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Hey guys! Welcome to RaymondMonsterBlog! I hope you enjoy your visit here ( or at the very least it’s not to scary for you ) feel free to explore the website; but please, watch out for the Jaberwaki’s and don’t step on any of the Gnomes ( they will bite your knee cap ).

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Let’s assume that we live in a world where if you have enough money you could build the robot of your dreams. What would it look like? What would it do?*

I am half tempted to say ” let’s explore the possibilities” but I think that this particular topic has limitless possibilities.

Your robot could be your helper, your friend, your slave, your pet, like I said the possibilities are beyond limits.

As such I think that to give us a good idea about what type of robot we would like to get we should look as some of literature’s best, favorites, and loved robots.

For starters you could have a “helper robot” literary robots from this genera, include Wall-e from the Disney Pixar Movie Wall-e, Rosie from the Jetsons,  and just because I like them so much we’ll through in Roomba from your local Wal-Mart.

Or maybe you’d prefer a friendly robot. Like the Iron Giant from The Iron Giant, or C3P0 or R2D2 from Star Wars, or maybe the lesser known Number 5 from the movies Short Circuit 1 & 2.

Perhaps you’d like a robot to keep you safe from danger. In which case you would want one of the following battle robots on your side. T-800 from The Terminator Series, or Optimus Prime from Transformers.

Maybe the idea of a simple pet robot catches your fancy. Then Godard from Jimmy Neutron; Boy Genius, A Zhuzhu pet, or I think that a Roomba could also fit this bill.

I think I’d have to go with a Bender like robot for mine. 🙂

Regardless of what monster you would choose , I think it would be a good idea to keep in mind the lessons that iRobot has taught us, and choose wisely.

* I intentionally made this blog particularly vague because I want to know what you would do! Leave a Comment! 🙂

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The Setting Monster

While watching Blade Runner in class on Monday an interesting thought occurred to me.

Thinking stresses me out. Alot.

What if we considered the setting of a story itself a monster? Sure it doesn’t have the same physicality of your every-day-run-of-the-mill monster, but it still has all the same qualities.

Gilmore very clearly states the qualities that are required to be a monster on the 6th page of his book Monsters: Evil Beings, Mythical Beasts, and All Manner of Imaginary Terrors.

Requirement 1: “Most monsters are grotesque hybrids”

If we take Blade Runner as an example wa can see that the setting for the move is most certainly a hybrid of the future, and the recent past, further more it is a hybrid of both and ideal and an unwelcome future.

Requirement 2: “[they] have a key element of ‘mystery and menace'”

I will stay consistent and use Blade Runner  as an example for the course of this blog.  As such we can see that the very setting of the story induces feelings of anxiety. From the opening scene on a massive city with huge plumes of fire exploding from everywhere, to the gargantuan, ominous buildings that seem to tower over the characters, to the forever darkened sky from the city’s pollution. All, in my opinion induce themes of “mystery and menace” to the story.

Requirement 3: a “main criterion of monsters is that they are dangerous objects of fear”

Obviously the setting fits this bill as so many aspects of the setting play on human anxieties. The ever looming haze plays on the fear of darkness. The massive city setting plays on the anxiety of identity loss ect. ect. ect…..

At this point I’ve pretty well convinced myself that a setting can indeed be a monster in itself. There is one hiccup however. Gilmore also says that in order for something to be a monster it must be an imaginary “being”….well unless we see the setting as a living creature ( which it obviously is not ) we can’t use Gilmore’s definition of a monster to describe Blade Runner‘s setting

Nonetheless I think it is safe to say that in a metaphorical sense a setting can most certainly be a monster.

 

CMAS 101

So I’ve decided to take yet another break from the usual blog topic and discuss something very important to me. Christmas.

There are few that take the holiday as seriously as me. As such, I know that many of you are holiday illiterates, and I consider it my holiday duty to educate you. 🙂

Lesson 1 – Thou Shall Have a Green Christmas Tree ( unless you’re a democrat )

The main Christmas tree in the home, the President tree ( usually in the family room ) must be green with the exception of your family being democratic in which case you may have a white/silver tree. However, if this exception applies to you and yours then you must henceforth refer to your Christmas tree as “The Obama Tree”

Lesson 2 – Thou President Tree must be One of Two Types

There are two types of Christmas trees, those that are purely for decoration, and those that we refer to as “memory trees”. Type one ( the decorative tree ) is allowed to have open spaces for the sake of symmetry, and not being to over bearing. A Type Two tree (memory tree, homemade ornaments, pictures, birth dates, ect,) however must be absolutely packed with ornaments or else you take the risk of making you and yours look shallow.

Lesson 3 – Thou Shall Not Clash Lighting

Within any given room in the home one may not display lights of both the colored and colorless variety*. This is known as “light clashing” and is especially detrimental to the over all yule tide  mood

* while color lights are never to be displayed with colorless light, colorless lights may be displayed with colored lights as long as they are the major minority.

Lesson 4 – Thou Shall Pay Respect to the Appropriate Meats at Christmas Dinner.

While the primary meat at Christmas dinner is to be ham you may also present turkey. However, the turkey:ham ratio may not pass 1:1. In the event that there is a vegetarian/vegan present it is acceptable to form tofu into the shape of a ham and serve it as such.

Lesson 5 – Thou Shall Pay Respect to the Appropriate Sides at Christmas Dinner.

The three core sides at Christmas dinner are to be as follows: corn, mashed potatoes with gravy (brown), and rolls. In addition to the core sides there are to also be a minimum of three more sides based on popular demand.

note 1 – a dessert is to be brought by every attending family at the gathering.

note 2 – if one lives within 150 miles of the east coast, then cranberries in some form must be present at the dinner.

Lesson 6 – Thou Shall Pay Respect to Christmas Carols

It is required that music by the following artist be played during the ceremonial decorating of the tree, and through the Christmas season.

Perry Como, Nat King Cole, Lou Rawls, Barbra Streisand, BING CROSBY, Patrick Williams, Vince Gill, DOLLY PARTON, Jonny Cash, DEAN MARTIN, Amy Grant, Reba McEntire, and Vic Damone.

Lesson 7 – Thou Shall Not Argue

Arguing in any form is not permitted at ANY Christmas gathering, this rule also applies to the 24 hours before and after Christmas day ( don’t ruin it for the kids folks.)

Class is dismissed, go forth and apply your new Christmas knowledge, and lastly Be Merry :).

The Grinch?

THE GRINCH

Yup :).

So, in class yesterday I got asked if I would do one of this weeks blogs about my research topic, the Grinch. Of course I am more than happy to write about my all time favorite character! But using the Grinch as a research topic in a class about monsters…he’s just not all that scary.

So my challenge was to find just how exactly the Grinch is a monster. In my search for Grinch meaning I turned to Gilmore’s Monsters for some back ground on monsters.

Besides looking like a stereotypical monster the Grinch also plays on the social anxiety of the Who’s. I think that these are two of the biggest factor that really make the Grinch a “monster”

In the icon song You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch the Grinch is directly referred to as a monster. In addition to this he is give a number of creative descriptors to describe his monstrous qualities….

cuddly as a cactus

charming as an eel.

brain full of spiders

garlic in your soul.

But besides simply looking like a monster, the Grinch also has a few other monstrous personality traits. For example, he a social recluse that only comes out to spoil the day (in class there were some parallels drawn between the Grinch and Grendel( by the way the “GR” prefix in both names means to bear teeth…seems fitting)). Additionally the Grinch has a strong desire to fiddle with the who’s greatest joy, Christmas, by “stealing” it.

In my opinion it is probably this last bit that makes the Grinch the most like a monster. His absolute hatred for Christmas is what really separates him from the Who’s, It’s what really announces his “otherness”, making him a monster.

Identity Loss, Another Downfall of the 5th Wall

 So to continue my discussion about our discussion in Monsters class about cyborgs, I would like to extend upon the topic of cyborgs. Cyborgs, are very much like humans ( probably because they were created as such). Thus it is easy for me to draw some pretty obvious conclusions between the existence of humans with hi-tech, and cyborgs.

Cyborgs, humanesque drones, robots with an uncanny appearance to humans, what ever you want to call them, are all strikingly similar to each other. Superficially they might be different colored, have different strengths, different “facial”, and “body” features, but underneath the shiny metal ( or synthetic skin ) of all of these humanoid robots is the same thing, metal. They don’t have a legitimate personality, a soul. They might be able to fake emotions via programs embedded in their fancy microchip processor things, but it’s not real.

I think this illustrates my point pretty well ;).

So how does this relate to humans?

With the advance of technology we are spending more and more time in front of said technology, creating online, or virtual realities. It only takes an hour or so for a person the create a profile on Facebook. Once that’s done he or she can then spend further hours “enhancing” their “profiles”. Sooooo….. we’re spending time trying to improve virtual personalities so that other virtual personalities will be our friends in a virtual world……ever spent a long time watching movies, or playing video games and felt bad about how unproductive you were being?….yup same concept.

oh, hey, you’ve got some metaphorical Facebook on your face…

Allow me to now come full circle and draw that parallel between high-tech humans and cyborgs that I talked about earlier.

If we can say that cyborgs are all the same in that they don’t have the ability to feel emotions, then wouldn’t it be safe to say that virtual personas are all the same because they can’t feel either? You may argue that there is a difference between the two, because behind the glass frame of the Facebook fraud there is a real living person capable of feeling emotions, but I would rebuttal… When you make an online identity do you not identify your real self with that identity? And when you do that does yourself not try to be a better person thought that online identity?

Incase that last paragraph didn’t make as much since to you as it did in my head please let me paraphrase. When you make an online you that is incapable of feeling emotions you essentially create a version of yourself that “feels” on the same level as everybody else, you lose your uniqueness. And then when you come back to the real world you identify your real self with your fake online self, and thus commit your real self to being just a little bit more like everybody else… just like a cyborg. Just something to think about …

Robots, Cyborgs, and other Excess Walls.

In our in class discussion today we talked a lot about how the world has changed in the last century. We have gone from working for a living, to living for work. I think farmers are a particularly good example for this, and I’ll be using them for analogies throughout this particular post.

First lets look at work as a whole. A hundred years ago a farmer would wake up, feed the animals, tend to the crops, eat lunch, fix ( I think mend is a more appropriate word ) any fences ect.. that needed mending, feed the animals again, and spend the rest of the day with his family.      Today a farmer wakes up, feeds hundreds of animals with the aid of fancy equipment, tends to nearly a thousand acres of crops with the aid of more fancy equipment, eats his packed lunch in the combine, takes a “break” to feed the hundreds of animals again, does some more fancy crop work ( this sentence is getting really long….) untill it’s too dark to see,maybe fix a few things if there’s time, and go to bed.

Even more tech, hooray, just what we need , robotic exoskeletons to give farmers super strength.

Did you catch whats missing? His life outside of working! he doesn’t have any time for his family on a day-to-day basis because he’s to consumed with his work.

Today in a society where taking your work home is as easy as e-mailing it to yourself, and picking up where you left off at home, why wouldn’t you take on a heavier work load and bring in a few more dollars for your family?

Remember the part when wall-e gets to the space ship and all of the massive people are all in there own “wheel” chairs and they’re all staring at their own tvs completely oblivious to everything else around them?….yea, that’s not a terrible example of where were at now.

Here’s why you shouldn’t. When you live this type of life style you create what Harlan Choen refers to a “the fifth wall”. You have the four walls of your house, but thanks to technology it is increasingly easy to put up a fifth wall, and further cut yourself off from the outside world. In my opinion this is really tragic. It makes me sick sometimes when I realize that I’m spending all of my “face time” with my computer instead of with the people who I really want to be around the most.

My holy grail as of late.

So in the same way the farmers spend an ever increasing amount of time with their fancy technology, the rest of us are spending more time with ours, and missing out on what’s beyond all five of the walls.

The Journey of A Thousand Miles Begins with the First Step

It’s been awhile since we started the novel Dracula. We’ve been through a lot for the sake of the story. We have dissected it about nine different ways, and  we’ve had group discussion after group discussion all in the name of Dracula.

Guys we weren’t doing it right, were supposed to hold our discussions in the bowl of cereal.

As I finally finished to book I was pleasantly surprised at how well the end of the story was written. Probably the most touching part was when Mina described Dracula’s face as he dies.

“a look of peace, such as I never could have imagined might have rested there.”

Not only did Stokers literary genius get as far as my touchy-feely  side he also managed to hit on my adventure-thrill-seeking side. I can imagine that a lot of Stokers readers get caught up on the language he uses in his novel, I certainly know I did. However buy the end of the story I was much more readily able to interpret Stoker’s writing. As such I was able to enjoy the adventure of the final few chapters. Over all I was thoroughly satisfied with the end of the story.

If this picture doesn’t make you happy there’s something wrong with you (period)

As you may have guessed, it wasn’t until the end of the novel that I really realized how much I liked the book. I was blind to not see the awesomeness that was in front of me the entire time between that pages Dracula. In addition to the final scenes some of my other favorites include:

Lucy’s death scene…

This picture’s pretty bad on its own, I won’t bother with a caption.

The scene where Dracula scales the walls his castle…

Scene from the game Castlevania III : Dracula’s Curse…good times.

And probably the creepiest scene for me in retrospect is the scene where Harker takes the initial carriage ride to the castle…

Sorry I couldn’t find a better picture, but I thought this was pretty funny :).

All in all I hope you enjoyed Dracula as much as I did. Leave a comment and let me know what you think!