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English 245: Modern Fiction

a collaborative exploration of pervasive tropes, themes, and concepts in contemporary fiction

Month

March 2016

Bus station and Master of None

I’m sitting at the bus station watching a mother and her son at one of the tables talking about what they will do today. I can’t help but think of Master of None and the overly exaggerated,  everything. This little boy is not behaving and doesn’t want to listen to him mother, but he also isn’t going around acting crazy. But then I think back to one day while I was here that a mother had to forcibly remove her child from the station because they were being so obnoxious. I guess my question is here do you think that Master of None was overly exaggerated or that we just tend to shy away from the annoying and embarrassing??

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If You’re Nerd Enough…

Hi all,

So this is a hefty hunk of reading that I don’t expect most people to be interested in.  I’m using it as a scholarly source for my creative project and I think it might be helpful/cool for anyone else dealing with Dystopia as a genre, or any specific dystopian novels.  It’s geared towards selling the idea that the increase in young adult novels about dystopia is reflective of teen interest in contemporary political/world issues –just from a comfortable distance.

It talks a lot about Millennials and political apathy in general, and then also about tying Dystopian popularity specifically to 9/11 or at least the social climate triggered by 9/11.  It also offers a counter argument, about how it’s really just the authors who lived through the Cold War, etc etc etc…

Basically, it’s interesting and is trying to answer the question I want to ask with my project.  It also reminded of our abridged history of literature and how Nell brought up 9/11 triggering a new type of novel.  It works really hard at drawing connections between contemporary literary trends and contemporary social events, which is really what this class is about, right?

Enjoy or utilize if you’re nerd enough, otherwise carry on having social lives and free time.

http://thekeep.eiu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1010&context=eng_fac

Jack of All Trades, Master of None

Master of None crossed my mind today, which caused me to think about the ending as well as what kind of message the show was trying to convey, which also led to a realization that I still have 14 blog posts to make. So yeah.

Dev’s character is one that never really accomplishes what he wants to. This isn’t due to a lack of skill, but rather a lack of seriousness or dedication. He’s usually iffy regarding his life choices, whether long term or short term, and he’s also unwilling to put up with anything he’s uncomfortable with in his acting career. This made me think of the figure of speech, “Jack of all trades, master of none”, meaning someone who is capable of many things, but never becomes an expert in one due to a lack of focus or dedication in any one aspect.

Maybe that’s where the show gets its name, and maybe that’s the whole point of the show. Most people are “masters of none” because they’re expecting constant excitement, things to be perfect or change. People are even afraid of boredom, like how Dev doesn’t want to be married because he thinks he wouldn’t be able to do what he wants and he would be bored. At the end, Dev is reading from The Bell Jar, and he quote from it:

“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked… I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”

To me, this quote, as well as what the phrase “jack of all trades, master of none” means, are what tells us what the point of the show is. The show is about making decisions, the only thing we can do in life, and it’s also about change. We all want great things to just happen to us or we want things to be easy and we don’t want situations to ever become bland or boring. Dev is indecisive and flaky which causes problems in his life. Or, he feels bad for making a definite decision because he feels as though he will miss out on everything else in life. But, choosing to sit at the crotch of the fig tree and not make a decisions is still a choice. In addition, he also claims that his exciting times with Rachel are over and everything will just be bland for the rest of their time together. Things change. Just like what H. Jon Benjamen’s character said, relationships will never be 100%. They will shift, up and down, because that’s just the nature of life. Things never stay the same, and things are never definite.

All in all, it all comes down to making a choice, and he decided to go all in and go to pasta making school. He chose a fig and stuck to it, leaving behind his lifestyle as a master of none. I apologize for any errors in structure or anything else, I just wanted to finish up this post as soon as I could. Also curious about what others took from the show.

Chang-Rea Lee interview

Hello class,

Some of you know already, but I sent a letter to Mr Lee to see if he would be willing to answer some questions about On Such A Full Sea. Lee has answered my letter and agreed to 4 questions. If you would like to send me a question to ask him I will go though them and see what are the best 4 or the most asked if there are some that are the same. Hopefuly we can get some awesome answers to a very good book that brought up a ton of questions and discussion during class. I would like to send them no later than Monday afternoon so hurry hurry 🙂

Technology in Master of None

While watching any New York based sitcom, it is impossible for me to not compare the show to Seinfeld, and to a lesser extent Friends. Perhaps the biggest change in daily life from the 90’s to today is our dependence on smart phones. Several of my favorite lines from the show were based on this dependence, and how more often then not it complicates our lives. This is clear from the first scene of the series, when Dev and Rachel get conflicting results on their phones regarding pre-cum. An episode or two later when Brian says: “It’s nice out man, I was going to go to the park and look up NBA trade rumors on my phone.” Rachel has a great line: “Oh man, I’ve always wanted to go to India and watch Dexter.” Dev spends 45 minutes on yelp trying to find the perfect tacos, and when they get there, the tacos are sold out.There are no episodes specifically about technology, but the role they play in our lives, and the lives of the characters is clear. We never saw Jerry and Elaine have smart phones in bed, but maybe Dev just wasn’t sponge worthy.

 

Now, I guess.

That’s the feeling I get from the show thus far. Moods and ideas and feelings change very quickly. Even within conversations, I get the feeling that the right thing for Dev is always in rapid flux. It’s a felling of “Now.” Marriage is good, then bad, then good. Kids are great then bad. Cheating is bad, then okay, then not good, but this-one-time-it’s-okay. Its all very amusing, but the stand-up style delivery makes it difficult to accept that anything Dev does is serious. Maybe that’s the point.

Netflix

For the Master of None assignment I finally gave in and renewed my Netflix account after almost two years without it. I was pleasantly surprised that not only was Master of None a great series but that there was an abundance of other amazing shows. These shows come about by Netflix giving talented artists the means to make the show they want to make. Also these shows often play out in highly sequential order where a 12 episode season is really a 12 hour movie. Talented artists are creating their own dream shows not limited by needing to appeal to a mainstream audience or time constraints placed on network shows. These Netflix series are putting out complex and involved stories which would rival many modern fiction novels. Television is an artform which is less than a century old, perhaps the Netflix program model is the next step in its evolution. Was the novel an instant success or did it take centuries to evolve into what some might call “high art”. Perhaps the Iron Man 7‘s and B list celbrity reality shows are merely the growing pains of art. What do you think?

 

“Master of None” readings

23442515In addition to watching episodes 1-5 of Aziz Ansari’s television show Master of None for Tuesday, March 22, please also read these three short pieces:

David Sim’s review of Master of None for The Atlantic.

“Aziz Ansari on Acting, Race and Hollywood” NYT.

“The Seven Ways to Write About Television” – Linda Holmes

Master of None

While the premise of the story is nothing new. (Single 20 something and his friends in the big city, his daily interactions with said friends and his struggles with dating and work) Master of None is still a very funny show. Aziz Ansari is a very funny comic and he has surrounded himself with a cast of talented and also funny actors. The story lines for the first 5 shows where both hilariously written and while not completely original still refreshing to watch. I think that may be the biggest struggle for this show in future episodes and for most T.V shows in general. How do we come up with new and entertaining content? It may also run true for fiction in any form. After so long is there truely any fresh ideas or is the best we can hope for from the future fiction and script writers is a new look at an old idea. We will have to wait and see when watching the next 5 episodes of Master of None, but so far they are doing a good job.

P.S once again I will state that this site needs Spell check for peeps like me.

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