Saturday, December 7, 2013

My Musical Composition

           Okay, how am I going to make four instruments? I thought as I sat at my desk in my room. Ooh! I could make a box—but I don’t have any wood…hmm… I could, put some rubber bands on a tissue box…? But making a specific strumming pattern would be difficult and time consuming, and that would only be one of the instruments. I stared at a blank piece of paper as I tapped my pencil against the desk.
            Suddenly, I had an idea. Why don’t I just use what’s in front of me as instruments? Let’s see what I have… my laptop, a notebook, a textbook, a desk lamp, some Ice Breakers, and a pencil. I decided to use my pencil, the pack of Ice Breakers, the textbook, and my hands to make different sounds. My hands could make a lot of different sounds on their own, or by hitting different things like the table or a book.
            I chose to write my piece the way it would appear in a sound editing program like GarageBand or Pro Tools. There are five pages to my piece and each page represents two 8 counts. I created four tracks for the different sounds to go in. The first one only involving one’s hands—snapping and clapping. The second track is unusual because it has to be “played” (I guess that’d be the word) by someone with longer nails—usually a female. Later on the Ice Breakers are added into this track, so the musician must be able to use both hands at the same time. The third track involves hitting the desk or table with a pencil, and later hitting a book with the pencil. The people that play the instruments in the first three tracks must be able to keep a beat together. The person playing the hands in the fourth track is special because for a large part of the piece they “freestyle” and hit the desk however they want to. Eventually it turns into a hit-hit-clap sequence (like in “We Will Rock You”) and then they too must tap their nails on the desk. In the end the musician must hit the desk harder and harder creating a noise that gets louder and louder until finally they throw a book off the desk and when it hits the floor everyone stops playing. Then the same person throws the book on the ground again and everyone joins in and plays the piece backwards.

            My piece does not really have a melody, but it has a rhythm. And I like it that way because then you can play it to the beat of another song by speeding it up or slowing it down. It’s…adaptable.

My piece.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Learning How to Listen

In What to Listen for in the World, Bruce Adolphe discusses the relationship among four components: ideas, images, words, and music. I have always had an interest in these elements, so I found Adolphe's work fascinating. 

These components are all present in one thing I've enjoyed for years: music videos. Well-made music videos perfectly combine all four elements to create a piece of artwork. And yes, some are more provocative and sexual than others; but there are some really cool videos out there.

Here are some of my favorites:

Strawberry Swing by Coldplay 

Firework by Katy Perry 

Give Me Love by Ed Sheeran

All of these started with a song, then an idea, then a person or a team of people came up with visuals and BOOM, AWESOME MUSIC VIDEO. Obviously, there are bad music videos out there, but the people who make them are still engaged in this creative process (in some way, shape, or form).

Adolphe also writes: 

Music is not merely feelings: 

it is the form and pattern of experience 
the space before words and after 
the echo of dreams  
the axis of energy 
the resonance of action: 
Music is the sum of all our memories, 
even those we have forgotten, 
reborn as gesture and inflection, 
the shape of memory itself (58). 

This really spoke to me. I often associate songs with specific feelings or experiences. For example, the song "Semi-Charmed Life" by Third Eye Blind makes me really happy. I don't know why, it just does. On the other hand, the song "Lips of an Angel" by Hinder makes me sad (for a really embarrassing reason that I am not going to explain on the Internet...) Music makes me feel like I'm not alone. It gives me hope. It makes me feel good. It makes me feel, period. And that's why I find it so important. 

Last, Adolphe comments, “By listening we cross boundaries, come closer to the guts of music, closer to our own music, and to the spinning mystery” (104). We need to listen in order to understand the world and be inspired by it; something easier said than done. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Freakin' S'Park, Man

All Park students (communications students) at my school are required to take a class called S'Park: Igniting Your Future in Communications, which is inconveniently on a Wednesday night. Because of the class, I missed a lecture that Stephen Greenblatt, the author of The Swerve, gave at our school. So now I'm  R E A L L Y   C O N F U S E D.

Stephen Greenblatt casually posing with his book, The Swerve
Hi Connie <3
Instead, I watched a video interview between Greenblatt and Connie Martinson, in which they discussed his book, The Swerve. The book is about Lucretius's poem, De rerum natura, or On the Nature of Things. From the video I got a very brief overview on the actual content of Lucretius's poem and the purpose of Greenblatt's book, and more of a history lesson on how some guy found the poem when he was book hunting in a monastery in Germany.

Anyway, here's what I got from the videos:

1. Lucretius said that "the world consists of an...infinite number of invisible, unbreakable...paritcles which the Greeks called atoms."
2. Sex is not bad, but you must have a relationship in order to have it (not really how it works now, but whatever...)
3. You should not be afraid of death. It has nothing to do with you; you'll live and die like everyone on this planet.
4. Don't expect infinite pleasures or infinite pain. You are limited.
My face after watching the videos. 
5. Understand that you are mortal.
6. You should experience the light and wonder that you exist.

·    I really wish I didn't have class that day, because I would have gotten so much more out of Stephen Greenblatt's speech than those videos. That's why I'm having such a hard time blogging right now...I'm not really sure what I just watched... I'm sure this will become clearer in class once we discuss it. 

It's ya boi Lucretius!!! #hollah


Thursday, November 14, 2013

My Feelings on Humanities

My class was asked to read On The Uses of a Liberal Education as Lite Entertainment for Bored College Students by Mark Edmundson, and As a Weapon: In the Hands of the Restless Poor by Earl Shorris. Both works talk about (one more directly than the other) liberal arts in education.

I read As a Weapon: In the Hands of the Restless Poor first, which made me confused. I thought it was supposed to be about liberal arts and its place in American education. Instead, it focused more on how the humanities specifically are important in American education. The piece opens up with the author, Earl Shorris, speaking with a woman in prison named Niecie about what makes a person poor. 

“Why do you think people are poor?”
“You’ve got to teach the moral life of downtown to the children. And the way you do that, Earl, is by taking the downtown to plays, museums, concerts, lectures, where they can learn the moral life of downtown.”
“And then they won’t be poor anymore?”
“And then they won’t be poor no more.” (50-51)

I think this is extremely true. Everyone needs some culture, no matter your social status, income levels, gender, race, or age. I was first introduced to this cultural experience by my 9th grade English teacher, Mrs. Cooper (whom I've blogged about before). When I was in 10th grade, I took a mythology class with her, and that's when I first learned "the moral life of downtown" as Nieceie calls it.

Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in NYC
I took several field trips during the year with my mythology class. First we went to the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City. Growing up Jewish and going to Hebrew school, I was used to going to a small synagogue and occasionally small churches for weddings or baptisms. But that church...that was an experience. We walked around every square foot of the church, climbed to the top, took the tour, I felt so much smarter by the time we left. 

Next we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the Unicorn Tapestries and again, it was really cool. The artwork in the museum was beautiful and as we took the tour around the museum, the tour guide taught us a little bit about each piece or made us see something that we didn't see before. Because we went to both of these places in the same day, we were all cultured-out at the end; but after this day, any time I could go into a city and "learn the moral life of downtown," I did. 

Unicorn Tapestry

Last year, my yearbook advisor offered me the chance to go see the opera Karmin with is AP European history class. Of course I said yes, I'd never been to an opera before. We sat in the very last row at the top (talk about nose bleeds) in Lincoln Center, and even though it was hard to read the subtitles on the seat in front of mine while watching the actors sing in Italian at the same time, the entire experience was new and unique. 

Afterwards, my friends and I talked about how "cultured" we were, and agreed to meet up in the city in the future to do something like this again. However until I read this article, I hadn't even considered how lucky I was to have these experiences. It hadn't crossed my mind that many Americans will never get the opportunity to visit the places I've visited. 

How we felt after seeming Karmin.

I was really happy to read at the end of the article that the people who completed the course had continued their education, or gone to nursing school. The whole thing reminded me of a movie I watched a few years ago called Freedom Writers.

On the other hand, I didn't like reading On The Uses of a Liberal Education as Lite Entertainment for Bored College Students by Mark Edmundson. Edmundson talks about how most of his students are not passionate and how "strong display of emotion is forbidden." He writes: “You’re inhibited, except on ordained occasions, from showing emotion, stifled from trying to achieve anything original. You’re made to feel that even the slightest departure from the reigning code will get you genially ostracized" (42). 

I don't feel this way at all. Or at least not in Ithaca. Everyone seems passionate here--I know I sure am. So when this guy writes about how we're all (we as in college students) clones who possess no motivation, consumed by pop culture and consumerism...I get annoyed. I like pop culture, and I recognize that I am a consumer and that people are always and will always be trying to get me to buy stuff, but I choose to ignore it. I am very passionate about what I do and I put a lot of hard work into it. Students at this school are pushed to be creative (especially in my seminar class) and encouraged to be original. So, as a student trying to do both of those things, I have to strongly disagreed with Mark Edmundson. 



Monday, November 11, 2013

My Collage

I used to like cutting things out of magazines and putting them up on my bulletin board in middle school. It was mostly celebrities that I liked, outfit ideas, products I wanted to get, or anything that looked cool and colorful. However while I was making my collage for my seminar class, I found that I didn't want to cut up my magazines.

I guess my appreciation for photography didn't kick in until after middle school. I didn't want to destroy these works of art. I mean, I consider them art--most people probably consider them annoying advertisements. But when I read a magazine I really look at every single photograph on every single page.

One thing I've always wondered was how much work goes into creating something. An advertisement, a movie, a TV show, a song, everything. I want to know who is involved, what they do, and how they do it. That's part of the reason why I'm a TV-Radio major: I enjoy the production side of things.

That being said, it was somewhat difficult for me to cut the lips out of basically every single person in the two magazines I used (Seventeen and Cosmopolitan). I felt like I was ruining these photographers' and editors' hard work, stealing it and adding it to my own piece. It just made me feel weird.

And so, here it is:


Here it is up close and personal.

As I made this collage, I thought about a couple of different ways I could interpret it. I didn't have one clear message that I wanted to express as I created here are a few different ones:

1. Making people smile makes me happy. I wanted to portray that with all the smiles. Pretty simple.

2. The importance of communication. What a person says means so much to me, whether it's online, over a text, or in person. I feel like many arguments we (I say "we" as in college students) have start with a communication error.

3. People will talk about you. No matter what, some people will like you, and some people will hate you. And you can either let it be in the foreground of your life (like what you see in my collage) or you can learn to accept it and move on, focusing on other things (like the background of my collage. Which is hard to see, yet it's still there).

You can decide which interpretation you like the best, or create your own.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Do I Really Need More Solitude???

In The End of Solitude, William Deresiewicz talks about how technology has taken away our privacy, concentration, and ability to be alone. Rather, he argues that it has taken away our want to ever be alone. I had a hard time reading this article because although I agree with some of his points, I love technology so much, and I felt like he was telling me that I am living my life incorrectly.

Part of me agrees with Deresiewicz when he says that technology is taking away our alone time, our oh-so-important solidity, but the other part of me--because of this technology and the culture I grew up in--doesn't want solidity. Sure it's nice to be alone at some times, but personally, I would much rather be around people, or at least feel like what I'm saying or doing is being received by others.

That's why I like social media. It gives me a voice I never really had. In my school I was my class's Vice President. (Yay student government). But our administration was so strict that whenever I (or anyone else for that matter) had an idea for an event it was shot down immediately. And if you know me, you know I have A LOT of ideas. It was always a no. Every. Single. Time.

That hurt. I was supposed to have a voice. I was elected by my peers to be their voice. And then I was denied one. Not okay. (And so I will never ever be involved in government again).

Here's an example: My friend Dustin and I (who was also involved in student government) wanted to start a Song of the Day at our school--we'd play one song at the beginning of each day right after the announcements to wake people up and put them in a better mood for their first period class. We made up a whole plan and then showed our Vice Principal, who we thought was open to new and exciting ideas (because he said so). He gave us big no.

Okay, I'm sorry for ranting about my high school administration...Now back to my point.

Contrary to what Deresiewicz believes, I'm not trying to become a celebrity. When I post a picture on Instagram, I don't think "if this doesn't get at least 40 likes, I'm going to delete it." I know some people who do think this way, but I'm not one of them. If people see it, they see it. If they don't, they don't. I just hope that by posting that picture I made at least one person smile or laugh or react in some way.

That's my personal goal when it comes to social media. I want to make people laugh. Perhaps that plays back into my biggest strength: woo. (which you can read about in one of my previous blog posts). I want to make people laugh so that they like me. I'm not trying to become famous.

So maybe I do agree with much of what Deresiewicz is saying. However, this was hard to read because I feel like I'm doing something wrong in my life. Do I need to spend more time alone? Deresiewicz feels that we need to spend more time in solitude in order to learn about ourselves. However, I learn the most about myself through my actions. I spend time alone each day for an hour at the least. And for me, that's enough. I need to be around other people to be happy. I'm a very social person. I believe that's the way I am just because. Not because technology has made me this way. With that in mind, social media helps me enjoy my life. It doesn't make it so that I'm scared of spending time alone; rather, it helps me reach more people than I ever could have imagined.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Fires in the Mirror Review

A few weeks ago we read and watched Fires in the Mirror, a play written by Anna Deavere Smith. I thought the play itself was just okay, but the performance was awesome.

Anna Deavere Smith
In class, we briefly talked about how some of us didn't like the ending of the play because it doesn't give the audience hope like many other story endings do. When the play closes, there is no evidence that the two groups (the Jews and the Blacks) will get along. However at the end of the performance we saw, characters from both groups walk into the center of the theater holding lit candles. They are spread out evenly and diversely and then they all blow out the candles at the exact same time. I wonder why the director did that. Did she want the audience to think that maybe the groups would get along eventually? I really hope we get to speak with the director about these things.

I'm excited to talk about the play more in class because I really want to know exactly what everyone thought of it. I can't assume we all have the exact same opinions. One thing I really appreciated about the play was the lighting and stage design. It looked really great. And the transitions between each character's monologues was very well done; the music definitely added a lot to it. Also, the actors had incredibly convincing accents. Still, even though the performance was amazing, the play just did not really do it for me.

In The Role of Theatre Criticism, Ran Xia says that literary critics' words "can partly decide the life or death of a piece of art." I definitely agree with this. Critics provide various viewpoints for people to agree with or disagree with, which helps them form opinions of their own about something.

Here's an example: Miley Cyrus's performance at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards (which you can watch right here). This may not be a typical piece of art, but it is a performance nevertheless. So Miley goes out on stage after carefully planning and rehearsing and performs her set. Robin Thicke joins her, then she exits the stage as he continues to perform. No big deal, right? Wrong. The media BLEW UP. People reacted to it in many ways. Some absolutely hated it, calling her racist and inappropriate, and others believed in her vision and had no issues with Miley doing her own thing.

The point is that people agreed with or disagreed with what the critics said about the performance and because of the

Miley Cyrus at the VMA's
words they used when critiquing it. I personally agreed with this one the most:

"What it all comes down to is that America as a whole—white, black and everything else—is subject to a jolly, messy and multiracial cult of openness, informality and raunchiness. Everybody seems to find that just luscious when describing Harlem 90 years ago. More recently, we have accepted this in rap—to diss the vulgarity is considered elderly, and grumbling about white rappers like Vanilla Ice as interlopers is yesterday’s conversation; Eminem is one of the boyz. But let a little white girl spin her posterior in open-hearted celebration of the “uptown” culture she has grown up drinking in and she’s a white man corking up and playing dumb sometime during the McKinley Administration. Sorry–this is people too caught up in yesterday’s battles to perceive the nation moving ahead. I believe you, Miley Cyrus." John McWhorter, The New Republic 

To conclude, critics do play a large role in the life or death of a piece of art. I already have my own personal feelings about Fires in the Mirror; however, reading some criticisms about it or speaking with the director may alter my opinion.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

We Got Honorable Mention!!

I'm excited to finally share a short film I made with my friends for Ithaca College's Golden Doorknob Film Contest. We received honorable mention for the film and I'm so proud of everyone who was involved in the making of it. Enjoy!

Special thanks to my friends Taylor and Dana, the T and D of STD Productions. None of this would be possible without them. <3

Thursday, October 10, 2013

We Need Music!!!

Music is as necessary to human life as helium is to make a ballon float. We need music to stimulate us physically and psychologically. Especially music that is new to us.

I care a lot about music. Which is weird since I don't play any instruments. I like all different types of music: pop, hip-hop, country, dance, electronic, R&B, indie, alternative, dubstep, rock. I will pretty much listen to anything. Except screamo, because it scares me a little bit. 

In Why We Need Music, Andrew Ford says that although music is abstract, it defines our humanity. "Music is society's soul," he writes, "In one or more of its various forms, music is present in most of our lives and, at some level, essential to our cultures." Making and performing our own music is how we engage with our musical traditions and how we preserve, critique, and nurture them.

Ford discusses three steps to understanding music:

1. Find music that you like. This will lead you to other music you like.
2. Find music that you don’t like or understand. Then learn about it until you understand it.
3. Play, sing, improvise, and compose music.

A few years ago I found music that I didn't understand: EDM, or electronic dance music. People in my town went from listening to what was on the iTunes top ten to this fast-paced dance music I had never heard before. The music had barely any lyrics, and I had issues with this. I wanted music I could sing along with--not music that was a repetition of beats, climbing until a singer would say an ambiguous line, and then the base would drop. Dubstep music has a similar format, so I didn't quite understand that genre either. I thought, why would people pay money to watch a guy push play on a laptop, turn some knobs, and then jump up and down. (Like this.)

But as I kept listening to more EDM and dubstep, I started to like it and appreciate what the artists were doing. Skrillex makes songs on his laptop on the road using computer software and I think that is the coolest thing. That means that maybe I, with no musical talent, can be a musician. 

My favorite female DJs, Nervo.
This summer I went to Life In Color, which is large concert where DJs perform while vibrant colored paints are splattered at the audience. "What initially began as a college tradition has transformed into a world-renowned live concert, featuring spectacular DJs, soaring aerial acts, stilt-walkers, contortion acts, fire shows, and cannons to deliver the famous “Paint Blast,” along with many other unforgettable live performances" ( I was a little hesitant to go at first; Life In Color and similar "rave" concerts get a bad reputation because a lot of people that attend them go drunk, on drugs, or both. But I wanted to see what it was like, so I went anyways. 

It was so much fun. The energy was insane. People were dancing and cheering for hours. It made me want to become a DJ like Nervo. I got a little taste of what it's like to DJ when I DJ'd a party last weekend. Everyone was on their feet, dancing and singing. It felt awesome to know that I had done that for them. I hope I get the opportunity to DJ again soon because I had an indescribable amount of fun. 

Afrojack, David Guetta, and Nicky Romero at Tomorrowland.
Things get a little messy at Life In Color. 
Ok, very messy. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Why Didn't I Learn to Play an Instrument??? (Ugh)

The orchestral concert was really cool. I was super excited to see the students perform from the very start, since I've never attended an orchestral concert before and they blew me away! We've got some very talented musicians at IC.

My favorite part of the concert was when the female bassoonist played her solo. She was wearing a jet-black leather dress with leggings underneath and matching black sleeves. And she had BLUE HAIR. She looked like a superhero!! First, she walked to the center of the stage like she owned the place; then she played her solo on the bassoon with the orchestra accompanying her. She killed it! And I loved seeing how into it she was when she shook her head back and forth during the fast parts or slowly swayed during the slow parts.

Yay Creativity and the Arts!!!
The concert made me wish I had learned to play violin, viola, or cello back in the third grade with the rest of my class (those were our three options). I had no interest whatsoever. I liked pop music, and I only listened to Top 40 radio stations. My third grade brain thought that the violin could only play classical music, and I just wanted to listen to songs I could sing in the shower. 

Now that I'm doing radio at WICB and taking an audio class, I wish I knew how to play an instrument (any instrument) more than ever. I asked my audio teacher if knowing how to use Pro Tools (which is an audio editing software) would make me a musician. She said yes, but I still don't know how to use it... It's a work in progress.

And now here's a poorly shot video of that kick ass bassoonist/superhero: 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

I Know My Strengths

Last night I took the online test for Tom Rath's StrengthsFinder 2.0 and the results I got were exactly what I had expected.

I like to think that I know who I am pretty well. I've know who I am for years actually; probably since seventh or eighth grade.

My top five strengths were:

1. Woo
2. Maximizer
3. Adaptability
4. Positivity
5. Communication

In the book, Rath describes Woo as follows:

"Woo stands for winning others over. You enjoy the challenge of meeting new people and getting them to like you. Strangers are rarely intimidating to you. On the contrary, strangers can be energizing. You are drawn to them. You want to learn their names, ask them questions, and find some area of common interest so that you can strike up a conversation and build rapport. Some people shy away from starting up conversations because they worry about running out of things to say. You don't. Not only are you rarely at a loss for words; you actually enjoy initiating with strangers because you derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection. Once that connection is made, you are quite happy to wrap it up and move on. There are new people to meet, new rooms to work, new crowds to mingle in. In your world there are no strangers, only friends you haven't met yet--lots of them" (Rath 169).

How I look/feel when people like me.
This describes me perfectly. Like spot on. As I said before, I knew who I was since I was about thirteen years old. I knew that I need to be around people and I need people to like me. If I went to college, got a degree, and spent the rest of my life trapped in a cubicle typing numbers into an excel spreadsheet for my stuck-up boss who hates me, I would literally die.

That's why I promised myself right then and there that I would get a job where I can talk and interact with people every single day. Young people, old people, normal people, unique people. Interacting with any person makes me happy. I need to be social to enjoy my life.

Elvis Duran and the Z100 Morning Show in the studio.
That being said, I'm studying Television and Radio. I want to communicate with EVERYONE. I started my shift at 92 WICB last night (well I guess it was the morning) and even though not many people are calling the studio between 2:00 and 4:00 a.m., I have to start somewhere, right? I hope to have my own talk show one day, similar to the Elvis Duran and the Morning Show, which is a show I grew up listening to every single morning in the car ride to school.

I need to constantly be interacting with different people, yet I struggled with this my senior year of high school. Well, I didn't struggle, but many people around me struggled to recognize this fact of my life. People in my town are very, very clique-y. If you don't have a defined, exclusive group of friends, people look down upon you. And I didn't like that. I had a group of best friends in the beginning of the year, but as I became more and more involved in extracurricular activities, (volleyball, track, yearbook, volunteering) I started to grow apart from those friends. Sure, I always had a few best friends, but I was no longer part of that specific group. I didn't mind, because I liked knowing a ton of different people. Being able to walk through the halls of my high school and know 80% of the people I saw was comforting. Not being invited to hang out with my old group of friends however, was not. I don't think they realized that I had to be involved in many different things. It was the only way I could get to know everyone at the same time. The athletes, the artists, the nerds, the philanthropists. I couldn't be a part of one group and get to know all these different types of people. In my hometown, that was impossible.

Wow these silhouettes are soooo social. 

When people around here say "Ugh I can't wait to go home!" I just sit there and say, "What? Why would you want to go home?" The people at IC are so much more open to each other than in my town. Maybe it's because we have to be, since we're all new to school and everything. But hopefully it's because people are ready to be open-minded and connect with each other as much as they possibly can. (Or that could just be my positivity kicking in...)

Dustin and me. (Buddies for life yo).
Last year, I did what I had to do to make myself happy, even though I grew apart from some friends along the way. I have no regrets. Don't worry, I still always had a few best friends; people I'll always be friends with, no matter what. The reason my friend Dustin and I are so close is because we both would rather be friends with everyone than just a few people. Also, we're both going into communications, so we know just how important it is to make connections with as many people as possible--with the friends I haven't met yet.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Interrupting that Creative Flow: Please Stop

In Composing a Symphony, Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky talks about how a creative person is always working. Even if he is not inspired, he can't just sit around and wait for a good idea to be bestowed upon him. And once he does get inspired, it is extremely annoying when someone breaks his creative flow.

This used to happen to me all the time in high school. I'd be writing a paper for a class when I'd hear "Samantha, dinner!" And I would scream back, "I'm in the zone, Mom. I can't eat now!" So I got used to reheating the dinner from that night.

It happened a lot in my Creative Writing class as well. I would write continuously for the entire period, and then be forced to stop by the screeching bell commanding me to go to my next class. I can't leave now!! I thought. (And then the song "I Can't Stop" by Flux Pavillion would start playing in my head).

I'm always thinking about what my next idea is going to be for a project, or a story I'd like to write one day. Which is why I have so many random notes saved in my phone. When I'm bored I'll look back at the notes and edit them, add to them, take things out, etc. Tchaikovsky talks about the creative process, saying: "The process is something more than copying; it is actually a critical examination, leading to correction, occasional additions and frequent curtailments.” A lot of my ideas never take off, yet some of them develop and become realities. 

I think part of the reason why my group's Golden Doorknob film is working out so well (thus far) is because no one interrupted our creative flow. Dana, Taylor, and I literally sat at a table in the campus center dining hall for hours just talking. No one had to go to class or finish writing a paper. We developed and wrote a storyboard for the project that day. Then we began searching for other people who wanted to help us out, and would be just as excited as we were about the video. That helped our creative process as well. When people aren't constantly belittling your ideas, you get stuff done. "Teamwork makes the dreamwork," my senior year English teacher always used to say. 


Dana and our amazing editor, Andrew in post-production.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Working With Friends

My friends and I are entering the Golden Doorknob Awards and I'M SO EXCITED.

A few weeks ago, my friends Dana, Taylor, and I went to see Dave Franco, Chris Mintz-Plasse and the rest of the hilarious bros that make up Funny or Die, speak at Park. They talked about how amazing it is to work on projects with your friends and how they came up with the ideas behind some of their popular videos. Later that week, Dana, Taylor, and I decided to make a film for the Golden Doorknob Awards, a short film contest where the only requirement is that someone or something must be "terminated" by a doorknob.

At first we were thinking of taking a dramatic route, but then we thought back to Dave and Chris's popular Funny or Die videos. It was the dark humor and "homo-eroticism" (as they called it) that made them so funny. Inspired by their videos, the idea behind our short film started to unfold. And so we came up with this plot for our video:

Jason is a teenager struggling with narcolepsy, and his form of narcolepsy is triggered by sexual arousal—every time he gets turned, he falls asleep. This short film shows him in middle school, high school, and ultimately college, where he meets his inevitable death. His best friend, Sean, knows about his issue and he does not care that he falls asleep all the time. In fact, Sean is gay for Jason; however, Jason is oblivious to this.
Jason’s narcolepsy gets so bad that he eventually takes medication for it. Before a party one night in college, Jason is determined to not let his medical disability get in the way of him having a good time. One thing leads to another, and Jason’s friend, Ali, leaves the party with him. The two are passionately kissing when Ali pins him against his dorm room door, but at that moment, he falls asleep, hits his head on the doorknob, and dies. (C)STD Productions

I'm a co-producer, co-writer, and co-director for the film, but I was also the person in charge of audio. In my Intro to Audio class I'm learning just how important sound is in a film. Music has the ability to move people: make them laugh or cry. Without sound, a movie wouldn't be as funny, sad, dramatic, or happy.

Therefore, I took my job VERY seriously. Lugging all my equipment from PPECS to the towers and back. Yelling at people on set because I didn't want to take my headphones off. Carefully editing the songs we would use in the film. Always carrying around extra double A batteries and SD cards, just in case my Zoom died or I ran out of space on the memory card I was using. I kept a sound log, so all my recordings were organized. And I listened to everything. Listening to the world through a stereo microphone and circumaural headphones allows you to hear things that you wouldn't notice otherwise. 

Working with my friends made every shoot so much fun. Even the one that started at 9:00 p.m. and ended at 3:00 a.m. the next morning. (Don't worry. We ordered Domino's.) STD Productions (Sam, Taylor, Dana) is just getting started...

The soccer bros. 

This is how I wear lipstick.

That's a wrap on day one!

Falling with friends. 

The T and D of STD Productions. 

Joel loves nachos. 

Ermahgerd it's Eddie!!

And JR!!! #letsgetcreative

Monday, September 16, 2013

Creativity: a Mysterious Paradox

If you have read my other blog posts, you know how creativity can be paradoxical; however, with the help of my buddy (okay, so we're not really buddies, but for the sake of this blogpost, we are) Mihaly Csikszentimihalyi (whom I will now refer to as MC) I learned that creativity is all about balance.

First, MC discusses the four main problems that humans have with achieving creativity:
1. Some of us are exhausted by too many demands, and so having trouble getting hold of and activating our psychic energy in the first place.
2. We get easily distracted and have trouble learning how to protect and channel whatever energy we have.
3. Laziness, or lacking discipline for controlling the flow of energy.
4. Not knowing what to do with the energy one has.

I feel like many people in the United States and in other economically driven countries have a habit of getting stuck in a routine. Trapped, I should say. They wake up, go to a job they do not even like that much, go home to their families, complain about their job, go to sleep, wake up and do it all over again. It's rare that I hear a parent in my hometown rave about how awesome their job is, and how much they love waking up in the morning and going to the office. In fact, I have only heard that from a few teachers in my school district; I'd say I've met about five or six teachers who truly love their job. 
Somebody is bored...

People become so preoccupied with their jobs and families that they do not have time to sit down, think, and be creative. MC says that we take "refuge in passive entertainment [to keep] chaos temporarily at bay, but the attention it absorbs gets wasted. On the other hand, when we learn to enjoy using our latent creative energy so that it generates its own internal force to keep concentration focused, we not only avoid depression but also increase the complexity of our capacities to relate to the world" (Csikszentimihalyi). People get so caught up in their routines to avoid letting their minds wander, when really, they need to let their minds do just that. By allowing yourself to relax, think, and be curious, creative thought may come naturally; and this creativity could potentially help a person with his work, family, and life in general.
So. Frickin. Curious.

These routines contribute to the loss of curiosity as a person ages. When you're five, you have all the time in the world to be curious about everything around you. Once you have a job, a family, and other responsibilities, though, free time decreases exponentially. He says we must learn to be curious again, just like when we were children, and find joy in the little things in life.

·      MC says we can relearn how to be curious by doing the following:

     1. Wake up in the morning with a specific goal to look forward to.
     2. If you do anything well, it becomes enjoyable.
     3. To keep enjoying something, you need to increase its complexity. 

This is from a web series called The Most Popular Girls in School.
      His third point made me think about something I've found enjoyable for years: making videos. When I was younger, I would make videos with my neighbor using Bratz dolls. We made voices and recorded them, then plugged the camera into the TV to play the video back. Later, I started using a different video camera and editing software on a computer to make the videos better. Now I storyboard ideas with my friends, write scripts, and make short films. (The video below is a short film I made with my friends.) MC remarks, “It is always possible to find a better way to do anything. That is why creativity—the attempt to expand the boundaries of a domain—makes a lifetime of enjoyment possible."

However, MC contradicts himself: he says to be creative, you should be open to experience and focus on even the most mundane tasks (like brushing teeth) so that you can make any task enjoyable. But then he says you should conserve creative energy by "routinizing" as much of everyday life as possible so that you can focus on what really matters. That being said, I think creativity is all about balance. You need to balance your everyday routine and responsibilities with new experiences and a growing curiosity. 

Sweet Brown is wrong, ladies and gents.
You gotta make time to relax. 
To do this we need to take small breaks from our lives. This means breaking away from everything that is normal and routine to do something relaxing or to experience something new. Relaxing will allow your brain to be more creative, and new experiences will increase your curiosity. This is why I think everyone should be required to go on vacation. It does not have to be to the typical Caribbean resort for some R&R. It could be going to a local music festival for the day, or going rock climbing with a group of friends. I think it should be required so people's brains can relax and then work more creatively and therefore, efficiently.