what up cartoons

I found this cartoon one evening after using Stumble Upon. I felt it was the perfect subject for a communications journal. Above is a political cartoon focusing on the what is affectionately called “The Media Circus.” It is apparent from this cartoon that the media is exactly that – a circus. The various tents show media of the past, including newspapers, journalists, and fact-finding. The sideshow has all the attention and features attractions such as online rumor mongers and howlers. I’d say it’s a fairly accurate depiction of the media today.

The subtext here is that media has gone down a dangerous path towards entertainment over information. With the closing of the fact-finding and newspapers tents, there is no doubt that the days of reliable news are gone. Underneath the sideshow sign, it says “Megalomaniacs on parade.” The epithet seems to describe each of the sideshow attractions listed; all the new media seems to be self-centered and potentially insane. But this is what sells in today’s market.

The artist laments for the days of objective news. They, like many others, are of the opinion that today’s media is all exaggerated. The use of the circus is especially significant; circuses have a reputation of a lot of hype without a lot of pay off. They are typically places of shady people and dirty deeds – or vice versa. This satirical depiction of the media may assuage the artist’s fears of people losing sight of the line between entertainment/sensationalism and information pertinent to daily life.

This cartoon is both poignant and accessible. There can be no doubt of what the artist is trying to say. Using the familiar idea of a circus allows all citizens to see through to the message. It’s all really quite clever.

I personally have to agree with the artist. However, I would argue that the sideshow existed even while the three tents in the background were thriving. The media has always been a circus – I think that’s what can be so appealing about it in a strange, twisted way. This cartoon reminds me as well as others to take a step back from the stage and take a look at what is actually going on. I feel this cartoon may have a deeper meaning if I could actually recognize who the people on the stage are though… Nonetheless, I admire the clever jab at our mass media.


what up pride and prejudice

First of all, I would like to state that I have a tendency to misspell prejudice – so bear with me. I know that I wrote a journal on Sense and Sensibility, but after reading Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, I just cannot resist also spilling my guts on the subject. This book is absolutely irresistible; since reading it, I finally understand what all the hubbub over it is. Once again I encountered a medium of both culture and entertainment; Pride and Prejudice is a window to the past. The goal of this communication is simple: tell the story of two people who at first hate each other and then grow to love. It’s a tale as old as time.

Accompanying this age old story is the idea that you can’t judge a book by its cover. At first, Elizabeth Bennet cannot stand Mr. Darcy. When he proposes to her – she could not be more offended. However, after that horrific event, Elizabeth sees Mr. Darcy in a different light. Suddenly, his manners become more pleasing. Whether this is Elizabeth’s prejudice towards Mr. Darcy ebbing away, or a toning down of Mr. Darcy’s pride, finally Elizabeth is able to reciprocate Mr. Darcy’s affections. Austen once again shows that while Mr. Darcy may appear to be cold and reserved, he is so much more than that. By the end of the book, Mr. Darcy is the ideal man.

Austen has a love of making people appear to be not what they truly are. I believe that she had a distaste for those who were judgmental without cause. From all the novels I have read, it is with patience that reader finally finds who is of trustworthy character and who is not. Jane seems to be dropping hints about real life; I think Jane wanted her readers to recognize that you must never write someone off upon first glance. People are never what they seem.

Pride and Prejudice is a touching love story. The fact that it has lasted the test of time is proof to that. While it is a story that has been retold in a million ways, Pride and Prejudice still reads as a fresh adventure. Indeed, Austen can make more drama out of simple day-to-day etiquette than others can of war and blood.

This book made me dream. I am once again wishing every night for a Mr. Darcy to come waltzing into my life. I hope one day I can be as lucky as Elizabeth Bennet. Deep down inside, I still am full of that little girlish hope for that knight in shining armor.

what up herman cain

It’s hard to resist watching the circus that is the Republican Party. As campaign season once again rears its ugly head, the headlines have been taken over by presidential hopefuls. While I don’t plan on voting for any of them, I still like to keep up on their antics. As I was scrolling through Time magazine’s online sight, an article titled “What Herman Cain and Kim Kardashian Have In Common.” My interest piqued, I read through the article. The writer had a fair point – Cain and Kim certainly do have something in common: their lack of right to fame.

Even with a fair point though, there is a clear dislike of Cain, Palin, and Trump. Even deeper than that, there is the idea that those who don’t have the best intentions should not be in the limelight. The author asserts that Cain, Palin, and Trump are leading political figures because they can sell themselves, not because they can lead this country. The article exhibits a sort of idealism in American politics and grieves for the loss of it. As Scherer states, “most of the time there is no difference between a representation that reflects an underlying reality and a representation that only reflects itself.” Maybe America is just as shallow as its politicians – they seem to be doing pretty well in the polls after all.

Since the revelation of Herman Cain’s past discretions, he has still faired well in the polls. That seems to concern Scherer. Clearly he worries that America will never see beyond the veil and blindly elect a man into office who has no business being there. He questions whether a leader can be successful if their only true asset is the ability to market their image.

I would argue that Scherer’s message is clear. Of course I often felt that lack of substance to their campaigns and platforms, but this article calls for reflection. Does Cain have any more right to the press he gets as Kim Kardashian? Nope. Certainly not. Another thing they have in common: neither of them should be president.

Maybe I’m being a little harsh. It maybe Cain, Palin, and Trump are just what this country wants/needs. But I for one do not want to ever witness Palin handle a Iranian hostage-like situation… I’m on Scherer’s side.



what up friendly conversation

Now I’m not sure this is an allowed journal topic, but my friend Arielle and I had a very interesting discussion. Actually, we have this discussion at least once a week: Should we add someone we just met on Facebook? Should we message them? What is the protocol? Once every seven days, Arielle and I try to pick our way through this new internet culture. By good old fashioned talking it out, we hope to figure out what is socially acceptable.

Underlying these conversations is our need to find standardization in Facebook Etiquette. Usually our discussions certain around people we just met, but they often dip into what is and isn’t okay to post on Facebook. The typically “did you see that!?” conversation. The message here is simply this: we don’t know what we’re doing. We are making up the rules as we go and hoping to be as not creepy as possible.

Why do we spend hours talking about this stuff? Because there is no etiquette. Facebook is a new form of social interaction. It does not have the established protocol of a telephone call. Arielle and I are stumbling our way through. We are just waiting for these rules to be set down. Society typically just regulates itself.

Does all this actually work? Arielle and I still make several faux pas. However I’d like to think we are significantly less lost than we would be otherwise. Maybe we are even the ones writing the social etiquette of Facebook.

I will continually be frustrated by Facebook and other types of social media. Everyone seems to have a different answer to each new question asked. I guess for now, I’ll just stick to what I’m comfortable with.

what up spotify

I love music, but I’m broke; iTunes does not work in my favor. Therefore when I found out about Spotify, my heart leapt for joy. Millions of free songs? On my computer? For free? It sounded too good to be true at first. I promptly signed up for the email notification list and eagerly awaited Spotify’s arrival to the US. As soon as I could, I downloaded it to my computer and began exploring. I was thrilled with this new medium of entertainment and culture (with a dash of commercial thrown in there). Did I mention it’s free? Gone were the days of trekking to the library for CDs to import to my computer! Spotify offered a whole new way to share music – socially too.

Spotify has since formed a partnership with Facebook. This allows you to share music and playlists with other Spotify users, namely friends. Got a new favorite song? You can send it straight to your best friend’s Spotify account for them to hear. It’s a pretty snazzy way to integrate social networking media with music. I think this application really applies to the inherent nature of music; music has always been something to be shared. Concerts are not a private event, they are for a community to share. Spotify is applying that basic urge to share new music with others. They were just clever enough to figure out a way to do it in this new digital age.

I like to believe Spotify is one of the good guys. Of course they are a business and there are indeed the occasional commercials, but they are bringing music to the masses. Spotify seamlessly integrates social networking with music. It even cleans up your music collection by allowing you to play your music from iTunes or Windows Media Player through their program. Spotify is bringing the people what they demanded – a new social music medium.

As I type this, I am in fact listening to a Dvorak Piano Quintet over Spotify. Seeing how many of my friends have downloaded Spotify, I have to say it is pretty successful. I even look up new music based on what my friends are listening to. However, I do not think Spotify will replace things such as iTunes; people still like the satisfaction of owning music rather than “renting” it.

For now, I’ll keep on enjoying Spotify. My only compliant is that I can’t put it on my iPhone. I’d have to upgrade to premium for that ability. I’m not sure ten dollars a month is worth it for now. Maybe one day when I’m rolling in the cash…

what up ten

One evening while I was watching Jersey Shore with a few of my friends (the only time I ever will watch it), a commercial for Dr. Pepper came on. I consider myself a fan of Dr. Pepper so I unintentionally was listening to the commercial. It started out benignly by saying “Hey ladies…” However, when I looked up I what I saw on screen was a juxtaposition of what I had expected to see. The whole scene appeared as if it was out of an action movie. The commercial was attempting to persuade men that the new Dr. Pepper Ten was a diet soda for men – not the ladies.

While clearly trying to appeal to men, the commercial was reinforcing stereotypes to a near grotesque degree. The commercial not only implied that women don’t like action movies, but also that all real men do. It also seemed to accuse only women of drinking diet soda. Therefore, only women can be concerned about their weight. By implying that it also seemed as if any man drank another diet soda, he was emasculating himself! Quite a loaded commercial.

This subtext is there clearly to make Diet Dr. Pepper appeal to a group of consumers that it typically does not. However, in the process of this, they managed to alienate several other groups of consumers. I have to wonder, were they trying to be funny? It seems almost as if Dr. Pepper was trying to follow in the foot steps of the Old Spice commercials – even the editing seems similar.

Even though I may not agree with how they portrayed the product, Dr. Pepper certainly got its point across; this drink is not for ladies. Even the font on the can has a masculine edge to it.

I certainly won’t be drinking Dr. Pepper Ten (however tempted I am to prove that the drink is for ladies as well). Obviously, I am a little offended by the commercial. Regardless, it’s not enough to move me to any action. Dr. Pepper can revel in its blatant stereotypes for now; hopefully their next ad campaign will be a bit more tasteful (literally and figuratively). Badly done Dr. Pepper.

what up cult classic

For this journal, I have to provide a little family history. My dad started watching Doctor Who when it first started being aired in the US in the 70’s. He managed to get my mom hooked. As a wee one, they had me watching an alien take his human companion on adventures to save the earth (or whatever planet they happen to be on that day). I’ve been a Whovian for as long as I can remember. My absolute favorite episode – makes me cry every time – is “Vincent and the Doctor.” As the title implies, it is about Vincent Van Gogh. The Doctor is our time-traveling, human-like hero who takes his lovely companion Amy Pond along with him to meet Van Gogh. As they attempt to help Vincent defeat the bad alien, you can’t help falling for the tragic beauty of the whole episode. While clearly for entertainment purposes, the show speaks deeply to basic human understanding.

In the episode, Vincent can see an alien monster that no one else can (it kind of looks like a giant chicken). Vincent is despised by the villagers; the alien is also despised. Parallels are drawn between Van Gogh, the seemingly evil alien, and even the doctor. They are all misunderstood and alone. While they are all in the same situation, the episode subtly explores how each deals with their isolation. It dives into the depths of how each mind can be tragic and twisted, but still see the world as beautiful. Vincent can turn his pain into a beautiful painting, the Doctor has his inherent belief in human nature, and even Amy has her hope that time can indeed be rewritten.

There is a point in the episode when Vincent, Amy, and the Doctor are laying in a field stargazing. Vincent begins to describe the sky as he sees it and suddenly you see the stars swirling into a view right out of Starry Night. It’s a moment that goes beyond your typical TV show and borders on pure genius. I feel that this was a moment where the writers were exploring what it was like to be an extraordinary person. Even as the episode ends with Vincent’s suicide, the audience member is not heartbroken because of his death, but because even with his torment, Van Gogh could portray the beauty of this world. Both the writer and the audience member gain a deeper understanding of art and just how beautiful Earth is from this episode.

The sheer eloquence of this program speaks to how well it gets its message across. Most of it feels like you’re watching a Van Gogh painting. There is a love for all tortured geniuses everywhere after a viewing of this Doctor Who. Moving beyond those tortured geniuses, there is a better sense of how others can see the world. There is a sense of connectedness to it all.

As I said before, this episode makes me bawl my eyes out every time. I feel a sense of renewed love the world after watching “Vincent and the Doctor.” Heck, I even made sure to have a poster of Starry Night in my dorm. Sometimes it surprises me how profound an impact Doctor Who can have on me. What can I say, I’m a closet nerd.

what up disney

Since I left for school, I haven’t been home – even though I only live an hour away. However, this past weekend, I finally made it back to my hometown. Despite all the affection I have for Batavia, the only thing that can draw me back there (besides breaks) happens to be performances. I was deeply involved in theater and music throughout high school, so of course I have to go back to support the program. This weekend was the grand opening of Batavia’s new auditorium; the school put on Beauty and the Beast to kick off the drama season. As much as I was happy to be part of this cultural experience (and thoroughly entertained) there was something commercial about the whole evening.

Back in my day, we didn’t have a fancy new auditorium. We had to make due with a cafetorium (that’s a cafeteria furnished with a stage). The shows had a “rustic” feel I would argue. However, the moment I entered the new BFAC (Batavia Fine Arts Center) I was bombarded with t-shirts and light-up roses. There were requests for donations. While it felt more like an actual theater, it didn’t feel like the good old Batavia Drama Department. The fact that there wasn’t money left in the budget for all the accouterments was painfully apparent.

Being from Batavia, I know that the new auditorium didn’t come cheaply. We spent years pushing for the addition; when it finally came to fruition, the economy went down the drain. I know better than most that the school doesn’t have the money to garnish the stage with things like microphones. There is a cruel irony about finally receiving the new creative space. Even with all this prior knowledge, I was still surprised to see merchandise thrust towards me.

With the addition of show “swag” there was some sense of the community lost. For me, it made the experience less of a homecoming and more of a guilt trip. Paying twelve dollars for the ticket wasn’t enough – I was expected to by something (I didn’t though, seeing as I am a broke college student). I saw several people walking around with roses and sporting t-shirts. Most people did not have the same scruples I did apparently.

In a way, I’m slightly offended. Some how, this blatant selling-out made me feel as if the sanctity of all things BHS Theater were now worthless (do note that I saw this with awareness of its ridiculousness). But no matter what, I will continue to support my friends, school, and the arts program. I know that this is all done in the interest of bettering our school and drama program. Maybe one day, I’ll swallow my elitism, break down, and by a t-shirt.

what up depaul

A few weekends ago, I attended the DePaul Symphony Orchestra concert. The DePaul Concert Hall was packed with people. Students mixed with parents and community members chatted amongst themselves while the musicians filed on stage. The scene was set as the lighting dimmed, and the discussion dulled to a low murmur. The chapel-like exterior and pew seating added a touch of holiness to the atmosphere. One thing that is great about going to a concert in Lincoln Park is that it truly is a cultural experience. People from all walks of life meet there to be together and listen to wonderful music.

Obviously, the concert is put on for performance majors to have an opportunity to perform. However, the concert was free. With that in mind, I believe that the free music DePaul offers is an out reach to the community. It brings strangers together; they are exposed to new forms of music. As I went to take my seat, I happened to run into an old friend from back home who now goes to Columbia. Music has an incredible way of bring people together.

Why did DePaul choose free concerts? Why do most colleges offer free concerts? While besides pushing their music program, schools in chicago seem to have a feeling that they need to better the surrounding area. Since the city gives so much to their students, they give back to the city by enriching the culture. It’s a win-win situation.

There are few things as untainted by the hustle and bustle of everyday life as music. Sitting in that concert hall, the audience was able to experience works by both Mozart and Brahms just as they had been experience 200 years ago. We were able to share a step back in time together. I would say that is an extremely successful message.

I will most definitely be returning to DePaul for more concerts. Not only was the music well performed, but I was supporting my fellow musicians and integrating myself into the Chicago community. It’s human nature to feel disconnected from people – being packed in that concert hall on a crisp fall night helped, if only for a moment, to return me to the tactile world (you know, not Facebook).

what up ireland

My mother is 100% Irish. That means I come from a long heritage of complaining and drinking. Part of the territory with a mother like mine is that I grew up listening to Irish music. Now while my mom has never been a big Flogging Molly fan, I am quite partial to their rousing Irish drinking music. As entertaining and fun packed as their music can be, I was surprised to find that the song “Tobacco Island” actually had an educational value to it. In my history class, American Pluralism, we learned about Irish oppression and the push that sent millions of them across the pond. Somehow my parents had neglected to tell me why our family came to the land of opportunity: British oppression. The lyrics mention how “Cromwell and his roundheads.. dragged us from our homeland” to the “shores of sweet Barbados.” Many Irish were banished from their homeland and sent to Barbados (and eventually America) as indentured servants. This song is simply an expression of wanting to return home.

Even today, Ireland is still dealing with the repercussions of English occupation. The country is still split between Northern Protestants and Southern Catholics. It’s a country that is strife with violence and hardship. “Tobacco Island” exhibits that basic instinct to wish to return home – a home uninhabited by English landlords.

I find it unfathomable what the “wild Irish” went through. It’s even more unbelievable that I never knew about it; I’m almost embarrassed that I don’t know more about my heritage. I’m glad I’ve heard this song. It’s a connection home. I can hear the feelings of a true Irishman translated into song. It’s accessible for any person who has ever been dealt an unfair hand and longed for a return to normalcy.

I am truly moved by the power of this song. It instills in me a thirst for knowledge. If I could, I’d hop on a plane and fly straight to Dublin. While I may only be half Irish, I’ve always identified strongly with the emerald isle. I guess it’s just that urge to belong. Like my mom said about going to Ireland, “It  just sort of feels like you’ve finally come home.”