Hobo Lobo of Hamelin

 An Exploration by Andrea Markle

 http://hobolobo.net/ 

The story so far is about how, in the end, you can’t expect money, earned by doing a distasteful –albeit wealthy- job, to lead you anywhere wholesome yet doing what you like will.

             Hobo Lobo, a peasant anthropomorphic wolf, wanders into the town of Hamelin: a generally well-to-do, albeit fearful of a higher power, town that is nonetheless over-run by apparent miscreant human-like rats. The wolf sets up shop. Although Hobo Lobo’s pitched craft is to deal with individualistic problems and conundrums, the mayoral candidate soon initiates his services for solving a heavy-loaded problem:  getting rid of the anthropomorphic rat population. Previous attempts have failed at keeping the rats at bay so Dick Mayor looks for some divine/psychic intervention. Now, the reason why this endeavor is so important is because Mayor hopes that by getting rid of this social problem, this victory will garner more votes by an overjoyed populous in the upcoming election.

            So Mayor, after visiting a fortune-teller and believing Hobo Lobo to be the divine aberration he was waiting for, recruits the wolf in solving this issue with the promise of fabulous wealth and riches as compensation. For the money, Hobo Lobo does exterminate the rats, leading them off a cliff.

            The repercussions are felt by the town, but not in a good way (as is portrayed in the images).  Mayor happily takes responsibility for the ‘improvement’, feeling his victory is assured. Meanwhile, Hobo Lobo has not been paid.

            So, after a reasonable time of waiting, Lobo calls up the mayor’s office, gets the receptionist, and is unsatisfactorily dismissed. Afterwards, Lobo walks straight up to the mayoral candidate in his office –who is in the middle of a nude art sculpting process- and gets cussed out by the man, who acts outraged at the thought of owing a hobo money. Mayor immediately has him tossed out.

            Hobo Lobo resorts to suing the mayor, but due to the fact that there was no written contract, Hobo Lobo is labeled a liar by the court and the mayor –he’s even slandered in the media.  Now Hobo Lobo owes the mayor for two trials (after the mayor countersued him for blackmail and extortion).  The mayor believes justice has been served; Hobo Lobo is now poorer than ever. TBC.

            I thought the use of diction in Hobo Lobo worked well. For instance, this section:

 

“The time has come,” the Lobo said,

“To talk of many things:

Of meats—and beds—and luxuries—

Which hard-earned money brings—

And just how nigh this cliff here is—

And whether rats have wings.”  (Živadinović, 2011-2013+, pp. 3, parts 8-10)

 

            Not only is this section an allusion to Lewis Carroll’s ‘The Walrus And The Carpenter’ tale from Through the Looking Glass, but it’s used ironically, just by keeping the same rhyming pattern as the original did. The part, “And whether rats have wings,” really strikes home after the fact that a flying bird animation appeared right before you see the image of Hobo Lobo leading the mice like a pied piper. Birds are referred to as rats with wings, and now the rats must learn if they can fly because they are going to face a nasty fall. The words just seemed so poignant and full of deadly curiosity. Sadly, the answer comes forth: the mice do not survive.

            Another sentence, whose diction worked well, was in the beginning of the story:  “They had everything they could ever wish for—with a healthy side-serving of strong moral fibre—and yet their lives were not as fine and dandy as they would’ve liked them to be. (Živadinović, 2011-2013+, pp. 1, part 2)” Not only does this set the tone of the story, as one that sounds like a fairytale in nature (although quickly you realize it is not for children), but it also presents the problem of the story early on which engages the reader  to find out why “their lives were not as fine and dandy”. Plus, words like “fine and dandy
and “a healthy side-serving of strong moral fibre” paint this town as very honest, but perhaps naïve to the horrors of the “real” world. The reader thinks that this town is uncorrupt, only to realize that at the heart of this town is the mayoral candidate who is a conniving dictator: the epitome of power corrupted. Thus the diction is filled with multipurpose: it lays the foundation of the plot, it engages the reader, it describes the town, and it is also ironic (as you come to find out that such a town harbors such a villain), which I think exemplifies how the larger piece is successful. 

            The sentence I thought worked well was a short one. It is right after Hobo Lobo has taken care of the rats, and the town has had time to react to their disappearance. To describe how the citizens felt about this new development, Živadinović writes, “This was noticed” (p.4, part 2). Simply put, but very powerful, especially when you see the illustrations at the top where the kid kicks a ball at a wall (with a flyer of Mayor on it), and looks very disappointed as he picks it up and throws it back. His friend, who I assume was a rat, is not there to play with him. That’s when you realize (and I believe that’s what the author hoped you to realize) that the rat populace weren’t as evil as Mayor projected them to be: they were friends, neighbors, other integral citizens of the town. Their absence is gone and felt, but not in the way Mayor believes.  Instead of rejoicing they are lamenting. This was quite a moving and sad sentence for me to read. At this point, the tone of the story has turned less bright and more bleak. I simply hope that the townspeople might speak up against these actions and expel the mayor. But that is to be decided…

            From Hobo Lobo of Hamelin, I learned that you can take a story, put it on the web, and can add moving illustrations and depth and sound to it  to make reading it a more enriching experience. The whole effect is very new age, it seems.  I also believe the author, Stevan Živadinović  has added a tutorial -for personal use- on how to create such a story-telling media, so that gives readers a chance to adapt new creations with similar formatting. Basically, I’ve learned to open my eyes wider to the possibility of ways story-telling can go.  

 

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Music sets the Tone

Invention of Love

By: Andrey Shushkov / Electric Literature/ YouTube

An exploration by  Basmah A. Abdul-Haleem

 

            Invention/hard work can’t replace the true meaning of love.

A young man has been dating a natural beautiful woman who used to living in a natural world while he used to living in a man- made world.  He makes everything from gears and bolts.  His horse he rides on to see the young woman is mechanically made. The rose he gives her is mechanically made. The young couple soon marries. They say Good-Bye to her parents and off they go in a hot-air balloon, mechanically made. They both settled in to their new house, mechanically made.  Everything about this young man, he invented except his wife: she’s a human being. She decides she’s going to put her real rose: he had given her into a real flower pot. It seems to be doing well for a short time until he noticed while she was into town: it begins to bend slightly to the right of the flower pot.  He gently picks the flower pot up. From where he is standing, the rose toppled out of the flower pot, outside of the window, and into man-made grass.

When the woman comes home from town, she notices her husband replaces the flower pot with a mechanical one, with a mechanical rose in it which doesn’t sit well with her. She rushes down the mechanical stairs to find the rose.  She manages to recaptures the rose, but the pollution is over whelming from everything being made mechanically kills her spontaneously. He sobs greatly. He soon realizes that nothing mechanical is so important than actually having a real woman whom he once loved so deeply. There wasn’t anything mechanical about her.

The imagery was so intriguing to me because the music went so well with piece. The music sets the tone for two people who are thinking about love.. The music also actually draws people in the theme whether they are romantically in love or they’re thinking about a significant other.

Collaboration in a Sentence

An Electric Literature Single Sentence Animation – Jonathan Ashley imagines Michael Cunningham

An exploration by Alexa Velez

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kwNdbVIiUQ&feature=player_embedded

 

Writer Michael Cunningham and animator Jonathan Ashley collaborate to create a single sentence animation of one line from Cunningham’s novel Olympia.  The selected sentence states, rather bluntly, that a boy named Peter tried to murder his brother.  The thirty-three second animation begins with a dark screen coupled with the disembodied sounds of birds singing.  Wooden floorboards suddenly materialize as three drops of blood fall, the drip-drip-drip being noticeably audible, creating contrast with the birds’ merry chirps.  The image shifts to a hand holding the object responsible for the source of the blood—a screwdriver.  An image of a child crouched in the fetal position appears and it is revealed that he is holding the bloody screwdriver.  One hand holds the tool; the other hand covers his face in shame.  The scene expands and a large birdhouse appears adjacent to the boy.  The two images share the screen, creating aesthetic balance.  Above these two images, the following sentence appears trailed by an ellipse, “Peter tried to murder his brother only once…”  As the words fade, the sounds of the birds singing and the blood splattering against the wood become most noticeable, heightening the weighty pause in the animation.  These two sounds are ongoing, continuing beyond the animation when the scene disappears and the end credits roll.

One element that makes the work successful is the soundtrack that plays as the images flash across the screen.  Even though it is not exactly what most would call “music,” the sounds of the birds singing and the blood dripping create an eerie musical backdrop that instills an unsettling feeling more morbid than if the sentence were to appear in silence.  The heavy, even rhythm of the blood as it drips and the erratic high-pitched singing of the birds generate an unusual form of harmony—lulling, yet disturbing.  It is important to note that the songbirds are the first to be heard in the audio, establishing a false sense of normalcy in order to create greater contrast with the first image (blood spattering against wood).  The moment when the audio is most powerful is when the sentence disappears and the image of the boy and the birdhouse dominate the screen.  The images are still, but the audio keeps the scene alive.  The power of the audio effects hold the viewer transfixed even when the image vanishes and the screen goes black.

Only one sentence is used in this piece, “Peter tried to murder his brother only once…” The sentence is simple but open to multiple interpretations when coupled with the images provided by the animation.  The wording in the sentence makes it difficult to determine whether or not Peter was successful.  If the sentence were simply “Peter tried to murder his brother” and ended there, it would be clear that it was a failed attempt.  However, because the words “only once” are added followed by an ellipse, this opens the possibility that the murder attempt was successful.  It only takes one try to make something so horrible permanent.  Another point worthy of speculation is the identity of the child in the animation.  Is the boy holding the bloody screwdriver Peter or his brother?  Though it would be natural to assume that Peter is the boy in the animation, it could very well be his brother.  Perhaps we are witnessing the brother holding his injured eye after removing the screwdriver, which Peter used as a weapon.  The idea conveyed by this one sentence animation is powerful and draws a parallel to the biblical story of Cain and Abel, the two sons of Adam.  According to the Bible, Cain committed the first murder in human history by killing his brother, Abel.  In fact, Peter is also a biblical name.  The sentence, which comprises this new media piece in its entirety, is effective because it is simple, powerful, and open to multiple interpretations.

When I first came across this piece at the beginning of the semester, I did not fully understand why it was so disturbingly effective.  After working on my own new media project, where music plays a prominent role, I have become more aware of how sound factors into the elements of storytelling.  From this single sentence animation, I learned that a successful soundtrack does not have to be a complex piece of music.  Normal, everyday sounds also have the power to generate an emotional response.  Who would think to combine the sounds of birds singing with blood dripping?  It is mind blowing that this thirty-three second animation is able to disturb viewers with noises of the mundane.

Let’s Play a Game

 

 “The Game” by Jack Holt

An exploration by Patty Ganzelli

http://jackkholt.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/the-game/

 

The main idea of “The Game” is to present different perspectives to a single bizarre event and allow the reader to draw conclusions of their own.  “The Game” is a set of four interconnected flash fiction pieces each containing a constraint of exactly 101 words.  Each piece is told from the first-person point of view, and each has a different narrator, all unnamed.

The first narrator states that they had spoken to a man named Professor Runcorn about the “Pine Woods Incident,” which Runcorn describes as a meteorite crashing to earth and killing two unidentified persons in the woods.  However, there are no records of any meteor even coming remotely close to the planet and therefore the police are launching an investigation.

The second narrator tells of the wind interfering with his chase, but it will be over soon as he has his prey cornered in the woods.

The third narrator is scared and hiding behind a tree in the woods, helpless as he knows his pursuer is watching him.  He is wounded and trying to calm down and catch his breath when he hears a faint whistle that he knows is not coming from his pursuer.

Finally the fourth narrator is watching the others, and indeed has been watching them for a while.  He has been orchestrating their chase, subtly manipulating the elements around them from a silent distance.  He decides to bend the rules to his own game creatively, still keeping the facts rooted in “their science,” thereby ending the game.

The characterization of the narrators is very successful in this piece.  The author managed to give each narrator their own voice through diction despite the constraint, thereby adding to the mystery of each character.  Narrator #1 gives the impression of a television journalist who has just interviewed Professor Runcorn “regarding what has been coined the ‘Pine Woods Incident.’”  While the majority of his section is told by Runcorn, the narrator’s identity is still clearly defined through two short sentences.  Narrators #2 and #4 are similar in that they are both pursuing someone and are aware of their power, yet both still have distinct voices.  Narrator #2 is angry and vengeful, calling his prey a “little bastard” and ready to “see him quickly ended.”  Narrator #4 is written with a fulsome, superior tone, an “invisible, distant” god who is controlling the tiny mortals on his “orchestrated stage.”  He speaks lazily of his victims, saying he may “fancy letting loose [his] more imaginative side today” and “accept the punishment later.”  Narrator #3 also has a very unique voice: he is frightened and on the run.  He speaks in short clipped sentences that mirror his anxiety.  He is the only character that speaks of his own physical body: “I rest my trembling, bloodied hand upon my chest.”  His attempt to calm himself by counting, then by breathing, and then counting again also reveals his character: he is much more frightened than even he knows.  The author does a very successful job in creating differences between the characters.

 

“So occupied were they with each other, the real danger registered not even a frivolous wonder.”

This sentence stuck out to me the most.  It is bone-chillingly ominous and beautifully written.  It makes me think how anyone could be this narrator, watching us from an invisible distance and could easily blow us away and we would have no idea.  Sometimes we are so preoccupied with other things and people that not even in our wildest dreams we are aware of any possible outside danger.  The phrase “frivolous wonder” really stood out to me as well.  The imagery is very beautiful and has an almost childlike, fantastical connotation.  Without the word “frivolous,” this sentence would not nearly function as well.  The author chose this word for a purpose: rather than writing something more sinister or a phrase like “not even a fleeting thought,” frivolous does give the sense of giddy playfulness.  After all, the whole thing is a game.

Having a constraint for the number of words can be beneficial to a story as it causes you to choose your words more deliberately.  Each sentence serves a function to both reveal character and progress the story.  I tend to be wordy with my writing and this piece shows that less is more.  I also think this story will help when writing about an event from different perspectives.  It’s not necessary to recap the scene with every change of narrator; subtlety can work wonders.  The success of this flash fiction will help a lot of other writers who are struggling with their stories.  Not every micro/flash fiction needs to be only one sentence long.  You can set your own constraints that will get the best results.

Words From Paint

By Kelsie Sandage

Link to Words From Paint

 

This multimedia project is best viewed in full screen. Enjoy this culmination of painting, writing, and online interactivity.

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