Questus Libris – Tiffany Tran

Questus Libris

My narrative reflects a scholarly investigation, as seen via a research poster. It is both textual and visual, for I inserted a few paragraphs talking about different literature pieces and a graph displaying how often I use a particular source for this class.

S-Town – Tiffany Tran

S-Town may stand for Shittown, but the podcast wasn’t necessarily shit.

The podcast is a narrative of Brian Reed, who goes down to a small town in Alabama to investigate a potential murder that a man named John B. Melbourne asked him to look at.

What’s interesting is that Brian Reed isn’t someone in the police force, but is a journalist. So, he does his own investigation.

This podcast is considered a nonfiction novel and it sounds fake-ish, but is a true story.  Despite that fact, I didn’t think S-Town was real at first. All the voice recordings and such – I thought were actors and actresses. It was only after a classroom discussion that I learned that it was real.

I thought this wasn’t real because the whole story seemed unnatural at first. A journalist comes out to investigate a murder that some man asked him to check. And that man, who is John, digresses a lot when talking to Brian. When Brian came to visit John, John doesn’t pay much attention to the murder that he asked Brian to come all the way to Alabama for. It doesn’t make sense at first, but I find that in the end, it does.

In this story, John presents himself as an intelligent person (only on things that he is very interested in) and as someone who enjoys company. Brian interviewed a few companions of John, each giving a description of how John and them maintain a close relationship until they find a significant other. This causes John to be jealous, and John ends up going through a cycle of getting a close friendship before being seemingly “left behind.” The connection that John makes to Brian reminds me of how John and Olin met. John and Olin met randomly through a singles phone line, and then John was intrigued by Olin enough to maintain a friendship with him.  I assume that John randomly stumbled on Brian’s podcasts, found him entertaining, and decided to pursue a friendship with him. That’s why it made sense to me as to why John asked Brian to come over, although I don’t doubt that John wanted to figure out what really happened with the murder.

Brian displays John as a complex character, which is why I did not think that this was a real story. But, there are definitely some complicated people out there in the real world, so I started to believe Brian. John is presented as a guy who slightly seemed like a bit crazy person, asking a reporter to help solve a murder, and digresses a lot. However, Brian showed that John is also intelligent, and does have good intentions. We see a caring side of John when he told us about how he helps Tyler out, we see an intelligent side when he talks about clocks, and we see a sad side of John when we see how John may have felt left by others. Even after John’s suicide, Brian portrayed John as a powerful character. I like to think that it was to show how much of an impact John had on others even after he stopped maintaining his connections with them.

John is shown to be a mixture of people. I had a hard time trying to keep track of who John is because he seemed to be too many things at once. And I think that may have prompted Brian to release this story about John. I never looked too deep into who Brian Reed is, so I’m not quite sure of his nature, but perhaps Brian thought that John was a fascinating character that the public should know about. Maybe he thought that John deserved the acknowledgement that he deserves for being so caring and smart, amongst other things. Regardless, Brian and his team got sued for many things, including invasion of privacy and ethics.

The part that I disliked the most about the podcast was the ending. I felt as if there was no true ending. We’re left on a loose end, but I’d imagine that may have been how Brian had felt. I wonder why he chose to end the podcast that way. Was it because he didn’t want to disclose more things about John? Unlikely-ish. Was it because he didn’t have more information? Or because the ending may have been predictable? Maybe, but we wouldn’t ever know. Only assume.

Now, onto the brief feedback on the media platform. For a podcast, this is very interesting. I do not listen to a lot of podcasts, and actually did not listen to Brian Reed’s story as a podcast. I have problems listening and paying attention to audio, so I read the transcript for the most part. But the inclusion of having audio clips from the actual interviews that Brian had and having some music being played definitely made the podcast more entertaining to listen to, and be able to visualize the people in the story more. So, I guess that I can’t say that this was an interesting podcast, for I didn’t listen to the whole thing as a podcast to begin with. But it is an interesting story (and a lot to keep up with).

The OA – Tiffany Tran

The OA by Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij proves itself to be a confusing piece of work, mainly because it is a story within a TV series. The story is told by the OA, also known as Prairie. Throughout the series, Prairie tells both the group of 4 that she asked for and the audience what has happened to her during her 7 year disappearance.

The series starts out intriguing, presenting Prairie as someone who went lost blind and came back with scarring on her back and her sight returned. As the storyline progresses, science fiction elements present themselves, such as Khatun, a woman who seems to have the ability to take away Prairie’s sight and bring her back to reality. A mystery also evolves with both the audience and the chosen 4 that Prairie tells her story to, with figuring out if her story is true or not.

Personally, I had believed Prairie’s story at first. She shows to have some abnormal abilities, such as gaining her sight back miraculously and calming down Steve’s dog, who was commanded to attack her. Even when the other characters started to not believe her, I did. With how odd her dreams foreshadowed real-life events, I couldn’t not believe her. But after watching the series and having discussions, I started questioning the validity of Prairie’s story. It was weird because she displayed signs of some magical powers and things that just couldn’t be real but happened, but it is also valid to say that her story isn’t true. This whole time, she could be delusional and trying to recruit people who may easily be affected because they have other things in their life that perhaps cause them to be slightly unstable? Or she finds pleasure in lying and manipulation, but who knows? I try not to think about it too much, because in the end, we don’t really know unless the show explicitly shows it. It also hurts my head to think too much about things that aren’t solidified.

There were a few parts that made me question things, such as the FBI counselor, Elias, entering Prairie’s house. Why was he there? What was he trying to do? Maybe he, too, was trying to figure out if Prairie was telling the truth. Maybe he was trying to frame her by placing the books there for French to find. But why? I wasn’t sure if it also added anything much to the story, besides making Elias a suspicious character. And even so, that ended up not adding anything to the series, at least for this season.

I also wished there were more development on other characters, such as Jesse. All we know is that his mother committed suicide and that he is a stoner who lives with his sister. He seems like a nice guy, honestly. And I was curious about Buck too. It was nice getting character development from Steve and French, and even some from BBA, but I wanted more about the other characters. But the reason as to why the other characters weren’t as developed could be because it took away from the main storyline. With the main character being Prairie, it’s understandable as to why we get her development. I don’t understand too much as to why some characters were more focused on. Such as why Steve was more focused than BBA, or why BBA even had much focus. How did Steve’s character development contribute to the storyline? Did it make it so that this guy, who probably would think that Prairie is ridiculous, turned out to believe in her story and therefore, convince the audience?

The trailer for the second season has been released, and watching it made me think that Prairie was telling the truth. We saw scenes of Prairie not recognizing anything about her apparent room, and Obama apparently wasn’t president in 2016. However, these scenes could be hallucinations that Prairie experiences. But, we aren’t so sure.

In terms of the digital age, the series jumps to different times periods, primarily from the present to and from Prairie’s captivity. It displayed discontinuous reading, and  I thought that it helped the reader understand the story well and the producers utilized the time jumps effectively. Different genres were introduced, such as mystery, light romance, and supernatural. Each genre helped add to the series. Adding the romance intensified the characters, e.g., Homer and Prairie in love but Homer sleeps with Renata (this part actually made me think that Prairie didn’t think of Homer as a lover because of how she never lashed out at him or anything, but then it turns out that she is just very forgiving and understanding). And whether the supernatural actually exists is a mystery. The series also took elements from a book. Aside from telling a story, they named episodes as “chapters.” There is always one thing that will lead on to the next chapter, and it flowers well. The videography was beautiful, showing many great scenes in Russia and intensified different parts well, e.g., French sneaking around Prairie’s house. It makes me think less of a TV series and more of a movie, but the episodes are around an hour long, so it might as well be sort of like a movie.

The OA is a show I would recommend to those who like mysteries. Not necessarily Criminal Minds and NCIS mysteries, but more like a magical mystery-ish. It makes the audience curious as to what is the truth, and that curiosity helps the audience maintain interest. Because honestly, what is the OA?

Pierre (Review); or The Ambiguities – Tiffany Tran

Herman Melville brings in different genres into his story, including romance (with a splash of incest) and psychology (in terms of Sigmund Freud’s proposal of suppressed sexual urges). He also creates Pierre as a complex character, faced with many decisions and thoughts of wondering what is wrong and what is right. With all of the details that Melville chose to include in his story, it becomes difficult to focus on what is actually happening. There are long passages that seem redundant to the story. It almost seemed that Melville was trying to be philosophical and deep with his details, but instead he strays away from the main story with boring parts that make you sleepy. Those kind of passages were the least memorable, and the story would’ve been more enjoyable without them.

The drama that Melville had Pierre endure was interesting. I found myself wondering how Pierre was going to deal with everything thrown at him, from him finding out about Isabel’s identity and so forth. Although I consider Pierre to be kind of stupid, I applaud Melville for developing Pierre to be wonderfully stupid. Most people wouldn’t pretend to marry their sister, but in some twisted way, Pierre believed that it was a great way to acknowledge Isabel as part of the family and in some twisted way, it makes sense. Melville managed to execute well the naive yet thoughtful persona that Pierre displayed in the story. There were some questionable topics that were brought up in the story, such as Pierre’s behavior towards his family (in particular, his mom and alleged half-sister). But, that is part of the drama.

There were events that I had not expected; those scenes in the story where there was action were the best parts. Otherwise, everything else was slightly irrelevant. Pierre was one main story with a bunch of side stories in the series, and one may find it interesting if they were to get tired of reading one major story and desire a break. It brings an understanding as to why Pierre experienced many controversy on whether the book was good or not. I think the book could have been reduced to a third of the story and it would’ve been 10 times better.

Pierre’s life was an interesting roller coaster that I would watch, but not get on.