Perhaps a sign that the Myles Files may be busier in the months ahead than I anticipated, as here I am bright and early writing a personal post. This could be because I am valiantly struggling to find ways to resist going back to bed in order to get back on a regular sleep schedule, or maybe I was just so moved by last night’s victory by the Montreal Canadiens that I had to blog about it.

Okay, so I think it’s the first one. However, that doesn’t mean that the second is a total fabrication: while it might surprise some people, I am most certainly a playoff hockey fan. What’s that, you might ask? Well, it’s someone who will occasionally glance at the box scores during the regular season, maybe take a look at a standings to see where his/her favourite team sits, and then watches slightly more closely as the Games Remaining column pops up. And then the playoffs start.

At that point, the playoff hockey fan shifts into full gear: the hat with the team logo, even though it is dirty and ratty, emerges from its winter sequester, a trip to the Sports section of news websites becomes a habit, etc. For me, the team is without question le Montreal Canadiens, for no reason other than that they were the most successful Canadian team in my formative years, which resulted in both my over-enthusiastic Elder and my over-impressionable self to fall into the spell of a Stanley Cup championship hockey team.

While we’ve both remained devoted playoff fans of the Habs (It makes for the occasional disappointing seasons, right Leafs fans?), I am certainly a different breed of hockey fan. You see, I’m not actually capable of watching the games. This might seem odd, considering the whole point of hockey should be watching it by all logic, but I literally can’t do it. If you ever want to find a way to paralyze my life (I’m revealing my kryptonite here, I must be insane), find a sports team I like and put them in a sudden death match like last night’s Game 7.

At that point, I am inconsolably stressed out.

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Greetings, faithful Myles Files readers who have received almost zero examples of real content for like the past six months. When this blog started last summer, it seemed like the right time: Cultural Learnings was coming into its own, I was really starting to dig into my thesis projects, and there was some upcoming Acadia news that seemed ripe for the blogging.

Of course, those final two projects veered off into rather time-consuming directions, with my thesis turning into a time-consuming monster and the faculty strike becoming a rather phenomenal blogging experience. The result of all of this, however, was that The Myles Files didn’t really serve any sort of particular purpose: my life was never interesting enough to maintain a steady flow of content, a majority of my entertainment viewing was television and handled by the other blog, and any thoughts I had about various Acadia goings-on have largely been relegated to the sidelines in favour of finishing this bloody degree.

But now the degree is over – the final thesis edit is complete, and by and large it appears that I have a fairly loose summer ahead of me. I have no full-time employment, plenty of movies to watch, and a number of exciting and bloggable projects in the works. So, clearly, the Myles Files is back in action, right?

Maybe. Or, well, maybe not.

You see, my summer includes the potential for (Brace yourself) two new blog projects, multiple facebook groups, and Masters’ Research Work. While I am still expecting that I will have a fair amount of free time compared to previous summers, a lot of that free time will go towards various new media outlets wherein I will be discussing those subjects elsewhere.

However, part of the summer may well necessitate blogging, as I might actually be forced into trying new things (And this is always entertaining as far as I am concerned). I will admit to having SOADD (Sudden Onset Attention Deficit Disorder) merely 24 hours after finishing off the undergrad – I can’t maintain one activity for too long, whether it is watching a television show, a movie, or even playing a video game. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I’ve lost interest in these things, but rather that I am branching out in search of entertainment and self-fulfillment.

Where that road will take me I am not quite sure – I’m actively pondering a particular month-long project in May, and have a goal that I will have developed some form of podcast about some sort of subject by the time the summer is over. I’ve spent the last three summers doing the same thing over and over again, so it should be interesting to see a summer where personal discovery is par for the course (Oooh, that reminds me – I also want to golf more).

So, while I’ll be pulled into a variety of different directions, I do plan on sticking around the Myles Files – whether it’s to describe these other ventures or to vent about this that or another, this blog shall live on. However, as always, for more consistent updates, Cultural Learnings gets first priority.

In working on this creative project, it was an issue of inspiration: in reading through hundreds of sources, what jumped out at us as the stories to tell, as the perspectives to take? Ultimately, the form it took was the same as the form of this posting: blogs.

Now, there are advantages and disadvantages to using a blog format for an online project.

The Advantages

  • Ability to ask “What if” questions about modern communication in non-modern settings
  • Easy to create, easy to manage
  • Myles is addicted to them (Also a disadvantage!)

The major disadvantage, however, is more apparent – they read backwards, so for people looking to read the whole story they need to scroll down the page and read in a strange fashion.

However, this is really an advantage: it reminds us that history doesn’t always start at the beginning, and that you have to search for those starting points in our look back into the past. We feel as if we have found some of these starting points, and are proud to be presenting these blogs as our final Class Project.

Notes for Reading “Blogging the Plague”

  • You will notice comments on a number of the blogs – these are part of the story, and help emphasize the benefit of communication and the importance of dialogue. They also allowed us to contribute to one another’s projects, and to create a connection (however coincidental and convenient) between our separate works.
  • Each blog has a “Sources” page which features references to documents, both primary and secondary, which inspired or informed our postings.
  • As noted, blogs are read backwards – each blog fits onto one page, so a simple “End” will do the trick.

Thank you for reading, and thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Myles A. McNutt, B. Alexander Fage, Amandine Clairo, Jennifer Huizen

About “Blogging the Plague”

“Blogging the Plague” is a project designed to ask a series of “What if?” questions about the outbreak of plague in the United States of America, specifically in Honolulu and San Francisco at the turn of the 20th century.

What if the stories of the people close to the plague, be it victims or medical professionals, made it to public at large through mass media sources?

What if the reasons and explanations behind the decisions of J. Kinyoun had been made public, allowing the public to view what was behind his public image as the “Wolf Doctor?”

What if there had been a news source that cut through the pacts of silence to reach a broad worldwide readership, spreading the plague stories worldwide?

If all of these, or one of these, would have happened, how would this have changed the question of how plague spread? Would the government have felt more accountable, providing more resources to Kinyoun and others? Would the residents of these cities accept the treatment, and their efforts, considering this new scenario: or would such a free flow of information have organized them against it more quickly?

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I’ll be heading back tomorrow for a more detailed go-round with the various vendors, but today I stopped into the Acadia Laptop Showcase at the Fountain Commons in order to get a glimpse at what the various vendors have to offer. I’m not going to offer my own opinion in full detail (That’ll be for the Ath, it seems), but I will say this much: thanks to everyone who came out. The future of the Acadia Advantage is important to this university, and a student voice is integral. Too often I think students are left out of this process, so this is a great opportunity to test and see if these computers meet your needs.

Personally, I’ll disclose that if I return to Acadia next year I will be buying an Apple laptop – this was going to be the case before they were one of the potential vendors, and nothing I saw today really changed that fact. I heard a few rumblings here and there about the representative being a bit prickly, but in the end a fair number of students were gravitating towards the shiny boxes.

But let me pose a few questions about each model, in an attempt to gather some information and stir up some discussion.

Apple:

  • What knowledge did you gain regarding operating a Windows environment through Boot Camp?
  • How much are you willing to spend for a MacBook?
  • Did you leave the table with a sense of the difference between the MacBook and the MacBook Pro? And compared to PCs?

HP:

  • Were you as put off as I was by the lack of pricing/specifications on the models?
  • Did you think the tablet PC was cool, or just a distraction from the rest of their presentation?
  • Is a Biometric thumb scanner SERIOUSLY a selling point for anyone?

Toshiba:

  • How concerned were you about the specifications on the Toshiba laptops?
  • Is size an issue for you? (I don’t think Toshiba had a laptop under 15.4″)
  • Do you feel that these models were designed for student use?

Dell:

  • Are you willing to pay $1500 for an upgraded version of the current Acadia laptop?
  • Are you interested in a high-end gaming rig, or was that not of any interest?
  • Do you feel wary about Dell in general based on the performance of the existing laptops?

If you want to take some time to answer any of these questions, or offer your own comments, feel free to post below! And if you haven’t yet visited the Laptop Showcase, it is on tomorrow (Wednesday) from 10am to 7pm.

The earlier than expected departure of Gail Dinter-Gottlieb, president of Acadia University, was met with a variety of different reactions. Many of these, expectedly, reflect back on her tenure of president with a certain skepticism, and view her removal as vindication for their past criticism of her efforts. Others, meanwhile, view this as yet another sign that Acadia is “falling apart” and that the downward spiral continues to destroy the university at the administrative level. While I perhaps have more sympathy to the former rather than the latter, which I think is sensationalist and frustrating, I would contend that the real reaction here is one which is forward-looking – Gail’s departure allows Acadia to define a new path sooner, rather than later.

By the time September rolls around, Acadia should have a new President in place. The final two projects of Dr. Gottlieb’s time at Acadia, the Biology Building originally scheduled to open this month but now delayed (again) and the revamped Acadia Advantage, will have been completed and launched respectively. The result will be an opportunity for Acadia to stop worrying about internal struggles and faculty strikes and focus on the future. We all knew that Gail wasn’t returning, so now we can move on faster and while some of the university’s problems are still fresh in our memories.

While returning from the holidays is always somewhat bittersweet, this year is particularly interesting. For me, it’s (potentially) my last semester at Acadia, and at least the conclusion of my undergraduate degree. For first year students, however, this will be their first full semester – their first time writing two sets of midterms, or their first time watching as four months goes by in the blink of an eye even without a four-week break. It makes for a unique environment, and one where we’re all trying to stop thinking about the past and move forward.

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Review: Disney’s Enchanted

Enchanted is a film which, by and large, came out of nowhere from a critical perspective. Disney certainly put the film in a position to be a successful venture: Thanksgiving Weekend was once their largest box office domain, so their return to the frame was inevitable. However, count me amongst those who saw this film as family fare that would be a hit with the kids but have little outside value. And, in the end, the film is far more polished and much more worthwhile than one might expect. While it is inevitably a family film which relies on the saccharine, the elements which serve as a wry homage to the animated Disney clichés prove far more prevalent than its previews portrayed.

Beginning with a beautiful opening act done in 2D animation, Enchanted tells the story of Gisele (Amy Adams), a naive forest maiden who dreams of true love’s kiss. She thinks she’s found it when the prince (James Marsden) finally notices her, and they are set to be married the next day (Live’s too short for long engagements in Andalasia) – this, however, is no good for the evil stepmother of a Queen (Susan Sarandon) who does not desire to give up her throne. And so, she dumps Gisele down a mysterious well where she emerges out of a manhole into the streets of real-life New York, stumbling her way into the life of Robert (Patrick Dempsey), a divorce attorney with a young daughter and a fiance to be (Idina Menzel). Combine with an out of control chipmunk and a loyal servant (Timothy Spall), and you’ve got the element of your standard fairy tale.

But nothing is standard about the film’s execution: take for example its take on the Working Song, where Gisele enlists the critters of New York to help clean Robert’s apartment. And yes, this includes rats and pigeons, as one would expect considering. However, I didn’t expect the film to go so far as to use cockroaches – it seemed a dark place to head, and it was honestly refreshing. As a whole, the musical numbers are one place where the film has perhaps its most successful nods to Disney’s past: “That’s How You Know” turns into a raucous Central Park-based musical extravaganza, for example, but Dempsey is used as a cynical voice throughout. It’s not a parody, really, but an homage with a wink to the audience that the creators are aware of what they’re doing.

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So, it’s been a while since I’ve posted here, obviously due to the rather pervasive impact of the StrikeBlog. After that situation thankfully came to an end, I kind of missed the StrikeBlog – I still have to check it occasionally to delete the lesbian porn spam comments. Fortunately, there has been both a wealth of television to keep my blogging side busy at Cultural Learnings, but I’ve admittedly let this blog die down thanks to another element entirely: The Thesis.

Myles Files Thesis Report #1

November 17th, 2007

Today, I wrote 7 pages of my thesis. Woot.

This reflects the current thesis mode, really: after a month and a half of proposal hell (To summarize what my advisor has had to listen to for a good week and a half: proposals are annoying), I’ve finally sat down and actually started writing the Thesis. This is a positive step forward, and I am hoping that perhaps the Myles Files can help it become a pattern of behaviour.

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[Moving] Images of Women:

Feminist Criticism and Reality in Television

Toril Moi’s Sexual/Textual Politics spends very little time on ‘Images of Women’ criticism; despite representing a turn to a political discourse within feminist literary theory, “it is easy today to be reproving of this type of criticism: to take it to task for not recognizing the literariness of literature” (Moi 47). While acknowledging Moi’s valid criticisms of the theory, I believe that the emphasis on realism and reflection within ‘Images of Women’ criticism has gained new relevance within the world of television. In the wake of the birth of reality television, the question of “real” in television has risen to the surface, and has resulted in a wave of series which call this into question. I want to take a look at two examples: a non-traditional television drama (HBO’s Tell Me You Love Me) and a “reality” series (MTV’s The Hills). In doing so, I want to investigate whether this medium for reality, nonexistent when Moi’s text was written, results in a similar deconstruction of ‘Images of Women’ criticism.

HBO’s Tell Me You Love Me

There are no sensationalist storylines (as seen in primetime soap operas like Desperate Housewives) within Tell Me You Love Me, which purports to be one of the most realistic portrayals of relationships on television. This was originally based on its near pornographic sex scenes, but in reality it extends to the most mundane details: drama is created through therapy sessions and discussions, as opposed to bomb scares, and we see these people doing the most mundane things, including urination. This reflects one of the main contentions, as noted by Moi, regarding ‘Images of Women’ theory, in that “toe-nail clipping and the disposal of sanitary towels…seem neglected as fictional themes” (44).

YouTube – Tell Me You Love Me

However, the series develops into one of the contradictions Moi finds within the theory: she notes that “the feminist reader of this period not only wants to see her own experience mirrored in fiction, but strives to identify with strong, impressive female characters” (46). These are not present within Tell Me You Love Me: all characters, even the therapist, are confused, unhappy and make generally terrible decisions involving their personal relationships. As a result, there are few female role models (to the degree Images of Women criticism desires) to be found here, even as they act in a realistic fashion. The series represents the idealist and contradictory viewpoint of ‘Images of Women’ criticism, even within a new medium – you can’t desire realism when you also desire a narrow portrayal of women.

MTV’s The Hills

However, there is no literary equivalent to reality television (Unless we count James Frey’s false autobiography), so shows like The Hills are uncharted territory. The show shows the lives of high society twenty-somethings who have to deal with relationship drama, friendship drama, and the everyday life of modeling in the Hollywood hills. Moi notes that ‘Images of Women’ criticism is “concerned with nurturing personal growth and raising the individual consciousness by linking literature to life” (42). However, I do not believe that even these theorists could imagine that one day The Hills would emerge as not just a connection between literature and life, but rather purporting to be reality itself.

YouTube – The Hills (Heidi and Lauren Fight)

This fight was, of course, staged and filmed from multiple angles: the show’s stars are celebrities, not real people, and any attempt to claim the series as real are inherently false. However, its female “role models” gain a level of notoriety impossible within “fiction” thanks to the show’s purported realism. By blurring the line between actor and character, ‘Images of Women’ criticism becomes even more interesting: literature and life become one and the same, and the power of the show’s portrayal of women becomes even more important. Despite the fact that these portrayals are controlled and edited by a group of shadowy figures, thus representing an unrealistic portrayal, it is presented as reality and could be taken as such (especially by young women).

In other words, even though reality is what this branch of feminist criticism strove for, that reality as found within the realm of television still does not fit into the theory’s idealistic standards. While I think that Moi’s hyper-criticism is often overbearing, I think that here she is measured: when the subject deserves and welcomes criticism, she seems fit to offer only a well-guided analysis of the theory’s flaws.

What this commentary was designed to do was retest this theory. In Moi’s analysis, she believes that the analysis is unbalanced because it fails to respect “women writers who often wrote under ideological conditions that made it impossible for them to fulfil the demands of the feminist critics” (48). However, now that these ideological conditions are no longer in place, the theory remains idealistic and contradictory; the new post-modern focus on reality still does not reconcile the concerns that Moi has with ‘Images of Women’ criticism. If anything, it is further distanced from that reality by these newfound complexities.

Greetings Myles Files readers,

Wikipedia says of “Selling Out”:

Selling out refers to the compromising of one’s integrity, morality and principles in exchange for money, ‘success’ or other personal gain. It is commonly associated with attempts to increase mass appeal or acceptability to mainstream society. A person who does this, as opposed to following the original path s/he laid (or claimed to lay) out for him/herself, is labeled a sellout and regarded with disgust and immediate loss of respect.

And, by definition, one could say that I’ve sold out by agreeing to jump over to the Acadia Student Union’s Strike Website and become their official Strike Blogger. And, on the surface, this might be the case: however, at a certain point, a blogger needs to go where they can make the most difference. And, in this case, this is working in conjunction with the Acadia Students’ Union.

The ASU Strike Information Site

http://www.theasu.com/strike/

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[Welcome to the Liveblogging of the October 10th Negotiations Update from the Myles Files. This meeting was called as a way to update students on the state of negotiations that started this morning between AUFA and Acadia University. If you couldn’t make it due to class, here’s the lowdown.]

3:53pm: And the Michener Lounge is slowly filling as the presentation is set to begin in only six minutes.

3:57pm: This location is great for a quick meeting of this size, but I worry that first year students will get lost on the way.

4:00pm: The main level of the SUB is empty, so a majority of people in the building are here. I’d say that’s a successful turnout, all things considered.

4:01pm: From Kyle Steele, the two sides went back to the table and talks did NOT break down today. This is good news, even considering the strike vote falling 75% in favour. Further information will be provided at http://www.theasu.com/strike.

4:02pm: The Plan of Action is the current big issue in terms of strike plans from the ASU. Erin Benner, VP Campus Life, will be providing non-academic events for students, while Colin Hoult (VP Academic) will be focusing on academic events for first year students.

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About

The Myles Files are the organized, but likely still incomprehensible, thoughts and ramblings of Myles McNutt, a fourth year English Honours student at Acadia University.

Highlights will include discussion of Acadia politics, his undergraduate thesis about Battlestar Galactica, and the general comings and going of my quasi-interesting life.

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