It has been a long road to this final portfolio. As I would assume most freshmen do, I came into this university intimidated but with high expectations for myself and for the curriculum of the school. I knew for sure that I wanted to take a First Year Seminar in my first semester because I had heard so much positive feedback about the program from my “experienced” upperclassman friends. As I was told, taking a seminar would never turn out to be something that I would regret. However, as English has never fully intrigued me, and computers have always mystified my mind, I failed to envision myself taking a seminar entitled English and Computers, much less enjoying it. The first few weeks of the class, however, completely reversed any of my negative preconceived notions of what the class would entail. From the beginning, it became clear that Professor Anderson was the type of instructor that any college student would kill for; not only is he passionate about the subject he teaches, but he actually gives a lick what his students have to say. We began the semester by making a class list consisting of the qualities necessary for a website to be considered “Good Stuff.” This served both as an introduction to the course and as an icebreaker to get the class acquainted with the workings of the teachmix website and with each other. Throughout the next few weeks, we compiled a list of songs for our Playlist project, blogged about songs which commented on the famous “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” short story, recorded our voices as part of the Podcast assignment, submitted collages representing songs which we found to be beautiful, and eventually completed a video collage using the internet as the inspiration. Overall, I can honestly say that I loved this class. I had so much fun being creative and trying to make my work as good as it could be. Dan certainly helped me whenever I had questions, as he did with the rest of my classmates, and for that I am truly thankful.
Our most recent work has been on the video collage, followed closely by our song and movie character collages. We were assigned to create these collages using Photoplus or some other type of photo editor. My character collage was on Raoul Duke from the movie Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas; this is why the collage is wavy and kind of messed up. I was satisfied with both the first version and with the revised collage; my goal was to capture the feel of the movie and of Duke himself, and I think I succeeded there. As for the song collage, I chose to do mine on the song "No Rain" by Blind Melon. I tried to make the background very mellow and a little bit trippy as well because, if you've heard the song, you understand that the emotions the tune evokes in you feel the way the collage looks. I was more satisfied with the second version of the collage because the first seemed to lack a central point of focus.
These postings went along with the "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" short story. The entire class commented first on the story itself, then on the video version of the tale that accompanied it. Each person was supposed to end up with at least 18 comments on the story and 6 on the video clips. This was my first experience with such an assignment, wherein we first watched the movie version of the story, then read the story and commented on it using blogs, and wound up commenting on the relationships between the video clips and the sections of the story they represented. I enjoy commenting with the blogs because I feel that they represent a great way to converse and share ideas and interpretations without having everyone in the same place. However, I felt that some of the postings were there only as space fillers, and lacked any real insight into the short story. Every once in a while, a comment would be repeated, as if the commenter had not even read the previous person's thoughts. These problems come with any website of this kind though, and as a class, I feel like we read into the story as much as we could.
This is my Podcast on the hip-hop artist Chino XL. I talked about how he is a very lyrical rapper. We were supposed to pick a music performer who had high quality lyrics; Chino XL was literally the first one to pop into my head. I feel that he is one of the most underrated artists in history. While most of his subject matter is dark and somewhat violent, it still amazes me to read his lyrics and realize that he is a member of Mensa. We were given this assignment with the instructions to make a 5 to 6 minute podcast about the artist and their lyrics. Using a microphone borrowed from my roommate, I recorded my 6 minute podcast, covering two songs off of Chino XL's album "Poison Pen." The end result turned out fairly well; with the exception of a few minor mistakes with mixing and some sound quality problems, I feel that I represented Chino XL favorably enough to turn some of my classmates on to his music. After receiving feedback from the class, I revised the podcast by fixing sound quality problems and "adding polish" to help it flow better. The revised podcast can be heard here. Here is my revised playlist on King Leonidas. The assignment was to take any work of fiction (later expanded to include works of nonfiction as well) and to create a playlist with eight or more songs that would tell the story in music. I picked the movie 300 because it is one of the most amazing movies I have ever seen. Plus, I felt that my style in music (metal, rap, and David Bowie?) would fit very well with the subject. I started out by picking various bands that I knew very well (such as Rage Against the Machine and Slayer), in order to be able to pick songs with titles, tempos, and lyrics that fit the portion of the story to which they were assigned. Once I finished the playlist, I was happy to find mostly good feedback from my peers and from Dan. I went back after I received the comments and revisited some problem areas, such as the sometimes-too-loose language and the song selections. I had a couple of songs in there that I later decided did not fit well at all with the movie. I feel that the final product is some respectable work.
This link is to my "good stuff" homework assignment. This was actually our very first bit of homework, in which we found a website that had all of the characteristics of "good stuff," which we made into a checklist during class. I picked the ESPN website because I think that sports are very important in our culture. I chose a ridiculous title for this project because I wanted to attract attention from my classmates and get their feedback on my work. Next, we were told to find a song that was very lyrical (preferably not Bob Dylan, because that would be cheap) and write why we thought of our chosen song as such. This link is to my comment on People of the Sun by Rage Against the Machine. Rage has been my favorite band for a while, not just because of their intensity and musicianship, but also because of their deep lyrics. Most of Rage's lyrics express anger at American politics and their respect for the Mexican Zapatista movement. This song refers to several historical issues in America and Mexico. The lyrics contain a very deep message, and I wanted my classmates to be able to see the band as I do.
Comments & Postings
Here I am agreeing with Graham's choice of a "good stuff" webpage. He chose HowStuffWorks.com as his website, and I agree that that website is great for times when I am curious about the inner workings of, say, an engine. It explains the workings in words and pictures, making it very easy to use. Graham is an excellent writer as well, making his posts very intelligent and easy to understand.
This link is me agreeing with Kelly that facebook.com is a good website. I use this website at least 3 times a day, and I am under the impression that most of the student body of UNC does the same. I was actually considering doing Facebook as my "good stuff" website, but I chickened out at the last minute because I didn't want to sound too cliche. However, I am glad that Kelly included this website on our list of good ones because it is most certainly one of the most widely used websites in the college age group.
This is me informing Alex that I stole her idea for "www.itarheel.com" for my own computer. I liked this website because it contains links to so many other useful websites on the front page. This was the first time I had seen a website that let you have links to all these pages at once, and I immediately set it as my homepage. However, Dan informed us in class that there was a substitute for itarheel, called iGoogle, that was better in that you could choose what went on your homepage. I promptly set iGoogle to my homepage for this reason; if I never use weather.com, why do I need it on my homepage? The beauty of iGoogle is that it dances around such problems.
Here I am telling Kaitlyn that her websites are helpful. She named a bus scheduling website and the tvguide.com website as her two examples of "good stuff." Although I do not ride the buses at UNC, I can see how knowing the schedule would be of immense importance. And the TV Guide is essential to any true couch potato, so whether you're watching True Life or Taxicab Confessions, you need to know what time it comes on.
In this post, I am telling Lacy that I use Wikipedia as much as she does, and probably more than I should. This is due to the fact that, as we all know, Wikipedia can be edited by anyone who wants to put something on the webpage. For example, it has been found that executives at companies such as Coca-Cola and Exxon Mobil have edited their Wikipedia pages in a favorable way. This leads to misinformation that could sway public opinion of each company in a positive manner for them. On the other hand, Wikipedia contains information not availabe in your everyday encyclopedia, such as recent sports scores and weather patterns.
This comment was my response to Graham's and Colleen's podcast. They put together a nice podcast on Guns n Roses, one of my favorite bands. Above all, they even taught me something; I had no idea that ACDC was sampled in "Welcome to the Jungle". I liked how their voices were calm and clear, and how they didn't seem like they were reading off of a piece of paper. That is one of my biggest pet peeves.
Here, I am commenting on Rebecca's podcast on the Drive By Truckers, which is a band that I liked even before I heard her podcast. Rebecca did a good job writing the essay for this project. It was a well written podcast, and she read it so that the audience was not bored as if she was reading off of a paper. I learned from her podcast as well.
In this post, I comment on Lacy's ability to narrate her podcast without sounding like she was reading. I also told her that I had gained a new respect for Patty Griffin because her lyrics were pretty. I thought that Lacy made a good choice when choosing this artist. She was mainly the type of musician that I expected to encounter in this project. . .one whose music falls into the category of "country," who is not famous enough to be considered "mainstream," and finally one who sings about sad but happy subject matter. While I was glad to find that not everyone's artist was like this, it was nice to have one to look at and learn from.
This is a post in which I agreed with Dan on Jack Johnson's lyrical ability and praised him for his good work on his podcast. I consistently like Dan's work in this class, which is why his was one of the first podcasts I listened to. He covered his artist's lyrical ability very well, and even ventured into the "English Class" zone by talking about metaphors, similes, and alliteration.
This is my feedback for Graham about his collage focusing on Atticus Finch. I loved his collage, mainly because of the close up view of the eye and the shadowed text.
Here I am commenting on Graham's music collage on the song "Wake Up" by Rage Against the Machine. I loved the quiet energy the collage has, what with the railroad tracks and the pictures of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.
In this post, I commented on Alex's A Prayer for Owen Meany collage. I told her that I liked her work, especially with the shading. I read into this collage more than I did with most others because I felt that it deserved a real, in depth critique.
This post focused on John's poem collage. I was impressed by this collage, because I liked how the music notes seemed to either be coming out of, or going into, the fire. I told him that the book might be the only thing I would question, due to the text that was already in the collage and that I liked a lot.
Jonathan also made a very impressive collage focusing on the movie American History X. The revised collage was even better than the original, due to some tweaked or replaced elements. This collage proved how easy it can be to turn a good collage into a great one.
This post was in response to Colleen's collage on the movie Forrest Gump. I told her that I liked her arrangement of Forrest's shoes and of course his world famous box of chocolates, but that I thought that the Medal of Honor could be moved around or deleted, as with the carrots and peas, to give the collage a more organized feel.
This post was a response to Kelly's collage. It was beautiful, and no other words can describe it.
Here, I told Rachel that I loved the feel of her collage, then asked her if she had ever seen one of my favorite music videos due to the similar look of the two. I'm not sure she had.
This post was on Kaitlyn's revised collage. I thought that the second version was a huge improvement from the first because it flowed so well.
Craig's collage on the Red Wheelbarrow poem was very simple and yet effective. I loved the collage because it made me feel very calm and warm inside.
Emily crafted her playlist after Captain Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. I told her that I liked her taste in music as far as Jack goes, and I thought that her writing was scholarly and humorous.
This is my response to Amanda's collage on the movie Fight Club. She nailed the movie with her collage. It seemed that the collage was made by the same people who did the movie. I thought the bloody fist and the person facing off with himself was strong.
In this posting, I commented on Kaitlyn's collage on Lynette Scavo. I liked the collage but gave suggestions as to how to go about making it seem less cluttered.
Here, I commented on Michael's collage on the titular character from the Donnie Darko movie. I liked the odd feel that his collage had; it wasn't quite as trippy as some of the others, or even as I viewed my own, but it was certainly different to look at. I made suggestions as to how to move around some images to capture this effect full on.
This was my comment on Lacy's collage. I told her that the pictures she selected were powerful and quite disturbing. It was well done.
Here I commented on Colin's Portfolio. He wrote it very well, and his insights were spot on.
Kaitlyn made a very good video collage on Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends. It was made in the form of a movie trailer, which was a novel idea that turned out well.
Here, I commented on Rachel's collage on love. It was amazingly done; there was so much going on, and yet, it was so easy to get the underlying message: love is simple. That must be why I was simply in love with her collage.
Here, I commented on Lacy's collage, saying that it made me sad to look at because it reminded me of my childhood. It is a testament to someone's work when a person is actually moved by it; this moved me. It was great.
In this post, I approved of Colleen's work on her final portfolio. As with Colin's, it was well written and covered the necessary insights that should be found in this course.
Mimi made her collage on conformity, and I thought that it was one of the best collages in the class. I told her that I liked her use of word art and of the cityscape. It was a great collage.
This wraps up my portfolio, but don't think that means that you guys are free of me yet! I had a lot of fun in this class with everybody, and I would like to give a strong "thank you" to everyone, and to Dan especially. Thanks for the semester!