Category Archives: Commonplace Book

Modern Day Cinderella

“If the shoe fits, makeup your mind.”

Most teens make a poster, or maybe buy flowers in order to ask their date to prom. However, in Houston TX, a high school junior named Louis proposed the idea of prom to his friend Caitlan by buying her a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes and some makeup from Sephora. The shoes, which retail for about $700, are an expensive gift, especially considering the purchaser is in high school. What made this already spectacular proposal even better would be the word play which Loius used to ask Caitlan. On a plain white posterboard, Louis wrote out in gold letters “If the shoe fits, makeup your mind”. As an avid lover of puns, I immediately thought this was clever. With references to common sayings, Cinderella, and her gift(s), the word play could be reason enough to say “yes” without hesitation. The first part, “if the shoe fits”, originally comes from the saying “if the cap fits” alludes to a fool’s cap and dates from the early 1700s. Some believe that it changed to “shoe” as a result of the fairytale Cinderella*. Here, this is extended to not only include the gift which Louis purchased, but also the formal dance which he is asking her to. Prom is famous for its elaborate dresses and festivities, which closely mirrors Cinderella. The fact that he was able to tie all of this together, whether intentional or not, is commendable. The second part of his proposal, “makeup your mind”, may not have as many cultural references, but is still clever nonetheless. Since he purchased makeup for Caitlan, and he’s asking her to choose him for Prom, his play on “make up” is unmistakeable. Overall, Caitlin’s one lucky high schooler.

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King Kylie

Kylie Jenner: the famous 19 year-old which has managed to establish worldwide familiarity due to her looks, makeup line, and (most influentially) her family. Little sister to superstar Kim Kardashian, Kylie grew up almost constantly in the public eye. The famous reality television show, Keeping up with the Kardashians, debuted in 2007, when Kylie was only 10 years old. Since then, she has been a consistent topic of celebrity gossip and public recognition, not to mention controversy. It should come as no surprise that the Kardashian/ Jenner clan is often caught-up in scandals centered around their physical appearance, especially considering that many people believe their appearances to be the factor that made them famous to begin with. Most recently, the Jenner princess has caused some debate with one of her instagram pictures. Tom Sykes for wrote an article entitled “Inside Kylie Jenner’s Latest Photoshop Controversy”, where he can be quoted saying “Now however, and not for the first time, comes the utterly shocking suggestion that the fabulous lives of various K-folk as portrayed on social media may not, after all, be peak vérité”. This sentence, which is quite obviously filled with a substantial amount of sarcasm, points fun at the idea that the famous family is involved in another image scandal. The way in which the author delivers this message, however, paints a very specific picture (no pun intended). Tom’s article, which explains that many believe Kylie’s instagram picture (above) is photoshopped, gives both sides of the argument while also pulling in reference to sister Kim’s recent comments around body-shaming. Given the sarcasm in his earlier sentence, it could be perceived that Tom isn’t the biggest fan of the famous reality family, but he does a decent job of showing both sides of the argument, as well as painting Kim in a positive light. Overall, I feel that the bolded sentence above says a lot about the situation and the Kardashians/ Jenners in general. For a family that has such a negative connotation associated to them, they still manage to be the topic of conversation quite a bit. The fact that Tom took his time to write this article at all says a lot. He is also using a somewhat complex sentence structure, and uses words not everyone in middle America may be familiar with (vérité). To me, this suggests that the readers themselves are expected to be of decent intelligence, while also simultaneously being interested in the life of a reality television star. Moreover, I was lead to this article because it was featured on the front page of Google News. So even though there is this underlying distaste for the Kardashian and Jenner franchise, our overall fascination with them seems to ring through much more. It seems as though what people really love is to hate them.

The Commonplace of GW Hospital


The George Washington University Hospital posted the above video on their YouTube channel to provide a short explanation of their hospital for prospective and current patients and their friends/family.  The video, posted on July 16, 2013, shows clips of the surrounding city of DC, as well as dramatizations of surgeries and patient/doctor interactions. The most interesting to note for our purposes, however, is the use of diversity in this “ad” (or lack thereof). My original essay, centered around the racial inclusion of GW Hospital’s website can be easily extended to encompass how GW Hospital represents themselves on other platforms. To be completely fair, it must be noted that this video was produced about 4 years ago, while the website is updated regularly, so the comparison is not completely 1:1. Yet, this video is the only one which GWH has released that could be taken as an overall ad for the hospital, so they haven’t felt a need to change their representation. As for content, this video does include some minorities- but barely. There are three different clips which show woman of color assisting in a medically professional role. However, the majority of people in these clips are white. Those in roles of highest prestige (the main doctors/surgeons), are white males. This closely represents the image which GWH gave off on their website. Even all of the patients being treated are white. The woman of color (there’s also possibly an asian woman featured but it’s difficult to tell) are assisting the doctor(s). It seems that the overall message from this video is to focus on the excellence of the health care provided, rather than the inclusivity of the staff and patients. This is neither “good” not “bad”, just an observation. Its also important to note that there is some attempt at inclusion- this video is not simply black and white (no pun intended).

Commonplace 11

Part 1)

This is a sign which appears on the outside door of a bathroom located on American University’s campus. (From what Professor Hoskins has told the class, this bathroom is located in an area where many faculty and visiting benefactors/ alumni conduct business). The specific location of this sign is an indication of the type of audience which AU is trying to reach- and therefore also a direct indication of the message they’re trying to get across. The sign reads clearly, explaining that the bathroom is to be used by everyone, regardless of gender identity. But what does this mean in terms of context and situation? AU is known as a liberal college, and this sign definitely falls in line with that mindset. Gender-neutral bathrooms have been a big topic in the news lately, with various elected officials stating very different viewpoints on the topic. By displaying this sign, AU is not only establishing itself as a socially liberal space, but they are also aligning themselves with politicians and laws that hold the same view. By design, this alignment is simultaneously distancing AU with politicians/ laws that hold opposing views. It would be fair to say that this sign goes far beyond simply defining bathroom use. The appearance of this sign suggests that AU knows those seeing it are aware with the current political and social scene, and anticipate how those people feel. Since this is located in an area where donors and important/ influential people of the AU community engage, it would be accurate to assume that AU is displaying something that not only holds their own views, but also what they anticipate the views of those important people to be.

Part 2)

“Shall property owned by the University System of Georgia and utilized by providers of college and university student housing and other facilities continue to be exempt from taxation to keep costs affordable?”

Root: shall property continue

Key words: University system, college, university, continue, exempt, taxation, affordable

Rhetorical Analysis: As the key words above point out, I think the main takeaway from this sentence is continued taxation exemption upon college to remain affordable. Two huge issues in politics right now are affordable higher education and taxation rates upon high-earning individuals and businesses. This sentence raises a question which could definitely raise quite a bit of debate. However, this sentence is very strategic in its worded. If the last four words were removed (to keep costs affordable), then many peoples’ answer would most likely be very different. Without context, the idea of a person or business avoiding taxes is very unappealing. Yet, the addition of affordability changes the rhetorical situation quite a bit. Suddenly this is no longer a simple “yes” or “no” question. Its also interesting how the sentences contains the word “continued”. This establishes that the university has been practicing this action previously, which adds an element of seniority- the same way firing an established employee is very different than firing a new one. By adding “continued”, the fact that the action existed previously is also brought into question. To end it now would also be challenging the fact that it was ever in place. This question is like the adult version of a child asking their father something like “Can I keep having fun with my friends even though I have to clean my room, because mom said I could?”. The sentence from the Georgia Referendum to amend the State Constitution is establishing the fact that this action has been going on, and it has been accepted, and there’s a decent reason that its been going on.

Exs and Ohs

So this past week I received a Facebook message from my ex, and instead of internally dissect every word and comma (as one usually does when encountering such a message), I have decided instead to examine its form and content with an academic eye- because if I’m going to overanalyze something, why not learn from it?

“I want to talk more later as friends if you are willing.”

The specific sentence I’ve selected is quoted above. This excerpt may be short, but its also full of meaning. There is a lack of punctuation, which generally eludes to a more casual atmosphere. However the wording, “if you are willing”, leans towards a stricter and more formal interaction. An interesting addition to the sentence are the words “as friends”. Given the context, these two words can hold a vastly different meaning. “As friends” can be taken as a lighter or inviting phrase, saying that the author is hoping that differences can be put aside, and two people who may not have always been friendly towards each other can still communicate. On the flip side of that coin, “as friends” can be seen as an attempt to “pump the brakes” or set boundaries- a way to say “this meeting is friendly/ cordial at best”.

Just as it’s interesting to examine what’s present in this sentence, its also important to consider whats absent. The author starts the sentence by discussing themselves, then ends by talking about the reader. Therefore, the main subject of this sentence is the author, with the reader coming second. The verb of this sentence is “want” (the author wants). An alternative way to write this sentence would have been putting the reader at the beginning, “If you are willing…”, or even switching “you” and “I” (“If you want…. I am willing). The fact the author holds the stronger, more assertive verb “want”, while the reader “is willing” also hints at a power dynamic- but this power dynamic could go either way too. One reading would put the author in a more dominant spot, since they want to meet while the reader is merely willing. However, it could be read that the author is extending themselves, saying that they want an action to occur, but only if the reader is willing to agree (putting the reader in a position of power).

The last thing that can be dissected is the choice of the word “talk”. In today’s millennial culture, many words have taken up numerous different meanings depending on their context- “talk” is one such word. Talk can refer to the step which a couple takes before dating (those two are talking), it can reference the actual verb of physically being in a shared built environment and exchanging dialog (we talked in class), or it can elude to messaging back and forth over text, instant messaging, etc. (we were talking till midnight over dm’s). The fact that “talk” was chosen here makes this a very open-ended sentence, which ultimately allows the author to dictate their own meaning from the word with the reader being left unsure.

Overall, the english language is extremely complex, and even a simple 12 word sentence has the power to bewilder…

The Complexity of Chanel

“The use of the brand Chanel was apt, with the image of Chanel’s interlocking ‘C’ logo engrained in many of our minds as some of the most iconic fashion images to emerge over the last century — a clear symbol that no matter what direction you look at it from, can only be Chanel.”

-Evan Ross Katz

About a week ago, singer/songwriter Frank Ocean released a new single entitled “Chanel”. This release came somewhat suddenly, without many knowing about the release in advance. His song, which obviously uses the brand Chanel as its very foundation, sparked a bit of conversation concerning the exact intent of this brand reference. This conversation gained momentum when Chanel released pictures on their Instagram referencing Frank Ocean and his new song. People began wondering if this could signify a collaboration between the singer and designer label. This is a reasonable question to be asking, especially at a time in fashion where collaborations are a hot-ticket item (think Louis Vuitton + Supreme’s recent collaboration announcement).  But what exactly would a collaboration between the french fashion powerhouse and r&b/ rap singer entail? Evan Ross Katz wrote for about this very topic in his article “Are Frank Ocean and Chanel collaborating? Cryptic Instagrams suggest maybe so”. Most people, even those who are unfamiliar with fashion or designer labels know, Chanel’s logo of the interlocking C’s is world-famous. In Frank Ocean’s song, he uses the line “I see both sides like Chanel” in his chorus. This line is clever given the word-play with “see” and the letter “c”, but this line would mean nothing if people weren’t familiar with the brand’s iconic logo. As Evan Katz explains in the quoted sentence above, Chanel’s interlocking Cs is quite possibly one of the most iconic fashion images to emerge over the past century. Not only is Evan Katz accurate in what he’s saying, but the complexity of the sentence which he writes is also interesting. His sentence is a longer one, which he breaks apart by using commas and a dash. He begins with an independant clause, which he followed by two dependent clauses joined together by the dash. Its almost to give reference to the fact that Frank Ocean’s song itself is rather complex, even though some may discount that given the title is a designer brand name.

3 Part Commonplace

Part 1:
“After five-plus weeks of gleefully setting the Washington establishment ablaze and declaring a new war with virtually every public utterance, Mr. Trump took the radical step on Tuesday night of delivering a soothing comfort food of an address to a jittery Congress and skeptical public.” -“5 Key Takeaways From President Trump’s Speech”, The New York Times


The first part of this sentence, from “After” to “utterance”, is completely dependent upon the second part of the sentence. The second part, however, is a completely independent clause. This is a fairly complex sentence, yet it’s also easy to understand (most likely due to the simplistic wording). Although there are numerous nouns, the main subject of the sentence is easily identified as Trump, who set Washington ablaze, declared war, took steps, and delivered an address. The remaining words in the sentence are more informative, referring to how Trump did certain actions (i.e. gleefully set), and who he did those actions to (jittery Congress).


Part 2:

David Fleming concludes his City of Rhetoric by arguing that “education [should be] oriented to the ‘strong publics’ of decision making rather than the ‘weak publics’ of opinion formation” (205). For Fleming, then, composition courses, which traditionally have asked students to write ____________________________, should instead have students __________________________.  In other words, ___________________________.


Part 3:

Trump’s Trash

Often times, it’s the words that aren’t said that leave more of an impact that those which actually are- unfortunately this is not the case with President Trump. On Tuesday, February 28, 2017 Donald Trump made his first official address to congress. During this address, the president referenced numerous points of his agenda as leader of our great nation, including: protectionism, infrastructure and of course his many achievements from these first five weeks of his presidency. His speech, as they usually do, sparked quite a bit of conversation. Some individuals feel that he was well behaved and tame, while others feel that his speech was disconcerting, if not alarming. Countless articles, tabloid pieces, and blog posts (including this one) continue to pop up discussing every aspect of the speech and those who attended. A simple visit to any news agency’s website will result in an immediate bombardment of more Trump-themed information than most people would want to read in a lifetime. However, one of these very articles stuck out to me. This piece, written by Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee for the Washington Post, is entitled “Fact-Checking President Trump’s Address to Congress”- a simple and straightforward title for what seems to be a simple and straightforward topic. Yet, there is almost this sinking feeling in my stomach when I read the title of this article. I have to pause and think to myself, “does the President of the United States of America really need to be fact-checked?”, to which the answer is a resounding “yes”. But why are we (as a society) at a place where the leader of the free world, a man who is arguably the most powerful person alive, can stand in front of an entire congress and say false information? What’s more upsetting is the fact that all we can really do about the situation is write precisely worded articles on the topic, pointing out all of the cringe-worthy “alternative facts” Trump decides to use. This article in particular is well captured by the title- it’s well written and not rude or condescending towards the president. It seems to be written with the pure intent of informing people about the accurate and not-so-accurate pieces of our current president’s address.


Link Below:

Annabel Lee’s Valentines Day

It was many and many a year ago,
   In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
   By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
   Than to love and be loved by me.
Annabel Lee, by Edgar Allen Poe
In the spirit of Valentine’s day, I thought that a quote from a love poem would work well for this week’s Commonplace Assignment. Although Edgar Allen Poe may not be known as the happiest of writers, his work (and especially this poem) is considered to be quite beautifully written. Those who are familiar with the entirety of Annabel Lee know that this is a rather dark and complex poem, however the first stanza (quoted above) is very sweet and endearing. Here, Poe is talking about a girl who has “no other thought than to love and be loved” by the narrator. What I enjoy about this poem, and especially this stanza, is how it evokes a feeling of nostalgia for the reader. This is done by not only using time (“many and many a year ago”) but also referencing “a kingdom by the sea”. This reference to an unspecified location is often used in writing to bring up feelings of mystery and imagination. References to the sea in particular can be tied closely to elements of death, loneliness, and isolation- however, the sea can also represent possibility and uncertainty. This first stanza does not lead to the reader to directly associate death with the writing, however elements of mystery, possibility, and uncertainty are all more blatantly present. What’s also cool about this stanza, is that Poe is able to hint at a storyline with significant depth and possible darkness, without using any direct cues. So although this poem may not be the happiest in its entirety, the writing style of this first stanza definitely deserves recognition.