Tag: Media

Bangers and Monster Mash

Welcome to another blog post focused on aesthetic things.

Don’t know why I’ve been doing so many of these recently, but I’ll hedge my bets and blame the new Instagram account and my Visual Comm class for both making me focus on the appearance of things in the world around me.

Today that happened to come into play when I went out for pseudo-lunch/dinner with some members of the Boom crew as a mini-gathering before we host something larger later on in the semester.

Dr. Sexton brought us to a place down by Fullerton College called The Olde Ship.

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If this picture alone doesn’t suggest it, The Olde Ship is essentially a British pub smack dab in the middle of Old West Yankee country. It’s apparently a small chain in Orange County, if you can count two locations as a chain restaurant, but I probably wouldn’t.

Because the place definitely feels like a pub you’d find in some small village in England somewhere.

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Not that I’d know what that feels like to be fair, as I’ve never been to England before. But it seems like exactly what I’d expect based on popular media. Like the Kingsman movies.

We all know that popular media is a good barometer of what things are like in real life, right?

I suppose that’s as much of an interesting observation as any, the fact that I implicitly gauged a location’s authenticity by the aesthetic I’ve noticed in pop culture. But to be frank that’s not what I wanted to touch on with this place.

Nor did I want to touch on the corned beef sandwich I had. Except I will briefly just to say that they made a pretty darn good corned beef sandwich. Not quite as good as my parent’s corned beef and cabbage, but I didn’t want to go down this route in the first place because I’m not fully prepared to tackle the ‘home cooked meal vs. restaurant quality’ debate at 8:45 p.m. on a Monday night. School has me too wiped for that.

Instead I wanted to talk about how bizarre it was seeing that traditionally British-style aesthetic intermingling with, of course, Halloween decorations.

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Yeah the whole place was covered in fake skulls and cobwebs and fancy little pipe cleaner spiders. All of those kitchy Halloween decorations that suburbanites love to coat their houses with as October 31st approaches.

I can’t say it wasn’t cute to see that kind of decor in such an unexpected place. But I do feel like I have to say that it was unexpected to see those two aesthetics clashing together.

Now granted that may, once again, be a problem of my own sheltered sense of scale. Maybe there are tons of pubs over in ye olde England that love to decorate their things with cliché, kitchy Halloween stuff. It’s just not the kind of thing I’ve ever personally heard of in my limited, media-driven understanding of the world.

In a way it’s kind of cool that I got to take that interesting observation out of lunch/dinner. On top of the wonderful company, of course.

But maybe there is some bigger, underlying point about media representation and worldview. I’m just frankly too tired to know whether I should dive into it any further or if I’m just crazy and rambling about nothing.

Which, to be fair, is a very strong possibility.


Before I signed this one-off, I did want to mention that my focus on aesthetics in these last two post was actually for a more substantial purpose than just corruption by my liberal college education or whatever.

While taking pictures for my Visual Comm aesthetics assignment, it really got hammered into my head that iPhone photos are way huger than I thought they were. Which, in turn, led me to realize that the reason why I’m filling up all of my media space here on the blog so quickly is because I almost exclusively use iPhone photos.

So taking pictures of buildings at Pasadena City College yesterday and of this pub today were somewhat underhanded attempts to practice a new form of throwing pictures up on my posts without having them be humongous messes I have to deal with down the line.

If all the pictures I’ve taken seem smaller than usual, that’s why. It’s probably going to be the norm from now on.

Repeat Offenders

I’m having a strange sense of déjà vu this semester.

A couple of my class have given me assignments this week that are pretty much identical to other assignments I’ve had in previous courses — one of which I’ve seen at least three times now, in fact.

That third-time returning assignment (the one that I find more interesting right now, considering at this rate I’ll need to develop a punch card) was handed down in my Visual Communications class this afternoon. Essentially I have to take a number of photos over the next two weeks, either on my phone or with a professional camera, that represent major concepts in visual composition.

So a photo that shows a prominent horizontal line, one that shows a good grasp of the rule of thirds, one that displays the difference between the foreground and background, etc.

As an isolated assignment it makes sense. What better way to get kids engaged and learn a variety of terms by making use of that little device in our pockets to actually engage with the work.

The problem comes when, as in my case, you see the same assignment repeatedly. In Comm 202, focused on broadcast journalism basics. In Multimedia Journalism. Now, again, in Visual Communications.

Is there just some unwritten rule that in the 21st century, every visual-focused class will get students to go out and take sample photos with their phones? Was there a college teaching conference that established this staple?

Is it only a California thing or does this happen all across the country?

I’m actually, genuinely curious to know.

My Mass Media Ethics class yesterday also assigned a small project I’ve seen before. For that, we need to spend about a week keeping a media log with all the news we consume so we can reflect on it.

I had to do the exact same thing for my Comm 233 class — the one that I started this blog for.

Back then I was pretty upset with the project. The professor was kind of an old fart and quite literally used the assignment as a way to rub it in our faces that we’re all too addicted to technology.

Like sure we definitely are, but that doesn’t mean you need to be condescending about it dude.

This time around the assignment is focused more on tracing back to the corporations that own each media outlet and deciding how that ownership might create bias.

A more interesting, reasonable through-line in my opinion.

Thinking about it, those two kinds of assignments seem very intrinsically linked to modern-day students. I suppose that’s the reason why they’re showing up repeatedly, for me at least. Whether or not you guess see these particular assignments, or just other projects that multiple teachers have assigned, I guess is up to you all to let me know.

No matter what, I’m just glad neither of these two projects are due next week. Because my two essays for my Psych classes still loom heavy on my mind…


As an aside, while this isn’t related to the overall post I’ve just written, it’s something that stood out to me so much today that I just had to share it.

Over the past few months I’ve been watching a YouTuber named Nando v. Movies rewrite the recent DCEU Justice League film beat-by-beat. It has been fascinating to watch, as one of the reasons I picked up on the guy in the first place was because of his script rewrites. They show a great grasp of the comic book source material and movie structure, so it’s always a joy.

The four-part Justice League series has been especially great, in my opinion. While I enjoyed the original movie, the novel version Nando creates is vastly superior and sets up a much more compelling path for the universe to take.

It’s just too bad he isn’t actually working at DC’s movie division.

The final part of the series just released today, and I would say it’s very worth taking an hour and a half to watch each part in a row. You can check them out here.

Dude deserves the shout out, go see his stuff.

The old ball game

The old ball game

I may not be the biggest sports fan in the world, and that extends to my general lack of interest writing about sports for journalistic purposes…

But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy a good game of baseball. Hell, it’s hard not to enjoy America’s pastime, especially when you grow up going to games with your Dad, taking in all the clichés. The first pitches and national anthem. The seventh inning stretch. The acceptance of normalcy that comes with the potential of being hit in the back of the head by a rogue beach ball. The sheer scale of the stadium and mass of people all sharing the same experience you are.

And, of course…


The food.

Can’t go wrong with a dodger dog and a bag of peanuts. I’m also partial to having a frozen lemonade toward the latter half of the game, that’s something of a tradition for me.

It’s been some time since I’ve gone to a game, and I definitely have to thank our family friend, my uncle David Liebling for getting us in to this Dodgers/Mets showdown (with some pretty good seats at that).


Since it has been some time, and my interests have been developing continuously, I’m definitely noticing different things around the stadium this time around.

Namely, the interesting interplay between the sport and my area of focus, the media.


In all the times I’ve gone to ball games, I’ve never noticed the pre-game reporting being done on the field. It’s actually pretty hilarious to see the two anchors in a fancy suit and dress contrasting with the sea of jerseys and colloquial game-attending attire. Plus they set up and took down the desk and camera equipment real fast, so that was interesting to watch.

On top of that, if you’re really paying attention, you can catch some of the interesting shots that help make the game a media sensation but might not be so easy to understand the scope of from behind a screen.


Not sure why I thought this was so interesting, but something about the intertwining of being live and seeing media being created spoke to me today. Figured I would share that little observation.

However, I’m going to cut things short, because I am still in the middle of a game, and as much as I enjoy writing I probably look a little stupid. Plus, the Dodgers just caught a fly ball in the outfield and managed to throw it to home for a double play that ended the top of the second inning.

It was pretty hype, to be completely honest.

Communications 202 productions for the fall 2016 semester

Today was the last day of the fall 2016 semester at Cal State Fullerton.  Next week is finals week, but I’ve gotten lucky with my classes and don’t have to go in for any exams.  There’s a final essay I have to do over the weekend and our final week-long Daily Titan production for the semester on Sunday… But otherwise, I’m essentially free for winter break.

For my Communications 202 class, which was an introductory broadcast production class, our entire semester was building up to producing an actual news broadcast – not a long one necessarily, but still.  All of the packaged reports and the roles preparing the anchored bits were made by the students in the class.  The productions we put together have both been posted online, the second one just earlier this afternoon in fact.

Because it’s an introductory class, things are put together a bit roughly… But considering they’re the culmination of a semester’s worth of work, I figure it would be cool to share the broadcasts we produced here.

For this first production, I was the assistant script writer for the full broadcast – everything outside of the packages themselves.  My own produced piece made it into this show in fact, the first story about Anaheim Ballot Measure U.  I’m a little tired of watching it after spending so much time recording and editing everything, but I still think it turned out pretty well.

For this second production, I was the chief script writer.  Just about everything the anchors said I was responsible for – and yeah it’s pretty cheesy, I know.  I wasn’t exactly putting my best effort into the work, we were hitting the end of the semester after all.

I was also the camera operator for the second show. That meant I was part of the “live” production team, making sure the anchors were properly visible and had the right amount of headroom and everything else that’s needed.  However, there were only three cameras in the newsroom we used, so the job became a bit more complicated when we had to use four or more camera angles to encompass multiple combinations of the three anchors.  I wound up having to mix my two jobs, setting the script up in a way to facilitate being able to move one camera to a new position while another was being used.

All-and-all I wound up having the most fun in that class doing the camera work along with the rest of the team who signed up for jobs on the show.  The rest of the class leading up to it was a little frustrating for various reasons, but I’d say the end made the whole thing worth it.

Since my final American Studies paper isn’t due until Monday, so I’m probably going to take at least the night off to relax.  However, now that the class is over, I feel it would at least be nice to give a shoutout to my Comm 202 professor, Penchan Phoborisut.  She’s a great teacher, and helped me at least get started in learning programs like Storify and Adobe Premiere Pro.  For that I’m grateful, considering they’re the kind of skills I’ll probably have to have a rudimentary knowledge of in this line of work at least.

So, until next time, I’m off to go play more Pokémon.  In fact, I’m thinking I’ll have an update on how that’s going at some point this weekend, since I’ve done quite a bit since beating the main campaign. For now though, let me know if you enjoyed our broadcasts.  They aren’t the most well-polished things, like I said, but for an amateur project I do think they turned out nice.

Why you should watch Merchants of Doubt

For my Communications 233 class, Mass Communication in Modern Society, one of the things we were meant to learn about in the course is media literacy.  I say were because today is the day of our final exam so the course is technically over but… I’m not really here to get into semantics.  Media literacy was defined by our professor as having the ability to analyze the impact that forms of communications have on life.  This referred especially to being able to look at things like advertisements and being able to discern their true meanings through semiotics, for example.

Continue reading “Why you should watch Merchants of Doubt”

Representing History through Film

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The famous Hollywood Sign in black and white, as it would have appeared in “old movies”.  (Image Courtesy of circa71.wordpress.com)

Somehow the historical side of my blog for my Honors World Civilizations course has almost become more of a platform for me to talk about films.  In the first two posts I did (Post 1 and 2), I talked about Chantal Akerman’s documentaries in various degrees around the times that I watched them.

So, I figure why not take this last post for the class to talk about the relationship between movies and history as a whole?

The way history is depicted in media often has a large impact on how that history is addressed and thought about in our everyday lives.  Whether this is a good or a bad thing is generally debatable.

The fact that events in our past are recorded and repeated through films and TV programs is a great reflection that we as a species are continuing the legacy of those involved in various historical periods and moment.  As one of my favorite clichéd phrases goes, “Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”  If stories from, say, the Holocaust are consistently depicted in films, we’re more likely to keep the Holocaust in our collective consciousness as a reminder that we can’t let it happen again.

In his book Visions of the Past: The Challenge of Film to our Idea of HistoryRobert Rosenstone talks about film as a tool which can alter our perception of history by saying, “In privileging visual and emotional data and simultaneously downplaying the analytic, the motion picture is subtly […] altering our very sense of the past.” (32)  Rosenstone ponders the differences between written and visual representations of history, wondering whether or not film can hold the same weight as history books or novelizations of events.

In this same vein, there are questions beyond the general strength of film as a medium.  Are films accurate in their approach to dramatizing history? What additional issues can we cultivate in portraying historical recreations?  Yes, it’s great that movies like Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List” help to draw large-scale attention to the Holocaust so we can remember it.  However, to what extent is it irresponsible to make those who watch the film believe that Schindler was the same man who trained Obi-Wan Kenobi, who is also the same man who saved his family with “a particular set of skills”?

There are other potential issues with how we depict historical moments in our filmography beyond this name or face association.  Of course, I’m referring specifically to entertainment, fictionalized or blockbuster films and shows rather than documentaries.  There’s a very common complaint that Hollywood is too “whitewashed”, hiring caucasian actors in roles which are better suited for or meant to be people of color.  There’s also the possibility that the very desire to create a film, which by convention tends to be restricted in view time and the perspectives shown on-screen at a time, results in certain editing or removal of pieces from a history.

Now, whether or not I’m qualified to judge if a movie is historically accurate is a different story entirely.  I’m not planning on tearing apart or championing any particular film for how it addresses the history it desires to address.  I just figure this is a good place to talk about why I believe it’s important to try to be as accurate as possible when showcasing history in a film.

Part of why I say I’m not necessarily qualified to judge historical accuracy is because I’m not a history major.  I enjoy learning about history, but I’m not an expert in any time period by any means.  One of the ways I enjoy learning about history is through movies, as it’s much easier to understand or appreciate something that happened when it’s shown in a recognizable way.

Gillo Pontecorvo‘s 1966 film “The Battle of Algiers” is an excellent example of this.  I knew next to nothing about the Algerian War for Independance before watching that movie.  The struggle between the National Liberation Front (FLN) and the French Government, the escalating animosity of the two parties from the means of warfare that was used, the large-scale bombings and attacks that devastated the common people, the use of women and their perceived gender roles to sneak things through French boundaries… All of these ideas and more were represented in the film, and therefore all of them were things I learned about the Battle of Algiers from watching it.

Wars and revolutions as a whole are complex, that’s a given just in the nature of building up to such events.  It’s hard to totally understand everything that happens to both parties that physically and psychologically drives them to any sort of conflict.

That’s where I think “The Battle of Algiers” succeeds.  In my opinion, it teaches the history of an event that seems a little less well-known in a way that you get an idea of how both sides are thinking and responding to things throughout the film.  As far as I’m aware, the movie does a great job of teaching someone who knows nothing about the Algerian War (like me, as I’ve said) what they need to know to understand the struggle.

Bear in mind, filmmakers take creative liberties in their art, and what you see in film isn’t always exactly what transpired in history. To some extent, it’s realistically impossible to recreate history exactly as it happened.  For an audience, there should be a balance between suspending your disbelief when you go to a movie and understanding that life is too complex to represent in an hour and a half to a two-hour celluloid format. For a filmmaker, there’s nothing wrong with taking creative liberties or trying to show history in an entertaining way, but we should keep in mind that the movie being created could become someone’s only connection to that period of history.


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