Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Study Guide: Good luck tomorrow!

Final Exam Study Guide, English 261

Terms to define and to recognize in the context of literature.

Dramatic irony
Colloquial or informal diction versus formal diction
Short-short story or flash fiction
Short story
Limited versus omniscient point-of-view
Figurative language (idioms and metaphors)
Hard-boiled crime fiction
Film noir

You will write an essay in response to one of the following three questions.  You may prepare by marking your text (you may bring and use the book) and/or making a notecard with key pages and passages marked.

1.      Do a character study of Lizbeth Salander.  Is she a hero?  Antihero?  What might explain the popularity of her character?
2.      Examine the role of personal relationships and romance/sex in Blomkvist’s character.  Why is his love life such an integral part of the novel and his character?
3.      Crime novels often have a special duo trying to solve crimes together.  What makes the relationship between Salander and Blomkvist unique or interesting?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

For Monday from Mike

Guang is right!  Just read "Barn Burning" by William Faulkner for tomorrow.

I miss you guys! But I'll be there tomorrow and we'll catch up, hear the last Presentations, and review for the final on Wednesday.

I'm sure you guys are glad to be mostly done reading here now and you can just review the novel and the stories we've read since the Mid-term.  I appreciate all the work and for being gracious to the visiting teachers as well.

On Tuesday, I'll bring my Wuhan University students and we'll have a US/China trivia set up and some conversation and an Open House with free lunch about 11:30.

This class has flown by, it seems.  Kathy, we can read that flash fiction of Hemingway's in our textbook during class tomorrow and that will go nicely as a short text to accompany your Presentation.

Good luck and see you in the morning.

Mike Lohre

Saturday, July 16, 2011

To Ashante

birng 3 copies of your essay on one of the films we saw in class. you don't have to read "the last menu girls", just read "barn burning". i hope i didn't forget anything.

To Kathy

thanks for your comment Kathy! you are truely a big reader. i can sit in the couch and watch tv all day, but hardly can stay with a book for an hour. shame on me! :( i always admire those who just enjoy reading. i guess i should take some actions and make some changes. i'll start with On China by Henry Kissinger. wish me good luck!
As most of you know, I missed class on Thursday...Is there anything I should have prepared for class beside my presentation and essay?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Big Sleep

I loved the snarky dialogue between the bad guys and Marlowe. He acts so serious when he makes funny dialogue. Some of his lines pop out like he's self aware of being a character in a crime novel. he Even jokes about being a private detective with Carmen. the funnier part that stick out to me is the scene in his office with Vivian, where Bacall seems to want to scratch her leg and Bogart says "well go ahead, scratch it" it seems to me that this was a blooper of the actors, but they left it in for humor between the two of them.

One of the more humorous lines is when he encounters bad guys and either disarms them, is caught, or gets the last laugh.

[Marlowe]Somebody's always giving me guns.

[Marlowe] My, my, my! Such a lot of guns around town and so few brains! You know, you're the second guy I've met today that seems to think a gat in the hand means the world by the tail.

[Canino] What's the matter? Haven't you ever seen a gun before? What do you want me to do, count three like they do in the movies?

[Marlowe] I can do what? Where? Oh no, I wouldn't like that. Neither would my daughter.
[hangs up]
[Marlowe] I hope the sergeant never traces that call.

These are my favorite lines, I also tend to think the filmic conventions used to try to get us into Marlowes head are interesting, such as when we see him trying to keep track of Geiger in the bookstore across the street. his actions are very literal and interpretated i could see the book narrating this scene as I was watching.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Plot Structure of The BIg Sleep

There are two stories caused by two major blackmails in The Big Sleep. The first story is developed around the investigation of a blackmail General Sternwood received from Arthur Geiger. Philip Marlow, a hardboiled detective hired by Sternwood, goes directly to Geiger's rare bookstore and then follows Geiger to his house. Marlow then finds Geiger is shot dead and Carmen, Sternwood's daughter, is drunken inside the house, posing in front of a camera. So what happened in the house? Is Carmen a covergirl or something else? And where's the film roll since it's not in the camera?

Vivan, Sternwood's daughter, goes to see Marlowe with some nude pictures of a woman and these pictures offer an important clue to Marlow becuae the woman on those pictures is Carmen. Tracing the blackmailer who has Carmen's pictures, Marlow is led to Joseph Brody's apartment. Talking to Brody, Marlow finds out Brody wants to take over Geiger's porn business, but he denies killing Geiger. Ironically Brody is shot by Geiger's lover. Now Mr Sternwood's case is closed and Vivan meets Marlow in order to give him his check. Their meeting leads to the second story.

Marlow's professonal sense tells him that Vivan is hiding something from him. Regan, Vivan's former husband, have disappeared for a few months and it's said that he ran away with Eddie Mars's wife. Marlow starts from Mars' casino. However, Marlow is unable to get any information about Ms Mars from Mr Mars. Harry Jones, who knows where Ms Mars is located, finds Marlow and tries to sell the information to him. Canino, Eddie's boy, poisoned Harry before Marlow's able to make the deal with him. Now it seems the clue is cut off, but the girlfriend of Harry, Agnes, is able to finish the deal with Marlow. Marlow then drives to the auto shop where Ms Mars is held. In the shop Marlow is knocked out by Canino. When he wakes up he sees Ms Mars and Vivan.

After a long talk with Vivan, Marlow figures out what's bothering Vivan. Marlow and Vivan then return to Geiger's house. Fallen in the trap created by Marlow, Eddie is shot by his own boys. Marlow then reports to the police like this: Eddie killed Regan although he knows it's Carmen who really killed Regan after being spurned. The ending is romantic when Vivan challenges Marlow by saying, "Nothing you can fix."

The plot of the movie is not easy to follow because it's a complex story and have several herring (something that draws attention away from the central issues) characters. For example, Geigle appears dead on the floor and his death is still a mystery. It is hinted that Taylor killed Geigle but the motives are never shown. Carol kills Brody for his "lover" Geigle without any background introduction and hints. These characters are portrayed in a very minor way, but they offer clues to Marlow and keep the movie going. In the book all these questions are probably answered. However, due to time constraint, the movie just can't cover all of it. Frankly a complex story like The Big Sleep doesn't fit the big screen too well.

TGwtDragon tattoo

once all the characters had been accounted for and Millenium has been bought into by Vanger's company I had kept going back to Martin and why he wasn't mentioned more in reference to Harriet's disappearance, that and the connections pointing to Cecelia and Anita tends to be incredibly strong.

So I kept having a running theory that the two sets of murders were separate but related through Harriet, that Martin was involved somehow in Harriet's disappearance and had an accomplice. The reason being was that he was immediately thrown out as a suspect because he was in Upsalla.
plus Cecelia was either a witness or an accessory. I can't figure out whether Harriet is alive or dead.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Ramdom thoughts

I'm trying to make sense out of the old Vangers' unhuman behaviors, but it seems I failed miserably...My husband called them demon-posseessed. Maybe so. Nazis surrended at the end of WW2. Did Larson try to tell their influence still exists today? I guess I shouldn't spend too much time on that.

Then I moved my focus to the heroine Salander the girl with the dragon tatoo (Is she really the heroin?)and tried to figure out if there's any relationship between Salander and the Vangers. The only connection I found is the sadistic guardian really belongs to the old Vangers' camp! Right now it seems Harriet is more like the heroine. Should a woman who suvived all those tortures be more interesting to the audience? Comparing Harriet's suffering with the Salander's, maybe Harriet would gian more sympathy. However, I thought the novel was about the girl with a dragon tatoo...

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Shiloh is about a guy named Leroy who is a walking workers comp lawsuit and his self educated wife. Leroy messed up his leg in a truck driving accident and his wife has been taking care of him by working the jobs she can. She suggests some jobs for him but he seems to be interested in other things, mainly building a log cabin for some dumb reason. His wife has been taking night classes and has become a well read person while Leroy was driving trucks across the country so she was learning how to cook exotic food and find some fun hobby's. Leroy doesn't seem to like this and he misses how she used to cook. We find out that in the past they had a baby. but while they were out on a date the baby had died of SIDS and this loss seems to come up every so often. The mother-in-law seems to hate Leroy and resents him getting Norma Jean pregnant and doesn't seem very sympathetic to their loss of the child. She suggests that they go to Shiloh national park for a picnic. again, Leroy seems to be preoccupied with his log cabin idea. He seems to have really bad ADD, because after Norma Jean up and leaves him. he goes on an internal thought of battlefield and soldier's who died just sitting in the middle of his picnic in Shiloh.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Comment to Nick's Casablanca post

We don't expect Rick to do the right thing, do we? He seems so selfish, and this is such an unselfish act. I think only Bogard could make Rick so appealing.


I felt great empathy with Norma Jean. She and her husband grew apart as he was always on the road. While he was gone, she cultivated other interests and had her own life. Now that he was home, he wanted her to focus on him and his interests (the log cabin). But she just couldn't (and didn't want to) go back to that suffocating role. I feel her pain, as I am going through major changes in my own life. After spending 25 years being a wife and mother, and doing the "right thing" (sacrificing my own happiness for that of my husband and children), I want "me" time. I want to grow as a person, be stimulated intellectually (thus the return to school), and have fun! Unfortunately, just like Norma Jean, my marriage has not survived. I could no longer continue to be that person and remain psychologically healthy.


Shiloh is the story of a recently out of work trucker named Leroy and his tentative wife Norma. For much of their marriage Leroy was on the road but since being injured he has been at home with Norma smoking pot and planning a log cabin. With Leroy now home all the time neither one of the couple know how to act around the other and their distance and tension is felt throughout the story. This is compounded by their long, sordid history; (thier baby dying at four months old), and Norma's mother, Mabel who is constantly bagering them to visit Shiloh, TN. Shiloh is a civil war battle site that Mabel visited years ago with her husband. Ultimatly the couple decide to go and it is here that the conflict between Leroy and Norma is brought to a head with Norma saying she wants to leave him. I thought this story was alright; it was a good example of foreshadowing, we knew they were probably going to divorce but we didn't know how. My only discrepency was the how; Norma just says, "I want to leave you", and they have a brief conversation and that's the end.


Leroy is a former truck driver who was hurt in an accident and has been stuck at home for the last three months. He spends his time doing crafts, like building models, which sparks an idea to build a log house for him and his wife, Norma. Over the story we come to find Norma is frustrated with seeing Leroy all the time, even with her plethora of activities (working out, job, school). So with his mother-in-law's advice he takes Norma to Shiloh in hopes of reconnecting and to get a break from their lives a home. This however backfires and while having a picnic Norma tells Leroy he wants to get a devorce, and walks away.


This was the first time seeing this movie. I liked the fact that Rick is entirely self interested at first, he runs a speak easy in neutral Casablanca and seems to care for few except when it effects his business. He seems like a real scum at first, then you see the caring relationship he had with Iisla in the flashbacks. I wanted rick to get her in the end but the husband was more important to the overall plot and theme of duty and loyalty to ones county and women in the story.

I had fully expected that Rick would give himself up, be shot, or sent back to the concentration camp as the plane took off. I was shocked when Rick shot the Nazi officer and became business partners with Louie Renault ("Louie, i think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."). this seems to go back to Ricks' shady line of business and the fact that he's good at dealing.
Louie seems to have regained his pride as a Frenchman and seems to want to keep fighting for the french rather than peace with germany (as indicated when he threw the bottle, of Vichy champagne in the garbage.)

I don't think that this movie should be remade, but if there was a movie that was with similar themes, made into today's world. it would have to focus on national pride, loss, and the idea that even a criminal can have national pride and fight for his country.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Casablanca is a movie I had not seen before, but with the dynamic acting combined with the deeply expressed dialog between characters, I can see why this is a classic. With no prior knowledge of what the movie was about, it was very clear what the message was and how certain phrases have been taken from this movie and put into others ever since it's release in the 1940s. I can recall lines such as "...Someday you will regret this. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow..but someday" (Casablanca). These are jewels of the family of America cinema that continue to be passed down.
The character that meant the most to me was Captain Louis Renault because front he very beginning he was always honest about his intentions and even shared that he was a romantic with the audience and the characters in the story. He also tried his best to stay neutral as far as picking sides which to me showed just how much war had affected him that he would go so far as to say that he took only "the winning side". When it came to close encounters with some of the more hostile members of the Nazi party like Major Heinrich Strasser, his impression was not completely loyalty, nor was it completely disloyal.

At Shiloh

Leroy, a truck driver from rural Kentucky, refused to go back to his truck again after his leg was injured in a highway accident. Instead of looking for other jobs, he started doing craft kits and his goal of life was to build her wife Norma a log cabin in the subdivisions in 1980s.

Both Leroy and Norma met severe troubles in adjusting to their lives after Leroy's accident. Suggested by his mother-in-law, Leroy decided to take Norma to Shiloh, Tennesse. At Shiloh Norma eventually told Leroy, "I want to leave you." Walking around the battlefields, Leroy gained inspiration and courage form both the Confederate army and Virgil Mathis, a policeman Leroy used to shoot pool with. Therefore he decided to quit building the log house and start over. Norma's attitude toward Leroy was ambiguous at the end of the story. She "waves her arms" toward Leroy, but "she seems to be doing an exercise for her chest muscles." Howerver, at least she was waving, not just turning away.

Comments for Guang's post re Casablanca

I agree with you about Victor - we want to hate him because he is in the way between Rick and Ilsa, but he's such a great guy we can't! I think the writers did this on purpose, so that we would be conflicted over the character. In war, too much is black and white(the good guys vs the bad guys). In Casablanca, we are torn. Rick is an anti-hero (a flawed character at best), while the antagonist Victor is brave, loyal, and unafraid to stand up for what he believes in, even in the face of the threat of death. Yet we want Rick and Ilsa to be together - storytelling at its finest!

Comments for Danny's post re Casablanca

Good insight Danny. I liked the character of Capt. Renault too, except for one thing: I got the impression that he used his power to have sexual relationships with the women desperate to leave Casablanca. I think he traded the exit visas for sex.

Comment for James' post on Casablanca

I am glad you can appreciate this movie, even without today's action and/or sex :) I think you are right about our shared feelings about WWII, and the men and women of that era. In so many ways it was a much simpler time: men were men, and women were women, and our roles were defined and appreciated.


I feel Casablanca is a timeless story for a couple of reasons. The first is the clever dialogue in this movie. The fact that several phrases from this movie have become part of our language clearly shows the power of the dialogue; for example "Here's lookin' at you kid." Rick gives this toast several times during the movie. Ask most people (of a certain age) and they will know that this phrase was said by Humphrey Bogart (at least) and many would know its origination.

One of my favorite lines is in a conversation between Rick and Ilsa. They were reminiscing about the day they met. Ilsa asks Rick if he remembers the day. Rick responds "Not an easy day to forget; I remember every detail. The Germans wore gray. You wore blue."

There are so many examples of clever dialogue, but I won't go over every one. However, another favorite of mine would be the following. When asked "What is your nationality?", Rick responds "Drunkard."

The screenplay for Casablanca was not adapted from a book, and several writers are credited (and uncredited) with creating the screenplay. I think this makes the achievement even more surprising.

Ironically, the most well-known "quote" from the movie is in fact a misquote. "Play it again, Sam" is not in the movie.

The second reason this movie is a classic is the characters and the choice of actors to portray those characters. Nobody else could have played Rick. No other actress in the world could have played Ilsa. This is one of those magical moments where the right actors combined with the perfect screenplay created an unforgettable movie.

And we must give kudos to the supporting cast as well. Peter Lorre as Ugarte, Claude Rains as Captain Renault... the list goes on and on.

If I have to choose one character it would be Rick Blaine. Bogart's portrayal of Rick gave the character an emotional depth found in few fictional characters. Bogart's eyes broadcast a thousand emotions, yet his face remains inscrutable.

Casablanca will always remain on my list of classic movies.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


I missed the mid-term study guide handed out on Thursday. Can somebody please scan or copy for me? Thanks. My email is blakeslee.18 and my cell is 614-307-6779


Friday, July 1, 2011


Casablanca is a classic because it contains numerous elements that make a movie appealing to me and others. It is a love story, almost everyone has fallen in love, so we can relate to the feelings Rick and Lisa have for each other. The story line takes place during World War II, war times are hard times full of emotion and conflict that anyone can relate to. Whether our grandfathers hold stories and emotions from World War II or our parents have experiences from Vetenam or Afganastan presently. Finally Casablanca adds humor to it's quality. Who doesn't enjoy a laugh while watching a drama or suspense.

Rick Blaine's character meant the most to me. Rick is a smart and bold man who appears to only look out for himself. Then you see he has a softer side of Rick when Ilsa comes back into his life. He sacrifices his desires and need by giving up going to America because he loves Ilsa. That is true love to give up your freedom and let the women you love leave to live the rest to her life with another man. How can you not like a man for making such an ultimate sacrifice.

“Shiloh”- Norma Jean

Norma Jean is the wife of Leroy in this story. She fills her time with hobbies like working out, and schoolwork from the local community college. She comes across as dissatisfied, depressed and dull. She faces the conflict of a mediocre life that is heading nowhere because of her lack of ambition. Her husband is out of work and has little to do beside smoke joints and make wishful plans. When I reflect on my thoughts of this character I feel angry, it is growingly irritating to not only see characters, but the people in my life as well be dissatisfied with their life, but have no determination to change it. You will only receive what you work for in life, and it is the people that become depressed and commit suicide that want what they aren’t willing to work for.

Casablanca Film Response

There are several reasons that attribute to why this film is such a classic, it has the perfect balance of romance, comedy, tragedy and even includes historically accurate information. Also, this film takes place during a war that was going on all around the world, so it was a very popular subject, even when it came to an end. The thing that immediately caught my attention once the movie was over was how many twists there were at the end, the least expected occurred and I had not seen it coming. Perhaps this is why this is such a great film, because it sends the message that there are bigger and more important things than our own self-interests and ourselves.

The character I was most interested in was Captain Louis Renault; he added comic relief to this tragic story. He also did not abuse his power as the others did in the film. He allows nature to take its course and places his chips with the highest bitter, when he finds himself in difficult situations. The way this character won me over for good was when he let Rick go, after shooting Strasser directly in front of him and holding him at gunpoint for the previous hour. This is a clear American classic, and once viewed it is easy to see why!