Tragedy or comedy?

We just finished reading Macbeth in English, and it made me think back to reading Romeo and Juliet last year. One of the major issues we discussed in that play was whether it was a tragedy or comedy. What is interesting to me is how one piece of writing can be rightfully argued as two genres that are about as opposite as they can be. There are plenty of essays with compelling evidence for either side even today, hundreds of years later.

We prepared for this essay with sheet that listed the elements of comedy and the elements of tragedy so we could analyze the play using those to help us make our decision. I remember having a very tough time choosing because both seemed right when I was actively searching for each element.

I do want to clarify one thing: comedy doesn’t always mean laughing until you can’t breathe, especially not in Shakespeare’s time. When people argue this play as a comedy, they are not saying that it’s comparable to modern sit-coms or comedic plays of this generation. They are analyzing the play from a technical point of view. In a tragedy, something specific usually happens to the main character, and in a comedy, something different usually happens. So even if you didn’t find Romeo and Juliet a knee slapper, you can still argue it as a comedy.

With all of that being said I think it’s really interesting how a shift in perspective can turn something from a tragedy into a comedy or vice versa. If you look at the same story from a different angle, your whole perception of it can change. With some more analyzing and my love of sit-coms, I have found that this principle holds true with a lot of comedy shows today. If you take the most basic summary of the show, and say it, it can go either way. What makes these shows funny are oftentimes the delivery of the lines and the fact that the readers know it’s a comedy. Even the shows that have jokes in their scripts and are clearly funny could be argued either way at its most basic level:

Master of None– This is a Netflix comedy created by Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang. Oftentimes, the humor in this show is created by situational humor, rather than jokes in the script. The show does cover a lot of heavy material such as racism in the media, but the reason that people find it funny and not more like a drama is because they know it’s a comedy so the look for and pay more attention to the comedic elements rather than the serious ones. With a few tweaks in production, this is one of those shows that could easily be a drama (at least the first half of the season) because the subject matter is pretty heavy and you probably would not find very many jokes if you read the script–it’s all about the way the script was delivered.

The next shows I am going to talk about don’t follow that format, but I still think it’s interesting how the one-sentence idea of the show can be read different ways, even though it is not directly related to my point about Shakespeare. Just read:

Speechless–An ABC comedy created by Scott Silveri. This is about a boy who has a mental disorder that costs him the ability to speak. The show focuses on how he lives his life without speaking, and how his family tries to help him.

The Office (American version)–An NBC comedy adapted for American TV by Greg Daniels (originally on BBC created by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant). This is essentially about a boss at a paper company who desperately wants to befriend his employees and fit in with everyone at his office. Once he leaves the show, it becomes about employees living their lives at a paper company.

The Mindy Project–A formerly FOX and currently Hulu comedy created by Mindy Kaling. This show is about an Ob/Gyn who is single and desperately trying to settle down, find love, and get married.

This probably isn’t profound at all–just something that is hitting me right now. But if you read what each show is about, it does not sound like a comedy. Speechless and The Mindy Project sound like dramas, and The Office sounds sad and kind of boring (which is so hard for me to write because it is my favorite show of all time). But they are all hilarious. The Office and The Mindy Project has scripts that will make you laugh out loud because of the amount of jokes in them, and Speechless has funny scripts but a lot of what makes it funny is the stage direction and the delivery of the lines.

I even remember watching a panel discussion of The Mindy Project because I love the show, and the cast went down the line and talked about their favorite romantic comedies. I found it funny how a cast member would sometimes name a film, and someone else would argue it as a drama, because they focused on different aspects of the movies and looked for different elements of “tragedy” and comedy. The same movie, with a different perspective, can be taken in such different ways, even when we are given more than just the script. Maybe it’s just the writer in me, but I find it fascinating.

 

When great ideas turn Cliché

There is nothing more disheartening than being there to witness an amazing story idea turn cliché. I remember the moments when they were first introduced, and the rave they brought with them. I also remember the split realization I had at 2:00 am when I realized that the same idea was no longer original and brilliant. It had fallen into the rusty pile of Cliché:

The shockingly insecure teenage girl. How many times have you heard about the teenage girl that everyone thought was confident and sure of herself but was actually insecure and struggling? If I hadn’t heard this before, I would have thought that this was the most interesting idea, but now I can predict the outline of the entire plot from the description of the main character.

The rebellion of a dystopian society. Matched by Ally Condie: The main character rebels against her dystopian society by falling in love. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: The main character initially rebels against her society by making it impossible for the Hunger Games to have one winner. Divergent by Veronica Roth: This whole series was about the main character rebeling against her society by using her divergence to stay out of her country’s experiments. Don’t get me wrong, these are great books but the amount of times this amazing idea has been used has made it a cliché.

It’s a huge shame to watch great ideas such as these turn cliché, because they used to make readers so excited to read on. Unfortunately, the overuse of the ideas got the better of them and they are now ideas that some people prefer staying away from.

 

February Culinary Favorite

In recognition of Valentine’s Day this month, I decided to connect this favorite to chocolate. This time, however, I wanted to talk about a dish I tried for the first time, and not so much a recipe.

This is my second year in Spanish class, and a few weeks ago, we had our lesson on food. That lesson was not the typical lesson that Spanish students have, like how to say hamburger or water or anything like that. It was about food that people in Spanish-speaking countries actually eat. One dish in particular caught my eye: Pollo Con Mole.

Pollo Con Mole is translated as “chicken with Mole.” Mole is a type of sauce that is very popular in Mexico. It has a few different variations and is made with over twenty ingredients and spices that come together in such a magical way. And one of those ingredients is chocolate.

As someone with an Indian heritage, I was very familiar with dishes that use a variety of spices, but I had never heard of a sauce with chocolate in it, and all I could think about was trying some. It’s not that I was expecting hot chocolate drizzled over my chicken, I was just curious as to how something as sweet and as strong as chocolate could work so well to balance out the heat of the other ingredients while keeping their flavors.

Later that week, my family decided to go to Taqueria Maya for dinner, and I was ecstatic. I would finally be able to try a dish with Mole sauce. I ordered it as soon as the server came to my table, not even taking a glance at the other menu items.

The Pollo Con Mole was brought to my table and my mouth watered as the aroma hit my nose. I smelled a number of spices that I couldn’t quite place my finger on, but the smell was warm and inviting at the same time.

I took my first bite and I was stunned. The texture was so smooth, almost velvety, and the taste was just as my Spanish teacher had said: Almost indescribable. It was like hearing a piece of music that was comprised of a plethora of instruments, but not being able to point out exactly which instruments your ear was drawn to. The piece as a single product was just amazing. That’s exactly what the mole dish was: Twenty or so different ingredients that worked together in perfect harmony to create a satisfying, delicious final product.

If you have or know of any great recipes for Mole sauce, let me know!

January Favorite Recipe

In 2016, I want to add something to my blog. Yes, I LOVE to write, but cooking also is something I’m passionate about. At the end of each month, I want to post a recipe that I thought was delicious and fun to make. I will talk about the recipe, why I liked it, and a personal story.  I hope you enjoy trying these!

Continue reading “January Favorite Recipe”

The top 5 things I’m thankful for

Happy Thanksgiving!! As we all devour a delicious meal that took the entire day to prepare, I think it’s important to remind ourselves, and each other, of what we are thankful for. Here are my top five:

1. My family. No matter how cliché this sounds, I couldn’t have asked for a group of people more understanding, forgiving, strong and loving than the people who surround me every day.

2. My friends. Over the past year or so, I’ve learned a lot about the power of friendship and how much a good friend really means. If I don’t say it enough, I’m truly thankful for each and every one of my amazing friends.

3. Music. A huge part of me is playing and listening to music. I’ve been a pianst since I was six years old and a dancer since four. Performing is one of the few things that let me be free and who I am.  I’m also thankful for the comfort of knowing that there will be a perfect song for every single one of my moods.

4. Writing. As I’ve said before, writing is something that will always be a part of me. I’m thankful for finding something I’m very passionate about and being able to grow and become better as often as I can.

5. The life I have. Four years ago, my life could have ended. I’m thankful for the second chance that I got, and for the speed and smoothness of my recovery.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and don’t forget to think about what YOU are thankful for.

Thank You, Power of the Pen

 

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

~ Anton Chekhov

   One year ago today, I was shaking in a green, backless stool and barely breathing, hoping that the practice I did all summer was enough. One year ago, I was intimidated by writers who would soon be my teammates. Exactly one year ago, I was an eighth grader trying out for the Mason Middle School Power of the Pen team.

  Even though I didn’t compete, getting onto this team marked the beginning of a journey of discovering myself and my passion for writing. Writing narratives almost every Monday opened my eyes to what it really meant to create character, to develop unexpected, interesting plots, to take advantage of a strong vocabulary and to truly understand the power of words.

  Ever since I was little, I’ve been a creative person. I remember being five years old and sitting upright on the piano with a smile and ready to play. I remember being at family parties and going into a room and singing where no one could hear me, and I can’t remember far back enough to when I didn’t dance. I was that child obsessed with duct tape crafts and origami, and the kid who was binge-watching the Food Network while everyone else was hooked on iCarly. But I always felt like there was something missing. As much as I loved the activities I did, I knew that there was something else. Before Power of the Pen (POP), I didn’t know what it was I loved to do; I just knew that I loved to create.

  In eighth grade, I was involved in almost everything: A science competition team, the science fair and a myriad of service clubs in addition to POP. When people asked me which club was my favorite, the answer was hard. Now, as I look back, I know the answer should have been very easy. First of all, the fact that I was so greatly impacted by something I didn’t get the full experience in competing in, should have been a sign held three inches away from my face reading, “Power of the Pen!” Second of all, and more importantly, I should’ve asked myself the question I do now: After eighth grade, what did you want to further continue and what did you genuinely love to do? And the answer was write.

  By no means am I saying that I am where I want to be as a writer. Being only a freshman in high school, I have plenty of room to grow and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to reach my goal. But Power of the Pen provided the initial fuel for this everlasting fire. Being in a room full of passionate writers made me develop my own passion for writing. And no competition could ever replace that. Continue reading “Thank You, Power of the Pen”