25 February 2010

Revolutionizing the Publishing Industry

I recently wrote an article for suite101.com about the changes being made in the publishing industry. The EBM or Espresso Book Machine is a printing, binding and distributing station. I was excited to write about this topic after being inspired by my WRT 495 capstone class. We have been discussing Genre Theories and the evolution of print on demand came up in my class. The EBM affects the publishing industry completely. The whole print on demand concept opens avenues for more than just publishers to publish books. We've already seen an expansion of self-publishing through places like lulu.com, but the EBM in away even surpasses norms for the self-publishing author because it always anyone to print any .pfd file from any EBM location. This means small businesses no longer have to spend extra money on books that have a slow turn around, libraries will be able to have more copies of rarer books for cheaper prices, and schools and other educational institutions will be able to offer more resources to their communities. This is an exciting time for the reader and the writer. I hope you like the article, be sure to check out the embedded link because it takes you two a youtube.com video where you can see just exactly how the magic happens. Enjoy!

Espresso Machines are No Longer Just for Coffee

22 February 2010

Why I talk about being biracial

Why I talk about being biracial

By Nicole E. Avery
GVL Columnist

An apology by definition is either a form of justifying one's actions, defending them or an admission of remorse. This column is none of the above but rather a in-depth description of my own writing process.

There has been some annoyance and acceptance from Lanthorn readers about my habitual mention of my biracial heritage in past columns.

There was an assumption in a comment on the Lanthorn Web site that I wrote last week about stereotypes because I was either made to by my editor, I couldn't think of anything else to write about or because I take any possible chance to mention that I'm biracial.

None of these reasons are true.

I make it a habit to read the Lanthorn and other news and if I can, I try to write about something that stirs any kind of emotion in me. If it raises a question in my mind, such as whether or not a stereotype can be seen as positive, I pursue it and try to offer a tangible discussion and possible answer in my column.

There are two other main reasons why I mention my ethnicity in my columns: it is my personal life experience and provides an enriching point of view and insight other people might be interested in because it is different from their own, and out of admiration and respect for my parents. I owe it to them and myself to not be ashamed of who I am.

For me, mentioning my heritage is as natural as telling someone my name and my favorite color. I'm very comfortable with talking about myself and that openness is displayed in my columns when I reference my family, friends, relationships or personal struggles.

In many ways, mentioning the fact I am biracial and talking about the issues that come with being both white and black is therapy for my soul. Talking about who I am helps me accept and understand myself better not only as a writer but as a person. I strongly believe to know myself is to love myself.

When it comes to race I believe it is an individual's choice what they identify with, but it isn't always that simple. Everyone still has to deal and cope with the way they are perceived regardless of whether you are a minority or not.

I could refer to myself simply as being black or African-American and that would be acceptable by the black community and is also commonly done.

If I were in the south even as few as 20 years ago, I would have been considered black even though my mother is white. However, I was raised to identify with both races and that is what I do. To not mention one, for me, is omitting a part of myself and I simply cannot and will not do that.

This is me. Either accept it or don't read it.


Enjoy lack of substance in year of the Tiger

Enjoy lack of substance in year of the Tiger

By Nicole E. Avery
GVL Columinst

This is my year according to the Chinese zodiac calendar and I -- similar to the rest of the people born in '86 -- gladly bear the marks of the tiger.

According to the characteristics of the Tiger sign, I am lively, lucky, resilient and self-sufficed, but there's another Tiger who outshines the rest of us, even though this should by right be our year.

I heard it on the radio Friday while riding on the CV to Grand Valley State University shuttle bus to Kirkhof that Tiger Woods had publicly apologized to his wife and fans for his unsolicited behavior.

The radio personalities of this particular sports channel commented that without being adorned head to foot in sports logos, Tiger was a mere shadow of the man he once was.

Woods had multiple affairs -- how many celebrities haven't had affairs? Mostly the least known and least attractive ones I would presume.

This is old news. Why are we still talking about this? Is it because Tiger checked into rehab and absence has made the fans and paparazzi grow fonder of trying to get the scoop on what Tiger does next?

I love how when men cheat, they go to rehab. When women cheat -- well, let's just say they become labeled in a way that might as well plaster a large scarlet letter on their chest.

It's the curse of the double standard -- and we know it well. Men can do it and woman can only complain about men doing it, and the thrill of celebrity sexual liaisons has enabled Tiger to outshine all other world news even when he isn't in the public eye.

Here's the kicker: it isn't just affairs that draw us in like moths to the flame of bad TV reality shows. It's anything and everything that is without substance or quality. There is just something undeniably alluring about being interested in useless information or personal information about people that doesn't really matter because it doesn't change our daily lives.

I wish I could say we should all stop caring about stupid things that make no sense or do not matter, but I like pictures of cats jammed into infant-sized overalls with funny, phonetically spelled sentences in white bold font stamped on them.

Perhaps these useless things do have a function -- even if it is minute. They do make people laugh, give people something to gossip about and for a moment even possibly engage strangers in conversation when they would have otherwise been glued to their iPods or Zunes.

Overzealously practical people might argue that all time must be spent doing something productive, but I think perhaps we should every now and then leave practicality on the shelf and, for our sanity, do something meaningless.

Life is hard, college is tough and to avoid being stuck in a mental rut people need to idly talk about things that take few neurons to understand.


17 February 2010

Disney stirred up the gumbo pot

Disney stirred up the gumbo pot

By Nicole E. Avery
GVL Columnist

Even with their unrealistic views of hair, men, parenting and relationships, just about everyone likes Disney movies.

I grew up on Disney VHS tapes and my childhood would not have been complete without my sister and me preforming renditions of the pivotal scene from Bambi where Bambi's mother is shot while trying to flee from the field back into the woods.

It is no wonder then that I was excited when I heard Disney was producing a fully hand-drawn animated new movie starring black characters. I was thrilled for the long overdue representation the movie would give the black community, but when I heard it was set in New Orleans, it was no wonder why I was immediately skeptical.

All I could see in my mind was a fantastically drawn narrations of spicy Creoles and evil dark-skinned voodoo witch doctors-- I was pretty accurate except for the fact that Disney kept all the characters in the middle realm of brown skin tones.

I saw the movie, and this, in a nutshell is how Disney paints a model for the African American woman-- hard working, religious, respectful women who aren't afraid to "tell it like it is".

How completely two dimensional. Is this another instance of the menacing positive stereotype?

Issues with this movie go a little deeper than that. The problem is not with the idea of a positive stereotypes being rejected, but with the idea that someone can be labeled a race and then summed up to have a specific quality.

Another major problem was the plot: a girl from a poor family works two jobs in order to save up enough money to where she can cook her father's gumbo recipe and serve it to the community. Essentially she wants to live out the dream her father was never able to accomplish. Is this sending the message the black: women are limited to desiring only to fulfill dreams that have already been dreamt by the men in their families?

Some would argue this portrays a realistic picture of the specific time period of the movie-- black people were underprivileged, were poor and did struggle.

True, but is that the only truth we are to perpetually keep on living? I want to see hopeful things, positive change and progression, and don't scapegoat on the time period. It is not necessary to show a black character whose prize possession is a beat-up gumbo pot, doesn't speak proper English and is content with having no aspirations of her own.

The reason many people were left with a sour taste in their mouths after watching this movie was because they felt they were not represented as ideally as they could have been. It is perfectly justifiable to want input on the way your race is being depicted in a movie.

Every African American isn't upset and everyone doesn't have to be upset by this movie, but those who are upset have the right to voice their opinion without being censored.