Sunday, December 26, 2010

Ben Andrews - Bonsai Tree Day 7


1st collector for Ben Andrews - Bonsai Tree Day 7
Follow my videos on vodpod

http://ilivetodayav.ning.com/profile/BenjaminAndrews Day 7! I have finally planted the seeds!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ben Andrews - Bonsia Tree Day 5

http://ilivetodayav.ning.com/profile/BenjaminAndrews I bought a mini Bonsai Tree Kit from Barnes and Noble and am documenting my Bonsai tree experience...

Not much of an update.... but check out BRING YOUR OWN VINYL NIGHT: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=155531171153097

Monday, December 20, 2010

Ben Andrews - Bonsai Tree Day 3

http://ilivetodayav.ning.com/profile/BenjaminAndrews I bought a mini Bonsai Tree Kit from Barnes and Noble and am documenting my Bonsai tree experience…

 

Realizing my bonsai tree seeds could be mistaken as trash, I set out to label the bag!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Ben Andrews - Bonsai Tree Day 2

http://ilivetodayav.ning.com/profile/BenjaminAndrews I bought a mini Bonsai Tree Kit from Barnes and Noble and am documenting my Bonsai tree experience...

 

After soaking my seeds for 24 hours I placed them in a damp paper towel, sealed in a plastic bag and into the fridge to cold stratify for 7days!

Ben Andrews Book Review - The Golden Labyrinth

http://ilivetodayav.ning.com/profile/BenjaminAndrews 

Book Review of the The Golden Labyrinth: The Unique Films of Guillermo Del Toro by Steve Earles. 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Life is Zombies - Autodrama

Had some with Auto-drama for THA 110 (Fundamentals of Acting) at Antelope Valley College. Decided to go with the concept of zombies as a metaphor for several things in life; the one-size fits all educational system, bullies, peer pressure and meaningless jobs. In each situation our weapon to overcome these obstacles are passion and creativity.

http://ilivetodayav.ning.com/profile/... The story of my life told through the METAPHOR of zombies, final project auto-drama for 110 at Antelope Valley College.
Special thanks to Eduardo Camacho Villalobos and Crystal Lambert

Music by Pink Floyd, Brand New and Cold War Kids

 

Also thanks to Erica Schott for filming for me, and for catching this fun moment before the performance:

http://ilivetodayav.ning.com/profile/...
Everyone wishing me luck ... or saying random things about me in the other room while I prepare for my Auto-drama final project in THA 110 at Antelope Valley College.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Itslav - the Film that Fell apart

http://ilivetodayav.ning.com/profile/BenjaminAndrews Short Film project for my Digital Filmmaking class at Antelope Valley College. This film is an incomplete project where all of the action sequences have been faked and large portions of the film are omitted. I hope to eventually go back and complete this film as originally written some day. Special thanks to all the friends that helped me throughout the process of trying to make the film.

Like all great projects the process of making this film started with a lot of momentum and energy. I had big plans for this one, this was going to be the one that I would take to film festivals. I wrote the script before the start of the class, had the whole thing storyboarded out shot by shot by the second week and convinced the teacher to let me use the top-notch equipment available in the class. I started out very passionate and in control of the situation, I was extremely organized and began casting calls. I had a great internet response to these casting calls and confirmed around 35 auditions. After 3 weeks, only 2 of the 35 ever showed up. I cast Bobby Sosa, who had walked in to audition for someone else's project for the lead role of Itslav and Brian Morrisey as the Boss, who both did a great job in my opinion. Begrudgingly I took the role of Markus Kent on myself and decided to attempt to fill the remaining roles with friends.

Despite the disappointments I faced in the casting process pulling off the film didn't feel out of reach... but then I lost my filming location on the first day of filming. From there things went down hill. I lost my confidence in the project and in myself as director. I slipped back into my old habits of being satisfied with the first take because of time pressure. At this point my personal life was also shaken up. I started a new job and my girlfriend of three years broke up with me. The semester became more about survival than about excelling. 

Most of my energy went into my new job while my school work, particularly working on my short film project began to fall to the wayside. Over the course of the semester I shot and edited 40 or more videos for my job and became pretty burnt out when it came to trying to organize for and shoot my own project. Not the most inspirational of stories, but its the truth of what happened. I learned a lot while making this short film and was able to use many of the things I learned early on in the class at my job. I still came out with a final product at the end of the class, which stands as a shadow of my original vision and a reminder of my human limitations.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Art, emotion, Music, poetry, truth





Oh Art, Music, Poetry

You are our expression of past injustice, present struggle, and future hope
Oh Art
You are Truth beyond Facts

Oh Music

You are Emotion beyond Words

Oh Poetry

You are Observation beyond Science

Oh Art, Music, Poetry

You are the definition of our souls, the spark of the divine, and exhalation of our creative mind.

Temptation


often, we find ourselves facing depravity


teetering on the brink of zealous faith


yet peering into the depths of doubt


we long to touch the flame


even if its beauty burns us


temptation stalks us


ready to manifest its ugliness


and ruin us in many forms


pride's allure must be folly


for we are human


and alone nothing more


yet divinity finds value in our vessels


and fills our days with grace


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Fly on the Wall

The AV Fair! Once a year this spectacle complete with food, rides, art, animals and musicians descends upon the Antelope Valley. But this year was special, why? Because I had special access. Thanks to a good friend of mine Jim Greenleaf (CEO of http://ilivetoday.com) I was able to get a special all "AG-CESS" pass to the AV Fair. In return for this fantastic priveledge I agreed to do some photography and blog about my experience and my experience was awesome.

To start off I arrived at the fair around 6:30pm. I parked in the prefered parking lot for free (score) and passed through the fair side gate like a celebrity. My girlfriend came in as my "photography assistant" and we ran about taking some great pictures of farm animals, tractors and buildings.
As we made our way around the fair we ran into a number of friends and acquaintances. A couple of our friends were big Dierks Bentley fans who had just met him in a special meet and great time. After that we headed off to the big event of the night; The Dierks Bentley Concert! While I'm not a huge fan of country music I actually had a blast at this concert. Dierks definitely leans more towards the rock and roll side of country. Because of my AG-CESS pass I was able to get up close to take some pics at the concert. I had access to the space between the crowd and stage for 30seconds on the first two songs of the night.


Again, at the concert we ran into some more friends and met up with my girlfriend's brother and his girlfriend. After the concert we went on a search for llamas, corn-dogs and kettle corn. Our hunger for corn-dogs and kettle corn was satisfied that night, but we couldn't find any llamas. I ran about again for a few minutes taking pictures and then we headed home with music still ringing in our ears, smiles on our faces and kettle corn in our bellies!




Check out the rest of my photography from the night here: http://www.ilivetoday.com/photo/albums/av-fair-2010

Monday, August 2, 2010

Movie Reviews



I have decided that I will begin reviewing movies on this blog. I won't exactly be reviewing just new movies or movies that I have seen in general. I will be reviewing movies that I own. This will essentially be a retrospective look back at what I decided was worth $5 - $20 to buy. I'll give a full review and a recommendation of whether or not you too should buy the film or let it sit on the shelf at the store. I invite you to subscribe to this blog and join me on this ride.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Refer a Business: Get Cash!

Introducing The Business Referral Promotion!

Refer a business and get $25! How does it work? 

Step 1: Tell a business owner about DragonCow Productions

Step 2: Give the business owner your name and phone number to give to us

Step 3: If that business owner hires us for a commercial we’ll give you $25

You can send them to our site: http://www.dragoncowproductions.com
or have them give us a call (661) 317-7803 or email: ben@dragoncowproductions.com 



Friday, July 2, 2010

July 2010 - Issue #5 DRAGONCOW



DRAGONCOW
Official Newsletter
A semi-monthly update from your favorite Independent Film Production Company



DragonCow By the Numbers:
Website Views: 4288 Fans on Facebook:275 Views on Youtube:59,674 Views on Yahoo:76,976 Views on Myspace: 11,565








DRAGONCOW PRODUCTIONS IS TAKING
OVER THE ANTELOPE VALLEY
Last month you heard that we were commis- sioned to create a 30 second ad for AV Florist, great news right? Well it gets even better. We delivered our commercial and AV Florist owner Chris Spicher was ab- solutely thrilled, but he wasn’t the only one! We showed the video to Rosemary the owner of Camille’s Sidewalk Cafe in Palmdale and Lancaster and she realized that she needed one too! So we made our sec- ond commercial and it turned out abso- lutely fantastic. With two successful commercials under our belt and a third one on the way you can bet that Dragon- Cow is here to stay. In fact it’s our goal to have 20 commercials produced by the end of the year. Help us make that a reality and pass our info on to any businesses you know!
- Ben Andrews (661) 317-7803
ben@dragoncowproductions.com
http://www.dragoncowproductions.com/commercials



SATISFIED CUSTOMERS
 Ben Andrews and Camille’s owner Rosemary.



















Ben Andrews and AV Florist owner Chris Spicher.

Rebel Filmmakers Update:
Jim Greenleaf will now be playing the role of Mayor T. Rex Harris and helping out as a Producer for the show! Jim Greenleaf is the CEO of ilivetoday.com and has some really great experience and connections with the entertainment business. To find out more about what Jim does, check out http://www.ilivetoday.com
To see the new commercials that DragonCow Productions has produced simply visit: http://www.dragoncowproductions.com/commercials

Thank you for reading!

 Happy 4th of July Everyone!

Download the full color PDF of the newsletter here: https://docs.google.com/fileview?id=0B6PXothDYFWGY2IzOTQ5OGQtNzk1NS00MDJhLTlmNGEtYzVjN2EwZmI4ZmNj&hl=en&authkey=CJ7CpYoD

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mr. Hungry@Work


Hooray! We have completed our second paid video commercial! The 45 second spot is titled "Mr. Hungry@Work and is promoting the local business Camille's Sidewalk Cafe. I met up with the owner Rosemary about 2 weeks ago and even though she had her doubts she took a leap of faith and decided to commission DragonCow to make an ad for her:

SO HERE IT IS:


Pretty good huh? Rosemary has absolutely thrilled and completely satisfied with the video. We even had a chance to premiere the video live on the internet through a fantastic new site called ilivetoday.com and if you haven't joined ilivetoday.com yet you must! It's a really great way to connect with people and businesses in the Antelope Valley.

So if you're a business in need of some fresh ideas in creative advertising give me a call (661) 317-7803 or email me ben@dragoncowproductions.com

Everyone else sit back and enjoy the ride! Wish me luck : )

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Gotta Get Back


Well, I am here again, on the blog sending out my thoughts into the void! I've been quite busy so I think it is important for me to reflect on what I have been doing. During the last school semester I wrote blogs on a weekly basis as part of my Critical Thinking and Research English Class. This assignment fueled my creative writing greatly and jumpstarted my problem solving mindset. (Reflecting upon that sentence, I'm not quite sure how effective my car-oriented metaphors are.)

At one point or another we need to face down our failures. If we have the bravery to face down our failures we can turn them into opportunities. I recently received the third of three disappointing letters, first a letter denying me admission to USC, then a painful reminder in the form of a letter rejecting me from the Film-Production program and a third from the Animation and Digital Arts Program. I had my moment of pain, disappointment and bitterness and now I am moving on.

I am taking control of this moment and steering myself into a bold new future. Tired of working odd jobs and commuting to Pasadena (yes, I said Pasadena) I have started building up the business of DragonCow Productions.

The DragonCow team has:

Made its first commercial for a local business!
Check out the video for AV Florist in Lancaster:




I met with Av Florist owner Chris Spicher for lunch at Jackie's cafe in Lancaster and convinced him to take a chance and he commissioned us to make a 30 second stop-animated ad for his flower shop. In less than two weeks, thanks to some late nights and hard work from seasoned DragonCow animators Thomas Thomas and Dean Terrell, the video was completed.

This lead to the development of our next project another video ad! This time the ad is for Camille's Sidewalk Cafe. The future looks bright for DragonCow Productions as we have 2 more paid videos in the immediate future and several creative opportunities too...

Stay tuned to the tales of Ben Andrews and DragonCow, and our continuing saga.
As always, Wish me luck!

http://www.dragoncowproductions.com

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Wise Owls

A lone warrior approaches the dark mouth of a mountain. The mountain breathes it foul odor and the warrior’s bones tremble in fear. His metal boots clink against the hard rocky floor of the cave. The smell of rotting corpses pillage his nostrils. Death is all about him, and terror begins to grip his mind. What horrible beast lies ahead? What fanged, clawed, scaled monstrosity waits to ambush him in the dark?
This is the feeling of fear and uncertainty when beginning new things. We build up monsters in our mind, great enemies too big to be defeated. But we continue on through this cave because we are brave and crave adventure. We crave knowledge and understanding. Like Plato we must not remain prisoner in the cave, but find our way out to the sun.
FInding my way out of the cave.
This class was a great experience for me. I learned a lot. More than I thought I could learn really. Not only did I learn, but I had fun doing so. Even if I complained about the grueling research paper, or cramming at 11:58 to finish the assignments for the week, I really did enjoy myself. I enjoyed the struggle. The constant uphill battle. Never feeling safe, fat, happy or lazy. This course was dynamic and built up upon itself and the other courses I took this semester.
Parting is such sweet sorrow.
While I feel great relief in having completed the work aspect of this class, I will miss the learning and friendship of this class. Through all of these blogs I have really been able to connect with all of you. It’s been basically like reading each other’s diaries or journals. I’ve gotten to know you all on a deep level, and I will miss that community and interaction.
Some final thoughts.
You are never to old to learn. One of the most inspiring things about taking classes at a community college is coming coming across people 2 or even 3 times your age, going back to school to get a better education. Keep up the great work, you can do it! Owls may be old, but they are always the wisest!
Even a blog can be beautiful. Every opportunity to write or to be creative is an opportunity that we must seize. I think we all unlocked the inner philosopher and poet in these blogs. I greatly enjoyed reading all of your blogs because of all the fascinating metaphor and ideas that I came across.
About Me
I mentioned at the begging of the semester that I was trying to get into the USC School of Cinematic arts. I received a letter from USC yesterday, I did not get in. After taking the moment to wallow in wretched self-pity, I changed my thinking to a positive mindset and realized that it as simply not meant to be, at least not at this moment. That means for now I will remain in the Antelope Valley, so perhaps I may bump into one of you next semester? Also my video-production business is gaining some ground locally! I  am producing a video ad for AV Florist and connect with a lot of businesses locally through http://www.ilivetodayav.com (great site, highly recommend you check it out). So everyone please stay in touch! I will probably be premiering my first feature film, for more info email me at ben@dragoncowproductions.com 
So long and thanks for all the fish!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Full --> Fuller




Writing a research paper is a learning experience. Going into the research paper I really didn’t know what I would write about. I found that the research part of the research paper is really where I figured out an angle to go from. I set out in a quest to find some good academic sources on imagination and what I found actually interested me. I came across a great philosophical article by Timothy M. Costelloe, titled "Hume’s Phenomenology of the Imagination." It went into immense discussion on the process of imagination. 
I learned about the imagistic powers, conceptual powers and productive powers of the imagination. I was most surprised by the concept of the productive power of imagination. To quote Costelloe “These ideas transcend experience and include those of space with nothing tangible or visible (a vacuum), time without change and succession, continued existence, substance and self-identity, and the immortal soul.”  This concept is deep. I was surprised to come across concepts so mind-bending in my research.
I made a realization that I can come across something like that anywhere. I reconnected with the idea of being surprised by deepness. I also realized that sometimes, communication can be a bit difficult. How can I get this idea across in a blog? Frustration.
This paper had some frustration other than communication. Bits of good and bad. My first review for revising this paper complimented me a lot, but didn’t offer much to help me improve. Another review was extremely helpful. Lots of comments, lots of criticism. So whoever gave me that one, THANK YOU! Others can do a great job of catches mistakes that you missed.
I feel that I should have learned more from this research paper, but I honestly feel that I have taken in so much information this semester that learning more in this research paper is a bit like putting gas into an already full tank. Overflow. My mind is full and I can put the pump on, but most of the gasoline is just spilling onto the floor and getting all over my shoes. 
But perhaps I am being a bit unfair.To say I learned little,would be a suggestion that my fellow classmate taught me little. That is not true. In fact reading other peoples papers did help me learn. I was amazed by what may fellow students wrote and am actually looking at their essays as a model of how I can improve my own.
So yes, I am fluctuating back an forth between attitudes within this post, but hey that’s how my mind goes. Mixed emotions. Glad I learned things but wish I learned more. I hope I’ve learned to not just think entirely about myself though. I hope that I have learned to appreciate others work and learn something from them. I hope that I have learned that there are other ideas and opinions out there than mine and that I can learn something from them. I hope that no matter how “full” I get, that I can always get fuller.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Possible


Oh boy... the research paper. Do we really have to talk about that? I fear that this blog may interfere greatly with my procrastination. At this point, I don’t have a lot of solid work done. I am actually still reading the Great Gatsby and that worries me a little bit. On the plus side I took a “writing research paper” workshop in the Learning center today. So I have completed the first step (somewhat) of getting organized.
I have read all the details and understand the assignment very well, as well as all the requirements. BUT, I don’t really have a good time schedule or goals laid out. AND this week is super busy.  I am working Weds - Saturday, and have school wed and thursday. So both those days I can’t work on the paper. I need to finish reading the Great Gatsby, and go from having 0 pages to having 5 by Sunday, with the only available time to do that being today (which I also have to take the two hour timed essay, since I can’t on Weds or Thursday), when I get off work Friday night or before work Saturday morning. And whatever is left I’ll have to work on Sunday after noon (so much for a day of rest right?). 
Did I mention, I haven’t started doing any research? In fact I really don’t know what to search for with the prompt I chose. I’m supposed to talk about how the girl’s in Reading Literature in Tehran reinvent themselves and discuss the illusions their society creates as well as the illusions they create and relate that to Gatsby “honesty of imagination.” Hmmm... where should I begin to search? Do I look up Iranian society? Scholarly literary analysis of Reading Lolita In Tehran and The Great Gatsby? Scientific or psychological articles about imagination or honesty? I just don’t know what direction to take there.
Not to mention, that all of this is going to require more reading... ah! Cue the violin music, as the S.S. Ben’s Research Paper sinks into the harbor. Hopeless! Hopeless! Hopeless! Hopeless! Okay, I may be getting a little over dramatic, but hey Jennifer said vent! And my form of venting is highly dramatic.
So here I find myself in this sticky situation, things look bleak, and I am wishing my research paper was done, well wishing this semester is over... but anyways, there must be a glimmer of hope or some silver lining in these thunderclouds. So let’s take a look at the glass half full! I gave my final speech in Public Speaking, so there are no more assignments in that class, doesn’t look like I have any home work in Art History either. AND, there are no Exploring Language questions or Reading Discussion questions to wrestle with this week... and I already finished my extra credit blog for English, AND I am finish this blog right now on a Tuesday! 
So even if it does come down to finishing this draft at the eleventh hour, at least this paper will be the only thing I have to worry about at the eleventh hour. Besides now that I’ve vented through this blog, I can start to fell the fog roll out of my mind and the little gears of inspiration slowly start to turn. This paper is again, possible.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Dr. Roberts





Dr. Robert, your a new and better man,
He helps you to understand,
He does everything he can, Dr. Robert.

- The Beatles

    Tuesday, May 11th. The cafeteria at Antelope Valley College is packed. No, it is overflowing. I sit in anticipation with my laptop ready for not taking, and am very glad I came a half hour early to get good seating. I am sitting here because I will get extra credit for doing so, but as the moments leading up to Dr. Terrence Roberts speech progress, an energy in the room, something in the air sweeps me up away from my trivial purpose of extra credit to real purpose; I can learn something today.
    Dr. Robert takes the mic. He is calm cool collected and speaks with flawless grammar and diction. He is tall and his head is crowned with grey hairs of wisdom. I listen. I learn. My learning goes beyond a visceral knowledge of what happened when 9 black students tried to attend a white high school in Little Rock. Dr. Roberts didn't just inform me of these events, or fill in a few extra details, he increased my understanding of the situation and of the context in which it took place. He gave me a new perspective to look at the issues from.

    First he told me what it meant to be a young black boy in the segregated south. He told me of the trials he faced, the horrible inequality. He explained that we all come into this universe the same way, but that he somehow missed the memo that you should have white skin instead of black. As a young boy he had to figure out what the reasoning, what the rational justification for the walls of segregation could possible be. He questioned why the color of his skin determined his opportunities, where he could live, go to school, work or even eat. the only logical conclusion he could deduce is this "white people are stone crazy!"
   
    Then he went on to explain how he had to live by the rules of segregation in order to survive. He talked about how it really was a dangerous world of life or death for him. When he heard people say that he and the other students should be hanged, he believed that they were serious, because this is how things were. You could be killed. But even in the face of all this, of being forced to conform to these rules, of being beaten down and of the horrible harassment faced, he knew he couldn't follow the rules any longer. He had to go back to that school and fight on. He was there , not to represent any group of people, but simply to educate himself. He had to do this, because it was the right thing to do.

   He went on to discuss that United States had been legally and constitutionally segregated for 335 years and only legally non-segregated for 56. He explained that racism and segregation still exist today. He says they persist, because Americans after 335 years got good at segregation and overall the 335 outweigh the 56. Racism and segregation is still a part of the United States because through those 335 years it has been sown into the social fabric.


I could go on and on about what I learned. But I will suffice to say I was enlightened, by Dr, Roberts.

Stretched Thin



Oh man...
too much to do and too little time. (cliche I know, but true)

Being pulled in about 8,000 directions at the moment. School is definitely piling up right now. We're right at the end and it's just that last stretch that seems nearly impossible to complete. And then to add to it, gotta work. taking on 4 shifts this week. Man I'm going to be tired... but hey that's $.

Still looking for a local job... starting to get more and more worried about the wear and tear on my car due to the constant commuting.

Oh well, this blog began in a poetic-ish style, but dissolved into complaint. Ah...
things don't go the way you plan them it seems. They go what the opposite. My head's much to full. too full to let my sleep... to quote the good old Bob Dylan "I've got a head full of Ideas that are driving me insane!"

I've got at least 20 half-baked ideas fighting to get to the surface.
Rewrites for my tv show.
Songs for the concert scene in said tv show.
Becoming a real video-production business, acting "professional."
A "Hagar the Horrible" short film.
a combination of Fahrenheit 451 and 1984 short film.
My magnum opus: an epic sci-fiction movie about Time and the universe.
and more!


But sleep should be attempted, dreams should be had.
good night void

Friday, May 14, 2010

Style


    My online style is diverse. My online style has range. My style is dynamic and adaptable. My style is not just a style it is styles. When I get online, there is not just one format to communicate in or medium to work through, so I must adapt and tailor fit my communication to each specific mode I come across.

     The first mode of online communication that I, and most of us, come across is email. Email requires a personal style. It’s sort of like writing a letter. But it can also requires us to be formal or business like, albeit still striving to sound personal. One such instance could be submitting a resume online via email. But for the most part, email is a way to stay in touch with friends and family so my emails reflect a very personal style in which I share my thoughts.

     Another mode of communication we commonly bump up against is the social networking aspect. This can divided into a few different things within itself: messages, comments, status updates and instant messaging. Messages are essentially email within the context of a social networking site, so my style reflects that of an email. Comments are quite different than messages, where as messages are private between sender and receiver, comments are public. I go for a quick and humorous style in my comments that everyone can enjoy, not just the intended receiver because comments due to their public nature have an audience. I keep comments short sweet and to the point. Status updates much like comments are public and should be audience centered. In fact status updates are wholly audience centered because there is no specific intended receiver. Status updates function more like a news broadcast just out there for everyone to see. My style of sharing my status with others is that I limit myself to either humorous remarks, or things that are actually newsworthy. Nobody (but your narcissistic self) cares what type of cereal you had for breakfast. Finally that leaves us with instant message. Instant messaging is all about short little messages. My style is like sending a text message, trying to condense information into fewer words. Although unlike the complete back and forth ping-pong style communication we call texting, instant messaging is more conversational. My style of instant messaging is a conversational style, I simply write what I would have said in a verbal conversation (plus smiley faces for emphasis).

     That brings us to a third style of online communication, which is one of my favorites, public relations. I use the language of advertising and public relations to promote my business throughout various avenues online. This involves social networking, web design, email and blogging. I use an official sounding tone to give my business presence online in social networking sites. I use the same language to give out information on my website. I shamelessly self-promote through tweets and status updates that keep people involved in what’s going on with my business. I use email to send newsletters that are informative and entertaining. I use blogging to give a more detailed behind the scenes and personal look into what’s going on, which brings me to the final mode of online communication I’d like to discuss.
 
   Blogging, you must be familiar with it. You’re doing it right now. My style for blogging is a personal stlye. I love to embrace narratives and metaphorical language to bring my thoughts to life. I treat my blogs often as a sort of journal or diary for my thoughts on various subjects. The blog is one place where I am more likely to embrace stream of consciousness writing and worry less about structure. When the creative juices just flow like that, that’s my favorite style.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Subjective Nature


In 1909, The National Board of Censorship controls the film industry. They censor topics such as prostitution, childbirth and masturbation. In the 1930’s, the film studios hold to a production code to ensure proper content. This self enforced censorship included several tenets such as “evil can’t go unpunished,” ‘no profanity,” “limited scenes of passion,” and “no inter-racial romance.” Filmmakers such as Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock pushed the envelope and challenged the boundaries of what was allowed. Orson Welles’ film “A Touch of evil” broke nearly all the rules, it was violent, the Sheriff (played by Welles) was actually the bad guy, and the lead character was a Mexican detective (played by Charles Heston) married to a white American woman. The production company actually chose to re-edit the film to take out all the bad stuff while Welles was in Europe working on another project. He wrote a long letter explaining how the film should have been properly cut and from that letter the film was reconstructed in 1998. Alfred Hitchcock was infamous for pushing his movies to include dirty things just as he is famous for having cameos in his films. He got in the most trouble with his famous movie “Psycho.” The shower murder scene was extremely provocative because of the violence and nudity (albeit cleverly barely hidden). The film was rejected by the production code, and the studio told Hitchcock to make changes. So he waited a couple months and sent the film back, unchanged. They believed he had made the changes and thanked him for doing so and the movie made it to the theaters intact.






The government once again got involved with the film industry in 1939 when the US Department of Justice tried to break-down vertical integration. This meant that studios could not book a whole block of films together because they would mix a few good films with a bunch of worthless ones and that the studios could not own theaters. The Government struck down unjustly in 1947 when the Un-American Activities committee black listed 100’s of people in Hollywood because they were considered t be communist sympathizers. In 1968 the production code is terminated and is replaced by the current MPAA rating system. The MPAA rating system is a voluntary system that filmmakers comply to. The system is determined by group of families who oversee reviewing and rating the films. This systems works because it does not censor any content or topics, but rather acts a a warning label for viewers. A viewer can know what to expect in a G, PG, PG-13 or R rated feature. It also works because anyone that wants to make money of their films understands that people want to know what something is rated, and if the filmmaker understands his target audience the films content and rating will fit the needs of that audience.

The current system of MPAA rating looks to be the best solution. It is done without government intervention, or any cost to tax-payers. The rating system warns customers of explicit content. The only problems have to with the actual standards used to rate a film. Often filmmakers will include just enough bad language or just one brief shot of nudity to get the R rating for their feature. A movie like this doesn’t really seem to be the same R rating as a movie that has constant cursing and nudity. The problem there isn’t necessarily the rating system though, but rather the subjective nature of people’s tastes and attitudes towards sexual content, graphic violence and foul language.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

True Education


I sat down for dinner with my father the other night at Chili’s. As we ate we talked, and he complimented my blogs. He says my writing is improving, but stays honest (critical) and tells me I still need to proofread better. Such is the life of a English teacher's son.

I have noticed an improvement in my writing and I feel that the blogs have contributed to that very much. Writing creatively at least on a weekly basis has made it much easier to get started on my essays. I will even admit that I have even begun to enjoy many of the assignments; when you enjoy what you’re doing you do it even better.

I have started to love writing even more because these blogs really bring my thoughts to life. I start to get into the writing and before I know it I am past the 500 word minimum. Before I would stress much more and do a word count about every 2 minutes. Writing is less about fighting the words and meeting all the requirements. I have started writing more because it is simply interesting.

The various assignments in this class have not only improved my interest in writing but also my skill and proficiency of writing. The group projects have helped me to communicate more fluently through the written word. I am much more comfortable communicating with people online through discussion boards and emails. The group projects essentially push you or force you to figure out how to communicate through an unfamiliar medium.

What I believe to be the greatest help in writing during this class was actually reading the chapter in our Exploring Language book about writing. The tips found in that chapter have proved to be indispensable in all of my writing projects. The two essays that stood out the most to me were Richard Lederer’s “The Case for Short Words” and Linda Flower’s “Writing for an Audience.” Lederer’s essay has spurred me to be more crisp and clear in what I write. Flower’s essay has made me think about the audience more and reminded me to consider what their knowledge, experiences and situations are when I write. This essay has only added to my intense love of the concept of context.

Not only does this improvement in my writing aid me in this class, but it also enriches many other areas of my life. Undoubtedly what I have learned through all of the reading and practice will improve my writing outside of the class. As a film-maker writing is something very important to me. Being able to shape stories through language will be a major key to my success. The creative assignments, especially the blogs, contribute the most to developing my story-telling skills.

Many of the critical thinking questions in the Exploring Language textbook have helped me to think of more stories because they ask for examples from personal situations. This often helps to give me an idea to write about as an example in my blog.Then the blog comments serve as a final step where I can receive feedback on my writing allowing me to adjust my style and tailor my writing to be more audience centered. As with all true education, the combination of these many elements work together to improve me.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Rediscover, Reflect, Reinvent



Where to begin on what I got out of reading "Reading Lolita in Tehran!" First I think I may need to preface this with a confession: I just finished reading the book two days ago. I am a slow reader. It took me five weeks to read what I should have in two! But, I don't really feel bad about it because I enjoyed reading it so much. I savored each page of the book. I learned from each little story, each little anecdote full of wisdom. I reconnected with the power of literature in this book. I took away the feeling of being human. The feeling of being able to survive through the worst of moments, like living in fear of dying from bombs and being harassed by morality police. I took away the strength to cope. I took away the ability to find beauty in every situation. One of the best lessons in this book is the lesson to look at things from a different perspective. Nafisi's magician kept telling her to think about how frustrated the government must be with her. Nafisi shares with us all of the different view point of all the girls in her reading group. She contrasts how all of the different girls, well women really, have different views about everything. This is just one of those human things, and that really connects into literature and that people are people and no matter what they are going to have their own thoughts and opinions. I also connected with the aspect of people being united against something too. The women in this novel are united against the strict rules of the government. I also took away lessons about complacency and how we in many ways allow other people to shape our lives. We allow them to have power over us. I think that lesson is really important for anyone, especially if you have concerns about the government and politics, which I do. It's really hard to find just one thing that I took away from this book, because this book is not packaged up in a nice little way that you can separate out all the elements and lessons and define them. This book is so intertwined and intermingled and messy that I just have to keep naming all the little things that it did for me. Just like Nafisi says near the end of the book, she can't write about Austen or Nabakov without writing about her life in Tehran. The lesson there is that context matters, that everything touches everything. Things affect us and become a part of us. We can't go through life without being affected. The places we go, the people we meet, even the random acquaintances, or the people you see once or twice become a part of you. What Nafisi teaches us is that we can take all of that and write it all down again and share it. Her lesson is about rediscovery and reflection and about reinvention. I took a lot away from this book, and I think it's a part of me now.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Social Pressure


I would have to agree with Harvey Silvergate’s view that “the first amendment should protect your right to say what you wish, but that you are not immune to what happens after that. You may be subjected to angry retorts, public shunning, and social pressure, but you should not be officially punished for your language.” Its pretty obvious that social pressure will always be much more effective at influencing what people say than official mandates or rules. Our natural tendency is to censor ourselves according to our social surroundings. If you walk into a church you’re not going to be shouting the f-word because you know that it would put you in a very uncomfortable and awkward situation. You wouldn’t try to tell a bunch of sexist jokes around a group of women or a bunch of racist jokes around people of that race. Being an offensive person is just not very socially acceptable so people will more naturally avoid it.
Hateful language eventually just fails because it is wrong and people either have personal conviction against it or are afraid of the social consequences. No one wants to be perceived as a bigot, so they avoid using words that would make them look like one. Undoubtedly the same may be true that when a group of people agrees that a racist or sexist attitude is okay that they won’t change their language, but this is usually only in the case that the group is very exclusive, and such language would most likely be limited to the group where it would feel safe to use such language but not in the whole of society.
Take for example the act of flag-burning. A lot of people are offended by someone burning the American flag. The fact that most people will hate you for burning the flag is a much bigger deterrent from burning the flag than if there were a law against it. Restrictive laws and rules about what you can or can’t say tend to bring out a rebellious nature in people that will make them just find a more creative way to avoid getting caught rather than convicting people that what they are doing is wrong. Usually rules don’t make you feel bad about what you did, the disapproval of people around is what can make you feel awful and seek to rectify the situation on your own.
So, leaving natural consequences to take care of things seems the simplest and smartest thing to do. Why put extra effort into tracking down all these offenders when they’re just going to end up learning their lesson on their own anyways? It just seems like a waste of resources to be out policing what people say. Let public opinion and social pressure be the censor, let people censor themselves accordingly if need be. People will because it helps them survive and fit in with their environment. Let people make their own battles and figure out what is appropriate to say or not say.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Read it.




Pour yourself a big cup of coffee, sit down and lose yourself in Reading Lolita in Tehran. This book is a wonderful window into another world. It tells a story of human struggle that anyone can identify with. It is bustling with relevant modern themes and timeless wisdom. The book eloquently weaves the political, religious and revolutionary settings together to create a world that is foreign and nightmarish, a startlingly real context in which its story can enfold. Above all this book is a work of art that sheds light on what it means to be a woman in the Islamic Republic of Tehran, and further more what it means to be human.
This book has special relevance in today's world. Iran is one of the most talked about Middle Eastern countries currently. The news is always a buzz about new developments in Iran. Most of these updates have to do with the alleged plans to build weapons of mass destruction. Iran usually comes up in the terms of a "what should we do about them" type of debate. Iran is primarily viewed as being a problem that the Western world has to deal with. Meanwhile we form our opinions about this country and its people in total ignorance. Most Americans have no idea what language the people of Iran speak much less anything relevant about the Iranian culture. As Americans we have little to no understanding of Iranian history, or about who the Shah was or what the Islamic Revolution is. This book is extremely relevant because it discusses these types of things.
Reading Lolita in Tehran gives us a look at the Islamic Revolution from the inside. It takes us into the lives of those affected by the change brought about by it. It gives us a radically new perspective on a familiar topic which we are ill informed about. This book discusses what happens when religion becomes a political force, or when political forces use religion. There is an extra layer of brilliance to this book being that it is from a woman's perspective and deals with the right's of women in a male-controlled society.
However more interesting than the politics discussed in this book is the discussion of literature. The book steers away from reality and politics and takes root in literature and philosophy. The book is much like reading the author Azar Nafisi's mind. We can hear her thoughts and musings about life through the words she writes. This is where the book excels. It is much like a diary and Nafisi is able to always maintain an intimacy with the reader.
I can definately recommend this book. It will challenge you. It will challenge you to peer into another world. It will challenge you to identify with human struggles. It will challenge your understanding of the Iranian people and culture. It will challenge you to think and ponder about politics, religion and revolution. It will challenge your ideals and your ideas. It will challenge you. Enjoy the challenge.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A word and a blow



Pitch, tone, volume, facial expression and touch have a profound effect on the meanings of our words. They can work together to create completely new meanings. They change the context of the words and give them new connotations. Both men and women, as human beings, have mastered using these non-verbal tools in communication.
Pitch has a lot to do with the meaning of what we say. Have you ever noticed that that a man speaks deeper when he tries to be serious? Have ever noticed that women's voices jump up an octave when they answer a friend's phone call? Those are examples of how we change our pitch to communicate something. Men might also use a deeper voice to be poignant, scary or sexy. Woman seem to often use a higher voice to show their excitement or femininity.
Even more than pitch, tone can drastically alter the meaning of what we say. "Don't you use that tone of voice with me young lady!" is a phrase you may have often heard your mother or father say. The tone of voice can make the same words "he's a genius" mean different things. A sarcastic tone can imply the opposite; he is an moron. The tone of our voice can make us sound like we are being rude, disrespectful, accusatory or argumentative even though sometimes we do not mean to be. "That's not what I meant." or "It just came out that way." are common defenses when we believe our tone of voice, and therefore, the meaning of our words have been misunderstood.
Like tone, volume can also add a dynamic to the meaning of our speech. The same words if they are whispered might not have the same meaning if they are yelled, although they could so long as the same tone is employed. Whispering fire is not the same as yelling "FIRE!" not just because of the volume but because of the tone of urgency. More than effecting the meaning of the words by the volume we use, we often choose the volume to use based on the social situation. Volume can be used to conceal information from many as in the case of a whisper, or to project a message to many in the case of a shout.
Even more dynamic than our volume can be our facial expressions. Watch a stand-up comedian. Listen to the same routine on a cd. It's still funny, but you really miss out on a lot without the facial expressions. Facial expressions are a dramatic tool to effect meaning on the words; together with tone, pitch and volume, facial expression projects emotion. Simply saying "That's disgusting" is meaningful, but making a face portraying yourself in a state of inevitable vomiting multiplies the meaning.
Like the physical act of facial expressions, touch can add one more layer to the power of nonverbal cues. Saying "I love you" can take on different meanings if it is followed by a hug or by a kiss or by grabbing some booty. Touch brings the parties communicating together in the case of hugging but it can also push them apart if one "make[s] it a word and a blow" (Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet). Picture yourself in a crowded bar. You say "excuse me" as you try to navigate your way through but your shoulder makes a bit too much contact with someone, your "excuse me," however well intended, may take on a meaning of rudeness and lead to an unpleasant evening.
Men and women can employ all of these techniques, albeit in their own ways. Any major difference between the use of these non-verbal techniques most likely stems from cultural differences rather than differences between the sexes. As human beings we have all mastered the art of using pitch, tone, volume, facial expression and touch to communicate. We are masters of these nonverbal cues because for us, it is simply natural.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Empenadas




Well I have to sneak a non-English related post in here some where, so here it is!

Life is a bit tiring at the moment, I have had work one or two days every weekend for the past couple months. That's really great and I am very great full, just get a little worn out on the commute. Usually days when I work (like today) end up being almost two days in one! Very long. I am having a bit of trouble getting to sleep so I actually didn't hear my alarm this morning and had to go 80mph the whole time i was on the freeway to get to work on time, which is no bueno for gas mileage.

I did get to eat some bomb empanadas today though. My girlfriend's family had their annual St. Joseph celebration, which is basically a couple hours of praying and then TONS of food, today. I came once I got off work so I was very happy that my wonderful girlfriend saved me some empanadas, if you didn't hear: they're bomb. Not as awesome as the girlfriend that saved them for me though. Love that girl.

Schools been pretty much same as usual, I'm keeping up with stuff for the most part. Jumping back to the subject of jobs, I had an interview for the City of Palmdale Public Library last Tuesday (March 9th) so I'm just waiting to hear back whether or not I got the job!

Things with DragonCow and Rebel Filmmakers have been sorta slow, but we're picking up steam again:
1. found someone that's interested in filming/editing.
2. found someone to do website design and production photography
3. found someone interested in doing hair and makeup
4. found a few more people interested in Acting

IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN ACTING CONTACT OUR CASTING DIRECTOR JESSICA HASSAN! jessica@dragoncowproductions.com

5. Working on finding a good place to hold auditions
6. On tv again: Time Warner Cable Channel 3 at Mondays: at 6:30pm, Fridays at 11:30pm and Saturday 4:30pm


That's about all for now. Wish me luck!