Friday, October 25, 2013

Literary Analysis #3

TOPIC(S) and/or EVENT(S)

1. My book is called Zodiac Unmasked and it is about the zodiac killer in the 1970s. Robert Graysmith, the author, talks about what happened as soon as the killings began and all the way until the suspects death. He also talks about how he thinks the killer got away and how he decoded his messages. It even talks about what the Zodiac killer looks like in a sketch. In the introduction of the book Graysmith tells us how the Zodiac got his name. The book follows a cartoonist at a local newspaper and how he finds out who America's most elusive serial killer is.

2. The author chose to write about this topic because he was there when the newspaper he worked for received the first letter. He was just a cartoonist there but he decoded the first message and shortly after became obsessed with finding out who the Zodiac killer was.

3. I chose this book because the whole mystery of the Zodiac really interested me and when I heard there was a book of it I had to read it. I knew a little bit about the Zodiac but I wanted to know more so I just went to the library and found the book. The mystery and suspense of it all was what kept me interested in the book. One thing that I always looked forward too was the messages the killer would send to the newspapers.

4. I found the book very realistic. One of the reasons I found it so realistic was the fact that the man who wrote it was there through the whole thing. It did not make any connections to things I have read about or seen but it did help me understand the whole story better. I had known several things about the Zodiac before but the book connected everything together and made sense of the whole thing. The book did a really good job of telling the story how I think it really happened. 


1. I think if we met the characters in this very true story that we might see them differently than Robert Graysmith. I imagine some to be more caring and some to be more greedy and only wanting fame out of the situation. For example, I think some of the news reporters only wanted their fifteen minutes of fame and didn't care whether justice was brought to the culprit or not while the detectives actually cared and wanted the killer off the streets. I think the author portrayed the characters as lighter versions of themselves because in his world their was only one bad person and that was the Zodiac as he became obsessed. Graysmith chose to write this book because no one figured out who the Zodiac killer was so he decided to write a book with all the facts and say who he thought, rather knew it was. Who he thought it was was Arthur Leigh who happened to be the number one suspect until his death. The authors tone seems to be aggressive and motivated toward what he is talking about. I think this says that he is a hard worker and when he gets involved with something he becomes obsessed and doesn't stop until he figures it out. 

2. Robert Graysmith, the author, is a medium build guy and had facial hair when the Zodiac killings start and all the way through the writing of the book. He had OCD which is one of the main reasons why he became so obsessed with the Zodiac and his puzzles. If I were to write him as a fictional character I would use direct characterization and describe him as a simple cartoonist who in his spare time obsessed over the stories that came in and didn't stop until he or the police figured them out. Arthur Leigh, the number one suspect for the case was a large build man who didn't have any hair for most of the photos of him. He wore military boots that you could only get with a military license from a military store and walked with a limp. For one of his killings he was described as wearing what seemed to be a black bag over his head and a black piece of cloth that he wore over his neck and upper torso that had the zodiac sign on it. He also wore a long sleeve shirt under the piece of clothing, gloves, ray-ban sunglasses, and black pants when he committed this specific murder. When he was talked to with detectives he had a very shifty attitude and way of wording things and that alone made him a prime suspect. If I were to write him as a fictional character I would use indirect characterization and let his own thoughts and horrible actions describe him. For example I would go into detail about what he was thinking when he was committing murders and writing his puzzles.

3. These people are interesting enough to write about because Graysmith seems like an unimportant person but then becomes the person that ties all of the clues together to almost prove that Arthur Leigh is the killer. The detectives did a lot of work but Graysmith put it all together to make sense of all the information. As for Arthur Leigh, he is an interesting character because he was the prime suspect for one of the most notorious serial killers in history. He even had a history where he molested students of his class when he was a teacher. He was a very messed up guy and there is no surprise that Arthur Leigh could very well be the Zodiac killer.


 1. One example of direct characterization is how the author described Paul Avery, a writer for the newspaper that Robert Graysmith was the cartoonist for. He was described as a drunk who just wanted his fame and didn't seem to care if there was justice brought to the killer or not. He was drunk too often at work so they had to let him go and he went to a lower ranked newspaper and began writing there. Another example of direct characterization is how the writer described David Toschi. He was described as a hard working family man. He didn't have any kids but he had a wife that he loved very much. He worked homicide for most of his career and was good at what he did. He was the one assigned to the Zodiac case for the longest time and the author said he was compelled to solve the case but went crazy and almost gave up when he couldn't. An example of indirect characterization would be how the Zodiac killer wrote his messages and puzzles for the newspapers. He wrote his words in a unique way, for example he wrote Christmas with two S's at the end of it and so did Arthur Leigh. Without anyone telling you, you can tell that whoever the Zodiac killer was could write puzzles that stump the best code crackers and he was smart when it came to being elusive and mysterious. Another example would be how Arthur Leigh was described by the detectives who talked to him. They basically said that he was sketchy and even though he had his story straight, there was something about him that made him seem suspicious. He also had pigeons in his home so that showed that he was a vile man and didn't care what was living with him.

2. No, the authors syntax doesn't really change when focusing on the main character. It seems to stay the same through the whole story but I feel it changes a bit when he is talking about how he did the murders. I feel like he has some respect for the deceased but still makes it informative providing all the information he can about the murder.

3. The protagonist is static through most of the story. He is pretty much completely taken in by the case and it even ruins relationships for him. It seems to be all he cares about until the end of the book where he is living with is wife and kids and the case is pretty much over. He also stopped receiving phone calls when Arthur Leigh died of a heart attack and that made him feel relieved and he changed around then to focus on his family more.

4. When the Zodiac killed two teenagers on December 20, 1968 with .22 caliber semiautomatic J.C. Higgins Model 80 I felt like I was reading a character. I know it really happened but it seems like something that would only happen in movies or in fictional books. When I read it I was suddenly pulled out of the nonfiction book and put in to a fictional book. It's hard to describe but I felt as though it didn't really happen when I read it. It was a unique feeling.


1. The author didn't really use any textual tools such as symbolism or foreshadowing. It was a more journalistic style because the information in the book is based on facts and it even has the dates of each day the events occurred on. Even though he wasn't a writer he was still very thorough with his work and factual evidence.

2. The author uses somewhat lengthy descriptions when describing places or people but it's mostly what was said in police reports and news articles. I would say that he mostly focuses on dialogue and especially actions. A lot happens in the book whether it's in the past or the present and he relies on describing events as they most likely happened and creates a more real feel to the book. It makes the book more informative rather than focusing on an entertaining aspect but it still keeps it entertaining just in a more real way.

3. The author uses the natural mystery of the story to create an ominous tone that can be uncomfortable and eerie at times. It's a natural mystery because that's what the Zodiac was going for. How Graysmith describes everything was how it actually happened so he didn't have to create a mysterious feeling, it just happened.

4. I think the author's attitude towards the subject was something to be admired. True he did mess up relationships by focusing on it too heavily but I think how hard he worked on the book and the crime was amazing. He didn't stop until he figured it out and a lot of people gave up years before he did. He wanted to get his information out there to the world and he thought the best way to do that would be to publish a book describing it all. He wanted to inform the world about what he found and make sure as many people knew as he could. I think his driving force was that everyone else gave up so he had to be the one to discover who it really was and to make sure people knew his name.

5. The author offers a plethora of news articles, interviews, police reports, and historical documents because that's pretty much all the book is. The whole book talks about how the police figured out what they did and how the newspapers described what was happening. It helped that he worked at a newspaper so he could get information right as it came in. He even got to read the codes sent in before they were even published. I think it mattered in my thinking because it verified the information that the author wrote down. It helped me make sense of it all.


 One idea from the book that I think will stick with me for a long time is how hard Robert Graysmith worked to write the book. I know it isn't really about the book but I think it is important to recognize how determined he was to find out who the killer was even if he couldn't help it. When everyone gave up he kept researching and digging deeper to find facts and evidence that could put him away forever. It's almost something out of an inspirational movie because I don't think it would have mattered if everyone gave up including him but he didn't because he wanted to prove that it was Arthur Leigh. He wrote another book and even if his career wasn't in writing, Zodiac Unmasked was his life's work.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


Well, the day is finally here. The day we all have been waiting for. The day we get to graduate this god forsaken place we call high school. Everyone knew this day would come and it has been a tough road to get here. Some, such as me, wished it came a lot sooner and others probably thought it went by too fast. The four years I have been here have been tough, not only in school but in my personal life. You all of no idea what I have had to go through to get here. Enough about me. This is about us. To the lucky people who get to go off and experience college I wish you luck and I am envious of your opportunity. I may not get the chance to go to college but I can say that I had a memorable experience with my colleagues. I wish everyone the best of luck and I hope you all succeed in whatever it is you plan to achieve. Thank you.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Literary Analysis #2


1. Black Bart - Boulevardier Bandit is about a mysterious stagecoach robber in the late 1800s. It talks about almost all the robberies he did and it also talks about the people who sought out to capture him. The author describes how Black Bart got his nickname and what he did when we wasn't robbing stagecoaches. Black Bart had a reputation for being polite when asking for the safes and mail bags. He also robbed a lot of stagecoaches with an unloaded shotgun and put up sticks to look like guns to act as though he had accomplices. Black Bart was one of the most notorious stagecoach robbers ever and he was a huge pain to Wells Fargo and detectives across California.

2. George Hooper, the author of the book, was a reporter for thirty years and was a feature writer and editor for various California newspapers. It is no surprise that he chose to write about Black Bart. He also wrote Bacon & beans From a Gold Pan, a gold country classic. You can tell that Hooper really enjoyed studying and writing about classic stories in history about the 1800s. 

3. I chose this book because the mysterious nature of Black Bart interested me. I came across it when I was at the library looking for the book called Zodiac. I found the book but I also found this book and I really wanted to learn what times were like back then and how he robbed so many stagecoaches. The mystery of it all is what made me want to keep reading it. Through the whole book I was anxious to know if he would get caught or not.

4. The book was realistic in my opinion. It is factual and all of the events really happened. There is nothing too extreme that seems like it couldn't be real. The only thing I could really relate it too would be other robbers such as Jesse James and outlaw Billy the Kid. Any "old western" movie or book could easily resemble the events in this book. Since there were stagecoaches and gun fights and California wasn't as populated, it really resembles the the movies, books, and TV shows.


1. The author described the characters the best he could to match how they were in real life. He told stories that were actually true and said exactly what the characters said according to reports. I can honestly see these characters being real in the way he described them. The authors choices show that he likes Black Bart and probably wishes he could have met him. You can tell by the authors tone that he cared about Black Bart as if he wasn't a criminal. He almost admired his work and how he was polite when robbing the stagecoaches. He knew he was a criminal but I think the fact that he was so interesting made him focus on what he did and not realize how bad it was. 

2. The main character in the book, Charles Boles aka Black Bart, is a fit man. He was in the civil war so he knows how to handle his own and how to camp out in the wilderness for long periods of time. He is tough and he had to be for he went great distances to rob stage coaches then went back to San Francisco where he lived. He had a mustache that was thick and long. When he wasn't robbing stagecoaches he was a well dressed man who enjoyed living a comfortable, luxurious life. However when he was on the road, he was known for wearing a tan duster and having a flour sack with holes in it over his head to cover his identity. He eventually switched to a handkerchief with a slit in it and eventually even not wearing a mask at all. I think the cockiness of never getting captured caught up with him and gave him a false sense of invincibility. If I were to write them as fictional characters I would probably make it so he shot more people because in the real world that wouldn't happen and it didn't. 

3. The fact that he had so many distinct characteristics about how he robbed the stagecoaches made him an interesting character to write about. How he was almost always polite when asking for the safes and mail bags was something no one else did. Especially no one else tried to rob someone with an unloaded shotgun but he did. He also left poetry at some of the crime scenes and that's how he gave himself his nickname Black Bart. No one else did this at the time and no one was more notorious than he was.


1. One example of direct characterization is how nice the author made Black Bart seem even though he was an armed robber. Another example is how polite and well dressed he was when in San Francisco. He said that he liked living a clean, stylish life opposed to how is life was during the civil war. An example of indirect characterization was how Black Bart soon didn't like camping out after robbing stagecoaches. You could tell he was becoming too accustom to the rich life in San Francisco. Another example of indirect characterization is how the author said that Black Bart traveled forty to fifty miles through mountainous turain after a robbery. It shows that he is a very skilled woodsman and survivor. The author does a good job of letting the reader connect the dots for themselves. The author uses both approaches to directly tell the reader what Black Bart does and to let the reader figure it out for themselves and make obvious assumptions. This helped me understand the character better and I just asked myself what I would do in certain situations.

2. No, the authors syntax doesn't really change when focusing on the main character. It is almost the same throughout the whole book and he describes all of the characters with the same amount of detail.

3. The main character, Charles Boles, is a dynamic character. You can see how he changes through the book. An example would be how as the robberies went on he stopped asking politely and started rudely demanding the safes and mailbags. Even though demanding the money was to be expected from a robber, it wasn't how Black Bart worked at first. He also stopped wearing a flour sack over his head and started wearing a handerchief with a slit in it that revealed his eye color. 

4. I kind of feel as though I met the person after finishing the book. At some parts I felt like I was just reading a character. I felt like I was reading a character when he was robbing stagecoaches because I couldn't relate and it was mysterious.


1. The author used a journalistic style. The author was a journalist so it seemed like he was reporting on Black Bart and studying him. He used actual newspaper articles and police reports to help write this book. He also sought out to solve the mystery of where he went after he stopped his crimes.

2. The author used somewhat lengthy descriptions when describing the crime scenes and different detectives and of course the main character. He also focused on the action for a big part of the book because the chases and robberies are all exciting. This makes the book informative while still exhilarating. He did a good job at combining the two.

3. The author uses mystery to create an abnormal tone. In a way he uses foreshadowing to show how he was an outdoorsmen and ironically dies in the outdoors while on the run.

4. I think the authors attitude towards the subject was compassionate. It was easy to tell that he enjoyed writing about the mystery of Black Bart and that he enjoyed his work before writing books. He really enjoys informing the readers about the history of this very interesting character. He also studied Black Bart and uncovered the very possible truth of what happened to him. You can tell because he is one of the only people to have this theory about what happened.

5. The author just used articles written at the time of Black Barts crimes and he also used police reports. He probably used the police reports because those would be the most accurate accounts of what actually happened. This made me trust that he actually knew what he was writing about and how accurate it probably was. I would have no reason to doubt the information in this story unless he messed up on his findings or the police reports were false.


Something that will stick with me for a long time is how Black Bart robbed the stagecoaches. He had this kind evilness to him. He was polite, never robbed the passengers or stagecoach drivers and he used an unloaded shotgun. He didn't want to harm anyone and he was only robbing banks and stealing the money from mailbags. It really intersted me. Another thing that will stick with me is how poetic he was. He left poems at some of the crime scenes and again it was a peaceful evil that is difficult to describe. I don't know how but it will stick with me for years to come.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Vocabulary #7

cursory - hasty and therefore not thorough or detailed
A cursory glance at the questions caused the student to fail the test.

impetus - the force that makes something happen or happen more quickly
The assembly line is the impetus that helps cars get built.

pinnacle - the most successful point; the culmination
Just being promoted to manager, John was at the pinnacle of his career.

contumely - insolent or insulting language or treatment
The parents heaped contumely on their child for failing a test.

bereavement - the state of being sad because a family member or friend has recently died
My cousin died not to long ago and our whole family was in a constant state of bereavement.

cache - a collection of items of the same type stored in a hidden or inaccessible place
The computers cache held plenty of data.

consummation - the point at which something is complete or finalized
The consummation of a marriage is when the bride and groom kiss.

calamity - an event causing great and often sudden damage or distress; a disaster
The fire was the latest calamity to strike the area.

avarice - extreme greed for wealth or material gain
Walter White was motivated by pride and avarice to continue cooking methamphetamine.

fortify - strengthen (a place) with a defensive works so as to protect against attack
The fortress was fortified and was virtually invincible to ground attacks.

erratic - not even or regular in pattern or movement; unpredictable
Her breathing was erratic and caused the teacher to worry about her well being.

ubiquitous - present, appearing, or found everywhere
John's ubiquitous influence was felt by the whole church group.

fortitude - courage in pain or adversity
The wounded soldier endured the rest of combat with great and honorable fortitude.

nonchalant - feeling or appearing casually calm and relaxed; not displaying anxiety, interest, or enthusiasm
The cat nonchalantly walked over to the freshly poured cat food trying to not look eager.

affect - have an effect on; make a difference to
The government shutting down will affect Americans in a number of ways.

effect - a change that is a result or consequence of an action or other cause
The lethal effects of hard drugs are life threatening.

misappropriate - dishonestly or unfairly take for one's own use
Misappropriate assets and commit fraud, some people are able to excuse their actions, thereby relieving any sense of guilt.

pragmatic - dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations
Hopefully the next president of the United States will take a pragmatic approach.

metacognition - awareness and understanding of one's own thought processes
The study of metacognition would be very interesting to learn about in that you can dive into someone's thoughts and way of thinking.

devoutly - in a devout and pious manner
Sarah was a devout catholic and confessed her sins every week.

To Be or Not To Be

To act, or not to act, that is the question
He does not know if it is better to suffer because of the situation he is in
And suffer from the bad luck
Or to fight back and eliminate the opposing force in his way
And to finish them by rebelling and fighting back
To die, to sleep
To die and put an end to the mental difficulties and decisions
That we are subject to
To die, to sleep
Maybe even to dream and to create my own world, but there is the catch

The rest confuses me so when I figure it out I will come back and edit this post