Archive for September, 2011


The illusory cage confines us with our immediate world in which we live and work, making it difficult to see beyond. We become content with living vicariously through fiction books and movies to provide us with temporary escapes outside that cage. Every now and then we hear about someone tempting their inevitable fate, by making the decision to venture outside their boundary. Peter Joel Garner from Leeds, England is such a person.

A multi-talented hobbiest, Peter Garner is an accomplished lyrical writer and performer, excelling in both bass guitar and singing. As an artisan in woodworking, Peter has designed and constructed writing pens and various musical instruments such as guitars and flutes. A modest savant, Peter eclipses the average photographer with his beautiful landscape photos. Although these things are enough to keep even the most forsaken of people busy, Peter solemnly admits his number one true love is painting.

As a professional artist for more than thirty years, Peter has painted hundreds of original landscape and portrait paintings, sold at art galleries throughout England. Sensing an obstruction with creativity being inevitable, Peter set off to other countries in an attempt to find new inspiration for his art. Peter traveled to South Africa and different parts of European countries in search of the perfect venue. In 2008, Peter decided China would be his calling for his new found inspiration. Instantly falling in love with China’s people, culture and traditions, Peter felt that China provided him with the most beautiful, diverse, and thought provoking landscapes found anywhere in the world.

With the intent of finding out what art collectors most desired in their paintings, Peter traveled around China for three years taking pictures of the mystical beauty of China’s back country: gathering information to educate himself with the many art styles of contemporary and historical Chinese painters. To sustain his lifestyle, he picked up ESL teaching jobs along the way.

After completing his mission, Peter landed a position as an art teacher in one of the most prestigious art schools in south China. This allowed Peter to concentrate on applying the artistic concepts he learned while traveling. As monotonous and mundane as teaching basic art was, it provided Peter a step closer towards his ultimate goal of independence as an artist.

Despite the sterile classroom atmosphere, Peter’s teaching and art talent has quickly gained notoriety with enthusiasts within the community: providing him with numerous connections, and an offer for a private art exhibition in the coming year. Modestly astounded by this new goal, Peter must prepare an inventory of paintings to show the public. Peter has made plans to move into an apartment community: accepting only resident artists.

Gradually distancing himself from the classroom, and spending more time in his studio, Peter appreciates the opportunities teaching has provided. He will continue to teach students, and hopes that one day his students will take the plunge outside their proverbial cage, and journey after their goals and desires.

Leaving his home in England on a quest to find new inspiration elsewhere in the world, was a huge step outside of Peter’s comfort zone. With a firm belief in himself, his ambition and fortitude, Peter did not view his decision as a risk, but rather a positive adventure in education. Stepping beyond the boundary and into the unknown, is a journey towards achieving your dreams and desires. Peter’s piercing green eyes and erect solemn stature, denote features of determination and ambition, a necessary mixture of ingredients for success.

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Teachers and parents joined together to express concerns over existing format of public English Corners at a recent City Board meeting in Qujing, Yunnan Province. Proponents argued that a division of spoken abilities amongst Chinese English learners is necessary to improve their spoken English skills.

Education is top priority in China. English Corners are conducted to practice conversational skills and fundamentals while having fun in the process. The Board accepted a barrage of questions and complaints from parents, stating that the English Corner is defeating its purpose as an educational tool for their children. As one parent stated, “Those who already know English keep getting better, while those who want to learn English, are losing confidence and becoming discouraged.”

Ann Freeman, a Qujing Normal University foreign teacher, and leader of the English Corner committee explained to the Board, “Attendees with lower understanding of English just stand around for two hours, rotating from group to group in hopes of being able to understand someone.” Freeman went on to express, “It’s not fair that the City conduct English Corners specifically for targeted groups…, we need more teachers so all can benefit equally.

Empathetic to Ms. Freeman’s statement, the Board defended their ground by agreeing that resources were not available at this time. One official stated, “…besides, you’re lucky to even have a public English Corner in the first place.”

The statement drew heated discussion with proponents reminding them that public English Corners were held on a voluntary basis by foreign English teachers at the request of the City to help students and others throughout the community.

Teachers argued that most foreign teachers have no desire to attend teaching functions during their free time. It was suggested the City consider providing teachers with a minimal compensation, in order to lure teachers to participate. More foreign teachers would enable more groups, resulting in the creation of more levels of English abilities. Parent’s voiced their opinions by expressing their desire to help subsidize teachers compensation if the City would pick up most of the tab.

English Corners are held at the same location in limited group formats with no direction guided for individual spoken abilities. Chinese attendees exceeds foreign teacher attendance every week, making it difficult for those of lower abilities to participate in conversations. The few who are higher ability of English, control the direction and conversation of each group.

Currently, English Corners are approved by the City of Qujing, allowing informal gatherings within a specific location at Qilin Park, every Saturday evening. English Corner has grown to over sixty attendees, most of which are students from local surrounding schools. Public transportation is relied upon by many who do not have the advantage of living nearby. As one attendee pointed out, “It’s a shame we have to travel thirty minutes to be confused.”

The next committee meeting held on September 2nd should prove to be standing room only with temperatures rising. All are welcomed to attend and express their opinions.

“Spam”

Classified as a romantic comedy, Spam exhibits a mixture of genres, including: action, adventure, suspense, and drama. This is a story about a straight-edged teenager who has dedicated his young life in getting into Yale University, but when his parents leave on vacation, his plans are turned upside down when he clicks a pop-up advertisement while searching an internet dating site.

Subplots are woven one on top of the other until the final resolution when they cleverly intersect. The opening image portrays Kyle Miller, the main character, in his normal world of high school life, a character that an audience would be immediately be drawn to, and most students would be able to relate with. Kyle maintains a secret crush on the most popular girl in school, Jennifer Adams, who happens to be together with the most popular guy in school, Randy Jameson, the antagonist. Randy’s habit of humiliating Kyle creates an immediate empathy for the main character.

Kyle reluctantly allows the beautiful pop-up girl, Raluca, to stay the weekend with him, but only in an attempt to create jealousy in Jennifer. A series of twists and turns take place, and with the help of Randy’s obvious crush on Kyle’s new found “girlfriend,” Kyle advances closer to his objective of winning Jennifer’s heart.

The story would have propelled without flaw, if it wasn’t for Kyle’s best friend and sidekick, Chunta. I can only estimate the reason for such an odd name, was for the purpose of Randy to refer to him by name without enunciating the “h.” Chunta’s character is sexually shallow and obscenely rude, with the sole objective of explaining his explicit sexual needs. This character was not realistic as being a bestfriend to a character such as Kyle’s.

Kyle’s invitation to Randy’s annual water sport competition is valid on the condition that Raluca accompany Kyle. Randy’s flirtatious exploits towards Raluca helps tear Jennifer away from Randy, bringing Jennifer closer to Kyle. The action scenes of the water competitions were chronologically followed, and were vividly detailed, creating a clear image to the reader.

The ending seemed rushed. It provided a twist but one that was easily predictable. Raluca turns out to be more than Kyle expected… in more ways than one. Kyle’s desire to be admitted into Yale University comes to a head which turns out to be more of a cliche’ ending similar to the popular movie, “21.”

This screenplay is tightly written, enabling the readers imagination to fill in details. It provides scenes of action and intrigue, which lent itself to a high concept, low budget film, but lacked the originality needed for Hollywood standards. If you have a short time to kill, and would like a combination of action, adventure and sexually explicit language, then this script is a good investment of time, taking just long enough to complete a load of laundry.

Spam is plainly geared for school aged children, but with the abundance of sexual content, the rating requirements prevent that age group from viewing it. I personally do not see a Producer accepting this story.