Tuesday, December 18, 2007

wisconsinology

So the colors on our blog have changed. I wonder if that's a kind of a stop-posting-because-it-won't-count-for-credit cue? Either way, I think I'm a blog or two short of the requirement, and it would be pretty cool if enough people posted to get the post total up to 500. I get really excited about round numbers like that.

Anyhow, I figured for my last blog entry I would write about another blog I've started reading this semester. It's Wisconsinology, also hosted on bloggerdotcom.

Each day the writer updates with some sort of factoid about Wisconsin natives or events that occurred here. Some are pretty fascinating -- the man who invented the first self contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA) hails from Milwaukee and tested it in chilly Lake Michigan during the winter of 1937. Some are mildly interesting -- frozen yogurt was first created in Babcock Hall at UW-Madison in the 1920's. Some are admittedly boring, a quote from yesterday's update reads, "Wisconsin is the number one cranberry producing state in America. Yawn.
Dr. Mike gave me this one. I know...he's an idiot.
"

It's a relatively new blog, began in October this year, but so far the updates are generally interesting and concise. The writing style is almost conversational, which makes it more fun to read. Worth checking out.

Happy end-of-the-semester, everybody. :]

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

W0rd Of The Year

I read on Yahoo News today that Merriam-Webster has announced it's word of the year for 2007... "w00t."

"W00t," which is a way of expressing excitement or happiness, was first used by online gamers, but eventually caught on with non-gamers, too.

I found it a little weird that a word that isn't even a real word was chosen as "word of the year"... especially because it's made of letters AND numbers... But I suppose it makes sense that this "word" would win the title of word of the year, because it reflects how language has started to evolve thanks to new technologies, especially the internet.

The article wasn't clear as to whether or not "w00t" is actually being added to the dictionary, so I did a search for it on dictionary.com. It appears as though it's not in the dictionary (yet?), but there was a link provided to acronym.com, where regular people can post definitions for it.

But I kind of hope "w00t" doesn't go any further than the internet... to me it would be worse than when people say "brb" or "jk" in real-life conversation.

Simba and Soulja Boy...

So I have been doing some research on the Walt Disney Company and freedom of expression within the company. While roaming around on Google, I came across this hilarious Disney mashup YouTube video...it is a bunch of scenes from the Lion King set to the song "Soulja Boy." I starting watching it while I was in the library and had a difficult time not laughing out loud at the ridiculousness of this video. The clips from the movie match up fairly well to the song's lyrics which makes it even more humorous because it actually looks as if Simba is rapping. And at times he just has that cocky look on his face like he knows he's the shit or something. When we talked about mashups and fan videos in class, I had kind of assumed that fans created videos for shows/movies with real people in it; not animated ones. But whatever floats your boat. Click below to enjoy the perfect 3 minute distraction from studying for exams.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

World of Warcraft - Celebrity Advertisements

Hey all. I meant to put this up quite a while ago, but I totally forgot these advertisements. Anyways, the commercials that I am going to show you are those regarding A-Team celebrity, Mr. T and martial arts expert, Jean-Claude Van Damme. With a user base of over 9 million subscribers and a monthly fee of $15, "World of Warcraft" is the most popular MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) on the planet. Developer "Blizzard Entertainment" started showing these advertisements online about five to eight weeks ago, and the responses have been quite exceptional. But, really, do these celebrities play World of Warcraft? Does Mr. T really have the time to be a "Night Elf Mohawk?" I have absolutely no clue. All I can say is that these advertisements are quite interesting because they utilize celebrities that either haven't gotten a lot of press, or that we just haven't heard from in a LONG time. When is the last time that any of you guys have heard from Jean-Claude Van Damme? I didn't even know where he was! These advertisements appeal to an audience that either left and they want to come back to WoW or those who have never heard of the game and possibly want to give it a try (provided they have a good enough computer to run it.) Anyways, enough of my talk. On with the advertisements! Oh, and for the record, are these advertisements enticing me to come back to WoW? Technically...no.

(Note: Le pub avec Jean-Claude Van Damme est en francais!!)



I was watching Sex and the City a couple of nights ago when I thought something amazing was going to happen. I thought that the show was going to actually show intimacy between two male characters. One of the homosexual male characters was going to a ball at a club that he belonged to. He was excited because he finally had a boyfriend to take. However, they got into a fight a few days before the dance so the gay character ended up taking Carrie to the dance instead. This once again imprints the ideal of the heterosexual relationship in the mass media. As I'm thinking this the guys boyfriend taps him on the shoulder and asks if he can cut in. So, the guys dance, but they dance the same way that the one guy danced with Carrie, his friend. They do not move closer to each other than Carrie and the one guy, Stanford, had been. Perhaps the scene had originally been more intimate. After all, the show was on HBO. Perhaps the content of the show had been 'cleaned up' for TBS.

Monday, December 10, 2007

YouTube Music

With all the exams coming up, i've been finding myself spending a lot of time on my laptop, using spare moments to catch up on school whereever I am, be it the library or while I do my laundry. I keep a decent library of music on my desktop, but my laptop has mybe two cd's that I've uploaded.
I started going on YouTube looking for music to pass the time while I work. I discovered that the collection of music on there is vast. You can just keep clicking related videos and keep getting more and more from the same artists. It's a crapshoot when you click on a related video and you get a cover. Most covers are pretty bad and I find myself going back to the version done by the original artist just to remind myself that it's not a bad song.
Anyways, to make this post more interesting, here's a big white guy singing Hey Ya!

One Tree Hill, Season One

This weekend I watched the first season of One Tree Hill in part because I wrote my paper on the pilot episode. It was really interesting to watch the beginning of the series again and see how they took certain aspects of the show that were successful and exaggerated on them later in order to increase viewership. For example, they took the evil character Dan, and made him more and more of a jerk as the series went on, eventually turning him into a murderer, whereas in the first season he is mainly just a crappy Dad with an attitude problem. The show also increased the relationship drama between all the characters. And, of course, in true "Dawson and Joey" fashion they made sure that Peyton and Lucas didn't get together until the end of this last season. The CW website has some links up right now that show previews of this year's new season which I believe begins January 8th. It looks like they are skipping through college and starting up again after the kids graduate. Hopefully this will work better than college worked for Dawson's Creek.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

What an Idiot!

MySpace is a funny thing. I was on the other day and saw a bulletin that read, "OCHS alumni: Mr. Buss is famous!" Well, I went to Oak Creek High School and I remembered having this teacher for chemistry so of course I clicked on the link to read it. Here's what happened: Mr. Buss began blogging under the name the "Observer" on a website about a debate over teacher's salaries stating that the West Bend teacher salaries made him sick and that the Columbine High School shooters were heroes. He said in a blog, "They knew how to deal with the overpaid teacher union thugs. One shot at a time! Too bad the liberals rip them; they were heroes and should be remembered that way." Mr. Buss was arrested after a West Bend teacher contacted School District administrators who then contacted West Bend police. The administrator of the conservative political website in which Mr. Buss posted comments said that the arrest was an overreacton because he is entitled to free speech and the comments were not direct threats to teachers. B.S. I say! Mr. Buss even said, "We've got to get in back of the kids who have had enough of lazy, no good teachers and are fighting back. Kids like Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold." He basically praised these 2 assholes who went on a shooting spree back in 1999. As it turns out, there was another article posted in the Journal Sentinel 3 days later that stated there would be no charges filed against Mr. Buss because of free speech protected under the U.S. Constitution but he is still on leave of absence from the school pending disciplinary action. Gee, I'm proud to have had him as a teacher...loser.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Pushing Daisies


Pushing Daisies is a new show on ABC. It’s a really unique and worth a chance. Even if you’ve missed the entire season, it’s an interesting to just watch - visually speaking. The style in which it’s shot is unlike any other show I’ve seen on TV. The colors are vivid, and the narration is so dominant. The show gives you a fantasy world feel similar to the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The story follows a young man who owns a pie shop. Aside from making pies, this man has the ability to bring back the dead just by touching them. Given this fairly morbid plot, it's interesting that the show still manages to have a colorful and light feel about it. Two of the characters are synchronized swimming performers who dress as mermaids; one with an eye patch that has an eye drawn on the front. Characters such as these allow Pushing Daisies to take black humor to a new level. You can watch full episodes of the show on ABC.com

Holiday Television

With the Holidays around the corner, television is accommodating the long-time tradition of Christmas specials. After Macy's Thanksgiving day parade, people flock toward their t.v. guides to distinguish when they're favorite Christmas movies will be on.

In my family, this is almost a religious practice. My Dad goes on the Internet and plans out when all the "good" movies will be on and what station. UsuallyABC delivers the greats.

Our choices include these classics:
  • 1946 It's a Wonderful Life
  • (TV) 1964 Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  • 1966 Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  • 1969 Frosty the Snowman
  • 1970 Santa Claus is Coming to Town
  • 1974 The Year Without a Santa Claus
These are just some of the Christmas Specials my family enjoys. What makes these so special to us is that they play a sort of tradition. My Dad was fascinated with these movies, because he passed on his movie love to me, I can't get enough either.

It's funny though... We do not own these on VHS or DVD. Sometimes I wouldn't mind watching them in the summer, but then I feel they would lose their Christmas luster.

With the popularity of DVD's growing more and more rapidly, it is not ridiculous to understand that these TV classics would soon dive into the majority mass media circuit, but I find it very refreshing to know that they still are played on television, obviously around the same time of year. Then again, I can only imagine what type of ratings these shows produce for their networks!

Are You Kidding??

This is really quite bizarre and disturbing.

My roomate loves to shop at Costco, which you need to be a member in order to shop there, and she rants and raves about it. I guess one has recently been built up in Grafton right off of 43, until my roomate had said something, I had no idea what this store was all about.

So I decided I would check out the website and look around. This is actually just a wholesale store like Wal-Mart or SAM's club...which I'm not a big fan of...but i'm poor and Wal-Mart's cheap. So when wandering around the site I noticed that on top where all the links are located, right next to the furniture link I saw funeral! Costco, besides gallon sized shampoo and cereal by the bulk, also sells caskets, urns, and keepsakes. Umm really?? I think that is very disturbing....I mean I think they sell enough products the way it is......do they really need to compete against funeral homes to sell caskets and such too?

How ridiculous!! I mean seriously!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Pandora

I am a music junkie. While I haven't gotten to the stage where I walk around listening to an iPod or MP3 player all the time (more due to Mean World Syndrome than anything else, since I do have an MP3), when I'm at home there is invariably music playing in the background of whatever I'm doing.

One of my favorite times to play my favorite music is while I'm working on homework. Like right now (Wanted- Holly Brook). Sometime last year, my little sister turned me on to Project Playlist, (projectplaylist.com), a sight where you can search for music, sample it, and then add it to a 75 track playlist and access it from any computer. Currently, I have about seven different playlists that I update according to my moods. I also checked out Last FM and tune in occasionally to friends' stations there.

However... recently I was at a friend's house and he showed me the next best thing, called Pandora. Users of Pandora sign up for a free account with an email address and password. Then you create your own "channels" by typing in a favorite artist or band name. The site then plays music that they've matched to your choice based on vocals, major/minor keys, and other identifiable musical techniques. I'm addicted. Currently my channel is stuck on "A Fine Frenzy," although I did go through a Counting Crows phase a few days ago. But in this homework-laden time (how are all your papers going?), if you're looking for a new way to create a little ambience, I definitely recommend checking out www.pandora.com!

Voice from the Underground

I don't think I agree with the conclusion of Duncombe's zine article. I might not even agree with the generalized description of zine writers and the culture in which they inhabit. I guess I live in the "underground" culture that "rejects mainstream values," a "loser" that has defined my identity outside of the Winner's Circle. I don't however, believe that zine writers are individual, solely defined by negation, or would lose their identity without the mainstream culture.

Perhaps during the age of adolescents myself and my friends, all of whom either write their own, contribute to, or consume zines, we all endured some traumatic, defining event that secured our identity within the underground culture. My natural attraction and fixation with rock n' roll music and shows characterized a rocky, "rebellious" coming-of-age in my parents house, and writing no doubt played an important part of that identity.

But here I am as an adult, past those turbulent adolescent years, and still define myself within this underground culture. I have opinions, beliefs, compassions, and sympathies, but they are the passion of my life just like dance or gymnastics might be to a mainstreamer. Music, writing, playing shows, recording music...these activities bind a group of people just like a person's sports team might comprise his/her friendship circle. But an important element of our passions is to create. Art, music, writing...it is the sharing of these creations that make the community, and we are happy within that community. We're not all activists, anarchists, hippies, extremists straight out of the Cream City Collectives zine collection. We are oblivious and apathetic, though sometimes mocking, of the mainstream culture and have simply chosen an alternative lifestyle.

Zine writers are not all rebels coming from white, suburban backgrounds. My boyfriend wrote a zine for years simply because he liked to create and communicate his thoughts in "magazine form," not because of rebellion against his suburban life. That didn't exist. He grew up in a dysfunctional family plagued by drugs and poverty.

Zine writers also don't have to be solely individual works. A good friend of mine compiles a zine made up of contributions from all our friends. There's stories, comics, editorials, word games, anything anyone felt like contributing. Some of it may be political, non-political, fun, or just plain dumb. But it's an effort that was made possible by the communual spirit of my friends, just as relevant and personal as an individual writer.

Zines are not all politically or activist driven. Check out one of the most influential zines of all time, Cometbus. There's no website (duh), but look him up on Wikipedia and order the complete anthology for $10 on Amazon.com. Aaron Cometbus's main focus of writing was personal journeys and the cherished qualities and explorations of human relationships. He writes about traveling, his band, music, love, and yes, even has contributors or entire issues dedicated to contributor's point of views.

Maybe some are rebelling. Maybe some do define themselves by constant critique of mainstream culture. But what is mainstream culture anyway? Maybe just all of our lives were changed by the Ramones. And so we create.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

HP / Pirates Trailer Mash-Up



I originally sent Prof. Newman a link to this video and now realized perhaps the rest of you would find this interesting, fascinating or stupid depending upon many factors.

I was thinking about remix culture in general and the artist Mike Relm specifically when I stumbled across this mash-up on YouTube. It is a trailer for a Pirates of the Caribbean movie mashed with Harry Potter visuals. I thought it was rather well done and noticed that it has nearly 75,000 views. Which seems like alot considering Mike Relm --who plays sets all over the world and has a decent international fanbase only had 30 some thousand hits when searched on YouTube.

The photos above are of Mike Relm. Here is the link to the video.

I hope that you all continue to pay attention to new and innovative uses of media. I truly believe that we are going to see more and more mixing and splicing of materials as content and improved technologies become more and more accessible. Hopefully these artists can feel emboldened and encouraged to experiment and attempt new styles. I would hate to think that fear of bureaucratic red tape, fines or even imprisonment would hold them back. New laws and new conventions will necessarily be drafted.

super skinny journalists

Most of you have probably heard of Supersize Me, the documentary about the guy who eats only McDonalds for a month straight. Two nights ago on BBC America I came across a documentary that was basically the opposite of that. It's called Super Skinny Me, and it followed two female journalists, Kate Spicer and Louise Burke, in their five-week quest to get down to a size 0, while all along documenting the physical and emotional effects it has on them.

To begin with, the women were already in great physical shape (they both weighed around 130 pounds, if I remember correctly). To get their bodies down to a size 0 they underwent five weeks of extreme dieting and constant exercise. They were basically living the lifestyle that many real girls and women force themselves to live, just so they can be supermodel-thin.

Throughout the course of the 5 weeks, Kate and Louise not only became incredibly thin, but they also started to develop emotional problems. Although it was only an experiment, they actually started to believe they were fat, and they developed anxiety around food. Louise completed the experiment, and she ended up fitting into a size 0 (which is the size a normal 6-year-old girl would wear, according to the show) but she explained that the emotional and physical abuse she had been through was severe. Kate never finished the experiment because she was ordered by a doctor to stop a week early after she began developing signs of bulemia.
I found this documentary really interesting, because it kind of illustrated what a lot of young women put themselves through just to meet media and society's "standards" of what an attractive woman looks like. This documentary made me wonder how many female celebrities and models (and normal women, for that matter) live that lifestyle everyday, and how many suffer from emotional issues because of it...

Monday, December 03, 2007

can someone PLEASE pay the writers!

For any of the Despirate Housewife fans out there, im sure you can relate to my frustration. This Sunday's episode was by far the best of the entire season. The begining narration stated that someone's husband was going to die. A huge tornato was about to hit Wysteria Lane, and of course the ususal drama was still playing out. About half way through the show Gabriel's husband Victor was speared with a broken peice of fence that struck through him while he was chasing Gabriel's ex-husband with a gun...So I was releived to find out that the dead husband would be Victor. Until the end of the show when the tornato had destroyed Wysteria Lane and Lynette had found that the house of the basement that her husband and children had been staying in, was completely collapsed and destroyed. The show ended with Lynette screaming in horror at the sight of her most likly dead family members.

As great of show as it was it left with a huge cliff hanger. Which usually would be fine except for the fact that there were no previews for the following show. As a worried viewer for Lynette's husband, i looked to try and find a preview on the internet, only to find that next week's episode is a RERUN!!!! I might have to kill someone if i cant find out what happened to her family.

I think it's rediculous that the networks can't just give the writters what they are asking for. They have so much money they probably dont even know what to do with it all. Granted many people watch such shows as this, Grey's Anatomy, Lost, and Brothers and Sisters partially for the beautiful actors. But these shows would not be the hit that they are without the writters talents.

Want to look at Porsches?


A few months ago, I came accross a website called Six Speed Online. It's a car enthusiast website. The central topic is Porsches, but there is a large discussion base about BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, and the like. Though I drive a beater car, these high-end sports cars have always kept my interest. Also it is interesting to read some of the "signatures" at the bottom of the users who post on the message board. Most list their particular "stable" of cars. Many collections are in the million dollar range, and most are in the hundred thousand dollar range, with multiple exotics like the Italian Ferrari and Lamborghini, ect. It's a glimpse into a rich man's (because I haven't come accross any apparent female posters) playground. It is also funny when these tycoons speak of hiding/concealing cars lest they become property in an expensive divorce settlement.

I think it's the "if I hit the lottery" daydream that keeps me coming back to the site. And it's probably the pictures. I've been a subscriber to Road and Track and Car and Driver since I was twelve years old, but within the last year or two, I've let my subsciptions expire. There is plenty of information and high quality photos on the internet, a car person, needs to do little work to keep up with new models and such. If you're into sportcars you'll never be able to reasonably afford, you should probably check out the website.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Celebrity Obsession

I was thinking about our society's recent obsession with celebrities this morning. One of my friends is pro-britney and lectured to my friends and I the other day about how Britney wouldn't be a mess at all if the photographers, etc. would just leave her alone and let her get some privacy. We were talking about the story where she didn't put her kids in car seats... but is it more irresponsible to take the time to put your kids in car seats or to hurry up and put them in the car because photographers are swarming around you?

When you have a nation that can't wait to see the next bad or even great picture of a celebrity accompanied by a story that may or may not be true, how can we give celebrities any peace? I'm surprised that more celebrities aren't "losing it" like Britney. Are we all so bored with our own lives that we have to live through theirs? Or is it because through advertising we have come to be obsessed with the lifestyle they lead and hope to one day have the same?
So, I found myself wondering tonight why games are being sold in commercials centered around sex. I always associated games with kids and I think that is because I always saw commercials that depicted Candy Land and Operation, and those games are definitely being marketed toward children. Now I see games like Pictionary and Taboo being marketed toward younger adults. The Pictionary commercial begins with a couple lying in bed talking in a way that woud suggest that they just had sex, but about half way through the commercial the viewer figures out that the couple has been talking about playing a game with their friends. Even after the viewer figures out that the commercial is about a game the producers of the commercial go one step further and have the couple, still lying in bed, decide their friends to join them next time. The game is not referenced with this comment. I guess sex sells, but how far can it go? First sex is used to sell ice cream, which was actually pretty funny, and now sex is even being used to sell traditonal games. I guess when you figure out what works you just have to stick with it.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Just had an out of body, uh...media experience

I will be traveling to Orlando, FL this January (I'm going to DISNEY WORLD!) via Midwest Airlines and this evening I was looking into changing the times of my flight. I figured that if I tried to call someone I'd get that dredded message "Thank you for calling...please call back during out business hours...yada, yada, yada."

I was cruising around the website and found a link to "live help." So I clicked on it and it led me to a page where I had to put in my name and email address. After doing so I found myself connected to a Midwest Airlines worker through instant message. Now I have used AIM in the past so that aspect of this wasn't anything new. I just found it to be a really cool feature instead of the standard email and phone.

It was set up just like AIM and had a message at the top that said Jocelyn (the lady I was speaking with) is listening/responding. I thought it was really cool that Midwest is so high tech! Then out of curiosity I asked her where she was located (cause with the call centers, sometimes they are in Ohio or Texas or something) and she was at Midwest's headquarters in snowy Milwaukee.

At times during our conversation I was just like AHHH! I don't know how to respond! It's not like I could write lol or use slang that I use with my friends. Especially with those standard responses she was giving me, like "Thank you for using Midwest Airlines...whatever...we are always here to assist you." I just said thank you and drive home safely and "hung up" figuring that that was good enough. Gotta love technology!

Friday, November 30, 2007

PlayStation Store

Hi all. For this blog entry, I wanted to show you something a little different. Since I love video games so much, there is a new service that Sony Computer Entertainment has released for owners of their PlayStation Portable (PSP) system. It is called the “PlayStation Store,” and this service allows PSP owners to download and view PSP wallpapers, themes, and videos, as well as video game demos, downloadable games, and even classic PlayStation One games. This service was created so that PC users could access PSP content without need of a PlayStation 3 system, which is great for those (like me) who can’t afford a PS3. Based on what a consumer wants to download, some items are free of charge while others can be as much as $10. This new way of taking content on the go creates a larger community of video game users who may want to share downloads with friends and family, as well as other gamers. Also, this is an effective marketing strategy because it gives gamers an opportunity to use their PSPs for something different, and once other people see this content on someone’s PSP, they’ll most likely buy one to obtain the same items, or even more. Check out the website, if you would like to.

I already talked about this a little in class, BUT...

Facebook Scrabble (Scrabulous) is one of my new favorite things. I'm playing 13 games right now, some with my boyfriend, one with my brother, a couple some good friends that are at out-of-state schools, and even one with a kid I sat next to in first grade. The genius thing about Facebook scrabble is that I can play all 13 games at the same time, anywhere I want. There's no need for physical time or space to play. The genius thing on Facebook's part is that having software developers create these applications like Scrabble makes users not only stay on Facebook for extended periods of time, but also makes players come back again and again and again to check and see if it's their turn to play. I have already spent more time on Facebook in this past week than I have in my entire life because of Scrabble. I don't have much recreational time in real life because of school, work, etc., and I think Facebook is going to be very successful if it keeps taking the direction it is because Facebook is becoming my place of recreation. College kids are so stressed, isolated, and strained for time that internet Scrabble becomes an easy way to stay in contact with a person, but not necessarily devote a lot of time to it.

Another thing about Facebook that I've been dealing a lot with is privacy. Not the traditional sense of who can look at my profile, but the sense that anybody can find me from any point in my life. Also, the sheer number of people that are on Facebook creates a social attack of past and present relationships, and it's impossible to keep up with them all or include them all in your life! I'm dealing with the crazy girl that I mentioned in class right now. She looked me up, found me on Facebook, requested friendship, and now will not leave me alone. It's hard to deal with so many social assailants in a place of "hanging out." I think this is a phenomenon that every kid of my generation will have to deal with at some point because of the mass communication bombardment that exists in our global culture.

my mom...

This Monday my mother called me and was asking me about Facebook. I guess she joined a few weeks ago so she could look at something for her work. I hadn't read the articles for class at that point, but I saw that the title of one was 'OMG my mom joined FB" which made it really ironic to me.

I told her to friend me and to write on my wall because I thought it would be funny. My mom always worked with computers in her career, has taken some web design classes, etc. So she's rather computer savvy. But for some reason each thing on FB I had to walk her through. It turned out to be rather annoying, when I thought it would be fun to have her on there.

After reading the social graph stuff I realized my mom doesn't have anything to do on FB because none of her friends are on there, none of our family is (besides some college-age cousins who I doubt would add her -- I'm not even friends with them), so there isn't a lot of social networking to do. But I do like to play Scrabble with her, because most of my friends won't. I guess it works out.

Otis Redding


A little tribute… Monday, December 10th will mark the fortieth anniversary of the death of soul musician Otis Redding. The 26-year-old singer and six other travelers were killed in plane crash in Madison, Wisconsin. Only one passenger survived the crash, and all but two members of Redding’s band The Bar-Kays were killed. Otis wrote and performed songs such as “(Sitting on) the Dock of the Bay”, “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long”, and my personal favorite “That’s How Strong My Love is”. The soulful lyrics, and passion with which Otis delivered them, earned him tremendous fame and serious recognition. Rolling Stone named him #21 on their list of “The 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.” No artist, in my mind, has come close to emulating the music Otis created in his too brief six year career. Otis Redding’s music was, and always will be, truly one of a kind. December 10th, take a minute to think about Otis, and give a little thanks for the music he gave us. If you’re not familiar with Otis Redding…download him. You will not be sorry!!!





Ahh, the Packers

My roommate Heidi endured my chants, screams, verbal insults and occasional in-animate physical abuse last night as we watched the Green Bay Packers vs. the Dallas Cowboys.

Though it was a loss for Green and Gold, one has to admit, it was an exciting game from the beginning. That got me to thinking about the beginning... of the Packers.

I consider myself to be a fan of certain extent. I do not follow the NFL throughout the entire season, but I try not to miss any Packers' games, and I love watching football in general. So, to follow up on my questioning, I had to do a little research.

In 1919, Curly Lambeau and George Whitney Calhoun founded the Green Bay Packers. In agreement to receive funds, Lambeau named the team after the Indian Packing company.
After joining the newly created American Professional Football Association in 1921, the Packers ran into some financial trouble, but were saved by local business owners known as the "Hungry Five," who formed the Green Bay Football Corporation.

The Packers are now the only publicly owned company with a board of directors; possibly one of the reasons the team has never been moved from the city of Green Bay, though they first began hosting their home games (one pre-season and three regular season) games in Milwaukee.

Under direction from Lambeau, The Packers' first season was a victorious event with them winning 10 out of 11 games against other Wisconsin and Upper Michigan teams.

Heading into History as one of the Greatest Football Teams of all time, the Packers began with spirit that is still felt today. Continuing from their first season, the Packers' produced sport icons such Vince Lombardi, Bart Starr, and Ray Nitschke, who will always be remembered as Green Bay Greats.

Much is to be said, heard, and told about the Packers. It is clear that without them, football would not be the same.

Information collected here was found from Packers.com, LambeauField.com, wikipedia.com and Uncle John's Bathroom Readers.



10-2....

The last 6 Packer games I have watched have left me with a sense of joy, pride, and happiness. Unfortunately, tonight was different. I went to watch the game with a bunch of friends, and needless to mention, I was pumped. For the last week and a half I looked forward to tonight's game, fairly certain this was the Packer season for the unexpected. Tonight's game was surely unexpected, but not in a good way. When Favre got taken out, a part of me (and the group I was with) died inside. That was surely unexpected and very disturbing. When Rodgers actually threw a touchdown, that was unexpected. When the Packers lost, that was also unexpected. Although I am still truly bummed about the Packer loss, I look forward to the few games left in the season and hope that we can still come out on top.

Also, the last 3 or so football games I've watched have been in HD. The first few where while I was at my parent's place over Thanksgiving. Tonight's game was viewed on my friends brand new HDTV. I am very impressed. The picture quality is amazing. I noticed while watching sunday night football last week, you could actually see the blades of grass on the field. This is just another example of the improving technology that helps us view our media. I just wish the crisp picture would've helped me better enjoy a Packer victory.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Creating Media

I've been thinking lately about creating media. All the talk of creating our own media online through facebook (by adding pictures, creating a profile, etc.) made me much more aware that I've been creating media without really noticing. For example, on my MySpace page, I have a slideshow that I created on slide.com that features my best friends and family in pictures that I like (I put it in the "heroes" section of my profile, since I've never figured out how to get rid of sections that I don't really know what to put in). I have 25 photo albums on facebook. I helped my dad create a DVD slideshow to use at a family member's memorial service.

These examples really brought it home to me that now, more than ever- since I don't have cable and am not that impressed by all network TV, especially in light of the strike, but I do have high speed cable internet- much of the media I consume is created by so called amateurs. Most of the CDs I listen to are mixxes that were made by me or for me. I trade funny videos or inspiring videos with friends online. It was a slow shift, but after discussing these ideas so much in class, it's been eye-opening to me to realize that the media I enjoy consuming is mostly user created.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Now WHY didn't they think of that 3 weeks ago?

This morning I was watching Today's TMJ4 morning news and in the buzz or celebrity gossip or whatever they call it, segment they were talking about Jay Leno's show.

As I am sure most of you know, the writers guild is on strike and it has majorly impacted the late night talk shows in particular like Leno, Conan, Letterman, etc. for they are all in re-runs and have been since only a few days following the start of the strike. Well, on this morning's newscast, it was reported that NBC would be showing some "vintage" Leno shows from the early 90's (when he took over for Johnny Carson) instead of more recent re-runs from this past year.

In response, the TMJ4 anchor seemed so agitated about the fact that it took NBC 3 weeks to figure something creative like this out. It was really hilarious to watch this guy go on a minute rant about it. "3 weeks it took them," he practically yelled. I agree with him that it took NBC a really long time to think of this creative, old school alternative, but the anchor's little spiel about it was just too funny not to bring up.

Monday, November 26, 2007

American Gangster

I recently saw the movie American Gangster. I'm a fan of the mafia movies, and the previews for Amrican Gangster billed it as a sort of Harlem Mafia. I was excited to see the movie since I had first seen the preview about a month ago.
I would compare American Gangster to, say, Godfather Part Two. The film recognizes in itself, its big names and credentials. It knows it has a lot to live up to. The film does lend itself naturally to its actors and script. It isn't on par with the Godfather I. I won't and don't remember specific lines from the movie, and only a few scenes stick out in my mind. This film was very well executed, but it pales in comparison to classics like The Godfather Trilogy or Scarface. It did keep my rapt attention, however, for almost three hours, which is a feat.
My guess would be that rappers may continue to emulate the Scarface motif, but American Gangster will give it short-lived competition.
Pop some popcorn and grab a soda, you'll enjoy American Gangster.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

I was just reading a book for another class andI realized that Legally Blonde is a take off of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. I realize I've already written about remakes of old stories, but now I have a new question. So, Capra was known as a populsit moviemaker. He made the movie Mr. Smith Goes ot Washington. Is it true that the producer of Legally Blonde used Capra's story or is it more accurate to say that the people who made Legally Blonde follow the same 'every man' outlook and style that Capra used? Could it be that some remakes are not so much stealing or borrowing a story, but rather, following the idea of a classic film maker. In art there are schools of thought where artists basically borrow ideas from their colleagues. Couldn't that be the case in film making? Maybe it's just easier for me to classify people into tracks of thought rather than trying to remember who borrowed what story and from whom...

Friday, November 23, 2007

Idiocracy

I have watched the movie Idiocracy 3 times in the past week with 3 different groups of people. The appeal of this movie is startling and surprisingly broad. Even those who hate Mike Judge's sense of humor in Beavis and Butthead have been won over by this amazing and actually profound movie.

The basic premise of the movie is what if all the young urban professionals stopped procreating while the stupid masses of the earth multiplied at an alarming rate. Then fast forward to 2505. However, an army experiment from 2005 left 2 people freeze dried and forgotten until a garbage avalanche breaks open their capsules to find the world in deep crisis resulting from the world's plummeting IQ. Fuddruckers becomes "Buttfuckers," everyone's favorite show is "Ow! My Balls," the favorite movie is "Ass," and advertising is EVERYWHERE. An energy drink with electrolytes has replaced all uses of water except for toilet water. This situation is profound as the energy drink corporation, Brawndo, has virtually taken over the world. Because of its prevelance in life functions (as water today is, except somebody's now making a profit off of it!!!), half of the population is employed by Brawndo and the world "ecomony" relies on Brawndo's monopoly. They even bought out the FDA and FCC during the budget crisis of 2330, making their influence unstoppable. Along with Carl's Jr., Starbucks, and Costco, these corporations dictate the way of life for the future state of mankind. When the hero of the story realized that the reason crops wouldn't grow was because they were being watered with Brando, the water replacement cost the population half of their jobs!! Monopoly at its finest!

The next morning after watching this movie, I woke up and watched the Packer game, and realized how regardless of Idiocracy's exagerrated ridiculousness, we may not be that far off from such a world if we're not careful. Watching a football game is an endless string of sponsors (Coors Light NFL on Fox, sponsored by ______, ________, and the official sponsor of _______) and advertising plugs, of which I can't even remember. There was an official beer of the NFL, an official car, everything! Somehow in real life, it wasn't as funny.

Despite it's crude, potty mouth humor, Idiocracy was an incredibly relevant movie that says a lot of about the state of business, advertising, and public interest issues. You should probably watch it.

Close Calls


If you missed the last episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, it safe to say one of the main characters almost died. The show used to be a favorite of mine, but I had to stop watching it. Sitting through those long USA marathons always left me convinced everyone was either a pedophile or rapist (or both) and it would only be a matter of time until I too would become a victim. I catch the SVU previews on NBC, and it seems Detectives Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson are having some tough luck these last few weeks. As I mentioned, I have not actually watched the episodes, but from the previews I’ve seen, Olivia was stabbed by a serial killer, Elliot was shot and temporarily blinded, and now Olivia has been involved in a car crash and is bleeding and unconscious. Yikes, with all these close calls who’s out busting the ”perps”? These weekly brushes with death have turned into cheap thrills and are getting a little old. I may have to keep not watching the show.

Whole Lotta Led

Hope everyone's holiday was enjoyable! I unfortunately had to work, but I still made it home just in time for turkey!! :) (almost got a speeding ticket in the process!!)

Wednesday evening I attended a Led Zeppelin Tribute band called No Quarters, the show was at BBC's on North. The opening band was a Guns n' Roses tribute band....which I wasn't too into, I'm not really a guns n' roses fan.

Of the four members I was familiar with two of the guys from previous bands, Boxkar (they are no longer together), the Cocksmiths, and Willy Porter-who sometimes plays with a band. Dave Schoepke (Drummer) and Joey Carini (Guitarist) played in Boxkar and currently play in The Cocksmiths together. Both are phenomenal at what they do, that's why I knew this tribute band was going to be good. The vocals were awesome!!! No Quarters (also a song by Led Zeppelin) only meets once a year to play and it is around this time every year!! I never made it to the show last year, but I was definately impressed!!!!!! Communication Breakdown was one of my favorites!!! :) Although I wish they would have played Gallows Pole.....

********

Actually Led Zeppelin is getting together to play one last show. This reunion is taking place in London on December 10. Actually when tickets went onsale the site crashed within minutes because fans were trying to get one out of 18,000 tickets. Fans were limited to two tickets. I wish I could go to the show but unfortunately it is sold out and there really would be no way for me to afford that.......so No Quarters will do!!!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

FAVRE.

like all packer fans, my family stayed glued to the TV for the duration of their win against the lions. in fact, we even pushed back the meal in order to fully enjoy the packer victory. i noticed a few interesting things while watching the game.

it seems that EVERYONE loves brett favre. packer fan or not, people have respect for that man. i am amongst his loyal followers and was pleasantly surprised by the amount of respect he commands from even other NFL team fans. i was with other friends/family for the holiday and as much as some of them hate the packers, they like brett favre.

during the pre-game there were segments about various aspects of his career. i found it very interesting when a segment aired in which former "champions" gave their tribute to favre. the champions included wayne gretzky and lance armstrong. i was also shocked by MVP and super-bowl speculation. It seems to me that "Favre fever" is starting to sweep the nation. various front-pages of news websites had headings like "Favre on fire," and "favre turns lions into lambs."

being down south for the holidays i've had a heightened sense of awareness of favre respect. it is common in wisconsin. but i've found that even in other parts of the country many people love favre.

regardless of how they do the rest of the season, i'm very happy with the 10-1 record so far.

and for old times sake. another reason why favre is awesome.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cosmo Celebrity Blog

I went on Cosmo's website today to find the article that I talked about in class, where Cosmo advised readers to create a Wikipedia article detailing their achievements. Instead, I got sidetracked- not by embarassing stories or makeup tricks, but by Cosmo's Celebrity Video. Apparently one of their new website features is a video snippet that's posted every Monday through Friday that will keep everyone up to date on the latest celebrity news. It's quite blantantly modeled after E! Entertainment news. While watching today's vid, I learned that Mary Kate Olsen was hospitalized for her kidneys, and Kimberly Stewart (Rod Stewart's daughter) may be dating Tommy Lee. Also, there was a fashion plug that included an up-close glimpse of Fergie's diamond encrusted heels.

Of course, after the quick hit of celebrity news, there was an advertisement. The one that I saw today was for Gilmore Girls DVD seasons. A new venue for Cosmo? We'll see...

More stuff on youtube

I was thinking about what we had talked about in class with youtube and how 90 percent of everything on there sucks. I would have to agree, particularly when I go to the most recently uploaded videos and see a bunch of 10 second clips of nothing in particular. I'm not sure what motivates someone to load 10 second clips online but hey whatever. I thought it was interesting when we mentioned in class how most of youtube is crap, but so is the rest of media on tv and whatnot. This relates to commenting on youtube, which pisses me off. I hate the comment sections on a lot of videos because people leave remarks that aren't helpful or even make sense. I see a lot of videos where someone took the time and effort to make a decent piece of work and then have their entire page filled with mean ass comments saying how something is not funny or whatever. I personally think that these videos are on par or better than some of the stuff on TV, so maybe it isn't that good, but it still might be better than what a company is producing. I think people give more credit to whats on tv just because it was delivered to them in that fashion. It would be interesting to see the ratings difference on the same pieces of media delivered via youtube and your tv set and if it changes peoples minds on how much they may or may not like something.

My long lost love...

I was walking around Best Buy this weekend and was in awe at all the video and computer games that are around. It inspired me to resurrect a favorite game of mine from back in the day...Rollercoaster Tycoon. I have never been much into computer games save The Sims and Rollercoaster Tycoon because I grew up on Sega. Yes, Sega. Genesis and Dreamcast, I've got them both. Sonic the Hedgehog, awesome! But that technology is, dare I say it, old.

So, I've gone back to the good ol' PC and I was hooked for the entire weekend! Trying to complete the old games I had saved from years ago was just so much fun! Like I said, I am not much into gaming, but this game just rocks! The strategy involved in getting people to the park and trying to maintain a certain profit, rating or whatever had me hooked. Didn't much care for the guests throwing up all over the place, but hey, I guess that's the price I pay for having kick ass rollercoasters in my park. And I think I have just discovered my new procrastination tool...oh bother!

Nimrod Nation


I came across an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel yesterday about a new show on the Sundance Channel called "Nimrod Nation." The show is a documentary about the people of Watersmeet, MI, a small town in the U.P.
The show is called "Nimrod Nation" because the town's high school basketball team is nicknamed the "Nimrods." (The name Nimrod is derived from the legendary hunter in the Old Testament.) The show centers much of the story around the town and the basketball team.

After watching the show, here's a few comments:
Depiction: One could argue that this show reaffirms the stereotype of the U.P. Whether or not that's good or bad, I'm not sure.

A. Language: Everyone speaks in a northern accent. This a documentary, so it's probably pretty hard to change that factor. However, I think there is something to be said that the media often stereotypes people with southern/northern accents in negative lights.

B. Weather: The first episode was stereotypical winter, lots of snow, etc. Maybe there will be change of seasons in future episodes.

C. Class: The show follows characters who are, overall, middle-lower class.
D. Lifestyle: There is very much a family-centered theme throughout this show. Drastically different than many mainstream shows that focus on careers and relationships. I'm not saying the show is family-friendly to watch, however.

In closing, "Nimrod Nation" was a relatively entertaining and interesting show. I question, however, what the residents think of it. Does it accurately portray Watersmeet?

Here's a clip from the first episode:




Saturday, November 17, 2007

America's Next Top Model

I was watching reruns of America's Next Top Model this weekend and was completely disgusted with the amount of product placement in the show. In one particular episode the aspiring models are doing a photo shoot for a cosmetics company and they mention the product about ten times in a matter of 2 minutes. They even go into the benefits of the products. I felt like I was watching a commercial. With all the commercials already during a television show, why would I want to watch one within the show? I find it hilarious that the models on the show even had to help promote the product and make it look like natural conversation. Down with overt product placement !!!

Pseudo-Event or True Sympathy?



I came across a story about John Edwards sympathizing with the writers on strike in Hollywood. Then I found a video of his speech on YouTube. He seems sincere but come critics have maintained that Edwards is simply making an appearance and looking for ways to gain votes. I'm sure it is a bit of both.

However, I like the man. He is democratic to begin with and even though he literally reeks of money his general tone and basic principles seem to favor anti-hegemonic power to the people rhetoric.

The writers strike is more than just easy headlines. Many studios are clamoring to shoot as many episodes as possible before work becomes impossible. Already networks are putting up more re-runs and looking to the future. They're firing other production staff in an attempt to get the writers back. These people aren't the millionaires, they're making car payments and putting kids through school...

What could happen? Well it depends. More than likely both sides will eventually come to a compromise and work will continue. However, if it's anything like the 1988 writers walk-out there may be some very noticeable effects. Primetime may become inundated by reruns and reality, (since reality shows hardly rely on guild writers). Also newsmagazine shows like 48 hours or 60 minutes might make a dazzling comeback. When scripted shows dissapeared in '88 these shows found a strong foothold.

Many see the strike as a conflict nobody wants but all are powerless to avoid.

Superbad and American Pie

Hey all. I just happened to watch American Pie 1 & 2 last night, since I haven't seen these movies for quite a while. As I was watching the movie, I remembered Prof. Newman's first text analysis suggestion for our final paper in terms of comparing Superbad with American Pie. Anyways, I used to think American Pie was bit raunchy, notably because of Steve Stifler (Sean William Scott) and his quest to have sex with almost every woman imaginable. However, when I saw Superbad, things were very different. The main character Seth (Jonah Hill) is, in my opinion, more foul-mouthed than Steve Stifler. Actually, the entire movie is very raunchy and crazier than American Pie ever was. For example, during a house party, Seth's objective is to get alcohol for another party. As he tries to get close to the booze, he encounters a woman who dances with him and thanks him after a few minutes of dancing. Then other people at the party notice that there is blood on Seth's leg after he danced with the girl. This implies that the woman had her period on Seth's leg. Have you guys seen anything this crazy in American Pie (other than Jim having sex with the apple pie, of course)? Anyways, I leave you with trailers of American Pie and Superbad to browse at your leisure.

Oh, and notice how these trailers are structured. Do things happen to make sense when you see them? When I saw trailers of Superbad, I didn't expect the majority of the movie would use swearing to the level that it did. I was totally caught off-guard.



Friday, November 16, 2007

COURIC TRYING TO STAY RELEVANT?

Like many people across the country whenever I have free time, I tend to get lost on various video websites, including YouTube. I recently came across a video that I found was related to our class in a variety of ways.

Earlier this year, a video surfaced showing Dan Rather, the former CBS Evening News achor complaining about the various ways he could wear his coat before a video segment on location. This viral video was parodied and mocked all over the internet. Rather's sucessor, Katie Couric is now featured in a video mocking him. Tension between Rather and Couric is well-doucmented and this video makes that even funnier.

On the surface, this video is pretty entertaing. Couric's behavior shows her in a new light as a pretty funny person. One thing disturbed me though.

COURIC KEPT CALLING PEOPLE "DUDE" and "BRO!" ....SERIOUSLY

Katie Couric could be my mom. I found this behavior very depressing. I brought up in class the fact that I find it weird when my own father says "dude," and when my mom text messages me.

Personally, this video took my amusement with older people trying to sound young to a whole new level. Overall, I think Couric's choice of slang was more entertaining than her mocery of Dan Rather.

Maybe it's just me, but one could argue that Couric's word choice could be a subconscious attempt to stay relevant as she gets older.

I hope this is as amusing to you, as it was to me.

COURIC MOCKING DAN RATHER

Newspaper Localism

I'm at home in Stevens Point at my parents' house and it's always somewhat of a culture shock to came back here. Everything is so much slower paced, small town, and isolated that it's hard to believe that I actually grew up here. One thing that I always enjoy doing when I come home is read the Stevens Point Journal, the "local" newspaper. I try to read it online when I can, a pleasant technological development, but it's not the same as reading the paper in its entirety in old-fashioned print form. Within such a small city with close knit ties, it struck me how important the newspaper is in showcasing and communicating the values and issues of the people. Within a community, the newspaper truly embodies the spirit of localism and keeping the media close to home. These virtures are evident in the main page focus on community affairs, the listing of the junior high and high school honor roll listing, and the placement of world events on the back page. The paper truly exists as a community public forum and informant.

However, the Stevens Point Journal along with numerous other Wisconsin newspapers, are now owned by Gannett Newspapers. This ownership blatantly endangers the purpose of "local" journals the the Point paper, and makes me wonder about the future of such community newspapers. I think media consolidation is a huge concern in consideration to localism. A good development has been the founding of the Portage County Gazette, a free, weekly county publication that provides some competition to the Point Journal. At least there's still room for a truly local paper to fill the localism void in the face of ownership concentration. I wonder how long that will exist.

Twists on Soda




Well, for all of you soda drinkers, there could be something worth trying!? I am not a fan of soda, haven't really dipped myself into soda since my freshman year in highschool. Now anytime I even try and drink it, I end up feeling ill. BUT, for you all who do enjoy soda, I recently found a Dr. Pepper advertisement from the 1960's!




As you can see, the ad is trying a new twist on Dr. Pepper, serving it HOT!!!! I would assume that this drink would not taste bad, it is something different and people sometimes overlook new (in this case it's not), different ideas. Maybe some of you have already tried hot Dr. Pepper?? Who knows, it could be a family tradition at Holiday get togethers?? I wouldn't mind trying it. I am curious to find out what it tastes like. When cold weather hits, nothing could be better than a nice HOT steamy cup of Dr. Pepper!


The snowman seems to be enjoying it!!!!


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I also read in the paper that Jones' soda company is coming out with Holiday flavors! Flavors such as Christmas Tree, Christmas Ham ( Eww ), Latkes, and then some flavors that are more ideal for soda with Sugar Plum, Egg Nog (maybe not so much), Jelly Doughnut, Apple Sauce (MmMmM this could be tasty!), and Chocolate Coins. I could only imagine what Christmas Tree and Ham would taste like! Egg Nog is definately not something I would even consider trying!! Seriously, who would want to drink a soda that tastes like Ham OR Egg Nog??

A portion of the proceeds will be given to charity, so even if it tastes horrible, at least it isn't a total waste of money!




"God Grew Tired of Us"

John Bul Dau, one of the thousands of African males in southern Sudan attacked in the 1980s and '90s by the Arab Sudanese government, came to UW-Milwaukee to speak about his experience.

Attending this lecture was beyond anything I could have imagined. His story is gruesome, horrific, and one of the saddest events I've ever heard.

Since the release of the 2006 movie "God Grew Tired of Us: The Lost Boys of Sudan," Dau has been traveling throughout the United States, spreading his story through his book (same title as the movie) and his own words.

At the age of 13, Dau was awaken in the middle of the night to the sound of gun shots and bullets whistling through the air. When he ran outside, his neighbor pulled him to the ground and he watched quietly as northern Sudanese militias raided his village. Unable to go back home, Dau marched to Ethiopia, a journey more than 1,000 miles long.

Along the way he ate only roots and wild plants, drank his own urine and traveled naked with thousands of other boys and men. Several times refugee camps were found along the way, but eventually the north Sudanese drove them out.

Sicknesses like malaria, measles, chicken pox, and whooping cough plagued thousands as so many died each day. Many young boys went crazy and others were killed.

For five years, Dau traveled through the desert, starving and sick.

Finally, hope was rewarded when he reached Kenya in 1992. Here, he found food, shelter, clothing, medical help and school. At the age of 17, Dau started his education and obtained hi high school degree at 20.

Then, at 21, Dau was selected by American people to come and live in America, where he could start a new life, away from the suffering and torture.

Because of his strength and will to aid those still over in Sudan, Dau has created many foundations such as the Sudanese Lost Boy Foundation and American Care for Sudan. He has raised over $350,000 to build another clinic in southern Sudan and is in the process of another $450,000 to build another clinic and school.

To learn more about John Bul Dau and to help his cause, go to www.volvoforlifeaward.com. An article will also be in UW-Milwaukee's campus newspaper The Post this upcoming week, which goes into more detail.

My Television Must Be Lonely


Whenever I get near a technological appliance, it breaks. So, Obviously I try to avoid any unnecessary contact with gadgets. I think the fact that I even refer to them as “gadgets” makes my point. I do, however, watch a lot of TV, but have never gotten fancy (or gutsy) enough to attempt to watch shows on anything other than a television set.
However, I just bough a new iPod that can play videos (yes, I know iPods have been able to do this for some time now, but again…tech savvy I am not). I was feeling daring one afternoon and downloaded Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief. This was a huge success despite the literally small inconvenience of holding the iPod in front of my face to watch the classic film on its two inch screen. The experience did give me the confidence to download other things, such as music videos and television shows. I have since been watching television shows on the internet, and have found ABC.com to be the easiest website. So much so, I have even strayed from some of my NBC favorites. I’ve been enjoying the convenience of watching television’s content on alternative screens, as well as feeling a bit more technologically inclined for it. I will inevitably break my iPod, computer, and TV, and will have to just read I suppose.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Transformers

I recently bought the movie Transformers. Before purchasing it I had not seen it, I bought it purely on the good reviews I got on it from my friends. The movie itself was not bad but I was surprised at the amount of product placement. I knew that Chevy was a big part of the film but they may have went a bit overboard. the thing i do not understand about it though is how Chevy got the right to be in the movie over Ford (just for arguments sake)? was there a bid or did the producers of the movie seek out Chevy? This summer there was a ton of Transformers/ Chevy advertisements, that I personally do not think were done very well, were they a part of the original agreement? Does anyone know how this whole situation works? I would really like to know.

Monday, November 12, 2007

I have written a lot about TV on here, so it's time for a change of pace...I recently saw the Milwaukee Rep's production of Doubt and it was, without a doubt (no pun intended) the best Rep play I have ever seen. There wasn't anything fancy about the play; the set was very simple and it consisted of only 4 actors, but it was just amazing! The play is set at a Catholic school in the Bronx during 1964 and the characters accents were so real and believeable. At times it almost felt as if I were watching a movie. The play was only an hour and a half long (no intermission), but the acting, comedy, drama, everything was so captivating that time just flew by.

Milwaukee has a really amazing theatre scene which I don't think a lot of people realize, so if you are looking to experience a great bit of Milwaukee theatre, I would highly recommend Doubt at the Rep. I certainly doubt you'd have a rotten time.
I recently went to New York and while there I saw the musical Mary Poppins. Of course there were many style changes between songs in the movie and in the musical and also aspects of the plot. I have not read the book, but I am assuming that the musical followed the book closer than the movie followed the book. Anyway, I was surprised to see that a major aspect of the plot dealt with the strained relationship between the mother and the father. In the movie the mother is made out to be a ditzy socialite who does not have the time to worry about her marriage let alone take care of her own children and she is fine with that. However, in the musical the mother is an ex-actress who wants nothing more than to take care of her own children and mend her broken marriage. The main question running through my head during the musica was, is this change in the mother's character due to the modern age or was it originally like this in the book? Do perceptions of people's roles change because society changes or do the actual portrayals change?

Born to be Bad

The other day in class we were disscussing the notion that scientists think that individuals are not a "blank slate" when born but we all are sort of programmed with our personalities and then the blank spots are filled with life experiences and upbringing. I am a true beleiver in this and I have my own evidence to prove it. I know a woman that had twins that were raised and brought up together within the same household. When trying to obtain childsupport from the thought to be babies' daddy, she was shocked to find that her twin boys had two different fathers. It is extremely rare that this ever happens but in her case the paternaty tests proved her to be the unlucky one. Anyways, the boys were barely ever apart growing up and continued to be raised within the same home with rare visits from the two separate fathers. One of the fathers was the primary man in both of the twin's life. The boys are now about six years old and they are life night and day. Having met both of the boys fathers I can see why. One of the father is shy an poliet while the other is your typical bad boy and his son's behavior reflects his clearly. I just thought it was interesting how much of an impact genes really do have on personality and mannorisms.
Moral of the story... choose your baby's daddy wisely ladies!

D2L as a Forum?

I have an online class with a professor this semester that is shaping up to be unlike any other online class experience I've had. Since I used to commute, it was easier for me to take half of my classes online, and I've taken three others so far in addition to the two I'm taking this semseter. In the past my classes have been just that- classes. However, this semester one of my professors is using d2l as a forum to rant, it seems. She is not satisfied with her department and in numerous emails, lectures, and one d2l posting entitled, "Read @ UR own Risk" she details her dissatifaction in a very unprofessional manner. One of the mass emails she sent out to students included a sentiment in which she expressed her opinion that our professors had dumbed us down so that we could no longer think for ourselves, and it was for this reason that she was leaving UWM in Spring '08.

All of this can really be distracting from the learning portion of class, to say the least. Not to mention that I and other students rarely get feedback from the questions we ask pertaining to the organization of the class; rather, we receive emails ranting about this professor's position within her department. All of this seems like an inappropriate platform from which a faculty member is abusing her ability to connect with students... certainly not what I expected from this class, or from d2l!!

Grey's

This season of Grey's is proving to be disappointing for me. I miss the days when Meredith chased McDreamy and McDreamy and McSteamy were at each others throats. The sad McDreamy that's best buds with McSteamy is quite the boring show. I still can't believe Callie was let down that quietly after her husband left her for another woman- that she works with none the less! That doesn't seem like her character at all! And I really hope McDreamy does something to piss Meredith off soon because I can't stand watching him cry over her not wanting to be with him for much longer. I miss the Christina/Burke romance as well- they made a great team. The show needs Christina to be her usual pushy self again.

C'mon Grey's get with it!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

one family's struggle

This is the devastation: thirteen or fourteen transparent garbage bags of clothing in the center hallway. A spiral staircase with a second-story balcony overlooks the living area, frames the left and top of the shot. An elegant circular dining table sans chairs stands behind the numerous bags. The luxurious kitchen is seen further in the background and an impressive sitting room looms from the right hand side of the television screen.

I watched a newscast about the recent wildfires in California documents the hardships of one family in So Cal.

This poor woman had to have her clothes ALL dry cleaned!

Plus, there’s an overwhelming smoke smell in all the rooms, the swimming pool is filthy, filled with debris, and even the light bulbs are dirty. Naturally, this family spends $20-$30k to have “a small army” (of mostly Hispanic men, from what the newscast showed) clean their spacious home from top to bottom. The carpets were cleaned thoroughly but just couldn’t be salvaged. Damn.

It’s the first step toward moving on. "This is the best we can do, but we're trying," Mom says.

Their fire insurance policy covers some of the clean-up costs.

I wonder how much money they donated to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, and even to others in Southern California whose homes were entirely decimated. What was the best they could do to help others in a similar situation?

Writer's Strike

I don't know how concerned the rest of the class is with the writer's strike. I don't think it will really affect my life. It's kind of interesting that it has become big news. I read about it in the paper, and heard about it from a few friends. I would venture to guess that maybe only half of the general public enjoy sitcoms. I personally haven't watched much prime time tv since I was maybe in grade school. I'm fine with reality televison like Cops, and Discovery and Hisotry Channel type shows.
On an aside, I'd like to see what Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien can come up with on their own. It might be more spontaneous and a bit less predictable.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Spashup

Found an interesting new site recently that my friend sent me to. Its called Splashup.
It is a basic version of photoshop online. I find this to be pretty neat, because photoshop is a wonderful program and offers a lot more options that what typically comes installed on a computer....such as paint. I guess its integrated with facebook or something, which is pretty cool considering it will let people play around with their giant picture albums there. I think theres an interesting trend of having more and more programs working online. This is pretty interesting because a lot of people i know would really like programs like photoshop but they certainly don't have the money to purchase expensive software like that. Frequently they get it in other less than legal ways. Will more programs such as this on the web lead to less downloads of software? I'm not sure about that, but I do think more and more people who don't use stuff like this will start to and it will lead to a lot more users warping pictures on photoshop. Should be fun.

The Dwarves Changed My Life

The talk in class yesterday regarding the seperation and misunderstanding that exists between the adult and youth worlds reminded me of the most coming-of-age argument my parents and I ever had. I think this class discussion helped me apply greater meaning to the argument rather than settling on the typical teen angst/my parents suck philosophy.

One weekend when I was 17, I was at a youth group retreat. My friend left The Dwarves "Blood, Guts, and Pussy" cd in my car, which I had never listened to. It was merely shown to me, then left in my car. My mother found this cd over the weekend and had a metaphorical heart attach. She decided to raid my music selection and confiscate all material she deemed inappropriate, went through all the lyrics she could find, researched them on the internet and prepared documents of how this music is making me a bad person.

I returned from my trip (a youth group retreat! the irony...) to my parents' accusations of how popular culture was destroying my character and integrity. It was those loud rock shows that I went to with my friends every weekend. It was my best friend who was getting me into this "vulgar" music, and it was Satan working through these music recordings to draw me away from good. In ceremonious fashion, my mom shattered many of my favorite albums over her knee and told me I was never to go to a show again. And I could only listen to Christian music.

...

My mom was assuming that I was a passive consumer, allowing every value represented in the music to be injected into me. I had no discernment, no moral control, no interpretation of the meaning of the texts. Even if she conceded that perhaps I would intrepret these youth culture atrocities a bit different, my interpretation was wrong.

This incident changed my life in that I realized, then argued, that my parents were wrong. By the age of 17, much of morals/beliefs/viewpoints have already been shaped or are in the process of being configured by my life experiences, not my parents threats. I told my parents that they could punish me all the wanted, restrict my access to the world, and shut me into my bedroom, but at the end of the day, confronting popular culture is inevitable and they must trust my discernment and judgement (that perhaps they instilled in me long ago!) to create meaning out of the world.

I think this exchange was a big step for both of us in understanding each other's world. I understand that to them, loud shows with lyrics about "getting down tonight" may seem like toxic to family values, but they also didn't know anything about the music or the context in which it was made. Regardless, because of this exchange, my parents had received a new understanding of myself and the culture that I was growing up in. They understood that their reaction wasn't the only acceptable reaction to my youth culture.

My mom even bought me a new copy of my favorite cd that she had smashed.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Stop Gas Purchase from THEM...not WHEN

My normal process of entering the internet is as follows:
  1. I check my UWM email, delete any unnecessary junk and reply to those that can be done in less than 30 seconds.
  2. Check my Hotmail email account and proceed as before
  3. Check Facebook to see if anything new has been sent to my profile.
Today Facebook had informed me that I was invited to join a group. Honestly, I was a group joining fiend my freshmen year, but since then have become more skeptical about which I join, if any. Instead of accepting myself into a group based on its title and brief description, I investigate the entire site/group and it's central Idea.

This group however peaked my interest.

It basically was informing the many Facebook participants that the Gas Price Strike could be done a better and more efficient way.

Instead of everyone not buying gas on a certain day, we should stop buying gas altogether from a certain Provider: Mobil.

The description basically points out that it is the consumer who controls the prices, not the providers. Mobil (now in cahoots with Exxon,) is the most expensive Gas Station provider throughout the entire United States and that if everyone chooses to buy from BP, Phillip's 66, or Q-Gas, etc., it would force Mobil/Exxon to lower their prices down into the $2.00-2.75 range.

When you actually think about, something like this could work if enough people go along with it-hence why this was brought to Facebook: A mass media outlet that millions of people use now.

This unfortunately is in the chain letter style and I for one am not the biggest of fan of those. I will actually be participating, just not joining the group. It does make more sense to cut off an entire company until they break than just "punishing" many for one day... By which not everyone will do.

For more information on this, go to this Facebook Site or read more about the country's proposal to our gas problem.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Tragedy Overseas

As you all may or may not know, there was a school shooting today that occurred at a Finnish high school. The 18 year-old gunman open fired at Jokela high school, killing 7 and then turned the gun on himself. He shot himself in the head and ended up surviving, poor fool......

What I think is disgusting about this case is that he posted a video on YouTube prior to the incident. I believe the video was posted today just hours before. YouTube obviously has taken the video off the network, but it can still be found online. The video is titled "Jokela High School Massacre 11/07/2007".

I am not sure if anybody caught this before the incident or were even warned about it. He was just using YouTube as a media outlet to get a worldly response...This is exactlly what he wanted. It is absolutely ridiculous. People are taking advantage of YouTube, I am sure we all could give an example, which causes issues and YouTube could get taken off the net for everyone because of idiots like this!!!!!!

The video has been posted on other sites, you can find it at www.liveleak.com for those of you who want to watch it.................

Monday, November 05, 2007

Circulation decreases, web traffic increases

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel announced today that its overall circulation has decreased since last year. Here's a link. Although this comes as no surprise, the story notes that this is a trend across the country. Here's my take:

1. The decrease in newspaper circulation certainly feels depressing. Who wants to be a part of what many say is a dying medium? I think, however, its also very possible that there's a general fear of the unknown future of media. The internet has drastically changed how, when and what information is being delivered, but the internet has also changed the relationship between media consumers and media producers (instantaneous news vs. printed every morning, on-demand vs. scheduled, etc.)

2. The Journal Sentinel also noted a new measurement that looked at combined readership from its print and web editions. I think this fact might highlight an important point: Even though newspapers may be losing a piece of the ad pie to the internet, many newspaper owners also own the web sites where those dollars are being spent. Take a look at the Journal Sentinel which runs JSOnline.com (the heaviest trafficked web site in Wisconsin) and several other web sites, as well as Real Cities, a network of local newspaper sites formally owned by Knight Ridder.

To conclude, even though newspapers are losing readership, that doesn't necessarily mean media companies are losing the battle when it comes to ad revenue. Only time will tell.

UPDATE 11/06/2007: MJS has another article on its circulation/web numbers. Here's the link.

Product Placement...HATE IT!

Ok, so I know that a lot of tv shows and movies rely on funds from advertisers to have their products put into the medium...but it is seriously getting out of hand. Take yesterdays Extreme Home Makeover on ABC. Great show, yes? It is a good show...one that obviously has sponsers (*cough* SEARS!) because otherwise it could not survive. The show last evening was going along like any other until one of the designers contacted the family via webcam asking them to describe what they'd like in their kitchen from looking at the Searsbook.

First: Most of these design decisions are not made on camera (except when it involves kids bedrooms usually).

Second: While paging though the Searsbook, the daughter was pointing out refridgerators that she liked...I believe she was 12 or so. Really? A 12 year old giving refridgerator input to her parents. That's what I did when I was that age, how about you?

The whole scene was so ridiculous cause it was a totaly plug for Sears. It really ruined part of the show for me. I mean, I understand that they have to put things like that in the show for monetary reasons and what not, but sometimes it all goes too far.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Mean Girls

The movie Mean Girls was on TV tonight. It's about a girl (L.Lohan of course) that moves to the good old USA from Africa. She’s socially confused and accidentally joins the cool group of girls at school. Basically, she joins a group of 3 girls that control everyone around them and eventually Lohan's character takes charge of the whole group and turns into a "mean girl". I think this movie was successful because a lot of people can relate to it, there’s usually a group of girls in every high school that are similar to these "cool girls". The movie teaches a "valuable" lesson: treat others how you want to be treated. But funny all at the same time.

Chef's Story

I just thought I'd drop a note about a new show that has caught my attention. I'm the type of person who likes to watch cooking shows when I'm feeling hungry and there's no food around. I've watched the food network for a few years now, but I was without cable recently, and was suprised by the amount of good cooking shows on PBS. I work in a kitchen, so cooking is an interesting topic for me, but I think others enjoy cooking shows as well.
The best show on PBS is one called A Chef's Story. It opens with an interview with a famous chef at the French Culinary Institute in New York City. The interview is about fifteen minutes longs. You learn about the chef's history and some of their thoughts on what it is to be a professional chef. In the second half of the show, the chef demonstrates one of their favorite or signature dishes. Some of the episodes I've caught showcased Bobby Flay, Anthony Bourdain, and Cat Cora. If you're a foodie, or like to eat, you should check out the show.

Lights Camera, Action, and...Website?

Movies have been advertised on websites since the dawn of the world wide web. Now, offering movie search databases, fan sites or blogs, industry blogs and the trade press websites; movies and their discussion has become a salient feature online. Last night I was looking up show times for the AMC cinema at Mayfair mall. After seeing a listing for a film I had vaguely heard something about, I hit up a link to the official movie site. This site blew me away. I can honestly say it is one of the most complex (in terms of layout and amount of content), well produced (in terms of multi-dimensional facets), publicity sites I have ever come across. I ended up spending over an hour checking out all the goodies it had to offer. Trailers & teasers, clips & behind the scenes extras, story background, cast & crew, and downloads.
The movie is based on a true story, set in 1970s Harlem. The narrative is a classic good vs. evil plot with two main characters from each side. On the home page of the site we are shown these two men: one white, one black. These two sides of the story are very different but similar at the same time. The most impressive aspect of the film’s site is the possibility of a self-lead exploration via these characters. This is the feature that made me go from not knowing anything about this true story or the film, to greatly wanting to see it as soon as possible. Next to both of their names there are links in red that say “explore”. This is exactly what I did. Starting with the “bad guy” played by Denzel Washington, I discovered the plot, the conflict and since I was patient and looked at everything, eventually I learned the resolution. Although, even after knowing what happens to the main characters I still wanted to see the movie more than ever. Each “page” opens and leads with a few key lines, which become links, and thus lead to more pages of content. The viewer gets to check out the plot from both angles and even though there are plenty of clips and sneak peaks throughout nothing seems to be explicitly given away; which of course would spoil the intrigue.
The film, American Gangster, is directed by Ridley Scott and was made by Universal. To learn more, check out the incredibly designed, awesomely produced, official site.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Music Industry

Yesterday, there was an article in the Journal Sentinel Cue section that was actually somewhat relevant. The author wrote about the growing popularity and importance of converging music with video games. A big example used is the Tony Hawk games, which for the new game coming out will have more than 50 artists featured to provide a soundtrack to the user's skateboarding adventures. Looking back on when I played that game when I was in junior high, the music was almost as important to me as the actual game was. By placing songs from a particular genre that happens to be popular with the game's target audience, the repeated play of the songs could stimulate enormous sales for the artists featured. The genius thing about the Tony Hawk game is that the songs used are played over and over and over again. Although I haven't played Tony Hawk in years, I still remember my favorite songs from the game very well! I think I probably bought a couple records as a result as well.

I think this is a great example of how the music industry is continuing to adopt to the internet and changing technologies. Although illegal downloading and digital files have damaged the industry's profit and affected the overall structure of the industry even, just like other technologies in the past, the music industry is going to learn to adapt. Radio and film overcame the rise of television with redefining their marketing strategies and use in a consumer's life, and for the music industry to survive, it has to do the same.

Also similar to the other entertainment industries listed above, by placing songs on particular video games, the music industry has found a sort of niche marketing. Instead of appealing to a national audience, the artists' songs that go on different video games will best be popular among the targeted audience. Hopefully, the music industry will continue to be creative about staying alive in such a p2p culture.