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Archive for the category “Classwork”

Writers at Work: a Retrospective

Ever the procrastinator, I waited until December to sign up for my Spring 2012 courses.  When I saw the description for Writer’s at Work, I thought, “Wow, that sounds really fun and actually useful.”  I knew I had to have it!  So I emailed Professor Z to beg for a spot and was promptly shut down.  All hopes I ever had to work professionally in any capacity as a writer were instantly dashed.  Lucky for me though, and soon enough the world, a spot opened up about a week later and I was able to squeeze in.  Then I showed up to class and noticed all the empty seats and knew this sheisty professor was not to be trusted.

Slowly though, I let my guard down, downgraded Jamie from hostile threat to neutral knowledge source and started to learn some shit.  I had been forced to blog in classes before, but this was different: I could actually blog about things that interested me! (In addition to reflections of course).  I think this was probably the key to me learning anything in this course.  Once I started writing about things that I like, I took some pride in the whole blog thing.  It wasn’t just “post whatever is required,” it was “post whatever is required then post some of my own stuff and make it all look cool so I can actually show some people.” I came into class having never used WordPress before.  Now I’m pretty good with it, if I do say so myself (and I do).  Sure, my blog isn’t the fanciest one out there but that’s more of an aesthetic choice.  With the stuff I’ve learned in this class I could really trick it out if I wanted, and maybe I will someday.

The internet materials we were assigned to read/watch/listen to were all pretty interesting as well.  Although if one more class makes me read “The Medium is the Message” I swear I’m gonna dig up Marshall McLuhan and kick his ass. Admittedly, I may have skipped one or two things here or there, but I’m grateful that I got to check out some stuff I probably would have never gotten into otherwise, especially the various websites and internet fiction.

It’s hard to say if I’ve improved as a writer due to this course.  I picked up a few rules now and then from Cassagrande, but honestly I felt like I knew a lot of that stuff already.  Not necessarily all the terminology, but the way sentences work.  I think I have a sixth sense for grammar, probably thanks to my English major father, so I thought a lot of that book was just a really drawn out way of stating the obvious.  However, they say the only way to improve as a writer is to write, and I certainly did a lot of that in this class.  So let’s say I’ve improved, even if this informal blog style may have inadvertently crept its way into some academic papers and screwed me over this semester.

In the end, I’m giving this class two thumbs up.  Best of luck to anyone who bothered to read this; you all kept me thoroughly entertained this semester.


So how bout that group project?

I gotta admit, when I first heard about our group blog I was a little weary.  Especially hearing that we were going to attempt to relate it all back to Temple University.  I thought it would come off as forced.  Our classmates write blog about a wide variety of subjects and I didn’t honestly see them all fitting together.  Selfishly, I wondered what the hell I would write since I had stuck to movies and sports for most of my material.  I knew I didn’t want to write about Temple films (because then I’d have to watch them. Self-zing!) and with basketball season well over I didn’t have any other Temple teams I followed available for a write-up.

Much to my surprise, this Temple Alive thing turned out pretty legit!  Nobody seemed to be bogged down by the Temple theme and everything actually looked like it belonged together.  I even got to write about movies by throwing in some bullshit about being a Temple film major at the beginning!  With all the diverse subjects and minds involved, I think we really personified the “Building 20” theory.  All those crazy kids in one classroom led to some great brainstorming sessions and it was really helpful to get a feel for what everyone else was doing and how I could fit in.

It’s clear that everyone’s hard work paid off on this one because now we can all say we’ve contributed to a professional (looking) blog.  Hats off to the design team for that; it looks awesome.  We’ve even got over 1500 followers! (Although I think Amy somehow pimped the system on that one.  Whatever, numbers don’t lie).  Overall, I’m counting this project as a success.  Even if nobody’s liked my post yet (dicks).

Has Sportscenter Jumped the Shark?

The short answer: fuck yes. The long answer is as follows:

As I leisurely turned on ESPN this morning (about 12:30 pm ET) for my standard drawn-out breakfast to avoid doing work, I was greeted by Stephen A and Skip Bayless and… Joe Fuckin Budden? discussing what else?  Tim Tebow.  The Holy Virgin Tim has obviously been the Pennzoil keeping this show running for the past two years so I thought nothing of it and flipped to Sportscenter.  I just watched Paul Pierce turn in a classic performance last night to carry the C’s to victory and I wanted to relive it with some highlights accompanied by  snappy pop-culture references.  Much to my dismay however, Mein Fuhrer Roger Goodell had just decided to hand down some serious suspensions for the whole Saints bounty program ordeal.  I knew this right away because Merril Hoge, Tim Hassleback, and a juiced up Salsa instructor Jason Babin were yelling at each other about the severity of the suspensions while the always-hip John Buccigross looked bemused in the middle.  This went on for fifteen minutes.  The entire time, the ESPN Bottomline repeated the suspensions on a nonstop loop: Vilma out entire season, Hargrove 8 games, etc.  Not a single score to be found down there.  It was as if the three NBA playoff games, one NHL playoff game and slew of MLB games played the night before had never happened.  Who cares about that shit when there’s offseason NFL suspensions to be discussed, right?

“No seriously, you thought that shirt was cool?”

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50 Things

First of all, it was very cruel of you, Professor Z, to post this knowing how many of us are graduating now.  I was forced to look back on all 4 of those years and wonder, where in the balls did they go?  It’s going to be hard leaving Temple behind and reading Ben Jones’s list of 50 tips for college was almost too goddamn poignant for me to handle.  You could practically taste the nostalgia dripping off this guy’s words and now I have to face the reality that that is going to be me in a few months.

It wasn’t all bad, though.  There was a lot to look back on in his post and think, “yeah I nailed that one,” or  even just being reminded of which songs connect to each memory from college.  “UKNOWBIGSEAN” will forever remind me of “seizing the day” sophomore year with my friend Marcus in The Dungeon (his Temple Towers room), which only meant opening the blinds and rolling another doobie.  And I’ll definitely always be reminded of belting out “Last Kiss” on my 21st birthday with my buddy Zack whenever I hear that Eddie Vedder growl.

If I could add just one tip however, and really this is an all-encompassing tip, it would be this: just say yes.  If your default answer in college isn’t yes, then you’re going to be missing out on a whole lot of great opportunities and up with a whole lot of what-ifs.  So your friend invites you to a party on a Thursday night but you know you won’t know anyone there, plus you’re pretty tired.  Just say yes!  You’re gaining nothing from staying home, you could be gaining new friends and a hell of a night if you go out.  There’s a goofy event at the Bell Tower that you know is going to be lame so you’re searching for some excuse not to go.  Just go!  At worst it actually is lame, at best you turn out to have a great time.  Where’s the risk in that?  I could go on with the cliche examples here, but I’m sure the point is taken.  So to anyone lucky enough to have another year or three left, get out there and say yes!*

*Note: do not apply this tactic to heroin offers. That shit never ends well.

Default Setting: Cynicism

David Foster Wallace just got right inside my brain.  He peered into my soul, my consciousness, and said, “I know you, man. Now I’m gonna pick you apart. Bitch.”  I actually feel semi-violated.  Everything he had to say in his commencement speech seemed to hit the nail on the head- specifically my nail and my head.  And that’s exactly what he’s talking about.

It’s hard to argue that we are all, on a deep-level, literally and figuratively self-centered.  After all, as Wallace points out, we experience the world through our own point of view.  Everything happens to or around us.  It is only fitting then that I felt as if he was specifically talking about me when running through our default thought setting, which essentially being a no-good, cynical asshole.  Many people will find their own deep-seeded cynicism hard to admit, but since I blog from the heart, and occasionally the balls, I’ll own up to it right here.  Wallace’s description of grocery shopping was like a fucking running diary of every Fresh Grocer trip I’ve ever been on.  Except instead of sitting in traffic, I have to walk 13 miles back across campus lugging a two-ton bag of milk and eggs while suppressing the urge to punch every dim-witted, bow-legged passerby straight through their obnoxious, borderline insulting face.  This just happens to be my default setting.

Hopefully though, I won’t need a liberal arts degree to shake this way of thinking.  I already, on occasion, just happen to have such a good day that I don’t let trivial shit bother me or I give people the benefit of the doubt.  As Wallace points out though, the real trick is to get into this open mind-set everyday.  That’s something I’m going to have to work on.*

*Getting high everyday would probably do the trick, but that would be totally illegal, guys (and really expensive).

TED 2023

We’ve been watching a lot of TED Talks in class, so I went way out of my way and dug up one from the future.  This is Guy Pearce in his Peter Weyland character from the upcoming “Prometheus” giving a TED Talk in the year 2023.  My only question is, are people in the year 2023 really that oblivious to pure evil?  This guy just oozes slimy British villain and these people are eating it up like he’s got a cure for cancer. Get with it, future-people.

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