Belonging and Normality in Goodfellas

Based off a true story detailed in the pages of the book Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi, Martin Scorsese explores the dark and violent world of the New York mob scene in his 1990 film Goodfellas. Narrated by voiceovers from Henry and Karen Hill, (Ray Liotta and Lorraine Bracco) the film juxtaposes the crime-ridden lives that the gangsters lead with a family atmosphere they try to foster around them. The theme is emphasized by a narration that is often subjective in nature. Scorsese mixes elements of mise-en-scene, camerawork, and editing to illustrate the divide between the mafia lifestyle and the average civilian life. “No outsiders ever. It got to be normal.” Karen Hill makes this declaration while discussing the tight-knit group of people that work for Paul Cicero (Paul Sorvino), demonstrating the idea that she and everyone else get caught up in the sense of community and lose sight of the abnormality of their professional gangster lifestyles.

The contradiction of living a wholesome family lifestyle while working as professional criminals is most evident during the scene where the trio of Henry, Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci), and Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro), sit down to have dinner with Tommy’s mother (Catherine Scorsese) shortly after attacking Billy Batts (Frank Vincent) for taunting Tommy. Tommy is covered in blood and Batts is even still alive in the trunk of the car while Tommy’s mother serves them a full meal. This moment is emphasized by the fact the film opens with the crew driving upstate to bury Billy. Overall, Goodfellas employs linear storytelling, but the opening scene is an example of temporal frequency and order being tampered with because the opening scene takes place in 1970 before returning to 1955 to show Henry’s early days with the mob. The subjectivity of the narration reveals itself early on as a young Henry talks about his goal to become a gangster while looking at the gang from his window across the street from them. At the end of the movie it is revealed that all of these stories are coming out because Henry makes the decision to give everyone up so that he can join the witness protection program. In the middle of the trial while Henry is on the stand he breaks the fourth wall that separates the viewer from the characters. He gets up walks towards the camera and declares, “Everything was for the taking and now it’s all over.” Throughout the film, Karen and Henry’s narration work together to give the viewer an unrestricted and subjective access to see into what living their lives is like.

Karen is overwhelmed by all of the people that dwell around Paul Cicero and his operation. She comments on her wedding day, “By the time I had finished meeting everybody I thought I was drunk.” The scene that best encompasses her feelings in a visual representation is a long take that occurs when Henry takes Karen to the Copacabana and they enter through the side door. Bypassing the long line, Henry walks Karen through a series of winding hallways, greeting nearly everyone he sees as he goes. The long take allows the feeling of being flooded with new friendly faces all at once to take root with the viewer just as Karen experiences it. Scorsese could have chopped the scene up with cuts, fragmenting the sequence up into individual interactions between Henry and his friends but the totality of seeing all of Henry’s connections in one take is more powerful. Karen’s sense of shock culminates in her dumbfounded facial expression as the couple takes their front row seat provided for them. The Copacabana long take shot is not framed within the context of perceptual subjectivity, but a previous long take is. In the earlier long take, Henry names a list of people that he is connected with as many of them look directly into the camera as it moves around the restaurant and some even address the viewer as if he is a character. Henry’s list is exhaustive as he identifies some people that never come up again in the rest of the film. They act as filler characters that are there simply to build up the realism of the scenario. The camerawork in these particular long takes functions to put the viewer directly in the position of the Hills and enforce the concept that each person was practically family. The camaraderie blinds all of them from the real consequences of their criminal actions and they erroneously feel invincible. While the camerawork sets up the family ideals, mise-en-scene – specifically the appearance of the color red – often acts to break down the familial vibe as it evokes violence.

Red is absolutely everywhere in Goodfelllas. The hue is the color of choice in the Copacabana and Sonny Bunz’s (Tony Darrow) restaurant The Bamboo Lounge as well, but the significance of the color is most notable during the sequence that shows Henry, Tommy, and Jimmy burying Billy Bats. Only moments after they are displayed sharing dinner with Tommy’s mother, the group is draped in a shade of red lighting that is motivated by the car’s brake lights as they dig a grave for a made man. An ominous layer of fog that catches the color and reflects it intensifies the red lighting. Billy’s blood is literally and figuratively all over them. The brutality of their lifestyle is shown when they have to kill Batts before burying him. Defenseless and already on the edge of death, Batts is stabbed several times by Tommy before being shot four times by Jimmy. Tommy could have simply cut Billy’s throat or Jimmy could have put a bullet in his head and made the murder quick, but they feel the need to over do it. All of this violence happens just because Billy insults Tommy and Tommy gets irrationally angry. The irrational reactions of characters play a large role in the film as well through Tommy and Jimmy.

The previously mentioned restaurant scene that opens with the subjective long take shows Tommy at his worst. Tommy tells a humorous story to a small circle of listeners. At the end of the story the group erupts in laughter and after getting control of his manic laughter Henry tells Tommy that he is a funny guy. Tommy demands to know what it is exactly that makes him funny. The mood turns hostile for a moment and everyone falls silent before Henry calls Tommy out on his odd joke. The line that separates jokes and serious conversation gets smudged over and it becomes clear just how deranged these people are. Sonny runs the restaurant and approaches Tommy to try and get him to pay a significant debt of $7,000 that he owed at the restaurant. Tommy takes offense as he did in the Batts sequence and smashes a glass over Sonny’s head. Again the gangsters bellow with laughter, Henry’s laugh the loudest out of all of them. Anyone in the right state of mind would be disturbed by the senseless violence against one of their own friends, but these men are all damaged and they no longer understand social norms as the rest of the world defines it. The laughter is only spurred on more when Henry calls Tommy a funny guy another time and Tommy pulls a gun on him. Looking down the barrel of a gun, Henry and everyone else around him laugh even harder than before. Living a life that is so tied up in enormous amounts of stress and violence the thread that holds sanity together will eventually fray.

After pulling off the largest heist in U.S. history Jimmy begins to come apart. Henry narrates, “I could see for the first time that Jimmy was a nervous wreck. His mind was going in eight different directions at once.” Jimmy submits to his paranoia and kills nearly every person involved with the heist. It is only a short amount of time before Henry starts to fall apart in much of the same way, but drugs fuel his paranoia. An intense sequence of fast paced cuts and action opens with text on screen that reads “Sunday May 11th, 1980 6:55 am.” Then Henry lists off all the things he has to do that day just after snorting cocaine. He has his mind on his sauce, his brother, his guns, his drugs, and an ominous helicopter that follows him the entire day. The to-do list exhibits that Henry’s attention is now split off in a number of different directions just like Jimmy’s. The scenes rattle off in episodical fashion always labeled by a timestamp to show that Henry is rushing around. Liotta’s makeup shows the stress on his face all the while. His eyes are red and his hair is disheveled all while he sweats through the ordeal. Rock music constantly plays in the background, which is a stark contrast to the easy jazz that is featured early on in the film. The music shift can be attributed to the fact that it is now 1980 in the film and to match Henry’s cocaine binge. While Henry is cooking the sauce, Scorsese plays with temporal frequency in a jarring manner. Henry looks up towards the camera and his panicked glance is repeated twice quickly twice in a row to display how stretched thin he is. The helicopter ends up being the DEA on his tail as he eventually gets arrested.

Once Henry gets arrested for dealing drugs Scorsese breaks down all of the sense of community he spent time building up through long takes in one shot. Henry gets home from jail and rushes to his room to find his stash of drugs that he needs to sell in order to make a quick buck. However, the viewer knows that Karen has dumped the drugs and flushed them down the toilet. Henry blows up on her for having a completely normal human reaction and getting rid of evidence before the cops searched the house. Again, what would be a normal thing to do becomes the exact opposite according to Henry’s twisted sense of right and wrong. Realizing the desperate nature of their scenario, the Hills break down in tears embracing each other in the corner of their room. The room is noticeably devoid of any red. The walls are green, the furniture is black, and they wear white. The mob lifestyle is over for them. They no longer belong to a crew and are alone in the world. If Paulie’s gang had a team color scheme it would certainly be a shade of red. The fact that red is removed from the scene is Scorsese showing that they have been cut from the team. While Karen and Henry cry in the corner the camera frames them in the far bottom left corner of the screen. No longer is the viewer given the vantage point from Karen or Henry. Perceptual subjectivity is gone because the gangster lifestyle is gone. The viewer is given a sense of distance from the Hills that is parallel to the distance that Karen and Henry now have between them and their old friends.

Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas is a long and intense reflection on how living a gangster’s lifestyle demands that you concede literally to the mob mentality. If you are not with the gang you are against them, therefore everyone involved must play along with the insanity that goes on. The term mob mentality today is used like a sociology term, labeling the phenomenon of people adopting a preference for things like fashion based on how the majority of the public chooses. However, in this more literal application of the mob mentality, the circle of people that decides which way the herd moves is very small. In the case of Goodfellas, Tommy and Jimmy often led the way for Henry, an example being the Billy Bats attack. Henry only watches their violence but he condones their behavior because he has to follow the herd. Eventually, Henry follows them and ends up sharing in their brutality and paranoia. Belonging is brought to the attention of the viewer through the long takes. Paranoia is emphasized by the edits of Henry’s cocaine binge and brutality is stressed through the color red. The combination of all of these culminates in a realistic representation of a real story of the descent of a mobster in New York.

From Farm to Film

The Story of How Pinewood Atlanta Happened

According to its motto, Fayetteville, Georgia, is a place that has “A History with a Future.” Sandy Creek Road is very tangible evidence of that phrase. The sleepy road runs just behind a large hospital and over the stream with which it shares its name. The road winds straight past three gloomy looking buildings, two rusty farmhouses and an abandoned home. The trio of buildings is covered in vegetation and clearly has not been used for years.

However, the farm looks like it could be cleared out and used the next day if necessary. The structures look strong; the paint is only slightly chipped. Paul Rivers, the farmer who tended to the land for years, represents what the buildings might say if they could speak for themselves. Rivers knows the farm’s finest days passed long ago. The farm is no longer necessary to support the community or family around it, but it serves as a comforting reminder of his relatives, who now mostly live outside of the state, and their proud past in the area.

At one time, Fayetteville’s City Hall was hosted in Clarence River’s old home on East Lanier Avenue. River’s family owns the plot of land that at one point stretches around 2,000 feet to the tree line behind it. Rivers died years ago and his descendants have been looking to sell the land for a while now.

They don’t want to sell it to just any developers that could try to make it a commercial shopping center or a neighborhood that would never be filled. They want the property to leave a legacy, an impact on the city that their forefather’s home was once the center of. The Rivers never could have expected that their lonely farmland would one day yield hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of economic impact on the county when all it had yielded before was whatever crop was growing that season. The Rivers family never could have imagined that celebrities and stars would soon populate the land they once plowed.

Pinewood Studios, the movie studio that brought you “James Bond”, “Harry Potter”, and “The Avengers” will now also bring 3,400 jobs to Fayette County. Coming soon! Three hundred and seventy-eight million dollars worth of economic impact per year! Although attracting Pinewood from its home across the Atlantic Ocean could not have been predicted by anyone, the acquisition of the film studio was no miracle. Maybe just a little lucky.

If a screenplay were written about how Hollywood found a home in what was once an agriculture epicenter decades ago, it would require a lot of dramatization including an epic battle to decide the location with animated farm animals trotting around the Rivers’ farm to make it a remotely interesting film. However, the script is set in reality and therefore the plot contains only hours of planning, conversations over video chat, and finally one suspenseful scene that takes place in the privacy of a lofted room above a restaurant that lacked the ardor of a Bond restaurant somewhere in Paris. The opening scene would require no computer-generated imagery as it opens in the conference room where a bureaucrat sits across from a journalist, recalling how he and an ambitious group of men altered the future of a city forever.

Matt Forshee is the CEO of the Fayette County Development Authority. His office is located in the Fayette County courthouse, which was built in 1825. It resembles more of a drafty, dimly lit museum than the office of a man who played a monstrous role in bringing a state-of-the-art movie studio to the town he helps foster economic growth in.

The University of Georgia graduate speaks quickly. His voice echoing off the zoning plans leaned against the walls of the empty conference room, devoid of a Southern accent. He says the event that triggered the state’s film leaders to provide more tax incentives was the loss of the 2004 movie “Ray.” “The state competed for that film and lost it to Louisiana. Here’s a story of a Georgia boy and we’re not filming it in Georgia. Why?” questioned Forshee.

The answer was that Louisiana provided better tax incentives than Georgia. But Georgia evened the tax incentive competition in 2008 by strengthening its policies and earning a five-star rating from the Film Production Capital, meaning Georgia was a very attractive place to film in based off of tax relief. The five stars equal Louisiana’s.

However, Louisiana’s susceptibility to hurricanes and flooding make it a difficult location to film sometimes, elevating Georgia above Louisiana as a premium place of production, in comparison. Atlanta is also conveniently the home of the world’s busiest airport, with international flights flying in and out at nearly every time of day.

Reaping the benefits of tax relief without having to fight the occasional hurricane is what brought “Drop Dead Diva” to Atlanta. The Lifetime show produced by Woodridge Productions was originally supposed to be shot in Louisiana but the crew had decided they did not want to work in the Bayou State. The pilot episode was filmed in Decatur, but on-site filming is a pricey venture once you consider the costs of dealing with sound, weather, and other factors. Therefore, the producers of “Drop Dead Diva” began to seek out sound stages to cut costs.

At the time, Bobby Vazquez, a 20-year resident of Peachtree City, was the president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 479. Vazquez, who has since died, was a pilot who often flew small planes out of Falcon Field, a local airfield in Peachtree City that had plentiful hangar space. Vazquez was the first to bring the modern film industry’s attention to Fayette County in 2009.

The front of Falcon Field hosted Chick-fil-A’s corporate hanger, while the back remained empty. Dan Cathy, the CEO of Chick-fil-A, owned the empty hangar. Cathy gave the consent for “Drop Dead Diva” to use the space as a sound stage and production area. Group VI, a real estate and construction firm, partnered with ProMaker, a similar firm also located in Peachtree City, to hammer out a plan to leased Cathy’s hangars to the producers of “Drop Dead Diva.” The cable show operated using only a budget of one million dollars, but the jobs it brought to Peachtree City, and the stimulation that the economy of the area received from the show and its workers consumption was significant. Realizing that the film industry presented an opportunity to reboot the local economy in the worst years of the recession, the men of ProMaker and Group VI decided to continue their partnership to take full advantage of the 2008 tax adjustments and attract a movie studio to Georgia.

Originally, the hope was to simply expand the already existing production stages that “Drop Dead Diva” used and convince a movie studio to film there. However, Cathy did not find the prospect of investing more money in the studio at Falcon Field appealing when Len Gough of ProMaker first approached him about the opportunity in June of 2010. Instead, Gough and his partner from ProMaker, Rick Halbert, tried to take their talents to Henry County. Meanwhile, other entrepreneurs around Atlanta did not hesitate to utilize the benefits of the new tax rules.

“The Walking Dead” is the top rated cable show in history. The chirps of South Metro Atlanta crickets can be heard clearly in many of the scenes that have been filmed in and around Senoia since 2010. Senoia, known to viewers of AMC’s wildly popular show as Woodbury, shares a border with the western edge of Fayette County. The former Lakewood Fairgrounds became the home of Screen Gems in the same year. Films like “The Fast 5,” “Flight,” and “The Hunger Games,” were shooting in and around Atlanta and scoring big at the box office. In 2012, Gough again spoke to Cathy about teaming up to bring that same success and economic impact to their corner of metro Atlanta.

Halbert and Gough pitched their plan to Henry County officials in 2010, hoping that they would be open to converting some of the hangars at Tara Field into sound stages just like the ones at Falcon Field had been repurposed. Henry County declined the proposition because the development crew was asking the county to invest into the project to draw a studio without a stable solution to who would rent out the hangars for production.

Halbert and Gough asked Steve Brown, Fayette County’s Chairman of the County Commission, his opinion on the matter. The former Peachtree City mayor sports large circular-rimmed glasses with three shiny stones embedded on the front corners of the spectacles. Brown recalls meeting with the pair during their attempt to lure Henry County into their deal, “We go over to Panda Express in Peachtree City and we sat (sic) down and wrote all this stuff on napkins and pieces of paper. I wish I would’ve kept them all,” said Brown, “They showed me what their idea was. They showed me the plan they had presented to Henry County, which would be something like they would want to do (at Falcon Field). I looked at it; I said if you can do this I’m behind you 100-percent.”

Henry County turned Halbert and Gough away. They were hoping the county would invest some funds in the form of bonds. They were trying to build a major movie studio but did not have anyone interested in making movies in it yet. Finding a suitor to court their studio proved to be their biggest obstacle. “How do you go to a bank to borrow money to build something you know you can fill but you can’t prove it on paper because you don’t have a lease in hand?” asked Forshee. The pair from ProMaker was not discouraged by Henry County’s disapproval of their proposal to build sound stages at Tara Field. Gough again gauged Cathy’s interest in backing their idea to develop a movie studio in the area in the spring of 2012, but this time Cathy was intrigued.

As the CEO of Chick-fil-A, Cathy and his family are well known throughout Fayette and the surrounding region. Dan’s father, Truett has an extensive car collection including many luxurious classic cars, a fire truck, and even a Batmobile. The father and son attend New Hope Baptist Church and their faith is a large aspect of their lives. Voicing his views that align with his faith as a conservative Christian in 2012, Dan received a heap of negative press and criticism when he projected his stance against homosexuality. Hollywood and the film industry have never claimed to present the purest morals in their productions, making the Cathys interesting investors.

With Cathy’s stamp of approval now on the venture, Jim Pace, Cathy’s real estate advisor and CEO of Group VI, took the role of lead developer in the partnership with Halbert and Gough. Together, they turned their attention back to Fayette County and Falcon Field, aspiring to attract a major film studio to populate the stages that they hoped to construct.

Luckily, Forshee knew people in the area from a previous four-year stint as the CEO of the Fayette County Development Authority. Using his contacts, Forshee was able to connect the pair with someone that could fish for a studio looking to be a potential leaser in 2011. “I knew a local banker, a guy with Wells Fargo, Chris Pettis. Chris is a human Rolodex, he knows everybody.” Pettis, living up to his reputation as the human Rolodex, introduced them to an Atlanta entertainment attorney named Stephen Weizenecker.

Gough and Halbert told Weizenecker that they had a major investor in Cathy but they were seeking an entity to operate the facility that they were trying to construct. Weizenecker pushed their information over to a number of different companies, one of them being Pinewood Studios. Pinewood had a goal to establish a production location in the United States other than their offices in Los Angeles. Armed with a concept, an investor, and a location, the team was able to convince the studio to survey Falcon Field, hoping it might pique their interest. During a layover in Atlanta, Nick Smith and Andy Weltmen, a pair of Pinewood executives, visited Fayette over a weekend in September 2012.

Touring the area by helicopter and by car, Smith and Weltman were able to get a taste of Peachtree City. After observing the area and the Falcon Field property that a long cast of characters including Cathy, Forshee, Brown, and the developer trio hoped would catch Pinewood’s eye; the group was having a final meal. A quick lunch at Latitude 54, since closed, before a 3 p.m. flight was all the time the crew had with the executives to close the deal. Time was running out.

During the lunch, Forshee asked Smith’s final opinion. Smith proceeded to name the biggest obstacle he saw in building at Falcon Field, the airfield itself. The entire goal in building sound studios to film in is to create a haven away from noise pollution. Even in the seclusion of a 5,000 square hangar, small airplanes reach decibel levels powerful enough to possibly interrupt a shoot. Smith also said that Pinewood desired a much larger space. The current proposition only called for an 11-acre expansion on top of the few hangars that “Drop Dead Diva” already filmed in.

Smith’s conclusion was that they wanted a more ideal plot of land. It needed to be more spacious, more private, and more silent. The first pitch was intended to use hangars as sound studios so that if the film industry died they could be used as actual hangars if necessary. That way the investment would not be completely lost if film companies stopped producing at the airfield. Fayette was open to a large-scale operation if there was a permanent solution to filling the buildings.

Just days earlier, Brown was discussing with Forshee his opposition to the zoning of certain plots of land just a 20-minute drive away from Latitude 54. The land, just north of Fayette Piedmont Hospital, was zoned for residential and retail development. Brown’s stance was that building additional retail centers would only detract from the shopping malls that already existed in Fayetteville. Forshee agreed with Brown’s belief that retail was not the answer for the Rivers’ land. The family hoped to leave a positive imprint on their community, not another Wal-mart.

Recalling his conversation with Brown, Forshee was able to come up with a last-second pitch to the Pinewood executives. After hearing Smith’s concluding remarks, Forshee said, “On the way back, instead of just going straight up 74, let’s go down by the hospital. Let me show you some of the property and I think we might have something here.” Stopping just south of where Sandy Creek Road and Veterans Parkway intersect, Forshee pointed and said, “We’ve got a couple hundred acres of land here.” Gazing upon the land, Weltman remarked on how it reminded him of Pinewood Studio’s home, the Green Belt that circles London, where urban growth is limited to preserve green space for agriculture.

The economic impact that Pinewood will have in Fayette County is more than welcome. Brian Wismer, the head of the Downtown Developmental Authority in Fayetteville, says his fellow governmental leaders were in agreement that inviting Hollywood into their city was a positive shift into the future. “I think everyone realized that this would be the shot in the arm that would get the city going again since everything was stagnant at the time because of the recession,” said Wismer.

Forshee, his counterpart within the county, shares his sentiments for the future of the city. “If you’re not growing, you’re dying,” said Forshee. Prior to Pinewood, the future of Fayette called for much more aging than growing. “The future in the city pre-Pinewood was looked at as a retirement community, but I think now there will be an injection of young blood and creative minds,” said Wismer. With the recent announcement of the opening of a Georgia Military College campus in the near future, Wismer’s forecast for the community is likely to hold true.

Those who wish that Fayette would make more of an effort to preserve the small-town feel of the past should look to Rivers and try to share his viewpoint on the change his home will soon undergo. “I was perfectly content living on about 700 acres of land and farming the land. I guess I am more of a sentimental person. I hate to see it go, but I understand that it is probably for the best.”

ENG-221 Scrapbook

Writer’s Memo

My writing process for this project was really more of my reading process. To fully comprehend what exactly I was going to write, I was forced to read and reread a lot of the coverage that I came across. I would read an article once all the way through to get the main idea of it. Then I would be forced to read it through again to specifically focus and pick out rhetorical strategies that I could identify in the pieces. Finally, I had to read them all over again sometimes more than once in order to recognize an overarching theme or goal that all of the coverage seemed to have in mind. Only at that point of realization was I able to start writing.

If I had more time and space I would have wanted to take a more in-depth look at the way the court proceedings were covered. A lot of that coverage was simply reporting, with cold hard news and little room for rhetoric influence. Therefore, I focused heavily on the coverage from Atlanta magazine. Magazines writers have much more room to stylize their work, whereas a newspaper has to stick to the straight and narrow. Also, with more time I would’ve liked to explore coverage of the offseason moves that the Braves made this winter. They are entirely a different topic in themselves but the moves brought emotions out of writers that I read. The rhetoric they used to analyze some of the trades were interesting, but had no place in this project.

Analyzing the Atlanta media’s rhetorical strategies in its coverage of the Braves’ move to Cobb County

On November 11th, 2013, the Atlanta Braves announced that they would be abandoning the spot on the Southside of Atlanta that had been their home for 47 years to build a new stadium outside of I-285 in Cobb County. Atlanta’s media was faced with somewhat of a difficult topic to cover, as there were two very distinct sides to the story. Journalists had to represent the mindset of the sentimental die-hard baseball fans and the people of Cobb County. Immediately following the announcement, the Braves’ organization faced backlash from fans that didn’t want to see their team depart from its place practically in the shadow of the state’s capital building. Cobb County residents were also disgruntled by the news because they did not have much of a say as to whether or not they wanted to host the franchise. Four days after the Braves’ announcement on that Veteran’s Day, Atlanta magazine took advantage of the Kairotic moment by publishing two pieces from contributing writers that appeared next to each other on the website. One article was a commentary from a self-proclaimed lifelong Braves fan, and the other was a mirroring post from a Cobb County resident. Therefore, each one of the authors possessed the corresponding ethos that would allow them to accurately convey the commonplace values that their respective communities would emphasize.

The common reaction from loyal Braves fans was to be upset at the idea of the team leaving Atlanta for a suburb, more specifically Cobb, which is a traffic-infested area that many ITP’ers (inside-the-perimeter people) loathe. Florio qualifies as both an ITP’er and a lifetime Braves’ fan and that gives her the ability to invent the correct ethos to comment on not only the mourning of the city’s loss of its team, but also the knee-jerk reaction of blaming Cobb County. Right away she makes an effort to quell the contempt for Cobb’s inhabitants with her empathetic tone. However, she shifts into a discussion of the baseball community’s commonplace values, namely its attachment to history, “This stuff matters to baseball fans. We’re a sentimental bunch. I won’t expound on my own very emotional attachment to the confines of Turner Field because most people reading this have their own: a first playoff game as a kid, or a last outing with a grandparent—memories as golden in our minds as the wheat field in which Roy Hobbs plays catch with his son in The Natural. I couldn’t have been the only one reading the news on Monday morning who felt as if part of my past had been erased.” Florio powerfully connects herself to other baseball fans by calling on her readers to remember their own special moments. Florio understands her audience’s state of mind and creates more emotion by not attempting to reproduce her memories for others at all. She asks her audience to rely on their own memories, which is a strong rhetorical move. The article is a well constructed and balanced work that accomplishes its goal to calm upset Braves fans that might be taking out their anger on their northwestern neighbors.

On the other hand, Betsy Riley’s piece in defense of Cobb County comes off as much more inflammatory. Clearly written in response to Florio’s post, Riley takes advantage of her own Kairotic moment that was created when Florio calls Cobb County “uncool”. While Florio opens with words that are sympathetic with the Cobb County people, Riley starts off with heated words towards ITP’ers in defense of her home. The defensive maneuvers are not convincing, as evidenced by the number of comments that are found below the article. The portion that sparked the most debate was Riley’s declaration that their neighborhood high school was more diverse than, “your (ITP) hipster charter school.” The issue is that Riley presents an extrinsic proof but does not back it up with any sort of data and damages her argument by not even naming a specific “hipster charter school.” Florio was successful because she recognized the attitude of her audience and adjusted accordingly. Riley was more combatant than she should have been if she wanted to win over the readers that she was pitted against. The pair of Atlanta magazine articles was an intriguing display of debate during a Kairotic moment to win the sympathies of readers.

The story that developed in the meetings at the Cobb County Board of Commissioners in the weeks following the announcement is one that still is being covered today due to its controversial nature. Atlanta magazine sent a reporter to sit in on the meeting where the county’s Board of Commissioners would come to a vote on the budget to build the stadium. The budget included a plan to use $300 million of Cobb’s tax money. The writer, Tony Rehagen, indulges in enargeia in order to get the reader to understand the plight of the people of Cobb County, “Only one formality remained: The commissioners had to idle their bulldozers and steamrollers for one hour to sit through public commentary. To act like they were paying attention while businesspeople wearing navy Braves t-shirts over their button-downs and ties eagerly pledged their blind faith to their leaders, despite having only fifteen days since the surprise announcement of the deal to review the scant details. To act like they cared while the other half of the speakers scolded them for the opaqueness with which they’d handled things.” The writer describes the appearance of the people and the atmosphere of the meeting in general throughout the article in a manner that emotionally connects the reader to the people fighting for control over the destiny of their own hometown and tax money. The dissenters were left uninformed during the whole process and they reacted by taking action in court, accusing the Commissioners of illegally reallocating public park funds for the Braves’ stadium, which they do not feel can be defined as a public park.

This spring, there were even more articles breaking down how the Cobb County Board of Commissioners improperly handled the deal by committing the green space budget to acquiring the Atlanta Braves. However, one article in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution at least attempted to ease the county’s pain by comparing their investment to the Arlington, Texas deal that brought the massively successful AT&T Cowboys super-stadium to its area. The comparison of AT&T Stadium to what will be called SunTrust Park is a brief historical proof that appeals to a person’s logic. The authors were Dan Klepal and Time Tucker. Klepal was very familiar with the timeline of the Braves’ move since he covered it from the start. They draw parallels between Cobb and Arlington and their respective relationship to Atlanta and Dallas. Cobb is just outside of Atlanta. Arlington is just outside of Dallas. The Cowboys distanced themselves from the city that is included in the organizations title and ended up finding great success. By framing the Cobb County transition in the historical context of the Dallas Cowboys relocation, the couple of writers build up hope that similar developments will occur in the county. They point out that Arlington got over the fact that the city took over 200 homes to build the stadium and insist that maybe Cobb County will have a similar change of heart along the way.

November 11th, 2013 was an emotionally volatile day regardless of whether or not you were a Cobb County resident or a Braves fan that wanted to see them remain in the city. The journalists covering the story had to process their own emotions and attachments to Turner Field, while also processing the financial and long-term implications that this move would have on both Atlanta and Cobb. The overall theme of each of these stories is coming to terms with the deal and accepting it, but not all of them share the same techniques or audiences. The authors utilize pathos, ethos, and logos in clever ways to empower their voices and make them heard.

Works Cited


Hemingway’s Style

OYxki6xAt the conclusion of “Hills Like White Elephants”, I considered what operation the couple could possibly be arguing about. Even though Hemingway intentionally does not include any concrete details to guide the reader to any hard conclusions, one can make conjectures from the characters’ emotional responses in their dialogue. When the American man says, “I don’t want anybody but you. I don’t want anyone else” (214), my only hypothesis was that he wanted her to undergo a birth control procedure. However, when the man says, “They just let the air in and then it’s all perfectly natural” (212), my confidence in my conclusion becomes clouded. “The Sea Change” also employed the same style of creating confusion that makes Hemingway’s stories very open to interpretation. I read The Sun Also Rises in high school and I always thought that people enjoyed his just writing because it came in a concise and simple package. Only after going through these short stories have I realized that people enjoy Hemingway because his style leaves the plot to be discovered by the reader.

Now, I am very intrigued to find what we will discover through our digital humanities style of reading. Hemingway’s form of story telling is immune to the skimming reading style. One cannot just flip through the pages of his stories and come away with an understanding of the plot – let alone the themes – of his pieces. Reflecting on what I read, I compared his writing style to something I learned in a rhetoric writing class this semester called an enthymeme. An enthymeme is defined as an argument in which one premise is not explicitly stated. An example of an enthymeme is a bumper sticker. When a person reads a bumper sticker, he makes his own connections and reaches his own conclusion. That is how I see Hemingway’s writing and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I look forward to using our analytic software on the short stories to see if a computer can somehow make the same connections and conclusions that a human mind does when reading Hemingway.

House of Leaves – Conclusion

Longleat Maze by fluteflute
Longleat Maze by fluteflute

House of Leaves has an innumerable amount of characteristics to it that make it a difficult read. Out of all the things that posed the most issues for me in this experimental novel, Johnny’s convoluted diary entries that come out of chronological order gave me the most trouble. They weave in and out of 1998 with one entry from 1999. The writings that I dismiss as some kind of alternate reality are the ones that he admits to making up and the one from August of 1999 where he comes into contact with the band that has read House of Leaves. My process of elimination leaves only the journey to Virginia, the reflections after Lude’s death, the confrontation with Kyrie, and the November entries as reality. Only after struggling to put the entries in order for this blog post have I been able to even slightly wrap my head around Johnny’s diary.

He mentions the introduction in the beginning of the writings that come in Chapter 22 and he proceeds to go into a narration of the birth of a baby boy who had holes in his brain. In the September diary portions, he talks about his Seattle friends, mentions a baby story – Dr. Nowell. Therefore, there is a fictional story that appears in a part of what I considered to be his real life and his imagination. As soon as I began to give credibility to the entries after rereading and analyzing them, I dispelled the thought of their reliability. I realized that a fictional story existed in both the reliable version and the unreliable version. When I thought I had solved a piece of the puzzle, I was quickly humbled after realizing there is no true understanding of this novel. Danileweski writes the novel in a way that there is no correct interpretation. His inaccuracies perfectly match up with other contradictions, rendering logic useless. I believe that the fact that this book cannot truly be grasped is what makes this novel as haunting as it is intriguing. The idea of an unsolvable or unexplainable place corrodes a person’s curiosity, leading to obsession – and this tales shows how destructive a true obsession can be.

Suspense in House of Leaves

Photo by Linus Bohman
Photo by Linus Bohman

My friends have seen me read House of Leaves recently. They watch me turn it upside down to read footnotes or flip back to pages to reorient myself with Zampono’s narration after an interruption from Johnny, and they always ask what I’m reading. You can’t just give a quick explanation to describe this book, but my brief synopsis usually ends with me telling them that it’s supposed to be like a horror book. After I speak my piece they almost without fail ask, “How can a book be scary?” Only after reading the escape section do I feel like I can provide a competent answer. The element of suspense is what makes this book evoke a sense of fear. Horror films have desensitized us. Blood, gore, and every type of monster imaginable is now manageable. Now, horror films resort to suspense to force their audiences to jump and flinch in their seats. Which is of course followed up by everyone glancing around the room to see who else fell for the classic horror film staple of someone or something suddenly appearing where they shouldn’t be. House of Leaves manages to do this with words and how they’re arranged.

My main example is when Navy is at the bottom of the stairwell and the rope suddenly snaps. Navy is disoriented and Danielewski immerses us into the situation on page 291 where he prints the words upside down and only feeds us with single letters at a time. The biggest contributor to add to the buildup of suspense is the section from 294-296 where Danielewski spaces the word “snaps” over three pages. With the first two letters on 294 the reader knows where this is going, and yet he breaks it up and angles the “a”. I really appreciated this portion because I feel like Danielewski somehow captures a sensation of snapping or jerking by doing this. If you’ve ever been in a fender-bender you know what it’s like to be violently thrown back-and-forth in your seat, and then realize you’re okay. That was what I think he was going for when he made the decision to break up “snaps” and rotate the “a”. For me it was effective. Even Truant’s interjections help to build suspense in a way by interrupting the Navidson story. The unique way that Danielewski builds suspense is what makes this book scary in the way a horror film might be.

Appendix II in House of Leaves

I have read reviews of House of Leaves and seen lists that name it, “the scariest

Insane Asylum
Insane Asylum

book they have ever read”. The last book I can remember reading that legitimately scared me, or at the least creeped me out, was probably the Goosebumps series from R.L. Stine. However, while reading House of Leaves there was a point where I was struck by a feeling that wasn’t fear, but horror. I was shocked by what I discovered in Johnny’s letters from his mother that she composed from her mental institution.

Her letters become increasingly manic over time and as I read them I anticipated that it would only be a matter of time before she had a complete mental breakdown. Right before the breakdown occurred, she wrote a letter that the reader has to decode by using the first letters of each word to spell out a message. I will not say what the letter revealed because I do not know in what order everyone else has decided to read the novel in. The tedious process of discovery directly added to the experience and it was a clever way to both show his mother’s state of mind while at the same time horrifying the reader.

The letters that are found in the Appendix have been my favorite part of the book this far because by understanding the mother’s propensity to mental issues Johnny Truant’s story can be explained and understood a little bit more. Even though the letters clarify Truant’s narration, they actually are detrimental to his credibility. The reader sees how convinced Johnny’s mother is of the validity of her complaints against the New Director, who turns out to be the same person who treated her so well in the past. After that, I definitely questioned everything I had just read that was from Johnny’s point-of-view. Strangely enough, Zampono’s writings become more legitimate and believable, especially because of the academic manner in which Zampono writes his narration.

“The Kray Sisters” in MARBL

Compared to Selling Manhattan, Duffy approaches The World’s Wife in a

London December 24 2013 002 Kray Twins Imprisoned at the Tower. Reginald (left) and Ronald (right) by David Holt
London December 24 2013 002 Kray Twins Imprisoned at the Tower. Reginald (left) and Ronald (right) by David Holt

much different way. We have discussed the concept of The World’s Wife acting as a collection of positive messages of feminism and after seeing how Duffy began to write The Kray Sisters, I believe that to be true. Nestled above the beginnings of The Kray Sisters are the words “sado-feminist” and “lesbian gangsters.” Instead of finding inspiration from the world around her as she did with Recognition in Selling Manhattan, Duffy settles on a concept that she wants to explore and is forced to invent a characters, or in this case, a pair of characters to start the conversation about sado-feminism. Convincing me of my theory is the phrase, “think properly about angle” that is scribbled in large print at the top and circled. Duffy knew what she wanted to say, but needed to make sure that her words were not taken in a manner that she did not intend.

Regarding the actual writing and editing process, drafting The Kray Sisters was evidently a more lengthy process for Duffy than it was with Recognition. I believe that is because Recognition was written from inspiration rather than invention with a goal in mind. It was imperative for Duffy that she pays attention to her angle and therefore The Kray Sisters was a poem subject to numerous edits and drafts.

The first appearance of the poem contains a few blank spaces where Duffy later inserted allusions to things like the names of superstars of the age in the third stanza. Those specifics were not really important to her, which made me think of our discussion of The World’s Wife and the use of lists. The Kray Sisters is not a list in itself, but a lot of its allusions could be interchanged with other references and still carry the same meaning, purpose, and angle that Duffy desired.

One thing I found intriguing in Duffy’s edits is that in the final version, the word feminism only appears once but the names that Duffy gives to the club, Ballbusters, and the twins themselves, Prickteasers, makes them more of a force to be feared. There are not as many direct references that there are in the initial drafts. For example, whereas the twins’ grandmother punches the horse in front of the king in the final version – the first version says that she punches the horse for the cause. The published edition is written with much more authority, but there is something about the lack of the direct naming of feminism that makes it somehow subtler at the same time.