little Plebe things that I have to get done on top of everything else.

Now that Plebe Summer is over, my letter jacket represents those things that prepared me for the Academy. It brings back many parts of high school, painful and triumphant. The jacket represents my achievements in academics, athletics, leadership; the foundation that I built for myself. It is a foundation that can rot if I let it, or grow if I nurture it. To grow into a Midshipman, and eventually an officer in the military, I will have to continue to strive for excellence. My letter jacket will always represent the start of my journey, the first step on a path to success and excellence.

Madison Denny

Present time

            “Tick tock goes the clock” we watch our life pass by. One tick after the next on the dial of a clock, one blink until the number fades into eternity on the face of a digital watch. We understand but rarely stop to think about time. How time is finite. We only have so much of it in our lives. It is a human creation that runs nearly every aspect of our existence from careers to social interaction. Keeping track of time is very important to me. If I had to put relationship statues between my watch and me, it would definitely read: “It’s complicated.” In regards to the physical aspect of my watch, it is a relatively new, black Baby-G and it is beautiful. I bought it for myself as a birthday present. It is almost one year old to the day; it is not flashy or fancy by any means; if anything its practicality is what makes it attractive.

            I never realized how important knowing the time was to me until I was in INDOC at NAPS. It was my first experience with not being able to literally see the passing of time through blinking block letters. Even to this day I think the worst part of INDOC and Plebe Summer was the sense of timelessness. An hour could feel like minutes or mere minutes would take hours. As soon as INDOC ended I ran to the NEX and bought my Baby G watch. A lot of people wear watches to keep them from being late to their obligations. While I won’t deny that my watch is useful in that way, it also represents so much more. The way I wear my watch can be a clear indicator of what and where I am going next. For instance when I work out, or feel like I might be caught off guard and have to do some push-ups, I wear my watch with the face towards the ground and the buckle up. This way my watch does not interfere with the push-ups or dig into the back of my hand. It is a very militaristic way to wear a watch, very practical, and for that reason I wear it in that fashion nearly every day. Sometimes however, I wear my watch in the “standard” way with the face up and the buckle down. Most often this will be in a dress uniform where I know that it is unlikely that I will be doing anything that could require physical exertion. Not to mention that the watch looks more professional when worn in the traditional sense. A unique habit that I picked up while at NAPS and continue to do to this day is the notion of removing my watch while on liberty, especially when on leave or in civilian clothes. This habit came around after my first month at NAPS. I was having a hard time enjoying liberty because I was always stressing about how little time was left until I had to return to base. One look at my watch, out of mere habit, would completely ruin a great afternoon. By removing my watch I would have to check my phone for the time. Strangely enough I did not associate the time on my phone with the end of liberty like I did my watch. My phone was simply a way of telling time. Without my watch I was able to relax more and worry less. It got to the point where I would remove the watch even if I was only making a 20 minute run off base. The symbolism was there. Without that watch time meant less to me. I know that without my watch I would be completely lost, and yet with it I sometimes forget to live in the moment. The love-hate relationship with my watch is what makes it so special to me.

            As you can probably see, my watch represents more than just my obsession with time. I think it shows how I am deeply in touch with my spatial surroundings. Something as simple as how I wear my watch can be useful to me as a constant reminder of what I am doing. However, I think the watch represents more than just that. It also shows how much I look to the future. Some might say I live there. Just the other day when I was walking to class I heard the bell ring and I found myself looking at my watch. Now I know that the bell rings ten minutes before the start of the period and yet, I still had to look. When I caught myself looking at my watch I kind of smiled because I realized that I was not just using my watch to tell time, but using it as a sort of mental agenda book as well. When I was looking at my watch it was easier for me to remember where I had to go and what I had to do next.

            If we were in a psychology class, the teacher would probably say that I attach a lot of meaning and feeling to physical objects and as such it probably mean I am a very materialistic person. However, I will just say that my watch does have a lot of meaning to me and I think that it extends beyond just the physical time telling ability it has as a watch. I know that I often dream about how my life is going to turn out in five or ten years. The things that most often render me speechless are the small things that others probably never notice. One of my favorite little gems I found is on Stribling. If you walk across the right side of Stribling going back to Bancroft at night and look at the manhole covers you can see them illuminated from below. The little things like that render me speechless, and help ground me in the present. I know that being here at the academy we are constantly looking to the future, especially during Plebe year. Perhaps, I can use my watch to not only plan for the future, but to remind myself to admire the present while I still can.



















































Past Successful Papers on Assignment #2

Sh*ttin’ and wishin 

                                         Alex Pennington

My young face was contorted with confusion.  I stood there curious, dumbfounded, trying to interpret what I had just been told.  What did he mean? He is dad. He’s all knowing. This must be something really important. These thoughts floated through my head the first time I was blessed with the cherished family saying, “If you were shitting in one hand and wishing in the other, which one would fill up faster?”  I must have been younger than 10 when I first heard it. Yet it would be several years until I was able to fully appreciate the saying.

Over the years I’ve spent countless hours examining this masterpiece of sayings.  It raised many “smart” questions in my mind: Why would I be shitting in my hand? What if I was wishing for shit? What about people with only one hand? How would you measure the fullness of either hand? What if the wishing hand did fill up? As of yet I have not been able to answer all of these questions, but to do so would be impossible.  While the questions will never find answers, show that if taken at face value the saying is ineffective and crude at best.

If you can manage to get past the idea of defecating in your own hand, the saying does offer some solid advice.  It speaks to the idea of taking action, something that in this life and especially in an environment like the Academy is vital if one is to succeed. One cannot simply sit back and let the world pass by and expect to do well.  By acting quickly and with some intelligence the amount of success that can be reaped is really quite surprising. I promise I’m not blowing smoke, for I have witnessed both sides of this saying (its deeper meaning that is).

As I limped through the kitchen in my underwear, a heavy leg brace making my walk look just as funny as my outfit, I felt especially bad for myself.  I couldn’t stop looking back on that play.  It wasn’t even a league game; how could I have torn my ACL for nothing!? Needless to say my mood was easily observed by those sitting at the breakfast table.  When asked what was the matter, I sullenly replied, “I just wish this had never happened.”  In line with the always warm and nurturing conduct of my family my father responded “Well, if you were shitting in one hand and wishing in the other, which one would fill up faster?”  At first I did what I usually do with the things my dad says and immediately disregarded the statement. But, as time went on I started to give his words some thought, beyond my initial contempt.

The true meaning of that beautifully worded saying didn’t hit me completely until later that night when I was in the basement doing my rehabilitation exercises. Years of anger and confusion finally exploded in a cloud of understanding.  Limping around whining about my problem would get me nowhere.  The only way out of this situation was determined, persistent, hard work. This was not only true for my ACL rehabilitation, but for all things in life. What my father was so crudely trying to tell me is that those who strive for what they want in life and work hard to achieve set goals are the ones who succeed. Anyone can sit around and wish for great things to happen, but that won’t make then happen.

When this realization hit me I hobbled up the stairs as fast as I could eager to tell my father that I had solved the riddle. I thought of witty replies: “My shitting hand is full!” I was sure that this would be a great day. I had finally triumphed over my father. The anticipation reached its zenith when I rounded the corner into the kitchen. My guns were loaded.

            With great enthusiasm and many expletives I revealed my newly gained knowledge to my father, explaining how I had finally figured it all out, that what it meant was to work for something rather than just dream.  I thought I had won, that I had finally beaten the man. I had finished saying my piece and he stood there staring back.  I could see he had taken what I’d said to heart. Patiently I awaited a hug, hand shake, prize medal, anything to commemorate this discovery.  But it was not to be.

Slowly his blank expression curved into a warm, sinister smile and his eyes sparkled with a sparkle that only comes about when one truly has something evil to unleash.  Then it hit my ears like a Mack truck. “Well son, all the meat in a pig’s ass is pork.” I reeled back in disbelief, my vision became cloudy, the room began to spin, and I thought I was going to be sick. I was once again in the land of confusion.                                        


Every Man is His Own Worst Enemy

                                                Clay Sauls


Like many plebes here at the U.S. Naval Academy, I am in trouble quite a bit. I know my rates.  I study hard, but at the end of the day I end up getting fried.  Do my upperclassmen enjoy harassing me?  Perhaps, but maybe I could shed a little more light on the subject.

            It all started with the first football game of the season.  Navy played Temple, and all of the sportswriters predicted that Navy would win by at least twenty points.  Bound and determined to keep with tradition, I decided to bet on the game.  One of my upperclassmen proposed that if Navy won by sixteen points or more, I could relax during our daily yelling sessions, chow calls, but if Navy didn’t meet these expectations I would have to urinate kindergarten style with my pants at my ankles, my shirt folded up under my chin, and my pride out the window.  As the game drew to a close, the whole town of Annapolis celebrated.  Navy beat Temple thirty to nineteen.  I, on the other hand, stood up and walked slowly to the male’s head to begin my punishment.  I received several comments and even more stares as a result of my blunder. 

One would think that after such humiliation I would have surely learned my lesson.  One would think wrong in this case.  The following week, Navy played Rutgers, and of course, I continued my streak of stupidity.  This time I bet our Company Training Officer.  If I won, I could enjoy music, videogames, and movies all week.  My shipmates heard about my little wager and decided to join in on it too.  Navy met destruction, and I did as well.  The penalty for our loss was the traditional Marine Corps ‘motivator’ haircuts.  Place your hand on the top of your head so that the heel of your hand is resting on your forehead.  If someone cut off the hair around your hand, you would have a ‘motivator’.  Naturally, the fact that I initiated the bet didn’t make me very popular.  I didn’t understand it.  How could I be so unlucky twice in a row?

I had to stop betting on things that I had no control over, so I made it simpler.  I wagered that I could get the Superintendent’s daughter to accompany me to dinner in Dahlgren Hall.  This was no random gamble.  One of my friends moved to the Academy from Naples, Italy where the Superintendent was a commander of a base before coming to the Naval Academy.  By chance, my friend went to an all-American high school in Naples with the Superintendent’s daughter.  Knowing this, I asked my friend to get me a date with her, and she reluctantly agreed.  I can’t describe how nervous I was as I approached the Battle of Midway Memorial where we arranged to meet.  I thought something terrible would happen.  Maybe one of my upperclassmen didn’t know who I intended to bring to dinner and would ask her perverted questions.  I would surely face the Superintendent’s wrath when his lovely daughter returned home drenched with her own tears and in desperate need of formal counseling.  Who was I kidding?  I didn’t have any control over the situation.  Not only would I lose the bet, but I would get kicked out of the Naval Academy.  They might even court-marshal me.  I had to escape as fast as possible, but I had passed the point of no return.  We had already made eye contact, and I was probably smiling like an idiot at that point.  Even though I most likely looked terrified, I introduced myself and attempted to look normal.  We strolled into Dahlgren Hall and made our way to the 20thCompany tables.  When we arrived, I was greeted by cheers, shocked faces, and high-fives all around.  Fortunately, dinner passed rather quickly.  A few of my shipmates attempted to get her to come over to their table, but I guess my fancy new haircut kept her sitting next to me.  Just when all seemed well with the universe, my squad leader ordered me to escort my date home and thank the Superintendent himself for allowing his daughter to be near a screw-up like me.  “Well,” I thought, “I’ve lived a long eighteen years.  Hopefully, my death will be quick and painless.”  As we left Dahlgren, my date told me something amazing.  “My father’s out of town on business,” she whispered, “My mom is home though, but don’t worry she’ll be nice.”  We reached her front door where she opened it and invited me inside.  I unwillingly entered and followed her as she led me around the house.  The inside of the house looked as if some dignitary was due to arrive any moment.  Reception rooms filled with the finest furnishings awaited the appearance of some notable VIP.  Anticipation overwhelmed me as she took me to the living room where her mother was lounging.  As we entered the room, an older woman wearing her comfortable evening garb looked up from the newspaper she currently entertained and smiled as if she expected me.  She immediately rose and rushed over to greet me.  “Good evening ma’am,” I stuttered, “I’m Midshipman Fourth Class John Sauls.  Thank you so much for allowing me to escort your daughter to dinner this evening.”  She thanked me for accompanying her home and asked us how the evening went.  After a few short minutes of conversation, I decided that I needed to leave before I said something stupid.  A wave of relief rushed over me as I strutted out of the house and back into my world.  Finally, a bet worked out.  I won and no one was mentally scarred, killed, or court-marshaled in the process.  Of course, I enjoyed my new title as the company stud for a few days which made the trauma worth while.

Most of the time, I simply get myself into trouble through my crazy antics.  Whether it’s “reconing” a projector, pretending to be a youngster, or making wild bets that hardly ever serve my interests, I create difficult situations for myself.  I might be my own worst enemy most of the time, but at least there are those few exceptions when fortune favors the bold.  


                          Justin North

     I am a sad person, miserable in my loneliness.  I was in love once; actually, love is the wrong way to put it.  At one point in my life, I became so utterly, completely infatuated with a woman that I thought only about her.  Just the thought of being without her almost reduced me to tears.  I am now such a cheerless and bitter person because I did not realize that proverbs are not meant to be taken literally and that basing actions on them without thought is dangerous.  Common sayings do not arrive at our door steps with disclaimers like, “warning, believing in this could ruin your life!”  If they did come with these warnings, maybe my life would not be in such a shambles.

     One day, during that blissfully happy period of my life, I sat at home reading when the phone rang.  I realized with the utmost pleasure that it was my sweetheart on the line.  After exchanging pleasantries and saying the sweet nothings that lovers say to one another, I found out the reason for her call.  She wanted me to come over to her apartment so that she could cook me dinner.  I was thrilled and I told her I would be right over:  after all, I had thought she would be busy at home all night working on yet another paper for her tyrannical English professor, and would be unable to see me. 

     On the way to her apartment, I stopped at the grocery store and picked up a bottle of her favorite Merlot and a dozen red roses.  When I finally arrived on her doorstep and she opened the door, her beauty literally took my breath away, but I still somehow found the strength to make it inside and give her the wine and roses.  She said they were beautiful.  In my eyes, however, there was only one beautiful thing in the room.  She was wearing my old shirt, the one she still claimed smelled like me. She was also wearing the shorts she always wore when we weren’t going to leave the house, the ones that made her beautiful legs look a mile long. 

     Later, as I lay with my head in the lap of the woman of my dreams, a delicious dinner and most of a bottle of wine sitting in my stomach, I thought to myself, “What a life, nothing can bring me down!”  However, I soon found out the same thing that countless people who have gone before me invariably find out when they think they are invincible.  They are WRONG!  As I lay there, my girlfriend said to me, “honey, I just bought a new dress, but I’m not sure if it makes my butt look big.  Would you mind taking a look at me in it and giving me your opinion?”  Without waiting for my response she bounced up, ran into her bedroom and returned a few minutes later in a very nice dress.  She slowly spun in front of me, and I noticed that the large dress enhanced the appearance of her backside.  She then asked me what I thought.  I thought to myself, “Well, honesty IS the best policy”, and I said, “Sweetie, it is a very nice dress, but it does make your behind look a tiny bit bigger than normal.”  BIG MISTAKE!  She then very politely told me that she did not care what I thought, that she thought it was pretty, and that I should just keep my opinions to myself. 

     With that she started to walk away, obviously upset.  As I stood up to try to tell her that I still thought she looked gorgeous in the dress, I stepped right on top of the cork-screw we had used to open the wine.  As soon the pain sent its knife up through my leg, I started screaming obscenities at the top of my lungs and reached down to pull a half inch of the cork screw out of my foot.  I pulled once, and it didn’t give.  It just hurt worse.  Then I bent back down and gave it a really good pull, but not only did the cork-screw come out of my foot, it also took a meatball out of my heel with it. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the worst part.  As my arm jerked, I hit the bottle of wine with the back of my hand sending it flying across the room and into her face, instantly knocking her unconscious.  Having heard my screams of agony, the neighbors decided they had better alert the security guard, just to make sure she was safe.  As I bent down to check on my girlfriend, I heard a knock on the door and somebody yelled, “Security, open the door.”  In an attempt to stop the wine from spilling all over the floor, I picked up the bottle and limped on over to the door and opened it.  Now picture what these men saw:  blood all over the floor, an unconscious woman on the ground with a heavily bruised face, and an ashen faced young man, standing there with an empty wine bottle in his hand, reeking of alcohol.  It does not take a criminal expert to guess what happened next.

     During my first night in jail, I learned to my pleasant surprise that my girlfriend had woken up shortly after I left, but I could not figure out why, then, the police did not release me and apologize for the inconvenience their misunderstanding had caused me.  It was then that I got the really bad news.  She did not remember the incident at all, and her father was pressing for my trial and conviction.  I spent the next week in jail talking with a lawyer and preparing for my trial.  On that first day in court, when the judge heard both of our stories and determined that there was not enough evidence to prosecute, he let me go.  Once outside the courtroom I went over to my girlfriend in hopes of explaining what had really happened, but I was met with nothing but screams of, “get away from me you creep!”  After this embarrassing episode in the street I called a cab and went home, where  I saw the picture of my EX-girlfriend sitting by the telephone.  All I could do was sit down on my couch and cry, for I realized that my adherence to the old adage about honesty being the best policy had literally ruined my life. 

      Honesty is the best policy--I would not say that statement is a lie.  As a matter of fact, in most cases, being honest is the best option.  The only reason I offer you my extremely embarrassing story is to caution you.  This saying can lead anyone naïve enough to believe it into thinking that it is human nature to want the truth.  This is simply not true.  Every day people ask questions to which they just want a simple answer instead of your version of the truth.  Take my story with my ex-girlfriend as an example, or perhaps a semi-auto-biographical example of the time a police officer pulled me over and said, “Do you know why I pulled you over?”  The true answer to this question was, “well, sir, I know you have a quota of tickets you have to write each month, and I guess I am just a victim of circumstance.”  Or it might have been:, “Because you were finished with your donut and got bored parked there on the side of the road, sir.”  Both of those responses might have been one hundred percent truthful, but neither of them is what the policeman expected.  In these cases, honesty is definitely not the best policy.   Despite the fact that truth is very important, it is equally important to use common sense in dealing with people in your daily life.  Perhaps, in a few generations, after many more people have experienced situations like the one I dealt with, a new phrase concerning honesty will rise to prominence in American society.  Maybe my grandchildren, assuming I ever find love again, will avoid the same mistakes I have made by growing up knowing that A DEGREE OF HONESTY, MIXED WITH A LITTLE COMMON SENSE, IS THE BEST POLICY!


With the Good, Comes the Bad 
                                            Peter Reintjes

     With so many incoming students of seemingly unlimited personalities and attributes, the Academy designed plebe summer as a way of orienting the new midshipmen with military life by breaking down the inherent barriers that come with the organization of such an eclectic group.  For those seven monotonous weeks, plebes have limited freedom, so little in fact that they lose the freedom to think for themselves.  By the end of the training, a company becomes so used to each other that teamwork and unity develops into second nature.  However, once reform week and the academic year rolls around, everyone starts living by their own schedules for school and sports, and the bond formed over the summer quickly falters.  As the transition into college life continues, two personality types have developed in my company.  One is referred to as a “motivator,” the other as a “bilger.”

      Throughout the summer, the cadre, the upperclassmen in charge of training us, tried to engrain into our newly-formed personalities the importance of both honor and teamwork.  In the beginning, not many picked up on these concepts because no one knew who they could trust quite yet.  Spending every day together, however, created a bond between the plebes of the company.  A theme of motivation accompanied these new personality characteristics, motivation to help out a shipmate, to help out a friend, and to put yourself last.  The cadre taught us the paradigm of “ship, shipmate, self,” where I put myself on the bottom and always think of the greater cause by putting the needs of the ship, the group I work for, and my shipmate before my own desires.  As a company, we did a great job of developing this concept.  But as soon as the academic year hit, the paradigm shifted and people started looking out for themselves.  Only few have remained motivated. 

     People’s true personalities come out as the academic year starts, and we discover the true motivators.  Motivators are individuals recognized by their upper-class and classmates as people who always help others in whatever they need.  Motivators always put themselves last.  They do everything from staying up late to read other people’s English papers, to ensuring everyone comes out together when we hit a bulkhead.  Every company has a ‘plebe company commander,’ a person who runs the fourth class in his/her company and takes responsibility for all for them.  Typically the most motivated and hardest-working fourth class, the plebe company commanders work relentlessly as they have to organize, take roll, and prepare everyone else, without reward.  For example, in the mornings before formations and chow calls, the plebe company commander runs to every single plebe room to make sure they know the uniform, time, and place of the next group commitment.  This position is a true sacrifice of time and effort, especially since time is so short for a fourth class midshipman.

     On the other hand, “bilgers” describe people who would rather make sure they are situated and prepared before they even begin to think about helping others.  Looked down upon by their whole company, bilgers can easily bring down the morale of the entire group by their lack of desire to work with others.  Not taking watch when they should draws attention to bilgers because they end up screwing over their classmates.  Also, when bilgers don’t clean their rooms and don’t turn in their assignments to the training staff on time, they screw over their shipmates because the entire company gets in trouble because of the laziness of a select few.  For instance, last Sunday, the plebes in my company had to turn in signature sheets - sheets every plebe had that every upper-classmen had to sign in order to introduce ourselves to the company.  Unfortunately, everyone completed theirs except three people, an omission that resulted in our having to wear uniforms until 22:45 at night.  Because of such cases, others become upset and take notice of what everyone else is not doing. 

     Many graduates claim that the only way for mids to successfully make it through the Academy is to help each other out.   The presence of people like bilgers, however, makes helping others more difficult.  When people are on different “pages,” teamwork becomes harder to develop as some ensure that information passes along to everyone while others attempt to stay in their rooms to avoid everyone else.  When it comes to making beds, for example, a good team player or motivator will go to someone who needs more assistance than they and work with them before they make their own rack.  A bilge, on the other hand, would make certain his/her rack looks perfect before he/she would even consider helping someone else.  Also, since the academic year has started, classes and studies have often revealed the bilgers.  At night, after lights out, when a roommate struggles to complete a chemistry assignment, good shipmates help him/her finish the work on time while making sure the person struggling understands the material.  A bilge, however, would go to sleep to ensure he/she had enough sleep for the next day while their roommate struggles with the assignment. 

Over the summer, we were taught to accept one another and to work as a team to accomplish a common goal.  Although with the arrival of each person’s own schedule, teamwork has faded among some.  In a company of approximately 40 midshipmen per class, the only way to live together is to work together.  A good shipmate sacrifices his/her time and effort for the sake of others who struggle.  Some have not yet picked up on the paradigm, but hopefully it will come; it just takes longer for others.  


The Fastest Game on Two Feet 
                                               Bruce Nechanicky

     If I was to ask you what you thought the fastest game in sports was, which one would you say? Over the past week I went around the yard asking athletes this exact question. Of course, their first instinct was to answer my question with the sport they played. When I asked them to be serious I received all different kinds of responses. I heard every game from the most typical answer, football, to the more unusual answer of racquet ball. When I asked these athletes why they thought these games were the fastest in sports many justified their answer by claiming that the athletes who played the sports were incredibly fast. Others mentioned that the style of the game is played at a fast tempo. Everyone I asked had excellent ideas, but just to set the record straight I turned to my most reliable source for the answer, the bible on the internet, Google.com. 

     I typed in the phrase, “the fastest game on two feet.” I added the part about two feet just to make sure it would be a game played by humans and not animals or race cars. If I wanted to know the fastest game I could probably guess it would have to do something with a motor. I also purposefully left my phrase pretty vague. I did not specify that the game should be a sports game. I wanted to leave the search open for any game. If Google came up with some kind of board game I would accept it. Sure enough the results showed what I had predicted all along. Most of the headlines from my Google search read, “Lacrosse, the fastest game on two feet.” If they didn’t say those exact words they had something to do with the game of lacrosse.

      Now, I trusted that Google would rank my sport as the fastest. Why? Because for many years now the most significant slogan for a lacrosse games has been, “the fastest game on two feet.” It is the most commonly used saying among avid lacrosse players and their fans. Many lacrosse companies print this saying on the back of t-shirts, bumper stickers, and hats. With that in mind you might wonder why I went around asking athletes what they thought the fastest game in sports was, when all along my mind was already made up. Well, I’ll tell you why, to spark a debate. I want to put this common saying to the test and come to an agreement of which game in sports is the fastest on two feet.

     Before I begin to pick apart this common saying it would be useful to know the assumptions and limits that are brought on by this saying. When a lacrosse fan says the fastest game, it is assumed that he or she means a sports game. A good example would be a football game, a basketball game, or a baseball game. The saying is limited to sports games only and does not include board games, or computer games. My initial search was open to any type of game just to prove to the audience that Google found lacrosse to be the overall fastest game on two feet. There is usually some confusion about what the saying conveys when it says, “the fastest game.” It does not refer to the fastest players in the game or the fastest running time of the game. It refers to the pace of the game. By the fastest game it refers to the game which is played at a constant high tempo pace throughout the entire time period.

     A lacrosse game consists of four quarters each fifteen minutes in length. These quarters are played at a non stop high tempo pace. The game will run the full 15 minute quarters unless stopped for a timeout or penalty. Players run up and down the field consistently changing from defense to offense making substitutions on the fly. On the fly means that substitutions are made while the game is still being played. Hockey has on the fly substitutions, but the pace is still not as fast as a lacrosse game because it consistently stops for icing calls and penalties. Lacrosse games have penalties, too, but the only difference is they do not result in a time consuming face-off like in hockey. Basketball and football games make substitutions at dead ball situations slowing down the entire pace of the game. A lacrosse game is played in the air by passing and catching a rubber ball. The ball moves faster then any athlete can run.  Tennis and baseball games are both played in the air as well. A tennis game is played in sets and stops and starts like a lawn mower running out of gas. The game stops after every point, not to mention every set as well. I do not even think I have to explain why baseball is not the fastest game on two feet but I will any ways. Yes, the pitchers throw mean curveballs and Sammy Sosa can hit a pretty fast homerun, but this doesn’t take away from the slow paced game. A baseball game consists of innings and it stops and starts twice every inning. Lets not forget about the seventh inning stretch which is probably more for the fans than the players considering the pace of the game is so slow.

      Most people I talked to argued that football was the fastest game on two feet. I’m here to tell you that it is not. Yes, football has some of the fastest players but that doesn’t fit the criteria to warrant the saying. Football is one of the slowest paced sports games along with baseball, volleyball, and golf. Play is stopped on every down during a football game. The longest a play that can be carried out in a football game would be if someone returned a kickoff for a touchdown and that still would be under a minute. A lacrosse game on average runs for about five to seven minutes at a time before a penalty occurs. The flow of the game is continuous.

      Two people I talked to argued that soccer games were faster than lacrosse games. When I first analyzed the game I thought that they might have had a solid argument, but then I found evidence that proved otherwise. Soccer is played in continuous halves so in a way the flow of the game is just a fast as a lacrosse game, but not quite. Soccer is played with the feet and requires a lot of skill. Being skillful with the soccer ball requires a slow rhythm in order to control it. Someone dribbling a soccer ball is not nearly as fast as someone sprinting down the field with a lacrosse stick. On average if each individual player is moving up and down the field slower than a lacrosse player the game itself is going to be running at a slower pace. Therefore soccer is ruled out.

     I have put a lacrosse game face to face with a variety of sports games and none have come anywhere close to being as fast. It is true that I did not test every game in sports but if none of these sports can match up to lacrosse then which one can? Not only have I put this saying to the test, but I put Google.com to the test as well. I have just proved what Google.com knew all along, that lacrosse is “the fastest game on two feet.”  













































My Problems with the Cult of the Role Model

            Role model, role model, role model . . .  I’m sick of that term, weary of it being used without question and, worse, becoming almost an act of exhibitionism.  Problem is, I also worry that my trouble with the term betrays some unacknowledged attraction to it, almost on the order of Jung’s shadow, that element in our personalities, manifested often in other people, that we loath, but that really shapes us if left unaddressed.

            But first my objections to the term.  Setting accounts for much of my irritation.  Here at USNA the term pops up repeatedly and automatically.  It emerges as praise, advice, and even blame.  CDR X is “a true role model”; “take a look at CAPT Y and just watch how she goes about dealing with people—you’ll learn more from her than from all the books you read in English or Leadership”; “Professor Fallible—he’s smart as a whip, but no way you want to be like him (just look at his scuffed shoes, for God’s sake!); we need faculty who can set examples, be great role models for our midshipmen and younger faculty.”  I’ve heard the likes of all these comments and more. Aspects of the third example, as a matter of fact, got played out some time ago when a member of the faculty was disciplined—docked pay––for not, according to the authorities acting as a proper role model for other faculty.  This faculty member, as the newspapers have recorded, spoke out against the Academy’s admission policies, publicizing what she thought were misrepresentations.  As it turns out, the Academy, not the professor, was actually subject to disciplinary action because of punishing this faculty member: you see, she actually exercised her freedom of speech.  Those authorities who spoke of “role model” behavior, in fact, violated the Constitution, the document that amounts to the final say in national “role model” behavior.  Complicating this episode is the fact—and it’s a fact––that this professor was seen as a role model by most of the midshipmen who took her class.  They thought she spoke the truth, stood up for what she believed, kept in fantastic physical condition, and actually cared about their improvement.  Not only that, she too saw herself as a role model, almost aping the military ethos which authorities thought she was subverting in going to the papers.  She would require students to stand, to address her by her rank—“Dr”––and even throw herself into the spirit of the place by wearing various military garb on Friday, “warrior day.”

            I spend time on this episode not to criticize any one element involved in it, but to suggest how useless and also charged with personal meaning the term “role model” is.  It means different things to different people and to different interest groups. Like the term “natural,” it carries considerable power; it makes emptiness full and the insubstantial seem substantial. For a professor who fancies herself as one who upholds true standards of discipline and high expectations for students in his classes, the term means something quite personal; it expresses a desire to be the object of desire. In this way use of the term is more about the user than the audience.  For an academic administrator who is trying to project a certain image of the institution and perhaps is trying to please her military overseers, it means something quite different, a term to control and regularized behavior of subordinates, even in a climate of scads of rhetoric about diversity and appreciation of differences; and in terms of career, it becomes a currency by which to purchase credibility with superiors.  In both cases, though, the term expresses a need for a culture to replicate itself, reproduce its gestures and expected behaviors, finally to remain safe in similarity rather than to risk embracing difference.  It is quite conservative, in the end. 

            The other feature that troubles me about the term, as I’ve hinted in the situation I just described, is its exhibitionistic tendency.  The speaker of the term—whether faculty rebel or administrative protector of the institutional homeland––always speaks from a position of unassailable privilege, of always already being the unquestioned role model, simply because he or she can name it, identify it, and invoke it.  That exhibitionistic tendency becomes supercharged in the environment of USNA, with its overdeveloped super-ego, or what might be described as a sense of someone always watching “you.”  The uniform itself is a form of display: it says of its wearer, “look at me, look at how I appear, look to see how you can resemble me.”  Inspections themselves institutionalize this exhibitionistic tendency, as do other spectacles such as parades and noon formation. My problem with all this “modeling” is just that; it’s modeling from without, not integrating from within. Sure, it amounts to another form of peer pressure, the crucible in which most of us are formed, either wholly or partially.  But the consciousness of display, the acting as if one is someone to be imitated, the display of oneself as something to be desired seems “over the top.”  Where has modesty gone? Where is “the self” in all this aping behavior?  Can the “self” survive it? 

            The notion of role model at the Academy is so powerful finally that it becomes a part of the muted heroic story of development that many midshipmen have put into their “tool boxes” to feel fully formed, whether during their stay at USNA or retrospectively when reassessing their experience here and beyond.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a graduate document how important one person or another was in turning her life around, making her more “locked on,” causing her to see her way to important goals in life.  So-called sea stories, as you might have by now noticed, more often than not turn toward the trope of the role model’s powerful intervention in one’s life.  I don’t have any problem with that story, mind you, but it sometimes becomes desperate for those midshipmen who probably don’t learn that way, probably didn’t need to fix upon one role model, but who nevertheless need to have that episode as part of their life story just to fit in. Twice, in fact, I’ve been “blown out of the water” to learn from graduates that I was the person whom they looked up to.  When midshipmen, you see, they slept through my English classes and in the three years after that barely could recall having me as a teacher—“Hi, sir, I really enjoyed your History course when I was a plebe.”  Incredulous and amused at the thought of it, I now realize that those two souls simply needed to have installed in their “life stories” a person who played the part of “role model.”  Truth does not matter. That “character” functions as an obligatory element in the formulaic narrative told at USNA and in the Fleet about leadership development.

            During supper some ten or twelve years ago, when they were both visiting, I asked my early twenty year-old daughters what they thought of this ridiculous business about “role models,” how everyone seems to talk about it. “It’s bunk,” I exclaimed, and then asked rhetorically, “You don’t really buy into that, do you?” As if in chorus, they said, “yes we do, dad; it’s important.  You have to have someone to look up to.”  I was horrified, suddenly recognizing my failure as a parent, one who tried to keep his daughters sober about all authority figures in their lives, able to recognize failures and limitations in their coaches, teachers and media idols.  I did, of course, emphasize that the recognition of human fault in these authority figures did not mean my daughters should organize rebellions, but rather that they needed to work around those faults in order to learn from those figures, in order to form their own sense of self.  No matter: even they, two daughters of a parent openly disrespectful of authority, still needed the concept of “role model” in their lives and in their sense of how others develop.  Perhaps it seemed particularly powerful to them because they were grade school teachers and saw all the aping that formed the behavior of their students.  Whatever the explanation, when I reflect on this supper table conversation, I realize that maybe I’m the one who’s out of touch.  More than likely, I’m wrong. And more than likely I too am susceptible to the influence of role models, but don’t even know it, or refuse to admit it out of some attempt to maintain a diffident individualism. As a matter of fact, I am a second child, a sibling who more than any other learns most readily by imitation, by noticing what #1 does and developing from it. 

            If that weren’t enough, I now find myself engaged in an act that contradicts everything I’ve heretofore argued.  I’m writing a paper on the deficiencies in the term “role model,” hoping that the paper will help my students understand how to approach the prompt for their second essay of the semester. Yes, I can argue at some objective level that as a teacher of writing I know the research, which shows that imitating of models is perhaps the single most effective way for students to improve their writing.  In hiding behind that official pedagogical stance, however, I undermine my own view: those studies actually prove the importance of modeling and, by extension, of identifying a role model.  Even more devastating to my position, I’m practicing the same exhibitionistic behavior that I’ve criticized.  I’m displaying what I’m herein doing as activity worth imitating. Can I be anymore self-contradictory?  My last resort in this failing attempt at criticizing the role model cult, weak retreat though it seems, is simply to maintain the following:  let’s at least stay aware of what we’re doing when we extol the cult of the role model, remain alert to our subjectivity, to our need for power and control, and even to our desire to belong when we invoke it and pass it along to others as the be all and end all of character development. 














































The Meaning of Some Names in Othello

     1.  Iago.  This is a composite of the English "I" and the Latin verb ago, the entry for which in a Latin dictionary follows:

ago, agare, egi, actum vt. to drive, lead, conduct; to chase, hunt; to drive away, steal; to spend (time); to do, act, perform; \ to manage, to administer, carry on; to plead, transact, discuss, propose; to play, act the part of; to accuse, mpeach; to exercise, practice, perform, deliver, pronounce; to treat.

     2.  Othello.  This name contains the Latin word tellus, which means "the earth; ground, earth; land, country."

     3.  Cassio.  This name appears to come from the Latin casses, "hunting net, snare, or spider web."

     4.  Roderigo.  It contains two Latin words:  roder, "to gnaw at, to rust, to corrode, to slander"; and rigo, "to wet, moisten (water)."

     5.  Desdemona.  Interestingly enough, this name combines des, "from the," with demona, "demons."  In what way is Desdemona "of/from the demons?"


































1.  Has there ever been a time in your life when you were undergoing rigorous mental and physical training and you thought you would "help" someone out by sticking up for them?

2.  Beads of cold sweat, a trembling lip, and a milky white face pleading for help would cause any person to contemplate the fastest and most efficient way to help that fearful individual avoid reaching their breaking point..

3.  Each season me and my brother, who recently turned eighteen, had to be participating in some kind of organized athletics.

4.  When sticking up for someone are you really doing them a favor?

5.  It was a night that I will soon nor forget, and I learned a very important lesson that it is better to be late than to put yourself in harm's way.

6.  For instance, if someone who was very physically fit and in shape walked up to you and shook your hand firmly and introduced themselves politely, you might have absolutely no idea that they were a high school dropout who works at MacDonalds and stalks girls on his spare time.

7.  How much easier it seems to get along with someone who you can share your interests with and receive feedback that you can respond to and do with passion.

8.  When I didn't see him making any motions to move away, I started to get that feeling that one gets in the back of their head when they can sense trouble coming..

9.  The shirt, as it is now called among my friends and I, doesn't just bring track luck.

10.  Obviously, not everyone can be the best, but a good leader should always focus on ways to improve their abilities to think quickly and critically, to know their people and ensure that their people trust them, and to demonstrate all these traits together by being an example of good order and discipline.

11.  They all gave him "crap" about it, saying that it's not him but the shirt.

12.  The first thing individuals notice when they walk by or meet a military person is how they wear their uniform and what kind of condition it is in.

13.  To me, if I call someone a friend, it means that I trust that person and I would feel comfortable sharing anything 
with them.

14.  A person in the military should take pride in the uniform they are wearing and realize they are representing a fighting force that defends our country and our way of life.

15.  Stumbling into our camp site after a hard day of hiking and dropping your packs and taking a few deep breaths of clean, crisp air before beginning to set up the tent for the night is one of the most rewarding feelings.

16.  They were there for me; they loved me and sacrificed for me just so that I can live better than them.

17.  Everyone had their license and we all ran around together on the weekends.

18.  But the day came when I was forced to choose sides between my sister and my beloved parents, who I have more respect for than I do for anyone else in the world.

19.  American Crew is able to position the reader into a potential situation for them which can only be possible if your hair is styled with their product.




















































Sample Successful Student Papers on Assignment #2


                                                                                                         Elizabeth Horton

Curiosity Killed the Cat?

            “Daddy, what makes time? How do watches work? Why can yours go underwater, but mommy’s can’t? What makes water blue? Are mermaids real? Why can fish breathe underwater? Can I get a goldfish? Why do we only have a pet bird?”

My father’s mental health had fallen prey to this barrage of innocent questions for a couple of hours, when he drily replied, “Because, Elizabeth, curiosity killed the cat.”

I sat in the backseat with my eyebrows scrunched staring straight ahead. What did my father mean? How does curiosity kill a cat? I thought cats died from getting hit by cars?

            As a child, I lacked appreciation for this idiom for I simply could not fathom it. As time progressed, I began to slowly understand. My inquisitiveness placed me into many bad positions. As my family took up world traveling for a hobby, I took up adventures in curiosity. In Thailand, I wanted to sit on the water buffalo in the middle of the arena, so I daringly stood up and charged down the stairs of the stadium. I entered the ring and strutted up to the water buffalo. My father trailed behind me. He attempted to explain to the water buffalo’s owner, who spoke no English, that his daughter meant no harm. My father scolded me that night. In Germany, my family ate a meal in a quaint outdoor dining facility. The trademark of the restaurant was their prized “stinky cheese”. My mother warned me not to try it, for she knew that I would not enjoy it; however, the second she turned her back, I grabbed a massive fistful of cheese and stuffed it into my mouth. With great embarrassment, I sat gasping and gagging at the foul taste, until my mother forced me to spit out the strong cheese. My mother was less than pleased. On my way home from Guam one year, I eagerly marched up to the security point in the airport and jumped in line. I then proceeded to go through the check point; I just wanted to see if I could make it through by myself. Unfortunately, the security guards made the erroneous assumption that I traveled alone and thought I, a small seven year old girl, posed a threat to the safety of the international airport. My fear and embarrassment were great when they removed my shoes and scanned me. I could hear my parents’ utterances in the background as I sat there timidly. My boldness and curiosity had momentarily disappeared. Illogically, these stories among many prove the stupidity of my curiosity. My determined curiosity has gotten me into numerous fixes over the years, and yet I still cannot learn from my mistakes. Maybe there’s a reason the expression states that curiosity kills cats: cats, after all, have nine-lives.

            With time, I learned that different perceptions of curiosity exist during various stages of life. Curiosity is considered a virtue in children, but not in adults. Grown-ups expect children to be curious with wonder and ask ten billion questions a minute. Children learn from asking questions and getting in trouble from following curiosity. However, if an adult is considered curious, negative connotations arise. Curious adults receive titles such as “Nosy Nancy”, “Gossip Sally”, or “Peeping Tom”. The negative views of curiosity made me sad because my parents labeled me as “snoopy”. My parents called me snoopy because at every Christmas I would tell my family where each gift I opened had been hidden. I always snuck around the apartment like an stealthy spy and overheard a few conversations I should not have.  Needless to say, my family did not appreciate me knowing everything about anything going on in the neighborhood. One time, I was crouched around a corner from my mom talking on the phone, and I overheard our apartment neighbor complaining about what a nuisance the small child who lived upstairs had become. The child would not stop jumping and stomping about, which created a large thumping noise. Later that day while I played in the sand, I began to talk to a small girl beside me. It turned out that she lived in the apartment right above our neighbors. I animatedly told her about how her downstairs neighbors found her to be a large nuisance. After I finished playing, I went back upstairs. That night, I got in trouble at home, and in an attempt to rescue myself, I exclaimed that I had told the annoying girl that the neighbors had complained about her. This did anything but rescue me for it made mother even angrier. Needless to say, I had an earful that night and got a time out.

            This past summer, I endured an eight week training program at “Camp Tecumseh”. During my stay at camp, my classmate got in trouble for failing to bring the proper uniform to change into to damage control training. As a result, I had to carry my shipmates’ ships and aircraft book, her cover, and her laundry bag around. Fortunately, the laundry bag got stowed, and I only had to carry the unwieldy book and her cover. I began to wonder how long I needed to carry the book; did this assignment last until the end of the day, week, month, or plebe summer? I thoughtlessly stuck out my “paw” to inquire. “Sir, how long do I carry this book for, sir?”

            My detailer turned bright red as he boiled in rage. His livid demeanor escaped in the form of demonic screams and insults, and in this moment, I finally understood what my father had said, “Curiosity killed the cat”, for my innocent curiosity had gotten me into horrendous position that became a nightmare. My detailers demonic screams did not cease that day as he attempted to explain to me that I did not belong at “his” school. He made my classmates and me “drop”, get rated, and play games (ie: rack races, uniform races). He never forgot this incident; it was evident in my thirty seventh out of forty ranking for the first set of plebe summer. The incident continues to haunt me because I caused my classmates great pain. 

Cats live lives driven by curiosity; they constantly explore and investigate their surroundings in an attempt to satisfy their mad desire. These investigations and adventures often come at a price for many cats have fallen into swimming pools or fish tanks, fallen off ledges, gotten stuck in a tree, or gotten lost because of their keen instinct.  The major instinct of a cat is curiosity; a cat always wants to know what is occurring it’s environment. Cats constantly patrol, observe, and inspect their surroundings. If something of interest arises, then the cat will follow the curiosity without self-control. However, cats never learn from the mistakes of curiosity. I have watched my fluffy orange tabby, named Lennon, fall off of numerous ledges and run into mirrors. But, he never learns his lesson. He falls prey to his instincts instead of logic or experience. I am a cat. I fall prey to my curiosity every day; however, I am human when I hold back and control my curiosity. Over time, I have developed a little bit of self-control, just enough to keep me from running about with binoculars and a flashlight exploring every nook and cranny of my surroundings; however, my curiosity still lives. As opposed to the cat who merely explores with no self-control, I often literally bite my tongue to prevent myself from asking questions. This saves me from unfavorable circumstances. However, I still come under fire for my curiosity, but much less often than in my adolescent years.

Curiosity kills the cat because the cat lacks the ability to control his instincts.

                                                                                                                          Alec McMillan

Hydrating the Horse

            “You are bringing down this squad, the company, the whole brigade Mr. Doe! You have absolutely no respect! You better fix Mr. Doe squad! You better fix him or I will fix all of you” was the prevalent monologue that occurred at my squad’s table most of plebe summer. Other squads in my company, and the brigade, had similar experiences. By the laws of probability, there is always at least one person in a 10-man squad that never pulls their weight, consistently messes up, or simply has a knack for irritating the squad leader. Sometimes it can be beneficial to have a single person occupying the attention of the squad leader, however the vast majority of the time the squad has to pick up the dead weight and accept the consequences of one person’s actions. The United States Naval Academy, and to a certain extent the U.S. Navy at large, could benefit from an unduly familiar relationship with the very real saying “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink”

The purpose of plebe summer is to mold the incoming class into a cohesive, effective team, while indoctrinating them into the military lifestyle. Thus, Mr. Doe is an example of an uncaring individual incapable of adapting to the military lifestyle. The logic employed by the powers that be at the Naval Academy for remediating individuals that consistently fail is to put pressure on the team so that the team then applies pressure to the individual. The added benefit of this approach is that the team itself will come out stronger in the end. The flaw in this approach is that there are genuinely people who do not care enough about the team to be swayed by team peer pressure, regardless of how much the team is suffering from their actions. The problem is exacerbated going into the academic year when the people consistently failing are away at athletics and thus do not feel any of the consequences of their actions. No matter how much the team counsels, scolds, or attempts to remediate Mr. Doe, in effect leading Mr. Doe to water, it is ultimately up to Mr. Doe to take the initiative and the tools that have been given to him and fix himself. Until Mr. Doe decides to “drink” the water or “military Cool-aid” that is being given to him he will continue to adversely affect the whole team.

Some people might say the quote “ you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink” is unfairly applied to this situation because the person at hand, Mr. Doe for example, may feel like the situation he is being pushed into is unfair and that his team mates are never with him, but rather, always against him. These people would be absolutely correct, however the quote still applies to the situation regardless of whether it is or is not unfairly applied. What is unfair is a system at the Naval Academy that tries to make leaders out of young men by pitting a team against one of its own team mates in an effort to solve something that is out of their control, The end result, is Mr. Doe is now not only failing at his military indoctrination but now feels alienated by his own team members because he perceives that they are also now against him. As a result of this newly formed negativity to his own team members Mr. Doe now feels even less compelled to change his behavior when witnessing their suffering. This was the unfortunate dilemma my team mates and I faced during plebe summer. The more you try to force the horse, the more he resists. The sad reality is that the system doesn’t recognize just how much practical application of the saying “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink” in the U.S.  Navy.

The horse analogy also extends to problems in the fleet and the real world where all too often people are held accountable for people below them on the chain of command or even right next to them who are unwilling to pull their own weight. The Solution to these problems is not pressure superiors and peers to affect some kind of miraculous change in a person, but rather to give these people the authority to remove people from positions where they fail to perform their duties. Simply the threat of removal or some kind of individual repercussion that affects them in some way is the ultimate solution for people who do not care. Ultimately there are limitations to the saying “you can lead a horse to water, but can’t make him drink” because just as there are tons of examples of people who don’t care there are also many examples of people who do actually care, but are simply struggling to perform. There are horses that can be lead to water. In a situation where an individual simply requires guidance, the Naval Academy is absolutely spot on in its methods of peer counseling and peer pressure to rectify the situation. The problem rests with those too stubborn or too unwilling to drink when the cares of others are at stake. Although the Naval Academy prides itself on being a team-based organization, it needs to accept the fact that in some cases team punishments are not always effective. Leaders have to be able to recognize when they have pushed the limits of team persuasion and when individual repercussions become necessary. Otherwise the leader risks acquiring the animosity of the team itself by continually pursuing a strategy that seems both unfair and ineffective. The phrase “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink” is a valuable lesson in leadership.

                                                                                                                              Le, Ryan


“CHOP WITH YOUR EYES ON THE FREKIN’ BOAT!” exclaimed the detailers. What in the world does chopping mean and what “boat”? I was so lost in my confusion but had no time to waste.  I took off, keeping my eyes on this so called “boat,” having no idea what I had signed up for.

            It was June 27th, 2013, the day that changed my life forever. Surrounding me as I waited to get into Alumni Hall and start off my highly anticipated naval career, hundreds of candidates hugged and kissed their parents good bye. We all prepared to take on the daunting and challenging experience known as Plebe Summer. I entered the hall, having completed all of the paperwork and having packed tons of the issued gear into my enormous white canvas bag. Detailers then proceeded to escort me and a group of other plebes to the last bus headed to our new home, Bancroft Hall. The faces of the plebes ranged from excitement to fear. No one knew what to expect of the next six weeks, besides the fact that they would challenge us all in one way or another. One by one we filed into the colossal building. Menacing detailers screamed at us along the way. “CHOP! HIGH KNEES! KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE BOAT!” What in the world is this “boat” they kept mentioning? I trudged with my massive bag and chopped my way to my assigned room. I passed by the 39 other plebes I would soon be working with. At 1700 the detailers called all of the plebes out to the bulkhead and escorted us to the front of Bancroft Hall. Swearing to protect the Constitution of the United States, the 1200 candidates entered the Naval Service, as we prepared to face the oncoming challenges we never could have imagined.

            Training after training after training, two weeks flew by without much difference in our daily routine until we headed to the range.  First platoon had shooting qualifications to complete at the range across the bay in the morning. We all eagerly waited to be transported to the other side of the channel. A small craft slowly pulled up to the seawall, halting to a stop and allowing the platoon to squeeze in. The detailers kept a close eye on us, almost like predators preparing to strike their prey. Within seconds they had gotten their first victim. “KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE BOAT MR. JORDAN!” This order caught me completely off guard because the platoon was already in an actual boat. I had believed that the “boat” was simply just a term made by the detailers to mean “keep looking straight ahead.” This made it absolutely clear that the reference the detailers made about the “boat” had nothing to do with the dictionary definition of an actual boat. What was the meaning behind the “boat” the detailers referred to? The gears in my curious head began to turn. I had to find out.  During Blue and Gold later that evening, the word “boat” popped up again. Midshipmen Lieutenant Junior Grade Johnson, the platoon commander, spoke about keeping our “eyes on the boat.” He ended that night with the sneering statement, “I hope y’all figured out what the boat is by now.” Perplexed, by his words, the plebes dispersed back to their room. New ideas bounced around in my head that night as I continued to try and determine the meaning behind the word. I drifted away before reaching any conclusion, leaving my curiosity unappeased.

            Another week passed and I still could not make sense of the word “boat.” Asking around within the platoon led to dead ends. No one had even the slightest idea what it could possibly mean. Some cracked small jokes at the matter like “how are we not keeping our eyes on the boat when we are in it?” The time limit to solve the mystery was dwindling. Because the first set of detailers would be leaving shortly, I wanted to figure out what it actually meant before they left. Training now had shifted to a more professional knowledge base with more academic and academy life advice rather than brute physical training. It allowed me time to ponder and use the scarce amount of resources available. The first obvious place to start was to find the actual definition of a boat. Our Bluejacket’s Manual defines a boat as “a small craft capable of being carried aboard a ship.” This definition did not help at all. I continued attempting to make connections between plebe summer and the “boat.” Perhaps it meant a pretend craft that we as “ignorant” plebes just had to make up. Nothing I came up with seemed to fit or make sense however. At the end of my ropes, I began to give up hope.

The last day with the detailers had finally come. Of course as plebes we had no idea. In his parting discussion, Mr. Johnson called our platoon out onto the bulkhead and spoke with us about a few things to prepare for the next set of detailers. At this time, he posed the question to us about our “boats” and whether or not we had figured out what the “boat” actually stood for. As I expected, no one knew or could even take a good guess about its meaning. That did not stop Mr. Johnson from asking each one of us the question, “what is your boat?” The first few of the plebes spitted out replies such as “a small family boat” or “a cruiser.” While he shook his head with a disappointed look, Mr. Johnson explained, “the boat isn’t really a boat; it is whatever you make it out to be as you stand on your bulkhead; it motivates you to keep going.” It connected. All of that time I had thought about the term in a literal sense that blinded me from considering other possibilities. Every time I looked across the P-way, it was not the plebe I saw, but images of my graduating high school class of 2013 and of my diploma with a gold valedictorian seal. I saw the proud faces of my family, friends, and girlfriend giving me support with their loving smiles. I could see myself inside the cockpit of an F-35 Lightning II fighter, getting ready to take off from the carrier and into the skies covering the ocean blue.

The “boat” does not have anything to do with some sea craft; it amounts to a symbol of what drives you to continue beyond the harsh challenges of plebe summer, the academy, and life. My “boat” represents my past, present and future. The boat keeps us all afloat, as we bob and sail through the harsh seas of this unforgettable journey.

Jeanelle Seals

“Curiosity Killed the Cat”

I often wonder whether or not I could casually stroll down Stribling Walk in Summer Working Blues had it not been for actions taken over half a century ago. Three months have passed since I-Day and it still amazes me that I’m a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy. When my grandfather was my age, USNA would not have accepted him. It wasn’t because he didn’t have the academic aptitude and it certainly wasn’t because he couldn’t handle it physically. The only thing holding him back was the color of his skin.

My grandfather grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, where he didn’t experience segregation first hand, but was definitely exposed to it.  Roughly twenty years after he was honorably discharged from the United States Marine Corps; young African Americans began to challenge the status quo of American society. During the Civil Rights Era, inquisitiveness lead to social reform. Although many were killed over their demands for social equality, far more survived the battle to witness the fruits of their labors. What I fear the most is what would have happened if those men and women hadn’t questioned the rules they begrudgingly tolerated. If they had abided by the saying “curiosity killed the cat,would I be where I am today?

The saying definitely has its limits. Progression in both social reform and technology result from man’s natural ability to question and test his limits. Even the North and South American continents are the products of discovery. The timeline of humanity is a physical reminder that without queries, there is no development. Why then does the saying exist? It warns us that inquisitiveness can lead one into dangerous situations and it’s mainly used to deter people away from questioning something further. Since society’s inception, ruling parties have used it as a way to keep their ideal environment from changing. Throughout history, countless have been punished due to their exploration of new ideas. In the pre-modern world, the most notable of these conflicts occurred between the church and science communities. During the Middle Ages, monarchs and church officials declared that challenges to their belief system were crimes punishable by death. Hundreds of years have passed and developments in science and technology have made the world a vastly different place. Yet, governing bodies in the modern age still use the same tactics to deter people from questioning the situations they live in. Some members of our government have tried to pass voter identification laws to keep minorities from questioning the government, voicing their opinions, and changing political organization.

 A little more than half a century ago, governments in the American South and on a national level tried their best to uphold their oppressive rule over minorities. Their efforts confirmed the sayings very foundation. Going against Bull Connor meant subjection to fire hoses, police batons, bombings and even visits from the local KKK chapter. Martin Luther King Jr.’s questioning for equality, the best example of the saying’s legitimacy, ended with a bullet in the side of head. Whereas John Lewis, the now Congressman from whom I received my nomination to the Academy, is a prime example of the saying’s inaccuracy. Lewis never let the death of one of his closest friends and allies keep him from further questioning and demanding civil rights. Perhaps Lewis’ disproval of the saying’s accuracy reflects the leadership and atmosphere that followed MLK’s death.  If the environment had continued to mirror pre-Civil Right era times, would he too have met a similar fate?

The proverb says a lot about people in general.  First and foremost, it shows us that we’re willing to end a life over the threat of change to our daily lives. Curiosity didn’t kill the cat, man’s desire to continue to thrive in his existing conditions did. The proverb is a reflection of our innate desire of self- preservation shown through the inquisitor and the killer of the cat. On one hand, stand the people who are too timid to color outside the lines and question their surroundings because they’re afraid of what might happen if they challenge the status quo. On the other, stands the ruling party who is too content with the current state of affairs to allow anything to tamper with it. These two rivaling positions result in a proverb whose legitimacy is upheld or disproved based on which side you’re willing to push for.  Personally, I’m thankful that the timid people pushed hard enough 50 years ago to make my dream of coming to the Academy a reality. 

                                                                                                  Kyle Ritterback

The Chokeslam

For most kids at the young age of ten, the hammer of punishment from parents and grandparents is daunting, to say the least. If you ask any child, I would say that they will almost always admit to avoiding, by any means available, the switch, wooden paddle, belt, or thundering voice of reprimand. Many children go out of their way to devise a plan to dodge the suppression of unruly adults. Every child has an idol that he or she will try to mimic or emulate. For me, that was John Cena, the Heavy Champion of the World. He had a knack for getting out of tough situations and sliding by when he needed to. From him, I heard the saying, “drastic times call for drastic measures,” for the first time.

“Why did you use the steel chair?” the interviewer asked John Cena, shoving the microphone in his face. “Why did I use the steel chair?” Cena replied. “Why did I use the chair? Are you kidding me? I wasn’t going to lose my championship. Occasionally drastic times call for drastic measures.”

            Fast forward two weeks. It was a hot, summer afternoon. The air was thick and there was barely a breeze. Weighing in at just under 90 pounds, I sat with my shirt off in the back room of my grandmother’s house, enjoying a relaxing weekend at their home. Sweat dripped off my forehead as I contemplated what would possibly happen on WWE later that night when my favorite wrestler, John Cena, put his Heavyweight Championship on the line once again.

            I jumped. “We won’t be gone but five minutes, NO ROUGH HOUSING!,” my grandma bellowed down the hallway. “We are taking Audrey home and coming right back.” Audrey, my baby cousin, lived only a few miles away. My cousin, Caleb, and I looked at one another. To us, a few miles meant plenty of time for a much needed wrestling match on the old spring mattress in the spare bedroom. We tiptoed to the window to peak out of the corner of the blinds and watch for my grandparents’ white Hyundai to disappear around the corner at the top of the hill. As soon as their car was out of sight, we jumped up and headed straight for “the ring” in the adjoining room. The rusty springs squeaked and groaned as we stepped onto the mat. The bell dinged and the match began.

            Due to fatigue from our prolonged fight (or more so the situation that followed), I unfortunately cannot recall much of the match. My memory of the battle is limited to just a few seconds, when my cousin prepared for a match ending chokeslam. As we plummeted toward the mat, his front teeth connected with my head. Following a cry of pain, my cousin began to whine about his tooth feeling loose. This complaint ended quickly with a shriek of shock at the sight of my forehead. Through a soft whimper, I heard the words, “you’re bleeding,” leave Caleb’s mouth.

Adrenaline pumping, I ran to the bathroom to see for myself. Sure enough, our worst nightmare had come true. We had done the very thing we were instructed not to do—the fear of discovery became overbearing. My stomach sank and my knees grew weak as I looked at my reflection in the bathroom mirror. My face was nearly covered in blood. I had to eliminate the evidence. With the adrenaline beginning to wear off, pain inevitably began to set in.

No amount of paper towels could stem the flow of blood, or in this case, mask the evidence. I continued to rinse my forehead with water and tried a washcloth instead as a means of soaking up what appeared as an ever-welling geyser. My cousin began to cry at the sight of all the blood. I knew—we both knew—that this was the end. Our reign was short lived and we were sure that we would face the hammer of punishment soon enough. What would we tell our grandparents? We could not tell them that we did exactly what they told us not to do. Thoughts flooded my head. We had disobeyed their one rule. Our grandparents were going to disown us. And if they did not disown us, we would surely be removed from their will at the very least. Would I even live to see WWE later that evening? My mind raced as I searched for a solution. Then it clicked. John Cena appeared in my head. I saw him standing there on last week’s episode, holding onto the microphone and claiming, “occasionally drastic times call for drastic measures.” I repeated it out loud to myself.

I grabbed another washcloth, held it to my head, and began to walk outside to the driveway. The warm, sunbathed asphalt tickled the bottoms of my feet. “Occasionally drastic times call for drastic measures,” I repeated in my head. The tears appeared just as my grandparents’ white car came back around the corner toward the driveway, facing me with the moment of truth. “Occasionally drastic times call for drastic measures.” My actions would decide our future. The car pulled in—I was in the spotlight. Through a stuffed nose, I began to utter the story that I had barely finished improvising in my head. “Grandma, I walked down the hallway and slipped on a towel and I hit my head on the corner of the wall,” I sobbed. She gave me a look of surprise, and I thought for sure she would not buy it. Then she held her arms out and drew me in for a hug. At that point, I knew that the plan had worked. A sense of relief flooded over me as we began to walk toward the front door.

In that typical, comforting voice that every grandmother has, she told me to go into the bathroom so we could clean out the cut. Under the light of the bathroom, my grandma took one look at my forehead, and before I knew it, I found myself lying on a bed in the hospital, realizing that stitches were in my immediate future. This was not my first time getting stitches, so I knew that, for a ten year old, they can easily be used for extra attention. I spent the next several days being waited on hand and foot and even made it back for WWE that night. So I guess it is true: sometimes drastic times do call for drastic measures.

Reilly Klein

Thanks Sheila

“Reilly you best watch yourself, you know what happens when you do that”, my grandmother would chastise me. “Reilly Joe, you are going to regret that.” I can’t tell you how many times I heard these two phrases from my grandmother. Did I listen? Nope, never.  When Sheila Suhr would wag her finger at me and say one of these two insightful statements, it would be followed by “alright, but you know that if you play with the bull, you get the horns.” As a younger, though not tactful child, I would shoot back with “yeah well what bull Grandmom?” I thought snide little remarks like this were clever and smart. I thought that until my grandmother would sprout horns and I’d get timeout for talking back. Great job Reilly; you really showed her. 

Throughout my illustrious eighteen years I have come across numerous situations where that bull just seemed too enticing not to play with. I am not the only one on this rock we call Earth that plays this dangerous game. For many they are participating in a national past time and for others the event of a lifetime, but for everyone else it is simply a chance for us to secretly hope the bull wins.

In the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, people literally play with the bulls; and each year, to my satisfaction, people get the horns. Though goring doesn’t occur often a lucky few feel the discomfort of a bull’s horn as it runs by. Another Spanish pastime maybe even more deserving of the saying is the famed Spanish bullfighting. In this glorified blood sport, the torero, the bullfighter, antagonizes a bull and each time as it charges he stabs it with a barbed spear, then eventually kills it with a sword. This tradition in Spain and other Hispanic countries has endured for centuries, and the bull has always been the underdog in the fight. But who doesn’t love to see the underdog win every once in a while? On occasion though, the bull wins a small victory as the torero, too slow to move, is gored or trampled by this animal fighting for its life. Sweet justice. In America we have the rodeo and bull riding, and even though we don’t kill the bulls, we anger them and antagonize them; yet we are surprised when things go sour. These bull riders and rodeo clowns are often caught in the line of anger as the bull is confused. Grandmom was right in these cases; of course if a person pisses off a bull, that person runs the risk of catching a horn or two, but where are my bulls?

Though I don’t plan on running with the bulls in Pamplona, or losing some of my teeth in the rodeo, I can’t help but play with the bulls in my life. My older brother and I have a great loving relationship full of fights, sports, and broken bones.  The most memorable instance of this relationship took place at our summer camp, Camp Varsity. On the last day of camp everyone congregated on the dam at the far side of the lake to enjoy soda, candy, and a swim; but I had other intentions. For me at age eleven, it just seemed too tempting to push my brother in the murky water after pouring my can of Mountain Dew on him. So naturally I went for it. As my brother emerged from the water, he had the look of murder in his eyes and I did not wait around long to find out what that entailed. As I sprinted across the dam trying to escape the rage filled six foot four monster chasing me I wove in and out of the campers and counselors. WHOOSH. Next thing I knew I had slipped on the wet grass, and half sitting on the slanted side of the dam where I fell, I felt the horns of the bull. My brother did not see that I had slipped and by the time he realized I had fallen it was too late. When he tried to stop, he fell on the back of my arm outstretched behind me. SNAP, CRACKLE, POP. No, I was not listening to rice krispies in my cereal bowl at breakfast; these were the sounds of my elbow shattering as my brother fell on top of me. Three days later I found that my need to push my brother in the lake resulted in a completely shattered elbow, requiring a full arm cast from my shoulder to my hand for the next 3 months. I guess I found a bull; I sure felt the horns.

HEY COW! These two words got me the closest to a set of bull horns that I ever want to be. Hey Cow, is a popular game in the rural areas near where I live in Richmond. The object of the game is to get as close to a herd of cows as possible and then scream those two words. The size of the ensuing stampede that follows these words determines the victor. That night my friend and I snuck into the field and I went first. I snuck up on the herd, and as I made it to the center of them, I yelled HEY COW as loudly as I could. Boy, did they start running. The majority of the startled herd bolted, away but as I turned around I saw the bull just standing there. I sprinted for the fence some sixty yards away as my friends were hollering and laughing watching me try to outrun a full grown, angry bull. As I made it to the fence I mustered all my energy and jumped the fence as the bull came to a rather clumsy halt where I had just been standing. That was closer than I would ever like to ever be to catching a bull’s horn. I have had many more instances of tempting fate and playing with the bull; those range from knife play to the simple I double dog dare you to, insert dumb idea here. Though I generally agree with the all-knowing Sheila Suhr, I do have one qualm with her declaration. If you don’t play with the bull do you ever take the worthwhile risks?

Risk involves exposure to danger, whether physical, emotional, or mental. In our daily lives we all take risks. We drive our cars and cross the street; hell even eating a hotdog counts as a risk because people choke and die on those every year. Plainly, we can’t live without taking risks. Things like the moon landing never would’ve happened if NASA didn’t take the necessary risks and Neil Armstrong didn’t put his life in the hands of the organization. He trusted them to get him there and relied on his training; this was a huge risk. Jackie Robinson became the first black man to play professional baseball when the Brooklyn Dodgers started him in 1947. He denied the critics and racists the satisfaction of keeping him from playing to his potential; he pursued his dream and it paid off. The Dodgers took a risk with playing him as the issue of race could’ve caused major problems with the league and fans, but if they hadn’t played him they never would have had seen the tremendous player he was. If they hadn’t played him who knows when baseball would have been integrated. Robinson played ten seasons for the Dodgers, and in six of those he helped lead them to the World Series. He also earned six consecutive All-Star selections. Both Jackie and Neil exemplify where playing with the bull, and taking the risk, was worth the fear of catching the horns. Sheila did always used to say “it’s better to take a risk then to sit and let opportunity pass because of fear.” So wait, should I play with the bull or not?








































Two sample papers follow.  As you'll see, in the first the thesis and then the topic sentences of its paragraphs appear in blue type, as an example of the kind of framework around which I would like you to flesh out your essay.  I also have highlighted in purple its rather sparing--and therefore good--use of the forms of the "to be" verb.  Try to emulate its use of mainly active verbs when you work on the final draft of your essay. 

Sample #1

Progress, Happiness, and a Chevy

       The mythic foundations of American life are choice, especially the winning choice, and progress.  These ideas formed our country and made heroes of great American inventors such as Edison and Ford. Though this advertisement for the Chevy S-10 Blazer click shoves Henry Ford aside, it still depends on those two American values—and the feelings associated with them—to insinuate that the reader who does not purchase this and other Chevy products will remain utterly dissatisfiedBoth the visual details and the wording of the "ad" develop this contrast between a winning choice and a losing one and between prograss and stasis.

       Visually, the theme of choice dominates the ad.  The Chevy is a fire-engine red—lively and daring.  The Ford isa metallic-blue—lifeless and ordinary.  The lettering above the Chevy slants to the right, almost moves forward along the page in the direction our eyes automatically move.  The lettering above the Ford slants ploddingly, even stiffly "backwards."  And because the Ford's back wheels don't even appear in the picture, the ad subliminally implies that with Chevy the buyer gets a whole vehicle, while with Ford he gets only half.  In addition, the advertisers make the drivers' expressions just visible enough to emphasize the emotional quality of the choice between Ford and Chevy:  smiling and possessing a full-jawed, confident face, the driver of the Chevy looks ahead.  The poor fellow in the Fords looks behind him—he has to do this before he can engage the four-wheel drive.  But his down-turned brows, his shallow, weakly oval face betray that his choice has left him behind, made him a loser.

        This contrast between the two vehicles and their drivers is persuasive.  The eye follows the lively, "natural" images associated with the Chevy and shuns the pitiful, "unnatural" images of the other.  However, the contrast depends on the reader not recognizing a basic logical problem, the false choice or "either/or fallacy."  The market-place offers other four-wheel drive vehicles (Toyota and Nissan, for example), some of which can, in fact, be shifted on the move.  So this ad really offers a restricted choice appealing to a simple mind that wants the simple—really emotional rather than thoughtful—answer, but also wants to come out of it all feeling like the winner.

       At the same time, this ad appeals to the American desire for progress.  Visually the ad displays a tension between "forward" and "backward."  Buying a Ford means having to back up ten feet in order to put it into four-wheel drive; buying a Chevy, of course, means going straight ahead.  But his basic comparison quickly becomes an ideological one:  does the reader believe--as all true-blooded Americans should—in progress or unpatriotic backwardness.  Again, the advertisers use the seduction of a false choice:  many choices exist between the extremes of progress and backwardness.  The advertisement boxes the reader in between two false alternatives so as to create in him an urgent need to avoid the negative one.

       The language describing the two vehicles further builds upon this choice between an obvious winner and a loser.  The wording that captures the Ford plays on this backwardness, and it does so ingeniously.  Look, for instance, at the description of how to shift the Ford:  "Stop . . . Shift the transfer case . . . Shift into Reverse . . . Back up at least ten feet . . . Shift into Drive to go ahead."  The lack of transitions between these short, stiff commands simulates the rough, jerky, even primitively mechanical process of driving this vehicle.  The language also resembles that of the second grade reader—elementary and simple-minded.  Naturally, the Chevy requires no such fuss:  "But in the Chevy S-10 Blazer 4X4 with standard Insta-Trac, all you do is sift once."  The directness and "flow" of this sentence mirrors the ease, the simplicity of driving the Chevy.  And its graceful subordination suggests a reading level years above that of the second grade.  Clearly the ease of this sentence mirrors the simplicity of driving the Chevy.  This ease of operation in turn suggests progress, but so too does the very name of vehicle, "Chevy S-10 Blazer 4X4."  With its noisy "z" and its airplane-like "S-10," this name captures a sense of speed.  On the other hand, "Ford Bronco II 4X4," with its heavy consonants and its "horsy" associations, simply sounds slow and implies the standards of a by-gone era.  Moreover, the Chevy's name implies a great deal more refinement than that of the Ford:  the Chevy is an "F-10," having gone through, perhaps, ten whole versions before it reached this level of development; the Bronco is a "II," as in "two" and as in "old-fashioned" Roman numerals, both indicating that this vehicle remains in its early stages of development, is even ancient history, so to speak.

        All these carefully orchestrated comparisons lead up to one half of the advertisement's conclusion:  "Today's Truck is Chevrolet" (emphasis added).  It is current, up-to-date, while the other one is not.  But the ad's pitch remains incomplete without the patriotic outburst of emotion:  "The Heartbeat of America."  "Heartbeat" appears in red script and thereby ties together, at least on an emotional level, the entire advertisement.  The red "Heartbeat of America" shares its color with the Blazer; it also leans forward, even upward, full of the vital blood of life and progress.  And because, as the explanation section says, the Chevy is more popular than the Ford, it stands as an expression of the American right to choose.  No wonder the slogan at the bottom right of the page appears not only in red, but also in white and blue!

Sample #2 
                                                                            Perry Ellis's Eve—All You Need in Threads

        Sex sells just about anything—we all know that.  And so even the wildest connections don 't faze us much anymore.  Cars, cigarettes, clothes, even the internet—they're all connected routinely with what Freud identified as the most basic of human drives.  But the Vanity Fair "ad" for Perry Ellis (click), a men's clothing company, takes this standard connection to the extremes, shunning almost any gesture at rationalizing the connection between the product and desire.  And that apparent disconnect is part of its appeal, but so too are its conscious allusion to the Eden myth, its exploitation of the actual conventions of so-called "natural" beauty and sex-appeal, and even its suggestive use of black and white photography.

        First I want to deal what I just called the ad's disconnect—its reveling in the apparent ridiculousness of advertising clothing with a nude women and its shunning any display of its product. There are no clothes--if this is what it is advertising rather than, say, perfume!--to be found anywhere. It displays itself almost as an anti-advertisement advertisement.  We see nothing about fine craftsmanship, nothing about the latest styles. This ad is literally, in the perhaps unforgettable words of Right Said Fred, "too sexy for the runway."  The sophistication of the New York or Parisian fashion show is out of place in the primordial forest represented on this page.  Oddly, though, the ad, because of this "unad" approach, appeals to the sophisticated audience, to the crowd that can appreciate subtlety and allusion and that already knows—or ought to know—what Perry Ellis for Men is.  This appeal to sophistication, of course, does not exclude the basic power of sexual attraction in the ad.

       It's not difficult to discover the allusion to the Eden story.  An advanced version of our picture-book Bible stories indeed, this ad displays Eve's transgression.  There she is in the tree, reaching for the forbidden fruit (I'm assuming that this is definitely NOT an allusion to the Statue of Liberty, though the posture resembles that of the lady in New York harbor.).  The basic premise of this allusion is that Eve's transgression and of course Adam's complicity brought with it our first clothing, the infamous fig leaf.  Notice the positioning of the ad's only text right there with the fruit that "Eve" picks.  Yes, the ad's allusion implies, Perry Ellis was there with the first clothing.  That clothing company, the ad faintly suggests, has over every other company a prior claim to the job of clothing the human body.  What's more, the Eden story treats the theme of temptation, a temptation that could not by denied.  Again, in spacial terms, Perry Ellis and what that company offers is in the same location as the forbidden but, alas, unavoidable fruit.

        This allusive quality of the ad is likely not its most powerful element.  However it does make its audience part of a special group that can decode the allusion and thus interpret the ad as a sophisticated document, in spite of its apparent simplicity.  Thus the ad's audience is not just the sex-driven male ape in us but the thinking, cultured, sophisticated male.   Again, as with the ad's attempt at "anti-ad" status that I earlier discussed, the allusion to Eden works to reach a sophisticated taste.  In fact, I would suggest that even the decision to compose the photograph in black and white enhances this sense of sophistication.  Think for instance of Ansel Adams photos or uncolorized "old movies"—or modern movies whose directors have chosen to film them in black and white.  In each case black and white corresponds to the taste of the "artsy crowd," the people able to recognize lasting value in cultural products.  Not only, then, does Perry Ellis have some prior claim on all clothing, beginning with the fig leaf; he is associated with fine taste. And we ought to assume that his clothes will appeal to that taste.

       More basic than all this, you might very well argue, is the raw sex-appeal of the female in the ad.  There's something elemental in it, something fundamentally natural, you might say.  Yes, we're in Eden, but not so much to test our skills at literary allusion as to appeal to our unadorned, basic, original (as in "genesis') impulses.  And I would agree.  The ad does take the "natural" approach to sex appeal. You've seen the other alternatives: the James Bond female—red lip-stick, hair sprayed and impeccably in place, clothing accentuating cleavage; the prostitution fantasy—just think of Julia Roberts in the early scenes of "Pretty Woman," for instance, and put her in an ad for men's suits; and others I'm sure you can describe.  This ad represents "original woman" as youthful to the extreme, somewhat of the nymphet; it represents her as unadorned, as the very image of the original object of sexual desire before we got all complicated with clothing and all the other barriers of civilization.  The suggestion, then, is that Perry Ellis can produce this for men who buy his product, "this" accessibility without the complications, gratifications without much delay, and of course beauty.

        Notice once again, though, that the ad depends on a contradiction that goes unnoticed to the "panting" male observer.  What appears natural is highly conventional: underarm shaven, brows plucked, lips apparently glossed, if not enlarged by plastic surgery, even hair frosted.  Do you suspect that Revelon was there in the original garden with Perry Ellis?  Perhaps Gillette as well?  Even the leaves are strategically placed to hide the woman's breasts.  Sure that's so that the ad can in fact be published in a "for-the-general-public magazine."  But the placement of the leaves functions in two other important ways related to the ad's theme connecting Perry Ellis clothing with sophisticated taste and a certain kind of sexuality.  First, by covering up the forbidden areas of the body, the leaves serve to accent sexuality.  The assumption here is that sexuality arises more readily from suggestion than from blatant nudity.  In addition to this accenting of male desire, the leaves also, as a form of clothing, set up a series of connections more to the point:  leaves = clothing; clothing = Perry Ellis; Perry Ellis on your back=this woman in your sack, to put it crudely.

        Though "crudely" is not necessarily "inaccurately": the woman looks curiously, almost desirously at those leaves with which she covers if not caresses her herself.  Thus, although the ad plays with its audience's sense of sophistication through its allusion to Eden and its play with the whole genre of sex-appeal ads, it nevertheless comes around to the same claim as all ads make:  you buy what we offer; you get what you desire.  In the case of this ad, by purchasing Perry Ellis clothing you become the leaves in the foreground of this ad.  That's the most basic way in which Perry Ellis is "for men."





































































































































Alex Williams


            Any male can attest to the desired characteristics of a man. We men desire to be big, muscular, ferocious, and manly. We desire to be the portrait of masculinity in all things we do. We are always looking for a way to achieve this goal, many times leading us to be suckers for protein powder or workout programs. Yet it seems the answer is much simpler than that. All of these characteristics can be easily achieved by buying a small round container of Grizzly moist snuff. The advertisement (click) portrays this idea of being able to help the buyer achieve masculinity through selective diction, subliminal interpretation of a warning label, and further sublimation through detailed design, all leading us to become the lean and mean men we want to be (or so it seems).

            The title of the advertisement speaks volumes about the desired target audience. “EIGHT-CYLINDER FLAVOR” it proclaims, hitting on man’s love of raw horsepower to get across to the target audience. The ad itself was clearly made for a men’s automobile magazine in particular, with the title hitting on this fact. It also gives off the vibe that only the most powerful men use Grizzly for a good time. You can see this by the eight-cylinder engine reference, which is the largest standard line production engine in the United States. In addition, the ad includes the subtitle “Tellin’ it like it is,” validating its own belief that there really is eight-cylinder flavor in a can of Grizzly. Also notice the textured surface of the title, with rounded edges and looking almost like it was drawn on cloth. This artistic feature gives off an old-fashioned, traditional vibe that goes along with the many decades that have passed since the founding of Grizzly. It also gives a rough texture, one that hardworking average Joes commonly wear. This title, big and bold, thus gives us the feeling that only the manliest of men use Grizzly.

            This feeling of manliness is completely verified by the oversized warning label stating the product is not a safe alternative to cigarettes. Its size complements the overall emotions given off by the title, subliminally daring only masculine men to try some of Grizzly’s snuff. This large caption reminds me of times when a friend would call me a B-word for  initially refusing to do something stupid, only for me to do it after being called out. We’ve all been at that point some time or another, and I feel the warning label almost supplements the idea that only the most daring use Grizzly. It is an illogical approach that still effectively conveys the daringness of snuff to Grizzly’s target audience. Only unmanly men would adhere to such a warning label. What does that label know anyways?

            Most notably, however, would have to be the intricate 3-dimensional can of Grizzly plastered to the middle of the page. Perfectly round and glistening off the page, the can looks professional and attractive. Engraved in the middle lies the signature Grizzly print, with rough edges and varying sizes. Its unperfected font conveys the company’s idea of those who buy their product being rough and tough individuals. Below lies the pride and joy for true patriots, displaying American pride stating “Est. 1900 American Snuff Co.” In a country as patriotic as America, there is no replacement for established businesses that have been around for many decades representing America through the finest products. How else could a company make it 113 years in business? All of these combined create a product that draws in the viewer in a subliminal way, pushing on the American man’s patriotism and manliness through the can’s design.

Yet most notably on the top of the can is Grizzly’s signature grizzly bear. Ferocious and powerful in its presence, it roars with pure power becoming a natural symbol for everything that men desire: strength and masculinity. The grizzly takes an aggressive, well-grounded stance as well, showing off its sharp teeth in a display of ferocity incomparable to most all animals. To add to its mystery and complexion the bear is show in black and white, with the black shadows only adding to the grizzly’s savagery. All of this adds up to display its customers as the most masculine American men, with those who don’t use Grizzly as automatically inferior in everyday life.

In conclusion, Grizzly uses many subtle descriptions to make what seemed like a simple advertisement into a truly remarkable money making machine. Everything about the display branched out to males of all ages who desire a more masculine appearance, with Grizzly moist snuff being the answer to their problem. Whether you believe so or not is completely your opinion; however the intricacy of the advertisement really drew me in, almost drawing in my own desire to go buy a can. Of course, it’s not that easy to get new customers, but even to invoke thoughts of such an action requires a well-thought-out and well executed process, one that Grizzly succeeded in establishing .

Anastasia White

Made Like Mankind

            In the modern age of technology, many pursue the race towards developing the newest, fastest, and “smartest” object.  Whether this is with phones, computers, or cars, the advancements are so rapid that it has come to a point where these objects seem to be taken out of a science-fiction movie.  Popular demand has forced advertisements to emphasize the enhanced capabilities made possible through new technology.  These functions increasingly resemble those of sentient beings.  The 2014 Acura MDX depicted in this particular ad (click) is no exception.  This advertisement appeals to human’s desire for advanced technology through personification of a simple, focused part of the car and a few subtle, yet key words.

A side-by-side comparison between the headlight of the Acura and a human eye highlights the complexity of the brand new, high-tech vehicle.  The composition of the advertisement consists of two large photographs – both focused on a single part of a much larger body.  The lack of unnecessary words, logos, and pictures maintains a sharp focus on the arrangement of the images.  This view reveals extremely intricate details of both the headlight and the eye.  The view of the human eye is zoomed in, almost as if the viewer were looking through a scientific microscope.  The pores and even individual hairs on the eyebrow and eyelashes are plainly visible, as well as the vivid orange and blue iris.  The use of the same colors in the headlight further stresses the similarities between the two objects.  Using this personification, the advertisement seems to suggest that this cutting-edge car is as complex as the human body.  The complexity of human biology allows the body to function with efficiency unlike any other man-made invention.  The viewers are led to believe that this headlight is no ordinary headlight – it can go above and beyond the normal capabilities and act as a “seeing eye”.  Therefore, the advertisement implies that the 2014 Acura is built with an unprecedented level of technology that allows it to perform tasks that are so advanced that they mimic the human body. 

In a larger sense, the comparison with a human eye relates the creation of the car to vision and foresight.  It is interesting that the creators of the advertisement chose the headlight/eye combination as the featured elements.  It is no accident that they did not choose to depict the windshield and a human forehead, or the trunk and the rear of a person.  The juxtaposition of the headlight and the eye articulates the idea of a progressive vision or sight.  The makers of the car have the vision to produce a design that is innovative and suits the needs of mankind.  One must also take into account the point of view of both images.  Instead of having a direct gaze towards the viewer, both are facing to the right.  The direction seems to insinuate that both the Acura and the eye are looking ahead to the future.  A detailed look at the human eye reveals that it appears to be a male with an intense gaze.  Such foresight and focus was important in the development of the 2014 Acura, and will be an integral part of development in the future.

Although there are few words featured in this advertisement, there is much meaning contained in the short phrases.  The font itself makes a statement.  Instead of using a traditional font, the advertisement uses letters that look futuristic – almost as if they were symbols.  Specifically, the “A”s and “W” stand out.  They both slant to the right, in the same direction that the headlight and eye are facing.  These letters are yet another example of the continuous movement towards the future.  The bold statement, “Made for Mankind” in the center of the two photographs also sums up the advantages of possessing such advanced technology.  The Acura and all of its accommodations were built to benefit the user.  However, the more subtle messages of the advertisement argue an even more powerful statement.  The comparison between the headlight and the eye state that the car is “Made Like Mankind”.  This implies subliminally that the vehicle is so exceptional that it can perform human-like tasks.  The only description of the Acura on the entire advertisement is “extremely new”.  Out of all the adjectives used to describe the product, the advertisers chose these words.  This makes a statement that something so high-tech as this car could have only been developed very recently.  In essence, this is not a car of the past.  It has a place with the unimaginable creations of the future.  Overall, the few words on the advertisement further strengthen the messages the creators are trying to display through bold statements and text fonts.

Although the ad is seemingly simple, a viewer can pick up on many subtle signals about the product in this Acura advertisement.  This technique of advertising is very effective, as the producer does not come off as over-the-top or excessive.  A consumer would probably find it ludicrous, or even humorous, if Acura directly stated that its new car was as complex and functional as the human body.  It also causes someone who is flipping through a magazine to pause for a moment and read more deeply into the advertisement, pondering upon the product.  The eye-catching pictures grab the viewer’s attention, who are then left to analyze for themselves the exact significance of the car.  The few words guide the person’s thoughts in the right direction, stressing the values placed on new technology.  

Kyle Ritterback

The Ease of Seduction

            Who would not want to attract beautiful women effortlessly? Armani “code” portrays the absolute simplicity in finding the sophisticated woman of your dreams. The expression and appearance of the models, the choice of color, and the purposeful absence of wording in the advertisement illuminates the natural ease with which you are able to attract sophisticated women by simply wearing the newest cologne by Giorgio Armani. As the focal point for the advertisement, the male and female models appear in specific ways to deliberately convey this message to the reader. The facial expression and body language of the models act in place of the few words that the advertisement possesses.

The advertisement features a man who was carefully chosen to fit the archetype of masculine beauty—tall, dark, and handsome. The man entices the reader with his dark eyes and dark hair, despite his lack of formality. The look in his eyes and the smirk on his face suggest to the reader that the male did not attempt to attract this woman, yet, at the same time, it suggests that he is not even surprised that this gorgeous woman is interested in him. The most recognizable feature of the male model is the positioning of his eyes. His eyes are fixed not upon the woman in the picture, but instead out of the page, looking at the reader of the magazine. This focus creates a personal connection with the reader and implies that by simply wearing this cologne, you will not only find a woman who is interested in you, but you will attract a woman as sophisticated as the one in the advertisement. The stereotype of males as the more lustful gender is shattered—women will now lust after you because of the cologne.

            The male’s unshaven face, informal attire, and slightly greasy hair add to the lack of effort presented by the male. The casual clothes worn by the male represent of the work that the cologne does for the man. They suggest that it was not necessary for him to dress up fancily in order to attract this woman. Instead, he may have rolled out of bed, thrown on clothes from the previous night, and walked out of his house. In fact, he did not even bother shaving his face—implying that this all merely comes natural to him just by wearing this cologne. The confidence with which the male carries himself exemplifies the ease that enables him to attract the woman, whose body language suggests that she cannot help but give in to the man.

            The appearance of the woman is much more sophisticated in comparison to that of the man. Unlike the male who chose to wear nothing fancier than an unbuttoned shirt, the woman is dressed in what appears to be a formal evening gown. She dressed up elegantly for a guy who does not care enough to even set his eyes on her. Her carefully applied eye shadow and styled hair is yet another contradiction to the unshaven, rebellious looking man. The sophisticated, upper-class woman is not just interested in the man; in fact, she is latching onto his neck with a sense of lust and a hint of desperateness. With shut eyes, the female stretches her lips toward the man in attempt to win his attention. Her body language coupled with the expression of the man suggests that she is doing this not by choice, but because she absolutely cannot resis the cologne he wears. The cologne’s scent of seduction is just too great for her to overcome. The color and setting of the picture help represent her lack of resistance while they construct a fantasy in the mind of the reader as well.

To society, the term, “black and white,” can be used in two different ways. Black and white may depict how something is high in social status or classical as represented in old-time movies or photography. It can also represent a situation that is clear, factual, and lacks confusion. In this advertisement, the black and white color scheme mirrors the definitiveness of the situation. No matter how hard she tries, she will not be able to resist the man. It also adds to the simplicity that allows him to attract the woman. There is no hidden secret in accomplishing this; wearing the cologne makes it very “black and white.” The black and white scheme also suggests that you will attract not just any woman, but the “classic” type. This cologne will land you a sophisticated, respectable woman rather than one that is trashy.

The cologne bottle adds the only color to the photo, implying that it is the main attraction of the advertisement. The deep, midnight blue bottle stands out as the only thing that is necessary in order to attract beautiful, sophisticated women. Excessive color and wording is not necessary to accomplish this. Its slender shape and dark color parallel the “tall, dark, and handsome,” image presented by the male model. Just like the color choices for the advertisement, the background is a critical element of it as well.

Although the color scheme represents the definitiveness of the advertisement, the background allows the reader to interpret the advertisement in his or her own way. The advertisement features an all-black background instead of putting the couple in a specific place or situation. The lack of background plays into the fantasies of the reader and allows the reader to imagine where this cologne could take them. If the picture were limited to a certain setting, it might subconsciously narrow the mindset of the reader. Instead the limited background allows the reader to assume that anything is possible with this new cologne.

            Like the background, the wording of the advertisement is limited as well. In fact, the bottle is accompanied by a single slogan, which turns out to be the only words of the advertisement. The lack of wording keeps the advertisement simple, paralleling the simplicity of attracting women with this cologne. “The code of seduction for men” suggests that the cologne is not just a way to attract women, or something that will aid you in doing so—it is exactly what it states, a code. This cologne is the definite answer to capturing beautiful women and it exemplifies exactly how it should and needs to be done. Yet, it is not a code that just anyone may know. By wearing the cologne, you join an elite group of individuals—a group that, with the knowledge of this code, consists of only people who know of the secret entrance into the world of easily attracting women.

A. P. McGuigan

Hipsters Can See the World

It is a good day for all those cameras whose lenses just aren’t getting the job done, because apparently eyeglasses work on cameras now too! At least, this is how the advertisement for Crizal No-Glare lenses appears (click). Upon further analysis, it can be deduced that the point of view is, in fact, a person wearing glasses looking down 5th Avenue’s Washington Square Park.

            Why the designer chose 5th Avenue is not entirely coincidence. First of all, New York City has been called the Center of the Universe, the City That Never Sleeps, and other such flattering titles. Specifically when 5th Avenue is identified, the consumer identifies the lenses with such fashion trademarks as Sak’s Fifth Avenue, an upscale department store residing on 5th Avenue. 5th Avenue is not the only status oriented symbol though. At the end of 5th Avenue, or course, looms the miniature Arc de Triumph in the middle of Washington Square Park. If there is one city more famous than New York City in terms of fashion, it is Paris. Appealing to the reader’s sense of fashion and class, the designer implies these lenses are of the same caliber of the represented cities.

Unlike Sak’s clearly upscale targeting ads, Crizal’s ad still appeals to the average consumer reading Men’s Health due to the focal point of the scene: two urbanites joyfully riding their Vespas down the avenue, absolute bliss radiating from their spectacle shielded faces. Upon further analysis, even these two models, who may not be one of which is not utilizing the product at all, are of a very specific social class. They represent the Hipster. Generally mid-20’s to middle aged, Hipsters are notorious for sporting products still underground or little known yet fashionable. This infers that the reason not everybody already uses Crizal’s lenses is because they have not yet breached the mainstream market. While only a few people are orthodox Hipsters, aspects of their culture and style have penetrated mainstream style and fashion. Thus, Crizal’s lenses appeal to the most selective of fashion buffs.

      While appealing socially, the diversity of the models must be called into question. Both sexes are represented, so the product has no complaints to fear from gender equality. Possibly more dangerous is ethnic diversity. Both are white, and due to the nature of their dress and location, are probably rich. It must be noted there are only two of them so lack of diversity is not that crucial of an issue, but it still suggests a sort of exclusivity. A risky move by the ad designer, exclusivity can have two side-affects. First, it can turn the prospective customer away from the product because they feel offended and would not support such a company. The second, and effect the designer was attempting, is desire. Because the product is exclusive, I want it so I am part of the elite. While the latter effect is most common, the chances of a backfire still exist.

While seemingly your typical positive attributes of a product, the actual text on the advertisement works in perfect harmony with the image and even the cultural suggestions of the setting and models. First, size matters. At least, the suggestions made by the size of the text would. The word “glare” is enlarged with all capital letters, suggesting more magnitude to the negative effects it has. Describing the same lens, “ordinary lens” is miniscule and boring, unlike the italicized and heavily punctuated “Crizal No-Glare.” Second, the counterpart of “glare,” “The choice is clear,” adds some comedy to the advertisement. Alluding to the models, Hipsters also fancy themselves better educated than the rest of us plebeians, yet the pun is simple enough that everybody in the prospective market can feel just a little better about their intellectual progress. Finally, there is the harmony between the blue benefit box and the background image. First in this box is glare, which is addressed by the contrasting lenses, one Crizal and of course removes the glare. Second, though difficult to prove is scratch resistant. Any glasses wearer would want their glasses to resist scratch, but the image provides a situation in which it is crucial. Since the models ride Vespas, there is a considerable amount of potential scratches flying through the air, including the fourth resistance to dust. Handling glasses always results in fingerprints all over the lenses, so it is convenient that Crizal is resistant to this as well. However, this specific resistant rests on the assumption that one is a regular user of glasses and knows the frustration of having to clean the smudges off their. Much like the lack of diversity issue, this does not take into account contact lens users who may be going for a more sophisticated look like the Hipster but still want a product that does not have the problems of conventional glasses. With rain on the ground and spray from cars, water resistance would be crucial to these lenses. With the final resistance, glare, the advertisement had to give-and-take with the first resistance. The evening setting demonstrates the ability of the glasses to reduce the glare from artificial lenses, but nullifies the claim that they protect the eyes from ultra-violet radiation. This section of the ad, rather than adding to its sophisticated appeal, detracts by assuming prospective customers do not know what UV stands for. Furthermore, there is a nifty little symbol indicating UV protection with absolutely no qualification, playing to peoples’ gullibility. The ad fails to provide a base unit for twenty five times more protection, referring the reader to the bottom. Apparently, it is twenty five times more than no lens, or no protection, which ends up at zero protection. Appealing to the readers’ stupidity is lowly but effective and it definitely looks impressive.

            With the dual appeal to high society and mundane promises, it appears the designer of the advertisement was seeking global appeal unlike many other ads one finds in magazines. There are obvious suggestions and subtle ones leading to a delightful mix of promotion while not being too snobbish.

Keegan Kush

“Piss On the Competition”

                Pissing on the competition, or just into the mud as this child is doing, is an interesting way to sell Nike apparel.  Perhaps this shirtless and shoeless child is the spirit of the multibillion dollar company that produces overpriced sports gear for undeserving American children (click). This child does not appear to be American. I could be wrong but based on the setting, the colors, the starving dog, and the race of this child, the advertisement seems to add up to the child being an impoverished African, the setting being a slum of a poverty stricken African country. How then does this arrogant appeal to the athlete who buys Nike gear and thus contributes to the $24.1 billion dollars of reported revenue brought in by Nike last year alone?

                In a world where suffering is glorified into toughness, particularly with athletes, this advertisement makes an appeal to the “Alpha male” instincts of human beings. This ad suggest that it is the child alone for himself, the dog his only companion. A parallel to the movie, “I am legend” can be seen here. Will Smith is left alone to fight zombies in a setting resembling the one in this picture. His only companion was his dog. The movie glorified his trials; though in reality, the majority of the human population would break under any such circumstances. Athletes wish to be seen as the “lone survivor” and champion of toughness. Through the demeaning conditions the child is in, this “ad” plays on the idea that Nike gear makes one tough. Everyone loves a story of someone who comes from a rough background and has to earn everything he has. Essentially, by wearing Nike gear one will earn that respect.

                The decision to use an African child rather than a white American boy is very interesting in this ad. Why not use a shirtless and shoeless white male urinating onto a stained covered wall? Nike’s decision to depict a black child was clever in a sense that many of today’s great athletes such as LeBron James and Kobe Bryant are black, and some even hail from African countries. The use of a black child may appeal to some but it can be seen as a deterrent to others. Many people have accused Nike of forcing children to work in their factories for extremely low wages. How is it certain that this child could not have been making the very shoes that Nike is attempting to sell, while he has nothing on his bare feet? It is ironic that Nike uses a picture of an impoverished child when there have been accusations against Nike using children to make their products in poverty stricken countries.

                Perhaps what stands out the most in this advertisement is not the setting itself, but the action the boy is committing.  Literally, the boy is barefoot and shirtless while urinating on a vomit colored wall. Figuratively, however, this boy may be seen as urinating on the competition and his limitations. From an animalistic point of view the young man can be seen as “marking his territory.” All these ideologies play into an Alpha-male mentality. This male aggression is what Nike’s vision of this advertisement is supposed to be. It appeals to the nature of man to be all powerful, even over one’s own environment which is displayed through the conditions of poverty the child is in. 

                Another small but interesting detail in the advertisement is the dog behind the boy. What conclusion does Nike want its consumers to draw from the starving animal? The symbolism of the dog can take on many different meanings. The dog represents all the competition looking in on me. As discussed earlier, the act of urinating may symbolize taking the dog’s territory. Appealing to the consumer this can be seen as defeating the competition while the opponent stands by and watches.

                On the brown and yellow wall Nike’s logo and slogan are painted. The words “Just Do It” are boldly printed on the wall. When analyzing this advertisement the question arose, who is the Nike slogan speaking to, the consumer or the young boy? Are the words “Just Do It” influencing the young child to urinate with regard for no one else (including the dog) around him? Perhaps the slogan is speaking to the consumer in that he or she must take a chance and purchase Nike gear with regard for no one else, similar to the boy’s action of urinating.

                This Nike advertisement is open to interpretation upon many fronts. From the action of urination, to the setting of the advertisement the theme of dominance is displayed readily throughout. However, Nike accomplishes the overall goal of an advertisement: to capture the attention of consumers. This advertisement caught my interest due to its abstractness and originality. Nike pushes the athlete to think about the scenario causing an increased interest in Nike gear, which in the end, turns a profit.

Le, Ryan

Feel Alive with the Jaguar

            “How Alive Are You?” With one glance at the 2013 XFR-S, you feel the excitement of speed and luxury that comes with a Jaguar. All other ordinary cars cannot even compare with what a Jaguar has to offer. The advertisement’s (click) lively colors and design, the uncluttered placement of the brand emblem and vehicle, along with its enticing diction, captivate those that see it at first sight. The advertisement stimulates male viewers’ need to feel “alive” by appealing directly to their animalistic nature, and at the same time, effectively alluring them to consider investing in such a sleek high performing vehicle.

            Jaguar has always been associated with luxury vehicles, comparing itself to other big luxury brands such as Lexus and Infiniti. Jaguar cars are sleek, contemporary in design, and very pleasing to the eye. The advertisement for the XFR-S expresses all of the same qualities as the brand. The advertisement’s design is simple, yet effective. The plain background design of the open road allows for the emblem, caption, and car to standout. Two colors dominate the advertisement: red and black. With red, the emotions of passion, excitement, motivation, and daring sense of nature are stimulated in the viewer while working in tandem with the question “How Alive Are You?” Directed towards a male audience, red also suggest lust and aggression, a core part of human nature that men desire to satisfy. With the elements of mystery, authority, and power, the color black provokes the instinctual nature of men and draws them further into the thought that they must have this vehicle to showcase their masculinity. These two color choices by the designers of the ad combine to form an eye catching advertisement that speaks to the viewers through the viewers’ basic instinctual, even animalistic, senses.

            One important aspect of this advertisement lies in the placement of the Jaguar emblem and XFR-S vehicle in the center and lower half of the page, respectively. This ad distinguishes itself from other car advertisements by placing the Jaguar logo rather than the car itself in the center. Having the emblem made the centerpiece and larger than the XFR-S changes the focus of the advertisement from selling the car to the actual brand Jaguar. With this in mind, the designers know that viewers would recognize the brand over the vehicle; and thus they appeal to the audience’s sense of social stature because of the high class, performance, and luxury that comes with owning a Jaguar XFR-S. 

            The drift marks left behind on the road background that forms the emblem instill a creative and stylish element into the advertisement that appeals directly to the male’s sense of thrill and being wild. Associating itself with speed, racing, and high performance, drifting and the mark it leaves allures the viewers into desiring a car that could maneuver and produce a work of art. At the tail end of the drifts, a small smokin’ red XFR-S is revealed to be the source with nothing but dust and drifts being left in its wake. 

            With its red glossy finish, the XFR-S stands out on the advertisement, calling in viewers to own it. Even though it’s not necessarily the centerpiece, the XFR-S contrasts with the plain and simple style of the background and allows it to appear to come off the advertisement, becoming an object that grabs the audience’s attention. The red draws the viewers’ eyes to it almost immediately. As the brightest element of the advertisement, the XFR-S becomes the selling point and highlight of the entire ad. The designers’ choices to have the XFR-S placed underneath the Jaguar emblem gives a sense that they wanted the viewer’s eyes to see the logo first then leading to the car, setting the XFR-S up to associate itself with the appeal of a Jaguar luxury vehicle.  

            With the color choice, design, and placement of the emblem and car, the Jaguar and the XFR-S appeal directly to the viewers’ aesthetic senses. The final aspect of the advertisement that completely wins over the audience with the idea of investing in the XFR-S comes from the caption and description. The words act as a reasoning and logically persuasive element that convinces the viewers the XFR-S is the one and only vehicle they want and need to feel alive. The “Mark you territory” quote directly speaks to the readers as if they were a powerful predator, like a jaguar. The exaggeration of, “weapon of mass jubilation” and “line of ultra high performers” alludes to boast the XFR-S’ appeal. However, the particular word choice makes the XFR-S seem incredible and in a class of its own. “550-horsepower” adds to the appeal by stating how powerful it is. With the final question of “How alive are you?” the designers’ win over the audience by leaving them with one answer: the desire to own the XFR-S.

            With this combination of elements, the advertisement effectively serves its purpose to persuade the viewers to invest in a powerful, stylish, and luxurious Jaguar XFR-S. Each thoughtfully planned out design aspect appeals to the viewers’ aesthetic senses, reasoning and logical sense, as well as animalistic and basic instinctual nature of being a male. Jaguar’s advertisement works with both its creative and simple elements to give us the answer to their question “How alive are you”: “Not until you have the XFR-S.”































































































































































































































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Jacob Hastings

The Modern Age Comes to Yellow Sky

            In “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky,” Scratchy Wilson represents the remnants of the Old West, while Jack Potter represents the new age. The story introduces Scratchy as a fierce, almost superhuman old bandit, who even in his age acts like a child. The first paragraph of part three presents the story’s theme of the new world meeting and eliminating the Old West.

            The story introduces Scratchy in his “maroon-colored flannel shirt” with red boots topped with gold. Scratchy dresses flamboyantly, with all the ridiculousness of the Old West. This is a grown man wearing the boots of a New England boy and the shirt of a man from eastern New York in the middle of Texas. His choice of clothing shows some of the craziness of the west. His clothing contrasts with the clothing of Jack Potter; formal wedding wear still new and black. Jack dresses like a rational person. Coming from San Antonio, Jack brings with him the new world’s sense of order. In addition, Scratchy’s clothing shows how even as it roars through the town, the Old West is corrupted and dying already. Scratchy has clothing from thousands of miles away. A person in the true Old West would need to go to great expense to have those types of clothing, but the old drunk Scratchy manages to wear them. The physical manifestation of the Old West in the story embraces the advantages of the new world. This shows how Scratchy rejects his old way of life in favor of the new with all its comforts and advantages. When even the symbol rejects the object no conclusion survives other that the object, in this case the Old West, is dead.

            When the story introduces Scratchy Wilson in his outfit, he still acts in the way associated with the Old West. He walks down the middle of Main Street, with pistols in hand like an antihero in a Spaghetti Western. Even old Clint would be impressed. The solitary sharpshooter standing against an entire town could not be more common in the images and stories associated with the Old West. This provides yet more support for the fact that Scratchy symbolizes the time period. The other way he symbolizes the era is by shouting his challenges to the world. His cries rang through the village “flying over the roofs in a volume that seemed to have no relation to the ordinary vocal strength of a man.” His cries are not that of a man, but of an era. All of this buildup of the Old West only contributes to the finality of the elimination of those years. The lone gunman, with superhuman powers, simply walks away from Potter without firing a shot in the end. The Old West cannot face the new world and survive, no matter the fight it puts up.

            The paragraph presents another key idea, that Scratchy, and the Old West, are childish. Scratchy wears the boots of a child, and his cries are similar to a toddler throwing a temper tantrum. Even his actions later in the work show how childish Scratchy is. He sees the dog, and shoots around it just to scare it and make it run about. One can find the same behavior in a bored child with a magnifying glass, attacking ants for no reason. On the other hand, Jack Potter displays the decisions of a grown man. He returns to Yellow Sky after making a lifelong commitment to his new wife, and dreads the town finding out. Only mature people are conscience of their status. The simple child meeting the mature adult provides yet another explanation as to why Scratchy did not put up a fight. How can a child fight an adult? It is impossible. The position of the new age as being more mature and therefore stronger demonstrates yet another way that it outdoes the Old West.

            The new world so completely dominates the old because of the very environment. Scratchy walks through “[forms] the arch of a tomb over him.” Scratchy’s life ends just as Potter and his wife start a new one. His corrupt, childish representation of the Old West is doomed in the face of Potter’s new, more mature age. The introduction of Scratchy sets up the anticlimactic meeting between the two symbols of different eras in the latter part of the story.


Kyle Ritterback

Wild, Wild, Wilson

            In, “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky,” Stephen Crane uses the childish nature of Scratchy Wilson to clarify the growth of Jack Potter. As sheriff of Yellow Sky, Potter holds the duty of protecting the town from the regular, drunken tantrums of Wilson. Yet, he acts as Scratchy’s accomplice, or “play-mate,” at the same time. Scratchy’s kid-like appearance, troublesome temper, and disposition when he does not get his way illuminate the transformation of Potter between the time of his marriage and his most recent encounter with Scratchy.

            Jack Potter has a sense of guardianship for the town of Yellow Sky. As he makes the long trek home with his newlywed bride, Potter recalls the responsibility that he has for his town: “Potter thought of his duty to his friends, or of their idea of his duty or of an unspoken form which does not control men in these matters, that he felt he was heinous. He had committed an extraordinary crime” (Crane 31). Potter cannot help but possess a sense of disappointment for his recent actions in San Antonio. Although it may be a norm for the citizens of Yellow Sky to get married, Potter recognizes the childish impulsiveness with which he acted during the marriage. Because of this, he believes he has let down not only his friends, but the town of Yellow Sky as well. Potter fears that he cannot provide the town with the necessary attention and protection they deserve, against not only Scratchy, but other threats as well. On the train ride home, Potter’s lack of confidence outlines his internal conflict. His encounter with Scratchy serves as a test of whether he has “grown up” or if he still acts as the “childhood friend” of Scratchy.

            From his name to his appearance, the persona of Scratchy Wilson illustrates the image presented by a small child. “Scratchy” sufficiently mirrors the elementary nickname of a small boy who regularly participates in minor scraps or tussles at the park. Likewise, he is introduced wearing an outfit more commonly found on a child who has trouble matching clothes or choosing an appropriate outfit. Scratchy wears, “a maroon-colored flannel shirt, which had been purchased for the purposes of decoration…and his boots had red tops with gilded imprints, of the kind beloved in winter by little sledding boys” (34). Dressed in a shirt meant for a New Yorker and boots that are most popular amongst little boys, it becomes difficult to take Scratchy seriously. The bartender describes Scratchy, when he is not throwing one of his tantrums as, “kind of simple” paralleling the typical attitude or personality of a child (34).

            The town compares Scratchy’s “tear” to a temper tantrum thrown by a small child who did not get his way. As Scratchy stumbles from door to door shouting expletives, his anger rises as he searches for a fight. The narrator describes Yellow Sky as a “toy for him” and claims Scratchy, “was playing with this town.” Both descriptions once again emphasize a game in which a child may participate for sheer amusement (35). Scratchy even tacks a piece a paper to the door of the “Weary Gentleman” saloon for a game of target practice as well. After unsuccessfully picking a gunfight, Scratchy has no choice but to satisfy his boredom himself by coming up with alternate means of entertainment.

            Although the childlike characteristics of Scratchy begin to outline the difference between Jack and Scratchy, it is not fully recognized until they finally meet face to face. After Potter walks around the corner of his house and the eyes of the men meet, Scratchy cannot help but smile at the sight of his faithful playmate. Scratchy accuses Potter of sneaking up on him as if they were playing some type of game. When Scratchy discovers that Potter does not bring his gun to “play,” he asks Potter if he has, “been to Sunday-school,” making a snide joke more likely to be heard from a ten year old (37). As Scratchy comes to the realization that their duel will not happen, he quickly becomes sad and disappointed, mimicking the actions of a displaced child who did not get his way. The author claims, “in the presence of this foreign condition [Scatchy] was a simply child of the earlier plains,” proving the childlike qualities of Scratchy in his search to find someone to entertain him (37). As Scratchy walks away dejectedly, “his feet made funnel-shaped tracks in the heavy sand” (37). This pattern mirrors the pigeon-toed stumble of a child slowing leaving the site of disappointment and confirms the definitive difference that now exists between the two characters. Jack, who once spent his afternoons participating in Scratchy’s childlike antics, no longer enables him. Brought about by Jack’s marriage, Scrachy no longer feels any sense of companionship with Jack.

            Scratchy’s childlike nature illuminates the inevitable change that Potter has undergone. Potter no longer acts as the same “play-mate” Scratchy once had. Initiated by his marriage, Potter makes the necessary growth into his new situation. What was once questionable on the train is now clear. Potter no longer fears Scratchy, proving that he has made the positive transformation from child to adult as well.

Patrick Leech

Finding the Humor in Everything

Every author has unique and quirky trademarks that he incorporates in his writing.  Stephen King, for instance, ties together previous stories, settings, and characters throughout his different novels.  Other authors have different, darker trademarks.  Edgar Allen Poe falls into this category.  Poe is notorious for incorporating cruel and almost sinister puns throughout his short stories and poems.  These puns foreshadow the impending doom that will inevitably fall upon an unsuspecting character.  This trend is very evident in Poe’s short story “The Cask of Amontillado.”  Throughout the story, Poe directly, and also vicariously through Montressor, continuously hints at Fortunado’s destruction in subtle and sickly humorous ways.

            The first classic “Poeism” is Fortunado’s name.  The name choice for Fortunato creates a pun in and of itself.  Fortunato is Italian for “fortunate,” and based upon Montressor’s dialogue in the first paragraph, “The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge,” the reader quickly finds out that Fortunato is not the fortunate one.  From the start of the story, Montressor plots the demise of Fortunato based upon “the thousand injuries” that Montressor had endured—making Fortunato quite, unfortunate.   

            Another pun that Poe incorporates appears with Montressor’s exaggerated concern for Fortunato’s health.  While the two travelers traverse through the nitre encrusted catacombs, Montressor repeatedly questions Fortunato about his cough. He pleads that they exit the deadly tunnels and return to the festival.  Fortunato vehemently refuses, and the two men continue on their way.  At this point, Montressor is playing with his prey.  Fortunato is ensnared in the deadly tunnels, and Montressor playfully mocks him for it.  The dark plan plotted in the first paragraph is coming to fruition.  Montressor soon takes his cockiness one step further.  Following a severe coughing fit by Fortunato, Montressor explains “that they must go back because of how precious Fortunato’s health is.”  But Fortunato responds “that he will not die of a cough.” Montressor looks at Fortunato and says “True. True.”  The irony of the repertoire between these two characters is excruciating.  Unbeknownst to Fortunato, Montressor not only knows that Fortunato will not die of a cough, but knows the exact fashion in which he will die.  Again, the reader sees the confidence of Montressor and recognizes his inside jokes he shares with both himself and the reader.  All the time, Fortunato is both literally and hypothetically, left in the dark. 

            In order to ease the cough that plagues Fortunato, Montressor offers him a bottle of Medoc.  Poe even presents the toast that Fortunato offers in the form of a pun.  He says “I drink to the buried that repose around us.”—not knowing that he will soon be buried with them.  Montressor returns the toast by drinking to “Fortunato’s long life,” even though he knows full well that Fortunato’s life will end prematurely tonight.  

            Edgar Allen Poe’s sick puns climax when Fortunato opens the bottle of De Grave.  The entire scene is riddled with puns and ironies.  For instance, the name choice of the wine “De Grave” which translates to “The Grave” insinuates the idea of death.  Moreover, the name even goes as far as to tell the reader how Fortunato will die.  Fortunato then “throws the bottle upwards” in a fashion that Montressor does not understand.  Fortunato then asks

            “You do not comprehend?”

“Not I,” I replied.

“Then you are not of the brotherhood.”


“You are not of the masons.”

“Yes, yes,” I said; “yes, yes.”

“You? Impossible! A mason?”

“A mason,” I replied.

During this conversation, Montressor calls himself a mason.  Afterwards, he even produces the trowel to prove to Fortunato that he is in fact a “mason.”  Fortunato laughs this off and calls Montressor a jokester—though Fortunato is the one dressed in a “fool’s outfit.”  The reader soon finds out that the way in which Montressor ends Fortunato’s life is by entrapping Fortunato in a cove and building a wall that blocks the exit.  When Montressor calls himself a mason, he means it in the most literal sense.

Poe intentionally writes the story in this fashion.  He uses the puns and humor as a way to foreshadow the death upon the victim.  The story starts out as Montressor hinting at the idea of “punishing” Fortunato, and it escalates to Montressor almost outright telling Fortunato his sinister “masonry” plans.  The puns serve as an important theme that in turn, allow the reader to gain foresight to the demise of an unsuspecting character. 

Kevin Kirchmer

Stuck in Time

Stephen Crane’s, “The Bride Comes To Yellow Sky,” uses multiple techniques to depict the dilemma that arises when a society evolves and civilization comes to someplace new.  Embodied by the characters and their actions, the resistance to change arises as a motif in the short story.  Specifically, the opening to the third chapter expands upon the division between the east and the west in the story while introducing further elements of Scratchy Wilson’s character, both of which depict a resistance to change.

The third chapter opens with a description of the maroon-colored shirt that Scratchy Wilson wears and immediately introduces the east as a separate entity to compare with the west.  The narrator points out that the shirt “had been purchased for purposes of decoration and made, principally, by some Jewish women on the east side of New York,” creating the feeling that Scratchy Wilson bought the shirt to fit in or feign the civilization that the east represents (34).  This rift echoes the recurring theme present from the beginning of the short story, which opens with the main characters on a train while the scenery outside falls away into the East as the train travels west to Yellow Sky.  Jack Potter and his bride further illustrate the tension between the East and the West through their awkward conversations and forced emotion despite their marriage, all occurring on the train originating east of Yellow Sky.  These events set up the opening of the third chapter to continue displaying the division between the east and the west.

            The narrator’s language describing Yellow Sky in the opening paragraph of chapter three indicates the west resisting change as well.  In chapter two the barkeeper reveals that when Scratchy Wilson does not drink, “‘he’s all right – kind of simple – wouldn’t hurt a fly – nicest fellow in town,’” a description that provides the context for the narration in the beginning of chapter three (34).  The narrator says that after Scratchy Wilson drinks too much he roams about the town yelling and that, “It was as if the surrounding stillness formed the arch of a tomb over him” (35).  When Scratchy drinks, he relapses back to his uncivilized days in a gang and the town represents a tomb because it has progressed since those times and no longer responds to his cries.  The town as a tombstone over Scratchy’s old life further amplifies the resistance to change presented throughout the story.

While Scratchy Wilson represents a holdover with ties to the west, the narrator also depicts him as a childish character that refuses to grow up.  The first of such indicators takes place in the opening of chapter three when the narrator describes Scratchy’s boots as “the kind beloved in winter by little sledding boys on the hillsides of New England” (35).  Not only does the division between the east and the west surface again, but the comparison of Scratchy to a child augments the fact that he represents a resistance to change.  The narrator reinforces the role of Scratchy as a child after introducing this element in the opening of chapter three when he says that Scratchy “was playing with this town.  It was a toy for him” (35).  Further examples of Scratchy’s childish behavior surface in his interactions with Jack upon his return to Yellow Sky.  For instance, Scratchy attempts to entice Jack Potter to fight him at the end of the story but upon learning of Jack’s marriage he could no longer fight.  Scratchy called the “game” off not because he was “a student of chivalry; it was merely that in the presence of this foreign condition he was a simple child of the earlier plains” (37).  The narration directly supports the notion of Scratchy Wilson embodying a child-like behavior first introduced in the opening paragraph of the third chapter.

The opening of the third chapter emphasizes the division between the East and the West and provides further indication of the resistance to change as depicted in the beginning of the story.  The introduction of new elements in Scratchy Wilson’s character also magnifies the resistance to change and receives support from several events later in the text.  The opening paragraph to chapter three as a whole reinforces the theme through the east and west comparisons and the introduction of not only the hold-over element of Scratchy Wilson’s character, but the child-like personality as well.

George Saker

Sinless Sin in “The Storm”

“The Storm” by Kate Chopin is a repulsive short-story that portrays the act of adultery between a wife named Calixta and her lover called Alcée as a natural and almost holy interaction. The story closes with the line, “So the storm passed and everyone was happy” (42 Chopin), depicting that such a grotesque act goes unpunished and that it even enhances the general happiness of the characters. The most distressing element of this text is that Bobinôt, Calixta’s husband, still cares for Calixta as depicted in the line, “Bobinôt arose and going across to the counter purchased a can of shrimps, of which Calixta was very fond” (38). This detail displays his compassion as he purchases an item he remembers she enjoys. Even though Bobinôt is directly characterized as a stolid man in the line, “Then he returned to his perch on the keg and sat stolidly…” (38), the detail about his buying the shrimp makes it clear that he is not completely emotionless. Chopin’s betraying characterization of Bobinôt as caring adds to the despair that Chopin inadvertently emits to the reader when Calixta fails to control her lust for Alcée. Other indirect characterization located in the last paragraph of the first section in the story emphasizes the ignorance of Bobinôt, and although it may seem that ignorance is bliss based on the conclusion of the text, visual imagery in the section foreshadows otherwise.

The opening paragraph of the story portrays Bibi as a four year-old who looks very wise and Bobinôt as a father who converses with his son on terms of perfect equality (38). The situational irony of a four-year old boy being wise inspires the reader to further speculate that Bobinôt, being an old man relative to Bibi, is oblivious. In the last paragraph of the first section Bobinôt is further indirectly characterized in the line, “Then he returned to his perch on the keg” (38). Like a bird spends its days perched on a branch, Bobinôt spends his time sitting idle on the keg, making it seem probable that he does not often interact with Calixta. Additionally, a keg is often related to alcohol and this association of Bobinôt with alcohol emphasizes that in the little time that Bobinôt does spend with Calixta, he may not be mentally aware. To justify the act of adultery, Chopin quickly attempts to portray Bobinôt as a vacant and thoughtless man who is disconnected from his wife’s emotions, but there is a glimmer of thoughtful love in the can of shrimps that he purchases for his wife.

By characterizing Bobinôt in this way, Chopin commences her persuasive procedure, which has an ultimate goal of convincing the reader that Calixta and Alcée partook in a moral, holy, and natural act of adultery. Connecting the passionate flare of sexual action that occurs between the two characters with the thundering storm that is approaching from the west, Chopin tries to convince the reader that the characters are not committing sins, but instead are acting as natural and pure beings. Coupled with the blissful ending of the story this natural intercourse seems harmless, but Chopin’s imagery betrays this message. In describing the effect of the bursting storm Chopin states, “It shook the wooden store and seemed to be ripping great furrows in the distant field” (38). The shake of the wooden store correlates with the swift change in happiness of the family. Although Calixta partakes in a risky endeavor it all ends well in the short-term as she is sexually satisfied and in turn treats her husband and son with effusive kindness. But the storm rips great furrows in the distant field. This imagery foreshadows that although the storm may have nourished the nearby flowers, the foundation for the future has been invaded and has crumbled.

To further persuade the reader that the act of adultery was righteous, Chopin attempts to portray Calixta as an unselfish woman who is worried for her son in the line, “If I only knew w’ere Bibi was!” (39). She says this as a bolt of lightning strikes a nearby tree. The name “Bibi” means woman or lady of the house, and the fact that Calixta only displays worry for Bibi reveals her selfishness. This self-concern highlights that she swooned with Alcée out of unholy lust to please her own sexual desires. In the final picture that Chopin paints of Bibi and Bobinôt in section one through the line, “Bibi laid his little hand on his father’s knee and was not afraid” (38), the placement of Bibi’s hand on his father’s knee is a sign of comforting. Chopin characterizes Bibi as a male to disguise the relationship between Bibi and Calixta, which is unveiled by the meaning of the name Bibi, but this is not enough to mask the connection between the two characters from the reader. Bibi, the lady of the house, is not afraid of the storm because he is wise. He knows the storm will allow Calixta to please herself and so he comforts Bobinôt.

            Kate Chopin made a valiant effort to convince the reader that Alcée and Calixta did not sin in their act of adultery by primarily creating a connection between the characteristics of the intercourse and the natural storm. This connection is manifested through the description of the sexual interaction between Alcée and Calixta in the line, “They did not heed the crashing torrents, and the roar of the elements made her laugh as she lay in his arms” (40). The use of the phrases “crashing torrents” and” the roar of the elements,” combined with the surrounding sensual descriptions in the text, represents Chopin’s attempt to portray the act of adultery as natural. She also utilizes the connotations involving pureness and holiness from the color white and the lilies portrayed in the lines, “She was a revelation in that dim, mysterious chamber; as white as the couch she lay upon. Her firm, elastic flesh that was knowing for the first time its birthright, was like a creamy lily…” (40). Despite this association between nature and the act of adultery along with the figurative assertion of its innocence, Chopin’s characterization and imagery elsewhere betray her ultimate goal. Even the chinaberry tree, a symbol of religion as chinaberries were once used to make rosaries, was destroyed by a lightning strike. Concluding, Chopin was unable to mask the evil and selfish nature of Calixta’s sexual interaction.


























































Prompt for Paper #5


Due date:   4 Dec


Length:      about 3 pages, double-spaced


Audience:   your classmates and instructor


Expectations.  Consult Assignment #1 to recall elements already introduced.  Remember to concentrate on the following:


--limit use of “to be” verb and passive voice

--write fully developed paragraphs that have a clear idea and organization

--make sure the paragraphs occur in the best possible order within the overall paper

--conclude your paper in a way that does not just rehearse the opening paragraph

--construct a pointed controlling idea that will drive the entire essay’s focus and organization


Purpose.  Take one of the following approaches:


--explain how some specific element of one of the plays we have read helps to develop an overall theme and/or important character


--to enter into a matter of debate or a problem about some element of one of the plays and to construct an argument that proves a position on it


--to explain specifically how one of the plays—a particular element in—communicates something meaningful to you


--to explain how one of the performances or movies you have seen “interprets” an aspect of the play in some notable way









































Blanche’s song—“Land of . . .”


From the Land of Sky-blue Water,

They brought a captive maid,

And her eyes they are lit with lightnings,

Her heart is not afraid!

But I steal to her lodge at dawning,

I woo her with my flute;

She is sick for the Sky-blue Water,

The captive maid is mute.