Weekly Summary, Western Readings and Shapes of Stories

I started off this week by reading a few popular songs from Western times. My favorite was “The Drinking Song”, basically just a couple lines about drinking in old Western times and the glee you get from being drunk at this point in time. My favorite line was “Whoop-ee! drink that rot gut, drink that red nose”, because it referenced “rot gut” and “red nose” which means “poor quality liquor” and “the color your nose gets when you’re too intoxicated”. I liked those words, they’re funny and I think it would be interesting to use them in our modern society.

I then read a Western legend called, “Gillette Treasure Trove”. The legend states that a man named Henry Seymour robbed their local Wells Fargo stage coach and stole $69,000. He was eventually caught and sent to prison, and never revealed where he put his money or what he did with it. After he was released from prison, he supposedly vanished, probably in attempt to find his hidden treasure. This treasure tale was especially interesting to me because he made so much money just by stealing and he was actually released from his cell before he died. He was most likely able to recover his money, which is amazing and lucky in my point of view. That’s really a Western legend that all bandits of that time wish they could’ve been a part of.

I looked up some Western Insults, and found a few that stood out to me. “He was mean enough to hunt bears with a hickory switch”, “His family tree was a shrub”, “Her face looks like a dime’s worth of dog meat”. Those were all very funny to me, but I especially liked “his family tree was a shrub”, because it’s short, funny and witty. I think I might start using that!

I then listened to a Gunsmoke episode called “Scared Boy”. Gunsmoke was a radio show that had a few seasons and a fair audience. The episode starts off with a woman and her son inside their house, eating supper. All of a sudden, a man starts banging on the door begging to come inside, but when they let him in he is shot by another man. The strange man enters the mother and sons home and threatens the little boys life if they don’t keep their mouth shut about the murder.   We cut to a new scene, where Chester convinces Doc to give him some money to plant seeds in his garden, and the scene cuts to Chester and Matt who meet Ms. Meadows and her kid. Matt is a marshall, and the women confesses his young son went after the murderer who came to their home yesterday. Matt and Chester go to her home and find the body, deciding to properly bury it. We cut to a scene where Matt finds the little boy, Tad with Doc who found him beaten badly on the side of the road. Matt tries to interrogate Tad, but he won’t talk, so Matt drops him off at his friend Kitty’s house so she can look after him for a while. Matt visits Tad’s mother and convinces her to let him stay in town for a few days so they can find the murderer and bring him to justice. The murderer shows up to the scene, and Matt confronts him about the beating he gave to Tad and the man he murdered. Suddenly theres a gunshot, and Matt shoots the murderer before he gets violent. Matt takes Tad home, and they live happily ever after.

I then watched the John Fords movie called the Searchers, on Youtube. This is a movie with heavy racism, as the main character named Ethan Edwards is on a perilous mission to track down and kill his niece named Debbie who was captured by Indians… just because she’s been raised and around Indians for a long time. Edwards takes a man who he once saved from Indians named Martin on his trail to track down the girl, however, Martin is actually 1/8th Indian so Ethan is cautious and doesn’t necessarily trust or even really like Martin. The whole plot is these two men traveling to find this girl, while Martin argues for her to live and Ethan wants to kill her just for being around Indians, while she even has no Indian blood in her. Eventually at the end, Ethan finds Debbie and doesn’t kill her, but instead takes her in his arms and says the supposedly famous quote, “lets go home, Debbie”. While all of this goes on, there is some pitiful comic relief dealing with Martins fiancee who I suspect he doesn’t even truly like. This movie was basically a bunch of racism that was supposed to be justified in the end with one simple line.

There are patterns in both of these segments. Both of these works use dramatic sound affects often, Western slang, and have a static-like audio quality that reminds you how old these recordings/movies truly are. They also have strong dialect, and say words like “dun” and cut off syllables of basic words and also add “a” to the end of their words, which makes their language sound more “Western”. The strong, male traveler/hero is brought out in both of these segments as Matt in Gunsmoke and Ethan in The Searchers. Both of these men may be different, but they’re portrayed as the stereotypical strong, righteous, and courageous heroic protagonist. Also, both of these protagonists are on a quest throughout the wild, wild west to reach their goal of bringing someone to justice. As for the writing of these stories, I believe both are strong and would appeal to a large audience, as I can already tell the trope of the “Heroic Western Man” stereotype is a beloved character that fits into many Western themed movies, stories and radio shows.


I then watched Kurt Vonnegut on the Shape of Stories. I thought he did a great job in humor and leading the video, and I also thought his “Shape of Stories” method was brilliant and brought light to the two stories I just mentioned, “Scared Boy” from Gunsmoke and The Searchers. Both had the “man in hole” curve, which is basically where somebody gets into trouble and gets out. Tad in Gunsmoke ran into trouble with the murderer who beat him up, but he escaped due to Matt, and Debbie in The Searchers was originally free from the Native Americans capture, until being set free at the end by Ethan. Also, the “boy gets girl” curve, which is where someone finds something or feels something wonderful, loses that and gets it back again. This applied to Ethan in The Searchers where he has his niece Debbie in his family, loses her to the Indians, then finds her again. The last curve, basically a cinderella story plot line, doesn’t apply to either of these stories in my opinion.


I created a character, here: http://sarasciulla.com/assignments/design/my-character/ . I really enjoyed researching the Apache Native American tribe, and developing my character Jacali based on the Western idea of a “Indian Maiden” mixed with real facts of the Native American life. This took me about half an hour to decide and fabricate my new character.

I chose the writing assignment called, “A Letter to You as a Child”, linked here: http://sarasciulla.com/ds106/dear-past-self/ . I chose this because I have vivid memories of anxiety as a pre-teen going into middle school, which is what I wrote to myself about. This took me about 15 minutes to relate back to my past self and give some thoughtful advice in the form of a letter from my current self.

I then chose the assignment, “Write a Movie Review” which was worth 3 1/2 stars, linked here: http://sarasciulla.com/assignments/write-a-movie-review/ . I chose this because I appreciate and enjoy movies, especially my favorite series of all time, Harry Potter. Coincidentally, I had watched the movie I reviewed, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone” just the day before I wrote this review. I liked writing this because I’m passionate about the subject and believe I can give an in depth analysis and review of the story. All in all, it took me about half an hour to make.

For my last writing assignment, I picked “Haiku About You” which was wort 2 1/2 stars, linked here: http://sarasciulla.com/assignments/saras-haiku/ . This assignment was fun because I love poetry and made a short and fun haiku. This took me about 5 minutes to make sure all the syllables added up :) .

For my daily creates, I chose to make a cattle brand, a Western reflection, and a picture of a historic spot in my hometown of Vienna, VA; all are linked here: http://sarasciulla.com/ds106/cattle-brand-western-scene-historic-library/ . I chose the cattle brand to represent my initials. I liked this idea, it took me about ten minutes to make it up and draw it out. Maybe I’ll get it tattooed one day, like a cattle brand! I also chose to put my Western Reflection on my phone, which is just a picture of the open west set as my lock screen. I liked this assignment because now whenever I look at my phone, I’m reminded of all the things the West has to offer. Lastly, I chose a picture of the historic library in my hometown of Vienna, VA. Although there are a lot of historic sites in my hometown, I chose the library because I remember as a child always thinking of how cute the building was because it’s so small.

I organized a bunch of categories for my wordpress site, which was basically creating all the categories that were suggested on the Week 3 assignment page. I created all of these to be under my Digital Storytelling menu. I thought this was a good way to keep our posts organized and tagged so that they all have a home and are easily accessible.

This week, I thoroughly enjoyed all the assignments, from the writing assignments where I had a chance to show my creative side, to the movies and radio show I was able to listen to and appreciate. I can’t wait to learn more in the upcoming weeks!

Write a Movie Review

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone worth the credit of 3 1/2 stars.

This is one of the best movies of all time. This is the movie that started it all; the entire Harry Potter film series was launched due to the sheer success of the first movie, Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone.

The movie begins by introducing you to a baby Harry Potter, who is being dropped off at his aunt and uncles house by Albus Dumbledore (headmaster of Hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizardry), Rubius Hagrid, and Professor McGonagall. There is a teary goodbye, but Dumbledore reassures everyone they will see Harry again soon.



Flash forward to when Harry is now eleven, living with his monstrous aunt and uncle and terrible cousin named Dudley. Harry finally receives a letter from Hagrid congratulating him on his acceptance to Hogwarts after the extreme lengths his uncle attempted to prevent him from receiving his letter. Hagrid whisks Harry away, and shows him the life he is supposed to lead as the famous “Boy who Lived” in their magical realm.

Harry becomes best friends with Ron Weasely, and Hermione Granger and all three are placed into the Gryffindor house. The three learn of Voldemort, who is after Harry to try and finish killing him. The three best friends devise a plan to locate the sorcerers stone, which they believe Voldemort and their Potions professor, Snape, are after.


While watching Harry join the Quidditch team, enjoy his first Christmas with presents for him, fight off a troll on Halloween, and make friends we learn of his plan to sneak up onto the third floor of Hogwarts and locate the almighty sorcerers stone, which will give whoever possesses it immortality. Harry and the gang neak into the trap door that lies under the three-headed dog named Fluffy, escape some dreaded tangling vegetation, find the big key in a flock of flying keys, and play a game of Wizards chess where the friends take on the actual roles of pawns and kings. Harry finally makes it to the end where we see Professor Quirrell, who is also Lord Voldemort.


Harry kills him with just his hands, melting off his face due to the “true love” that lies under his skin, and somehow also makes out with the Sorcerers stone.

This movie is amazing and capturing, it makes you feel for the characters and makes you root for them in all of the movies to come.

10/10 recommend.





Dear Past Self

For the first assignment, I chose “A Letter to Yourself as a Child”.

Dear younger self,

You are 12 years old and you are about to start your first year of middle school, congrats! I know you’re scared and anxious to begin a new life at a new school, but things will be fine. Although you’re scared to make some new friends since most of your friends from elementary school went to a different middle school, you will eventually make friends through some trial and error.

A few words of advice I have are, don’t be too stressed and just be yourself! You end up making a lot of friends this way, so theres no need to try and be something you’re not. Don’t judge a book by its cover, and appreciate the easy work middle school has to offer! I know at age 12, the workload of a middle schooler can seem rough, but when you enter high school and then college you will learn to appreciate how easy you had it back in middle school.

Keep your head up, everything will be alright :)

Future Sara

My Character

Out of all the Western characters, I chose the Indian Maiden as the one I wanted to focus on.

Her name is Jacali, and she is a Native American from the Western Apache tribe. Her tribe resides in Arizona, and speaks the native Apache language but she can speak and understand a little English. Jacali cooks and takes care of her two children she has with her husband, Elan. She gets her ingredients for her cooking by gathering seeds, nuts and fruit while her husband hunted animals like buffalo and deer.

She is the daughter of her father Tarak, who is also the Chief of their Apache tribe. Although she is married to her wealthy husband, Elan, she does not love him because he is not kind to her. She is falling in love with a white man named John Smith, who would do anything for Jacali and hopes to win her love and eventually join her tribe.

I did some research on Western Apache names, and chose her name from the website here, http://www.warpaths2peacepipes.com/native-american-indian-names/apache-names.htm . I also looked up a little bit about Apache culture, from this website http://www.bigorrin.org/apache_kids.htm .