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literary devices

Deciphering Contra

By literary devices, music One Comment

While I know it can’t quite compare to "Pants on the Ground," the new Vampire Weekend album came out this week, and it’s flipping sweet. Although, Ezra Koenig throws words like "horchata" and "carob" around like they’re a normal part of everyday conversation. If you’re planning on listening to the album, you might want to take note of the following definitions because if you listen closely, you’ll realize that some of the lyrics are quite brilliant. Pay attention.

Horchata – the name for several kinds of traditional beverages, made of ground almonds, sesame seeds, rice, barley, or tigernuts.

Contra – against; in opposition or contrast to.

Contra Costa – a county in California.

Contra mundum – against the world; defying or against everyone.

– orangeade variant of San Pellegrino carbonated mineral water (originally introduced in 1932).

Balaclava – a close-fitting, knitted cap that covers the head, neck, and tops of the shoulders, worn esp. by mountain climbers, soldiers, skiers, etc.

Hapa – the Hawaiian word for "half" and was initially a derogatory term used to describe someone who was half Hawaiian. The phrase "hapa haole" was commonly used, meaning half white. The term hapa was initially adapted by people of Japanese-White mixed heritage to describe themselves, and is now used to describe anyone of mixed heritage with partially Asian or Pacific Islander ancestry.

Masada – a mountaintop fortress in E Israel on the SW shore of the Dead Sea: site of Zealots’ last stand against the Romans during revolt of a.d. 66–73.

California English – that one you’re going to have to read up on yourself. I had no idea.

Carob – the carob tree is a species of flowering evergreen shrub or tree in the pea family, Fabaceae, that is native to the Mediterranean region. It is cultivated for its edible seed pods. Carob, dried or roasted and having a slightly sweet taste, in powder or chip form, is used as an ingredient in cakes and cookies.

Tokugawa – the Tokugawa shogunate was a feudal regime of Japan established by Tokugawa Ieyasu and ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family. This period is known as the Edo period and gets its name from the capital city, Edo, which now is called Tokyo. The Tokugawa shogunate ruled from Edo Castle from 1603 until 1868, when it was abolished during the Meiji Restoration.

Futura – a geometric sans-serif typeface designed between 1924 and 1926 by Paul Renner. It is based on geometric shapes that became representative visual elements of the Bauhaus design style of 1919–1933.Commissioned by the Bauer type foundry, Futura was commercially released in 1927.

Just thought I’d keep you in the loop.

Listen; learn; revel in awesomeness.

An Old Poem

By literary devices No Comments

I think I wrote this in 2006. I just found it. It’s kind of decent, so I figured I’d share…

He jolted awake when his ship hit a swell,
And he found himself missing a girl named Michelle.
But he thought about her and the way it had been,
And it tortured his soul that he’d left her again.
He silently screamed and it shattered the world,
And the pieces fell down on the heart of a girl.
She woke up from a dream, panicked, gasping for air,
And she reached out for him, but he wasn’t there.
He was thousands of miles away out to sea
Gazing back at the shore, wondering where she could be.
He leaned over the railing, glancing down in the dark,
And she looked to the sky and she wished on a star.
“I’m still here like I promised,” she wanted to say,
“I still think about you every night and all day.”
“I should never have left,” he sighed into the night,
“I’ll come back next year, and I’ll make it all right.”
She returned to her bed, tried to fall back asleep,
But her mind raced with thoughts of love she couldn’t keep.
She watched east, he looked west, and they both shed a tear
In the hopes they’d cross paths once more in a year.

Similes & Metaphors

By e-mails, lists, literary devices No Comments

To: Lisa
From: Amy
Sent: Wednesday, March 28, 2007, 2:39 PM
Subject: (no subject)

Every year, English teachers from across the country can submit their collections of actual similes and metaphors found in high school essays. These excerpts are published each year to the amusement of teachers across the country. Here are last year’s winners:

1. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a thigh Master.

2. His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.

3. He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.

4. She grew on him like she was a colony of E.Coli, and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.

5. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

6. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

7. He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.

8. The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife’s infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM machine.

9. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.

10. McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.

11. From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you’re on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.

12. Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.

13. The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.

14. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.

15. They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan’s teeth.

16. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

17. He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant, and she was the East River.

18. Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.

19. Shots rang out, as shots are known to do.

20. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.

21. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.

22. He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

23. The ballerina rose gracefully en Pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

24. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.

25. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.

Things That Go Bump In The Spring

By hazards to my well-being, literary devices, not ruling at life One Comment

It’s spring time and I have a bump on my shin. I think if my life were a literary masterpiece, having bumps on my shin just in time for shorts weather would be one of the motifs. (If you don’t remember learning your literary devices in eigth grade, a motif is a theme, character type, image, metaphor, or other element that recurs throughout a single work of literature or occurs in a number of different works over a period of time.)

The first spring I had a bump on my shin was either my freshman year of high school or the year before that. I got hit in the leg with a softball and the swelling just took forever to go down.

As for the next one (actually two), I clearly remember my roommates and I examining the pair of mysterious bumps that surfaced on my shin during the spring of my junior year in college. We had no clue what they were from – I suppose they could have been bruises (I remember slamming my leg in the car door a few times that spring) or calcium deposits (that’s what Jess thought) – but we frequently referred to them simply as “shin cancer.” They were gone by the end of the summer without my ever really figuring out what they were.

This time, the bump is a result of my reckless waterfall behavior in the pool this afternoon. I begged my uncle to turn on the waterfall, and as he was about to push the button, my aunt and I noticed a potted plant sitting vicariously on the edge of the top rock. I dove across the pool and jumped up onto the waterfall to rescue the plant. Of course the water came rushing out into my face at that precise moment, and I’m sure you can picture the rest.

At least I kept the damn plant out of the pool. Here at the Bassani residence, we’ve already learned that a load of potting soil in the pool water doesn’t make for the most attractive swimming conditions.