Friday, January 30, 2009

I miss my Ipod.

  I miss my Ipod. It brought me joy, happiness, ecstacy, as well as the wonderful feeling having an awesome song playing while your walking down the street, as if you were in a movie and it was the background music.  That little black device with its 80GB and over 4,000 songs is somewhere in Chicago right now, instead of being here with me. I happened to leave it in a friends car when she drove up here to visit me. I didn't realize it was gone until long after she had arrived back in Chicago.

 I feel a little lost without my Ipod. I'm so used to having music to accompany me on my bus rides to school, walks to class, or while doing copious amounts of school work. Without it, I've had to make due. I try to have a song going in my head at all times while not interacting with people. The point I am making is that this little piece of media, that somehow I managed to live without for 20 years of my life has become a huge part in the way I live, and how my mind works. I have always been into music, but I never had to always have a song going on in my head until after I bought one. once I get it back, I will be a happy person again.  I just hope I don't have to wait too long....


Reaching the end of spring semester 08', classes were soon to be over, nature was rearing its green thumb, and it was sure a great lead into a remarkable summer. After the semester came to a halt my buddy and I had about a week to prepare for Summercamp 2008. Summercamp is a music festival geared towards jam and electronica genres. It is 3 days of music and camping, and is located in Chillicothe, IL. It was our first music festival and was nothing but live shows, dancing, light shows, and partying all throughout the night. On the last day we were enjoying the Avett Brothers from lawn chairs at our campsite, when I asked a gentleman with a camera if he knew anything about the upcoming band. He said no, but asked if me and a friend would be interested in doing an interview for him and his crew. He was a Roving Festival Writer and he travels from festival to festival and writes about how he views the fest and his different experiences. We had a drink with him and he filmed our interview, which was later put on YouTube by his crew. I know this didn't relate to something recent, but related to writing and media.

*Our interview on the YouTube clip starts at about 6 mins in, but out faces show up at about 6mins30secs.*

Radio Milwaukee

I recently was introduced to the radio station 88.9 Radio Milwaukee, and I can't get enough of it. With no commercial interruptions and a constant flow of different genres of music it is what I have been waiting for. Especially when I am going on long drives in my car. Not having to fiddle around with my ipod when a song I don't care to listen to comes on is really nice. Not to mention the fact that in the last few weeks since I started listening to 88.9 I have been introduced to new artist and songs that I have never heard. Compared to 103.7 KISS FM which, don't get me wrong I also listen to as well, gets extremely repetitive and boring. And the endless sets of commercial breaks between lil wayne, Kanye West, The All American Rejects, and others has me constantly changing the station. But thanks to 88.9 Radio Milwaukee I can get my fix of hip-hop, pop, jazz, R&B, and more.

Publishing Gone Wild...2.0 Style

Printed in this week's TIME Magazine (February 2,2009). Here is an interesting article written by Lev Grossman on how there are now websites that allow writers, who haven't had much luck to sign an agent, to publish their works online and try to garner support and popularity that way instead of through traditional publishing houses.

We have all heard about how a lot of print media companies are cutting staff amid falling advertisement revenue. So it is interesting to learn that finally the publishing houses are now being affected to the new age of the internet and the whole idea of Web 2.o.

Writers need only to pay an upfront fee to the company that will publish your work on their website. Grossman mentions the internet publishing company, iUniverse, will market your book to larger companies such as Barnes & Noble and even certain larger traditional publishing companies. One drawback though is that iUniverse takes home a large cut of each book that you sell through their company.

Oh well I have to start somewhere Right? I'm looking forward to the day when all textbooks will be offered online. We all can save a little money by not having to pay so much for our books and we won't have to lug those books around everyday too!

The Real Deal

Reality is what we make it. It’s another way of saying you’re life is in your own hands, you get what you give, etc. Creators of reality television take this statement literally. As literally as they possibly can. They take it so literally, that they cut, and tuck, and switch, and emphasize, and erase so much of what is recorded, that they make what used to be reality into something that more resembles a fictional story. Personally, I have no problem with this. I don’t intend on applying to be on a reality television show of any sort, no matter how much I croon over America’s Next Top Model, and I get to innocently sit at home with a bowl of popcorn and laugh my ass off at those who follow through with it. What baffles me is the number of reality shows out there today and the number of contestants who flood to be on them. Have we seen the three seasons of Flavor of Love, the spin-offs like I Love Money and Charm School? And by naming those few, it doesn’t even coat the potato chip with all the juicy reality show dip that’s out there. With each show that I sit down to watch, however, my mounting disgust with humanity is becoming overwhelming. Not only do these contestants do ridiculous things that they know are going to be aired on television, but they know very well that the reality of it is going to be altered, and they’re going to be made out to be some sort of lunatic, cry baby, or stalker—and get mad about it afterwards. Use your brain, people. You may be auditioning for a reality show, but most of them are very far from real. And if you star in one and get angry about how you’re portrayed, I have no pity for you.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Vocoder Smokader

What do 80's hitmaker the late great Terry "Zapp" Troutman have in common with todays biggest hip hop heavyweights like Kanye West, Lil' Wayne, and T-pain? Besides all being chart topping artists, if you said the use of an electronic voice box then you are correct. What began with Troutman, mainly known for his hit "Computer Love", has become a staple in the new sound of hip hop. The Vocoder (its formal name) also had a hot run in the 90's with famed producer and singer from group Blackstreet Teddy Riley's use of it. But it undoubtedly has made an even bigger comeback becoming a phenomona used by everyone from Jamie Foxx on his latest album to Snoop Dogg's "Sensual Seduction". But is the use of this added voice machine helpful or hurtful? Well album sales for Lil' Wayne and Kanye West speak for themselves. Obviously people are diggin this sound which proves no matter the generation, the vocoder lives on. And though I am one of those people who are currently doing the diggin', I am afraid however that with so many artists hopping on the voice box bandwagon, that it will become played out and dare I say, annoying at some point. But as for now, long live the vocoder and all those who use it!

American Idol...A singing competition?

I am truly addicted to American Idol, I never miss it. The past couple of weeks it has been the audition process and I can't believe some of the people that try out! After all of the seasons I still can't tell if they think they are really good or they are just doing it for a joke, for example here is one of my favorite "worst auditions" this season. Something that does bother me about the process is people who are not good but still make it because of some gimmick they have used to get noticed, a specific audition this season was the "Bikini Girl." I don't think that it is fair to the good or even the not so good people who audition, it makes it less of a singing competition and more of an issue of who gets the judges attention no matter what their voice sounds like. I know that this needs to be done for the ratings, obviously I seemed to be entertained by it and so are a lot of people, I just question how much of a fair singing competition it starts out as in the begining.

True Beauty: More to it than just good looks

I wouldn't say that I have become obsessed with the new show on ABC called "True Beauty," but it definitely raises my eyebrows. This show airs at 9 p.m. central time right after "The Bachelor." I do not know much about it but I do know that it is produced by Ashton Kutcher and Tyra Banks. I think the idea of the show is absolutely genius. I'm not one for reality shows, but this one got me really interested only because it puts people in their place when they feel a bit more "privileged" than the next person. It starts out with ten people who feel they are the most beautiful in the world and each week one is voted off based on their performance for that week. These performances are based on challenges and photo shoots but the judges are also watching for how these contestants interact with one another. The contestants think they are only being judged on their outer beauty but what the judges are really looking for is their inner beauty. The winner of the show will get $10,000 in cash and also be featured in People Magazine's Most Beautiful People issue, which I feel is a huge honor. When each contestant is voted off, they are told that "there is more to beauty than what meets the eye." Just watch the show once and see how conceited some people are and it will make you think twice about the definition of what "True Beauty" really is.

Meet the cast of True Beauty

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

World's Best Job?

My new obsession is a show on the Travel Channel on Wednesdays at 10 P.M. ET titled "Man v. Food".

It's hosted by a man named Adam Richman, and his job entails traveling the country and stopping along the way at desirable food locations, stopping at three locations a show.

One of the restaurants generally has some kind of insane food eating competition like consuming 12 pounds of food that includes a five pound burger and five pounds of french fries that need to be consumed in one hour at Eagles Deli in Boston, or eating six of the famous Atomic wings from Quaker Steak and Lube.

I can truly say I am deeply jealous of Adam Richman. I have seen all the episodes of this season's Man v. Food at least once, and if I ever see it's on again, I will sit down to watch it again. Everything made on the show looks like it were to be made for a king. Every time I watch the show I wish I was there to eat all of the shown food, and then some.

What is not to like about pigging out to massive amounts of the best food you can find in the country???


Kanye West's unique ability to capture his audience attention was evident, when he debuted his cartoon-reality video for his mind catching song Heartless. The song itself tells a story of a cold hearted ex- girlfriend, but the cartoon makes the story come to life. His love and passion for the art of Hip hop has broadened his imagination to do something outside of the cliche images portrayed on music videos today. He has managed to incorporate fiction with reality and make it appealing. Throughout his career his music has reached mass audiences across the globe. His institution of media has managed to bring together various social identities such as culture, gender, class and age. Kanye's music isn't only targeted at a specific demographic group and this is why he's so popular. By generating a cartoon to express the lyrics in his song has captured the eyes of young and old, black and white, Christian and Muslim.

Sex and Commercials

I haven't really been exposed to much TV or other media as of late, so I took to E!'s webpage for the first time to find some good stuff. I came across this ad:

This is a funny commercial, there's no doubt about that. They're saying it's deemed "too sexy" for media. I'm not sure why, but it leaves me wondering if they're criticizing it because it's a PETA commercial, and not a beer commercial, or something of that sort. There are so many commercials involving alcohol that focus solely on sex. For instance, the new Captain Morgan commercials. The "4 guys" who are just ordinary dudes that drink captain pick up tons of gorgeous women at bars because they're drinking Captain.

Another example is the new Burger King commercials. They find people in lost parts of the world (clearly fake) and have them try MacDonalds and Burger King for the first time and have them compare. They call these people "Whopper Virgins." I feel like they use that word to relate to sex a little bit, or at least to grab the attention of the viewer because when the word virgin comes to mind, it usually has to do with sex. Sex and burgers don't mix. This is just simply wrong in my opinion!

I think that they're making a big deal about this just because it's PETA. Sure, it's weird that they're using sex to grab the viewers attention, but it's like you almost have to these days to get the viewers attention with all of the other commercials. PETA is trying to be a little funny, vegetarians have better sex, who cares, it's catchy! Plus, this is for a good cause, unlike a lot of other commercials that use sex.

Kanye West Video

I really like this video by Kanye West called "Flashing Lights"

Here's what I like about it...

I also like OK GO

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Office

In my opinion, one of the best shows on tv (Thursday nights at 8 on NBC) is The Office. For those of you who aren't familiar with the show, The Office is a sattire about a group of employees and their regional manager, Michael Scott, played by Steve Carell, who all work at Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. The show consists of dry, but very funny humor, centering around characters like Dwight Schrute, who takes his job way too seriously, or Jim and Pam, co-workers that recently got engaged.
One of the latest episodes was about a duel between Dwight and Andy, a corny "Cornell" graduate. The two are battling for the affections of Angela, an uptight prude, with the winner getting Angela's hand in marriage. The duel included antics such as Andy trying to run over Dwight with his car, but when Dwight and Andy found out that Angela had been toying with both of their emotions, both gave up on the duel, leaving Angela without a fiancee.
I look forward to this weeks episode and also recapping on last weeks because I missed it due to work. What's great about is that you can view the full episodes online with barely any commercials. So if you're not yet a fan of The Office, check it out. It's the kind of humor that anyone can relate to.

Rock of Love Bus

Let me preface this post by saying that I am a huge reality TV fan - not really because I want to be one, more like I just can't stop watching.

MTV and VH1 have some of my favorite reality shows. Most of the shows "stars" get recycled as long as people seem to care to watch them. They even transition from contestants to show hosts in some cases. These reality shows all revolve around the same 3 things: sex, booze, and fighting. What does it say about me that I can't stop watching even if I totally disagree with these reality star's behavior? I guess I don't really want to think about... Anyway, up until a few weeks ago I had never met a reality show I didn't like. That was until I saw the first episode of Rock of Love Bus.

Rock of Love Bus doesn't contain the usual "train wreck" appeal of most reality TV shows. I was shocked by the intense promiscuity of every single contestant. The casting for this was a deliberate attempt to scrape the bottom of the barrel. Forget plastic surgery and makeup, these people are barely human. One young lady has so much makeup that she doesn't even look like her features are in the correct locations on her face. Instead of the usual revealing dresses on TV, these women are wearing maid outfits and lingerie. One woman drinks until she vomits, and then makes out with Bret Michaels moments later. What's more, he doesn't seem to care. In fact, he seems incredibly impressed by his prospective "girls friends."

Now, I want to make sure it doesn't sound like I'm coming down too hard on these ladies, because it makes me realize that they must lead incredibly unhappy lives to consider it fun to come on a show where they're driven to drink until they're ill and physically fight eachother over a man their fathers' age, whose career all but ended when they were in diapers. Instead of laughing at the show, I just feel bad for them. I feel bad for society that this show is a hit. This show makes me rethink my love of every other reality show. In makes me ashamed to be a reality TV fan. If not for implants, the attention of guys, and a ton of makeup, these women feel worthless. And what's more, they're egged on to believe that they're real celebrities and people find them acceptable. They're gawked at, instantly judged, and considered sluts. No one cares about the unfortunate circumstances that they certainly had to have encountered to be so angry and lack self-respect. The "reality" of the situation is that they're the butt of the joke. It's not funny or entertaining, it's just incredibly depressing.

90210- Just What The Dr. Ordered

So judge me if you must, but I'm a big fan of the new 90210. I was too young when the original was on air, so I am loving every minute of this sitcom. However, what I am not loving is the in-your-face advertising style the show promotes.

Now being a JMC major with emphasis on advertising, at first I thought it was just me. In the episode where Naomi gets some new friends, they give her a cell phone to program. The first shot is a close-up of a T-Mobile Sidekick- not too distracting. Later, after she programs the phone, we see her hand it back to the girl with another close-up of the phone. I started to get really annoyed, because the programming of the phone had no relation to the actual scene whatsoever. It drove me nuts!!!!

Now don't get me wrong- I understand how advertising works and why we have it. But it became so distracting that it was all I could focus on, and Dr.Pepper is the worst of the culprits in this show. In pretty much every scene where someone is eating or drinking, there the Dr. Pepper is. At the lunch table, there's Diet Dr. Pepper. At the Peach Pit where Dickson works, there's a huge Dr. Pepper sign. EVERYWHERE you turn, there it is. It got so repetitive that I started to only pay attention to where the Dr. Pepper would show up in the new scene. I couldn't get enough..I even got to enjoy at least one commercial of Dr. Pepper during EVERY SINGLE COMMERCIAL BREAK!!! WOO-HOO!!!

From an advertising standpoint, these companies did a great job of getting me to notice their product. However, they also did a great job of annoying me with it too.I love the show, but Dr. Pepper and T-Mobile need to cool it. Just because the advertising annoyed me so much, I am boycotting Dr. Pepper for a month. Seriously. And my challenge to anyone who reads this is to watch the show (even if you can't stand it) just to see how long it takes to recognize some T-Mobile or Dr. Pepper advertising. My guess is- 5 minutes max.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Tina Fey at the Golden Globes: A new take on saying thank you

I mentioned in class today that I am a huge fan of Hollywood awards ceremonies. Whether it's the Oscars or the Emmys, the Golden Globes or the Screen Actors Guild awards, I will gladly spend three hours on a Sunday night doing nothing but observing the interaction between hundreds of fancily clad actors, writers and performers as they either win or lose fame for their recent artitistic accomplishments.

It's fun to comment on the many beautiful (and many certainly-not-so-beatiful) ball gowns, etc. But what I find more fascinating is the way the individuals react to their accolades and those of their neighbors. One such individual who sticks out strongly in recent memory is Tina Fey, whose Golden Globes acceptance speech for Best Actress in a comedic TV series both drew loud laughter and caused me to think critically about the concept of acceptance speeches in general.

For those of you who have not seen her speech, Tina started off with the manditory cheesy jokes and more serious comments on her gratitude for the year she'd had. Then she turned a corner that perhaps few audience members were expecting. Rather than painstakingly thanking a lengthy list of producers, crew members, fellow cast members and relatives, Tina gave shout-outs to the Internet users who have loudly voiced their disapproval of her as an actress and a person. She listed three screennames in particular who had been less than complimentary and bluntly told them they could each, "Suck it."

While that may seem like impolite terminology for one's moment in the spotlight, it does say something rather refreshing about Fey's use of this opportunity. From my point of view, the point that she made was that celebrities, even when they are praised and admired, have a very healthy dose of dislike, enmity and even hatred to deal with from people in the crowd.

I don't normally think about the stage fright or self-consciousness a celebrity could very well be dealing with when I watch them perform or speak, but Fey's speech goes to show that they probably deal with such insecurities more often than we think. So in addition to being highly entertained by Fey's true-to-form, tongue-in-cheek comments, a lesson hit home for me as I watched. Check it out for yourself if you've got a minute. At the very least you'll probably chuckle a bit.


So I'm watching the E! channel, about the ten most inappropriate celeb make-out moments, and found myself disgusted. The first nine included stars like Heidi and Spencer, Vanessa and Zac, Britney and Kevin, and then it's gets down to the number one inappropriate kiss. This is when my jaw dropped. Angelina Jolie and her brother! Okay okay, they didn't actually make-out, but were pretty close while cuddling up with one another at an awards show back in 2000. A few lip locks were also caught on camera. YUCK! The two were said to be grabbing each other all night around each others waists. She said while accepting an award on stage, I am so in love with my brother right now. A little too close for brother and sister.....
Today, Angelina Jolie is a wonderful role model for people all over the world. She's a stunning actress, mother of 6, and said to be a wonderful wife. I think she has broken out of her rebel shell, and now walks through life with dignity and class.