Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Marvelous Slice of May!

Make that a marvelously late slice of may. Finals are in full swing, and we all know how Machiavelli's emphasis on "the ends" tirelessly blesses the American  education system. Anyway, I am sure that all of you will share my sentiment that it is extremely pleasurable to look out of one's windows in this rejuvenating time of year. That, and a few political or personal principles as well, are what snake through this piece. Enjoy "Plea"  

Saturday, May 21, 2011

How to Succeed (Period)

Do all of you wondrous individuals out there recall that I do in fact play the oboe? It was my first post on The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
where I first mentioned it, if anybody will remember that long ago...in fact, I really don't recall the post that well. Days fly by in the same way as these fickle years that compose our lives. Before we know it, the last day will be upon us and all that we know will be stolen by the angelic robber of time, the same force simultaneously pushing us into whatever afterlife we have come to deserve. This must be quite like what Mr. Louis Zamperini felt when his air force plane, The Green Hornet, was plunging into the open Pacific during a second revival of classical idealism (WWII).
     The nonfictional Unbroken features seasoned author Laura Hillenbrand recounting the story of Zamperini, a superb runner who decided to join the U.S. military when Tokyo's 1940 Olympics were canceled. Louis broke a national high school track record and was the top American finisher in the 5000-meter race at Berlin, the site of the 1936 Olympics. The athlete was just reaching the peak of his career when on came the eruption of World War II. As I do whenever my teachers move the days of tests that I have oh-so-intensely studied for, Zamperini was immediately depressed with his lost shot at worldwide glory. He confronted this melancholy with his eventual joining of the United States Air Force a little while later. There, he was assigned to a crew that included pilot Russel Allen Phillips and placed into   a trustworthy plane called Super Man. Super Man and all of Zamperini's original crew mates survived the missions so bluntly handed to them by the superiors of the United States Air Force, at some occurrences on the count of sheer fortune. The plane met its end, however, on a raid over the Japanese Base Naruwu (I hope I spelled that right)  Louis and Phillips (or Phil, as he was called) had to leave the piece of machinery and the several crewmen who had been hurt in the riveting air-battle with Japanese planes that had ruined it. On a rescue mission, within a hazardous plane titled The Green Hornet, came to be where the pair was finally conquered by the perils of Pacific War. The insubstantial flying machine crashed on May 27, 1943 due to a technical malfunction that left all crew members deceased save for Zamperini, Phil, and an engineer nicknamed Mack. The raft they were forced to live on for weeks afterwards drifted two-thousand miles across the Pacific. When the journey ended, only two men were left on it.
     So now, you probably have two questions for me-
  1. Who were those two people? And...
  2. Why the hell did I incorporate that thing about the oboe at the onset of this post? Well...
A few weeks ago, I partook in a huge musical competition with my school band, one in which I was lucky enough to be a featured soloist. I had been practicing this solo for quite some time to insure its impeccable delivery at the festival, but I still had doubts about my potential to fulfill these naturally high expectations. Music has always been a wondrous outlet for my fervent OCD since it is an art form that can only be really appreciated once. There are no other chances once the conductor's baton dives on its first swoop of precision at that last concert of the season-if you have talent and the will to utilize it for the entire band's benefit (or for your personal ascension if the music in question is purely a solo piece), the one and only time to convey is then. Period.
     But that morning of the competition, I knew that meticulous pressure and will to succeed would be  present especially for the day ahead. No tremens would steal the dexterity of my fingers, no meekness the valor of my harmonial sanguiety, none at all. Each ray of cherished sunlight cradled my face because I was indeed living; I was in no mood to escape from life.The words "Carpe Diem" penned their way onto my left hand, and instantaneously the seizability of that day became cemented in the very concrete that this world I walked on was painstakingly forged of.
     I was there on stage. Beat changes, low back-tone of the bass clarinet saturates my apprehensive ears, the baton permits my escape from her encompassing grasp...
     And myself was suddenly an aspect of the entire world around me. Just the whole earth revolving around my music as the notes escaped from its magnificent grasp. People lived as they always did, and the trends of their lives conformed to the same senseless meanderings, but I was suddenly an aspect of it, breaking some species of chain. A chain that kills with its deafening din. Who it strangled, I still cannot say.
     The solo was over. The world keeps turning, and my presence is again in exile.
     God knows I'll fight my way back.*
     Louie Zamperini and Russel Allen Phillips transcended the limits of human survival in a similar manner. They each had a robust belief in the deepest calibers of their souls that there was indeed some unseen path by which they would escape the cramped raft that contained them day by day in the desperately open sea. The two quizzed each other on aspects of their previous lives, entertained themselves with descriptions of delectable sustenance for the satisfaction of their neglected appetites, and always found an avenue whose end possessed hope. More than forty days passed with the two conquistadors of humane limitations alive and well at some unimaginable crevice of the Pacific. Mac, despite his occasional participation in Louie and Phil's testaments to survival, was never able to curb the thought that his death on that raft was utterly certain. He consumed all of the castaways' food within a disheveled panic of one night, and afterwards waned into a malnourished wallflower. The engineer's remains were thrown into the sea after his death.
     Considering all of this, I desire all of you to know that one can deposit his entire life into attempts at success and never succeed because of an absolutely stupid reason. A reason whose simplicity has contributed to only a certain type of person being present in contemporary show business, of all things...
     The wrong mindset.
     Find the main phenomenon in your life that inhibits you from achieving your foremost goal.This is your brick wall, your mammoth castle whose walls will eventually yearn to be emaciated by your cannons. Take that phenomenon-you have it now, right?-and identify the thought that would utterly negate it. When you have that thought, and only when you possess that thought in its utmost sincerity, ingrain the notion within your brain in a way that makes its eradication at the hands of doubt or fear to succeed infeasible. Convince yourself that this thought is the world, and that any straying from it will culminate in your end (a statement which, now that I think deeper, is actually valid.)
    That thought will then be present in your mind the next time  you attempt to achieve your ambitions. Under this new guidance, watch them become a reality.

*Hold me to it.

    Sunday, May 1, 2011

    And You Thought Odysseus and DiCaprio Were a Weird Match?

    Because I am so engrossed in Unbroken at the present time, this will be a quite alternative species of post.  The following is a nonfiction piece in which I express how you won't donate to the Japanese reief effort once it gets boring by comparing the Japan's Tsunami/Earthquake to a different, pop-cultural disaster: Britney Spears. I sincerely hope that it has immense, thought-provoking power over its readers.
    Okay, so we’re watching the VMAs, right? Lady Gaga flying in on a hang-glider, a paramedic following Justin Bieber as leagues of teenagers faint in his presence, Ryan Seacrest making awkward jokes with singers who would much rather be talking to someone else, Katy Perry being dragged away by police for public nudity, Japan’s Tsunami/Earthquake disaster being stalked by the paparazzi, -wait, huh? Japan’s Tsunami/Earthquake Disaster? How could that be there? A natural chaos does not qualify as a celebrity, should not be trudging down the red carpet as mammoth cameras snap pictures of its indisputable glamour. No, of course not.     
                What if I told you that it did?
                Let’s for several minutes divert our attention from this specific natural disaster and move to one more easily applicable to the subject at hand: Haiti. On January twelfth of last year, this nation suffered a devastating earthquake (with a magnitude of 7.0 on the Richter’s Scale, for you earth science aficionados) that redefined the meaning of a terrestrial hell. The capital of the most impoverished country in the Western Hemisphere, Port-au-Prince, was completely demolished; buildings were leveled, three hundred and sixteen thousand people were left dead, and any amount of stability previously achieved in the corrupt nation was utterly eradicated. When this phenomenon occurred, Haiti suddenly seemed to be the focus of every country on Earth- every newspaper in existence would not possess a single reader if Haiti’s present condition was not clearly printed on its front page, each news program viewerless if the subject left uncovered.  People worldwide were famished for information, their sympathy sometimes growing so unbridled that it transformed into unhealthy obsession. It could be correct to compare this worldwide fascination with how people treated Ms. Brittany Spears, singing seductress of the ages, at the peak of her fame. When she first emerged from the New Mickey Mouse Club in 1998 with her immensely popular single, “…Baby One More Time”, the star was launched into bubble gum pop’s ever-abducting spotlight. With the new millennium came her hit “Oops! I did it again!” and even more media attention as rumors about her relationship with Justin Timberlake began to circulate. The more sexualized album Britney was released in 2001, Britney giving a landmark performance of her song “Slave 4 U” with a skimpy dress and a boa constrictor only two years later. Yet despite her gradual descent into trashdom, Spears was still on top of the world.  “Toxic”, a dance-tune that was compiled within the sophomore album In the Zone, earned Britney her first Grammy. At that point, millions of teens nationwide were passionately beginning to idolize the woman; they desired that bleach-blonde hair, that ridiculously thin figure they thought was the key to a successful life, that sweet voice which made her more than simply a pretty face. It must have been actually weird if one didn’t want to Britney Spears in that time.
                 Matters after the triumph of In the Zone, however, did not prove to be so wonderful. A Las-Vegas Marriage with childhood friend Jason Alexander culminated in annulment, and Spears soon established a relationship with a backup dancer by the name of Kevin Federline. Federline was an excellent man who already had a pregnant girlfriend. Bad enough for you, Britney? Apparently so-she and Federline got married in later 2004, soon producing a child that Britney was intelligent enough to set on her lap while she drove in a certain incident. Spears was rapidly losing her famous reputation as a sweetly innocent girl with a pretty-nice voice. Then came the divorce, the fervent custody battles, the head-shaving (my personal favorite), the checking in and out of rehab…you know the story. And since the American public has gotten bored with even these atrocities, she is no longer a frequent in the news.
                So wait a second, when was the last time you saw the Haitian disaster in the news? A month? Two months? There was a big buzz in January when pretty much every media outlet was reporting that the country was still in anarchic chaos a year after the disaster. However, there were no follow-up reports about the condition’s specifics-just one, concise FYI. This rise to fame and gradual fall, this storm of media attention and eventual ignorance…it sort of reminds me of somebody. A certain person mentioned in the last paragraph.
                That’s right, kids. Britney Spears.
                Both phenomena were at one point heavily integrated into pop culture, what with Britney being Pop’s newest princess at the onset of the millennium and a celebrity-studded charity telethon by the name of “Hope for Haiti Now” being held to benefit disaster-aid. It was quite unfortunate that when people eventually got bored with both subjects after a time, each one endured a rapid boot out of the media spotlight. Networks found alternate news stories that they knew would generate more viewership for their respective news programs.  The subjects of Britney and Haiti were equally exhausted-viewers got bored from seeing the same topic over and over, eventually obtaining the notion that they knew everything about it. The network would therefore gain money when those viewers tuned into their specific news program since it covered a topic besides Britney or Haiti. Therefore, the network would gain more of a profit. Money is the greatest motivator the world has and will ever witness.
                So will Japan’s Tsunami/Earthquake escape the fate of the Haitian chaos?  How about this-will I ever stop asking you guys rhetorical questions? You know the answer-no. One hundred percent no. Despite the fact that this horrible tragedy destroyed leagues of buildings, left hundreds of thousands lifeless and even more void of electricity, it will soon become news of the past. But-and this is the imperative part-you can help. Mention Japan in any conversations you have. Mention it on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Stumbleupon, Tumblr, picnik, whatever stalkerish website you prefer. Stay informed by researching news articles about the subject, for the more news outlets see people reading such articles, the more they will publish them.
                Today is April 24, 2011. By the time you are reading this article, gone will be any attention the disaster in the Land of the Rising Sun’s. If the cycle remains unchanged, of course.
                Don’t let one of the most devastating disasters of our time meet the same fate as a chick who was nuts enough to shave her head.
                Change it.      
    *This piece used the following sources:

    "7.0 Earthquake Hits Haiti; 'Serious Loss of Life Expected, - CNN." CNN.com. CNN, 12 Jan. 2010. Web. 25 Apr. 2011.

    Archibold, Randal C. "Haiti: Quake’s Toll Rises to 316,000." The New York Times 14 Jan. 2011, New York ed. Www.nytimes.com. The New York Times, Jan. 2011. Web. 25 Apr. 2011.    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/14/world/americas/14briefs-Haiti.html.

    "Britney Spears." Biography.com. Biography. Web. 25 Apr. 2011. http://www.biography.com/articles/Britney-Spears-9542229.

    CNN Wire Staff. "Widespread Destruction from Japan Earthquake, Tsunamis." CNN.com. CNN, 11 Mar. 2011. Web. 25 Apr. 2011.