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DC Comics

Comic books have played a major role in the lives of many.  It all started back in 1934, when Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson founded National Allied Publications.  The company was able to publish the first book series of original comics, rather than comic strip reprints.  “New Fun: The Big Comic Magazine” first premiered in February of 1935 but after the first issue this was permanently shortened to “New Fun.”  Donenfeld and Liebowitz joined Wheeler-Nicholson after some financial troubles started taking over the company and together they launched a new popular series called “Detective Comics” in March of 1937.  This was the origin of DC Comics, although the official name change wouldn’t occur until much later.  The Golden Age of Comics had begun.

DC Comics has been one of the largest and most successful companies in the business.  It has single-handedly produced a large variety of superheroes including Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Flash, among others.  Additionally, DC Comics united superheroes to create the Justice League and Teen Titans.  While Superman was the first hero to grace the pages of a DC comic, other characters like Wonder Woman shouldn’t be overlooked as unimportant, as she played a huge role in the feminist movement and inspired girls everywhere that they were as strong and powerful as men.

Personally, I have never been an avid comic book fan, although I do admire their artwork and am fascinated by their colossal fan-base.  Even with my limited comic book knowledge (that is, up until about a week ago) I do have to admit that I am a fan of superheroes, with my favorite most definitely being Batman.  Part of this love is undoubtably based on Christian Bale, who plays Bruce Wayne in the Batman movies beginning with Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins in 2005.  But Batman is more than just a pretty face.  He is a mysterious vigilante, a dark knight, a caped crusader, and the world’s greatest detective.  But that’s not all.  Batman also has an alter-ego Bruce Wayne.  He has no real super powers, but in fact is just a regular guy who happens to be a millionaire, have great detective skills, and fight crime.  How could you not love such a wonderfully fascinating character?

 

Moshier, Christopher. “DC Comics Chronology: The Platinum Age.” Comic Book Bin. Web. 10 Apr. 2012. <http://www.comicbookbin.com/dcchronologyplatinumage_001.html>.

Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics.  Prod. Jeffrey Blitz. Dir. Mac Carter. DC Entertainment, 2010. DVD.

Images received from

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batman

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Pride and Prejudice vs. The Piano

Pride and Prejudice and The Piano are extremely similar films.  WIth their 19th century settings, strong female protagonists, classic love stories, breathtaking musical scores, and happy endings, these movies really do compliment each other in every way possible.  However, among all of the similarities, there is an outstanding difference.  While The Piano is extremely visually based, Pride and Prejudice relies almost entirely on dialogue and spoken word to convey it’s story.  The directors of these movies obviously had completely different opinions about filming and used their artistic talents to tell stories with similar story-lines in surprisingly different ways.

Pride and Prejudice (1995)

Elizabeth, the protagonist of Pride and Prejudice is a strong minded woman.  She is not afraid to say what’s on her mind and does so quite frequently throughout the film.  It is this that attracts Mr. Darcy to her, but must vocalize his love for Elizabeth for her to even realize that he cares about her.  The reason that words and language play a huge role in the plot probably stems from it’s origin as a novel by Jane Austin.

As for the filming of the Pride and Prejudice BBC mini-series, it is very simple and basic, with no extravagant camera angles or overly stimulating visual effects.  For the majority of the film, the camera remains at a standard distance and focuses mostly on the characters and their interactions.  The visual symbolism is limited due to the emphasis on verbal elements.

The Piano (1993)

In The Piano, the female protagonist, Ada, is a mute woman but even with her lack of speech, she quickly establishes herself as strong-willed.  She uses sign language and body language to communicate with those around her.  However, it is not simply the  main character’s lack of words that force the use of visual symbolism.

The movie is full of stunning angles and strategic camera positioning, creating breathtaking shots and artistically beautiful scenes.  Once the viewer’s attention is drawn to these elements, they take over and this rich visual symbolism greatly enhance the viewing experience.

Overall, Pride and Prejudice and The Piano really compliment each other, showcasing the importance of both verbal and visual elements in filmmaking.

Images received from 

http://allwomenstalk.com/7-best-book-to-movie-adaptations/

http://spectrumculture.com/2012/03/film-dunce-the-piano.html/

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Descendants of the Dragon

Dragons are everywhere.  They haunt our fairytales and fly us to magical lands far far away.  They take over our novels and the big screen.  In Washington DC, the Textile Museum has an entire exhibit entitled “Dragons, Nagas and Creatures of the Deep.”  But if you think that dragons are prominent in our western culture, than you cannot even imagine their importance in the Chinese culture.

Chinese Dragons. Photograph. Web. 06 Mar. 2012. <http://www.draconika.com/chinese.php>

Although the exact origin of the dragon as a symbol of China is unknown, it has been found to date back to about 3000 BC .  This symbol is used to represent the Chinese race itself and the Chinese declare themselves “Long De Chuan Ren,” meaning descendants of the Dragon.  The emperors are admired as the “real dragons and the sons of heaven” (Chinese Dragon).  In general, dragons are undoubtably powerful.  However, in the Chinese understand it also as a symbol of prestige and protection.  Additionally, the Year of the Dragon, which happens to include 2012, is known as the year of both energy and change (Dragons, Nagas and Creatures of the Deep).

In the Chinese culture, there are several kinds of dragons.  The nine major types of dragons include the horned dragon, the winged dragon, the celestial dragon, the spiritual dragon, the dragon of hidden treasures, the underground dragon, the coiling dragon, the yellow dragon and the dragon king.  Their meanings vary depending on their color, which typically includes yellow, blue, black, white or red.  The yellow is usually worn by the emperor and is the most revered (The Chinese Dragon).  As for the individual features of the dragon, they are a combination of several different animals and each have a special meaning to the people.

           “A Chinese dragon has a protruding forehead indicating wisdom and antler signifying longevity. Its ox’s ears denote success in the imperial examination; it has tiger‘s eyes as a sign of power; eagle’s claws showing bravery; while a fish’s tail implies flexibility and the horse’s teeth are a mark of diligence and so on” (The Chinese Dragon).

The dragon is used in decorations, clothing, and celebratory parades.  As a prominent part of Chinese culture, dragons and China often go hand in hand.

“Chinese Dragon.” BeijingService.com. Web. 06 Mar. 2012. <http:/www.beijingservice.com/beijinghighlights/chinesedragon.htm>.

“‘Dragons, Nagas and Creatures of the Deep’ From Around the World.” The Textile Museum. Web. 06 Mar. 2012. <http://www.textilemuseum.org/PDFs/DragonsNagasandCreaturesoftheDeepatTheTextileMuseum12_8.pdf>

“The Chinese Dragon.” Chinese Handicrafts and Traditional Chinese Arts. Web. 06 Mar. 2012. <http://www.handmade.cc/the-chinese-dragon.html>.

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News(eum)

My first Newseum experience was definitely a memorable one.  As a new member of the School of Communications at AU, the museum got me excited about what I had just chosen to do with my life.  Although I am planning on majoring in Public Communications, not Film and Media Arts, I was ecstatic that visual media and photography would forever be a part of my life, and was amazed at all the great things on display that I could potentially be a part of.

The one exhibit that I found especially moving was the 9/11 Gallery.  Never before have I been so moved by pictures or videos.  Before going to the exhibit, I can honestly say that September 11th was a surreal experience.  It was like a horror story that I had heard about but never really been a part of.  “Running Toward Danger” was a less than 12 minute video being shown on a loop in this section of the museum.  After those short 12 minutes, I felt as if I had experienced 9/11; truly lived through it.  Tears swelled in my eyes as I watched, unable to glance away.

Despite how life changing this section of the museum was, the emotional weight of the exhibit was too much.  It altered my life, but was not the best part of my trip.

My favorite picture at the Newseum was actually the series of photographs called “Olympic Preview 1984.”  This was in the temporary exhibit, on display through August 2012.  The exhibit was called Photo Finish: The Sports Photography of Neil Leifer.  Each one of Leifer’s photographs was breathtaking, capturing the excitement and energy of football to golf and everything in between.

The four photographs that caught my eye were of olympic athletes from around the word practicing for the games in their homeland.  Not only are the gymnasts and athletes captured striking stunning poses, but their background surroundings are beautiful landscapes and scenery from around the world.  With crisp clarity and flawless, bright, and contrasting colors, the photographs took me to their location with a simple glance.

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Propaganda

Parisky. Cosmetic Animal Testing. 17 July 2010. Photograph. 21 Feb 2012.

http://xoxo-parisky.blogspot.com/2010/07/cosmetic-animal-testing.html

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Midnight Memorial

The image of cultural, artistic, or historical significance that I chose is one of the Vietnam Memorial and Washington Monument in Washington DC.  These are my personal favorite memorials in all of DC and have been since I first visited the city in the spring of 2007.  Both are simple and clean structures, allowing for there to be significant emphasis on the meaning behind the wall and tower.  Nothing about these memorials is gaudy or over the top.  Especially with the Vietnam Memorial, I find them to be both calming and spooky at the same time.  Regardless, the memorials speak for themselves and are admired by many.

The Vietnam Memorial and Washington Monument, both showcased in the above image, have cultural and historical significance.  The Vietnam Memorial represents the tens of thousands of soldiers who died fighting for our country, while the Washington Monument is a tribute to George Washington, the first president of the United States.  They are a representation of our country’s past.

This photo of the memorials was taken by an unknown photographer for the Virginia Tech newspaper and yearbook on June 2, 2008.  I love black and white images, so when browsing through photos, this one stood out immediately.  I also love the natural lighting in this photograph provided by the scenery.  The Washington Monument is showcased in the background, bright white against a dark sky, while the Vietnam Memorial is shown to the left, seeming to go on forever; an endless list of names.

I found this particular image of the especially striking.  In person, the memorials at night are breathtaking and capturing their beauty is astounding.  The Vietnam Memorial has a multitude of small white lights shining against the dark black wall of over 58,000 names all listed in chronological order.  The Washington Monument can be seen from all over the city and it is a symbol of Washington DC.

The only thing I would want to change about this image is that I would want to showcase the abundance of flowers and small trinkets placed against the wall each day in remembrance of the soldiers lost.  Other than that, this image is flawless in my eyes.

Mumansky. Virginia Tech Newspaper. 2 June 2008. Photograph. Washington DC. 14 Feb 2012.

http://www.flickriver.com/photos/mumansky/2557100321/

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The Dav!

Are you falling asleep in classes? Do you need a quick caffeine fix on the way to your 8:55? There is no better place to stop by than the Davenport Coffee Lounge, or as true Eagles call it, The Dav. This cozy shop is conveniently located in the newly renovated SIS building. It is a one-stop shop that will satisfy all of your cravings. The menu ranges from an espresso shot to hot chocolate to its famous chai. Not only are there drinks to quench your thirst, but their fresh and delicious pastries are to die for as well. The catchy tunes create a pleasant atmosphere that might make you want to stay and sit for a while. Whether you’re looking to get some studying in or to chat with some friends, The Dav is where it’s at.

Not only will you be eating and drinking the best stuff around, but your purchases will also be helping fellow students earn some extra cash. This impressive non-profit business is completely student run. The Dav prides itself in its eco-friendly products and even gives discounts for those who use reusable mugs. Don’t have a mug? No problem, The Dav has mugs for everyone to use. In addition to its eco-conscious products, The Dav is also a member of the DC Tap It movement. This means that anyone with a reusable water bottle can stop by and get water free of charge.

Did we mention the college budget-friendly prices? Compared to those other coffee places on campus like Megabytes or the Mud Box, The Dav is practically free! Speaking of free, in efforts to welcome new customers, The Dav will soon release its new Delectable Dav card. This new addition will allow customers to receive even more benefits than before, with one free drink after only 10 purchases!

With a fancy new logo and a couple new locations across campus and around Tenleytown, this coffee shop has the potential to be the next Starbucks. But in order for this to happen, we not only need the support of AU students, but also the surrounding community. So spread the word of this up and coming coffee shop to everyone you know, and stop by The Dav today!

 

Find The Davenport Coffee Lounge on Facebook or visit http://thedav.wordpress.com/ for more information.

 

Works Cited:
Notsogrounded. The Davenport Coffee Lounge. 2 Oct. 2011. Photograph. American University. Web. 30 Jan 2012. http://notsogrounded.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/the-davenport-coffee-lounge/B., Pete. AU – The Davenport Coffee Lounge. 31 May 2011. Photograph. American University. Web. 30 Jan 2012.
https://foursquare.com/v/au–davenport-coffee-lounge/4b83f773f964a520cd1831e3

TheDav. The Davenport Coffee Lounge. Photograph. American University. Web. 30 Jan 2012.
http://thedav.wordpress.com/about/pictures/

The Davenport Coffee Lounge. The Davenport Coffee Lounge. 4 Dec 2011. Photograph. American University. Web. 30 Jan 2012.
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150417967502075&set=pu.158307062074&type=1&theater

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Hello World!

This picture was taken in late August, when I first arrived in Washington DC to attend American University.  While visiting the city with my family on this hot summer day, I decided to take a couple of pictures on my cellphone as we walked around the Washington Mall and its surrounding monuments.  Although the quality isn’t great, many of the photos taken were surprisingly beautiful.  It wasn’t until later that I realized how striking this photo was.  

In my opinion, its simplicity is what makes it so wonderful.  Although the photo is technically in color, it is not brightly colored and even takes on a “sepia” quality with its neutral tones and brownish tint.  There is no real subject of the photo other than the Lincoln Memorial itself.  No one is posing for the picture, yet it is full of people.  I would almost consider it an action shot, as it successfully embodies the sightseeing that we did that afternoon.  

This particular photo stands out from others taken that day because of the lighting.  It was late afternoon and the hot summer sun was shining brightly just behind the Lincoln Memorial.  Individual rays of light spread throughout the scene in a way that makes the viewer feel the sun’s warmth.  Exactly how I was able to capture this, I don’t know.  In the bottom left-hand corner, you are able to see my mom and younger sister heading toward the monument to get a closer look.  The slight angle of the camera, which happened to be accidental, also adds to this image.  The tilt might not be noticed at first glance, but once the photo is more closely examined it is much more obvious, giving it an artsy feel and making it more unique.  Another interesting element of the photo is the large crowd of people shown in the distance.  Some are climbing the steps to the memorial, others simply sitting and enjoying the sun, and still others are taking photographs of their own.  

For me this particular photo captures it all; the beauty of the hot summer day, the excitement of a new beginning, the importance of my family in my life, and the love of my new home, Washington DC.  The photo itself is a moment of serendipity – a pleasant surprise. 

– Sarah Peterson

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