Creative Thinking

Ah yes, creative thinking. My teachers always used to call my work “creative”. The thing about being creative is that it doesn’t mean something is good. Creativity is simply anything relating to or involving the imagination or original ideas. Sometimes things don’t exist not because no one thought of them, but because they really just shouldn’t exist. Which is why I took Creative Writing, as I knew “creative” didn’t mean “good”. (We’ll skip over the fact that I accidentally took Creative Writing 12 when I meant to take Creative Writing 11.)

But for the sake of this assignment, I think I’m supposed to mention something innovative—something that achieved an apt result in a unique way. So for that I put forth my “Choice Work” assignment for Creative Writing, where I was allowed to write anything I wanted. There was nothing I wanted to write more than nothing itself, but for the sake of passing I asked Mr. Baker what I could write to show breadth, as all I’ve been writing since elementary school is self-insert murder mysteries filled with puns. He proposed experimental fiction—a genre of literary work wherein writers focus on using innovative storytelling techniques that defy literary norms and conventions. So by definition, I was required to actually be creative.

In the end I wrote a story entirely told through someone’s internet search history. I searched for anything like this, and I couldn’t find anything, so it could very well be the first of its kind. But is it good? Well, ignore the fact that I’m not including it here and let me explain how this experimental format actually enhanced several aspects of the story:

Because you read internet search history by scrolling down, this actually makes the story non-linear. This creates mystery, as the reader has to try and figure out what the protagonist is trying to achieve with his confusing searches, but it all comes together in the end. For example, we see he was researching if hamburgers are made of pork, and before that he was buying equipment to grind meat, and in the end his very first search was of what human flesh tastes like (it tastes like pork). There are also searches that seem unrelated at first, such as WikiHow articles on how to invite your ex over, and “steamed hams” Simpsons memes. But by the end we realize why he was inviting his ex over and the steamed hams memes lead into his research on meats. It reflects how people’s internet search history is often quite a confusing string of tangents, helps add some mystery and comedic juxtaposition to the story, and also illustrates the strange fact that deranged individuals often enjoy the same media that “ordinary people” do, and can often appear quite normal themselves.

So in this manner, I used Creative Thinking to do something unlike anything I or most writers have done, which will get me a better breadth mark, and also created a story that is elevated by its unique formatting.


P.S. Subtract 5 views from the view count because that was just me checking for views (because there weren’t any). Also, I liked my own video because of course I did.

The Wacky & Wonderful Worlds of Wes Anderson

Oh, hi. I didn’t see you there. I still don’t because that would be creepy.

For this assignment I had to pick a topic of passion and research it on an online database (which had a lot of technical issues by the way). I wanted to talk about something to do with movies, but many topics were way too broad, and the sources covering them were way too long to read. I couldn’t find much information on some directors, but eventually I decided to talk about director Wes Anderson (in full: Wesley Wales Anderson) in celebration of the release of his latest movie, The French Dispatch, after its prolonged postponement due to the pandemic. 

Inside the music of Wes Anderson's 'The French Dispatch' - Los Angeles Times
Timothée Chalamet and Lyna Khoudri in “The French Dispatch.”

In total, Anderson has directed, written, and mostly produced 10 films, including 2 stop-motion animated features (Fantastic Mr. Fox and Isle of Dogs). He’s done a few commercials on the side as well. He was born in 1969 in Houston, Texas.

Wes Anderson is Reportedly Shooting a New Film in Spain This Summer
Pretty good for 52, I’d say.

His movies are known for their immaculate and unique visual style revolving around colours and symmetry (and the font Futura). They have been described as looking like dollhouses. 

Film Masters: Wes Anderson - Tricyclical
The Belafonte from “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” really is like a giant doll house.

It makes you wonder what’s going inside his head to come up with these films. Luckily, an interview for Time Magazine tells us a bit about this thought process.  

Wes Anderson movies tend to have a vintage look. Anderson likes to shoot on film, and a lot of his movies are set in time periods. He changes around aspect ratios based on the era and uses classic hit songs. And though Anderson’s films aren’t all for kids, they are often seen as having a sort of childlike whimsy and fun, contributing to a sense of nostalgia. Isle of Dogs feels nostalgic, and it’s literally set in the future. 

Otok pasa' Wes Anderson ne voli mačke, a izgleda ni Japance - tportal
One of many masterfully crafted shots in “Isle of Dogs.”

In this interview we learn a bit about why Anderson’s films contain this aspect. 

When location-scouting for The Grand Budapest Hotel, Anderson saw many grand hotels that he eventually used as inspiration for his set built upon an abandoned German department store. Looking back on all of the once grand buildings of the 30s, he says “It’s hard not to sometimes feel like, what a drag. We had something great here. Most places have changed radically. It is usually for the worse, a bit.”

Behind the Scenes: Grand Budapest Hotel - Dwell
Inside the Grand Budapest Hotel.

In the end though, Wes Anderson’s style doesn’t come from hard rules. He’s just doing what he likes by instinct. Production designer and frequent collaborator Adam Stockhausen says “In a funny way, I still don’t really know what a Wes Anderson movie looks like. It really is from scratch each time. There are no magic decoder rings. It’s not a formula.” 

Wes Anderson may not always know exactly what he’s doing, but he always knows exactly how to do it. Owen Wilson (Anderson’s friend and collaborator for over 30 years [and the voice of Lightning McQueen]) compares him to a ship’s captain. He says “with Wes, you know he’s definitely steering the ship and doing exactly what he thinks is best for the movie.” 

Speaking of Owen Wilson, aside from the incredible visuals, Wes Anderson’s films are worth a watch for their star-studded casts. Despite Anderson having seemingly very specific visions for his works, he is very much a team worker. “It’s a collaboration,” he says. “[Costume designer] Milena Canonero and [composer] Alexandre Desplat and these actors and all these voices … You cannot end up with the same thing if you change those names and keep mine.” This is likely why Anderson attracts so many A-listers to come back to his movies and has a large group of frequent collaborators.

The Grand Budapest Hotel Trailer and Poster
Just some of the cast of “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”

Also of note is cinematographer Robert Yeoman and screenwriters Roman Coppola and Noah Baumbach (Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman also co-wrote a few movies). 

Tony Revolori, whose debut was in Grand Budapest, says working with Anderson is “a bit like he makes a tailored suit, and he makes it exactly the way he would like it, then finds someone to fit it. When you put it on, you’re able to walk wherever you want with this great suit.” 

Ultimately, while Wes Anderson’s films aren’t for everyone, he’s undeniably a very talented, precise man, and a good coworker, and I would certainly recommend you give his movies a watch. 

The Grand Budapest Hotel – film review | Financial Times
Tony Revolori and Saoirse Ronan in “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” (I seem to use this film as an example a lot, but it really is one of Anderson’s most beautiful works.)

Industrial Revolution Poster (with a twist)

Here I was supposed to post an assignment I am proud of from semester one. I wanted to choose my production of Billy Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream because my iteration was considered to be, like, the apotheosis of theatre productions (because I did the scene where the acting troupe puts on a terrible play, so the audience didn’t realize I wasn’t acting when I sounded terrible). Unfortunately, the play was done live, so no one will be seeing my “awe-inspiring” performance again.

So anyway, here’s a poster I made:

Oh. You can't see the image. Well, this is awkward.

In this assignment, I had to design a poster advertising an invention from around the time of the Industrial Revolution, which still doesn’t have a completely definitive start or end. Nevertheless, the invention I chose, the airship, is definitely one of the latter years, but I wanted to do something steampunk and nobody could stop me.

The first ever airship was the Giffard Dirigible, invented by Henri Giffard in 1852. On September 24, the Giffard Dirigible travelled about 27 kilometres from the Paris racecourse to Élancourt. What made it special was that you could more easily control its direction because of its steam engine, propeller, and rudder (unlike with balloons). Henri Giffard also invented the steam injector in 1858, which was a more compact and convenient alternative to the steam pump.

The most difficult aspect of this project was using Photoshop to convert all of the images to make their styles match. (The overall style was supposed to look like a vintage 1950s ad.) I also tried to make Henri Giffard look a bit happier, because he looked very grumpy for a guy trying to sell you stuff. I then put everything together in PowerPoint, and made it look old in Photoshop. Yes, I sometimes used PowerPoint for photo editing instead Photoshop because I’m not very competent with the latter.

Oh. You can't see the image. Well, this is awkward.

But anyway, now I’m going to pull off the greatest plot twist in blog history.

I actually wrote all that stuff about the poster months ago. Why would I do such a thing? You see, I predicted that I’d eventually have to do an assignment exactly like this one in the future, so I did it in advance because I had nothing better to do. I may be a procrastinator, but I’m a procrastinator because I do things like that instead of work that is due the next day. Anyway, I feel I actually liked my comic about the Red River settlement more than my Industrial Revolution poster, but I’m not just going throw away all my prior work and redo this assignment, so here is said comic (if you are trying to mark this then you don’t have to read it):

Break the Fake Part 2: Detective Boogaloo

Are mermaids real!!?? (Of course they aren’t; don’t be ridiculous.)

It was snowing. The kind of snow which reminded you that Christmas was coming. But I, Edgar, private eye, wasn’t feeling very merry. The only present I was getting was the present, and presently I was clueless on my latest case. It’s not that I couldn’t find any clues, but I had a bad case of not finding a case.

The clock was ticking like a bomb. A single lunch period was all I had left to finish my assignment, and I was wasting it on pretending to be a detective.

I did technically have one case, but alas, the case required me to find another case. A case within a case. I’ll cut to the chase.

My assignment? To break the fake. I was asked to shine a little more truth on this world of shadows and deceit by finding an article or video which needed to be verified as true or false.

I searched around for a long while, and finally, after perusing random piles of posts everywhere I could look, I found a Reddit post asking about whether a video on YouTube about mermaids was real or not. I had my case at last, and I was going to crack it better than my eggs in foods class (but really, egg shells are a good source of calcium, so I don’t think it was that big a deal).

Oh. You can't see the image. Well, this is awkward.

The video showed a submarine in the Greenland Sea bumping into a supposed mermaid’s hand, and it claimed that the government halted new oil drilling licenses in Greenland because of this. It was an excerpt from the documentary Mermaids: The New Evidence, posted by the Animal Planet YouTube channel in 2013. (I am aware that this content isn’t current, but the repost was recent, and the top comments on the video were almost all no older than a year. Often, this is how misinformation circulates; rehashing and recycling old content with a new coat of paint.)

Oh. You can't see the image. Well, this is awkward.Animal Planet is part of Discovery, which is quite well known. The YouTube channel was indeed verified and had 5.25 million subscribers. The video itself had nearly 8.5 million views and 60,000 likes. From my experience, 60,000 likes is a smaller number for a video with so many millions of views, so if there were many dislikes, it could be a clue that something was wrong with the video. Too bad YouTube just decided to remove dislikes from every video in existence. Anyway, I took a look at the comments instead. I scrolled through for quite a length of time, but I couldn’t find anything suggesting the video to be fake.

Oh. You can't see the image. Well, this is awkward.
Yes, I am using dark mode for the internet. I also use it for all Microsoft applications. For some reason that seems to offend some people.

I did a Google search of the Discovery Channel, and it turns out that though they make real nature documentaries, they also make many fake documentaries, using their public image as leverage for views.

I wanted to dive deeper into this documentary, so I went and checked Snopes, a well-regarded fact-checking website, to see what they had to say. Mermaids: The New Evidence was not on Snopes, but I learned it was a follow-up to Mermaids: The Body Found (2011). This documentary was deemed false.

Oh. You can't see the image. Well, this is awkward.Looking again at the Animal Planet Channel, there was an excerpt from the first (and much less grounded) documentary with CGI mermaids attacked by a CGI shark, and most of the comments acknowledged it was nothing but a mockumentary; not meant to be taken seriously, but it was taken so by some nonetheless. It seemed doubtful that the creators of a fake documentary would suddenly decide to do everything for real in its sequel.

Oh. You can't see the image. Lucky you.
Don’t look into the mermaid’s eyes . . . You looked, didn’t you? Now this image will be forever burned into your brain. Why does it haunt you? Why does it send shivers through your scared soul? And if you aren’t scared, oh, you should be. You should be.

Still, I wanted solid evidence against this particular documentary. So, I did a Google search, using keywords like “Animal Planet,” “mermaid,” and “fake.”

Oh. You can't see the image. Well, this is awkward.

The articles I saw all addressed both documentaries as being fake, and many of them were by reliable sources like the L.A. Times.

Furthermore, I looked at the IMDb (International Movie Database) page for the documentary, and it led me to learn that the supposed Dr. Paul Robertson was actually played by an actor by the name of David Evans.

Oh. You can't see the image. Well, this is awkward.

And with that, the case was closed, and the case within the case as well. But the case was also cracked, so when I tried to close it, it kind of crumpled into a mess.

French Revolution Magazine

A project I am proud of this semester would be the French Revolution magazine I worked on. I think it turned out looking quite nice, with some of the pages looking like they’re from a real magazine, aside from my pitiful attempts at humour.

Below, you can see the pages I typed up and designed, including two covers, one a fake to ward off the infamous Committee of Public Safety (the committee which executed thousands of innocent civilians and couldn’t care less about public safety). Then there are three biographies on important people in the revolution, a political cartoon, an advertisement, and a rubber duck I used to fill up some blank space.

I redacted the names of the others who worked on this project to protect their privacy, but I can tell you that Peng B. also worked on it, and his pages of the magazine are featured on his blog. I suggest you check it out.

Oh. You can't see the image. Well, this is awkward.

Fun fact: Unlike seemingly over half of this entire school, I do not know French, but people keep assuming I do for some reason. Feel free to curse me in French behind my back. My name is also not actually Blanc.

Common Courtesies for the Comments Section

If you for some crazy reason wish to comment upon this blog, I must enquire that you follow four rules concerning proper social etiquette within the comments. These rules are of course the rules of a true knight from the lost age of chivalry. (Note: The term “knight” here does not refer only to men; anyone can follow the rules of chivalry. Knights [at least the cool, sword-wielding, dragon-slaying kind] also don’t exist anymore, so these days the term refers to no one.)


Rule I: Humility

A true knight never announces they are a knight, for a true knight needs but remain virtuous for others to know what they are. Don’t pretend you’re better than everyone, and even if you are better than everyone, have pity on us and say something encouraging.


Rule II: Generosity

It is the mission of each true knight, their duty—nay—their privilege—to add a measure of grace to the world by helping those who cannot help themselves. If you have any helpful suggestions to improve this blog, please tell me. I might try to care.


Rule III: Justice

A knight fights for those who deserve equality and rights, without question or pause. Don’t say anything negative and untrue to a group of people that doesn’t deserve it.


Rule IV: Discipline

A knight must remain calm and composed in the face of danger, or even when someone disagrees with them on the internet about something trivial. Please refrain from using profanity on this blog, and don’t be unnecessarily aggressive. 


See Below for an Example of a Chivalrous Comment!