Monday, December 19, 2011

PWR 2 Fall Webby Winner: The Power of Framing

by Jose A. Alvarez

This clip and others like it have spread like wildfire, receiving airtime on most American news stations in the past few weeks. The story: a group of protestors was pepper-sprayed by police officers at the University of California at Davis. The report has caused outrage throughout the country from Occupy Wall Street protesters, sympathizers, and college communities. As a viewer watching a report like the one above, one concludes that an irresponsible police officer in riot gear used an unnecessary weapons-grade pepper spray to assault a group of peaceful protestors.

Does that sound like a popular opinion? It should, and that is no surprise. News stations everywhere use framing techniques to present content in a way that encourages viewers towards a specific interpretation or opinion. These techniques can be motivated by political agenda, corporate agenda, or a desire for top ratings. At this point you may be asking why framing matters in this case. The clip above seems to be straightforward, and according to our society’s consensus gentium the police officer used unnecessary force on peaceful protestors. Well, here are 15 minutes of video that the news reports chose to omit:

* A version of the video without commentary can be found here:

I won’t give you 15 minutes of additional commentary, but here’s a rough synopsis. The police officers first give warnings to the protesting students, including information on the laws they are breaking. After the students refuse to leave, police officers clear tents and arrest a group of students. Other students then encroach and surround the police officers and demand that the arrested students be released before they allow the officers to leave. After some final warnings, the police officers proceed to use pepper spray to clear a path. Encroachment, the most serious offence by the students in the second video, is against the law. Hence, after watching the second video, it seems as if the use of pepper spray by the police officer was indeed provoked and warranted, something that the news report failed to address.

Many questions result after watching both videos. Why did the “experts” in the news report fail to take into account the information depicted in the second video? If my assumption that it is illegal to encroach and surround police officers is true, why were three officers placed on administrative leave? Do all of the station’s employees, including writers, anchors, and executives, share the blame for the blatant exclusion of information from news reports? Unfortunately, while those and other questions are important, this post is just too short for the appropriate answers.

This post is not meant to support or refute the Occupy Wall Street movements. My own personal opinions on the matter are irrelevant. Rather, it is meant to challenge the ways in which we interpret content that is delivered to us by the media. The more aware we become of mass media’s methods for content delivery, the closer we can get to truly forming our own informed opinions on news.

PWR 2 Webby Runner-Up: So You Wanna be a YouTube Blogger

by Sam Carreon

PWR2 Webby Runner-Up The Hashtag: Digital Intonations #languageempowerment #evolutionofcommunication

Still to this day, I’m not really sure how I feel about Twitter #doubt #uneasiness

In some ways it seems like it’s an amazing outlet for self-expression and an innovative communicatory tool #thanksJackDoresy

And other times it seems like it contributes to the way technology limits the way we articulate our thoughts #soundslikeOrwell’s1984

On top of that, I feel like it only furthers the desire to depend and worry about how other people view us #IthoughtHighSchoolWasOver

Regardless of how I see Twitter, there is one amazing idea that is revolutionizing digital communication #hashtag

The hashtag is a godsend in a world where intonations and gestures are impossible to convey through text #communicativeconfusion

Emoticons try, but fall short #theonlypeoplethatlikethemarehighschoolgirlsandflirtyguys

A variety of other different nuances don’t really translate over text #goodbyeSarcasm

And phrases like LOL no longer legitimately express reactions like laughter #hopefullyitgetsphasedoutsoon

Then comes hashtag to the rescue #6wordstories

It allows you to put a concept or idea at the end of a sentence #likethis

While this isn’t necessarily its primary use, it is quickly becoming a tool of expression #theElectronicElixarToOurProblems

By finishing a sentence with an intended concept, the reader can more easily determine what the sender meant #re-empoweringlanguage

Also characteristics like the length of the hashtag imply tones #longonesoftenaccompanyjokes #shortISserious

While the mechanisms for how they are used are apt to change and vary #similarlytogestures

Slowly norms will probably form to stabilize something like a hashtag language #WooHooStability

The fact that communities like Twitter draw from such a large base will probably create a more static use #technologyshrinkstheworld

Different uses of hashtags and simply their presence empower the sender #pwrtotheppl

Hashtags are a variable that can give the same set of words different meanings #morecombinationsbetterselfexpression

The specifics of hashtag intonations are still in the “developmental” stages and still have a while before they become e-tones #BetaTesting

But I believe that if not solving the problem itself, hashtags are beginning the movement towards bringing depth to text #humaninnovation

(And yes all of these are legitimate tweet lengths, I had to check several of them, and it took surprisingly long for how concise they are #HemmingwayProblems)

-Phillip Nazarian

Friday, December 9, 2011

Getting Paid in College

Should college athletes be paid or would that corrupt the system? In the recent years there have been various scandals where college athletes receive benefits illegally, such as Reggie Bush from USC and Terrelle Pryor from Ohio State. Bush received money from an agent while still in college which led to penalties for USC, and Terrelle Pryor received discounts and gifts in college, which is likely to lead to penalties for Ohio State. It has been calculated that the average college football player at a big-time college is worth about $120,000 to their college and the average basketball player is worth about $265,000. With many of these athletes coming from a background of poverty shouldn’t the players producing so much money for their university receive some financial reward?
Well clearly this topic is controversial and does not have a clear answer. There have been more and more reports and investigations into collegiate athletes receiving illegal benefits, which looks bad for the NCAA and college sports. Some believe that the best way to combat this is to create a legal way to pay the athletes. If athletes were paid, there would be more incentive to stay in school instead of going pro. For example, now some of the best college basketball players go to school for one year, play basketball, and leave school to play in the NBA. In fact, at semester schools, college basketball players that know they are going to the NBA can do the school work for one semester, then in the second semester not even attend class or do any work as they only need to complete one semester to remain eligible. That provides little education and just allows them to prepare for the next level. The ability to make money while in college for playing their sport would encourage athletes to stay longer and get more education.
Determining who would receive pay and how much they would receive would be difficult; however, it might also help provide more education. Athletes make their schools a lot of money…so why not give the ones working for the profit a share of it?

-Brett Doran

Why Community is the Lil B of TV Comedies

In class, Phil discuss Lil B as the epitome of the Hegelian Dialectic in rap. Lil B was both thesis, antithesis and synthesis of all the qualities of modern day rap. As I listened to his argument, I couldn't help but think of translating the Hegelian dialectic to other things in the entertainment industry, and it became clear that one thing, above all others, was what i like to call "The Lil B of TV Comedies."

The show Community, is an NBC comedy created by Dan Harmon that first aired in September, 2009. Since its creation, it has attracted a relatively small but extremely devoted fan base (read: exactly like Lil B). By examining Community's through the Hegelian dialectic, we can see many more similarities.

Thesis: The show, like all TV comedies, is made to make a very wide-ranging audience laugh. It is full of both current and past pop-culture references, generic character arcs and expected diversity. It is easily ingestible, not overly thought-provoking, uses a laugh-track frequently, and its episodes are always only 30 minutes long. By watching one episode the viewer can easily tell that the show follows the same generic mold as every other TV sitcom.

Anti-thesis: However, Community, while buying into the generic mold, does so only to make fun of the mold itself. The fringe characters especially, are over-the-top stereotypes of pop-culture. There is one character whose only words in the entire series are "Pop-Pop!", one character who plays the role of "dean of the school" so over the top that it makes you re-question the sexuality (and sanity) of every principal/teacher you have ever had, one character (Abed) who seems to know that the audience is watching the show, and serves as a "go-between" between the audience and the characters. In addition, there is no central character, even though one actor was much more famous than the others when the show began (Joel McHale).

Synthesis: The real beauty of Community, however, lies in its ability to synthesize the thesis and antithesis without seeming hypocritical. In fact, the synthesis itself often becomes a punchline or part of the plot of the show, allowing the audience to fully enjoy the relaxing feeling of watching "just another TV sitcom," while also never getting bored du to the unexpected intricacies of the show.

Overall, it is clear that Community, while not enjoying incredibly high ratings, is one of the best shows on television due to its embracing of its role as the Synthesis of the Hegelian Dialectic as introduced to me in this class. You should all watch it, it's HILARIOUS!

Alon Elhanan

Breaking Dawn, Breaking the Box Office, and Breaking My Heart

This Thanksgiving, teenage girls squealed in delight at the arrival of the fourth movie in the Twilight series, Breaking Dawn: Part I. Over 3 million people lined up to root for “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob” on opening night, hungering for the second to last installment of what has become an incredible cultural phenomenon. Though no vampire lover, I found myself dragged to the movie theater this Thanksgiving with my sister and cousin to see what all this Twilight fuss was about.

After sitting through two hours of hysteria from the young girls around me, I have a hard time wrapping my head around how the Twilight series has attracted such a mass following. The plotline, in my opinion, was hyped up without much real substance. While the events of the film keep the audience on its toes, there is no real character development. Kristin Stewart’s acting consists of her dramatic eye movements. She spends the majority of the film twitching her eyes this way and that to convey her teenage angst. Along with the poor acting, the disturbing events of the film, as well as its poor cinematic qualities left me wondering why films like “Twlight” have come to define our popular culture. What have we come to that millions of viewers flock to see Stewart blink and obsess over Robert Pattinson’s creepy, sparkling skin? Since when are vampires the sexy, new cultural trend?

As the film ended with Bella’s transformation from human to vampire, I left the theater perplexed. While I thought Breaking Dawn could quite possibly be the worst movie I have ever seen, all those around me could not stop expressing their excitement about how much they loved the movie. As a lover of what I would consider to be “real” films, I am heartbroken over how films like those in the “Twilight” series have come to dominate the movie industry. While I understand that “Breaking Dawn” grossed 3.7 million dollars just on opening night, the quality of film and art in general should not be compromised for financial gain. Along with “Breaking Dawn,” other poor quality films and TV shows seem to appeal to the masses the most today. Why our culture is obsessed with low quality entertainment, I do not know. The only thing I can say positively is that you will not see me lining up on opening night for “Breaking Dawn: Part II.”

Reality television seems to take it to the next level every year. This year Spike TV came out with my new favorite reality TV show: Repo Games. The premise is that a tow truck shows up to a house to repossess a car for unpaid loans, the contestant is then able to play a 5 question trivia game to win their car back. The reactions are priceless, and altogether brutal. From the excitement of having a chance to reclaim their car with no debt, to losing it again brings contestants to an emotional low.
Aside from the brutal emotions that come through during the show, there are also quite a few laughs. These are not traditional laughs. The jokes are not structured, there is nothing comedic about it at all actually. These laughs stem from the types of questions asked to the contestants. Often they will ask middle aged and older men questions about current pop culture, such as Lady Gaga. The reactions are priceless, and the answers comedic. This show is worth a watch.

-James Nagle

Black Friday

The thundering sound of barbaric screams, the rumbling trembles of a thousand footsteps shaking the floor, all mixed in with the putrid odor of bodily sweat and the faintest traces of pepper spray. This isn’t a depiction of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots or the aftermath of a Vancouver hockey game—it’s Wal Mart on November 25, 2011. Every Friday after Thanksgiving, when most Americans are done enjoying a nice family meal, an eerie change begins to electrify the night. Some say it’s similar to a werewolf catching its first glance of the full moon. Others compare it Dr. Jekyll drinking his first freeing sip of potion. The only proper explanation we have for this lapse in sanity though is the lure of a sale. After the month of October, it seems to me that every possible form of media turns their attention to Black Friday. We watch news broadcasts giving us current updates and statistics from various stores, in between those broadcasts we watch seemingly relentless commercials advertising every possible product, our e-mails get spammed with hundreds of Amazon deals, and the side of almost every website we visit mentions some type of Black Friday special.

Despite my not-so-subtle feelings of resentment towards such a “holiday”, I too enjoy a good sale that saves me some money. While I do appreciate a simple sale, watching the events of this year’s Black Friday seemed to put a lot in perspective for me. People seemed to regress into their most primitive states when they were given the opportunity to purchase in excess at a cheaper price. The news was filled with stories of shoppers clawing at each other, women pepper spraying their neighbors to get their hands on an XBOX, and a vicious crowd of customers carelessly walking past the corpse of a man who had a heart attack in a store. During a time when our nation and even most of the world is dealing with problems of unprecedented magnitudes, we spend our month advertising and preparing for a day of complete overindulgence. Individuals are getting tear gassed and beaten for camping out and vocalizing their opinions, but the model consumer can occupy their local stores for days on end as long as they are pumping money out of their pockets. We can’t seem to get more than 50% of country to head out to voting booths one day of the year, but we can be sure that they’ll be at Best Buy at 3 a.m. in order to purchase the 52” plasma television. Like I said, I really do not mind a good sale, but I do believe that our country needs a little time to put its priorities in order.

-Henock Dory


They say laughter is the best medicine. I wanted to look into how this medicine could be distributed to a massive audience. I studied everything from Comedy Central to open mic night at the CoHo. I loved this research. Not only was I learning, but I haven't felt this healthy in months.
One aspect of comedy I looked into is delivery. A technique of delivery where the comedian says something that is not serious in a serious manner is called dead pan humor. The comic will stand in front of the audience, looking around, acting disinterested. They may look down, scratch their head, or take an awkward amount of time between jokes. I thought to myself, "this is so exciting!" I was overwhelmed. So I decided to give you a dose of the medicine that is dead pan humor.

*Do not watch if you are easily offended or aren't going to laugh.
**These are not my jokes
***filmed in front of a live studio audience

Hope you enjoyed my video, maybe even laughed a few times.

"He's hilarious" -everybody

-Eric Mochalski

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Revolutionizing Television

Growing up in the 1990’s, the television played just as big of a role in childhood as playgrounds or recess did. The television shows that were shown on the various youth channels, such as Disney Channel or Nickelodeon, are still prominent in my perception of child hood. Who does not remember liking the Rug-rats or Hey! Arnold? The shows were persistently on at a certain time, during a particular day of the week. But now that we have grown apart from our childhood fantasies of revolving our days, or even weeks around a show, we have come to drastically change the way in which television is watched as a generation.

The same kids that were obsessing over the comical cartoons are now obsessing over the finals that are approaching or the project due at work. The childhood method of watching television has even changed from 90’s. The television is no longer the only way, or even the most common way of watching shows by those in their late teens or early twenties. A laptop has replaced most stationary televisions. And the shows now are no longer on at a certain time or day. Online websites such as and Megavideo allow for the viewing of most shows through the web at anytime of the day, putting aside the legality of the act. We no longer have time to sit in front of a television in a specific location to watch what we want when we want. Most are on-the-go and do not have this kind of time, regardless of how badly it may be wanted. The days of “Doug” are no longer met in home living room, but maybe in the library in-between study sessions or in the dorm room at 3 in the morning.

In many ways our generation, along with the help of current technology and television transformation, has revolutionized they way in which we watch television. It should be interesting to watch what the next step for watching television for this generation. Will it relapse and once again become a daily routine as age creeps upon us, or will it transform into something completely new once again?

- Larry Reinhard

Vending Machine & It’s Audience: Personal Information in exchange for a Drink

Vending machines have been like a friend who would exchange a drink for some coins. These machines serve to be the closest shop to get a drink wherever we go around the world. Hero of Alexandria invented the first vending machine in the first century that dispensed some water for a coin. Thomas Adams Gum Company created the first vending machine in the U.S. in 1888. Since then, vending machines have fed people with hot and cold drinks, snacks, ice creams, candies, DVDs, and even electronics. The types of vending machines vary specifically to attract the audiences the companies want. While many of us may not have thought too deeply about these machines, there have been many efforts to appeal to customers.

Now, starting in Japan the vending machines have taken new strides to collect personal information about their consumers to appeal to them much more personally. Japan has now installed new touchscreen vending machines all over Tokyo from 2010. These vending machines have a HD touchscreen to select your beverage, while a smart camera above the screen detects the customer’s age, gender, BMI, etc. in order to recommend certain drinks for that particular customer. The camera’s accuracy is about 75%, and the screens display various ads of drinks when there are no people standing in front of the machine. When you select a drink by touching the screen, it shows you the price, content of the drink, and other recommendations for the buyer. You can make your payment simply by putting your IC-embedded card near the IC-reader on the vending machine, or simply by using your NFC-incorporated (near field communication) cellphones. The vending machines are constantly collecting consumer data, and they are relating more personally to the audience every time you go buy a drink in front of the machines. What was once thought of as an ordinary service for everyone, is now thirsting for mass audience’s personal information.

- June Chung

Federer Stands Alone

In 2004, Roger Federer topped the world tennis rankings and began an unprecedented reign of 237 weeks as number one. Since then, other superstar players have emerged, including Federer’s famous rival, Rafael Nadal, and most recently Novak Djokovic. Although Federer is still an active player at a high level, his accomplishments so far have already earned him the title of the Greatest Player of All Time.

This era of tennis has been sensational to watch. A large part of the reason is simply Federer’s grace and playing style. On the court, Federer glides around effortlessly and makes fantastic shots. As Todd Woodbridge once said, “Tennis is a beautiful sport and its greatest beauty is Roger Federer's play.” Off the court, Federer is a humble and classy humanitarian who was ranked second in a recent survey on the most trusted and respected people in the world (behind Nelson Mandela). These two factors have done a great deal in drawing many new spectators toward tennis, including myself.

For me, however, one of the most interesting things about Federer and his era is simply watching him shatter records. In mid-2009, he broke Pete Sampras’s record for most Grand Slam titles, a highly regarded metric of success. However, this only scratches the surface of what Federer has done. For someone interested in statistics and records, it’s fascinating to know whenever Federer steps on the court, he might be breaking another record.

My favorite statistic about Federer’s career, which illustrates how truly dominant and unique his era is, would be the number of successive Grand Slam finals. The old record was four, set by Andre Agassi. Federer’s own streak was cut in half by his semifinal loss to Novak Djokovic in 2008 in Australia. How long were the two resulting streaks? Ten and eight.

- Renjie You

Plus One System Gains a New Friend:

Another year of Bowl Championship Series (BCS) selections have been made and another year of discontent with the current system has begun to reign. Every year following the BCS selections, people lament that the system to determine the national champion should be better. There are people that have championed a full sixteen-team playoff and every idea in between, but the alternative to the BCS that seems to be gaining the most traction right now is called the “plus-one playoff.”

The Plus-One model has been discussed for an extended period of time and was actually brought before all of the conference leaders in a vote in 2008, but it did not gain the required amount of votes to pass. Since that vote, college football has changed dramatically and the grumblings of the fans have gotten significantly louder. It is important that the Big 12 commissioner has begun to support the plus-one system, because he had been one of two very staunch critics in the past (the other being the Big 10 commissioner Jim Delaney), because he was afraid it would create a loss of revenue for his conference.

The reason that conference commissioners seem closer to making a change to the plus-one system is due to the situation from this year’s BCS selections. Nobody is disputing LSU’s right to play in the national championship game, but there were 3 one-loss teams waiting right in the wings to play LSU. This is the perfect scenario for a plus one system where all four of these teams would have had an opportunity to play their way into the national championship. Right now all of the athletic directors and conference commissioners, except Jim Delaney, are showing support for the plus one. However, they all keep prefacing the change to a plus one system with the word “eventually,” so it seems that the fans will still have to wait some time before there is a fairer system for choosing who plays in the national championship of college football.

By: The Sports Guru (Patrick McCullough)

Breaking Down Breaking Bad Good

In the pilot episode of the American Movie Channel’s Breaking Bad, milquetoast high school chemistry teacher Walter White passes out at the car wash where he moonlights, and is rushed to the emergency room. Regaining consciousness in the ambulance, he tries to dissuade the medics from taking him to the hospital, mumbling, “I don’t have the best insurance plan.” If he had had any power to convince them to let him out, to halt the train of events hurtling toward him with all the force of inevitability, then there would be no show. But, as it must happen, the medics rebuff Walter’s pleas and deposit him in the emergency room, where he is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer.

His condition changes him irrevocably and, in a response as psychologically defensive is as it is physically aggressive, he sets about changing everything else, quitting his car wash job in favor of cooking meth to pay for his treatments. In one scene he undergoes a bout of chemotherapy; in the next, he tyrannizes his juvenile partner or wins a perilous game of chicken with a deranged kingpin. The show tracks his evolution from timorous teacher to terrible drug trafficker but, unlike many popular works that take a villain as their protagonist, it is not in the business of excusing his actions. Walter’s rationalizing mantra that he does everything for his family is juxtaposed with its chronic dissolution at the hands of his secrecy and rampant risk-taking.

Holding the characters ruthlessly accountable for their actions, the writers bring a quality of realism to a fantastic story; and the superb actors acutely register the repercussions they face in their tones, manners and, most of all, in their expressions in long, awkward shots that follow with silence many of the show’s loud and explosive interactions. While the plot is a nail-biter, the real power of the show derives from these still moments, these moments of accounting, in which external forces clash with the characters’ internal fortitudes. With its incredible premise, Breaking Bad poignantly depicts the universal story of a man struggling against his fate.

-Hana Al-Henaid

Wanna Be On Top?

-Megan Schwarz


America's Next Top Model (ANTM) is one of many successful reality television series that has helped define the genre. ANTM first premiered in 2003 (only eight years ago), and yet the show just completed its 17th cycle, or season, on December 7, 2011. Yes, Tyra Banks has produced over two cycles of ANTM per year for the past eight years. This kind of success (measured solely by the number of seasons, not counting spin-offs) is almost unparalleled in the reality TV genre, even by shows like American Idol or The Bachelor. After 17 seasons, it seems like the series might begin to lose some of its popularity and fan base, but Tyra and the other producers of the show have found a some sort of magical formula that will continue to entertain fans for at least one more cycle.

Cycle 17 of ANTM is different from all of the other seasons because it is the “All-Star” cycle, meaning all of the participants were contestants from former seasons of the show. Bringing back former contestants is a risky decision for Tyra Banks, but ultimately I think her decision paid off. This cycle was clearly geared towards fans who have seen every cycle; in fact, the contestants are dubbed the “fan-favorites” from the other seasons. Bringing back former contestants means that fans immediately feel invested in the competition because they already “know” the participants, and the viewers do not feel like they have to spend the first three episodes of the season deciding for whom they want to root. However, bringing back previous contestants can alienate new viewers; the show introduces each contestant with brief flashbacks to their earlier time on the show, but there is still an expectation that the audience will recognize almost everyone. This is particularly an issue with contestants Shannon and Camille (from cycles 1 and 2, respectively) because they were on the show so long ago that it is very likely that many of the current fans of ANTM have not seen those seasons and therefore do not know who they are. Some of the audience may feel left out as a result, which can lead to lost viewership. On the other hand, this could also spur those members of the audience who do not recognize some former contestants to look them up and watch those cycles on their own time, which could actually increase viewership.

There is no way of knowing how the audience will react to bringing back former contestants, but the producers clearly decided that the potential benefits outweighed the potential negatives, and their calculated risk seems to have paid off. Cycle 17 was successful enough to lead to cycle 18, which is currently in the works, and Tyra Banks does not seem to be stopping there. I'm sure there will be many more seasons of America's Next Top Model in the coming years if the fans have anything to say about it.

Are We Really Here for the Music?

One Sunday afternoon, I attended a Lively Arts event featuring the St. Lawrence String Quartet, the ensemble-in-residence at Stanford University.The concert repertoire included some music I was already very familiar with: Joseph Haydn’s String Quartet in D Minor and Franz Schubert’s String Quartet No.15 in G Major. In fact, I had already seen the quartet perform one of these pieces a while back. Most of the time I decide to buy concert tickets, it’s usually to experience the music, whatever it is, and the musicians, whoever they are, in a live concert hall. But this time, it was different. When some of my friends from my music theory class had planned to go to this event together as a group, I couldn’t miss out. It wasn’t required for the class or anything, but I just felt like I had to be part of it. I’ve attended numerous classical music concerts so I know when I am really going for the music or the musicians. But this time, it wasn’t that.

When I arrived at the concert hall, I went through the usual protocol (although it has never been formally or officially established, everyone is pretty familiar with the concert etiquette): after being seated at the designated spot as indicated on my ticket, I perused the program notes and shared some conversations with my friends and other audience members nearby. Shortly after, the lights dimmed to signal the starting of the concert as well as to remind everyone to turn off our cellphones and watches. The audience soon fell silent and the quartet appeared on stage accompanied by our applause. After bowing and tuning their instruments, they began playing music. As expected, the audience remained silent for the duration of the program.

As described above, this is what goes on during a classical music concert. Sadly to admit, there’s really nothing exciting about the experience. Typically for two hours, we are to have our eyes fixed on stage, listening to the music and applauding here and there at the end of each piece. Really, there’s nothing we could contribute but simply our attention to what has been prepared for us by the musicians. Most of the time as I have mentioned before, I am there to really enjoy the music and the sight of live performance, but at times, there are other reasons as to why I find myself undergoing such a stultifying experience. It’s the people around me.

If it weren’t for my friends that day, I probably would have never planned on attending the concert. I find myself simply being in the audience more satisfying than experiencing the music. The bigger the concert venue, more fulfilling that is. Seeing more people dressed up for the occasion, I feel more committed to the experience. Could this perhaps mean concert attendance has other meanings and purposes besides experiencing live music? Indeed, sometimes I find myself being there for other reasons, such as to tell others of my music interests, to gain other attendees’ acknowledgement of my presence, and to verify my music knowledge and tastes. Classical music concert audience is known to have higher socioeconomic status than other music genre’s audience. Perhaps, we confirm our social position in the larger community through our attendance at these events. By letting each other in the audience know that we are there, we validate our class, identity, and social culture.

When I go back home for winter break, my friends and I have decided to attend an orchestra concert together. For me, this is one way to catch up with them- to remind each other of our musical preferences and interests, to tell them I still belong to the classical music group, to renew my position in that world.

Twhoops! Celebrity Bloopers on Twitter

by Laura Potter

Celebs these days have it so good. They live stylish, fabulous lives and have millions of adoring fans worldwide who pay to buy their music, go to their movies, and promote them into even bigger deals than they already are in popular culture. Social media websites like Facebook and Twitter serve as online platforms for audiences to engage with these stars on a "personal" level...or as personal as it's ever going to get with A-listers. With all the potential wrapped up in these sites, you'd expect celebs to make the most this extra beam of online limelight. Evidently, it's easier said than tweeted.

When a celeb thoughtlessly types out a 160-character-or-less snapshot of his glamorous life, he may not always be thinking about how he has his mass audience literally at his fingertips. If he slips up and angers his fans with so much as one insensitive tweet, his reputation - indeed, his entire career - could take a huge blow. We recently saw this occur in the case of Ashton Kutcher, and many other celebrity Twitterers have made similar slip-ups in the past as well. Calling all clueless celebrities! (i)Pads and pencils at the ready: it's time to take notes on some of the major faux pas and "Twhoops!" moments in celebrity tweeting to come up with a "do"s and "don't”s list for today's celebritwitty population:

#1: The First Lesson Learned from Ashton Kutcher – Stay Well-Informed
Ashton wields so much online influence on sites like Twitter that the LAPD once asked him to tweet about an upcoming closure of the freeway so that L.A. residents would have fair warning. Today, he is lying low, his days of freely posting to his Twitter account a painful repressed memory, as he tries to escape the furious reactions of thousands of Twitter followers to his uninformed post protesting the firing of Penn State coach Joe Paterno. To prevent mishaps like these (especially when your tweets reach over eight million people, as Ashton’s do), it would be highly advisable to gather the facts and think before you tweet.

#2: The Second Lesson Learned from Ashton – Don't Delete the Tweet
Realizing his error, Ashton deleted the offending post but by then it was already too late. In fact, it was the worst thing he could have done, according to TheNextWeb’s West Coast Editor Drew Olanoff in an interview for The Hollywood Reporter. "He misspoke, OK, fine, he's human. The social media mistake was that he deleted the tweet -- then he did apologize, which is great -- then, he erratically wrote that he’s not going to tweet for a while until he had a solution.” What have we learned from Ashton’s gaffe? Don’t shy away from your mistake! Hiding from angry Twitter followers by sweeping the evidence under the rug is not only going to fail epically since the damage has already been done, but also not going to solve any problems. Besides, getting rid of the tweet makes you look like a bit of a coward.

#3: The Final Lesson Learned from Ashton – Own Up When You Screw Up
As Olanoff mentioned, if Ashton did do one thing right in this whole mess, it was to apologize for his insensitive comment in his next tweet. Simply deleting the post and evading public scrutiny entirely without any recognition of his wrongdoing would have been even more condemning for Ashton. He showed that he at least cared about his mistake, which allowed for a slightly more graceful retreat from Twitter than if he had just up and left.

#4: The Lesson Learned from Kanye West – Imma Do Me
Huh? Kanye, really? Yes, my doubting readers, Kanye has something of value to teach us as well. This lesson might be better entitled "Kanye West vs. The World." Kanye is one of those rare examples where outlandish, rude Twitter posts (not to mention similar behavioral tendencies in his day-to-day life) work to his advantage. For example, after a Today Show interview with Matt Lauer left Kanye feeling ambushed, the infamous rapper cancelled an upcoming performance and took refuge in Twitter, accusing the show of being a "set up." He's also tweeted that superstars like Lily Allen or Britney Spears are, in fact, "gold diggers." Except for his one really badly received blunder at the 2009 VMA's when he simultaneously offended Taylor Swift and most of the planet, Kanye has remained a highly successful rap artist. He recovered from that mistake by apologizing to the wronged party, but unlike most celebrities, Kanye is usually accepted by both his fans and his haters as a ridiculous persona from whom such behavior is accepted, even if it is not acceptable.

However, if you're not Kanye West, you should probably play it a bit safer on the social networking site. Twitter has the potential for promotion and happy fan-celebrity interactions, but careless tweets can also cause a great deal of damage. While Ashton’s story cautions us, Kanye reminds us that it is okay to be ourselves online. Whether you are an infamous celebrity or just another average Joe trying to make your way through cyberspace, maintaining your voice as a Twitter or other social networking site user is key for a successful experience. Cross as many lines as you like (it’s clearly working for Kanye) but make sure you do so consciously and responsibly.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

How I Met Everyone Else: How I Met Your Mother’s Extended Success

The popular sitcom How I Met Your Mother is now in its seventh season, with an eighth season already announced. But the very idea of a show called How I Met Your Mother running for seven or eight years just seems absurd. How can you sustain a narrative around a single meeting? How can you maintain interest in a show where the most anticipated and promised even is pushed back by years? And of course, has he met the mother yet?

The main character (and the titular “I”) is Ted Moseby. The show follows him and his closest friends – Marshall, Lily, Barney, and Robin – as they go through life in New York City. We see the daily ups and downs of life and the romantic adventures of the group. Through it all, however, we still have (probably) not met the mother. We do know, however, a lot of details about her; Ted meets her at Barney’s wedding, Ted has dated her roommate, Ted accidentally stole her yellow umbrella once, etc. This exemplifies most of the audience’s interaction with the mother; we are periodically given subtle hints about the mother and the audience loves to guess what these hints mean.

These hints actually illustrate how the show has maintained interest over the past seven years. Just as How I Met Your Mother develops the storyline of the mother through subtle clues, it uses them to open up new storylines; How I Met Your Mother is chock full of clues and references for the audience to pore over, even in areas completely unrelated to how Ted meets the mother. And through these hints, the show can develop new and just as interesting storylines: the possibility of Barney, a serial womanizer, getting married before Ted or the idea of Robin, a workaholic who hates family, becoming a mother. Combined with incredible acting and a hilarious script, How I Met Your Mother has thereby been able to thrive for the past seven years without introducing one of the titular characters.

-Rohan Puttagunta

Modern Family: After the Fire Under Fire

Another episode of Modern Family only means another twenty-one minutes of hysteric laughter with a punch of meaningful life lessons. Modern Family’s eighth episode of their third season, After the Fire, was no different; it was saturated with quick-witted humor and ironic circumstances that always seem to put the characters into some sort of a bind. However, something about the way that this episode spoke out was unique and not in a good way.

The typically clear and enrapturing plot line was thrown away in a choppy, multidirectional plot that strayed away from a concise and engaging story. Yes, Modern does enjoy employing separate plot lines that are closely connected and ironic, yet in this episode the effort came off as forced. The underlying story of Claire Dunphy and Gloria Pritchet rallying together to help out the neighbors after their house burned down was lost in the frenzy of Jay hurting his back, Luke and Manny stealing a toy helicopter, Cam, Haley, and Alex driving a moving van, Mitchell and Claire talking smack about Gloria, and the developments of those stories as well. Seems hard to track it all, doesn’t it? Well just try to watch the episode without mixing up whose doing what, where, when, and why.

Nevertheless, there was something redeeming about this episode: the fact that Modern Family still retained its quick-witted, bantering humor among the characters. All of the characters always have their minor quarrels that erupt into larger, more awkward debacles and this episode followed the same amusing scheme. Yet, there was, again, something obscure that didn’t resonate right within this episode. The playful banter with the characters constant criticism of one another was unoriginal and stole from other episodes and seasons. I often thought to myself while watching if for some reason this episode acted as a culmination of typical jokes among the characters and that the writer felt would help establish the stereotypes of the characters more. This becomes readily apparent within the first 5 minutes when Claire gossips about Gloria’s accent and mocking her “snickersnackers”. Just after she explains to Mitchell, “That’s what we do; when Gloria says something silly we innocently laugh behind her back.” It sounded awkward and out of place when she pointed out the audience; it seemed like a corny effort to jump out at the crowd to remind them why her character is funny. Claire’s example of “explaining why she’s funny” fell through with most every character as they went through their personas and described them through humor.

As an adamant “Modern” fan, it was disappointing to see how this episode panned out. I wish that After the Fire didn’t have to come under too much fire and fortunately the next episode restored all that was normal in the realm of Modern Family.

By: Grant Delgado

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Whats Goin on...
-by Jonah Mowry

This is definitely a work of art. Setting the naysayers aside, I truly believe the video is legitimate. On the surface we see a young 8th grade boy names Jonah Mowry who tells his story via poorly written postcards. His story is emotional, moving, and extremely relevant to today. Jonah is a victim of bullying and mental trauma. On one postcard he exclaims, “A lot of people hate me... I don’t know why... But i gues i do. Cuz I kinda hate me too...”
Jonah’s story is very typical of younger kids. Victims of bullying are often driven to negative introspection, and they blame themselves. I think Jonah’s video has a great message: at the end he says, “I’m not going anywhere... I have a million reasons to be Here.” His story is a powerful appeal to our inner self, a call for all those who have been bullied to stand up and believe in themselves. People will always try to make themselves feel better by knocking us down. It is up to us to get back up. => one more soul lost.

I’d like to introduce a relatively new sensation of the Internet that is addicting people from different age groups and countries: Internet Memes.

Lets start with the basics.
What is a meme?
A meme is defined as an element of a culture or behavior that may be passed from one individual to another by non-genetic means.
O.K. Then what are Internet memes?
An Internet meme is an idea that is propagated online. A meme can be a video, picture, website referencing various ideas, feelings and situations.

Making long story short: It is the new addiction of students that hinders them from starting studying .

But actually what does this website have for you inside? is an open webpage for people to upload interesting compilations of images from various resources to visualize an idea or a funny situation that people can relate to.
However, trying to categorize all the memes would be arduous. But more importantly, it would be against the nature of the memes because they are unpremeditated in their nature and their sources.
Only attempting to categorize in order to express the gist of these memes, I can say there are 3 main types of memes in terms of the format:
1-Rage faces: These are small comics of some facial expressions. Some these graphics came to include some of the particular facial expressions of celebrities. i.e. Yao Ming’s “Careless” face. These are all facial expressions that people have witnessed and expressed before. Moreover, these are the expressions that the audience probably would have expressed if they were in the situation portrayed.

2- Poster formats: These are posters with an upper and a lower caption with a certain image that is well known at the center.
In some instances, the lower caption defies or provides a different view to the statement made in the upper caption, thus stimulating the brain in a way that clever jokes do. As some of these center images become more popular in the cyber-realm, people create series of that character (center image) in different situations.
3. Interesting posts: These are random images or videos from all around the globe that are deemed interesting, may it be a creative teapot design or, an everyday picture with a different caption that provides a totally new outlook on the issue. Another form that I may classify under this tittle is the form in which various scenes from movies, or pictures are compiled to provide an absurd visualization of a humorous idea or a situation.

Memes are interesting and addictive in the sense that they stimulate the brain like witty jokes do.

There are a couple of points that I’d like to highlight about aside from the amusing uploads. First of all, since is an open website, people can comment on them, through their Facebook accounts, and delve into an international group of people that appreciate these comics of the decade. Only to add to this, since the posts are updated relatively fast, this provides a basis for people to talk about new posts.

All in all, this is simply another platform for people to connect on a certain type interest. Moreover, since usually these memes are about generally well known topics, or situations that we also have been in or may be in, it seems interesting that we have so much common with other people around the globe about what they would do or how they would react. Here is one of the recent examples from fellow students all around the globe, sharing our distress with finals.

by Kaan Erdogdu

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The controversy of the BCS

College football is a very large aspect of our society today. With the season coming to a close, the BCS will select the top teams to play in the national championship. Criticism of the BCS began with its inception. The BCS utilizes a system where a formula determines team rankings, and then the top two teams are selected to play in the national championship. Many people make enemies with the BCS simply because they are opposed to the idea of a computer selecting the best teams. A computer can’t take into account any of the intangibles relating to a football season. These intangibles may include, injuries, suspensions, outside controversies distracting the team, and many more. Furthermore, the national championship should be a game between the current best two teams. However, the BCS computer rankings take into account an average of each game played. It a team began their season in a slump, but ended up playing like the best team, their chances of making the championship are miniscule because of the beginning of their season. The BCS is very unforgiving that offers little room for error.

That being said, the BCS remains in effect today. Some people suggest a playoff system similar to the NFL to determine the national champion, but this method is difficult due to the time restrictions(length of season) of college athletes. Until someone can implement an effective alternative, the BCS will continue to cast its shadow on college football. This year LSU will play Alabama in the national championship, but Oklahoma State was a close contender to play in this game due to their impressive performances late in the season. With a playoff season Oklahoma State might be playing in the national championship, but they will try to bloke these distracting thoughts as they take on the Stanford Cardinal in what is considered the next best game, the Fiesta Bowl.

-Jamin Ball