The New Rage- Chicken Hair

Living in a college city and spending my days on campus, it is easy to spot the latest trends. Sperry’s, Wayfarers, Tom’s, yoga pants… the list goes on, but a new trend that borrows its style from the animal world is hair feathers.

One of my sorority sisters in from Colorado, where the fashion trends typically reach before they do in Lexington, walked in one day and I noticed feathers in her hair. After I saw that she had feathers, I began to see them everywhere. My roommate now has three feathers and I work with three girls at a restaurant who all have them too. Three. One girl literally went to the salon next day to buy them. Women, men, children, and yes even dogs can buy these feather accessories, but at what cost ultimately? Continue reading

Where has the American Dream gone?

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  Declaration of Independence

The above quote from the Declaration of Independence is the most well-known line in this early American document.  The purpose of this document was for the colonists to proclaim and state the reasons why a separation from Great Britain was necessary.  It was written by the Founding Fathers who are said to have been of the Christian faith and followers of God.  In this quote, the Founding Fathers inferred that everyone was created equally by their “Creator,” or God, and with this equality comes the rights of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. 

I believe that these three “unalienable rights” are key points to what we call the “American Dream.”  The American Dream is the dream of a better life with an even more promising future.  It’s what every American wants and what every family strives to achieve.  In the book “Epic of America” written by James Adams, he states that the American Dream is “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement…” (p. 214).  When Adams wrote this, the American Dream was just that.  It was the dream of a better life filled with opportunity.  But is this still what the American Dream stands for today?  Is there still such a thing as the “American Dream?”  Or have we destroyed that image indefinitely? Continue reading

Daddy’s Girl

I’m not going to lie, I got a little teary-eyed when I read the part in American Pastoral where Merry spotted the Swede and when “she raced across the street, this frightful creature, and like the carefree child he used to enjoy envisioning back when he was himself a carefree child – the girl running from her swing outside the stone house – she threw herself upon his chest, her arms encircling his neck.” (Roth, 230) I am definitely a daddy’s girl. My dad and I are very much alike, both very stubborn, so we’ve had our share of arguments and at times, we’ve really disliked each other. But, I love my dad, and now more than ever since I am older and in college away from him. Continue reading

Live And Let Live

“No!” he shouted. The Jainism, the legalism, the egregious innocence, all of it desperation, all of it to distance herself from the four who are dead. “This will not do! You are not an Algerian woman! You are not from Algeria and you are not from India! You are an American girl from Old Rimrock, New Jersey! A very, very screwed-up American girl!” (Roth, 264)

This dialogue comes from the latest book we have read in class, American Pastoral by Philip Roth. I’m not much of a history person, but I liked the use of real historical events in this fiction novel. Something that really stood out to me was Merry’s new practice of life that she introduced to her father in Chapter 6 when he finally finds her and visits with her. Her new religion is what is called Jainism. I knew nothing about this way of life, and didn’t even know if it was real when I first read the novel. I looked it up and decided I would look further into it since we didn’t cover much of it in class and because I found it quite interesting. Continue reading

The Lion and The Lamb

After our discussion about William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience a couple weeks ago, I began thinking a lot about its connections to other ideas/ topics we have talked about in this class.  I personally was interested in how he created many of the poems in pairs and how they explore two unique perspectives of the world we live in.  Here we see the pastoral contrasts between innocence verse experience, child verse adult, and simplicity verse complexity.

The Songs of Innocence portray acceptance.  They exaggerate the adolescent faith and fears that give meaning to the lives of children.  These songs represent naïve pastoral simplicity of trusting adults and believing what they hear.  There is a lack of problems and complexity and the child has no sense of what is right verse what is wrong.  We see in The Lamb that the lamb is an allegory for baby Jesus, representing the Christian values.  The song says, “Little Lamb, who made thee? /  Dost thou know who made thee?”  Here the Lamb is asking who created them and asking the other person, whom I assume is their mother or father, about their origins.  The child is asking simple questions although they do not realize they are asking profound questions that many people have about their own particular derivation.  The second stanza is a response to the first stanza and responds saying, “Little Lamb I tell thee: / He is called by thy name, / For he calls himself a Lamb. / He is meek & he is mild; / He became a little child. / I a child & thou a lamb. / We are called by his name.”  The child is told that the Lamb was made by the one who “calls himself a Lamb,” making a reference to God.  This song/ poem represents the innocence that a child has to accept teachings. Continue reading

Time on the Water

Kentucky Lake

Last weekend for the holiday weekend I decided to go down to visit my friend who lives in Paducah.  We ended up spending the whole weekend at his lake house on Kentucky Lake.  As the Pastoral was on my mind at the time, I thought to myself “This will be a nice relaxing weekend and I will be able to return to lexington refreshed”.  So, I proceeded to leave my cellphone at the lake house when we went out on the lake the first night, and it was a great feeling to not be stuck in the urban setting with the constant buzz of the sirens on Nicholasville and the buzzing of my phone to annoy me.  Besides the boat it was a evening out on the water with very little to think about.  I think many people also come to the lake seeking this kind of relaxation.  The next day we spent the whole day out on the water so I had no choice, I had to bring my phone just in case of emergency.  Although the next day was not like the evening we had spent before, there is something about a Jet ski that just doesn’t seem to fit into the theme of anything pastoral to me. Continue reading

Last Minute Weekend Announcements

Better late than never, here are your weekend announcements.

1.  First essays.  I have finally finished grading the first formal essay.  You should have received an e mail with a copy attached with grade and comments.  Please let me know if you have any questions about the essays.  However, the goal is that you can take some of the principles learned from the first essay and apply them to the second.  Things like close reading, establishing a microcosmic-macrocosmic relationship, and integrating a They Say, I Say structure are important maneuvers.

2.  Final essays.  Remember that I have extended the deadline for the final essay.  It will be due to me via e mail by the end of the day on Wednesday, June 8 (11:59 PM).  Let me know if you have any questions before that deadline arrives.

3.  Final exam.  I’ve posted the study guide to the final exam on the website.  Be sure to take note of it, and as always, raise questions before the exam.  We’ll spend some time in class tomorrow talking about the structure of the exam if needed.

4.  Final free-form article checkpoint.  Remember that tomorrow is the final deadline for free-form articles.  At the end of the day, all contributed free form articles will not “count” toward the grade average.

5.  Podcast for extra credit.  It’s still not too late to propose a podcast episode and schedule a recording with me.  The option is still there, if anyone wants to take advantage.

6.  “Midterm” grade report.  Tomorrow I will finally hand out an assessment of where your grade is. Again, better late than never. I will say more about it in class.

Unnatural Nature

Natural Bridge Sky-lift

This weekend I enjoyed a pastoral retreat away from the urban hustle of my downtown Lexington apartment.  It was nice to get away from the concrete jungle of the city and see something besides grey and red brick buildings and black asphalt for a change.  Pulling off of Mountain Parkway near Slade, Kentucky I immediately rolled my windows down and enjoyed the fresh air of the mountains – a nice change from the stale, coal-sulfur mix I am used to around west campus.  As an avid hiker, camper and health nut, I try to frequent the Red River Gorge area as often as possible throughout the summer.  I parked my truck in the farthest lot from the main trail to the Natural Bridge attraction and began my hike.  There were several other tourists enjoying a pleasant Saturday morning as well.  Most were also hiking enthusiasts such as myself, and had no problem traversing the one mile path up the mountain side to see the attractions.  What really caught my attention once I was at the top, however, was the number of people actually using the sky-lift. Continue reading

Good Mood Food

Michael Pollan’s Supermarket Pastoral illustrates the nation’s organic food craze.  Over the past few decades, more and more American’s are showing a heightened interest in the food they consume.  People are choosing to shop at places such as Whole Foods and Fresh Market instead of at large chains such as Wal-Mart or Kroger.  They are also, in most cases, choosing to spend much more on food.  As Pollan states, the organic food industry has become an $11 billion industry.  Why are so many people forgoing their previous food choices and switching to organic?  Continue reading

Final Exam Study Guide

This post is just a friendly reminder that we’ll be having our final exam in class on June 7 (the last day of the semester).  Fortunately, I’m providing a study guide to help us along the way.  The exam format will resemble that of your midterm, with several exceptions. In addition to free-standing quotation identification sections, you’ll be asked to briefly sketch out the interpretative consequences of critical perspectives on the texts we’ve read by answering multiple choice questions.  If you’d like, we can go over a sample in class. Continue reading

Green Make$ Me The Green!

XS Energy Drinks boast no sugar, no carbs, only 8 calories and no contain no artificial ingredients such as aspertame! They are also available in thirteen delicious flavors!

Over the past few years the “green” trend has really started to spike here in the U.S.  More and more consumers are flocking to products that advertise being natural or organic.  The other day we read an excerpt from “The Omnivore’s Dilema” in which Michael Pollan argues that people buy natural and organic products to “engage in authentic experiences and are imaginatively enacting a return to a utopian past with the positive aspects of modernity intact.”  This recent trend has provided a pastoral gateway to provide consumers with the types of natural and organic products which they desire.  Pollan claims that just the word “organic” has “proved to be one of the most powerful words in the supermarket” and organic products are an “11 billion dollar industry that is one of the fastest growing sectors of the food economy.”

As an entrepreneur and business owner, I am constantly seeking products to market and ways to reach the consumers who want to buy them.  Health, fitness and weight management is one of the fastest growing industries in America right now with nutrition and diet supplements.  The marriage of this industry along with the newly popular “natural” industry has proven to be the best combination since peanut butter and jelly collaborated into one jar!  Sometimes I feel like I’m riding the gravy train with biscuit wheels!

Continue reading