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Writing Showcase

December 3, 2009

As the name would lead you to believe, the Media Writing course I took this fall semester was writing intensive.  And after countless hours spent slaving over my computer chasing leads, transcribing quotes, blocking stories and racing deadlines, I managed to turn out some work which I can say I am actually proud of. All three were written in the print news format.

What I like about all three of these articles is that they were written on deadline and written well.  Each article is quotation-rich and flows nicely.  The three leads are all attention grabbers and none of them are standard summary leads.  I found that I work best under pressure and these articles are a testament to that fact.

Happy reading.

Internet Crimes Plague Social Network Users

First Amendment Activist Shares Stories Of His Fight For Free Speech

Death Penalty Abolitionist Rallys Support During Speech at Elon University

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Portraits that I took

April 7, 2009

Same camera, new pictures

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Final Film Project: “Application Murder”

March 19, 2009

As I said in class, my idea for the final film project is about a guy who finds out through his iPhone that his girlfriend is cheating on him with his best friend.  The film would open with the main character talking to two of his friends about all the different apps on his iPhone, including one that shows where your friends are.  He sees that his best friend and his girlfriend are at a motel and becomes enraged, and plans to kill both of them, with the help of his iPhone.  One of the friends he is talking to comes along to try to talk him out of it, but his iPhone helps him so much that it’s almost egging him on.  At the end, the guy busts through the door with a gun drawn to catch his girlfriend and his best friend red handed.  They’ll be a funny one liner connecting the iPhone/Apple company to the murder, and then he pulls the trigger and the screen goes black.

Things the iPhone can do to help the murder:

-provide location of cheaters

-provide driving directions to motel

-“murder” playlist

– to-do list for murder

-facebook status checks to see the excuses of the cheaters

-google search for how to cover up murder/hide bodies.  Maybe a nice closer

– more

It would be an intense-ridiculous sketch comedy.  I think it would be very funny.

So yeah.

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Lost in Translation: My Thoughts

March 17, 2009

Let me start with this:  I did not like this movie.  I know we’re discouraged to start by saying “I like,” or “I didn’t like,” something, but by telling you how I felt about the film, I have established the tone of this post, what this post will address and gives the reader a sense of direction so nobody is trying to figure out what’s happening while reading.  These are three things that the film failed to do in my eyes, and as a result I had no chance at enjoying the film.

The story was well established, but the type of story was not.  Obviously Lost In Translation follows the common model of man and woman fighting their lives in order to be together.  Bob Harris was trapped in a career that sucks the life out of him and keeps him detached and away from his family, while Charlotte is trapped in a loveless marriage and struggles to find meaning in what she sees as a life turned empty; any viewer could have seen that the two of them would have called that the two of them would see in each other what their lives lacked.  But in this type of story, the viewer is either supposed to laugh at the comic events that brings the two characters together, or root for the two to come together despite the circumstances of their lives.  In my opinion, Lost in Translation never made that distinction.  I’m not saying that the film was just wasn’t funny, because I did laugh.  I’m saying that the humor and the rest of the story itself did not serve to distinguish the film as either a romantic comedy, or a romantic drama, or any other established type of story.  If that type of direction had been provided, I would have been willing to follow the story with some guidance instead of trying to figure out whether or not I should be laughing or on the verge of tears.  But because that basic direction wasn’t given to the viewer, the film suffered.

Bill Murray’s performance was deserving of an Oscar nomination.  Bob Harris is a successful movie star who has been forced into a family life and career moves that suck the passion out of his life daily.  It is the inner conflict of Bob Harris’ struggle to preserve the passion in his life while loosing it depresses him and makes him apathetic daily that draws him to Charlotte in the first place.  Bill Murray does a great job of remaining apathetic to life no matter what he’s doing.  Whether he’s at a commercial shoot or a strip club, Bill Murray keeps a long face and an attitude that shows the viewer that Bob Harris is constantly aware that he feels trapped in his life.  In fact, the only time that Bill allows Bob Harris to show strong emotion is when he is drinking or drunk.  The highlight of Bill Murray’s performance comes at the end of the film.  When Bob Harris is walking out of the hotel and is staring right at Charlotte, the only woman he has met in a while who has made him feel the passion again, he keeps his mood somber.  Bill Murray saves the emotion for the very last possible moment, when he ditches his cab to catch Charlotte on the street, when Bob Harris finally decides to reclaim the passion.  Because Bill only lets Bob Harris show intense emotion at the end of the film, the viewer is shown that this is the moment where Bob decides to take control and feel the passion that has been taken from him again, even if only for a moment.  While Lost in Translation was a disappointment, Bill Murray was not.

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Cool staged photography

March 12, 2009

Sorry this blog is delayed, but like an idiot I saved my pictures in tiff files, which isn’t suppored on wordpress.  So I won the formatting war with my computer, and I’m posting them now.

All my pictures are either attempts at capturing a big idea, or are just trying to be funny.

College Pyramid.  I tried to capture the priorities of a stereotypical college student, so drinking sits atop the pyramid, with things like school and exercise take a seat on the back burner

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Flat Meal.  My roommate put a fork through the wall over the weekend, so I thought putting a picture of food behind it would look cool.  This shot was hard to capture with my dinky point and shoot because the focus was very touchy.  I found that focusing on the fork had the best effect.

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Happy Mail.  The goal here was to point out that some aspects of college life are still fairly uniform and need to be broken with individuality.  The mail-room is a completely impersonal area, so I thought putting a smiley face in the shot would be a cool image.  I love the contrast in colors of the boxes and the face.

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iJealousy.  Last semester in our Com class, we talked about if technological development for the sake of development was a good thing, because it eliminated current technologies.  In this shot, I tried to capture the opinions of the technology doing the replacing, and the technology being replaced.  My favorite part of this shot is how the two colors that make the digital “faces” are almost identical.  It tells the viewer that while the technology is changing, it will be doing the same thing.

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Calendar of a Dull Boy.  I’ve always liked the expressoin “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” because I’ve wondered how that life would be.  I originally filled out an entire month for the shot, but the shot was too wide to capture the words clearly.  So I focused in and the message is still well conveyed.

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Jurassic Mini-Park.  Over fake break, I got two spontaneous gifts.  The first was the stuffed dino.  The other was a set of those wooden dolls that fit inside each other as they get smaller and smaller.  Only these were of famous Russian leaders, a gift from my dad.  The two toys became my favorite subjects.  I found they put things on a miniature scale that I had fun playing around with.

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This isn’t Chicken.  Another dinosaur shot.  At first I wasn’t sure about the idea of putting him in the grass, but then I saw how the cloudy day played off of the bright colors of the doll and the bushes.  Admittedly, the dinosaur doens’t exactly look like he’s eating the bushes, but I’m a fan of this shot regardless.

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Computer Fruit Salad.  I’m a supporter of the Apple company, except they need to change their logo.  I always wondered what computers would look like if competitors made their logo’s fruits as well.  This shot fulfills that musing.

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Russians vs. Godzilla.  What makes this shot for me is the over the shoulder angle.  At first I snapped a bunch from the dino’s eye level, but something just wasn’t right.  Putting another doll into the frame put objects on both the left and right thirds, and balanced out the shot well, making it more enjoyable.  Also, being from the perspective of the miniature dramatically conveys the size of the dinosaur.

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T-Rex Arms.  Another OTS shot.  The best thing about this shot is that the dinosaur is in focus, leaving the background blurry.  To me, it shows the viewer how the dino wants to go for a ride, but can’t even imagine being able to ride the bike and fly to his hearts content.  It makes an observer empathise with the dinosaurs desire, and his puny chicken-arms

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Raging Bull was one of the coolest movies I’ve seen in a while

March 4, 2009

scorsese_ragingbull_21Put De Niro, Pesche and  Scorsese in a studio together, and you’ll get something as good as Raging Bull.  One of the better films I’ve seen in a long time, Raging Bull was fantastic for a number of reasons, but the two I enjoyed the most was the black and white film style and the perfect connection between the characters and their New York City homes.

B&W is a tough medium to shoot anything in, but it’s particularly tough to make a film about a violent sport in black and white.  There are a lot of elements of boxing that are very colorful; boxers are identified in the ring by the blue or red corner, the color of a boxer’s shors are the most destinguishing figure of two boxers in action, and, of course, blood dripping down from a broken nose is tough to fully capture without showing that deep red.  Two things that Raging Bull did that compensated for the B&W choice was pay special attention to make up and add patterns that highlighted the things that color would normally highlight.  The skin tones of the characters, especially Vikki, added a lot to the B&W format.  Her pale skin made her stand out from all of the other characters, and she was very quickly recieved as the object of beauty throughout the film.  Another thing I noticed was the leopard pattern of La Motta’s robe.  While it’s not uncommon for boxers to have patterned robes, La Motta’s was the only one w/ a jungle cat pattern, and it was worn constantly, setting him apart from the pack and adding to the loner and ferocious image La Motta embodied.

One thing that always annoys me about movies that feature journeymen characters like La Motta is that as the film goes on, the character drops things in his persona that connect him to his home, which is often very prominant in the beginning of the films.  In Raging Bull, not only did all the characters act New York throughout the film, they captured angles of that mindset that are very difficult to portray.  Now much of this is a result of the spectacular cast, but the paranoid jealousy of La Motta and the undying and violent loyalty of his brother are things that rounded out the characters fully.  As La Motta traveled from city to city fighting, and eventually to live in Miami, his character never lost these character flaws that are identified early on as products of his environment.  This to me anchored the character to his home, and made the character more believable.

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Cool kids do cool dance in Mad Hot Ballroom

February 24, 2009

Mad Hot Ballroom was one of the more interesting documentaries I’ve seen in a while, and the only one I’ve seen by Nickelodeon.  I can remember back to my youth, being forced to take dance classes, and I’m glad the kids of NYC liked the classes more than me.

What really impressed me was how receptive the kids were to the program.  Except for fifteen seconds, there was no evidence of awkwardness between the boys and girls.  All of the students seemed comfortable assuming dance positions and the male partners were even expected to lead.  All of these aspects seemed far more mature than the ages of the children would let on.  To me this showed how thankful the kids were for a chance to do something besides mind-numing academic excersizes during school hours.

It pleased me to see that the film crew chose to pursue the stories of the children besides just their dance classes, even beyond what would seem normal for a comprehensive documentary.  I think because the kids were so receptive to the cameras, they were not afraid to open up and talk about things like family issues, competition stress and crushes.

The film did a great job during the final competition cutting in between the final dances and the stories of where these kids started.  It made a good full-circle effect to the story of these childrenmadhotballroom-popup1