Wednesday, November 28, 2007

My Mom's Name is Gail!

Cartoonishly bad writing always makes me laugh, possibly because I've seen so much of it and can tell when people aren't even trying. Often, all it takes is a second read-through to catch mistakes, and a little revision can go a long way. I always tell people (just as teachers have told me) to spend time listening to how the writing sounds; you can usually hear it if something's off. The story I'm working on now is about writing that may be technically sound, but totally misses the point in other ways; for every writer is oblivious to some aspect of their work.

Then of course, there's writing that's beyond all hope, which makes me laugh even harder. I can't take credit for this; it came from the NH State Testing manual that Mr. Armstrong showed us in Lit Comp and Critique sophomore year, and is an example of what a score of 1 out of 6 looks like. The prompt asks the reader to write about someone they respect, and I've paraphrased the shoddily written essay as best as I can remember:

The person I admire most is my Mom! My Mom's name is Gail! She respects me because I respect her, and she lets me do a lot of stuff! I guess that if she didn't respect me than I would still respect her because she is my Mom.

I really became interested in bad writing as a way of making people laugh when I took English Prose style, and Chris Miller gave us the assignment to turn in the worst writing that we possibly could. I wrote this piece based on the following imaginary AP English essay prompt: "From a novel or play of literary merit, choose two characters who the author sets up be similar but instead reveals to be ironically different." I think that by exagerrating these kinds of mistakes it becomes easier to notice the shoddiness in our own work, or that of others.



A Comparison Between "The Dude" and The Big Lebowski

The Big Lebowski, a film by the Coen brothers, is a film about a guy named “The Dude” who is really lazy, drives a beat up car, has no money and really loves to bowl. He has the same name as Jeffrey Lebowski a millionaire, who is in a wheelchair and helped a lot of kids in the inner city. However, I think that even though they have the same name, the two Lebowskis could not possibly be more different from each other.

First off, there is “The Dude.” “The Dude” is really lazy and doesn’t seem to have a job, this is evidenced by his writing a check for creamer in the first scene in the movie. If he had had the money to pay for the creamer, he wouldn’t have had to have written a check to pay for it. Then there is his car. “The Dude” drives an old Ford Torino that is rusted light yellow and barely runs. He likes it, and does not want to get another car; even if he could afford one. Of note is his rug, which is peed on by the Treehorn thugs in the first scene of the movie. “The Dude” has to right away get rid of the rug and cannot afford to buy another one; that is why he goes to Jeffrey Lebowski (the millionaire) in the first place.

Then there is his friends. “The Dude” has two friends named Walter and Donny who love to bowl, in fact, they love bowling so much that they have their own bowling team. They also compete in league tournaments and are involved in a tournament when the movie begins. Donny is quietest, but Walter is very loud and frequently carries a firearm around with him that he is not afraid to pull out during league play. Walter also drives a beat up van, and it is his idea to take the money and replace it with “the ringer” full of his own dirty underwear to throw off the bridge in place of the real briefcase of money; which they will keep and spend for themselves. Unfortunately, this plan does not work, and “The Dude” is angry at Walter and doesn’t want him involved in his life any more. But he keeps coming back, which is why he likes to hang out with “The Dude.” In fact, he also smashed Little Larry’s red sports car on the street with a baseball bat in the homework scene, and he didn’t even check to see if it was really his. He is really “The Dude”s crazy out of control friend.

However, the other Jeff Lebowski couldn’t possibly be more different. He is an old man who is in a wheelchair, and he also fought in Korea, where he lost his legs in the war. He also established the Lebowski Achievers Institute where he helped a lot of kids, which made him very rich. However, he ran into some financial problems and needed to launder money from the Institute, so he decided to trick “The Dude” into losing the money from the kidnapping. He wanted to easily pin the money theft on “The Dude” and keep it all for himself. Just the fact that he would do something so terrible is proof that he is a dishonest person. He also orders “The Dude” into his limo after he gets the toe in the mail from the nihilists, and he tricks ‘The Dude” into thinking that its really from her. He is very rich and very dishonest; and could not possibly be more different then “The Dude.”

So, in conclusion, though both Lebowskis may have the same name, they couldn’t possibly be more different. One is a messy slob who likes to bowl and goes by a nickname all the time, while the other is a rich millionaire who would steal money and pin it on other people. This adds a bit of flavor to the movie, and I think that it is a better movie because of it.


Danicus said...

Sir, i have seen The Big Lebowski dozens of times. and if i had read that prior to watching it... i never would have gone to watch it in the first place. that is a horrifying synopsis/ character comparison.

oh, and pardon my own probably awful grammar, as it is now 2am.

mike said...

This adds a bit of flavor to the blog, and I think that it is better because of it.