Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Blogging about not blogging

In the midst of exit week for the Washington Journalism Center, and finals at Georgetown. Should be able to breath sometime next week!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Gopher2GopherLink! This is the most heart-breaking photo essay I've ever seen. Very powerful. Look here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

100 Confessions: My Top Ten Songs

Confession 41: My favorite songs of all time:

(10)"Soak Up the Sun" by Sheryl Crow
This is probably written about California. Because everything is. But in my mind, this is DEFINITIVE Florida music.

(9) "Get Rhythm" by Johnny Cash
After Johnny Cash's death, I came to really enjoy his music. Here lies the central problem of musical taste: I only come to like an artist after their dead. Ditto John Denver, George Harrison, etc. (RunnerUp: "Folsom Prison Blues (Live)" by Johnny Cash)

(8) "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" by John Denver
At my wedding, my mom made a slideshow that used John Denver music. My grandfather, a Canadian long-time truck mechanic, was for some odd reason a huge John Denver fan. But after hearing his music, I really came to love it too. (RunnerUp: "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole)

(7) "Let It Be" by The Beatles
When I was learning to play music (both on piano and guitar), this was one of the first songs I learned. It also opened me up to my first dash of Catholic ideology in music.

(6) "Viva la Vida" by Coldplay
Probably the newest song on this list. This was the key song from the CD that marked my transition to Washington DC. To this day, when I hear this song, I think DC. And yes, I was excited that Coldplay learned to sing tones that don't make me feel like I've been kicked in the crotch. (Hey! That is a guy singing!). (RunnerUp: "The Fly" by U2 )

(5) "I Want You to Want Me" by Cheap Trick
Top Gun made me a fan of Cheap Trick. To this day, I still think this stuff is pretty solid.

(4) "Track 3"
by Michael Tague
Michael Tague has a sound that is just uniquely West Palm Beach. Unfortunately for me, and for many others, he passed from cancer about three years ago. If he had a title for this song, I don't know it. But it's one of my all time favorites. Download 03 Track 03 2

(3) "Proud Papa John" by Michael Tague
Ditto #4. This one is written to his daughter, Jenna, a dear friend of mine.

(2) "Old Time Rock & Roll" by Bob Segar
Risky Business. This song speaks to me. I'm old fashioned guy, I like old fashioned Rock.

(1) "Hey Jude" by The Beatles
"Hey Jude" is timeless. A song written from a lousy father (John Lennon), trying to give advice on girls to his son Jude. I'm not alone in having this as a favorite song. If it's Stephen King's favorite song too there's good reason.

100 Confessions: VHS Tapes

(40) People have called me a dinosaur. Out of touch with reality. CRAZY. But I still record things with my VHS player. I'm having a hard time locating the tapes and playback quality isn't great, but hey, I'm just recording LOST while I'm in a statistics class. It doesn't have to be rocket science. Everyone has these new fangled TiVos and DVRs, but me and my VHS player get along just fine thankyouverymuch.

Gopher2GopherLink! J.J. Abrams edits a hidden code in this issue of "Wired" Magazine. Maybe it will tell us what lies in the shadow of the statue? Read here.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Redirection Woes

(39) I didn't renew my domain name in time (www.gaelicgopher.com). And by "in-time" I mean I'm more than a month late. Which means I had to learn the hard way that GoogleApps has lousy customer support (because they have no phone number, etc. And their help center is the equivalent of running in circles)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Great Quotes: "The Office"

E_PamJimTheOffice_325 A month left of "The Office! " That is far too close for comfort. In keeping with my tradition, I think necessary to take note of some of the great quotes of Office fame:

(CPR Training)
Red Cross woman
: So, assessing the situation. are they breathing?
Michael Scott: No, Rose, they are not breathing. And, they have no arms or legs.
Red Cross woman: No that's not part of it.
Michael Scott
: Where are they? You know what? If we come across somebody with no arms or legs do we bother resuscitating them? I mean what kind of quality of life do we have there?
Kevin: I would wanna live with no legs.
Michael Scott: How 'bout no arms? No arms or legs is basically how you exist right now, Kevin, you don't do anything.

Rose: Ok. You didn't maintain a hundred beats per minute. And the
ambulance didn't arrive because no body called 911. So you lost 'em.
Dwight Schrute: Ok. He's dead. Anyone know what we do next? Anybody? Rose?
Rose: I have no idea.
Phyllis: We bury him.
Dwight Schrute: Wrong. Check for an organ donor card. If he has one we only have minutes to harvest.
Creed: He has no wallet, I checked.
Michael Scott: He is an organ donor.
Dwight Schrute: [excitedly] He is? Give me some ice in a Styrofoam
bucket. [removes a hunting knife from his ankle and cuts open the
dummy] We search for the organs! [digging around inside] Where's the
heart? The precious heart.

Office (After Michael runs over Meredith with his car)

Michael Scott: Spend your whole life trying to get people to like you and then you run over one person with your car. And it's not even one of the popular ones, and everybody gets on your case. Doesn't make any sense. God is dead.

Michael Scott: Guess what? I have flaws. What are they? Oh, I don't know. I sing in the shower, sometimes I spend too much time volunteering; occasionally I'll hit someone with my car. So sue me. No, don't sue me. That's the opposite of the point that I am trying to make.

(Darryl is writing a song for the new Dunder Mifflin Commercial)
Michael: I was under the impression that this was going to be a rap.
Darryl: What's rap?
Michael: Okay, Darryl, wow. You need to learn alot about your culture. I'll make you a mix.

Dwight Schrute:
Rule 17: don't turn your back on bears, men you
have wronged, or the dominant turkey during mating season. There are
forty rules all Schrute boys must learn before the age of five. [sings]
Learn your rules. You better learn your rules. If you don't, you'll be
eaten in your sleep. [makes chomping sound]

(Dwight and Andy prepare for a duel)
Dwight Schrute: What is your weapon?
Andy Bernard: My bare hands.
Dwight Schrute: That is stupid. I will use a sword and I will cut off your bare hands.

Michael Scott: Do I need to be liked? Absolutely not. I like to be liked, I enjoy being liked, I have to be liked, but it's not like this compulsive need to be liked. Like my need to be praised.

Dwight Schrute: I got a knock knock joke.
Michael Scott: No... God...
Dwight Schrute: Michael please! Please please. Please! Please let me.
Michael Scott: Alright.
Dwight Schrute: Knock knock.
Michael Scott: Who's there.
Dwight Schrute: KGB.
Michael Scott: KGB who-- [Dwight slaps Michael]
Dwight Schrute: [in "Russian" accent] We Will Ask The Questions!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

100 Confessions: Video Games

(38) I replay old video games. (see?) Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, the original Nintendo (I've recently been looking into the TurboGrafx 16--remember that)? A large portion of this is that I am in fact a nerd. Another part is that I enjoy a good story and some of the most influential stories of my childhood were in video games. And finally, I do think eventually I'll write a book about religious symbolism in video game media.


Review: Super Mario RPG (Replay)

Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars is a game I played as a kid. It came out for the Super Nintendo in 1996, made piles of dough, spawned several sequels (none of them very good) and to this day is considered one of the best games of all time.

Since I've been studying media theory, I notice things in the media of my youth I'd never noticed before. So I'm playing through some of these old games and I think there will be a paper (book?) some where in the future about the media messages in these games.

First the back ground. There's no underestimating the power of a story. Anyone who's played video games knows there are A LOT of bad storylines out there. I'm the guy who reads "Cyrano de Bergerac" for fun in the evenings so I'm a bit of a story snob. I can stand a certain level of bad dialogue (of which this game is guilty--more later), but I cannot stand story that lacks basic plot structure, a good idea, etc.

Wikipedia has a pretty good summary of the story:
The game begins with Mario entering Bowser's Castle to rescue Princess Toadstool. During the battle, a giant sword crashes into Bowser’s castle and sends Mario, Peach, and Bowser flying in different directions and shatters the Star Road, breaking it into seven fragments. Mario finds his way back to the Mushroom Kingdom, where the mushroom chancellor insists that Mario recover the princess, then discover the purpose of the giant sword.

Mario leaves the Mushroom Kingdom to aid a new friend of his named Mallow, to regain his frog coin from a raptor thief named Croco. When Mario returns, he finds that the kingdom is overrun by creatures claiming to be part of the Smithy gang. He then goes into the castle and finds the first boss in the game, a giant sword/spring like creature named Mack. When he defeats him, he finds a mysterious Star Piece and takes it, hoping to find out more about it later.

During Mario’s search for the princess, he meets a star spirit, who takes control over a doll named Geno, who joins Mario. He tells Mario that the Star Piece is a part of the shattered Star Road, where the star spirit resides. He must find all seven of the shattered pieces of Star Road in order to repair it, which are held by members of the Smithy gang. Mario agrees to help Geno in his search.

Mario eventually finds Bowser, trying to reassemble his forces; and the princess, as she is about to be forcibly married to a character named Booster. Bowser and Peach then both join Mario’s party and help look for Star Pieces.

When they have most of the Star Pieces, they learn that the last one is held in Bowser's Castle, which they return to and discover that the giant sword is a gateway to Smithy's factory. They defeat Smithy and use the Star Pieces to repair the Star Road.
(1) Intertextuality-
the Super Smash Bros. series or Kingdom Hearts series ring any bells? That's because they're some of the best selling video games of all time. What do they have in common with Super Mario RPG? They're intertextual. To see my paper on the use of this in Kingdom Hearts, click here. In Super Mario RPG, we have an appearance from one of the bad guys of Final Fantasy II (IV) who is accompanied by music from the game. There's also a classic mid-90s appearance of the "Power Rangers." Remember them? Prepare to laugh. In Super Mario RPG, they appear as bad guys (which means Mario gets to do what we all would like to do--kick their ass) and are called the "Axem Rangers." They have color-coded costumes, etc.

(2) Interactivity- this is one of the first role-playing games to mix up the turn-taking system and the slash-and-hack system. In this game, you are rewards for pressing buttons at the right time during battle. It adds to the experience and makes a it a forerunner for how games are generally done today.

(3) Geno (left)- first of all, Geno is one of the two original protagonists thought up for this game. Unfortunately neither he, nor Mallow appear in future games. In this game, we have something, my old friend Terry Mattingly would cause a religion "ghost." He's a doll, sent by a higher order to make sure everyone's prayers are answered essentially. They de-religion it pretty heavility, replacing prayers with "wishes" and never naming who sent him. But as I'll show in future posts, Square-Enix does like to throw religious/ethical messages in their games.

(1) Bad Dialogue-seeing a trend here? Bad dialogue is infectious and it takes over most every game. Now granted this game is marketed to kids and it is still superior to dialogue in later games. Yes Sonic, I'm talking about you.

(2) Gameplay-
The gameplay was mostly good. But there were a few parts of the game where accomplishing the tasks before you were really hard. This was an early attempt at navigating someone around a 3-d landscape and Square-Enix/Nintendo just weren't there yet.

(3)Bowser- getting Bowser on your team at first seems like just such a cool thing, but the fact is it makes little sense. The Bowser we're accustomed to doesn't cry on command and throw temper-tantrums. Granted this is a tongue-in-cheek game with some gratuitous corniness, but Bowser is over the top and his level of involvement isn't warrented by the story. His motivation makes sense. The "hey-buddy" nature with which he treats Mario and Toadstool (basically his archenemies) is not.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Tales from Palm Beach: A Return Video

Mimi and I at Jared and Jennifer Reelitz's wedding, and get to visit some old friends in sunny West Palm Beach, Fla. in the process. This is test run for me to get reintroduced to Final Cut Express. Everything was filmed on a FlipCam.

Gopher2GopherLink! Holy Da Vinci Code! The Knights of Templar hid the Shroud of Turin for 150 years! Whoa, is Teabing quoted here?

Life after Newspapers more global than local?

Kinsley makes several good points here:
Maybe the newspaper of the future will be more or less like the one of the past, only not on paper. More likely it will be something more casual in tone, more opinionated, more reader-participatory. Or it will be a list of favorite Web sites rather than any single entity. Who knows? Who knows what mix of advertising and reader fees will support it? And who knows which, if any, of today's newspaper companies will survive the transition?
I think it's pretty evident that we're broadly pushing in the direction of European Model of the Press, which is of course, the old model of journalism. I won't argue the point with Kinsley. However, I would challenge him to consider the Princeton study.

Princeton showed that when a newspaper goes under, local civic involvement plummets.

Yes, perhaps news isn't going anywhere. But will the news be the kind that gets people involved in the issues that apply to their own neighborhoods?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

100 Confessions: Bad Date II

(37)So this one is slightly more embarrassing than the first, simply because this one was with the woman who is now my wife.

Let me set the scene: we were part of an internship program and had a day of interviews ahead of us. She wanted to set something up afterwords.

Mimi: "Why don't we meet at Union Station after we're done with interviews and we'll get some food?"
Greg: "Sounds good. Is there any place you have in mind?"
Mimi: "No. We can decide later."

Mimi, of course, did have a place in mind. (She thinks: I need to dress up and get my pearls on so we can go to one of those really nice restaurants in DuPont. He thinks: Sweet! We'll grab some hotdogs in the downstairs at Union Station and walk home together.)

So that's how I ended up at the nebulously named "Mimi's" in DuPont. It was a dress and pearls kind of place. I showed up wearing cargo shorts that didn't match my fifth-grade safety patrol t-shirt (yes, it still fit) and my lawn-mowing sneakers that were losing their soles.

She seemed slightly embarrassed by what I was wearing, but was even more embarrassed later when she realized that she chosen a place without checking their events calendar. It was gay night. We were the only straight souls in the place.

The music was great, the food was great and the bill, unfortunately, matched. I picked it up to make up for my screw up and managed to redeem my mistake a bit.

And I still wear the safety patrol t-shirt. It's comfortable and I won't let Mimi throw it out.

Friday, April 3, 2009

100 Confessions: Nervous

(36) I get nervous public speaking, but at odd times. I don't get nervous teaching and I hardly ever get nervous at work. I can talk to crowds of 50+ in these scenarios...no problem.

But speaking for a class presentation, forget it: my heart starts racing, my voice starts shaking. And the worst thing you can do is notice that your voice is shaking. Because then it shakes more. My hands shake too. Usually my voice drops two octaves as well. So I sound like James Earl Jones without self-esteem.

In these scenarios, I shouldn't try to crack jokes. But I do and no ones laughs.

100 Confessions: Belly Casting

(35) I think belly-casting is unbelievably weird. Why would you want to have a ceramic pregnant belly on your mantle? I don't get it. What is belly casting? Here, a simple guide. Men this may be a more difficult project for you.