Archive for the ‘onBooks’ Category

Study Tips from an Expert

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

As I mentioned in my last post, a lot of the study methods most college students rely on have no scientific basis. In fact, there are even a few quick changes you can make to your study habits that will help you absorb information much more quickly and store it in the long term, so you can ace your cumulative finals with ease and retain that knowledge for when you enter the job market.

Peter C. Brown’s 2014 book Make It Stick exposes these hidden truths about studying, explaining which methods are the keys to success and which are simply the same trite  unsubstantiated claims recycled over and over again.

Recently, I had the opportunity to ask Mr. Brown a few questions about his book and its implications for learners and educators and lovers of knowledge alike. Check out my interview with him here:

http://schoolsweek.co.uk/

http://schoolsweek.co.uk/

Q: I love that your book touches on students’ tendencies to be discouraged by failure and thereby categorize themselves as specific “types” of learners despite the absence of scientific evidence to substantiate these labels. What do you think people find so difficult about initial failure? If you had to give a word of encouraging advice to those people, what would you say?

A: “I grew up with 4 older brothers who knew how to do everything that I didn’t. It’s just central to one’s self image to avoid looking stupid at all costs. Nobody explained to me back then that trial and error are essential. What we need are classrooms where trial and error are celebrated. My advice is to find a like-minded friend for mutual support, assume the persona of one who is fearless, and forge ahead. Setbacks are evidence that you are hard at work while the timid people sit back chewing their nails and privately envy your confidence.”

Q: Make It Stick’s references to the learning techniques and high-pressure situations surrounding the experiences of pilot Matt Brown and neurosurgeon Mike Ebersold illustrate the importance of making information personal in order to recall it effectively. Do you have any tips for the average person trying to make schoolwork more personal or more relevant to his or her own life?

A: “You have to pause and ask how is this like something I already know? Can I think of a parallel in my own life? Why not say to the teacher, “I think I would understand and remember this better if I could think how it is useful to me, or how it connects to what I already know. Can you help?” This would make for a good class discussion.”

Q: Are you surprised that so many institutions (like George Mason University and Dartmouth College) offer study advice that is just blatantly incorrect? What do you think is the reason for this?

A: “I have not checked their websites since writing Make it Stick; perhaps they have revised their advice. Educators do not have a tradition of basing instruction on empirical evidence, largely because there has not been a body of such evidence until recently. But science has made huge strides, and we know from feedback to our book and others’ that many schools, notably through their centers for teaching and learning excellence, are aligning their advice and resources with the empirical evidence.”

Q: Make It Stick cites an example of a Washington University professor’s success with an unconventional frequent quizzing system in the place of larger exams, and also offers a section devoted to tips for teachers. What are your aspirations for the book? Ideally, how widespread would the impacts of these suggestions be for our education system?

A: “I would hope teachers everywhere come to see themselves as bearing a dual responsibility, teaching content as well as process: helping students construct their own understanding of the classroom content through study strategies like elaboration and spaced and mixed retrieval practice that are not intuitive, so that students experience success with these strategies and they become second nature throughout school and beyond.”


By Madeleine Fleming

Madeleine Fleming is a Campus Clipper publishing intern and a rising sophomore at NYU.  A lover of reading, writing, and learning in every way possible, Madeleine is excited to be writing about college study habits for the Campus Clipper. For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services. 

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.

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Time for Revision

Saturday, December 31st, 2016
Image Credit: https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/category/editing-your-novel/page/2/

Image Credit: https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/category/editing-your-novel/page/2/

Yay! You’re finished! Congratulations. Pour yourself a nice flute of champagne and relax. You’ve earned it. You just wrote a novel.

If you just wanted to write a novel to write a novel and maybe brag about it to some people, then by all means, get on with it. If you want to share it with some of your closest literary friends or maybe send an excerpt to the New Yorker or Atlantic Monthly—still take your time enjoying the champagne. Put the whole thing out of your mind for at least a few days. When you’re still in the mindset of cranking out the words, it’s easy to get attached to passages or characters that actually drag down your writing. After a nice rest, prepare yourself for the revision cave.

 The Writing

Now’s the time to look carefully at your writing, its mechanics and logical constructions. Style has nothing to do with it; it’s strictly a close, word-by-word reading. Check your diction. Do you really need to use “twirl” twice in one short paragraph when you envision two different motions (other words: “swirl,” “spin,” “turn,” “stir”)? Do you really need to use different speech tags (said, shouted, murmured, whispered, accused, countered, replied, yelled, etc) when the characters are having a superficially low-key conversation and everything is actually just “said”? Jeffrey Eugenides raises a similar complaint about Oscar Wilde’s diction in The Picture of Dorian Gray; Wilde doesn’t abuse his thesaurus, he merely dramatizes everything. No one ever just sits, everyone “flings himself down” on something. If Dorian is uncomfortable, he always does things nervously, and when he’s nervous, he always twitches. Pick the right word for the right image.

 The Arc

Go through and, at the end of each chapter or section or what have you, record the characters’ progressions in that section, how it fits into their overall transformations, and major plot developments. If a character regresses at some point, does it make sense? People regress all the time. There’s usually an impetus. You can’t crowd everything under the umbrella of “it’s the character” just because that’s how they were at the start. Even if you’d prefer to keep a character static, make sure the justification comes through. Laying out developments in this outline can also help you pinpoint trouble spots in pacing.

 Excise, Excise, Excise

Just because it’s a novel and you can make it as long as you want doesn’t mean you need to devote lines to everyone’s hair color and outfit or the entire layout of a room. Of course, there will be parts that need more clarification, but for the most part, you can afford to cut out entire paragraphs without confusing anyone. Whatever you leave in has to have a purpose. You don’t necessarily have to follow Chekov’s Rule, but if you’re going to spend the time to note what your characters order from Starbucks, then their orders have to mean something. Hot chocolate? Iced coffee during a Russian winter? Drip coffee instead of a latte? Americano instead of drip coffee? In real life, that doesn’t indicate anything significant, but in a novel, it matters (unless your point is that it doesn’t actually matter, in which case you have more thematic issues to sort anyway). Oh, and that huge existential monologue/soliloquy with some beautifully flowery phrases you wrote in a feverish haze of inspiration can stand to lose half its length. Hemingway says of his writing process, “I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.” We’re not all minimalists like Hemingway, though. Hold onto some of your pretty, introspective bits. The good bits.

 Sidebar:

If you need a break or want to procrastinate even more, spend some time on www.reasoningwithvampires.tumblr.com, a snarky passage-by-passage critique of Twilight. It’s an equal opportunity hater with regards to all the things people find wrong with Twilight, so be forewarned…but definitely pay attention to perhaps the most indisputable problem with the series: it’s just not well written. There are periods of rampant thesaurus abuse; there are periods of predictable diction; there are moments when the limited first person is suddenly omniscient; there are illogical sequences of action, in which someone walks away and suddenly reappears to respond to something; there are sloppy (rather than stylistic) comma misuse. (What’s the difference between a sloppy and a stylistic one? In Twilight: “He lay, smiling hugely, across my bed, his hands behind his head, his feet dangling off the end, the picture of ease.” In Joan Didion’s “Goodbye to All That”: “It is easy to see the beginnings of things, and harder to see the ends.” Didion said in an interview, “every word and every comma and every absence of a word or comma can change the meaning, make the rhythm, make the difference.” Sometimes you have to earn the right to flaunt grammar. Life’s not all fair.) Forget Bella and Edward’s questionable status as “heroine” and “the best dark brooding boyfriend ever.” When your words and their order distract a reader from the throwaway details they describe, something is wrong.

By Robin Yang


Robin Yang was one of the Campus Clipper’s publishing interns, who wrote an e-book on how to write a novel. If you like Robin’s writing, follow our blog for more chapters from this e-book. We have the most talented interns ever and we’re so proud of them! For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during last year’s Welcome Week.

Become a fan on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram

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Writing a Good Ending

Saturday, December 24th, 2016
Image Credit: http://jasonfischer.com.au/i-finished-my-damn-novel/

Image Credit: http://jasonfischer.com.au/i-finished-my-damn-novel/

So you’re finally at the end. All ready to wrap up these 50,000 words. Feels great, right? You just need to write the ending…which can be tricky. My ghostwriting friend once said, “I actually hate the ending to most books. A lot of them have great last lines, but I’m always underwhelmed.”

When it comes to endings, novels and short stories again can have completely different natures. It’s all right to write your ending first—some of the better stories I’ve written started with the last line. It’s just another matter of getting the characters from the climactic fallout to the last line. It’s also important to know exactly where to start or stop the resolutions. A short story can be an interlude; it can lead right up to a huge battle or a nervous confession, and then end. The momentary crisis has been resolved. Leave the character to confront bigger issues by himself. There will always be people who wish that a story would extend longer than it did—that’s fine. But in a novel, which is all about life changes, there needs to be some indication that life has changed. Resolution is key.

At the same time, “resolution” and “open-ended” aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. Open endings are great, and often more realistic. It’s rare to find people who’ve completely closed off parts of their lives. (For example, people always complain that the “real” world is just like high school, and it’s true: people tend to get stuck on high school resentments, and, no matter what, they’ll always keep tabs on a few classmates and laugh when someone ends up getting fat.) Bret Easton Ellis never indicates whether any of the events in American Psycho or Rules of Attraction actually happened; the truth is left ambiguous, the mad characters’ fates hanging uncertainly after the fallout. Of course, that’s the entire point that Ellis is trying to make in his novels, so it works.

Whether you choose to end ambiguously or more resolutely, consider your novel’s themes again. How does your ending cap off the larger questions in your conflicts? Is total, unabated personal freedom worth the societal breakdowns that might happen? Is it right in theory, only just for certain people (and more on the nose, maybe it’s not right for the character you killed off fifty pages earlier)? Does the vapid, soul-sucking glamour of the famous and rich inevitably destroy morality and meaning in life?

On the opposite side of the spectrum, there’s also the danger of overwriting your ending. To draw on a movie, The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King essentially has three endings: Frodo waking up in Rivendell and reuniting with the Fellowship, Aragorn’s coronation and wedding in Gondor, and the elves’ (and Frodo’s and Gimli’s) final departure from Middle Earth. This isn’t to say that these resolutions aren’t necessary. It’s just that the end of Frodo’s mission, Aragorn’s reinstatement as an honorable king of Men, and the conclusion to the elves’ saga in Middle Earth are all treated separately (and all three end on those long fade-to-white shots that clearly should fade into credits). Consolidate your resolutions, but do it thoroughly.

Sidebar: The greatest advice I’ve ever gotten is from Susanna Moore, who once said of my short story ending, “It’s a little too squishy. Too much.” She uses “squishy” in her criticism, which can stand for triteness, overly sentimental passages, sentences that sound nice but don’t indicate anything…and endings are especially vulnerable to squishiness. Novel endings are not huge dramatic banners. Don’t overshadow your climax.

By Robin Yang


Robin Yang was one of the Campus Clipper’s publishing interns, who wrote an e-book on how to write a novel. If you like Robin’s writing, follow our blog for more chapters from this e-book. We have the most talented interns ever and we’re so proud of them! For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during last year’s Welcome Week.

Become a fan on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram

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Spice Up Your Plot

Sunday, December 18th, 2016
Image Credit: http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/outdoor/guides/2010/05/guide-to-insurance-for-adventure-travel

Image Credit: http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/outdoor/guides/2010/05/guide-to-insurance-for-adventure-travel

Sometimes life goes according to plan and everything is awesome and your vague (or incredibly detailed) plot outline pulls together perfectly after months or years of staring at a screen muttering, “I know where they need to go, I just need to get them there.”

Sometimes you finally hit the climax of your novel and it feels very anticlimactic. You’ve written the final reveal — a shootout, a betrayal, a Dave Caruso-esque realization — but it doesn’t feel big. The stakes just aren’t high enough.

Well, before you jump that shark, let the novel sit. You’ve been thinking about it for a while, off-and-on since you started writing. Of course, you know what’s going to happen — you’ve probably also considered several other ways it could go, which can lessen the importance of whatever line you picked. Walk away for a little while. Don’t think about it at all for a bit — a day, a week, until finals are over… Then reread it from the start. This is a novel, not a TV show or movie. The place for small, understated stories is much larger in print than it is on a screen. Don’t amp it up just because a main character always gets shot in the third season of any crime show ever and what could top potentially fatal gunshot wounds? (The answer is a lot. Funerals and weddings, for example.)

At the same time, if you do feel that your stakes need a boost, here are a few things you can add:

  • Kill Off a Character – it doesn’t have to be a drawn-out emotionally fraught death. It can even happen off-page. The aftermath is what’s important. Just keep in mind that deaths have a ripple effect, and every remaining character is going to be affected beyond the climax. Pick a character whose personality logically fits dying in whatever manner you choose. Go back and scatter foreshadowing through the rising action.
  • Throw in a Pregnancy – nothing upends a tense wedding scene/tentative reunion like a nice illicit pregnancy. Pregnant news affects people differently, and, of course, there’s an entire undercurrent of whatever character histories are at play, which can add a layer to the events, such as resentment, concern, anger, angst, etc.
  • Make It A Family Betrayal – if your protagonist is on the verge of solving a mystery (spy, murder, theft, drug cartels, etc), and someone tips off the opposition, add a little family drama. It can be completely blindsiding (and devastating) or somewhat expected (bad family relationships are mines for exposing character flaws). This also makes everything more personal, which is great for adding personal desire vs common desire conflicts.
  • Put a Bomb Under the Table – Alfred Hitchcock used this example to champion suspense over surprise. Say two people are having breakfast, and suddenly, a bomb explodes under the table. The reader is surprised for about fifteen seconds. Now say that a saboteur has planted the bomb under the table, and these two people unwittingly sit down to breakfast. The bomb will go off — oh, it will — but now the reader knows it’s there, and the breakfasters do not. There’s an extra investment of when will it go off and will important things get resolved before it goes off. Clue your readers in before you do the same for your characters. Introduce the danger and risks covertly. The issue with this suspense trick is that it only raises stakes for the reader. The unsuspecting people involved don’t know any better (this is why many pre-World War II stories are both amusing and dully formulaic).

Sidebar:

Of course, these apply to broad, more commercial plots. Your particular novel might not be able to incorporate any of these. In that case, there’s always the option to end the world and then take some characters through the ensuing zombie apocalypse. If you’re feeling particularly uninspired, read some more books and take a crisis from one of them. Or several. Good writers borrow, great writers steal, and so on.

By Robin Yang


Robin Yang was one of the Campus Clipper’s publishing interns, who wrote an e-book on how to write a novel. If you like Robin’s writing, follow our blog for more chapters from this e-book. We have the most talented interns ever and we’re so proud of them! For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during last year’s Welcome Week.

Become a fan on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram!

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It’s Time To Start Writing

Saturday, December 3rd, 2016
Image Credit: http://www.professorbeej.com/2010/07/writing-my-novel-keep-on-writing.html

Image Credit: http://www.professorbeej.com/2010/07/writing-my-novel-keep-on-writing.html

So you’ve amassed enough raw ideas and information to start actually writing your novel (or maybe not. You might work better just free-writing and then fact-check-editing all at once. I don’t know your life). The task of sitting down to commit your ideas to paper can be a tough one, I know. It’s like writing a final term paper; you chose your final topic based on your greatest interest (maybe strategically planning to hold off on this topic until the final paper) and it’s actually a fun time doing the prep work—but you still have to write the paper.

At this stage, you should experiment with your writing environment and figure out what works best for what mood. A café might be great for regrouping your thoughts. A silent library might be best for sitting down and grinding out a chapter or two in a few hours. Or perhaps you’ll find that like Virginia Woolf, you work best in your own room. Make a working playlist. Try writing out your initial draft by hand. Maybe borrow a typewriter. Your novel doesn’t have a concrete deadline. Spend a few days just optimizing your productivity.

Places for Writers in New York

Café’s: ‘Snice (45 8th Street), Hungarian Pastry Shop (1030 Amsterdam Avenue), B Cup Café (212 Avenue B), The Tea Lounge (837 Union Street, Brooklyn), Outpost Lounge (where I write, 1014 Fulton Street, Brooklyn)

Workspaces: The Writer’s Studio at the Mercantile Library Center for Fiction (17 E 47th Street, by application and with membership fee), Paragraph (35 W 14th Street, by application and with membership fee), Brooklyn Creative Lounge (540 President Street, Brooklyn, by application ad with membership fee), New York Public Libraries…your…campus libraries?

If you are not terribly distractible when working with other people, it could help to join a writers’ salon so that you can discuss your writing or perhaps motivate yourself to write with other people.

Sidebar: Writing habits or haunts of various authors

Joyce Carol Oates writes in longhand for six to eight hours every day.

Truman Capote wrote while lying down, drinking and smoking cigarettes.

Vladimir Nabokov wrote his novels all on index cards.

Tom Wolfe writes ten pages every day, regardless of how long it takes for him to finish.

Edgar Allan Poe as well as Jonathan Franzen spent some time at The Writer’s Studio at the Mercantile Library Center for Fiction

Joan Didion consistently rewrites her novels from the beginning (or almost beginning) every day.

Bob Dylan and Jack Kerouac both wrote in the Village bar, Kettle of Fish

By Robin Yang


Robin Yang was one of the Campus Clipper’s publishing interns, who wrote an e-book on how to write a novel. If you like Robin’s writing, follow our blog for more chapters from this e-book. We have the most talented interns ever and we’re so proud of them! For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during last year’s Welcome Week.

Become a fan on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram!

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How Not to Do Anything: An Expert Guide – How Not to Be Well-Read, and Remain Uninformed

Saturday, October 29th, 2016
Image Credit: http://www.grmatthews.com/single-post/2015/07/23/Bored-of-information

Image Credit: http://www.grmatthews.com/single-post/2015/07/23/Bored-of-information

Some of the most successful idlers are prone to expending vast amounts of time reading books or (let’s be realistic) the Internet, due to a desire to be the kind of person who reads widely and knows what’s going on in the world. Reading is as good a waste of time as anything else that no one is forced to do, and if that’s what you like to do when you’re doing nothing, more power to you. But to a true layabout, reading, or at least reading books or the news or just about anything that’s particularly serious, is a bit too much of a hassle.

For most of recorded history, reading was the best entertainment that could be found anywhere, at any time, and it was beloved of some of history and literature’s greatest loafers, like Aristotle and Hamlet. However, in today’s crowded entertainment marketplace, reading can’t compete. Even reading something as innocuous as the tabloids is infinitely more taxing than watching reality television, or having a tiny woman in a box on your computer screen tell you what it says in the tabloids. The internet is an immaculate solution to the problem of serious reading: not only can you pick from an incomprehensibly large selection of vacuous material, but you can even post your own most banal and meaningless thoughts. Which means that anyone with an internet connection can find a supply of asinine amusement that is literally limitless.

To those who aspire to the pinnacles of sluggardom, I recommend the following habits:

  • Abstain from all newspapers (and their websites), non-glossy magazines, and books not written by famous people. Basically, avoid anything that’s actually in print and isn’t colorful.
  • Get all of your news from celebrities’ twitter accounts.
  • Always go with the movie version.
  • Instead of reading canonical authors and books, read their wikipedia pages. (This trick works with less well-regarded books, too!)
  • If you disagree with your reading material, find something else to read.

By Aaron Brown


Aaron Brown was one of the Campus Clipper’s publishing interns, who wrote an e-book “How Not To Do Anything: An Expert Guide.” If you like Aaron’s writing, follow our blog for more chapters from his e-book. We have the most talented interns ever and we’re so proud of them! For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during last year’s Welcome Week.

Become a fan on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram!

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College Savings and Saving Space in Your Suitcase: What to Pack When Studying Abroad

Saturday, September 27th, 2014

When I fantasize about traveling it’s always the same: one neatly packed backpack with just the essentials. Unfortunately, I am not a light packer and so this is never the case. When it comes to studying abroad you want to make sure you’re properly prepared for whatever you may encounter on your trip. It’s never a good idea to assume that a foreign country has exactly what you’re looking for. Try to find college discounts for certain items before your trip and you can save yourself a lot of trouble once you’re there. So what if you’re labeled the “mom” of your trip? Being prepared is never a bad thing—and chances are your new friends will thank you.

Before your trip it’s important to at least attempt to learn the language of the country, or at least learn some key phrases. Rosetta Stone is a great option, but for those of us on a budget there are free smartphone apps readily available. Mindsnacks is a really helpful app I found before my trip to China that allowed me to start learning the language through a series of fun interactive games. If you upgrade to the full version for $5, you’ll get access to 1000 words and phrases, 9 unique games, and 50 lessons to master. This app is available in many different languages and the upgrade is definitely worth the money!

Mindsnacks is a free app that can be used to learn new languages.

Mindsnacks is a free app that can be used to learn new languages.

Do some research about the weather you’ll experience during the months you’ll be there and pack your clothes accordingly. You don’t want to be the one wearing sweaters in the heat or shorts in the snow. Make sure you have a solid stock of any medicines or vitamins you may take every day. Regular toiletries are an essential and it’s always handy to buy Tide-To-Go, packets of Downy or any other fabric soap just in case you need to do a wash at a moment’s notice.

downy.1load.packet.travel

tidetogopen

Sometimes laundry gets expensive in a foreign country.

 

Check to see what banks are available in the country you’re going to. Many countries often have branches that are linked with Bank of America so if you don’t have an account, open one up. It’s free and you won’t have to pay fees every time you grab some cash from the ATMs. The China Construction Bank, found all over China, doesn’t charge any fees as long as you have a BoA card. You can easily close your BoA account once returning to America.

Other important items are charger adapters for your specific country of origin. The outlets in America are not the same in every country and you do not want to be that person with the hair straightener exploding in your hair!

Also, to stay in touch with family and friends during your trip, set up a Gmail, Skype, Viber, and Whatsapp accounts. These are free ways to connect with your loved ones through email, phone calls, video and text messaging all through WiFi. You don’t want mom to get a $356 dollar phone bill because you accidentally used your data while roaming, do you?

My group connects to the WiFi in our hotel in Hong Kong and immediately engross themselves in social media.

My group connects to the WiFi in our hotel in Hong Kong and immediately engross themselves in social media.

-Sam Levitz is a graduate of Brooklyn College and went on the CUNY Study Abroad trip to China the summer of 2013. Follow her on Instagram: slevitz

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Venturing in the “Forbidden Planet”

Monday, March 31st, 2014

My trip into the “Forbidden Planet” comic book store was a cool, and surreal experience. Tucked away on the side of Broadway by Union Square, one person referred to it as a “geek haven.”

She later went on to say, “As someone who loves comics, graphic novels, collectible figures, etc., I don’t know why it took me this long to visit Forbidden Planet, which I am told, is a NYC classic and institution for comic books and the like. I am actually ashamed that it took me this long. I can spend hours here, easily. It’s not an overwhelming store by any means. The layout is well-organized, and their comics and graphic novels are placed in alphabetical order on the shelves. Very cool collectible figures and toys are prominently displayed at the front.”

Doesn’t that mean that because comic book stores like the “Forbidden Planet” are thriving, that the comic book industry is also at a peak? Or has the digitalization of comics caused a decrease in actual comic sales?

Vaneta Rogers, comic book sales blogger  explained, “”Publishers taking chances with increased discounts and returnability on certain launch titles has helped retailers find the ceiling easier on those titles,”On-time shipping also helps keep cash flow positive. Compelling stories shipping on a regular schedule are key to maintaining strong comics sales. We’ve gone through a major sea change, much like in the mid/late 80’s where both of the major publishers (Marvel and DC) have raised the grass and planted new seed in the last two years,” Wellman said. “This has led to some grumbling from old time readers, but also much excitement from new blood who has been watching blockbuster super-hero movies for the last decade and just waiting for the perfect ‘jumping-on’ point.”

So the increase in comic book sales, stems from the newfound appreciation created by the release of superhero movies, like the Avengers.

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Is Marvel’s Influence Affecting Young Boys?

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

I am not a psychologist, and the only exposure that I have to males that are under the age of ten is my younger brother. That being said, from what I know of my brother and his friends, The Avengers has adopted a sort of mythology around it.

As done by el-grimlock on deviantart.

For the group of nine year olds that frequented my house, the Avengers team were very much alive. Playing with action figures, and watching the cartoons on TV, the boys gave me surprising insight into their own perception of the hit series.

One boy, James, explained to me “ Bruce Banner became the Hulk when angry, and because he the Hulk was green, Bruce was jealous of all the other people who didn’t have to change and smash things.”

As simplistic as his explanation was, there was also some validity to it. The intricacies that Marvel likes to weave around its story lines is very present within Bruce Banner’s story arc. Let me try to make sense of it: Captain America was a runt of a soldier during World War II, who was going to sidelined during the war given his severe asthma. As a good patriot, Captain America desired to fight for his country against the Nazi forces so when given the option to be a human trial for an experimental ‘serum’ he took it.

Fast forward to around the Cold War era where Bruce Banner, a scientist researching gamma-radiation, attempts to replicate the previously mentioned ‘serum’.  Bruce was powered by ambition and the the desire to impress, which led to accidentally using the radiation on himself, forgoing both medical and scientific protocol of extensive trials before human testing. In a nutshell, what caused the character to head down that path was ambition, a word that is usually correlates with greed.

Did the other boy’s have similar insights?

Yes they all did. While I was first surprised, I now realize that it is because The Avengers broaches topics that are universally understood.

Did boys see the brawny Avenger’s team, and think that masculinity only equated to appearance?

My own opinion is that to a certain extent, yes. The action scenes, the gear that the actors are made to wear, everything emphasizes the physique of the actors. Take for example Chris Hemsworth, the actor who plays Thor. The uniform he wears is tight fitting, and cuts off at the shoulders displaying his impressive musculature.

The basis of which I wrote this chapter was the TedX talk done by Colin Stokes, How Movies Teach Manhood. Stokes draws his analysis from Disney Princess movies, and explains that while female empowerment in cinema is on the increase, the idea that males can be masculine and emotional has still not been explicitly shown.

The basis of this chapter was the TedX talk done by Colin Stokes, How Movies Teach Manhood. Stokes draws his analysis from Disney Princess movies, and explains that while female empowerment in cinema is on the increase, the idea that males can be masculine and emotional has still not been explicitly shown.

I think that because Marvel is including children in the target audience, some tangible or visible acknowledgment that masculinity is not only appearance, is necessary. Has Marvel accomplished this with the female characters?

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The Brooklyn Book Festival

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

September is the best month to be a book-lover in New York City.

I discovered this last year, when I had just started interning for a Brooklyn-based literary magazine, The Coffin Factory. As a member of the team, I was asked to go out to the Brooklyn Book Festival, an annual celebration of all things literary. (http://www.brooklynbookfestival.org/BBF/Home ) It’s the perfect place to be, whether you’re an aspiring writer, an avid reader, or just a college student looking for something interesting to fill your time with.

 

The editors of The Coffin Factory at the Brooklyn Book Festival

The festival itself takes place on one Saturday (this year it’s September 22 from 10am – 6pm). However, there are a plethora of free literary events hosted by various members of the New York City literary scene for the entire week leading up to the big event.

Last year, The Coffin Factory hosted a panel entitled “Who Gives a Sh*t About Literary Magazines?” with editors from Granta, Tin House, and The Paris Review discussing their opinions on literary culture, readership, and the future of print magazines. I remember sitting at the back of the independent bookstore (Book Court) where the event was held and thinking that it was wonderful that such a thing could exist and that so many people cared enough to come. I guess a lot of people give a sh*t about literary magazines after all.

The events prior to the actual festival are always fun, engaging, and sometimes intimate enough to get to talk to the hosts afterwards. There are pretty much always opportunities to win free print issues or subscriptions, and most importantly, you get the chance to be a part of the conversation.

The festival itself is like a maze, with booths for popular publishing houses and lesser-known literary magazines alike. The event welcomes people from all aspects of the literary community, from all over the world. You never know what you’re going to find there. Maybe you’ll strike up an interesting conversation with the staff of your favorite Saturday-morning-read; maybe you’ll stumble upon an internship opportunity. Or maybe you’ll discover a writer or a magazine you’ve never heard of and fall irrevocably in love.

Because that’s what the Brooklyn Book Festival does: somehow, every year, it beckons to people from all different walks of life and manages to coax them out of whatever chaos they are in the midst of. It manages to swallow them completely for one week or weekend out of the year and get them all down to Brooklyn Borough Hall. And when they emerge from the Court Street subway station, they will inhale the distinctive but subtle scent of a good book, hear snippets of conversations revolving around their favorite writers, and see stacks of polished pages awaiting them.

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Katie Yee, Bennington College

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