Entries from November 2014 ↓

Non-Fiction Text Review – Rivethead: Tales from the Assembly Line

“Riveting!” is a lame pun in which I am not going to use to describe Ben Hamper’s Rivethead: Tales from the Assembly Line.

Objectively, I will say that this is a well composed book. Rivethead follows the memoirs of Bernard “Ben” Hamper and his experiences with the assembly line for GM Motors. Many men in Hamper’s recent ancestry have worked in the assembly line, including his own father. From the very beginning, though, Hamper wanted nothing to do with this sort of career. Though it was one of the few jobs offered in Flint, Michigan, Hamper dreaded the thought of having to endure the dull repetition of the assembly line and dreamed escaping the drollness of being a Rivethead.

Despite his best efforts, Hamper was an underachiever throughout high school. He graduated barely in time to marry his pregnant girlfriend. With not much of a choice, Hamper follows in the footsteps of his father and many other men in his family, and joins the assembly line. Not only does Hamper work in the same place that his father did, he develops some of the same habits as well, namely alcoholism and slacking off at work.

Though, Hamper seemed to have been able to avoid completely following in the path that seemed to be set before him. His writings appear to have worked more than just therapeutically for him, as he did not remain in the assembly line forever. His writings and musings about the people and events that he encountered drew the attention of certain people at the Flint Voice, the local newspaper for the Michigan town. I won’t reveal the rest of the story in the book, as it is up for the readers to find out on their own.

Synopsis aside, Rivethead: Tales from the Assembly Line gives vivid detail to an otherwise boring and menial lifestyle. The voice that is written in the narration gives implication to a proper education, but at the same time, a sort of apathy toward achievement. At times, the narration will intentionally forego grammatical syntax and capitalization to give a better image of what sort of lifestyle there is to experience on the assembly line as well as the emotions that well up within Hamper in this story. The story itself is considerably compelling as a man works his way to break free from the rut that his family had been caught in since the invention of the automobile.

Speaking subjectively, the book was decent, but not phenomenal. I don’t intend to downplay the real life accounts of Ben Hamper, but autobiographies of strangers do not entice me. Hamper’s own story was complex in it of itself, and worked well enough to keep me attentive here and there, but I struggle to pay attention at all for any realistic prose (fiction or non-fiction) unless the story was exceptionally unusual. With that being said, Rivethead was successful in not repulsing me.

All in all, I would say that Rivethead: Tales from the Assembly Line is a very well written book. Despite my aversion to books of that type, it was slightly better than bearable. My opinion is not vitally important to the quality of this book, but it does display how well Rivethead is put together. I would highly suggest this book for people who enjoy autobiographies (and do not don’t mind profanity). I would moderately suggest this for a person who hates autobiographies but has to read one for a class. In total, I give Ben Hamper’s Rivethead: Tales from the Assembly Line 3.5 out of 4 stars for its ability to reach out to a demographic that wouldn’t normally be interested in this type.

Art Review – Cast Pearls

Out of all of the pieces in the art gallery, I felt the strongest connection with Jodi Whitlock’s Cast Pearls series of mixed media art. That’s not to say I have any sort of opinion toward it, but I felt the strongest need to write about it.


The first thing to notice about this piece is the unconventional form of the subjects. Upon closer inspection, onecan see that there are absolutely no pen lifts in any of the pieces. Each black line runs uninterrupted (aside from crossing over itself) in each of the drawings, giving an unusual appearance of shape to it. The lines are somewhat crooked (Professor John Kolbo may have mentioned something about the artist drawing the lines blindfolded), but it can be seen that this was an intentionally placed flaw. If I was informed correctly, the colors were done after the lines, added in through watercolor.

The clever part of the lines, though, is that they help affect the value of the pieces without tampering with the colors. For areas that need darker shading, the line backs up on itself to give the illusion of shadow. This technique is not extensively taken advantage of, but there is not much necessity for it, as the flow of the lines do not necessitate third dimensional aspects to be applied to the shapes.

In addition to unconventional line/shape, colors are another atypical aspect of this set.While surrealistic colors are not entirely unheard of, when painting portraits for display, one would typically pick typical colors that emulate real life. While this is somewhat present on the two largest portions of the set, this only for the skin portions, leaving the rest of the pieces white, subtracting from the realism of the color. The four center pieces are splashed with faded, yet complementary colors to help separate the differing elements.

The most subtle aspect of this display might be the most powerful part. The juxtaposition of the six pieces help draw attention to the different sides. Ones eye has a definite path that it’s allowed to tread when viewing Cast Pearls. The distinction between the rather plain and larger outside pieces only exemplify the four smaller, more colorful pieces on the inside. While one may hold either a positive or negative opinion toward this series of mixed media art, one thing is for certain, this work demands attention, and it succeeds at that.


Happy/Angry Editorial

It took me a while to figure out what exactly gets me happy or angry. I’m a hard to excite person, so coming up with a certain topic was difficult. After much thinking, I finally settled on something I could actually work with.

I am severely annoyed by the sense of entitlement that much of the general population here in the United States (and sometimes the rest of the world) have. I mean, yes, I understand that most people think that they are generally good, and because of that, they deserve good stuff. That’s an easy assumption to make when you’re not out murdering and stealing, but that’s a poor way to go about it. Sure, you may find yourself feeling better when comparing yourself as better than others in regards to being good and deserving a reward, but in reality, it does nothing to benefit you.

There’s a lot of mediocrity out there coming from people, but for some reason, they believe that they deserve to have better than mediocrity come back to them. If you think about it, most people don’t normally do enough “good” to be considered a good person. It seems that a lot of people associate not doing bad things with being a good person.

Now, I don’t want to sound cynical in saying that we deserve nothing. Believe me, it’s not what it seems. I just believe that when you take a lot of the entitlement out of your own life, that you start to have a greater appreciation for things that come to you. You expect the bad, and are surprised by the good, making both a much better experience.

But at the same time, it also makes a bunch of people an extensive amount more rude than necessary. Having worked in customer service, I found myself disgusted at the amount of people who simply would not accept something if it were not the way they wanted it, as I’m sure many other people in that position have done as well. This sense of “I deserve better” without proper justification is poisonous to our society.

Now I can understand if a person wants respect or at least the truth, I have no problem with that. But if someone feels that it’s their God-given right to drive like an A-hole simply because they’ve been having a bad day. And I’m guilty of this too, which annoys me even more. I would like to be able to resist this seemingly natural sense of entitlement, but every so often, when willpower is lacking, it creeps up and tries to take over.

The worst example of entitlement that really sets me off is the fact that it exemplifies itself when in positions of power. Uncle Ben said it best, “with great power, comes great responsibility,” but people seem to not care about that line (yes, it’s from a comic book, but it’s still applicable to real life). Just because you have greater control of things doesn’t mean that you should use it for solely your own benefit. I’m looking at you, congress; stop raising your own income, it’s not going to lead this country anywhere, if anything, it will only worsen the debt with all the money being wasted on attempts to take control of the country. Just because you make the laws doesn’t mean that you deserve to increase your pay.

Now I don’t know a whole lot about politics, but I feel that increase in pay for congress takes away a lot of money that could be well spent toward better things, such as the economy or healthcare. Likewise, we ourselves could be the same way, but it’s just not as simple for us, being that we do not have an excess of money. More or less, I believe that those with more than they need should give to those who have more needs, for the most part, to help them get on their feet. I could go into a whole different discussion about that, but I’m getting off topic.

My point is, while it is important for us to look out for our own interests, we now live in a society that doesn’t tailor to individualism and personal need so much as the need of the whole. It annoys me that people (myself included) think that they deserve to have something when in reality, we deserve the bare minimum (even less, if you go by Christian Theology). But the thing is, we don’t get what we deserve, we get much more, and that’s something more of us (again, myself included) need to be more thankful for.

Remember, there’s a reason why this blog is called Ramblings.

Article #3 (Profile) – Big Man on Campus

Two men stroll up Dimmitt hill toward Olsen Student Center, one is tall and Caucasian, with a none-too-recognizable face, the other is African with an all-too-recognizable personality.

“Hey, Paul Johnson!” say a couple of girls as they cross paths with the two. The Caucasian man grimaces in embarrassment as he doesn’t know who the two girls are. The African man turns around to speak to the girl.

“Hey Kaylee, hey Sarah, how’s it going,” he replies. He seems to know these two very well.”We missed you at the MAC event last night,” the girl on the right playfully pouts.

“Hey, I had a lot of homework to do,” Johnson defends himself with a smile.

“Suuuure,” the other girl giggles as she walks away with her friend.

The Caucasian man lifts up his head, “How do you know those two, Paul?”

Before he can answer back, the two are greeted by another person who seems to be good friends with Paul…

This is a daily struggle for anyone who may walk to lunch with Paul Johnson: Big Man on Campus. Very rarely will one find a person on Morningside Campus that does not know the name Paul Johnson. Same goes for the face, the smile, and the laugh, and the personality that go with this character.

His large and attractive personality somewhat contrasts his considerably average-sized and almost standard appearance. At 5’10” with dark skin, dark hair, and dark eyes, one cannot immediately see why so many people are drawn to this figure. Hailing from Nigeria, Johnson is partially known for being the “only Nigerian that [anybody has] ever met,” according to Joshua Doering, the tall man that was walking to lunch with Johnson.

The main reason, though, that Johnson knows so many people in the Morningside College student body is the fact that he holds such a large interest for people. “I’m really interested in people. I like to know more about them… Whenever I meet someone new, I want know where they’re from, what they do, why they believe what they believe…” Johnson explains, “I love diversity.” This love of diversity is why Johnson was quick to make friends his first year at Morningside. “When I first came here, everyone was sort of shy and didn’t really want to talk to new people, but Paul just came right up and talked to me,” Recounts Jackson O’Brien on his first encounter with Johnson.

Johnson is considered unique among the many people on Morningside Campus, which is sometimes attributed to his Nigerian origins, but he himself says that he is different from other Nigerians. “In Nigeria, if there is a person that is older than you and they do something that you know is wrong and you call them out on it… That’s viewed as really disrespectful…” Johnson goes on to explain how that’s something he did a lot back in Nigeria and that was something that would get him in trouble on multiple occasions. “But I feel that here, in America, people are more accepting of that.”

Standing out was not the only struggle that Johnson went through while living in Nigeria, “We were poor, even for a Nigerian family.” Johnson’s father did not have a well-paying job when his family was young. They were so poor that they could not afford to put Johnson through school. As time went on, though, Johnson’s father received a better job in a larger city for him and his family to live in. He began to attend school and even found an opportunity to study in the United States. There, Johnson found a place where he fit in. Well, at least, somewhat better than he did before, “I really like here in America. I mean, I miss my family and friends back in Nigeria, but I feel more at home here.”


One can see evidence of this by simply spending time on the floor where Paul is an RA. Almost every night, there are a number of people hanging out in his room, taking advantage of the “Open door Paulicy” sign on his door frame. Dozens of people come in and out of Johnson’s room in a day, be that to say ‘hi’, socialize, or possibly even meet new people. “I’ve met tons of new people through Paul,” says Doering.

If it isn’t evident already, Johnson has many connections on campus. This has helped him attain certain positions on Morningside’s student government. “Paul’s actually been with me in student government for all three years we’ve been here,” tells O’Brien, “We were both senators our first year hear, the next year, he was Secretary and I was Student Advocate, now I’m President and he’s Student Advocate.”

Even Johnson himself admits to growth while here at the college, “I’m always growing, I’m always trying to be a better person and help make the world a better place.” With that attitude, along with a multitude of friends gained from involvement in various activities, Paul Johnson has truly earned himself the title of Big Man on Campus”. Steve Maraboli once said, “… I would rather have four quarters than 100 pennies,” referring to the number and quality of friends. For Paul Johnson, though, if friends were to be equated to currency, he would be a rich, rich man.